Friday, June 30, 2006

Robert Gehrke: That's almost as bad as a blog!

Today's headline article in the Tribune asserts that the recent letter from the LDS church may have aided Cannon's win over Jacob. That's a baseless yet lurid headline that one might find in a blog. Nice work for a real, professional journalist. But Robert acknowledges the "solid" rhetorical foundation for his piece with: "It is impossible to quantify exactly how either moved the final results, but [more baseless statements]."

[Salt Lake Tribune - LDS letter may have aided Cannon win]

Thursday, June 29, 2006

(AirMed|Lifeflight) can land at Aspen Grove in the Dark

We took our 3 year olds on a little campout up to Aspen Grove last night for some peace and quiet high in the mountains. On our way back from Cascade Springs (perfect for a 3 year old by the way), we noticed LifeFlight executing a landing at the Aspen Grove trailhead. Curious. We noticed that AirMed was already there. Even more curious.

Then the airlift began. I believe there were 3 flights upto somewhere higher on the mountain. Probably ferrying SAR upto to some late evening situation. Just before dark, one of the helicopters made it's last trip and shot out of there south toward Sundance and out of the moutains. I assumed that the helicopters couldn't fly missions up there at night and that SAR would be up there for the night doing their thing

At 1:15 am last night, I discovered that helicopters can land at Aspen Grove at night. It sounded like their landing pattern took them directly over our tent. Unfortunately, the pilot missed on the first approach and had to come around again. They sat at the trailhead forever and then finally took off. I have a vague recollection of a police or ambulance siren in there somewhere too.

At about 30 minutes before sunrise this morning, another helicopter arrived and began, I assume, ferrying SAR off the mountain. That took about 3 trips.

So much for peace and quiet. But good news for a Provo man who took a long fall on the trail while hiking solo. I am curious to hear what the whole story is later today or tommorow.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The VV-PAT made it!

I used to be involved in the electronic voting thing a little more than I am now. One of my academic role models, David Dill at Stanford, was very heavily involved in the whole thing.

What little I did to influence the Utah decision was focused on getting a voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VV-PAT for short). Magentic images on disks or other non-volatile media are so easy to modify without leaving any trace of the previous image that I thought a VV-PAT was essential.

I wasn't sure where it ended up, but I was happy to see a beautiful easy to read VV-PAT when I voted this morning.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Whom to vote for tommorow

If you are in the same disticts as I am, then you can help tommorow's close races be not so close by voting for the following...

1. Stephen Sandstrom over Jim Ferron. I struggled long and hard on this one. I liked voting against the UEA's guy (Sandstrom) at the convention and I like Ferron's positions on local transportation and finance in general. However, I didn't like Ferron as a Charter School investor and a State Legislator. I know that might be a reasonable thing, but I just don't like the conflict of interest. The thing that put me over the top was Ferron's latest campaign mailer that included an LDS Church statement designed to support his position. I don't like that, alot. So I am going Sandstrom.

2. Joe Cannon over John Jacob. First of all, Jacob is way too tight on immigration. I visited Berlin while there was a wall. I don't like walls as an immigration policy. The problem is INS. INS is a disaster. If we make legal immigration possible without requiring a team of lawyers or 5 years of beaurocracy then we can get more people in here legally and we can all get along just fine. I like that children of illegal immigrants who graduate from a Utah High School can get in state tuition. I mean, come on, these kids got dragged here by their parents, succesfully completed high school and want to go to college. Let's give them all the support we can. Let's not create an oppressed underclass like they have over in France. Utah is relatively free of car burnings perpetrated by hopeless, voiceless immigrant children. Let's keep it that way. Jacob's campaign was just weird too. The Satan comment was an unfortuate lesson for him in how to work with the media (which I believe is "say as little as possible" if read REAL reporter correctly).

3. Jerry Grover over the other guy. I wasn't sure I wanted an engineer on the County Commision or Council or whatever it is called, but after meeting all of the candidates, I decided that a real engineer on the County Commission is exactly what I want.

That is all. Happy voting and don't get freaked out by those touchscreens!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Nice work Robert Gehrke.

Robert Gehrke's piece on John Jacob leads off with Jacob's belief that Satan is opposing him in the race against Cannon. Gehrke even includes Jacobs' request "I don't want you to print that."

Nice work letting people talk off the record, Robert. Good to see that weak journalistic ethics are still alive and well at the Trib. Have you all sold any inside information to a tabloid yet this year?

[Salt Lake Tribune - Jacob's bad luck: Is it . . . Satan?]

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bicycle Tour of Moab with the Scouts

We recently returned from a 4 day 3 night bicycle tour of Moab with the Varsity Scouts. No scouts were lost, killed or (permanently) injured during the entire trip. We did have some injuries, but they were just scrapes and bruises.

We set up a trip around the White Rim in Canyonlands (that's 100 ish miles of moderately difficult dirt roads). For scout groups who've trained and have competent adult leadership, the White Rim in mid-June is a difficult journey in which there is a significant chance of severe injury in a remote location with a difficult evacuation. We found that we could travel at about 7 mph, we had an injury accident every hour and experienced a tour-ending bicycle failure every 2.5 hours. That's why we opted to take the Potash Road back to Moab after the 20 mile ride into Airport Tower camp (going clockwise).

It was great. We got all the desert dirt road riding we wanted and our 50 mile day ended with 22 miles of paved road into town. Every scout finished the 50 mile ride for the merit badge. We even had overcast with light wind all day for the 50 miler.

We did Slickrock on Friday. For a scout group, Slickrock on a sunny day in June with a 7:30 am start will require about 2.5 liters of water per person to complete safely. Unfortunately for us, we only had about 1.6 liters per person and there was no opt-out option when the water got real low and the sun got real high. Fortunately for us, Dan Mick of Dan Mick's Guided Moab Jeep Tours carries a case of water to pass out to less-prepared scout groups such as ours, and the one behind us. Dan drives a tricked out jeep and we meet one of his clients on Saturday. She and her family had a great time. That should sound like an endorement of Dan's jeep operation. It was meant to be. Good karma should come to good Samaritans like Dan.

Slickrock was fun with the scouts. We experienced about 6 injury accidents. All injuries were minor and 4 were mine. My Canari jersey looks like swiss cheese and my knees look like strawberries. But it was a blast. Although the riding was more technical, a serious injury here would be less serious than an injury on the far side of the White Rim.

Friday afternoon, we cleaned up a park in town for our service project then lazed about in the shade while the scouts played soccer in the park. That evening, we rode down from Sand Flats to the Moab Community pool on 400 North for a shower and a swim. A perfect end to the riding part of our tour and a good set up for our spiritual meeting friday night followed by the 1/2 day whitewater trip on Saturday on the Colorado past Fisher Towers.

When I got home, my 3 year old daughters were very concerned about my "owies" on my knees and elbows. I told them I fell of my bike and they thought that was ok. Later, I told them I would take them down to Moab. Megan got a scared look on her face and said she didn't want to go. I asked her why. And she said she didn't want to fall off her bike and get owies too. I admired her courage, but I don't think her tricyle would make it far on slickrock. We'll have to take all the bikes and do the Millcreek trail in town instead.

Monday, June 05, 2006

RSL wins several games ahead of schedule

Previously, I extrapolated a bit to project the date of RSL's next win to be sometime in August. Well, it turns out that they've won 2, lost 0 and tied 1 since my projection. Nice work. I suppose that my projection must have appeared on the locker room bulletin board, fired up the team and now they are winning. Just happy to help where I can.

Being a fair weather fan, I might even get out there to watch a game this summer.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Patagonia Ambassador's Climb of Delicate Arch not so Clean After all?

Outside magazine has a three-page story on Dean Potter's Climb of Delicate Arch. The article mentions that the climb was filmed from above, implying that a cameraman was above him on the arch. The article discusses how ropes were used and the article includes close up pictures of rope damage at the top of the arch. While it's not clear that Potter's rope created the rope damage, it is clear that he used more than just chalk.

What's amazing about this whole thing is that neither Patagonia nor Potter have backed down. Patagonia stands behind their ambassador while saying that "not all of his actions represent the company" (in which case they should call him a part time ambassador).

The online poll at Outside online is running just under 9 to 1 against the climb, by the way.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

May was Bike Month: The White Rim in a Day

We did the White Rim in a day to preview it for a scout trip in June. Unfortunately, we had to drive most of it. That is somewhat unfortunate because cycling the White Rim is a lot more fun than driving it. The Park Service helpfully informed us that doing the whole thing requires at least 10 hours non-stop and that doing it in a day "doesn't leave much time for sightseeing." Well, they were right. We needed 9 hours and spent very little time looking at the scenery.

That made a 15 hour day in the truck. Lots of time to talk and I think we listened to all of General Conference on my ipod. I think the people from Colorado that we saw were a little confused to hear an LDS apostle blaring in our truck at Monument Basin.

A few observations that fill in what you might find in the many White Rim trip reports available online:

  • The Murphy Hogback itself isn't that bad. A short climb before (going clockwise) the Hogback was more intense.
  • The climb out of Hardscrabble Bottom (still going clockwise) was more technical than Murphy Hogback.
  • The road after Hardscrabble Bottom is narrow enough that we had to fold in the passenger side mirror (in a Nissan Frontier) to avoid scraping it off.
  • We did the road in a stock 2005 Nissan Frontier (as mentioned). No clearance or turning radius issues.
  • The Airport Tower camps are fully exposed to the sun.
  • The Potato Bottom camps all have shady cottonwoods. Sweet.
  • There are no picnic tables in any of the camps.
  • Monument valley is pretty darn amazing. Kind of like Bryce Canyon except fewer hoodoos, fewer people and different colors but a better backdrop.
  • The drive has no serious clearance obstacles the main challenges were climbing without slipping, making the switchbacks on Hardscrabble and the narrow road.
  • There are very few places in which one can drive faster than 10 mph. You'll be tempted to speed up, then road will quickly remind you that it is an unmaintained backcountry road. The ditches are deeper than you think and the slickrock is bumper than you think.
  • Most of the time, you can ride a bike at an average speed of 13 mph. You need to know that because the bikes can easily outride their support.
  • I had to take a break from driving to get on my bike and ride for a while. Driving is bumpy, hot and dusty while riding the bike is way fun.