Monday, May 25, 2009

Kokopelli's Last Ride

Charley reports that the last ride for the Kokopelli ATV club this summer will be this coming Saturday, May 30th. They will ride to the ghost town of Delamar, a 60 mile trail, round trip, from the trailhead.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Kokopelli Trails]

The club has gone there once before, quite a few months ago, so there is a map available at the link above. The trailhead is a 2 hour drive from Mesquite — through Moapa, West to highway 93 then North, almost to Alamo.

The cool thing about being famous is traveling. I have always wanted to travel across seas, like to Canada and stuff.”
Britney Spears

It should be a great ride in a very remote location requiring plenty of water, food and sun screen.

There are two old (100 year) cemeteries, standing ruins of the town and hard rock mines to explore — so also bring good light sources.

Makes me wish I was going with them; but, Charley keeps promising to send photos.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Diversion: Large Hadron Super-Collider

The past two weeks have brought out the inner geek in me for some reason, probably because of the NASA STS-125 mission to service the Hubble Telescope which I seem to have watched pretty much without coming up for air.

There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says "Morning, boys. How's the water?" And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes "What the hell is water?”
David Wallace, Kenyon College

Whenever I get a bit down in the dumps over what seems like the entire economy being taken over by mere "kids," I like to remind myself that I can hold my own in any conversation with such a "wet behind the ear" babe-in-arms by merely switching the conversation with "I was there when color television was invented."

If they have really piqued my ire, I don't stop there but continue with: streamline telephones, 8-track tapes, microwave cookers... etc. I can go on for... minutes. What they don't realize is that I'm just rounding my half-way point when I get to: "I saw the first man land on the moon" let alone "watched Hubble be launched."

Today I went to pick up my ATV cargo bag which I had dropped off at Kirkham's Outdoor Products in Salt Lake City to have its zipper clasp changed - a 3 minute job while I waited for the lady last year - and costing under $5. This year I got a skaggly, unconcerned old guy who claimed they were "too busy" and I had to come back two days later. The pique started while I sat looking at some trail maps and watched him sit behind the counter merely chatting with two other employees for over 30 minutes — too lazy to provide customer service.

What is Man? Man is a noisome bacillus whom Our Heavenly Father created because he was disappointed in the monkey.”
Mark Twain

So, I came back today for pickup and thank heavens the curmudgeon was NOT there; but, in his place was... a kid! He couldn't find my paperwork so he said he would "assume" it was "still at the factory" and I should come back! Absolutely stunned by the incompetence of his sentence, it took me awhile to begin calmly discussing "assumptions" (among other things) until he did, indeed, find my bag by merely getting off his butt; but, also a price tag 400% higher than last year.

I've learned that rather than loose my cool it's usually easier to merely ask to speak to the manager, and unexpectedly he seemed to welcome my suggestion. I discovered why when the manager appeared... another kid, and he looked like he could be the first kids "little brother"!

At any rate, sometimes, I guess, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. I found a video put out by a "kid" who has had enough gumption to get a job as a scientist at the CERN Large Hadron Super-collider. You probably know that, after years of construction, it has just recently been finished and has just sent its first beam of particles through the ring. The video seems rather skillfully constructed and if you are going to watch it I would suggest that you select "watch in High Quality." Happy Hubble!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Gastronomy: Heber City Claim Jumper

Spring cleanup continues at Herriman Snowbird Headquarters along with the quest for a decent meal.

As I mentioned, Google Earth 5.0 has quietly and without notice pushed out an update which corrected several pretty basic bugs in the program. I have now gone through all my maps and changed the transparency settings back to what they were before the goof-up. If you haven't updated your computer please do so at: Google Earth 5.0

There is no telling about the power of subliminal advertising because an advertisement for International House of Pancakes (IHOP) on our favorite program, somehow drew us to their establishment last week in spite of the fact that we always TIVO over the commercials. My memory of why I haven't gone there in many years flooded back to me as I tried to find something that looked good to me in their very difficult menu, and shook my head at their exorbitant prices for their very simple, small portioned fare.

All of us ordered something "non-breakfasty" and were disappointed, for different reasons. The experience merely reinforced my old adage "you don't expect to get a good steak at Denny's or Appleby's" and it's no different for pancakes. For breakfast IHOP can't hold a candle to Pancake House.

Mom and Dad's wedding anniversary was last week and they took a drive up and around the Provo Canyon / Heber City valley stopping in at the Claim Jumper for dinner. They came back raving about how surprisingly enjoyable the meal had been even though they had set out for a different diner.

Their experience was still lingering with them Friday, such that they wanted to go back up and show me what it was like. The drive up Provo Canyon was unexpectedly enjoyable - after it has been basically clobbered up somewhere along its route for the past 3 - 4 years! It was freshly paved and spring has sprung.

All the reservoirs are full to the brim (despite all the whining the TV weathermen do about water shortages), and all the fishermen were out. Still too cold for skiers though.

Home is the place where it feels right to walk around without shoes.”
Robert Frost

The first exit in Heber brought us to the Claim Jumper whose wooden-beamed facade touted all kinds of food from fish to steak and prime rib. The decor was a tasteful "early farmhouse" right down to the split-beam floors and cracked-log tables with rusty farm implements and brands as decorations.

For such a back-woods town, I was a bit stunned at the quarter-century price tag on the cheapest menu item but was quickly told to "stifle myself."

I ordered the Prime Rib and was just as stunned at receiving an entire quarter-cow, bone and all. It was as tender and "medium-rare" as one could have hoped for, and the wait-staff were attentive but not "notice-what-I'm-doing-for-you" in-your-face like seems to be the trend in the area these days.

Who normally remembers the salads at a restaurant? You will if you go. Crisp, cold, fresh and tasty, and the veggies (which you must order extra) were well cooked and not a tasteless-mush, afterthought like most places.

So, if you're feeling a bit plush (and hungry) we can recommend the Claim Jumper in Heber City with 3.5 (out of 4) stars; the IHOP? Not so much. I won't ever be going back unless Alzheimer's kicks in.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Google Earth: New Version

I used to think that it was only an old wives tail that washing your car makes it rain; but, there's just too many "coincidences."

We've had an extremely cool and wet spring here in Snowbird Headquarters until this last week - when I passed the one month mark on washing the "beast." Then we started a project which didn't need interruptions - and what did we get? A two hour Kirby Vacuum demonstration.

Now, to carry the "coincidence" too far, after months of corresponding with Google over the bugs they had in Google Earth 5.0, and having absolutely no indication that they were even listening, I gave in and changed all the transparency settings on ALL of the GE maps that have on my web site.

Over six-months ago GE 5.0 was released with the fancy new "space" and "underwater" systems. Unfortunately, it had many bugs - which Google didn't even acknowledge. Lots of people switched, and lots of people began writing to say that I had made my maps wrong.

I was the first to write to Google about the problem with their transparency problem so they made me the "owner" of the "bug-ticket." I got to read emails of all the other map makers who were also having the problems; but, never heard anything from Google.

So, after months of waiting, the day before yesterday I went through and re-programmed all my maps with different transparency values so they would show up on GE correctly.

If you are in a spaceship that is traveling at the speed of light, and you turn on the headlights, does anything happen?”
Stephen Wright

And, you guessed it, yesterday they put out an unexpected update which did correct at least that bug. So, all of you who use my maps should download the latest version GE 5.0.11733.9347 which fixes the transparency and makes them all pretty again (I switched them all back).

There are still other problems, so not all of the descriptions display correctly; but, hey at least you can see them.

Just remember, Google has begun trying to force its browser (Chrome) on you on nearly every page; so, when you accept the "terms" of their download - you need to read the small print and UNcheck the box which allows them to download Chrome onto your machine (unless you want it).

Friday, May 8, 2009

Lying for Sales - Kirby Vacuum

The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
H L Mencken

I don't know about you but I'm about saturated up to my gills with lies! Dishonest tobacco companies, lying bank executives, spin doctoring presidents and politicians and of course door-to-door salesmen.

We were visited at Herriman Snowbird Headquarters today by, if we believe what she told us, a lady who "just wanted to come in and get warm" so it would look to her boss like "she was just showing us about cleaning our carpets." She claimed that she would "clean a room of our carpet for free" if we would just "tell others how good she was."

That whole premise is so suffused with "hidden agendas" and lies — where on earth do I begin — even if you ignore the fact that it was almost the first shirt-sleeve day we've had this year and everyone is GOING OUTSIDE to warm up!

It does not require many words to speak the truth.”
Chief Joseph: (1840-1904)

Kirby vacuum's have been notoriously sold door-to-door for years; but to sink so low… Before she walked out the door almost NINETY-MINUTES later we had to fight off her "Boss" who was "just helping her out because she was new at this" and his Kirby Vacuum demonstration — not once but TWICE!

At least with time-share sales pitches you know (at least you should) that you had better brace yourself for some pretty high-pressure sales arm-twisting. Mom told both of them that if she had known up front they wanted to sell her a Kirby Vacuum she wouldn't have let them in (good for her) because Kirby's are too high priced. (Way over $2,000.00, if you can believe it! And she claimed they sell one out of three!)

Their problem, which I'm sure they didn't see coming, was that, unlike them, we were telling the truth! However, despite our warnings, she kept at it trying to ingratiate herself through insipid conversation and sucking dirt out of the carpet — what, to make us feel guilty??

One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.”
Mark Twain

Why on earth would ANYONE buy anything, ever, from someone who had just used deceit and/or any form of deception in order to get one's attention?! Are we supposed think that a liar will deal fairly with us in any other part of the transaction? I certainly don't.

They got in the house because we actually are in the market for some carpet cleaning. However, lest any reader want to show up and sell me something, if a heavy-set, balding guy comes to the door with a winters-worth of suntan from snowbirding: beware.

If you want to ever have a chance of selling a legitimate product, do not… under any circumstances, begin with… "I'm trying to win a contest!"

Sunday, May 3, 2009

This is Spring ! (?)

While Charley is informing all the Kokopelli ATV club in Mesquite that they will riding to the Virgin River this Saturday - and that they should bring lawn chairs because the weather should be warm - we're still running around in sweaters and dodging rain up here at Herriman Snowbird Headquarters.

I guess it could be worse. We could be in the surrounding mountains where it is snowing.

Charlie emailed that he had been asked to write an article for the Mesquite magazine about a scenic ride and he had chosen the North Valley Loop. A great choice for a spring ride because of all the wildflowers and Yuccas in the lower valley.

I spent several days, and many email communications with authors of mapping programs, trying to provide Charley with a map graphic to accompany the article and was successful in finding GPS Visualizer a great web site with many different capabilities.

Dad seems inordinately compulsive about seeing green lawn here at Headquarters and has fertilized it long ago — before the snow fully melted. The problem with such industriousness is that he's already had to mow it three times so far.

Home is where you can say anything you please, because nobody pays any attention to you anyway.”
Joe Moore

Fortunately, even with all the snow that fell here while we were gone, the sprinkler system made it through without a hitch. And we didn't loose any more trees.

With all the spring buds, we've got the prettiest section of the whole subdivision, and the back yard isn't so shabby either -- at least that's what the Meadowlarks, Robins, and House Finch's think.