Thursday, June 25, 2009

Doing GPS: 102 - "Making a Map"

For over 8 months I've been working on a "Master File" for Nevada. The Western Region is nearly complete with tracks and waypoints for a lot of ATV trails to abandoned mines, canyons, mountain hideaways and great rides. I'll let you know when it's posted and ready for download. [ed note: it's already here]

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
Samuel Clemmens (Mark Twain)

It has taken so long because of the number of trails and because I've needed to correct many erroneous waypoints which were published in the book. You can't fault them too much because, as you know, GPS units are greatly affected by mountains and other obstructions.

You get back home after a ride and find that all the nifty petroglyphs you so carefully marked are scattered all over three states due to the GPS loosing its bearings down in the canyon — bummer.

Today, as I was coding the very last trail, I realized that it was the shortest of the bunch — only two points; and that it would make a great piece to use for a video tutorial.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Geocaching: Butterfield Canyon

For larks, when I stumbled across a geocaching website, I punched in the address for Snowbird Headquarters. To my surprise it listed 162 caches within a five mile radius and 495 within 7.5 miles!

I'm going to give you the link to the site because it probably is a worthwhile site for an offroader to occasionally use; but, it'll be down at the end because, to me, it's one of those sites designed to milk the public for all they can — and do it by selling you back other peoples work.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Microsoft XBox 360: Meet Milo

In a previous post I mentioned about Microsoft's Project Natal for the XBox 360, their answer to the Wii.

One of the first applications (game?) for the new system has been developed by a UK company. They presented it at a recent developers conference "behind closed doors" but it seems that "somebody" had a camera and leaked?

Remember that as a teenager you are in the last stage of your life when you will be happy to hear the phone is for you.”
Fran Leibowitz

Milo is an interactive, life-like boy who can recognize and display emotions by using face recognition and visual cues of body language in addition to his ability to recognize voice.

I've embedded the video below. I think it's worth the download wait and is quite good resolution so you can expand it to fill your whole screen.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Interpreting Petroglyphs: Toquop Wash II

Toquop Wash is a place that I've only been to a couple of times; but, for some reason, I seem to keep thinking of things that I've seen there.

Gordon and I took the trip on our ATV's first, then Dad wanted to see it so we went back. At the "top" of the trail, we had just crossed the wash and were turning toward home when dad spotted one of those BLM "don't waste your heritage" signs. [For a free Google Earth file of the route we took see: Ride 21 - Toquop Wash]

To me this seemed like one of those times where "if the BLM doesn't want you to stomp around, there must be something around here worth seeing," so I went back.

At the crossing there is a very large rock jutting into the wash, and just "upstream," around back, are the glyphs I described in an earlier post.

Going behind the rock and looking left, up toward the top, there is a depression or channel which you can climb. Undoubtedly, during rainstorms, this becomes full of water emptying into the wash.

In the photo above, you can see that the channel is partially blocked in three places by natural rock dams. Behind each of these dams there are holding "cisterns" which hold the water long after the rains have stopped and are currently filled with vegetation.

Noted Native American author and cryptologist LaVan Martineau in his book The Rocks Begin to Speak describes the connection between geology and rock-writing to the early American "authors." This is true especially where water is concerned, or trails. And this site has both.


Location: On a southeast rock cliff below and to the right of the mentioned channel is one glyph pecked in the hard rock just above eye level.

Natural Features: The glyph is in the left upper corner of a raised rectangle whose corner acts as a "pointer" to the waterfall and cisterns. There is an edge, which is parallelled by the curved edge of the glyph, a natural indentation running horizontal across the rock at the bottom of the glyph and another linear indentation at the base of the glyph running vertically downward. The edge runs like the ridge of the cliff in front of the channel, the horizontal line like the trail down to the river and the vertical line runs in the direction of the main wash.


Technique: The glyphs are heavily pecked (ground or smooshed) using the change in rock texture from impact (rather than removal of desert varnish) to make them show up against the light colored rock.

Symbols: There is only one in this cluster, basically a representation of the channel or [in rain] waterfall. The overall shape, a tapering, oblong area, rounded at the top and tapering to a point at the bottom, has the meaning "canyon." It is a bit blunt on the tapered end which adds the meaning of "chopped off," or "end" and it is in outline form which often adds the meaning "nothing there" or "empty" [it would have been impossible to draw the "blockages" it if had been filled in.]

The more you explain it, the more I don't understand it.”
Mark Twain

It is slightly bent in the middle, just like the actual channel, and tapers to a single line, or path, which touches the linear indentation (rock incorporation) perpendicular to its base representing the wash.

Running across the glyph are three lines which are more loosely pecked in the manner of "scattered," "something on it," or "wet." They are clearly represented as being within the canyon; but run across and in front so that it represents "stop" or a "barrier" to the canyon.

Finally, there are two short parallel lines extending from the top right side which have the meaning "nothing there" or, by extension "off of," or "empty."

Putting it Together

Other glyphs: There are two other glyph clusters in the area which, except for location, don't seem to add to the interpretation.

Possible Story: This is clearly a representation, or drawing, of the "canyon" or channel for an intermittent waterfall with three nearly hidden cisterns which may provide water in time of need to a parched traveler. The water runs down from (off of) the top, follows the canyon, over the blockages (wet falls) and into the wash.

Learn A Little More

The book "The Rocks Begin to Speak" is probably the landmark text which opened this field of study to large numbers of people, and it is still in print, new or used at Amazon. Why not make your trips to the "Glyphs of Gold Butte" more meaningful by learning a few of the "meanings" of the glyphs you see? If you are going to purchase it, please consider doing so using the links on this page. There will be no extra cost to you, but a portion will go to keeping this site going and the trails coming.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Backyard Bailout

More than a few times this week we have looked out the back window of Summer Snowbird Headquarters to see standing water in the back yard. The poor fruit trees have been propped up to prevent them tipping over in the mud.

We probably would have done better to plant mangrove trees. Ducks are running the bases in the little league baseball diamond next door.

Something has happened in the construction business. Lots all around us, which have sat vacant, full of weeds, for the last four years, now have holes dug and forms laid. Mounds of construction dirt all over the place — now pretty much mud and swimming pools.

It hasn't seemed to stop the kids playing in the waterpark though, they are still splashing and cavorting.

At least the lakes and dams are full. I wonder if that will be enough to keep the newscasters from whining — probably not.

Pessimists, we're told, look at a glass containing 50% air and 50% water and see it as half empty. Optimists, in contrast, see it as half full. Engineers, of course, understand the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.”
Bob Lewis

It seems that the people I follow on Twitter [Mike Massimino (Astro_Mike), Scott Parazynski (SPOTScott) and Mark Polansky (Astro_127)] are all going to be home this weekend.

Mike, because he returned from Hubble last week; Scott because he's home now from summiting Everest on his second try; and Mark, because his launch was aborted.

Me… I'm here cause it's raining.   Maybe I'll go swimming in the neighbors new pool.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Microsoft Natal Project

When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?"
"What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?"
"I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully.
"It's the same thing," he said.”

The weather has been a bit blustery this week at the summer snowbird headquarters in Herriman so more than the usual amount of time has been spent sitting in front of the computer.

Pediatricians, for at least 30 years that I know of, have been worrying (and warning) about the "boob-tube" syndrome occurring in anyone who spends more than a few hours a week in front of the tube. Certainly there currently is an epidemic of obesity in children.

Some of that may change, at least a bit, with a new development from Microsoft: Project "Natal." Competitively, this is the MS "one-upsmanship" to the "Wii" game platform. Technologically, it could prove to be one of the rare "quantum leaps" in our culture. The computer equivalent to what George Lucas did to the movie industry by the release of "Star Wars."

This video takes a bit of time to download, so be patient. It is worth the wait to be able to see it in "High Quality." There is another video describing one of the first to be available applications for X-Box "Natal"; but, that will be saved for a future post.

Anything to get them little arms and legs up and a-movin'.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Interpreting Petroglyphs: Toquop Wash

I mentioned, in a previous post about the Toquop Wash Petroglyphs dad and I found on an ATV ride near Mesquite Nevada, that I would eventually post a bit about their interpretation. Today is the time.

[For a free Google Earth file of the route we took, click on this link to open it in Google Earth: Ride 21 - Toquop Wash]

Enlarge the photo, by clicking on it, so you can see it a bit better. The "petrodroppings" I previously talked about are obvious, a term which graphically describes the "petrified lake bottom ooze" bonded to the underlying rock. This outcropping however is particularly unique, in that after it had been laid down, and after it had been pressurized into petrification, it was cracked and upturned across a fault such that it was actually polished!

Unlike the "petrodroppings" over in North Valley, these are a beautiful ochre-brown. Both factors would have definitely caught the eye of any passing Early-Americans and made it ideal for rock writing.

Breakthroughs in understanding these early writings was described by Native American author and cryptologist LaVan Martineau in his book The Rocks Begin to Speak.

He described that these types of writings cannot be clearly understood from a photograph alone, even though you may know the meanings of specific symbols. "They cannot be translated," he says, "anywhere but at the site itself since much of its meaning depends upon adjacent geography."


Location: The rock is a prominent outcropping, jutting into a major desert wash which runs Eastward then South into the Virgin River — A major route through the mountains and down to the water.

The "petrodroppings" are unlike the normal "desert varnish" which aboriginals usually used for rock writing. They are deceptively VERY hard and tenaciously adherent to the underlying rock. Chipping on its surface would definitely be a long term undertaking.

Natural Features: The glyphs are facing directly down the wash, are directly below a cliff from which flows intermittent water during rainstorms, are adjacent to some hidden cisterns and are where the "trail" crosses the "wash."

I'm not a teacher, but an awakener.”
Robert Frost

Both glyphs are placed immediately adjacent, and in fact touching, a natural crack which most likely represents a travel line — A term known as "Rock Incorporation." The line actually runs north-south on the rock, mirroring the real trail along the mountain range toward the river and joins another crack running northeast into Utah (i.e. the Virgin River).


Technique: All of the lines seem broader than what we normally see (which usually has the meaning of "something there," "encumbered" or, occasionally, "bad"); however, that may just be an artifact of the difficulty of chipping.

Their positioning with one lower than the other suggests that it was "inferior" or "last" in what was being discussed — i.e. travel. Therefore the author may have been traveling right to left.

Symbols: The lower-left glyph is nearly a circle, although parts of its lower edge have been lost. The circle shape usually means "holding" similar to the arm motions of the same shape in sign language. However, it is a bit pointed on one side which extends the meaning into "end" or "ended."

The upper-right glyph is an upside down "U" which represents "rock." The enclosing travel line at the bottom extends to "hill," "mound," "heap," or "mountain" due to its steep shape.

The two straight lines on the top can have a couple of meanings. The sign language for "seeing" or "looking at" is two fingers of an otherwise closed hand pointing at what is being seen from in front of the eyes. In other words, this mountain (or hill) can be seen from the East (i.e. up the river toward Utah).

The doubled lines also mean "nothing there," or "gone from." When they are attached to something it means "gone from" that object or "empty."

Putting it Together

Other glyphs: There doesn't appear to be any other glyphs associated with this cluster; however, the "petrodroppings" are worn and defaced. There certainly is enough "character" in the rock that other "rock incorporation's" may spring to mind should one have the time to "sit and ponder." There is another glyph in the area which describes a waterfall with cisterns which appears during a rain — I'll describe them in another post.

Possible Story: This seems to be a "travel story" or "map" (the absence of glyphs representing people); however, glyphs nearly always have a purpose because they are difficult to create. The mountain can be seen from a distance and following the trail will lead to journey's end, or place to stay for awhile.

Why Not Learn More

The book "The Rocks Begin To Speak" is probably the landmark text which opened this field of study to large numbers of people, and it is still in print, new or used at Amazon.

Consider how much more meaningful your trips to the "Glyphs of Gold Butte" would be if you knew the "meanings" of a few of the glyphs you saw.

If you decide to purchase the book, let me suggest that you please use the links on this page. There is absolutely no extra cost to you, however a portion will go to keeping this site going and the trails coming.

Doing GPS: 101 - "Getting Google Earth 5.0"

Google has finally corrected many of the bugs that were in its Google Earth 5.0 which caused most of our maps to display incorrectly. So, for those of you who have been holding off upgrading there is a new version available.

Additionally, I have heeded the pleas from many of you to produce a screencast about how to download "Earth," install it and set it up to be able to use the free maps which come with many of the "rides" I write about.

Even though I've spent nearly all day browsing the web for tutorials on screencasts, there is still a bit more to be learned I'm sure. The video quality will need to get better as we go along. Click on "play" below to begin the tutorial, and once it has begun click on the square screen icon at the bottom to enlarge the playback area. Please comment and let me know if you have any problems with the download.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Entertainment: Hale Center Theater's
"Treasure Island"

Salt Lake City's Hale Centre Theater (HCT) is producing Robert Lewis Stevenson's Treasure Island on the "West End."

They have flooded their multi-million dollar, rotating, hydraulic stage to do it. Really! When the pirate on the cliff gets shot he falls into a ten foot deep pool and doesn't come up! and gets at least ten seats wet! No kiddin'.

There was so much handwriting on the wall that even the wall fell down.”
Christopher Morley

Once inside the theater you see that most of you have come inside through the mouth of a cave. Their "round" theater was the jungle island leaving the "round" stage to be the masted sailing ship… and did I say all of the stage entrance pits were the OCEAN!

A bit unfortunately, all this water sets the stage for the "Perfect Storm."
You may remember from the book that several storm qualities, in and of themselves more of a problem than a disaster, occurred at the same time causing "resonance" and a major catastrophe.

Those of you who have frequented HTC productions understand that occasionally they have an audio-technician who, perhaps, takes his gang-banger music a bit too seriously and cranks the sound up so you can hear it outside. I've mentioned it before.

And, occasionally they have a director who seems to only understand one method of displaying anger, displeasure, pique, miffed, upset, rage, etc., etc. — and that is to scream! ALL lines are delivered like that, and the constant bombardment wears one down.

Now, Squire Trewlawney and Dr. Livesey were the exceptions to the statement, they showed a good range of emotion and controlled anger in their performance; but they had almost no lines! [We saw the Tue, Thur, Sat performance]

L. John Silver, with his gravelly pirates voice, and Jim Hawkins pretty much shouted their lines the entire performance. Silver trying to project a character dialect and Jim... well, possibly just inexperienced theatricality.

When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before.”
Mae West

These three issues magnified each other to the point that our ears bled. By the intermission, my head ached and ears rung and I wasn't anxious to see any more. Mom wanted to leave but dad, who wears earphones and can turn down the volume, wasn't anxious to do that.

Mom decided that she would sit on the soft chairs in the lobby and we went back in. I can say, however, that the second act was better than the first … it was shorter! Mom said that despite the hallways, curtains and doors - she could still hear the screaming in the lobby.

Overall- NOT something that we would pay to go see again, or take people we liked; but, did I mention that they filled the stage with water?!