Friday, July 30, 2010

House prices and environmental graffiti.

I’m not a big reader of the Financial section of the newspaper, but the headline “Home sales up; prices fall” in The Salt Lake Tribune caught my eye this morning.  There was a list, by county and zip code, of average house prices and their % increase or decrease over this time last year.  I scanned the list for my zip code, preparing to be slightly depressed at home much less my house was worth.  Only slightly depressed, since the only way I’m leaving this house is in a pine box lower house values do nothing other than lower my tax bill.  So I scan down the Salt Lake County zip codes.  -3.1%, –15.3%, +2.2%, –7.7%, oh, there’s mine.  What?  My zip code had the largest increase in the entire county.  County average: –8.0%.  My area: +5.8%.  Again, in the long run it really makes little difference to me, but it still is nice to feel my house is worth more than it was a year ago.

As you probably know, I hate graffiti.  Art it is not, vandalism it is.  And I would never glorify the gang crap by posting a picture of it on here.  At the same time, coming from a familial background full of political activism and environmentalism, I couldn’t help notice and respect that this is not the run of the mill gang crap.  I still don’t condone it – damaging someone else’s property for whatever reason is still vandalism.  But I was curious about it, so I took a picture of it (before removing it), came home and looked up “Atmos” on the internet.

This is what I got:

  1. Atmos Energy.  Natural gas supplier for many of the Southeastern states.
  2. Atmos Engineering.  Specializing in digital barometric and humidity sensors.
  3. Atmos Clocks.  Uh, they make clocks.
  4. Atmos Music (on Facebook).  Alternative and electronic music.

Atmos Music seemed like the most likely candidate so I checked them out.  Still could be a reference to them, there were some environmental themes there, subtly, but it would have to be an offshoot since they are based in Southern California.

So, was it just some punk finding they didn’t leave enough room to write “atmosphere” or some organized group?  I just may never know.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Leslie Nielsen would be proud.

Customer comes in today and we were bantering back and forth having a few laughs.   She swipes her card, enters her PIN and then I ask:

Do you want your receipt?


Here ya go, but quit calling me Shirley.

Without missing a beat, she looks at my nametag and says:

Sorry, I keep mixing up Steve and Shirley.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

No work on the back yard today :)

But I did put a new motor in the swamp cooler.  It was making a really annoying clicking noise, I checked several things and came to the conclusion that it was the motor.  It’s about 13 years old, nice and rusted.  I pulled on the pulley and the shaft moved back and forth almost 1/4 of an inch.  That may not seem like much, but when talking about an electric motor, it shouldn’t move at all.  So for $100 at, guess where……, Home Depot I got a new one and everything is fine again. 

As I was driving down to get the new motor, I thought that one of the things I like about a swamp cooler was that I could fix any problem with it myself, and cheap compared to central air.  My next thought was ‘but with central air, I could just call somebody and have them sweating out in the heat fixing it.’  But then I thought ‘yeah, but that would cost a boatload of $$$’.  If I could just figure out a way to get someone else to work out in the 90+ degree sun sweating like a pig, without having to pay for it.  Yeah, that would be nice.

I also did a little more trim work on the porch roof.  I’ve got all the decking in, covering the linoleum from above, and everything is working great.  We had a downpour (by Utah standards) at my house yesterday and not a single drop showed up inside the porch!  YES!  Success! (cross fingers, knock on wood)

This weekend it’s fence building.  Weather permitting.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cleanup & rebuild, that’s all that’s left.

Finished cutting down that last clump of trees today. The hard part was getting the back half cut down without letting them fall on the truck or motorcycle back there.   The trees had grown at least 10 feet over into the parking area.  I came up with a great idea though, a variation of the method we used when cutting down the apple tree.  I tied a rope to the piece that I was going to cut and then tied it to the tree on the other side of my yard.   I pulled it as tight as I could, then cut 3/4 of the way through the tree.  The rope held it from falling onto the truck, and with it cut most of the way through I could just pull it over onto my property.  Worked like buttah

I also discovered a great way to cut those branches that were too big for Cindi (the tree loppers), but too small to bother getting the chain saw all riled up for.  The saws-all.  Worked like a charm, except that now I need to get some new blades for it.  The ironic thing was that it was a lot easier cutting through the live branches than the dead ones.  Or I should say the almost-dead ones.  The dead-dead ones just broke and pulled right out of the ground easily.  The almost-dead ones wouldn’t break, just like the live ones, but took a lot more work cutting through. 

Well, it’s done now.  Next step is going to be to put up the fence, something a lot like the one you see in the picture at the top.  It feels incredibly open and vulnerable without all the foliage blocking the view from next door.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

What a beautiful sentiment.

It came off easily and is now on my fridge at home, a monument to selfish asininity.

Tree Removal 102

My neighbors were kind enough to park their cars out of the way once again, so my brother got his truck back there for the rest of the pulling.  We started with this clump of small trees in the picture.  My brother wrapped the cable around about a third of the branches and yanked at them.  No go.  A big tree with a single trunk is a lot easier to yank out than a clump of little trees with intertwined branches and roots.  We decided the best way to deal with this is just cut it down and kill the roots.

The remaining three trees went easily, except for when a lady in the apartment complex opened her window and told us to quiet down and slammed the window shut.  It’s not like we were up at 6:00 in the morning waking everybody up, this was at 10:30, well within the legal requirements.  We just ignored her, because if you  can’t be polite and I’m doing things at a reasonable time, well I’m just going to continue doing what I need to get done.  We tear out another tree, and a guy opens up the window and nicely says something about trying to sleep and concerns about rocks hitting his window.  We explained that the way we were pulling, rocks were very unlikely to hit his window, and then told him we had one more tree to pull out and then we would be done.  He closed the window, not slamming it, and that was the last we heard from him.  My brother suggested we try one more time to pull out the clump of trees, but since the polite encounter with the guy I decided to keep my word to him and stop at that last one.  Otherwise we probably would have tried the clump again.

Now that the big trees are all out, all that is left is snipping down the clump that is left and cutting the big trees into bite sized pieces.  Anybody with a chainsaw, or axe if you’re Amish, that wants some free firewood is more than welcome to come over sometime and help with the chopping.  Anything you chop you can have.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Tree Removal 101

My family (of cars) has expanded to the point that I have to make more room at my house.  I have a back yard behind the garage that was nothing more than a big weed garden so I decided to turn it into parking area for a couple of the vehicles.  That meant tapping through the carport, which I purposely built so that the back could be removed to create a drive-through.  Now I just needed to clear out a few trees to make it accessible.

So I rented a cherry-picker (top right picture) from Home Depot so we could trim the tree around the cable wires safely.  $140 for 4 hours ($12 for insurance in case a branch fell on it and broke something.)   The job went pretty easily, if not a lot slower than we had expected.  We did all the trimming we needed to in the 4 hours, but only got about 1/2 the ground area cleared.  So we get to do Tree Removal 102 tomorrow.

The boom went up pretty high.  Before we brought it back I took it up about 2/3 of it’s maximum height, that was all I could handle, to get some pictures. I was above the tops of the power poles, and could see quite a way around the neighborhood.   The couple who live right behind me were doing yard work and made a few jokes about dropping in for a beer.

After we returned the cherry-picker, it was time to start pulling out the trees.  This was done with a cable wrapped around the tree, hooked to a chain which was hooked to the bumper hitch of my brothers big Ford truck.  He put it into 4 wheel drive and just pulled them out.  The biggest tree was easy to pull out, I think that’s because it was kind of sick and probably should have been removed a while ago – it had a lot of dead wood in it.  One of the weed trees just didn’t want to come out.  It took a little bit of work, on the part of the truck, but we finally coaxed it into giving up it’s spot.  Now we get to finish the project tomorrow or next week.

When we picked up the cherry picker, I met my little brother at the Home Depot.  I had to pay for it, and he towed it behind the truck, so we met there.  We had it all hooked up and paid for and I told him that I’d just leave my car at Home Depot and I’d pick it up when we dropped the cherry picker off.  Fast forward to 1:00, when it was due and we are in serious need of lunch.  We drop off the cherry picker, head out to lunch and then back to work.  When we’re finished for the day, realizing it was going to take another day, my brother starts to ask me if it’s ok if he left his truck at my house and took my Subaru home.  Hmmm, would have been a good idea if we hadn’t forgotten to pick it up.  So, not only does he not get to leave the truck here, but still has to drive me to Home Depot to pick up my car.  Duh!

Fun day.

Gliders and T.M.I.

We had some colorful motorized paragliders buzzing the Chevron today.  I think they come out of Sugarhouse Park, that’s where it looks like they land.  They look cool flying around there and it’s funny to watch the customers staring up in the sky as they go around.  Makes me wonder if anyone is looking to see if it’s Super Dell Schanze.

We also had a big group of 20-somethingers come into the store.  Three of the girls were at the counter while one of them was paying.  The lady paying reached around to tap her friend on the shoulder, and instead got a hand full of breast.  She turns towards the friend and tells her ‘sorry’, and the friend says ‘what?’ 

I just grabbed your boob.”

Really, I didn’t even notice.”

Seriously? Even the he [meaning me] noticed.”  We were both smirking by this time.

Guess I’m just so used to it I didn’t even notice.”

We were all laughing by now, so I just said “Ok, T.M.I.” and handed her the change.

Friday, July 23, 2010



Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Driving up to look at the ATV damage on the south forty

Yeah, another one of my videos from the roof of the car.  Why all these pretty boring videos?, you may ask.  Well, spend any time on YouTube?  If you have, you would notice that there are a lot, millions, of boring videos that seem to get a ton of hits.  I just figure that if I keep putting crap up there, one of them eventually has to go viral.

Monday, July 19, 2010

So tempted. Classifieds are evil.  To me, as evil as a bar is to an alcoholic.  I was just perusing the available cars, which I do just for kicks every now and again.  Most cars I can force myself to not buy, mainly ‘cause I’ve got too many as it is, and no money.  But this one, sheesh it’s gonna be hard. 

One of the funnest cars I’ve ever owned was a 1984 Ford Mustang Convertible, with the V-6, automatic, red with a white interior.  Just like this one I saw on for a mere $600. 

Now, I’m pretty sure it’s not the exact car I used to own.  It doesn’t look like it was repainted in the recent past, although the paint could be oxidized enough so that it isn’t a bright red anymore.  But when I repainted mine, I had them write “Christine” in the pinstriping, right behind the back wheel, and this one for sale doesn’t have it.  I also think mine was totalled by the kid that bought it.

I’m tempted to go look at it, but afraid to because I just might end up bringing it home.  It’s been said before, will be again, but I truly do need to spend some time at the Henry Ford Clinic.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

In the clear again…

It was almost 100 today and I was out working on the porch roof again.  Hot work.  Discovered that a nice cotton hat can be a lot of help.  Not to keep me cooler, but to absorb the sweat that would otherwise drip into my eyes.  It’s a lot easier to see what you’re doing when your eyeballs aren’t waterlogged with dirty, salty water.

One of the things I learned from my dad from camping in the So. Utah deserts was to watch my pee.  As disgusting as this sounds, it helps keep me from getting dehydrated, and in 100 degree weather with 22% humidity, dehydration is easy to achieve.  The darker the color, the more water you need to drink.  Clear or almost clear means you’ve been drinking enough (and alcohol does not count).  Halfway through the project I noticed I wasn’t drinking enough, so I started guzzling glasses of room temperature water.  I discovered on my own that, at least for me, when I’m dehydrated ice cold water gives me stomach cramps.  Not so good.

Anyway, it’s almost 11 now, still 86 degrees, but at least my pee is clear.  Just what you wanted to know.  The good news is that all the decking is in place, and all but one small piece (I had to stand somewhere) has the requisite 3 coats of paint.  I just have to paint the last spot and reassemble the railing that keeps me from falling off when working on the swamp cooler.

Now, it’s time to put in another “That 70’s Show” DVD and rest these aching bones.

Driving over Guardsman Pass, part 1 & 2

I hooked one of those Flip Video cameras to the roof rack of my car and took these videos as we drove over Guardsman Pass from Midway to Brighton Ski Resort.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Forgot this little tidbit from last night…

He must have been in his late 60’s, comes into the store and I greet him with the usual “how’s it going?”.  His response:

“Well, I’m in one piece and above the flowers.”

Friday, July 16, 2010

Slim on a hot tin roof.

Freezers are supposed to stay below 32 degrees, right?  Well, Chevron’s decided it liked 45 better.  We didn’t notice until a customer came up with a bag of ice that had a puddle of water in the bottom.  They’re not supposed to do that.

1I checked all the breakers, the fans were working and I couldn’t find anything to adjust the temp with.  So I called the manager and he suggested I flip the breakers to the freezer, let them reset, and flip them back on.  No go.

So he called the repair dude, who suggested I call him and he could talk me through a few troubleshooting things.  I checked the copper tube thingy, which was hot and wasn’t supposed to be.  Then he (the repair dude) asked me if I could get up on the roof.  Um, ok, it’s just 30 or 40 feet straight up this ladder bolted to the outside of the building.  I need to get the keys to the2 ladder, so I tell him that I’ll call him back when I’m up on the roof.  I text the manager to ask him if we have keys to the roof at the store, and then mention it to the guy I’m working with. He goes “Yeah, right there with the other keys, the ones marked ‘Roof’.”  Duh! Should have asked him before texting the manager.

I get up on the roof, call repair dude back and he has me check the copper tube up there.  Hot too.  Not good.   So he says to get a long hose, haul it up there and spray out the compressor.  Ok, more fun getting up that ladder carrying a hose with me.  Fortunately the spray nozzle hooked onto the ladder rungs perfectly so I could put it up a couple rungs, climb up, move the hose up, climb more and so on all 3 the way up.

The rest was kind of relaxing, standing there spraying down the compressors.  I figured I might as well do them all while I was there.  A lot of dirt came out as I sprayed them, which was a good sign because that meant that most likely was the problem.  I called repair dude back and he had me check the copper tubing again, which was no longer hot.  He was happy with that.  He then asked me to keep an eye on the freezer temperature for a while and then call him back.  The temp went way down to 20 degrees, I called him and told him, texted the manager too, and repair dude said to let 4 him know if it starts to get too warm again.

Two hours later it was at 20 degrees again (we had a little spike when we had the door open restocking the ice bags) and I left a note for everyone to keep an eye on it over the weekend.  I told the manager that the note said “if it hits 30, sell”, but I actually told them to call him.

Troubleshooting is fun, and it’s especially enjoyable when I can actually fix the problem.  So even though I ended up staying an hour and a half longer than I was supposed to, it wasn’t so bad.  At least I got paid for it.

Dirt roads in hail storms are fun!

Here I’ve got the Flip Video hooked to the roof rack as I drive from the South Forty back to camp in a hail storm.  I hit a poor little tree near the end.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The 4th of July Parade (on the 3rd)

Yeah, I know.  This is a little bit late, but sometimes these things just happen.

I worked, and became good friends, with someone who is now on the School Board at the district I work for.  She’s been on it for a couple DSC_1346 of years, and last year asked me if I would drive her in the South Salt Lake 4th of July parade in my ‘70 LTD convertible.  I, of course, said I would love to.  Well, the parade was not a priority of the Mayor at the time, so because of budget restraints it was cancelled.  This year, with a new Mayor, the parade was back on and my friend called me up and asked if I would be willing to drive her this time.  I didn’t say yes right away, because the car was (is still) having some issues with the transmission, and I didn’t want to risk it.  But I did know someone else with an old Ford(ish) convertible and figured I might as well ask.  The Gearheads agreed to drive her and her husband around in their ‘69 Cougar convertible.  It was all working out great until my friend mentioned that another of the School Board members wanted to join in the car, which would make 3 in the back seat of the Cougar, which is not quite as big as the LTD.  We warned them that it would be a bit cozy, DSC_1371but this didn’t deter them at all.  Cozy they could handle.  So my little brother, his wife and I were up and ready to go by 6:30 am, after being at the South Salt Lake fireworks until after 11 the night before.   Ahhh, who needs sleep when you can be in a parade.  Mr. Gearhead headed down to the meeting place with the Cougar while Mrs. Gearhead came to pick me up.  Since the Cougar has 2 bucket seats in the front, Mrs. Gearhead was going to sit out and take pictures of the parade.  We get less than 3 blocks away from my house when Mr. Gearhead calls to let us know the Cougar was out of commission.   Something in the front end gave way, luckily while he was on a side road and not on the freeway.  Eeeek!  Well, transmission issues or not, we flipped a U turn and headed back to get the LTD.  I was 98.7% sure it was going to make it through the whole parade, so we decided we had to take the chance.  I wasn’t going to get down to the parade starting area and have them all cram into the back seat of Mrs. Gearhead’s Nissan.

DSC_1374We made it to the staging area by 7:00, despite the troubles, and parked the car in our designated position, 12th in the line.  Then my friend  took all 3 of us out to breakfast, we went and picked up her husband and headed back.  The good thing was that since we were in the LTD, the two Board members and husband fit nicely in the back seat (sitting up on the back of the car, feet on the seat, not very safe, but at a maximum of 10 MPH that really wasn’t a concern.)  AND both The Gearheads could join me in the front seat of the car for the parade. 

It was a blast.  It took us about an hour to drive the 5 or 10 miles, and the whole time all the passengers were throwing candy at the people watching the parade.  The car drove great, going that slow shifting was not an issue.  At one point Mr. Gearhead jumped out of the moving car to get pictures of us going by, and then caught up to us and jumped right back in.  Fun stuff.  I hope she asks me again next year.  Maybe we can get both the Cougar and the LTD in.DSC_1330

This last picture is of three of my students from the high school who decided it would be fun to chase me around with Super-Soakers.  Mr. Gearhead borrowed a Super-Soaker from a group of younger kids and got into the fray to defend me.  I had a few bottles of water, so I wasn’t unarmed, and the 5 of us ended up getting pretty wet.  Since summer had finally hit Salt Lake, it was quite refreshing.  We also got into a water fight with them at the end of the parade.

All in all, a very fun and tiring day.

Clouds over the Uintahs

More of my time lapse playing.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How to embed a YouTube video in your blog.

I made this up for my brother, and thought I’d post it here in case anyone else is interested.  It is a PDF file, so everyone should be able to open it, but keep in mind it was written for a PC and Blogger.  Mac and other blog programs may be a little bit (or a lot for all I know) different.  I hope it’s helpful, and if you have any suggestions to improve it, let me know.

How To: click here


Monday, July 12, 2010

A walk in the park.

Ok, so it’s really a walk in my property.  This is the road from our camp to the front gate.


Pat Bagley: Psychic Political Cartoonist.

Oh, the irony of it all.  Sunday, as my brother and I were surveying the damage done by ATVists who ignored the big blockade to their ad hoc road on our property, the Salt Lake Tribune published this cartoon by Pat Bagley:


Ironic coincidence or psychic premonition? You be the judge.