Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cue the circus music…

PLAY the music, the post will be a lot better that way.

The 2013 session of the Utah State Legislature starts tomorrow (Monday), and for the next 6½ weeks we’re guaranteed an emotional roller coaster ride.

This annual clown-fest never fails to entertain, amuse, frustrate, amaze, annoy, disgust and dismay.

Already on the agenda we have, under the following categories:


  1. SJR5, by Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, giving the governor and Senate employment control over the State School Superintendent.   Currently, the State School Board which is elected by the citizens, has control over the hiring and firing of their Superintendent.  Apparently that gives the Super too much leeway in doing what the citizens want, rather than what the Senate and Governor want them to do.
  2. SB39, by Sen. Stuart Reid, R-Ogden, requiring school districts to  provide a sex-education course for parents.  Not a bad idea, but as with many legislative mandates for education, there is no apparent funding for the development and implementation of these courses.  Which means less $ for my classroom.
  3. SB110, by Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, which seeks better ways for schools to spend the little money the have, rather than even attempting to bring us close to the funding level of the second lowest state in the nation.  Coming from Stephenson, who is outwardly hostile to public education, this scares me.


  1. Unnamed bill, unnamed sponsor, giving county sheriffs the ability to arrest federal agents attempting to seize guns from Utahns.
  2. Unnamed bill, Rep. John Mathis, R-Vernal, would allow anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.
  3. Unnamed bill, Rep. Paul Ray, R-Clearfield, would prevent the police from charging someone with disorderly conduct for carrying a weapon openly.

And that’s just what the Salt Lake Tribune published.  We’re bound to see even more bizarre bills pop up out of nowhere just like the last several years, and I have no way of even guessing what they will contain.

Wheeeeee, let the ride begin.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Softness in the air.

We finally got up above freezing, though the inversion is still in place.

With the melting of the snow, and practically nowhere for the water vapor to go, this enhances the smog with some wicked fog.  The city has been socked in all day.

With just the smog, the air is harsh and almost hard enough to hurt if you try to run through it.  But, for some reason, with the fog in the air, it seems soft to me.  Part of that is probably the little bit of smog our ice storm on Thursday knocked out of the atmosphere.  Yet, I’ve always loved the fog, the way it quiets everything down, the cozy feeling of solitude it gives me.  I can’t see everything, so it must not be there.

I took these pictures today, because it was actually warm enough to venture out of the warm house/car longer than just to run from one to the other.

Here’s my house, in the fog.

On the freeway.  Don’t worry, I wasn’t driving while trying to focus the camera.  I take these shots just by pointing the camera out the windshield and hoping to get something decent.  Another benefit of digital cameras.

One of the entrances to the new high school that is about to be moved into.

It’s long enough that it just fades into the fog.

The front door of the high school the new one is replacing.  By this time next year it won’t be here.

My school, at night in the fog.

On the freeway again, at night.

He did it again.

Since taking office, I have rarely been impressed, or even happy, with Governor Gary Herbert.  But he’s done it again.

Every county Sherriff in Utah, except for Salt Lake County’s, signed a letter to President Obama saying that they refuse to enforce federal gun laws that they think are unconstitutional.

State Representative Brian Greene, R-Pleasant Grove, has proposed a state law prohibiting enforcement of new federal gun laws in Utah.

Gov. Herbert’s response?

I think we need to adhere to the law.  Nobody is above the law and, again, if we have laws that are passed that are unconstitutional…we need to fight that in court and change the law.

I have someone else out there who is worried about Congress sweeping in and taking away our guns. I think it’s probably an emotional, knee-jerk reaction … If we don’t like the laws that are passed, if we don’t like the executive orders, we have a process in place.  Go to court.  We don’t have to have confrontations at the border.

…Utah will adhere to the law of the land.

Standing up to the Gun Lobby in Utah.  As much as it hurts to say this, Gov. Herbert has guts.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Stupid, stupid bird.

We haven’t seen temperatures above freezing for almost two weeks now. For the most part, our afternoon highs have been around 20°F (-10°C).  The air is gross, the ground is frozen and the sun is hidden.  Every self-respecting, sane bird flew south a long time ago.

And yet my cats were able to find the one, psychologically unstable, bird left in my neighborhood.  And capture it. and spread it’s feathers all over my livingroom for me to clean up.

Thanks guys.

And kudos for these guys for an awesome snowplowing job.  Let’s have someone who is handicapped park their 4-wheel drive on a snowbank and climb out onto the ice, rather than blocking a regular parking spot.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King Jr – You Rock!

And a big “Welcome Back” to President Obama.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brought to you by 6240.

It may just be visual, but for anyone here along the Wasatch Front, here’s a little relief from the smog trapped in the valleys.

The summit between East and Emigration Canyons sits at about 6240 feet above sea level.  That’s about 1800 feet above where my house sits.  Friday I headed up there, just to get some fresh air and see the sky.  It was warm (compared to down in the city), fresh and wonderful.  Today or tomorrow, I may head out westward to find some sky.  Then I should be able to survive until Wednesday, when they say something’s coming through that will scour out the valley.

I took that picture yesterday, out by the airport.  I was fascinated that they would paint the belly of an airplane that color.

This was also fascinating, how the snow was holding together despite hanging down off the railing of my upper deck.  I took these pictures yesterday, and it’s still dangling today, although a little lower.  I’ll let you know when it collapses.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Who died and left you speaking for God?


John Swallow.  An ultra-right wing Tea Partier that just got elected Attorney General for the State of Utah.  In his week in office he has already started fundraising for the next election and is embroiled in a bribery scandal that is currently under investigation.

Gayle Ruzicka.  Phone-tree Queen of the Eagle Forum of Utah, she was instrumental in creating a controversy over a local High School production of “Dead Man Walking”, where the patron comments to the Jordan School District were 699 in favor (give or take a few) to 1 opposed (exactly 1, no more, no less according to the district spokesperson herself).  This also lead to the recent cancellation, (after 3 month of student practices, set building and choreography), of another High School’s production of “All Shook Up”.  (Again, 1 patron caused the cancellation, which was only reversed after the copyright holder agreed to the required concessions.)


The conference room at the downtown Salt Lake Radisson Hotel.


The conference room is filled with people attending the opening day speeches for the Annual Eagle Forum of Utah pre-Legislative Session Conference. Gayle is on stage at the VIP table.  Enter Jon Swallow, stage left…

John : “Welcome, blah, blah, blah.”

Audience applause.

John: “Blah, blah, blah and some yadda, yadda, yadda".”

More audience applause.

John: “Gayle Ruzicka blah, blah, blah, when she passes, she’ll be going straight to the Celestial Kingdom, yak, yak, yak, blah, blah, yadda, yadda.”

Much applause.  Curtain closes, applause fades.

END of Act One

Ok, I wasn’t actually there, so I used a little poetic license in the setting and dialog.

But our Attorney General did actually* claim that this hate-filled woman that feels the need to force her special definition of a “proper lifestyle” on every citizen of the State of Utah**  would be headed directly to the highest level of Heaven.

*according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
**and beyond.

Or, in the words of a friend of mine who’s LDS; “No she’s not.  Unless I’ve grossly misunderstood my lessons all these years.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thematic Photographic–Multiples.

This theme is the perfect showcase for my multiple old Ford LTDs.


Old Blue (1969) and Christine II (1970)

BattleCruiser III (1972) and Old Blue (although I no longer have the BattleCruiser).

Alphonse (1978) and Old Blue (Alphonse is technically a Mercury Marquis, but that’s just a Ford LTD with a Mercury badge on it).


BattleCruiser, Christine and Old Blue


Old Blue, Christine, BattleCruiser and Big Green (1972) (who is now brown.  go figure.)

Monday, January 14, 2013

Talk about a backlog.

I got an email today with a subject line that just said “Case #204609221”. 

The body of the email identified the sender as The Better Business Bureau and informed me that they were processing a complaint from one of my customers.

Near the end they warn me: “Failure to promptly give attention to this matter may be reflected in the report we give to consumers about your company.  We encourage you to print this complaint (attached file), answer the questions and respond to us.”  (note: “open the attached file” should always be a red flag.)

Red Flag #2 – I would never use my personal email for business purposes, so why did they send it there?

Big-Ass Red Flag #3 – The only business I ever owned went belly-up in June of 1985.

That’s one heck of a back-log, 27½ years.

But the best laugh was when I read the last line in the email:
BBB Serving Metropolitan New York, Long Island and the Mid-Hudson Region

Yup.  Provo, Utah falls under that region.  We often delivered pizza to the students at Brigham Young University of Long Island. 

Uh, yeah.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Yup, you ARE more important than anyone else. I guess.

I was at a funeral Friday night, during the snow storm.  They had ample parking, but it was a short walk from the building.  Which would have been no fun if I hadn’t found a nice, close spot that I could plow my Jeep into.

When the other teacher I went with and I decided it was time to leave and headed out to the parking lot, we couldn’t get out.  Seems that someone decided it was a lot more important for them to be close the front door than it was for three other groups to leave when the felt like it.  He parked his car right behind us.

We had to find a waitress, who told us to look for the guy at the door.  Who wasn’t at the door.  We finally found him, after 10 minutes of looking, and he finally made an announcement to the group.

I guess I should appreciate that he did apologize, but frankly, I find BS apologies more annoying than nothing at all.

“Sorry, I couldn’t find anywhere else to park.”  Uh, you mean to add “where I wouldn’t have to walk a half block in the snow.”?

I can sympathize with not wanting to walk in the snow, but why is it that preventing a 5 minute inconvenience for you is worth causing someone else a 15 minute inconvenience?  Or any inconvenience at all?

Oh, I forgot.  You ARE more important than me.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Upside-down snow storm.

It snowed for about 40 hours here in Salt Lake.  That’s unusual for us, but even more unusual was where the snow fell.

The weather people are calling it an “upside-down” snow storm.  Overall, the valleys got more snowfall than the mountain ski resorts.

I got 18” (46cm).    The benches in Bountiful got 34” (86cm) and the benches in Salt Lake got up around 2’ (61cm).

The ski resorts got less.  Snowbasin topped it off with 19” (48cm), the only one that got more snow than I did.  Snowbird got 17” (43cm), Brighton 13” (33cm) and Alta and Solitude a whopping 10” (25cm).

That’s very unusual.  We’ve had winters where the ski resorts get pummeled with snow, and the city sees mostly rain.  And frankly, I like it better that way.  Good for the tourism, much better for driving around the city.

Although, it has made me happy I bought the Wrangler.  Getting around has been slow, but not white knuckle driving like it would have been in the old Fords.

And, even with a foot and a half of snow, I been able to get in and out of my long, uphill driveway without having to shovel it at all.

Now, that’s good.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hello? Utah here.

As an 8th Grade Math teacher, I had to take a national survey today.  I got to this question and first laughed, then cried.

Could they at least acknowledge that we exist?  That having only 26 in a class is an anomaly in at least one of the 50 states?

The top one has the question and choices exactly like the real survey I took, the bottom one is the way I would imagine it if it was written just for Utah teachers.

Just click on it if it’s too small to read.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Junk in my trunk.

Or “Trunk in my Jeep”.

One of the drawbacks of a Wrangler is that when you’re driving around with the top off, or soft top on, there really isn’t any room to store stuff securely.

I was going to buy a truck bed box and somehow make it work in the Jeep.  Everything I looked at was going to look jerry-rigged and displace the back seat.

So I went online looking for real Jeep storage that may still take the place of the back seat, but at least would look like it belonged there.

Instead I found the “Insta-Trunk”, a piece of metal that was custom formed for my Wrangler, would fit behind the back seat and wouldn’t mean having extra keys to get into it.

It’s bolted in (from inside itself) and fits tight against the back door, creating a small (1’ x 1’ x 34”) but secure storage compartment that is accessible with nothing more than the Jeep’s own key.  I can also remove it easily if I ever need to carry something big.

It was pretty simple to install.  With bolt inserts that go into holes that come from the factory, it needed no drilling and took me a total of 2 hours to install. 

And that included my custom job for the high-boy jack, which did take some drilling.

Now I’m really ready for some warm weather to come along.