Friday, July 31, 2009

New Neighbors, Old Powers and Dumbass Stores.

.... Looks like they sold the house next door, so I'm going to be getting new neighbors.  At this point, this is neither good nor bad, I like the neighbors I have now but I don't know the new ones so I'll just have to wait and see.
.... I've lost my special STS powers, they took them away.  Three years ago when I became an STS they gave me an administrative login for the school I was at.  They also, accidentally, gave me the same access to the school I was at right before.  I let them know, and for some reason they couldn't figure out how to un-link me from the Jr. High.  Then when they linked me to my new school (the one that rhymes with schmeisenhower) I had administrative access to all three schools.  Which meant that I could do all kinds of things, including seeing what classes everyone at the schools was teaching, and who was in their classes.  Not all that interesting, but it made me feel powerful.  Of course it also meant that to get to my own grades I had to login, choose the school, click on 'staff', scroll down to my name, click on it and then click on the class I wanted to do grades and/or attendance for.  Yesterday I logged in and it went straight to my classes.  No other schools, no list of staff, no extra-human powers.  Not bad, since it cuts getting to things down from four clicks to one, but, man, I used to be powerful.
.... Imagine a Ford dealer that didn't have a parts or service department.  Would you go there, or go down the street to the one that could help with the upkeep of your new Ford?  I bought a light switch from Home Depot that automatically turns on and off my outside lights at dusk and dawn.  Without the battery I can't even turn them on manually so when it died I went down to Home Depot to get a new one.  Couldn't find one at the store on 33rd So, and when one of their guys couldn't find one either, he suggested I go to the one on 21st So, since the 33rd is one of the smallest stores and 21st is one of the biggest.  So, I did.  Lotta good that did, they don't carry replacement batteries for that item, which they sold me in the first place.  Maybe Radio Shack will, or they suggested some place that specializes in batteries down on 33rd So and 2nd East.  Dude, replacement batteries for something you sell, it's a simple concept.
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Huge hole in the earth and quirky little park in Salt Lake City

Tuesday was the last day my visitor would be in town.  We went out to see the Great Salt Lake, then to the Bingham Copper Mine, to Gilgal Gardens and finally to The Museum of Natural History up at the University of Utah. 
It's been a long time since I've been out to see the big pit, at least 10 years.  A lot has changed since then.  They moved the visitor's center, since the hole is a lot larger.  The most noticable thing, at least at first, is the increase in security.  From zero to the President sleeps here.  Last time I was there you just drove up to the visitor's center, walked out to the rim and took pictures.  Now you have to check in with Security at the front gate.  They give you a pass to hang on your rearview mirror, jot down the # of people in your car on a number coded stub from the hanger and charge you $5 a car.  A sign tells you that you are only permitted to take pictures at the visitor's center, and all the way up you are reminded not to stop and not to take pictures.  And there's a security dude in his truck at the center to make sure you follow all rules.  Jeese, it's just a hole!
One of those bigass tires that go on one of those bigass trucks that haul the dirt and ore out of the pit.
My pciture of their picture of the pit from the air.
Gilgal Gardens is a small little place in the heart of Salt Lake City.  Originally it was the back yard of a private residence, but when the house went up for sale, to prevent the destruction of this little oddity, Salt Lake City purchased the property.  Thomas Child started working on it in 1945 and worked on it until his death in 1963.  It's full of rock carvings like this statue of the sphinx with the face of Joseph Smith.  Rocks with engravings of scriptures form pathways and walls all over the place.  There is a statue of himself and one of his wife.
Below is a rock carving of a Mormon Cricket.
In the center is a sculpture of Thomas Child, surrounded by what looks like tools he used for farming and the carvings themselves.  One of the groundskeepers, an lady in what I would guess is her 70's, told us that he did all the carvings and engravings himself - except for the faces.  He didn't do faces so he had a friend of his carve all the faces for him.
A little set up of stones with scriptures, both standing up and on the walking stones.  I told the lady that I used to come here with my friends back when I was in high school and that I remembered it being a lot more overgrown, and that they had obviously cleaned it up since the city took over.  I also asked if anything had been moved around during the cleaning up or if everything was still in it's original place.  She told me that nothing had been moved, everything was in the place that Thomas had put it.  She also said to me, in response to my telling her that my friends and I visited there back in high school, "So, you and your little friends were some of the ones that used to sneak in and smoke marijuana in the corner there?"  Uh, no, not me!  She just smiled, chuckled and went on telling us about the history of the place.
Some sort of garden of stone body parts. If you click on the link below you can see them close up.
To see the rest of the pictures from that day go here: Bingam Copper Pit & Gilgal Gardens
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Let's all go to the rodeo.

The evening after the Days of '47 Parade we went to the Days of '47 Rodeo, also a first for me.  I'd seen rodeo stuff on TV, but never been to one life.  It's kind of like watching NASCAR, waiting for an accident to happen and then being horrified when something does happen.   I don't think I'll ever go to a rodeo again, but I'm glad I went at least once.  It was an interesting experience. 
Some of the things you'll see at the Days of '47 Rodeo:
Look down in the bottom right-hand corner, it says "Let me hear it" with lasers.
Bucking broncos
Cattle rasselin'
Rodeo clowns.  Here he is trying to shoot a hotdog, bun and all, up into the stands.  As you can see (methinks) the air gun pretty much shredded the hotdog.  For those of you not familiar with rodeos, the clown is not just there for entertainment.  As you'll see in a later photo, they are trained to distract the bull from a fallen rider.  I was amazed at how close they got to the bull, and somehow kept from getting gored by one of his horns.
Calf roping.  A few times the announcer talked about the "animal athletes".  It kind of reminded me of the one time I went to a WWF (pro-wrestling) match and commented on how it was all faked.  The people next to us argued 'till they were blue in the face that it was all real.  At the rodeo the announcer went on about how the cowboys weren't the only athletes, and about how much the animals really enjoyed their part in the rodeo.  Now, I don't want to get into a discussion about whether or not you can call this animal cruelty.  Part of me agrees with that, part of me sees the rodeo as a part of Western American culture and the animals do walk away seemingly unharmed, and they do look well taken care of.   But, I can't see how you can say either animal in the picture below is actually enjoying the experience.  Yet the audience hooted and hollered in complete agreement with the announcers claims that the animals were having a good time.
Wagon races.
A monkey riding a dog corralling sheep.
Awesome rope tricks.
And, of course, bull riding.  Here you can see the rodeo clowns heading to intercept the bull.
For the rest of the Rodeo pictures go here: Days of '47 Rodeo
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Days of '47 Parade

It took having a friend who has never been to Utah coming into town to get me to finally, after living here 35 years, go see the Days of '47 parade and rodeo.  That's what I did this 24th of July.  For those of you outside of Utah, it's the celebration of when the pioneers came into and settled the valley.  It's also a state holiday, with a lot of state offices closed.  I found out from my friend that not all states have their own holidays, that some states, like New York, only celebrate the national ones. 
Looking down into the valley from Little Cottonwood Canyon.  No, it has nothing to do with the parade, but I did like the picture.
The LDS First Presidency.  Not surprising that the parade had a LDS theme to it, since the pioneers were members of the church.  I liked the "Men in Khaki", which I'm assuming are the Church's version of Obama's secret service men.
What aliens have to do with the pioneers, I have no idea.  But it did occur to me to ask "is he or she an illegal alien?"
Randy "I'll pave my grandmother for a hundred bucks" Horiuchi, our Salt Lake County coucil member that seems to believe in shopping malls on every corner.
One of the more colorful characters, and she wasn't even in the parade.  When our Senator Bennett drove by she yelled "Health Care for All" at him and she also had comments for pretty much every politician that drove by.  Very vocal lady.  And impeccably dressed, too!
This guy had enough clout (money) to get the Utah State Legislature to force Salt Lake County to pony up several million dollars so he could build his new soccer stadium.  Even though the county voted it down, the mayor and the majority of the populace was against it, and they had a perfectly good place to play up at the University of Utah.  Yeah, it's nice to know our legislators can't be bought.
And this was just a cool picture of a purple-haired clown with one of her soap bubbles behind her head.
You can see all of my photos from the parade here : Days of '47 Parade
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Monday, July 27, 2009

Gone, but not forgotten.

My back yard is empty again.  The big old 43 GMC "Deuce & a half" my brother was storing there was hauled away today.  It only took us 3 1/2 hours to get it out, which is a lot longer than it took to get in, but at least we didn't hit any houses on the way out.*  We did break several chains and ticked off a few drivers, but other than that it went pretty smooth.  My neighbor, whose house we hit on the way in (see below), was there the whole time, and instead of making it a more stressful situation, he had a lot of good ideas, and tools, that helped it go smoothly. 
The back yard, with the truck sitting in it.
The nice, thin driveway we had to get it down.
Oops, hitch mistake #1 of several.
Finally, it's out of the back yard.  Now we just have to get it out without hitting anyone's house.
We had some trouble getting it to move at first, it had sunk a ways into the dirt.
Fixing hitch screw-up #2.
Hmmm, not too bad on this side.
Uhhh, now we're talking close.
Finally, past the houses.  As you can see if you look in front of the truck pulling, there's a car squeezing past as he tries to get out onto the street.  Even better was the lady in the maroon minivan coming the other way.  The truck was about a third of the way into the lane, still moving and she pulls almost into the gutter to squeeze by.  I don't think she got the sarcasm when I yelled "Thanks for being so patient" as she went by.
On the other side of the street.  One of the chains broke, so we had to fix hitch screwup #3, which wasn't so bad since they wanted to pull from the front anyway.
Pulling into traffic.  At least the red Dakota was kind enough to stop for us.
And awaaaaay we go....
The back yard, without a truck.  Now I have no excuse for letting it go to weed rather than doing something with it.
And the best news is that there is a very, very, very good chance that a friend of the guy who took it will buy it and restore it instead of it being torn apart for scrap.  (I did hear "friend", "restores old trucks" and "sell it to him".  I might have made up the "very, very, very good chance" part.)
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*When we brought it in we scraped the side of the neighbor's house.  I hadn't warned him about bringing a huge truck up the driveway he shares with my next-door neighbors, so he was kind of shook up (and angry) when we rattled his whole house.  He got over it, sort of, so I've been a little stressed at the prospect of it happening again as we brought it out.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

And I thought Chevron was bad.

.... Heard this striaght from my friend who is a night manager at the Sugarhouse Liquor Store, they have it on video.
.... Older man is standing by one of the wine racks.  He places a hand on the rack and starts to grimace.  For about a minute or so. The grimace goes away, he stands up, shakes his leg.  Something brown drops out the bottom of his pants and he kicks it under the wine rack.  He walks away.
.... I kid you not.  This is not an urban legend, my friend did not hear it from a friend who heard it from his brother-in-law's uncle's cousin's dog's best-friend's owner.  My friend saw the video himself.
.... Makes me glad I only have to clean up after people who throw bottles and cigarette butts mere inches from the trash.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Through the eyes of a New Yorker.

Showed my visitor from New York around the city a little bit.  We went up into the Avenues and looked out over the whole city, went to the "This is the Place" Monument, drove up Emigration Canyon, down Parley's Canyon and then up to Snowbird Ski Resort.  First of all he was amazed at how clean everything was, the lack of trash all over the place.  He also commented on the lack of barriers preventing people from doing stupid things.  At the top of Emigration Canyon he said that you could just drive right off the edge, there was nothing to stop you.  I never thought about it, but even at the Dead Horse Point lookout, all you have keeping you from the abyss is a 2 or 3 foot stone wall.  Easy to climb over.  But, hey, if we fenced off anywhere that was dangerous in Utah, there'd be no chain-link fence left anywhere else.  He also, probably like most of the rest of the world, thought that the ski resorts had nothing going on when there was no snow.  He was surprised that they had the Alpine Slide, rope climbing, wire walking and even a zip line.  A really, really wimpy zip line compared to the one we rode in Puerto Vallarta.  Not unexpected.
Brigham Young et al.
This is a statue honoring the sea gulls that came and ate all the crickets and saved the pioneer's crops.  The irony was the bird poop in the guy's eye.
Brigham Young's farm house.
Not only was the zip line no more than a hundred feet above the ground the whole time, and only about 400 feet long, but you sat completely strapped into a seat.
Not much more dangerous, or thrilling, than riding a ski lift.
As opposed to the zip line in Puerto Vallarta:
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