Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas dinner

... a bit late. On Christmas, Julie and I celebrated snuggled warmly in our house while a blizzard dropped two feet of snow. We finally left the house to drive the 300 yards over to Jim and Kathy Covaleski's for a shared Christmas dinner.

Stephen Elrick also joined us. He and Jim are working on cutting up Mr. Turkey.

Here we have Mr. Turkey ready for consumption. Very pretty in a morbid sort of way.

Everything came together for a wonderful meal.

And I even got a birthday cake to celebrate big number 47.

But alas, all dinners must end up with dishes being washed.

It was a wonderful Christmas. Lots of new snow. Great food. Great friends. One more year to be thankful for.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Prancer the Reindog

It's hard to hold the camera still and throw snow balls.

When dogs dream of a white Christmas

At first I thought it was the result of all the people at a ski town dreaming of a white Christmas. I changed my mind after spending some time outside with Jasper. Clearly this was his dream.

We aren't doing snow. We're doing a full blown blizzard.

This is looking out from our front door. The shot was taken hours ago and it has been snowing hard ever since.

This is one happy dog.

Of course, in this snow the fun is trying to find the dog. He's the black blob in the lower right.

Snorkeling through the snow.

There is a special technique of bouncing up for air before plopping back in the snow.

The pictures are pretty crappy because the snow was pounding, the light is non-existent and my hand was cold.

The forecast says the heavy snow should start this evening. This isn't the heavy snow?

Twas the day before Christmas

The day before Christmas was a pretty one, although cold and windy. We've had a bunch of those lately. Every Wednesday I work as a Mountain Host at Park City. My job includes helping people figure out where to get tickets, rent skis, eat, and find good places to ski or board. We also hunt down lost children and sweep the mountain for injured or helpless skiers. In exchange, I get a free lift pass and some big discounts on stuff.

Yesterday I started by getting to do one of the more interesting tasks, leading people on a history tour of the mountain. It's part skiing and part Park City history. While I don't have a picture, my tour started with one of the guests falling out of the lift chair. She wasn't hurt, but her pride was. An unusual start.

An hour later, we ran across the emergency medical helicopter coming in. I heard third hand that it was a heart attack victim and that it didn't end well. If you notice the people in orange coats blocking off the landing zone, those are my fellow mountain hosts. It is yet another part of our job. Our coats make us look like pumpkins. Ugly, but easy to spot.

For dinner we joined Bruce, Carol, Hilary and Hannah Kahn over at the Deer Valley Seafood Buffet. The food was wonderful and I got a tiny little birthday tart as a surprise. I realized that going to a place with a ton of fantastic desserts on the buffet defeats the whole "free dessert because it's your birthday". Hilary and Hannah had dressed up and curled their hair. They've both grown up to be beautiful young ladies.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Along comes winter

What do you do when your driveway has a house on one side, a 12 foot retaining wall on the other, and an average of 25 feet of snow per year? Tough to throw each shovel of snow over the wall.

Enter the Honda 928 snow blower. The Park City weapon of choice. This is a shot from this afternoon's clearing. This snow blower can really huck the snow up the hill. It has tank treads instead of wheels and can throw the snow about 40 feet.

Of course, no snow work is complete without a black dog bouncing around the entire time, barking and trying to eat from the snow plume.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Cheap oil

We came back to Park City on December 2nd. Almost three weeks have gone by since I had to fill up the Honda Pilot. That's the advantage of having almost every place you visit be within about 7 or 8 miles. Today Julie and I journeyed down to Salt Lake for some shopping so I filled up at the Costco. Total cost to fill up the 7 passenger SUV: $17.97. The gas was $1.30 per gallon.

If averaged out, my annual gas bill would be something like$350.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Walking with giant shoes

What do you do in Park City when it is just too damn cold to ski? Walk! Julie and I strapped on the snowshoes for the first time this year. It's nice exercise and not as cold as sitting on a chair lift.

Of course, we can't go snowshoeing without some serious expert help from Jasper.

The snow isn't deep yet, but there are some good drifts and it makes for a nice hike around the mountain.

Next step, getting back to cross country skiing. Even better exercise.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Important virus info

I am doing a bit of blogging this morning instead of skiing. Why? Because the wind chill is 17 below up at the top of the mountain. I like to think of myself as fairly tough in cold weather, but that's just unpleasant.

This weekend we discovered that one of our computers had been attacked by a set of nasty viruses and malware. Even with Norton Antivirus installed and running, they still got in and we aren't sure from where. Getting rid of them was a true pain in the butt so I figured I would share some tips with people.
  1. If you are a Norton Antivirus customer, go get your free upgrade to Antivirus 2009. In addition to being better at catching things, it is a lot lighter weight, meaning less performance impact and memory use. The normal auto-update process will get some changes, but will not update versions for you.
  2. Use Spybot Search and Destroy. This is a good, free tool for scanning your system and removing most problems. However, in this case it found the viruses and thought it removed them. It did not get everything and when you rebooted, the virus was back and fully entrenched.
  3. My newest discovery and the only one that got rid of everything was MalwareBytes Anti-Malware. It is free and was a savior in this pain.
  4. If you have a virus, learn to boot your system in Safe Mode. To do this, shut your computer down, then power it back on. As it starts booting (before the Windows logo shows up), start tapping the F8 key every second or two. This should bring up a text menu with an option of SAFE MODE, and SAFE MODE WITH NETWORKING. I have found that the networking part is very helpful. Safe mode boots your system, but with very minimal drivers and no applications. This allows you to work with the system without the virus actually running.
Our systems are all clean again. Hope you never have to use this information!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Can winter start now? Please!!

Last year we had almost no snow until Dec 6th. Once it started, no one could figure out where the OFF button was.

This year, no one can remember where they left the ON button over the summer. Here is the hill behind our house. Notice the deep powdery snow?

Hell, even New Orleans is getting more snow than we are. How pitiful is that?

The weather dudes and dudettes promise that change is coming and at least the clouds seem to have the right idea. We shall see.

Getting in some turns

The skiing has been far from perfect this year, with very few runs open and almost exclusively man-made snow. Just the same, it has been nice for getting your ski legs back.

I went over to Deer Valley with Jam Covaleski (in green) and his house guest Eddie.

Eddie is a great water skier but is new to snow skiing. He made great progress as the day went on.

I remember at least some of what I learned last year, so perhaps we can make some better turns this year.

A bed mooch

For some unknown reason, Cosette tries to lay claim to the dog's bed each winter. You would think it might be to get a good warm snuggle with the dog, like the picture below. Not really though. They both want the bed to themselves and when they are both in it, it is really more of a polite turf war.

You might think the cat didn't actually have beds, mats and condos all over the house.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A legal question

I can take no credit for the pictures or the clever thoughts. I simply pass this along from a friend, Chad Lefler.

So the question:

Is this statutory rape or just a moosedemeanor?

Thanks Chad! By the way, you can read Chad's blog and watch a tiny Lefler grow up to play football for Carolina. Chad wass thinking linebacker, but watching Charlie grow, I am already up to defensive end.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Dog versus ball

Here in Park City, Jasper and I have a ritual to start the day. He gets fed and then patiently waits for Julie and I to finish our breakfast and the newspaper. Then we head up the mountain for some exercise.

The favorite toy is a big red ball on a rope. He can grab the rope and swing the ball in circles.

Sometimes he gets the ball.

Sometimes the ball gets him.

Once he tires of solo ball whirling, we proceed to the traditional fetching.

He just seems to do it faster than I can.

By 8:00 o'clock most mornings, Jasper has burned off enough calories to mellow him out for a few hours. Then he's ready to go again.

Saturday, December 06, 2008


If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you might remember the occasional "Where's Waldog?" with Jasper hiding in some snow. Here is a much more confusing one. How the hell do you hide a six or seven foot tall moose in a patch of widely spread trees that have dropped all their leaves?

Try to find the moose in this picture.

Here is one a little closer up. Can you find him now?

Feeling good about yourself because you found the dark blob in the second shot? Good for you. Now go back and look again, because the second moose is within 20 feet of the first.

Tough to imagine that something so big can hide so well in forest so sparse.

By the way, Jasper was the first to find the moose this morning. They were in plain sight at the time, but he decided he didn't have to chase them. This is a big step after last year. Perhaps we are making progress.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Back in Park City

Well, we sure didn't get back for great skiing. After some good storms back in the beginning of November, a big high pressure system came in and camped over the southwest. This makes it warmer than normal and chases away any storms. Park City Mountain Resort only has one main run open. Deer V alley and The Canyons open this weekend, but with very little snow.

We did manage to bring a wee bit of the white stuff with us. We got about an inch the day we got back and another two this morning.

It's not much, but at this point, every little bit helps.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bowling for dollars

After several years of crappy football teams, we finally see a bit of an up tick. NCSU started with a terrible 2 and 6 record. Then they came roaring back with four good wins in a row, making them bowl eligible.

Julie, my cousin Sara and I went to watch NC State beat the thugs from Miami. As always, we were picked to lose, but ended up winning by 10. Note the numerous layers of attire required.

Oh yeah, and like almost every football Saturday this year, it rained. Not much, but enough so that you had to dress for it.

Bowl invitations should go out after next weekend's championship games are all played.

Turkey with the family

We were able to gather all of the local family and some remote members for a nice Thanksgiving dinner. In addition to Julie and I, we had Julie's mom, my mom, my dad and his wife, my aunt and uncle and my cousin.

Chef Julie put on the meal with a lot of help from the mom's. It was wonderful! The surprise for the meal was going to pick up the 13 pound turkey and the six pound turkey breast, only to discover that they had a ten pound breast for us. That was one well endowed bird! More leftovers for all of us!

Martha (my aunt) and Joan (Julie's mom) chatting it up.

Sara (my cousin), Julie (wife, of course) and Sam (my uncle).

Not to be left out, Colleen brought the dogs for a play date with Jasper. Hard to tell the size differences from this angle, but the are very cute together. From the left: Sedona, who was recently rescued from the Chatam County shelter, Zoey, and Jasper. He's always easy to spot with his white paw and red ball.

It was great getting to have the family all together. I think this is what makes Thanksgiving special.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Bald Head in November

My mom (Emily Joyce) and Julie's mom (Joan Fernane) came into town on Friday. On Saturday morning we packed up and headed south to Bald Head Island. It's an island just down from Wilmington, NC. You take a car to Southport and then take a ferry to the island. Once you are on the island, all transportation is by golf cart.

This is the Bald Head marina. We stayed here the last night on our way boating back from Florida.

The mom's and Julie on the beach. The island has ocean on two sides, shipping channel on one and marsh on the last. Yes, it was that cold.

We saw lots of wildlife including two red foxes. The only disappointment was not seeing any alligators. They were probably starting to hibernate,

Lots of tracks in the sand. I thought these bird prints were pretty cool.

The most impressive plants on the island are the Live Oaks. They are big sprawling trees with twisting branches. "Live" is their real name, not a condition of being alive versus dead.

Then, add some spanish moss to give it more interest. Bald Head is the northern-most semi-tropical climate on the east coast.

Joan and I went up to the top of Old Baldy, a 190+ year old lighthouse. You get a great view down through the marsh.

The house we were staying in was right on the marsh. If you walked down a boardwalk you got some great scenery. I tried to capture some. The reflections on the water gave this picture an almost ethereal look.

Early morning looking down at Old Baldy (left) and the buildings at the marina (right). You can canoe or kayak through the marsh but have to be very aware of the tides. It can be like riding down a mountain on a bike and then having to pedal home.

My favorite picture of the weekend. There is almost always a good bit of wind at the beach. This makes ripples on the water which screws up the reflections. Here we have evening sun on the marsh grasses. The air was dead still and the reflections were like a mirror. Some storm clouds are just coming in from the right.

It was a great weekend. Very restful. Lots to see and do. Now we are back in Raleigh, begining to prep for Thanksgiving with lots of family.