Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fluffy new snow

A normal snow in Park City tends to be very dry and fluffy and the storm brings some wind. That means good skiing, but the snow doesn't stick to the trees. This last storm was a little wetter and there was no wind at all.

Here is our house with all the Gambel Oaks in the open space behind us. These oaks are scraggly scrub oaks and normally look pretty ugly.

Looking up the mountain behind us, you can see all the Gambel Oaks and the one big evergreen. I keep trying to figure out how to decorate it with Christmas lights, but I haven't got a good answer for 800 feet of extension cords. It will look great when I finally get it figured out.

A view of downtown Park City and Park City Mountain Resort.

Another round of Where's Waldog, your chance to hunt for the hiding Jasper. First, the easier one.

This one is just a tiny bit harder.

He really does seem to enjoy posing for these.

A gorgeous day in the neighborhood.

Monday, January 26, 2009

When God tells you where to ski

I was going skiing this morning with Rob Schumacher and Ron Lee. We were near the top of Park City when suddenly Jupiter Peak lit up in the sunshine. Must be where we should head. Of course, skiing with Rob the hiker and Ron the marathoner meant less vertical from ski lifts and more vertical from hiking. The skiing was nice, but my thighs are beat!

Bird Watching

I grew up in a family that did a lot of bird watching. I still do some, but in our household Cosette is the main bird watcher. We built some shelves in the storage room, but haven't put anything on them yet. Turns out that they are a great place to hide and watch the comings and goings at a bird feeder.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sundance Star Sightings

So far, here is the list of stars we have seen at Sundance. Julie has seen a lot that I haven't, because of her Sundance volunteer work at Eccles Theater. This isn't a bad list, given that we did no celebrity stalking this year.
  • Jodie Foster
  • Robin Williams
  • Don Cheadle (Oceans Eleven, Crash, Hotel Rwanda)
  • John Krasinski (Jim on The Office)
  • Wesley Snipes
  • Tom Arnold
  • Ed Helms (Andy on The Office)
  • Robert Redford
  • Bobcat Goldthwait (stand up comedian)
  • Minnie Driver
  • Uma Thurman
  • Kevin Spacey
  • Anthony Edwards (doc on ER)
  • Billy Bob Thorton
  • Tea Leoni
  • Spike Lee
  • Kyle MacLachlan (Orson on Desperate Housewives)
  • Sting
  • James Gandolfini
I've probably mentioned this before, but if you ever want to know anything about an actor, director, movie, TV show, soundtrack, ...., go to imdb.com. It knows everything!

Excellent customer support

I bitch publicly when I get bad service, so it is only fair that I give credit to companies that do well.

I have a Canon SD890 pocket camera and it had a hangup with the lens opening at power-up. I went to Canon's web site to see what service headaches I would have to go through. I entered my model and purchase date. From there, it was easy:
  1. "You are in the warranty period. Print this form out and mail your camera to the address listed."
  2. I mailed the camera
  3. Quickly got a confirmation e-mail: "we got the camera you mailed"
  4. Next day, got an e-mail: "your camera is definitely broken and definitely under warranty"
  5. Next day, got an e-mail: "your camera has been fixed"
  6. Next day, got an e-mail: "here is your express tracking number"
I have the camera and all is good. A big "thanks" to Canon for making it so incredibly easy and then for doing such an awesome job of keeping me informed of progress. Also, for doing it so quickly.

Steve's advice: when shopping for cameras, always comparison shop, but then give Canon some bonus points for customer service.

This is my third Canon pocket camera and Julie has another one.

Bad air update

A few days ago, I posted a picture about the nasty air down in the valley. Just saw the news. Utah now claims four of the top five "worst air cities" in the country. A big congrats to Salt Lake, Ogden, Logan, and Provo!!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bye George

As I sit watching the Obama's inauguration, I thought it would be nice to give George Bush some of the credit he is due as he leaves office. It's quite a long list. If you are a serious conservative, you might want to skip to the next post.
  • Attacked and took over two countries.
  • Spent the surplus and bankrupted the treasury.
  • Shattered record for biggest annual deficit in history.
  • Set economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period.
  • Set all-time record for biggest drop in the history of the stock market.
  • First president in decades to execute a federal prisoner.
  • First president in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record.
  • First year in office set the all-time record for most days on vacation by any president in U.S. history.
  • After taking the entire month of August off for vacation, presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history.
  • Set the record for most campaign fundraising trips than any other president in U.S. history.
  • In first two years in office over 2 million Americans lost their job.
  • Cut unemployment benefits for more out of work Americans than any president in U.S. history.
  • Set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period.
  • Appointed more convicted criminals to administration positions than any president in U.S. history.
  • Set the record for the least amount of press conferences than any president since the advent of television.
  • Signed more laws and executive orders amending the Constitution than any president in U.S. history.
  • Presided over the biggest energy crises in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption was revealed.
  • Presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history and refused to use the national reserves as past presidents have.
  • Cut healthcare benefits for war veterans.
  • Set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously take to the streets to protest me (15 million people), shattering the record for protest against any person in the history of mankind.
  • Dissolved more international treaties than any president in U.S. history.
  • Presidency is the most secretive and unaccountable of any in U.S. history.
  • Members of cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history (the 'poorest' multimillionaire, Condoleezza Rice, has an Exxon oil tanker named after her).
  • First president in U.S. history to have all 50 states of the Union simultaneously go bankrupt.
  • Presided over the biggest corporate stock market fraud of any market in any country in the history of the world.
  • First president in U.S. history to order a U.S. attack and military occupation of a sovereign nation.
  • Created the largest government department bureaucracy in the history of the United States.
  • Set the all-time record for biggest annual budget spending increases, more than any president in U.S. history.
  • First president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the human rights commission.
  • First president in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the elections monitoring board.
  • Removed more checks and balances, and have the least amount of congressional oversight than any presidential administration in U.S. history.
  • Rendered the entire United Nations irrelevant.
  • Withdrew from the World Court of Law.
  • Refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. prisoners of war and by default no longer abide by the Geneva Conventions.
  • First president in U.S. history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. elections).
  • All-time U.S. (and world) record holder for most corporate campaign donations.
  • Biggest lifetime campaign contributor presided over one of the largest corporate bankruptcy frauds in world history (Kenneth Lay, former CEO of Enron Corporation).
  • Spent more money on polls and focus groups than any president in U.S. history.
  • First president in U.S. history to unilaterally attack a sovereign nation against the will of the United Nations and the world community.
  • First president to run and hide when the U.S. came under attack (and then lied saying the enemy had the code to Air Force 1)
  • First U.S. president to establish a secret shadow government.
  • Took the biggest world sympathy for the U.S. after 9/11, and in less than a year made the U.S. the most resented country in the world (possibly the biggest diplomatic failure in U.S. and world history).
  • With a policy of 'disengagement' created the most hostile Israeli-Palestine relations in at least 30 years.
  • Fist U.S. president in history to have a majority of the people of Europe (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and stability.
  • First U.S. president in history to have the people of South Korea more threatened by the U.S. than their immediate neighbor, North Korea.
  • Changed US policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts.
  • Set all-time record for number of administration appointees who violated U.S. law by not selling huge investments in corporations bidding for government contracts.
  • Failed to fulfill my pledge to get Osama Bin Laden 'dead or alive.'
  • Failed to capture the anthrax killer who tried to murder the leaders of our country at the United States Capital building. After 18 months, no leads and zero suspects.
  • In the 18 months following the 9/11 attacks successfully prevented any public investigation into the biggest security failure in the history of the United States.
  • Removed more freedoms and civil liberties for Americans than any other president in U.S. history.
  • In a little over two years created the most divided country in decades, possibly the most divided the U.S. has ever been since the Civil War.
  • Entered office with the strongest economy in U.S. history and in less than two years turned every single economic category heading straight down.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A smog suck'n good time

I count my blessings every time we have an inversion. When the high pressure system comes to Utah, the air gets quite stagnant. The valleys fill with pollution and there just isn't anything to clear it out.

Here is a look at what it is like to live in Salt Lake City. It is a "code red", which basically advises you to stay inside and not breath.

Here is what it looks like from our porch in Park City this morning. What a difference a range of mountains can make.

I think I'll avoid any Salt Lake City trips until the next big storm comes through and scours the valley air.

Liz comes to town

Our friend Liz Hervatic came to visit this weekend. We met Liz in Raleigh back in our IBM days, but she is now out in Santa Monica. She was a wonderful host and tour guide when we went to the Rose Bowl two years ago.

Liz came in to catch a little Sundance, ski a few runs, and hang out.

We spent Friday over at Deer Valley. It was a gorgeous, sunny, bluebird day. Of course, you can't tell that from the way Liz is dressed. She is a big fan of staying warm, so I guess southern California is a pretty good choice. She's much happier surfing than skiing.

Good times were had by all.

Blogging Sundance 2009

On Thursday night, the annual party/fiasco/event for Park City began. The generally accepted expectation was that the recession (depression?) would hurt attendance quite a bit. That doesn't seem to be the case. Once again, our town of 8,000 has filled up with 40,000 visitors, very few of whom seem to know how and where to drive. Restaurants and bars are full and there are no parking spots in the city. Just the same, it can be a lot of fun.

Julie is volunteering again this year. She works over at Eccles Theater, which seats about 1250 people. This means that it gets used for the movies that are more likely to draw large crowds. She will get to see quite a few movies as she works four days, starting on Tuesday.

So far we have seen 3 movies. All were pretty good. None were outstanding.

Brooklyn's Finest: This was a violent movie about the lives and personal challenges of several policemen in Brooklyn. The story was good and the production was excellent, but the violence was hard to get passed. Don Cheadle, Ethan Hawke and Wesley Snipes were all excellent. Richard Gere was good, but we all agreed he was the wrong person for the part.

The Yes Men Fix The World
: These guys are great. Two men go around duping the corporate world in ways beyond most of our imaginations, in an effort to make the world a better place. As one example, they were frustarted that Dow (who bought Union Carbide), never did anything to clean up the Bohpal, India chemical plant disaster. They built a web site that appeared to be from Dow and sure enough, got invited to do an interview (as Dow PR people) on BBC World. In the interview, they said that Dow was facing up to what it had done and was committing $12B dollars for clean up and reparations. Dow stock lost $2B in an hour and Dow had to come out and deny the whole thing. Hilarious and impressive. Check out their web site at http://www.theyesmen.org/

World's Greatest Dad: Sad. Funny. Well acted. This was Bobcat Goldthwait's second Sundance movie. He is a standup comedian turned director. The main actor was Robin Williams and he did a great job. He played the role of a dad with a real troublesome son. He goes through a huge range of dispair and happiness in ways that were always conflicting. I won't give it away, but it was good. Even better was the Q&A at the end of the movie. Putting Robin and Bobcat in front of an audience is hilarious.

More movie reports as we see them.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bad, bad snow

You may have heard about all the people out west that died in avalanches last month. Here is a picture that shows why.

We had some pretty heavy snow in the beginning of December, followed by two weeks of bright warm sunshine. This is what happens to the snow. The avalanche people call it "rotten snow". The freeze-thaw cycle leaves really flaky, fragile snow. Then it snowed a lot on top of this crap. That makes for a wonderful recipe for avalanches. So far I think we are at around 20 dead.

Of course, they provide awesome information for avalanches here, but the alerts are often ignored.

On a related topic, a 15 year old girl died over at the Alta ski resort yesterday. She was skiing in the trees without a helmet and fell in a tree well. She was trapped upside down for 40 minutes and suffocated. Lessons:
  • Wear a helmet
  • When in the trees, ski with a buddy
  • Sometimes shit just happens
Very sad.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Snow shoeing over at Solitude

Rob Schumacher (our builder) got a crowd of people together for a field trip over to Big Cottonwood Canyon for snow shoeing. Big Cottonwood has the Solitude and Brighton ski areas. We had perfect conditions: recent snow, but a bright sunny day.

You start at the Nordic Center up at Brighton and head off across a frozen lake.

Spectacular views everywhere!

... and the snow was deep.

From left to right: Julie, Lisa, Theresa, Candy, Carol, Loris, Rob, Jim, Ron, Chris and Bill.

Beautiful women everywhere! Loris Benson.

My wife, Julie Joyce

Rob's wife, Theresa Schumacher.

Rob grabbed the camera and got one of me trudging out of the woods.

We went down to the Solitude resort for lunch. While waiting, we saw some guys with a rough job. They were shoveling a huge pile of snow off a steep roof. Fortunately they were attached with a rope. We didn't see them fall, but they did drop a good sized shovel to the sidewalk below.

An awesome day. Thanks to Rob for setting this up!

One last shot that you have to double click on to see the detail. In this canyon, people drive up, strap on their skis and hike up the mountain, all just to get one run. I guess if you are going to that much work, you might as well do it perfect. The tracks down this face are all gorgeous, nearly perfect, consistent turns. Wish I could do that!

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Skiing in Vail

You may have already seen this on the news, but apparently this guy was challenged with using the lift system at Vail. He fell, but was caught by his ski. He got to hang upside down with his pants ripped off until they could save him. Would have been fun to be a mountain host on duty that day.

Once, twice, three times a moose

Three Dog Night may have sucked, but yesterday was a three moose morning. It was snowing pretty hard when I took Jasper up the hill for his morning romp. I saw three moose, all hunkered down on the hillside, hding from the storm. Fortunately, dogzilla didn't see them.

There is a wine you can buy here in Utah called "Three Blind Moose". It has a very stylish label, but the wine was pretty poor.

Monday, January 05, 2009


Yesterday was a beautiful, sunny day. However there was something about the way that the wisps of smoke came out of chimneys that seemed odd. As best I can figure, the smoke was freezing on its way up. Probably not, but with temperatures starting at 6 below zero I know I could freeze. By late afternoon, it had soared to 9.

When you watch the Salt Lake news on days like that, you hear so many stories about pipes bursting and flooding houses, black ice forming on roads, and the homeless struggling to survive. Up here in Park City, we are better equipped to handle the cold snaps, but it makes me happy not to own too much of the mining history. Many of the original mining houses in Old Town (near Main Street) are built directly on the ground with no foundation. The insulation in the walls is crumpled up newspapers from the late 1800's and early 1900's. I just can't imagine the bill for keeping a house like that warm, even if it is small.

Fortunately, we built our house with 6" walls, extra insulation and triple-pane windows. It's big, but at least most of the heat stays inside.

Today is warmer and another snow storm is coming in. Yeah!!

Thursday, January 01, 2009

A cool day on the slopes

We went out to Deer Valley today with some friends. From left to right are Kathy Covaleski, Jim Covaleski, Julie "the wife" Joyce, Loris Benson, and James and Lydia "friends of Covaleski". OK, that isn't their real last name.

The two things that made this an unusual ski day were both from nature. The seven of us were heading down an access road, me in front. A fox ran up onto the run, went down the run about 100 feet, then turned and ran up the hill. I was catching up with him pretty quickly and thought I was going to have my own fox.

About fifteen minutes later, Loris noticed a good sized moose off the ski run. It was chomping on some tree branches and staring back at us. It was too far off and in the trees, so I didn't bother trying to get a picture with my tiny camera.

Thanks for a great New Year's Day mother nature!

Hope everyone else is having a great start to 2009.

Three Dog Night

Looking for something to do on New Years in Park City? A group of people got tickets to go see Three Dog Night. Yes, they are still alive (although perhaps not alive and kicking). They had more Top 40 songs during 1969-1974 than any other band.

The first entertainment was even before the show started. It is rare to see a crowd for a concert with a median age of 55 or 60.

Three Dog Night should have quit about 10 years ago. They were terrible. They were overweight. They dressed funny. They had a hard time moving to the music. They couldn't carry a tune. The light show must have been borrowed from a high school garage band. I won't even tell you how much it cost.

Julie was the lucky one. She wasn't feeling well and didn't go. At least I sold her ticket.

Tired of collecting money from Africa?

I was one of the proud recipients of the letters from the nice gentleman in Africa who needed to send me money to get it out of the country. This week I got a new one that seemed like a minor variation on the theme. Don't these people have spell check? It would seem any easy step to increase your authenticity.

-- Greetings .A letter from me to you .Mrs. Rosemary Collins, 56yrs old from Switzerland.You might be wondering where I got your contacts from but I have really takenmy time in searching thoroughly. You came into my mind has the lord hasdirected me to and am willing to do so. I have noticed that you are Godfearing, courageous, fulfilling and ambitious in life. I want you to know thatyou have been the chosen one and please, try and do my will because each of mywords or statements must not go unfulfilled reaching the unprivileged,orphanages and the needy as you are blessed.Dear Beloved One, I am the above named person but now undergoing medicaltreatment in Zurich, Switzerland.

I am married to Mr. Tom collins who worked as a world contractor for over a decade before he died on 5th of July in the year2004. We were married for fifteen years without a child. He died after a briefillness that lasted for two weeks. Before his death he made a vow to use hiswealth for the down trodden and the less privileged in the society. Since hisdeath I decided not to re-marry or get a child outside my matrimonial home.When my late husband was alive he deposited the sum of Five million UnitedStates dollars ($5,000,000.00 millions us dollars) with a Vault with abank .Presently, this money is still there. Recently, my Doctor told me that Iwould not last for the next six months due to cancer problem. Though whatdisturbs me most is my stroke. Having known my condition I decided to donatethis fund to an individual or better still a God fearing person who willutilize this money the way I am going to instruct here in. I want anindividualthat will use this to fund and provide succor to poor and indigent person I understand that blessed is the hand that giveth. I took this decision because I do not have any child and relatives. Ido not want my husband?s hard earned money to be misused or spent inthe mannerin which my late husband did not specify. I do not want a situation where thismoney will be used in an ungodly manner, hence the reason for taking this bolddecision.I am not afraid of death hence I know where I am going. I know thatI am goingto be in the bosom of the Almighty. I do not need any telephone communicationin this regard because of my health .

With God all things arepossible. As soonas I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the bank. I will alsoissue you a letter of authority that will empower you as the originalbeneficiary of this fund, through my Lawyer or by myself. I want you to alwayspray for me. My happiness is that I lived a life worthy of emulation.Whosoeverthat wants to serve the Almighty must serve him with all his heart andmind andsoul and also in truth. Please always be prayerful all through your life.Please assure me that you will act according to my specification herein.Lastly i want you to also reply me with some vital information ofyours such as: Full Name :country
phone number:occupation etc.........
Hoping to hear from you.
Thank you and May the Almighty bless you.Yours sincerely, Mrs. Rosemary Collins