Monday, April 30, 2012

Chris Kubasik loses his job

Back in 2009, I blogged about a high school friend, Chris Kubasik, becoming the President and COO of Lockheed Martin.  Pretty impressive for a 48 year old.  Recently, the Lockheed Martin board decided that he shouldn't hold those jobs any more.

Embarrassing?  Might have been except they promoted him to CEO, effective January 1, 2013.  Running over $46B in revenue seems like a bit of responsibility.

The competition for most successful in our graduating class continues. To the best of my knowledge, it's Chris versus John Hesterman, who is now a 3-star Air Force General.

Public transit in Raleigh

Although I don't spend that much time down in Salt Lake City, I have been impressed with their network of mass transit systems, including buses and light rail.  Hardly a month goes by without an announcement of a new line or the extension of an existing one.

I always thought Raleigh was the picture postcard for poorly zoned urban sprawl with almost nonexistent mass transit.  There are a few buses, but that's it.

A company called Walk Score just evaluated the 25 biggest US cities on their mass transit options.  Congrats to Raleigh for making the biggest 25!  Not quite so proud to see them as the clear and decisive last choice. Make sure you click on "Show all 25 cities".

Salt Lake was too small, but their score of 58 would have put them in the top third.

Dear Raleigh,

Is it too late to start thinking about zoning?  Even Durham's score was 50% higher than

- Steve

Should you buy a smart TV?

The other day, a friend asked whether he should spend more to buy a "smart" TV.  These are the TVs that connect to the Internet and can run applications like Netflix, Pandora and Yahoo.  It's like having a little computer built in to your TV, and you can control it with the remote.  Nice, right?
My quick answer is "no, don't bother buying a smart TV".  Why?
  • TV manufacturers are hardware vendors, not software vendors.  Their software sucks.  It tends to be very hard to navigate through and isn't well thought out. Frequently quite buggy.
  • It's slow.  Don't just think "little computer", think "little, slow, old, tiny computer".
  • ...and the biggest issue, they don't get support.  TV manufacturers come out with new models about once a quarter. They are always touting the new big thing.  They quickly forget the old models and even though the Internet services are changing at an incredible rate, you get no updates. Given that a nice TV lasts for many years, you hate to see your software get antiquated after a year or two.
If you like the idea of a nice way of getting Internet services on your TV, here are three MUCH better solutions:
  • Roku - a little streaming box with tons of support. Very powerful and updated frequently.  The three versions range from $60 to $100.
  • AppleTV - a head to head competitor with Roku.  Tiny box.  Very powerful. $100. I like the Roku better, but AppleTV has the cool feature of being able to wirelessly display whatever is on your iPad 2 or 3 or your iPhone 4.
  • Tivo - It's the clear choice in DVRs, so it does a lot more, and costs a lot more than the other two boxes.   However, it's nice not to have to buy another box when Tivo already connects to all the online services.
So, just pay enough to get the quality of picture that you like, and don't bother with all the hype (and price) of smarter TVs.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Time lapse done really well

I have started dabbling in time lapse photography and have figured out some of it.  This however, is spectacular!  Watch it in full screen and HD, with the sound turned on.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Global Warming, Pro or Con?

I went to a lecture tonight called "How to avoid the truth about climate change". It was being given by a Dean at the University of Utah, I think in Geology and Geophysics.  A few years back, he hadn't paid that much attention to the Climate Change debate, but had read enough to confirm his thoughts that it probably wasn't as big a deal as was being presented.  He shared that view in what he taught his students.

They kept pushing back and asking questions, so he started reading a lot more and digging deeper.  Now he is a firm believer that climate change is real, it's big, it's serious, and it's being driven primarily by humans generating CO2,

The presentation was explaining how you can have 97-98% of the climate scientists in agreement, and yet still have a lot of the media explaining that there isn't consensus. My favorite question of the evening was "If you saw an ad that said 1 out of every 33 dentists recommend Trident, would you chew it?"

I won't drag you through all the issues, but one statistic was really interesting. They did a big survey and asked: Is global warming happening?  There was nothing about whether it was caused by humans.  Just a question of whether the earth was warming up.  They looked at people's responses and there was one great predictor of your answer.  Not gender.  Not age.  Political party.
  • Democrats - 78% said yes
  • Republicans - 53%
They asked if you considered yourself a Tea Party person.  Of those, only 34% said yes.

I understand political party being a huge swing for questions like "should we spend $x dollars to help group y", but this question was "is the thermometer reading going up?" How much closer to hard, non-subjective science can we get?

I think they got it right in the movie (now 50 years old) It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Summit County is going green!

Right after Christmas, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Park Record, complaining about the amazing amount of trash that was being left by the streets for pickup.  I suggested that we get more like some greener cities and make it really easy to recycle and harder to throw out lots of trash.  Right now we have monstrous trash bins, and if you are lucky enough to be one the few getting recycling pickup, you get a tiny little bucket.  Julie and I have to take our recycling to a local center (which we religiously do).

While I am sure my letter had no effect, the timing and end result were perfect.  I heard on the radio yesterday that starting July 1st, we will have a new trash and recycling contract for Summit County.
  • Trash cans will go from the current 96 gallons down to 64 gallons
  • Everyone in the county will get curbside recycling
  • Instead of the little recycling bins, we will have 96 gallon rolling recycling cans
Awesome!  Yeah Summit County! This should make it much more likely that residents, second homeowners and even vacationers will recycle.  It should have a huge impact on the amount of trash taken to our landfill.

This will also allow our local recycling center to focus their energies on the harder things, like hazardous waste and electronics.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


I saw a card from a friend Peter Schwaller that I wanted to share:

Dick Clark has died.
We can no longer ring in the New Year.
Well played, Mayans.
Well played.

I fully expect the Mayan-mania to build throughout the year.  Should make for some good December parties.

Earth Day

What do you do on Earth Day?  Shovel horse manure of course!
This year I have a plot in our local community garden. It's too early to start planting things yet, but not too early to start prepping the gardens.  When you get a plot, you agree to do some number of volunteer hours.  Yesterday I signed up to help go get a few truck loads of free composted horse manure and bring it to the gardens.  Fairly easy work, but it felt very appropriate for Earth Day.

Now I need to start planning out my garden and get a few seeds going indoors.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

28th Annual Golf Trip to Myrtle Beach

Our golf group has stabilized, which makes the trip easier to plan and more fun. Five of us have been going for 28 years and the "new" three have been going for six or seven years. Even though we don't see each other much (or any) during the year, it takes about 30 seconds to reunite as old family.

I was absolutely blessed with the weather.  Not only was every day sunny and in the 70s, but I was missing out on several days of April snow back in Park City.  Over the years our golf trip has moved from January (very cheap, but cold) to April (more expensive, but much warmer).  Everyone has agreed that future trips should be in April.  I guess this is part of getting older.

It is a friendly group, but teeing off with everyone watching and me shooting pictures can be a bit much.
Dave Allred and I spent most of our rounds playing together.  The first two days, after  random drawings, we were sharing a cart. As best I can tell, the God of Random has a warped sense of humor.  Dave and I spent way too much time with our buddy, Captain Morgan. Our lesson for next year is either to split us up, or more likely, to buy a smaller bottle (for each day).  On the days that I left the Captain behind, I played terrible, ugly golf.
Here we have Lewis, our second best player, teeing off. He inevitably finds ways to amuse us along the course.  This year it was playing with an assortment of regular golf balls, optic orange ones, and my favorites, ones that were so bright and shiny that they almost hurt your eyes in the sun.
Darrell Baber, my old roommate and best man, still crushes everyone, every day. He was shooting consistently in the 70s and almost every shot was straight down the course. It seems like such a reasonable concept that I am unable to replicate.

We tried something different this year, playing two courses, twice each, to see if we would learn for the second attempt.  In general, it made no difference so I doubt we will try that again.  Glen Dornoch (seen below) was right along the Intercoastal Waterway. Nice scenery and a lot of hills made it interesting.  Shaftesbury Glen was inland.  It was in great condition, but was a bit boring.  Every hole was fairly flat with an elevated green that seemed rock hard.  It won't be at the top of our return list.
 We continue to stay at some big, ugly, boxy houses in Cherry Grove.  They are a block off the beach and each guy gets his own bedroom.  This is the marsh view from one of our decks.

In addition to seeing my golf buddies, I also got to visit with some family.  I spent my first night with my dad and Colleen. Then I spent my last two with my aunt Martha and cousin Sara. Sara and I went to visit my uncle Sam and we wheeled him down the road for a nice lunch out. One of the downers of living in Utah is being so far away from all my family.
A great trip. Got to see a fair number of friends and relatives. Caught some early year rays to lay my base tan.  An an odd one: I got a rental car with only five miles on the odometer.  It hadn't even had time to start smelling like a rental car.

Monday, April 09, 2012

A warm up for my golf trip

It's time for me to travel to NC to join up with a group of guys and head to Myrtle Beach for some golf.  This will be either our 27th or 28th year.  Pretty amazing.
Normally I don't get any practice.  The courses here don't open until the snow melts off and things dry, but this year the snowfall sucked.  Time for golf!

We headed over to Wasatch State Park's Lake Course and enjoyed 70 degree sunshine.  The course still has a lot of filling in to do, but this is pretty amazing for just outside Park City in early April.

The forecast here from Wednesday through Friday is snow.  I'm hoping for spring time weather in Myrtle Beach!

Same moon, two days later

Every day, the moon gets a bit smaller and rises and set about an hour later. This gave me a chance to catch the moon setting after the sun was lighting up the mountains.
You can see two of PCMR's ski lifts (Crescent and Silverlode) and their new wind turbine.  You can also see a surprising amount of dirt given that these lift tops are pretty high on the mountain.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

A quick moon set

When I got up this morning and was heading outside with the dog, I noticed that last night's full moon was just about to set behind the mountains over at Park City Mountain Resort.  I grabbed by camera and snapped off a series of shots in the few minutes it took to disappear.

Nothing unique.  Just pretty to watch.

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Canyons Schlittentag 2012

Bill Benson and I journeyed over to Canyons for a nice day of spring skiing.  By "skiing", I mean going to a ski resort and watching other people ski. Mostly what we were there for was the 2nd annual Red Bull Schlittentag, or German for "Sledding Day".

Canyons definitely crushes the other local resorts when it comes to spring fun.  Lots of live bands and cool events mixed with a big renovated ski beach area.  Deer Valley and Park City could both learn a lot on this topic.
It was almost 70 degrees, the sun was shining, the snow was slush and brown spots were appearing everywhere on the runs. It doesn't take much more than this to get the locals thinking spring.
Here was an interesting way to combine spring biking and snow.  Look at the massive tires on that bike.
The idea behind Schlittentag is to sled down a hill. What constitutes a sled is completely up to you. You get rated for costumes, sled design, speed, and just finishing alive.

The first competitors set the tone with three boxes taped together. If you look closely, you can barely see the anchor for their boat, a cinder block in the back.
And when the person in the back threw out the anchor, it turned out that the anchor line was stronger than the box tape.  Her third of the ship was suddenly on its own. What I never figured out was why she threw the anchor before crossing the finish line.
One of the more popular sled designs was the recliner or couch on skis. They often went with some extra riders on the back.  Notice the handle he is pulling up.  That was one of the more common, and often unsuccessful, efforts at steering.
This one is almost like a clown car.  How two people got into this little thing is a mystery.  Perhaps this was sponsored by a local yoga studio?
And here the little car suffers from a fundamental race issue.  Down near the bottom of the course, there was a definite right-to-left slope.  This was nearly perfect at separating those who could steer from those who couldn't.  Fortunately, the netting kept the competitors out of the spectators.
This guy took a very simple approach: a mask and a cheap sled.  Not so surprising, he actually did very well, go fast and controlling his speed.  Boring though.
There were three judges, each of which rated a run on a 0-10 scale.  Whoever this was got a 0, and two 1/2s, for a total of 1.  Not one of the best efforts.
This was a sliding disaster.  It had a lot of wood, weighed a ton, and went wherever it wanted to.  I have no idea what it was supposed to be.
You can tell that they were happy with how things were proceeding.
Then they were caught like fish in the net when that left tilting slope came into play.  I think one of the biggest ironies is that for safety, all participants had to wear a helmet.  However, they were happy letting you ride a couch down the mountain.
This was one of the best entries.  It's Scooby Doo and the Mystery Machine.  They actually kept it under control and finished quickly.  This was my pick for winner.
The Mario Borthers had a nice cart, but it crashed with a long ways to go.
These guys had a few chairs nailed together.  Right now they are heading down backwards, which isn't that surprising since their sled had a tendency to do 360s on its own.
Once again, simplicity works wonders. The different variations of air mattresses seemed to be easy, fast and somehow steerable.
One of the bigger efforts, and failures.  Basically a couch with skis and guys sitting on it.
Just a few feet down the hill, the couch is pitching everyone off.  You can see one of the skis right near the start line.
But you have to give them credit.  Flip it over, get it moving and pile on. This was working until the couch decided that like so many other sleds, it wanted to aim for the netting on the left.  It does look like fun!
This one threw me for a loop.  Double click on the image so you can see it better.  Notice the guy standing at a 45 degree angle.  How is that possible?
I get it!  He wasn't quite standing.  He was in the early phases of falling off.
Definitely one of the most stylish entries. They went with a car seat instead of a couch.
One of the only historically authentic Roman Love Seat Chariots you will find.
Three kids had a fairly basic sled.  About half way down they learned the value of staying out of the deep slush.
This ended up being one of the most dangerous costumes.
Right after this photo, the sled took a dive at the finish line.  The guy in the thong learned how speed, snow and skin can result in an ugly rash on your butt. 
These were supposed to be the Ghostbusters, but to me they looked like the men in sperm outfits from Woody Allen's Everything You Wanted To Know About Sex But Were Afraid To Ask.
Another chair with guys piggy backing.
Some people made the mattresses work.  Others had a pretty epic fail.
Mattress 3, Riders 0.
... and in the end there were heaps of sled death.  Sad.
It was perfect weather for watching.  I hope that Canyons continues to grow this event into something more like the pond skimming.  With a little more marketing effort, I think it would draw big crowds of spectators and more entrants.  Very few of my friends had any idea it was taking place.

I do have to add that Canyons' Schlittentag is mild compared to many held around the country.  The courses are often longer, steeper, and have small jumps.  You can click here for some Youtube videos of other competitions.