Monday, April 29, 2013

The Price of Copper

About three years ago, I blogged about how thieves ripped apart out Raleigh house's HVAC to get to a few dollars worth of copper.  There have been thousands of stories over the years about stealing copper from street lights, construction sites, cooling systems, and anywhere else it can be found.  Bad news.  The price of copper is going to go up.

If you have visited Salt Lake City, you may have seen the Kennecott copper mine.  It has the distinction of being the largest man made hole in the world and it is visible from space.  It supplies a large percentage of the world's copper supply. About two weeks ago, the mine had a bit of a catastrophe.
We have all heard stories about landslides.  Some are small but impact humans, like the recent one on Whidbey Island in Washington.  Others are much bigger.  Some are much, much, much bigger.  The Kennecott slide dumped 165 million tons of dirt into the bottom of the mine.  For those challenged by math, that's 330 billion pounds.  Billion with a "B".

The good news is that they could tell it was going to happen.  With a few days of warning they were able to get the people and most of the equipment out of the way.  The bad news is that to get back to full production, they simply need to move all that debris.  Until that happens, the amount of copper flowing from the mine will be way off.

For the local community, some number of people will lose their jobs.  A huge side effect is that the land valuation of the mine will plunge, at least temporarily, which will raise a lot of people's property tax bills.  That money has to come from somewhere.

Thieves take note.  The price of copper is going up!

Raptor Nesting - Trip 3

Colleen and I headed back out to our RINS (Raptor Inventory Nesting Survey) territory, searching for active hawk, owl, eagle, or other raptor nests. It was a big day, mostly for Red Tailed Hawks and Great Horned Owls.  We have quite a few hawk nests, but we didn't see any chicks yet.
We have two owl nests so far and visited a third that's actually closer to Park City.  Each of the three nests had at least one owlet.  At this point in their lives, they are just little fluffy beaks with eyes.  I wish they wouldn't always make their nests deep in the tree.  Better for survival.  Worse for photos.
These clearly aren't raptors, but the Ibis and Egret made an interesting contrast.
Ok, another not-raptor.  Quite the cute pair.  We saw newborns of so many animals: horse, cow, sheep, alpaca, goat, ...  Our RINS territory is very rural.
Back to raptors, but not in our territory.  This is one of the two Swainsons Hawks that I photographed frequently last summer.  If you read my blog, you might remember me getting dive bombed at high speed.  I was really happy to see them returning from their long migration.
I look forward to tracking them again this year.

The only disappointment was not finding an eagle nest.  We have one or two good candidates, but nothing confirmed.  We did see several Golden Eagles flying around.  We just couldn't connect them with a nest.  We also saw a few Kestrels and a Harrier, but our chances of finding their nests is slim.
This picture has nothing to do with our trip other than leaving my camera set up with a 500mm lens and a 1.4x teleconverter when I got home.  I was out grilling veggies for dinner when this little guy landed at the top of a pine tree about 30 feet away.  I grabbed my camera and snapped off a few shots.  Sometimes you just can't beat a long lens and its limited depth of field.  He was even generous enough to pick a tree that put the sun on the right side.
We continue to make progress with our RINS work.  We are learning our territory and finding some nice nests.  They tend to get used year after year, so this work would tend to get easier.  Doing it with Colleen provides a nice combination of skills, 1+1=3.


  • Incredible vision.  Much better than mine with glasses
  • Good at identifying the raptors
  • Did RINS work in the past, so she knows the system
  • Can drive on well marked roads. Can brake and swerve quickly whenever Colleen says "there's something"
  • Wit and deep thoughts
  • A dog
As you can tell, my contribution is vaguely defined.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Skiing has ended

The resorts all closed down two weeks ago and the snow conditions weren't going to support them staying open much longer anyway.  Even so, the views of the mountain snow are still gorgeous, and almost inviting for some hiking to ski one run.  Then you remember that it will be almost 70 here today and you might get caught up in a torrent of melting snow.

For those who know the area, this is Jupiter Peak.  You can see the little guard shack up near the top.
These are the tops of the Crescent and Silverlode lifts over at PCMR.  It seems like riding up the lifts would be absolutely spectacular, but it's just a bit of an optical illusion.  Probably looks a lot more interesting from my deck, where I took this picture.
These are the Sterling, Wasatch and Sultan lifts over at Deer Valley.  Hopefully we will get in some nice hikes to this peak during the summer.  Our main motivation is that when we are done hiking we are "allowed" to get a hamburger at Royal Street.  These are definitely the best burgers in Park City!
Closer to the bottom of Deer Valley you can do a run of slush bumps.  My lens doesn't show it, but there is actually a lot of exposed dirt and rock in there.  I have always said that the moguls look easier and better from the chairlift.  They look even better from a mile away!
Now I am heading outside to partake in spring.  Maybe hit a bucket of balls at the driving range.  Then doing some weeding and clipping before anything gets the idea that it is time to start growing.

The big news is that this afternoon I get to go pick up Julie at the airport.  It will be nice to have her back in Park City again!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Computer networks keep on changing

I guess it is just one of the many signs of my age...

I remember working at Computer Sciences during college. I was lucky enough to be able to take a terminal home and work remotely.  Of course the terminal didn't have a screen, it had a roll of thermal paper and the dial up connection was 2400 bits per second.  Much later in life, I remember a Windows update being 10M bytes.  I was astounded that they would do it online because it took hours to complete and if you lost your connection, you had to start from scratch.

Comcast just recently upgraded our home Internet connection.  I have now tested it at 55M bits per second download and 11 M upload.  Given this, I can now:

  • Download that 10M Windows update in a little less than 2 seconds
  • Upload my directory of over 100G bytes of photos to a backup site in less than 24 hours
If you want to see your network performance, you can go to, let it initialize, and then click BEGIN TEST.  Takes about 30 seconds.

My annual golf trip

Every year a group of my college buddies gathers up and heads to Myrtle Beach to golf.  I think this was 28 years in a row.

I started my trip with a stop in Maryland to spend a few days with my mom.  We didn't have any big plans.  We just spent time catching up and doing some odd jobs around the house. We also booked a trip in September to spend 5 days up in Grand Teton National Park sightseeing and as you might expect, taking hundreds of photos.
I left mom on Wednesday and flew to Raleigh.  I got to spend a bit of time with my dad and then my aunt and cousin.  Off the next morning to golf.

Myrtle Beach isn't my favorite NC/SC beach.  It is extremely commercial and very touristy.  I prefer a more relaxed, less crowded area.  Still, if you get up and out early enough in the morning, you can catch some beautiful scenery.
The thing that Myrtle Beach has going for it is golf.  With over a hundred courses to chose from, we always seem to find something different to try.  As you can see from the picture below, by April the courses are already greening up nicely.  This year we played Crowe Creek and the three Legends courses, all of which were in nice shape. I was pleasantly surprised because the southeast had a very cold spring.
We have managed to keep the group very stable over the years.  Our only changes this year were replacing Mark Reid (recently married and living in NY) with Mark Pozefsky, and of course, getting a little older, grayer and slower.
Since we don't have a house in Raleigh any more, I have to find a place to stay.  Jim and Carmella Saunders have been kind enough to provide a bed which makes it easy for Jim and I to drive down together.
Dave is my frequent golfing partner, mostly because we share a bottle or three of Captain Morgan as we play.  We thought it was incredibly fitting that on our first hole, they put a red flag on our cart.  Apparently it meant we were the last group going out for the morning, but we thought it was actually an excellent warning to those golfing around us.
Here we have Lewis hitting out of one of what seemed like hundreds or even thousands of bunkers.  One thing the beach doesn't run short of is sand.  I was lucky to stay out of most of the traps, but that's because they put them where you are trying to hit, and my ball almost never goes that direction.
It was another great trip.  I still suck at golf, but I can try and focus on the one 9 hole stretch where I golfed about as well as I ever have (3 pars, 4 bogies, 2 doubles for a 44 on a very hard course). I guess if I am ever going to improve I will either need to be touched by the hand of God, or at least stop going 9 months without swinging a club.

Julie and I traveled separately, overlapping a few days in Raleigh.  This allowed us to minimize pet care and it didn't make that much sense for her to be there during the four days I was in Myrtle Beach.

One evening we went out to dinner with our friends Anne and Tom Schick.  The waiter, perhaps in a play for an excellent tip, decided it was a nice day to celebrate Julie's 22nd birthday.  Off by 7 months (and several years), was just fine because it meant bringing chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies, right out of the oven.  Yummm!
So I am back in Park City, getting ready for our next trip (Moab, Utah) while Julie spends a few more days in Raleigh hanging out with friends.  I love Park City and don't miss living in Raleigh very much, but I sure do miss seeing our friends and wish we could do it a lot more often.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Our last day of the ski year

Things worked out well for a relaxed, sunny last day on the slopes.  The 18" of snow we got earlier this week did great things for the snow conditions, but the warm weather made any bump runs a hazard.  Julie and I ventured over to Deer Valley and did a few hours of very pleasant groomer runs.  We always get a bit paranoid on the last ski day of the year.  No one wants to get hurt, but the heavier snow makes it more likely.
After skiing we went in for a last of the year hamburger at Royal Street.  It was sunny and warm out on the deck.  A great way to end the year.
So, the 2012-13 season is behind us.  The snow was pretty mediocre and we only got about 30 days in. Just the same, neither of us got hurt.  I managed to breeze through the year without breaking another helmet or getting any more brain damage. We'll call it a success.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Odds and Ends for today

This week four toddlers shot people with guns (not joking).  Seems to me that in the midst of all this gun control debate, people might think to put their guns where little kids can't get them and maybe even think to keep them unloaded.  The NRA issued a press release stating "The only way to stop a bad toddler with a gun, is a good toddler with a gun".  OK, that part was a joke, but only a little bit.

I have gone through this more than once.  I go to the doctor for an annual physical.  He does a blood test and tells me my cholesterol is a little bit high.  Nothing to worry about, but improve my eating habits.  I switch back to oatmeal with walnuts and cinnamon every morning and cut back on red meat.  Retest and my total cholesterol drops 60 points, way into the healthy range.  Rather than taking Lipitor or any of those drugs, consider making some diet changes.  Yeah oatmeal!

You probably don't care, but my favorite oatmeal is McCann's Quick and Easy Steel Cut Oats.  Steel Cut oats are the best for you because they digest more slowly, keeping your blood sugar from spiking.  But they can take 25 minutes to cook.  My choice is the steel cut ones that are cut slightly smaller, making them cook in about 5 minutes.  And yes, if you clicked on the link, you can see that I actually buy them from Amazon.  I couldn't find them anywhere else.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

April snow

After a week or two of serious spring in Park City, winter came back with a vengeance.  This is pretty common and happens as late as June.  The ski resorts have to be ecstatic.  They close this weekend, but the snow was getting really sketchy.  All three resorts on this side of the Wasatch got about 18" of new snow.  Here at the house we got a foot.
However happy the ski resorts were, Jasper was happier. He loves snow, so a foot of it provides a lot of love.
The fun part is pouncing on anything and everything deep in a drift.
Wide open, chasing a snowball.
And of course, it wouldn't be a snow day without a little game of Where's Waldog?
The only downside is the temperatures are a LOT colder today. At 5:00 pm, we have brilliant sunshine.  However, the temperature at the top of the mountain has soared to 12, with a wind chill of -11. More snow coming by Thursday night.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Pure Eating

Julie and I decided to try a two week "food cleanse".   She may add a third week, but I will be traveling.  There are so many foods and additives that either cause allergies or don't process well in our bodies.  The cleanse tries to get rid of all the likely problems and give your body, more specifically your liver, a chance to clean out, flush toxins and get rid of any inflammation. If you find that you suddenly feel better after two weeks, the trick is to slowly add things back into your diet so that you can figure out what was causing problems.

I have tried a number of diets over the years, focusing on low carbs, low fat, or just low calories.  Changing your eating habits to adjust to those can be awkward, but it isn't that hard.  In contrast, this cleanse is a true challenge.  Here are the things we have to stop eating and drinking:

  • Alcohol - straightforward and fairly easy.  I stop drinking almost any time I need to lose some weight because I know the calories are complete trash.
  • Caffeine - Harder for me as a serious coffee drinker, but fairly easy to do.  We did have to taper off for a few days to avoid the caffeine headaches.  I wouldn't mind decaf coffee, but even that has caffeine, just less than normal.  We have been sticking with herbal teas.
  • Beef and pork - awkward because it narrows the choices, but there are enough ways to do chicken (organic only), fish (not farm raised) and bison.
  • Peanuts - lots of allergies for people, but very easy to give up.  You still get to have all the other nuts, so we just switched from peanut butter to almond butter.
  • Gluten - wow, now it gets hard. I really feel for people with celiac disease.  Pick up almost any packaged food and you will find something that sounds like wheat or yeast. It is in hundreds of products where it seems to have no place.  Even "healthy organic" soups often have it as a thickener.  Going for veggie burgers to avoid beef?  Nope, they have gluten.
  • Corn - wouldn't be that big a problem except that a lot of the Gluten-free foods have some corn instead.  Tough combo.
  • Sugar - we can do honey or agave but nothing else.  As everyone knows, they add sugar to absolutely every processed food in order to appeal to our sweet tooth. Even things we thought would be ok, like dried fruits, often have cane sugar added.
  • Eggs - this one is hard simply because I eat a lot of them.  They are a frequent breakfast and make a great lunch omelet with leftovers.
  • Dairy - Ouch!  The milk is easy.  If you haven't ever tried almond milk, it is a reasonable replacement. Butter is easily replaced with olive oil or coconut oil.  Cheese?  I put cheese on everything!  I hope to God that I don't find I have any problems with cheese.  Julie is a regular Greek yogurt eater, so that had to be replaced.
I am sure I am forgetting some other restrictions.  We shop with a cheat sheet.

What do we eat?  Oatmeal is an easy breakfast and I do that a lot anyway. Lunch can be some homemade soups, carefully selected chicken sausages, fruit, nuts, ....  Dinner is a lot of chicken and fish meals,  veggies, and salads with a very select group of dressings.

We are about 5 or 6 days into this and I think we have found the groove for what to eat, although trips to the grocery store are still a very slow, label-reading adventure.  I have mixed feelings. I would love to find some food group that if either avoided or restricted would make Julie or I feel a lot better.  At the same time, it sure is a lot easier being able to eat any food group and just tend towards the healthier stuff.  We've been doing that for years.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Another Utah Moment

It is sad how often our state does things that show up on the Colbert Report.  This time it is for our version of an Earth Day Celebration.

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

April Snow

The weathermen are hilarious.  As late as 10:00 last night, they were saying that the mountains might see an inch or two of snow. This morning we wake up with 8" at the house and 14" on the mountain.  Just how wrong can they be?  At least it was in the right direction this time.

When the snow clumps up in the trees like this, you know it is very wet.  While that isn't very good for skiing (we love dry Utah powder) it was certainly useful to help get some more water up in the mountains.  This summer is going to be DRY and we could use every bit of snow and rain.
The snow must have come down very late in the morning because Deer Valley, who normally grooms every flake of snow they can find, left some Blue runs ungroomed.  For those who know the mountain, this is Hidden Treasure.  I was getting a nice line but the snow was so heavy that as I got to the more gradual areas, I almost ground to a halt.  I had to go find steeper terrain.
But when you got to the top, where the temps were the coldest, the snow was still very heavy and visibility dropped to about 30 feet.  As well as I know Deer Valley, I could barely find the runs I was looking for.
So, it wasn't the big powder day we all hope for, but that much heavy snow gives the resorts a little more to play with.  They all close in a little under two weeks and could use every bit of help between now and then.

Utah Families

Not sure where he got it, but Mark Reid sent me this great shot of the back of an SUV.  Polygamy at its finest!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Jasper's mirror

The other day when we were at City Park, we ran into Jasper's mirror image.  His name is Lefty, and he is a bit smaller than Jasper, but he has the same white chest patch and one white paw. Sitting together (with Lefty's owner) you can see Jasper's reflection.