Friday, August 30, 2013

The past week

We had a great visit from Laura and Jacky Smale this week. These are the two youngest daughters of Julie's sister Sue. Jacky came out from Hillsboro, OR and Laura came from her university, Gonzaga in Spokane, WA.  We did some of the normal Park City summer events: shopping, eating, hiking and music.

They both got a good workout from our normal self-inflicted deal:  if you want to eat a Royal Street hamburger, you have to hike up to the top of Bald Mountain first.  It's a lot of work for people who live near sea level, but the burger is worth it.
We went to this summer's last Deer Valley Wednesday night concert.  You can tell summer is ending by the clothing everyone is wearing.
While the girls were here, I still managed to get up at 5:45 to go rowing out on the Jordanelle.  One of the advantages of getting up early is that you catch some cool sunrises.
The girls have flown back so they can be ready for school next week.  Hoping we get them back out for another visit sometimes soon.

In a completely unrelated photo, this is how you pull a hot tub off a deck in Park City.  I have to guess that it is being replaced.  It could have been more fun just to give it a shove and then pick up the pieces in the street.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Updates on my goals

My half marathon with no training was an overwhelming success.  I crushed my time goals and as you can see below, I was still happy and smiling at mile 8 or so.
My other projects aren't progressing as well:

  • The house hasn't sold yet and the number of shoppers has dropped off significantly as the fall season arrives.  We expected this because town really empties of tourists from September through Thanksgiving. Winter is the big house selling season here in Park City.
  • My diet has apparently gone on hold.  I haven't put weight back on, but with all our socializing, eating and drinking, my body has decided it likes my weight where it is.  I'll crank back up on this next week.
  • My rowing has improved, but I appear to have invented a new form of biathlon, part sculling and part swimming.  I must be one of the least coordinated yet most enthusiastic rowers to hit the water in a long time.  Today the winds picked up and the waves got a lot bigger. "Tippy the racing single" and I were struggling, but doing ok.  At the end of the workout, 100 feet from the dock, a more energetic wave caught me just as the oars were going into the water.  At least I am extremely proficient at getting back onto the boat, which is no simple trick.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Retirement Taxes

For all of you at or rapidly nearing retirement age, this was an interesting article giving details about each state's taxes, especially tax implications for seniors.

I added a couple of states to my comparison to see how NC, Utah and Oregon compared.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Park City Ultimate Tournament

When I was running the Park City Half Marathon yesterday, I saw a half dozen teams getting ready to play in an Ultimate Frisbee tournament.  As athletic as Park City is, they never seem to have picked up Ultimate.  After the race I watched for a half hour, but then I went back today to take some pictures.

None of my normal running commentary because I don't know the people or even the teams. Damn I miss playing Ultimate!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Drive by fox

The photo is crappy.  It was dark and dreary and the fox was moving fast, but it always pays to have a little point-and-shoot in the truck.  He was very cute.
I don't know if he was young or just small, but he couldn't have weighed more than 10 or 15 pounds.  Jasper weighs 60.  They really get fluffy and gorgeous when they switch to their winter coats.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats

One week every August, they hold Speed Week out on the Bonneville Salt Flats, about 120 miles west of Park City.  It's near Wendover, NV for those of you who like gambling.  The idea is to take almost any kind of vehicle on wheels and see if you can break the land speed record for that class of transport.  As you will see, most anything goes.

This year I talked Greg Glynis (left) and Doug Drexler into going along with me.
I love the looks of some of these cars.  Several things to notice here.
  • The car is all of about 2 inches off the ground.  That minimizes the air disturbance under the car.  As you might guess, the salt flats are a great choice for speed records because they are incredibly flat and smooth.  
  • There is a truck behind the car with big wooden blocks on the front.  It will push the car until it gets enough speed to run on its own.  Think about trying to start a car with a manual transmission in 5th gear.  Chances are, when you release the clutch, the car will stall.  These cars are geared for such high speeds, that their 1st gear is like your 5th gear.
Even though some of the cars look semi-normal on the outside, none of them do on the inside. They all have a luxurious sheet of metal for a seat.  Next to the driver are the gas tank (square, left), an oil reservoir, a water reservoir, and several fire extinguishers.  You wouldn't want to be driving one of these for more than a few minutes.
When you get to the very high-speed machines, they start looking like fighter jets inside.  The combination of raw power and technical complexity is numbing.
I wouldn't want to race one.  I certainly wouldn't enjoy building and maintaining one.  I sure do like looking at the nice ones though.  Notice the name of the racing company for this one.
It doesn't look like it gets raced, but there are even categories for vintage, small-engined motorcycles.
Doug liked this pair.  It is either a Ford with a Chevy pusher or a Chevy with a Ford pusher.  I liked the irony, but can't remember which is which.
I loved the looks of this one, but it is so low to the ground, there is no way I could get it to my garage.  Bummer.
This would make for a mean look whipping up in your rearview mirror. Who am I kidding?  It was only about 2 feet tall.  You would never see it.
The salt reflects all the sunshine and stays remarkably cool.  Unfortunately that sunlight hits everything else and the dessert gets very hot, very quickly.  I felt sorry for the guys getting into their racing outfits and their full fire suits.
This guy looked to be about 60.  He is about to ride his motorcycle, which has no fairing (windshield) at all.  He was trying to break his own record of 220 mph. Can you imagine what that feels like with nothing blocking the wind?
There is a class of vehicles that I think of as missiles with wheels. When maxed out, they hit over 400 mph.
You can see the driver after he has been strapped in.  His head is about 18 inches off the salt flat and he is essentially laying on his back.
This angle gives you a better view of the size.

When this car was ready to run, we wandered back to my SUV for a drive back to the pits to look at other vehicles.  This missile came swerving off the race course and came right over to where we were driving.  They had a mechanical failure and had to abort the run.  We saw them later in the pits, distraught.  They had brought the vehicle from Scotland and apparently had two mechanical failures, the second of which couldn't be fixed at the race.
If I was going to set a record, what would I use?  Probably something like this...  with the umbrella.
or even this.  I could kick this guy's ass!
You can check out the Bonneville records here, but I can't begin to guess what all those acronyms are.

This is such an unusual event that everyone should try to go once.

Saving money from the cable companies

The nice people at Comcast started charging us $7 per month to "rent" our cable modem.  That seems ridiculous given how much you already pay for the monthly data service.  I went out to Amazon and bought one on sale for a bit over $50.  It should last about 5 years but even after 3 years, I am $200 ahead.
When you get your new cable modem, you have to call the cable company and spend about 5 minutes with them so they can activate your device.  Pretty simple other than trying to read long strings of serial numbers to someone who spoke and understood very little English.  Nice service Comcast!

The one I bought can be found here, but there are several reasonable ones on the market and they go on sale occasionally.  The key is to make sure yours supports DOCSIS 3.0, which means it can support higher Internet speeds.

I have no idea if this applies to DSL.  Because I haven't had it, I don't know if they annoy you with a monthly DSL modem rental charge.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Tour of Utah

I got behind on my blogging.  This past Sunday we went into town to watch Stage 6 of the Tour of Utah.  This race has become pretty popular and it draws quite a few teams and riders from the Tour de France.

Sunday was the final stage and two riders, Chris Horner and Tom Danielson, were tied in time for first. The stage started and ended in Park City.  It was a shorter day at 78 miles, but included over 7,000 feet of climbing with one Cat 1 climb and one HC climb.
My only disappointment was that they always let the riders go a few miles as a group before really starting the race.  The two big loops they made through town were all part of this warm up so there wasn't anything exciting happening.
There was quite a crowd out for the event.  I heard estimates of 10-15,000 which is a lot to pack into a few blocks.

In the end Tom Danielson had a great ride, almost winning the day and definitely winning the Tour.
This is one of the team chase vehicles.  Throwing those bikes on top is one of the quickest ways to turn a little wagon into a $100k car.  Even though I don't need a collection of racing bikes, or even just one, I was a bit tempted to hop in a drive off.
There is a lot of Tour coverage and photos here.  I would have to guess that this race is only behind the stage rides in Colorado and California now.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Yesterday's Visitor

We haven't seen many moose this summer.  I think our normal mom and calves got into trouble hanging out on busy roads so they tranquilized them and hauled them off into the remote mountains.  Yesterday we got a visit from this big boy.  Thanks to our neighbor Sally for letting us know he was hanging around in our back yard. She said that at first glance, she thought we had bought a statue.
Why is he here?  For the fine dining of course.  This time of year, life is one big happy salad bar.  He was kind enough to be stripping the leaves off the branches without breaking them, so I don't mind.
At one point Julie and I were up on the deck.  He seemed to be asking whether he could come up and join us.  Perhaps he was just wondering if we had anything nice to add to his leaf salad.  He really is close enough that I could almost touch him.
Tell me he isn't laughing.  Sure looks like he is making fun of me for having fertilized most of my bushes earlier in the day.  I hope he got a little fertilizer on his tongue!

We were heading over to a friends for dinner and watched as the moose appeared to leave. After we left, he came right back into the yard and took a nap.  They can do some damage to your plants but they really are fun to see.

The end of a boring fire season

When we had low snowfall totals this winter and a warm spring, it looked like we would have another bad year for wildfires.  Fortunately we had a good bit of rain in July and August has had some hit and miss storms.  The party ends today.
About five miles away a fire is burning.  It has taken a few houses already and is butting up against the very large Promontory neighborhood.  They have had about ten aircraft involved with fighting the fire ranging from little helicopters to a monstrous DC10.  One saving grace is that the fire started very close to the Rockport Reservoir.  The helicopters can leave the fire, fill their bucket and be back to the fire in a couple of minutes.

As of 7:00pm, the troops seem to be getting everything under control, but as the sun sets and the temperatures drop, the winds normally pick up.

Life in a high altitude desert....

Monday, August 12, 2013

Update of stuff

Had two house showings on Thursday and another scheduled for this afternoon.  So far no one has written us a check. If you want to jump in, you can see the house here.

My diet faltered this past week and looks to struggle again this week.  Too many nights out and too much alcohol. Damn friends!

Rowing is definitely improving.  I am rowing every time in the twitchy little single racing shell.  I am finally starting to look more like I belong in the boat.   A few more weeks and I will actually be cranking along.

On the way to the reservoir this morning (6:40 am), this was the view.  The sun was trying to come up but was fighting with the clouds, some of which were dropping rain.  Probably could have gotten a better photo if I hadn't been shooting through the windshield at 60 mph.
Once I got to the Jordanelle and walked the dog around a bit, the weather started shaping up.  I like the reflections.
Every day I have to throw the boat on my head (literally) and walk to the water.  The water levels keep going down, so the boat ramp gets longer and longer.  For perspective, that little black dot at the end of the ramp is my 60 pound dog Jasper. The worst part is bringing the boat back up the hill at the end of a row.  I am beginning to believe that the boat ramp is part of some infinite M.C. Escher drawing.
I still have one more row this week, but my attention is focused on my total lack of preparation for Saturday's half marathon.

Thursday, August 08, 2013