Sunday, May 31, 2009

Falling in Love with Utah

I miss March in California. Nothing is greener than the hills of the Bay Area. Right around St. Patrick’s Day, I have been told that the spring green of California is similar to Ireland; hence Bay Area city names like Dublin. Green hills in California have always been a harbinger of spring, and it can come as early as December. March in Utah is somewhat dismal. Everything is brown and seems pretty dead. The mountains may have snow, but if it is in the valleys, it soon melts to a dirty slush.
Spring in Utah arrives slowly, piece by piece. You can see it coming, like the melting snow, drip by drip. First in the daffodils and forsythia that start to bloom in April and then in the trees with their barely visible shoots, surrounded by a green mist. Like the spring-melt, when May arrives, it becomes a full rush. Everything pops open, tulips, lilacs, poppies, then roses and countless other flowers. Northern Utah rewards its residents with a dazzling jewel box of color, amply making up for the last four months of cold and dreariness.
Yesterday, on a rather dismal and cloudy May day in Utah, I was rewarded with some of those treasures. Parking one car at the trail-head for Indian Creek in Ogden Canyon we drove to Rainbow Gardens, to another trail head there. Climbing my neighborhood mountain, looking up to the top of Mt. Ogden, was a glorious tapestry of hundreds of different shades of green, equally as beautiful as the solid emerald intensity of those Bay Area hills.
What an amazing hike, really two hikes in one. The west side is totally different from the east. I knew there was a trail from Rainbow Gardens, but had no idea where it connected. Up ahead we could see the switchbacks that went up the mountain, but not a direct trail, so we went up the skinny little bike path. Straight up, passing meadows of wild flowers, many unfortunately covered with the cursed dyer’s woad, which doesn’t look all that bad in the spring. There were asters, and wild sweet pea, yellow lupines, and an occasional wild delphinium. An occasional cactus poked through the rocks and now and then a wild primrose. The scent of sage trailed us up the hill, especially when I used one as an anchor to pull me up. Thousands of little oak trees would have provided shade but we didn’t need it that day. Stopping for a breath we could see all of the Northern Valley spread out below us and the Great Salt Lake and Antelope Island in the distance. It was hard to believe that I was only one or two miles from my house.
Finally reaching the main trail, we continued our upward ascent, on switch- backs now, but nevertheless up. We went into the canyon and the oak gave way to beautiful evergreens. I had seen these driving through the canyon and wondered if there was a way to get to them. And now here I was. A big yellow, daisy-like flower grew in abundance all along the trail, and the dyer’s woad was mostly gone. Wild lily-of-the-valley were interspersed with a number of other wildflowers that I didn’t know the name of. The views changed, canyons of pine and fir went way back into the mountains. To the north, a close up of the amazing geologic formations that make-up Ogden Canyon, something you miss when on the road below.
The trail was not quite as difficult. We were on a ridge and the ascent was slower. There were some downs, interspersed with the ups. That is my idea of hiking. Reaching the crest, we scrambled among some rocks and then started down. The trail was lush and green and I saw patches of wild raspberries, mixed with elderberry and of course more oak. The grasses were green, the trees were green; everything ached of springtime and new life. Reaching the creek, we stopped to let the dogs get a drink of water. The rushing waters were cooling to their feet. It was a beautiful spot for lunch.
Finishing the hike, we went along the creek for a while, and then some more switchbacks down to the parking lot below. I missed the smell of bay trees, always there on my Bay Area hikes, but I think the sage and wildflowers made up for it. We have been given this great planet for our use. Its variety is amazing. The chance to be so close to nature and the wild is something that I hope never to take for granted. Utah is a wonderful place to live.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Warnings from the Utah Tea Party

I received this in my email from a fellow Utahan who was at the Tea Party held in SLC last Wednesday. It is too important not to share or pass on, and so I include it in my blog today. Feel free to copy and paste to anyone else whom you think should see this message.
Utah Tea Party
to me

show details 2:39 AM (13 hours ago)


Follow up message
“At a moment like this, the last thing we can afford is four more years of the tired, worn-out, old theory that...prosperity trickles down...” Sadly, we now know President Obama meant it when he embarked on the path of the greatest wealth destruction in history.

I have witnessed the cruel consequences of callous governmental control across the world and its devastating effects on every day workers and their families. As a young missionary for the Mormon Church in Peru I witnessed many things I care not to remember...only now I feel I must recount them to serve as a warning to the ever increasing governmental intrusion into our lives.

Peru is a desperately poor country. I served among the poorest people who lived in crowded slums which smelled like a mixture of the sewer and the dump--because there were no facilities for either. Living conditions were abysmal. Day after day throngs of desperate men waited in the town square hoping someone would give them a dollar or two for a day of back-breaking labor. To "control" food prices, the government instituted price controls--snitching neighbors ensured compliance.

I vividly remember walking through the Peruvian market places and seeing the bright blue and red labeling on bags of rice, “USDA, For Food Assistance Programs Only, Not for Sale.” The poor built their homes by mixing adobe bricks with their bare feet in the stifling heat--with water carried in from town on their backs. Many sold a day’s toil for a day's worth of USDA donated rice and oil. Astonishingly, I witnessed entire containers of donated USDA Food Aid left to rot on the docks as no one would pay the required bribes to the local officials to unload the containers--all while children nearby went hungry.

One day we met a man who was ecstatic he had been able to purchase some empty 5 gallon USDA oil cans to make a door for his home. Seeing his plight, I offered to help him build his door. We gathered the ubiquitous beer bottle caps from the ground, then drove a used nail through the bottle cap. The bottle cap then served as a crude washer--to help prevent the can from tearing off the nail as ever present thieves tried to steal what meager belongings were inside the home. I pried open those USDA oil cans, flattened them out, and used a rock to nail those cans to a crude wooden frame so that man could have a door on his home. I will never forget the welcome sign on that humble man's door: "USDA, For Food Assistance Programs Only...Not For Sale."

Did fixed prices and massive governmental intrusion lift those destitute people from their despair? No, it didn't. I know, for I lived and worked among those suffering people. I came to realize the government was not the answer to our problems. I came to believe, we don't need the government to take care of us; we need to take care of each other.

Ironically, the “tired, worn-out, old theory” of trickle-down-economics is actually quite new. It was born when 56 men signed the Declaration of Independence and then defended it with their blood. They boldly proclaimed to the world they were free to produce, free to give, free to pursue their own happiness, and free from the confiscation of their wealth by looters and tyrants.

The old, bankrupt theory here is Obama's. For thousands of years kings and rulers have looted their subjects. Then, the productive hid their greatest wealth--their minds--from the asphyxiating greed of those in power; thus, impoverishing all and creating a stagnate world of despair. Poverty will never be banished by turning everyone into beggars. I have seen the disease of wealth destruction--masquerading as wealth redistribution; it inevitably metastasizes into trickle-down despair.


Friday, May 22, 2009

At Last Some Success

I did it! This week I actually made a decent amount of money for work that I found and completed from clients. My writing is paying! Is that a silly thing to brag about it? After all, I am supposed to be in the business of writing. And being in the business is supposed to mean making money. But it has really been hard for me. It seems that I go to interviews and I talk to people and I never get anywhere. This time, it is not the case. I actually got work, did it and was paid well for doing so.
So that is what being self-employed is supposed to feel like. Not working and working and banging your head against the wall. Someone advertised himself or himself on Twitter as a “Professional Time Waster”. So many of us do just that, because it appears that we are busy and working, but unless there is money or at least some sort of reward exchanged, there is no work involved. I get paid for research as much as writing. And I spend time to do research and solve problems. Solving a problem involves research and you can get handsomely paid for doing so.
As much as I love my laptop, I am not going to use it to write anymore, because I can’t write quickly on it. There is something wrong with the keyboard, and as I’m writing along, it all of a sudden the cursor jumps up, and I’m suddenly writing in an entirely new part of the page. I think that it’s time for a new laptop, and someday I will get one.Back to the success story. Like they say, success begets success and it is very true. I have decided that I am going to expect to make a certain amount of dollars every week. I think that if I go back and follow-up on old leads, re-tweek my website and continue working like I am working, it will happen and I will get the work. Now that I believe that I will get paid, (because I have been), I will make money.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I can't travel without my laptop

my laptop
I'm getting ready to go on another road trip. This time to Las Vegas with daughter Pam. We are going to a real estate conference on buying REO, real estate owned from banks. And the one thing I have to take? My laptop. It's like an appendage. i can't leave home with out it. The problem is the power cord is broken and I may not have the new one yet. So what is the point of bringing it without a cord? None. Maybe I'll actually spend a little bit of time enjoying myself. We'll see.

Friday, May 8, 2009

I'd fit in well in 'Oklahoma'

What movie would I be pals with the folks in the film?

Being a new move-in to Utah, especially Ogden, I identify with the cowboys and the farmers. Spring has sprung in the Rockies and the giddy feeling I have right now comes from all the flowers and green outside. The music in this movie contributes to that feeling. Our high school put on this musical way back when, so there's an added bit of nostalgia.

Monday, May 4, 2009

An Easy to Understand, but Hard to Accept Lesson in Economics

--- An economics professor at an Alabama University said he had never failed a single student before but had, once, failed an entire class.
That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer. The professor then said ok, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism.
All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.
After the first test the grades were averaged and everyone got a B. The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.
But, as the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too; so they studied little. The second test average was a D!
No one was happy.
When the 3rd test rolled around the average was an F.
The scores never increased as bickering, blame, and name calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else. All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great; but when government takes all the reward away; no one will try or want to succeed.