Saturday, October 30, 2004

All Souls Eve Eve

Grumble, Grumble. I just am not in sync with Utah.

I was just grooving along thinking tonight was just an ordinary Saturday night and that tomorrow (the day before All Souls Day) was Halloween. Suddenly, I find that there are kids running around on the street trick or treating...Once again, my brain failed to register that I don't live in the United States. I live in Utah.

Utahns do things they celebrate All Souls Eve on All Souls Eve Eve. This way, the trick or treaters won't violate the majority's Sabbath. (Violating the Jewish Sabbath is okay). Changing the date of holidays is a great way to show the strength of the collective. Vive la collective!

Moonflower - Datura

I wish I could get better flower pictures. I am hoping the price of Digital SLR cameras will drop dramatically this winter so that I will be able to equip myself with some top of the line equipment next year. I can sometimes get pictures of large flowers. The picture to the right is a Moonflower (datura). It is a member of the nightshade family that grows in alkaline soils and is deadly poisonous. Several pages indicate you can get poisoned by touching the plant (

The Moonflower is a large, noticeable flower that you might find in desert canyons. The plant grows well in disturbed soil so you might see it on roadsides. The plant would probably do well in a native plant garden...I wouldn't want to plant it in a place where kids might get into it. Ranchers consider it a weed (Jimson Weed). The plant often called the sacred datura. Most Native Americans take this to mean: "it is sacred don't touch." Being poisonous, apparently the plant can induce hallucinations. Some Native American tribes used the plant in rituals. Nightshade is poisonous, from reading different web sites on the subject, it appears that many people have earned a Darwin Award by experimenting with the plant. (They removed themselves from the gene pool).

It is an interesting plant to research. Apparently varieties of the plant grow around the world. The term Jimson Weed derives from a poisoning that occurred in historic Jamestown. The term Moonflower is also used for a variety of Morning Glory.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Moab Photo Gallery

I finished labeling my Moab, Utah pictures. It is strange that I would go into a desert paradise and spend half a day taking pictures of a town. The town is no where near the scenic quality of the surrounding area. However, my concern is the way that we humans interact with our nature.

I recall Edward Abbey correctly describing Moab as the ugliest town in the most beautiful section of earth. For that matter, my early visits to Moab struck me with the complete and absolute lack of aesthetics that dominates the Utah mind.

Fortunately, as the town evolves from a backwater Utah community to a resort town, more and more people are starting to realize the unique character of the desert. Will enough people realize just what we have before we destroy it? The Republican Party in Utah is doing every single thing its corrupt power to destroy everything that is beautiful in the US. Republicans were once the conservationists. Why have they allowed the Bushes of the world turn their party into the wonton destroyers of the world?????

Anyway, back to Moab. As the town turns into a resort area and millions of tourists drop hundreds of millions of dollars in the area, a minority of the population is starting to realize what a unique thing they have. Will this be enough to save the desert. Tourist themselves trample the land. For example we see people into extreme sports really tearing the place up. Moab has yet to sprawl like Park City, Sun Valley and other resort areas. Will this region take the route and centralize or will the pressures for development destroy its unique characteristics?

Living in Utah, where the dominant mindset is to develop at all costs, I felt a hint of optimism as I wandered through the trail system surrounding Moab. There is both awareness and effort.

Here is a picture of an elephant pushing over Delicate Arch that is displayed on the Utah GOP web page: Will we trample this earth?

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Floating Checks

Watch out!!!! The new check 21 system will end up costing consumers a great deal in bounced check fees. The new system will speed up the processing of some checks but not others. The problem is that funds you deposited in your account may not clear before the check you wrote. There will be some cases where a person deposits money, then writes a check on the money. If the check clears before the deposit, the consumer could get dinged for a fee.

If your bank has a holding period before you can start cashing checks, then you better start paying closer attention to your account. If you've been thinking of investing in banking stock, expect larger than usual profit from fees.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004


I am glad to see more and more writers being puzzled by the divisiveness that is dominating our country (eg Distorted Messages Abound in Election Campaign). Quite frankly, it seems to me that the Republican and Democratic Party are more similar to each other than every before. Both parties stand squarely for big instrusive government that favors large corporations. Neither party is willing to exercise fiscal restraint.

Difference are minor...the Republicans favor using targetted tax breaks for social control, the Democratics favor more overt and direct forms of social control. Elections seem more about the way candidates smell and friends they keep.

It is the media that is divisive. Perhaps that's what's worrisome. Will the divisive media create more entrenched and polarized politicians. Through the Clinton Administration and even the first year of Bush Adminstration, I had a feeling that the US was getting back on track intellectually. Todays media seems to be devided by far left and far right pundits who are using international events to divide people and spread hate and fear.

I think the worst legacy of George Bush the first and George Bush the second is that they have driven the classical liberals out of the Republican party. Unfortunately, the kooky side of the Democratic party seems to be flocking back in droves. With clowns on the left and jokers on the right taking control, it is likely that the only predictible result of this election is that the people who are skilled at creating division will come out ahead.

United Nations Day

The United Nation's Day sponsored by the United Nations Association of Utah was interesting. This year, the UN is emphasizing woman's rights. The meeting featured Dr. Nancy Haanstad of Weber State University who spoke on progress being made in women's education and the positive effect women's education has in lower birth rates and stabilizing countries. Having spent the day going through political web sites for the Utah candidates, it was extremely refreshing to hear a speaker with a more enlightened understanding of world events.

Utah's Lieutenant Governor Gayle F. McKeachnie attended the event. I am pleased to see the Governor of the state participating in the UNAU after Utah's silly attempt to withdraw from the United Nation's last year.

The night's entertainment included a Native American Flutist with home made flutes, traditional Native American singing and Hoop Dancing. The following page shows images of Hoop Dancing. Hoop Dancing is an interesting art.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Local Politics

I've spend much of the day, working through, categorizing and listing local political web sites for my group of community directories. These are the local campaigns in the Salt Lake City Metro area. The Salt Lake County mayor's race is quite interesting. The incumbant had been caught with her fingers in the cookie jar, and the race is going through a rather nasty episode with write in candidates and last minute efforts to change the ballot.

I am really sad to see that local politicians are not using web sites and blogs all that heavily. I guess they see more to fear in putting their ideas in bits than there is to gain from appearing hip and modern.

Sadly, the anger and hatreds about the president race is drowning out the local races.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Novel Writing Month

Blogger announced that November is Novel Writing Month and is inviting bloggers to write their great American Novel online and to participate in the Na-No-Blog-Mo program. Hmmm, maybe I should use this to inspire me to finish The Ghost of Alma Matterson. I left the poor characters hanging for too long. I need to finish them off.

I don't know if they accept half written novels. I don't think the chronological blog format is the ideal mechanism for publishing a novel. So, I will leave my text on my own web site. If I am breaking too many rules...who cares. I don't.

I was wanting to finish a data enabled novel writing program. The program would record where and when each of the characters appeared so that I could use the database structure to assure linear integrity to the work. I guess I also have a novel with zero chances of getting published hanging out with the rest of my zero chance of getting published works.

I will follow the writing of the novel with the blog. I might make the code and structure of the database available.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

Site of the Day

For some odd reason that I forgot a long time ago. I made a pile of community directories.

Adding a site of the day program is an easy way to assure that there is fresh content on the sites. Days pretty much change on their own accord. So I can select a large number of sites and let the natural progression of time show a different SoD each day.

Writing a pithy comment program with each site is a big hassle. My big hope was that if people saw they were site of the day, they might look more favorably on the community web sites.

Anyway, I decided to extend the site of the day program with a store of the day. Being blunt, the store of the day program is an attempt to monetize the site of the day program. The problem is that I just don't have the cut throat instinct to promote those stores apt to actual paying me cash. I only want to promote stores I like. It will be interesting to see how this initiative fares.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

That Sense of Ownership

It's been awhile sense I've pounded out a short story. Anyway, That Sense of Ownership is an entry in the "management by story" genre of literature. In this style of writing, business gurus pontificate about some business management trend while telling the story of the dramatic effects that business management has on people and the work place.

In the story telling style of management, the person best at including profound observations about business management get to become CEO and get to become rich.

In my stab at the genre I look at the way that developing that sense of ownership and entrepreneurial spirit can help workers work harder and can help them make difficult self sacrafices for the company. I also look at what that sense of ownership is really worth. uhh??? well. I guess I don't get to be a business guru afterall.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Flip Flopping

Conservatives droning on and on about Kerry's flip flopping is growing thin. For that matter, I suspect that this approach to the debate will have a negative impact on decided voters.

Undecided voters flip flop. Flip flopping is pretty much part of the definition of being undecided! Claiming that flip flopping is wrong will have a negative effect on people who are flipping flopping on the decision of Bush v. Kerry.

The fact that Kerry chances his stance on issues and his voting record seems counter intuitive is not a sign that the man is "unfit to be president." Quite frankly, I would prefer a president who is capable of seeing multiple sides of an issue to one that feels he is somehow personally endowed with infallibility.

The one point conservatives keep questioning is that Kerry was a steadfast supporter of the President and the decision to invade Iraq. Since Kerry is now criticizing the Bush's execution of the war, he is now opposed to the decision he supported just a few years ago.

Think about this for a moment. The conservatives are mad at Kerry for supporting the president when the president needed the country's support. Quite frankly, in the build up to the Iraq War, I felt it was very important to support the president and I alienated several friends by my refusal to take part in protests against the war.

Kerry's support of Bush's leadership during a time of trouble does not mean that Bush made the right decisions in the execution of the war.

From my perspective, it appears that Kerry's flip flopping was the result of seeing Bush's poor execution of the peace and Bush's overt actions designed to alienate the UN and international community.

Saddam Hussein was not a singular threat. Bush's complete and outright failure to build an international coalition empowered with the ability to remove dictators means that the world lost the ability to handle threats like the Sudan genocide. Saddam was not a singular threat. Dictators like this are a dime a dozen. The Sudan genocide, the problems in Nigeria and Liberia show that dictators pose ungoing threats in many nations in the world.

Supporting the president was the correct action in the build up to the Iraq War. After watching the war and seeing our support was misused, the correct action is to withdraw support. This is not flip flopping. This is the way that thinking people behave.

Remember that George Bush the first was instrumental in Saddam's rise to power. Is George Bush the first's decision to oppose his creation an act of flip flopping??????????

George Bush the second made a conscious decision to alienate the international community. He made a conscious decision to enter Iraq without a court system in place to handle war crimes committed by American soldiers (with hundreds of thousands of people in a stressful situation, you are guaranteed to have that need to be tried and the soldiers punished.)

If you look at the ICC, you see that the main objective of the ICC is to assure that there is a court system in place to handle attrocities. The goal of the ICC is to assure that there is a recognized court system in place to handle war crimes.

The ICC is in the process of being defined. Bush could have easily pushed the international community so that the ICC is primarily in the position of recognizing the legitimacy of US courts, and is only to try cases when there is not a recognized court system able to try the crimes.

The American soldiers I know are livid about the prisoner abuses that took place during the war. They are happy to see rogue soldiers tried by a legitimate court for legitimate crimes.

Imagine for a moment the difference in world politics if Saddam were tried by a court recognized by the ICC rather than a victor's court initiated by the US?

Anyway, flip flopping back to the question in hand.

Politics is strange. The way politics works is almost always guaranteed to create situations where politicians can be accused of flip flop. The very nature of compromise means you will vote differently than your hearts desire. For example, you might see an anti tax candidate vote for a tax increase because his vote was part of a compromise. Maybe the compromise decreased the tax by a percentage or maybe the compromise decreased spending. Maybe the tax increase was part of a realignment of the taxes.

The art of compromise, diplomacy and politics makes for extremely odd political histories.

Yes, people who behave totally on instinct do not flip flop and are consistent. People who think about the issues and are actively engage in politics can and will be accused of flip flopping. Personally, I prefer leaders who think to those who act on instinct.

The question of whether or not I prefer Kerry to Bush is still up in the air. I really don't like either candidate. But this droning on and on by conservatives who are opposed to thoughtful deliberation on issues is really wearing thin. The argument that "flip flopping" is evil and that we must act on instinct is likely to push a large portion of the flip flopping undecided vote into the Kerry camp.

Monday, October 11, 2004

Forbes 400

Each year, I take a gander at the Forbes 400, just to see if I get listed among the lucky few that own the United States. Once again, I am not. I believe I occupy position 238,786,019 on the expanded list. The momentous thing this year is that (despite the poor stock market) the list finally broke the $1 trillion mark. In other words, despite the lack luster performance of the stock market, the gap between rich and poor is growing like never before. I don't think we will have very long to wait until the Forbes 400 passes the $2 trillion mark.

Anyway, I always find the list interesting as it shows business and societal trends.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Arches National Park

I've started the process of labeling my photos from Arches National Park. The is so much incredibly good photography from the area, I wonder if my snapshots of the west project is actually doing anything except adding to internet clutter. Shouldn't I just be linking to professional photographers?

When I think about it, though, the goal of my project is not to provide the best photography, it is simply to show people what exists in this world around us. Professional photographers have many imaginative and creative shots. Such artistry is about the photographer's skill level and not the subject.

Arches is a National Park that is absolutely run over with people. There was close to 50 people standing around waiting to take pictures of Delicate Arch with the full moon when I was visiting last month. For that reason, I think my low resolution snap shots with crowded parking lots, crowded trails have an interesting authenticity.

I try to imagine myself competing with the art crowd trying to say why my photo of Landscape Arch is this compared to that...and I just don't see it. The main thing I want to encourage is for people to open their own mind and to see the beauty in the land...and what we are doing to this world as we trammel over it with our HumVees, and extreme sports.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Helper, Utah

I've started labeling my pictures of Helper, Utah. This town is starting to develop a reputation as a arts and crafts center. It is in a nice little area with access to northern and southern, and the real estate is afforable (compared to Park City and Moab. It will be interesting to see how the town fares.

The most interesting thing about Helper is the Western Mining and Railroad Museum which has several stories of displays.

Failure Statistics

It's probably a mistake, but I added a stats overview to the community web sites. The program shows hits by category. For example, the Grand Junction stats page shows 81896 total page views of the category in the site's history. There's been 5629 page views since 9/11/2004 (which is the second to last time I buffered the statistics).

I also made a summary page which shows the totals by community. That way I can guage which communities are getting traffic and which are floundering.

Of course, the problem with showing your statistics is you don't know if people will see these as success stats of failure states.

The next stats project is to show referrals. I don't know if I want to make a full statistics package or just a quick referral summary. I am inclined to making a large stats program. Unfortunately, I would have to buy more disk space to record the data. The sites only return $400 a month and I can't afford the cost of the extra disk space, nor could I afford the cost of putting up my own machine.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Ogden City

I am finally getting around to labeling the pictures I took of Ogden, Utah. Ogden is a hearty little town. Apparently, though, there is not much happiness in the Historic 25th street district. The problem with community development projects is that nasty political vampires are often able to use our higher instincts of community buidling to get their teeth sucked into the veins of the community. As an outsider, I believe that we need to work on revitalizing our central business districts. However, when looking at the politics of things like the Ogden Historic 25th Street district, I understand the instinct to run and stay as far away from the politicians as possible.

Speaking of politics, I watched the Cheney/Edwards debate. Man, that Edwards character is one nasty beast. He did a good a job reminding me why I detest the Democratic Party. Each election, I feel like we have a choice between the worst part of the Republican and the worst part of the Democratic Parties.

Let's look at recent history. Clinton had a historic opportunity to put the US on a solid economic footing. The only reason we had a decrease in the increase of the deficit during Clinton's reign was because the economy grew faster than expected. The budget surplus was a myth...the supposed Clinton surplus was based on a projection that if the US economy continued to grow at an unsupportable rate, we would have a balanced budget in the future. According to the treasury, there was not a single year during the Clinton Administration where the budget actually decreased.

Cheney at least came off as human. Edwards came off as a spiteful attack dog.

This ongoing Democrat/Republic thing is killing the US. Neither party deserve an ounce of support.

Kolob Road

While preparing to upload picture from Moab, I realized that I had not finished labeling the pictures I took of Zion National Park last year. Click the picture to the right for a few shots of the Kolob Plateau in Zion. I am feverishly adding labels to photos.