Tuesday, July 28, 2009


The girls and I drove up to visit on Sunday. We got to play with Lovie and hold Peanut while mom and dad drifted in and out of coma.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Please, Take My Money!

Free Trial. Hurry, Limited Trial Offers Left. As seen on CNN. Only for people who are serious about losing weight and achieving incredible results!

These scams are everywhere. I even found a website that warns about scams, and then promotes the top three scams. Each product has a different name, but the claims, prices, and terms of conditions are almost identical. And, if you try to navigate away from their pages, each will throw up another last-chance offer. Two of them have the same embedded CBS news report on "Conquering Colon Cancer" that promotes nothing other than getting a colonoscopy.

What will really happen? If you forget about your free trial, the terms which are not listed on any of the website's front pages kick in. You will be charged the full amount for what was sent (~$80, you already paid for shipping), and then sent another bottle at full price. With any luck, you will get both charges before you realize what is happening, putting you out north of $160. And when you try and call their customer service number? Well, imagine how many other suckers are on the phone trying to do the same thing? I spent more than an hour on hold without getting through. You have to call at the very earliest of their "hours of operation".

I immediately called my credit card company to dispute the charges. I filed a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice, claiming "deceptive advertising practices". I then manged to get through to the company and "cancel" my account draining agreement with them. I did get my money back, more than a month latter, less the $4.95 shipping and handling fee. That is about what it would have cost me to buy some laxative. A small price for a good lesson.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Service and the Pioneer Spirit

As part of Oregon's 150th anniversary, the church had a state-wide service project. Our Stake worked with the local school district. I got assigned be be the "Captain" for Mt. View (our Ward covered two schools). When I was going over the projects with the district representatives, they asked me if my kids went to this school. "No," I replied. "They are home schooled." I don't think that won me any points, but I did remember and pointed out that I went to Mt. View for a few months in the fifth grade. Let's see, that was um, thirty-three years ago!

This was the biggest project I have ever supervised. We anticipated thirty people, but ended up closer to fifty. A Captain of Fifty! We weeded, spread bark mulch, and washed the sidewalks. Being nominally in charge, I spent a lot of time going from group to group, and visiting with members I rarely get to talk with. Despite sacrificing a valuable summer Saturday, and doing hard labor in uncharacteristic heat, everyone seemed to be enjoying it. It made me reflect on the spirit of the pioneers, coming together and performing the almost impossible task of crossing the country. It seems that spirit still exists among our members!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


7 lb. 8 oz. Arrived on the day due! It is not like Steph to be so punctual.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hot Young Chick at the Drive-thru

The younger girls and I were finishing our Saturday errands in town, and had stopped at the Wendy's drive-thru for a round of Frosties to cool us off (I'm a bit low on freon in the truck). In the rear view mirror, I could see a good looking young gal driving an older minivan pulling in behind us to order. She was alone, and apparently trying to beat the heat as well. At the window, I could hear over the speaker that she was ordering a Frosty too. So, in a brief moment of chivalry (or insanity), I asked the young Hispanic girl taking our money if I could pay for the lady's order as well. "Sure," she said without missing a beat. Handing over our treasure of icy coolness and the receipt, I asked her to tell the lady she was good looking! That tripped her up a bit but, again she replied "yes".

With Robin loudly exclaiming "DADDDD", I pulled out, leaving the cashier giggling, and poor Ms. Purebred to explain that the guy in truck who had bought her Frosty was actually her husband.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy 14th

Lynn survived the reunion, then her 14th birthday, and then returned to Camp Alpine for a week of Girls Camp.

We are glad to have her back!

Ms. Rivett (middle) in a camp skit.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Apollo 40th Aniversary and Ultimate Geekdome

July 16th, 2009 marks the 40th anniversary of the lift-off of Apollo 11 on it's 280,000 mile journey to land two humans on the moon. (No, they didn't have a rover on that one, but its a cool picture.) I would have been three years old, and the footage shown on TV in black and white. The original images, in the form of a special digital format transmitted back to earth, were apparently were lost when a shortage of magnetic tape and a plethora of data from new satellites forced NASA to start recycling (hey, save the earth!).

To atone for loosing priceless historical source material, they have been gathering the best of what was recorded on earth for TV and are letting the digital magic people restore it. You can see some of their work at http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=106637066&m=106666308. I'm sure the conspiracy people will have a field day with that.

In the most geeky demonstration of geekiness, a 54 year old uber-geek researched and built a working replica of the Apollo Guidance Computer. I can't express how geeky this is. He spent four years and $3000. He obtained every possible source document on the system. He corresponded with the original engineers. Parts of the original source code that were missing were rewritten and tested using the original specifications. He built and tested both the hardware and software! Give this guy some Federal Stimulus money and he could be on his way to the moon again.

And to think, I was just happy to play the arcade version of Lunar Lander (try it!). In reading an interview of David Scott, the astronaut who helped with the computer development for Apollo at MIT, I found some interesting computer trivia.
It was very simple for us to operate (the computer) with a series of two-digit numbers representing verbs and another series of two-digit numbers representing nouns. It was so simple and straightforward that even pilots could learn how to use it. We had some interesting words. Our initialization program was "00" (zero-zero). We abbreviated the identification program with a "P". If you ever had a problem you went back to 00, which we ultimately called "P00". So, if you ever had a problem, you went to Poo, and reinitialized.
More seriously, he also reported that the "lifeboat" procedure using the Lunar Module that saved the astronauts during the Apollo 13 accident had actually been conceived prior to, and tested during his Apollo 9 flight.

If this geekiness hasn't creeped you out, and the Lunar Lander game seems too tame, you can download a simulator, and experience POOhing yourself!

Check out the simulation video, complete with authentic Apollo audio. You can spot the guidance computer display several times.

O.K., I think I just geeked myself out . . .

Monday, July 13, 2009

Highway Willie

From a paper I wrote circa 1998(?), subsequently published in Oregon Cycling, about a chance encounter in 1996.

The morning we met Willie it was hot. It shimmered off the asphalt pointing ahead, bracketed by dry brown Idaho grass and sage brush. We had been following old Highway 30, or at least the part that had escaped the freeway, all morning. It was only ten o'clock, but the heat was enough that we thought he might have been a mirage up ahead of us. For all we know, he might have been.

I had been on the road all summer and had not seen another cyclist since before I picked up my two companions several weeks before. It didn't take long in the featureless Idaho landscape to figure out why. The heat alone was enough to drive you north into the Montana Rockies where the trans-America bicycle path wandered. We were on a different path, however, our route set by my ancestors one hundred and fifty years ago. We were following the old Oregon trail as closely as we could and I was determined to see and feel as the pioneers did. Willie was on the same road, but with a different mission.

It didn't take long for us to overtake Willie, just long enough for our amazement to grow as we realized how much weight was on his bicycle. It must have been a good seventy pounds precariously lashed here and there. Such clothing and items must have constituted all he owned. It was piled up high enough that it wasn't until we came along side that we could take full stock of what we had discovered. He was wearing well worn cut-off jeans with no shirt to shield him from the fierce sun. The dark tan and deep lines on his face spoke of more than one summer in the outdoors. His only traditional bicycle gear was a pair of leather work gloves with the fingers cut off. I'm sure they were more for comfort than for looks. Nothing about him spoke of extravagance.

Willie didn't seem the least bit phased by our sudden appearance, and began a rapid conversation in clipped English as though we had been there all along. We talked for a while as we plowed through a sea of sagebrush, our pace matching Willie's. He seemed to defy physical laws as he kept his bicycle headed straight and steady with his slow pedaling. The freeway drew nearer as we chatted and pedaled.

"Highway Willie," as he insisted everyone call him, was from Mexico. He was on his way to a small Idaho town called Burley where a friend had a job and a trailer waiting for him to live in. "Her husband die and she have no one to help so she say, 'Hey, Willie, come work for me,' so I am coming," he told us. We had our sights on Burley too, although we were just going to spend the night there and move on the next day. It would take Willie two days to cover the same distance, but considering his load, that was understandable. He didn't seem to be in any hurry, even this close to his destination. "I have a friend in American Falls I promised to stop by and see," he explained. Willie, it seemed, made friends wherever he went.

Old highway 30 was eventually overtaken by the freeway once again and as we approached the overpass Willie informed us that he was going to take a break. We were falling behind our schedule, but we were too intrigued to leave just yet. We pulled off to the side with Willie next to a stop sign. There wasn't a shade tree within sixty miles. Cars whizzed by in air conditioned comfort without even noticing four travelers overlooking them. I pointed out the small teddy bear hanging from Willie's rear fender. "I find him in Arizona," he told us. "The kids like him." Everything on Willie's bike had a story. "I find these too," he said, pointing to an automobile side view mirror held to his handlebars by rusty vice-grips. "It helps to see the trucks coming."

Willie reached into the confusion that surrounded his handlebar and pulled out a beer. "Still a little cold," he said with a sheepish grin. He offered us a sip, but we passed. It was a generous offer from a man who has so little. We sipped casually on our scientifically formulated sport drinks. We discovered that he had traveled the same path we had since Salt Lake City. That seemed to cement our quick friendship and we laughed about the long climb out of the Valley and the treacherous road construction we had survived the day before. Willie informed us how a friendly highway patrol offered to drive him past the miles of fresh gravel and asphalt. "'I'll make it,' I told him. 'Always do. Just got to look out for the trucks.'"

I asked Willie how his bike was holding up. It was a Murray lady's ten speed. "Oh, it do all right. A friend give it to me. My last one wore out." Slight chuckles emerged. I calculated the worth of his bike as being equivalent to what I had spent on my last set of tires. The next statement caught us short. "I overhaul the bearing and stuff in Salt Lake," he continued with a grin. "I think we going to make it." A spare tire poking out of the bundle on the back seemed to verify that he was bit more savvy than we had suspected.

The sun was much higher by then, and we were not any closer to our destination. We tried to explain to Willie that we must be moving on. I doubt he understood. With a smile he told us that he was going to rest a bit more. He pulled out a Marlboro and lit up before waving as we mounted up and started off. We crossed the overpass and picked up where old Highway 30 emerged from the freeway again. Off into the distance the two paths diverged. We had to pedal hard to make up for lost time, but none of us regretted the time spent. Willie would forever be a part of our Idaho landscape memories.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Proof Smoking is Bad for You

(Turn your sound down to avoid the language)

A shot to the chest, and he still takes a toke. Maybe if he had been wearing a shirt . . .

Saturday, July 4, 2009

My Favorite Reunion Pics

Hopefully, Carl will set up another website for us. Meanwhile, here are some of my favorites.

Katie May at the pond.

True Love? (photo by Carl)

This one says it all (photo by Carl).