Category Archives: Weekly Run-Down

Weekly run-down: Where I’ve been lately and what’s coming up

Where I’ve been lately
No worries, this isn’t one of those lame excuse-laden filler posts to explain the recent lack of blog activity (you only see those when I’ve been lazy).  The truth is a number of things have temporarily pulled me away from blogging the last few weeks, including a business trip, Thanksgiving, and a few intense writing assignments.

Also, a sad incident occurred here last week involving a man and a cave.  While I didn’t know the man who lost his life, I am acquainted with a member of his family and I have a personal connection with the cave.  The story, which I’ll recount here at some point, is gut wrenching, and I’ve found it difficult lately to write about fun in the outdoors given the circumstances.

What’s coming up
If recover quickly enough from this latest writing assignment, I’d like to post a few brief reviews of the latest offerings from Brushfire Records.  Look for those on Thursday.  We might round off the week with a nice funny t-shirt.


Posted by on December 1, 2009 in Weekly Run-Down


Weekly Run-Down: Down time, travels, and the Mana Poly All-Stars

Down Time
Yeah, so it’s been quiet here at this week. Chalk it up mostly to a dead DSL modem at home. But we’ve also been busy sprucing up the house for showings this weekend and getting ready for a trip to California. Speaking of that…

The stars aligned and we were able to book a really cheap trip to SoCal.  We flew into San Diego this morning, grabbed a quick seafood lunch on the embarcadero, and headed for Coronado Beach. Coronado is a good family beach 1) because it’s clean and relatively freak-free, and 2) because it slopes very gradually, so it’s quite shallow for quite a distance.

Turns out Little D, who I should probably start referring to as Big D from now on (he’s a good-sized baby), really digs the ocean. He watched each set of waves roll in and just about go nuts with excitement. We dipped his feet in the little waves and let him feel the sand rush out as they receded and he couldn’t get enough.  Great.  I’ve created another landlocked beach bum.

I’ve got a working Internet connection now, but since I’m not here to hang out online, expect posting to be slow until next week.  I’ll probably be doing some twittering though.

Mana Poly All-Stars
In my recent piece on musician extraordinaire Nela Otuafi, I promised a second part this week (or last, I forget).  That will likely come next week.  I called Nela last week for a follow-up interview and he invited me to a gig at a downtown SLC club.  I had prior engagements, but the boys were kind enough to meet me there a few hours early for a group interview.  That will be part of next week’s post.  These guys are the real deal, and they’re good bunch of guys too.  Thanks Nela and crew for taking the time to talk to me.

Well, that about does it for now.  Catch y’all Friday for a special 9-11 post.


Weekly Run-Down: Zee Avi, Iosepa, and Selling Out

A Note on the new Zee Avi album
I know I promised a review, but these last few weeks couldn’t have been more hectic for me.  I still plan on writing one, but it defininitely won’t be until next week.  Suffice it to say that the new album is excellent.  Whoever called the shots on instrumentation is a genius.  Avi’s voice is sweet and distinct.  Favorite track so far– ‘Just You and Me.’

Iosepa or bust
My family and I attended the annual Iosepa festival last Saturday.  If you’re new to this blog, read more about this Hawaiian ghost town here.  Below are some pics from this year’s festival:





One of this town’s distinguishing characteristics was its pressurized irrigation system, which exploited 5 mountain streams by converging them into cement and wooden aqueducts.  Last year, archaeologist Benjamin Pykles was excavating one of the old lots, he showed me some BLM archaeological papers that mapped out remnants of that aqueduct system.  This year, I attempted to locate one of the ruins but turned back when I decided my family vehicle’s axles and tires were more important than a moment of archaeological elation.  Read all about it in this week’s Transcript Bulletin column, which I’ll post here this weekend.

Selling Out
Yeah, so I haven’t blogged much the last few days, nor have I had much time to read all of your blogs and leave comments.  That’s because the missus and I are frantically preparing to sell our house.

No, I didn’t lose any of my jobs.  It’s just that we looked at the number of children we have vs. the number of bedrooms and square feet in our little starter home and decided it might be wise to take advantage of the buyer’s market.

It was split-second decision, and as heart attack inducing as that is for me, most of our better decisions have happened that way (getting married to each other, having kids, and buying our current house all come to mind).

The down side is that gave us a week to re-landscape our yard, redo our bathroom floor, and try to make the place look like 5 kids really don’t live there.  All amidst family reunions, weddings, school activities, and work.

Of course if we don’t sell our house, we won’t buy the one we’ve made an offer on, which fortunately is just up the street.  Wish us luck.


Weekly Run-Down: Sara Watkins, Frantic Peace, and new life for the Enola Gay Hangar

Enjoy bluegrass newgrass music? Check out Sara Watkins.
If you’ve read my music-related posts here, you can probably tell that my musical tastes run the gamut. My shameless worship of U2 aside, I mostly try to steer clear of megastars and big names. I don’t know whether country radio stations are playing Sara Watkins, but if they are I might consider tuning back in.

Country fans may be familiar with a youthful trio by the name of Nickel Creek, who stole the scene in 2000 with stunning acoustics and a fresh take on bluegrass and folk. The band, who preferred the “progressive acoustic” label to “bluegrass”, has been on indefinite hiatus since 2007.

My favorite member of the trio, fiddler and vocalist Sara Watkins, released a self-titled debut album earlier this month. The 14 song set is a delightful journey into the multifaceted world of newgrass. My favorite track is “Long Hot Summer Day”, which proves definitively that when it comes to vocals, delicate does not equal weak. The John Hartford Cover showcases the range and nuance of Watkins’ voice between bluesy, increasingly layered instrumental hooks. If you only buy one track from this album, make it this one.

Other favorites are “Any Old Time” and the instrumental “Freiderick.” If you’ve a hankering for southern roots-laced progressive acoustic—or if you’re simply looking for some fresh new tunes to help you start the summer right—check out my girl Sara Watkins.

For you Mom’s out there: Frantic Peace
My wife and I often joke that our home is a three ring circus. As a rapt witness of the phenomenon that is motherhood, I enjoyed a recent post on one of my daily reads, A Blessed Crazy Life.  “Frantic Peace – In free verse.” provides a breathless look at the utterly frazzled, yet ultimately fulfilling life of a young mother.   Which reminds me, Mothers Day is right around the corner…

‘Endangered’ designation may breathe new life into WWII relic.
I’ve written quite a bit about Wendover, a sleepy casino community on the Utah/Nevada border. It’s main draw for me is the partially intact airfield that was the operational headquarters for “Project Silverplate”, the nuclear mission that ended World War II. Recently I wrote about the deteriorating hangar that housed the B-29 Superfortress bombers that trained for and carried out that mission.

On Tuesday, the “Enola Gay Hangar” was placed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2009 list of the nation’s most endangered historic places, making it much more likely to recieve funding needed for stabilization and restoration. Excellent.

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Posted by on April 30, 2009 in Music, Weekly Run-Down, Wendover


UPDATED: Weekly Run-Down: Little D, my column, and the real Four Corners

Boy, it’s been a while since I posted a Weekly Run-Down! I guess some new responsibilities at my paying job and a brand new baby boy have discouraged regular blogging as of late. But the dust is settling now and I should be able to be post more regularly now.

Speaking of the new baby…
Aside from some early reflux-related projectile vomiting and his downright insistence on sleeping in our bed with us, the little fella is doing quite well.

Poor Mommy is another story, though she’s still tickled pink that the pregnancy from hell is finally over. She just wishes she didn’t have to feed him every two hours (because of the afore-mentioned reflux), something that, by nature of my male gender, I cannot help her with. There must be a special place in heaven for mommies like her.

Several readers have asked me to post pictures of Little D, which I’ve been hesitant to do. Not exactly sure why, since he’s virtually indistinguishable at this point from most other babies in the world (except much, much more adorable than most other babies in the world). But I still don’t love the idea. I have yet to post even one picture of his older sister, Miss Ella. Overprotective? Maybe. Wise? Likely.

New online subscription for the Tooele Transcript Bulletin
So I’ve been told that my column in the Tooele Transcript Bulletin—at least the online version—is now part of the newspaper’s fee-based content. I’ve always been wary of paid online news content as a business model. Personally, when I click a link that requires a subscription, I skip it altogether. Small town newspapers operate on a different dynamic, so it may yet end up being profitable for the TTB.

Still, it poses a problem for non-local readers. But since I’m a freelancer, I own my own material, and I’ll continue to post my column in full here the day after it’s published in the newspaper.

Discovered: The Real Four Corners
If you’ve ever visited Four Corners monument and took pride in standing in 4 states at once (or urinating in 4 states at once), the joke’s on you. This From AP:

National Geodetic Survey officials say the Four Corners marker showing the intersection of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah is about 2.5 miles west of where it should be.

The only place in the United States where four state boundaries come together was first surveyed by the government in 1868 during the initial survey of Colorado’s southern boundary. The survey was inaccurate.

I’ve never been to the monument, but it’s nice to know that when I do visit Four Corners with my little toy Garmin, it’ll be the real deal.

UPDATE: I had originally embedded a Google Map of the area showing the Four Corners monument 2.5 miles west of the border lines. When I previewed my draft, however, the map wouldn’t show up. Thinking my embed code was somehow bad, I opened up a new browser and searched the location again. This time, an entirely new map appeared, sans monument location and place marker. I’m not a Google Maps buff, but I’m guessing Google updated their map when the news came out, and the map and embed code I pulled this morning were cached versions.

UPDATE AGAIN: Now I’m not sure. I zoomed on the current map and switched to sat view, which clearly shows the border convergence overlaying the monument. So unless they’ve been able to pick up and move the monument, its road and parking lot 2.5 miles west, Google Maps is displaying inaccurate state borders.

MSN has them wrong too. I wonder if they’ll correct this on future maps or simply leave it as it is.

FINAL UPDATE: Finally found a report that didn’t just copy and paste from the AP story. Lynne Arave at the Deseret News writes a satisfyingly detailed account of how this all went down. I’ve got to go to Costco for baby wipes and lunch-time samples, so I’ll let Mr. Arave take it from here.


Weekly Run-Down: Horse tales, new U2, and Twitter

Horsing Around
As much as I respect and admire the elegant creature that is the horse, we’ve had sort of a rocky relationship.  Last weekend I was reintroduced to horseback riding thanks to Janet Hancey of the West Desert Chapter of the Back Country Horsemen of Utah and her 15 year old mustang, Reno.

Our ride along the Oquirrh benches is the subject of this week’s newspaper article, which will print in Thursday’s edition of the Tooele Transcript Bulletin.  I’m limited to 1000 words for these columns, so I didn’t have time to fully explain my falling out with Equus ferus caballus.

Had I more room, I would have told about the time an overly affectionate horse nearly sent me plunging to my bloody death in Pockets Fork, or the time a spooked stud sent my sister to the ER with a nasty concussion.

Instead, I stuck with embarrassing horse-related date-gone-wrong stories.  Believe it or not, I do indeed have more than one horse-related date-gone-wrong story.  Stay tuned!

Pineapple Jerky?
Heck yeah.  The folks at sent me some for a product review, which I’ll post sometime next week.  Good stuff.  Dang good stuff.

No Line on the Horizon is here!
Got it this morning at Wal-Mart.  I purchase the bulk of my music online, but some artists simply deserve more of an effort.  I’m about 3/4 of the way through the album now.  I’ll post a detailed review sometime in the future, but my initial thoughts may be boiled down to one line:

Lyrically lacking, musically brilliant.

More to come.

Tweet Tweet
Ok, so I caved and hopped on the Facebook bandwagon in December.  Last week I decided to check out Twitter.  I mock the cell phone texting phenomenon, which is how a lot of people do their twittering.  I still think texting is dumb (though the term “texting” may actually be dumber than the activity itself), and it annoys me when people text while driving or when their attention should be elsewhere.

But this Twitter thing is like blogging for the attention deficit.  So it’s Right up my alley!  Just FYI, though–  thus far my updates are infrequent (see my views on “texting” above) and fairly impersonal.  I think that’s a wise course of action.

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Posted by on March 3, 2009 in Gear Reviews, Music, U2, Weekly Run-Down


Weekly Run-Down: The fusion of tech and nature, and imminent U2

Gmail is down- whatever will we do?
As of this writing, the globe has ceased to rotate.  Why?  Because Gmail, Google’s Web-based email service, is down.  I know what you’re thinking– what happened to the days when Internet hiccups were a common and expected phenomenon?   I remember when certain sites or services– erstwhile staples of the Web– would go down for hours, even days, without announcement or explanation.

The fact that the Gmail crash made Drudge is evidence of how far we’ve come and how dependent many of us are on technology.  As fond as I am of days gone by, my umbilical cord to World Wide Web, and Gmail in particular, is strong.  I keep a dedicated browser tab open for Gmail all day long at work, and I’ve got a direct, constant connection to it on my phone.

If I weren’t a skeptic, I’d swear I have some sort of weird psychic connection to Gmail as well.  Like people who wake up moments before their alarm clock goes off, sometimes I’ll unholster my phone and look at it just seconds before that magical buzz and blinking LED.    If you email me and I don’t get back to you within minutes, you can rest assured that I’m either dead or wandering in the wilderness (or at home with the family, which is a strictly enforced “tech-free” zone).

According to the UK’s Telegraph, Gmail’s crash left Internet users “baffled by the problems and at a loss as to what to do.”  I love it.  Completely bewildered.  I totally get it.  Good thing my brain is rooted well enough in real world that I can chuckle at this worldwide catastrophe.  But for now, for the Web-tethered masses, Earth’s rotation might as well be on indefinite hold.

OBS on Twitter
Speaking of tech, the Outdoor Bloggers Summit, of which I am a proud supporter, is now on Twitter.  Our founder, Kristine Shreve, has put a lot of work into building the community’s online infrastructure, and it’s come a long way.  If you’re an outdoors blogger or you follow the great outdoors online movement and you read the blog, check out our Twitter feed as well.

Imminent U2
The time is almost at hand for the release of new U2 album.  No Line on the Horizon is set for release in the U.S. on March 3.  I had mixed feelings about the album’s first single, “Get On Your Boots,” which is reminiscent of the band’s 1997 album PopPop is almost universally considered a colossal misstep in the band’s otherwise uber-successful career.

So I’m kinda hoping “Boots” isn’t representative of the entire album.  Luckily, I’m hearing it’s not.  This may be bad news for my friend Tyler, who ranks Pop among his personal favorites.  If you’re a fellow U2 fanatic, has posted a track-by-track description and review of the album.  Their take?  Not the band’s best offering by far, but a nice mix of experimentation and classic U2.


Posted by on February 24, 2009 in Music, Tech, U2, Weekly Run-Down


Weekly Run-Down: Dan Baum’s ‘Nine Lives’ and stuff I learned in SoCal

“Nine Lives”
One of my favorite writers, Dan Baum, has a new book out that I’ve looked forward to for a long time. Baum was sent to New Orleans by The New Yorker in 2005 to cover the Hurricane Katrina disaster. His extended stay there resulted in a series of fine articles and was the impetus for “Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans,” which is available today. From Baum’s website:

Hurricane Katrina is hardly the most interesting thing about New Orleans. The food, the music, and the architecture of New Orleans are fabulous, but it’s the unusual nature of the city’s people that make New Orleans unlike anyplace else in the United States. Obviously I couldn’t write a book about all the people of New Orleans, so I chose these nine. Some I met during the crisis; others I met long after. All of them spent many hours telling me their life stories, with nothing to gain but the very New Orleans pleasure in storytelling.

If I skip a few lunches, I figure I can pick up a copy at Barnes & Noble and read it this weekend. You can read about the book at I’ll review it here as soon as I can. Mr. Baum also writes an entertaining and informative blog that I highly recommend for anybody interested in the field of journalism and writing in general.

Stuff I learned in SoCal
I have a healthy respect for winter, and I’d like to think I’m warming to the season. Still, I’m extremely grateful I’ve got family in the travel and lodging industries. Otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to spend last week in (mostly) sunny southern California. For the most part, the trip was the typical pilgrimage to Disneyland that most Utah families take once every few years, but we took some time to explore the area and visit the beaches. As unexciting as it may be for those of you who live in warmer climates, I still get a kick out of donning flip-flops in February. The following are a few things I learned/re-learned from my recent stays in SoCal:

  • In person, actor Mel Gibson looks like a dude you might see in the dog food aisle at Wal-Mart.
  • No matter what’s going on in the world– wars, the recession, our abrupt and disturbing race toward a socialist economy– everything’s ok when you’re on the beach.
  • Ditto for Disneyland.
  • Californians freak out about rain like Texans freak out about snow. Even if it’s just a light sprinkle. Seriously– travel to CA during one of their “storms” and turn on the local news. What a crack-up.
  • Californians really like donuts. I should have counted every strip mall store with the word “DONUTS” prominently displayed somewhere on its windows or marquee. Some of these stores, as far as I could tell, are actually named “DONUTS.” Simple and direct–  I like that.  And frankly the world could use more donuts.

Weekly Run-Down: Googlers, U2, and Facebook

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Weekly Run-Down, but I want to get back into the habit. Basically it’s a bullet point summary of interesting things I’ve read, quick updates on topics I cover, and completely random thoughts that I’d like to share with y’all.  I’m going to try to post the Run-Down on Tuesdays, so we’ll see how it goes.

Jody’s Goofy Googlers
Anybody who uses analytics tools to track traffic on their websites at least periodically checks the list of search terms visitors used to get there. I’ll get an amusing one every once in a while, but most of mine are pretty bland, like “geodes,” “ore cars,” or “outhouse pictures.”

In part due to her blog’s title, Jody over at The Hunter’s Wife gets some funny ones. She periodically posts a list of the most amusing googles with as a little feature she likes to call “Goofy Googlers.” Check her latest batch if you’d like a nice chuckle.

Get On Your Boots!
Prompted by a 30-second leak of their new single, U2 decided to release “Get On Your Boots” digitally last week, almost a month ahead of schedule. The album, No Line on the Horizon, is due out in the U.S. on March 3. I can’t wait.

My thoughts on “Boots”? Eh, so-so. If you’re familiar with their stuff, it’s sort of ‘Atomic Bomb’ meets ‘Pop’, with a hint of Beatles and Queen.

See, U2 is a charter member of my personal musical trinity (the others being Jack Johnson and Alison Krauss), so I always have unrealistically high expectations for their releases. I was initially disappointed with their last album because it didn’t match the dream album I had created in my mind. It grew on me though, and I suppose this new single will grow on me too. At least it gives me a taste of what’s coming so that I can tailor my expectations.

You can check out Rolling Stone’s track-by-track breakdown of the upcoming album here.

Facebook: One Month In
Yeah, so I’m on Facebook now. I was reluctant to sign up, and I succumbed only because I wanted to keep tabs on my little sisters. I swore social networks were only for teenage girls and dirty old men (any bets that line will spice up my search terms report?).

So it turns out everybody really is on Facebook. High school pals, college buddies, relatives, old LDS mission companions, former girlfriends– everybody.

This subject deserves its own post because I’ve made some interesting observations in the month I’ve been on Facebook. I’m happy to report, though, that the sisters are smart, and they aren’t being stalked or exploited in any way.

And the first guy who tries will be very sorry he did. I’m just sayin’.


Posted by on January 27, 2009 in Music, Weekly Run-Down


Weekly Run-Down: U.S. Outdoors Today and Iosepa

Ok, so I know I’ve been slacking on the Weeky Run-Downs.  A lot has been going on lately on all fronts, but an update is in order.  Somebody please remind me to write soon about a recent health scare involving our baby daughter that landed us in Cody, WY, for a few hours one night last month.  Let’s just say that my views on mountain solitude may have, um, evolved a bit.

First, I’d like to welcome everybody linking over from  They picked up the AP ghost towning story and analytics show that a few thousand curious readers have stopped by.  Welcome!

U.S. Outdoors Today

I’d like you to check out a budding new website called U.S. Outdoors Today.  It’s run by my friend Jason Hendricks of The Adventurist and Skinny Moose Media.  The publication is geared toward outdoor journalism, education, and conservation.  Whatever your outdoor pursuit, U.S. Outdoors Today is a great source of informative and interesting articles.

Iosepa Update

Dr. Benjamin Pykles and team are wrapping up their archaeological study of the Iosepa ghost town in Tooele County, Utah (click here for previous Iosepa posts).  With the help of a special radar system, Pykles located a privvy pit, from which he and his students have pulled numerous artifacts from the turn-of-the-century Hawaiian ag community, including bottle and ceramic fragments, animal bones, and various trinkets.

Interestingly, based on his findings, Dr. Pykles has concluded that Iosepans used a whole lot of mentholatum jelly.  He initially wondered if this might be for sinus reasons, since Iosepa’s settlers were used to a humid island climate.  But he told me last Saturday that a Native American he met mentioned that her ancestors also used a lot of mentholatum- not for health reasons- but to straighten their hair.  Hair straightening, Pykles told me, “was one possible function of the mentholatum.”

Also Saturday, Pykles, in concert with the Iosepa Preservation Society, opened the old townsite to the public and displayed his findings.  I wasn’t able to make it, but I was out there the day before, and the good Doctor gave Tyler and I a tour of the dig.  Pretty cool stuff.

Though his scheduled time in Iosepa is up on August 2, Pykles plans to return in 2010 to continue his study.

In the meantime, Tyler and I made a little discovery of our own, which you’ll be able to read about in Thursday’s TTB (I’ll probably post the teaser and pics on Friday morning).


Posted by on July 29, 2008 in Iosepa, Weekly Run-Down