Category Archives: 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


WEEKLY RUN-DOWN: Good radio and Brad Pitt mania


Add ‘radio host’ to the list hats worn by my friend, author/historian/blogress extraordinaire Deb Goodrich. A couple weeks ago she took the 8:00 – 11:00 AM (CST) slot on KMAJ AM 1440 in Topeka, KS (for my Salt Lake area readers, KMAJ is basically KSL meets KNRS).

‘Topeka Talks’ is the name of the show, but Deb’s program appeals to a wider audience because she explores broad topics like history, military, and law enforcement with Southern charm and a large cast of interesting experts. One of this morning’s guests was Old West historian and History Channel talking head Drew Gomber.

Listen to Deb Monday-Friday, 8-11 CST via KMAJ’s live stream here. It’s a satisfying taste of Americana and it puts a smile on my face every morning.


A lot of talk locally about the latest movie being filmed on our salt flats. From yesterday’s TTB:

Approximately 1,500 people lined up Saturday at the Deseret Peak Firefighter’s Museum and the West Wendover library for an open casting call for extras for the new film “Tree of Life,” which will be partially filmed in Tooele County. The film, which is being directed by Academy Award-nominee Terrence Malick, stars Pitt and Sean Penn.

Last week KSL ran a story about the casting call. Here’s the line that got my goat:

There sure is a lot of emptiness in rural Tooele County. As head of Tooele’s Chamber of Commerce, it’s Debbie Winn’s job to get people excited about the place. Brad Pitt could help.

First, setting aside the reporter’s subtle scorn for Tooele County, are there not more substantial reasons to “get excited about the place” than Brad Pitt?

Second, shhh! Yes, there is a lot of emptiness in rural Tooele County. And most of us would like to keep it that way. The Wasatch Front has already started sprawling our way, and It’s only a matter of time before the rest of the state discovers the county’s existence. Please, come and visit. Hike our trails, drive our dusty roads, and take in our museums.

But in the words of Walt Shubert, mayor of Ophir- “We welcome people up here but tell them not to think of staying.”


WEEKLY RUN-DOWN: Radio and Print


A couple weeks ago I wrote about a radio interview I recorded for Backcountry Utah Radio.  The full interview aired the Saturday before last.  I found out that the interview would run a day in advance and I didn’t have time to announce it here.  I was pretty impressed.  Brian Brinkerhoff runs an informative, entertaining outdoors show, and he was able to edit out my “uh’s” and “um’s.”  I noticed that I was talking much faster than normal, which could have been because I was nervous.  My first thought was, “Am I running an auction or talking about ghost towns?”

Anyway, truncated portions of the interview are running today during drive times in Price, Heber, and Moab (click here for listings).  The segments are available for download here (scroll down to May 6, 2008.  Both segments are my interview- the first about travel in Tooele County and the second about ghost towns).  Check them out and download a few of the other segments while you’re there.


I will not have an article in this Thursday’s paper.  I was asked to write a feature for this year’s Tooele Summer Guide, so I took a week off to focus on that.  I’ll be back in the paper next Thursday to recount an awesome flight with Bonneville Skybase on one of their powered parachutes.

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Posted by on May 6, 2008 in Weekly Run-Down


WEEKLY RUN-DOWN: Backcountry Radio Interview

Brian Brinkerhoff, host of Backcountry Utah Radio contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me to do a short interview. I think the interview went well, though I thought of a million things afterward that I wish I would have touched on. Thankfully, it was a pre-recorded deal, which is naturally a little less stressful than live radio, and Brian can edit out all my “um’s” and “uh’s”. I don’t know yet when the interview will air, but I’ll post an update as soon as I do.

Backcountry Utah Radio airs from 9 – 10 AM along the Wasatch Front on AM 630 KTKK. Shorter segments of the show air during drive time in Price, Heber, and Moab, and are available for download as podcasts from Backcountry Utah’s website.

Author, journalist, and radio host Brian Brinkerhoff is the ultimate outdoors enthusiast and has been involved in outdoor journalism since high school. He authored Best Easy Day Hikes: Salt Lake City and has written for multiple local newspapers, including the Deseret News. Brian has been broadcasting the radio show for over sixteen years, and it has become one of the longest running and respected outdoor radio programs in the state. The show features a variety of guests with a focus on family-friendly outdoor activities and destinations throughout the West.

Tune in to the show and check out Brian’s website at


Weekly Run-Down: Site Updates and Cruel April Fools Jokes

Goodbye Blogger, Hello WordPress!

It was a really tough decision—ok, no, it wasn’t—but I’m officially abandoning Blogger and hopping over to WordPress. Blogger is the only Google product that disappoints me. It works ok for regular blogs, but FTP blogs- not so much. It’s clunky, temperamental, and rigid. WordPress isn’t perfect, but it’s stable and versatile. Plus it’s got better widgets, the ability to create multiple pages, and a wider variety of templates. Since mine is an FTP blog (it resides on my own domain rather than a blogspot subdomain), publishing with Blogger is delay-prone, error-ridden pain in the butt. WordPress will allow me to post, edit, and customize things much easier.

I’ll be migrating the site over for the next day or so, and everything should be working properly by the end of the week. The URL will remain the same (, but the format will be different. For those of you who subscribe to my RSS feed, the feed URL will obviously change. Check back by Friday and you can re-subscribe to the new feed. You may see a handful of older posts come through on the feed, but that’s just me doing some housekeeping.

UPDATE: I have migrated the website to WordPress and imported all of the posts. I’ll have to go back through some of them to correct some minor formatting issues. Right now I have my domain forwarding to the subdomain, in case you’re wondering why the Web address redirects when you visit.

Vending Machine Freakiness

Could this be some weird what-comes-around-goes-around lesson, or are the vending machines at work just having some April Fools Day fun at my expense?

So yesterday I go into the break room to get a granola bar from the vending machine. I drop in 75 cents (an absolute rip-off, I know. But what I am I going to do when I don’t have time to grab breakfast before I leave?). The machine steals my money and I walk away hungry and mad. I walk in later that afternoon to buy a Diet Pepsi, which, at $1.25 is even more of a rip-off. I insert 4 quarters and realize I don’t have the 5th. So I hit the coin return button. Nothing.

All I’ve got is a $5 bill, so I walk over to the food machine that robbed me earlier because it accepts $5 bills. If I buy something there, I’ll get $4.25 back in quarters. Then I can add my final quarter to the Pepsi machine and get my Diet Pepsi. I insert my $5 and buy the only thing in there that’s somewhat healthy- the granola bar I was robbed of earlier and that I’ve been craving all day. Not only do I get my granola bar, but the machine graciously drops an extra one, then returns my $4.25.

I drop the final quarter in the Pepsi machine and press the Diet Pepsi button. It drops not one, but two regular Pepsi’s, which took me about 10 minutes to wiggle from the slot. At this point I figure that even though it gave me the wrong bottles, I didn’t see any “Buy One, Get One Free” signs anywhere, so I owe the Pepsi machine $1.25. I figured I’d call the 800 number the next day and inform them that their Pepsi machine was giving away free pop.

That was yesterday. I return today to buy an actual Diet Pepsi (expecting perhaps a Dr. Pepper) and this time, no Pepsi of any variety. I push the coin return. Nothing. Looks like we’re even.


Posted by on April 1, 2008 in Site Updates, Weekly Run-Down