Business Trip #3

I have written previously about business trips I have taken here and here. I undertook business trip #3 (hence this post's title) this past weekend to central Utah. Yes, it was Memorial Day weekend, and it was on short notice, because the originally-scheduled workers couldn't make it. Me and one of the bosses helped out with owl surveys on National Forest land slated for oil and gas exploration. Since owls are nocturnal, we began the surveys at 7:30 pm, ending at 3:45 am the first two nights, and 2 am the last night. The protocol for the surveys was as follows.
  • Hike along transect to survey point (points are located at 1/4 mile intervals).
  • Listen for owls for two minutes
  • Play 30-second recording of owl calls.
  • Listen for two minutes.
  • Repeat steps 3 and 4.
  • Proceed to next point.
We navigated from point to point using a handheld computer with GPS software and topographic maps on it. The transect lines were also flagged, but the flags were sometimes hard to find. My boss/survey partner did some navigation by stars as well.

The highlight of the weekend was the helicopter rides. Oh yes, helicopter. We hired it to expedite the surveying process. Instead of hiking several miles to the starting point of our night's work, the helicopter took us there, saving lots of time. I wasn't nervous about the rides until the pre-flight briefing, during which I was told to make sure I put my head directly into the chopper after climbing up the step, because otherwise my head would be "close to the rotor assembly." I made sure to heed that advice.

The lowlight of the weekend was all the dead trees we had to climb over. Much of our midnight hiking took place off-trail, and the brush was thick in many places. I was tempted to start a fire to clear things out, but that would have put me in danger.

In general, the work was long, arduous, and, to me, kind of pointless. But I earned some points at work, and since I worked on Memorial Day, I now have a make-up vacation day to use at my discretion.


Maybe I was wrong about Logan

In general, Logan is your typical small Utah city. Well, I don't really know that for sure seeing as I haven't lived in any other small Utah cities but for all you non-Utahans out there, picture a small Utah city and you will probably have a fairly accurate image of Logan. Mostly, it is boring but every once and a while I am reminded that there is a bit of scandalousness here too.

But before I get to the scandalous part, let me back up a little but to describe downtown. Downtown is one of my favorite parts about Logan because it seems so quaint. There is the
local LDS book/toy/scrapbook store and an antique book store that I have never found any books I want to buy but I love the smell of the store anyway. Downtown is where you can grab dinner at the The Bluebird. The Bluebird opened as a candy shop and you can still get candy there (I like the chocolate covered honeycombs myself) but you can also sit at the counter and have a milkshake or grab a booth and have some good ol' American county fried steak (or ever since the Xu family took it over, one of the many Asian inspired dishes). Across from the stores is the the Tabernacle. It is pretty but I don't do much over there. Anyway, now that you have a firm picture of downtown, here is the for the scandalous part: The Persian Peacock.

The Persian Peacock is a little boutique that proclaims it is "in the business of enriching love lives." I will leave the rest to your imagination (or your google skills). Just knowing it is there makes me laugh but in the 4 months I have been here it has been in the news in some form or another ( radio, newspapers, local blogs, etc) on two separate occasions.

The first was an incident that occurred at the Polar Plunge. Some of you may remember Craig's participation in that oh-so-cold event. Anyway, there were several categories in which you could win, one of which was "Most scantily clad" (or something to that effect). The winner of that particular contest would win a gift certificate from the Persian Peacock. Nice idea until the winner was announced to be a high school girl. Apparently the mother was okay with it and said that her daughter shops there all the time but some people weren't so thrilled. I was happy because most of the jumpers were either teenagers or middle age men and I for one would much rather have a girl in a bikini win than a guy in a speedo - I don't like to encourage that kind of behavior. The mortified few might have been momentarily distracted by the announcement that the cutest couple winners, another young high school couple, just won a weekend getaway. The paper announced that they were strongly encouraged to pass on the gift to their parents. Hopefully next time the organizers of the Polar Plunge will try and find prizes that don't cause such a commotion.

The second time I heard about the P.P recently through the other blog Craig posts on. Apparently the Peacock is advertising for a new sales associate on Craiglist in a most unique way. So if any of you want to move to Logan to work there and eat at the bluebird, it's a total possibility. Granted, those questions may not all be legal and would most definitely knock me out of the running if I was applying, I still think they have a right to ask them. It's her company and she should have the right to hire whoever she wants, I just don't think the government feels the same way as I do. Anyway, maybe Logan isn't quite as boring as I sometimes think it is.



The only good thing about Craig being gone is that I can watch chick flics without feeling bad for making Craig suffer through them too. I watched "Because I Said So" last night and I went in with very low expectations but ended up finding it really enjoyable. Other than that it kinda stinks. I feel ridiculous because before January I went months without seeing him but now even a couple days feel like forever. So I decided to write a little note about all the great things about Craig I could think up in five or so minutes. He will probable make me take it down when he gets home so I would read it quickly if I were you.
  • He likes to go hiking and camping with me, but doesn't make fun of me when I ask him (calmly and politely, of course) to remove a spider from the bathroom.
  • He watched Gilmore Girls with me and even got into it and didn't think I was weird for being upset when it ended a couple weeks ago.
  • He even scrapbooks with me, by this I mean we pick out which pictures we want to use and I arrange them, pick out the paper and stickers to use, write all the notes, and finish the page while he sits next to me reading a book about Reagan. I think it is very sweet.
  • He is willing to spend the weekend counting owl hootings (or is it hoots) to provide for our family. Granted, he probably doesn't think it sounds like the most miserable thing ever like I do but I still give him credit.
  • He loves Gus-Gus and had even been known to clean his cage without being asked.
  • He does the laundry which I don't like to do. I was okay with doing it until once when I went there was the weird guy who just sat there watching me as I loaded the washer and it really creeped me out so now I let Craig and he doesn't seem to mind.
    Luckily for us, this happened about the same time as the dishwasher broke so now I do the dishes by hand so that helps even it out.
  • But if he knows I am really tired or don't feel good he will demand I go lay down and let him do the dishes.
  • He will eat whatever I make. Even if it is a meal all of yellow foods, which I didn't notice until I saw it all together. He made a joke out of it and fixed lemonade and put it on our yellow plates. (Hence the facebook picture) He has also eaten banana bread which wasn't fully done on the inside but burnt on the outside and a pasta salad which consisted of noodles, white kidney beans and tomatoes. I liked it but forgot that he hates tomatoes so all he got for dinner was noodles and beans but he didn't complain.
  • When we were deciding where to volunteer here in town, he willing selected Four Paws, an animal rescue center, since he knew I would love playing with the puppies. The downside for him - we spend almost the whole day Saturday loading up dogs into our car, driving an hour away with them leaning over the seat, breathing in his ear and drooling on him, just so we can sit with them at Petsmart and then load whoever is left up again and take them back. And he doesn't love dogs. He just loves me.


Feeble mind or boring town, you decide.

Craig had to go out of town on a business trip. That means I am home by myself until Monday morning and I am soooo bored. I shouldn't be complaining (but if you read the rest of this post, you will see I am anyway), Craig is having to spend his time camping and hiking at night through the woods counting owls hoots or something. But because I am bored, you get to read all about the littlest things I am doing this weekend.

Yesterday was probably my last day of subbing. Once Craig gets back we are heading off to camp again till Wednesday and I don't supposed anyone will want a sub the last day of school. Leaving the school yesterday afternoon, I was sad. I like subbing. It was really hard at first but now that I have gotten used to it, I really like it and I think I'll miss it.

This morning I got up early to go the local sports store. They had a big sale and Craig wanted me to get him some stuff. I got there 10 minutes before it opened and there were already 20-30 people there. It was like the day after Thanksgiving or something. Luckily, once the doors opened I was able to quickly evade the crowd, and grab one of only two of the backpacks that were on sale 60% off. I even got the better color (navy is so much more of a camping color than bright mustard yellow). Two seconds later two women came up and tried to find them but alas, there was only one left. I left to get in line before I saw the result, hopefully the loser nicely gave up the fight but who knows when it comes to sales.

So that has been my exciting weekend so far. For the future, I have a little bit of scrap booking, some episodes of "All Creatures Great and Small" from the library to watch (one of best series of books in the entire world, made into a very good television series) and cooking to do to fill the time. And don't think I am going to make something simple like spaghetti. I have lots of time to waste so I have decided to try and make fried chicken. Hopefully it is edible and doesn't just make a huge mess. I will probably write the results later as I assume I will be bored then too. There is some quote about how being bored is just a sign that one has a feeble mind or something...it is a total lie.


Overdue and excessivly long post about Yellowstone

So I figured it was about time I wrote about our trip to Yellowstone. I could say that the reason I haven't written for so long is because I have been super busy with lots of important stuff but that would be a lie. I just haven't been in the mood to write. Overall, the trip to Yellowstone was a great success - No rain, no freezing weather, no attack by psychotic buffaloes. I think early May is one of the best times to go to Yellowstone. There were enough people already and by next weekend I think the joy would have been gone for me and despite my concerns, the weather was incredible. The skies were so pretty that they lent themselves perfectly to my singing "Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam" for hours on end, much to the annoyance of Craig. It did get a bit cold at night but since we had a fire ready to toast our marshmallows, I was actually glad. Toasty fires are not fun when you are hot and we absolutely had to wear long sleeves and pants to stop the mosquitoes from eating us alive.

The first day was spent mostly on driving into the park to Old Faithful and waiting for her to be faithful. When we got there the sign said she was to go off in about 20 minutes later so we decided to hike the short 15-minute hike to the observation point to watch her go off instead of hanging out on the concrete slab with the people with toddlers and over 50 RV crowd. Of course, you can guess what happen, about 2 minutes before we get there, with us completely surrounded by trees and unable to see this most famous of geysers, we here lots of ohhs and ahhhs and by the time we get to where we can see, people are packing their cameras up and heading down. Luckily there are other geysers in the area so we hike around them (always within view of O.F, of course) for about 80 minutes until I finally get to watch her go off. It was pretty cool, despite the fact that I was sitting next to some sweaty overweight man eating a ham and mustard sandwich and in front of a family with 4 kids whose mother sprayed me with bug spray because her littlest one moved at the the wrong moment.

After we checked the 1st "must-do" item off our Yellowstone list we drove to our campsite, set it up and then drove off the find animals and go on a few more smallish hikes. We actually saw quite a few animals:
  • Buffaloes
  • Baby buffaloes (listed separately because they are very different from the adult kind & because they are soooo cute)
  • Osprey
  • Coyote
  • Wapiti (also, but less interestingly, known as Elk)
  • a bald eagle in a nest
  • either a Yellow-bellied Marmot or a Uinta Ground Squirell, Craig and I disagree
  • chipmunks
  • geese (mostly from Canada)
I should be happy with our wildlife list, but I didn't see a moose so I can not be completely satisfied. I am happy that we didn't see any bears though so maybe that should cancel out.

The next day we finished driving the lower circle, stopping to take a longer hike (4-5 miles) and see the mud pots, geysers and waterfalls along the way. It was fun. Here are a few more pictures to help you imagine it. And it in a nutshell, that was our trip to Yellowstone.


GOP Video

I'm not a Mike Huckabee supporter, but he had a great line at the GOP debate the other night. You can fast forward this clip to about the 1:00 mark to hear it:

Guess who else has a great video clip? Fred Thompson!

Logan Logo

My fair city has debuted its new logo and slogan, created at a cost of approximately $25,000. The total cost for this plus a website redesign was $57,000. Here it is:

Now, this logo is all fine and well, but it's not worth $25,000. And that slogan is meaningless and lame. Here's the new website.

My plan for creating a new logo would have been this: Have a contest at the local high school, with a grand prize of a $200 gift certificate to the mall. We would have gotten something just as good, and saved about $24,800. But governments don't seem to be in the money-saving mindset, at any level, these days.


Site Visits

My recent post on the 12th Man Magazine and its comments about Billy G. got picked up by a Kentucky fan blog. That sent a few visitors my way. Sweet.


Pinching Pennies

As I have noted before, I enjoy saving money on groceries. Sales and coupons delight me. I make special trips to Smith's and Albertson's when they have specials (Lee's is my main grocery destination). Luckily, MacKenzie shares my coupon-cutting, grocery-ad perusing ways. This has helped us regularly meet our grocery budget goal. MacKenzie also agrees with my overall approach to fiscal matters. They say money is the number one culprit of marital misunderstanding. In that case, our long-term prospects are pretty good.

We have found a tool to aid our food shopping. A site called Pinching Your Pennies, apparently based right nearby in Hyde Park, UT, keeps track of weekly sales, as well as coupon codes for online shopping sites. This site, which appears to have localized info for every state, compiles shopping lists for each major grocery chain each week based on what's on sale as well as what coupons are out there. Deals are rated on a 1-5 scale based on how good they are. This has been a useful tool for us. You should look into it.


Hopeful thoughts on camping

I finally have my living room back. The last 24 or so hours, Craig and I have been having to crawl around a large tent sitting right in the middle of our not-so-large living room. It was there because we need to ensure we had all the parts, seal the seams so that it won't leak and let it dry overnight before next weekend. Since we don't have a yard (and even if we did, it was raining) we were left with the living room. It was a tad inconvenient during the day but we made the best of it by watching tv from inside the tent last night - that is still as much fun as it was when I was 8.

Anyway, back to next weekend. We have decided that we are going to work really hard not to be those people that live by really cool stuff but never go and visit it, thinking they will someday. So next weekend, we are heading off to Yellowstone. Craig has been there before with Chad but I never have and I am pretty excited about it. It's also our first camping trip so we are keeping it simple. We have to leave too late on Friday night to camp so the actually camping part will only be overnight but we should have enough time to see the main stuff. For those of you who know anything about Yellowstone, you might realize that we are going very early in the season. In fact, most of Yellowstone isn't even open until the next weekend. But this is the only available weekend we had for May and by June it gets all crowded and full of people and we don't like people. Well that isn't exactly true, we like people, just not when we are trying to get away and experience nature. So we are going anyway, even thought it might be raining, cold and overall miserable. Hopefully, our plan doesn't backfire. I have been checking the weather as we get closer and closer and I think we will be okay with the temperature but it is a little less certain that we won't spend the weekend in the rain. I wanted to write this post now though so that if it does turn out to be disastrous, I can at least remind myself that I knew of the dangers before hand and I can't blame Craig for "forcing" me to go camping.


There are three semi- good reasons why I am about to post what I am about to post:

1. Craig has been wanting me to post as the last 5 posts were by him. So I am posting, despite the fact that he might be upset that I am lowering the respectability level of this blog so drastically. While this concern is valid - too bad.

2. I want to prove that Rachel is not the only one who can put a video in her blog.

3. I had seen this video earlier but when I saw this on another blog today, it completely turned around what was the beginning of a plunge into a weird funky mood. So, as much as I feel bad for stealing a post idea, I felt I had to share the joy that was so generously shared with me. Besides, it has an average rating of 4.5 stars on Google video so I am not the only one to find it amusing.


Parting Shots at Billy G.

The closing article in the current edition of Texas A&M's 12th Man Magazine takes a few jabs at departed basketball coach Billy Gillespie. For instance:
  • "Oh, and one more thing...please return that maroon blazer we gave you three years ago. You never looked quite comfortable in it."
  • "To Gillespie, A&M was merely a stepping stone. It was never going to be a permanent - or even a long-term - destination. He's a nomad at heart, as evidenced by the fact that Kentucky represents his 11th job in the last two decades."
This suggests that we knew all along that he'd leave, which is clearly not the case.
  • Gillespie is not likely to last long at Kentucky, either...Because of his lifestyle and his singular focus...Gillespie will have wandering eyes, once again."
This is in reference to his lack of a life outside of basketball. What was endearing a few weeks ago is now a flaw. The article goes on to talk about how the new coach is a family man who will make connections in the community and go to football games and maybe stay here long enough for his 2-year-old to graduate from high school in College Station. That strikes me as quite unlikely.

One more quote:
  • "Quite frankly, he's (Turgeon) a more experienced head coach on the college level and an even better fit at A&M than Gillespie. That's not sour grapes. That's the truth."
That's quite a bold statement. Well the urge to say these things is understandable, it seems quite petty and unnecessary. Also, I'd wait to see what the new coach does before putting him on such a pedestal.