Sunday, December 02, 2012

The Curious Case of the Growing Night Stand


The problem with Amazon.com is the sheer depth of offerings and the ease at which one can make a purchase. Combine that with a scatterbrained mind and you have a recipe for a tower of books on top of my night stand that is getting babelesque. 

Here is what I currently have in the active queue.

  1. The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle- This came with such a high recommendation from Jason Hansen that I was willing to over look the Oprah accolades.  I'm still just a few chapters in but I feel like he does a good job of bringing Eastern thought to a western audience.  We live in such tumultuous and distracting times that we rarely reach the inner peace that Eckhart talks about.
  2. The Revolution, Ron Paul- The more I take into account my political thinking the more the Libertarian platform resonates.  This book was loaned to me by my Camelback hiking buddy, Chris West.  I will always value liberty and individuality and I am often perplexed by people who think that Government needs to be the answer to so many things.
  3. Around the Roman Table, Patrick Faas- I love Roman history and I love the culinary arts.  This is the perfect marriage.  While I will never be a huge fan of Garum I do enjoy reading about the role that food played throughout Roman history.  There are even some recipes in there for those bold enough to recreate a Roman dinner.
  4. Exploring the Lands of the Book of Mormon- I had an earlier version of this book when I was a kid and in love with the archeology of the Toltecs, Olmecs, and Maya.  While I don't ever feel that there will be enough archeology to ever convince the skeptic of the veracity of the Book of Mormon I do enjoy reading about history of the region and the similarities between the Book and recorded history and archeological evidence.
  5. On Grattitude, Todd Jensen- This is from a cherished cousin.  Todd interviews celebrities for a living and over the course of several years he has captured their expressions of gratitude.  They range from truly heartfelt to somewhat odd.
  6. Mexifornia, Victor Davis Hanson- I am often perplexed out how complicated we have made what should be a rather straightforward issue, immigration.  Hanson creates an interesting narrative based on his experience growing up and living in Central California.  He has some interesting points and observations but I wish he would have provided more science and statistics to back up his assertions.
  7. Road to Serfdom, FA Hayek- The bible for those who believe in political freedom and hate centrally planned economies.  His book sprang out of his observations from Europe leading up to and just after World War II.  I have just started this book but, based on the wide ranging opinions for good and bad, it should be an interesting read.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Two halves of the country...what if I don't belong to either?


So we sit back and watch as pundits simplify the process into neat segments of the voting population.The loser gives the same old speech about overcoming a hard fought battle and unifying the country to move forward.  The victor follows and gives essentially the same tired speech.  It's all rhetoric because we all know how divided this country is and how little this dysfunctional government can accomplish.

I'm jaded.  I lean Republican but I am very disappointed with how they posture and ignore and miscalculate issues like immigration, defense, income inequality, and science.  I typically don't lean towards Democratic issues because I don't believe that the Government can and should to to interfere in most economic, social, and welfare issues.  Despite that I did inspired by the message shared by Obama in 08', enough so that I even wrote about it here.

Here we are four years later and those once great speeches about Hope and Change now ring hollow.  Under his leadership the only things that have really grown are fingerpointing, debt, and division.  Sure the economy, mainly reflected in the stock market, is doing better then 08' but how could it not?  Also, there is nothing that tells me we have long term prospects for growth. The man who was supposed to transcend the political malaise has become just another mudslinger except with super cool Hollywood sycophants.

But the blame isn't solely with the people wearing the blue ties.  The obstructionist, stop it at all costs Republican party blew their chance to make a case to a weary people.  Many folks, due to the circumstances, were ready to listen to a feasible alternative.  All you gave us was a message hijacked by the Evangelicals and Tea Party wing of the party.  You have done a horrible job articulating a conservative and federalist alternative to big government.  You have isolated huge groups of the population with views that are out of date (i.e. Immigration, Climate Change)  Your rigid stance on Moral issues such as Gay Marriage puts the next generation of voters further out of reach.  In short you've created a huge loser by refusing to even compromise on some issues to get work done.

I know that I am not alone in being jaded with both parties.  Both are corrupted, bloated, and beguiled by powerful special interests.  Both parties speak empty words to disguise their corruption. I yearn for a third way. The closest alternative for me is the Libertarian party.  If we can get enough people to push for a third alternative maybe we can send some kind of shock to Washington.  The decay back there is so rancid that it will only take something radical to be the real Change that has alluded Mr. Obama.

I love America but I absolutely hate the direction that she has been taken.

Monday, September 03, 2012

Raising our Arizona IQ

We've made an effort to explore all of the nooks and crannies of this the Grand Canyon state but the birth of Charlie put these visits on a temporary hold.  Now that he is up running we decided to see some new country.  In this chapter we visited friends in the remote dusty Northeast corner of the state to the small pioneer community of St. Johns.

Along the way we enjoyed the mountain and pine laden community of Greer.  This area was recently ravaged by the Wallow fire but fortunately most of the rugged area that we explored remained untouched.  I would stack this area up with the best of the Uintah's, Yellowstone, or Wind Rivers. 

We also spent some time in Eagar, which is the community right where the high plains meet the White Mountains.  While not as beautiful as the are between Greer and Pinetop it was still a welcome sight from our desert doldrums.

Most of the time was spent in St. Johns.  Not much to see there other then an appreciation for the hearty pioneer and Mexican stock that founded it and continue to populate it to this day.  On a clear day you can see well into the Navajo nation and the area that was part of the famed Route 66.

Greer was the definite highlight and we already have some plans to return and perhaps stay at the famed Molly Butler lodge.  The country is spectacular, the living simple and easy, and the weather well worth the drive.  Here's to getting up on the Mogollon rim.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Time for a reality check for reality TV

 View this commercial and tell me that this isn't definitive proof that the apocalypse is just around the corner.


I remember at the turn of the millennium when the first wave of reality programs hit our television watching shows. I believe it was Survivor.  It only took me 15 minutes before I was completely turned off and I quickly deduced that this phenomenon would be short lived blip in the landscape of procedural's, sitcom's, bad cable programming.  I mean no self respecting person with any modicum of conscience would tolerate this dross, right?

Well here we are 12 years later and these programs have not only become firmly entrenched in our media and culture but they have multiplied at a rate not seen since kudzu took over the South.  One time reputable stations like the History Channel, Discovery, or Food Channel have now been thoroughly infiltrated by such inane babble coming from shows like "Ice Road Truckers", "Property Wars", and "Cupcake Wars".

Why (said in my most distraught Nancy Kerrigan voice) does this genre have my television programming in a stranglehold?  I know that this stuff is cheap to produce but wouldn't you think that this trash would fall on deaf ears and just wither away?  Evidently I had higher expectations for the general level of American cultural consciousnesses because this stuff is still thriving.  Do these high ratings really prove that we are no better then a bunch of gossiping imbeciles who like to see nothing more then train wrecks on a Wednesday evening?

I'm pleading with you America?  Somebody tell why reality programming is still here and strong?  Somebody point out some of its redeeming qualities?  Somebody prove that watching this is good for us.



---
I do have a confession to make.  I do watch "PawnStars" quite regularly but is that really reality tv?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My communication breakdown

My posts to the blog have become more sporadic and infrequent. It's not that I don't have any more to say it's that the amount of communication tools that I have in my holster have grown. 

The blog and its long form requirements are too demanding to maintain in a world that now operates in a 140 characters or less.  Just look at the blogs that are linked from 'Dude' and you will get a sense of what I speak.  You will find that these once fertile destinations have now been vacated for easier forums, namely Facebook.

I will continue to maintain the blog because it is the best forum for me to truly complete my thoughts.  I will try to integrate those lesser tools into 'dude' as well.  I have a hard enough time managing my random thoughts as it is now I have to worry about where on the web I scatter them.


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Charlie and some sort of open water

Here is Charlies inaugural visit to the pool. I guess the stiff as a board reaction is his response to being in open water for the first time. None the less, he took it well.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Steve Jobs Legacy

I was never much of an Apple guy and I always bristled when the name Steve Jobs was mentioned among the all-time business visionary elite.  But recently I decided to give into the masses and buy his biography at Costco...I needed something and that something certainly wasn't going to be a pair of Kirkland shoes.

I was unsurprised at the stories of a grating and domineering personality.  My slight disdain for Apple was moderately justified when I read one of the core motto's that Steve lived by, 'Good artists copy, great artists steal'. But then something along the way changed.  I started to gain a little empathy, even profound respect, for what he accomplished.  Maybe it was reading this book in light of his passing, maybe it was a better understanding of how instrumental he has been in shaping industries and the way the humans consume and create.

This understanding didn't really come into focus until I finally was able to separate who he was and what he did.  His life didn't seem too virtuous and he certainly won't be up for any humanitarian awards anytime soon.  The way he treated people, his employees especially, was incredibly bad.  My admiration for him would have grown 10 fold had he been able to accomplish his great feats while being a decent father and employer. 

Regardless I had to come to grips with the magnitude of his marketing and design genius.  Yes, he did steal a lot of ideas, sorry Xerox, but he packaged them and brought them to the masses in a way that no one else could.  His Bauhaus inspired minimalist design not only appealed to our aesthetic instincts they also provided a simple and non intimidating way to experience bleeding edge technology.  His Zen-like approach to design revolutionized computers (Apple), Music (iPod), Music Distribution (iTunes), Movies (Pixar), Tablets (iPad), Phones (iPhone), and Retail Stores (Apple Store).  Did I miss anything?

Reading the last few chapters were poignant and sobering for me.  It was interesting to see what he was doing knowing that he was on his last breaths.  I got a fairly heavy feeling of sadness.  Not because we were losing a great man.  But rather, we were losing a man whose vision and dreams helped magnify our creative instincts in myriad and incalculable ways. 

I finished the book with a greater inclination to buy an Apple product.  I also got some great insights into the minds, egos, and companies that helped shape the last great American created industry.  A good read and a wonderful peak into the life of a man who truly helped shape the last 40 years.




--Note--
At the same time I was reading the Steve Job's bio I was also reading "How will you measure your life" by Clayton Christensen. I couldn't help but wonder if Steve couldn't have benefited from the principles taught in this amazing book. I also couldn't help but wonder if Steve would have still been able to create such fabulous products without sacrificing his relationship with family, friends, and co-workers. I then wondered what was more important....my family and relations or the output from my work.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Jeff Jensen: The 135lb Titan of the Titanic


Ever since he was the weest of wee lads my little brother, Jeff, has had a voracious appetite for anything relating to the RMS Titanic.  He was a child celebrity at the 80th anniversary Titanic convention where he met many of the survivors.  The next bit of fame came with the James Cameron classic flick in 1997. Now, like a return visit from Halley's comet, Jeff is given another 15 minutes of fame as Utah's resident Titanic historian.

 As local and national media seeks to create stories and newsbits to satisfy our 100th anniversary curiosity Jeff has been on call.  Here is a sampling of the latest bits.

  •  CA TV (Canada).
  • Link to article in the Provo Daily Herald
  • Interview on Fox 10's morning news in Salt Lake City
  • Link to article in MSNBC
  • Soon to come interview with KSL

Should you have more interest on this great ship or in scheduling a lecture, please visit

    Saturday, March 24, 2012

    No more TMZ.com, more Khan Academy

    I've become a huge fan of the Khan Academy site.  We all spend countless hours mindlessly surfing the web.  Well why not learn something along the way.  Play around the site and see the wide range of subjects covered.  I'm into Italian Art and Architecture this video pleases me by combining both ...find a video that mirrors your interests.


    Linear Perspective: Filippo Brunelleschi's Experiment from Smarthistory Videos on Vimeo.

    Sunday, March 18, 2012

    The 2012 Underappeciated List

    Life is full of pleasant surprises that are beyond the grasp of the popular media or "best of" lists. In 2007 I started my "under appreciated" list.  Here are the latest items that deserve a little extra praise.

    1. Movie- (The Big Year):It could very well be the only movie with Owen Wilson, Jack Black, and Steve Martin that you never made an effort to see.  In spite of a cast that contains many comedic heavy weights, this movie gets by more on character development, cinematography, and a simple yet powerful message.  The movie is PG which is also an absolute rarity in a day and age where most movies have to get crass and violent in order to cultivate an audience.  Watch it; you'll be touched.
    2.  Virtue (Selflessness)- Whether it is politics, big business, or Hollywood things are rife with scandal and most of these scandals are the result of one thing, selfish greed.  The "Me first at the expense" of others attitude is the single most attitude that is shrinking the potential of our great Nation.  We need more people who care about others as much as themselves.
    3. TV Show (Friday Night Lights)- I got brought in at the very tail end of the series thanks to some very vocal encouragement from some friends.  It does have more then its fair share of soap operaesque drama but when it comes to matters of Coach Taylor and molding his team there isn't better television. The last episode is Hoosiers and Band of Brothers and Brian's Song all rolled up into 45 minutes of absolutely moving drama.
    4. Food (Vietnamese)- We've dissected Italian food six ways to Sunday and our proximity to Mexico has us swimming in Mole Poblano.  We love our Tapas and we dive right into the dishes of the Indian subcontinent.  One region, most foodies believe is world class, that most of us over look is Vietnamese.  It is fresh, flavorful, diverse, and hearty. Pho is the soup that you'll want to order on a rainy day. I've got good company, Anthony Bourdain agrees with me.
    5. Band (Trash Can Sinatras)-  This is a classic example of a band coming of age at the wrong time.  They were a great sounding indie band in the age when grunge had pretty much squelched their kind of sound.  Their sound is lush with a hint of the Smiths and their lyrics are exactly what you'd expect from a some Scots, heartfelt and rich. 

    Tuesday, March 06, 2012

    Bouncing Charlie

    I will continue to post photos/tidbits of Charlie until Jodi creates his own blog.  In the meantime, we got a kick, pun sort of intended, at Charlies ability to kick and get his bouncing chair a rocking.  I think we're ready to sign him up for AYSO.


    Sunday, March 04, 2012

    What's more Roman then the Aqueduct?

    The Aqueduct was one of Ancient Rome's proudest engineering feats and abundant water was one of the primary reasons that the city was able to thrive as it did.  This great piece captures the discovery of the great Aqua Traiana, just one of the many things that Trajan built.


    While the video might be a little dry, this link is pretty cool.



    The Search for the Aqua Traiana with Rabun Taylor from MEON HDTV PRODUCTIONS on Vimeo.

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    A soccer club team I can get behind...maybe


    I want to follow soccer, I really do.  It was my favorite sport playing as a kid and its global presence appeals to my cosmopolitan leanings.  The problem is that we are saddled in Country that really doesn't care and surrounded by a culture that sees the sport as effeminate and soft.

    I don't love the sport enough to make the effort to try to navigate the arcane European soccer sites and I'm not a poser so I'm not going to conveniently jump on the current hot club club out of England or Spain.  Also, did I mention that the MLS still is pretty much little league and I'm just not charitable enough to put my precious sports viewing hours into a product that isn't that great and rarely compelling.

    I was a man lost at sea until I stumbled across this article on Grantland.  It opened my eyes to a new club that has the potential to appeal to me on so many levels.  First of all, who doesn't love a good underdog.  The dirty grit of these guys would make the Bad News Bears proud.  Second of all, it appeals to my love of Italy.  Specifically the disregarded and chaotic southern part of the peninsula.  These guys don't have the snobbery and money of AC Milan or the folks up north.  They have a Rocky-like everyman appeal.

    Those two reasons should be enough for me to care.  I've tried over and over to care about soccer, and outside of a few US team moments, I haven't become a fan.  We'll see if this works.   Check in with me in a few months.  If I am wearing one of those silly soccer scarves with the Napoli colors then you know it took.

    Sunday, January 29, 2012

    Introducing Chainmail Charles and his lofty ideals

    To say that Parenthood changes one is quite the understatement.  Countless books, poems, and other demonstrations of love have been expressed over the years by those who have responded to the magic of holding your own child.

    I'm no different.  I can't' wait for Charlie to grow and for the chance to take him on his first camping trip, help him explore his world, and to discover his calling.  I want to teach him solid values and give him a good foundation.  To that end I am going to enlist the help of Haugen's Army.

    What is Haugen's Army?  Essentially it was an exercise in creativity and a way for me and my friends to battle classroom boredom during high school and college.  It would work like this.  We would have five minutes to sketch out whatever motley character we could dream up.  We did this for a number of years and the efforts yielded such timeless classics as "Showcase Showdown", "Mustard's Last Stand", "Superlative Givens"and "Willie the Little Headed Archer".  One of those characters was named "Chain-mail Charles and his Lofty Ideals."

    I am going to see if I can convert him into a character that serve as a basis for a short story.  The story will allow me to teach Charles the timeless qualities of imagination, exploration, and determination.  We'll see if I can harness those virtues in seeing this project to the end.

    Saturday, January 14, 2012

    Lil Charlie gets the professional treatment

    We love going to Utah because that means family. We love family because that means that we can take advantage of them...in a good way. My sister, Heather, literally threw this together in 10 minutes in her bedroom. Check out all of her work here.


    3/23/17- A fitting end in Venice

    That'll cost you 100 Euros I guess it makes sense to spend the last chapter of our Italian journey in the town most commonly associ...