Tuesday, June 27, 2006

El-ahrairah talks, the SL Trib listens

Almost a day after the Great El-ahrairah spouted off about the bad refereeing during the World Cup, the SL Trib (by way of the AP) runs a story saying the same thing. I knew that there had been a pile of yellow and red cards given out, but I didn't know the statistics compared to other World Cups. Anyway, you would have to have your head in the sand to not have noticed the bad refereeing.

Anyway, now that Brazil and France have won, the last 8 teams are Germany, Argentina, England, Portugal, Italy, Ukraine, Brazil and France. I will pick Germany over Argentina, England with their boring "1-0" soccer over Portugal, Italy over Ukraine and France over Brazil. I know that many think that Brazil will go all the way, but I think France will beat them. After the end of the these games, I'll give my predictions for the next round.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Yet another example of poor refereeing

I watched the first half (more or less) of the Portugal-Netherlands World Cup game last night (Portugal won, 1-0). I thought that only the US was getting the shaft with bad referees, but I guess we aren't the only ones. You can add the Netherlands to that list also.

There were multiple instances during this match where the ref should have awarded a penalty kick to the Dutch for all the times that a Dutch player was taken down in the box. The worst that I saw during the first half was a Dutch player in the air trying to head the ball in the net and a Portugese defender jumping into him, cleats first, to try to knock the ball away. Not only was that interference but also a very dangerous play, but Mr. "There's no foul here, move along" decided otherwise. Since the ref ended up dishing out four red cards (granted one was for a blantant handball), he obviously lost control of the match and should never had been there in the first place.

From what I have heard, FIFA wanted to get a good cross-section of referees from around the world, so instead of getting the best referees on the planet , it seems that this World Cup will go down in the books as the worse refereed World Cup in the history of the game. That and FIFA also wants a Brazil-Germany final to boost TV ratings.

Hike Blogging: Gobbler's Knob/Mount Raymond, Wasatch-Cache National Forest

Yesterday's hike took me to the top of not one but two peaks, Gobbler's Knob at 10,246 feet and Mount Raymond at 10,241 feet. The trail begins at the Butler Creek trailhead, about 10 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon in Salt Lake County.

I got to the trailhead early and avoided any problems with parking. Most of the trail passes through the Mount Olympus Wilderness Area and is not too difficult, but the first part is quite steep. Elevation at the trailhead is 7,120 feet, for an overall elevation gain of over 3,100 feet.

This is Mount Raymond seen across from Mill A Basin. As the name implies, it was heavily logged in the 1800's. The trail goes through aspen groves to Baker Pass there on the right of the picture. From there, you follow it up the ridgeline to either Mount Raymond on the left or Gobbler's Knob on the right.

A view of downtown SLC as seen from the summit of Gobbler's Knob. The trail going to the top is fairly steep but much easier than the one going to the top of Mount Raymond, as I would soon find out. There also were several snow fields that covered the trail. The mountain partially blocking the view of Salt Lake City is Grandeur Peak.

Looking out towards Mount Olympus from the summit of Mount Raymond. The tan patch on the far mountains is Kennecott Copper's Bingham Canyon mine. The trail to the top of Mount Raymond is even steeper than Gobbler's Knob and the last quarter mile or so you're scrambling over rocks on a knife-edge ridge. If you're afraid of heights or don't have good balance, don't try it. Trust me on this one.

Captain Holly on top of Mount Raymond, with the Salt Lake Valley in the background. There was a plastic canister on top that had a notebook for people to sign. I left The Warren's address in it, so if you're here because you climbed Mount Raymond, congratulations.

My cheap $2.00 Wal-Mart pedometer was right on again, showing that I hiked just slightly under 10 miles. Overall, it was good training for the next hike on my schedule -- the dreaded Ibapah Peak.


The fix is in

El-ahrairah was correct in his assessment of FIFA refereeing. Those referees are as unbiased and objective as the New York Times editorial staff.

I watched the first half of the Germany-Sweden matchup and even to a casual observer such as myself it was clear the Swedes were getting the shaft. They had about twice as many fouls as the Germans, and that smirking jerk of a referee was a bit too eager to red-card a Swedish defender, thus ensuring the 2-0 German lead would be insurmountable.

Now I'm not a hard-core Sweden fan but it appears to me that FIFA really wants the home team to make it to the finals. I think Brazil and England will get plenty of "help" too; the last thing FIFA wants is a Ghana-Ecuador final.

Wow! The 3rd District is important to other people, also

The Cap'n has been dutifully updating the readers of the Warren (me) about the 3rd District race here and here. It also seems that other people are taking interest in this race also by evidenced by this post from the Captain's Quarters (no, not our Cap'n's hind legs). I wanted to post a comment, but since I'm basically a lazy rabbit, I decided to post my comments here (actually, maybe I will post a comment over there also). Anyway, my comment is that the comments that Jacobs gave is just his way of playing to his audience. Since the majority of the voters in the 3rd District are members of the LDS Church, what better way to invoke your faith without actually invoking your faith. Is it pandering? No, people just talk that way down there (I should know, I lived in Provo for a number of years and my sainted mother grew up in "Happy Valley". The Cap'n (as in Holly) may think otherwise, but I don't see anything amiss in his comments.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Maybe next time the US won't suck.

Unfortunately, the US crashed and burned at this edition of the World Cup. As the Cap’n pointed out, it’s not France 98, but close. I wasn’t able to see the US-Czech Republic debacle but I did watch ,most the Italy-US game and all of the Ghana-US game, so here are my thoughts.

1. The US couldn’t even buy a goal. In two of the games (US-Czech Republic and US-Ghana), the US players (Claudio Reyna and Brian McBride) were denied potential tying goals when their shots hit the post. Other than that, our shots just went over the net or right into the goal keeper. The only really moment of what the US could do was the goal against Ghana. That was a fantastic goal and the keeper could only stand there and watch it sail past him.

2. We need some more strikers. Although was have guys like Brian McBride, Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beaselly, we need better strikers that can be counted on to bury the ball in the net. We might have good goaltending, a good defense and good midfielders, but our striker corps suck.

3. The Would Cup Seeding System. The way they set up the groups is yet another way to tip the advantage to teams that FIFA wants to win (Brazil, Germany, Italy) against teams that FIFA would rather not have win (the US). That’s why Brazil got patsies in it’s group and the US got the group of death. Of course, FIFA knows that having Brazil in the same group as Germany and Italy would ultimately cost them TV revenues, so for the same reason that the World Series and Stanley Cup Finals always seem to go six to seven games, Brazil gets to sleepwalk into the second round.

4. But the biggest reason that the US is out of the World Cup has to do with officiating. One game does not a trend make, but after watching the US get screwed by piss-poor officiating in two games, I’m convinced that anit-americanism runs deep in FIFA, so they instructed the refs to make sure that the US doesn’t get out of the second round. The first game was all our fault, so the refs didn’t have to get involved, but it can easily been see that during the second game (two questionable red cards and a denied goal) and the third game (a bogus penalty shot), whenever the motmentum of the game started turning to the US favor, here comes the ref to screw things up. Even with all our problems during this World Cup, we could have still been close to going thru to the second round if it hadn’t been for the officiating.

That’s about it. At least it wasn’t as bad as France 98. Although we finished with a point, we at least played tough in two of the trhee games. We just had some bad luck, bad playing and most importantly, bade officiating to content with. Now, that the US is out, I’m routing for 1) Italy, 2) Sweden or 3) anyone playing against Brazil. Forza Azzurri!!!!

Hike Blogging: Ben Lomond, Wasatch-Cache National Forest

I did this hike on September 6, 2004.

Ben Lomond is a 9,712-foot high peak on the north end of Weber County. It is a popular but difficult hike, approximately 12 miles round-trip from the North Fork Park trailhead and 14 miles from North Ogden Pass (one could be lazy and drive up to Willard Peak and then just hike about 3 miles along the Skyline Trail, but Captain Holly loves a challenge).

A view of Ogden Valley from the Skyline Trail.

Not surprisingly, you can see alot when you get up on top. This is a view of Willard Bay State Park, looking to the northwest.

Captain Holly on top, looking south towards Ogden. Despite it being sunny day in early September, the temperature on top was in the 50's -- hence the jacket.

The local Boy Scout troops have installed a metal box that contains a notebook for those who reach the summit to write their impressions. Most agree this is a great hike.


Well, it wasn't France '98 - but just barely

The US was eliminated from the World Cup today. 'Nuff said.

Man, I am so glad I didn't take time off work to watch the games.

The miracle of CSI and DNA

I heard this on the radio the other day here in Italy, but have yet to hear anything about it in the English-speaking world. Some researchers in Australia, using DNA recovery techniques, have found that Jack the Ripper was possibly a woman. The DNA extraction technique only needs one cell of DNA to re-construct the sequence. Normal police work requires at least 200 cells for a definitive match, so this technique cannot be certain, but after obtaining a saliva sample from one of the letters (the Openshaw letter) that were attributed to Jack the Ripper, they were able to determine that Jack was possibly a woman. Of the many suspects who the police were thought to be Jack the Ripper, there was one who was a woman, a Mary Pearcey. She was later hanged for killing the wife of her lover in the same way as Jack the Ripper.

So, could Jack the Ripper have been a woman? It kind of makes sense since the police were looking for a man and if you were a female prostitute in Whitechapel, London, you would be on guard against men, but not another prostitute. What other way to find victims other than being able to blend in with potential targets.

Anyway, the radio station that I was listening to decided that if Jack the Ripper was indeed a woman, who would the listeners think would be a good actress to play Jack the Ripper in a movie (alluding to the last movie about Jack the Ripper, “From Hell”). Guess who number one was? If you said Glenn Close, you just won a kewpie doll.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Predictions for tomorrow's Worodl Cup game

While many of the other World Cup groups were pretty well decided by the second game, the US group, Group E, has lived up to it's billing as the "group of death". Going into the third game, all four teams have a legitimate shot at going thru to the second round. If the US wants to go thru, we will probably need some help from Italy. If the Italians win and the US wins, the US and Italy go thru. If the Italians win and Ghana wins, Ghana and Italy go thru. However, if the Italians tie and Ghana wins, Ghana goes thru as the winner of the group and Italy goes thru as second place to face Brazil. If the Czech Republic wins, they go thru as the first-place team and depending on what the US and Ghana do, Italy could be the second-place team or be out for the tournament. Whatever happens, in order for the US to be assured of going thru to the second round, they have to win and win by lots of goals to cancel out any goal differential problems.

So, after having examined the facts (just like CSI), I will predict that Italy will win by 2-1 over the Czech Republic and that the US will win by the score of 2-0.

Hike Blogging: Mount St. Helens, Gifford Pinchot National Forest

My son and I did this hike on July 14, 2004.

As part of a wonderful father-son road trip during the summer of 2004, my son and I went to Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument and climbed the volcano. At 8,365 feet above sea level, it's not very high but it is steep and the timberline is at about 4,500 feet, so you're hiking out in the open for three miles or so. Overall, you climb 5,000 feet in about 5 miles.

This is a view of the crater from the aptly-named Windy Ridge observatory. All the area around it has only young trees; everything else was flattened during the eruption. The blast area extends about 10 miles out.

Here is Captain Holly, rested and ready at the trailhead. The climbing route on Monitor Ridge can be seen on the side of the mountain straight above my head.

The trail starts out in the timber and for the first few miles you can't see the mountain in front of you. It's not that steep until you get to the timberline, then it starts getting much more difficult.

After you get past the timberline, there's not really a maintained trail. The route is marked with wooden posts and it snakes among large andesite boulders that were thrown down during the main eruption in 1980. Closer to the top it's all rhyolite gravel; you sink in about 3-4 inches with every step. By the time we got to the top we were exhausted.

The view on top is wonderful. In the Cascades, the really tall mountains are all volcanoes that are separated from each other, so when you get on top you can see for miles and miles in every direction. When we started the hike, we could see Mount Hood in Oregon, some 50 miles to the south. This one is looking down into the crater at the lava dome that has been pushed up over the past 20 years.

Here is a view of Mount Adams, an extinct volcano some 30 miles away.

Even if you can't climb Mount St. Helens, you can visit the Johnson Ridge Observatory and Visitor Center. It has some great displays and a wonderful view of the crater.

In July the ground is carpeted with wildflowers. I mean everywhere: If there's not trees growing, there are wildflowers. Very beautiful.

Overall, it was a wonderful trip. I would love to do it again someday, but I realize that my son will never be 14 again and this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I'm glad I took it.


The backlash grows

A couple of days ago I predicted that Republican Congressman Chris Cannon would lose his primary election next week and his downfall would be due to his liberal stance the immigration issue. In the comments, a couple of readers expressed skepticism. If recent events are any indication of how the race is going, Cannon is definitely in trouble.

First off we find that members of the Open Borders Lobby over the past two weeks have been giving the Cannon campaign an emergency transfusion of cash -- nearly $134,000 -- for a last-minute TV and radio ad campaign to help Cannon over the top. Meanwhile, his opponent John Jacob doesn't seem to be very eager to match the contributions with cash from his own pocket. Odd behavior, unless he knows something from his own internal polling. Either he's way behind and doesn't want to waste his money, or he's way ahead and doesn't feel he needs to.

Then we find that the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives has flatly told the White House there will be no immigration reform this year. While they probably have gotten an earful from their constituents on the issue, I can't help but think that they have seen what is going on in Utah and have heard the message, loud and clear: No Amnesty.

We'll see what happens next week, but I can't help but feel the same as Jacob: There is a "perfect storm" brewing in the state. The massive backlash over illegal immigration that I predicted back in April is becoming bigger than even the Republican Establishment's worst nightmares. It appears as if Chris Cannon will be its' first victim.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The War goes on

Two US GIs who were captured by Al-Qaeda terrorists were found dead from torture. Our prayers are with their families.

This isn't the first time US troops who have surrendered have been murdered by the enemy, and it won't be the last. But it perhaps is the first time in our history that some Americans have been eager to blame America instead of the enemy.

Breaking News Breaking News Breaking News

Andrew Sullivan is still a fatuous, narcissistic prick. (h/t Goldstein)

As a long-time Sullivan watcher, I can say this is about as low as he can get. Two US soldiers are tortured to death and his only reaction is to rehash his tired Gitmo/Abu Ghraib routine. Oh, yes, and talk in sinister tones about the influence of icky Christers in the military.

Here's a prediction: It won't take long before Andrew begins cheering for the other side. Some would say he's already started.

Monday, June 19, 2006

An upset in the making

A prediction: Congressman Chris Cannon (R) of the Utah 3rd Congressional District will lose his primary election on June 27th. This is why.

If you're going to bring up the subject of illegal immigration, it doesn't help to have one of the most-disliked immigrant activists in Utah -- the man who organized pro-illegal demonstrations in Salt Lake City last April -- to publicly come to your defense and attack your anti-illegal immigration opponent.

Cannon might have won had Tony Yapias not started yapping.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Hike Blogging: Mount Ogden, Wasatch-Cache National Forest

My son and I did this hike on July 5, 2004.

Just east of Ogden is Mount Ogden at an altitude of 9,572 feet. It is a popular area for recreation with Snowbasin ski resort on the other side, the site of the 2002 Olympics downhill events.

The best way to get there is to go to Snowbasin and park at the bottom. From there you can follow trails that eventually merge into a maintenance road that goes all the way to the microwave transmission station at the top. There's a trail that Overall distance from the bottom to the top is about 5 miles.

There are plenty of open areas where the trail cuts across the ski runs. In July, you'll see lots of wildflowers. And mountain bikers, because people will take the ski lifts to the top and ride back down.

From the top you can get a wonderful view of Ogden and the Great Salt Lake...

...as well as my alma mater, Weber State University.

In a normal year you'll have to cross some snow fields near the top. This is my son on one of them. I dragged him along because we needed to get in training for our Mount St. Helens hike that we did 10 days later. Which, incidentally, will be the subject of my next post.


Don't believe the score, the US won

Since I’m the resident Italy/Sicily/Iraq expert here at the Warren, here are my thoughts on the US-Italy game. I was privileged to watch the game surrounded by Italians. Unfortunately, I got there after 30 minutes had passed, so I didn’t get to see any of the goals that counted. However, of the two red cards that the US was given, the first was so-so and smacked of equalization for the Italian red card, but the second was a complete fabrication. It seemed to me that someone had cornered the ref in the dressing room at the half and told him that the US must not be allowed to win the game, ergo, a bogus red card to put the US down a man. I thought that the US would roll over to the Italians and go into a defensive shell, but I was surprised that they took the game to the Italians. Many of the Italians who I was watching the game with thought that the US played very well, but very rough (“The US thinks this is war!”), but they were more disappointed with the Italian team. Every time the Italian team coughed up the ball or came away with out any shots on goal, they would start saying “Che vergogna!” (What a shame!).

The second US goal that was taken away seemed to be, yet again, the referee trying to tilt the game in Italy’s favor, but the replay showed the US player being offside when the ball was shot on goal. If he had been far from the play, I think the goal might have stood, but the ball was shot right at him, so you could argue that it was a no goal, but still, if it had been Brazil, we would be talking about having allowed the goal.

All in all, the US did very good containing the Italians and the US goalie played an outstanding game. Although the score was 1-1, many of the Italians thought that the US won the game. If you think about it, we did. Being down 9 men against a 10-man Italian side, we kept them off the board and also kept them honest by making their goalie work. I thought we pretty well owned the middle of the field and we made many defensive plays that made me wonder just where we got players like that. Like I posted before, the 3-0 lost had the desired effect of giving the US a much-deserved kick in the pants and luckily for Italy, they managed a tie.

Now, all we have to do is win against Ghana and win big, just in case the Italians don’t win against the Czechs. If they do anything else, we will have to go to the tie-breaker rules and right now, our goal differential sucks. You could say that Italy and the Czechs will just play for the tie and both go thru, but second place gets powerhouse (although they don’t look that way right now) Brazil while first place gets a patsy like Croatia or Australia. So, both teams have an incentive to play for first, so hopefully, the Italy will beat the Czechs and we can pull out the win against Ghana.

Hike Photo-blogging: Lewis Peak, Wasatch-Cache National Forest

My son and I did this hike on July 19, 2003.

Lewis Peak is an 8,031-foot mountain overlooking the city of Ogden. The trail to it is a great one for hiking, but there are alot of mountain bikers that use it as well. The best access is from the parking lot at North Ogden Pass. You only have about a 2,000-foot climb from the parking lot, and then it levels out on top. Here's Captain Holly at the trailhead.

The trail mostly follows the crest of the mountains. When we went there were wildflowers blooming everywhere, as is typical for July in Utah's mountains.

There were also rattlesnakes; this is the first of two that we encountered during that hike. He was just sitting there in the bushes right next to the trail and a mountain biker had rode past just seconds before and never saw him. My son encountered the other when he sat on a pile of rocks and knocked one loose, causing the snake -- who was hiding under the pile -- to buzz. I don't think I've ever moved faster in my life when I reached out and grabbed him to pull him back.

The view from the top is wonderful. You can see Ogden and much of the Great Salt Lake.

The large mountain directly to the north is Ben Lomond, which will be featured in a later post.

The trail is fairly popular but that's understandable: Lewis Peak is one of my favorite hikes and I suspect alot of people agree. It's relatively easy terrain but you get a great view when you reach the peak.


Meanwhile, in hockey...

...there will be a Game 7 for the Stanley Cup.

I haven't been following the NHL much this year since Outdoor Life Network got the TV contract. Still, I have soft spot in my heart for the Oilers since the 1980's and it will be cool to watch a 7th game.

The US is still alive, but barely

The US tied Italy 1-1 in a very roughly-played and poorly-officiated World Cup game today.

The US had a goal in about the 70th minute taken away, so El-ahrairah's prediction of a 2-1 US victory was on its face correct. I'm not an expert, but the goal looked good to me. Still, we can advance to the second round if Italy beats the Czechs and the US beats Ghana next week. All is not lost.


Parker Jensen Update, 2006 version

The family of Parker Jensen won a round in court Friday. I note this only because it's been three years now since the State of Utah attempted to take Parker from his parent's custody by arguing that if he didn't get immediate chemotherapy treatments he'd be dead within a year.

So, since he's still alive and well, you can make your own conclusions about who was right and who was wrong.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Introducing Captain Holly's Hiking Blogs

I've finally got around to setting up a new feature here at the Warren: Captain Holly's Hiking Blog. It will be a description of the many places where I've gone hiking and happened to take along a digitial camera. You'll find it just under the Archives. I hope my reader(s) will enjoy it.

DISCLAIMER: This is not intended to be a comprehensive hiking guide. If you want one of those, I would recommend one or all of these fine books on Utah hiking. I will just be providing my impressions of the hike and giving general tips to those who might be interesting in trying it. But since I did some of these hikes years ago trail conditions might be quite different than what I encountered. I can't be expected to know everything about a certain trail.

If you want to try some of the hikes I describe it is your responsibility to ensure that you are prepared and hike safely, not mine.


Thursday, June 15, 2006

I'm back!!!!

Due to problems with internet access and my birthday, I've been sort of out of the loop for a few days. Our non-military internet access went down for about a week, so I haven't been able to do anything worthwhile (military internet is notoriously blocked for EVERYTHING!). I also went to Malta for by birthday. Nice island. Beautiful beaches. Lots of Brits/Italians/Scanda-whovians/Germans. Lots of hot women (don't tell my Sainted Wife that I said that). Speak English and/or Italian. Reminds me of Cyprus. Unfortunately, our hotel was located in discoteque central, so we were treated to disco music all night long. It also rained the day that we wanted to go schnorkelling, but, we will probably go back. It's only a hop, skip and a jump from Sicily and you waste more time at the airport waiting to board the flight than the length of the flight.

Anyway, just a few quick thoughts:

1) The Z-man was able to get his 72 virgins, thanks to two 500 lb special delivery packages from the US military. I hope his death was very painful and he is now burning in hell. Remember boys and girls, the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist.

2) The US got hammered by the Czechs. Oops, stuff like that happens. The Italians are already planning ahead to the second round. I hope that spanking woke up the US team into realizing that they are much better than that. If it had the desired effect, I wouldn't want to be the Azzurri on Saturday night. I predict 2-1 for the US.

3) No Fitz-mas this year. I thought it was interesting that this came out on the front page. I guess this along with the President's studly visit to Iraq was a real kick-in-the-crotch for the Defeato-crats.

4) The President's visit to Iraq. What a stud! It's always good to kick the Defeato-crats when they are down. The only thing the party of cut-n-run had to say was to start whining about withdrawing troops, yet again. I think the President should keep up the presure on the Defeato-crats and start hitting them hard on being the party of negativism. Point out at every opportunity that whatever the situation, the Defeato-crats will find something to complain about. Like I have always said, there are people on this planet who are never happy and will complain about everything. Give them $1000 dollars and they will complain that it wasn't $2000. Give them $2000 and they will complain that it wasn't $1000.

Fitzmas isn't coming this year

Now that it's clear that Karl "Darth" Rove isn't going to be indicted in the bogus Valerie Plame investigation, let's go into the WayBack Machine and see what Captain Holly said about the prospects of a Happy Fitzmas:

I'll just go out on a limb and say there won't be any indictments. Period. Fitzgerald might issue a statement tsk-tsking the White House's behavior, but other than that, it'll be a wash.

Why? I don't know, just a gut feeling. But if Fitzgerald is as "meticulous" and "tough" and "non-partisan" as the lovestruck media say he is, I doubt he'll risk his name and reputation by turning what is essentially a partisan debate over Iraq into a criminal case. Unfortunately, once he fails to announce indictments he'll suddenly become a sinister pawn in an Evil Rovian Cover-up, so either way he's going to have headaches.

I was partly wrong: To save face with his liberal friends, Fitzgerald indicted Scooter Libby for essentially not telling him the exact thing every time he was interviewed. I predict that charge will either be thrown out or dropped, or Libby will be acquitted. We'll see.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Hike Photo-Blogging: Grandeur Peak, Salt Lake County

I bagged my first peak of the season Saturday, hiking up to the top of Grandeur Peak in the mountains just east of Salt Lake City.

There are two or three different ways to get there, but the easiest is from the Church Fork trailhead. From there, it's only 3.5 miles to the top, with about a 2,600-foot elevation change. Top of the peak is about 8,300 feet above sea level. As you can see, much of the land around the trailhead belongs to the Boy Scouts but it has public access and parking. Just get there early: I didn't start until about 2:00 PM, and by then the parking lot was full and I had to park about a half mile down the road and hike to the trailhead.

To add insult to injury, I ended up taking a wrong turn and I added about 3 miles to my final total, so what would have been an easy seven-mile training hike turned into a fairly difficult 10-miler. Plus, I had to get back home by 6:30 PM, so I really pushed myself. I'm feeling it today.

The canyon was quite beautiful, and the weather was perfect for hiking. Temps were in the mid-70's, with little wind. Heavy rains earlier in the week had made things pretty muddy but except for a few wet spots it had dried out to the point where the trail was moist but not sticky. As a result, there was no dust kicked up and the air was clean and fresh.

In fact, besides the detour my only complaint was the dogs. Millcreek Canyon is one of the few in Salt Lake County that is not a designated watershed; hence dogs are allowed. They are supposed to be leashed on even-numbered days and most dog owners were in compliance Saturday, but of course I ran into one shirtless idiot whose off-leash Cocker Spaniel growled at me as I came up the trail (which prompted an angry response from Captain Holly). Cretin.

The view from the top, as you can see, is spectacular and well worth the climb (that's downtown Salt Lake City, about 6 miles away). If you try it, make sure you go on an even-numbered day sometime during the week. Weekends are too crowded, and off-leash dogs overrun the canyon on odd-numbered days. There's also a $2.25 per car charge for entry into the canyon, although they charge you on the way out instead when entering. Since the entry station was closed for the evening when I left the canyon around 6:15 PM, I didn't pay a thing.


It's France '98 all over again

The less said about this, the better.

I'm glad I didn't bother to take time off from work to watch the game....

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Happy Birthday, El-ahriarah!

And what better event to celebrate your birthday with than the announcement that Abu Musad Al-Zarqawi was blown to smithereens yesterday evening?

Maybe they'll get Osama for my birthday in July.

Friday, June 02, 2006

On June 2nd in world/military history....in 1946

On June 2nd in world/military history....in 1946. The Italian Republic is born. Before World War I, Italy was a parlimentary monarchy (like Great Britain) ruled by the kings of the House of Savoia (Savoy in English) and Sardinia. When Mussolini came to power in the 1920's, he imposed a fasicst dictatorship on the country and essentially dissolved the Italian parliment. After the war, many Italians blamed the King of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II for "rolling over" to Mussolini and causing Italy to be dragged into the war on the side of Germany, so a referendum was proposed where the Italian people could decide to continue to live under a monarchy or choose to live in a republic. The vote was 54.3% in favor of the republic and 45.7% against with northern Italy voting for the republic and southern Italy voting for the monarchy.

One of the stipulations of the republic was that, with the adoption of the Italian republic, the Italian constution stated that the male decendents of the House of Savoia were required to live in perpetual exile and could never return to Italy. This last requirement was lifted in 2002 after it was decided that the current male heir of the House of Savoy, Vittorio Emanuele had no desire to seize power and that nobody else in the country were longing for a return to the monarchy.

The history of the Italian Republic is much more complicated that my "Cliff's Notes" version (go here for more information), but the important part is that June 2nd is celebrated as the birth of the Italian Republic, the same as the 4th of July is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States.