Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Monday, February 26, 2007
So CNY was fun...but it raised a lot of questions for me. Hopefully the satori will be a little more concious of the occasion next time and not pop into my head during a social function. Riiiight...
Oh, and FCC? Next time, let's make sure we lay on some more potstickers...
Friday, February 23, 2007
But to be curled warm and sleepy beside a warm, sleepy and delightfully curvaceous wife in the pre-dawn and have a little body come wiggling in beside you who whispers "Daddy! You're home!"...
It's good to be back under Portland's banner.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Well, I didn't exactly hide under a pew. But I wasn't exactly thrilled with a two-day trip to Southwestern Utah. For one thing, I hate to fly.
Let me make it clear how I feel about commercial air travel: I fucking hate to fly.
I have no faith in the skill of the pilot, the begninity of the weather or the past history of aviation safety. I white-knuckle every takeoff, eery in-flight bump and every landing. Flying is a trial, and flying for business is even more trying. So I wasn't exactly in a gentle, accomodating mood when I collected my bright yellow rental car at Las Vegas on Wednesday evening, and a post-midnight two-hour drive through the Nevada desert through the Arizona Strip into southwestern Utah wasn't making me any more cheerful. But when I got up the next day...
Well. Okay then.
Now I'm a fool for geology. In a lot of ways I'm not far from the nimrod sophmore taking G101 I was thirty years ago. I run around oohing and ahhing at cool geology like lots of other guys do at the exutrix doing parabolic motion studies around a pole at the Pop-a-Top down on Columbia Boulevard. And what southern Utah has in glorious abundance, is geology...
Now it's not all Navajo Sandstone and Kayenta Formation. The other thing that southwestern Utah has is history, and I'm a little odd about history, too. I'd brought along a copy of John Krakauer's Under the Banner of Heaven, his rambling discursion on religon, obsession, history and the Mormon fundamentalists of southern Utah. So I wasn't exactly sure what to expect in the canyons of the Red Cliffs Reserve...But I wouldn't have been surprised to find a raggedy clan of Mormons, the patriarch and his multifarious wives and children in their trailer homes. But no...
The days of the "Cotton Mission", of bloody secrets like the Mountain Meadows Massacre, seem inconceivable in "Utah's Dixie" today. Instead, St. George, Utah is about what you'd think when you think "Mormon"; a busy, comfortable, profit-making place with lots of big suburban houses amid a kind of inward-facing suburbia, an industrious, and mostly successful, effort to ignore the vast empty desert outside. The place is a concatenation of strip malls, golf courses, commercial building parks and oddball, grandiose structures that are constructed in a style I would call "Las Vegas Modern". Even a humble bank, a mere real estate office look like they've been planned by the firm that did the MGM Grand, the Luxor or the Bellagio. At first it's kind of irritating until you realize that the pretension of these big little buildings is just silly...
But my job wasn't architectural criticism in St. George, I needed to get out into the tules: my work is up in the BLM lands north of St. George, along the west flank of the Pine Valley Mountains. And that was the best part of the entire trip. Because under the Las Vegas Modern, southwestern Utah is old. Old like Jurassic old: hundreds of millions of years old. When you walk the hills of the Pine Valley massif you walk on sands laid down in the immense dunes of a Mesozoic desert that stretched the width of the American West and the length of the North American continent. You look up at the white cliffs and see the crossbeds that were the moving faces of these dunes, moved by a wind that blew across a world vanished and gone for years beyond counting. An antiquity so vast that words stutter to silence.
Perhaps the most beautiful of all the hillsides around St. George are the white cliffs of Navajo Sandstone, but the Iron Mountain sands near Central and Veyo have their own wierd, cragged beauty. On the sere hillsides bright cyan mountain bluebirds flowed from the junipers. Little rock lizards did their pushups to warn me that this was their rock, their dune, and that I should be off about my business.
For all the beauty of the huge country around me, probably the most fascinating visit I made this trip was my last stop on the second day in St. George, here, the "Dinosaur Discovery site at Johnson Farm". It's an odd sort of little place, an uneasy partnership between science and hucksterism, run by the St. George folks as a sort of mom-and-pop dinosaur dig. It's just a tin and tarp shed on the southeastern fringe of St. George down by the river. The gift shop is staffed by crotchety old guys who seem both amused and contemptuous of the visitors, who are, indeed, a mix of the young, the poorly educated and the badly dressed. The kids race about, as delighted by the cheap Chinese-made stuffed dinos as the actual fossils themselves. I got a chuckle out of those toys: the site is a mid-Mesozoic Moenave Formation, the dinos Jurassic, while the toys, like the dinos in the misnamed "Jurassic Park", are all the big champagne dinos of the Cretaceous; T-rex, Triceratops...
While I was there I passed a little group of what could only be described as cholos, from their slicked-down hair to their sharp black big-city threads. They looked grumpy but confused, as though they had been insulted in a language they didn't understand.
But then you stop in front of the immense red block of mudstone, tilted back to expose what was once, 205 million years ago, a drying Jurassic mudflat on the shore of a state-wide lake. You look at the glossy surface and follow the footprints of the long-vanished animals, reptiles taller than a horse and nearly as long as a city bus, and you realize that there are worlds enough and time. Around the screaming kids, through the traffic and the cholos and the litter of trash along the highways, past the Las Vegas Modern, out in the wind and the silence and the rock of the patient deserts beyond.
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Specifically in southwestern Utah.
So I'll be away for a bit.
A question for the readers here. I'm feeling the doggy-breath of the Blogger people on the back of my pants cuffs, trying to get me to convert to the new Google/Blogger thing. Any hints, opinions, rants...any intel would be appreciated. I'm thinking of jumping off the dock this weekend, but if general opinion is - ohmiGoddon'tdoit it'ssohorrible - I'll keep putting it off.
Pictures for sure when I get back. It ain't Riga but it'll have to do...
"I'd like big milkies all the way up to the top..." (which is his shorthand for "a sippy cup of milk, please, mom, and keep on pourin'!") before adding:
"...and a nice beer for you."
Good to know the twig is bending in the right direction.
Saturday, February 03, 2007
"Bread: it's not just for your tummy anymore!" With this statement, the Peeper and Daddy put crusts on their heads. (from the other day at a little Italian place on N. Mississippi)
Some people should be quarantined for exceptional cuteness and this boy could be one of them.