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Perseids

by dave

A couple nights ago, the Perseid meteor shower peaked. On a cloudy, rainy day. But as the sun went down, the clouds cleared to the west. So we drove out to Utah Lake.

It was full of bugs, and not the best place for stargazing, but we did lay down, stare at the night sky for an hour or so, and watch some meteors go by. There was only one great bug impressive meteor, but many smalls ones. And the Milky Way was visible.

We got home very late, with just over 66% of the children falling asleep during the 15 minutes drive back to the house. And everyone slept in the next morning.

 

 

No Adventures in Weeks?

by dave

It is true, the adventures stopped for a while. Mostly due to heat. Utah is a desert climate, mostly. Summers are the wrong time to be running around. Spring and Fall… those are adventure times.

So for the next 5 weeks, I’m choosing to increase my focus on work. The farm is stable, my other goings-ons in my life are slowing, and it is too hot to do much outside. So I’m hoping for a high-productivity period here for a few weeks.

So what does high productivity really look like as a work-from-home developer?  It doesn’t mean 16 hour coding sessions, 7 days a week, at least not for me. But it does mean more short coding sessions in a day. Instead of coding most of the standard work day, then signing off until the next day, a potential work day could go something like: Get up, do my morning ramp-up routine, code a feature, go for a walk, code another feature, have lunch with kids, code a feature, hang out with wife, code a feature, play card games with kids, code a feature, milk the goats, code a feature, puts kids to bed, code a feature, play a video game, code a feature, watch netflix, go to bed.

(Replace any of those “code a feature” moments with “have a meeting”, “run a data import”, “solve problems”…. the point is to make the work progress.)

 

With that kind of continual coding spread across my days, I never really shut down the brain… I ramp up faster each day, I can spread code over a few projects, think more between coding, and just do it all faster.

So why not do this all the time?

  1. It only works when my life is not very busy. Personal projects and time are diminished.
  2. I have to want to be productive. This requires having projects that are enjoying and satisfying, having confidence in the products and the company, and being in a good place mentally and emotionally. It is actually surprising how often one or more of those things is not true, and when one is not true, it tends to take down the others.
  3. Burn out will occur. I can do this for a few weeks, but not a few months.  But at this very moment, we have an event coming up in just over a month – it gives me a nice vision of exactly how long I should ramp up my efforts, and I get a break from it all in early September. (Conferences are work, but different work.)

 

 

Weekend Adventures – Early May 2015

by dave

Last Weekend – Diamond Fork Canyon

A trip to Diamond Fork Canyon barely counts as an adventure – it is only 10 minutes form home. But I wasn’t feeling up for an overnight trip, so we decided on just heading up here for a bit. It was E and T’s turn this weekend, and they invited their Cousin, K.

We went first up to “that place up there with the red rocks”:

And much fun was had hiking around the rocks:

I also took them to a little place a bit farther up the road, where there are always heaps of snail shells to be found. I’ve never seen live snails, so I am not sure where these come from… there could be a hidden snail population, or these could be old things from back when all of this was a lake. I’m not sure, but each time the kids found one, they sounded really joyful, so it was a fun hike.

 

This Weekend – Fumarole Butte, Baker Hot Springs

I had noticed the top of Fumarole Butte a few times when out at Topaz Mountain, so I looked at a map, and it showed a road heading up to the top.  K and I thought we’d head up there, maybe camp up on top and explore.

Well, that road wasn’t really a road. Maybe it was a few years ago, but it wasn’t really passable. I suspect there are other ways up, but it was getting dark and rain was coming, so we just camped out.

Before it got completely dark, we decided to see just how long the string on my kite was:

The two of us slept at the edge of the old volcano, surrounded by huge piles of volcanic rocks. K found one that was about twice his size, with a smooth side that he could slide down. He called it his rock slide…

The next day, we made our way back down to the paved road, and drive up towards the nearby hot springs. It was a dreary day, but I took a picture of the rocks nearby anyway, just to show what the edge of the volcano looks like:

We made our way to the hot springs, where someone has built 3 concrete hot tubs, with pipes to let in the hot water. There is no cold water, so you have to be careful not to let in too much heat, otherwise you’ll be waiting a long time for it to cool down enough to get in.

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The water coming down to the tubs is hot enough to come off the ground as steam. On a cold morning, it doesn’t seem like water on the ground could be that hot, but it was too hot to touch:

It is an interesting place to be, with steaming water flowing through the tall grasses:

After soaking our feet for a while, we kept on driving, exploring the dirt roads and driving halfway back to home before hitting pavement again. And of course, it would not be a weekend adventure with a little bit of practice with K’s bow and arrow:

Weekend Adventure 4/25/15 – North San Rafael Swell

by dave

For this week’s adventure, we had been planning it for a week. Camp out on an old volcano in the west desert, soak in some hot springs, and go collecting crystals in the mountains on Saturday. Sadly, the weather cancelled this entire plan. Everywhere within 2-3 hours looked like it was going to be rainy and cold.

But we looked at the weather radar, and found one hole in the storms, on the north end of the San Rafael Swell. So we decided to try it. I had never been to that area before, but it was only about 90 minutes away, and we figured that it was worth a try.

We packed up, grabbed some dinner in Price, and then headed south, pretty much just going directly south for about 20 miles. We started to drive through some more interesting terrain… lots of sandstone cliffs and smaller rock formations. We saw RVs parked on every small turn-off, so we weren’t the only ones in the area.

We wanted to be away from the RVs and ATVs, so we drove until we weren’t seeing anyone else, found a large cliff that looked interesting, and parked at the base of it to camp:

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And this is what children look like when they hop out of the car and realize that not only is is not raining, but there are rocks and hills to climb:

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K and T quickly ran off into the hills. Once it started getting dark, I called for them to come back, and they did… eventually.

We set out some chairs, watched the sun go down, and slept in the back of the car for the night. It rained all night. I checked the weather radar again around 2 AM, and it said the rain should stop by 3, and it was right – the morning was free of rain, even if the ground, our camping chairs, and my jacket were soaked. I have no idea who left my jacket outside…

We woke up at dawn, had some breakfast, and started exploring. Well, I started exploring… the kids started shooting their bow and arrows, wandering all over in search of arrows once they had been launched into the distance:

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I had never seen much written about this part of utah, in terms of rockhounding, and I discovered why – it is all sandstone, and the ground is pretty much just… sand. We did find a few interesting rocks which I wasn’t able to identify, but I brought home ot investigate later. But mostly, there was grass and cactus:

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As I walked around, I realized I should have driven another half mile the night before. We went around the side of the cliff, and found that there was an even more interesting place to camp on the other side, with cliff faces surrounding a small valley on 3 sides. We spent a few minutes yelling in all directions, as the echoes were impressive.

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No matter how much I wanted to explore, the kids were pretty much focused on only two things — climbing rocks and shooting arrows. But everyone had fun.

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Weekend Adventure 4/18/15

by dave

Springtime is here. It is time to escape the home on the weekends and getting outdoors. We have a lot of choices here in Utah, but we’re starting with a simple rockhounding trip close to home.

Just east of Eureka, UT is a fairly well-known spot to collect agate. IT is listed in the rock hounding books and guides, and  there are quite a few posts about it online, so I expected it to be fairly well picked over. But it turned out OK.

The turn off is easy to find – if you drive west of of Santaquin, a few miles before Eureka, there is a sign with a flashing yellow light, warning you to slow to 30 mph for upcoming curves. Turn right onto the dirt road right before that sign.  The road will switchback down to the valley below, and just after you reach bottom and the road turns north, you’ll see a road cut off to the left. It will be very clearly a less used road – it was very washed out when we got there, and I would not even attempt it without 4WD. But with 4WD, it was just fine.

Follow that road for a bit (half a mile?) And you’ll see a sharp uphill stretch in front of you, enough to make you think twice if you want to drive up it. There are a few places you can pull off the road on the right here, and that is what we did. You can also cut to the left, and the road will keep taking you up towards the rocks, but we thought we were close enough, so we got out to walk.

Walk up that hill – you’ll see a nice rock formation at the top, but we didn’t find much of interest there. Turn right down the road from that point,  following the power lines, and you’ll see another small rock cliff. Walk down to it, and then you’ll see yet another rock cliff farther down. Go to THAT one, and follow it for about 30ish feet, and you’ll see a spot with chipped and broken rock collected at the bottom of the cliff. That is the spot, and those broken rocks are all the leftover bits from prior visitors. There are interesting bits there, or you can go up the hill a bit to break off new pieces. There is still quite a bit of agate left.

Here, K had a good lesson in safety in the mountains – do not climb on loose rocks. He climbed up, then started knocking rocks down on E and I, and I told him to come down. He did… putting his foot on a loose rock, which gave out beneath him and sent him slipping down to us, maybe down 15? vertical feet, sliding past E and I, and coming to stop down by our backpack.

Now, when you see you small child sliding down a small rock face, you want to help. But you only have about a half second to react, and sometimes the desire to help surpasses your logic. At this particular point, K was coming down towards a 3 foot high vertical drop, where E was standing. I thoughtlessly suggested to E, “Quick! Catch him!”  Yeah, right… the 35 pound 5 year old should catch the 75 pound 7 year old. Luckily, E did not comply.

So K was bleeding and scraped up, but no real injuries, thankfully. We had some talks about safe climbing techniques.

At the end of this little adventure, we sorted through the rocks we had found, in theory to choose only the best ones. In reality, the kids wanted to keep them all, ans said, “Dad, these are heavy. Can you carry them back to the car?” Just as well that I did – the boys slipped and fell a few times coming back down that steep part of the road. And they now understand why I recommend wearing jeans when exploring rocky terrain, no matter how hot it may be. They both bled their way back to the car. And we decided to pack a first aid kit next time.

We drove around a few of the other dirt roads in the area, but didn’t find anything of much interest. The only other spot we stopped was an old mine just inside the turn off to the main road. It is quite a large mine shaft, and has been covered with a mesh of rebar and some large beams to prevent people getting into it. But you can stand at the edge, look down it, and see some of the old piles of rock nearby from the original mining. We had some brief talks about how they dug the rock out, how they got the valuable metals from the rock, etc.  And more talks about safety, of avoiding mine shafts, but also avoiding bright un-natural blue or green rocks or pools near mine shafts, as those are often leftover poisonous materials from the mining.

But as both boys were scraped up at this point, and none of us has built up any hiking strength for the season, we headed home and got some lunch.