Saturday, December 31, 2011

Come And Visit

It's weeks like this, that help to remind me why we moved to the desert 4 years ago.
And for skeptics and critics, yes, the air quality in the Phoenix valley is sub-optimal right now, with millions of inhabitants feeling entitled to burn "holiday fires" our drive home on Christmas Eve resembled air quality similar to February 1945 Dresden.  We could not see the bases of the Estrella mountains and only the peaks this week, but more on that later...

If you are tired of your cold weather in the rest of the US, come & visit us in Arizona. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Unappreciated Spiders 7

Job's Device

I refuse to call the $800 superfluous iPad thing that Dr Desert Flower bought for "Christmas" an "ipad".  It's a "Job's Device".  It's not MY Christmas present, as I hate the damn thing.  It won't let me log into my Gmail without wanting to LEAVE ME LOGGED IN on the "cloud" eternally, which confuses Gmail when I try to log in on the desktop.  It wont let me type, since I do not have the pre-requisite feminine touch required to type on a touch touch screen.  It will not let me search without auto-completing my entries, leading to wrong, sometimes hilarious, usually annoying mis-directions.

OK, the "voice recognition" works adequately for SIMPLE searches, that do not involve polysyllabic words.  But anything colloquial, or polysyllabic or technical and it freaks out.  I THOUGHT Steve Jobs (peace be upon him, ie Allah) was supposed to create "experiences" that "enhanced" the user's interface, and "differentiated" his products from the rest of the pack.  The 64gig  Job's Device needs to ADAPT to my masculine heavy handed touch, my voice patterns, and my vocabulary.  Otherwise, it was a colossal waste of $800 at the "I store".

Monday, December 26, 2011

Unappreciated Spiders 6

Poorly Executed Blog Spam

The interwebs are prone to spamming, and push-marketing that tries to get eyeballs onto web pages to generate advertising revenue or "buzz" or exposure.  I understand that.  It's a necessary "evil".  Sometimes the adverts are actually interesting, legitimate, well placed, and useful... but the majority of the time, they're out in left field, irrelevant, barely germane in the more remotely tangential sense.

It appears that JustJoeP's web traffic visitor stream (up to about 150 hits a day now) has somehow gotten the attention of many inept spammers, who make a weak attempt at posting veiled comments that embed their advertising links. I discard most of them, but here's a few (unedited) so you can see what I mean:

"jasmin" on the "Delicious Bird Awaits
"I'm not going to profess to being that good with grammar. I don't know the ins and outs of it and go mainly by experience. Wine Gift "
where "Wine Gift" linked to a 'wine of the month' annoying membership. "


No thanks "jasmin", I don't want someone else deciding randomly for me, based upon whatever mass inventory they've gotten that month, to send some wine I don't like when I can go to the store and buy it MUCH LESS expensively myself.  perhaps you are not so good at "grammar" because English is not your first language?  The posting had nothing to do with "grammar". It was about an upcoming delicious feast.  You've failed "jasmin".

------------------

"plusclothingexpert" on the sarcastic & violent "Job Interview Coaching"
"That's funny. Well, you can get help for Interview Coaching Calgary and get the job that you desire. "

"P.C.Expert", the posting had nothing to do with what to wear or not wear or how to write a resume, it focused on a fictitious scenario wherein an interviewer asks a dumb question and the interviewee responds with an overt threat of massive physical violence.  It's not really about "coaching" per se.  So no, sorry, I will not embed your Canadian link.
-----------

"BOSS" has left a new comment on your post "How To Clean Your Own Hayward Pump Cartridge Filte...":
"thanks for provided a nice information
We Manufacturers and Suppliers of Single Spring Mechanical Seal, Dry Mechanical Seals, Reactor Mechanical Seal ,Cartridge Mechanical Seals, Mechanical Shafts Seal Manufacturers."

Now "Boss" is apparently affiliated with "Ashish Industries" which makes automotive seals.  So you see, "BOSS", a Hayward Cartridge Filter for a backyard pool has NOTHING to do with automotive seals, so you fail on context.  You've incorrectly conjugated the irregular verb "to be" by leaving out it entirely and then using the plural of "Manufacturer" and "Supplier" when you really MEANT (I think) to say "We are Manufacturers and Suppliers of..." or perhaps "We Manufacture and Supply...".  I cannot give you any credit or leniency for having English as a second language, because the British installed English & Hindi as the uniting language of India more than a century ago, and all of my Indian colleagues (and I have spoken to 100s of them) have repeatedly told me that BOTH English and Hindi are their country's national languages and everyone must speak one.  If you are not proficient in writing in English "BOSS", you need to find a new vocation, or use better grammar and spell checking software.
--------------

Much earlier in December,
nr has left a new comment on your post "The Beauty of Prandtl-Glauert Singularities":
"Thank you for sharing this information.
It will really helpful to solve my confusion

Process $ Chemical Engineering "

Where the P&C Eng was an embedded link to a push marketed engineering website, that had nothing to do with Prandtl-Glauert Singularities. You've failed, "nr".
--------------

Back in November
seo help online has left a new comment on your post "Re-Using Delicious Marinade":
"You have nice blog.
Aluminium Foil Pouch,Zipper Pouch,Aluminium Foil Zipper Pouch, Jumbo Bags, Gusseted Pouches.
"

"You have a nice blog" ... really, that's the best you can do?  And you did not put a single space after a comma, instead running your words together and misspelling "Aluminum"?  Is this really your company's best foot forward?  No, total failure.
----------------

And whoever this "SEO" company is, they really do a consistently poor job
seoshivakumar has left a new comment on your post "Mountains of Salt Beneath Us":
"Thanks for sharing with us
V.S. Forgings: Salt Tablets Manufacturers, SOFT Salt Tablets, Water softening salt, Industrial salt, Raw salt."


An Indian company pushing salt products.  Why would I want to import salt from India to the US?  Why would anyone, when nearly every country in the world can cheaply make their own?  And salt is water soluble, so transporting it over vast oceans, where it COULD get wet, is not the brightest of ideas.  Sorry seoshivakumar, you fail.
---------------------

Back in September, I previously pointed out "Asian Bridal's" freakishly funny ineptitude:
asian bridal has left a new comment on your post "Toms Toms & Furs":
"Asian wife dines into a seventh whistle. Our analyst soils the interview on top of a spotted buss. The brown freak disputes the lady. The amateur mates the utility variance. The turning basis clears Asian wife. Beside Asian wife recovers the fun fraud.

asian bridal
"
...shows it is not just India who doesn't understand push marketing.  The Chinese are hilariously poor at trying to execute it as well.
-----------------------

Now, "Geopeach" gets it right.  So Geopeach's comment, was pushlished.

Geopeach has left a new comment on your post "Gluten Free Beer - Redbridge":

"Hey Just Joep,
If you are looking for another substitute to Redbridge, check out Daura, by Estrella Damm. You'll be happy to know it doesn't come from a large US corporation, but is imported from Barcelona, Spain. I work for the importer here in the US, so just let me know if you have any questions. It will have a different taste than Redbridge because Daura is made with barley malt instead of sorghum.


-Georgia (ghomsany@usbev.net)
http://www.estrelladamm.com/en/daura_gluten_free_beer/
"

There's a host of others who have tried, the above examples are just a small sample.  The volume is increasing, noticeably in the last month.  So I will be leaving the comment moderation on, going forward.  And as a word of warning to the inept, the stupid, the "in a hurry", and the misguided, when your comment is dumb enough, irrelevant enough, or just plain silly enough, I will post it here to mock you and point out your failure.  Maybe your manager, or the company that hired your firm will see the posting, and you can find a vocation that better fits your skills - perhaps one that doesn't require you to push market ads in English?

Montaudon Brut Champagne

For our family Christmas meal Dr Desert Flower baked a ham and sweet potatoes and a corn pudding where she used ground flax instead of wheat flour, ad well as organic spinach salads and organic dressings.  We'll be feasting on the leftovers for the rest of the week. But paired along with the food, I broke out a real bottle of Champagne - not a California knock-off that claims to be Champagne (and is priced like it too) but is just sparkling wine.  We'd picked up the bottle of Montaudon Brut Champagne Reserve Premiere (www.champagmonaudon.com) (bar code 6 575582 00001 2) at Trader Joe's some time ago for less than $20, and it's been chilling in the fridge all weekend.  Our family meal and long discussion lasted from 1/2 an hour before dusk until just before the Packers began to mop up Lambeau with what's left of the Bears this season (21 to 35, bleh. Go Lions, Saints, and 49ers!). The champagne was gone before night had fully fallen.

If you're looking for a delicious, inexpensive bottle of Champagne for New Years, it is hard to beat Montaudon.  Dr Desert Flower's and my palates are not "refined" enough to differentiate in a blind taste test between a $20 and a $80 or $180 bottle of Champagne, so the Montaudon fits the bill quite nicely.  Highly recommended.  Not too fruity.  Not so dry it knocks you over.  Excellent in the nose & on the palate.  It did not disappoint.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

10,000 CFS at 4 mph


video
If you've ever wanted to see what 10,000 cubic feet per second of water looks like, moving at 4 mph, about 20 feet below you on a 4 foot wide steel rope suspension bridge, the video above gives you a good idea.  Sure, many people have all seen video on the news of destructive floods taking out houses, or tsunamis, or other water borne destruction... but to see a river like the Colorado, just going about its normal business, up-close, moving recent snow melt & rain water fluidly along just a few meters below you, is a powerful experience that leaves a big impression.  On a tiny screen, with limited audio, the effect is greatly reduced, but walking over the bridge with a steel grate bottom, is an altogether moving experience.

During Spring Floods, the Colorado River  can reach 100,000 CFS (links here and here). It's amazing that ALL of that water is diverted to NV, AZ, and Southern California before it reaches the Sea of Cortez in Mexico, in a teeny tiny little tickle.

Organic Saladini Pilastri Rosso Piceno, 2009

We had a meat & pasta dish last week where I wanted to pair it with a nice Italian red.  This organic selection from Saladini Pilastri, which we picked up at Total Wine for less than $10 a bottle, complimented the spicy sauce quite nicely.  The Piceno region is on the "calve" of the Italian boot peninsula, as you can see from the map in the lower right.  this wine did not disappoint.

Organic wines often have a negative reputation that precedes them with many wine snobs.  To me, when I am looking for a tasty, inexpensive, healthy wine to compliment the food served in my home, I am not dissuaded or put-off by an organic label, and instead, will always give it a try.  Saladini Pilastri did not disappoint.  This will not be our last bottle.

Recoleta Malbec Rosé

Fresh & Easy sells a variety of Recoleta wines from Argentina.  $4 or $5 a bottle, they are delicious, light, wonderful table wines.  Last week's South Mountain hike was capped off by a bottle of Recoleta Rosé (pairing link here).  I did not realize it was a Malbec until after Nathan Jr read the back of the label to me - I did not have my reading glasses, and with the sun setting, the dim light makes it much harder to read.  Thank goodness iPhones come with a BRIGHT reading light ap... I use it each time we go to a dimly lit restaurant to be able to read the menu.

I picked up this Recoleta Rosé at the local Fresh & Easy the week before.  While in much of the US it is too cool to drink a chilled Rosé, here in Phoenix, it is still appropriate with a warm sunset or a sunny afternoon on the patio.

Delicious Bird Awaits

We've been invited by our friend Mahtab to partake in a holiday dinner in north Phoenix.   I'm salivating at the description of the turkey that Mahtab said in email:  "The bird is stuffed with raisins in white wine, mango, almond, sour dough bread, onion and saffron and the sauce is with white wine, saffron and curry."

Major Yum!  We've had Mahtab's cooking before, and it's always been a delicious, exotic blend of German, Persian, and other European and middle eastern influences.   I'm bringing the wine.  There will be white wine pairings - Bordeaux Entre deux Mers - as well as a Loire Valley Chinon.  And while reds don't typically go with poultry, the Loire Chinon and, Saumur as well as the white Sancerre compliment poultry very well. 

Both Chinon and Saumur are very mild, non-aggressive wines that I like to use to "introduce" to people who do not typically like red wine.  I've never had anyone outright reject a Chinon or Saumur - maybe they were just being nice, and didn't want to disappoint me.

The Domaine De La Semellerie Chinon, 2006, is an Alfio Moriconi Total Wine selection.  Moriconi has good taste in wine, and he's Total Wine's European wine buyer.  I've not had a bad bottle yet (and that's many dozens of bottles, from a wide variety of regions) that has borne his label.  We enjoyed this bottle (pictured above) last weekend with a meal of crab stuffed chicken breast that Dr Desert Flower felt compelled to prepare for our son's visit.  It paired nicely, and didn't last through the desert =)  I picked up another one of these yesterday at Total Wine yesterday, and it will be enjoyed tonight, along with the savory bird.

Caleo Primitivo & Salice Salentino

One nice aspect of having our son visit, is that he likes a good glass of red wine almost as much as his father does.  So with each dinner, we've been polishing off a bottle between the three of us.  As I blogged much earlier this year (link here), Caleo makes good quality wines at reasonable prices.   Along with the Salice Salentino, they make a wonderful Primitivo that has paired deliciously with meat & cheese heavy salads, pork tender loins, steaks, and other family meals.  Bright on the pallet without being over-whelming.  Currant and cherry notes without being too fruity.  Good quality table wine for less than $8 a bottle (from Total Wine, who've opened a new store in Goodyear, 1/2 the distance from the Arrowhead Store we used to go to).

Southern Italy wine makers are producing some excellent, under-appreciated wines, in and around Puglia.    I think that Puglia wines are some of the "best kept secrets" of Italian wine making.  When I was approached by a Total Wine salesman in Goodyear, and told him I was looking for more of Puglia selections he responded "The Beaujolais are over here...". I cut him off: "I am not interested in an adolescent fruity Beaujolais from central France. I have enough of that at home. I said 'Puglia', as in Italian for 'heel', the South East end of the boot. Arrowhead has a larger selection than the Goodyear store."  The salesman retorted that "we have the same selection, unless they carry discontinued lines" - hmmm, so I better buy up everything at Arrowhead the next time I am up there, before the last of their stock is depleted.

Tonopah Rob's Delicious Eggs

Last Saturday, Nathan Jr and I went and got hair cuts together up at our hair stylist, Natasha Bush on Northern near the 101 in Parkwest.  Little did I know, that there's a local Farmer's Market that is there the 3rd Saturday of each month, from September to April.  Lucky us, it Was the third Saturday. 

While Nathan Jr was getting his hair cut first, I walked around the market and was delighted to find BOTH Crooked Sky Farms and Tonopah Rob's having well stocked, well staffed booths there!  Crooked Sky also goes to the downtown Phoenix market each week, but they've been out of duck eggs this Winter and said they'd resume in March after more ducklings hatch.

Tonopah Rob's booth had several adults and industrious young teenagers working there, selling fresh local produce and eggs.  Before buying 2 dozen truly free range eggs I asked them "how many hens do you have?".  The oldest adult in the large booth said "about 300".  FAR LESS than the 30,000+ that Hickman's industrial factory "farm" has, and FAR MORE Healthy. When I mentioned "Hickman's" to the Tonopah Rob's booth, the adults visibly cringed in revulsion. Yep, my reaction too.  It's impossible to get as many micronutrients in a mass produced, high density caged, hormone & antibiotic fed, anti-organic, industrially gathered chicken egg compared to a truly free range, naturally fed, hormone free, hand gathered, locally sourced chicken egg.  We've been scrambling (for Nathan Jr & I), hard boiling, and "over easy" (for DDF) all week, deliciously.  And the Parkwest location is 1/2 the distance from my home compared to the downtown market, so now I can have a smaller carbon footprint while sourcing my local eggs and vegetables, at least 8 months out of the year.

Nathan Jr also has picked up a penchant for hot sauces, living in Charleston SC as he does.  There were several hot sauce vendors at the market as well, and we are now fully stocked with a variety of hot sauces chez nous.

One note about the Parkwest Farmer's Market, it seemed heavily "Christian Influenced" with multiple church booths proselytizing and preaching their beliefs & selling religious paraphernalia, in between the food and craft vendors.  They were not overly aggressive, and I don't present a "friendly & approachable target" for preachers, especially when I am in a hurry, so they left me alone as I quickly perused the Market landscape.  But I could imagine in a slower, more relaxed stroll through the market, may present multiple chances for me to counter any fundamentalist arguments presented with fact and Biblical references that I picked up during 7 years in parochial school, where I actually paid attention enough to be able to question the dogma that was being taught.  It could make for an interesting (and probably lopsided) Saturday morning religious debate this Spring =)

Unappreciated Spiders 5


A Honey Badger Christmas Miracle

Thanks to my friend Joe M for this most excellent Christmas gift.  He got it from Damn Good Doormats in San Francisco, and it arrived UPS last Monday. Owner Spoon Popkin has a FB page as well, if you want to "like" it.  Honey Badger will now be greeting Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Evangelical Christian Preachers (who often drag their kids around on school holidays to proselytize - how fun for the kids!), carpet cleaning salesmen (we have all tile, no carpets), and huckster scam-artists who are looking to find a new rube to involve in their schemes.  [Seriously, about once a week, someone comes knocking on my door, trying to sell something, ignoring the neighborhood covenants that prohibit door to door sales].  Now I have a new way to respond to them, with a big smile.

Post Grand Canyon Hiking Poolside Yoga

It was 62F here yesterday, sunny, with almost no breeze.  Warm enough to do post-GC-hike yoga poolside, next to the lavender. The honey bee girls were voraciously gathering lavender pollen, and not paying attention to me on the yoga mat a meter away, except for one stray who landed on my arm, which I accidentally swatted into the pool.  She proved a strong swimmer, and made it to the edge in a few seconds, dried off in the sunshine, and returned to her benevolent pollen gathering.

After the hike on Wednesday night, and again on Thursday, we did some stretching, but immediate soreness was overwhelming.  By Friday, being fully ambulatory, I found the weather and solar warmth an irresistible combination.  The stretching was especially helpful for the quads, calves, triceps and shoulders (trekking poles took a toll).
The Aloe is putting up a fight, but the hybrid lavender's progress is inexorable.
While the Spanish lavender has not yet come into bloom, the hybrid lavender laughed at the recent frosts, and is winning a pitched battle with the neighboring aloe competition and the creeping progress towards reaching to pool itself.  Hard to believe the lavender "hedges" we have now poolside were just 4 small 1/2 gallon containers less than 2 years ago.  Thank you Elgin Nursery for your excellent plant stock!  About once a month, I have to take hedge shears to the lavender to arrest it's pool-ward progress.  Attempts at preserving / displaying in a vase / admiring cut lavender have proven futile, as the bloom stems are much too fragile and wilting sets in within an hour after cutting, shedding purple blossom petals all around the vase.

My girlfriend Anna (or one of her daughters perhaps?) has returned to hang out in the safety of our ocotillo this Winter.  She tolerated my photographing her quite well. letting me get to within a meter from her before she got too nervous.  The spiky ocotillo makes a very safe avian refuge, as you can see below.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Unappreciated Spiders 3

10 Hours To The River And Back

On Tuesday afternoon, Dr Desert Flower, Nathan Jr, and I drove up to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon, to survey the landscape, see how much snow & ice there might or might not be, and get acclimated to the higher elevation (6000 ft, compared to Phoenix's 1500) for our early morning hike on Wednesday morning.  After watching sunset from the South Rim, we had a lack-luster dinner at a Tusayan restaurant, and headed to the Best Western (next posting covering the hotel) for our $120 a night booked-on-expedia room.  Alarm set for 5am.

When I started the car at 6am the dashboard computer read 16F outside. Sadly, I'd forgotten the ice scraper back in Phoenix, but by 6:10 the windows were all defrosted.  At 6:20 we arrived at the South Rim Central Bus Depot, and at 6:22 Nathan Jr and I were on the bus headed to the South Kaibab trail head, at 6:25 we saw our first elk of the trip crossing the road in front of the shuttle bus, and at 6:30 were on the barely-moon-lit and VERY icy trail heading down South Kaibab.  Dr Desert Flower headed back to the hotel to sleep, analyze laboratory data, and answer emails.
Sunrise was at 7:30, and by the looks of the twilight at "Ooh Aah Point" we must've gotten there at 7:10 or so, after picking our way down the icy frozen trail, carefully and slowly.  Once the sun was up, the hiking was much more leisurely and less precarious.  Since the "new moon" is scheduled for the night of the 23rd, there was barely a sliver of crescent left to guide our non-feline eyes.  Mercifully, the sub-freezing temperatures kept the smell of donkey dung strewn along the trail to a bare minimum.

[To amuse ourselves, Nathan Jr and I brain stormed names of bands with aliteration:  "Delirious Donkey Dung" or "Donkey Dung Debacle" and "Donkey Dung Diaries" as we picked our way along the well worn, highly traveled, and heavily dung sprinkled trails.  "Hey Man, Triple D is coming to town!"]
The rim-to-rim views were spectacular, even in the twilight, and the adrenalin of initiating the hike we'd been planning for months kept the blood pumping and our extremities warm.  This was the first time I'd ever hiked into the Canyon in Winter snow and it was an interesting endeavor.  the parts of the trail that are in perpetual Winter shade stay snow covered, bordered by areas of semi-melted-and-refrozen mud-ice mixtures.  South Kaibab predawn in the winter is a frozen mudscape and intermittent snow covered path, with numerous dung landmines discernible by moonlight.  It descends rapidly down through the snow line into slightly elevations areas that get more sunlight, and the snow disappears rather rapidly, giving way to a full blown desert scape by the time we reached first Cedar Ridge and the Skeleton Point.
It wasn't until after Skeleton Point that we saw another human during the hike.  Until that time, it was just Nathan Jr and myself hiking peacefully.  After Skeleton Point we began to encounter other hikers who had camped overnight at the river and were heading up, and mule trains of tourists who were not strong enough to hike the Canyon.  At one point, about a mile from the river, we were passed by a Norwegian hiker we called "Mr Swishy Pants" because his track suit "swished" each time his legs moved.  We later saw Mr Swishy Pants eating at the camp ground picnic tables near Phantom Ranch. 
We hiked the extra 1/4 mile to Phantom Ranch and checked out the spartan accommodations.  Dorm-like bunk bed cabins where 8 to 12 same-sex visitors slept (and snored and farted throughout the night).  A spartan cafeteria (Canteen) where only pre-planned meals were served, but many snacks (and alcohol) could be purchased without reservations (we did not partake, just observed).  We also so several groups of very tame deer, who grazed just a meter or two away from the hiking path and did not run away.  We did not try to pet them, to keep the "wild" in "wildlife".

4 hour after beginning our hike, we reach Phantom Ranch, where we shed a layer of warm clothing, ate Cliff Bars, drank 8 to 12 ounces of water each, and refilled our Cambelbacks, with the Nalgene bottle I'd filled back in Phoenix on Tuesday morning.  Altogether, we carried TOO MUCH water with us.  Both Nathan Jr and I wore a Camelback.  Along with the Camelback bladders, my son carried two 12 ounce Kelty bottles, and a 24 ounce Nalgene refillable.  I carried an additional two Kirkland disposable 12 ounce bottles.  As it was Winter, and we were not sweating very much, we opted to NOT refill our bottles at Phantom, and see how well things went on the return trip, knowing that there would be two opportunities to fill up at Indian Gardens and again 2 miles fro the mile on the ascent.  We never needed to refill, and actually carried all the water we needed down and back up, consuming it as we went.  In the summer time, that would have been impossible.

After leaving Phantom Ranch at 11am and re-crossing the Colorado River on the Bright Angel trail suspension bridge, we hiked for nearly an hour along the Colorado, gaining no altitude whatsoever.  We were impatient to make it back up to the South Rim before dark, and knew the ascent would take longer than the descent. 

After a long parallel trek along the river, the trail finally turns up a canyon and away from the river, with a babbling brook beside the trail.  Depression Era old power lines dot the landscape, with broken glass insulators here and there, missing copper lines, and poles that are often so short they'd never meet modern safety standards.  I'd say the lines have not been in use for at least 30 or 40 years, if not longer.  Along Bright Angel's ascent after the Colorado, we passed numerous groups of hikers in full back packs who had camped over-night at Phantom Ranch.  Many hikers were Very out-of-shape sporting beer bellies that made their top-of-the-line athletic outdoor attire stretch over their mid sections.  A mule train of tourists descended past us towards the river - the only one we saw on Bright Angel the whole day, compared to the 3 (2 tourist and one supply) on Kaibab earlier that morning - as we climbed to Indian Gardens. 

The River-to-Indian Gardens trek is really leisurely, scenic, shaded, and pleasant.  Often a running stream, or falls, or brook are nearby, and the geology varies greatly.  A great deal of vegetation can be found, but we did not see any fauna on Bright Angel, only flora. Once at Indian Gardens, we snacked on almonds, dried apricots, and dried organic apple slices, assessed that we still had plenty of water, and headed up towards the South Rim at 1:30, confirming with Dr Desert Flower that she'd be there to meet us, via cell phone - signal strength at Indian Gardens was quite strong. 
Taken at 3:54pm, just before the first tunnel (upon ascent) on Bright Angel Trail, 21Dec2011
The next 3 hours was somewhat grueling.  Knee pain (bursa) and leg muscle fatigue (calves, quads, and glutes) began to set in on old JustJoeP.  Nathan Jr had to repeatedly pause for dad to catch up, but slow and steady wins the race.  When we finally crossed from the red rocks to the tan rock layer, I handed my phone to Nathan Jr and told him to go scamper up the remaining mile to find Dr Desert Flower and make sure we had dinner planned somewhere.  What I thought would be another 20 minutes turned out to be a very frigid, wind blown hour of carefully treading up the frozen path alone. 
 
I made it up to the South Rim by 4:15, and luckily the "Arizona Room" opened at 4:30pm for dinner.  I highly recommend the "Arizona Sampler" plate which had an organic chicken breast, short ribs, and a filet mignon (along with a backed potato that I did not eat).  The "Grand Canyon" label merlot was a tasty accompaniment for only $24 a bottle (or $8 a glass, but we got the bottle).  DDF our designated driver had a glass, and Nathan Jr and I polished off the bottle, along with 2 large carafes of water to sate our thirst, post hike.  We got to see the sun go down over the canyon from our window-side seats at 5:15, and by 5:45 we were heading out of the main Village area.  A 'required' stop at the gift shop later we hobbled back to the car and were out of the park by 7pm, and back home in Phoenix by 10pm. 

10 hours from start to finish, 9.5 of which were solid hiking, in-motion hours.  The 3 hour drive home was punctuated by bath room breaks were Nathan Jr and I staggered out of the car, to avoid lactic acid cramping and post-hike muscle spasms.  A long hot bath and two large glasses of Bushnills and I was in no pain before bed.  This morning was rough for me (not from the Bushmills, I don't get any hang-over at all from quality Irish Whiskey), but I am ambulatory, and as the day progresses, the pain becomes much more dulled.  Naproxin Sodium helps as well, as an anti-inflammatory.

Someday in the future, in the Early Spring or Late Fall, when there's no snow on the ground and the ambient temperatures are cool but not frozen, I want to do a North-to-South or "South to North" rim hike, carrying MUCH LESS water.  Planning it during a full moon when getting an early start by moonlight doesn't pose as much risk of stepping in mule dung as this hike did.   I'll need to have Dr Desert Flower do the 6 hour drive around the canyon to pick us up, unless any JustJoeP followers want to coordinate and exchange car keys down at Phantom ranch, and we'll meet up 1/2 way around the canyon - Vegas Perhaps?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Unappreciated Spiders 2

RECAMIER, 176 pts

Recamier, from Merriam Webster
This morning, while playing Scrabble online, I had a moment akin to last February's "Ebonized" word played.  This time it was Recamier, not a chaise lounge, but similar to it, played in a triple-double word score. It was worth 176 points (doubled the "M" as well). I wound up winning by almost 300 points.  Yeah, I'm "Puscifer" now - lol! - thanks to my buddy Ryan's influence. 

I think I will stop playing Scrabble for the day. I've already finished my Christmas Card mailings... for those of you who I have your addresses, enjoy the Polar Bears.  For those of you who would like a personalized holiday card from JustJoeP, send me your address [justjoepblog at gmail dot com] and you too can get one of these 'timeless collector items', delivered to your very address by the ever-valuable United States Postal Service.  I like and appreciate the USPS.  On some days - especially when Dr Desert Flower works really late - the USPS is the only face-to-face human interaction I have with another person.  

Sunday, December 18, 2011

2012 US Terrorist ID Chart

Post this in a handy location, to help spot all terrorists.
"The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre." - Frank Zappa

South Mountain Alta In 3 Hours By Foot

The boy and I did a "practice hike" on Friday, along the Alta Trail at South Mountain park.  It served multiple purposes
- made sure everyone's knees were in good order
- tested out the new Merrell Moab hiking boots we both had recently purchased
- test ran the trekking poles
- tested out both camelback hydration backpacks
...all prior to the grand Canyon hike we're going to do later this month,  down South Kaibab and up Bright Angel trail.  Physiology and hiking equipment all in good order, we hiked from 12:30 to 3:30 and drove home by 4pm (where we drank wine [Argentinian Malbec], ate French brie, English stilton, organic celery & hummus) and waited for Dr Desert Flower to get home from work & happy hour.

South Mountain Alta trail is much friendlier, less stressful, and more beautiful in the day time hiking it with your son than it is after dusk, alone, on a cold December night after already hiking 2 previous mountain ranges, 15 miles horizontally and 1 mile vertically.  We saw a pair of middle aged women with their little dog, and a woman in her 40s all decked out with the latest mountain bike & protective pads, armour, and helmet during the 3 hour round trip trek.  Lots of javelina, coyote & bobcat scat, but no identifiable mountain lion signs.  At the far Western peak of the Alta trail, we took an "arm's length" image with Estrella behind us, showing the mountains & park where we climbed last year, in a retrospective backdrop. 

We are looking forward to the G.C. trek.  It'll be 1/2 of the rim-to-rim-to-rim that crazy "extreme" out door enthusiasts do, so we should be in good shape.  Nathan Jr used the google to find that the "fastest rim to rim to rim time" was 6 hours, over 42 horizontal miles and almost 5 vertical change miles.  That's a 7 miles an hour run, on average.  We'll be going much slower, and 1/2 the distance.  =)

Unappreciated Spiders 1

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Sheriff Egregious Joe

Sheriff Egregious Joe was investigated by the life long civil servants (non-partisan) at the United States Department of Justice, and their report was released today (full text, link here and here).  It is 3:45pm as I begin to compose this, and at 4:00pm on KJZZ they're going to cover a live press conference from Arpaio, where I fully expect he'll be as obstinate, egotistical, self-righteous, and "playing to the far right base" as ever.  It will be a HUGE surprise is Arpaio is in ANY WAY contrite, apologetic, or humble, especially since DHS has cut off Arpaio's access to the ICE 287(g) program and to the Secure Communities program, according to TPM

[“MCSO’s systematic disregard for basic constitutional protections has created a wall of distrust between the sheriff’s office and large segments of the community, which dramatically compromises the ability to protect and serve the people,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “The problems are deeply rooted in MCSO’s culture, and are compounded by MCSO’s penchant for retaliation against individuals who speak out.” ]  - excerpted

Alabama, Arizona... what is it with states that start with the letter "A"?

Nicest Bookshop Around

I wish I knew where this was.  I would shop there often if I could.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Setzer's Tempe Riot

Dr Desert Flower and I went to dinner and then the Tempe Marquee theater with out friends Alan and Tory to see Brian Setzer's Rockabilly Riot last night.  The show was indeed a riot!   Dinner & Happy Hour at Z Tejas Tempe was delicious, and then we waited in the cold rain for the geniuses who manage the Marquee to open their doors 20 minutes late, long enough for most of the audience who got there at 730pm (opening act, Sedan De Ville) to be nicely soaked and chilled.

But once inside, there were about 100 chairs set out for those who didn't want to stand for the hour before the show started to sit up, and the bathrooms were clean and not crowded, the theater hall not too warm (at first).  Open act was "ok", but everyone came to Setzer.  He did not disappoint.  For a man in his 50s, he puts on a show that would shame younger, less talented, lethargic, low energy rockers in their 20s and 30s.  He played in 3 and 4 piece band and put an awesome hour in with pianist Kevin McKendree - who's playing  reminded me alot of a young Jerry Lee Lewis - maniacally intense drummer Noah Levy, and Jim Carey-expression-esque bassist Johnny Spazz Hatton.  Then Brian brought on Slim Jim Phantom and the fastest double bassist I've ever had the pleasure of seeing & hearing play, Chris D'Rozario.  That young man can PLAY.  Towards the end, Brian brought both groups on stage and they jammed intensely to Stray Cats songs together.
From our general-admission standing area 20 feet in front of stage left, you could tell Setzer and his orchestras were having tremendous fun, and the audience's energy was feeding back on stage to make a beautiful elixir.   it was a great concert, ending after 11pm.  We were back home on the West side by midnight, and I got on my 5am call with a great deal of organic black tea provided caffeine.  If Brian Setzer is coming to your town, don't miss your chance to see an awesome show.  Even if you're not a big rockabilly fan, but you are a musician, you Will Be impressed by the superb talent and enthusiastic show these gentlemen give their audiences.  If you liked them in the 80s (as DDF did) you'll love them even more now.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Iowa GOP - Meet Zach Wahls

Of course, your Bible[TM] would call him an abomination...

"Equal and Fair treatment" - sure, you'll be discriminated against like other others outside of the closed minded fold. 
Mitt Romney needs to speak with Zach, after his breakfast diner appearance this morning.  "3000 years of history" Mitt likes to quote.  Well Mitt, the Bible[TM] your Joseph Smith fable, "Book of Mormon" are FULL of polygamy that existed for about 1/2 of that 3000 years.  So it's okay if Zach has two mommies... as long as he has a Daddy too Mitt?

2011 Holiday Baking Idea - # 1

Oh Little town of Baconham

Saturday, December 10, 2011

2011 Holiday Gift Ideas #2

Dormeyer Corporation in Chicago, Illinois... it's so surprising that they're not in business anymore.
He'll go.   He'll go.

2011 Holiday Gift Ideas #1

I actually got Dr Desert Flower a new Hoover Upright for our first anniversary, when I was the sole bread winner and she was staying home with our infant son, and all we had was an old canister hand-me-down vacuum.  It didn't go over well..  but..   your results may vary!
Have a GOP Christmas, just like the Good Ole Days in the 50s and 60s, when we still had segregation, sexism, and rampant discrimination.  Ahhhh, Good times!