Monday, May 31, 2010

Welcome to Hell

As I write this, thousands of gallons of oil billow from a hole in the earth into the Gulf of Mexico. It's an unfortunate and saddening situation, but a man-made natural disaster you're all familiar with. Did you know, though, that in Turkmenistan a similar situation happened almost 30 years ago? It happened above sea level, as opposed to a mile under water, and with natural gas, instead of oil, but the cause (human error) and scope (unstoppable leak) are factors still the same. How did they fix it? They lit the leak on fire.

The description on youtube reads:
"The Darvaza area is rich in natural gas. While drilling in 1971 geologists accidentally found an underground cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 50-100 meters. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn the gas. Geologists had hoped the fire would go out in a few days but it has been burning ever since. Locals have named the cavern The Door to Hell. Next to capturing the gas, flaring is safer and friendlier to the environment than releasing the methane into the atmosphere as methane is a relatively potent greenhouse gas with a high global warming potential of 72 (averaged over 20 years) or 25 (averaged over 100 years)."
It burns still today...


Thoughts from the Weekend

I used to think that when you created hip-hop music and sampled a song from the 80's, nothing could go wrong. Songs like this and this give new life to old jams and - for reasons nostalgic or otherwise - make you smile. Not all is well in hip-hop-and-the-80's-collaboration land, though. The following samples an incredible song (No More I Love Yous - by Annie Lennox) and dismembered it! Yes. I love that song. I also love the "wanna taco?" song! And before you judge me for it, remember that one song that you love that is SOOO cheesy.

Anyway, here's the awfulness:

The entire song sucks, but I'll only ask you to listen till (or fast forward to) 1:02 where the world of rap is shamed by some of the worst lyrics I've ever heard. Add to that the relentless auto-tuning and you have a disaster... and a complete waste of a great song as a sample. :(

On a more sunny note, the Iris' in my parents' backyard are lookin GOOD right now! I snagged this shot yesterday just as the sun was falling.

description of the photo


P.S. That "Young Forever" video is great, isn't it?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Canyonlands

**Before I get into the post, check out the new layout! Isn't it nice? I changed the blog (again) for two reasons. One is that I feel like the gray color scheme is more my style and true to the original look of the blog (from way back in the day.) Second, the new design allows for much larger pictures. The main platform of this blog (besides my incredible wit) has always been the photos. With this new layout, I have the opportunity to show off pictures at a scale never before imagined! Hope you like it!**

I thought it appropriate that the first post in the new, more picture-friendly layout would be that of my recent trip to the Canyonlands. I went down last weekend with my cousins, Chad and Ryan, my uncle, Brent, and Chad's friend, Blakely.

We hit the road at 4:30am on Friday with a collective 10 hours of sleep under our belts (about 3.5 hours each.) Cloudscapes like this kept us entertained and awake. :)

We arrived to clear, windy weather in the Canyonlands and, after setting up camp, hit the trail at about noon.

The desert was in full bloom! Bands of neon yellow and lavender followed us consistently as we wound our way through the canyons and flowers like this one pictured above were not a rare sight.

We stopped to drink under an overhang and I couldn't resist shooting this moss. It was quite large - about a foot wide and six to eight feet long (most of which you can't see in this picture.)

This is what you see most of the time when you're in the heart of the Canyonlands. The trails wind up and down large, pillowy mounds of sandstone. The horizon, salted with pillars and mesas of every shape and size imaginable.

I wasn't entirely pleased with the composition of this shot, but it's the best that one can expect when shooting in timer mode through a camera perched on a backpack. (You'll notice I'm not wearing mine.) Regardless, it gives an excellent idea of what elephant canyon - our final destination - looked like.

If I were a cactus I would choose, like this one, to live under a rocky awning.

Chad and Blakely pose in a cave-like crevasse in the rock. Places like these were plentiful and so fun to explore. :)

If it weren't for the fact that it was bolted into the wall, I might have assumed that this ladder was built by the Indians. It's rudimentary wooden construction didn't offer much in the way of confidence...

Ryan is cautiously making his way around a very deep crevasse - one that I nearly (stupidly) jumped over. I happened to be leading the group when I came upon what looked like another harmless dip in the rock and nearly started running to jump over it, when at the last moment I realized it wasn't as shallow as I had assumed but at least fifty to sixty feet deep.

This was the most well preserved of all the ruins we saw. It's a granary called "Roadside Ruin" used by the Anasazi Indians and could be anywhere from 800 to 2500 years old. It's excellent condition is owed to the fact that it's fenced off and carefully monitored by park authorities.

Our second day of hiking followed the bed of Salt Creek - a beautiful, but exhausting walk through deep sand. Shallow water stood in sections of the creek and hardened the sand. Our legs rejoiced. :)

Freaking awesome!!! Pictographs!!! Worth any amount of fatigue.

The white pictographs were done by inhabitants that lived from about 400 to 1300 A.D. The red pictographs underneath were created by inhabitants that lived even earlier (as far back as 2000b.c.) Look carefully for the red ones. You can see what looks like a large smiling man, a smaller man with bended knees, and a deer.

These hand prints also date back to the earlier inhabitants. It's crazy to think that at least three THOUSAND years ago people were up at the same rock, pressing their hands to the walls. I couldn't help but imagine their lives. Hunting daily in these canyons for food, knowing nothing but the walls of sandstone that surround you, living as a tribe for hundreds of years here. Our civilization is still so young in comparison. (Don't worry, I'm not touching. My hand is hovering a few inches above the rock. I would NEVER touch or deface these priceless relics.)

We were exploring far up away from the creek bed in the valley behind the Peek a Boo pictographs and found some ruins! Sadly, they weren't pristine at all, but had long since crumbled. You could tell, too, that the dirt underneath them had been thoroughly dug up (and likely sifted.) We figured they'd been looted sometime in the past 20 years. :(

This ruin sat adjacent to the others and was in the same condition. Regardless of their destroyed state, it was SO COOL to find ruins out in the middle of nowhere.

Above the others, on a cliff far away from the prying hands of modern man, sat another ruin! The incredible thing about it is that the rock door still stands, undisturbed, where it was placed hundreds of years ago!!! Can you see it? It's about a quarter way down from the top of the picture on the right side. From the back we saw logs and another rock door as well. :)

More of the beautiful desert flowers.

Down the road from our camping spot was a beautiful little creek. I say beautiful because after a day of hiking, your body becomes embalmed with filth. When covered in a grimy concoction of sweat, sunscreen, and dust one does not feel at all comfortable. This waterfall provided us with a welcome shower and we were able to sleep clean and happy. :)

Brent, Chad, Ryan, and Blakely pose with the waterfall. SUCH an oasis...

This is my "Good crap that wind is cold!" expression. The wind would whip around in this little basin and spray off the creek, offering a moment of startling cold in the desert heat. Refreshing the first time. Cold thereafter. Still, you notice I'm smiling. No complaining there...

Brent brought his home-made telescope (Yeah!!! Isn't that just the most awesome thing you've ever heard of!?) so we were able to see the moon, Saturn, the Donut Nebula and a globular cluster. I had a hard time taking a picture through the eye-piece, but this is what the moon looked like. :)

This was taken Sunday morning as we were leaving. I already want to back and explore some more...

On our way out we stopped at newspaper rock. If you're able to, I recommend you read the sign. It's all very interesting. My favorite part: "Unfortunately, we do not know if the figures represent story telling, doodling, hunting magic, clan symbols, ancient graffiti, or something else." I'm glad they admit that.

Isn't that just fantastic? I stand in awe.


Wednesday, May 19, 2010


When it rains, you should ALWAYS donate at least a few minutes to your camera, outside, in the garden. Raindrops do to plants what makeup does to a woman. They accentuate and enliven, bringing the plant to life in a way you never dreamed possible. Even though they still look pretty without, plants ALWAYS look better with rain.

Sometimes the rain doesn't sit in perfect drops. That's okay! It still looks good. Sometimes bendy, swirly drops of water add more interest.

If you happen to find some of the perfect droplets, though, don't hesitate to shoot them.

This picture turned out really nice. The leaves are those of a rose bush, shot with the fence in the background. It almost looks desaturated, but it's all natural I assure you.

Stormy sunsets are the best. Where else do you see pink and blue and grey and white like that?

Yeah. You could buy that tie...

You'd look like a damn clown, though.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

To the Top of Y Mountain

On Wednesday of last week, my good friends Scott, Danny, and I decided to hike to the top of Y mountain in Provo. It's a very nice mid-range hike, meaning that it takes more than an hour to complete but doesn't require an entire day. I've hiked it now three or four times and every time I'm left with beautiful views and burning legs! What more could you ask for!?

The first part of the hike is familiar to those who have hiked the Y. You follow a series of grueling switchbacks up the mountain that end at the famous, white, concrete monolith. From there the trail continues into the canyon just south of the Y.

The trail snakes up away from the grass and bushes so prevalent at lower altitudes into a beautiful wooded area filled with large pines and aspens.

Sometimes butterflies land on your arm. Apparently Danny is "favored of God." I had a bird poop on me. What does that mean?

On the back side of the mountain, the trail opens up to a large forest of mostly aspens, with wide, shallow meadows along the way. Because it's still relatively early in the year - and due to the late winter storms we've had this year - the last third of the hike up was through 8-14 inches of snow.

Scrambling in snow is like running in sand. Or... uphill, anyway. It was brutal. Still fun. Just very much a workout.

Near the top, you're greeted by two solitary pines.

The West side of the mountain (that which faces Utah Valley) was dry, but muddy. From here you can perch on a fallen tree and enjoy expansive vistas. If you look close, you can see salt on my face. Once again, I remind you that hiking in the snow is BRUTAL!

Looking triumphant on the top! (Danny, Me, Scott)

The reflection of the sunlight on the snow lit the back side of this pine perfectly! It made for an excellent picture.


P.S. On the way down the mountain we were able to run/slide through the snow in a semi-controlled manner. It was SO much fun. I decided to capture a little bit of it on my iPhone. I warn you, though... running down a mountain in the snow makes you act goofy. It's like a drug, man. ;)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Deja Vu

I saw this commercial a few days ago:

Now, at first glance I was thinking, "Oh, how clever. They used the old Big Red commercial theme song. Yeah, I like that." But deep in my brain - among the files of my 80's childhood memories - something clicked. I remembered the original commercial. I remembered that it had a sculptor; and camping; and suddenly this remake was THAT MUCH better!

Check out the original and see what I mean.



P.S. Recognize the band boy in the old commercial? Here's a hint: "You'll shoot your eye out."

P.P.S. In the newer commercial there is a couple kissing in the background at the very end! Hah! Genius!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Noah's Ark?

I found news today that somebody has discovered a large, wooden structure on Mt. Ararat (Turkey) that is presumably Noah's Ark. This wasn't the first time I'd heard such news; I've seen documentaries about the same thing on the History Channel - the same channel that brings us "Ancient Aliens," "Nostradamus Effect," and "The Bible Code: Predicting Armageddon." One can't help but approach the "history" here with a bit of skepticism.

The story is found at Fox News.

Take a look. Leave a comment. Tell me what you think. :)