Friday, July 24, 2009

Tom Kimmel at Grey Haven

Tom Kimmel
Grey Haven House Concerts
Wednesday August 19, 2009

see for details

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Grey Haven Local

Grey Haven Local Concerts is hosting Steel N' Thunder this Friday, July 17th at the Hinckley cabin in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

Grey Haven House Concerts has hosted several national musicians over the past several years. This year we are kicking off our new concert series to showcase local musicians. We call it Grey Haven Local. Our kick-off concert will be this Friday, July 17th! Come listen to Steel N' Thunder play bluegrass favorites along with their own compositions. You are certain to enjoy their energetic show.

Come at 7:00 for the opening act. Steel N' Thunder plays at 8:00 (or so). We suggest a $5 donation to Steel N' Thunder for their talent.

Grey Haven (the Hinckley cabin) is located in Big Cottonwood Canyon, just 30 minutes from Salt Lake. Here's how to get there:
  • Drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon 11 miles
  • Turn left onto the side access road across from the bank of mailboxes on the right. If you reach the Silver Fork Lodge you've gone to far, but only a little bit.
  • Follow the small road as it curves sharply right.
  • Go past the three garages on the left. Mind the "Don't Even THINK About Parking Here" signs. The neighbor really means it.
  • The Hinckley "Grey Haven" cabin is just a little further on the left, the gray A-frame.
Parking is limited at the cabin. You can park on the main canyon road and walk up the side access road. It's really close.

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Sheets part 2

So those sheets I bought from BB&B for $15. . . (see post "New Sheets", May 22, 2008)

They're terrible. They shred to bits. Before I wash them I have to vacuum them so as not to clog the washing machine or dryer lint trap. My Dad says you get what you pay for with paint. I found this to be true with sheets.

So, I bought some newer sheets: $60 at Costco. They are so nice. I prefer the color over the chipper BB&B sheets, and they are the perfect friction coefficient--not too rough, not too slick, but just right. They're probably the equivalent of the $100-120 sheets at BB&B, and I am so happy. So really, if you do the math, I spent $75 to get the sheets that I was eventually satisfied with. Not a bad price, considering.

The experience of shopping at Costco was much better, as well. Costco makes decision-making easy by narrowing down the choices. In the sheet section, there were only 4 colors to choose from and two styles. It only took me 5 minutes to decide (as opposed to 45 at BB&B). Check out if you need validation that you're not the only one.

So, word to the wise: buy the good sheets. You spend a lot of time in bed, might as well make it comfortable.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

On blogs

Edit, edit, edit. No amount of editing is too much--4 or 5 people may read the blog.

Make it funny. You don't want people to get bored and not make it to the end of the post. The last line or paragraph should send them away chuckling to themselves, like good Broadway sends you away whistling.

Moderate embellishment is acceptable if it makes the humor more robust.

Don't get discouraged if nobody writes comments--everyone writes blogs that bomb from time to time. Just keep at it. It is a skill, and like any skill, requires practice, focus and hard work to improve. You can do it. Keep writing. Keep editing.

Use the "Link:" box to refer to refer to funny websites. This enhances the reader's experience by providing additional content in an interactive way.

Avoid reading too many Mommy blogs--they're not the highest quality writing and may make you lazy about your own. Look for more crafted writing, like, to guide you.

As you mature as a blogger, you will find the joy of spending way too much time writing and editing entries that may attract not more than one hand's worth of readers. As Despair, Inc, has said about blogging, "Never before have so many people, with so little to say, said so much to so few." But with time and effort you may get a blog-following of your immediate family and a friend or two. Keep it up--blog, blog, blog.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


I was going for the screwdriver in the butler pantry. Apparently, the butler pantry door did not want me to get the screwdriver and let me know in no uncertain terms. As I opened the door--admittedly with some force--the top three hinges released while the bottom one held. Down came the door to my forehead with a wack. "Is there blood?" one of the parents, who had just sat down for lunch, asked. I wasn't sure, so I reached up to the bonked forehead. Yep. I applied pressure with the palm of my hand as I had seen my Dad do years ago when he sustained a wound to the forehead. (Parents--your children notice what you do. You can teach them so much without words.) Like my Dad, I walked over to the sink, hand on forehead, to let the blood fall harmlessly down the drain.

Fortunately, it was not nearly as bad as that Labor Day, but it certainly brought the memories back. On the way to the ER we told stories of that day, how there was a flap on Dad's head, Holly being so interested in the cauterizing machine, the alarm going off at the house and the police walking through discovering the blood stained bathroom (there was blood on the wall, one person reminded us). "Well, Dad," I said, "this is something we both share--forehead lacerations."

We went to the new IHC hospital complex in Murray. It wasn't too busy. I walked to the desk to check-in and removed the paper towel to show the nurse. "Looks like we need to sew you up. Do you have some photo ID?" I guess they wanted to make sure that it was really me and that I wasn't just posing for someone else who was supposed to get sewed up. After looking at my driver's license, they determined that it was me and sent me back to Triage Room 3. One guy came in, sat down at the computer and started asking me questions. Do I have any major medical problems? "Um. . . no." Do I take any medication? I listed three. Am I allergic to any medications? "Not that I know of." Have I ever had surgery? "When I broke my leg." Have I had a tetanus shot in the last 10 years? "Yes, when I shot the nail through my thumb." He didn't look at the wound.

I met a very nice woman who explained all about what she would do and what Dr. Boyd would do. She would give me some numbing shots (which hurt, actually), then Dr. Boyd would sew it up. Soon to be Pte and Hma Hinckley couldn't decide if they should stay in the room and watch. "This will be good practice for you," said Dad to Mom. "You're the medical chief." They both stayed.

Dr. Boyd put a few stitches under the skin, then sewed up the surface with 10 more. Some other guy came and put "Steri-Strips" on it. The nice woman came back and put a huge band-aid over it. I'm not supposed to get it wet. Tape some plastic over it in the shower, she said, to avoid that. Come back in 5 days to get the stitches out. For the next 6-8 months I should take 50-60 SPF sunscreen everywhere I go and apply it liberally--this will help minimize the scarring.

The incident did bring about something I've been hoping for. Mom said that I may have to gut the kitchen and re-do it while their gone. "It would be pleasure."


Some things must be done right. For example:
  • Driving routes. They must be the absolute most efficient way to get there. You gotta know the roads. You must be aware of the traffic patterns during the various times of the day, like morning and evening rush hour. I detest back-tracking because it is geographically inefficient. Of course, it can be condoned if it is more time efficient than a more direct route. Take the same route to the airport every time. When you are taking the 6:00 am flight, this will avoid unnecessary route planning for a tired head that was probably up until midnight packing.
  • Absolutely and under no circumstances must you resize electronic pictures that include circles so as to obscure the circle into an oval. Doing so immediately reveals your unprofessional lack of sensitivity to image integrity and basic computer skills. If you don't know how to resize the image, let someone else make the flyer.
  • Daily maintenance routines must be performed efficiently. This means lining up activities in the proper order. Shampoo hair first, then soap body in the following sequence: left arm, right arm, chest, stomach, back, left leg, right leg, face and neck. Pants first, then shirt. This allows you to loop the belt without having to lift up the shirt. This process must be reversed, however, when dressing for Sunday. In that case, the shirt must come first so you can simply pull up the trousers over the shirt, avoiding any unnecessary tucking or adjusting. Left sock, right sock, left shoe, right shoe. Always tie left first so as not to get things out of sequence, requiring you to re-think what must come next and hence slowing down the entire process.
  • Trying to scrub every plate, fork and knife is too time consuming, so just rinse those off and stick 'em in the dishwasher. Leave the pans for last, hand washing them and counter dry them.
  • Click the alarm clock volume to "Lo" before setting the alarm. This lessens the annoying sound of the voice that announces each number as you rotate to the correct time. Be sure to switch it back to "HI" so you're certain to hear it in the morning.
  • CD's must always be upright in their jewel case or CD holder. If they are randomly rotated then it strains your eyes and neck to read the artists and titles, especially for those who are not familiar with your library.
  • Pay attention to the "Artist" column in your iTunes library. If you do not, then you might end up with several names for one artist and you won't know which song or album is under which version of the artist's name. For example, "The Mormon Tabernacle Choir," and "Mormon Tabernacle Choir." If you have not adjusted the names, then when you're looking for Amazing Grace, you may have to look under several Choir entries--highly inefficient. Double check the album names, as well. A little work while importing songs can save you a lot of time finding them later.
  • Wallet goes in the left front pocket; the iPod too, when necessary. Keys and phone go in the front right pocket. Change, when carried, goes in the left. Don't put your wallet in your back pocket--it can misadjust your chiropractically aligned back. Save the back pockets for receipts, small screws and guitar picks.
  • Put the toilet paper on so that the end lays on the front side not the back--it saves time and energy.
  • Fold shirts in half, pants in thirds. For hanging pants: those with creases, hang according to the creases. For no crease pants, fold them out (the front of the pants facing out). Wrinkles are less likely with this approach.
  • Getting in the car: sit, door shut, keys in and start, (lights if needed), belt, (if present, iPod into FM transmitter, choose playlist, radio to 89.5, volume), in gear, check left side blind spot, go, adjust climate control, adjust volume again if needed. Getting out of the car: park, lights off, keys out, belt off, (disconnect iPod), open door, get out/lock doors, (put iPod in front left pocket).
  • In Windows, always open the browser first with gmail on the first tab. That way, you can quickly and easily navigate to your inbox when the notification window appears on the bottom right hand corner. At work, Open Outlook first so it's the left most button on the Start Bar for the same reason. Try to open links in new tabs as opposed to new windows (except Google Calendar). Sometimes this requires a right-click and choosing the option "Open link in new tab." This keeps the desktop and the Start Bar from getting cluttered.
  • Always keep the milk in the same place. This avoids confusion in blurry-eyed mornings.
  • Always click "Preview" before you post a blog to make sure the layout works. Edit if necessary.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


I worry about a lot of things. Here are some examples:
  • Dropping my keys in the sewer drain in parking lots
  • Hitting a sewer drain on my bike
  • That others think I am shoplifting. To avoid this, I walk slowly out of stores with my hands in clear view.
  • Running out of soap in the shower
  • Running out of toilet paper
  • Not getting up on time to go to work
  • Forgetting something important at work
  • Locking my keys in my car. I keep an extra key in my wallet for this purpose.
  • Someone breaking into my house and stealing my computer. They would probably do it during the day when I'm at work.
  • When I was in Junior High - getting AIDS. They had all those sex ed classes that told you if you got AIDS you died. There was that show "Go Toward the Light" of that little boy who got AIDS from a blood transfusion. I worry about getting it when other people are bleeding.
  • Stepping in dog doo-doo
  • Losing one glove
  • What I'm going to eat for lunch
  • What I'm going to eat for dinner
  • Getting in a car accident
  • Plumbing problems, especially bursting pipes. I don't like how they're all in the walls and ceilings and floors and that you can't see them. There's no way to know if there is a problem until it's catastrophic.
  • House fires. I keep my bedroom door closed at night for this reason, just like they taught you in elementary school.
  • Moose attacking me while hiking alone
  • Forgetting my eye drops
  • Dropping my iPod
  • My iPod getting stolen
  • Identity theft, credit card theft, etc.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Meet me in St. Looee. . ."

There's a song that goes something like that, but I'm not sure that I've actually heard it. Maybe, a long time ago. In any case, it sounded a like a good title for blog about visiting the Gateway to the West.

Thursday was travel day. I went to pick up Eileen at 7:15 am. She was waiting for me at the curb--she has been really excited about this trip. She sent me an email a week ago saying that she was packed. Today, while Shane and I went to the top of The Arch (more on that later), Eileen sat with my cousin Heather studying the Connection materials they sent her in the mail. She really wants to be ready tomorrow. Heather asked if she was presenting at the conference tomorrow. "No, but I just need to know this stuff."

After picking up Eileen, I remembered where my iPod was—not in my bag, but in the Hansen heirloom media cabinet at 1564. I figured there was enough time to run by and get it. Then I realized that I had forgotten headphones. So I called Dad to see if he could set out his Bose Noise Cancelling headphones (a bonus from the GBH estate), so I could stop by real quick and grab them. Then it was off to Shane's. We had a few minutes before Christy got there to drive us to the aueropuerto, and I hadn't eaten anything for breakast. So I got some Honey Nut Cheerios from Shane, with soy milk--it wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I don't think I would want to drink it straight, but it worked for a quick breakfast away from home.

We made it to the aueropuerto around 8:20 am. I was able to print our boarding passes the night before so we didn't have to wait in the horrendously long line to check in. After making it through security (Eileen’s toothpaste was confiscated), we headed to the gate--E75. It was the furthest gate I've ever traveled to at the SLC aueropuerto. It was so far that there was no automatic breezeway. We walked out on the tarmac and up the stairs of the Canadair CRJ700. Shane and I sat in 15A and 15B with Eileen across the way in 15C. We slept the whole way there--I didn't even use the iPod or the headphones after all. Nor did I write that letter of recommendation that I brought my computer for.

After landing, we hopped on the shuttle bus to the St. Louis Airport Hilton, quite a step up from the EconoLodge I had the affiliates sleeping in last weekend. I called cousin Heather to come pick us up. We headed for The Arch--Gateway to the West. There were school kids everywhere, maybe 200 of them between the different groups. The name of the arch is actually "The Jefferson National Expansion Memorial" ( There were park rangers there with their brimmed hats and matching shirts, slacks, and belts. I thought that would be interesting duty for a National Park Ranger—no trees or wildlife, and so much for the survival training.

Shane and I went to the top. The visitor's center and trams to the arch are actually located underground, right beneath the architectural marvel. Eileen does not prefer heights and almost wouldn’t walk down the ramp. "I don't want to go up," she said with some consternation. "Oh, it's just the visitor's center down here," Heather assured her. Shane and I paid our $10 to head to the top of the stainless steel and concrete memorial. To get to the top, you jam in these little “trams.” There are five seats in a U shape, room enough for five "seats" but not quite room enough for knees or heads. Fortunately, the couple that we rode with was very nice. They were visiting from Arkansas with their 2-year old, and you could tell they were from somewhere like Arkansas from their accents. At one point, the daughter said she wanted to get out of the tram and the mother said, "We're fixin' to."--no joke. It reminded me of the Show Time Utah wild west dinner show (see the previous post), only at Show Time Utah it was make-believe. So you ride this tiny little tram car up to the top where you are now 630 feet above the ground. There was a healthy wind blowing and you could feel the sway. We asked the ranger up there how much it sways and she says that in 150 mph wind it theoretically could sway 18 inches, but that today it was probably only swaying .5 inches. Shane and I didn't believe her--we were certain it must have been swaying 2 feet or more.

Just up the hill from The Arch is the Missouri State Supreme Court house, where the famous Dred Scott case was initially decided. Dred Scott was a slave who sued his owner, Dr. John Emerson, for his freedom. Scott argued that because Emerson had taken him to states in the Union where slavery was outlawed, that Scott should have been emancipated. Judgment came down against Scott in Missouri, but through appeals reached the Supreme Court. See for more information.

After retreating from our Memorial perch, Shane and I rejoined Heather and Eileen. Heather dropped off Shane and Eileen at the hotel, after which we went to the St. Louis Bread Co. for some soup and sandwiches. I ordered the "Tomato and Mozzarella" sandwich, one of my favorites, and Heather ordered some soup and some chocolate chip muffies to go.

As we were driving around, Heather was continually flailing her arms, driving, talking on the phone, texting, and talking to me. Here’s the situation—the choir is coming to St. Louis in June. Heather’s stake president asked if she could be in charge of the centerpieces and other homey decorations for the VIP reception at the Scottrade Center. There was a great room there for the reception—the only problem is that it is a split-level, with a little loft. Well, the organizer’s wife can’t climb stairs, so that room just wouldn’t do. So instead, he reserved another room. I don’t remember what the name of this room is, but essentially it is the “Bud Light” room. There are huge floor to ceiling posters, banners and signs of “Bud Light.” (Anhueser Busch is headquartered in St. Louis.) Well, rooms full of beer advertising are not exactly conducive to Mormon receptions (see D&C 89). So, in addition to centerpieces, Heather now must organize for black plastic vinyl, drapes, or anything else that could be used to cover up the gigantic pictures of “great taste, less filling” frothy beer. Needless to say, this “centerpiece project” has Heather’s famously mild temperament a little less so.

During dinner, Heather received several texts from James (16 years old) and Rebecca (14). James was ready to be picked up at the high school after his baseball game (they lost). Rebecca was told to meet us at the high school so Heather wouldn't have to make two stops. When we got the high school, James was ready, but Rebecca wasn't there. After 10 or 15 minutes of impatient comments from James and a few chocolate chip muffies, Rebecca showed up and we were off home.

When we pulled up to the house, there was a white van out front. "Oh no!" shouted James. "I was supposed to go home teaching at 7:00 (it was 7:02), and I'm in charge of the lesson!" James ran in the house frantically looking for the current Ensign, which was nowhere to be found. Was it in the kitchen? Was it by the computer? Was it downstairs? "Just share a scripture and spiritual thought," Heather told him. "No--that's like the lamest lesson ever." Finally, James decided to take last month's issue and try to come up with another lesson.

The Blairs have a dog--Wallace, or Wally, for short. "The bain of my existence,” says Heather. As most dogs, it wants to bark and jump on new visitors. And, like most dog owners, the Blairs yell at it, “Hey! Wally (or dog’s name)! Get down!” As you may have experienced, it takes about 15 minutes for both dog and owner to settle back into normal life. Inevitably, the owner gets busy doing something else and the dog ends up sleeping on the carpet. Wally eats well—only the finest from Purina. Tom brings home coupons from the office and Heather redeems them at the local store. Sometimes, she forgets the coupons (or has run out), but the store lady doesn’t mind. “Just bring them next time,” she says.

The Blair children call their house “The Disney Play House.” There are no Mickey’s or other cast members, but if they did show up they would feel right at home. The walls are orange, blue, purple, red, maybe other colors. (See pictures.) Heather likes it that way. Have you ever heard that old Disney song, “Red, yellow, blue, red, blue, blue-green…” Fitting.

When I first called Heather to tell her I was coming to St. Louis, she said that I couldn’t very well come to St. Louis without going to “tudrous.” Tedroos? Ta drews? I wasn’t quite sure. Whatever it was, Heather has lived there for 25 years, so if there is something that you don’t want to miss in St. Louis, she would know about it. I agreed to go. So, after James got back from home teaching (one person wasn’t home and only the teenager from the other family was home--so much for that well-prepared lesson), we headed out to Taddrews.

“Ted Drewes” is a frozen custard shop, similar to Neilson’s Frozen Custard in Utah—only more so. Some aspects of the business model are similar: concretes, lots of flavors, high school kid employees. But the whole experience is much richer. For one, it’s bigger. There must be at least 12 windows to order from, which is good because there are 12 times as many people than at Neilson’s. The clientele is similar—kids, middle-aged, aged—with one exception. I am told that it is not unusual for limos to pull up and their occupants spill out to order a “Fox Trot” or a “Flying Dutchman.” Prom parties, with all their bowties, vests, chiffon overlays and wrist corsages, are known to spend part of the evening spooning Dottie’s Special’s while sitting on the various benches around, being careful not to sit in a stray spoonful of a large chocolate oreo concrete. It was such a fine time, we returned Saturday night for a concrete reprise.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Show Time Utah

Matt, Matt's Laura, and I went to the "Old West Dinner Show" in Pleasant Grove starring Emily as the Sheriff's Deputy Andy and Joann and as the Steal n' Thunder band leader. If you're not quite sure what an "Old West Dinner Show" is, let me explain. You go to Show Time Utah at 20 S. Main St. in Pleasant Grove. There are two ticket options: one is for the show and dinner, and the other is for just the show. When you buy just the show, you just sit there and watch the show while everyone else sits there and watches the show and eats dinner.

Well, the show was great. Joann led Steal n' Thunder like she's been performing since she was 3, playing guitar, mandolin, fiddle and banjo. She played a few of her own compositions as well as some old classics, including a mean Orange Blossom Special.
Andy (Emily Stevens) was the Sheriff's deputy. Let me tell you about the Share-iff: he is your typical old west town sheriff--loud, not too intelligent and not very eloquent. His friend, the Can-Can girl (or something) had some rubies stolen some he and Otis were looking for the thief. There were several suspects, including Spencer. Spencer tried to hide the evidence (the rubies showed up on the rail next to his chair) buy placing it on the opposite side of the room when the sheriff wasn't looking. Somehow, the rubies ended up back behind Spencer, who was then arrested and taken off to jail (backstage) where he was forced, with the other suspects, to put on a skirt and wig and dance with the Can-Can lady. Well, Spencer's Mom told him never to cross-dress, so he decided on another variation of the can-can woman skirt (see the pictures).

Well, the grand finale came during Andy's (Emily's) aria "You Can't Get a Man With a Gun." Try as she might, Andy couldn't get the sheriff to notice her femininity: wielding that gun around all the time just made her look like another man. Hence her lamenting "you can't get a man with a gun" (see the video). Well, the can-can woman helped Andy out, who, after retreating backstage, then reemerged as Miss Andrea, and the sheriff couldn't keep his eyes off her (much less all the other cowboys in the room!).
All and all it was a hoot-hollorin' good time!

If you plan on going, make sure to say "boots" for $5 off.

Happy Trails!