Ray Brown - 1926-2002

I meant to post something here a few weeks ago, closer to the actual anniversary. Better late than never though.

First a little background though:

From WIKIPedia: Ray Brown was born in Pittsburgh, and had piano lessons from the age of eight. After noticing how many pianists attended his high school, he thought of taking up the trombone, but was unable to afford one. With a vacancy in the high school jazz orchestra, he took up the double bass.

But that's not the entire story. For DECADES Ray was regarded in the Jazz world as the finest bass player there is/was. He is the touchstone for bass players today, young and old, professional and novice alike. He has been the first call bass player around the world for a long time. If you could get Ray Brown to play with you, well, you are obviously "somebody".

Then the world was shocked by the news of Ray’s untimely death on Tuesday July 2nd in Indianapolis, Indiana, where he passed away during a nap after a golf game. He had been resting up for his evening performance at the Indianapolis Jazz Kitchen.

Through his career, he mentored several young bass players, who take up the mantle of his leadership in the bass world. Two of those, John Clayton, and Christain McBride were among them. They played with Ray Brown through the last several years and recorded a series of CDs called "SuperBass". A trio of exemplary bass players, and in fact John Clayton is certainly among my favorite musicians. He comes to Salt Lake once a year to play in this venue or that, and I have had a personal email correspondence with him for going on two or three years now.

When Clayton was studying classical bass at UCLA many years ago, he heard Ray Brown teaching across the hall, and, he reports, that was the last classical lesson he took. He became a student of the Master. Note here though, that John Clayton is also a preeminent classical player as well. At every one of his shows, he plays a solo in the classical genre, and it is readily evident to all in attendance that he is truly a master of the instrument. He remained close to Brown through the decades.

Ray represented invincibility to the young and old. Ray was loved and admired by so many because he embodied so many qualities that we all would love to have ourselves. Ray spoke for everyone when an authority was needed that knew the correct jazz harmony, history, or way to play a tune. Ray told everybody what to do. Ray let you know if you were right or wrong. He told it how it was, leaving no doubts as to what he thought. And when he played his bass, he came on like a gangbuster. He not only drove the rhythm section; he gave it a burst of energy that felt like being in a sports car being pushed by a bulldozer! When he took a solo, it was like a horse galloping out of the gate—he started and ended full steam and you could only watch, listen, and enjoy in amazement. He told us what was ‘on the plate’ and he served it with aplomb. He took the center stage and played his bass with an imagination and presence that made his playing easily identifiable on any recording.

Through his entire career, Brown never once thought that he was bigger than Jazz, and he always took the time to teach and mentor younger players. I remember a story I once heard about him: a younger player once spoke to Ray and asked him how he had done a particular passage in a recording. The younger player noted, "how did you DO that? I can't even make my fingers THINK about that?"

Brown looked at him and asked him how old he was. The younger player repsonded, and Brown then said, "When you've been doing this for forty or fifty years, come see me, and if you STILL can't figure it out, I'll show you."

That has stuck with me for a long time now, and I expect it to stay with me for a long time to come. He was a teacher, publishing many bass method books and taking the time to be an instructor in various settings throughout his career. His answers never included any shortcuts. It's about practice.

A few weeks ago, I was looking around the web and noticed a place called "Inner Game of Music." While I won't go into a lot of depth here, I will note that if you are a musician of any level, you might want to check that place out. There is also a Ray Brown Tribute there that is worth reading, if you have interests that incline toward this area. John Clayton was a pall-bearer and also spoke at the service. One quick quote from that site:

"It is easy to dismiss Ray as a gifted artist who was just ‘born to play the bass.’ But those close to Ray knew that his incredible professional success was not just based on talent but on hard work. Ray’s lifetime protégée is John Clayton. John was like Ray’s ‘son’ as a young boy and as a young bassist.

John recalled Ray saying: “People think this stuff comes easy to me … well that’s bullshit, I PRACTICE!” And he did. Joh
n witnessed Ray’s technical and musical growth until he died. Ray would ask John things about the bow. “Show me that thing you did with the bow.” John would look with his mouth open and say “What are you talking about? You’re Ray Brown!” Ray would get upset with John and say “Dammit, we can all learn something from each other … show me how you do that!” And Ray would not only take it in, he would practice it.

John recalled some older recordings of Ray’s early bowed solos with Oscar Peterson, it was pretty embarrassing. But if you listen to his work with the bow in the last 10 years, you will notice a remarkable improvement. He got everything he could from everyone, including taking some lessons with the legendary French bass virtuoso François Rabbath. He was a life-long learner. Ray would be brutally honest when young aspiring bassists would ask him for his secrets to success or how he mastered his technique. The answer never included short cuts—it was all about hard work and integrity. This was Ray’s way.

The highlight of Brown's memorial service was a moving tribute to all the lessons John Clayton received from Ray Brown. John said:

Today is a celebration of this man we loved, the man that gave us such big, fat, rich, warm, juicy, chocolate, delicious, gorgeous brown bass notes. And, of course, he gave us much more. He reached inside himself and gave whatever he had to give from his soul.I had starry eyes when I was a teenager studying with Ray. I would follow him around to recording sessions and see people like Bill Cosby, Quincy Jones, Sweets Edison…. I wanted to be just like Ray when I grew up. So I asked him at a session: "When I’m done with college, do you think you can help me do this sort of thing, become a studio musician?" I got 'The Look' times ten, and curse words I never knew existed. "Are you out of your F-in’ mind? You wanna play this horse manure?" And then he went into his little girlie high-pitched voice and said: "You can’t even play the bass and you want to waste your time playing whole notes and kissing ass all day?! You need to learn how to play the bass from the top to the bottom. Then you need to get out and play some music. Then when you’re done, if you want to play this garbage it’ll be here.

One of his pet peeves was when he would spill his guts, play from his heart, and the audience would sit on their hands. It was as if they were not hip enough to applaud. He couldn’t stand that! I say, ladies and gentlemen, that we take a moment out to show our appreciation to Ray. He has played his last bass solo for us—it was a lifetime of a bass solo and we all listened in and grooved along with it.

So now, as Ray would want us to do, so that he can look down and take a bow, let us applaud his solo and the love and life that he gave us. Let us stand and applaud like we’ve never applauded before. Let us applaud so that Dizzy and Bird and Milt and Monk and Trane will raise their eyebrows in amazement. Let us applaud because we love him as much as he loved us. Ladies and gentlemen, the maestro, the baddest, let’s hear it for Ray Brown. The roar of the chapel could likely be heard for miles."

Here, here.

May we all "play our own music" from the heart. Whatever that may be.

Anyone? Anyone? Beuler?

Seriously, is there ANYONE who thinks we don't need a new voice in the Whitehouse?


I'm just sayin. This is getting old.


Meaningless Miscellaneaeeaeaaeeaaaee

So every time I restart my computer, I get this barage of junk that starts up, mostly from MSN, and some other places too, that tells me I NEED to go here and read that, see this, do that...

I saw a thing that asked if my cell phone was on the top 10 list of radiation-producing cell phones. Interesting. So I burned two minutes and checked it out. It seems that if your phone is made by Motorola, there is a STRONG chance yours is in the top 10, because 9 of the top 10 spots are happily occupied by Motorola. They must be proud.

Every time I go to upgrade my phone, and sign
my left nut away for the next two years on a contract, they tell me that I shouldn't get a motorola. They break and generally wear out BEFORE the two year contract period, and you have to end up buying another one, or, if you prefer, you can sign up for an ADDITIONAL two years to get one cheaper... keep that up and you're on the "friend for life" program. Previous experience with a motorola phone bears that out. So I don't own a Motorola. So at least I'm safe from THAT (questionable, at best) source of radiation. Now on to the 2 dozen or so other ones.

North Korean di
ctator Kim Jong Il got married over this last weekend. I'm sure he and Gail Ruzicka will be very happy together. Honestly, I didn't even know she was on the market. Had I only known....

Apparently, you burn 1.5 calories for every minute of sex. (Insert your punch line here)...
Mine: Is the 7 calories really worth the effort?

You gotta love a grassroots politician who knows when a GREAT opportunity is staring him in the face:

I have MANY contacts, both business and personal, who use MSN Messenger to communicate. One of those business contacts, from Florida, hooked up on my contact list this week as we were working to complete a transaction. In case you aren't aware, the Messenger window has a
spot where you can tag an image of your choice to be shown as your visual identifier. When this contact got online with me the other day for the first time, he saw this as my picture, and, unfortunately, thought it was me:

Some of my other favorites:

And while we're on the subject of photos, here's a picture of an Argentine soccer fan at the recent World Cup, exercising her.. umm... lungs:

How to tell if there's a terrorist at YOUR airport:

On to other worthy pursuits:


Article from last Friday's Tribune about Utah's housing market traffic. Utah has gotten lots of recent national attention from the reported appreciation rates here in the state. Incidentally, the makings of a "housing bubble" occur when the wages and jobs don't keep up with appreciation rates in the same area. This is usually facilitated by people OUTSIDE the area coming in to scoop up property who don't depend on the local economy to make the payments. This works against the locals trying to buy primary residences, because they are using local jobs to pay for the homes. Wages don't compete with that situation. When this starts to happen, home builders will often limit the number of non-primary residence homes they will sell, effectively protecting their houses from out-of-state scalpers or flippers who are just going to sit on it, vacant, for six months, then try to sell it at a tidy profit. Other investors will buy properties, then rent them. If you are a builder, and see lots of this going on in your communities, you quickly realize these types of buyers turn your neighborhoods into rental slums, or vacant homes, neither of which is healthy for the long term value of the homes you build.

So there's your Real Estate education for the day. Something for everyone today.


Why did I do THAT?! (personal story-long post...)

About three or maybe four years ago, I took a liking to Lacrosse. I thought it would be fun to find a men's league to play with.

I have never played lacrosse before, but coming from Canada, I had been around it for a long time. When we go to gym class in high school up there, I suspect like here, we have "units" where you spend two or three weeks playing this sport or that one... softball, flag football, volleyball, field hockey, etc. One of those units was always lacrosse.

The junior high school I went to had a set of lacrosse equipment, made from the orignal sticks, curved into a hook and open on one side, strung with what was called "cat-gut." Perhaps that shows my age more than I would like. Nevertheless, I had never "really" played. When I was young, it was hard to make that hard ball go anywhere you wanted, and we mostly spent our time throwing it at each others' crotch instead. In case you don't know, that ball is brutally hard - like a super bouncy-ball, but harder. It weighs about as much as two baseballs, and is a little smaller. We called it "indian rubber."

The game is originally a Native American game, and so it was more popular in Canada than here at the time.

And being in The North, I was always around hockey, and the game always seemed to be a decendent of that game as well, same violence/fewer pads.

So back to the story. I took an interest in the game, wondering if there was a place to play as an adult here in Utah. I did the research, asked for a stick for Christmas that year, and bought a cheap set of pads on eBay.

As that was all coalecsing, I hurt my back, worse than I ever had before. When I was young, I spent a summer working through college as a roofer. That was not good at all for my back, and I herniated a disk. I thought I could cure the problem with pain medication and keep on working, as I had a young family at the time, and needed to be working. That was 19 years ago now. I mark that time easily, because it is the summer my first kid was born. He and I spent a LONG time laying on the living room floor, watching Letterman. I spent the latter part of the summer going for traction treatments on my back every day.

Since that time, my back has been weaker than I would like, and it has seemed that about once a year, it goes "out" and spends about a week and a half in the "out" position. Then it gets better and I go back to my life.

(I haven't had that "out" spell this for about 18 months now, though, and I'm hopeful that I can lengthen the time between these spells.)

So, my back went out around this time three or so years ago, and it was the worst one I can remember, since the original injury. My wife came home to my writhing on the living room floor in obvious and vocal pain. We went to the ER, where I got a demorol shot and was sent home. On the way home, we had to stop about a block from our house, so I could make a "deposit" in the gutter as a result of the nausea that can accompany a heavy shot like that. It seems a chunk of disk in the lower back actually herniated, then broke off and was floating loose for a while. I went to my regular doctor who sent me for xrays and off to a back specialist, where I was put on a fairly agressive treatment of steriods to try and shrink the offending chuck of disk. That worked, but I was VERY careful and wary for along time after that.

So work got in the way, and I put the stick in the closet, and didn't really know if I would get back to doing this crazy thing I was thinking.

Then Mrs. ThatOneGuy and I started a more healthy lifestyle - albeit only a BIT more, but it has helped. We went to the gym more, and I started running a bit more... getting better.

So this year I wondered if it might be the year to give this a go.

I got online, and found utahlax.org, and went to see what I could see. They had a men's league, and I sent an email.

Long story short, I registered, made inquiries, and gathered my stuff. I wondered if this "men's league" was really just a place for the "just out of high school or college" group to play. I was assured by the coach of the team that I wouldn't be too out of place and they had players of all levels. This was the team for the novices. I felt like this would be a good way to get my sweat on for a while, and drop some unnecessary poundage.

In conversations with Mrs. ThatOneGuy, we thought it might be a chance to meet some new people, and possibly add to our relatively short list of people we would actually consider inviting over to our home for an eveing of food and conversation. Great.

So I pay my money and show up to the practice before the first game, learn how to throw a ball, catch it, play my position a bit, learn the terminology, etc. Great. Off to the first game.

Wait a minute, I thought, this is moving MUCH faster than it was at practice. Oh well. I went out, played, and was totally GASSED. Add to this the hot weather, and I was drenched, parched, and completely worn out.

This has been going on for about 5 or 6 weeks now, with two games per week and one practice most of the time. I play defense, and I'm happy to report that I am not the biggest defender on the team, and in fact, I might not even be the second biggest. But I am the oldest, by a country mile. Our second game came and we had a couple of no-shows for our team, getting just enough players to not have to forfeit, but we had no subs either. If you don't know, subs happen generally on the fly, like hockey. When you're out of gas, you head off the field for fresher legs.

On this particular evening, we had grilled up some hamburgers and I garbled one down thinking I would have enough time before the game to let it get on its way through the digestive process. Not so much. By the third quarter I was seriously wondering what that hamburger was going to look like, strained through the grill of my facemask. Seriously, it was a brick rolling around in there, begging to go one way or the other, up or down.... a 50/50 proposition.

The games have gotten better though. We still don't win, but, interestingly, everyone we play (the U fo U team, the BYU team, the UVSC team, a couple of other teams made up of the local high school all stars, etc.) gives us helpful hints on how to defend better, and then sincerely congratulates us on being a team full of novices being out there to learn. They love it. They kill us, but they do give us their "props."

The playing field sets up this way: three or four lines, with a corresponding territory. Defenders can't go past a certain line when the ball goes over to offence, and likewise, the offensive players can't go help on defense, so you stand around with players from the other team, waiting for the ball to come back to your side of the field. The offensive players are small and fast, the defenders have longer sticks, and are bigger and slower. Defenders, like hockey, are repsonsible for not allowing the ball to be carried or passed close-in to the net, thus giving the goalie a chance to react to and defend a whipping shot from further out. Defenders are to spare no effort in moving these little "flies" out of the way. That's where the fun comes in - if you can hit them, there is no real "roughing" penalty. So the defenders get out there and lay the wood on anyone making threats at the goal.

Being older and slower, I don't get a bunch of good hits, but there are a few, maybe one good one per game. The little buggers are fast, and I must admit that I have been run right past a couple of times, being burned on the play. But I haven't been totally embarrassed too many times either. I get my stick up in faces and have turned away and broken many plays.

A week or two ago, a couple of the guys were complaining about feeling their age at 23. I looked at them and scoffed outloud. "Talk to me on your 40th birthday," I told them. They just looked at me, not understanding. I clarified. "I have KIDS that are only 2 or 3 years younger than you." To which they retorted with various versions of "no way is that possible."

Then the two of them asked me just how old I actually am, thinking that I might be a mummified dead person, or at least being careful to not offend. I told them that I was turning 43 in the next couple of months, and they about fell over on the spot. Our next oldest player is 27. We skip the 30s altogether.

Mrs. ThatOneGuy reports generally the same thing when she comes to our games. She notes that while there are some who come to watch who are the same age as we are, they are coming to watch their KIDS play, not their spouses! Incidentally, my parents are coming into town from Canada this week, and I have a game late Wednesday night, which I imagine they will come to - it will be interesting to hear their comments.

So why have I done this to myself? I endure the sore body that shows up anywhere between one and two days after a game, the highly unhappy body at being out there in 95 + degrees, the bruises that show up in various and sundry places the next day, and the punishment this temporary schedule induces on my otherwise very busy schedule.

It has been a good acheivement for me. Do I expect a call from one of the pro teams in the East? Hardly. But I have accomplished something that not many my age do, and it has been fun in that respect. I don't think we'll have found any people to add to our official "friends" list, so that part hasn't worked out, but it has been fun for me, a good challenge. It has also been fun to let my kids come to the games, to see what I have done. They are proud of the acheivement. The youngest wants a stick and the second-oldest wants me to keep playing for the next two years so he can play when he gets back from his mission.

I have made a point of trying to let my kids see their old dad doing some physical things, to show them that life doesn't just end up in a heap on the couch, like dirty laundry, when you reach a certain age. You might have to work harder to find those things to do, but you should do them. My kids are basically past the "learn to throw a baseball" thing - they're on their own - they play soccer, etc, and it's been good to see them come and have fun where the tables are turned and THEY are the ones sitting on the lawn chairs at the sidelines while dad is out there, trying his best to not show his age too much.

And by the way, Mrs. ThatOneGuy has been ultimately patient as I have had this wild hair for a couple of years now - she has picked up slack, lost a little "together time", and been real nice to come out and support. She's great. The greatest.

Destiny Norton

Since there are those who read me that don't live here, or don't read the same blogs I do, I was going to write about Destiny Norton this morning. However, Since there are several other sites doing the same, all I'll do is link them here, as there is not much that I have to add to the already-good remarks made by others:

Salt Lake Tribune's Article:

SLCSpin #1:

SLCSpin #2:

Reach Upward: Thoughts on citizens' rights, etc.:

I will note however, that there are many who are saying that the Police fell down on the job, and there were things that they should have caught/discerned. The SLCSpin link #1 noted some of these discrepancies.

How truly unfortunate.

The Movie Business Challenge -or- The Movie Theater business is DYING

Yesterday I noted an entry on Marc Cuban's blog about how to get marketing dollars spent more in line with butts in the seats. He asked for "entries" to figure out how to get the cost/benefit more in line.

My response - see if you agree:

The movie THEATER business is DYING. Every time I go to a theater, I hate it more than the last time I was there. Why do I go? Because that is the only way to see a particular film on OPENING DAY.

Two things:

1. Make truly, insanely, FABULOUS movies that generate buzz, and use A-List talent, advertise them traditionally, AND using non-conventional methods, many talked about here (all that MySpace, web site, word of mouth, "no ads at the beginning" stuff is CRAP - you know why you DON'T go to a theater - because it's a POOR experience)... and

2. Get them out in a venue that offers "opening day" availability on a PPV or cable outlet like HDNet, etc. Let me see it in my home, or wherever, without the cell phones, "movie-talkers", people who want to go out for more popcorn, etc. I don't want to sit in a theater with a fat slob next to me who thinks he's the only one there. I swear, the next time I hear a cell phone in a movie, I'm going to light up a NASTY stinky cigar.

Have you done your market research? Find out how many people would like to see a first-run movie on opening day AT HOME.

MOVIE THEATERS SUCK! END THE MONOPOLY. It's not the movies so much as it is the theater experience. (Although there is a DEARTH of good movies being made.) Slam them into submission, shut them down, put movie-going back into the hands of the people! In today's atmoshpere of blended media and high-def availability at a consumer cost/benefit that is dwarfed by a movie theater scenario, why is this even a question? Yet we still go to theaters like we did in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. WHY? Make me NEED to see it, and preferably not at the local mega-plex. Then offer me a downloadable coupon to Netflix or Circuit City, or CompUSA, or whatever, at the end, so I have a return on MY investment. MAKE me NEED your solution. Then give it to me.


Want to work for Mark Cuban?

One of the blogs in my RSS feed is that of Marc Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA franchise, along with SEVERAL other business interests like HDNet, movie production, etc.

Now that the playoffs are over, the draft is done, and the deadline for beginning to sign free agents has come and gone, with its flurry of activity and the debased need to spend ridiculous amounts of money on pimply selfish basketball players has past, his time has turned to other business interests, which, for him, are many.

Over the weekend, he made a job offer on his blog. All you have to do is come up with a fresh NEW idea for marketing movies to consumers. He goes over the financial burden that is marketing a wide-audience film before it opens. He opens his post like this: "This is an open challenge. You come up with a solution, you get a job. Seriously."

See his post here.

Seems simple for the creative mind, until he goes over the things they already do. You job is to come up with something new and creative, that will prove itself financially, you get the job.

I am going to bet he gets an email box full of quacky wierd crap. Just a hunch.



About a week ago, I was mentioning to a friend that we might be looking at a World War scenario here in Isreal/Lebanon, if things started happening in an escalating fashion.

Then about 3 days ago, it was being referred to by the same moniker on talk radio, blogs, etc.

Then yesterday and today, it's in the mainstream media, and it's being discussed at the governmental level this way as well, in reference to Sec. Rice's impending (impeding?) visit to the area.

I don't think this is very good.

I'm just sayin.

Road Trip Recapitulation

I was out of town all day Wednesday. From 5 AM til 11 PM. Destination: Richfield, Cedar City, Hurricane, and St. George, Utah.

We left (my business partner and I) at 5 AM with a meeting in Richfield between 9 and 10 AM. We have been looking for building lots and builders in areas we feel are able to support good returns for our investors. We had a contact in Richfield who reported that he had 16 lots that will be ready for building by the middle of August. So we went to look and do the meet & greet thing. We met at a place called "Good Chance Cafe" for breakfast with the fellow who owns the lots and would like to get them sold. We went in and sat down at a booth, at which point we were greeted with two waitresses slinging glasses of water, coffee, and menus.

At this point in the event I looked around at the place and its patrons. In the next booth over from us there were two dudes who looked like the were on their way either to, or from, the fields where they were either a) sheering sheep, b) throwing hay, c) herding 1000 head of cattle, or d) repairing the barbed-wire fence out on the south 40. They had the obligatory straw cowboy hat, tattered and sweat-stained, the wrangler jeans from about 7 years ago, and the boots that looked so beaten that you would think they would disintegrate if they were pulled on too forcefully. The dude facing me had a gnarly mullet, and a stunning fu-manchu (ie. dirty sanchez) down to where his jaw made a 90 degree turn to the neck. It was thin, stringy, and brutally overgrown. He was eating eggs and toast, and as he chewed, he looked like he was munching on about a dozen distressed daddy-long-legs spiders. I couldn't help watching, like one does at a bad car accident.

I was interupted by one of our waitresses, the pudgy one wearing the apron tied too tight, as if to restrain some unseen violation. She wanted to know what we wanted to eat. I asked to eggs and bacon, sunny side up. I realized I had made a serious mistake when she wrote on her pad, "snotty" rather than "sunny". I now had the fear of God in me.

So my breakfast arrived with runny eggs and petrified bacon. Apparently the cook knew what "snotty" eggs were.

Interestingly, speaking of snot, earlier in the morning, we stopped at the Krispy Kreme store in Provo for a quick coffee and a donut, to get us going. We drove up to the place at about 5:55 AM, and the place didn't open til 6 AM. I guess people in Provo don't need coffee before 6 AM.

Anyway, as we were loitering in the parking lot, pressing our noses up against the glass, we watched our little donut friends go by in their own hot oil whirlpool bath, wondering which ones would eventually be ours. As we did this, a small truck drove up, and out jumped a little hispanic fellow, slammed the door, and immiediately grabbed two giant bags of garbage out of the bed of the truck and walked the 20 yards over to the dumpster and tossed them in. On his way back he performed what I call the "traditional cowboy's kleenex." You know how it goes: thumb to nostril, BLOW, scrape residuals off chin/shirt/pants/shoes with sleeve, rinse, repeat on other side/sleeve. Then he opened the door, walked in, and walked to the back to put his apron on. We watched this through the window, looked at each other, and without a word, shuddered in silent revulsion.

Needless to say, I asked for donuts that were already under the glass when we went in five minutes later.

So back to the trip. Richfield was very promising. In case you don't know, the biggest oil find in the US in the last 25 years was recently discovered in the area, and now there are oil companies chomping at the bit to get in there. As we drove around we saw lots of construction, nothing for sale. We drove a multi-family complex and the sign read, "First two phases sold out, now taking reservations for phase three." We may have a good opportunity here, as lot prices are still in the $40,000 range.

On to Cedar City. The person we were meeting there was 90 minutes late and we drove around there as well. We saw LOTS of homes for sale, and not cheap. What would sell for 150,000 in Salt Lake County was listed at 239,900 here. But we did notice a TON of inventory on the market. We stopped in at a realtor office that was recommended by the person we were suppsed to meet, and they reported that there is a GLUT of homes in the 240,000 to 550,000 range. They noted that if we could do homes in the 219,000 range, they could sell them like hotcakes at a county fair breakfast. That's because land costs are still so high that somebody buying a lot can't afford to produce a home for a reasonable price, unless it is built by TuffShed. they did note however, that homes on the upper end of the scale were still selling as well.

So we looked at a set of 24 lots abutting the local golf course, and feel like there are good possibilities in the 650,000 - 800,000 range. More research will be required.

On then to St. George. We had a guy in our office about 2 weeks ago. He basically dropped a subdivision of about 45 lots on the desk, and reported that he was going to be building in there and now was too busy. So we went to look. The area won't be plat-approved til about a month from now, but they have already gated the community, done the concrete fence around it, landscaped the outside, graded the lots, etc.

This will take a certain kind of buyer, but we feel like there are still some good possibilities in St. George for that upper-upper end home in the area.

Incidentally, my eyeball kept falling out, because it was so HOT THAT MY FACE WAS MELTING! By the time I looked down at my feet they were stuck to the pavement, and were big a floppy like duck feet.

Then on to Hurricane, where we have been dealing with a set of 16 lots. We have started construction on about 5 of them, and they are taking shape. We noticed another builder with 2 lots on the same street and called him up, wanting to know what he was selling the homes for, as they would end up being comps on our final appraisal. He reported to us that the homes are not selling well at all, they're bigger than ours, and there is just no traffic. That means reduced prices. Not good. We have some work there to do.

We then started back to Salt Lake and got home at 11 PM... long day, but we looked at a lot of good things.


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Taking out a home equity loan or line of credit may increase the total number of monthly payments and the total amount paid when compared to your current situation.

Too bad people pay WAY more attention to the big print than the small. I hear the print on Foreclosure Notice papers is more small than big.

Root of problem: Man accused of blinding wife with carrot tossed in anger

MONROE, Conn. - A 46-year-old man is accused of assaulting his wife with a carrot, causing her to lose sight in one eye. Roderick Vecsey is charged with second-degree assault and disorderly conduct.

Pamela Vecsey, 46, underwent six hours of surgery after being hit in the left eye with the vegetable Saturday night, but doctors were not able to restore her vision, prosecutor Stephanie Damiani said.

The couple was arguing when Roderick Vecsey tossed the carrot, Damiani said.


In other lame news,

Cops: Man throws knife at judge after yielding hammer, fork, 2 other knives.

YORK, Pa. - The county sheriff has apologized for what he called an "embarrassing and egregious" security breakdown after court security workers missed a knife later allegedly thrown at a judge in a courtroom.

Terry Lee Rehm, 58, was arrested Thursday after authorities said he threw a 13-inch butcher knife at Judge Michael J. Brillhart, who was seated on the bench. The knife went over the heads of several county employees and a defendant and sank into a wall to the judge's left, authorities said. No one was injured.

Also found on Rehm after he was taken into custody were a 4-inch knife, a 3-pound hand-held sledgehammer and a utility knife with a blade, officials said.


umm. Oops.

Making the (viral) email rounds

Got this in my email a few days back and again this morning. A co-worker also got it. I must admit I chuckled, then didn't think much of it, but then I noticed the file name of the picture itself:

"A Child's Last Day On Earth"

and I chuckled.

However, with the little 5 year old missing this week here in Salt Lake, I am certain her parents would choose to have their home, and everything in it painted by hand by their little girl..

But the picture IS funny though....



The Book Of Mormon story you DON'T know...

Saw this elsewhere and thought I'd do my part in perpetuating faith-promoting seminary stories:

Abercrombie and Fitch, of course, were the two older brothers of Nephi in the Book of Mormon, older than Laman and Lemuel, the ones we often read about. Abercrombie (Hebrew for "less is more") and Fitch (Hebrew for "yuck!") were trendy moguls of fashion in Jerusalem and were the reason why the family had silver and gold. Unfortunately, they were not only rebellious, but utterly shocked their parents in the New World by introducing immodest styles for men such as their "Nothing But a Loincloth®" line that became an instant hit with many locals in the hot climate of Mesoamerica. (Scholars to this day fail to recognize that many ancient Mesoamerican carvings and figurines of mostly naked people were actually part of early advertising campaigns for Abercrombie and Fitch's fashion shop and the related businesses spawned by their breakthroughs in fashion.)

Lehi was so disgusted that he burned their beautifully illustrated catalog, forcing Abercrombie and Fitch to start engraving their designs on metal plates which could not be so easily destroyed by fire. Yes, that's where the idea actually got started. Nephi tried to stop their repulsive business by stealing the plates and later realized he could use them for his own record, starting another enduring trend among his people. But Abercrombie and Fitch only escalated their business, drawing upon the shrewd business skills of their brother Laman who helped draw numerous locals and much of Lehi's family into the fold of their scantily-clad customers.

Lehi disowned them and decreed that there should be no mention of those two sons in any family records. And as the current record indicates, tensions between Nephi's group and his more fashion-conscious siblings escalated, forcing Nephi to head north in hopes of living life in a more modest environment. But once a fashion trend starts, it's hard to stop, and soon the land was sprawling with "Lamanites" - Nephi's euphemism for those who dressed with appalling bad taste (staying true to Lehi's command to never mention Abercrombie and Fitch again).

My Thought

It's so freakin hot out. I wish I could wear my sundress and get away with it. WAIT!! was that my "outloud" voice??!!



uh-oh. Dammit.

The One Campaign

Last year, President Bush pledged on behalf of America that we assist the world's poorest nations. Congress must now honor our pledge by writing the check to fund life-saving programs.

Join me in urging Congress to keep America's promises to the world's poorest nations just one year ago.

G8 leaders promised $50 billion more in effective development assistance per year by 2010. This critical funding means real help for real people, to care for AIDS orphans, give basic education to all children by 2015, and much more. We've made some important progress on canceling debts for 19 countries, but there are many more on the list. In the last year, we accomplished a great deal, but we’ve only scratched the surface.

President Bush requested a $3 billion increase in effective international assistance so that America can keep our promises on track. Currently, Congress is going only about a third of the way to help Africa and the world's poorest nations. Both the House of Representatives and Senate cut around $2 billion from the President's request, putting America's G8 pledges in jeopardy.


The Monday Pessimist

Do you remember the last time you said to yourself, after seeing some heartwarming occurrence, "Gee, that restores my faith in Humanity."

Do you remember that? Remember?

Well, take it all back, because you are wrong. Humanity has one and only one common denominator: I don't like you - I kill you.

With an insurgency in Iraq showing no sign of tiring, and a US occupation showing no sign of intelligence...

to the middle east where different factions of powerful terrorist organizations lob bad things at each other and all the civilians in the way, there seems to be no hope for humanity after all.

So, call in the United Nations Security Council. Yes, that will do the trick.

Seeing comments taped over the last few days, these men are nothing more than flacid wrinkly old men whose words are meaningless, and offer no real substance to anyone in harm's way. They are Pavlov's dogs, who do nothing more than offer old trained rhetorical statements to new conflicts as response to "what we've always said in situations like this", and problems that have been around so long, they're almost older than dirt itself. Almost older than the dirt over which they fight anyway.

RRRIINNGGG!!! Time for food!

Here's to a better Tuesday.


Salt Lake City's cultural community itches to come of age

And Utah's capital knows just what it wants to be when it grows up: Denver.

That was the teaser headline recently in a Tribune article lamenting the fact that because Salt Lake doesn't have an appropriately-sized theater, some of the bigger "broadway on tour" shows won't be stopping in Utah.

Recently, the Soccer Fuster-Cluck had, as an appendage, the construction/renewal/revitalization of a massive downtown arts district in exchange for a Sandy soccer stadium complex that dwarfs HRH Larry Miller's Jordan Commons.

Since that whole thing has been shown to be what it REALLY is - the pipe dream of a silver-spooned and equally silver-toungued Dave Checketts, there hasn't really been much talk of developing a large Arts District like the one Denver has right now. Want to go see Miss Saigon - the original touring production? You'll have to go to Denver to do it. Same with The Color Purple, and several other top-drawer Broadway shows.

Why is that, really? Is it because we don't have a venue that will attract the green-visor-wearing bean counters for these tours, or is it because Salt Lake Valley residents simply won't support something like this? Is it a case of "build it and they will come"?

I doubt it. And here's why. Well, two reasons, anyway.

First, Denver's culture is different from here. There, the median income is higher, the median education level is higher. The higher up you go on these two scales, the more support for arts there is. How do I put this delicately? There aren't enough "cultured" people here whose time isn't tied up with weeknight church activities. By the same token, there are A LOT here who think the motocross event at Rice-Eccles is THE event of the year. You topless-bronco-drivin', beer-from-a-can drinkin, shotgun ownin', overall wearin', no lawnmower ownin', front tooth missin', neighbor's dog shootin' rednecks, you.

Second, a great preponderance of people here in Utah, regardless of income or education, think that high culture is a stake production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, staged in the gym of a local church building, starring the neighbor kids. Seriously.

Here is a description of the Denver Cultural District, showing another symptom of Salt Lake's shortcomings:

The Boettcher Concert Hall hums like a nightclub. Crowds line the lobby, sipping cocktails. Inside the Colorado Symphony's home, audience members tap their feet or wave their hands like a conductor to what is described as hot dogs with salsa - classical music meshed with Mexican mariachi.
Steps away, in the Broadway theater, Jean Valjean mesmerizes the well-heeled masses as he tries to escape Inspector Javert in what is touted as the last national tour of "Les Miserables." When the curtain falls, the fur-clad crowd files past a cabaret, where the college set mulls over a Second City political sendup.
Can you spot it?

It's alcohol. They're called "cocktail" parties for a reason, and the reason isn't some sick reference to the Navy's "Tailhook" scandal of several years ago. It's alcohol because when people put on the good clothes in most other cities, they do so in conjunction with sharing some adult beverages with good friends. We're not talking about a MGD 3-kegger up the road at a place on Frat Row, where you can end up at home without your pants, or any knowledge of where they might be. We're talking about nice drinks in martini glasses, or a Manhattan Dewars, three cherries, rocks (my personal favorite).

In general in this country, when people go out for the arts, they go out for drinks, before or after. That's just the way it is. But in Salt Lake, it is so hard to buy a drink, and further, it's so hard to get alcohol licensing for public venues, that most don't offer it.

Most suits in this valley are threadbare from wear on church pews.

Would "The Color Purple" sell out here? Probably. Would Miss Saigon? Certainly. But what about the OTHER 40 weeks of the year? Is there enough money or time in Salt Lake among those who would patronize these shows, to allow them to patronize other things held there? And what would those "other" things be?

Hmmm. Good questions.

"Four Things" for Friday

4 Jobs I’ve Had:
McDonald's Burger Flipper
Edmonton Oilers Hockey National Anthem Singer - okay, just once, but it was cool.
Technical Writer
Recording Engineer/Theater Sound Designer

4 Movies I Can Watch Over & Over:
Princess Bride
Elf - Just kidding.Really.

4 Places I Have Lived:
Aarhus, Denmark
Regina, Saskatchewan
Victoria, British Columbia
Sherwood Park, Alberta

4 Places I Want to Live:
Bigfork, MT
Summit County, UT
Tuscany, IT
New Mexico

4 TV Shows I Watch(ed) Regularly:
West Wing
Amazing Race
Arrested Development

4 Highly-Regarded TV shows I have never watched a minute of:
Six Feet Under
Grey's Anatomy
The Office

4 Places I Have Vacationed:
St. Thomas
Oahu, HI

4 Places I would Like to Vacation:

Favorite Dishes:
Rib Eye or New York Steak, Medium Rare
Home-made hamburgers

4 Sites I visit daily:
My blog page

4 Places I Would Rather Be:
My back yard, with my wifey
A quiet Mountain Hotel

4 books I've read I'd recommend:
The Fountainhead
The Kite Runner
The Life Of Pi

Put up or shut up...

A day or two ago I made a comment on another blog about the fact that I felt the judge got it right in the suit brought by film directors and producers against "film sanitizers".

I said generally that you don't get to put gym shorts on the statue of David, just because it might offend your moral sensitivities.

A couple of hours later, I got an email from the owner of the blog asking if I would provide a sound bite to that effect for a local radio show on KSL radio. After some initial griping on my part, I decided that if I was willing to share the opinion on someone's blog, I should be willing to say it to a microphone. So I did.

Apparently, the show aired last night between 10 and midnight, and Ethan, over at SLCSpin was a guest on that show, offering other political opinion and observation.


Get Some PAC Money for Pete!!

Pete Ashdown can score some badly needed cash here. Help him out with a vote.

Spend five minutes, educate yourself a bit, and help make a difference:

In May, PAC for a Change community members voted for the Democratic House member and promising House challenger they wanted to support next. Based on your choices, we raised nearly $30,000 dollars for Rep. Leonard Boswell in Iowa and Francine Busby in California.

Now it’s time for the next step. I want to invite you to choose which promising Democratic challenger for the Senate that we’re going to support next. Like before, the winner of our online vote will be featured in a fundraising email to our PAC for Change community. So your vote, and the votes of your friends and family, are critically important.

Click here to read more about each candidate. Then please cast your vote below -- our online polls close at 11:59pm PDT on July 21st!


Candy for all.

I like candy.

Bush Budget Office: The Titanic Has New Lifeboats

Only 296 Billion in deficit, instead of 429 Billion? That's GREAT. Keep it up, fellers.

SLCo to Real Salt Lake:

RSL: Like everyone else, you have to EARN a nice shiny new home.


Old-School Orrin

So, Orrin Hatch is out playing favorites again. Seems to be a passtime with "lifers" on the hill.

Salt lake Tribune reports this morning that Hatch plied some pressure in Dubai after a fellow "musician" was convicted of smuggling cocaine and ecstacy into that country. Hat-tip to Bob the Cookie Monster on the summary:

Some facts about the case:

1) Dallas Austin, an R&B producer from Atlanta, got caught smuggling cocaine and ecstacy from the United States into Dubai, which is located in the United Arab Emerates (UAE).

2) Austin employs entertainment lawyer Joel A Katz, who also represents Senator Orrin G Hatch (R-UT), who is a songwriter.

3) Sen Hatch hired Katz in late 2004. Prior to hiring Katz, Hatch had made less than $25,000 in his 8 years making music, including some questionable sales. In 2005, Hatch made $40,000 from his music.

4) Austin was sentenced to prison for possession on July 4. Shortly after the conviction, Senator Hatch's office was contacted by Austin's lawyers asking for help.

5) In a statement released by the Senator Hatch's office, we learn that the Senator has "good relations with the ambassador and other good people in Dubai." That is believed to be the reason why Hatch was contacted, instead of Austin's own two Senators.

While I was reading that story this morning, my mind went to the story in last Saturday's Tribune of a much more deserving family who came here legally a little more than 10 years ago now, and applied for political asylum through the proper channels. Read the story here, and ask yourself, as I did, where Orrin was in support of one of his own state's hard-working families.

From the story:

"Although Ken got no response to his asylum request for almost a decade because of logjams in California, immigration officials quickly ruled against him on the same day as his July 2000 hearing - 31 days short of his 10th anniversary in this country.
"That was very unusual," Lawrence said.
If Ken had been in the United States a full 10 years before the hearing, he could have applied for legal residency on grounds that deportation would be a hardship on his son, an American citizen."


Head-Strong soccer player

Zinedine Zidane, reputed to be the best soccer player on the planet, when Beckham isn't on the pitch, anyway, carried his team into overtime of the World Cup soccer tourney yesterday. But halfway through the overtime period, he HEADBUTTS a dude from Italy. He gets a red card, gets ejected from the game, and the field. Then France loses the game on a PK that COULD have been taken by him, if he were still in the game.

Fine. Whatever. He shows his true self as a regular soccer hooligan like so many others.

But then, in an incredibly lame turn of events, he is awarded the tournament's Best Player by FIFA.

FIFA sucks, which was evident in the way games were officiated throughout the tournament. They confirmed it with this crowning little achievement.

As a side note, Zidane plays for Real Madrid, as does Beckham. Real Madrid has apparently been signed to make a trip to Salt Lake. The interesting part of that tidbit is the fact that they have a new coach, and when he was asked about his upcoming trip to Salt Lake, he responded, "we're still deciding if we are going to the US this summer."

[insert cricket noises here] - the silence is deafening. Blank stares - deer in headlights....


I imagine the Real folks have sweaty armpits about now. They have been hawking those premium tickets for a while. The only way to get them at this point, is to either buy a mini-season ticket package, or buy 100 tickets for you and your posse.

Death of a Salesman

So many things...

About a month after being found guilty of everything that was wrong with Enron, Willie Loman, err... I mean... Ken Lay dies of a heart attack at his Colorado vacation home, after being served with a Notice of Property Seizure... and he's scheduled for cremation.

Heart Attack. Cremation. RRRRight.

I'm starting a contest for the most outlandish explanation of his actual whereabouts. I think it will be fun.


Your Own Personal Internet

The Senate Commerce Committee deadlocked 11 to 11 on an amendment inserting some very basic net neutrality provisions into a moving telecommunications bill. The provisions didn't prohibit an ISP from handling VOIP faster than emails, but would have made it illegal to handle its own VOIP packets faster than a competitor's.

Senator Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) explained why he voted against the amendment and gave an amazing primer on how the internet works.

There's one company now you can sign up and you can get a movie delivered to your house daily by delivery service. Okay. And currently it comes to your house, it gets put in the mail box when you get home and you change your order but you pay for that, right.

But this service is now going to go through the internet* and what you do is you just go to a place on the internet and you order your movie and guess what you can order ten of them delivered to you and the delivery charge is free.

Ten of them streaming across that internet and what happens to your own personal internet?

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why?

Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

So you want to talk about the consumer? Let's talk about you and me. We use this internet to communicate and we aren't using it for commercial purposes.

We aren't earning anything by going on that internet. Now I'm not saying you have to or you want to discrimnate against those people [¿]

The regulatory approach is wrong. Your approach is regulatory in the sense that it says "No one can charge anyone for massively invading this world of the internet". No, I'm not finished. I want people to understand my position, I'm not going to take a lot of time. [¿]

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

Now we have a separate Department of Defense internet now, did you know that?

Do you know why?

Because they have to have theirs delivered immediately. They can't afford getting delayed by other people.

Now I think these people are arguing whether they should be able to dump all that stuff on the internet ought to consider if they should develop a system themselves.

Maybe there is a place for a commercial net but it's not using what consumers use every day.

It's not using the messaging service that is essential to small businesses, to our operation of families.

The whole concept is that we should not go into this until someone shows that there is something that has been done that really is a viloation of net neutraility that hits you and me.

I got a copy of the internet that Senator Ted Stevens's staff sent to him, and which, as he told the full Commerce Committee as proof that net neutrality was bad, took almost five days to get to him because the internet's pipes were so full of traffic.

I admit to a little skepticism, so I asked the Senator's office to send me a copy of the internet via Fed-Ex (to avoid internet rush hour). After signing for it this morning, I unwrapped it and set out to test it forensically to make sure the senator was telling the truth (turns out it was just an internet letter, not an entire internet).

(For you eggheads out there, I used a command line tool called Bioforensic Unfragmenting Logistical Level Systemic Hopping Information Tracerouter, which is open-source.)

Turns out he was right.

After his staffers sent the internet letter and the letter shattered into pieces by the internal sledgehammer encased in the congressional mail server, the pieces were slingshotted into the internet's pipe (to visual this, think of how a potato gun works and then simply reverse the process in your head).

According to my analysis of the pieces:

One packet made its way up north along the jagged border of New Hampshire and Maine, eventually landing on the Canadian side of Niagara falls, where the packet met a very nice portion of a picture of a lovely, and busty Canadian woman named Sue (you don't know her) and spent a romantic weekend in a posh Cisco router.

Another was waylaid after bumping into 419 packets which all claimed to belonging to a family member of a recently deceased Nigerian finance minister and over a period of three days, the packet gave away all of its contents to a fake bank in Nigeria in hopes of striking it rich.

One other packet got sandwiched in Norfolk, VA between a YouTube video of a cat adoption video gone bad and a Google Video of a carbon fiber mountain bike disintegrating under its rider. After splitting itself in two from laughter, the packet was sued by the recording industry since one of the maker's of the videos once downloaded a Britney Spears song as a joke.

Yet another accidentally got routed through a Pakistani server and was subsequently sucked into AT&T secret room, where it was strapped down and water-motherboarded. AT&T denies any knowledge of the packet, while the government says that even it if it did water-motherboard the packet, such interrogation is legal under Article II and to boot, ICANN is a tool of the French.

One entrepreneurial bit of the internet letter decided to start its own social networking site called Paketr where packets can make friends and post snapshots of the insides of the routers they pass through, giving Michael Arrington a minor blogasm which led Rupert Murdoch to promptly buy the company and have his engineers figure out a way to put Flash ads in packet headers.

Intriguingly, another was flagged and strip-searched by a TSA screener since the packet was using a serif font that made it's 1's too sharp for travel post-9/11.

Luckily enough of the packets finally made their way back to the congressional mail server that the email was able to be re-assembled.

The message: "Dear Senator, Our extensive research (based on briefings from the largest cable companies) demonstrates that That Internet must stay as empty as the $320 million "Bridge to Nowhere" or the terrorists will win. Sincerely, Your Staff."

Ryan Singel - Wired Magazine

How Are You Defined, Part Deux

So, this is my 180th post... fun stuff...anyway...

Quite some time ago, I wrote about how we as individuals are defined by what we do, or how we impact the lives of people around us. I noted something similar here in the blog belonging to a friend of mine. And in some light reading between brain tumors today, I've noticed a lot of entries surrounding the Fourth of July, some more irreverent than others. Then I came across this list: 15 People Who Make America Great.

While I may or may not agree with all the choices, there are some people here, who, after reading their story, have made America great. So, the question to you is this: who is it that makes YOUR world great?

Comments welcome here - I'd love to hear who your heroes are, and why. One rule: no spouses, no parents allowed, unless they have done something extraordinary, aside from your conception, or actually agreeing to marry you, that is...