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Archive for May, 2015

Moving to Utah

by on May.12, 2015, under Dave's Rants

A Guide for Newbies

I have created this guide, after helping several friends move to Utah. This is just a collection of my observations — your mileage may vary.

Climate

Utah is high desert. When you see trees and snow covered ground, that may make you reconsider what high desert means — if you had heard the phrase before. What it means, is that it is very dry here. Even with the snow, it only rains 16.5 inches per year. And, we are at high elevation (4200-5200′ or so), which means the water will evaporate fast. This makes for some interesting problems, and some great snow!

Inversions

We saw our first inversion when driving from Park City back to Sandy. It was, basically, fog. A thick bank. We thought it was neat. But, it is a common meteorological occurrence. Inversions are, in a nutshell, when air is trapped near the ground. It is easier to notice them in the winter, because you can see fog. But, they happen in the summer, too.

The main problem with inversions is that when they trap air at low altitude, they also prevent particulates from escaping. What does that mean: Way more pollution than equally sized cities. And, more allergies.

Dry Air

Personally, I love the dry air. But, if you don’t get used to it, it could cause minor irritations: Nose bleeds, allergies, dry skin, dry eyes, etc. For the first time in my life, I’ve had to buy lotion. (It puts the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again) Depending on how you react to the dryness you may need to:

  • Use a humidifier at night
  • Use lotion
  • Use eyedrops

Etcetera.

Altitude

Altitude sometimes causes altitude sickness. The best way to avoid that is to simply drink more water.

The first time I ran five miles in my life was in Salt Lake City / Cottonwood Heights — before I moved here. While I know I was probably breathing a lot harder than normal, the altitude is not that big of a deal 🙂

High Altitude Cooking

Water normally boils at 100°C / 212°F. But, at 4800 feet, it boils at 95°C / 203°F! That means you need to use high-altitude corrections when following recipes / instructions. It will normally only affect baking or making candies.

Snow

It snows here. Sometimes a lot. We moved here in October of 2010. That was a record year for many resorts, snowfall-wise. I remember Snowbird got over 900 inches, and people skied on July 4th!

In that year, I did not have a snow blower. When it snowed, I would say, “My gym is open!”, as I went to grab the shovel. It generally took me about an hour to shovel my two car driveway and sidewalk. I did learn several things about shoveling:

  • Don’t wait – it will only get deeper. Shoveling over 12″ is very hard, so, after you have about 4-6 inches, you should go ahead and shovel, even if it still snowing.
  • Shovel both directions, so you don’t over tax one arm.
  • You don’t need a snow blower, though, it is a lot easier with one.
  • If you do have a snow blower — it’s like mowing a lawn. And, like the first bullet, don’t let it get over a foot between clearing.
  • Try your best to not dump snow into the street. Try to put it all on your lawn.

Cold

It does not get that cold here. There is generally one very cold 30 day span from around mid December through mid January. But, other than that — it’s not bad at all.

You will need to winterize your house. Here’s what we’ve learned:

  • You MUST blow out your sprinklers before the first really hard freeze. If you have a lawn maintenance company, they will likely do it for you. Or someone may just stop by your door — or — ask your neighbors who they use. I think we pay $35-$65 depending on the company.
  • The valves (spigots) on the outside of your house are all freeze proof. However, if you leave a hose connected to them, the will freeze, and probably leak into your house causing tons of damage. Even if they don’t leak, the valves go 12-18 inches into the wall, so, replacing them will require dry wall repair, etc. Disconnect your hoses!

Liquor Laws

I’m from the South, where dry or damp counties are common, liquor must be sold in package or liquor stores, you can’t buy liquor on Sunday, etc. So, people from the South, at least, should not find the laws here as much of a surprise. But, the laws here are a little mixed, and sometimes hard to get your head around.

Beer

Utah divides beer into two categories. Beers < 3.2% ABW, and Beers over that. The ABW was not a typo — Utah laws are based on alcohol by weight, not by volume. So, it really works out to about 4.0% ABV.

  • Low gravity beers (3.2 ABW and below) can be sold on tap, in grocery stores, convenience stores, etc.
  • High gravity beers (over 3.2 ABW) can only be stored in closed containers (no kegs), and only at the state liquor stores.
  • You can not buy kegs in Utah.

State Liquor Stores

Pretty much like all normal liquor stores in other states. They are state run, can sell all types of beer, wine, and liquor, and are closed on Sundays.

Pouring

Restaurants or bars can choose to pour either 1.0oz or 1.5oz drinks. You can order a double, but, the extra alcohol added can only be 1.0oz.

Restaurants / Bars

There are many different types if liquor licenses. These are the ones I’ve noticed:

  • Bar – 21 and up only allowed on the premises.
  • Restaurant/Bar – You can order any kind of liquor (beer, wine, shots). You can have kids at the table. You may or may not have to order food. (I think I’m lumping in several licenses here). You will probably NOT be allowed to walk with your drink around the premises. (The waiter will have to move your drink for you)
  • Restaurant – You can order low gravity beer with your meal.
Zion Curtain

In some restaurants / bars there will be a screen that the bartender has to hide behind to mix drinks, lest he corrupt the consumers. We enjoy noticing them — they’re amusing.

The Church (of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints — the Mormons)

The LDS Church is based in Salt Lake City. So, the cities can have a high percentage of mormons. We have not had any real problems . . . except that our vote, if different from that of the majority, will not really count — but — same thing happens in other states that are highly conservative, or highly liberal.

Utah is about 62% mormon, but Salt Lake City is < 50%. As you move South, cities become more and more mormon.
* Salt Lake County – 67.5% * Utah County – 89.9%

Southern (I mean Utah) Hospitality

Southerners got nuthin’ on mormons. We have never felt more welcomed into a community than we have been by the mormons.

Sundays

Mormons go to church on Sundays for about 3 hours, if not more. This has a couple of effects on the area:

First, because of their Sunday obligations, they usually end up running all errands on Saturday. If you try to go to a Costco on a Saturday, you’re going to have a bad time.

We have made Sundays our ski days. Many tourists use Sunday as their travel day home, and, many locals are in church. The slopes are not nearly as crowded on Sundays as on Saturdays.

You Can’t Eat at a Stake House

We’ve made a couple of faux pas’s in our time here, mainly due to some terminology issues. Here is a brief dictionary to help you:

  • Church Names
    • Wardhouse / Ward – Think church and congregation. In Catholic terms, Church and Parish.
    • Stakehouse / Stake – Contains several wards. Again, in Catholic Terms, the area covered by a bishop.
    • Temple – What it sounds like. Huge church that can be seen for miles. Not sure of it’s use, besides weddings.
    • The Temple – When the word temple is preceded by “The”, then it’s referring to the temple downtown, at 0/0 on the map.
  • Garments – Special undergarments worn by mormons. You may be asked by a doctor or nurse if you are wearing garments. They’re not talking about your clothes.
  • Mission / Missonaries – It took me the longest time to not immediately think of the military when someone said “mission”. Some mormons will go on a mission to spread the word of the church between High School and College. They will likely come by to teach you about their church. These are kids, away from home and family. We sometimes have them over for dinner. They will always offer to help out around the house — let them!
  • Elder – When missionaries return, they will be called Elder. You will see many signs welcoming the elders back from their mission.
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Mini Rant: Hatred

by on May.08, 2015, under Dave's Rants

I don’t know if it’s just me, or if things have drastically changed. But it seems that internet / social media posts have become more and more hateful. And, mostly filled with ignorant hate. One in particular caught my attention this morning. It went something like this:

A communist, a muslim, and an illegal alien walked into a bar. The bartender said, “Hello, Mr. President”

I have several problems with this joke, but, I’m not sure if this is just early onset “crotchety old man” syndrome.

Political Hatred

So, for the first time since . . urm . . Jimmy Carter or Reagan, a guy I wanted in office made it. And, I don’t know if that’s the source of some of my discomfort. I was happy to share Dan Quale quotes, or point out when G Dub did something stupid. But, looking back, it seems like the jokes were simply funny back then, and not hateful. But, like I said, maybe that part is just me — maybe I can’t take a joke pointed at “my guy”. (Not to wax political, but, I am not happy with Obama’s two terms. He did not, at all, live up to my expectations. But, I would have still voted for him again, considering his opposition)

So — am I just seeing hatred in the jokes because they’re hitting my guy, or has the world just gotten viciously cruel?

Ignorant Hatred

In our free country, why are these now considered evil, or insults:

  • Religions
    • muslim – While the ignorance here is calling Obama a muslim, when he isn’t, I take more offense at using a religion as an insult. Yes, some muslims are terrorists. Yes, some christians are terrorists. And, I’m too lazy to search, but, I’m sure that Jews have done some atrocities, too. Why do the ignorant need to use a mostly-peaceful religion as, not only an insult, but also a reason someone should not be president? I read a little factoid the other day: Satan killed 10 people in the Bible (the seven sons and three daughters of Job). How many did God kill? (Noah, Moses, Passover). What religion should be used to qualify a president? When Kennedy was elected, there was huge concert that the Pope (he was Catholic) would now be running the government. Shouldn’t we keep all religion not only out of presidential selection, but also out of politics? (Since we’re supposed to have a separation of church and state?
    • atheists – I will admit. Today, most vocal atheists are ass-holes. I’m not sure how to better describe them. They take a lot of pleasure poking at the tender parts of peoples’ religions. But, at the same time, why would they ever be considered evil? Even the Crusaders didn’t think people without religion were evil. They were simply heretics. Definitely doomed to hell, but not bad people. I’m not sure when our “free” country became a “free if you are Christian” country.
  • Politics / Economics
    • communism, socialism, democracy, republic – Why are communism and socialism thrown around as bad words? Are we really still living in the 1950s? Do people even know what communism or socialism is? Or, why we are supposed to hate it? In the 50s and 60s, the word communism (and red) were used to describe our enemy, the USSR. Since the USSR was not only converting countries to communism, and retaining control over them, our fight with the USSR turned into a fight against communism (and, in turn, a fight to spread Democracy). But, is there anything inherently bad about communism? I don’t think so. It’s nearly impossible to work, but, the word is pretty benign. And, while we were trying to spread democracy, we don’t practice pure democracy ourselves, we’re a democratic republic. And, if you think we’re doing things right, then you haven’t traveled much. There are plenty of other countries and other political systems that do many things better than we do.
    • immigration crap – Unless you’re an American Indian, you, or your ancestors, were immigrants. While illegal immigrants might be a current political issue, that does not mean that there is anything wrong with immigrants. And, for all the people who say, “learn the language” — have you traveled to a foreign land? Did you speak their language? If you suddenly got an opportunity to visit, say, Japan, would your first task be to learn Japanese, and not travel until you’re fluent? Or, would you be like most Americans, in a foreign land, trying to find an English speaker to help them. Don’t get me wrong — I definitely fall into that last category. I have been to Prague, France, and Belgium, and have had trouble communicating — But, when I’m at home, I don’t bitch about our visitors.
    • impeachment – If you have had even an opinion about a president deserving impeachment — since Nixon — please read. Research what it really takes to be impeached. Research what is illegal -vs- what is not. The Patriot Act is illegal. Or, it was until it was ratified. And, even now, it breaks so many constitutional rules, it should be illegal. Yet, I do not remember a single person asking for Bush to be impeached.

No More Hatred, Please

Just because you don’t like someone’s opinions, does not mean that you get to claim some kind of power over them. Maybe you hate people because of their positions. Maybe you don’t like their religious beliefs. Maybe their skin is a little too dark, or a little too light. Maybe you don’t like what acts they like to perform with other consenting adults. You are allowed to not like those things. You are allowed to have an opinion. But you do not have any kind of “right” to enforce your opinion onto them. You have the freedom to have your beliefs, just as they have the freedom to have theirs.

Please — think before you post. Funny is funny. Funny is many times racy. Funny is many times offensive. But, funny should not be hateful. Feel free to let me know if you think I’m wrong. Like I said before, I could be sensitive to Obama posts.

I love dirty jokes. I love offensive jokes. You should see the crap I want to post but Tammy won’t let me. But, as offensive as I can be, I don’t think I’ve ever been hateful. I have offended people, many times. But, somehow, I think that’s better. I’d much rather be offended by the content of the things I see posted, then be offended at the blatant hatred behind them.

Anyway, my mini-rant has become far from mini. . . . maybe I won’t even share this 🙂

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It’s EV Time

by on May.07, 2015, under Dave's Rants

After trying for years to get a hybrid to make sense, find a plugin hybrid with range, etc, it is finally time for us to purchase our first green car. If the decision seems last minute — you’re right. Tammy just pointed out that an EV would pay for it’s own lease payment on gas savings alone.

Gas Math

I drive roughly 50 miles a day. And, I get about 16-17mpg in my Jeep Grand Cherokee. That means, I’m paying about this much monthly (depending on gas prices)

Gas Price
$2.50
$3.00
$3.50
Monthly Cost @ 16Mpg
$169.27
$203.13
$236.98
Monthly Cost @ 17Mpg
$158.09
$189.71
$221.32

Course, those are only my commute numbers. With other daily driving, I end up paying about $300/month for gas.

The Decision

But, which one? Plug in hybrid, or EV? Which EV? Due to the limited range of almost all of the plug in hybrids, we’ve chosen to go with an EV. But, we’re far from picking one yet. While I’d love to get a Tesla Model S, the price point just isn’t there.

Nissan Leaf

The most mature of all EV’s. And, a front runner for price / performance.

BMW i3

Never thought of getting a beamer, but, with 80 mile range, and a < $300/month lease . . .

Mercedes b-Class

Even more highly rated than the BMW, with a similar range / price.

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