Sunday, February 24, 2008

Sí Se Puede Cambiar

Written and performed by Andres Useche

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Sawtooth Sunset

Sawtooths from Stanley
Sawtooths from Stanley

What they tell you not to do
what they tell you not to do

Sawtooth Sunset
Sawtooth Sunset

Sawtooths Backlit

Moon over Grandjean
Moon over Grandjean

Monday, February 18, 2008

Piss Poor Planning

Sometimes it's best to remember the 3P's and this was one trip where I scraped by ignoring them. Generally my innate sense of direction coupled with a knack for over-packing allows me to slide through some pretty tight spots. And this weekend I did again, but I don't think I want to play it much closer.

It was a late start to be sure. We left Boise early enough, around 8AM I believe, but after a stop in Twin Falls and a long drive in we didn't even get on the trail to the Williams Creek A-Frame above Salmon until late in the afternoon.

Packing the Sleds
Packing the Sleds

Trail Delayering
Shedding Layers

With our heavy sleds behind us and a pretty decent uphill grade it wasn't long before we were shedding layers and only a few turns later putting them back on as the sun fell below the western horizon. But we were on the right trail, right?

Well, actually, I wasn't really all that sure about that. And when the trail branched into five alternatives and two of them looked like really good options my skepticism of my own memory grew. I picked one, and Shelly, sensing my unease asked, "Are you sure this is the right way?" I glanced back at her and away at the fading light of the sun before returning with, "I'd put it at 78%." Which is, in my book at least, a pretty horrible sense of direction.

Why not look at a map you ask? Well, I'd love to, but unfortunately I never printed one off, though I promised I Shelly I would.

Arrival at Sunset
Racing the Sun

So, promising I'd check up on her, I double timed it down the trail at a near run, hoping in the twilight I might locate a cabin I'd never been to on a trail now without tracks, and it had been several days since the last snow. Everything looked wrong. I knew there was a lake next to the cabin, but kicking myself I realized that I had not checked a topo map as the slope to my right, where the cabin should appear dropped off sharply several hundred feet, not an environment conducive to standing water.

I accelerated further, to a pace which brought to mind "To Build a Fire." Now quite dark, I downed a cliff bar and left one in the trail for Shelly. Around the next bend however any fear I had subsided as a very well marked sign appeared, "Williams A-Frame."

It was a stupid combination: no map and a late start.

But we made it, and despite the fact that Shelly was battling a cold all weekend we had some tremendous food (we always eat like kings at cabins), read by the fire, played games in the sunshine, explored our surrounding and partook in the sometimes extreme sport of snowshoe sledding. The dogs, of course, were in heaven.

Frosty Morning
Frosty Morning

Desi in Her Domain

In Her Domain
Surveying the Kingdom

Snowshoe Sledding

Williams Creek A-Frame
Nice insulation this time of year

Too fast for Film
Super Pooches!

Cabin Interior
Cabin Interior

Cabin Interior
It appears I may be following a menu. Blasphemy!

Girls and Snow
Snow Angels

Dogs at attention
You'd think she had treats of something ;)

Little Bright Out
Little Bright Out

Heading Back
Heading Home

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Lemhis and Pioneers

The Lost River Valley was stunning. We couldn't help but pull over in the shadow of Idaho's highest peaks and snap a few images.

Thousand Springs Valley
Thousand Springs Valley

Devils Bedstead & The Pioneers
Devils Bedstead and the Pioneers

Borah Peak
Borah Peak

BASE Jumping for Breakfast

We stopped for breakfast and a dog walk in Twin Falls. I was surprised to see a fellow pull up alone in a rig and start packing a chute in the parking lot. Pointing him out to Shelly I was reminded that Perrine Bridge is the only structure in America allowing legal year-round BASE jumping.

Perrine Bridge, Twin Falls

Friday, February 08, 2008

The Pirate's Dilemna

Do we continue to fight "pirates" in a war that cannot be won, or do we learn from them, adapt and compete directly?

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Democratic Densities (Improved Maps)

2008 Idaho Democratic Caucus Attendees, corrected to display dots only on private land.

Democratic Caucus Attendees
One Dot per Caucus Participant

Democratic Caucus Attendees
One Dot per 10 Caucus Participants

Explorations in Democrat Density

Again using the Caucus results, I couldn't help but put a couple maps together illustrating Democrat densities across the state.

One Dot per Dem
One Dot per Caucus Participant

Democrats per Sq. Mile
Caucusing Democrats per Sq. Mile

I came out of this election process and Obama's speech at the Taco Bell Arena really energized. Finally, in Idaho I didn't feel alone as a Democrat. There seemed to be thousands of us. I suppose this is my way to ground myself in reality.

Idaho Caucus Results Mapped

2008 Democratic Caucus Results 2008

(Click to enlarge)

Based on official results posted at

Barack the Vote

All Obama in Ada

Ada County decisively went for Barack, which was apparent to anyone attending the Ada Caucus. Only one side was Hillary supporters, ringed by Barack followers in the entire upper deck and 2/3rds of the lower level.

Here's the official final results for the Ada County Caucus (Ada County is split between two precincts).

Ada County, Precinct 1 (3075)

Ada County, Precinct 2 (5215)

These numbers are significant due to Idaho Democratic Caucus rules, a candidate must receive 15% of the vote to be considered viable. Because no candidate other than Barack received 15% of the vote in the initial tally or after the re-caucus (the initial percentages for Barack were 82% and 85% in Districts 1 and 2) all of the delegates from Ada County (65 total to the state convention) will represent Barack.

This was an incredible display of democracy last night. Simply exhilarating to see thousands show up to vote, and on Fat Tuesday no less! This election is going to be exciting. America is waking up.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Democratic Action

Ada County Caucus at Qwest Arena

Record turnout at the Ada County Caucus in Boise, Idaho. Lines of Democrats wrap around The Grove, surrounding the Wells Fargo Building. We waited in line for nearly an hour and made it inside. The building is near capacity. Recently people started filling the bar. Rumor is thousands still wait outside. It was announced that this is the largest caucus in the nation.

UPDATE 2/6/2008 1:35PM: 8,290 Democrats turned out to vote at the Qwest Arena, capacity 6,800. Lines wrapped around downtown and over 2,000 filled out their ballots in the streets and were turned away.

Inside the caucus the atmosphere was a confusing mix of sporting enthusiasm and political issues. It was hard to wrap your brain around.

McCall Carnival Sculptures 2008

Saturday evening I made it up to McCall in time for the end of the closing ceremonies. After dinner, Shel and I took the dawgs around town to look at the snow sculptures and took a poorly planned junket out onto the lake. The snow was at some points chest deep! This was fortuitous in some ways, though Shel broke through a thin crust and dowsed her foot, the pups were very, very tired and had no trouble settling down for the night in the truck.

Well, at least until the snow cat started clearing the parking lot at 3AM.

Record snowfall made for some impressive rooflines

Horses attempting to bust out of the drifts

First stop, dinner at Crusty's

Sculpture Contest Winner


Duelin' Bears

Taking a break

Three smiling faces



That's all folks!

I love Iowa, err Idaho

Traveling I often meet people who confuse Idaho for one of those midwestern "I" states. And even many of my clients and friends are baffled as to why I would want to live in "the middle of nowhere."

Looking at the Base of Deer Point and Boise beyond

I wake up Saturday and hear Barack address a full house. By 11AM I am on the slopes of Bogus. By dinner I'm enjoying outstanding pizza, beer and conversation at Crusty's Pizza in McCall, followed by a stroll around the snow and ice sculptures as the band closes out the Winter Carnival at 10PM. By midnight I'm bundled up in the back of my truck with three of my favorite girls (one of which doesn't have floppy ears and a tail). We're parked in a side lot at Tamarack. By morning nine inches of powder lie on the hood.

Not everyone would consider this perfect, but I would have to say it's pretty darn close.

Shel descending the Face

Monday, February 04, 2008

Beyond an Ecology of Fear

Early Saturday morning over 14,000 stood in the 26 degree cold to watch Barack speak at Boise State's Taco Bell Arena. The line itself, stretching from the Arena clear across campus to the Education Building and a second reaching around the football stadium and over the Boise River, was inspiring for an Idaho Democrat.

The audience filled the largest Arena in Idaho, spilling over outside where a crowd listened in the subfreezing temperatures.

I was a Barack supporter before I arrived, I left a believer.

I believe this man can restore America. I believe this man can restore America's leadership in the world. I believe in this man.

Here's video of the event. If you're short on time skip to 20 minutes in.
(Note there is a silent section in the audio from 21:45 – 22:10)

Here's a couple highlights.

Civil Liberties:

All across America I meet people young and old, all of them patriots, all of them who love their country who are embarrassed about Guantanamo and embarrassed about Abu Graib and don’t understand how it is we’ve have seen our civil liberties undermined over the past few years and how it is we’re still having an argument about whether or not the United States tortures or not. These people love this country and they want their cherished values and ideals restored.

That’s what I’ve been hearing from the American people all across this country. And what I have said to them is if you are ready for change, then we can change this country. If you are ready for change we can we can go and tell the lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over. They have not funded my campaign, they will not run my Whitehouse and they will not drown out the voices of the American People when I’m President of the United States of America.

I want to have the highest standards for our children, but I don’t want those standards just measured by a single high-stakes standardized test, because I want our young people to learn art, music, and poetry and science all the things that make an education worthwhile.

And I don’t know about you, but I think it’s about time we made college affordable for all young people in America. So we’re going to provide a $4,000 tuition credit, every student, every year. But you know what, students are going to have to do something in return: work in community service, work in a veterans home, put some hours in a homeless shelter, join the Peace Corps, we will invest in young people and they will invest in America and together we will move forward.

If we cap the emission of greenhouse gases we will generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar and wind and biodiesel, clean energy that can create jobs and economic development throughout the United States.

If we raise fuel efficiency standards to just 40 MPG we would save the equivalent of all the energy we import from the Persian Gulf. Imagine, imagine what that would do. Not just for the environment, not just the economy, but also our National Security.

And by the way, when I made that proposal, I didn’t do it to the Sierra Club, I didn’t go to Sun Valley, I did it in Detroit, in front of the automakers and I told them they had to change their ways. And I have to admit that the room was really quiet, nobody clapped. But that’s ok, because part of what you need from the next President is somebody who will not just tell you not just what they think you want to hear, but what you need to hear, will tell you the truth.

America needs his leadership. Show up tomorrow. Caucus for Obama. If you're in Ada County the Caucus is at the Qwest Arena. Doors close at 7PM. If attendance Saturday morning was any indication, you should show up early. I'll be there at 5PM.

Meet me there and I'll buy you a beer to celebrate democracy (and Mardi Gras) afterwards.

Tamarack Powder

Since Tamarack opened I have shied away. The resort seemed an outsider, out of place in Idaho. Well adjusted to ski areas where the locals play cards and tell tall tales around pitchers after the lifts close and the parking lot resembles a football tailgate, I cannot claim to have been excited by the intrusion of a Vail-styled playground for the rich.

But free passes have a way of softening you. And ninety-six inches of soft luscious powder in one week completes the weakening of one’s so-called principles and preferences.

We weren’t welcome visitors exactly. We arrived late in the evening to “No Overnight Parking” signs. This was an unexpected turn, and despite the rumors of rampant luxury unbecoming of Famous Potatoes and our familiarity with Sun Valley, we were disoriented by the resort. Some circling finally found a construction parking lot, where we bedded down for the night with our two pooches.

Morning light was far kinder to Tamarack. Unshaven, unclean and groggy we stumbled into the lodge for breakfast where we were treated no different than those that spent thousands for the weekend. The staff was friendly, in an honest way that must come from true satisfaction and enjoyment of their jobs. I was beyond pleasantly surprised. And the skiing was simply amazing.

For that day at least, it was, in one word, heaven. With eight feet of fresh powder Brundage would have been equally ethereal, but then I don’t have a way to procure free tickets there.

I’ll be back. One of these days I’ll even buy a lift ticket.

Powder, Powder, Powder
No, I'm not sliding to a stop even though it looks like it. The powder is that deep. At times it was difficult to breathe.