I met the famous fantasy painter Larry Elmore today. We were both waiting for the same late airport shuttle and then rode together on the bus. I got to talk to him for 30 or 45 minutes, about everything from cars to meth to air travel to retirement to the draft. He’s 70 and says he’s never retiring, because he wouldn’t know what to do other than paint.
A couple of the locals at the game convention said I need to check out Cowboy Chicken, a restaurant with really good rotisserie chicken. And I needed a walk and had a three hour gap in my schedule. So I walked here.
My order: “quarter white” with green beans, okra, and a glass of ice water. It’s pretty good. The place is a little more fast food-ish than I expected. And their use of Texas cowboy-ness in the decor is a little excessive (like a lot of things in Texas). But I like the food.
I’m in Irving, Texas for a small four-day gaming convention called North Texas RPG Con. I attended last year and it was fun enough I came back. The convention is at the Westin hotel by the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, so it’s easy and pretty cheap to get to.
I arrived early this afternoon and got in two games so far. One was Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG and the second was a tournament game of a DCCRPG variant called Umerica, which is mostly modeled on the TV show “Thundarr the Barbarian” and related fantasy and sci-fi shows of the 80s.
I got second place in that second game. Here is my medal and my award-winning character, named Diana Ross.
The back of the medal reads “2019 NTRPG TOURNAMENT – BLOOD BATH AT ALLSVIL”.
Someone has made 12 fraudulent charges on one of my Visa credit cards since May 31, including buying 6 airline tickets on Allegiant Air, renting U-Haul trucks several times, and staying in a couple hotels.
Now, of course, the bank has canceled my card and are sending me a new one that’ll arrive Monday or so. What a hassle.
Brooke and I drove to Durango for a long Memorial Day Weekend. We left Thursday afternoon and got back to Denver Monday evening. We had a lot of fun on the way and on the way back, but had an especially big day on Saturday May 25, 2019. That was the day we visited Sand Canyon, which I’m about to tell you about.
Sand Canyon is a canyon in the far southwest corner of Colorado, located in the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. It’s a tributary of McElmo Creek, which is a famous drainage containing hundreds of ruins where ancestral puebloans once lived, around 800 years ago. I’d never been there before, but Brooke’s father Whitey had hiked the canyon about 20 years ago and recommended it. So we made a day trip from Durango.
The area where we hiked is just to the north of the small mountain range that make up what people generally call Sleeping Ute Mountain. In the photo above, the highest peak is Ute Peak (also sometimes called Ute Mountain, and also sometimes called Sleeping Ute Mountain). That makes up the shoulders of the sleeping Ute
There is a trail that goes from one end of Sand Canyon to the other, and both an upper and a lower trailhead. The whole thing is about 6 miles each way, but I knew I didn’t have a 12 mile (round trip) hike in me, especially one with a big elevation gain at the end. So we parked at the lower trailhead, hiked about 2.5 miles in, had lunch, hiked back out, and then drove to the upper trailhead.
The lower trailhead is by far the most popular, and they’ve recently had to add a second parking area down the road some, but we got there early enough to get a parking space in the original parking area. The hike follows a bench along the rim of Sand Canyon where there are a number of ruins.
The first ruins we saw was the high wall above. At the time, I just thought it was out there all by itself, but I later learned there’s much more to the story. This was just part of a small village that was abandoned all at once after its people were massacred.
After those ruins, it’s another mile or so before the next one, then there are several more tucked into alcoves on a bench that the trail follows.
That night, I did some reading online about where we’d just been, and I learned that there was once a pueblo where a few dozen people lived very near the lower trailhead. They call it Castle Rock Pueblo. It had even been excavated by the Crow Canyon Research Institute back in the 80s and 90s. We were right there and didn’t realize we were in the middle of a little village. Some photos from the 1890s still exist of the ruins, and you can see that in the 100 years between when the photos were taken and when the research started, most of the building blocks had disappeared. The researchers say they were used as easy building material by the early white farmers who settled in McElmo creek to build houses and other buildings from, and many of those buildings still exist today.
On the whole day hike, I didn’t hear a single canyon wren. That was weird, I thought. Where are they?
That afternoon, on the way to and from the Sand Canyon Pueblo site at the upper part of the canyon, we did some geocaching. It was Whitey’s first time.
Today I voted again. Denver had our 2019 city election on May 7, 2019, but several races were so close that we had to do a runoff. So we have another election scheduled for June 4. But we all vote by mail here, so you can send in your ballot whenever you want.
The mayor’s race, the clerk & recorder’s race, and city council members for 5 different districts (I’m in District 10) had to be redone because so many people ran the first time around that nobody got a majority of the votes. And we also have Initiated Ordinance 302, about whether or not the city government should be allowed to approve a proposal for Denver to host a future Olympics Games without a general election on the matter.
I originally thought maybe I’d just sit this one out, but last night I decided I should vote after all. So today I dropped off my ballot. Wanna know how I voted? Probably not.
CDOT, the Colorado Department of Transportation, was the victim of a cyberattack that cost millions of dollars last year. They refused to pay the ransom requested, and instead had their technical people working “20 hour shifts” to try to dig them out of the mess, which apparently took about a month.
First off, anyone who’s managed knowledge workers knows working 20 hours straight is stupid. After somewhere between 8 and 15 hours, computer programmers start to make enough mistakes that it takes more time to fix those mistakes than is gained by working extra hours. Like the Pony Express knew, you gotta rest your programmers to keep your overall speed up.
Second, Kevin Klein, Colorado’s director of homeland security and emergency management, said at a recent conference, “We switched from Doritos and Mountain Dew to actual food.” As far as I can tell, he’s serious that the CDOT employees who were working 20 hour days, were living on junk food. That’s another management mistake that shows why I’d never work for the government. The Pony Express also knew that you’ve gotta keep your ponies nourished. Software engineers are the same way. Yeah, you can live for a few days on junk food. But if you know you need lots of work from your employees over the long haul, feed them well. The best software managers I’ve worked for know this and have been quick to bring in food when the team’s in “crunch mode”.
You can read more in this article:
Note that Governor Hickenlooper eventually declared a state of emergency due to this cyberattack, which enabled them to get help from other government agencies. That allowed the CDOT engineers to stop working 20 hour days and start eating real food again.