Author Archives: todd

credit card blues

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.

That reminds me – didn’t Apple announce some new Apple credit card thing with a rotating number to prevent fraud? I should go read about that sometime. Oh, here it is: https://www.apple.com/apple-card/privacy-security/

the president is meant to have less power

Here’s a good article that explains in relatively simple terms how the founding fathers really viewed executive power given by the US Constitution to the President of the United States.

There are no food pictures so i know this will only appeal to people interested in weird quirks of history.

www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/06/executive-power-doesnt-mean-much/590461/

Sand Canyon

Getting There

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.

Ute Peak as seen from the Sand Canyon trail

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

Hiking

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.

Whitey near the remains of Castle Rock Pueblo

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.

Brooke and me, posing by a ruin in the shade (photo by Brooke Powers)
Lower Sand Canyon as seen from the canyon view overlook
I thought this was a strange alcove to build in
Whitey and Brooke relaxing on a rock – they like to rest in the sun, I like to rest in the shade
The last ruin we saw before turning around
Whitey and me under a very bright blue sky (photo by Brooke Powers)

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?

Geocaching

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.

Brooke found this one, I think
Whitey’s first geocache find
The geocache was a lovely margarine tub covered in camouflage duct tape, shown here near a pretty flower

I voted. Again.

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.

Colorado Department of Transportation cyberattack, and Doritos

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.

why facts don’t matter

This article came out over two years ago, and was very popular, but I didn’t actually read it until this week. It’s amazing and informative and I recommend it, especially if – like me – you are curious what evolutionary advantage humanity gained through confirmation bias (no other species has it, as far as we know). Or, if you’re someone who still thinks you can win political arguments using logic and reason.

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/27/why-facts-dont-change-our-minds

A couple of my favorite parts of the article:

“As a rule, strong feelings about issues do not emerge from deep understanding,” Sloman and Fernbach write. And here our dependence on other minds reinforces the problem. If your position on, say, the Affordable Care Act is baseless and I rely on it, then my opinion is also baseless. When I talk to Tom and he decides he agrees with me, his opinion is also baseless, but now that the three of us concur we feel that much more smug about our views.

And…

The Gormans, too, argue that ways of thinking that now seem self-destructive must at some point have been adaptive. And they, too, dedicate many pages to confirmation bias, which, they claim, has a physiological component. They cite research suggesting that people experience genuine pleasure—a rush of dopamine—when processing information that supports their beliefs. “It feels good to ‘stick to our guns’ even if we are wrong,” they observe.

 

not hot enough for pho

I asked the server at the new neighborhood Vietnamese restaurant which she recommends – the pho or the lemongrass rice noodle bowl. She thought for a moment and said that since it’s not hot outside today, I shouldn’t have the soup. It’s funny how many people think the opposite – that pho is for cool weather.