Showing posts with label Jobs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jobs. Show all posts

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Great Salt Lake in 3D Part 6 Surveying the Stansbury Mountains

In 1981, I temporarily worked for the United States Geological Survey as part of a project to update the map of the Stansbury Mountain Range and part of the valleys on each side. I spent the entire summer locating and documenting old survey monuments, mines, roads, structures and etc. 

One of the most memorable aspects of the job was the day we carried building materials to the top of one of the mountain peaks on the north end of the Stansbury Range. 
There, at an elevation of 5570' above sea level, we constructed a large sighting target directly over an official USGS triangulation Station.* The 10' tall target could be viewed from numerous other locations throughout our vast project area. 

Now, thirty-three years later I climbed to the top of the Stansbury Mountains and returned to the triangulation station. This is something I've planned for some time. I pored over maps and aerial photos to determine the best route up the rugged mountain. There are no trails, and the closest road ends at the base of the mountain.
3D photo of the peaks on the north end of the Stansbury Mountain Range looking NW across the north end of Skull Valley. Black Mountain is visible in the distance. 

I began my ascent early in the morning while it was still dark. When the sun finally peeked over the Oquirrh Mountains, on the other side of the Tooele Valley, I took refuge out of the cold wind in a rocky nook where I soaked in the solar warmth and ate my pre-prepared meal of bison. The view was spectacular.
When I reached the the triangulation station, I found the target broken and laying on the ground. A broken cross-section was still in place and the pile of rocks that we used to secure the wooden ten-foot tall 2x4 were still there but somewhat displaced. 
Over time, the guy wire we had used to secure the target had rusted and failed. Rust stains have become a permanent part of a large anchor that still had some thirty three year old guy wire wrapped around it. 

3D photo of dilapidated triangulation target looking west across Skull Valley.

I took the liberty of standing the old dilapidated target up by wedging the ten foot long 2x4 betwixt some large rocks. It isn't anchored with guy wire this time and probably won't last through the winter, but for now it can be seen from many miles away.
3D photo from top of Stansbury Mountains looking NW toward Stansbury Island on the Great Salt Lake.

The Stansbury Mountains are named for their original surveyor, Major Howard Stansbury, (1806-1863). 

US Interstate 80 crossing the alkali flats of the south shore of the Great Salt Lake, a few miles north of Grantsville.

Stansbury, and his party of surveyors, are credited with the first official survey of the Great Salt Lake from 1849 to 1851. He was the first person to determine that the Great Salt Lake is actually a remnant of a greater ancient lake that he called Lake Bonneville.

3D photo of Lone Rock in Skull Valley looking west from the top of the Stansbury Mountains.

Lone Rock** in Skull Valley, another important triangulation point, is an interesting and unusual rock formation that has become a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. 
Salt plant on the south shore of the Great Salt Lake where State Highway 196/Skull Valley Rd intersects US Interstate 80. Black Mountain in the distance.

Salt production is an obvious industry on the shore of the Great Salt Lake. There are also billions of Sea Monkeys out there. 

Other important resources are extracted from the mineral-rich lake including magnesium at US Mag and even nutritional supplements in the form of trace minerals at Trace Minerals Research.

3D photo from the top of the Stansbury Mountains looking west across Skull Valley.
3D photo of 3D camera apparatus.

Major Stansbury's legacy lives on in the island and mountains that claim his name, and the monuments that he erected on mountain peaks and valleys around the Great Salt Lake.

* The Triangulation Station is located at approximately 
40° 43' 39.30" N
112° 37' 53.80" W
These coordinates are not official USGS coordinates, but are accurate within seconds. 

** Lone Rock Coordinates 
40° 42' 32" N
112° 41' 04" W

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Xtra Files 9: Picture Picture - Stereoscopique

This is not a post about Mr. Rogers Neighborhood

Back when I was a teen, one of my favorite, after-school pass-times was Mr. Rogers Neighborhood* on PBS. My dad was disgusted every time he found me watching the program, and would, without fail, utter some derogatory remark about Mr. Rogers. Strangely, I experienced great pleasure in these predictable remarks. The poor guy couldn't understand why a high school kid would be watching a show for little kids, especially that show. I loved Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and why not? I wouldn't know how marbles are made without Picture Picture.** Didn't all high schoolers watch Mr. Rogers in the late-disco/early-punk/pre-metal era?

Strange Segue

I started a summer job the Monday after I graduated from high school which meant that I wouldn't be hitching trains across the country like my friends and I had planned*** to do. Instead, I spent three months working for the United States Geological Survey on a resurvey of the Stansbury Mountain Range, Skull Valley, and small portions of Tooele Valley and Rush Valley. I was perfect for the job - strong, agile, proficient in hiking and climbing mountains, plus I already had about eight years land surveying experience, and was also somewhat familiar with the area... my home county that I had been exploring for as long as I could remember.

Best Job Ever

For three months, our team of USGS engineers physically located every road, structure, spring, and mine, in addition to recovering every extant section corner and then electronically tying everything to triangulation stations on mountain peaks**** and benchmark monuments throughout the area.

We regularly used a strange looking device called a stereoscope along with aerial photographs to orient ourselves. This was the first time I had seen or used a stereoscope - a device that makes it possible to tie two images of the same thing together in 3D. Mountains, crevices, and even buildings appear to be three dimensional but exaggerated when viewed through the stereoscope.

I'll never forget the first time I peered through the stereoscope. We were on site, parked in the shade of a large concrete building near the point of the Stansbury Mountain Range. Jack, the chief engineer, spread out some maps and aerial photos on the hood of the truck and demonstrated how to match up the two aerial photographs, (something he had obviously done a million times). Then he told me it was my turn, and when I looked through the stereoscope, I saw a white cube, at the base of a mountain. The cube was obviously the large concrete building we had parked next to while we enjoyed the small sliver of shade it afforded us on that hot June afternoon. I was impressed how the image came alive in 3D, and became rather proficient at doing it myself.

What makes this story incredible, is that the next time I returned to this site - less than a month later, in the spot where the large concrete building once stood, was an 80' wide crater. Apparently, the building was an explosives manufacturing plant and warehouse, and according to the official story, in the early morning hours, static electricity**** caused an explosion that vaporized the entire building, a semi truck and a few employees. There was nothing left. Nothing!

When the blast occurred, I was sleeping soundly in Tooele, all the way across the valley, more than fifteen miles away. I recall that the explosion woke me from my sleep. The following morning, we talked about it at the office. Apparently, one of the engineers had learned what had happened, and most of us reported that we had been awakened by the thunderous boom.

What makes this story even more incredible, is the fact that one of those fateful employees had been working with our USGS team, and had left for better pay at the explosives plant. A few weeks later, he was gone forever.

How strange, (to me at least), that the very first thing I viewed and focused on through a stereoscope would end up in such tragedy. I'm glad that nothing else I've viewed through a stereoscope has met a disastrous fate. That'd be a good X-Files episode, though. Speaking of X-Files, I've always been a bit suspicious about that event back in 1981, and the official story. I've often wondered****** what really happened there?


I had heard of people being able to view photos in 3D without the aid of a stereoscope, so I gave it a try and found it quite simple to do. I even started creating some of my own 3D images. I possess so many wonderful and rare objects, I figure that they can be better appreciated when viewed in 3D. Therefore Zenberg Blog will periodically feature 3D images, and will attempt to be thematic about the selection of photos.

Here's how you do it

Sit at a comfortable distance from the screen and look at the point where the two images come together. Slowly begin to cross your eyes. As you do, you will begin to see a third image forming between the others. The third (middle) image is actually both images that, when matched up perfectly, appear three dimensional. It may take some practice, but is worth the effort, and my ophthalmologist tells me that it is good exercise for the eyes. Have fun.

Lately I've been eating lots of jello, (homemade with juice and Knox), because of health issues that prevent me from enjoying good food, (not that jello is bad, I've just been eating a lot of it).

This is an image of one of my favorite artifacts. I found this Anasazi makeup spoon on private property on the Colorado Plateau east of Hurricane, Utah back in 1996. Much of the red powdery makeup is still caked inside the concave area, and visible in the photograph.

Look for more 3D images in the near future.

*Recently, Mighty Mo dreamed that she was in the Land of Make Believe, and when she told me about it, I was a bit jealous. Especially when I found out that she got to hang out with Lady Elaine Fairchild inside the Museum Go-round. I wish I could rent Mr. Rogers Episodes on DVD, but unfortunately, they're not available. My favorite episode was the time we went to the Other Neighborhood, with emphasis on the hood.

**Mr. Rogers' magical framed wall painting that transformed into a movie screen and transported viewers to all kinds of interesting places.

***We practiced jumping on trains and riding them to Salt Lake and back.

****We even used a helicopter to reach the highest peaks. When we got to Deseret Peak, (now a wilderness area), the chopper couldn't land because a bush was in the way. I had to jump out and trim the bush so the pilot could touch down. Then, while balancing on two rocks over a crag on the highest peak of the Stansburys, the chopper stayed long enough for Jack, (Jesse C, Dyer - Engineer USGS), and I to remove the boxy and awkward Electrotape, a bulky survey instrument, (probably from the fifties), that uses microwaves to measure long distances.

***** Didn't they blame the Hindenburg disaster on static electricity?

****** I've ran lots of possibilities through my on-board scenariographer, and boiled it down to these. They are all rather far-fetched, but every scenario should be examined, and no doubt has. Someone may know exactly what happened there. If I could time-travel, I would surely go there to find out.

1) A rogue/underground/terrorist organization may have stolen explosives, and the building may have been destroyed to eliminate evidence and silence witnesses. There was supposedly a fully-loaded semi-truck inside ready to leave, but no physical evidence of the truck was ever recovered.

2) Perhaps the site had been targeted by a governmental agency for national security reasons. Is it a coincidence that the explosives plant had been precisely located by my team of USGS engineers only weeks before the event?

3) Maybe it was a robbery gone bad. The building was located not far from a convenient Interstate 80 exit, and someone bent on ill intent could have easily made their way to the remote building, not knowing what they were getting in to.

4) A small meteor may have fallen from the heavens and hit the explosives plant, detonating the whole shebang.

5) It could have even been a staged event designed to create new identities for the individuals involved.

6) Static electricity? Oh, the humanity!

8) Other?

Saturday, May 30, 2009

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. This photo of Ronaldo is worth about 2,337 words... small words, but words nevertheless.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Random Point #42 - Set 1" Bone

I can't stress how important it is for a land surveyor to carry an adequate amount of supplies with him. Nails are among the most important things that a surveyor takes with him into the field. These nails, (often large spikes), are sometimes used as random control points upon which Northing & Easting coordinates exist. These control points serve as working positions from which a surveyor operates his equipment.

Olin and I had been traversing down a steep mountainside all day, with hopes of locating a particular official boundary marker. Once located electronically with our equipment, the position of the monument would help us analyze the boundary we were working on. By the time we had reached our destination, it was discovered that due to visual blockage from a small cabin, we would need one more random point from which to view the monument. Unfortunately we had exhausted our supply of nails and spikes on the way down the mountain. Neither of us wanted to hike all the way back to the truck for one spike, so we scoured the area in hopes of finding an old nail, or wooden stake... anything we could use for a temporary random point. We were unable to locate anything suitable, until I stumbled upon an old twelve inch long bone that was about an inch in diameter. I found the bleached-white bone laying along a deer trail. I examined it for integrity, and pounded the bone into position, then proceeded to locate its exact position. From there we were able to complete our task without difficulty, and it saved one of us a long hike back to the truck. The bone worked perfectly, and this is the only time that I can recall a bone being set as a survey marker. Old School!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Xtra Files 7: The Hook

I've always assumed that someday I'd stumble across a dead body. As a Land Surveyor, I've frequented some of the most remote and varied areas in numerous states west of the Rockies. I've been to remote places rarely traversed by mere humans, and Greg knows that I've stumbled across a lot of strange things while performing the mysterious and age-old tradition of Land Surveying. But on one occasion, the sight of a pale hand sticking out from the rubble of a fallen structure was the last thing I expected to find at a particular condemned site where we were conducting a topographic survey.

Located near the top of the Santa Cruz Mountains, it was probably once a beautiful place... before the Loma Prieta Earthquake back in '89 that made the home on the picturesque property unsuitable for occupation. Now the landscape is riddled with a half-fallen house and lots of debris from other structures that have c
ollapsed. That's where we saw the partially exposed motionless hand.

Ronaldo was wearing his leather work gloves when he knelt down, and touched the pale hand. He immediately realized that it was a false hand, a prosthetic hand, to be precise. I was glad it wasn't what it first appeared to be, but now there was a
new mystery... Who would abandon a perfectly good prosthetic hand?

As Ronaldo thumbed through an abandoned box of old photos that had been left outside to rot, he discovered a picture of a man holding a large fish with his left hand, and a brandishing a shiny hook in place of his right hand...

Ronaldo snapped this photo.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Aerial Photographique: Southern Utah and Grand Canyon

I'm not one of those people who watches TV when I fly. I like to gaze out the window in an attempt to figure out where I am, and find familiar landmarks. Mankind has only enjoyed this perspective for less than a century, and I plan to make the most of it.

On December 6th I flew out of Salt Lake International Aeropuerto and headed south en route to Phoenix, my one stop on the way to San Jose. It seemed crazy to go all the way to Arizona on my way to California, but in rhetrospect, it afforded me the opportunity to take some pictures of familiar places I've never seen from the air.

Below, the sands of Little Sahara Recreation Area appear small, but from ground level, they appear to go on and on forever.

The Bear Valley Cutoff, (as mom always called it), is clearly visible cutting through the rugged Southern Utah landscape. I remember when Aunt Grace and Grandma would be waiting for us at the I-15 exit. These were always good reunions. We would then go from there over the mountains to US Highway 89, then travel south to Panguitch.
Panguitch is a pretty little town, or so the birds there sing. Here, it is easy to see Hwy. 89 make a hard left (or right depending direction of travel) in the middle of Pang Town, then head east for a few miles before returning to a more southerly direction.
Panguitch Lake, nestled amidst the snow and lava flows, appears small from thousands of feet above.
Zion National Park can be viewed in its entirety from this altitude.

On the edge of the Colorado Plateau, the pink sand dunes are clearly visible to the west of Kanab, Utah where lots of old-time westerns have been filmed. Kanab is best enjoyed from this altitude. I've had to spend many a day surveying in that miserable berg where it's either too cold or too hot.
The Colorado Plateau signals the beginnings of the Grand Canyon.

The canyon was spectacular to view from the aeroplane.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Portrait of a Future Thinker

Set the controls for the heart of Soquel.
A sketch portrait of Rhetro Zenberg by Ronaldo.

Thursday afternoon, July 24th, 2008.
Last day.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Martin Fire @ Moon Rocks

Snow in Summer?

Actually, white powdery ash covers the Bonny Doon landscape near Moon Rocks where the heavily wooded area was devastated in the Martin Fire last month.

Techy iPhone 3G Doesn't Have Etch A Sketch Capabilities

Yesterday, Latter-day Apple-scruff techies lined up to become among the first to own the new iPhone 3G.

I was passing through Los Gatos, California, when I happened upon hundreds of them lined up in front of the
Apple store there. The long line of spendy-eyed, economy stimulating shoppers continued all the way down the street, and around the corner. Los Gatos, Spanish for, the cats, is a very clean town with very clean and well manicured locals. The cats who lined up for the newest nip appeared well groomed too. Obviously, they had invested a considerable amount of time selecting their respective wardrobes, and getting their hair just right . Purr-fecto!

We rolled by, capturing the spectacle on video, whilst listening to music of the Vox Jaguars playing, Song For The Girl, featuring the timely lyrics,

"You want what you can't have, and I got what I need"

The new iPhone 3G is touted to be twice as fast, at half the price, with Internet and GPS capabilities, but until Apple adds an etch a sketch feature, I won't be getting one any time soon.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

White Like Me

Aryans and Libertarians

In the mid-eighties, I took a job at an ice-production factory in Madison, Wisconsin. I walked in wearing a suit and tie, and was hired on the spot. The proprietors of the family-owned business loved me, and even allowed me to sleep at the warehouse until I could procure an apartment of my own.

Everything was going great until one day, when John, the patriarch of the family and company president, who had been reclining meditatively on the couch, said, "Zenberg...(pondering), isn't that Jewish?" From that point on, I was dealt with in a suspicious manner, and my work was continuously scrutinized unfairly because I wasn't necessarily them. I was however a Libertarian, but that didn't "make no never-mind" to them.

As time went on, their racist character was revealed more and more. In addition to the ice factory, they also owned the largest liquor store in Madison, where they had me stock shelves when ice production* was slow. I was absolutely disgusted when I observed how these people treated the occasional black patron. Here's the usual scenario:

A pair of black men enter the store... Immediately, Bob, the oldest kid in the family, would grab his loaded rifle, and stand poised, ready for an opportunity to shoot one or both of them if they tried anything funny.

I couldn't believe there were really people like that in the world. I grew up in Utah, and thought the folks there were backwards, but I never experienced this level of racism in the Beehive State.

Poetique Justice

Not long before I quit to take a good job at a pharmacy, they had hired a new kid to work at the liquor store. They were so happy with the new brawny blond, curly-haired, hard working kid. He was the size of a mountain, and could lift cases of booze with the greatest of ease. A real nice guy too. When I got to know him better, I discovered that he was albino, and that his family was black.

* Ice was in less demand during parts of the winter. Ironically, there were times when it was colder outside than it was in the building where we made the ice.

Friday, May 16, 2008

$nakes Spiders Meat Bees and Bears - Oh My!

Black Widow Spiders

As a land surveyor, I never know what I'm going to stumble upon. Some surprises are more welcome than others. Anyone with fear of creepy crawly creatures would never be able to handle my job. For example, one day I was on all fours creeping behind some shrubs searching for a boundary monument when I felt the familiar resistance of thick spider webs against my head. I recognized the web from its strength, a Black Widow web.

As I retreated from behind the bush, to remove my web covered knit cap, I discovered that my head was crawling with hundreds of tiny
Black Widow babies that had just hatched. They were so cute. Fortunately, most of them were centralized on my knit cap, but a dozen or so made it to my hair. I used the mirror on my Brunton compass to search out the ones remaining in my locks.

Black Bears

Back in 1982 I worked for the US Forest Service, in the Dixie National Forest. One day, our survey party came across a sleeping baby Black Bear. One of the crew members prided himself on being a skilled rodeo clown, and took it upon himself to mess with the sleeping beast. I began thinking that maybe momma bear was near by, and wouldn't take too kindly to having her baby pestered, so I retired to the safety of the forest-green colored Chevy Suburban to view the spectacle. As Danny Brown the rodeo clown poked at the small bear, it awoke surprised, and began to pursue its taunter, chasing him through the woods. Fortunately, Danny Brown's rodeo clown training paid off, and he was able to scamper away to safety before momma bear showed up. I doubt he would have fared as well against her.

Meat Bees

Yellow Jackets, or what I affectionately call Meat Bees, are the meanest of all the winged creatures I've encountered so far. They're fast, and will attack with a vengeance. Once they mark you with a bite, others can easily seek you out and take part in the attack.

I didn't realize that I was standing directly over the entrance to an underground hive until it was too late. With a pant leg full of "biting bees", I ran as quickly as humanly possible to escape the angry swarm... slapping at the cruel creatures that continued to bite from inside my pants as I sprinted away to safety. Ouch!

Meat Bees (Yellow Jackets) going about their business in Aptos, California.


Ronaldo Doolittle loves playing with snakes whenever possible. Here are a couple of different Rattle Snakes we've come across.

This beauty was stretched across Coyote Ridge Road in Aptos, California a couple of years ago. Ronaldo helped himself to a bit of a tug.

This four footer from Bonny Doon, California nearly got stepped on last week. Good eatin'!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

BIG Love - Texas Style

Actually, the FLDS only recently migrated to the Lone Star State. For nearly a century, the obscure fundamentalist Mormon sect has been based in the state-bordered twin cities of Hilldale, Utah and Colorado City, Arizona where many of their members still reside.

I've been to Colorado City and Hilldale many times, and have
personally known some of the polygamists who live there because, back in the nineties, I worked with an engineering firm who designed and surveyed many of the streets, and utilities for these communities.

With my t-shirt and long dark hair pulled into a pony-tail, I was obviously not from
there, and a parade of local female driven automobiles rolled by throughout the day to view the spectacle of the long-haired surveyor standing behind a tripod. For lunch I sometimes dined with members of the community in the town cafeteria, or a little sandwich shop on the Hilldale side of town. I also frequented the local well-stocked grocery store, and purchased a couple of books from the used book store.

I felt comfortable discussing any topic with them, including their community. On
most occasions, I was treated with respect by the citizens of these towns who seemed completely normal, except for the fact that they practiced polygamy, and wore funny clothes. Contrary to what the hyperbolic media would have one think, the women there weren't chained to any posts, and in fact exercised a great deal of freedom. They could be seen shopping as far away as Mesquite, Nevada and Saint George, Utah, doing whatever they wanted to do... with or without their husbands.

Welcome to

Fundamentalist Christians, especially Southern Baptists, HATE Mormons vehemently, so when members of this decidedly unsavory brand of Mormondom recently moved to rural
Texas, the local family-values folks freaked out. Their anti-Mormon rhetoric was stepped up to frenzy level as presidential hopeful, Mit Romney, appeared as yet another Mormon threat to their uni-dimensional world-view. Big Love was destined to go down... Texas style!

Lone Star State Church

Recently, over four hundred children were taken into protective custody by the State of Texas. Southern Baptist Church buses wisped them speedily away to be re-brainwashed.

Does it bother anyone else that the state used Southern Baptist Church property to transport the children... or was it the church who used the state? In any event... what happened to separation of church and state in

"We did it for the children..."

What is most dis-settling about this whole ordeal, is that over 400 children have been taken by the state, and NO CHARGES HAVE BEEN FILED. Child Protective Services claim child abuse, yet have not produced any evidence that this heinous crime occurs with any more frequency among this singled-out polygamous sect than in the rest of society. Personally, I am a bit suspicious of their motives because abuse
was one of the false claims used as leverage against the Branch Davidians which disastrously resulted in the death over one hundred innocent children at Waco Texas on April 19 1993.


The state which gave us George W. Bush, the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and the Waco fiasco, has recently been added to my boycott list. Mighty Mo and I had planned to go to Austin
Texas this year for our 22nd wedding anniversary, but now, we don't want to contribute to a yeller state that victimizes innocent children. We'll go someplace nice instead... like Nevada.

Mess With Texas

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Ronaldo the Goat Whisperer

Ronaldo Doolittle may have been a dog in his previous life. Like his grand-uncle John Doolittle before him, Ronaldo has the innate ability to befriend animals. I've experienced it first-hand on numerous occasions.

One day, Ronaldo and I were surveying* some property that passed through an open field occupied by a couple of curious goats who observed us from a distance before coming over to more closely investigate. One of the goats was rather passive and followed the more dominant goat everywhere. The extra-curious dominant goat decided that my jacket looked tasty, and began to lick my sleeve excitedly. It was creepy, and before long the licking-frenzied goat began to lick my tripod, knocking the sensitive surveying equipment out of level. This meant that Ronaldo had to climb back up the hill so that I could zero my instrument on the back-site target. While attempting to control this non-tame creature, I learned that pulling the goat's ear kept it at bay, but the nay-sayer still managed to sneak in some more licks, and succeeded in knocking the instrument out of level a second time.

Before long, Ronaldo was inside the fence, and the goat had found a new friend. The two immediately became physical and intimate with each other. The excited tongue licked wildly as Ronaldo patted, petted and played with the happy goat. The goat's tongue continued to dart in and out even when not in contact with anything tangible. I was happy it had found someone else to pester, and Ronaldo seemed to be enjoying it... at first. 

The annoying goat succeeded in making it very difficult to accomplish our work in the area. It even ate the bright pink flagging we had used to mark the position of a property-line monument.

Soon, I moved to another control point located beyond the fence where the goat couldn't pester me. I quickly leveled up the instrument and peered through the scope in search of Ronaldo who was supposed to be holding the rod plumb and steady so that I could get a good zero, and a check on his position before proceeding. What I observed in the scope was one of the strangest things I have ever seen whilst peeping through a surveying instrument...

There was Ronaldo, doing his best to hold the rod steady while the goat continued to maul him. "Now would be a good time," he said as I observed goat's legs climb up onto his shoulders, placing its head next to Ronaldo's. The rod would be level for but a brief moment, and the goat would knock Ronaldo out of position again, and again, making it impossible for me to get the shot.

This went on for about ten minutes. Again, and again, Goat legs flailed over Ronaldo's shoulders. Frustrated, he tackled the goat to the ground, and gave a growl and a warning bite on its neck. Finally, after dozens of attempts, we had accomplished what should have taken a matter of seconds. The two goats both followed Ronaldo as he descended the hill towards me. I was still laughing when he arrived at the fence that contained the goats. Once again, the physical little goat was all over Ronaldo, with legs up on his shoulders, and licking madly at his long curly Portuguese locks of hair that danced like dozens of tiny snakes around his little brown face. The goat was out of control, and Ronaldo had had enough. Ronaldo threw the rod into the bushes, grabbed the goat, picked it up, gave it a body slam on the soft duffy ground and held the creature firmly to let it know who was the boss. With a fierce look in his eye, it looked as though Ronaldo was going to bite the goat on the neck again, but instead, he gently planted a kiss on the goat's left cheek.

* Land Surveying in the mountains of Bonnie Dune, CA

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Whaling and Gnashing K-nine Teeth

Another Stake in the Bag.

Call me Fishmeal. In many ways, being a land surveyor is quite dangerous... even deadly. Some of the biggest difficulties a surveyor encounters are Meat Bees, Poison Oak, grumpy neighbors toting guns, Black Berry bushes, "steeps" - combined with excessive gravity, and dogs. As for latter-most, the majority of K-Nines are simply happy to have someone around, but unfortunately, other pooches aren't as playful, and seem to have something to prove. While conducting a routine property survey in the mountains, I discovered that an encroaching fence, where a neighbor was enjoying about a half an acre of the property I was surveying. I had calculated coordinates to determine where the property corner should be, and was on the other side of the fence looking for a survey monument to validate my calculations when I looked up to see that an attentive German Shepherd had just arrived to investigate the curious sounds of the Schonstedt*. As I stood motionless, I realized that I was about forty-feet equidistant to the gate, and the dog when, the Shep spotted me. I had one chance... get to the gate before the dog could chew me to pieces. I was already on my way at the moment the dog and I made eye contact. Knowing the completely capable Shep would be in hot pursuit, I pushed on my escape with every bit of speed I could muster, and with one last lunge, I dove toward the gate, closing it as I dashed through. Gnashing teeth snapped at me from between the four inch gap of the gate and fence post.

I'd rather be whaling.

* The Schontedt is a fancy metal detector.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Jobs: Confessions of a Pony Express Courier #1

When the Hyundai was first introduced in American, it was one of the less expensive new cars on the market. Many people, (especially the more snobbish), considered, the "cheap" Hyundai to be another Yugo, that would soon disappear. At the time, I was a Pony Express Courier, and my route was the busy metropolitan area of down town Salt Lake City. It was a quick-paced, fast-witted reaction time route that none of the other drivers wanted, or could handle. I was the best... the Harry Tuttle of couriery, and everyone knew it. I knew all the tricks, shortcuts, bypasses, etc. I even used my skateboard on occasion. Parking was always an issue, but fortunately I had a friend from high school who worked as a meter attendant, and he told me that if he knew it was my van, (and Pony Express had many), he wouldn't issue a citation. After that I always took my Tooele High School lunch tray to work with me, and left it on the seat when I was away from the van. On one such occasion, I was parked on the street in front of one of the title companies, and as I exited the building, skipping along at a snappy pace, I noticed a very well dressed man, parked directly behind me, taking up a valuable prime time parking spot, and busily engaged wiping the minutest of dust particles from his sparkling new Mercedes Benz. His pompous demeanor was amusing to me at the time. He was so proud of his fancy new ride, and was basking in imaginary attention, when I cheerfully greeted him, saying, "Nice Hyundai, mister!" He looked back over his left shoulder, and sneered articulately... enunciating each word with unmistakable emphasis. "Its a Mercedes Benz." "Same difference," I said before jumping into the van.

I drove away so very pleased with myself. I could imagine how many times he'd tell the story about the dumb kid who thought his Mercedes was a Hyundai.

He who gets the last laugh is the last laugher laughing.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jobs #2 A Bag of Stakes

Putrefaction* is never a pleasant experience. Sometimes its overwhelming. I've had some of my strangest encounters with death while land surveying. One of my very first jobs was working for the Tooele County Surveyor, Joe Ubanick, (sp?). On one particular occasion, we were working in the rural farming community of Erda, running centerline stationing down Erda Lane. We were dragging a 100' metal chain, (the days before lasers and EDMs) and setting points @ cl every hundred feet. It was early in the morning, and as usual, there wasn't any traffic on the road. Any other day, this job would have been simple, however on this particular occasion, something terrible had taken place under the veil of darkness. We had arrived at twilight** to get an early jump on the heat. It was going to be a scorcher, and could get as hot as 100 degrees. As the road became illuminated with first light, I beheld hundreds of dead bunnies*** strewn across the road, as far as I could see. I was pretty young, and it really grossed me out. I stood dumbfounded, attempting to understand the situation and put things into perspective. I couldn't imagine why so many bunnies were dead. Who did it? How did they do it? What could inspire such destruction. Two things were clear, these bunnies weren't road kill, and they didn't all drink poison Kool-aid and lay down on the road to die en mass, ala Jim Jones and the People's Temple. As the day dragged on, the heat increased and the only clouds were swarms of flies basking in the fuzzy rotting corpses. It was less than fun dragging the chain across the bodies of decaying animals, and I never did find out where all the dead bunnies came from.

* You've never seen that word at the beginning of a blog before.
** The best time to kill vampires. I have a bag of stakes, and I know how to use them.

** Dead bunnies scattered on dawn's roadway bleeding...

Monday, August 13, 2007

Jobs #1- How Many Fingers?

The shortest duration I ever held a job was one week. My father in-law got me a night shift position at BMC West building wooden trusses. I hadn't been there long when it became evident that everyone was missing at least one finger. It was obvious to me that losing any of my digits wasn't worth five bucks an hour, so after losing quite a bit of sleep over it, I quit at the end of the week. My decisively German father in-law was offended, and never spoke to me again, but at least I have ALL of my fingers and can still flip him off whenever I feel like it.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Meet Pagan Joe

Joe wasn't actually a Pagan, at least I don't think he was. When we met, he refused to shake hands, saying, "That's pagan!" Therein lies the nick name.* Joe had just turned eighty, and was squatting on private property in the Santa Cruz Mountains. His "home" consisted of plywood scraps he had pieced together. It was about 7'x7' wide, and about four feet high. Joe was less than five feet tall, yet his dwelling wasn't even tall enough for him to stand upright. There was no door to keep out the cold weather. The floor was dirt, and there was a fire pit made of rocks near one of the walls. There was no chimney, or ventilation system, therefore smoke filled the abode, and poured out the gaping open structure. The walls were blackened with smoke... evidence of a long history of occupation. There is no telling how many years Joe had lived there, but when I met him, he was being forced to leave because the property he was squatting on had been sold, and the new owners planned to build a home** where Joe's smoke-hut was located. It wasn't looking good for poor old Pagan Joe. Where would he go? At eighty, he wasn't interested in starting a new life in a nursing home. He'd lived in the woods all his life, and wouldn't be comfortable anywhere else. Fortunately, one of the adjacent neighbours was aware of Joe's plight, and allowed him to relocate two hundred feet to the north. The kind property owner also provided a small trailer for Joe to live in. He expressed to me that he knew Joe wouldn't be alive for many more years, and it was the least he could do to provide him with a small amount of comfort before his mortal demise.

*I've often wondered... "If his name is Nick, what is his nickname?"

** In contrast, last week I drove past Pagan Joe's, and observed a massive home being constructed at the site of the old shack Joe called home.