Monday, December 29, 2014

Meme's Cafe

I've eaten at Meme's Cafe many times.  They're starting to recognize me.  It's in Springdale, across the street from the Shell station, and next door to Sol Foods.  Their food is quite good.  It's surprising to find good BBQ and teriyaki, at a French-themed cafe that specializes in crepes, in southern Utah.  


The teriyaki chicken rice bowl has fresh vegetables and homemade teriyaki sauce; not that mass-produced syrupy stuff.  Their beef brisket and pulled pork are both tender and tasty.  Their chicken and turkey plates have real meat, none of that flash-frozen pre-formed junk that's popular in tourist towns.  And the servings are large.

I haven't yet ordered a crepe.  I assume they're good because I saw a small boy (about 5 years old) announce loudly to the waitress that he loves it and he wants to return and order the same thing.  His face was covered in chocolate.  Speaking of kids, they have a neat sign hanging on the wall.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Christmas in Zion

It snowed on Zion National Park on Christmas day.  The scenery was amazing.  A photographer would have had fun.  It was cold, about 32F, when I was taking photos.  Luckily, I got in some hikes the previous day when it was warmer.  



The next photo shows Nippletop Peak.


Here's Progeny Peak.


Most of the road was clear.  The sun was melting the snow fast.


Sections in shade were very slick.  My car slid sideways a bit on all 4 wheels (while driving less than 10 mph).  Luckily, I learned to drive in weather like this, so it was more fun than dangerous.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Land Rover Hood/Bonnet Sensor Switch

The vast majority of visitors to my blog are looking for information about replacing the hood/bonnet sensor switch on Land Rovers.  My old posts were for a 2008 LR3, but I think the information can apply to many models.  Those switches tend to fail causing the alarm system to think the hood has been opened, and so the alarm goes off. 

I noticed that the links in my posts are old and invalid.  So I decided to dig up information and links for the required replacement switch.  I have another motive also.  I'm buying a 2015 LR4 and I want to buy a few of these switches so I'll be ready for the inevitable failure.  It's super easy to replace.  The most annoying part is the embarrassing alarm activations.  In addition to the normal garage and parking lot activations, mine would go off at night when I was camping at Zion Natl. Park.  I'm sure I annoyed many other people in the campground.

Over the years, Land Rover has been assigning new part numbers for what appears to be the same part.  The latest part number that I found is: LR041431.  At around $40, it's more expensive now, but still pretty cheap.  Atlantic Pacific sells them here.  Amazon is offering them from a NJ seller.  You can find others by googling the part number.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Working Stiff

Dr. Judy Melinek's book, Working Stiff - Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner, is about her experiences as a junior forensic pathologist with the NYC OCME.  I really liked this book.  It's very interesting and informative, loaded with stories of her various cases.  Beyond the ordinary, Dr. Melinek and her colleagues worked some horrific cases in the aftermath of the 9-11 attacks.

I learned things only an ME would know.  For example, if you die alone, your dog will sit by your side for days or weeks like a loyal friend.  If, on the other hand, you have a cat, whiskers will begin eating your dead body after a few days, starting with the soft tissue, your lips and eyes.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Martian

If you haven't already read it, then I highly recommend The Martian by Andy Weir.  The story begins in a way that grabs your attention...

"I'm pretty much f*d.
That's my considered opinion.
F*d.
Six days into what should be the greatest month of my life, and it's turned into a nightmare."

Set in the not-too-distant future with the third manned mission to Mars.  NASA astronaut Mark Watney is stranded on Mars after his fellow astronauts abort the mission and leave, believing Watney is dead.  The story is largely told in first-person log entries by Watney.  

This is very realistic science fiction, with an unending stream of challenges Watney must solve in order to survive.  At one point, he's using the hydrazine fuel to make hydrogen, then burning that (carefully) to make water.

"Firstly, hydrazine is some serious death.  If I make any mistakes, then there'll be nothing left but the Mark Watney memorial crater where the Hab once stood."

At this point when I was reading it, I was thinking: you are insane!  You see... I have actually designed spacecraft hydrazine propulsion systems that have flown in space.  And so I happen to know how dangerous that stuff is.  It was reassuring that Weir put in the details and described a remotely feasible way this would work.  Watney didn't have a problem until he was burning hydrogen to make water.  

"Everything went great right up to the explosion."

This is a great book and I wish Weir the success he deserves.

The film adaptation is already being produced with Ridley Scott directing and Matt Damon starring as Watney.  Filming began last month and release is planned for November 2015.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Anchor Bolts in Zion

On a recent hike in Zion NP, I came across some rock climbing anchor bolts.  There were 5 of them, secured to the top of the rocks at the center of this google map.  Maybe these are seen often by others, but it is rare for me to see them.


I don't know why they are in this particular location, so I'll guess.  They might provide anchors for rappelling down into Keyhole Canyon on the left.  Rappelling from this spot would drop you between the upper narrows and middle narrows sections of Keyhole Canyon.  It would also be a big convenience for SAR teams if they had permanent anchors installed where they would likely want them.


I found the map below on this web site.  I had walked up the red route line on the right.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

As You Wish

If you like the movie The Princess Bride, then you'll like the new book As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes (the actor who played Westley, aka Dread Pirate Robert).  I recenly listened to the audiobook version, read by Elwes, and it was very interesting.    

The book is full of stories about the making of the movie.  Starting long before the movie and includes the story of how Rob Reiner got his shot at the story.  It includes many personal accounts and memories from various actors as well as Rob and William Goldman.  The audiobook even includes many of these actors reading their own stories.  The book was clearly a team effort.

Cary included several nice stories about working, and bar-hopping, with Andre the Giant.   How he and Mandy learned to sword fight.  How he got the crew to let him dive head first into the quicksand; the script had him jumping in feet first, which is much less heroic.  Cary also describes a great working environment as the cast and crew were all housed together in a small UK village for the location shoots.

You can see some of these same stories told by the same people in youtube videos that were posted a few years ago, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of the movie's release.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Hiking On the Bottom of Ant Hill

Ant Hill is a prominent peak on the east side of Zion NP.  It's labeled peak 6641 on USGS topo quads and doesn't have an official name.  It's located just east of Progeny Peak.  Here's a google map centered on the peak.  The photo below was taken from the top of Cockeye Falls.


I decided to explore the south buttress and avoid the scary upper section.  Here are a couple views from Google Earth with my GPS route shown.



I've been looking at this hill for years each time I hike past Cockeye Falls on my way to/from Lost Peak or The Triplets.  The slickrock slope on the south side is just a tad too steep for my taste.  The steepness of those slopes can be seen in the photos posted by 13ergirl.  Routes up the south slope are class 4 and easily become 5, so I chose to hike around the west side.  My route was class 3.  Here are a few shots along the way.













After about 45 minutes I made it to the top of the south ridge.  I found a nice spot to sit and rest while enjoying the view.