Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mad Men

If you have yet to discover AMC's Mad Men, it's not too late.

Mad Men is a television show set in the early 1960s at a New York City advertising agency on Madison Avenue. The show brilliantly explores the sensibilities of a bygone era in our not too distant past. The characters are vivid, the writing exquisite, the music, the sets, the costumes, all come together to remind us how much the world has changed in five decades and how much it hasn't. Some describe Mad Men as a soap opera, and if you're going to watch it you will want to start at the beginning. I think of it more as the best, and perhaps longest, feature film I've ever seen. The quality of the show is that good. Season three finished this fall. The first two seasons are available on DVD and all three seasons are available from iTunes.

Below is an image of the actress Christina Hendricks who plays Joan Holloway Harris, and is one of my favorite characters on the show.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Tanner Park, Salt Lake City

O.C. Tanner was an amazing man. I've written about him in the past (I might have to find some of those pieces). Tanner was a successful Utah businessman who gave back to his community. One of those gifts was a piece of land in town that's a park now. It's an ideal place for urban dog parents to take their pups off leash.

Jake and I just returned after a romp in the park. He's one happy boy. Me too.

Update, October 2010: Just saw this post. It turns out I knew nothing about this park, but have since learned--more than I want to know! The park I go to is not Tanner Park, it's Parley's Historic Nature Park. The land wasn't given to the city by Tanner, the city bought most of it from UDOT. To my chagrin--as my other posts demonstrate--SLC Mayor Becker is trying to take the park away. I didn't know that when I wrote this initial post.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Meteor over Utah!

. . . and I missed it. But a friend of mine saw it along with thousands of others. Now the hunt is on for rocks from space. I'll be listing news reports below. Too cool! Will there be any new meteorites from my favorite state?

Look at this nine second video:

November 18th coverage from the Salt Lake Tribune.

More from my friend who witnessed it: He said the entire Salt Lake valley lit up like it was daytime--the event occurred around midnight. He said he briefly thought it was the apocalypse.

Here is a more detailed news report:

November 30th update:

According to Seth Jarvis of Clark Planetarium "it entered the atmosphere at about 50,000 miles an hour."

"With the Colorado video and a spectacular mountaintop video from western Utah, they triangulated a new target zone. The space rock evidently traveled north to south and exploded 35 miles high, 120 miles west of Salt Lake. If any of it reached Earth, it was likely south of Wendover, near the Utah-Nevada border in the rugged Deep Creek Mountains." Read more at KSL.com.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Meteorite Men premiere

Originally posted May 12, 2009

With Geoffrey Notkin just after his new show Meteorite Men premiered on the Discovery Science Channel. This is one of the two Brenham meteorites they found while filming in Kansas. This meteorite has olivine (peridot) gems in it.

Photographed in Tucson, Arizona on May 10, 2009.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Berlin +20, proud to be an American

Yesterday the West celebrated one of its greatest triumphs. After 44 years of oppression, the Iron Curtain dissolved twenty years ago. The events in Berlin and throughout Eastern Europe in 1989 did not occur simply because an East German bureaucrat misspoke. No, they were the result of the strong moral position that the United States took beginning in the Truman Administration and carrying on through the early days of President Bush the First.

John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan were the most colorful of the Cold Warriors. Their respective visits to Berlin in 1963 and 1987 are important mile markers of a long and brutal Cold War. Another great American effort must also be remembered. President Truman oversaw the most dramatic effort to preserve the freedom of West Berlin when he supplied the city with food and all other necessary supplies during the Berlin Blockade by the Soviets in 1948 and 1949. An entire city was kept alive by airlifting in every necessary supply to sustain life.

During the Berlin Airlift alone 71 American and British airmen lost their lives. It took courage to stand up to the Soviet bullies in the 1940s and it took commitment and vision to continue that stand for over four decades.

Americans, and other westerners whose nations supported our policy of containing communism to its 1945 borders in Europe, have much to be proud of. Yes that day in Berlin twenty years ago was a long day coming and it was no accident. It was one of the primary goals of U.S. foreign policy for almost half a century. Not only were German families split in two, but all of Eastern Europe suffered for two generations under the grip of Soviet Communism. Coming after two generations of war in the first half of the twentieth century, Eastern Europeans paid a heavy price for politics gone awry between 1914 and 1989.

All of this amounts to more than just historic facts. American efforts to contain communism in Europe represent the best of our country. In history nothing is inevitable. There are many possible outcomes and the future is impossible to predict.

Below you can see my friend Mirja Riester, who grew up near the intra-German border in West Germany, discuss the fall of the Berlin Wall:

Monday, November 09, 2009

They're back. January 20th.

Don't miss new episodes of Meteorite Men with my friend's Geoffrey Notkin and Steve Arnold.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Back home in Zion

After seven years of wanderings, I am back in Utah.

I arrived in late August, but tonight Jake and I returned from a week-long trip to Phoenix. The main purpose of that trip was to empty our storage unit.

I don't have too many worldy possessions left after downsizing again and again over the last ten years, but I have a few. Mostly everything is in plastic bins and I am not even sure what I have at this point.

All of my stuff went from my Phoenix storage unit to my Salt Lake storage unit. It will be roughly six months before I actually unpack.

It is so good to be back in Utah and I am pysched for winter and some serious skiing.

The decade with no name

More on the decade that is about to end:

Friday, October 30, 2009

A decade winds down

It just hit me, this decade, whatever we ended up calling it, is basically over. Just two months to go.

How the hell did that happen? Whoa.

Here come the teens. Even if it's three years until the first teen--we can call the whole decade the teens.

Here's where I've seen the new decades come in so far:

1970 Ohio
1980 Vermont
1990 Florida
2000 Montana
2010 _______ (Probably Ohio, though it seems like I need to be in at least some other state)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Welcome to the brave new world of social media

Originally posted in July of 2009 Many of us have been drawn into the new world of social media. It’s been a very organic process. For most of us the first step was email in the early 1990s. With email it became easy to communicate written messages electronically, instantly, and for free--or at least with zero incremental cost. Never before was such a thing possible. People quickly got an email address and changed how they communicated with others. 

When the World Wide Web took off in the mid 1990s additional avenues of communications proliferated. Today, many of us use various forms of social media as part of our daily routine. Let’s consider the term itself. After all, what is “social media?” It is a very broad term that encompasses many different things. The best definition I've seen: "Social media is online content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies." How did you find this posting? Email, Twitter, Facebook? Are you a regular visitor to this web page? All of these are different types of social media. It's very important to emphasize that if you use email, if you're even reading this page, you are a user of social media. You need not join the Facebook masses or the Twitterers--those are just two new, and potent, applications in this new world of communications. 

Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, is social media. Wikipedia is not just an encyclopedia, it is also an online community of volunteer editors that created the largest encyclopedia in human history. Today, Wikipedia contains 13,000,000 articles in more than 260 languages. It didn’t exist ten years ago. There are advantages and disadvantages to social media. It's currenlty getting a lot of buzz because it describes a whole new mosaic of possibilities in the realm of communications. Take some time to better understand it. 

Read the Wikipedia article on social media to get a  comprehensive overview of the term. This article is the result of many Wikipedia editors collaborating from around the world. I don't present it as the ultimate definition of this new term, though I do offer it as an excellent start--one of the best I've seen. This is part of the genius of Wikipedia, it is ever changing. Wikipedia is criticized because anybody, literally anybody, can edit it, but the end result is often articles that are extremely well written.  

"Social media is online content created by people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies."

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Exploring brave new worlds

One of the new images from Hubble:

Text from NASA:

Butterfly Emerges from Stellar Demise in Planetary Nebula NGC 6302

This celestial object looks like a delicate butterfly. But it is far from serene. What resembles dainty butterfly wings are actually roiling cauldrons of gas heated to more than 36,000 degrees Fahrenheit. The gas is tearing across space at more than 600,000 miles an hour -- fast enough to travel from Earth to the moon in 24 minutes!

NGC 6302 lies within our Milky Way galaxy, roughly 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius. The "butterfly" stretches for more than two light-years, which is about half the distance from the Sun to the nearest star, Alpha Centauri. The star’s surface temperature is estimated to be about 400,000 degrees Fahrenheit, making it one of the hottest known stars in our galaxy.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Ted Kennedy—A mess of a man, and exhibit A of why it is good to be less judgmental, and more forgiving

I was once a young Republican who had a deep seated gut feeling that Teddy Kennedy was bad for America. Over the years my views mellowed, and Kennedy too evolved.

It is interesting to consider this man. If you read the New York Times obituary (one of the longest I remember seeing) you read of someone with huge, glaring, even horrifying flaws. He was a spoiled rich boy who at best committed manslaughter and got away with it.

Yes, many of the things that most of us average folk struggle to achieve were never part of Teddy Kennedy’s world. He never had to worry about paying rent, or a mortgage.

I am always fascinated by people like him who despite being given everything also have it in their DNA to give back. Regardless of what you think of his politics, you have to admit he did all he could, given his world view, to fight for a better society.

I’ve contemplated and studied the lives of leaders like Ted Kennedy, Ted Stevens of Alaska, and Hillary Clinton for years. Stevens was convicted and then had his conviction overturned, for allegedly petty crimes related to home improvements—nothing compared to Kennedy’s actions that led to the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Yet I firmly believe, no, I know from personally meeting and seeing both of these men in action, that their work in the U.S. Senate made our country a better place. It is popular to hate politicians and to tear them down, yet it takes a special perseverance to survive such an onslaught of vitriol. Hillary Clinton’s ability to persevere is the main reason why I went from being a Hillary hater to a Hillary lover. Wow, she is tough—and yes, she is flawed.

Our governmental institutions need men and women like Kennedy, Stevens, and Clinton. All of these people have huge flaws. There are reasons to hate any or all of them, to demand that they leave public life, to pine for new faces. Yet those new faces will be just as human as these three.

What delusion do we live under to think that anyone is above the flaws of being human?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Richland County, Ohio

The next few posts are from my recent visit to my hometown in Ohio.

Fresh hay at Sandstone Farm.

Posing on the tractor at Sandstone Farm

Amish country

The area includes many Amish and Mennonites. Both are rooted in 19th century ways (some more so than others). The two groups don't mix.

Western saddle, restored by an Ohio Amish craftsman

Meanwhile, back at Sandstone Farm . . .

My friend Francis has been working hard since I last wrote about her cool Ohio farm. While she has not yet made it back in to the main farm house she is inching closer. For nearly two years now she has been living in her cabin while plotting, planning, and working to finance her move in to the old farm house on her property.

This is a monumental project and it has been her dream for many years. It is a labor of love.

This month some additional restoration work is scheduled to begin on the main house and she hopes to move in this fall--an ambitious goal. She wants to have running water in the house along with other bathroom facilities. There is no running water on the farm. She showers daily, but it involves a drive of more than ten miles.

Other than an aborted attempt to dwell in the neglected house nine years ago, it has not had people living in it for decades. It was originally built in 1849. The stone construction is unusual for a farm house in this part of Ohio. Her top priorities, in addition to running water, are to seal the house up again with windows, and rebuild a collapsed wall.

The roof was replaced a few years ago.

The main house.

The cabin. A.k.a. the cottage or yard barn.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Photographed at the White House, 1984. From the National Archives.

Consider this photo--here is Michael Jackson at age 26. Look at his outfit. It's both ridiculous and spectacular. He is at the White House with the President of the United States. It is arguably the power center of the world. Reagan understood how to communicate with the masses, just as Jackson did. There is a natural symbiosis between Reagan, the politician in an election year, and Jackson, the pop star. Jackson's confidence and sheer gall are something to behold. While still a young man, Jackson was already a seasoned veteran with two decades of experience in show business at the time of this photo. Both of these men knew what they were doing. What unique men they were--icons of their time.

Michael Jackson

I saw a posting on Facebook, Michael Jackson was dead. Was it a rumor? Different news organizations were reporting different things. About an hour later it was confirmed, he was gone.

My first reaction was muted—he hasn’t looked so great in years. He had become very hard to like. This was big news, but not necessarily surprising. Michael was a tortured man, unable to fit in. With his death though I was left with his legacy: the music and performances that he left behind in recordings.

Michael Jackson, part of the soundtrack of our lives, an icon.

I thought of “Thriller," then watched the full 13 minute video on You Tube.

Wow. He could dance!

It was the end of the day so I took Jake to the beach. I have the Internet but no broadcast TV or radio in the Airstream. In my truck I listened to reports from CNN and NPR. A local San Diego station was playing a tribute series of his songs.

I found myself surprisingly moved by his music. Here was a guy I hadn’t thought much about in years. When I had, the thoughts were of pity and disgust. Yet he was so talented, so much bigger than life. At his best he represented the best of life: passionate, driven, purposeful.

Michael Jackson, dead at 50.

What a song

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Update from San Diego

November update: Our time in SD was limited to about three months. It was a good sojourn and our last stop as Airstreamers.

Jake and I have been in San Diego for 15 days now. It's been an adjustment.

Dog Beach at San Diego’s Ocean Beach is one of our favorite spots. We're living 27 miles east of the Pacific, and have found some spectacular hiking in the mountains nearby our new homestead as well.

Work is going well. I am here on a writing assignment, one that will hopefully last for a while.

Writing and living in an Airstream is a whole different experience compared to traversing the continent selling meteorites and connecting with friends and family. It's a MUCH more solitary existence.

Work, yoga, and getting Jake out sums up my current routine. It's not super exciting, but not bad either. Of course there is the excitement and strangeness of being in a new town.

San Diego is gorgeous. Jake and I are both psyched to be missing a Sonoran summer. Last summer about did us in.

I've also discovered Facebook--where I've wasted a lot of my spare time lately. The good part of it is that it provides a way to stay in contact with close friends who are geographically dispersed. The bad part? My new found Facebook Scrabble addiction is one example. Luckily it's an addiction that's already ebbed considerably.

Doing many more updates on Facebook these days than updates here. My most recent Facebook post is recreated below--on D-Day.

Cheers from San Diego County,

Jim and Jake

Saturday, June 06, 2009

D-Day +65

Members of an American landing party lend helping hands to other members of their organization whose landing craft was sunk by enemy action off the coast of France. These survivors reached Omaha Beach by using a life raft.
-Photo by Weintraub, 6 June 1944

"What we must not forget is that D-Day was a time and a place where the bravery and selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century."
-Barack Obama, 6 June 2009

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Windmills: The sentries of San Diego County

These 21st century sentries stand guard in the mountains above San Diego greeting travelers from the East. Our culture demands energy--driving the economy, and delivering the comforts of contemporary living. Clean energy from wind, solar, and other non-traditional sources is an important alternative to carbon generating coal-powered electricity plants. Coal power is currently the number one source of electricity in the U.S.

Reducing my carbon footprint

My restored 1973 Airstream--home for over two years now. Living in a space with less than 200 square feet requires far less energy to heat and cool. The tiny space requires less cleaning materials and demands the accumulation of less stuff. The Airstream also took less materials to build than a traditional home. Re-using an older trailer cut down on the demand for new materials. My Dodge diesel truck gets about the same mileage as my previous car, a Subaru, and I drive about the same number of miles as I did when living a more traditional life--though my goal is to drive even less.

Ascent into the mountains on Interstate 8

California arrival

Friday, May 08, 2009

Working harder than I've ever worked before . . .

The tractor-trailer arrived at about 6:30 AM at our Sonoran Desert ranch—loaded with 22+ tons of Kansas hay. Each bale weighed an average of 75 pounds, over 600 bales in all. The goal was to start early, before the heat set in. We began.

At a rate of 35 to 50 bales at a time, we loaded a pickup truck, backed the truck into the stable area, unloaded and restacked. One bale at a time the work proceeded.

By about 9 AM the pace slowed markedly as the heat set in. We pressed on. I’d climb up on the giant flatbed filled with hay, toss bales down to the crew in the back of the pickup. They’d pack and stack. We’d back the truck 350 feet to the covered hay area (a roof on poles blocks the sun and the rare rains). Our pile grew to be about ten or twelve layers high. The photo ops were epic, Jerry Jackson in his cowboy boots perched on top of the towering stack—behind him a Sonoran blue sky and the Phoenix mountains, covered in cacti and rock.

We began to stumble and fall in the holes between the bales as we worked to lift the buggers in to their pile.

We drank copious amounts of fluids—I had at least five to seven liters of water and didn’t take a single bathroom break. And on we went.

By 10:30 or so, the heat and the work were really taking a toll. I took on the work with a determined intensity, and though it didn’t look like it, I enjoyed it.

By the end our pace was comically slow. The temperature hit a hundred—six hours of non-stop hard labor pushed us to our limits.

I am the Monica Seles of physical labor, grunting and swearing as I lifted yet another bale.

The youngest member of the team, a 24 year old, hit the wall a good hour before the end.

It was down to me and two fifty-somethings who were work horses.

Straining, sweating, and panting we plowed on to the end.

I honestly don’t know if I’ve ever worked this hard.

No matter how much I drank I sweated and breathed out huge quantities of fluids. I am still dehydrated almost 24 hours later. I was spent, but my spirit was strengthened from the efforts.

The hay is unloaded—enough to last until about September, when it will be even hotter in Phoenix. This was the biggest load ever received at this particular ranch. I am betting the September load won't be as big.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Chihuly in Phoenix

The art of Dale Chihuly, at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix.

The entrance to the gardens

The art of Dale Chihuly, at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix.

Bob Bullock ponders the work of Chihuly

The art of Dale Chihuly, at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix.

Boat with glass in desert, and more color

The art of Dale Chihuly, at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix.

Red, cacti, and Chihuly's floats

The art of Dale Chihuly, at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix.

Dale Chihuly's exhibit at the Desert Botanical Gardens, Phoenix

The Sonoran Desert is a magical place. The glass art of Dale Chihuly is a testament to the creativity of man. The combination of the two is breathtaking.

The scale of the exhibit was as impressive as each component. Pieces were strategically placed throughout the gardens. The effect went beyond whimsical fun to a level of artistry rarely seen. Dale Chihuly is one of the greats of our times. It is easy to see why his work has mass appeal.

As amazing as Chihuly’s work is, it pales next to nature itself. I saw an artichoke in full bloom, and that was the best art of the day. Nothing tops the beauty of nature, but Chihuly proved himself a maestro at enhancing it.

Jim Breitinger

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Jake in Utah last month

Jake photographed in March, forty miles east of Kanab, Utah.

The Dusty Boots Benefit Show

Thanks to everyone for making the Dusty Boots Benefit this past weekend a success. The show was held in north Phoenix to benefit Dusty Boots Riding Therapy, a Phoenix based non-profit.

“Dusty hands, dusty faces, dusty grins, dusty boots …
there’s magic in the dust … come take a ride”

Why Riding Therapy?

A horse’s rhythmic movements helps strengthen the rider’s “whole self”, which results in improved balance and posture. Motor skills, hand/eye coordination and interactive abilities improve; in addition, there is a sense of empowerment and independence along with a higher degree of self esteem.

The use of horses has gained increased interest in the world of psychotherapy. Those who are familiar with horses have always acknowledged their power to influence people in amazing ways. Horses have the ability to mirror what the human body language tells them. Accomplishing a task involving a horse increases confidence and provides wonderful metaphors when dealing with other challenging situations in life.

What does Dusty Boots offer?

  • Therapeutic Riding Programs
  • Equine Assisted Therapy
  • Riding Lessons
  • Team Building Sessions
  • Special Olympics Involvement
  • Scout Badge Certification

Friday, April 03, 2009

Arizona's Meteor Crater--at Canyon Diablo

One of Arizona's great wonders is Meteor Crater between Flagstaff and Winslow. This is a 1941 illustration of the first confirmed meteorite impact site on the planet. This hole in the ground is a powerful testament to what happens when a rock from space collides with the earth.

We will be offering a limited supply of Arizona's Canyon Diablo meteorites at the Dusty Boots Benefit. As well as other gems from space--rocks that are as old and older than the earth itself!

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Milton Series

Photos of Jake and friends in Phoenix last month, by Kim Milton.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Celebrating Spring's imminent arrival

The Celebration of Spring show at Jennifer Johnson's is a wrap.

Thanks EVERYONE for making this such a great show. Jennifer's house was transformed into Salt Lake's finest gallery. Kellie and her pieces shined bright. The rocks from space rocked the capital of Zion. Jake the dog only escaped once . . . Amy, Ron, and other featured artists prove the endless ingenuity of the American people. Jennifer's house was and is glorious, and the majestically snow covered Wasatch towered above it all.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A note on meteorites

This weekend's show includes a large selection of meteorites. These rocks from space are powerful and tangible samples of the building blocks of our solar system. Meteorites are billions of years old, and some are over 4.5 billion years old, dating back to the birth of our solar system. We are offering a wide array of meteorites at many prices starting at $5 and up to $2,000.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

32.3 pound Campo del Cielo meteorite

Weighing in at 32.3 pounds (14.655 kilograms) this is the largest meteorite to date offered by Utahredrock. This meteorite originated in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and was recovered from northern Argentina where it collided with our planet about 5,000 years ago. Campo del Cielo translates as field of the skies. Campo meteorites are the most affordable of the iron-nickel meteorites on the market today purely due to supply and demand--many Campos have been recovered from the field in the past five to ten years making them more readily available than any other iron-nickel meteorite. Other iron-nickel meteorites with similar total known weight include Arizona's Canyon Diablo and Russia's Sikhote-alin. The Arizona and Russian meteorites, which are of similar composition as the Campos, regularly sell for $1 to $2 per gram. Unique pieces can go for much more. The supply of fresh Campos, however, is drying up and high quality Campos like this one will be appreciating in value in the near future--even in a tough economy there is just so much of this material and it is likely to hold its value.

Utahredrock guarantees the authenticity of all meteorites sold.

Campo view two

32.3 pound Campo del Cielo meteorite.

Campo view three

32.3 pound Campo del Cielo meteorite.

Amethyst detail

A closeup of 57.2 pound amethyst.

Natural American Turquoise--Nevada

Beautiful turquoise pendant by Lebe Loola, SOLD--however, we have many other beautiful pieces by Lebe Loola. Support Dusty Boots, as well as Amy of Lebe Loola, a modern American woman with amazing talent who is currenlty supporting herself through nursing school.

The Buddhist Collection at Utahredrock

Large wooden Buddha SOLD, gold Buddhist monk $125, Buddha heads carved from stone $35.

Happy Buddhas

Ceramic Buddha SOLD, gold Buddha, SOLD.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Arizona (and German) meteorite hunters descend on West, Texas

Famed Arizona meteorite hunters Michael Farmer, Robert Ward, and Shauna Russell were present as their colleague Moritz Karl of Germany found one of the first pieces of last Sunday's meteorite fall near the town of West, Texas. The meteorite appears to be a chondrite, the most common type of rock from outer space. I met three of the four meteorite hunters in Tucson this past week. Good work folks!

Here's a link to one story on the hunt that is underway (with photos): http://www.wacotrib.com/news/content/news/stories/2009/02/19/02192009wacmeteorhunters.html

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Esquel meteorite pendant

Designed by Michigan's Amy Sorensen of Lebe Loola, this unique pendant is from out of this world. The pendant contains a thin slice of the highly sought after Esquel pallasite meteorite. Pallasites are very rare and contain olivine crystals--actual gems from outer space.

Spring 2009 Update:

This pendant SOLD, however, if you would like something similar, please call me at 801.971.5240.

Photos by Geoffrey Notkin of Aerolite Meteorites.