Sunday, October 16, 2016

Trilobites and the House Range

Two Species of Trilobites at the Same Time!
My son, Evan, and I went out past Delta yesterday to go dig fossils at the U Dig Fossil quarry near Swazey Peak in the House Range.  The quarry is located where a very rich vein of the Wheeler Shale is exposed and one can find very well preserved trilobite and other fossils from the Cambrian era (half a billion years ago).  It costs $28 per adult for two hours and you get a 20% discount if you can show them a Utah driver's license.  They give you a rock hammer and a bucket and you are allowed to cart off as much rock as you want during your stay.  The quarry is dug out periodically with power equipment so there are fairly fresh shards of shale to work with.  You try to split the rock along a seam layer and hopefully expose a fossil when you do so.  Most of the fossils are trilobites and are very small and often just pieces.  Sometimes you find only an impression because the fossil itself is fragile and breaks up when you split the rock.  The biggest ones we got were an inch or two long.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Viking at the Renaissance Faire

Yeongmi and I attended the Utah Renaissance Faire this August at Thanksgiving Point.  I went in character as Kyarssgand Vaneldsson.  I wore my full kit: tunic, boots, pants, belt, sword, seax, helmet and the fake beard and hair.  It's hard to eat with a fake beard.

Bilbo's Birthday Party 2016

September 22nd is Bilbo (and Frodo)'s birthday.  We threw a party at our place and, of course, it rained.  But we still had a pretty fun time.  This is our second one this year.  We did another back in the Spring to celebrate Bilbo's Unexpected Party with Gandalf and 13 Dwarves.  It rained then too.

The Snack Table

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Belgium 2015

I took a trip to Belgium with Yeongmi last September.  The primary purpose was to present a paper at the Dynare Conference, but we spent a fair amount of time sightseeing before and after the conference.  The bottom line is the waffles are to die for, the chocolate is superb, but I can't comment on the quality of the beer.  Oh and the best part is they never ask "Do you want fries with that?", the assumption being that of course you do and they're automatically included!

Old Guild Halls on the Main Square in Brussels

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Making a Viking Plank Shield

After having made several viking style shields with plywood, I decided I would try making one out of planks.  This is more authentic, I understand, but I am still cheating by using some old pine boards that were once part of a set of shelves I no longer use.  I figured the lumber was essentially free and I still have lots of glue, nails, paint, fabric, etc. from making the plywood shields, so why not?

My online reading has led me to conclude that the planks in actual viking shields were simply butted together and glued.  The linen fabric and rawhide edging were very important in keeping the planks together.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Making Viking Shields

I had the crazy idea to make viking shields for myself, some family and friends.  I thought I would document how I did it and add some tips I learned.

The intent was to make something that was fairly accurate historically, but without too much cost.  As a result I used a lot of modern materials such as plywood, zinc-coated nails, wood glue, and vinyl fake leather.  The overall construction is pretty close to how the vikings appear to actually have assembled their shields, however.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Being Gandalf

For Christmas 2015 my children got me a high quality replica of Gandalf's staff from the Hobbit movies.  It is quite solid and heavy, made from strong plastic with a steel core.  It even has a built in crystal at the top that lights up.

It glows!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Joseph Lejuene at the John Cockerill Statue in Seraing, Belgium

I was in Brussels Belgium for a conference last week and found myself with a Friday free, so Yeongmi and I took a trip to Liege, Belgium in the heart of Wallonia.  Before the trip my mother emailed me this photo of an ancestor of mine, Joseph Lejuene, who was from Liege.
After a long Google search I found the following entry at Wikipedia on John Cockerill, an industrialist who was responsible for building one of the first ironworks and a mechanical engineering companies in Seraing, Wallonia on the Meuse River, a few miles upstream from the city of Liege.

The statue in the photograph is a memorial to him and is located in front of the city hall in the town of Seraing.  Cockerill's grave is just in front of the statue.  The statue faces north toward the river, and on the northwest side of the pedestal is an iron statue of an ironworker that Joseph Lejuene posed for in the late 1880's.

Photo from the same spot taken on Oct. 2, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

Kyoto 2015

My first weekend in Korea, July 3 - 5, I took Alan to Kyoto, Japan.  This is one of my favorite places on the earth and Alan had never been to Japan before.  So I cashed in some Korean Air frequent flyer miles and off we went.  We visited a whole slew of UNESCO world heritage sites in our three days there.  I walked until I thought I would drop dead, rested, and then walked more.  We had a great time!

Fushimi Inari

Taiwan 2015

I was back in Taiwan this June for another conference, this time the Computational Economics and Finance Meetings.  And my youngest son, Alan, came with me.  We were there for week from the 19th of June through the 26th, when we flew to Korea.  The weather was hot and muggy.  It rained frequently and I had difficulty walking long distances.  The conference ran from the 20th through the 22nd, and I did get some free time to go out then, but frankly we were both uncomfortable enough that we went out very little.  When the conference was over, however, we went on a two-day tour to Sun Moon Lake in the mountains of central Taiwan and that was lots of fun.

Wenwu Temple at Sun Moon Lake

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Switzerland 2015

Yeongmi and I travelled to Switzerland this past May and June.  We spent several days in Zurich for a conference at the University of Zurich UZH there.  Then we spent two nights in Lauterbrunnen in Bernese Alps.  We spent a night in Zermat in the shadow of the Matterhorn, and then stopped in Montrose on the shores of Lake Geneva before flying home.

The Matterhorn from Gornergrat
Both of us loved Switzerland.  The people are friendly, the scenery is amazing, the transport system is fast and efficient, and the food was great.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Skeptical about Economic Models? Don't Trust Climate Models Either, Then.

This is a repost of an entry at Ecconoseur, a blog that Rick Evans, Jason DeBacker and I run, but which has been in active for some time.

I read an interesting article at The Market Mogul today entitled, "The Problem with Economic Models," by Aarondeep Hothi.  I reproduce the essay below.

The Problem with Economic Models
Aarondeep Hothi

Economic models are everywhere. They're used both implicitly and explicitly by politicians, economists, journalists and even the general public. These models somehow manage to wrap entire concepts in beautifully presented mathematics and graphs before presenting clear, concise conclusions. They provide a framework for digesting things such as how wages are determined, the effects of a living wage, how countries can grow after exhausting the gains from capital accumulation, the effects of certain policy decisions and many, many more key economic concepts. What could possibly go wrong when applying them to the real world?

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Two Snake River Waterfalls

From its headwaters near Yellowstone National Park to its confluence with the Columbia River at Kennewick, Washington the Snake River runs a little over 1000 miles.  Most of that is in the state of Idaho.
Shoshone Falls

Craters of the Moon

Craters of the Moon is a national monument run by the U.S. Park Service.  It is located in central Idaho.  The visitor's center is near Arco, Idaho.

Looking East from Inferno Cone

Hell's Half Acre

Hells Half Acre is a lava field in southeast Idaho near the town of Blackfoot.  Interstate 15 passes through the southeast corner of the field for a few miles and there is a rest stop about a mile from the southern entrance.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Cahokia Mounds

I visited Cahokia Mounds today.  It is a very interesting site, and has a great museum or, as they call it, interpretive center.  Cahokia was the historically largest urban center in North America north of Mexico until the mid 1700's when Philadelphia surpassed it.  At its height more than 20,000 people lived in the six square miles centered around the complex of mounds there.
View of Downtown St. Louis from the top of Monks Mound
The largest structure there is Monks Mound, which rises more that 100 feet above the surrounding countryside and was ultimately a multi-level terraced temple complex.  Again, the largest one north of Mexico.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

iPhone Photos between Salt Lake City and St. Louis.

I flew from Salt Lake to St. Louis today and it was great weather for taking photos out the window!  Check it out!  Taken with my iPhone 6; in airplane mode, of course.
Wasatch Front from the North

Saturday, April 18, 2015

New York 2015

At the end of June I took a trip with Yeongmi and Joan to New York City for the Eastern Economics Association Meetings.  The meetings went well.  I gave a paper and one of my students from BYU presented another. Both on economic inequality, BTW.

But here is the travel report!