Monday, November 10, 2008

BYU half-time shows

We are proud alumni of BYU and fans of BYU sports, drama, and fine arts. We attend many events at BYU and enjoy them immensely. We are proud supporters of BYU sports and are members of the Cougar Club. We also participated in marching band in high school and so we usually sit in the stands during football games to watch the band and cheer, because after all, they are usually unappreciated. However, we have watched the quality of the half-time shows slip in the last few years until they hit an all-time low last Saturday. The BYU-SDSU show celebrated popular video games. The band played music from Tetris, Prisoner of Zenda, and Mortal Combat. What??? Yes, Mortal Combat, and while the band played the music from the game, the drill team engaged in mock martial arts moves. Um, we're pretty sure that Mortal Combat is not a game that would really be approved under the Honor Code. Honestly, it's a good thing Coach Mendenhall is in the locker room during half-time because the Cougar Marching Band has not subscribed to his philosophy of returning to the glory days and honoring tradition and it's a good thing he can't see it. We love the band and know they work really hard, but perhaps they need to watch some film from the 1980's and resurrect some really good half-time shows for next season. Just a suggestion from some fans.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Winds of Change in the Senate

Elections were held last night in the Senate Majority Caucus and it looks like a whole new day for Senate Republicans. The ousting of President Valentine and Senate Majority Leader Bramble seems a signal from the Senate Republicans that they are looking to change the way of doing business in the Senate.

President Waddoups' immediate comments about the need for ethics reform are very encouraging and we're hoping that great strides will be made in this arena during the upcoming session.

Members of the Senate majority leadership now come from geographically diverse areas, thus breaking the previous stranglehold by Utah County senators. This can only be a positive for collegiality among the Majority Caucus members.

The Senate Minority Caucus has elected the tough but charming Senator Jones, a formidable opponent that we hope Senator Waddoups will turn to as an ally in doing the people's business.

Senate watchers will be eagerly noting the signs of change in the upcoming session.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Election of 2008

Democrats throughout Utah thought that Barack Obama's coattails would have swept more of their party into office this election, but that does not seem to have happened. Although the Salt Lake City Council now has a Democratic majority and the Democrats gained two seats in the Utah House, that was the extent of the wave in Utah.

With one exception. Voters finally said they were fed up with the heavy handed tactics of House Speaker Greg Curtis and voted him out of office--the first Speaker to be so treated in the last 40 years.

With the large numbers of Democrats running this election cycle (and the surprisingly good showing of many of them), perhaps this is a signal to the Utah Republican Party to reevaluate their steady move to the right over the last few years. Although there were only small changes, perhaps it is a precursor to a gradual shift in the political landscape here in Utah.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bramble Spits on Provo

You may not know that Curt Bramble, Utah State Senate Majority Leader from Provo, is a licensed hot air balloonist. He's been flying hot air balloons (anyone else get the symbolism here?) for 25 years and has 5000 hours of flying experience.

Unfortunately for those below, this is how Bramble steers his balloon:

While there isn’t a traditional steering mechanism on a hot air balloon, Bramble said he maneuvers by dropping the balloon into various layers of wind. We were inching toward the field, as Bramble put it, but he was indeed steering the balloon.

How does he find those layers of wind? The “Spit-ometer” test. It may say no spitting over the side of the Empire State Building, but spit flies freely over the side of the wicker basket, and if you keep your eyes on that wad, it will show you which way the wind is blowing. We watched Bramble’s fall, and then suddenly go to the left, or east. Bramble eased off the heat, and dropped into that layer of wind to pull us closer to the target.

Now I don't know about you, but the thought of Bramble's spit landing on me while he is up there trying to steer his balloon isn't very comforting.

A little research on the Internet led to Wikipedia which had this:
For example, to determine wind directions beneath the balloon a pilot might simply spit or release a squirt of shaving cream and watch this indicator as it falls to determine where possible turns are (and their speed).

The shaving cream idea certainly seems a lot better to me...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Hogle Zoo

I went with my family to the Hogle Zoo on Labor Day (even braved the morning rainstorm and eventually got to enjoy a very nice day). It's been a few years since I've been there and I was very impressed with the changes that have been made.

The Elephant exhibit was much nicer than last time, and the Asian Cat exhibit was excellent. It' nice to see the animals in habitats that look more natural.

The bear exhibit still looked awful. Hopefully they'll get that one updated.

The bird show was great and you are missing a real treat if you don't see it next time you visit the Hogle Zoo.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

More Bramblisms

Here is another interesting story about one man's experience with Bramble and again supports the characterization that Senator Bramble thinks he is better than the rest of us and doesn't need to follow the rules:

Then things got interesting. His son was helping take down the balloon and Senator Bramble starts screaming at him in a way that I thought was very inappropriate given the facts that he’s surrounded by people and he’s just told us how great of a leader he is. And what was it that his son needed to do so urgently? He needed to be chased by the dog. Now Senator Bramble has someone produce his dog for him. It is a pretty large dog, very muscular, perhaps a boxer. At this point I’m a bit nervous about him egging the dog on so I pick up my son and put him on my shoulders. He then commands the dog to “get ‘em” and takes the leash off. The dog races
across the park and begins chasing his dutiful son.

What’s wrong with this, aside from the screaming? Well, I’m sure that the dog is a gentle giant, but the park is clearly labeled as only allowing dogs on leash. Here’s the
highest ranking lawmaker in the state blatantly ignoring the law because it suits him in front of the mayor and several police officers. He’s just finished a discourse on what a great leader he is.

See Mormon Mentality for the full story.

Bramble, Pizza, and Google's been long enough (April, I think) since I wrote about anything. And there has been so much. Just didn't feel like writing.

But this was too good to pass up. In a manner that seems absolutely in character, Utah Senate Majority Leader Curt Bramble tried to throw his weight around with a pizza delivery girl and her boss. The blog post that Anna wrote regarding her encounter with Senator Bramble was just too good. And the subsequent posts are worth reading as well. I can't do it justice, although here is a teaser:

"Look, I'm the majority leader of the state senate, I've lived in this house for 30 years, and I've never bounced a check." He's gruff. I am uncomfortable, my eyes pleading, but I say nothing. "Do you know what that means? I'm a public figure. If I bounced a check, it would be all over the papers. I'd lose my reputation!"

Suffice it to say that Curt Bramble tries to bully everyone. It didn't matter that a private business can do what they want. They don't have to accept checks, credit cards, or even cash, for that matter. If they want to be paid in chickens they can require their customers to pay in chickens (probably won't have many customers, but they could do it if they want). There are many businesses that won't take checks. Look for them. They are all around, including many of the fast food restaurants. None of that seemed to matter to Senator Bramble.

Now how does Google play into this? It seems obvious that Anna had no idea that her blog would generate much notice (it hadn't much to this point) and was surprised that it attracted so much attention. She (and others) don't realize that Google indexes blogs with regularity.

There is a mechanism built in to most blog software that notifies Google when a new blog post is made. When Google is notified, it sends its spiders rushing over to check out the new post and index it, making the results available fairly quickly in Google's vast index of the web.

For example, this link has the latest blog posts in Google's index for the phrase "Bramble pizza". You can see all the results, results from the last month, week, day, 12 hours or even last hour.

What is even more interesting is that you can sign up for a Google Alert to have that information delivered to you once a day, if you want. You can also put the RSS feed for that alert into your RSS reader of choice and be notified anytime something new about Bramble and pizza is posted to the blogosphere.

That's how many people keep up on news and information to blog about. Set up a number of alerts and RSS feeds and you will get an endless stream of posts and news items to blog about and comment on. I guarantee that there are people out there that have a Google Alert set up for any news or blog posts regarding Curt Bramble.

By the way, politicians could also use that to find out what people are saying about them. That frightens some people (you shall remain nameless). But I know that at least one senator (that of pizza fame) happened to comment on a posting that I did about him last November. It literally took only four hours and 56 mintues after I posted about Curt Bramble giving incorrect information about the voucher bill for him to comment on this blog. How did he find that post so quickly? Could it be that he (or his 'staff') spends hours scouring the Internet to find what people are saying about him? I think it more likely that he is using technology, such as Google Alerts, to find that information.

If you are a blogger, try out Google Alerts. You'll get an endless supply of material.

Update: It took Google less than two hours to index this post and have the information available in Google and for it to show up on Utah Bloghive. I wonder if Senator Bramble has seen it yet.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Utah County Republican Party

After all the flap about e-mail lists and candidates, County Party Chair Marian Monnahan has agreed to give the e-mail list to ALL the candidates. That is very broad-minded of the party, or shall I say fair? At my precinct caucus, I never once heard the precinct chair say that the delegate e-mail addresses were to be kept for internal party use only. Marian feels that her honor is being compromised by allowing these lists to be circulated, yet when and how did she promise the lists would be kept private? Since delegates were just elected on 25 March, she would have had to distribute this promise to the delegates via mail, phone, or e-mail after the 25th. Otherwise, she would have been telling the previous delegates. And sources on the Utah County Republican Central Committee say that this issue was never mentioned at Central Committee meetings.

I hate to think that leaders in my Republican party are pre-disposed towards incumbents, but it sure seems that way. Susan Bramble, Utah County Party Secretary, controls the lists which is a conflict of interest that can benefit her candidate husband. The Utah Republican Party sent out a flyer soliciting donations for "The Fabulous Five", a group of freshman legislators, some of which have intra-party challenges, and that is against party rules. Chairman Lockhart says it was mistakenly sent out late, but hopefully the state party workers are not that inept.

The Republican Party has always been my party of choice and I don't want to bash the party. I want to see the party be transparent and fair.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Hser Nay Moo

With the abduction and murder of 7-year-old Hser Nay Moo in Salt Lake City, it is a good reminder that April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Prevent Child Abuse Utah has several great resources to help all of us protect children. Check there for tips on how to prevent child abuse and here is something from their website that we can all do.

What YOU can do: Reach Out
Anything you do to support kids and parents can help reduce the stress that often leads to abuse and neglect.
  • Be a friend to a parent you know. Ask how their children are doing. Draw on your own experiences to provide reassurance and support. If a parent seems to be struggling, offer to baby-sit or run errands, or just lend a friendly ear. Show you understand.
  • Be a friend to a child you know. Remember their names. Smile when you talk with them. Ask them about their day at school. Send them a card in the mail. Show you care.
  • Talk to your neighbors about looking out for one another's children. Encourage a supportive spirit among parents in your apartment building or on your block. Show that you are involved.
  • Give your used clothing, furniture and toys for use by another family. This can help relieve the stress of financial burdens that parents sometimes take out on their kids.
  • Volunteer your time and money for programs in your community that support children and families, like parent support groups or day care centers.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Beehive Bulletin listed as one of Utah's Most Influential Political Blogs

The Beehive Bulletin was recently listed on as one of Utah's most influential political blogs. Thanks to all who read and give us feedback. If you have a website, adding our link to your site will help us become more visible and will be greatly appreciated!

Monday, March 31, 2008

State Treasurer candidate

Rep. Mark Walker from Sandy is running for State Treasurer. There are serious questions about his qualifications for this very important state-wide office. In fact, what are his qualifications? We'd like to know. Having observed his performance at the Legislature during his time in office, it seems that he was put on the House Rules Committee to give the chair and vice-chair another vote in their favor and to make him seem important for his latest run for office. The Deseret News ran an article today talking about vote-skippers in the Legislature. It came as no surprise to this observer that Rep. Walker "had the worst voting record in committees during this year's 45-day general session". His excuse is that he was busy running for State Treasurer and meeting with people about bills in the Rules Committee. Perhaps he should have been taking care of his current business rather than running for a new job.,5143,695266072,00.html

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Phrases You are Searching For

I happened to looking at some of the statistics for this blog and saw some interesting things in the phrases that people were searching for when they found this blog.

Here are some of the interesting phrases:
  • utah private school waiting list
  • math investigations
  • math investigations bad
  • math investigations utah
  • math investigations 2007
  • math investigations and higher math
  • math investigsations are bad
  • math investigations for parents
  • math investigations method
  • math investigations opinion
  • math investigations protest
  • middle school math investigations
  • investigations math
  • utah vouchers
  • utah heroes
  • albion basin flowers
  • are charter schools and vouchers detrimental to public education
  • beehive background checks
  • beehive math
  • beehive terrorist attack
  • beehives math
  • bulletin for utah state heroes
  • dougall school videos
  • larry h miller salesmen
  • lists of states with laws against ticket quotas
  • making a referendum
  • memory loss with oreo cookies
  • old face
  • senator stephenson
  • rep sandstrom
  • sandstrom utah county vouchers
  • sen madsen
  • tarsal coalition
  • to run against rep. carl wimmer

Some interesting notes:

  1. There is a lot of interest in math investigations
  2. Do oreo cookies cause memory loss? Why are people searching for that?
  3. Ditto for the phrase 'old face'. Why are people searching for that?
  4. Albion Basin is a beautiful area. If you haven't visited this area, make sure you do.
  5. It's interesting to enter these phrases into Google and see what pops up.

Technology not the best idea for preschoolers

HB 200 Early Childhood Learning and Evaluation is a well-meaning idea from a great lawmaker, Rep. Brad Last. But it's not as good as it looks and is being opposed by many in the early childhood community because computer-based learning is not a replacement for developmentally appropriate learning environments that contain cooperative play, blocks, art, etc. Reading daily with an adult increases literacy skills as the child and adult converse back and forth about the story. Currently, there is limited funding for the WPU and existing educational programs. This bill creates an expensive test pilot when we have evidence-based programs already in existence that have no state funding. In addition, the Governor’s Early Childhood Commission is developing early childhood policy priorities for the state that will be announced at a Summit in April. Hopefully, this bill will stay in the Rules Committee and not be debated in the House this session.

This bill creates a pilot project, known as UPSTART, using a home-based educational technology program to develop school readiness skills of preschool children ages 4-5 not enrolled in kindergarten. One third of the funds can be used to provide families with a computer and internet access if they don’t have it. The bill asks for funding of $9.6 million, but has only been prioritezed for $5 million in ongoing and $2 million one-time from the Uniform School Fund to support the pilot. The money will be appropriated to the State Board of Education.

UPSTART is created to evaluate the effectiveness of giving preschool children access, at home, to interactive individualized instruction delivered by computers to prepare them for future school success, and to test the feasibility of scaling a home-based curriculum in reading, math and science to be delivered by computers and the internet to all preschool children in Utah.
The bill directs the State Board of Education to:
1. Contract with an education technology provider, selected through an RFP, for the delivery of a home-based educational technology program for preschool children.
2. Contract with an independent evaluator to evaluate the program.

The bill:
1. Specifies standards for the technology
2. Provides for school district participation in the pilot project
3. Requires an annual audit of the contractor’s use of funds; and
4. Requires an annual audit on UPSTART to the legislature; and repeals the pilot project on July 1, 2014.

To view the full text:

Monday, February 11, 2008

It Must be a Cold Day in You-Know-Where

I'm running some errands last Saturday, listening to KSL, which happened to have Enid Green's talk show on. Enid, who is a former congresswoman from Utah, a former chairperson of the Utah Republican Party, and a current member of the central committee for the Utah Republican Party, was discussing the Presidential race and her concerns about Mike Huckabee.

Enid said that she would not give one dime to John McCain's campaign until she knew that he would not select Mike Huckabee as running mate.

And then she said what I thought I would never hear her say. Enid Green said that if John McCain selected Mike Huckabee as his running mate, she would seriously have to consider which party she would vote for.

My jaw dropped.

District 45-an old face returns?

Mark Walker is the current legislator serving in District 45 is Salt Lake County. He was appointed in 2004 to finish the term of Morgan Philpot, who left Utah to attend law school in another state. Recently he has been seen haunting the halls of the Capitol and in deep conversation with conservative Republican legislators. Coincidentally, there is an election campaign beginning to elect Mark Walker the State Treasurer. That would leave an open seat in District 45. Perhaps Rep. Walker was just keeping the seat warm for Philpot until his return to Utah? Interesting thought.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Salt Lake City put on Terror List

Salt Lake City was put on a list of cities that are considered to be at a high risk for a terrorist attack according to a list released the Department of Homeland Security. This makes grant money for counterterrorism available to Salt Lake City, along with the other 60 cities on the list. This may help the city protect high profile structures.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Me Thinks They Doth Protest Too Much

HB 264 is seeking to ban traffic ticket quotas by local and state law enforcement agencies. The Utah Chiefs of Police Association and many of the agencies are adamantly against this bill. They all claim that no such quota system exists, so there isn't a need for this bill. Yet, there is evidence that they do exist and officers are reluctant to publicly say that a quota system does exist.

Rep. Carl Wimmer, however, refuted the denials:

"I worked for a police department and had to write three tickets every day. That was a quota, and they exist."

In addition, a number of agencies have admitted that they factor the number of tickets issued by an officer into their performance evaluation. While maybe not strictly a quota, sounds too close to one to me -- if you don't write a sufficient number (What is a sufficent number? An average number per day? Per week? Per month?) then they get marked down on their evaluation.

Val Shupe, South Ogden police chief, seems to misunderstand the legislation:

"When you tell someone to go enforce the law at 40th and Washington, you are telling them to go down there and issue citations," Shupe said. "This law would prevent me from doing that."

But that isn't true. There is nothing that says you can't write tickets. Or that says you can't write as many as you need to. You just can't have a quota. If you don't have a quota system and you're not thinking about having citation quotas, this bill shouldn't be a big concern for you.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Representative Steve Sandstrom is Surprised

After blogging about Representative Steve Sandstrom's role in the voucher vote (see here, and here), he is naively surprised that someone is going to run against him in the next election.
Steve Baugh has announced that he will run against Sandstrom in the fall election.

Sandstrom is a freshman legislator who reneged on a promise to voters during his campaign and during the 2007 legislative session to vote against vouchers (which passed by one vote). And now he is surprised someone is running against him. Steve Baugh is a former superintendent for the Alpine School District and now a professor at BYU.

What was also interesting in the article was the people that were saying they were switching to be Democrats after being Republicans all their lives. I keep hearing about winds of change in Utah county as people get more and more frustrated with their elected representatives.

Did Vouchers Fail Because of Lack of Funding?

The Utah Amicus reports an interesting note from the recent voucher war. You may remember during the recent voucher war Greg Hughes (and others) complaining about how they couldn't compete against all the money being poured in to the battle by the NEA and others.

Turns out he was wrong. Latest figures show that Utahns for Public Schools (the anti voucher folks) spent about $2,000,000 LESS than Parents for Choice in Education (the pro voucher folks).

Despite all the extra money, PCE still couldn't convince Utah voters that vouchers was a good idea.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

The Good Guys!

During the 2007 legislative session, I blogged about Representative Steve Sandstrom's role in the 38-37 vote for vouchers. He had told a constituent that he was voting against vouchers and then suddenly switched on the day of the vote, telling this same constituent that he had no choice but to vote for vouchers because Parents for Choice in Education would heavily target him in the next election if he didn't.

The Salt Lake Tribune, talking about the "good guys in the legislature" now gives additional, but not unexpected, information about Sandstrom's switch:

"...several "good guys" in the Republican leadership - Lt. Gov. Gary Herbert, Valentine and Bramble - threatened freshman Rep. Steve Sandstrom of Orem with loss of any substantive role in the Legislature unless he supported vouchers. So "good guy" Sandstrom reneged on his promise to voters of his district to oppose vouchers. "

Probably not the best way to get re-elected. And adds to the many stories I hear about the arm twisting of Bramble and others.