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.