Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Alton Adventure

On Wednesday the 16th, right after I got off of work at 4:30pm, we headed down to St. George, Utah because the next day (Thursday the 17th), Taylor was going to present a history paper at a the Southwest Social Science Association in Las Vegas, Nevada.  We got to St. George late on Wednesday night and stayed at my sister Cheryl’s awesome house.  Then, the next morning, we got ready to go to Las Vegas and left.  I really enjoyed the drive from St. George to Las Vegas!  It was such a typical desert with mesas and cacti and dryness.  My favorite part of the drive was the small part that was in Arizona.  Some of it was like through a little canyon and it was so beautiful!

In Las Vegas, I had fun listening to Taylor and another guy present papers and a “well known” historian that I’ve never heard of give comments about their papers at the Riviera Hotel & Casino.  Taylor did a great job presenting his paper!

Taylor had fun listening to papers for a while more and I looked around at Circus Circus which was just across the street from the Riviera and then later I went shopping at Fashion Show Mall and purchased some cool clothing.  After Taylor was finished with listening to presentations, we ate a delectable dinner at Maggiano’s.

We also drove around a little bit before we left for the night and looked at funny Las Vegas hotels and casinos.  Then we left to go back to St. George for the night.

Then the next morning (Friday the 18th) we went to Denny’s for breakfast and then went to a town called Washington a bit north of St. George.  We found one of Taylor’s ancestor’s graves and took some pictures.

Taylor and the Gravestone

We left to go back to Salt Lake City later that afternoon and we took Highway 89 just for fun.  We drove through Zion National Park!  That place is SOOO awesome.  I love it!

Zion National Park

We wanted to find another gravesite in some little town before we got to Zion National Park, but we must have missed it or something.

We didn’t mind missing that gravesite because we’ll definitely visit Zion National Park again and we had some other ones we wanted to find further north on Highway 89.

The next gravesite was in a tiny remote village called Alton.  The town has a population of less than 150.  We saw a a post office that was in somebody’s house, a small town hall, an even smaller fire station, and a large LDS church.  The rest of the buildings we saw in the town were houses.


We also saw quite a few of these homemade stop signs.  We thought were REALLY cool!


So we drove around and kept an eye out for the cemetery.  We saw the road that we thought led to it, but it was a muddy path down someone’s field…  We drove around a little more and decided that the muddy road must be the right road to take because there was no other way to get the cemetery!  So we started driving down it… and the car kept sliding all over the place!  Then there was a 90 degree right turn!  It was scary enough just to get to that turn, and we didn’t want to get stuck in the mud!  So we decided to turn around and we ALMOST got stuck!  Mud flew all over behind the tires and the wheels were spinning and spinning and we didn’t move!  Then we did move a little and then we got out and drove back to the paved road.  Then we thought maybe that wasn’t the way to the cemetery so we drove around a little more and decided to stop by the city hall to ask where it was.  The city hall was dark and empty looking so we assumed it was closed.  We saw a lady across the street in her driveway so we were going to ask her if she knew where the cemetery was located.  As Taylor was getting out of the car, a big pickup drove by and saw him and they turned around and pulled over to see if he needed any help.  So Taylor asked them if they knew where the cemetery was and they said that they weren’t sure but that the lady across the street probably knew.  So Taylor went to ask her and she gave directions to get there.  The directions were to go down that muddy road!  So Taylor said thanks and got back in the car and we pretended to go that way so she would think we were going there but then we turned at a different road to head back to the highway because we didn’t want to get stuck in the mud.

So as we continued our drive, it got later and duskier!  We went through several interesting small towns.  We went through Manti and saw the temple there!


Just a bit north of Manti was a town called Ephraim and I was hungry so we went to a pizza place and I got a yummy pizza.  It was hard to find something that was still open!  It was almost 10pm on a Friday night and most of the places were already closed!  I feel sorry for the kids that go to Snow College… it seemed pretty boring there!!

Eventually, we made it back to Salt Lake City and I was very tired.  I fell asleep when we got to Provo and then went straight to bed when we got home while Taylor went to Smith’s Marketplace to get some almond milk so we could have cereal the next morning and gasoline for the car.

The end.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Fleet Foxes

fleet foxesLast summer, while listening to a music podcast, I heard a wonderful song by a band called Fleet Foxes.  So I had to get their albums as soon as I possibly could (at the library).  I love their music SOO much!!  They’re great.

Here is one of my favorite songs by them!!

I really love their nice, soothing, acoustic sound.  They are probably the band I listen to most frequently!  So, that probably means that they are currently my favorite!  They will be releasing a new album in May, so I’m excited to listen to it!!

Another awesome song.

Fleet Foxes is also from Seattle, so that makes them that much cooler!! :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

Some food for thought on the topic of Utah Public Education Spending

Warning: this is a boring blog post. If you get bored, feel free to close it.

We here all the time that Utah is last in the nation in terms of per pupil spending. We also hear all the time that we have the largest class sizes in the country. A while back I heard somebody trying to explain this in terms of the larger than average family sizes in Utah, but I got curious about the facts, so I turned to the Census Bureau and an Excel Spreadsheet. Here is what I found…

Utah is indeed 51st out of all the states and the District of Columbia in terms of spending per student ($7,228.58, with a National Average of $11,562.01). But, what’s more shocking perhaps is that we are 46th in spending per non-student (Total Population minus student population. We come in at $1,702.47, with a national average of $2,224.57), and 30th in terms of % GDP spent on Education (4.96% compared to a National Average of 5.26%). Admittedly, 30th is a lot better than 51st, but still since we are so far behind on the other measures, we can surely bump that up? Finally, in terms of class size we are 51st (at 21.18 students per teacher, compared to a National Average of 15.03).

But, what if we were to try and fix this? What if we were to try and be average in any of those categories, what would it do to the other categories?

  1. If we were to try and be average in spending per student ($11,562.01), we would have to increase spending on Education by about 60%. In the process we would become sixth in the nation in terms of spending per non student ($2,723.08), and 1st in the Nation in terms of % GDP spent on Education (at 7.94%).image
  2. If we were to try and be average in spending per non student ($2,224.57), we would have to increase spending by about 30%. Yet, we would only be 44th in the Nation in per student spending ($9,445.34) but we would jump to 3rd in the nation in terms of % GDP spent on Education (6.48%).image
  3. If we were to try and be average in terms of % GDP spent on Education, we would have to increase spending by only 6%. In the process, however, we would become 50th in the nation in terms of per student spending ($7,669.96) and we would only be 42nd in the nation in terms of spending per non student ($1,806.43).image
  4. If we were to try and have average class sizes, we would have to have 32,057 teachers, which would mean an increase of 36% in the number of teachers that we have.image

Now, demographically, I get why we are last in the nation in spending per student. I even get economically why we are lower on the totem pole for per-non student spending (we don’t have a lot of oil revenue or capital gains tax income). What I don’t get is the % GDP spent on Education. Surely we can at least increase it to become average (number 3 above). And maybe we can even match our neighbors in Wyoming (who are second behind Alaska- and I don’t really count Alaska because they don’t really pay state taxes). If we did that we’d be second in the country at 6.72% GDP. Sure, we’d still be 41st in the country in per student spending ($9,790.90) and 12th in terms of per-non student spending ($2,305.95). But at least we’d be really trying.

Anyway, I had to get this off my chest after crunching the numbers. What do you think?

(By the way, this only refers to K-12 education. I took the Census Data from 2006 and 2007 to compile this information. If you would like a copy of the spreadsheet, I’d be happy to e-mail it to you, or you can click here).