Sunday, June 10, 2012

Maximizing Happiness

Given the fast paced accessibility of so much that our modern world provides it is really easy to loose track of what really matter. Keeping up with the Jones, filling your life with unnecessary distractions and responsibilities, as well as living your life though your children are all major pitfalls. But the most dangerous trap that Americans fall into is the accumulation of junk. Things don't make you happy. Things only enable happiness when applied to something that truly matters.

Here are some general rules that express this line of thinking.
  • You don't appreciate what you don't take care of yourself.
  • Hoards of treasure are a poison to the things that matter most. It makes you focus on things rather than people. It encourages an attitude of thinking of people as things.
  • You become the servant of the things you surround yourself with.
  • We actually need very few things in this life. Most of which we could carry on our backs.
  • The less things we have, the more useful and appreciated they become to us.
  • The less things we have cluttering up our lives the more we see the things around us that really matter.
  • If you find your pleasure in things, what will you do when they rust, fall apart, or are stolen?
  • The best thing you can do for the environment is to do without.
  • The best thing you can do for those in need is to not eat your dinner and then their dinner also.
  • The thrill we associate with acquiring things is very similar to a heroin addiction. The more we feed it less it satisfies and the more it destroys us.
Here are some examples of how to live these ideas.
  • If you can't afford it then don't buy it.
  • If you have to hire someone to take care of it then get rid of it.
  • If you have to rent storage space to store something then get rid of it.
  • If you don't use it most weeks then get rid of it.
  • If it encourages you to not interact with your family then get rid of it.
  • If one extravagant item could be exchanged for ten suitable items then don't buy the extravagant one. Instead buy 10 and give 9 to those in need.

Some Great Utah Hikes

For the past forty years I have been discovering the beauty of Utah. I started with Zion, followed by Lake Powell, the Wasatch, Uintas, Moab, Bryce, San Rafael Swell, Escalante, and the West Desert. After all of this I have still only tasted what Utah has to offer. Every year I discover a new corner, such as Maple Canyon or Lake Blanche. It makes me wonder what is yet to be discovered. Here are some of my favorites.

The Devil's Garden

The fins (Courtesy of Google Images)
Nestled at the far end of the road in Arches National Park is an area called the Devil's Garden. The northern part of the garden hosts the fantastic and fragile Landscape Arch as well as a dozen other lesser known formations. However, the really fun thing to do is explore the formations south of the Devil's Garden campground. There is a moderate trail that weaves through terrific slots of sandstone fins that tower up into the sky.

Fisher Towers

Ancient Art, notice the climber on the very top
East of Moab, within view of the Colorado River, is a place where Mother Nature made thousand foot towers by letting mud drip through her hands. An easy trail winds among the shade of the giants. This is one of those places that you thought only existed in the imagination of the mind. The Fisher Towers are very popular with climbers. A great activity is to bring a lunch, find a shady spot, and watch them climb the spires.
The Cobra

Goblin Valley

View from above
The southern end of the San Rafael Swell contains a place that feels like another planet. In fact the movie Galaxy Quest used this as the home for the rock monster Gorignak. Goblin Valley is full of hoodoos to scramble over, caves to explore, and plateaus to ascend. If you stay in the state maintained campground then you can wander the hoodoos late into the night. This is especially attractive since this part of the swell is located in one best night sky viewing areas of the United States.
Climbing on the hoodoos is encouraged

Little Wildhorse Canyon

Having fun avoiding getting wet
In the slots
Just down the road from Goblin Valley is an incredible walk that takes you through the heart of the San Rafael Reef. A half day hike will allow you to walk through body width slots and lose yourself in the shade of towering cliffs. For a longer adventure you can walk though the entire length of the canyon and then make a loop by coming down Bell Canyon.

Buckhorn Wash

Little Grand Canyon
At the northern end of the San Rafael Swell is a good twenty mile dirt road that takes you through towering sandstone walls and past ancient Indian artwork. A worthy half hour detour will put you at the top of the Little Grand Canyon as you peer down thousands of feet to the San Rafael river flowing below.
Rock art

Orderville Canyon

Beautiful light
The Zion Narrows justifiably draw visitors from all around the world. This incredible canyon formed by the constant flow of the Virgin river creates a feeling of reverence and awe. One can enjoy the narrows by simply walking up the river from the final stop of the Zion shuttle bus. However, in order to get the full experience you need to hike down from the plateau above. This can be done as a long overnight hike down the main canyon, as a highly technical canyoneering adventure via Imlay canyon, or as an enjoyable adventure by way of Orderville Canyon. While Orderville does still require some abilities with a rope in order to assist your group over a couple of fifteen foot drops it is not technical enough to require a full understanding of climbing technique. You will find that the soaring walls of Orderville create an intimate experience as you reach from one wall to the other while hundreds of feet above you a streak of blue reveals the world beyond.
One of the obstacles

Lone Peak

View of the cirque
Located among the peaks that surround Salt Lake City are several mountains that are reminiscent of the granite mountains of the Sierra Nevada. One of my favorite is Lone Peak. The cost of entry to the towering cirque of vertical walls is a strenuous three hour hike. However, once there you will easily forget that two million people live just down the trail.

Looking down at climbers

Island Lake

Exhilarating fun
On the western side of the Uinta range is a beautiful lake accessible by an easy three mile hike. Island Lake puts you into the back country where you can take a nap in the beauty of an alpine setting, hike the surrounding eleven thousand foot peaks, or jump off the forty foot cliffs into the cool snow fed waters of the lake. It is easily doable as a long day trip, or even better, as a overnight stay. No permits required.

Peaceful beauty

Lake Blanche

A short drive out of Salt Lake City and up Big Cottonwood Canyon will take you to the trail head for a moderate three mile hike that will deposit you deep in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains. Here you can view the visible effects of the glacial history of the Wasatch, sleep under the shade of a giant pine tree, fish in a pristine lake, or scale up to the ridge of Sundial peak.

Sundial Peak (Courtesy of Google Images)

Maple Canyon

Amazing rock
Just one hour south of Salt Lake City this canyon is a hidden gem of Sanpete Valley. Conglomerate stone, that looks like vertical paving stones, form canyon walls and spires that weave around tree shaded paths. Don't miss Box Canyon (a narrow side canyon off the main road), as it provides a easy romp up a narrow slot that ends in a waterfall filled amphitheater. If you are a climber, this is sport climbing paradise.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Refactoring is the best documentation

I was recently looking at a simple function that provided documentation for a service. The documentation is made up of two parts. The base documentation that all services provide and the documentation for the endpoints that a service specifically provides.

The fact that there was two parts to the resulting documentation seemed a little obfuscated and so I thought that I should add a comment to help explain things. Normally this would be done this way:

However, by refactoring the service specific documentation to a separate method I was able to achieve my goal of documenting what the code was doing with the method name rather than injecting a coupled comment. This also has the benefit of making the code much more readable as well as self documenting.