Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Cache Valley scene...

Cache Valley scene...  This is the scene this morning from the lot adjacent to my realtor's office.  I took it just after sunrise, looking west from the town of Providence (just south of Logan, Utah).

This afternoon I visited the County Recorder's office to pick up plats and legal property descriptions for the parcels of land we're buying.  If you've ever done something like this in San Diego (I have), you know it's a most painful experience: city traffic, scarce (and expensive) parking, long waits, surly clerical help, expensive and slow (and probably crappy) copies, and absolutely zero chance of meeting anyone with any real authority on a walk-in visit.

Here in Cache County, I drove up to the County Administration building and discovered a vast parking lot behind it, with dozens of empty spaces.  Those spaces were, of course, free.  Then I went to the wrong place to pick up what I needed, and some very friendly folks gently told me where I really needed to go (the Recorder's actual office).  I went there, and asked about getting the documents – and the County Recorder himself (a fellow named Mike Gleed) helped me locate and copy them.  Just like every other County employee I've met (about 10 at this point), he was extremely helpful, took the time to answer all my questions, no matter how crazy or ignorant – and had a smile and a cheerful attitude throughout.  Oh, and those documents cost me a whopping $3.50!

For anyone from southern California, getting quality, cheerful, friendly service from a government employee is a head-exploding experience.  Feels good, though.  Makes me want to go back for more...

What is this?

What is this?  As you drive north on I-15, just before you cross over from California to Nevada you'll see these three towers.  Each of them is surrounded by a small sea of steerable mirrors.  If you click the photo at right (which I took while zooming down the freeway at 75 mph) to embiggen it, you'll see that the second tower from the left is black, while the other two are shining brightly.  In reality, the two that are shining are so bright you can't look directly at them – they appear to be at least as bright as the sun.

The two that are shining here are operating power stations, and the mirrors around them have been aimed so that each of them reflects the sun onto the tower.  These mirrors move all day long, as the sun moves across the sky, to keep the reflected sunlight on target.  Thousands of these mirrors surround each tower, and collectively they focus enough light onto the flat black material of the tower to boil the water circulating under the skin.  That generated steam powers turbines that generate electricity – enough for 70,000 homes.

The black tower is just one that's not operational at the moment I took this photo.  It's mirrors are aimed so that they reflect light anywhere but on the tower.

These power stations have been in the news recently because birds have been flying near the towers.  When they do so, they are killed by the intense heat, and even partially cooked by the time they hit the ground below.  Environmentalists are, of course, trying to shut the power stations down.  Because the power stations are in California, I'd bet that they'll succeed...

Intermittent blogging alert!

Intermittent blogging alert!  I'm back up in Utah (drove all day yesterday), and I'll be up here for a couple of weeks doing the not-so-much-fun part of buying a new home: due diligence.  I get to spend my time with appraisers, inspectors, lawyers, and so forth.  Oh, joy!