Pick Me!

A weblog by Laura Moncur


Central Pallet Fire

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT,Video — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

It was a beautiful sunset except the cloud of black smoke coming from the west. We got into the car and drove toward the pillar of thick blackness, but nothing prepared us for what we saw.

Click here to see the video

This three alarm fire at Central Pallet of Utah was originally called in as a grass fire, but it quickly spread and flames were leaping up forty feet into the air. Mike and I didn’t dare get any closer and cautiously drove by on Bangerter Highway.

You can see the full story on KSL.com:

Update 07-05-06: The next day, Central Pallet of Utah was open for business. They were able to put out the fire before it reached the business offices, so they were able to start their recovery early. I wish them the best of luck. That fire was so scary that I am proud of their pluck for picking up the pieces so quickly.

Where: Central Pallet of Utah 810 S 4190 W Salt Lake City, UT 84104 Google Map


Why We Call Ourselves Starling Studios

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Scott Fraser shot this awesome video of starlings swarming. They flock to one tree, weighing it down. When they fly, they all jump up at once, bouncing out of the tree with force.

Click here to go to Rocketboom and see the video

I love the way starlings fly. They act like a swarm of insects far more than a flock of birds. I love to see the black clouds of birds above my town.

Starlings are our favorite birds. That’s why there is a Starling Fitness and a Starling Travel. Everything we do is under the Starling Studios name. When we take off, we all jump up at once and with such force that you can’t help but look at us.


The Fourth of July Fesitivites

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 1:30 pm

Stacey, Dan, Mike and I went to the Sugarhouse Art Festival on Independence Day. It was better this year than the last few years. I bought myself a new little purse. I tend to change purses about every month or so. Luckily, I don’t spend more than $10 to $20 on a purse. This one was eight bucks, so I’m not feeling guilty at all. It has lots of pockets for my gadgets and toys.

On the walk back from the festival, we were drenched in rain. I worried that the rain would ruin the holiday, but the hosts at the BBQ weren’t scared of a little precipitation. They put up tents and tarps and we sat outside and ate brats and burgers. I should of known that a little rain wouldn’t change their party. They used to work at REI, afterall.

I met more neighbors yesterday than I have in the three years we have lived here. When she suggested a July Fourth Block Party a couple of months ago, I had no idea how well it would work out. Somehow, I thought for a block party to work, we would need to block off the road. Instead, we were all crammed into their back yard, huddled under tarps to avoid the rain. I think I found an enterprising young man to mow my lawn. I met the humans who own the dog, Oscar, in our neighborhood. I even met the new neighbor who bought Madison’s house.

It was all quite social and I’m glad to be hiding, pajama-clad, in my house today.


RocketBoom Self-Implosion

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 8:05 am

I just feel sick. My first instinct was that Amanda Congdon’s video announcing that she has been asked to leave RocketBoom was a publicity stunt. God, I wish it had been.

Click here to see the video

There has been a lot of infighting and speculation on the Yahoo Videoblogging Newsgroup:

At first, Andrew said that Amanda’s video was the first he had ever heard about it.

Then, a post was made on RocketBoom stating that Amanda was moving to L.A.

Then, Amanda refuted Andrew’s statement of surprise.

As of this point, Andrew says that Amanda’s For the Record entry is out of context and he’s going to bow out of the conversation.

Finally, Jason Calacanis offered Amanda a job at Netscape, saying that Andrew doesn’t know how to “keep the talent happy.”

This whole thing has become such a drama. Watching it from Utah, it seems like a junior high fight. It reminds me of the episode of The Office when Dwight goes to Jim to form “an alliance.” As far as I can tell, they both need to stand with their noses in the corner until they can play together nicely.

Worse still, I feel this overbearing guilt because I have been so jealous of RocketBoom and the attention it has gotten over the last few months. I know I don’t control the universe, but right now I worry that I inadvertently put a curse on Amanda. I feel like my jealousy somehow caused their self-implosion.

What a drama…


Ramen Is Smaller Now

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 7:50 am

Ramen Is Smaller Now by Laura Moncur 07-07-06

Ramen is smaller now. I know it for a fact.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining about the reduction of noodle-goodness. I would never complain about a 17-cent meal. I just eat it gratefully and know that the high starch and fat content is enough.

But Ramen IS smaller now. I know it because the noodles fit in my smallest pan and they didn’t before.

I’ve had these pans since we got married. I don’t know who gave them to me, but thank you. They have lasted longer than the plethora of crockpots we received from everyone else. They don’t have that fancy non-stick surface, yet nothing sticks to them. They have been the best pans I could have ever had.

It used to bug me that the Ramen noodles didn’t quite fit in my smallest pan. Not enough to use the larger pan, but it still bothered me. I considered popping the noodle brick in half, but then they wouldn’t be as enjoyable. No, I just let the Ramen sit in the pan diagonally until they were soft enough to conform to its edges.

But the Ramen is smaller now. It fits easily into the pan. That means I’m getting less noodles, but I’m happy.

Because I’m not the kind of person to complain about a 17-cent meal.


BarCampUtah: Setting Up Camp

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT,Utah Geeks — Laura Moncur @ 10:54 am

Since deciding not to move to California, I’ve realized that we need to grow a geek community that I can associate with here. I feel so isolated and alone as far as work is concerned, so I decided to spearhead BarCamp here in Utah.

I am in the process of setting up montly meetings for BarCampUtah. BarCamp is a meeting that started up in San Francisco in reaction to FooCamp, which was an invitation-only party given by O’Reilly. Some of the people who weren’t invited to FooCamp, set up BarCamp.

What I’m trying to create is a geek community in Utah. I want to have a monthly meeting where we can “show and tell” or maybe just “hack together.” This video, created by Ryanne, is my inspiration. I want BarCampUtah to be like Super Happy Dev House.

Click here to see the video

We don’t have a spot where things can go all night, but at first, I’m just hoping for a few hours where everyone can talk and share ideas. This video, also by Ryanne, shows what our little meetings could eventually evolve into. BarCamp in San Francisco is a full-blown conference with sponsors and hosts and lots of ad hoc sessions.

Click here to see the video

I have been struggling for a good venue that has wireless Internet and room for us to grow. I think I have found us a spot, but I need to wait to announce it until I get the application back.

In the meantime, if any of you have been wishing for a geek community in the Salt Lake area, we are growing it right now. Please send me your information on my Contact Me form, including your full name, email address and phone number and I will make sure that you are included.


Less and Less A Part of Any Number of Things

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I think this is the reason I am working so hard on getting BarCampUtah off the ground:

Ballard Street: 07-10-06

Click here to see this and other Ballard Street comics:


Google Knows Where You Live

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Google Knows Where You Live

The banner above is a screenshot of an ad I saw on Home on the Strange. The comic was called “Animal Control,” which explains the animal traps and pest control ads, but if you notice. The Nolan Pest Control ad specifically says, “Solutions for your Utah home.”

That means Google knows that I live in Utah, even though this webcomic doesn’t. Google AdSense is not only gathering information about the website it advertises on, but takes note of where the user is coming from to give directed ads.

This scares me…

I just hit the point where I feel like Google knows too much about me. I just tipped over into paranoia. I have my email through Google. They have scheduling and calendars. They are working on spreadsheets. They can track every websearch I do. They even know which websites I read without using their search engine and send me advertisements for my local community. That’s all nice and convenient, but I really don’t want them to know all that information about me.

All of a sudden, 1984’s Big Brother is looking a lot like a harmless search engine.

7-11 Day

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 7:11 am

It’s 7-11 Day. I doubt Mike and I will do anything to celebrate it, but I like to remember days gone by:

I have no idea if 7-11 is still giving away free Slurpees on 7-11 day, but I always like our version of celebrating it better.


Movie Review: Monster House

Filed under: Movies,Reviews — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Monster House opens on July 21st, but I was lucky enough to see a pre-screening of the movie on Monday. Here is a trailer for the movie just in case you haven’t heard about this movie:

Just for clarification, this trailer shows the house eating the police car with the police in it. That didn’t happen in the movie.

I’m going to be honest. The animation was unpleasant. They loved to play with the “camera effects” like the opening scene of the movie in which they followed the fall of a leaf from a tree. It made me a little motion sick and felt gratuitious. I guess I’ve been spoiled by Pixar because the characters looked like poorly animated dolls to me. Gravity didn’t seem to work correctly in the Monster House world.

That said, the writing was excellent. There were many times that I laughed out loud at the dialogue. There were plenty of jokes that didn’t make it into the trailer. I liked the character development. The babysitter was exactly how I remember my babysitters being when I was a kid. I loved the scene where his parents leave him alone at the house. The kids are at that strange age between childhood and adulthood. I remember it well and they keep it pretty realistic.

This movie might be a little too scary for children under 13. At one point, the three heroes have snuck in the house undetected and are investigating with flashlights strapped onto water guns. It reminded me of a scary video game that I played. That was pretty intense. The movie takes a particularly dark turn in the explanation of the origin of the Monster House and the kids find a gruesome discovery in the basement. At that point, it was a little too “Silence of the Lambs” for me. Sure, the “eaten” people and dogs show up during the credits of the movie, making everything right in the world, but until that point, we were left with at least three unsolved murders on our hands.

Would I go to see this movie opening week? No. I’d probably go see Over The Hedge again. The animation in that movie doesn’t make me motion sick.

Would I go to see this movie in the dollar theater? Yeah, it’s worth paying a couple of dollars to see the scratched film version.

Would I buy this movie when it’s released on DVD? No. It’s definitely not worth cluttering up my collection. There are so many good Halloween movies to watch instead that this one would just get lost in the pile.

Would I return this movie if I received it as a present? No. It’s good enough to watch a couple of times and definitely good enough to keep instead of bothering with the return process at a store.

If you have seen all the other new releases on July 21st and have an afternoon to spare, I would recommend Monster House just for the witty dialogue, but don’t expect anything beautiful to come out of the screen. You could probably watch Monster House with a blindfold and get 90% of the enjoyment from it.


BarCampUtah: May Already Be Off The Ground

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT,Utah Geeks — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

It looks like a group of about a half a dozen people are working to get BarCampUtah off the ground:

They are meeting monthly at dinners and the next one is July 26th, 6:30 pm at Brick Oven (111 East 800 North, Provo, Utah). If any of my Salt Lake City readers are interested in creating a dynamic geek community here, this is where we need to be. I have left an email with Phil B. Burns, the organizer to see what I have to do to make this a reality.

Not only are hugely successful Geek Dinners already set up, he has set a day for the BarCampUtah conference: August 26th – 28th, 2006. I am so happy that all of this is coming together so nicely!

I’ll keep you posted.


Ritual by Dave Huth

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I met Dave Huth at Vloggercon this year. Every video he has posted has been interesting, but this one has an almost religious beauty to it:

Click here to see the video

If you enjoyed this video, make sure you check his website, 90 Seconds of Dave about once a week to see what new work he has posted.


Neighborhood Garbage Pickup Day

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Every year, there is one day when we can throw anything away. ANYTHING.

Sure, they say that they won’t pick up huge items or chunks of cement, but last year, they took the remains of a desk bigger than we could carry and chunks of cement from our neighbor’s pile, so I pretty much figure that they’ll take anything. Probably even a human body.

While this is a wonderful convenience to the residents of the area, it makes for some ugly neighborhoods.

We’re not supposed to put out the garbage more than a week before our designated “We’ll Help Get Rid of Those Dead Bodies For You” Day, but a week is a long time to live with the six-foot piles of garbage that accumulate on the side of the road.

Worse still, I’m continually tempted to pick through the garbage piles of my neighbors. This year, I got Madison’s old Halloween decorations. She put them out there when she moved. I am now a proud owner of seven plywood gravestones and a very convincing witch’s broom (I don’t think it’s quite as fast as a Nimbus 2000, but we’ll have to see).

I also found a nearly intact desk. I knocked on the stranger’s door and asked him if he would mind if I took it. He was so grateful. His daughter had bought a bigger desk and he didn’t want to see the old one go to the garbage, but he had no one to give it to. I can remove the black layers of spray paint, sand out the letters engraved on the side and refinish it. I’ll probably be able to sell it at our garage sale for at least 40 bucks.

Our garbage pickup is July 17th, which is Monday. From now on, I’m only collecting pictures of the neighbor’s trash…


Garbage Day Slideshow

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am


Lagoon 1973 (Part 1 of 7)

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Fake Helicopters 1973

In July of 1973, my mom’s family came from Wisconsin to visit us in Salt Lake City. We did a lot of the touristy stuff while they were in town, but my favorite was the trip to Lagoon. Lagoon is an amusement park that is about twenty minutes north of Salt Lake City. It’s so close, I consider it in Salt Lake City, but in actuality, it’s in an entirely different county, so I guess I can’t really claim it.

In this picture, we are posing at the “fake” helicopters. My cousin, Heidi, is on the left and I am on the right. If you look closely, you can see that I have my arm on the arm of the placard. I thought I had to put my arm there just like the picture.

In the background, you can see the entrance to the Animal World Train. Lagoon still has that ride, but I don’t know if they still call it the Animal World Train. I haven’t ridden it in a long time. All my memories from the train ride are scent related. I will smell animal pens and it will remind me of Lagoon. Sad, but true. Lagoon smells like animal poo.

BarCampUtah: Setting Up Camp

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT,Utah Geeks — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 pm
Click here to see the video

Today I met with Phil Burns about BarCampUtah. It looks like we are going to be able to get this going!

BarCampUtah will be August 26-28th, 2006.

For more information:

If you would like to help us set up, teach a class or get more information about BarCamp, please fill out my contact form here:

Music Credit: Atmospheric Royalty Free Music – Variation on Egmont

Update 08-08-05: You can embed this video into your weblog using Google Video: BarCampUtah: Setting Up Camp


Lagoon 1973 (Part 2 of 7)

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Real Helicopters 1973

This picture shows us riding the “real” helicopters. I find it interesting that this ride is considered a “real” helicopter in my memory. Even now, I look at this contraption and categorize it as a helicopter, even though it has little relation to what an actual helicopter looks like.

This was a really cool ride. You would push the bar away from you to raise the helicopter and pull it toward you to lower it. Every time I rode this ride, it was a fight with the other kid about how we were going to fly. I would always want to fly high, but half the time, I would get stuck with some kid that was scared and wanted to fly low the whole time. That’s my cousin, Heidi, on the left and I’m distracted on the right.


Lagoon 1973 (Part 3 of 7)

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Hall of Mirrors at Lagoon 1973

This is the long forgotten picture of the Hall of Mirrors. I told the whole story about this place here:

If you look at this picture, you can see my dad on the left (in the turquoise shirt) and my mom on the far right (with the white bow in her hair). I have no idea who took this photo. It must have been Auntie Doris or Uncle Johnny.


Lagoon 1973 (Part 4 of 7)

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Shoe 1973

This picture is of the shoe. I remember it being Old Mother Hubbard’s Shoe, but she’s the lady who didn’t have any food for her dog, so it can’t be that. I think it was the shoe that the Old Lady In The Shoe lived in. You could go in it and climb on in when I was little.

Now, the shoe is still there, at Lagoon. It’s near the concessions stands, but the entry is boarded up and it has been repainted a bunch of times. Last time I saw it, they had painted it pink.

From left to right: Me, Heidi, my dad, and Uncle Johnny. I don’t think I was picking my nose when this picture was taken. I was probably biting my nails or sucking my thumb.


Lagoon 1973 (Part 5 of 7)

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Cars 1973

That’s me on the left with Heidi on the right. We’re on the cars ride which was like a Merry-Go-Round, but with cars. I really felt like I was driving, so I had to keep my hands on the wheel.

I love how classic these cars are. They look like old Chevys and Fords. They look like they burn more gasoline than an SUV. Check out the white wall tires.

If you look in the background, you can see the Shoe (see previous entry) and a white mushroom with a red polka-dot top. Those were free little things that kids could play on without any tickets. It didn’t take Lagoon long before they had the All-Day Pass where I could ride anything I wanted all day long without having to count out tickets.


Lagoon 1973 (Part 6 of 7)

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Paddle Boats 1973

These are the paddle boats. That’s Uncle Johnny on the left with Heidi. I didn’t get to go on that ride because I was too little. I did get to go on it years later and it was like torture for me. I was completely unable to keep peddling to keep the boat going. My parents were right, I was too little, but I still felt left out.

Lagoon doesn’t do the paddle boats anymore. They have the Tidal Wave and The Turn of the Century where we used to get on the paddle boats. I never really got to ride the paddle boats as an adult or even a teenager, but I think that it would be a fun, romantic thing for a couple to do. I guess amusement parks aren’t about romance.


Lagoon 1973 (Part 7 of 7)

Filed under: Personal History — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

My Family 1973

The last picture I have from that Lagoon trip. It is of my family in front of the fountains. The fountains are still there and the Sky Ride still passes right over them. Around that fountain and other areas, they have large areas of planted flowers. The scent of tulips and marigolds can snap me back to my memories of Lagoon. Yes, it’s true. Lagoon smells like animal poo and pretty flowers.

We all look so different now. I’m older now than my mom was when this picture was taken, yet I feel so much younger because I’ve never had a child. It’s so strange to look at these pictures and wonder what my parents were thinking. They were probably pretty tired.


Happy Pioneer Day!

Filed under: Living in SLC, UT — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Today is Pioneer Day in Utah. We light fireworks and barbeque meat. It’s like Independence Day 2.0.

You can find out more about The Days of ’47 here:

I am going to enjoy my summer day and if you’re not from Utah, set something small (like a match or a candle) on fire for us today.


Self Portrait Tuesday: My Fingernails 1973 and 2006

Filed under: Art and Photography — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

My Fingernails 1973 and 2006 by Laura Moncur 07-14-06

I wrote about my nail-biting and how it correlates to my bingeing on Starling Fitness:


Unauthorized Far Side Tributes

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Far Side Comics brought alive by artists! I love these!

The Original Far Side Comic and its Worth1000 counterpart

I wonder what Gary Larsen feels about these…


Why I’m Not At the BlogHer Conference

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

More Space: Nine Antidotes To Complacency In Business“You should register your blogs with Blogher.”

Jory was looking at my business card at SXSWi in March when she mentioned it to me. I nodded and pretended that I would truly consider registering my weblogs with Blogher. I waited for Jory and Evelyn to sign their book when all I wanted to do was run away.

The BlogHer Conference starts tomorrow and it seems that everyone is going to it. Everyone except me. Somehow, the whole Blogher thing just bugs me.

I guess it’s because I don’t consider myself a woman blogger. I just consider myself a blogger. Sure, I’m a woman, but I’m a writer first.

I guess the whole Blogher phenomenon bothers me because it feels like segregation. It feels like it separates women from men. I don’t want to believe that women writers are any different than men writers. I want to believe that we are all writers first and gendered humans second.

Plus, the idea of being at a conference of all women just sounds incredibly uncomfortable to me.


Overheard Confession at Weight Watchers

Filed under: The Confessional — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

“He can’t see the color red. Like, if something is pink, he can’t see the red in it. It just looks off-white to him. When we were first married, he brought me roses. He said that he brought me these white roses for all these romantic reasons. You, know, like how the white represented our relationship and stuff. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that they were pink.”


Garage Sale, Walking Videos and Geek Dinners

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I am SO busy right now. Today, I have a garage sale planned with my family. I have been collecting our usual DI stuff to sell. This morning I have a few hot hours planned.

I went to the Geek Dinner on Wednesday and took video of almost everyone there. I have yet been able to go through the footage, though. I really want to make an excellent video showing you how fun it was. I hope the background noise didn’t get in the way.

Instead of working on the Geek Dinner video, I have been feverishly working on my new walking video for Starling Fitness. It is the best one I’ve done and I’m really excited about it. Lots of people bought the Swami Beach Walk Video, and I hope even more people try this one out. I’m so excited by it that it has taken up all my time recently.

In essence, I’m REALLY busy right now and it feels so good. I love it when I’m able to accomplish a lot of things. It makes up for those times when it feels like I’m spinning my wheels.


Domestic Jesus

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Property of Jesus T-ShirtHave you ever gone to a grocery store for fun? Mike and I do all the time. Last week, we wandered the aisles, giggling and laughing.

“Check out these Jesus shirts.”

I pointed to the rack of t-shirts. One of them announced “Property of Jesus” complete with a Jesus fish in the middle.

“I would like that just so I could say that I stole the shirt from Jesus.” Mike said, “Boy, is he going to be pissed!”

We laughed and moved on. The music overhead was periodically interrupted by a female announcer (pre-recorded, of course) talking about the produce. Mike I and I stopped and looked at each other,

“Did she just say ‘Domestic Jesus’?”

“That’s exactly what I thought!”

We listened further. The voice was talking about cheese. She had said “domestic cheeses” but both of us had misheard her.


Your New Friends

Filed under: General — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Your New Friends from PostSecret

This postcard from PostSecret reminded me of an entry that I wrote a long time ago. The entry has had so many comments that it has a life of its own:

Pick Me! » When Your Best Friend Ditches You For Her Boyfriend

The comments are heart-wrenchingly sad. It seems that girls and boys have experienced this heartache. My entry doesn’t have all the answers and people from all over the world have poured their hearts out on my comments section. Here are a few quotes:

My friend has just recently done this, and I have felt like saying completely awful things while having to listen through excrciating torture of having to listen to her talk about him!

her boyfriend is mean and makes fun of me and she doesnt really care

I am becoming 2nd best and it’s really hard to deal with as I am single and feel lonely sometimes and it’s so hard when even my best friend isn’t there for me when I need her.

i havent had any friend closer to me than her and it does hurt, believe me

It took her three months to place this ‘special someone’ above me, her best friend of eight years.

Hey, found this site coz I typed how I felt into Google. I’m a guy as you can probably tell by my name, but the case mentioned above applies to me vice versa. I feel like my best friend spends less time with me and our friendship feels like it has suffered since he got a girl.

I dont really get the point of considering someone your best friend when they can just leave you there like trash.

New Friends from PostSecret

After reading all the comments over the last two years, I realize that my little entry is woefully inadequate. Some people say it helped them and the many stories in the comments help people realize that they are not alone, but I feel as if my entry just wasn’t enough. We humans are so complicated.

PostSecret‘s beneficiary is the National Hopeline Network. It is a 24-hour hotline (1 (800) SUICIDE) for anyone who is thinking about suicide or knows someone who is considering it.

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