Sedona West Fork Oak Creek Trail hike in pictures

This gallery contains 24 photos.

By Paul Fiarkoski On October 17, 2016 I finally checked the highly sought West Fork Oak Creek Trail hike off my Arizona bucket list. If a picture is worth a thousand words, here are several thousand words for you to … Continue reading

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A building that shades itself

By Paul Fiarkoski

My office is in Downtown Tempe AZ. I often walk by this building designed as an inverted pyramid. Seems like such a smart design for the Valley of the Sun.

Unlike most office buildings that get super hot from intense sunlight beating on them, I never see any sunlight directly hitting the glass on this building. I’d like to know more about the energy efficiency of the design, such as how does it compare with more modern buildings with good LEED ratings.

About the building

  • Tempe Municipal Building
  • Construction completed 1971
  • Designed by the architectural firm of Michael & Kemper Goodwin
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Striving for less in the new year

My one word resolution for the new year (2016) is less.

I will strive for a lot less of these things:

  • Debt
  • Weight
  • Arguments with my wife
  • Regrets
  • Resentments
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Nonsense
  • Anxiety

I’m sure this list will grow as the year progresses, but these are the big ones for now.

As I reflected on my one word resolution, it occurred to me that having less won’t come easy. It will take a lot of will, determination and sacrifice. And of course I’ll need to focus on the positive opposites of the negative things I want less of.

I know if I apply myself and work hard, I will have a lot less at this time next year.

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It’s okay for stores to be open on Thanksgiving and Christmas

I used to be one of those people who grumble every year that stores shouldn’t be open on major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Before I tell you the key event that shifted my thinking, here are a just a few of three reasons why I think it’s okay for stores to be open on holidays:

  1. Not everybody celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas
    As much as many diehards would like to mandate that all Americans recognize these holidays as days to spend at home with family, it’s just practical for everyone. One year, on the day before Thanksgiving, I told the one woman working at the checkout stand of our local supermarket that I hope she has Thanksgiving off. She informed me that she will be working the holiday, then quickly assured me she’s okay with it because she’s in the U.S. on a study visa and it’s not a holiday she’s used to celebrating. And since none of her family is in the United States, she wouldn’t be able to celebrate it with them any way.
  2. People celebrate in different ways
    Not everyone celebrates Thanksgiving and Christmas in the same way. Given how diverse and mobile our society is these days, it’s more common than ever for family members to converge in one location from around the country in order to celebrate. In 2015, my family of four drove 13-plus hours from Phoenix to San Antonio the day before Thanksgiving to attend a reunion dinner planned for Thanksgiving day. We arrived at our hotel at 1 a.m. on Thanksgiving morning. If not one supermarket were open that day, there is no way we, or many of the other guests, would have been able to bring anything for dinner.
  3. Some people enjoy working on the holidays
    Believe it or not, there are some people who actually enjoy working on holidays – especially when they can earn 1-1/2 to 2 times their normal pay. I personally know several people who count on holiday pay so they can survive the holidays financially or pay off bills. For others, it’s not so much about the money, but they’d just rather be around people than sitting home alone dwelling on the fact that they have nobody to celebrate the holiday with. This was definitely the case for the woman I mentioned earlier.

Like many people, I once thought it was sacrilegious for stores to be open on Thanksgiving or Christmas. That all changed the year my young daughter had a painful ear infection on Christmas morning. Were it not for the cheerful staff of the local Walgreens committing to be at work that day, the outcome of our holiday might have quite miserable.

Unless I hear of people being forced to work on a holiday or face consequences, I will forever support the right of businesses to open their doors on Thanksgiving and Christmas.

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The road trip of a lifetime

In October 2015 my 17 year-old daughter and a few of her friends talked me into chaperoning/chauffeuring them on a 5-day RV road trip from Phoenix, AZ to Telluride, CO via Monument Valley in the Four Corners region.

It was just me and six high school seniors. I tried to teach them a few things about responsible road travel and fellowship.  Instead, they taught me a few things:

  • Live in the moment. There’s plenty to worry about later on.
  • Look for things to laugh about and, if you don’t see them, make them happen.
  • The day doesn’t end until you say it does.
  • There’s some mighty fine dining to be had in the upper, back room of a grungy pizza joint.
  • Rainy days can’t dampen the spirit of adventure.
  • Living in today’s world requires a lot of recharges.
  • My daughter’s going to be alright.

As with most vacations, it’s best to let pictures (and video) tell the story. Check this video one of the young men made:

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Reflections on 2015 Bob Seger show at Gila River Arena, Glendale AZ

Feb. 20, 2015 – Had a great time with my wife at the Bob Seger concert last night. Only sat down once, during one of the ballads from his new album. The crowd knew almost every word to every song. No pyrotechnics, no lasers, no lip-syncing. Just perfectly timed and well-rehearsed Old Time Rock n Roll, with a few personal stories.

Seger said in 1980 his mom called him from Hawaii and was so excited because she heard one of his songs being played there, which happened to be her favorite. There were no lyrics, just an orchestra. They played it beautifully. “Where were you, Mom?” Seger asked. In the elevator. The song was ‘We’ve got tonight.”

Thanks for the music and memories, Bob!

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Awesome hike: Hidden Valley in South Mountain Park, Phoenix

Wow! That was, and still is, my reaction to this short detour trail off of National Trail in the South Mountain Park in Phoenix, AZ. Hidden Valley is an awesome tribute to the forces and beauty wpid-wp-1423458166079.jpegof nature.

Hidden Valley trail is aptly name because it’s a trail you can hike only after a 2-plus mile hike in on either National or Mormon trail. As such, the .9-mile segment of the hike labeled Hidden Valley is not overrun with other people. If you don’t see the sign, you can walk right by it and not even know what you missed.

In January 2015, I hiked the entire length of National Trail (approx. 14 miles) and saw nowhere near the natural beauty that awaits hikers on the Hidden Valley segment. Oddly, some of the most magnificent features are within a few hundred feet of National Trail itself.

Here are some of the more notable features from Hidden Valley in South Mountain Park:

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Here is the hike summary via Mapmyhike .

If you go, be sure you have good stable shoes and socks – no flip flops – and a couple quarts of water.


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