Is Utah’s outside troubling your insides?

A few astute doctors are reporting a worrisome increase in brain-related cancers and diseases in and around Salt Lake County. IMG_4176The state rate of Parkinson’s Disease is double the national average. Some think the PD numbers are even under-reported because of the dearth of qualified neurologists in Utah. Last year, the University of Utah established the first in the nation Parkinson’s Registry with doctors now being asked to report all cases.

Doctors have also observed a relatively high number of two rare neurological pathologies: glioblastomas and the logopenic variant of primary progression aphasia. The former is the most aggressive form of brain cancer. The latter is similar to Alzeimer’s but it attacks the brain’s language center, not the memory.

Got the heebie-jeebies yet?

Admittedly, sample sizes are small. But the Utah Physicians for a Healthy

A typical smoggy day in Salt Lake Valley

A typical smoggy day in Salt Lake Valley

Environment has a chock-full library of links to articles and papers making the case for the cruddy-environment-cruddy-health connection. Remember Woburn, Massachusetts? (where the rate of leukemia was linked to water contamination. The award-winning movie, A Civil Action, was based on those events.) How about Fallon, Nevada?

Our house sits above the dreaded Inversion (the nearly permanent layer of smog that sits on the valley). But some days, I’ve had a constant headache. It consistently coincides with the air quality. I feel for folks living in the thick of it.

So, why aren’t more folks jumping up and down, asking lawmakers, civic, industrial, and business partners to address these concerns?

Could it have something to do with Utah being one of the most industry- and business-friendly states in the country? (Forbes  ranked it the most business-friendly state in the nation last year. The Beehive State rarely drops out of the magazine’s top 3.)

Could it have something to do with the composition of the legislature (about 80 percent Republican)?

I talked with Dr. Brian Moench, board president of the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. The group has lobbied successfully for cleaner air and last year won a significant court battle against a Salt Lake refinery. He pointed out the obvious:

Children at the Natural History Museum of Utah

Children at the Natural History Museum of Utah

advocates for clean air (and water and earth) swim against the tide in this state. Check out the UPHE library of research connecting environmental factors with illness.

I’m wondering which will trigger change: a greater uptick in disease or a downturn in the success of pollutant-contributing industries?

There’s a popular interactive exhibit at the Natural History Museum of Utah. It allows players to input populations and environmental factors to see just how very challenged Salt Lake County will be in a decade or two. The kids get it.

Why aren’t adults playing?




Mountain conversation oddly civil

While my Maine friends lobby to have Governor LePage impeached and the Pine Tree State stays mired in a certain degree of discontent, discord, and intransigence, folks in Utah seems downright ducky and team-spirited.

snowIt might have something to do with the pro-business environment and one of the strongest Republican majorities in the country. (Utah’s House and Senate are about 80 percent GOP. Governor Gary Herbert is Republican.)

Over the past year or more, the ski resort, Snowbird, has wanted to swap several hundred acres with the national forest land in order to expand its resort. I started to shake my head, imagining all the glad-handing and winks as the deal moved through the process. And, it’s true. By Maine standards, the process has been incredibly smooth and speedy.

Alas, it’s being challenged by concerned residents in Utah county and beyond! Hooray.

Here are some links to the situation as it stands currently:

Mountain Accord is a consortium dedicated to “ensuring the long term vitality” of the Wasatch Mountains.

Fox News covers the process.m

Herald newspaper reports on what’s at stake.

Thanks to my friend, Dave Jarvis, for reminding me of the topic and the current public discussion.


Klymit is now warm

My backpacking friends reacted with surprise and delight, like they’d just been served lobster and champagne on a camping trip.

KlymitLogoFinal-large-copy1When you’re used to mac ‘n’ cheese and tuna surprise, how else would you react to the comfort of the Klymit’s new insulated Static V Luxe sleeping pad?

We’d all slept plenty of nights on those crappy, standard-issue sleeping pads. Inflatable or not, they seldom offer a decent night’s sleep. They might pack light, but they’re slim on comfort, too, especially for those of us with back issues.

The Klymit pad, new this year, added a big dollop of luxury to our outing with only a few extra ounces to carry.

Klymit, Inc. caught my eye last year at the Outdoor Retailer. It’s a Utah company dedicated to the idea that “the experience of outdoor enthusiasts can be enhanced with new technologies and a different approach that yield quantifiably superior products.”

I reviewed the Static V Luxe (uninsulated) last year with skepticism and the firm belief that no pad would work for my problematic back. I was wrong. It was great. Read review.

klymit 1The insulated version adds a skosh more weight and bulk (35 ounces packs to about 5x4x8 inches, or the size of a large pineapple) in exchange for the added comfort that comes from not being cold. That’s substantial for a cold-weather weenie like me. Being cold means waking up more often and sleeping in multiple layers. No, thank you.

The pad expands to the same luxurious size as its Static V sibling: 76x30x3 inches, nearly wide enough for two humans or with plenty of room for your canine companions.

I toss and turn a lot at night, but I never slipped off this pad. With an R rating of 4.4, it’s the perfect for three-season pad (R is for heat-loss Resistance. Pads generally come with 1-7 R ratings. The higher the R, the better the insulation.)

It took three minutes to blow up and a fraction of that time to deflate. I doubt my dogs would ever pierce the 75-denier polyester, but if it ever happens, there’s a nifty patch kit sewn right into the stuff sack.

Looks like I’m all set for another great season of camping.

klymit 2


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