Archive for General

Don’t tell the Pope: reducing global poverty

Mark Perry says It’s the greatest achievement in human history, and one you probably never heard about.

“Dartmouth economics professor Douglas Irwin has an excellent op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal — “The Ultimate Global Antipoverty Program,” with the subtitle “Extreme poverty fell to 15% in 2011, from 36% in 1990. Credit goes to the spread of capitalism“. Here’s an excerpt:

“The World Bank reported on Oct. 9 that the share of the world population living in extreme poverty had fallen to 15% in 2011 from 36% in 1990. Earlier this year, the International Labor Office reported that the number of workers in the world earning less than $1.25 a day has fallen to 375 million 2013 from 811 million in 1991.”

“The reduction in world poverty has attracted little attention because it runs against the narrative pushed by those hostile to capitalism. The Michael Moores of the world portray capitalism as a degrading system in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Yet thanks to growth in the developing world, world-wide income inequality—measured across countries and individual people—is falling, not rising, as Branco Milanovic of City University of New York and other researchers have shown.

Capitalism’s bad rap grew out of a false analogy that linked the term with “exploitation.” Marxists thought the old economic system in which landlords exploited peasants (feudalism) was being replaced by a new economic system in which capital owners exploited industrial workers (capitalism). But Adam Smith had earlier provided a more accurate description of the economy: a “commercial society.” The poorest parts of the world are precisely those that are cut off from the world of markets and commerce, often because of government policies.”

Enabling people, securing property rights and rule of law, not via top down governmental control has proven effectiveness. This isn’t what the Pope is advocating as a solution to poverty although he says he isn’t bashing capitalism. It isn’t what much of the population is advocating, either, as the ‘exploitation meme’ as one excuse for one’s ills has a lot of adherent’s as well. 

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Sale on! Cameco leveling blocks and chocks at Amazon

Amazon has a sale on today for Camco leveling blocks and chocks. The yellow Camco blocks are $25 on sale while the Tri-Lynx 00015 Lynx Levelers, (Pack of 10) orange blocks are running at $32. The Tri-Lynx seems to have a slight edge in user ratings. (affiliate links – check the links and support the website!)

Note that Amazon is now collecting sales tax for Nevada.

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On being a pawn: shutting down your touring destinations to influence your political views.

You may have heard the news about the political budget fracas. Did you know you are a pawn in the game? Warren Meyer runs a business you may have encountered at campgrounds. He has posted his Plea to Stop the White House From Closing Privately-Funded, Privately-Operated Parks. It is a letter to his Congressional representatives. In past shutdowns, he was left alone as his company hired people and fed money to the treasury. There is a difference this time.

“today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.”

If you plan to visit Washington D.C. to view the memorials and other sites, you might want to look into the saga of the WW II vets as well. Besides erecting barriers and increasing enforcement staff to block off a site never intended to close, people are being hired to protest the government ‘shutdown’ to try to counterbalance the veterans removing the barriers and visiting ‘their’ memorial. Apparently, spending government funds to close down tourist destinations is a critical government security issue, even if it is of the sort that generates funds for the government and jobs for part time RVers. Be aware of what actually is as it may not be what you are told.

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A reminder about things not to do at a campground

Dave Seminara is in to tent camping. That just makes it harder to escape some of the obnoxious things other campers do. He lists 7 things not to do at a campground. It is a familiar list. Read. Remind yourself. Remember.

“One would think that campers would know not to snap the branches off of trees for firewood, drive fast around the campground, liter, and leave a fire unattended, but I’ve seen people do all of these things. Everyone slips up occasionally but a little common courtesy goes a long way, especially in the great outdoors.”

It’s sorta’ like picking a spot in the middle of a big dispersed area, getting set up, and then having someone else come along and decide to set up right next to you. Perhaps they think you chose a desolate spot because you need company or something? That something might include 24×7 electricity, music, dog poop avoidance games, and similar stuff as well.

It is one thing to be friendly and say “Hi” but entirely another to be oblivious to the needs and desires of others.

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A place to camp, or something else?

The Coyote Blog notes When Environmentally Sustainable Actually Was Sustainable

“The US Forest Service has built more campgrounds, by far, than any other entity in the world. For decades, particularly in the western United States, the USFS had a very clear idea about what they wanted in a campground — they wanted it to be well-integrated with nature, simple, and lightly developed. They eschewed amenities like pools and playgrounds and shuffleboard. They avoided building structures except bathroom and shower buildings. The camp sites were simple, often unpaved with a table and fire ring and a place for a tent. They used nature itself to make these sites beautiful, keeping the environment natural and creating buffers of trees and natural vegetation between sites. I have never seen an irrigation system in a western USFS campground — if it doesn’t grow naturally there, it doesn’t grow.

This has proven to be an eminently sustainable design.”

The BLM and USFS both follow this idea but other agencies appear more prey to the ‘PC Campground’ problem – like maybe state and local park departments.

“Over the last several months, I have been presented with plans from three different public parks agencies for parks they want to redevelop. Each of these have been $10+ million capital projects and each one had a major goal of being “sustainable.” I have run away from all three. Why — because each and every one will be incredibly expensive and resource intensive to operate and of questionable popularity with the public. Sustainability today seems to mean “over-developed with a lot of maintenance-intensive facilities”.”

Agencies that use public facilities as bragging points tend to miss one big market. Some people just want to camp in the woods and wilds. If they want a resort or to hold a convention, they’ll find a place that does what they want. Dispersed camping is popular in large part because it doesn’t offer anything except access to the land. Most RV’s are fully able to spend a weekend off grid and take out anything and everything the bring in. Doing that is the essence of ‘sustainable’ and the idea of leaving no indication anyone was there at all.

Now, if the USFS and BLM would just upgrade the ancient campgrounds to better accomodate RV’s a bit larger than people used fifty years ago …

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SNU October rally weather alert and change of venue

SNU Folks,

Schedule Changes

Please note the changes in location for the October rally and the November luncheon

October rally

The rally location for Thursday October 25 – Sunday 28, 2012 has been changed to Lahonton Beach 7.

A frontal system will be moving through later this the week with snow forecast for the Austin area on Thursday. That makes driving over Bob Scott Summit an iffy situation. It also means the road to Hickison is likely to be snow covered (check the picture on the above link). It has been decided that being closer to home, at a lower elevation is a lot less risky and hopefully it will make it possible for more of you to join us for the last SNU rally of the year. This rally is also when we will be electing SNU officers for 2013.

November Luncheon

The November 17, 2012 luncheon has been changed to El Charro Avita in Carson City.

Due to several issues that cropped up with the Gold Hill hotel, including attendance guarantees and finances, it was decided to change the location of the November lunch to El Charro.

Please email the SNU or call 775 972 5011 and rsvp for the November 17 luncheon no later than November 13, 2012.

We look forward to seeing you all at the October rally at Lahonton and the November lunch at El Charro.

For the latest on the Sierra Nevada Unit, check the website homepage.


SNU HQ

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Conference on park management in Reno 7 November

The 2012 Recreation Partnership Conference will be at the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno on 7 November.

“Despite declining recreation budgets, a number of public agencies have been able to keep parks, campgrounds, and recreation areas open and well-maintained using public-private partnerships for park operations. At this conference, you will learn how these partnerships work and you will meet and network with leaders in both public agencies and private companies who have experience with these partnerships.”

The question at hand is how to keep public campgrounds and parks open. States threaten to close state parks due to budget constraints. Parks and recreation facilities are seen as budget drains. There is a way to turn this around that benefits both the government agencies as well as the people who use the facilities. That is what this conference is all about.

There are a lot of misperceptions regarding private management of public parks. That sort of management is not a simple task. It is a private and public partnership where expertise and experience is needed on both sides in order to do it right. You can hear about the US Forest Service (USFS) Program History, The California State Parks Initiative, Wilderness Issues and Legislation and other issues at this conference. It is intended for the professionals so the going might be a bit heavy. Thanks to Warren Meyer, ParkPPP.com and President, NFRA for providing notice of this event.

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Self contained tourists – selling the community benefits

Ken sends this link from ‘down under’ by the Campervan Motorhome Club of Australia (CMCA). It is about the Self-Contained RV Tourist and Economic Benefits.

“Over the past decade the Self-Contained RV Tourist market has continued to expand, and has now emerged as one of the most important and sustainable sectors of the tourism industry. It is increasingly important to effectively understand this market and its needs, and provide facilities and services that will attract this emerging tourism segment to your region.”

Facts and figures follow and they present an interesting profile of the RV experience that seems to fit with U.S. RVers as well Australian ones. Some of the facts to think about: the RV and camping industry has been growing at an annual rate of about 15% over the past seven years and that is likely to continue due to the ‘baby boom’ demographics; it is one of the most stable markets since 2000. RVer’s do spend money, need few services, and can make a significant contribution to any community that welcomes them.

In the U.S. Walmart seems to have the data presented well in hand. Others seem to have difficulty with the potential. If your community is one of those that doesn’t get the link between economic health and a friendly attitude towards the RV community, the link can help make the case for change. If your RV association is struggling, seems weak in the knees, or has lost its focus, the CMCA is providing an example to illustrate just what an RV association can do to raise the flag, find focus, and garner support and enthusiasm.

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Find your antipode

Ever wonder about that idea of ‘digging to China’ ? Free Map Tools has a map tunneling tool that will show you your antipodes on a map. For the SierraNevadaAirstreams.org territory, the antipode is in the Indian Ocean off Madagascar.

The site has a few other tools that might be fun to play with …

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Forests slowly closing to all but the elite

The Arizona Daily Sun reports on the conflict between the full timers and the badge carrying rangers in the National Forest Service.

Darrell and Rose found a camper, a van to pull it, and some solar panels for power. Now married, the Eddlemans live out of their recreational vehicle in forests around the Southwest with their dog, Freeway, and have seen a lot of the country.

They now hike and visit with other campers.

She paints.

He fishes.

“I like this lifestyle a lot,” Rose said.

Just one problem, in their view: The Kaibab National Forest doesn’t want them around and is recently stating as much.

Actually, living in the forest is illegal, say Forest Service officials, pointing to federal law.

One of the surprises was that the ranger didn’t cite staying past the 14 day limit by a day or two, he saw the Quartzite BLM LTVA sticker and decided on a residency use ticket. “Federal law prohibits building or “occupying or using a residence” on national forest land.” The ranger decided their MoHo was a residence. The implication is that any RV could be similarly categorized at any time on NFS lands.

This treatment is unfair and a form of discrimination, they say, particularly when other presumably wealthier campers with homes come and go from campers that sit for months and face no penalties.

“We’re normal people,” Dallas said. “We just live in the woods.”

Another aspect of this is the MVUM or motor vehicle use maps that the NFS publishes. You need to consult those maps to make sure that you don’t take your vehicle to where it is not allowed (anymore). It also brings to mind the land management companies comments about volunteer hosts and ‘badge and gun’ rangers in their attitude towards problems with campers.

This starts to get one thinking about Robin Hood and the Sherwood forest.

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Down under: Mango Farms – flooding February 2011

Floods happen. In Australia, February is summertime and our friends there sent pictures of the flooding at the mango farms.

See the photo gallery!

That’s a flight difference of something like a third of the circumference of the globe needing nearly 20 hours flight time from Nevada.

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Digging out from winter

The news now is that Lake Tahoe is about full and won’t be rising any more this year. It was only a couple of months ago that folks were digging out from the reason why the lakes and rivers are so full now. Rich and Barbara have a good photo-essay on what they were up against last winter.

See the photo gallery!

Just a few short months .., maybe the pictures will help you feel cooler!

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Automotive tech: they don’t build them like they used to.

Popular Mechanics lists 23 Ways Your Car Is Better Than Your Dad’s – Auto Industry News – Popular Mechanics and Wired lists ten examples of Hidden Tech That Makes Modern Driving Better. A lot of these items increase comfort and reduce fatigue and are in tow vehicles as well as the everyday automobile.

Active noise canceling systems and acoustic glass help make for a quieter ride. Direct and minutely controlled fuel injection along with turbo charging systems provide more power for less engine at better fuel efficiencies. Integrated GPS is being used to determine sun angle and adjust climate control. Magnetorheological dampers adapt the suspension for driving conditions. Security is improved making vehicles a more difficult target for thieves. Sound systems make the stereo of yesteryear, even the home ones, look rather anemic and low-fi.

The reliability is also a target. Engine alternators are producing 1.6 kw and fan belt driven pumps are moving to electrical. Tires get better traction, are less prone to damage from road hazards, and last longer. Engines and drive trains often come with warranties up to five times (or more) as long as they did in the past.

They don’t build them like they used to and much of the improvement is behind the scenes and stuff we take for granted.

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California state parks in memory

A couple of photographers with a pessimistic (modern) outlook on things has started 70in70. They plan to visit each of the 70 California state parks scheduled for closure to create memories of what they think will be lost to future generations.

There are other options available to California but closing public recreation and historical facilities may better suit political whims. At least there’s a new blog with lots of pictures if all you can do for now is a virtual visit.

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When is spring?

One of the traditional indicators of spring is when Tioga pass finally clears for traffic. It looks as if it will be a bit late this year. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that not only is the pass opening going to be a bit late, the Half Dome climbers will also have to wait.

Heavy snow on Half Dome has also prevented crews from placing cables on
the mountain. The cables are used by hikers to help them climb to the
summit. Park officials say it’s unlikely the cables will be in place by
Memorial Day.

Another issue is the spring run-off. The Arizona Daily Star says the Colorado River runoff picture stays good. It’s about 120% of average this year. In the Sierras it is more than 150%, which is why Tioga pass will take a while to clear. Meanwhile, in Reno the pear and crabapple bloom is in full swing but the Peavine snowcap says tomato growers need to wait a while, yet.

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(very) lightweight travel trailer

Over at Neatorama is the story about A Travel Trailer Light Enough to Be Hauled by a Mobility Scooter.

The Environmental Transport Association (UK) developed the QTvan — a travel trailer that can serve as a shelter for users of mobility scooters. It contains a bed, a 19″ television screen, and a kettle. Available options include a satellite dish, a gaming console, and a heater.

pictures and video at the link. check it out!

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Have an old 35 mm film camera?

If you’ve got a lot invested, money or otherwise, in a 35 mm film camera and just don’t want to let it go despite no more Kodachrome processing labs and other problems, RE35 might be something to consider.

It is a digital sensor that acts like a 35 mm film canister. It has a flexible sensor that rolls out in place of film and is available in 4, 8, or 12 mp versions. Pictures are uploaded via USB cable to your computer.

The device is one of those ‘real soon now’ technology things – it might be available by next fall, maybe. Right now, the tech specs section of the website says “coming soon.” There are obviously some interesting challenges. One might be the need for film cameras to advance film to cock the camera for the next shot. Another will be cost.

But, if it all comes together, it might just put some more life into that old camera kit you used to use for travel photography.

take note, though, what was is not now on that website:

Thankyou for your interest in Re35.
Some good news:

The feedback to our “product” has truly been overwhelming. It seems Re-35 really addresses a need and people worldwide can‚t seem to wait to get their hands on our “product”.

The bad news:

Some things are to good to be true!
Re35 does not really exist. We (the design company Rogge & Pott) created Re35 as an exercise in identity-design. We invented the “product” because it was something, that we had wished for for a long time (as many others). We launched the website and sent out “press releases” on April first – thinking, that the date would make clear, that Re35 is just wishful thinking – a classic April Fools Prank! And we had to take the site down because of too much traffic.

However:

All this attention Re35 ist getting might actually be good for something. It proves, that there is a gigantic community of photographers with analog equipment out there that is desperately waiting for a product like this to come along.

We hope there are no hard feelings

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Pizza Factory broken promises

The ads said they’d deliver to the Lahontan beach – it’s only 4 miles or so from the restaurant, after all. It seemed like a good idea for a pizza feed at the rally as a special event.

First in the list was to drop by the restaurant and confirm delivery to the lake and pick up a menu and a flyer with the special offers. All looked good. It was downhill from there.

A call to order the pizza (good cell phone coverage at Lahontan) placed the order and that is when we found a reluctance to deliver past the ranger station at the entrance to the state recreation area. That meant we had to wait for a call and then send someone out out to the station to pick up the order.

The second surprise was an incomplete order. The chicken wings part of the special package ordered were missing. That meant that some of those for whom pizza was not in their diet did not have an option. Paid for merchandise was not delivered. A promise was made to bring out the chicken wings, to the beach camp, the next day.

The next day, the Pizza Factory at Silver Springs was called to confirm delivery of the previous day’s shortages. OK, they’d be out to the campsite and deliver shortly. They never showed, never called,

Pizza Factory is a franchise with a corporate office in Oakhurst, CA. That has some benefits (the pizza was good!) but you have to wonder when one of the franchisees fails to delivers on promises, shorts customers, and doesn’t follow through on promised remediation.

The upshot is that anyone deciding to cap an outing at Lahontan with a pizza feed needs to consider what they will do when promises are not met, orders are not complete, and the action does not meet the talk at the Silver Springs Pizza Factory. Our experience was reminiscent of the old route 66 scams taking advantage of those passing through.

The feeling here is that you really should not have to hold a reputable retailer’s feet to the fire and cajole, threaten, or harass them to deliver what they promise and what you paid for. That does not appear to be the value system we encountered at the Silver Springs Pizza Factory.

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A century already?

The Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) says this year represents the 100th anniversary of RVing. MSNBC carries the story RV travel: 100 years and counting.

Of course, this is motorized vehicles with a focus on the recreational and avocational. More than a hundred years ago, a motor vehicle was something of an oddity to start with. What this anniversary shows, though, is that the camping spirit quickly adapted to a new technology – automobiles – to be able to take more stuff to more places with more style and comfort than ever before.

Keep an eye out for stories about this centennial. If you don’t see any, why not write one?

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About winter and ice and snow and heat

The Reference Frame has a good rundown on what goes on in winter temperatures with ice and snow in the post Warming induced by the latent heat of snow. If you can handle basic math, even the formulas could be interesting. The ideas apply not only to atmospheric temperature conditions when there is ice and snow but also in how you keep your RV warm and the energy budget for a hot shower.

You only need 1/2 of the water’s thermal energy to heat up the same amount (mass) of ice or snow. And melting of 1 kilogram of snow/ice into water needs as much energy as warming 80 kilograms of water or 160 kilograms of snow by 1 degree Celsius.

Moreover, ice is three times as good thermal conductor as liquid water (in the units of W/(m.K) – so that it enters Fourier’s law for heat conduction). So in general, I do expect that the temperature swings become much easier below the freezing point as long as there is any ice around.

One point being made is that making snow takes heat out of the water and gives it to the atmosphere. That can warm up the air where it is being frozen. The calculations indicate that 4 cm water equivalent can make something like 1C in temperature change in the atmosphere above it. That’s why wet snowstorm temperatures usually hang around freezing.

What this also means is that every inch of water equivalent snow, maybe six inches to a foot of snow, blanketing the ground warms up the atmosphere by a degree Fahrenheit when its made and cools the atmosphere by that much when it melts. Once freezing temperatures have taken hold, it is easier to get really cold because ice can only hold half as much heat as water and it conducts heat only a third as fast as water does.

The fact that ice has only a third the conductivity for heat as water plus the fact that snow tends to mix in a lot of air which has even less heat conductivity is why building a skirting for your RV with snow can help you keep down your living space heat budget inside the RV.

If you want numbers for these phenomena, check out the post. They have much to do with our climate and with the biosphere of our planet. You can find out more about the Anomalous properties of water that we depend upon for life and comfort beyond this global temperature regulation.

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