Archive for March, 2005

Reminiscing about the immigrant experience

Spending months in a wagon crossing the great plains the Rocky Mountains was not minor jaunt in an RV. There are diaries and there are stories. Here is a tale as told to a neice.

Mrs. Jarvis Clark of Nampa, California to her sons Guthrie and Richard:

It was my privilege to spend many gay and happy hours with two of your great aunts during their visit to our home in Berkeley in nineteen-hundred and thirty-four. … I exerted every effort to get the story from these aunts of their early interesting lives; particularly that part of which concerned their long trek across the plains in the 60’s. … I sat on the balcony in the sunshine many mornings, forgetful of my many household and office duties and simply basked in the stories and reminiscent tales of their long journey from Grundy County, Missouri to Oregon over the old Oregon trail in 1865.

The mosquitoes in Idaho seem to be considered one of the biggest difficulties on the entire trip. Then there were the Indians. Then there were the soldiers who were supposed to be fending off the Indians. Then were was the terrain.

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Ever wonder about fossil collecting?

Used to be there wasn’t much worry about picking up wierd things you found while out camping. Nowadays, though, there are laws about collecting fossils and artifacts.

The amount of fossils you may collect on public land varies according to the agency controlling the land. Further, on lands controlled by an agency, the answer varies depending on which state the land is in. Add to the mix that websites do not list all pertinent information, e.g. not all state include that you cannot collect in caves, but it is illegal in all; also none list land that is temporarily or permanently closed to collecting. And lastly the information is always subject to change. The following information, the BLM regulations, was compiled from BLM websites in the summer of 2003. [What is a reasonable amount]

At one site near Boca Springs, a group did a study by looking for artifacts. They labeled each one’s location with a flag, took notes, then removed the flags and any other evidence of discovery. The site was left as they found it, complete with all of its artifacts.

So the best way to collect things when out in the wilderness may be with a camera. This kind of collecting is also probably easier on storage in your rig, too.

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Rye Patch Weather

Imlay is just up the freeway a bit from Rye Patch State Park. Here is the forceast for the weather for our rally weekend

Sunrise will be at about a quarter to six in the morning and sunset will be a few minutes past six in the evening.

The UV index will be high on Friday and moderate otherwise.

Low temperatures are expected to be in the mid thirties (a bit above average) with highs getting towards sixty (about average), almost.

There is a chance of showers Thursday and Friday but just clouds on Saturday.

This is a week out and the discussion indicates a good degree of variation in the models so don’t depend upon too many particulars in the forecast. It is spring and a time of changing weather, anyway.

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Make a duct tape wallet

Someone was selling these things for $15. Save the dough and make your own with a few feet of duct tape. To make sense of these instructions, keep in mind that there are 2.54 cm/in or about 30 cm in a foot.

Duct Tape Workshop – make a duct tape wallet courtesy 3M Canada.

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Spring and the equinox are explained

Spring is on its way. For the astronomical version and a bit about orbits and measuring sunrise and sunset, has a nice rundown on what’s going on with the equinox.

spring is currently being reduced by approximately one minute per year and winter by about one-half minute per year. Summer is gaining the minute lost from spring, and autumn is gaining the half-minute lost from winter. Winter is the shortest astronomical season, and with its seasonal duration continuing to decrease, it is expected to attain its minimum value – 88.71 days – by about the year 3500. [Joe Rao; Spring Starts Sunday, But Why Has the Date Changed? 18mr05

The other half of the equation is that the equinox marks the start of the long march towards the hot days of summer. The plants are starting to turn the hills green. The flowers will be out soon to add a splash of color. And a late freeze in our high desert is a good probability for creating havok in a gardener’s efforts. That late freeze can also present a risk for your RV plumbing if you go on early campouts!

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Support the Boy Scounts sent this one along. Normally this isn’t the place for politics (see Whispers for that) but this one is an exception. If we don’t stand with the BSA it might well be us next.

The ACLU is out to destroy the Boy Scouts of America with wave after wave of lawsuits designed to bankrupt the organization.

Given the state of today’s culture with the lack of father’s in many homes, growing drug use and violence among our teenage boys, and numerous other pitfalls, the Boy Scouts may be more important than ever to the health of our society.

But unless grassroots America stands up on behalf of this proud organization that has instilled honesty, integrity and character in more than 110 million boys over the years, we may soon lose their outstanding influence.

That is why Grassfire is calling on our lawmakers to draft and pass legislation that protects and preserves the mission of the Scouts from outside attack.

However, to motivate our leaders to take action, we need to mobilize hundreds of thousands of citizens who stand in support of the Scouts.

+ + 500,000 Petitions Needed in 30 days!

Already, Grassfire has rallied 384,083 citizens on our way to 500,000. Over the next 30 days, we want to reach our goal and present your petitions directly to lawmakers who are working to protect the Scouts.

Will you join this growing movement by clicking here:

+ + Key legislation about to be announced!

The “Support Our Scouts Act of 2005” is due to be announced any day, and would ensure that the Boy Scouts are treated fairly by guaranteeing their right to equal access to public facilities, forums and programs. It would also protect them from senseless attacks by groups like the ACLU.

When this bill is introduced, Grassfire wants to be there with your petition as a massive show of support!

But to be included you must click on the link below:

After signing our national “Save the Scouts” petition, please pass it on to at least 20-30 of your friends and family–urging them to stand up for the Boy Scouts in this way.

Thanks for taking action with us. Alliance

P.S. This is a 100 percent grassroots initiative that depends on your support. After signing your name, it is crucial that you pass this important message on to as many friends and family as you can in the coming days. Remember, when this legislation is introduced, Grassfire wants to be there with your petition and
those of your friends and family!

Strike a blow for the Scouts by forwarding this message today!

+ + Sign our “Save the Scouts” petition:

+ + For more on this and other key issues Grassfire is battling:

+ + Show your support with our patriotic magnets:

+ + Comments? Questions?

+ + + + + Alliance is a non-profit 501(c)4 issues advocacy organization dedicated to equipping our 1.5 million-strong network of grassroots conservatives with the tools that give you a real impact on the key issues of our day. Gifts to are not tax deductible.

So, if you think an orgamization should be able to suuport civic values and personal integrity and still be able to use governmental facilities, then consider this petition.

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Big deep puzzles show that what we know has a lot left to know

The New Scientist has a good article describing some of the things that puzzle people trying to understand the world around us. New Scientist 13 things that do not make sense – Features doesn’t get into the gee whiz or fringe kook bullhooey but rather provides a short description of what has been observed and how. Many of these observations simply aren’t sound enough to experiment with so that they can be properly verified and the factors involved discovered. Others are just difficult to understand based on what we know now.

Topics include the placebo effect, fold fusion, homeopathy, cosmological conundrums, and some potential anomolies in basic physics.

A good one to get you up to speed without too much extraneous or confusing detail or hidden agenda problem.

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Military Rations

A 38 page pamphlet Operational Rations of the Department of Defense provides a description of how the US military feeds its soldiers.

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The smell of burning brakes

Ah! nothing like the smell of burning brakes in the morning. — We were visiting an auto dealer at the bottom of the grade into Carson City when I noticed a smell I often only experience when following a big rig down a steep grade. The smell of burning brakes is usually a sign of a problem but the salesman said it wafted by his dealership at the bottom of a short grade quite often. Makes one wonder about some drivers.

Don’t burn your brakes. Anticipate the downgrade. Start slow. Stay slow. Use gears. Don’t ride the brakes. Stop and let them cool if you even think they might be getting close to producing a smell.

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A platform for electronic projects

Serendipity can often lead to interesting innovation. In this case, a guy trying to monitor neighborhood traffic found himself short of supplies and had to make do. The insight came when he took a break for a short snack.

Tortilla-Board: A New Breadboard Technique

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Jake Brakes

You may have heard about Jake Brakes and wondered what they were. Fernley prohibits them on the main drag through town. Other towns also prohibit these things.

Jake Brake is a manufacturers product to implement compression braking with diesel engines. Because of the way these engines work, they don’t provide the kind of braking that a gasoline engine does.

See Jacobs
Vehicle Systems – Jake Brake
for the original. There are other manufacturers of similar products but it appears Jake Brake is the Kleenex of compression braking systems.

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The price of gas

Neil Boortz (11mr07) provided a couple of links that help to put the price of gas in perspective.

Are gas prices currently the highest in history, as the media would have you believe? Not even close. Actually, as this chart shows…adjusted for inflation, gasoline has steadily declined in price since 1980. But what about before 1980? Same trend…again, adjusted for inflation, prices have been declining or steady since 1920, as this graph from 2000 shows.

You can also use the Consumer Price Index inflation calculator To find out how to compare prices between any two years from 1913 to 2003.

As far as gas, there has been a gradual decrease in actual cost since about 1920 with a big bump about 1980 (remember the price controls and enviro hysteria?) and some leveling off in the last five or ten years.

In other words, a $2+ per gallon cost might make you gulp but, in terms of everything else, it isn’t that far out of line with what your parents and grandparents paid.

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ABout Rye Patch on the Humbolt

The upper part of Rye Patch Reservoir is where early immigrants found reasonable livestock grazing after an awful 44 mile trek (worse than the forty mile desert) from the Winnemucca area. It was also a decision point about whether to take the Applegate and Lassen cutoff towards northern California and Oregon or cross the forty mile desert towards the Carson or Truckee rivers.

Rye Patch Reservoir covers some 19 miles of the river and holds 194,300 acre feet when full. This irrigates over 38,000 acres in Lovelock Valley.
Nevada Hydrographic Regions—Humboldt River Basin

See the Destinations page on Rye Patch for more information and interesting links to relevant websites.

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nifty book light

The latest catalog from cyberguys has a new gadget that could be handy for those who like to read at night. The Lightwedge(tm) is an acrylic light guide that disperses light from LED’s over a 6×9 inch area. 4 AAA batteries provide about 40 hours of light. They have cool blue and “night vision red” versions available for about $25. The device can be left in the book as a bookmark when not in use. There is a paperback version available that is 5 3/8”W x 7 3/8″H and a bit cheaper.

Don’t know if it works but it sure looks like an interesting idea. Do be careful browsing through the cyberguys catalog or web site if you are a gadget freak as it is dangerous tempation.

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Mercury visible in the evening sky until March 19

After you watch the sun set, look close and you may see the planet that orbits closest to the sun.

For those living in the Northern Hemisphere, a great window of opportunity for viewing Mercury in the evening sky has just opened up. The window will remain open through at least March 19, providing an ample number of chances to see this so-called elusive planet with your own eyes. [Joe Rao. Time to View Planet Mercury is Now. Night Sky Columnist 4Mr05]

On 4 March Mercury will be one of the brightest items visible just a bit south of due west as soon as the light of the sun fades. On Friday the sliver of the new moon will be visible only a one or two finger widths higher and to the left.

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Birding in Babylon

Orion Magazin, March and April 2005, described a weblog by “Sergeant First Class Jonathan Trouern-Trend is a member of the 188th Area Support Medical Battalion of the Connecticut National Guard. He works for the American Red Cross Blood Services in their Epidemiology and Surveillance program. He lives in Marlborough, CT with his wife and their four, soon to be five, children.” The weblog is called Birding Babylon

If you want to learn about the species that can be observed in Iraq, Sergeant Trouern-Trend’s web log is one place to start.

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how do your own casting and etching

If you are remodeling your Airstream and find that you have to make your own parts, here are some ideas for you.

Microwave melting of metals – “Research is nearing completion on a system that will allow the melting and casting of bronze, silver, gold, and even cast iron, using an unmodified domestic microwave oven as the energy source. A potential foundry in every kitchen !! ”

Overhauled PC – electrolytic etching – “all you really need to know is this: If you take the thing you would like to cut and cover it with a non conductive substance (in our case spray paint), and then remove paint from the line that you want to cut, the above reaction will cut a line through the metal. As an example I have found a liscence plate that I had sitting around.”

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ideas for your potluck from a tailgait tipster

Big football games in the fall often start with a social event in the parking lot. These tailgating parties have become an institution in themselves. They are a lot like a potluck feed at a rally. Here is a good page of tips to consider for your next outdoor food sharing enterprise.

Home & Garden Television: Entertaining

Make a list of the items to take,
# Keep it simple.
# Securely wrap any meats, poultry or fish
# A full cooler will maintain its low temperature longer
# Set up the party near a grassy area, or bring a roll of Astroturf
# Another idea is to bring a small generator

# When the party is over, discard any perishable foods that sat for more than two hours on the buffet table. A good rule of thumb is “If there’s any doubt, throw it out.”

# If using a grill, don’t try to hide it under a car
# Don’t worry about bringing chairs for everyone.
# Bring along a child’s wagon for hauling stuff
# Have a sign-in book

go see the rest of the article and find out more about these tips!

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