Showing posts with label government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label government. Show all posts

August 13, 2019

Fighting Washboard Gravel Roads

The county Road and Bridge department put this up on the road that I travel now and then. I appreciate what they are trying to do — in a county full of gravel roads, maintaining them is a constant job.

Today I noticed that the road up to our mushrooming grounds had gotten noticeably rougher in just a week, to where if I don't slow down, the lightweight Jeep Wrangler will want to start dancing sideways.

So what is going on? Some physicists worked on the issue:
Just about any road with a loose surface — sand or gravel or snow— develops ripples that make driving a very shaky experience. Physicists have recreated this "washboard" phenomenon in the lab with surprising results: ripples appear even when the springy suspension of the car and the rolling shape of the wheel are eliminated. The discovery may smooth the way to designing improved suspension systems that eliminate the bumpy ride. . . .
"The hopping of the wheel over the ripples turns out to be mathematically similar to skipping a stone over water," says University of Toronto physicist, Stephen Morris, a member of the research team.
"To understand the washboard road effect, we tried to find the simplest instance of it," he explains. "We built lab experiments in which we replaced the wheel with a suspension rolling over a road with a simple inclined plow blade, without any spring or suspension, dragging over a bed of dry sand. Ripples appear when the plow moves above a certain threshold speed."
At Midwest Industrial Supply, which sells dust-control and soil-stabilization products to counties like ours, they note that 
Protracted periods of dry weather can also lead to washboarding, as arid conditions cause the crust that forms on the surface of gravel roads to loosen and become more susceptible to reshaping by passing tires. Conversely, if a gravel road doesn’t have the appropriate crowned road profile, water won’t be able to drain properly. Water will then accumulate in depressions and ripples in the road, which will in turn be deepened by passing traffic.
 That "certain threshold speed" is about 3–5 mph, depending who you ask, and speed does make the washboarding process worse.

All this raises another question in my mind. Did horse-drawn carriages and wagons create washboard surfaces too? (I expect that their narrow wheels mostly left ruts, but I do not know for sure.) And if so, did the advent of washboarding lead the old-timers to cuss those newfangled motorcars for ruining the roads?

April 16, 2014

Why I Would Not Man the Barricades for Cliven Bundy

The stand-off over Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's refusal to pay public-lands grazing fees has energized a lot of people who are starting to think that the federal government is oppressive.

Maybe so. You can count on federal law-enforcement to be clumsy and oppressive, and idea of a "First Amendment Zone" is ludicrous. The entire country is a "First Amendment Zone."

But still. This is an ongoing story that the anti-federal zealots have just recently discovered, but I think they picked the wrong poster boy.

Consider the timeline. It goes back for decades.

In my opinion, here we have a patriarchal Mormon who thinks that God gave the land to him to abuse however he chooses. Range management? Heck no! Habitat protection? Heck no! Paying the Animal Unit Month fees? Heck no!

Besides, this particular anti-federal government narrative just won't get traction, as compared to, say, NSA spying on your emails. Two reasons:

1. It involves agriculture, and 97 percent of the people in this country feel no emotional connection to agriculture.

2. It involves Nevada. What is Nevada to most Americans? Las Vegas and Area 51? They probably do not even know that there are ranches in Nevada, aside from those non-agricultural establishments with "ranch" as part of their name.

The Bureau of Land Management should have removed his cattle long ago for non-payment, but they have been politically cowed (pun intended) by people like Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). As a former BLM contractor, I have seen how sensitive to the political winds that agency can be.

UPDATE: "Sorting Fact from Fiction on Chinese Solar in Nevada." Or, "Look at the map, people."

May 17, 2013

Majority of Colorado Sheriffs to Sue over Gun Control Laws

Some 54 Colorado sheriffs, representing 84 percent of the total, "say recently passed state gun control laws are unconstitutional, and they plan to file a federal lawsuit Friday to block them," making the announcement at a news conference today.
At a Friday news conference in Denver, sheriffs, disabled individuals and a woman's group said two new laws requiring universal background checks for gun buyers and restricting the size of high-capacity magazines violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms and the Fourteenth Amendment's prohibition against states denying individuals due process and equal protection under the law.
Knowing how he feels, I am sure that the sheriff of my county has joined the suit, although apparently he did not drive up north for the event.

This group of sheriffs was probably more bipartisan than the legislators who rushed those bills through the process a few weeks ago.

For those who need a refresher: A county sheriff (from the Old English scirgerefa, "shire reeve," or official in charge of a shire/county), is part of the judicial branch of government, not the executive branch, like a city police chief. He or she is elected, not hired.

In an urban county, such as Denver, the sheriff runs the jail and carries out other orders of the court. In unincorporated areas and some small towns, the sheriff provides law-enforcement functions and others, such as serving as fire marshall.

October 13, 2012

Gordon Novel and the Sipapu of Weirdness

A little off-topic but too weird to pass up . . .

At his blog Of Arms and the Law, lawyer Dave Hardy mentions the passing of Gordon Novel, whom I had not heard of but who sounds like one of the American Illuminati — or something.
Two things he would vigorously deny: (1) he said he'd never worked for the CIA. Hung out with them a lot, but never was employed by them. (2) He had nothing to do with the JFK assassination. Jim Garrison had subpoenaed him, he fled, and Garrison tried to have him extradited, but, he said, that was just to decoy Garrison, not because he had any useful information. 
Oh, but there is more: secret CIA footage of the massacre of the Branch Davidians? J. Edgar Hoover sex tapes?  Playboy magazine? A shaky trial over a "conspiracy to firebomb part of New Orleans by balloons on behalf of a world's fair Novel was promoting"?

Many stories have a New Orleans connection. Truly, that city is the omphalos, the very sipapu of weirdness in America.

Hardy's judgment: "There's no way to sum the man up: his Wikipedia page is just a beginning. The strangest thing was that with him, the more impossibly outrageous a claim seemed to be, the more likely it was provably true."

October 01, 2012

Blog Stew at the Hot Springs

Bathing at Pagosa Springs, Colorado. See third link below.
•  I did not know it at the time, but I spent most of my childhood in the "state of Absoroka," one of twelve proposed states that never formally existed. "Jefferson," the one in northern California-southern Oregon, came close to formation in 1941 and still lives on in the hearts of some.

•  Despite campaigns against it, fashion designers are returning to fur. Some are conflicted:
Alice + Olivia designer Stacey Bendet, herself a vegan, wears fur and uses it in her collection. "It doesn't make sense," she once admitted. "Something about putting it inside me [sic] feels really barbaric. Something about wearing it just feels a little glamorous."

 • Peruse some photos taken 150 years ago in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico,  and Utah.

February 25, 2012

New License Plate Would Help Fishing, Shooting Sports

I have read that Colorado has the largest number of specialty license plates of any state in the union. So let's have one more.

A bill in the legislature introduced by Rep. Sal Pace (D-Pueblo) and Sen. Jean White (R-Steamboat Springs) would create a "Wildlife Sporting License Plate."

The initial cost of the plate will be $60: $25 to cover DMV fees, $25 to the Highway Users Tax Fund and $10 to Colorado Parks and Wildllife. After that, a $25 renewal fee would be paid to CPW,  in addition to the standard DMV license fees. The money goes directly to the wildlife cash fund. CPW is directed to use the money to fund grants for two purposes; expanding opportunities for public shooting, and improving fishing in Colorado.

You can sign an online petition in favor of the new license plate.

February 07, 2012

September 20, 2011

What Has the 'Food Movement' Accomplished?

Michael Pollan considers the gap between image (Michele Obama's organic garden—do the Obamas ever eat from it? No one says.) and actual agricultural policy.

His article, "How Change is Going to Come in the Food Industry," is part of a special issue in The Nation.
To date, however, the food movement can claim more success in changing popular consciousness than in shifting, in any fundamental way, the political and economic forces shaping the food system or, for that matter, in changing the “standard American diet”—which has only gotten worse since the 1970s. Recently there have been some political accomplishments: food movement activists played a role in shaping the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act and the Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, both passed in the last Congress, and the last couple of farm bills have thrown some significant crumbs in the direction of sustainable agriculture and healthy food. But the food movement cannot yet point to legislative achievements on the order of the Clean Air Act or the Clean Water Act or the establishment of the Environmental Protection Administration. Its greatest victories have come in the media, which could scarcely be friendlier to it, and in the food marketplace, rather than in the halls of Congress, where the power of agribusiness has scarcely been disturbed.
True enough, but you don't suppose that the marketplace might actually lead Congress, do you? 
Here is the table of contents for the entire food-related issue.

August 07, 2011

Scott Tipton—Not a Teddy Roosevelt Republican

Much to my disappointment, my Congressman, Scott Tipton, has co-sponsored "Wilderness and Roadless Area Release Act," which is basically a way to destroy the roadless designations on public lands that the majority of Coloradans have been supporting since the Clinton Administration.

David Lien of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers lays out the issues in this letter to the Glenwood Springs newspaper, invoking the best Republican president ever*, Theodore Roosevelt:
Roosevelt would be turning over in his grave today at the prospect of HR 1581, which if implemented would open some 60 million acres of these backcountry lands to road construction, motorized recreation, mining, and oil and gas extraction.

Here in Colorado, 12 of the 15 most hunted game management units (the most productive ones) have over 100,000 acres of roadless backcountry. More than 70 percent of Colorado River cutthroat trout habitat is in roadless areas.

Build roads in these areas, and the elk migrations are hindered, the mule deer populations suffer, and the trout spawning habitat is negatively impacted. That means fewer hunting and fishing opportunities.

We understand the need for mining, oil development and other resource extraction activities on some federal lands, and even recognize the attraction (to some) of motorized recreation far from the glare of civilization. But when our forefathers landed on our shores in the 17th Century, 100 percent of the land was wilderness. Today, that figure has dwindled to less than 3 percent in the lower 48 states, and HR 1581 threatens what little remains.

When Teddy Roosevelt became president, one of his first acts was to begin planning a national conservation policy. Roosevelt implanted the idea of conservation into our culture and enriched our future prospects with 230 million acres of designated public forests, wildlife refuges, parks, national monuments, and game ranges.
* Some might say that honor should go to Abe Lincoln, but the Republic Party was still newly hatched in 1860 and had not yet coalesced across a broad range of issues other than abolishing slavery and preserving the Union. By Roosevelt's time it had.

August 01, 2011

The Hikers, the Dog, and the Helicopter

Out-of-shape, unprepared dog? Unprepared owners? Genuine and appropriate use of your tax dollars and contributions to search-and-rescue or sheriff's department or whomever?

This story has so many opportunities for displaying one's moral superiority that one scarcely knows where to begin. The commenters, of course, already have begun.

In the position of authority, I probably would have gone ahead and sent the chopper too.

November 15, 2010

A Little Victory

After six months of back-and-forth, the Internal Revenue Service has decided that M. and I do not owe an additional $250 federal income tax for last year.

Not a huge amount, but, damn it, we did not owe it!

If we had prepared our own tax returns and had not had our tax accountant to hold our hands through this process, we might have thought that we really did owe more money. How many people just pay up?

But he generated some "Prove it, you stupid, clumsy bureaucrats!" letters, and the IRS backed down. He probably has the letter template in his computer and just inserts the clients' names.

I used to tell my writing student that "the IRS hates freelancers." Funny that this happened the first full year of my return to freelance work.

We don't make very much money, but we make it in complicated ways, filing a federal tax return fat with Schedule This and Worksheet That.

November 05, 2010

EPA Rejects Lead Fishing-Weight Ban

Last August the Environmental Protection Agency rejected a ban on lead ammunition.

Now the EPA has also rejected the second part of the petition, against lead fishing weights.

The Center for Biological Diversity, the American Bird Conservancy, the Association of Avian Veteranarians, [the astroturf "hunters group"] Project Gutpile, and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed the petition on August 3 to ban the production and sale of lead based ammunition and fishing tackle under the Toxic Substance Control Act (TSCA) of 1976.

EPA sent a letter to the petitioners today [Nov. 4]  stating that they failed to demonstrate that the rule is necessary to protect against an unreasonable risk of injury to health or the environment. The letter also states that the increasing number of limitations on the use of lead fishing gear on some federal and state lands, as well as various education and outreach activities, call into question whether a national ban on lead in fishing gear would be the least burdensome, adequately protective approach to address the concern, as called for under TSCA. EPA's letter also notes that there are non-lead alternatives currently in the marketplace.
Vermont, New York, New Hampshire, and Maine, as I understand, do ban small (under 1.0 or 0.5 oz., depending) sinkers (split shot, etc.), partly to protect loons. I think that there is a ban on such in Canada (all provinces?) too.

From the Outdoor Wire, a daily digest of outdoor-industry news and agency news releases that you can subscribe to.

September 01, 2010

Colorado Is Hiring District Wildlife Managers

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is looking to hire new district wildlife managers, in other words, what some states call game wardens. Here is the news release.

DENVER, Colo.--The Colorado Division of Wildlife is now hiring District Wildlife Managers.

District Wildlife Managers are wildlife professionals who have unique and exciting careers.  Responsibilities include wildlife management, law enforcement and community outreach and education. 

This is one of the few entry-level positions in the wildlife field that allows a recent college graduate or a seasoned professional seeking a career change the opportunity to have an immediate impact on wildlife.

Today's District Wildlife Manager is someone who

  • Has a bachelor's degree in biology or a natural resources-related field
  • Has experience in the outdoors
  • Has exceptional communication and interpersonal skills
  • Will agree to and pass a background check
  • Will successfully complete training as a peace officer

The DOW has a rich tradition in hiring the best-qualified, talented and dedicated professionals to help manage Colorado's wildlife resources.  In working to maintain this tradition, the hiring process is rigorous and competitive.  Candidates are encouraged to begin the application process early.  The application deadline is Sept. 13, 2010.    

To view this job announcement, please visit the DOW website.

For more information about District Wildlife Managers, please visit the DOW website.

To view or print a promotional flier for this job opportunity, click here.

December 16, 2008

Ken Salazar as Interior Secretary

According to the Denver Post, Senator Ken Salazar will accept the post of Secretary of the Interior.

As one-time employees (in a small way) of the DOI, M. and I are moderately happy to see him in the job. (I wonder if he will make any progress with the Indian oil-royalties quagmire.)

At least we hope that under Sec. Salazar there will be less political meddling in scientific research.

November 24, 2008

Interior Secretary Speculations

John Orr at Coyote Gulch summarizes speculation about who will be the next Secretary of the Interior, a big item for us Westerners.

I have seen some blogosphere gossip that the job was offered to New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, but I cannot find a link offhand.

At least Richardson would know what the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management do. But apparently he wanted a foreign-policy job -- Secretary of State -- and not getting that, will take Commerce instead.