May 31, 2009

And Now a Word from Fisher

In solidarity with oppressed dogs everywhere, I hereby declare a sit-in and occupation of this Jeep Liberty, until our non-negotiable demands are met! First, no one shall depart in a vehicle without taking dog(s) ... Hey, is that a tennis ball?!

May 30, 2009

Spinning Reels Should Be Black

I re-spooled my veteran Mitchell spinning reel tonight and decided to hit eBay for some of its cousins.

My once-favorite Mitchell reel still lies at the bottom of the Arkansas River, casualty of a rafting wreck, which was the first time I actually had to save someone's life. (And as I held onto to him, all I could think was, "If I let go and he drowns, I will have to go back and tell his wife what happened.")

(I do have one Daiwa 1500C spinning reel--I saw one like it listed on eBay as "vintage." It is silvery and plasticky and just not the same.)

Like all vintage or antique machinery, Mitchell reels have an online museum.

I recall starting out spin-fishing with an early half-bail model, and once I mastered it, the full-bail models seemed to be le dernier cri.

The newer models are not all black. Sacrilege.

May 29, 2009

Blog Stew with Mystery Mustelids

• A landowner near Granada, Colorado, sees more water after tamarisk is controlled--but it's a constant fight.

• An Englishman tries to "go green" with a home wind turbine. He goes through all the planning bureaucracy, builds it, and ends up facing the dreaded ASBO, not to mention a big fine.

"Everyone is encouraged to be environmentally friendly, and we wanted to do our bit. We never dreamed that going green would land us in court and £25,000 out of pocket."

• A game camera verifies that re-introduced fishers have been reproducing in Washington state. As for our mystery beasts of four years ago and earlier, the jury is still out whether they were fishers or just big pine martens.

• Playing paintball with coyotes.

May 27, 2009

Park Service Works on the Concealed-Carry Issue

As predicted, the guns-in-national-parks issues has created both "aiieee, it's the end of the world!" vaporing and some bureaucratic re-thinking on the Park Service's part.

Parks officials are also scratching their heads about how the new rules will affect enforcement of laws on things like gun permits, which vary widely and will still hold sway even on federal park lands, and wildlife poaching. Some people believe that the change will be immense, others that it will not be noticeable at all.

Put me in the second group of "some people": I doubt that there will be much change at all--except possibly in parks along the Mexican border.

The second linked story, from the New York Times, makes some mis-steps:

The National Parks evoke equally deep emotional feelings — about place. Setting aside specific spots for the celebration of nature, or history, or spirituality, is an old tradition — as old as the Second Amendment.

Let's see: Bill of Rights, ratified 1791. Yellowstone National Park, our first, created in 1872.

At least some reporters are beginning to understand what the law will do--and not do:

Colorado, like other states, also recognizes concealed weapons permits from some states but not others. A permit issued in Texas or Pennsylvania is valid in Colorado, for example, and would thus eventually be recognized in Rocky Mountain [National Park]. But a permit holder from California or New York would still have to leave his or her guns locked away, because permits from those states are not recognized here.

May 26, 2009

Green Hell

Rain, rain, unceasing rain! The green walls of the forest seem to creep closer and closer. We are low on firewood, and nothing is dry.

Members of the garrison grow mopey and quarrelsome. Only Lieutenant Fisher remains obstinately cheerful, if somewhat thick-headed.

It is, however, perfect weather for reading David Grann's The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, about the search for Colonel Fawcett's lost expedition of the 1920s.

May 23, 2009

Columbines, Wild and Domestic

I ran across an interview with Bob Nold about growing and viewing columbines. He also garden-blogs from Lakewood, Colorado.

A Wet Mountains Weather Shot in the NYT

This New York Times article about bringing more terrorists to the federal prison complex in Florence is pretty bland, but it has a good weather photo. More than two inches of rain in the last two days at our house, which is 1,600 feet higher than Florence.

I think that is the Locke Mountain ridge in the photograph--the Wet Mountains do not have many distinct peaks.

May 22, 2009

Would You Do This for Your Dog?

Man sucks snake venom from dog.

2nd Amendment Restored in National Parks

Earlier this year, I commented on the rule change that would allow concealed-carry permit holders to have concealed weapons in national parks—subject to the rules of the state in which the park is located.

A lawsuit by gun-control advocates led to an injunction blocking the new rules.

But now President Obama has signed a bill he wanted that carried Sen. Coburn's amendment restoring the weapons provision.

And as Colorado blogger Michael Bane notes, the new law is even stronger than the old rule change.

In fact, if I read Say Uncle correctly, the concealed-carry permit part is gone. You are merely under the surrounding state's rules. See also Sebastian, and note that the new law is not in effect until February 22, 2010.

The amendment's text says that the Interior Dept. shall not prohibit someone from possessing a firearm in a national park or wildlife refuge "if the possession of the firearm is in compliance with the law of the State in which the unit of the National Park System or the National Wildlife Refuge System is located."

The NRA offers some crime statistics for national parks.

I expect further hair-splitting and hand-wringing though, along with inevitable jokes about whether a Park Service outhouse is a "federal facility."

May 18, 2009

Neanderthal? Yum!

Part of an ongoing series: a more culinary explanation for the disappearance of the Neanderthals.

"Cave bull," we called it then.

May 17, 2009

Where Seldom is Heard a Discouraging Word

National Geographic posts a county-by-county map of "mental distress" in the United States. Maine, Kentucky, West Virginia, and southeastern Oklahoma look pretty unhappy.

On the other hand, west Texas is pretty cheerful--or else there is a lack of data. Colorado's High Plains likewise. I think you either learn to be happy in that country, or you leave.

Crossbills and Ripped-Up Cars

Some red crossbills have been around this spring--they appear erratically hereabouts.

One was in the sunflower-seed feeder on Friday, crunching away.

Saturday I was in a vehicle-extrication class down in Florence, helping to rip up some junked cars with various amazingly powerful hydraulic rescue tools.

And every time I watched the cutter crunch through a B-pillar, I thought of the crossbill's "odd bill shape" -- although maybe a giant parrot would be an equally good comparison.

May 13, 2009

Firefighting and Local History

I was editing a journal article on the veranda when Fisher (the new dog) cocked his head at the sound of the answering machine picking up. It was a fire call, the first in weeks.

Just a mile down the road, a patch of deep, fluffy pine duff had caught fire near a home—I never learned how exactly—maybe no one wanted to cop to it—and scorched a couple of ponderosa pines and some Gambel oak.

After an experience last March, we are being more careful with mop-up: raking and spraying water back and forth down to mineral soil, me down on my knees barehanded feeling for hot spots. You think you have it out, but oh look, here is a little pine cone core glowing like a cigarette.

And then T. and I refilled the brush truck from the creek (with the floating pump) at the exact same spot where Fisher revealed on Monday that he has a water-freaking issue.

I am picking up local history on this job: I discovered a barn that I did not know existed, got some background on a coal-mining company that built it and the house it sits near, found an old irrigation ditch, learned where another dirt road goes—all not a mile away from where I have lived for 17 years.