The Airplane That Flies At the Edge of Space

There are only a few airplanes (that we know of) that can fly at 70.000 feet or above. The SR71 Blackbird has logged at least one flight at just over 85,000 feet (July, 1976) [1] and the The X-43A flies at 100,000 feet while still using an air-breathing engine (not a rocket) [2].  But only one plane routinely flies to the edge of space and back, and it’s actually a relic from the 1950’s.   Although each plane is periodically stripped completely, x-rayed, and refurbished, the design has remained essentially the same over all these decades.  Why? Because it works. Continue reading The Airplane That Flies At the Edge of Space

Moonie and the Weird Snake

So the Moon Pie was barking at something outside the fence of the play yard. I went to see what the fuss was about.  Figured it had to be some critter or other, and if it was something dangerous I’d better shoo it away from the dogs.

It was a snake.   A weird snake with a HUGE triangular head.

Rattle snake?  I’ve never seen a rattler with those markings.

It wasn’t moving, maybe it’s dead.   It wasn’t coiled, so it shouldn’t strike.

I looked closer.

Ohhhhh …

It’s a grass snake eating a toad.

A toad that doesn’t want to be eaten.

This could take a while.

We went inside and left it to its dinner, while I tended to ours.

Accomplishing A Minor Auto Repair

Our pick-up truck’s check engine light came on and it started running rough at idle a couple of days after we got it home from the purchase.  Also, I started hearing a hissing sound in the dash.  And the air conditioner stopped working.  All at the same time.  To me there was only one answer – and it was one I figured I could fix myself (for a change). On the Chevy S10 and the GMC Sonoma the air direction control uses vacuum to pull bellows driven valves inside the dash to direct air to the feet, dash vents, or windshield. I ordered a new Air Flow Control Unit from GMPartsDirect.com a week or so ago and it arrived a few days ago, but it has since been raining or Marie had the truck because her Subaru was in the shop. Today I spent most of the morning replacing the Air Flow Control Unit.
Air Flow Control Unit
Continue reading Accomplishing A Minor Auto Repair

Blondie’s New Ride

truck
Towels and newspaper headed for an animal rescue.

Well, it’s time.  Time to replace my truck.  The 1999 Chevy S10 pick-up I’ve been driving has almost 200,000 miles on it and it’s just time to get something younger.

We were thinking about getting another Subaru: a car, and abandoning the pick-up idea all together.  At first thought, I couldn’t remember much of anything I’ve hauled in the truck since I stopped building furniture for a living.  Now, I mostly haul dogs.  Having an SUV or cross-over with room for a couple of crates inside would solve the problems of hauling a dog (who is too wild to ride inside the cab with me) on real hot days, or bitter cold days, or in the rain.  But then I started to remember:

  • Those times I hauled firewood home for winter heating
  • Those times I hauled trash for Humane Society of Jefferson County
  • Those times I hauled 20-some bags of kibble for Newport Animal Shelter
  • Hauling supplies for Steele Away Home when they moved
  • Hauling away a large live animal trap for Helen
  • … and a few other times of doing favors for friends

No, having a pick-up has proven quite useful on many occasions, and is likely to do so in the future, given new things I’ve gotten into.  Besides, it is rumored that if a mountain man gives up his truck, he ends up eating kale pancakes and playing ice hockey. Continue reading Blondie’s New Ride

Boggled by Language Abuse

language, words, meaningBeing a writer, I take language: the meanings and flow of words, seriously.  Words have power and precise meanings.  Effective communication means using words properly.  Throwing together a mish-mash of terms or making words up by splicing improper suffixes onto a good word breeds confusion.  Even newscasters are trying to sound hyper-intelligent by tossing out big words spliced together using parts of two legitimate words.

But common terms are abused as well.  Just now I was asked if my truck runs on diesel gasoline.  This was not an either-or question, it was a yes-no question.  Diesel fuel and gasoline are two different things.  Using them together caused a train crash in the switch yard of my brain and boggled me for a moment.

An acquaintance often used the word “empowerized”, a melding of empowered and energized to convey vitality and excitement.  But it sent a little shiver up my neck every time I heard it.

A few other language laughables I can think of include:

  • I’ll go convertsate with him
  • I’m so flustrated!
  • That’s supposably a great new product.
  • A CEO philanthropist was referred to as a philanthropreneur by a news anchor.
  • Sorry, I’m not sure where I am.  I need to get orientated.

I could go on, but you get the idea.  And this doesn’t even get into words like irregardless.  Regardless means without regard.  Sticking the “ir” on the front makes it mean “not without regard” which is the opposite of what they’re trying to say.  There are SO many of these in common use today that I could go on all day.  But I’ll spare you that.

Now to be fair, the English language that we have today was made up by sticking bits of words from many other languages together.  And it evolves as each generation rises up and squishes it into their own mold of preferred expression.  So I may have no right at all to complain about younger people making up or twisting words into new meanings.  Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky.  Maybe I should just suckupicate and deal with it.

A Prayer of Preparation for Bible Study

It is the assigned task of every true Christian: followers of Jesus, to diligently study the Word of God.  Listening to a sermon on Sunday mornings is not “studying” the Word.  This may prove enlightening, but God desires to speak directly to each of His children and He does that through Bible study.

2 Timothy 2:15 says:

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV)

The King James version says it more directly: Continue reading A Prayer of Preparation for Bible Study

Keeping Cool On July 4th

We cool our house with a small window air conditioner.  It’s actually rated to cool a single, 10 foot by 10 foot room, but it’s in our 12’ x 15’ bedroom (not counting the Master Bath and Marie’s walk-in closet) and we pull cool air out into the rest of the house with a fan that blows down the hallway toward the kitchen and living room.  One would think that this would not work at all.  But it does!

That one dinky window AC does keep our home comfortable (comfortable for US, maybe not for those accustomed to living in a meat locker) because when we built our house we prioritized strength and insulation over square footage.  Continue reading Keeping Cool On July 4th

Summertime Danger to Your Dog’s Feet

I was working a tent at an event one day.  A woman came along and stopped to talk with an acquaintance in front of our tent.  It was summer, quite warm, and we were set up on asphalt.  As their conversation continued I noticed that the senior Boxer the woman had on a leash was “dancing” a bit.  I waved to get the woman’s attention and asked if she’d like to move over so she and her dog could cool her feet in the shade of our tent.

is it safe for dog feet“Oh, no: I’m fine.”  She responded from under her sun hat.

“Yeah,” I thought, “YOU’RE fine but your dog is suffering.”

THIS POST HAS BEEN MOVED TO THE PINEY MOUNTAIN FOSTER WEB SITE:

Summertime Danger to Your Dog’s Feet

 

tools

Wielding Unfamiliar Tools

I am something of a handyman.  I often make repairs around our house and property.  I am, by no means, an expert at plumbing, electrical, or concrete work but I understand the principles and can usually cobble my way through a repair project.  For small repairs I often employ the familiar tools and various glues, a staple gun, nails, screws, and yes: even duct tape.  But today I needed to make a repair for which none of these would help.  Today I needed to bring into service — a needle and thread!

One of the dogs got overly enthusiastic and tore a hole in the cover of a dog bed.  Discovering that there was “stuff” inside, she proceeded to pull what was inside, out.  Thus she tore the end off one of the fabric tubes full of fiberfill that makes a bolster around the dog bed.  She also pulled a basketball sized wad of fiberfill out.  I caught her at it, gathered the filler and put the bed up until it could be repaired.  Today, I tackle that. Continue reading Wielding Unfamiliar Tools

Using Epsom Salt in the Garden

Most people are aware that Epsom salt makes for a soothing bath if you have itchy skin or sore muscles, but did you know it’s also beneficial to some of your garden plants?

Why Epsom salt?

Epsom saltEpsom salt (magnesium sulfate) is high in magnesium.  Magnesium promotes the uptake of nitrogen and phosphorous from the soil.  Magnesium also promotes the creation of chlorophyll, the stuff that gives plants their green color and is essential for photosynthesis.  By improving photosynthesis the plant feeds itself better and stays healthier.  Magnesium also aids a plant in the production of more flowers, which in turn become fruit.  Boosting photosynthesis also boosts sugar production, so fruit trees and vines will produce sweeter fruit.

Before using Epsom salt it is recommended to have your soil tested for magnesium content; amending it may not be needed.

What Plants Benefit?

Most flowering plants can benefit from the use of Epsom salt.  This includes flowers such as roses.  But my focus is the vegetable garden, so I’ll confine my discussion to those plants.  The primary benefactors are the nitrogen hungry plants like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant, cucumber, squash, and zucchini.  Do not use it on beans (which are nitrogen fixers) and leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, chard, and kale.

Signs of Need

Continue reading Using Epsom Salt in the Garden