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Category Archives: Camping

You Know You’re a Labradore Lover When:

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  • You let the new puppy sleep on your chest the first three nights after you bring her home, so she doesn’t miss her mommy so much.
  • You go to sleep by 10:00, even with the Giants up by only 2 and Romo closing out the game, recording the last 3 outs (hopefully) knowing that you will never have time to watch it in the morning, so you can wake up an hour and a half earlier than you did before you got her, to let her out of her cage.
  • You are actually happy to see three steaming piles of crap on your own lawn after you let her out.
  • You are too tired to protest when she finds a random plastic bag on the beach to play with.IMG_2607
  • You actively seek other dogs, even ones you do not particularly like or really feel safe around yet, for playdates to keep your puppy “active.”
  • You seriously consider spending thousands of dollars on an artificial lawn that they cannot dig or tear up.
  • Your trip to the laundry room now includes a 45 lb. passenger, treating the laundry bag like a tackling dummy.
  • You look forward to her greetings in the morning, even when those big paws/claws sometimes leave gashes in your cheeks that take weeks to heel.
  • You are damned sure after such experiences that the groomers are NOT trimming her claws nearly well enough, and vow to get a pair of clippers next time you are at the pet exSTOREtionist so you can do it yourself -  knowing that you would do a far better job.
  • You are willing to pay $12 for a bag of “treats” that look remarkably similar to what we call Beef Jerky, which costs $7 for the same size bag.
  • You think it’s cute when she jumps on the hand with the computer mouse in it and draws blood.
  • You tear up when you think about her, and the last Lab you had for 17 years, and know how much you are going to miss this one too–when she is gone.oak last

 

 

 

 

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“Rights”Rights” a short rant for my friend Barry Monahan.

Plaatje-Christopher-Human-RightsYeah, talk to me about rights. What rights do we really have?
You have the right to remain silent, unless doing so pisses me off and I slap you upside of the head with my pistol.
You have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? I’ll go with the last one, but as far as the first two I think that is kind of up to God.
Did the victims of baby Doc, or Hitler have the same rights? I’m not necessarily saying it’s not correct for protecting our own shores, but what rights do they have at Gitmo?
You have the right to work your ass off, be the best you can be, and hope to heck somebody doesn’t shoot you in the face. That is all.
Rights are like entitlements. They do not exist in the real world.
Have we gotten so fat and freeking Arrogant that we think the world owes us a living, and somehow is obligated to take care of us?
Let’s face it, baby boomers. We have no right to anything but to work our asses off.
There are so many of us, there is nobody left to bail us out. The days of peace love and dope in the Haight-Ashbury are over.
Face it, you are not going to be guaranteed healthcare, a sweet old peoples home with chirping birds and basket weavers, or a nurse name Consuela to come and wipe your ass when you poop your pants. Some of us are going to starve, some of us are going to croak on the streets from heart attacks, and some of us are going to stroke out.
What you have the right to do, is your best. Work your freaking ass off as hard as you can for as long as you can, treat the people you love with love, and be thankful for every breath you have the “right” to take.
And you do have the right to thank your God, however you envision that, for every good minute you’ve had.

 

A History of Trench Warfare

The prevailing image the majority of us have of trench warfare is circa World War I and involves mud-spattered troops carrying rifles and storming over the top of their trench toward an enemy trench yards away. While this is an accurate image of trench warfare at its peak, that particular military tactic did not spring fully formed directly from the dirt from which the trenches were dug. Soldiers have used some form of trench warfare for centuries and continued to use it in limited measure after World War I.

The concept of digging a hole or trench for battlefield protection is not a new one; castle defenses during the Middle Ages regularly employed moats, which are simply circular trenches filled with water. Roman legions would entrench themselves at night in temporary trenches while on the move. Trench and bunker systems were employed more regularly in the mid 19th century during the American Civil War, the Boer War, and others in response to the development of superior rifle and artillery technology. The Boers were especially known for their trenches and individual holes that allowed them to kill many more casualties than they took.

While World War I was not the first time soldiers employed trench warfare, it was the first time it had been used on such a grand scale. Trench warfare itself developed as a response to improving artillery technology, and its wide scale implementation led to several technological and tactical developments. World War I was the first war in which air support was employed, although airplanes served a largely informational role rather than a combative one. Tanks were developed by armies desperate to break the stalemate inevitably caused by the futility of trench warfare. In the end, tanks brought the protected mobility necessary to break the stalemate, but not before trench warfare had come to symbolize the futility and grinding senselessness of war.

The increase in mobility during the decades leading up to World War II led to a decrease in trench warfare, although soldiers still dug trenches for defensive purposes. Many of those in charge of World War II remembered the pestilential and relatively ineffective nature of the trenches and used them only to fortify larger military or natural positions rather than to engage in a grinding battle of attrition. After World War II, trench warfare was used in limited measure in Korea, Vietnam, and the Iran/Iraq Civil War. Modern examples of trench warfare exist primarily in areas under siege wherein trenches are used for transport of weapons and goods as well as general defense.

The rise of mobility led to the fall of the trench, and most modern warfare centers around easy troop and artillery movement. Trench warfare, as brutal and inefficient as it was, led to the rise of surveillance and mobility technology that ushered in a new age of warfare. Modern warfare owes much to those dirty, sodden trenches since they helped establish the use of airplanes and tanks in combat that assisted armies with movement.

Citations:

This article was provided by Pro-Tec Equipment, offering trench shoring products.

 

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The Story of Paper: From the Tree to Your Desk

Do you ever find yourself staring at objects, or turning an item in your hand, squinting at it and feeling some kind of bafflement as to how an object came to be what it is? If so, then this story might be one for you.

For years, the human race has relied on physical paper copies to transmit their stories, memories, facts, histories, messages and more across time and space. But what about the story of paper itself? Who’s telling that? Everybody knows paper is trees, but how does this happen?

Here is my account of the life of a piece of paper:

A tree’s body:

The story of paper must begin with the tree trunk. Each trunk has its own outer layer of bark to protect it from nasty little threats in the world: It is the tree’s armour, naturally formed to shield it from harmful forces like wind, rain, climbing children and grazing insects.

Hiding just inside the bark is thin Cambium, which holds the key to the cells which become the bark and inner wood:

Attribution due to Peter Linehan under Creative Commons License 2.0

Sapwood is a tree’s lifeblood; it flows through the parts of the tree’s body just as our own blood does. It ensures the tree’s nourishment and healthy existence.

And finally, the aptly named Heartwood is the innermost part of a tree’s trunk. It isn’t living but it’s the tree’s strength, stability and core.

Attribution due to Aleksi Steinberg under Creative Commons License 2.0

All this material is formed of fibres, tiny little friendly cellulose strands stuck together by way of a natural adhesive called lignin.

And this is where our part in the story of paper begins, as it is through our separating and rearranging these very same fibres that brings paper into existence

Early steps:

First of all, chop chop, the tree’s body gets cut down.

Attribution due to Beatrice Murch under Creative Commons License 2.0

The logs are then taken to a paper manufacturing company, where they’re bathed, soaked and cleaned before being transformed into good little chips of wood.

The little chips are arranged according to size and moved on for pulping.

And what is pulping I hear you ask?

During this stage, individual wood fibres within the chips are broken apart and separated: It is essentially a making soft of the previously tough and hard substance to produce a malleable, mushy and watery product.

Some other ingredients are also usually thrown in around this point, things like starch, China clay, talc and calcium carbonate which contribute to the strength and brightness of the young paper.

 

Moving on the mush

The created mush that we now have is pretty much 99% water at this point, somehow, this all needs to be squeezed out. First, the papermakers spray the stock onto a wire, which is actually a wide, long screen, not a wire.

The water drips out the bottom and meanwhile, the little fibres are caught on the top side of this wire where they start becoming friends and bond to form a very thin mat.  This bed of fibres at the top of the wire is then squeezed for all it’s got between press rollers that take out yet more of its water.

The Final Steps:

Even after of all this squeezing and wrenching, the mushy stuff is still 60% water.

Let commence the dry end of the paper story: Huge metal cylinders are filled with steam and the stubbornly wet mat passes through these gigantic hot rollers.

This process of heating and drying the wet sheet gradually forces the fibres closer and closer together to transform the mush into the glossy magazines and A4 sheets of paper we see all around us. Voila!

Ok, wait this isn’t quite the end of the story.

The fledgling paper is made ready for the world:

The paper makers use a machine called the Calendar which is not a calendar. It refers to big, massive and heavy iron rollers that press the drying paper smooth, all uniform in thickness.

Sometimes, depending on our piece of paper’s function in the world, it is coated with a substance such as clay which makes it glossy and easy to print on.

And this is how a matted bed of tree fibres comes to serve us as paper in a countless number of ways in the human world.

Paper Problems

I love paper and would never want to ban it from existence, I love writing on it, drawing, folding, making paper aeroplanes, you name it… But we should also be aware of some downsides that are a result of this story.

Pulp and paper mills are actually among the worst polluters to air, water and land and I don’t want to state the obvious, but it also uses up a vast quantity of trees.

Still, trees are renewable so that’s not the end of the world as some might have you believe: Most of the time tree farms operate by a cut one down, plant one new policy which is…good. What this policy doesn’t resolve is the natural diversity and population of an unharmed forest habitat where animals can live how they are used to and want to.

So, the point is, to be aware of other solutions and rally around ways to keep the stories of paper going but in the most ethical way possible. Recycling efforts help massively and so far count for recovering about 43% of all paper used. We should definitely support the paper mills that use only recycled waste as their primary source of raw material.

There are also alternative natural products that can actually stand in for wood, especially when combined with recycled paper: Wheat, oat, barley and left over crop stalks.

Maybe it’s time got more of the paper glory?

Sometimes it’s good just to know these things and get the word out. This is why companies like Whitepages are to be commended: With the growing number of people that would prefer to just find the correct online directory site and hit ‘search’ for the contact information they need rather than trail through a book too heavy for them to lift with one hand, Whitepages has recognized the declining need for default print copies of every phone directory.

Their solution is to operate an Opt-in delivery program, so if you REALLY want one, don’t worry, you can get one.

But Whitepage’s philosophy seems to be pretty much just right: It’s not about halting the paper story; it’s about managing it, and not creating thousands more unnecessary individual paper stories.

Amalia Dempsey is a dedicated fan of paper, interested in writing and the world. She supports White Pages, an online telephone directory and address finder, and their quest to ban unnecessary print copies of long directories.

 

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What’s the Deal with the Northern Lights?

You see them displayed in Christmas movies as a phenomenon of the North Pole. But the Aurora Borealis, as they are scientifically referred to, are actually visible from areas of the earth much farther south than the north pole. If you want to enjoy the beauty and wonder that is the Northern Lights, here are a few interesting things you should know:

  1. The name Aurora comes from the name of the Roman goddess of dawn.
  2. An Aurora in northern latitudes are called aurora borealis (northern lights). An Aurora in the southern latitudes are called aurora australis (southern lights).
  3. The plural of aurora is aurorae.
  4. An aurora occurs when highly charged particles from space collide with atoms in the earth’s atmosphere. This makes the atoms excited, meaning they start moving at a rapid pace. The way they release this energy is to accelerate along the earth’s magnetic fields, which will emit the energy in the form of light.
  5. Solar flares are the most common occurrence that induces an aurora in the atmosphere.
  6. Solar wind is constantly blowing past the earth, contained in this wind are particles that agitate the atoms in our atmosphere. When the sun flares, the wind become stronger so aurorae are most likely to occur then
  7. Norther and southern aurorae mimic each other.
  8. From a distance, the aurora will appear as a greenish glow or even a faint red. From a closer location, the light can appear as a vivid green color.
  9. The green color is due to the emission of oxygen as the atoms begin to slow down from their excited state.
  10. Blue colors come from nitrogen atoms gaining an electron (becoming excited) and red colors occur when the nitrogen atom slows back down to it’s normal state.
  11. Often they look like a curtain of light in the sky that can change shape every few seconds, or even hold their shape. They can also emit it a simple reddish or greenish glow in the sky, without any movement at all.
  12. Aurorae can occur on other planets.
  13. The sun has an 11-year sunspot cycle during which sunspot activity first increases than decreases. Aurorae are most commonly seen at the peak of that cycle and during the three years afterwards because of the increased strength of solar wind produced. The last solar cycle started in January 2008. The max of this cycle is expected to hit in 2011 and 2012.
  14. Pictures taken by space ships of the aurora are even more amazing than what you can see from earth. NASA’s website has a good array of options.

About the Author

Natalie Clive is a writer for MyCollegesandCareers.com. My Colleges and Careers is a useful website that can help students find the best online universities where they can earn a college degree. Individuals with a college degree are more likely to have a higher quality of life.

 

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Facebook Friend Count Linked to Brain Density [STUDY]

 

All those hours you spend on Facebook may be adding grey matter, signifying greater density, to the part of your brain linked to social skills. Or, perhaps, people with larger areas of the brain for social skills may just have higher than average Facebook friend counts.

That’s the chicken-and-egg problem researchers at University College London are grappling with after finding a connection between brain structure and Facebook activity. The study, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, was based on MRIs of a group of 165 adults who were asked to report the number of Facebook friends they have. (The study doesn’t delineate what is considered “high,” though it refers to Dunbar’s Number, which postulates 150 friends is the limit of the average person’s social circle.)

The research discovered that those with higher Facebook friend counts had more grey matter density in the amygdala, an area the study says was already known to be linked to real world social network size, as well as in other regions including the right entorhinal cortex, which is associated with memory.

“Taken together, our findings show that the number of social contacts declared publicly on a major web-based social networking site was strongly associated with the structure of focal regions of the human brain,” the researchers conclude.

Professor Geraint Rees, director of the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at UCL, told The Guardian it’s too early to tell how the structure of the brain and online social networking activity are connected. “What we’re attempting to do is get an empirical handle using the types of data we can generate to try and start that process rolling.”

Image courtesy of Flickr, Patrick Denker

 

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5 Things You Can Do To Make Wild Animals Hate You (That You Never Knew Were Cruel)

Most people love wild animals, especially when they visit your yard and let you have a flash of the wild from the comfort of your porch.

Unfortunately, a lot of the things that we do can end up hurting animals, even though we have the very best of intentions. Check out these five ways that you are being cruel when you try to be kind.

Feed Them (and Then Stop)

While feeding wild animals might seem like the best thing you can do to keep them happy and healthy, you need to remember that you are taking on a big responsibility. The animals may come to rely on you as a source of food, meaning that if you stop feeding them, they may have nowhere else to turn. This is especially harmful if the increased food supply has led to them having more babies than normal.

Use a Humane Trap (At the Wrong Time of Year)

Humane traps, such as those used in skunk relocation, are certainly a kind way to deal with nuisance animals, but only if you make sure not to use them during breeding seasons. If you time it wrong you could end up trapping a nursing mother. Even if you release her without moving her, the time that she spent in the trap and away from her babies could be a death sentence if they are very young. If you’re going to try skunk relocation, learn how to trap a skunk humanely first.

‘Rescue’ a Baby (When it Was Perfectly Fine)

Baby birds are piteous little creatures, and the sight of one out of its nest tugs at the heartstrings. The problem is, they often don’t need rescuing.

Baby birds leave the nest when they are learning to fly, and their parents continue to feed them while they are on the ground. When you ‘rescue’ the baby, all you are doing is moving it away from where the parents are coming to feed it. If the area is dangerous it is fine to move the bird onto a wall or under a bush, but otherwise, if the bird has feathers leave it alone. Birds that are obviously young can be put back in the nest if you can find it.

Feed Them (The Wrong Food)

Even if you only feed wild animals a small amount very occasionally, you can cause big problems if you feed them the wrong food. For example, bread and milk is definitely not suitable for hedgehogs and can make them quite sick. If you are going to feed wild animals make sure that you are leaving out something that will agree with their digestion.

Own a Cat (and Let it Outside)

Cats are hunters. It isn’t their fault, but it is in their nature. Cats kill countless birds, rodents and other small animals every day and have been implicated in the decline of songbird populations. At the very least, make sure your cat has a bell on its collar to give the animals the chance to get away.

Now that you know the effects of these practices, you can make sure that the effect that you have on your wild visitors is the one that you intended from the start.

Your next step should probably be learning more about skunk relocation or how to keep rabbits out of the garden humanely and safely, now that you know about wild animals. Post written by guest blogger Mike Ishman.

 

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Top Tips for a Great Team Building Away Day

Team building is a useful way for businesses to get their employees together and achieve a number of business goals, as well as having a bit of fun at the same time. There are numerous ways in which team building can work, from a simple brainstorming session in the pub to a full on day out in professionally run venue, this type of activity can be very beneficial for both morale and the business in general. In this article we outline some top tips that can make these days run as smoothly as possible.

Find the right venue

For some purposes a car park might suffice, however many of the most effective team building days happen when the right venue is chosen. To make it an “away day” feel like just that, it’s a good idea to pick a venue that is out of the office but not so far that attendees will feel like they’re going to spend all day travelling.  The best venues will have a reception area where bags can be left and people can relax in comfort, flexible meeting rooms, and other outdoor spaces for some of the more fun or abstract team building activities, as well as free flowing refreshments on offer throughout the venue. Very often venues with all the top notch facilities will be on the outskirts of big cities or housed in some of the most attractive buildings in the country – this means they really offer an ideal location for productive team building.

Get the right balance of activities

Team building days should be fun but they are also useful if a business is hoping to get a message across or after lots of new staff members have joined in order that everyone can get to know everyone else. Therefore it is important to get a good mix of activities for the away day. These can range from the gently competitive such as a school-style sports day or go-karting to more collaborative activities such as assembling a huge art installation that highlights your company‘s corporate values. Other worthwhile activities include simple ice breaking games for those who may take a little while to get into it and even days where it appears there’s very little to do with work but collaboration is very important such as cookery workshops.

Supercharge your brand

Several conference venues have in recent years taken the innovative step of creating branded space for a business that is using its facilities. This can be a real benefit for a team away day because it really gives the event a professional air and can make attendees feel like they are part of something significant. The best conference providers will be able to customise the required space with everything from brand logos adorning the walls to whether solid oak floors or carpets are required in the business “hub”. Many businesses have found that creating this type of bespoke space is ideal for embellishing an atmosphere of quality – especially in regards to training and team building as it shows employees that their workplace is prepared to go that extra yard.

Obviously there several other ways in which team building activities can be done, however it is certainly an aspect of business that should not be avoided – in the very least it can be a fun day out for everyone.

Jonathan has been away on many training days and in many meeting rooms with a variety of companies. He has found training away days very useful and a good morale booster.

 

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Why Workers Need Vacation Every 2 Months

A recent study by prominent health experts has revealed that it is becoming necessary for workers to take more breaks. The increase of work hours and work loads has become so stressful it is becoming harmful to the mental and physical health of workers. While breaks throughout the day do help, they also need lengthier breaks from the entire atmosphere in order to reinvigorate themselves and return more productive.

The Post Office Travel Insurance performed a study that revealed the conclusion that workers need six holidays per year. This breaks down to a vacation every 62 days. By taking this breaks from the workplace, they returned fresh and focused, and they avoided potentially burning out.

In addition to increasing the positive attributes of the workers, it decreased the negative. Workers who waited longer than two months to take a break are more likely to display aggression in the workplace. They also report becoming anxious far more easily and get sick more frequently.

Cary Cooper, a professor of organizational psychology and health at Lancaster University, commented on the study. He believes that it is absolutely necessary for workers in every field to take these intermittent breaks. It prevents overworking which ultimately leads to burning out. While employers may cringe at the idea of letting their workers take these vacations, Cooper believes it is good for the business as well. The workers return with a better attitude and a willingness to do their best.

Cooper goes on to say that those who do not take regular vacations are at risk for becoming anxious and aggressive, but also withdrawn in both the work environment and their social life. Relationships will suffer, and communities as a whole will become less productive.

Overworking has been known to depress the immune system. Back pain is one of the most common ailments, but it often does not have a direct cause. The stress from not taking a break from work causes people to develop aches and pains. It also disrupts the sufferer’s sleep schedule which results in an inability for the body to energize itself. While many people experience this in the form of feeling drowsy throughout the day, it also prevents the body’s immune system from working at full speed. People who do not take vacations from work every two months put themselves at risk to catch a cold or the flu more than their counterparts who do give themselves a break.

Encouraging workers to take a vacation every two months promotes health for the individual and a more effective company for the employer.

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Goodbye My Friend: May the Streets of Heaven be Lined with Porterhouse for You!

You guessed it; another dog story.  I still haven’t gotten over Daisy Mae of the Redwoods leaving us, and that was in 1999.  Last night my good friends lost their boy Harley to cancer.  We just spent last weekend with him and his family in the El Dorado Hills, and knew that it would be the last time we saw him. I’m not sure if it is residual grief or that he was just that special of a dog, but it feels like someone kicked me in the chest.

It is an amazing phenomenon how attached we get to our pets, for me particularly dogs.  There is a sense of loyalty that you just can’t get from a cat, an unconditional love and acceptance that you can’t get from another person, and a wisdom that seems to come from something not earthly.  If one believes in such spiritual nonsense as re-incarnation or multiple lives, it seems possible that certain animals are just born with “old souls.”  They have been around for a while, and have certainly been here before.

 

Daisy (among her many attributes) was the one that was the most patient with my two daughters from when they were born,through their teens.  She let them dress her up, ride her around the house like a little horse, and pull and tug at her ears and tail without any sign of protest – ever.  It always seemed that the reason she endeared herself so much to me and the family was that she was such an integral part of the girl’s development.

Harley didn’t have to endure the physical abuse of my friend’s daughters growing up, but he was a special companion in other ways.  My buddy Dennis has his own business and is able to work from home much of the time.  Aside from his wife of 30 years, Harley was his best bud and constant companion.  Head constantly in the wind, the open water of the Delta was his domain.  The hours on the boat in silent communion evoke a bond that can’t really be written about, or explained by anyone that hasn’t felt that with a dog.  When the kids leave the house off to school, and the professional life winds down to fewer hours and meetings, when life slows down from the blur that had been the early yuppie “life in the fast lane,” it gives one time to truly appreciate an honest friendship.  A friendship like this with a dog (or anything else) just doesn’t happen all the time.  It is something that, if you are really lucky, you are able to earn once or twice in a lifetime.

It makes it hard to think about “getting” another animal.  Sure we can excuse the feeling by reminding ourselves that we have spent the last 30 years of our lives cleaning up dog poop.  We can trudge on with a stiff upper lip and act around our friends like it really doesn’t hurt all that much, that the dog was more trouble than it was worth.  A good stoic approach is probably advisable lest we fall into self pity. We may just get tired of going through this kind of loss every ten or so years, I’m not sure.  What I am sure of is that with the loss of a friend like that a little bit of us dies too.  It is imperceptible, but there is a tiny hole in the heart where Harley used to be.  There is nothing that can fill that, and that’s OK too.  He would want it that way.

 
 
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