Ultrasonic Pit Bull Road Rash

I ride my mountain bike on our street several days a week for exercise. There are three good hills that provide some aerobic exercise. If I ride the length of the street twice it is four miles total. Not a lot of exercise but better than nothing. I also get to see what is happening in the neighborhood. I like to count the number of rabbits that are visible.

One of my neighboors has a Yorkie terrier and a minature Schnauzer that like to chase me when I go by their house. They are small and don't concern me. Recently a pit bull puppy was added to the pack. He has learned to chase me from running with his pack. At first he just ran beside my front tire — his endurance was impressive. A few days later he started running beside my rotating foot. Last week he decided that biting my foot would be fun.

He's too small and young to deliver a bad bite, but when he grows up a bite could be serious. I decided it would be best to "nip it in the bud". So I started researching how to discourage an aggressive dog from a bike. Thoughtful friend David W. suggestion an ultrasonic dog repeller (a gadget producing a piercing ultrasonic tone that humans can’t detect but will discourage a dog from approaching). I ordered one from Amazon.

For several days after it arrived, the dogs weren't out. But on Thursday of last week, they were in the front yard as I rolled down the hill in front of their house. They set the ambush for my return. As I approached, the Yorkie ran out and I pointed the ultrasonic gadget at him and pushed the button as I rode by. He stopped and never came into the street (which could save his life, because the dogs don't look to see if a car is coming). The pit bull puppy didn't slow down when I pointed it at him. As I pumped up the hill, he moved in to bite my left foot. I pointed the gadget at him from two feet (I was pumping up the hill at the time). He backed off and ran around behind my bike to come up on the right side. I switched the gadget to my right hand and pointed it at him point blank.

He kept moving in and then pulled up and stopped. I rode on up the street, unchased, thinking about whether the gadget had worked. About 200 yards up the street, I noticed that the plastic slider that holds the battery in was missing. I checked my pocket and it was there. I pulled it out and started putting the rectangular piece back in place, without stopping.

As I was working with the gadget, my bike dipped to the right and I wasn't prepared to correct. I went down — hit the street hard. I had that sudden shock of realization that I had made a stupid move and was paying for it.  I'd forgotten how hard pavement is. As I got up, I was grateful that nothing was broken. My right knee made first contact and I had a big patch of road rash on it. My elbow and hand hit next — I like to think that Aikido training in the distant past had kicked in and helped me deflect some of the energy of the fall with a curved arm. More road rash…. Looking back, I was lucky I wasn't hurt badly. Now, a week later, the road rash has almost healed and the soreness is gone.

I'll continue to experiment with ultrasonic animal training and post more findings in the future. I'll also be more careful about paying attention to gadgets when I'm riding a bike or driving. Accidents happen quickly! Stupidity has a price.

iPod Dreams

I rarely fall asleep quickly when its bedtime. It generally takes me 15 to 30 minutes to get to sleep. About a year ago I decided to listen to some relaxing music before sleeping. I woke up two hours later with the music still playing in my earbuds.

Several months later I started downloading audio books and podcasts to my iPod. Like most time-crunched people, I didn’t find time to listen to all the audio on the iPod. I’m a reader and have tried to reserve 15 – 30 minutes for reading before sleep. One night my eyes were tired so I listened to a book rather than reading. I woke up two hours later, listening to the book.

Lately I put the earbuds in and start a good audio before I turn out the lights. I’ve discovered that I drop off to sleep more quickly when I’m listening and, when I don’t drop off to sleep more quickly, I’m learning or being entertained as I wait for sleep to infiltrate my senses. It’s a win-win situation.

Here’s what I’ve learned about easing into sleep hooked to my iPod.

  • Listen to relaxing audio, whether music or spoken word. I don’t listen to music that is fast or hot (Hendrix) — I listen to music that is smooth and soothing (Pat Metheny). For the spoken word, I don’t listen to dramatic, high energy audio (Mad Money by Jim Cramer), but instead I listen to voices that are conveying meaningful information without being loud and emotional (Eckhart Tolle is a good example).
  • Set the volume low.
  • Lock your iPod (disable the controls) so that the volume and/or selections won’t change if you roll over on the iPod while sleeping.
  • Make a selection that is 15 – 60 minutes long. I’ve awaked at 3am with U2’s Vertigo blasting in my earbuds, because the music I had selected had ended but I hadn’t limited my selection.
  • When I wake up with the earbuds in, I pull them out and stuff the iPod and the earbuds under my pillow. This the quickest way to get everything out of the way and not disturb others (spouses, pets, etc.).
  • If you sleep with cats (I do), you have to make sure your earbuds are under the pillow. (Look at this link to see why: Punctured Earbud).

Often I often don’t remember much about the spoken word audio that I was listening to, but I like to think that I absorb some of it while I’m asleep.

Please leave a comment if you listen to audio on a portable device while falling asleep — share your experiences.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law by issuing mountaintop removal mining permits

The devastation of mountains and valleys in West Virginia may slow down (maybe).

Link: Earthjustice Statement on Mountaintop Removal Mining Court Decision: Earthjustice: Environmental Law.

"Today, we applaud the ruling in federal court stating that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law by issuing mountaintop removal mining permits that allowed vital headwater streams to be permanently buried.

"The federal government has been illegally issuing such permits. Doing so has led to widespread and irreversible devastation to the streams, mountains and lands across Appalachia. The judge has made it clear that the Corps must now comply with the Clean Water Act and stop issuing illegal permits.

"This decision does give the Corps another chance to try and show that they can issue permits for valley fills in streams without violating the law. But the evidence to date shows that the Corps has no scientific basis — no real evidence of any kind — upon which it bases its decisions to permit this permanent destruction to streams and headwaters. They have shown no evidence to support their claims that this destruction can simply be ‘fixed’ through mitigation. In fact, as the court opinion correctly notes: "The Corp’s witnesses . . . conceded that the Corps does not know of any successful stream creation projects in the Appalachian region."

"Mountaintop removal mining valley fills cannot comply with the Clean Water Act without strict environmental limits. We hope the Corps recognizes this fact and realizes that approving illegal mountaintop removal mining permits does nothing to protect the environment, violates the law and is destroying the lives and culture of the people of West Virginia and the region."

The video below is from I Love Mountains:

via Fred First at Fragments from Floyd

Sensing Danger

Fred is one of my favorite bloggers. He lives away from civilization in a beautiful valley in the mountains near Floyd, Va. There are no other houses near his home. He found himself in an tense, potentially lethal situation recently. Here’s one of his observations:

…I ought to remember I am not invincible just because I am on my own property.

I have encountered strangers with guns many times in the woods, and it can be unnerving (even if you haven’t seen Deliverance).

Here’s the link: Big Angels

Long ago, in what seems like a dream, Bob Bushnell, Neil Hauck, Jack Lester and I encountered two deer hunters on a backpacking trip in West Virginia. They were waiting in tree stands in a grove of apple trees deep in the Monongahela National Forest.

They were very angry — they said that we had ruined their hunt and we shouldn’t be there. I apologized that we had walked into their hunting area; I also said that we were in a National Forest and had a right to be there. Then they disappeared down a trail deeper into the forest. Even though it was mid-afternoon, the situation felt very ominous as the daylight was fading due to a snow storm moving in. We decided to not to spend the night in the forest.

We hiked several miles to the parking area and unloaded our backpacks. Big flakes of snow were falling as we prepared for the long drive back to Charlottesville in the dark. As we drove out of the parking area, the deer hunters emerged from the forest.

It was one of the strangest days I ever spent in the woods.

Longing for Beautiful Places

image copyright Fred First

Once upon a time I spent a lot of time in places. I really miss the sound of running water, the clean air, the shadowy shapes of trout feeding, the call of a kingfisher taking flight from an overhanging tree limb, and the possibility of seeing bear tracks or a bobcat.

When the door opens, we will leave the Atlanta suburbs to live in an area where beautiful streams are within a short walk.

Photo by Fred First from his back yard in Floyd, VA. He’s a lucky man to have such beauty so close. Here are more of Fred’s photos on Flickr.

Addicted to the News

Steve Pavlina provides 13 reasons not to watch, read, or listen to the news. I quit listening to talk radio while driving three years ago and I am much more relaxed when I get out of the car. If you want to understand his reasoning, click on the link.

Link: Overcoming News Addiction

  1. News is predominantly negative. 
  2. News is addictive.
  3. News is myopic. 
  4. News is marketing.
  5. News is shallow. 
  6. News is untrustworthy. 
  7. News is thought conditioning. 
  8. News is trivia.
  9. News is redundant.
  10. News is irrelevant.
  11. News isn’t actionable.
  12. News is problem-obsessed.
  13. News is a waste of time.

National Parks in Peril

National Geographic Magazine describes how Paul Hoffman, appointed by the Bush administration, tried to redirect US National Parks to emphasize recreation instead of preservation. Apparently conservative does not mean conservation when applied to wilderness in the Bush administration.

Link: National Parks in Peril @ National Geographic Magazine.

The legislation establishing the National Park Service 90 years ago, the so-called Organic Act, stipulated that the purpose of parks and monuments—indeed, the agency’s core mission—"is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations." But over the years there has been much disagreement over which comes first, the resource or the visitor. Not only that, but at what point does resource impairment begin to result from a good time being had by all?

Five years ago the National Park System Advisory Board, a distinguished panel appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, issued a report describing how the Park Service, early on, had discovered that the best way to win public support for the parks was to make sure the visitors derived pleasure from them. However, managing for people (as in the suppression of forest fires) often resulted in bad news for resources (a buildup of forest debris fueling deadlier fires). "It is time," the board declared in Rethinking the National Parks for the 21st Century, "to re-examine the ‘enjoyment equals support’ equation and to encourage public support of resource protection at a higher level of understanding. In giving priority to visitor services, the Park Service has paid less attention to the resources it is obliged to protect for future generations."

For the most part career professionals in the Park Service found the report much to their liking. But that was not the reaction among political appointees in the Bush Administration. Though Park Service Director Fran Mainella initially supported the report, it later became evident that it was not her agenda, and before long the Department of the Interior, under Secretary Norton, was suggesting the opposite of what the board had concluded: Preservation was trumping recreation; the Clinton Administration had taken the fun out of national parks. Now the stage was set for a clash of values.

In the summer of 2005, Interior was obliged to make public—after it was leaked—a 195-page revision of the Park Service’s basic policy document, essentially altering the way parks were to be managed in the future. The rewrite was the work of Paul Hoffman, at the time Interior’s deputy assistant secretary for fish, wildlife, and parks, a former executive director of the Cody, Wyoming, chamber of commerce, and congressional aide to Dick Cheney in the 1980s. Among Hoffman’s most radical policy tweaks were calls to open to snowmobiles all national park roads used by motor vehicles in other seasons, as well as a relaxation of restrictions on personal watercraft at some national seashores and lakeshores and on noisy tourist flights over such parks as Great Smoky Mountains and Glacier.

Charging that these revisions would override 90 years of established laws and court rulings, more than a few park superintendents expressed alarm. "I hope the public understands that this is a threat to their heritage," J. T. Reynolds, superintendent at Death Valley National Park, told the Los Angeles Times. Bill Wade, for many years superintendent of Shenandoah National Park but now retired and speaking as chairman of the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees, called the Hoffman document an "astonishing attempt to hijack" the nation’s parks "and convert them into vastly diminished areas where almost anything goes." And it came as no surprise that the rewrite paid scant attention to the importance of promoting science-based programs in the national parks.

Bull Sluice on the Chattooga

My brother-in-law Bill and I swam in the pool below Bull Sluice last Friday. I’ve wanted to swim (voluntarily) in that pool ever since I first saw it.

I swam in the pool involuntarily once after running Bull Sluice in a kayak. I survived the white water but flipped in the strong eddy in the pool on river right. (I was so relieved to have run the drop without hitting Decapitation Rock that I relaxed too soon.) The eddy pushed me against the rocks on the shoreline and I missed one attempt to roll and decided to get out. It was autumn and I got COLD fast!

Photo by J. D. Anthony

P.S. There have been at least two dozen documented deaths in Bull Sluice. The first time I kayaked Section 3 of the Chattooga River I walked around Bull Sluice. I was having a very bad day (two significant injuries, several swims, and no confidence) and it was obvious that I wasn’t ready for a Class 4-5 rapid.