A Few Quick Takes

I’M OVERWHELMED BY NEWS

dry-fly.jpgAs an anxiety killer, dry fly fishing ranks near the top. It’s fishing that requires Zen-like concentration tightly focussed upon threading a nearly invisible pin hole atop a hook deftly dressed as a fly, with a nearly transparent line and tying a minute but secure knot in it. The other portion of your time is spent a) getting into your ridiculous-looking gear b) casting as far and gently as possible to land your lure gently upon the water and then c) watching the river for an encouraging ripple signifying the presence of trout that are within your view but seemingly always out of reach.MAMACITA

polar.jpg‘I don’t want to live in permafrost no more.’Gristmill

Changes to agricultural practice and forestry management could cut greenhouse gas emissions, buying time to develop alternative technologies.Scientific American

Eye candy that’s melting fast.Gristmill

grizzly-muddler.jpg— There are a number of ungulate hairs suited to spun and clipped patterns but the best spinning hairs are coarse, spongy and soft. – Philip Rowley

Non-indigenous fish, introduced in the 18th century are taking over South African rivers and streams.Get Outdoors

palomarknot.gifThe Palomar Knot is a general-purpose fishing knot . . .Women Fishing

— By the End of the Century Half of All Species Will Be Gone. Who Will Survive? – RedOrbit

But a good barbera is the epitome of an elemental, honest red wine. It offers you fruit — lots of spicy cherry and raspberry flavors — and it doesn’t hurl w-vs-beer.jpgthem at you in some formless mass. Barbera is shaped by a bracing acidity. It’s got a bite, a burr, that makes the fruit incisive and refreshing.Eric Asimov / New York Times

. . . a Gallup poll revealed that, for the first time ever, Americans preferred wine to beer. This was an astonishing development, akin to Americans jilting baseball for bocce.Slate

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The Brucellocis/Bison/Cattle Industry/Yellowstone/Montana PROBLEM continues to make news on many fronts, (go to Yellowstone Newspaper for the stories – both the lewd and the lucid.) One element that has not been addressed is the fact that as the planet warms and Yellowstone becomes a bit more bison-friendly environment; the population of these habituated beasties will grow to the point of destruction. whine.gifIf all the bison that have been killed in the last five years had been allowed to mature and reproduce there would be no grass left in the park.

The whiners have tamed Yellowstone and provided us with wolves that peer into car windows, bears that approach humans, coyotes that beg for food, and bison that proliferate without predation. The bison situation is far larger that the slaughter of a few poor babies. It is the problem of a sentiment gone rampant. Don’t dare ask the cheerleaders what would happen to the park if bison were left to their own protected devices.

Where are the whiners at Wind Cave National Park? Did you know that bison management has worked there and that roundups and culling continue? Did you know that there are some sane managers in the NPS?

 

“The park holds a roundup annually to monitor the health of the herd and to manage herd size for available forage,” said Superintendent Linda L. Stoll.

The wolves have done wonders with some of the elk herd – where’s the “TRADITIONAL” bison predators? Where is the sane management? Ahhh, I get it: publicity, not a care for the park.

water-buffalo.jpg

Fishing On Opening Day

THERE’S SO MUCH MORE THAN FISH

another-bison-jam.jpgI went fishing on Saturday. Went up to the Firehole and fished in Biscuit Basin – just like about 300 other people. It was fun and it was sunny and it was just like a picnic.

There were buffalo and elk and tourists and fishermen and rangers and smog and honking horns and tour buses and all of the good things that make Memorial Day Weekend such a joy in Yellowstone.

I talked to some women who felt that the crowds detracted from their experience, but they went along because their husband’s just wouldn’t miss the chance to be first on the river.

I suppose that’s important. I was about number 200. I caught some fish and I enjoyed the beautiful weather. The temperature was just perfect if you found the right patch of shade.

A nice fisherman in pretty blue waders told me that the Blue Wing Olives and March Browns were hatching and that I needed to use his special fly. I asked him what it was and he said it was a Midge imitation that he invented himself. It was so small that I had trouble getting it on the tippet.

prince.jpgI didn’t catch any fish with it. It didn’t float too well. I did catch a real nice trout on a Prince Nymph that was about 1/2 inch long – size eight or ten; I’m not real good at this yet. I found a neat web page that is written by a local kid that has good information about the Firehole River. It’s called “Firehole River” at Yellowstone National Park.com.

baby-trout.jpgThe baby trout were very hungry and I caught a bunch of them. After a bit, I went to the car to get my camera so I could take a picture. What a jinx that was. But I did get a nice baby trout picture of a fish caught by a fisherman from Utah.

I’m going to wait until the end of the week before I go back. There are just too many cars, and the kid at the fly shop said that we should have a slow week starting about Friday.

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griz.jpgThere’s been a lot of talk about the “grizzly bear expert” that was mauled by mom while defending her cub. And gee, he was only three miles from the road and alone and in the Springtime, and in bear country, and he’d been mauled before – a genuine expert at getting mauled!

There’s an article that I wish I’d written: An Open Letter To Jim Cole, Grizzly Expert. (Once He Gets Out Of The Hospital.)

Bombardier Gas Caps, (and other junk.)

JUST BAN THE BOMB

nono.jpgA trivia question: “On what day in May, 2007 did the largest private bombardier fleet owner sell the business, & why?”

Answer: “Exact date unknown, meeting continuing emissions and noise standards is impossible.”

The NPS released their ‘Proposed Rule to Implement Yellowstone and Grand Teton Winter Use Plan,’ last Friday.

I’ve read the proposed rule and it’s full of escape hatches for the Yellowstone Park Bombardier fleet. There are, however three problems with the ‘Bombs’ that can not be avoided. 1] “Beginning in the 2011-2012 season, all snowcoaches must meet air emission requirements, which will be the functional equivalent of having EPA Tier I emissions control equipment incorporated into the engine and drive train for the vehicle class (size and weight) as a wheeled vehicle.” This means that a Bombardier Snow Bus will have to be as clean as a bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgToyota mini-bus. FAT CHANCE, that’s why they are waiting until 2011! And, by then, they hope you hate snowmobiles to the point that you allow worse pollution from the Yellow tanks. 2] “In addition, all critical emission and sound-related exhaust components that were originally installed by the manufacturer must be in place and functioning properly. Malfunctioning components must be replaced with original equipment manufacturer (OEM) components where possible. If OEM parts are not available, aftermarket parts may be used if they are certified not to worsen emission and sound characteristics from OEM levels. In general, catalysts that have exceeded their typical useful life as stated by the manufacturer must be replaced unless the operator can demonstrate the catalyst is functioning properly.” Bombardier Snow Buses had no emissions control equipment when built. Conversion to contemporary automotive engines places a burden on the emission control system that wears out catalytic converters and mufflers at a rapid rate.The engines must run at twice design speed/mph. Costs to maintain Tier I compliance levels will be enormous and will be passed on to the consumer. Why does the park insist on this expense? 3] “Beginning in the 2011-2012 season, snowcoaches must meet a sound emissions requirement of no greater than 73dBA; test procedures to be determined by the NPS.” The design of the Bombardier Snow Bus track system is inherently noisy. The coachwork is a giant tympanic membrane, the hollow tires resonate with each bump in the road, the springs in the bogie cans are 1930’s tank technology and are uninsulated and rattle, the chains that hold the bogie cans clank unmercifully. Slop, slap, and rattle are built into the system in order to have any suspension at all. The combination of these factors mitigate against a quiet machine. Making these machines quiet would also cost extreme amounts of money. You can bet that it can’t be done in a cost effective manner. You can also bet that the NPS will devise a way to design test procedures that allow the obsolete machines to keep running – damn the spirit of the rule, it’s nostalgia that wins and the public & the park loses.

The big caveat for the Yellowstone fleet is couched in noble sounding phraseology that talks about the NPS Organic Act (16 U.S.C. 1). “The restrictions on air and sound emissions proposed in this rule are not a restriction on what manufacturers may produce but an end-use restriction on which commercially produced snowmobiles and snowcoaches may be used in the parks. . . .This exercise of the NPS Organic Act authority is not an effort by NPS to regulate manufacturers and is consistent with Sec. 310 of the Clean Air Act.” The cute part of this phraseology is including the phrase “commercially produced” – take it out and the spirit of the rule is the same. In fact why must there be any kind of distinction? If it meets standards then it should be allowed- right? Well, girlfriend, by adding the spurious phrase it opens the door for a “Significantly Modified” phrase to be inserted later in the rule-making-process. Then the ‘significantly modified’ snow coaches don’t have to meet standards because they are not ‘commercially produced.’ Just why does the NPS have to resort to this sort of chicanery? Because it’s in their green blood, and the green blood of their pet concessionaires.

Oh, what about those gas caps? The fuel containment system of Bombardier Snow Buses consists of one or two large sheet metal containers with neither crash proofing nor recirculating venting. Venting is through the gas cap – not Tier I complaint.

Vapor recirculation must include the fuel tanks to be complaint – this too, is a cost to be passed on to the consumer. The NPS and the snowmobile hater don’t really care about the park and emissions standards. Rather they care about a nostalgic ride in a loud and stinky tank. They would rather have a nostalgic ride in the park subsidized by the American Taxpayer, than have the park protected – shame on them.

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abaski-segway-skyblu.jpgAn interesting aside in the proposed rule is the continued social class distinctions propagated by the NPS.

Somehow they believe that skiers are a higher class of people than people who ride snowmobiles. Somehow the snobs in the planning office have forgotten the Constitution of the United States of America. Somehow the cheerleaders have convinced the NPS that skiers are saints and have never broken the law, and never molested wildlife, and never damaged the environment. And of course they know park rules ski-buffalo.jpgbetter than the dummies on the sleds.

They never go to off-trail thermal areas, they never ‘soap a geyser’ to get it to erupt, and they never go skinny dipping in hot springs, and of course they would never traipse across bacterial mats – now would they? This must be true, otherwise why is the following section in the proposed rule?

“This guiding requirement will reduce conflicts with wildlife along roadways because guides are trained to lead visitors safely around the park with minimal disturbance to wildlife. Commercially guided parties also tend to be larger in size, which reduces the overall number of encounters with wildlife and reduces the amount of time over-snow vehicles are audible. Commercial guides are educated in safety and are knowledgeable about park rules. . . . Commercial guides use a “follow-the-leader” approach, stopping often to talk with the group. They lead snowmobiles single-file through the park, using hand signals to pass information down the line from one snowmobile to the next, which has proven to be effective. Signals are used to warn group members about wildlife and other road hazards, indicate turns, and when to turn on or off the snowmobile. Further, all commercial guides are trained in basic first aid and CPR. In addition to first aid kits, they often carry satellite or cellular telephones, radios, and other equipment for emergency use. In this way, guides will ensure that park regulations are enforced and will provide a safer experience for visitors. (Oh, by the way, stopping and starting increases pollution, so does variable speed travel, turning the machine on and off does too! What a silly rationalization these planners have used to demand that you pay guides.)

wintrcmpfire.JPGJust apply this rule to skiers and the spirit of the rule is certainly maintained – regarding winter use. And the truth of the matter is the same. Parties of skiers in two’s and three’s on trails move bison around and scare elk constantly.

They shout and holler and drink wine from their bota bags. Do they need a guide? Perhaps a single file line of 9 skiers with a guide is necessary too. They can use single finger signals, just like they do now.
skinny.jpgWho could dare protest this egalitarian application of winter use rules? Why is there no study about this? Is pollution the scary part, or is it wildlife molestation, or is it destruction of park resources? Maybe it’s just another bit of elitism designed to reduce motorized winter visitation and increase profit for the concessionaires.

Someday I hope to be rich enough that I can afford to go to Yellowstone in the winter and go skinny dipping all alone without a ranger or tour guide to spy on me. Then I too can enjoy wonderland as the Organic Act meant for me to, just like the skiing saints.

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illegal.jpgAnd, of course how ’bout the lack of enforcement for summer visitors that get to do everything that’s illegal. There’s seems to be a pile of preconceived elitism and prejudice running rampant in the planning department at Yellowstone National Park.

Why is this? Job security? Who holds the planners accountable? Who holds the law enforcement accountable? Why are skiers and bicyclists such models of perfect park behavior? Or are they? Where is the outcry for molesting animals in the summer? Certainly not among the diesel bus tours, nor among the $500,000 mobile condominium set. Nor is it to be found among the clean and green bicycling public – saints, everyone of ’em.

Mom’s Spaghetti Sauce

SHE’S A WONDERFUL COOK

Recipes are scattered all over the web and this is just another one. I like it, the folks back home like it, my friends here like it, I hope you try it and like it too.

The Sauce: in a crock pot.

 

1 large Italian sweet sausage, (about 1#),
1 large Italian hot and spicy sausage, (about 1#),
1# pork shoulder, (small cubes),
1 yellow onion, chopped, (not too fine),
double handful of sliced mushrooms, (the earthier the better),
2-4 cloves of garlic, (peeled & mashed),
8-10 large tomatoes, (stemmed and halved),
1 small can tomato paste,
Oregano, Basil, salt, pepper, (to taste),
water & red wine,
Olive oil.

spaghet.jpg

Quickly brown the pork shoulder in olive oil in cast iron skillet, (very hot and very quick – just the outside.) Drain on paper towels and place in crock pot on high. Squeeze sausages out of casings and mix together – crumble and brown the sausage in olive oil in a cast iron skillet. Drain on paper towels and reserve.

Prepare remaining ingredients. After 2 hours, add sausage and onion and 1/2 the tomatoes to the crock pot. After one more hour add remaining ingredients, adjust consistency with water/wine, and turn to low. Cook for 1-3 more hours, adjust seasoning and consistency with water/wine and cook with top off for last 1/2 hour to thicken.

cella-lambrusco-white.jpgNothing special about cooking the pasta; spaghetti is a good excuse for this sauce, I also like it on great big shells. Cook it to your own taste and throw it on the ceiling or cut it with your tongue, or whatever – this is personal, so do it your way. Be sure to drain the pasta well and stir in some butter and olive oil while still hot. Serve immediately!

Dad’s family always drank both red and white wine with red pasta sauces. They are both fine. I like an Italian Cella Lambrusco – white. Use red if you choose, or both like Dad did.

Spinach just made it to the interior of nowhere. I jumped all over it and we have had spinach salad, steamed spinach, raw spinach, and shredded spinach pesto, (more about that another time.)

spinach-salad.jpgMy favorite, (among favorites,) spinach salad goes like this: 1 bunch of spinach, 5-6 mushrooms, 5-6 pieces of bacon, 2 cloves of garlic, 1-2 tablespoons olive oil, juice of half a lemon, 1-2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, Salt, black pepper. Cut the bacon thin, and thinly slice the garlic and mushrooms. Fry bacon and garlic in olive oil on low heat until the bacon becomes crispy, add mushrooms at the very end. Toss in the vinegar and then turn off the gas. Pour the bacon & mushrooms onto the spinach and mix well. Season it with salt and black pepper and lemon juice.

sbcake.jpgMom & I disagree about how to best enjoy strawberries. She likes them on buttermilk biscuits, I like them by the handful. If they have to be with bread, then gimme scones.

There are two recipes on the web that I’ve used. Delia’s buttermilk scones & Whole Foods’ cardamom scones. Click over there if you need a better shortcake.

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There’s a gentle drizzle outside, I’m going to run around town, have some breakfast and then go fishing. Mom’s going to clean up and pack.

Do It Yourself Yellowstone

BETTER THAN A COMMERCIAL TOUR

virtual.jpgIf you are serious about your visit to Yellowstone: plan a little. Remember, the pap and pablum served by the commercial tours is designed to keep you entertained and generate gratuities.

Jokes, ribald tales, personal anecdotes, current social commentary, and other ploys are used to entertain. Some of the guides are very good at this, and it is entertaining. But, it’s like watching Jay Leno to get accurate world news – hardly substantial.

Should you choose to enjoy Yellowstone in any depth, a little time at your computer will yield enormous rewards. I took mom for a ride through the park the last few days. After day one she wanted to know about things that I wasn’t familiar with. Together we perused the available offerings on the web, and found what we wanted: quickly.

Of course the Yellowstone National Park web site was useful but hard to navigate. There are, however, three commercial web sites that are full of information and much more visitor friendly. And if it’s geysers you want visit GOSA.

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webby-0.gifThe WEBBY winner YellowstonePark.com is a magnificent site. It has a personal trip planner that you can build and then print or download. It has pod-casts that you can carry with you. It has videos of some attractions, and it is a very complete, (though highly commercial,) compendium of tourist attractions in and near to Yellowstone National Park. The navigation is logical and easy and it invites just one more click.

Yellowstonenationalpark.com is a site with similar attractions and includes some driving tours that summarize each road segment in the park. It is a bit more verbose, but no less informative than the Webby winner.

ttl-yel-scrnsht.gifThe Total Yellowstone Page, is a navigation nightmare. It’s a hodgepodge of information that seems to have grow’d just like Topsey. There is good information here, just spend the time and clicks to ferret it out. Thank God for Firefox.

All three sites have excellent fishing sections and I, (just like a girl,) believe everything that they say: contradictory though they may be.

These three will get you started on a visit that will be informative as well as entertaining. The visitor centers in the park are useful but seem more like “eye candy” than learning centers. They are understaffed and there is no way that the seasonal rangers have the answers to the questions that you will ask – after all, they just got there themselves.

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The Yellowstone fishing season opens in the park on Memorial Day Weekend. I’m going to join the rush to the Firehole. The fishing regulations for the park can be viewed HERE (PDF). There is a new section entitled “Yellowstone Fish Reports” that includes some recent investigative reports. One of the reports, “Effects of Snowmobile Emissions on the Chemistry of Snowmelt Runoff in YNP” is an attempt to describe the effects of accumulated emission products in the snow and the ‘toxic shock’ to fluvial systems. The separation methods are a bit sketchy, and attribution to only snowmobiles is a little stretchy; still fishermen should be more concerned than they are.

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On a similar note: the Billings Gazette has a tally of the ridiculous gyrations Yellowstone has gone through with the “snowmobile issue.” The cost is up to $10,000,000 and climbing.

I still think that plowing of the roads is the only rational solution. Rationality, (not being in the vocabulary of the YNP planners,) will come about in the next 10 years through more law suits and the effects of global warming. Oh, well!

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And, don’t worry about the cost to visit Yellowstone National Park. According to John Krist it’s only “89 cents per person, per day.” At that rate the parks should raise their fees 1,000-fold: such a deal! After all, plumbing that works would be a novel concept.

Click over to Park Remark & the comments for a less rosy and more realistic view of park fees and service. At 89 cents we’re probably still paying too much.

Climate Change & Skeptics

COBY BECK DID THE HARD WORK

hot-world.jpgI’m often asked “How do you know that . . . { pick one: . . . there is climate change, it’s bad, it is real, it’s not a hoax, computer models work, it’s not the volcanoes, etc., etc., etc.”}

I used to take a lot of time with the questions and even thought that I might have had some influence on the thought processes of the questioners. Now I just provide a short & simple answer, avoid arguments, and refer the questioner to the series by Cory Beck in Grist. Somehow it seems to have more credibility than do I.

I’ve grown to rely on this series, not so much because of it’s authority, but because it’s so perfectly suited to dealing with all levels of skepticism – from the stupid to the sublime and from the stubborn to the spurious.

No, it’s not perfect, (nor am I,) but damn, girlfriend, it’s a brilliant piece of hard work. There are a pair of companion pieces by Michael Le Page that need to be mentioned also:

CLIMATE CHANGE: A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED,
CLIMATE MYTHS: THEY PREDICTED GLOBAL COOLING IN THE 1970s

There are many web sources that serve to illustrate the situation. One that is current and fairly straightforward is the Global Warming Blog.

I’ve copied the references to Cory Beck’s series on my DISTRACTIONS page under the title Talking To Skeptics, it’s also available in the sidebar. This is just in case Grist goes out of business.

R.I.P. Rangers ?

A QUICK SAD NOTE

virtual-flyer.jpgI just saw a report in Yellowstone Park News about a virtual tour of Yellowstone Park. It noted that there was now a way to have a GPS gizmo in your car for “less than $50.” That’s just barely true. The price is $49.99 and the correct link to the site is Here.

The gizmo plays music and shows pictures and talks about the places on a map that are displayed on a touch screen. I’m not surprised that this is now available – I am surprised it took this long to get here.

There is a suggestion in the post that there will now be no need for rangers. I’d hate to see that, and I’d hate to think that a static spiel will attract customers to this venture. But, since we do love our recreation on a platter, and since it might keep the kids quiet, and since this is easy for the affluent, I suppose that it will become just another commercial money factory surrounding Yellowstone.

If you see a ranger in Yellowstone – take its picture. This vanishing breed will soon need the archival record that your photos can provide.

rip-ranger.jpg

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