Archive for September, 2014

HOT STUFF

From: Meridian, ID: Over a lifetime, a man’s relationship with hot peppers changes constantly, but generally follows a standardized progression (shown below). As a child, I had very little experience with them…evidently the Scandinavian peoples didn’t have much use for chilies or jalapenos or habaneros or scorpions or Carolina Reapers or nagas or cayenne or any other of the myriad varieties to be found in the modern world. God bless the Scandinavians, I say. The Vikings proved their manhood in more traditional ways, such as how many enemy heads could be lopped off with one mighty swing of a broadsword, for example.

(A Red Savina pepper.)

(A Red Savina pepper.)

But our American “melting pot” has added enough people from hot pepper cultures around the world that we can now expect virtually every child to be introduced to spicy dishes sooner or later. In my own experience it happened later. In fact, I was in the military before I learned that one’s ability – or lack of it – to tolerate fiery peppers and hot sauces was viewed as a measure of “machismo.” Of course I quickly bought in to that philosophy. Looking back on it, now, I can imagine that those first “tests” were pretty tame by today’s standards, but keep in mind that until joining the Coast Guard I had never even heard of Tabasco Sauce, let only any of the products that can be found (and purchased) today. And dozens – if not hundreds – of pepper aficionados don’t consider Tabasco to be hot at all, but rather in the same general category as Ketchup, or Gerber’s baby food.

Believe me, it’s difficult to now admit that I was so easily swayed by my fellows but there it is…I was soon sprinkling Tabasco on my morning hash browns, on hamburgers, and in soup. And if that’s difficult, imagine how much more so to face the reality that I didn’t really like it all that much.

(Mixed hot peppers.)

(Mixed hot peppers.)

Before long, our brown-skinned “pushers” were bringing from home an array of canned chilies and other peppers, daring the rest of us to “see if you can eat one.” Most of us couldn’t…and wished to God we had not taken the dare. But, unbelievable as it surely seems, we kept trying. As you can imagine, there was taunting involved…and quite often a good deal of alcohol. Amongst young men there is a powerful drive to become one of the “taunters,” instead of being a member of an ever-shrinking group of “tauntees.” Finally, the last individual in the latter group will take a fatalistic view, i.e., “eating this pepper is, without a doubt, going to kill me…but life will not be worth living if I don’t eat it.” And so it goes…

What none of us initiates realized at first was the delayed reaction phenomenon of capsaicin, the chemical compound that provides the “hot” in a hot pepper. That phenomenon can be summed up with the phrase, “Hot going in…and hotter going out.” It took some of us longer than others to discern the relationship between eating hot peppers on one day and that first excruciating sit-down business the next morning, but eventually everyone figures it out.

(A Peter Pepper. No joke.)

(A Peter Pepper. No joke.)

The sane person might well assume such an awful experience would quickly result in common sense taking hold, and that even a fool would certainly stop eating the things that were proven beyond a doubt to cause such agony only a few hours later. But that person, in making such an assumption, would be demonstrating a complete ignorance of the inner workings of a young man’s mind. The memory of pain fades rather rapidly…the need for acceptance in one’s peer group stays strong for a lifetime.

So here, then, is the progression I spoke of above:

Age 1 to 4:            No factor. Parents won’t give hot peppers to infants or toddlers.

Age 5 to 15:            No factor. Considers hot peppers in the same food group as Brussels sprouts. Age 16 to 30 (variable): Will eat hot peppers (and live spiders) on a dare…or if friends eat one first.

Age 30 to 60: May use hot seasonings or peppers, occasionally, but only in moderation.

Age 61 and up: Won’t eat hot peppers. The next day’s pain is no longer worth whatever enjoyment or benefit might accompany the eating. (This can sometimes be called “wisdom.”)

(Cautionary Note: If alcohol is present in a group of wise old men, small amounts can have the effect of dramatically reducing the brain’s age back to the third group listed. These men may then be induced to try a really hot pepper, or – just as likely – to take up professional wrestling. This is especially true if any young women are in the immediate area.)

A word about hotness: In 1912, a fellow named Wilbur Scoville developed a system to measure the effects of capsaicin. It is not terribly accurate because, for one thing, it depends on human “taste tests,” which introduce a great deal of subjectivity, or individual taste sensation in the process. Nevertheless, for many years it was essentially the only way to compare various peppers. (There now exists a more accurate process, based more on chemistry.)

(A Trinidad Baruga Scorpion pepper.)

(A Trinidad Baruga Scorpion pepper.)

To give you an idea, a bell pepper is rating “0” on the scale of Scoville Heat Units (SHU); a Trinidad Moruga Scorpion pepper and a Carolina Reaper currently top the list at 2 to 2.2 million SHUs. Cayenne pepper and Tabasco peppers are found in a group measuring from 30 to 50 thousand SHUs. (Makes you want to go right out and pop one of those scorpions, doesn’t it?)

Finally, you might want to know (although I can’t imagine why) there are chemical compounds that put natural peppers to shame when it comes to hotness. For example, at the top of that list if a devil’s brew – if there ever was one – called, “Resiniferatoxin,” that is rated at 16 billion (yes, the “b” is correct) SHUs. Wouldn’t you like some of that for your hash browns or your spicy Bloody Mary?

***

Unlike the subject matter above, our weather in the Treasure Valley has been decidedly cooler since Fall officially began. We’ve even had some rain over the past few days. Happily, the weather guys are now forecasting sunny days for the remainder of the week, with temperatures in the 70s…or a bit higher. That will be a nice change. Hopefully, the nicer weather will give me an opportunity to get out to the rifle range later this week. I need to “dial in” the scope on my trusty deer rifle. And since I’ve had the scopes on three other rifles (varmint shooters) rearranged, I’ll be trying to zero those, as well. Shouldn’t be too difficult…I’ve had all three of them to the indoor range over the past week and while the maximum distance there is only 25 yards, using ballistic “formulas,” one can compensate for the short distance. I’m excited about the pending hunting season. Once again, I’ll be going to Montana with the same group of us that goes every year. (Well…every year that we are drawn for a non-resident tag.) This year, however, my older son will be going along, too, and it will be his first time. My younger son and two of his buddies have been going for several years. We’re all excited and counting the days.

I hope you all have a fun week lined up.

Bud

MY COUSIN, TEDDY

From: Meridian, ID: I’m a bit concerned. Over the past few months – summer, basically – I’ve noticed myself often getting a glass of water when I’m thirsty. I mean instead of a bottle of beer or a gin and tonic. What’s happening to me, Doctor? Is this something that happens to guys when they get older? Like snoring, or getting a skosh hard of hearing? Am I becoming a (gasp) health freak? Don’t get me wrong, now…I still drink beer. And booze. But from whence this strange compulsion to drink water? Ah, well…it seems to please Janet, so that’s a good thing. Here’s to ya…

***

If you’ve read and Blathers from earlier this year, you’ll know that I have become hooked on varmint hunting in the desert south of Boise. You may also recall that I bought myself a rifle specifically for that purpose: a Ruger Arms .17 HMR, bolt action. It quickly became the favorite gun I own. Recently – and at the risk of sounding like a shill for Ruger Arms – I bought another Ruger rifle: a Ruger M77 “Hawkeye Predator,” chambered in .204 Ruger. Yes, that is the name of the cartridge, and many different gun makers produce a rifle to shoot that bullet. (So you can buy, for example, a Winchester .204 Ruger…or a Savage…or whatever.)

(Ruger Hawkeye "Predator.")

(Ruger Hawkeye “Predator.”)

I didn’t really need another rifle for the ground squirrels in our desert…the .17 HMR is, in my mind, perfect for the job. And the .22 WMR (a Ruger brand, also) my wife uses is almost as good. But the world is filled with varmints of various sizes, including some that might be bigger – and farther away – than a ground squirrel (a.k.a. whistlepig, squeaker, or sage rat). Ergo, a fellow needs a rifle that can shoot farther, and a bullet that will hit with more impact. There are a number of manufacturers that make rifles suited for that market. And there are a number of different calibers to choose from: .223, .204 Ruger, .220 Swift, .22-250…plus quite a few more. There are advantages and a few disadvantages to each, but I went with the .204 Ruger, a fast, flat-shooting round that will pop a prairie dog into the air at a couple hundred yards and also handle a coyote with little difficulty.

Idaho – and perhaps a few other states – even allow deer/elk hunting with the .204. More specifically, the law is worded to disallow “rimfire” ammunition (of which there are relatively few sizes, or calibers), rather than listing the many centerfire cartridges that are legal. I suspect that in an ongoing attempt to keep verbiage to a minimum the rule writers used this language in order to avoid having to list each and every cartridge as to whether allowed or not allowed. I also suspect this part of the rulebook was first written long before the proliferation of the smaller diameter centerfire rounds available today. So we have the situation where a .22 magnum bullet (a rimfire cartridge) is not legal for “big game,” while a .20 bullet (in a centerfire cartridge) is legal. (Not that I’m likely to hunt deer or elk with the new Ruger while I have my old standby, a Reminton 7mm Magnum.)

Anyhow, I picked up the new Ruger the other day. After one of my two “higher end” scopes was mounted, I took it to the range…an indoor range near my house. Being indoors, the maximum range one can shoot is but 25 yards, which is obviously much closer than one will be shooting at prairie dogs. But when a new scope is placed on a gun, I make it a practice to shoot at short yardage first and adjust the crosshairs so that I should at least be able to “hit the paper” at longer ranges. (If it doesn’t “hit the paper” it is difficult to tell which way one must adjust the crosshairs.) I shot several groups, making incremental adjustments after each group of three rounds. After going through a box of twenty cartridges, I was hitting the target very, very close to dead center. I loved everything about shooting the new gun…and its appearance, as well. It shot so well it made me look as though I actually knew what I was doing…every group of three could be covered with a dime, leaving plenty of room to spare. Doing that at 25 yards is, all in all, pretty easy, compared to long range shooting…but a fellow has to start somewhere, eh?

(Aimed at lower right hand box - five shots.)

(Aimed at lower right hand box – five shots.)

The target shown is the one used for my last group, aimed at the center of the lower right-hand square. I can’t explain the “flier” on the right side of the white bullseye – wait…I think someone else at the range must have walked behind and poked me just as I was squeezing the trigger – but the hole just a hair left of center is where four of the five shots hit. Okay, okay…it may not be competition class shooting, but I’m certainly satisfied with it. Those four bullets were all between ¼ and 3/8 inch left of center, which means I need another couple of clicks right for the windage adjustment on the scope. I didn’t do it at the time because I didn’t want to open a new box of ammo…and I was simply ready to get out of there. At any rate, I will certainly be “on the paper” at 200 yards!

***

Jan and I recorded the Ken Burns series, “The Roosevelts – an Intimate History,” that ran on most PBS stations a few weeks ago. It consists of 7 episodes, each two hours long. And, like every Ken Burns production I’ve seen, I think it is absolutely great! The series first highlights Theodore’s life, but introduces both Franklin and Eleanor as they come on the scene, i.e., when they were born. I hadn’t remembered that Eleanor was a Roosevelt before she married Franklin…Teddy’s niece, to be specific. The daughter of his brother, Elliot. Theodore and Franklin were fifth cousins. That is, they could trace their lineage back to a point where they had a common great-great-great-great grandfather. I suppose most of us have a slew of fifth, sixth (and so on) cousins…but who keeps track? At the extreme, it could be said that all humans are “cousins,” having descended from the same first human cell, where and when ever that occurred. (Garden of Eden?) (Noah?)

(Theodore, Eleanor, and Franklin Roosevelt.)

(Theodore, Eleanor, and Franklin Roosevelt.)

When traced far enough back, some strange “cousin-ships” can be encountered. For example, the New York Times once published an article explaining that President Obama and George W. Bush are 11th cousins, their common ancestor being one Samuel Hinckley, an early colonist in Massachusetts. (So might the would-be assassin of Ronald Reagan be another of their cousins?) Mr. Obama, it is said, is an 8th cousin to Dick Cheney, as well.

But enough of that, “The Roosevelts” is television at its best, in my opinion. Not the least of what makes it interesting is the general history of that period in America, taking the viewers through the Great War (later to be called World War I), prohibition, the Great Depression, and World War II. One of the historian-consultants on the series was asked, “What was the very first Great Depression called?” His response: “The Dark Ages.” So, yes, I guess the Great Depression our grandparents lived through was pretty bad.

I can’t help but wonder how many photographs of Eleanor the project researchers must have looked at to find one as nice as the one used above? She was an intelligent, hard-working, compassionate woman, but while she looks quite pretty in the photo, the poor baby did not age well, did she. Anyhow, if you get a chance to watch the series, I would recommend you do so.

***

Finally, then, from one cousin to another…I hope you’re set up for a great weekend. Bud

THE YEARS GO BY

From: Meridian, ID: You know what they say: Inside every old fogey is a young person trying mightily to escape. Well, whippersnappers, it’s pretty much true. I can only speak for myself, obviously, so I will. My mind still figures – on those days when it still can do any figuring – that I have changed very little since I was a young man. Those physical changes in the mirror have come about in such tiny, incremental steps, I rarely notice them. Which means that despite the evidence to the contrary staring back from the glass, I still see a good-looking young stud. Yessir, I walk away from the mirror ready to face the day with a positive, go-get-‘em attitude. Photographs are more difficult to mentally “touch up.” They are much more permanent than mirrors, and the obvious signs of aging are generally impossible to ignore. Therefore, I don’t dwell on photos of myself, preferring, instead, to stick with the every-morning mirror gazing. (Even while doing that, however, I don’t spend long periods of time studying the image…I’ve learned that it can eventually change to portray reality in place of imagination.) But appearance is one thing…physical limitations are quite another. There is no ignoring the lower back pain, and the creaking in one’s bones. Whenever I try to read the date on my watch I recognize that I no longer possess the eyes of hawk. And even with the help of audio instruments – once called “hearing aids” – I no longer hear the hawk’s cry as he hunts in the alfalfa field behind my house. (The instruments do help with the television.) And, of course, there are a few other body parts that have gotten…shall we say…temperamental. Finally, it seems I am somewhat fatigued most of the time…for no good reason. I’ve assumed in recent years that the fatigue is just part of the aging process…old guys simply can’t go, go, go the way they (we) did, did, did when our lungs and muscles were still young and strong. But today while talking with my audio doctor, and after I told her about my upcoming installation of a defibrillator/pacemaker, she said she knows a few old guys that have had the same thing done…and they have all been amazed at how much stronger they felt, afterwards. It would be nice if I should be lucky enough to experience the same thing. Okay…I now realize that I’ve been whining…something else that is probably too typical among old people. In truth, I know full well that I am very lucky to be on my feet and able to function more normally than otherwise. I know there are lots and lots of folks – older, younger, and in between – that would be overjoyed to be in my shoes, health-wise. Just sayin’. Still, one can’t be blamed too much for fondly remembering the days of his youth, can one?

***

One thing that often creates wonder in the minds of young people is when Grandpa tells them of the things that weren’t around when he was their age. You know what I mean…when I actually was their age, it was difficult for me to comprehend my own grandparents when I was told there were no airplanes when they were young…nor automobiles, for that matter. Now my own grandchildren have the same incredulity in their eyes when I tell them television wasn’t around when I was small. (“No way, Grampa! Really? How did you watch Barney and Sesame Street?”) The concept of having no Internet or Smart Phones is too far beyond their ability to imagine. I can remember the first microwave oven I ever saw. It was being demonstrated at the Longview, Washington Fair of 1959. There was quite a crowd of us, standing around watching a fellow “zap” single strips of bacon. (I suppose he was trying to sell the units, but I know I didn’t have enough money to buy one, even had I been so inclined.) A fellow named Percy Spencer is credited with inventing the device, sometime shortly after WWII. The Tappan Company made the first consumer model in the early fifties, I’m told. The one I saw at the fair was probably one of these. It was quite bulky…and, as I alluded above, quite expensive. Nevertheless, they caught on pretty quickly and, like most new electronic gizmos, the price began coming down within a very short space of time. Television sets came along a bit earlier than microwave ovens…before I had learned to walk, for sure. But they, too, were almost prohibitively expensive before WWII. I know our family didn’t have one until 1955…it had a black and white picture, of course. But it was, in a word, wonderful! Looking back on it, it’s a wonder we all didn’t ruin our eyesight watching those grainy, gray moving shadows on such a tiny screen. (But then, we didn’t watch it near so much in those olden days.) We’ve come a long way since then, hey? Now I hear that “Super HD” is the next step. Or is it honest-to-goodness 3D? (I have not even been tempted to buy one of those that hit the market a few years ago.)

("Grizzly" Bud.)

(“Grizzly” Bud.)

Another fantastic revelation for kids is how cheap it was to buy things when I was their age. Just as I was amazed by the prices Grandpa paid for candy and other treats. Don’t ask me about the price of groceries when I was young, but I can tell you that you could buy a candy bar for a nickel. Many of the same candy bars are still around, but they go for a LOT more than a nickel. (I can’t say how much, for sure, because now I know they are poison! Just as bad as cigarettes, the doctors tell me. Which reminds me, I grew up in an era when doctors still advertised for cigarette companies. Wow! I suppose the kids of today will be able to spin tales to their grandkids about how marijuana was illegal “back in the day.” Naturally, the kids won’t believe them.

***

(The British Isles.)

(The British Isles.)

The results are in from the Scottish vote on independence (from England): Scotland will remain a member of the United Kingdom. The “no” votes won the day. I must admit that while the result wouldn’t have made much difference in my life, either way, I’m sort of pleased that things will stay as they were. That’s kind of strange when you consider that I’m a citizen of a country that “voted” to separate from Great Britain over 200 years ago, but that’s how I feel about it. (I am pretty conservative, after all.) The vote was fairly close, but not as close as most polls forecast it would be. My niece (who lives in Glasgow) tells me that the issue will almost certainly come up for another vote, and that before too much farther down the road. Perhaps deep down it seems to me that England, by itself, is not big enough to be a “country.” Of course even when you add Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland and call it Great Britain, it is still pretty small. Truth is, I don’t much hold with village-sized clusters of people declaring themselves to be a nation, which infers that said nation is a full-fledged player on the world stage. But I do make an exception for Great Britain. It is a bona fide nation, for sure. It has a history, for Pete’s sake…heck, it was once an Empire, and it should get credit for that. Even more important is its status as a rock-solid ally of the U.S. Whereas when you think of Liechtenstein? Give me a break. Monaco? I don’t think so! I think a country ought to be at least of a decent size before it calls itself something other than a community. Under our current system of nation-naming we’ve found ourselves with members of the United Nations such as Tonga, Iceland, and Estonia. (Plus the two municipalities named above.) My proposal? If you can keep watch on all your borders with but one sentry standing on a stool…well, you’re a little short of the requirement for Nation-hood, in my book.

***

(Boise State University Broncos.)

(Boise State University Broncos.)

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns.)

University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns.)

Tomorrow night, our BSU Broncos (2-1) take on the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns (1-2) at the blue-turf Albertson Field in Boise. It is a non-Mountain West Conference game. The experts have BSU favored by 17 points or so. Once again, that’s a bit much in my opinion. Enough to keep me from putting any money on the outcome. (Of course that would be illegal, anyway, so I wouldn’t do it no matter what the “spread” happened to be.) I don’t recall us ever playing the Cajuns before this. I don’t even know what conference the school is in. (Not the SEC, I’ll wager.) Okay…I looked it up: The Sun Belt Conference. Not a bunch of powerhouse schools, certainly. (I was surprised to learn that the University of Idaho is a member.) Anyhow, it is another late game for us, with the kickoff coming at 8:30 PM. Which means I will likely have to stay up past my normal bedtime. Rats!   Have a great weekend! Bud

Note to KA: You can believe every word of this one, Ron-boy! Honest! Cross my heart!

Ol’ Bud

AND THE TRUTH IS…

From: Meridian, ID:

Is there anything more uniquely American than washing one’s car on a sunny, September day? I suppose most people in the world don’t even have a car to wash, but of the ones that do…well, can you picture a Frenchman suds-ing up and getting after his Renault? I don’t think so. At this point I should clarify that I did not wash my car (pickup, actually) today…and the truth is, I haven’t done it for quite a long while. But I did sit in the sunshine, drinking a gin and tonic, while watching my wife, Janet, wash her car. And really…isn’t that the best of all worlds? It was a lovely afternoon!

I don’t mean to give the impression I’ve never washed my own car…I’ve done it many, many times. Not this current pickup, mind you. I’ve only had it 11 months, after all. Come to think of it, I’m not sure I ever washed the previous truck, myself. But again, you have to keep in mind I only owned that one for 8 years or so. I know for sure I personally washed the one before that many times during the first year I owned it.

(Workin' at the carwash.)

(Workin’ at the carwash.)

As a teenager, I rarely washed my own cars. (I had three, in all, before graduating from teenagerism.) That’s why teenage boys have girlfriends. Well…that, plus a couple of less important reasons. In my day, anyhow, girlfriends seemed to actually like doing it, especially if the car was one that could be considered “cool,” like a convertible of almost any make, or go-fast model, or – in certain parts of the country – a pickup. Heck-fire, I can remember seeing girls in bikinis volunteer to wash strangers’ cars. That is, If the cars – and the stranger – were high enough on the scale of “cool!” (No, that never happened to me. Dang the luck!) I can tell you, though, and based on long years of research on the subject…wives are different from girlfriends in this respect. In other words, wives are much smarter.

***

(Leonardo DaVinci.)

(Leonardo DaVinci.)

And speaking of “smarter,” Janet and I drove downtown Boise today to visit The Discovery Center, a perennial destination for parents (and grandparents) to expose their kids – and themselves — to stimulating scientific, (mostly) “hands on” exhibits. This summer (and continuing to near the end of November) a good part of the Center is devoted to a display of Leonardo DaVinci’s inventions, ideas, and paintings. We spent about an hour and a half strolling through the rooms and trying the models of many of the machines he envisioned and/or created. (Some were not “hands on.”) I’m sure that everyone who leaves that building leaves filled with awe and amazement of the quintessential “renaissance man.” It really is difficult to come up with an area of science that he wasn’t interested in, and, in fact, a subject-matter expert. Botany, engineering, human anatomy…the list goes on and on.

He lived from 1452 to 1518, dying at age 67. I think he was probably from a planet outside our solar system, here on a mission to kick-start the gathering of human scientific knowledge. He’s probably gazing down at us this very moment, planning the trip back to rescue us from the state we’ve gotten ourselves in to. Better make it quick, Leo. We need help!

***

(BSU Broncos.)

(BSU Broncos.)

Our BSU Broncos shouldn’t need DaVinci’s help in beating the University of Connecticut this coming Saturday…the bookies seem to have them favored by as much as 16 points. That’s too many, in my book, but then again I guess Connecticut is not generally considered a football powerhouse, is it? Basketball?…I guess that’s a different story.

(University of Connecticut Huskies.)

(University of Connecticut Huskies.)

The boys played pretty well last Saturday against Colorado State, but there was definitely some room for improvement. They won’t have the support of the home crowd against UConn, so I hope they keep the heads screwed on tight.

***

Have you heard the one about “Black Jack” Pershing and the Moro Rebellion in the Philippines? Chances are, you have, and I say that because it seems to make the forwarded email rounds regularly. The story has it that one of the methods Pershing used to quell the rebels was his policy of burying all dead Moro fighters (Muslims) with parts and blood of dead swine. Pigs are seen as being unclean by Muslims (and Jews for that matter), and the theory was that any follower of Allah would be barred from entering paradise if he had been contaminated by close contact with the animal. Supposedly, when word spread of this “special” burial policy, devout Muslims were hesitant to take the risk of fighting his troops.

(General "Black Jack" Pershing.)

(General “Black Jack” Pershing.)

I don’t know about you, but I thought the story had the ring of truth. And more to the point, I thought it would be a good policy to revive in our current struggle with Islamic terrorists. Many people find the “eye for an eye” philosophy to be barbaric, but others of us like its simplicity: You butcher our people; we will butcher yours and arrange to keep them out of Paradise. Such a policy, i.e., burying terrorist fighters with pig entrails, etc., would even be economical, in that one pig could, conceivably, be used to defile quite a number of enemy dead.

But, and sadly in the opinion of many, the story is almost certainly a complete falsehood…a myth perpetuated by the beating-drum network called the Internet. It may have begun after the release of a Gary Cooper movie called, “The Real Glory,” in 1939. That fictional story was set in the Philippines during the Moro Rebellion, and Cooper’s character actually instituted the policy of burying dead Moros wrapped in a pigskin. (David Niven and Broderick Crawford also appeared in the movie.)

So the whole thing only proves – once again – that much of what gets delivered to our inboxes is out and out BS. Three websites that come to mind for checking such “true stories” are:

Urban Legends;

Snopes;

Fact Check.

Of course one may then ask himself, “How do I know what these guys say is true?” Especially when political stuff is involved. I mean, perhaps they have their own axes to grind, eh? So we’re back to the old, tried and true advice: Don’t believe everything you read…and only about 10 percent of what you see.

Have a great day.

Bud

 

PUZZLE SOLVED

From: Meridian, ID:

The only good thing about decisions reached by a committee is that the blame for such decisions will be shared among the committee members.

***

(Four days' trapping.)

(Four days’ trapping.)

Back in early August, I posted a Blather that included a couple of paragraphs about my yellowjacket traps, and describing how one of the three simply would not snare any…well, no more than a handful, anyhow. It was quite a puzzle for me, and up until yesterday I could not fathom the reason. The traps, themselves, were identical…as was the bait. They were located very near each other in the back yard (one of the three remained in the front yard), and yet over a period of a few days, one caught ten or twelve of the flying varmints while the other caught hundreds.

(The "bad" trap after repair.)

(The “bad” trap after repair.)

Yesterday, I squirted some “refresher” bait liquid on the cotton wadding inside the interior of the bait cone. While doing so, I noticed – for the first time in many inspections of the device – that two small pieces of plastic had been chipped from the bottom edge of the large interior cone. I had never seen the damage, previously, and even if I had, I may have overlooked it as not being important. This time as I reassembled the thing, I noticed that the spots where the plastic corners had been broken off aligned with the small vents in the bottom of the trap. In so doing, two small “escape holes” were created. Tah Dah! Which meant that the bugs were going in through the four entrance holes on the bottom of the trap, but then almost immediately discovered the “escape holes” as they inspected the circumference of the bottom compartment.

I’m not sure why they decided it was important to get out of that area so soon…the smell of the bait, located directly above them, must have been nearly overpowering. Of course there were a few that kept going, flying (or crawling) up the interior of the large cone and squeezing out the hole in the top to the larger compartment. And once they did that, they were goners…never choosing to go back through the hole at the top of the cone. But, as I said, most made their getaway from the smaller, first compartment.

(One of the masking tape repairs is visible in one of the rectangular "windows" near the bottom of the trap.)

(One of the masking tape repairs is visible in one of the rectangular “windows” near the bottom of the trap.)

I used some masking tape to cover the corners where the plastic had been broken away and, after putting the trap back together, hung it near the other one. The difference was dramatic! From the first moment both traps were hung with fresh scent bait, they performed exactly alike. After two hours, six individual yellowjackets in both traps; this morning, an even dozen carcasses in both traps. When last I checked – about an hour ago – the newly repaired trap was significantly ahead of the other one, with twenty (or so) small corpses and another 15 or 20 still flying/crawling in the large compartment. The (previously) “good” trap had only a half dozen of the pesky things still moving around above (and among) their dead cousins. VOILA! Problem solved.

The more difficult question (to me) about these traps is, “Why do they work so well?” (When pieces aren’t broken off of them, that is.) It seems counter-intuitive, but evidently there is something in the thinking of a yellowjacket that makes them loathe to crawl down a hole. The entrance holes are flush with the bottom of the trap, but have walls perhaps a half-inch high rising up from the floor of that lower compartment. We now know hey will dang sure find their way out through holes in the side of the little room…but are apparently unable to do the same thing by going back down an entrance hole that they just used to get in the place. And it’s the same thing in the larger compartment, the one in which they eventually kick the bucket. Every bug in there came through the same little hole at the top of the cone, and many crawl all around – and over – that same hole. I have seen one actually crawl back down it, but in no time at all it had come back up and in to the death chamber. I’ve not seen another do the same thing. (I should mention, here, that I don’t spend all my days watching yellow jackets…certainly a number of them may have tried going back down the cone. But, judging from the numbers of dead ones, not many have escaped that way.) Obviously, who ever came up with the design of the trap knew something about yellowjacket behavior, but I still wonder why such an instinct would be a part of the bugs’ teeny-tiny brain. They even nest in holes in the ground quite often. To do so means they have to crawl down into the entrance to the hive, and judging by their summertime numbers there must be very few who won’t do that. Go figure.

At any rate, I was quite pleased with myself for solving the problem of the poorly performing trap. By the way, the brand of trap I use is “Rescue.” Part of the company’s advertising states that beneficial honeybees will not be trapped, and I can vouch for the veracity of that statement. In the years I’ve been trapping yellowjackets, I have never seen the body of a honeybee inside one.

***

Today I made a grocery-shopping trip. Janet had an appointment for a haircut and coloring and, since I’ve told her many times that I really don’t mind grocery shopping, she asked if I would go for a few things. She had clipped a number of coupons, and today being “senior discount” Tuesday at the store, she was anxious to get the trip done today. (She very much dislikes this household chore.) Usually, when it happens that I am making the trip, we go over the shopping list together, making sure I understand the “shorthand” she normally uses. This time, we skipped that step as I was doing something online and she was running a bit late.

Imagine my surprise, then, when at the store I discovered “panties” near the bottom of the list. Checking the coupons stapled to the paper, I found that, sure enough, one of the coupons advertised “Buy 2 Packs, Get 1 Pack Free,” good for three different brands of panties. The item on the list was not a mistake; it was not an abbreviation for plums, or pans, or pears.

So, grabbing the bull by the hornets, so to speak, I ventured into the “Ladies Apparel” section of the store. I had to ask a young lady employee where to find the panties and she was kind enough to show me without smirking. (I told her in no uncertain terms that, had I known that item was on the shopping list, I would definitely have declined the shopping job!)

Thankfully, she left me alone after she led me to the section of the store I was looking for. Come to think of it, her hasty retreat probably was sparked by a fear that I was soon going to ask her, “Well…I don’t know my wife’s size in panties. What size do you wear?”

I was at a loss. Too many different styles; way to0 many different sizes; an incredible array of different colors. So I did the only thing I could do at that point: I ignored that item on my list. But I did mention the quandary I had been in to the young man working the checkout aisle as I was leaving. He said I positively did the right thing. “It was a test,” he said, “…and there was no way you could have passed it! Buy something too brief, or in too small a size…you would have proven yourself to be dense…a complete idiot. Or worse yet, buy something too large…well, have fun in the doghouse for the next 3 years! Oh, yeah…you did the right thing! No question about it!” I thanked him for clearing that up for me and got the heck out of the store.

But before that, after leaving the women’s lingerie area, and while doing the remainder of the items on the list, I only had to ask twice for help reading Jan’s shorthand. My excuse? I had left my reading glasses in the truck. Both times, the employees were easily able to translate. Clpbd? Clipboard, of course. Dryon? Dried onion? “…in the spice department, sir.” Make a note, Bud: Never take a shopping list that you haven’t verified with Janet before you go.

***

We’ve had an unusual August here in southwestern Idaho. Unusual because we had only one day of 100+ temperature. On August 11th, it reached 102 degrees. (I was on my way to Vancouver, B.C. for salmon fishing when on that date. I missed it. Dang the luck.) I believe summer generally brings ten or twelve days over 100, and those almost always come in August. This year, they occurred in July. So we have gotten acclimated, now, to almost Fall-ish weather, with cool nights (in the fifties and sixties) and days sometimes not even breaking 80 degrees. It has been quite nice.

I hope you’re having good weather where you are, although based on the nightly news, there’s a good chance you’re not. Be happy anyhow…it will all pass.

Bud