Thursday, March 26, 2009

Simple Machines = A Mechanical Advantage = A New Toy

Saw this boulder the other day while walking on Cole Road east of Newark. Apparently frost action heaved this glacial erratic from the earthen bank, sending it tumbling to the roadside below.

Using only boards, scrap wood blocks, and a crow bar; I set out this morning to retrieve the boulder After three tries at rearranging the planks...

... and adding some stones under the boards for extra support, I was able to begin levering the boulder up the inclined plane.
 this point, 1.5 hours of repeatedly resetting the fulcrum, prying, blocking, shimming and avoiding any position where I could become pinned; should the boulder break loose and fall...

...I finally succeeded to get this ice age relic onto the back of my Dakota truck I was now ready to load my tools and head home to unload.

...When Grandson Nolan arrived two hours later he discover a new toy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

"Stoned" on stone walls

October, 2008 March, 2009 addition

Yesterday turned out to be a mild mid-March spring day. Lots of sunshine, with temperatures in the sunshine pushing into the lower 50's. What to do? ... Well, after looking out the window and noticing the piles of rocks collected in late December, I decided to continue building the free standing rock fence/wall started last fall.

I say "Stoned" in my title because I recieve great mental satisfaction and tranquility during the act of wall building, as well as in the creation that is pleasing to look at after a rain shower/ snowfall, or to view the many prospectives this stone wall provides as I walk around the yard.

However it is in the building that I have the most satisfaction for the following reasons.

  1. Physically; the continuous bending over to search for, pick up, and/or manuever stones, requires a minimium of technological brain power. That is so calming. The economy, bail out of AIG, environment issues, ... all of the problems that the world faces are NOT mine to deal with as I flip a rock/boulder over to locate a position that is stable and hopefully avoid pinching fingers again.
  2. At the end of a 4-6 hour session constructing another 25-30 wall feet, I know that I have done something as I have "new" aching muscles; lower back fatigue; and stinging tendons in my elbows ... unfortunately called "golfers' elbow" according to the symptoms that I've Goggled on line. ....[Hmmn! ... moving boulders = "golfers' elbow"????]
  3. Most of these igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary rocks were transported here by glaciers of the last Ice Age ending some 10,000 years ago. It is a review of my understanding of NYS Geological history and the rock cycle as I select and place rocks into the wall for display.
  4. I can't help but think of the "rock/boulder building gene" that must be in my DNA. I know that sounds silly, but after watching the PBS series "Monarchy" about the rise and fall English monarchies who built castles as if they were ordering "fast food" and my European serf ancestors who were employed or indentured to actually building those towering walls; I know that natural selection must have preserved some of those genes in our 21st century population. I am grateful for my "nucleic acid connection" to my past, without having to go through page after page of some geneology book.
  5. Other than hauling the stones in my poor little truck whose shock absorbers have been replaced; the building and cost are very inexpensive compared to a pallet of real or fake stones at Lowes or Home Depot.
  6. The free standing rock wall is unique ... not everyone has one of these in their yard.
  7. Like the old European castles, it will be around long after I have left the scene; leaving those who see it a hundred plus years from now, to speculate what life was like when someone build this wall.

Well enough of this "mental state" and back to reality. Today I have decided to go pitch on several loads of horse manure for the garden.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Fuzzy Environmental Math Extrapolation

On a 6.5 mile walk along local, secondary roads yesterday I picked up only returnable/deposit containers. The photo shows the number of containers that were picked up along one side of the road. So ...40+ containers x 2 sides of the road = 80+ along a 6.5 mile section of rural roads or about 12.3 cans/bottles/mile x 5,100 miles* of roads in New York State = 62,700+ deposit/returnable container on NYS highways on Wednesday, March 11, 2009.

If we look at the United States, then 12.3+ deposit/returnable containers/mile x 161,400 miles* of USA highways = 2 MILLION deposit, returnable containers on the nation's highways or at $0.05/container x 2 MILLION returned deposite/containers = $100,000 nationwide. Not a quite the Federal Stimulus Package, but still a significant piece of change!

But what about all of those non-deposit containers such as bottled water, sports drinks that I would estimate would increase the above total by 40% or 2.7 MILLION containers along our nations' highways?

Yow! ... and that does not include the cigarette packages, jumbo plastic and styrofoam plastic drink containers, plastic bags, random fast food paper/plastic/tin foiled products, and other items I have to assume are intentionally dumped by passing vehicles. And all of these items are what I call "15 minute items" or things that you buy and discard after 15 minutes. They are certainly not examples of American manufacturing at it's best!

*Highway mileage source:

So as a good American in these depressed economic times, my government is encouraging me to spend and stimulate our economy? Sorry, I am inclined to save the money and make selective purchases of durable, essential, non-luxury, recyclable items that promote good EARTH stewardship.

Some other thoughts that I have:

  1. There is a considerable amount of drinking and driving taking place on our highways.

  2. What if ALL containers required a $1.00 deposit instead of a $0.05 deposit? How would that change "the picture" shown above?

  3. I would vote to pass the proposed "Bigger Better Bottle" bill now before our state legislature. I have already voiced my opinion with Assemblyman Bob Oaks and State Senator Michael Nozzolio

  4. Personally we have saved about $30 on are grocery bill since January 1st.

  5. What if communities began to organize/contract regional community members to voluntarily walk and clean their local roads sides? The benefits: a cleaner community; a raised public awareness of maintaining a better environment; improved cardio-vascular fittness; ... all at no cost to the community.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

March 2009 FLT backpack

The latest adventure or slog started Tuesday (3/3/09), when Sue dropped me off on Burnt Hill Rd., northwest of Watkins Glen, NY. The air temperature said 15 F at about 1600 ft. The goal of the trip was to backpack the Finger Lakes trail all the way to NYS Rt. 38, south of Dryden, NY. This was a 75 mile trek over multiple hills and valleys; across the various state forest preserves in the Southern Tier of NY State. The weather forecast was for unseasonably cold temperatures for Tuesday and Wednesday night and milder temperatures by Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Tuesday's hike was only about 8.5 miles to the Rogers's Hill Lean-To at 1800+ ft. An evening meal was prepared by melting snow to hydrate beef stew and hot chocolate. By 6:30 PM I was in the sleeping bag with only my protected face sticking out of the mummy bag. I would estimate that the outside temperature was zero or below.

By 7 AM I was on the road heading for the Connecticut Forest Preseve and on to the Treman State Park Lean-To, some 20.9 miles away. Wednesday morning's hike was across the valley floor and up icy ravines; on to higher elevations passing old foundations through forest layered in snow, and an old CCC camp site. Day time temperatures were cold enough that I could walk on the snow with hiking boots without punching through. By 4:30 PM I arrived at the Treman State Park Lean-To for another cold night.

The next morning; Thursday I was off to the Danby State Forest Preserve and the Tamarack Lean-To some 17.5 miles to the south and west of Ithaca, NY. During the day's backpack I passed frozen water falls; had a great view looking back at the Connecticut Hills which I crossed yesterday;

visited with a man tending his maple syrup tap buckets; passed across a small air field with an unusual sign for hikers; making my late afternoon destination, around 3:30 PM.

By Friday morning the temperatures were beginning to rise, but not before negotiating some rather icy covered trails under hemlock groves or on non-sun exposed surfaces.

At higher elevations (1600 ft+) in the afternoon, the snow cover became mushy, thus I had to put on overshoes to keep my feet dry as I broke through the snow cover 6-8" with each step.

This is was labored walking, especially on the up hill sections. After 10 hours of hiking I reached the Kimmie Lean-To in the Robinson Hollow State Forest ... a 21.7 mile day. I was "pooped" and ready to rehydrate; pack my swollen toes in snow; then eat and sleep.

Over exposed "selfportrait" during a lunch break Thursday

Saturday was "pull-out" day after a 6.4 mile hike out of the Robinson Hollow Forest and across the Hammond Hill State Forest to Rt. 38 south of Dryden, NY where Sue and Ian were a welcome site.

So as I sit here and type this out, I am already mentally planning to hiking another segment of the FLT next month.

All the Best!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Here we go again!

Learning something new as I set up this personal blog posting site.

I needed a place to record my thoughts and activities in my world. Chendrashaker was my American Peace Corps name ... it means "moon watcher" if I recall correctly. That was 40 years ago.

I also wanted a place where I could post my hiking experiences without cluttering the emails sent to friends with redundant pictures and experience descriptions.

The weather continues to be cold as I prepare for a Tuesday (3/3) - Saturday (3/7) back packing hike on the Finger Lakes Trail. Traveling light, yet sleeping warm on cold nights is essential, so final decisions about final packing will be made today.

My route will begin on Burnt Hill Road about 10 miles northwest of Watkins Glen and proceed through the Connecticut Hills Wildlife Management Area eastward towards Ithaca, NY. The trail then proceeds southward throught the Danby State Forest and then eastward through the Sindagin Hollow State Forest. Now the trail turns northward across the Potato Hill, Robinson Hollow, and Hammond Hill State Forests for a exit and pick up on NYS Rt 38 south of Dryden, NY. Overnights will be spend in Adirondack style Lean-To's scattered along the trail system.