Friday, August 29, 2008

Update on the Palm Treo

I received my Palm Treo pda/smartphone, which I posted about here a few days ago. I bought it on Ebay so I could have a mobile internet connection. I had an existing simcard from my other phone, so I swapped it out and was good to go.
So how does it work? A picture speaks volumes. The great thing is, not only can I surf the web with it directly, but I can also plug my laptop into it and use it as a wireless modem, when I'm out of range of wifi but within range of a cell tower. Like, say, at Terlingua.
If you are looking for an RV internet connection, this is a good way to get it.

Creek Fishing

How to Fish a Small Creek

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Gasoline prices are causing many occasional sportsmen to leave their boat and motor on the trailer at home, and keep their recreational activities near where they live. Even if you don't have access to large bodies of water like rivers and lakes, you may still be able to enjoy a fun angling experience in a small, often overlooked stream or creek.


  1. Locate a small stream or creek suitable for fishing. You will need to address several considerations in making your choice, here are a few:- Is the stream on public property, or do you have permission to fish there.- How clean is the water? Streams in agricultural or industrial areas may have pollution levels that make the fish inedible, even dangerous to handle.- Does the stream have good water flow year around? Some streams only maintain a flow during snowmelt season[1], or when sufficient rainfall occurs to support them.- The species of fish you are intending to fish for. Keep in mind, small streams generally don't support large sized specimens of the fish that live in them, due to the limits imposed on this particular environment.
  2. Gather up the things you will need for your trip. Generally, the basic items you have to have are a hook and line, and bait. For practical purposes, though, you may want to look at some refined fishing tackle for small stream fishing. These are some things to consider:
    • Use light or ultralight fishing tackle. Small streams are often crystal clear, and you will need a very light monofilament line to keep the fish from being spooked.
    • Bait or artificial lures appropriate for the fish you are fishing for.
    • Use long shank wire hooks in the smallest size suitable. You will get hung up on snags, and long shank wire hooks will bend, rather than breaking, so they will pull free of the snag. This will save time replacing lost hooks. Another benefit is the ease of getting a long shank hook out of a small fish's mouth.
    • Appropriate accessories may include insect repellant, a creel or bucket for the catch, and in some cases, waders to keep your feet dry.

  3. Choose your bait. Creek fish are usually truly wild fish, or natives, and will often prefer native food for bait. Worms, grubs, insect larvae, and small insects like crickets and grasshoppers are good choices. Small jigs and spinnerbaits may be easier to use if the species of fish you are angling for will bite them.
  4. Dig or catch your bait, if applicable. Digging worms requires a suitable location, like a compost heap or other place with good moisture and rich soil. Catching crickets or grasshoppers will test your reflexes, speed, and eye-hand coordination, but either method will add to the self-sufficient experience if that is what you are looking for.
  5. Load the equipment, and take to the road. Unless you are fortunate enough to have a creek nearby, you will need to load the car or truck and drive to the creek. Finding a remote area like a state or national forest can offer an experience both of good fishing and pleasant scenery.
  6. Get away from the beaten path. Even small streams may experience significant fishing pressure, so heading away from civilisation can increase your chances of having a good trip, both in the amount of your catch, and the enjoyment of untrashed forest or wood.
  7. Don't judge a pool or stream by its surface. Fish any pool or eddy that has enough water to support fish. Often, a good fish can lay in the current motionless and invisible until your bait or lure gets close enough for him to attack. Fishing stump holes, bank undercuts, eddy pools, and other places that provide enough water to support fish will give you a better chance of success.
  8. Match your technique to the conditions. Small streams in heavy woods will often have brush-cover banks and lots of blown over or washed in trees over the stream bed itself. You may find the only approach to a potential fishing hole is to wade the stream and stand in the current while fishing your chosen spot. Underhanded casting, if using a spinning reel, or flipping, if using a cane pole, can get your bait underneath any but the lowest branches and obstructions.
  9. Fish each hole at different depths. Fish will suspend at a depth where the water conditions are most favorable, and feed in the depth where the natural food is present. Sometimes, this is on or near the surface, sometimes, it is flat on the bottom, so don't exclude any zone from your bait offering.
  10. Use the stream's current to present your bait. If you fish with a spinning or baitcasting rig, you can approach a pool from the downstream end, cast to the upper end, and allow the bait to drift through the water. This will offer the fish the most natural presentation of the bait, since insects and worms that fall or are washed into the stream follow a similar path.
  11. Change your bait if you are having little or no success. When using different artificial lures, try different colors, types, and sizes to try to establish the fish's preference. For live bait, you may try worms, insects, or insect larvae, even insects you may find on the creek's bank. There may also be helgrammites and crayfish in the steam which you can catch to fish with.
  12. Use a float or bobber if the current and space permits. This makes it much easier for a less experienced fisherman to tell if a fish is biting, and also keeps the bait at a desired depth. Use the smallest float that will keep the bait off the bottom. This makes the setup more sensitive, since the float requires less force to be pulled under when the fish bites. Using a smaller sinker and hook will enable to use the smallest float possible.
  13. Unhook your catch and string them on a stringer, put them in your creel, or simply drop them in a clean bucket with some fresh water dipped from the steam in it to keep your catch alive for as long as possible.
  14. Load your catch and your gear up when you are finished fishing. Don't leave anything but your foot prints when you go, so the next visitor to the spot you have enjoyed will find it clean.
  15. Clean your catch. This may be an incredibly painstaking process for very small creek fish, but scale, gut and remove the heads in preparation for cooking. Keep the waste parts so they can be buried or disposed of to prevent an odor problem later.
  16. Cook your catch. Small fish can be difficult to eat because of the many tiny bones, but fresh caught fish from a clear spring-fed stream are great, fried up crisp and golden brown (so that the bones are crispy like crackers).
  17. Add some hushpuppies, coleslaw, and baked beans, and you have a delicious meal to end the day.


  • Look at maps, particularly topographic maps[2], to locate streams and creeks and suitable access points along them in your area.
  • Learn what specific fish species inhabit streams in your area, and find out what bag limits, size limits, and restrictions apply to these.
  • Check for additional regulations such as catch and release only and artificial bait only, which are fairly common in some areas.
  • Match the size of your bait and tackle to the size of the fish you expect to catch.
  • Keeping the fish alive for as long as possible ensures they will be fresh when eaten.
  • Remove overhead branches or other obstructions from your fishing hole only if you have permission from the landowner or jurisdictional authorities.
  • Check the water conditions prior to setting out on your trip. Muddy water, particularly after a rain, can be stained, and make fishing more difficult.
  • Catch and release is an excellent way to enjoy fishing while maintaining the natural balance of the stream.


  • Make sure you have appropriate licenses before going fishing. Some management areas or parks require special permits for recreational activities within their boundaries.
  • Some streams and creeks may have dangerous wildlife, such as alligators and venomous snakes present
  • Watch for deep pools, especially if wading with hip or chest waders.
  • Be careful walking or climbing on wet surfaces, since these can be very slippery.
  • Be aware of the possibility of flooding if there are rainstorms in your area. Some streams can rise rapidly, even if the rain is not at your location, since rainfall occurring upstream will eventually flow down to you.
  • Let someone know where you are going, and when you will return.

Things You'll Need

  • Tackle and bait
  • Suitable clothing
  • Insect repellant
  • Maps of your area

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations


Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Fish a Small Creek. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Sloss Furnace in Birmingham, Alabama

I've been there several times, both in the daytime and at night. It's a very interesting and yes, spooky place.

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Sloss Furnaces

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Sloss Blast Furnaces
(U.S. National Historic Landmark)
Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, in November 2004
Sloss Furnaces, Birmingham, in November 2004
Location: 1st Ave. at 32nd St.
Birmingham, Alabama
Coordinates: 33°31′14.36″N 86°47′28.70″W / 33.5206556, -86.7913056Coordinates: 33°31′14.36″N 86°47′28.70″W / 33.5206556, -86.7913056
Built/Founded: 1881
Architect: James W. Sloss; Et al.
Designated as NHL: May 29, 1981[1]
Added to NRHP: June 22, 1972[2]
NRHP Reference#: 72000162
Governing body: Local

Sloss Furnaces is a National Historic Landmark in Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.A.. It was operated as a pig iron-producing blast furnace from 1882 to 1971. After closing it became one of the first industrial sites (and the only blast furnace) in the U.S. to be preserved for public use. In 1981 the furnaces were designated a National Historic Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior.[1][3]

The site currently serves as an interpretive museum of industry and hosts a nationally-recognized metal arts program. It also serves as a concert and festival venue. Current plans call for a $10 million program of accelerated restoration and construction of a new, larger visitor's center. The furnace site, along a wide strip of land reserved in Birmingham's original city plan for railroads and industry, is also part of a proposed linear park through downtown Birmingham. An annual Halloween haunted attraction called "Fright Furnace" is held at the site.[4]



[edit] History

Colonel James Withers Sloss was one of the founders of Birmingham, helping to promote railroad development in Jones Valley and participating in the Pratt Coke and Coal Company, one of the new city's first manufacturers. In 1880 he formed his own company, the Sloss Furnace Company, and began construction of Birmingham's first blast furnace on 50 acres (202,000 m²) of land donated by the Elyton Land Company for industrial development. The engineer in charge of construction was Harry Hargreaves, a former student of English inventor Thomas Whitwell. The two furnaces, of the Whitwell type, were 60 feet (18 m) tall and 18 feet (5.4 m) in diameter. The first blast was initiated in April of 1882. 24,000 tons of high quality iron were produced in the first year. Sloss iron won a bronze medal at the Southern Exposition held in 1883 at Louisville, Kentucky.

In 1886 Sloss retired and sold the company to a group of investors who reorganized it in 1899 as the Sloss-Sheffield Steel and Iron Company. New blowers were installed in 1902, new boilers in 1906 and 1914 and the furnaces completely rebuilt with modern equipment between 1927 and 1931. Through this aggressive campaign of modernization and expansion, including furnace and mining and quarrying operations all around Jefferson County Sloss-Sheffield became the second largest seller of pig-iron in the district and among the largest in the world. During this period the company built 48 small cottages for black workers near the downtown furnace—a community that became known as "Sloss Quarters" or just "the quarters".

In 1952 Sloss Furnaces was acquired by United States Pipe and Foundry and sold again in 1969 to the Jim Walter Corporation, which closed it two years later and donated the property to the Alabama State Fair Authority for possible development as a museum of industry. The authority determined that redevelopment was not feasible and made plans to demolish the furnaces. Local preservationists formed the Sloss Furnace Association to lobby for preservation of this site, which is of central importance to the history of Birmingham. In 1976 the site was documented for the Historic American Engineering Record and its historic significance was detailed in a study commissioned by the city. Birmingham voters approved a $3.3 million bond issue in 1977 to preserve the site. This money went toward stabilization of the main structures and the construction of a visitor's center and the establishment of a metal arts program.

Preservation and restoration work continues at Sloss and funds are being raised for a major expansion of the interpretive facilities in a new visitor's center. The site is proposed to become part of a linear park running east-west through downtown Birmingham along the route of the "Railroad Reservation", which was a strip of land zoned for industrial development in Birmingham's 1871 city plan.

[edit] Present use

Sloss now is used to hold metal arts classes, a barbecue cookoff, an annual Halloween haunted house, and is a concert venue.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b "Sloss Blast Furnaces". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved on 2007-10-28.
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service (2007-01-23).
  3. ^ George R. Adams (April, 1978), National Register of Historic Places Inventory-Nomination: Sloss Blast FurnacesPDF (935 KiB), National Park Service and Accompanying 7 photos, from 1978 and 1971.PDF (0.98 MiB)
  4. ^ Sloss Fright Furnace
  • Lewis, W. David (1994). Sloss Furnaces and the Rise of the Birmingham District: An Industrial Epic. Tuscaloosa, Alabama: Univ. of Alabama Press. ISBN 0-8173-0708-7.
  • Windham, Kathryn Tucker (1987). The Ghost in the Sloss Furnaces. Birmingham, Alabama, Birmingham Historical Society. ISBN 0-317-65100-5.

[edit] External links

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Treo 680 PDA/Smartphone

I have just bought a used Palm Treo 680, to add mobile internet capability to my cell phone. Hopefully it will meet my expectations as to usefulness. If so, I will report my experiences. What sold me on it was that it is four devices I want, all in one package:
1. A GSM cellphone that accepts a simcard from a current plan, or one of the prepaid simcards that can be bought on Ebay; and has a port to plug in an external antenna for use in the hinterlands.
2. A small, portable device that can connect to the Internet to send and receive email, surf webpages, and update my website from wherever I happen to be.
3. A device that allows me to read from an entire library of eBooks, photofiles and textfiles, stored on standard SD cards.
4. A media player that allows me to watch videos and listen to music, likewise stored on SD.

More information, from Wikipedia:
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Treo 680

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Trēo 680
Manufacturer Palm
Type Smartphone
Retail availability since November 2006
Media MMC, SD
Operating system Palm OS 5.4.9
Input Keypad and touchscreen
Camera 640x480 VGA (0.3 Megapixel)
Power 1200 mAh battery
CPU Intel PXA272
Display 320x320 16-bit illuminated TFT LCD
Connectivity GSM/GPRS/EDGE, Bluetooth
Touchpad WM9712 AC'97 digitizer
The Palm Treo 680 is a combination hybrid PDA/cellphone, or smartphone as the successor to the company's Treo 650.


  • Mobile phone, GSM/GPRS/EDGE model with 850/900/1800/1900 MHz bands.
  • XScale PXA272 312 MHz processor
  • 64 MB onboard NAND storage as user-available stored non-volatile memory
  • 64 MB onboard NOR Strataflash (part of the PXA CPU)
  • 32 MB onboard SDRAM split between system memory, dynamic memory and cache
  • Removable rechargeable lithium ion battery
  • Palm OS Garnet version 5.4.9
  • 111.8mm H x 58.4mm W x 20.3mm D (4.4 inches H x 2.3 inches W x 0.8 inches D)
  • 158 grams (5.5 oz.)
  • 16-bit Color LCD 320 x 320 TFT touch-screen display
  • Supports SD, SDIO, SDHC and MultiMediaCards - 4 GB to 32 GB cards supported through SDHC
  • Built-In Bluetooth 1.2 Compliance
  • Battery 1200 mAh
  • 0.3 megapixel (640x480) VGA digital camera with 2x digital zoom and video camera capability
  • Palm Desktop version 4.1.4 for Windows and version 4.2 for Macintosh OS


AT&T and Rogers are currently the only carriers to offer the Treo 680 in North America; however for a more expensive price, you can get an unlocked GSM Treo that works with any GSM/GPRS/EDGE network worldwide.[1] The Treo 680 is also available from many carriers worldwide including Singtel, Vodafone in NZ & Aus, Globe, Orange France, Swisscom, Telcel MX, Cable & Wireless (Caribbean) and Claro in Brazil.

Monday, August 18, 2008

How to Hypermile

How to Hypermile

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Hypermiling refers to a collection of driving techniques aimed at improving your car's fuel efficiency by reducing the demands placed on the engine. Since it's possible to improve fuel economy by 37% just by changing the way you drive[1] hypermiling is gaining interest in light of high fuel costs. While some hypermiling methods are controversial and potentially dangerous, this article will focus on safer techniques that can still save you gas and money.


  1. Drive as if you don't have brakes. If your brakes were in bad shape, you'd increase the amount of space between your car and other vehicles on the road so that you have ample room to slow down naturally, without depending completely on your brakes. Even if your brakes are perfectly fine, driving in this manner improves fuel economy because you maintain slower speed, reduce acceleration, and place fewer demands on the engine by going easy on the brakes.This may be frustrating and difficult, however, if other drivers keep cutting in front of you. You should keep your foot ready to use the brake so that if you do need to stop suddenly you can react quickly. Also, you should never roll through stop signs; the increased risk of a car accident and/or traffic ticket is not worth a few extra cents saved in fuel costs.
  2. Be gentle with the accelerator. When you slam down on the gas pedal, it pushes more fuel into the engine, making it run faster (and lowering the fuel economy and increasing your output of pollutants). Push the pedal down slowly, and lift it up as soon as you know you're going to need to stop (when you see a red light, a stop sign, or brake lights from the car ahead of you) so that you can coast the rest of the way. You should never need to push down the pedal by more than an inch (2.5cm).[2] Some cars are even being designed with pedals that "push back" when you're accelerating too aggressively![3]If you have a choice between various routes, go for the one with the least number of stops; country roads are good because you don't have to stop (and go) as much and you don't have to accelerate/brake to get on/off (like with the highway). If you're driving on sloped roads, it's useful to think about where you should come to a full stop because that'll affect how hard you need to accelerate:
    • Avoiding stopping on an incline heading upwards. Starting from a dead stop on a hill is the worst scenario in terms of fuel economy. Stop at the top of the hill, or stop before you climb the hill (if it's safe).
    • When coming down a hill and faced with a red light at the bottom (where it levels out), try to stop well before the light so that you can use the remaining downhill slope to your advantage when you need to move again.

  3. Avoid idling. Turning off the engine when you stop for more than one minute can improve fuel efficiency by 19%.[4] In cold weather, letting your car idle to warm up reduces fuel economy and creates additional pollution; all you need to do is drive gently for 5-10 minutes[5] and if you're following the previous two steps, you're going to be driving gently all the way anyway.
    • If you have multiple stops in one trip, plan it so that you go to your furthest destination first and make the rest of your stops on your way back. By taking your longest drive at the beginning, you give the car enough time to warm up for the remainder of the trip; if you took the short trips first, your car would take longer to warm up (because of the brevity of each trip). Since engines do not operate efficiently until they are warm, taking your longest drive first increases fuel efficiency.

  4. Minimize the engine load. Generally, it's better for your fuel economy if you maintain a steady speed, which is why using cruise control and driving at or below the speed limit is an important part of hypermiling. If you're driving on a hill or any kind of varied terrain, however, you need to consider how much work the engine is doing. Sometimes, a steady speed means unsteady strain on your engine, which lowers fuel economy. Let's say you're approaching a hill. Do not slow down, or else your engine will have to do extra work to maintain your speed. In fact you should, within the limits of safety, gradually speed up as you approach the hill, so that momentum will help you up the hill.
  5. Park for easy departure. Instead of searching for the perfect spot close to an entrance (which will involve stop and go driving, especially with pedestrians involved and other drivers pulling in or out of their spots) pull into a spot that's further away from the entrance. Look for the parking spot with the highest elevation and park face-out so that when you start the car and the engine is cold (at the lowest efficiency) you can use gravity in your favor without having to spin your car around. Some hypermilers recommend coasting out of the spot in neutral, but this is not a good idea because if a shopping cart or a small child happens to get in your way, the inability to use power steering and brakes (and the possibility of the steering wheel locking) can increase the likelihood of a collision.
  6. Check tire pressure regularly. If the tires are incorrectly inflated, then there will be excess drag, and not enough surface contact with the road. The car therefore suffers a drop in efficiency.
  7. Reduce the junk in the trunk. The more weight you're carrying, the more the engine and drive-train have to work. Removing all of that unused junk in the trunk increases efficiency.


  • These driving techniques won't work if you don't properly maintain your car, which is recommended for fuel economy whether you're hypermiling or not:
    • Use of high performance Iridium tipped spark plugs lead to a larger combustion spark which gives you a fuller cleaner burn in the combustion chamber, giving you a smidge more power, better fuel efficiency and lower emissions.
    • Align and balance the wheels.
    • Use the lowest viscosity oil that is recommended by the manufacturer. Using anything lower than what is recommended can be unsafe. If the car is not "taking oil" - burning it or leaking - switch to synthetic oil (and ATF), as those greatly reduce internal powertrain friction, improve mpg and longevity. At the same time, oil changes can be done much less frequently, thus compensating for higher oil cost. Read your car manual - there are virtually no modern vehicles left that will recommend 3000 miles oil changes anyway.

  • Keep an MPG journal to track your improvements in fuel economy. One could purchase a "driving habit modifier" - a device that plugs into the onboard diagnostic system and shows actual mileage, on cars not equipped with trip computer and made after 1996. Staying "on top" of ones mpg visually, radically changes those habits.
  • Pay attention to the weather. If at all possible, avoid driving on windy days, especially if you're taking a long drive on the highway.[6] If the weather's rainy or snowy, you won't be able to hypermile as efficiently (and you shouldn't--safety first).
  • The debate between using air conditioning and opening the windows is moot (an easy rule of thumb is when traveling under 45 MPH open your windows and over 45 turn on the AC)--not only is the difference negligible[7] but hardcore hypermilers don't do either. They bring ice water in the car with them so they can stay cool with the windows cracked and the AC off.


  • Avoid putting yourself or others in danger.
  • Driving in this manner could evoke road rage from other drivers.
  • Stay away from extreme hypermiling techniques. They are too risky, not only for yourself but for the safety of other drivers.
    • Don't roll through stop signs or cut corners at high speeds to avoid braking.
    • Don't turn off a car's engine to coast down hills. Turning off your engine will cause you to lose your power steering and brakes.
    • Don't over-inflate tires to decrease rolling resistance because you can lose traction and get into an accident hurting you or others.
    • Don't tailgate a big rig in hopes of cutting wind resistance. The 1 second rule puts you more than 75 feet from the rear of the trailer. The distance needed to get in the low pressure zone behind is less than a dozen feet.
    • Be aware that tailgating a big rig (semi or truck) can kill you. If the truck has a tire blowout while you're tailgating, it can throw the tire tread through your windshield, total your car, and severly injure or kill you. Trucks are extremely heavy, with corresponding handling challenges so the safest place is to not be in the same proximity. A simple web search can provide examples.
    • Driving under the speed limit in heavy traffic (where other vehicles can't pass you safely) is VERY dangerous and causes more accidents than speeding.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations


Article provided by wikiHow, a collaborative writing project to build the world's largest, highest quality how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Hypermile. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.

Slab City wiki

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Slab City

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search
Photo of the Slab City Christian Center taken in October 2007.
Photo of the Slab City Christian Center taken in October 2007.

Slab City or The Slabs (located at 33°15′32″N, 115°27′59″W) is a camp in the Colorado Desert in southeastern California, used by recreational vehicle owners and squatters from across North America. It takes its name from the concrete slabs and pylons that remain from the abandoned World War II base Marine Barracks Camp Dunlap there. A group of servicemen remained after the base closed, and the place has been inhabited ever since, although the number of residents has declined since the mid 1980s.

Several thousand campers, many of them retired, use the site during the winter months.These 'snowbirds' stay only for the winter, before migrating north in the spring to cooler climes. The temperatures during the summer are forbidding; nonetheless, there is a group of around 150 permanent residents, who live in the Slabs all year round. Most of these 'Slabbers' subsist on government checks (SSI and Social Security) and have been driven to the Slabs through poverty; some of the 'slabbers' also have a strong desire for freedom from the American government.

The site is both decommissioned and uncontrolled, and there is no charge for parking. The camp has no electricity, no running water or other services. Many campers use generators or solar panels to generate electricity. Supplies can be purchased in nearby Niland, California, located some three miles (5 km) to the southwest of Slab City.

Located just east of State Route 111, the entrance to Slab City is easily recognized by the colorful Salvation Mountain: a small hill approximately three stories high which is entirely covered in acrylic paint, concrete and adobe and festooned with Bible verses. It is an ongoing project of over two decades by permanent resident Leonard Knight.

Slab City was featured in the book Into the Wild and also in the 2007 movie of the same name. The video for 4th of July by Shooter Jennings is partially set at Slab City.

[edit] External links and references