Monday, September 29, 2008

Frugal RV travel: Free Camp Sites

Marianne Edwards has written two books (so far) and many articles about traveling frugally and boondocking in the Southwest US. Her books, which are available here in eBook format, detail many interesting areas to visit on the cheap, and specific free camp sites. Each covers a particular area; one covers south Texas and the other covers Arizona. She is currently working on a book covering Utah, and plans to cover other areas as well.

Marianne and her traveling partner Randy are Canadians who regularly take several months off work, in order to live on the road in the southwestern United States. They are not rich people; Marianne is a waitress and Randy is a handyman. So how do they do it? That is what the two books and many free articles describe, besides the many reviews of free camp sites and attractions, which are a resource well worth the small price for the books.

Update: I bought the Texas book for myself, and am very pleased with it. I forgot to mention too, that the purchase of either of these books includes a free bonus eBook about the basics of boondocking, aka dry camping. This book contains information on how to set up your RV for boondocking, and practical advice on living in an RV without hookups.
The books are in pdf format, and only take a few seconds to download. Whether or not you buy the books though, the site is still worth a visit for the entertaining and informative, free articles.

BTW, if you have ever thought it would be cool to be able to drive right out onto the beach and set up camp, or even drive for miles on the beach on an uninhabited or sparsely populated island until you find just the right spot to set up camp, and then stay as long as you like and fish everyday for your meals, then you need this Texas book. I've done something similar in the Outer Banks of North Carolina, but the Texas gulf coast is a lot freer than the Outer Banks, and most people don't even know about it. In some places it's almost like being in Baja, but without having to cross an international border.

I haven't read the Arizona book yet, but it should be wonderful too. Arizona is the most well-known state of them all for boondocking (and gold prospecting, too); Quartzsite alone is worthy of its own book.

Click here for access to the free articles or to download the books.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Parched corn and corn nuts

When this country was still young, parched corn was used as a staple trail food by natives and settlers alike. It is said that one can live for months, if necessary, on a diet of parched corn and water.
Nowadays, a similar food called "corn nuts" is a popular snack food. The two are not the same, but they're close.
The best part is that both can be cheaply made from feed corn purchased at an animal feed store. Flour corn is generally recommended, but I have used the feed corn, and it works fine. It comes in a 50 lb bag, so if you don't have livestock that eat it you should either plan on using a lot of it, or pack most of it in 5 gallon pails with nitrogen or co2. If you have a grain mill, you can make fresh cornmeal from this corn as well. I have done this, using my Corona mill.

Parched corn can be made by simply stirring a handful of this corn in a hot, ungreased cast iron skillet until the kernels "puff up" (but don't pop) and turn golden brown. Add salt if you like, and perhaps even some ground cayenne chile; and enjoy; or store in a plastic bag and stash it in your pack for use on the trail. Parched corn can be added to soups and stews too, to augment whatever wild foods you are able to forage.

Corn nuts are a little different, and more involved. To make them you soak the corn in water, one part corn/two parts water, overnight in the fridge. Then deep fry a little at a time in oil or shortening heated just short of smoking; add salt, cayenne and/or whatever your heart desires, and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Boondocking Provides Traditional RV Camping Alternatives

By Stephanie Mulac

If boondocking is not a familiar RV or camping term to you, it will not be long until other RV camping enthusiasts introduce you to this time honored RV camping tradition. The art of boondocking is also referred to as dry camping or dispersed camping and offers many campers the opportunity to enjoy the comforts of their RV while still enjoying nature without the modernization or amenities that campgrounds offer.

Boondocking is also an alternative to one night stopovers at a campground while traveling from one destination to another and many RVers find Wal-Mart parking lots and truck stops to be just the solution. Places like Wal-Mart know the value of catering to the camping community, as they provide a perfect place to stock up on RV camping supplies and outdoor necessities while on the road.

Whether you are boondocking for convenience while heading toward your camping destination, or if you have chosen boondocking as the RV camping experience you are seeking, there are certain boondocking tips and camping protocol to follow.

The first is courtesy and common sense. If you are boondocking in a Wal-Mart parking lot, it is not a good idea to pull out the lawn chairs and camping equipment and setup shop. Doing so will quickly ruin the boondocking option for others and sour the reputation of campers in general. Any overnight RV stay in public locales should be treated as a privilege and not an entitlement. The same holds true for boondocking in remote locations, always honor the environment and leave it pristine for other campers who are to follow.

When RV camping without full hook-ups, there are other considerations as well that will assist you in getting the most out of your boondocking camping adventure. Water and power utilization and conservation is always the foremost concern among dry campers. With a little experience and planning, RV campers can easily become accustomed to conserving both.

Water conservation while dry camping comes down to paying attention to details. Don't let the water run while brushing your teeth; run water slowly to conserve consumption; and capture water in the shower to recycle for rinsing and flushing. When you are waiting for the water temperature to adjust for a shower, reclaim that water -- you will find many other uses for it. And remember to always shower using the wet and rinse technique. There are many other water conservation options available for dry campers as well and the RV industry has a wide variety of electronics and accessories available.

Power and electrical needs follow the same laws of conservation and require paying attention to detail as well. Inverters, generators, and solar panels are all options and in combination can extend power usage quite adequately. There are so many alternatives and they are dependent upon your existing RV configuration, so the ideal solution is planning. Determine the type and amount of power that your TV, satellite dish, VCR, refrigerator, or microwave places on power consumption and calculate the load requirements and how best to disburse them before venturing out.

Boondocking can be intimidating at first, but with advanced thought and planning it can provide tremendous pleasure beyond what RVers are looking for in a traditional campground. And you are certainly not alone in the great outdoors when it comes to boondocking! A simple Google query will yield other RV camping enthusiasts who share boondocking tips, routes, locations, and many other valuable pieces of information that only the experienced boondocking camper would think of.

There is also a huge assortment of LTV (Long Term Visitor) Areas in California and Arizona, and BLM (Bureau of Land Management) Information available detailing designated wilderness areas, regulations, and amenities. Other experienced boon docking RV campers have put together huge online lists of creative ways to boondock, camping and boondocking forums, travel blogs and other valuable resources.

So if boondocking is in your future RV camping plans, you will find you are in good company -- it's just that the company won't be sitting in the campground site five feet from yours!

Stephanie Mulac is a Motivational Coach for Internet Marketers and owner of where you can also find her Motivational Blog. She enjoys RV Camping with her family when taking a break from online marketing and details her adventures at and provides camping checklists and resources at


Click here for boondocking information

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Small Farmers

I've been watching Farm Aid 2008 on TV, and they are playing some great music. Dave Matthews especially sounds muy excellente. The Pretenders sounded great too, although Chrissy Hynde really demonstrated how far removed she is from the family farmer when she showed up wearing her stupid PETA "Tax Meat" T-shirt and started talking about slaughterhouses. I guess for her, Farm Aid was just a way of getting some free publicity, rather than any genuine concern for the small farmer. Even Neil Young was talking sense, instead of acting like a jerk.

I really like what Willie Nelson is doing with the Farm Aid thing. While so many artists stick their face in front of the camera and say "why doesn't the government do something?", Willie just gets out there and does something. Same thing with biodiesel; I don't think anyone is doing as much to not only promote biodiesel, but actually take action to make biodiesel available to the average person, than does Willie.
Of course, I don't see things exactly as Willie does: he is pushing for a bill to help the family farmer; I think if the government would just get out of the way, specifically by cessation of all farm subsidies (which primarily go to the big factory farms that are putting the family farmer out of business), cessation of all taxation on family farmers, and cessation of all such activities as NAIS (which is a Draconian measure specifically intended to put small farmers out of business), the resulting free market would allow small farmers to make a decent living without help from the government, which is exactly what they are afraid of.

Let me tell you about something that happened in northeast Alabama a few years ago. Northeast Alabama used to be one of the truck farming hotspots. A small farmer could raise vegetables in season on just a few acres; tomatoes, squash, sweet corn, okra, water melons etc; and deliver those vegetables a couple times per week to other entrepreneurs who owned vegetable stands. The farmer could make a living on as little as 5 acres, and the vegetable stand guys could make a living by simply securing the permission of a landowner, to park a vegetable stand in front of his property, paying a small fee for the privilege. During the growing season there was a vegetable stand every few miles along US 72 from Huntsville to the Tennessee state line, for example, and everyone was happy. The farmers who raised the food were happy, the stand owners were happy, the land owners who rented a little spot to the stand owners were happy, and the people driving along the highway were happy, because they could stop on the way home from work and buy fresh, locally grown food that tasted far better, was healthier, and cost less than store-bought food (where the tomatoes for example are practically inedible); and they knew they were supporting the local economy by so doing.
Everybody was happy, that is, except the government. Which is why cops swooped down on the stand owners one day and levied huge fines on them, warning them never to return. Signs were then posted everywhere along the highway. Other government types paid a visit to the growers and shut them down, as well. More fines were levied, and some farmers lost their land. Now you can drive along the roads and highways in Alabama, which used to be our public roads but are now obviously government property, and you won't see any vegetable stands.
Think about it.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Diamond Prospecting in the US

I have written before about my prospecting and camping trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park, but I think it's time for another post about it.

Click here for more information about prospecting and treasure hunting.

Crater of Diamonds State Park

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas, USA
IUCN Category III (Natural Monument)
Location Pike County, Arkansas, USA
Nearest city Murfreesboro, Arkansas
Area 911 acres (3.69 km2)
Established 1972
Governing body Arkansas State Park System

The Crater of Diamonds State Park is an Arkansas State Park located near Murfreesboro in Pike County, Arkansas, USA containing the only diamond bearing site in the world that is open for public prospecting.



[edit] Description

The Crater of Diamonds State Park is an 911 acre (3.69 km²) Arkansas State Park situated over an eroded lamproite volcanic pipe. The park is open to the public and, for a small fee, rockhounds and visitors can prospect for diamonds and other gemstones. Park visitors find more than 600 diamonds each year of all colors and grades.[1] Over 25,000 diamonds have been found in the crater since it became a state park. Visitors may keep any gemstone they find regardless of its value (and some, as listed below, have been quite valuable).

In addition to diamonds, prospectors may find semi-precious gems such as amethyst, agate, and jasper or approximately 40 other minerals such as garnet, phlogopite, quartz, baryte, and calcite.

The crater itself is a 37 1/2 acre (142,000 m²) plowed field. It is periodically plowed to bring the diamonds and other gemstones to the surface. The remainder of the park consists of a visitor center, interpretive Diamond Discovery Center, campground, picnic area, and Diamond Springs aquatic playground. A 1.3 mile (2 km) walking trail along the Little Missouri River is available for hikers.

The park is open throughout the year.

[edit] History

In August 1906, John Huddleston found two strange crystals on the surface of his 243-acre (0.98 km2) farm near Murfreesboro, Arkansas, and soon became know as the first person outside South Africa to find diamonds at their original source. The following month, Huddleston and his wife, Sarah, sold an option on the 243 acres (0.98 km2) to a group of Little Rock investors headed by banker-attorney Samuel F. (Sam) Reyburn, who undertook a careful, deliberate test of the property.

After 1906, several attempts at commercial diamond mining failed. The only significant yields came from the original surface layer, where erosion over a long period of time had concentrated diamonds. In the early period, 1907-1932, yields from this "black gumbo" surface material often exceeded thirty carats per hundred loads (standard 1600-pound tramload of the early period). Highest yields from the undisturbed subsurface material (described as "kimberlite" or volcanic breccia, by the U. S. Geological Survey) were two carats per hundred loads in 1908 and about two carats per hundred short tons (2000 pounds)in 1943-1944.

Because equipment of the early period usually included bottom screens with mesh larger than 1/16th, thousands of smaller diamonds were allowed to pass through. The bulk of these ended up in drainage cuts of varying depths all over the field and in the big natural drains on the east and west edges of the diamond-bearing section of the volcanic deposit (approximately thirty-five acres of volcanic breccia on the east side of the eighty-acre "pipe"). In recent decades, those small diamonds have been the bread-and-butter of recreational diamond-digging.

Soon after the original diamond was found, a "diamond rush" created a boomtown atmosphere around Murfreesboro. According to old tales, hotels in Murfreesboro turned away 10,000 people in the space of a year. Supposedly these aspiring diamond miners formed a tent city near the mine which was named "Kimberly" in honor of the famous Kimberley diamond district in South Africa. On the other hand, all available evidence indicates the Town of Kimberly originated as a land-development venture in 1909, initiated by Mallard M. Mauney and his oldest son Walter on their land immediately south of Murfreesboro. The project failed soon afterward as the speculative boom generated by the diamond discovery collapsed. Today the Kimberly area is almost all cow pasture, owned by Mauney's descendants.

From 1951 to 1972, the crater hosted several private tourist attractions. The first, The Diamond Preserve of the United States, lasted only about one year. In late 1951, Howard A. Millar stepped in and salvaged the infant tourist industry. In April 1952, Millar and wife, Modean, launched their "Crater of Diamonds" attraction. Howard Millar, an accomplished writer and promoter, stirred unprecedented national publicity and drew enough visitors to sustain the operation. In March 1956, a visitor found the "Star of Arkansas" on the cleared surface. The rare beauty weighed 15.33 carats. Later, Roscoe Johnston opened a rival tourist attraction, the "Arkansas Diamond Mine," on the main part of the diamond field.

The rivalry between the two tourist operations left both in a weakened position. In 1970 the entire volcanic formation was consolidated by a private partnership which then reassigned the property to General Earth Minerals of Dallas, Texas. GEM expected to turn the property over for a profit, but ended up heavily indebted to GF Industries of Dallas. Upon default, GFI took the property in July 1971.

GEM consolidated the tourist operation as well as the property. GFI continued the attraction until it sold the eighty-acre volcanic formation and some 800 surrounding acres to the State of Arkansas in March 1972, for $750,000. The tourist operation continued as the centerpiece of Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Due in part to the park, and also because Arkansas was the first place outside South Africa where diamonds were found at their original volcanic source, this special gem has come to be associated with the Natural State. A large diamond symbol has dominated the state flag since the early years. The Arkansas State Quarter, released in 2003, bears a diamond on its face.

[edit] Geology

The Crater of Diamonds volcanic pipe is part of a 95 million-year-old eroded volcano. The deeply sourced lamproite magma, from the upper mantle, brought the diamonds to the surface. The diamonds had crystallized in the cratonic root of the continent long before, and were sampled by the magma as it rose to the surface.

The lamproite diamond source is unusual, as almost all diamonds are mined from kimberlite and from alluvial deposits of diamonds weathered from kimberlite. The most prominent lamproite diamond source is the Argyle diamond mine in Australia.

[edit] Notable Diamonds found

  • 1917 ~ Lee J. Wagner of the Arkansas Diamond Company - 17.86 carats (3.572 g), exceptional canary yellow (the uncut gem is on display in the National Museum of Natural History)
  • 1924 ~ The Uncle Sam - at 40.23 carats (8.046 g), the largest diamond ever discovered in North America
  • 1964 ~ The Star of Murfreesboro 34.25 carats (6.850 g) Picture
  • 1975 ~ W. W. Johnson - 16.37 carats "Amarillo Starlight" (largest found since 1972)
  • 1978 ~ Betty Lamle - 8.61 carat "Lamle Diamond" (third largest found since 1972)
  • 1981 ~ Carroll Blankenship - 8.82 carat "Star of Shreveport" (second largest found since 1972)
  • 1990 – Shirley Strawn - 3.09 carat "Strawn-Wagner Diamond" – cut to 1.09 carats in 1997, and graded a "perfect" 0/0/0 by the American Gem Society in 1998, making it the first diamond ever to receive such an AGS grading. Currently on exhibit at the park.
  • 1991 ~ Joe Fedzora - 6.23 carat "Bleeding Heart Diamond" - brownish yellow
  • 1997 ~ Richard Cooper - 6.72 carat "Cooper Diamond" - unusual deep purplish-brown.
  • 2006 ~ Marvin Culver - 4.21 carats "Okie Dokie Diamond" - deep canary yellow and flawless. Seen on Today Show, MSNBC, Inside Edition and Travel Channel and published in Lost Treasure magazine (twice), Western and Eastern Treasures magazine, Mineralogical Record and Rocks & Minerals. Arguably the most publicized diamond from the Crater.
  • 2006 ~ Bob Wehle - 5.47 carat "Sunshine Diamond" - deep canary yellow and flawless.
  • Dec. 2006 ~ Donald and Brenda Roden - 6.35 carat "Roden Diamond" -- honey-brown.
  • 2007 ~ Eric Blake - 3.93 carats FRAUD(786 mg), tea-colored[2]-Discredited by, salted Diamond from India
  • 2007 ~ Chad Johnson - 4.38 carats (876 mg) tea-colored diamond [3]
  • 2008~ Denis Tyrrell - 4.42 carat "Kimberly Diamond"[4]

[edit] See also

[edit] References History of the Crater, thoroughly documented.

[edit] External links

Coordinates: 34°02′00″N 93°40′27″W / 34.033333, -93.67417

Check this link for more info on prospecting and treasure hunting.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

The Gone Fishin' Portfolio

Product Description
Outperform the vast majority of investment professionals while paying nothing in sales charges, brokerage fees, or commissions by modifying your investment strategy. Learn how to make your investment dreams come true with the advice in The Gone Fishin' Portfolio: Get Wise, Get Wealthy...and Get on With Your Life, a guide that’s based on a Nobel Prize-winning investment strategy yet takes just 20 minutes to implement. Gain an understanding of the fundamental relationship between risk and reward in the financial markets and get an insider's view of how the investment industry really works.

From the Inside Flap

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In The Gone Fishin' Portfolio, author Alexander Green details an effective yet simple approach to investing that embraces the uncertainty of financial markets, and reveals how you can generate exceptional results during both good times and bad. Page by page, you'll discover how the "Gone Fishin' Portfolio" will allow you to earn superior returns, reduce risk, minimize taxes, and eliminate Wall Street's mountain of fees.

Divided into three comprehensive parts—Get Wise, Get Wealthy, and Get on with Your Life—this reliable resource:Discusses the relationship between risk and reward in financial markets, and reveals how the investment industry really worksUnveils the "Gone Fishin' Portfolio," addresses why it's arguably the safest and simplest way to reach your long-term financial goals, and explores the financial and psychological challenges you're likely to face in the years aheadExamines what it means to take your financial destiny into your hands and, at the same time, reclaim your most precious resource—your time

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This is the most popular investing book in the country right now. In fact, Amazon ran out of them and had to place a rush order with the publisher to cover all the incoming orders; but they have them in stock now, so here's your chance if you want one...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gold Claim

For several years I have been interested in gold prospecting. I have read a few books about it, bought some rudimentary equipment and panned for gold in the gold belt of North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama (found some, too) and even panned a little in Colorado and Utah (didn't find any there).
Lately, with all the financial newsletters screaming "Buy Gold!", I find myself thinking even more about prospecting. I just have a hard time convincing myself to plunk down my hard-earned money to actually buy something that may go up, or may drop in price the day after I buy it. Prospecting, however, is right down my alley. I mean, think about it: you get to camp in wilderness areas for however long you want, without feeling guilty because hey, you're "working"!

Panning isn't the way to do it, though. Not seriously. It's lots of fun and a good excuse to get out there where I want to be anyway, and it's a good way to test the waters in various areas, but if you want to get serious about it, placer mining on a claim you own is the only way to go.

Wikipedia has this to say about the subject:

In the United States, a placer claim grants to the discoveror of valuable minerals contained in loose material such as sand or gravel the right to mine on public land. Other countries such as Canada, Mexico, and Australia grant similar rights. In the United States, the valuable mineral in a placer claim is almost always gold, although other nations mine placer deposits of platinum, tin, and diamonds. Another type of mining claim is a lode claim.

A mining claim allows some security of tenure for the owner, providing an incentive to invest time and money developing the deposit. Mining claim laws vary from state to state, but claims staked over federal minerals follow federal mining law. Federal minerals are managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Mining claims staked under either State or federal laws (state claims may only be staked on state-owned and managed lands; federal claims may only be staked on minerals owned by the federal government) are limited to lands available for claim staking at the time the claims are staked. Thus, if the land is not available for mineral entry (example: withdrawn due to its status as a park or refuge), then the claim is said to be invalid ab initio. An additional requirement is "Discovery", which follows the "Prudent Man Rule." This means that a sufficient indication of valuable mineral(s) would encourage a "Prudent Man" to further invest time and money developing the deposit towards the goal of mining it. The holder of a mining claim does not own the surface, the water, or even the rocks and gravel. A mining claim grants the holder with the preferential right to extract the valuable minerals within the claim, and for uses incident to that goal, such as prospecting, exploration and development. Gold mining is one of the most common uses for the staking of mining claims.

In Alaska, state mining claims may be up to 160 acres, and there is no distinction between lode or placer claims. The boundaries of the claim must follow the 4 cardinal directions, with an exception being adjustments for existing valid claims. "Claim jumping", which happens to this day, is a case where one person overstakes the claims of another. This results in civil action, and sometimes violence.

Claims staked on Federal-managed lands fall under Federal rules. Typically, the claim size is limited to 660'x 1320', or 20 acres. The claim must be either placer or lode, and the discovery point must be clearly marked.

The claim staking procedure includes setting a monument (a post of at least 3" in diameter and at least 3' visible above the ground, or a rock monument at least 3' in height) at the NE corner of the claim. This is known as the Number 1 corner, and it is here that the claimant places the location notice. Three additional monuments, one at each corner of the mining claim, must be set, numbered in a clockwise direction.

Copies of the claim documents must be filed in the local offices of the land managers, and filing fees paid. This must be completed within 45 days of the staking. In addition, fees for annual rental, filing, and work (or payments in lieu of labor) to fulfill requirements of "annual labor" must be completed by the deadlines set by the regulations in order to hold the claim. Failure to meet any of these requirements will result in a declaration of abandonment, and the claim cannot be restaked by the original locator or a successor in interest for one year from the date of abandonment. During this time, the claim may be relocated by others.

End Wikipedia article.

I have a couple of friends who do this. They own a claim in Arizona, and every summer, they park their travel trailer on the claim and stay there all summer, working the claim.
As I understand it, you can buy a claim from the existing owner, or file a new claim. Either way, you have to pay some filing fees (which aren't very much; probably less than property taxes would be if you actually owned the land) and you have to either do a certain dollar value of work on the claim each year, or pay that dollar amount if you can't get to it that year. In return, you get the use of the land for mining and mining-related activities which, depending upon the state, includes camping, building a permanent camp perhaps even to include a cabin, hunting and fishing for food, developing a water supply, etc. Some people treat a mining claim as a homestead and live on it year-round, which is fine so long as you are mining as opposed to, say, leaving everyday to go to a job (why would you want to do that, anyway?).
From what I've seen on the market, a mining claim can be bought for far less than actually buying a like amount of land. In fact, a couple of times I have almost bought a claim, and I may yet do so. But I would rather file a new claim or one which has been abandoned but is still productive...

Click here for more information on the subject.

Monday, September 8, 2008


How to Use Dowsing or Divining Rods

from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Before technology came about that would allow us to "see" into the ground, people depended on dowsing (also known divining or water witching) to find water wells, metals, gemstones, and even missing people and unmarked graves. Although dowsing has never been scientifically proven to work in a controlled setting,[1][2] the practice remains popular in many parts of the world.[3][4] It's been suggested that humans may be able to sense electric and magnetic energy that's invisible to the eye (as many animals can)[5] and subconsciously manipulate the dowsing rods or pendulum to reflect that information (the ideomotor effect).[6] Whether you're a stout defender of dowsing or you think it's hogwash, doing your own experiment can be both educational (from a historical perspective) and fun.


  1. Obtain a dowsing rod.
    • Find a forked ("Y"-shaped) branch from a tree or bush. Hold the two ends on the forked side, one in each hand. You may want to experiment with holding it with your palms facing up or down; one may be more effective than the other. Hazel or willow branches were commonly used because they were light and porous, and were believed to better absorb vapors rising from buried metals or water, thus weighing down the unforked end and pointing towards the source.[7]
    • Bend two identical pieces of wire into an "L" shape and hold one in each hand by the short part of the "L" so that the long part is parallel with the ground and so they can swing freely from side to side. You can use coat hangers to make these rods. Some dowsers claim certain metals, such as brass, to be more effective.[8]
    • Make a pendulum by suspending a weight (such as a stone or crystal) by a string or chain. Pendulums are used with maps or to answer yes/no questions, rather than to guide the dowser on unfamiliar terrain; instructions for using a pendulum are given in a separate section below.

  2. Relax. Whether you're priming yourself to receive paranormal insight, or you're relaxing your muscles so they can better transmit the ideomotor effect, or you're just experimenting with this for fun, relaxing will make it a more effective or enjoyable experience. Take a few deep breaths or meditate for a minute or two.
  3. Calibrate your dowsing rod(s). Lay out cards numbered 1-5 face up and in a line with about 1-2 feet (1/2 meter) of separation between each card. Start at one end, holding your dowsing rod(s), and make a request, like "Show me where the card labeled 4 is". Close your eyes and visualize the card you want the rod(s) to find for you. Then open your eyes and walk slowly next to the line of cards with your dowsing rod(s) over them, pausing over each one, and see what happens when you go over the card you requested. You may find that the wooden rod points downward, or the metal rods cross each other.
  4. Test your dowsing abilities. Repeat the previous step, but this time, shuffle the cards and put them on the ground facing down, so you don't know which is which. Make your request and see if you can correctly identify the card you requested by dowsing. If you can't, either you're a bad dowser (you're not focused or relaxed enough, you're psychically challenged, you're holding the rod(s) incorrectly, or you're too skeptical to allow dowsing to work for you) or dowsing is nothing more than superstition punctuated by coincidence. You decide.

Pendulum Dowsing
  1. Calibrate the pendulum. Hold it perfectly still over a bare surface, then ask a specific question to which you know the answer is "yes". Does it go in a circle (if so, clockwise or counter-clockwise?), swing right to left, or swing up and down? This is your "yes" answer. Repeat to find a "no" answer. If your goal is to find a lost person or object, hold the pendulum over a picture of that person or object and see what the pendulum does.
  2. Hold the pendulum over an object or person and make a request. The simplest way to use a pendulum is to ask a specific, yes or no question and see what the pendulum does. A dowsing pendulum can also be used in other ways:
    • For map dowsing, hold the pendulum still over the map and make a request (e.g. "Show me where this object or person is"). Move the pendulum slowly over all areas of the map until you see activity that coincides with your calibration. This type of dowsing was used by the German Navy in Nazi Germany.[9]
    • Write several answers on a piece of paper, leaving the center blank. Hold the pendulum over the center and ask a question. Watch the pendulum carefully to see in which direction it swings. Which answer does it point to? (This is similar to using an ouija board.)
    • Radiesthesia is the practice of using dowsing to make a medical diagnosis. A common technique is to hold the pendulum over a pregnant woman's stomach to identify the gender of the child. It's not wise, however, to depend on a pendulum for medical advice.



  • Whatever it is that you're trying to find through dowsing, visualize it as clearly as you can.
  • The "L"-shaped rods will only perform well when parallel to the ground. Do not let the rods droop towards the ground.
  • Once you've found a water source with rods, you may be able to use a stiff pendulum (a floppy horizontal wire with a weight at the end) to determine how deep the well is by counting how many times it bobs.[10]


  • Make sure your dowsing area is clear of other people. Do not use the rods in a crowded place or in close proximity to other people because someone could get poked and injured. (It's all fun and games until someone loses an eye). Besides, the rods might pick up energy fields from other people and they won't work.
  • It is tempting to stare at the rods while you are working. Please be mindful of where you are walking though so you do not trip on something or fall in a well.
  • Place your bets on dowsing at your own risk.

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Sources and Citations


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Home built, Trailer Mounted Cabin

Since the day I bought a tract of land on Terlingua Ranch, I have been searching for a solution to the problem of, where do I stay when I visit my land? I mean, I can get one of the rooms at the lodge, or I can camp in the ranch campground, but really, the whole point of buying land is to be able to enjoy that land. I don't know about you, but having to traipse back and forth from ranch HQ kinda puts a damper on the fun. I want to camp on my land, have a campfire, cook and eat there, and all the other things that go along with camping.

Of course, that is what a tent is for, and I enjoy tent camping as much as the next guy, especially in a nice stand-up canvas tent with a woodstove inside. But the day comes when I wish I had something permanent or semi-permanent, with space to stretch out, and a few amenities. I don't want to spend big bucks for a nice travel trailer and then leave it on the ranch to be possibly stolen or vandalized, but I also don't want to be tied down to towing a trailer or driving a motorhome on every trip, getting 10 mpg if I'm lucky and having to set up camp when I go; or even having to wait a couple of days if it's been raining, before I can even get to the land.

I want a cabin. A cabin that is there, waiting for me anytime I get a few days to visit. That way I can drive my Jeep out there at a couple hour's notice without having to tow anything, so I get 20+ mpg on the trip and, if road conditions are bad, just lock in 4x4 when I leave the pavement and I'll get there just fine.

But I don't want to spend an entire vacation or two hauling supplies and building my cabin there, nor pay someone else thousands of dollars to build it for me, especially if I can't be there to supervise. So what do I do?

Well, now there is a solution: here is a site where you can buy plans to build a folding cabin on a trailer frame. It is 7'x21' folded for traveling, and opens to a full 15'x21' once you arrive on location. It can be set up semi-permanently in less than 3 hours, and the axles and hitch may be either left in place or, if you plan to set it up permanently, removed. Either way, once it is set up there is little to no danger of it being stolen because it is no longer in a towable configuration. It just looks like a standard cabin. It can be towed anywhere a 4x4 pickup can go, so those remote areas of Terlingua Ranch, your hunting camp or any other similar place you would like to put a cabin, will be no problem.

Best of all, it is affordable. It can be built for about $3000, or less if you can scrounge used materials; and it can be built at home on weekends, and a little at a time as you have money for materials. Then next time that big trip to the camping property comes around, you are ready to go with your new cabin.

Click here for more information.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Ron Paul's "Rally for the Republic"

I watched Ron Paul's speech last night on C-Span, and the station took call-in comments afterwards. I turned that off pretty quickly, but not before hearing a caller comment that "I can't believe he says having guns is a right, but health care is not a right".
Some pretty smart people read this blog, and I suspect that if the type of person who made that comment were to stumble across this site, they would move on pretty quickly; but still, I can't resist answering that comment with a few facts. Actually, let's take the comment a little further first: "that criminal has a right to have a gun to shoot me with, but then I don't have a right to health care if I happen to not die immediately?" This is the kind of question people like that pose. They are not serious. It is an act, designed to cloud the real issue; just like the statement that all we need to do is call 911. The people who say things like that are liars. They generally live lives that (have so far) insulate(d) them from the realities that some people have to face, and they really couldn't care less about people who aren't so insulated. OK, that's a generalization. The person spewing this nonsense may not be a liar. They could be an abject moron who actually believes this crap.
Here are the facts about rights. It's very simple really, when all the clouds are moved out of the way: rights are something all people have, without requiring someone else to supply them. It has to be that way, because none of us are perfect, and there aren't black and white distinctions that we can see when we look at other people.
The statement above, about the criminal with a gun, is based on faulty logic. It goes something like this: "I'm a good person, and I don't have a gun. Gang-bangers and other violent criminals are bad people, and they have guns. Therefore, people who have guns are bad people." That is faulty logic, because it ignores all the good people who have guns and wouldn't dream of victimizing other people, with or without the gun.
Those who believe the "gun=criminal" logic tend to then take it a step further and claim that if all guns were banned, all those bad people would miraculously become good people. Only a liar or a moron would cling to that idea.
Enough of that; let's look at reality. I live in a dangerous world, therefore I have a right to arm myself so that I can protect myself. Note here that I do not have a right to be given a gun or other arm, because somebody would have to then supply that need from the fruits of their own labor, and just as I have a right to the fruits of my own labor (and can choose to give some of that to others in need, but it's mine to choose), so too does that other person have the right to the fruits of his own labor, and shouldn't be forced to supply my need. Likewise, I don't have a right to expect someone else to save me. Did the cops at Columbine rush into the school immediately? No, they didn't. They waited until all the shooting stopped, because each of their individual lives were worth more to them than the lives of those who were being killed inside. Even though each of those cops was armed.
As an aside, do you know why cops are armed? Is it so they can protect you? No. It is so they can protect themselves. So does this mean that the Constitution was written for cops, so they can protect themselves, and perhaps if it's not too much trouble nor danger to themselves, also protect you, lowly civilian? No, of course not. I'm the only one who will ultimately do whatever is necessary to protect myself; therefore I have the right to obtain, without interference, the tools I deem necessary to do so.
Aside from that, I also have the right to obtain, keep and bear anything I wish, so long as I don't use it to deny others their rights.

As for medical treatment, just as an individual has a right to obtain their own gun but not to have one given to him, so too does he have the right to seek medical treatment and trade for same, but not to have that treatment supplied. Does the doctor not own himself? He gave up years of his life in training; he should be able to trade on the free market with that training, and should not be forced to provide the benefit of the training and of his labor without compensation.
As a physician, Dr. Paul intimately understands the problems with the medical establishment in the US. That is why he contends that medical treatment is not a right. Treating it as if it were, is a large part of why so many US residents go to Mexico for medical and dental treatment. There is another facet of that, too. If I have an ailment for which a treatment or medication is freely available in Mexico; that is, I am at liberty to trade for it on the free market in Mexico (imagine that) but not in the US, guess what I'm gonna do?

To recap, a right is simply freedom from interference. The only limit is that I may not interfere with others, just as they may not interfere with me. A right is not to have a need provided for, because that means someone must supply that need, by force if necessary. Being forced to work is slavery, and no one has a "right" to the benefits of slavery.
One more thing: denying or infringing someone's rights for what they might do is tyranny. You can't tell what someone is going to do until they actually do it; therefore the only reasonable option is to prepare yourself to defend against it if the necessity were to arise.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Noctilucent Clouds: Things To Watch in the Night Sky

I've watched these at night while camping, and always wondered what they were. Now we know.

Noctilucent clouds are bright cloudlike atmospheric phenomena visible in a deep twilight. The name means roughly night shining in Latin. They are known as polar mesospheric clouds when observed from a satellite in space. They are most commonly observed in the summer months at latitudes between 50° and 70° north and south of the equator.

They are the highest clouds in the Earth's atmosphere, located in the mesosphere at altitudes of around 75 to 85 kilometers (47 to 53 mi). They are normally too faint to be seen, and are visible only when illuminated by sunlight from below the horizon while the lower layers of the atmosphere are in the Earth's shadow. Noctilucent clouds are not fully understood as meteorological phenomenon. Clouds generally are not able to reach such high altitudes with such thin air pressures.



[edit] Observation

They were first reported in 1885 two years after the eruption of Krakatoa, so it was proposed that they were made of volcanic dust, or maybe meteoric dust. They are now known to be primarily composed of water ice, confirmed by UARS, and it has been suggested[1] that they may be related to climate change. Dr. Michael Stevens of the United States Naval Research Laboratory believes space shuttle exhaust may contribute to the formation of noctilucent clouds. Imaging has also shown that some debris clouds from various space accidents have been mistaken for noctilucent clouds. [1] It has been suggested that a transition to a hydrogen economy could increase the number of noctilucent clouds through increased emissions of free hydrogen.[2]

Noctilucent clouds can be studied from the ground, from space, and directly by sounding rockets; they are too high to be reached by weather balloons. Noctilucent clouds were first detected from space by an instrument on the OGO-6 [2] satellite in 1972. More recently they have been extensively studied by the Swedish satellite Odin [3] launched in 2001. The AIM satellite mission, launched in 2007, is dedicated to research into noctilucent clouds.

On 2006-08-28, scientists with the Mars Express mission announced that they found clouds of carbon dioxide similar to noctilucent clouds over Mars that extended up to 100 km above the surface of the planet. [4]

[edit] Shuttle and Launch Vehicle Exhaust

Exhaust from the space shuttle's main engines and some other launch vehicles is composed almost entirely of water vapor. About half of the vapor is injected in the thermosphere, typically at altitudes of 103 to 114 kilometers (64 to 71 mi). Studies have shown that this exhaust can be transported to the Arctic region in little over a day, although the exact mechanism of this very high-speed transport is unknown.[5] As the water migrates northward, it falls from the thermosphere down into the colder mesosphere, which occupies the region of the atmosphere just below. Over the North Pole in the summer, mesospheric temperatures can plummet below −140 °C (−220.0 °F), the lowest found in the Earth’s atmosphere. At these temperatures, water vapor condenses into ice particles and clouds form.

Noctilucent clouds photographed by the crew of the ISS.
Noctilucent clouds photographed by the crew of the ISS.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Thomas, GE; Olivero J (2001). "Noctilucent clouds as possible indicators of global change in the mesosphere". Advances in Space Research 28: 939–946.
  2. ^ Potential Environmental Impact of a Hydrogen Economy on the Stratosphere - Tromp et al. 300 (5626): 1740 - Science

[edit] External links

Night-shining clouds 80 kilometers above Earth's surface. Image data from the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite, NASA.
Night-shining clouds 80 kilometers above Earth's surface. Image data from the Aeronomy of Ice in the Mesosphere (AIM) satellite, NASA.