Chores and More Chores

The RV Drive as of 8/21/15 (clickable image)

Over the weekend and into today, The Better Half and I started on some necessary chores around the RV drive. We got the Cleveland sage in the courtyard and the Cimarron sage along the east driveway cleaned up last week and now it is time to turn to the other side of the yard.

The image above is sort of a “before” shot of the area of the RV drive that needs attention. I say sort of because there will be several iterations of maintenance in this area. Over the weekend and today, we trimmed off much of the low-hanging branches on the large mesquite tree on the left side of the drive. Today, I trimmed up a couple of the creosote shrubs on the other side of the tree and got the blower out to sweep away the mesquite seed pods that had fallen on the drive.

Of course, that is just the beginning of maintenance to the mesquite; the branches that overhang the drive are an obstruction to when we tow the trailer back up, so we are planning on taking three of the five main trunks, the ones obstructing the trailer, off at ground level. This will be done in stages, starting with the upper branches first and then cutting the rest of the trunk into logs as we progress downward. All the pieces will be cut such that they fit into our refuse dumpster.

Ultimately, we will get all this work done, including re-spreading the landscape rocks that were removed to piles on the west side of the lot when the drive was being prepared for paving. Then, we can relax proceed to the several chores awaiting us on the new property to the south.

A Lapse in Procedural Judgement

Bent Step

After a lifetime of rigorous adherence to procedures and following checklists, I suffered a lapse in my usual attention to details. I posted on Tuesday that we took the trailer to the valley for repairs; this is the story behind that.

We recently took a trip to the California Desert to meet our newest grandson. I planned the trip and made reservations for the campground beforehand and thought that I was prepared to hit the road. On the morning of departure, the temperature was a bit elevated, so I got the dogs loaded into the truck for the trip. The Better Half helped me install the mirror extensions on the truck for towing. We hopped into the truck and started to head out.

Our roadway washed out from the recent monsoon rains and was quite sandy, so I put the truck in 4WD and got underway. Not wanting to slow down or stop in the deep sand. I rounded the curve from where we temporarily park the trailer and entered the sandy part of the road. This is when I heard and felt a bump. Aw shit! I left the back step down on the trailer. We kept moving until we had solid ground and stopped to inspect only to find the step was badly bent. I later concluded that the step had hit a large boulder sitting on the edge of the curve.

At this time, we’re fully committed to make the trip, so I got out a bungee cord and secured the step to the side of the trailer since it would not retract properly in its present state. Fortunately, there are two doors on the trailer and we could use the forward one for normal access. We successfully completed our excursion with the minor problem.

So, in order to preclude any other mishaps due to poor judgement, I developed a trailer checklist (PDF) to be used on each occasion that we tow the trailer anywhere, even just across the road. It will be in the truck with a copy in the trailer just in case.

The dealer repaired the damage by installing a new step which is functionally equivalent to the old one. Click the link to view the repaired entryway.

Hedge Trimming Project

Back in the early days of our new xeriscape courtyard and garden, we kept the bushes trimmed with a little hand-held rechargeable electric hedge trimmer. It had about a eight or nine inch blade and was adequate for bushes two feet wide. These days, however, the bushes in the courtyard and along the driveway are much larger than in those days.

Yesterday, after towing the trailer down to the valley for repairs (another story), we stopped at Lowe’s and got some power tools, to wit: a 20″ hedge trimmer and a 16″ chain saw, both electric. The former to be used immediately and the latter to be used for some serious tree trimming later.

I used the hedge trimmer to cut back the growth on the Cleveland Sage bushes in the courtyard today. In the spring, these bushes grow long flower stalks with two or three ball clusters of blue flowers. When the hummingbirds and butterflies are finished with them, they dry up and become unsightly brown protrusions from the bush.

The image above is a before and after of one of the bushes I trimmed today (click to alternate images). The work went noticeably faster than with the smaller trimmer.

I have more trimming to do along the driveway after procurement of a 100 foot 14 gauge extension cord. My 25 footer won’t reach the driveway hedges, so that part of the job had to be postponed. That’s too bad since it was cool today, only 101° and forecast to be warmer over the next couple of days.

Classic 1958 Oldsmobile

Classic 1958 Oldsmobile

This nice classic was parked near the post office today. I was there to drop off a package and to check the PO Box. I snapped this with my inferior pocket camera, so there is some glare and such, but I liked the picture so here it is. Clickable image.

I’m not sure if this is a Rocket 88 or not, but it sure sure did rocket me back to the late 1950’s when I was just starting High School. I can clearly remember seeing these old cars of all types, anticipating getting my Driving Learner’s Permit back then. We weren’t affluent enough to own one of the new high-end classics, but I’m proud that I learned to drive in a 1951 Pontiac Station Wagon with a straight eight under the hood and a “simulated woodie” paint job.

May the nostalgia be with you, Obi-Wan.

What’s for Dinner?

Chili Cheese

The Better Half had the notion that we’ve been eating good with lots of salads and low-fat stuff so why not get down with some junk food? She went on to suggest that she has been craving something with chili, so we settled on this combo: chili-cheese hot dogs, onion rings and chili-cheese fries.

In truth, this meal isn’t as junky as you might think. Nothing in the meal was deep-fried despite the implication. Both the onion rings and the potato spears were store-bought frozen goods. The hot dogs were plump, all beef franks. The chili was from one of TBH’s archived recipes with lean diced chunks of top round beef steak.

You won’t find this quality of junk at any of the well-known large fast food chains, I guarantee that. Yes, I ate everything on this plate. Clickable image.

The Wickenburg Storm Event - July 18, 2015

The Flood Control District of Maricopa County “Storm Report : July 18, 2015 Vicinity of Wickenburg, AZ,” rates the storm event as a millennium event, or happening at a rate of once every thousand years. Most rain gauges in town recorded record levels of rainfall estimated to be about five inches in some places.

The cover page of the report featured the (clickable) image below of the Casandro Dam at an impoundment level of over 85% capacity. In the image, you can actually see part of our house across the road from where our trailer was parked near the lower right corner.

Casandro Dam Aerial Image

The report (PDF) analyzed measured data and went on to conjecture that Hurricane Delores along with El Niño had a lot of influence on this weather event.

Of the nineteen gages analyzed for this report, 13 of them set new records for 30-minute, 1 hour or 3 hour durations. Their record lengths range from 20 to 34 years. Two all-time records were set for FCDMC rain gages – both at the Twin Peaks gage. Its 1-hour total was 4.25 inches and its 3-hour total was 5.00 inches. The old records were 3.58” at Vulture Mine Road on 7/21/1986 and 4.21” at Waterman Wash @ Rainbow Valley Road on 9/8/2014 respectively. Together with the 15-minute record of 1.77” at Congress on 9/9/2006, it is interesting that all these short-term records occurred within about 20 miles of each other.

In reviewing Table 2, for durations from 30 minutes to 2 hours:

  • 11 gages had return periods of 100 years or more,
  • 7 gages had return periods of 500 years or more,
  • 5 gages had return periods of 1,000 years or more.

As was experienced in Maricopa County during several storms in the summer of 2014, 1,000-year return period rainfall amounts were measured in this storm. This is undoubtedly the result of entrained tropical moisture from Hurricane Delores, but an unusual phenomenon during the month of July. Warmer-than-normal sea-surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific courtesy of El Niño are a likely contributor to these early-season tropical storms and their ability to influence weather so far north of their origin.

The report included this interesting satellite view of the eastern Pacific and southwestern states taken at the time of the event showing the hurricane and its influence on the weather patterns. A lot of moisture flowing northward from the Sea of Cortez (Gulf of California) probably fueled the super monsoons of July 18th. Clickable image.

GOES Color Image

The Town of Wickenburg also published a summary of the event.

Concealed Carry Permit Holders Across the U.S.

John Lott, renowned for his “More Guns, Less Crime” book, has published, along with associates, a new report on CCW in The United States. Dr. Lott and his associates would like a thousand downloads of the report which may cause the other side (Gun Grabbers) to take note of the report. From the John Lott website:

New Study on Concealed Carry

I hope that people will consider downloading a copy of our new study on concealed handguns available here. The paper shows the huge changes that have been occurring in the number of concealed handgun permits and who have been getting those permits. It also shows how changes in the crime rate have been related to changes in crime rates across states, and I think that the paper will serve as an important resource. Finally, if we can get another thousand downloads on the paper, I think that it will force the academics who pay attention to the rankings on the Social Science Research Network to have to deal with the points that we have raised in the paper.

Here is an image of the report’s summary:

Summary - Click to enlarge

The download URL for the report is Let’s get them the 1000 downloads they need.

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