29 June 2011

Timely Quotes

RAND

"Today, when a concerted effort is made to obliterate this point, it cannot be repeated too often that the Constitution is a limitation on the government, not on private individuals -- that it does not prescribe the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of the government -- that it is not a charter for government power, but a charter of the citizen's protection against the government."

"When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see that money is flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favours - when you see that men get richer by graft and by pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming a self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed."

They do not want to own your fortune, they want you to lose it; they do not want to succeed, they want you to fail; they do not want to live, they want you to die; they desire nothing, they hate existence, and they keep running, each trying not to learn that the object of his hatred is himself."

"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

"It only stands to reason that where there's sacrifice, there's someone collecting the sacrificial offerings. Where there's service, there is someone being served. The man who speaks to you of sacrifice is speaking of slaves and masters, and intends to be the master."

BUDDHA

"The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.

Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.

Ennui has made more gamblers than avarice, more drunkards than thirst, and perhaps as many suicides as despair.

In the sky, there is no distinction of east and west; people create distinctions out of their own minds and then believe them to be true.

It is better to conquer yourself than to win a thousand battles. Then the victory is yours. It cannot be taken from you, not by angels or by demons, heaven or hell.

No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may.

To be idle is a short road to death and to be diligent is a way of life; foolish people are idle, wise people are diligent.

Work out your own salvation. Do not depend on others."

JEFFERSON

"I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them."

"The earth belongs to the living, not to the dead."

"To compel a man to furnish funds for the propagation of ideas he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

"We may consider each generation as a distinct nation, with a right, by the will of its majority, to bind themselves, but none to bind the succeeding generation, more than the inhabitants of another country."

CHESTERTON

"Government has become ungovernable; that is, it cannot leave off governing. Law has become lawless; that is, it cannot see where laws should stop. The chief feature of our time is the meekness of the mob and the madness of the government."

"No society can survive the socialist fallacy that there is an absolutely unlimited number of inspired officials and an absolutely unlimited amount of money to pay them."

"Once abolish the God and the government becomes the God."

"Without education, we are in a horrible and deadly danger of taking educated people seriously."

"There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less."

"If you argue with a madman, it is extremely probable that you will get the worst of it...The madman is not the man who has lost his reason. The madman is the man who has lost everything except his reason."

"We fear men so much, because we fear God so little. One fear cures another. When man's terror scares you, turn your thoughts to the wrath of God."

"The wild worship of lawlessness and the materialist worship of law end in the same void. Nietzsche scales staggering mountains, but he turns up ultimately in Tibet. He sits down beside Tolstoy in the land of nothing and Nirvana. They are both helpless—one because he must not grasp anything, and the other because he must not let go of anything. The Tolstoyan’s will is frozen by a Buddhist instinct that all special actions are evil. But the Nietzscheite’s will is quite equally frozen by his view that all special actions are good; for if all special actions are good, none of them are special. They stand at the crossroads, and one hates all the roads and the other likes all the roads. The result is—well, some things are not hard to calculate. They stand at the cross-roads."

"Reason is itself a matter of faith. It is an act of faith to assert that our thoughts have any relation to reality at all."

"Psychoanalysis is a science conducted by lunatics for lunatics. They are generally concerned with proving that people are irresponsible; and they certainly succeed in proving that some people are"

"Psychoanalysis is confession without absolution."

"For children are innocent and love justice, while most of us are wicked and naturally prefer mercy."

"Idolatry is committed, not merely by setting up false gods, but also by setting up false devils; by making men afraid of war or alcohol, or economic law, when they should be afraid of spiritual corruption and cowardice."

A. P. HERBERT

The original and only official basis of taxation was that individual citizens, in return for their money, received collectively some services from the State, the defense of their property and persons, the care of their health or the education of their children. All that has now gone. Citizen A, who has earned money, is commanded simply to give it to Citizens B, C, and D, who have not, and by force of habit this has come to be regarded as a normal and proper proceeding, whatever the comparative industry or merits of Citizens A, B, C, and D. To be alive has become a virtue, and the mere capacity to inflate the lungs entitles Citizen B to a substantial share in the laborious earnings of Citizen A.

27 June 2011

A Little R&R in the Kootenai National Forest

Saturday Junse 25, 2011

Last week was packed with things to do and problems to solve regarding the solar energy plant I'm trying to build. Both Koty and I were more than ready for some quality time in the forest along with a good long aerobic exercise.

I chose Camp 32 as my launching point because I also wanted to see what Pinkham Creek was up to. It was running strong and looked like chocolate milk. The Camp 32 road was close so I'm guessing it was flooding. We headed up the mountain to see what we could find.

The wild primroses were out in strength. Normally, they have already bloomed but everything is behind this year due to the much colder than normal weather. The thing I love about these wild roses, well I love everything about them but my favorite thing is, they are so aromatic. They just fill the air around you with that marvelous rose fragrance. It is so awesome. I just stand around and literally fill up my senses.

Wild Primrose Image

Wild Primrose Photo

Wild Roses Photos
The hillsides were also covered in blue lupine which are also lovely wildflowers but they don't give off much of any kind of fragrance. They just stand there looking pretty.

Blue Lupine Photo
The path we took gave us a very good workout. The trail climbed the mountain until we got to a place where the vistas were just gorgeous. This first photo is looking eastward across the Tobacco Valley at the, still snow capped, Galton Range. Half of what you see to the North is actually British Columia, Canada.

Photo of the Galton Range Montana
This next photo was looking in a northerly direction. You can just see a bit of Lake Koocanusa. The lake has been rising in a wicked hurry with all the rain and snow melt. The lake was at a record low this spring in anticipation. You can see photos of what the lake looked like earlier this spring when it was drained to an inch of it's life. Record Lows at Lake Koocanusa. For those of us who live around here it was quite a site.

Lake Koocanusa Photo
It was a fairly cloudy day and I expected that it might rain at any time but we got lucky on that score and missed the afternoon storm. I just love looking at clouds and could not resist taking a photo or two of them. They are like live theater with their endlessly shifting and intriguing shapes.

Montana Sky Photo
 Didn't see a lot in the way of wildlife. Thought I might see a bear or two but didn't even see any scat. I did see quite a bit of elk pellets and tracks. Lots of cow and calf tracks. Elk and moose pellets are very similar in terms of shape but moose pellets are more like the size of walnuts. Didn't see any moose signs at all.

Elk Pellets Photo

And, we did scare up a wild turkey. She was pretty angry at us so I suspect she had chicks somewhere nearby.

Wild Turkey Photo

It was a lovely morning hike with an a very good aerobic exercise. And, as always, a hike in the Montana wilderness not only refreshes the body but it soothes the soul with it's endless beauty and picture perfect scenery.


©Kinsey Barnard

20 June 2011

SOLAR ENERGY SERIES - Part II Fukushima Wakes Me Up & A False Start.

All through the winter of 2010/2011 I tried to imagine what life would be like without electricity. For lots of things I could figure out ways to make do. I used water heated on the top of the woodstove to do the dishes and I cooked meals on it too.  Well, cooking may be a bit of an exaggeration. Mostly I warmed things up but I did fry and scramble my eggs.  But, I proved to myself I could cook on it if necessary.

I went out in ten-degree temperatures and hauled water from the creek. I made a little hauling device with a piece of rope and some carbiners so I could carry two one-gallon jugs across my shoulders. It was pretty tough slogging. No big deal for a couple of gallons of drinking water but hauling any kind of volume would be downright toil. At twenty below, well, I might have to ration the water I had ‘til the weather got better. Koty likes stinky stuff anyway. Actually, I decided I would just bring in snow and let it melt. It would be a slow process as it takes an about ten inches of snow to make one inch of water. On the other hand, time would be something I would have plenty of.


Koty "assisting" with water hauling experiment.


My little experiments led me to believe there were many things I could handle fine but there were two that gave me considerable pause.  As mentioned in Part I the days here are quite short. By the winter solstice we’re going on sixteen hours of darkness. Because I live with just my trusty pooch I rely on my computer and television for companionship and diversion particularly in the winter when outside activities are limited.  I do much of my photo editing and archiving in the winter months, a task that provides me with unending hours of entertainment and busy work. Without power there would be no computer, no television and no Blue Ray. No nuttin’.

I am also an avid reader. I conducted my own blackouts in order to experiment with lighting. I fired up my oil lamps and candles an whilst the effect was romantic I could tell that an extended period with only this kind of lighting would begin to wear on my eyes and mind. I’m amazed that everyone wasn’t blind from reading by oil lamp and candles in the days before electricity. Trying to read for long periods by such dim light was not a pleasant thought. I even put my headgear camp light on to read. It works but about one or two nights of it and reading starts losing its allure.

So, as I experimented and pondered life in the dark I started seeing myself as the feminine version of Jack Nicholson in The Shining. I think I’m a pretty hearty gal but I honestly don’t think I could maintain my sanity for more than a couple of weeks under these conditions. It would make solitary confinement look like spring break at the Ritz. Bottom line; without electricity in winter I would really be in a pretty tough situation.


On March 11, 2011 we learned of the 9.0 Earthquake at Fukushima. The earthquake and ensuing tsunami were bad enough but the real shag nasty story was the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear plant. The earthquake and tsunami were local tragedies but the nuclear plant situation blew right into my backyard and presumably fell right on my pointy little head.

I have to admit that throughout my life I have been ambivalent as regards nuclear energy. I honestly had no opinion one way or another. As I followed the Fukushima incident and learned more about nuclear energy and spent fuel rods, I began thinking nuclear was a truly unenlightened way for humans to meet their energy needs. The more I thought about it the more I thought about solar energy, so clean, so natural, so sensible and the more I warmed to the idea of a solar energy system.

Since moving to Montana wilderness I have begun saying I would like my tombstone to read, “She left no trace.” Finding a way to use solar energy I decided was one more way I could remain true to my life goal. Solar was a way I could reduce my footprint upon the planet just a tiny bit more. Before I knew it I was on a mission to figure out how to make solar energy a part of my life.

Right off the bat there were obstacles. Living in rural Montana one has to be willing to live with the fact that getting things done often isn’t easy. First, I looked locally for a solar installer but the only one we had had moved south because there just wasn’t enough business. Next I tried down in the Flathead. I could only find one company down there and it was in Whitefish.

I called the company in Whitefish and two guys came out and we discussed the possibilities. They assured me that there was enough light in winter to get solar power. They also went on and on about the 30% Federal tax credit and the money I would save on my electric bill. First of all I would do the project with or without the tax credit and the amount of money I would save, that’s just baloney. Everything I have read says solar costs at least twice as much as what I pay my electric co-op which is $.06/kWh. I tried to make it clear I was not particularly interested in the economics of the project. I was most interested in having my basic needs met in the event of a prolonged power outage, particularly in winter. Don’t get me wrong. I’ll be tickled pink to get the credit but it wasn’t a selling point for me and I got sick to death of hearing about it. The guy clearly never took a selling 101 because he never listened to a thing I said. And, I found that very frustrating.

Shortly after their visit they sent proposals for a 1.4 kW system $24,078 and a 2.7 kW system $30,000. Getting twice as much power generation for only an additional 25% outlay seemed a no-brainer. I had no idea how these quotes stacked up. Anyway you sliced it the cost was steep. But, then there was the 30% tax credit, which would most assuredly help.

A little Internet research turned up all kinds of numbers, as far as what a system would cost. I thought I would also check out the component makes and models to see how others reviewed them. The parts they would be using did pass muster but I also found out the Whitefish guys were using a heavy hand when it came to marking up the parts. Whilst checking out the products I came across Simpleray a solar supplier and checked up on some of the component prices. I saw the Whitefish guys were marking things up 40 to 50%, which seemed a bit steep.

By this time, however, I was really game to construct a solar power system. So, I asked the guys to come up again to discuss exactly how the system would be laid out. At that time I realized they had some ideas that would not gel with mine so I basically told them how I wanted the layout to be and all they had to do was tell me if it was feasible.

After agreeing to the layout we went in the house to discuss business. I mentioned about the pricing I had found on the Internet and they agreed to knock a little off some of the components. Meanwhile, I had become convinced even a 2.7 kW system wouldn’t give me more than a kilowatt-hour per day in winter leaving me about a five kilowatt-hour shortfall. The solution to that concern was a backup generator. A propane generator was added to the system and the 2.7 kW generation plant was now estimated at $37,214.

I was told that in order to go ahead with the project I would need to fork over $32,000 up front. I was stunned. The amount was equal to nearly 90% of the total cost. I let it go for the time being. I asked if they had some kind of contract and was told they would e-mail the contract to me. When I got the contract I took one look and immediately got that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. There was no mention of a contract price just the initial, upfront payment amount. In theory, there was no limit as to what the project could cost.

All things considered I knew it would be unwise to go ahead with this company. At this point they had completely lost my trust. I learned long ago, when something doesn’t feel right I just have to back away and I did. I was pretty despondent because I had no idea how I was going to get my project done.

Stay tuned for Part III as I accidentally become my own general contractor.

©Kinsey Barnard

19 June 2011

Very Fawny!

The past twenty four hours have been filled with live theater here at Dancing Deer Ranch.

Last night a fawn tried to get to know buck. It was really hysterical. The first thing that happened was the fawn tried to find a teat on the buck and you can imagine the reaction that got. The buck, just now in velvet, did not have a clue what to make of this tiny, fractious fawn. The doe was nearby and wasn't in the least concerned. It was quite a show and last nearly a half hour in duration. So entertaining I didn't get my camera out until it was almost over.

The grass is so tall you can barely make out the fawn but they are nose to nose.
This morning another doe with twin fawns came to call and the little ones put on quite a show. It's been so cold and rainy I always worry about the babies coming into such and unwelcoming world. But, these little guys seemed to revel in the cool morning as they explored and raced around with reckless abandon.





















©Kinsey Barnard

10 June 2011

Tobbaco River Goes Bank to Bank and Then Some

Thursday I had to go down to town to pick up the mail and run a few errands. Since we were already in the neighborhood I decided to walk the Rexford Trail along the Tobacco River. Holy smokes! That old river is really raging. It's the highest that I have ever seen it run.

Usually the old car across the way isn't even near the water. This year it could get swept away.


Tobacco River
The thing that was so impressive was the speed at which the water was traveling, just awesome power to behold.
The water is over the bank here. Those boulders are very recently arrived and it looks like a good thing too!

Naturally, Koty has to get in the water to see how things are flowing.
Some clever person placed a heart made from railroad spikes in the trail.
Lots of signs of spring along the trail like these pink dogwood blooms.
Beautiful new life was budding out all over.

A bald eagle watches over the Tobacco River as well as it's nest which no doubt has new life in it too. There is nothing so regal as the eagle. 
Dang me! Dang me! They ought to take a rope and hang me! My Space is just too beautiful!


©Kinsey Barnard

09 June 2011

SOLAR ENERGY SERIES - Part I The Journey Begins and Fizzles

A number of people, upon learning of my interest in constructing a solar electrical system for my home,  have asked that I let them know how it is all going. I thought I'd just include the story here for those who are interested. I don’t know how many parts there will be to this series because I'm literally in the middle of the project. The "parts" will be interspersed with my regular posts as they develop and I have time to put things down in writing. This first part is how I came to be doing an alternative energy project.

About eighteen months ago I started to wonder how I might get along if for some unknown reason we had a complete grid failure which might last for a prolonged period of time. The world, somehow, seems not to be as predictable as it once was. The economic, political and social landscape seems uncertain and I sense that things could happen in the future for which there is no precedence in my lifetime, 1949 to the present.

Where I live we have an electric co-op and the company is very much a part of the community. Most often when I have expressed my concerns about a grid failure the response has been “Oh, Lincoln Electric would never let that happen”. For some reason it isn’t even on people's radar that something could happen that would be beyond the co-op’s control. It seems almost universal that people have a blind faith that someone can and will always bail them out if trouble strikes. Call me a doubting Thomas but I don't believe it for a minute and I am too much of a control freak to leave my fate in the hands of others.

As regular readers know, I live in the far north of northwest Montana very near the Canadian border in the Kootenai National Forest. As I tried to imagine life without electricity I concluded that if it were to happen in the summer it would be no problem at all. I could carry water from my spring and I can’t stay awake until it’s dark. Spring and fall would be a little more challenging. But, winter, now that would be a real challenge, sixteen of darkness, no lights, no videos, no computer and just Koty to keep me company.

The days are extremely short and extremely cold. The cold I could handle as I heat my home 100% with a wood stove. Carrying water from the spring at ten below is another matter. In a power outage my house well wouldn’t pump and that’s what I would have to do, carry water in buckets. It is possible to put a manual pump handle on your well and pump the water by hand. Only trouble is, the well can only be so deep and mine is way beyond the limit.

So, I started to think about having an alternate source of energy available in case of emergency. My first idea was to have a generator. I even went so far as to trade one of my photographs for a nearly new 8,000 kW Rigid gasoline generator. It wasn’t until after I had gotten the thing that I began to consider its limitations.  The two main limitations being the generator runs through an eight-gallon tank of gasoline in eleven hours at 50% load and gasoline storage issues.

I set about trying to figure out how I could get the Rigid generator to meet my needs. By my personal definition an extended outage would be one that lasted more than a week and I want a power source that could get me through at least a month just to be safe. In your run of the mill power outage eleven hours would get you through. To power you through and extended outage would require a lot of gasoline storage and storing gasoline in this climate is problematical.  Gas has a tendency to go stale very quickly at any temperature and is highly combustible. I went as far as trying to locate a two hundred gallon tank, which I thought, if I were very careful could get me through a month. I had no luck.

I also contacted a local electrical company to see what was involved in connecting the generator to my house panel. It would have cost under a thousand dollars to connect the generator but there those nagging gasoline consumption and storage problems. The electrician suggested that a propane generator would be a better solution. And, of course he just happened to be an Onan authorized dealer. He wrote me a proposal that was close to $9,000. I thought wow that’s a lot of dough!

I briefly looked into solar but I kept hearing it would never work in this climate and at this latitude, too short days and too little sunshine in winter. I liked the thought of solar but I pretty much wrote it off as impractical for my location and conditions.

At this point I was beginning to lose interest in the whole idea. Before long it was fall and time for an extended photography shoot at Yellowstone. By the time I returned from the shoot it was time to turn my attention to getting the ranch ready for winter and all thoughts of emergency power went the way of the dodo bird.

©Kinsey Barnard

06 June 2011

KIKOMUN Provincial Park - British Columbia

One of the very handy things about living where I do is that I can get to Canada, British Columbia, in about fifteen minutes.

Yesterday morning was really a stunner so, still reeling from my website debacle, I decided to treat myself and Koty to a trip to Kikomun Provencial Park. I love this little park and it's a scant thirty miles from my home.

The park has a number of small lakes but my favorite is Surveyor Lake. There is a trail that loops around the entire lake and two beaches for people to launch their watercraft or just hang in an awesomely beautiful landscape. Koty and I probably spent two hours strolling the trail and taking in the sites. During that brief time I saw a loon, a pair of mergansers, numerous mallards, a great blue heron, a woodpecker, and a slew of painted turtles.

Another special feature of this lake and trail is the Canadian Rocky backdrop one can see from the west end of the lake, just spectacular.

Below are photos of some of the wonders that we saw.

A couple of redheaded mergansers out for a paddle.

Unfortunately, this loon was a bit far afield for my lens but I couldn't resist "shooting" it anyway. Loons are one of my most favorite birds. Not only is plumage design extraordinary but it's call is simply alluring. It is one of my most favorite sounds in all of creation.
The Surveyor lake water is crystal clear. This photo was taken of the lake bottom right through the water.


The view across Surveyor Lake to the Canadian Rockies, more precisely these mountains are called the Kootenay Rockies.

Painted turtles lined up on a log taking in the sun.

This was as much of the paint job as I could get a picture of from any of these turtles. Painted turtles are usually pretty shy guys and dive in the water at any sound or disturbance.
I nearly forgot to mention, the wildflowers were starting to bloom. If there is such a thing as a wild snap dragon then that's what this is. I'll have to look it up to make certain.

Mornings like this one are what life is all about for me. Imagine, I can be in and drink up this wonderland in a matter of minutes. I am one lucky ducky!

©Kinsey Barnard

03 June 2011

SEO Blues - Bear Business

I recently hired and SEO company to try and get my website rankings up. Yesterday I went to my site and all my photographs were gone ( http://www.kinseybarnard.com/gallery/category/landscapes.html ) and I could no longer gain entry to the site to try and fix things. I literally wept. Neither the web host nor the SEO company is willing to take responsibility.

No I have not "lost" my original photographs. My original work is backed up six ways to Sunday. What was lost was four years of uploading, descriptions and linking, hundreds of hours of work.

It was too much to take so I rounded up Koty and headed for the forest.

We still haven't had much in the way of warm weather, although they say we could get near 80 next week. For now it's cool and rainy.  Everything is such a rich green it's like a dream but we are way behind in terms of blooming. My apple trees have yet to bloom and the only wildflowers, besides dandelions, that I have seen are clematis. Deer enjoy dandelions but I don't think anyone is interested in the clematis. They are a lovely vine.

Clematis

So up the mountain we went. The route I took was pretty much straight up hill and quite a good aerobic workout. There's nothing like a workout in the woods to fight off the effects of life's curve balls. I didn't see any bears but I sure saw where they had been. Due to the lack of much else to eat they are ripping up old stumps looking for ants, grubs and anything else they can find. I think coming out of hibernation hasn't been much fun for them so far this year.

Bear at work.

This piece of stump had rolled down the mountain and onto the trail. It doesn't look very big in the photos but I can say without a doubt that it would have cleaned your clock if one were walking by at the particular moment the bear sent it rolling.

Stump caught on a tree.

All over the mountain side above me I could see where the bears had been at work.

I didn't see any bears themselves this trip. They have been up at the house in the night leaving their calling cards all over the lawn. One night a plastic water bottle I had left out was tooth punctured and mangled. Another one had been up on the deck looking for who knows what.

I must say a walk in the woods was the right prescription. I felt much better even though nothing had changed. I try to tell myself it doesn't matter, all that hard work lost. But, I can't say I'm totally successful. I am well and truly depressed about it.

 Koty, always the happy camper, sniffed out a squirrel. He dug for it furiously for about 15 minutes and when he came up empty handed he didn't care a whit. He was just happy to have had the joy of the hunt. I guess there is a lesson in that for me. Would that I could be as enlightened as my dog.

Koty with his head in the hole he made looking for a squirrel.


©Kinsey Barnard