A LETTER FROM DESERT DAVE

Hello Friends,    Due to some health problems I am going to be very slow doing and adding to the blog. I really appreciate your readership and ask for your patience.

THE BEST TO EVERYONE,  Desert Dave

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Blood Glucose Testing – A guest blog by Kyle Ward – Health is Important

Non-Invasive Blood Glucose Testing: A dream which is progressing into realityPic (1)

The advancement in technology is great and food security is good, but both these things have brought us some terrible problems. There is a point when convenience leads to a long term disability. And it does not help matters, when some of us are more genetically prone to contracting those disabilities, conditions, and syndromes. But, thanks to advances in medicine we can live a normal lifestyle, if we chose to do so.

This is especially so for Diabetes. It isn’t that sacrifices will not have to be made. To say that something is necessary and by default should be considered easy because it is a necessity is just pointless. People consider different things to be difficult. Hence, it is something which is relative to the person’s background. However, science is advancing at a rate, where monitoring the essentials and especially blood glucose will become easier and non-invasive.

The advances in tech have already come up with affordable integrated systems like Dario, which can log data in your phone and automatically transmit them to caregivers and family members. These advanced integrated systems are available via Groupon and their own website. However, even these use the invasive method where a drop of blood is required.

However, some recent researches have shown promise, which may at one time lead to a device which will simply scan your thumb and tell your glucose levels, along with other essentials. Although successful experiments have been showcased as far back as 2010, yet we have not seen a user friendly device that is based on this principle. But, that is about to change.

Most of these experiments have been carried out using infrared light, which is absorbed by the glucose. However, in previous studies the infrared used was of a shorter wavelength. This could be absorbed by other constituents of the blood as well, leading to inaccurate results. The most recent successful one using mid-infrared was in August 2014, but it wasn’t accurate enough to be used in clinical research.

Now, the good news, another method of testing glucose has been discovered by Tohoku University’s Graduate School of Biomedical Engineering, which is a non-invasive, harmless, and has enough accuracy to be deployed in clinical trials. Instead of measuring the glucose from finger tips, which have a thick layer of skin, it utilizes flexible tubes to measure glucose from oral mucosa of inner lips. This employs far length infrared, which can be better absorbed by glucose as well.

While, this is undoubtedly just another research, nevertheless, the highly accurate results have given hope that we may have a device which will forever rid us from invasive glucose meters forever, even as soon as by the end of this year. But, while it will definitely be a step in the right direction making monitoring easy, the best results in controlling diabetes can only be achieved by having a nicely tailored routine and lifestyle.

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ANOTHER CAMPING SEASON BEGINS

ANOTHER CAMPING SEASON BEGINS

I can tell “camping” season is back on. Well, there is the music, but also my neighbors are sporting lots of store bought firewood and big bags of charcoal. I love this stuff. It’s festive. I really miss guitars and singing around the campfire, though. It seems like that is out of style these days. Sometimes there was almost a whole band – guitars, fiddle, accordion, zither, Dobro, flute, banjo. Those really were “the days.”

Now people are running out to take photos of the sunset like they’ve never seen one before. That is wonderful. The sky sure is pretty, all streaked red, orange and blue; changing by the minute. When you live here it is just another gorgeous sunset to file away with thousands of others. Oh, that does not mean they become mundane. Every night is like the fireworks in Disneyland, one more special than the other and on and on.

It is, of course, the people who bring it all to life with sights and sounds and smells. In the distance a small boat is skimming across the lake, probably as fast as it will go. There is someone splitting their own firewood over in the next loop. Country music is filtering through the campground. I think…, yes it is a Merle Haggard song.

There is simply no way to be anything less than absolutely drenched in happiness here. Any problems or worries just filter away into the vapor of “yesterday’s news.”

A lot of those here are modern people who bring grayness with them, though. That is so sad. You can see who they are right away. They have little satellite dishes and white plastic boxes with “Tailgater” scripted on the side. Instead of watching a campfire or a meteor slipping silently across the black sky they watch the news or some infantile sitcom. To think that in my younger days I was responsible for providing people with that horrid level of mind-numbing entertainment almost makes me cringe. Almost; it paid really well.

Now one of my great endeavors is fishing. My friend Clif caught a 20 lb catfish the other day. Now that is a fish, mate!

The unmistakable aroma of charcoal is wafting about and people are laughing somewhere out in the darkness. Campfire flames are rising from fire pits. Music continues, as it should. Lanterns are sensibly lit and the occasional crack of a beer can being opened can be heard. Children laugh and run playing the old games of tag and hide-and-seek. Later there will be bone chilling stories told around the campfire about “Bloody Mary,” “The Hook” and perhaps a tale or two of a Sasquatch that few will believe, but everyone will enjoy.

And there you have it, the essence of the beginning of camping season in America. It starts early out here. It is, of all the seasons, my favorite.

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BEEP BEEP; The real story of the roadrunner

BEEP BEEP

The real story of the roadrunner

DSCN5591

I grew up with Warner Brother’s cartoons and one of my favorites was the Coyote and the Roadrunner. Well, here I am in New Mexico where the Greater roadrunner is the Sate Bird. I am still not sure what he is greater than, but he is real and he does not go “Beep-beep.”

DSCN5587

It was while visiting Pioneertown in the Mohave Desert in southern California that I saw my first roadrunner. Quite appropriate since their scientific name is Geococcyx californianus. They are a member of the cuckoo family. The Pioneertown Motel is a haven for them and they flourish, almost like mascots. With no danger and a good food supply they walk around like they own the place. Now we know that coyotes eat roadrunners, but what in the world do roadrunners eat?

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The roadrunner diet is one of the best things about them, aside from being a really pretty bird. They are quite carnivorous. Rodents and rattlesnakes are included in their diet of tarantulas, small spiders, scorpions and even small birds. They grab the prey with their beak and repeatedly thrash in on the ground until it is dead. Not so cute, but they can be a major deterrent to invasive species that are damaging and even dangerous to humans.

Some Pueblo tribes of Native Americans, such as the Hopi, believed the roadrunner provided even more protection by warding away evil spirits and was thought to bring babies like the stork in Anglo culture.

It’s own young are laid in eggs on a bed of sticks in a cactus or bush. The eggs hatch in 20 days and chicks fledge in 18 days.

And what about the rivalry between roadrunner and coyote? Yes, a coyote will eat a roadrunner if it can catch one, and as it turns out the chances of that are pretty good. Roadrunners can typically run at 20 miles per hour and have been clocked at 26 miles per hour. However, coyotes can rip through the sand at a blinding 43 miles per hour. So, the bird’s goose is cooked.

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One thing I have personally noticed about roadrunners is that they show little fear of humans, almost to the point of ignoring a person who is rather close to them. Even my Red-tailed hawk imitation which makes squirrels quiver, rabbits shiver and mice run like the dickens has no effect on a roadrunner. One actually looked straight at me and cocked it’s head as much to say, “you’ve gotta be kidding?”

Another thing that occurred to me after watching the bird is that I would have chosen it as the state bird myself. There is something very special about the roadrunner. It is rather graceful and majestic. It’s markings are very precise as if painted by and artist who was almost sober. And it’s temperament is one of exacting focus and vigilance, being always on the lookout for juicy meal. As for the cartoon; still one of my favorites.

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HERE COMES CAMPFIRE SEASON

HERE COMES CAMPFIRE SEASON

A few more words about structuring a campfire

Working for my supper

Working for my supper

It is almost camping and wiener roasting season again and that means campfires. It is hard to find a camper who does not love campfires. I say ‘almost’ because I know a woman who cannot handle the smoke and had a man once tell me that I was polluting “his air.” I can only hope he did not try to take any of “his trees” home with him.

I heard about a guy who wanted to bring a little bit of nature into his house, so while camping he dug up a small oak which he judged as being barely sprouted and took it home. After planting it lovingly in a redwood pot full of the finest potting soil and placing it in the bay window where it would get plenty of sun he sat back waiting for it to take hold and start growing. A little later that day his neighbor came to visit and asked why in the world he was growing poison oak in his window box. I wonder where he started itching first.

If you read my previous article about campfires you know it was concerned with lighting the fire. This time I want to show you how to construct specific types of campfires. There are three types of campfires every camper should know about: 1) Heat 2) Light 3) Cooking.

  1. The campfire for heat. This is a low, wide fire, typically a ‘log cabin’ fire. It is constructed by placing logs atop each other at 90 degree angles, creating a box-like structure much in the way a log cabin is built, but with air space between each layer. It will burn hottest and longest with hardwood (broad leaf tree) logs which will collapse into center creating a wonderful coal bed for cooking.

    Log Cabin

    Log Cabin

  2. The campfire for light. This is a higher, more narrow fire. The tepee configuration is a classic and most useful for lighting the campsite. Flames follow the shape of the structure. In this case the flames will stream upward like a torch.

    Teepee

    Tepee

  3. The campfire for cooking. Any campfire will eventually collapse into a bed of coals for cooking, but if the only purpose for the fire is cooking you may not want to wait that long. Also, during the day you do not need light and if the weather is warm you do not need heat. For this purpose build a fire simply by placing small logs on burning kindling (gently so to not scatter embers or smother the flame) in a crosswise fashion and let them become charcoal embers. When a breeze threatens to interfere dig a small trench in which to build the fire. This is also good for placing a portable cooking grate over the embers.

    A good coal bed starts here

    A good coal bed starts here

A really good design for an all around campfire which will give you heat and light while waiting for a good bed of cooking embers to develop is the chimney design. Start out as you would to build a log cabin fire but place each layer of logs a little closer to the center creating a smaller center opening at the top.

Chimney

Chimney

A word about safety. Use common sense. If you do not have any, just stay out of the woods altogether.DSCN5635

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Little Critters – (a poem for those who know nothing about poetry, like me)

Little Critters

Mother Nature is my friend,

But she’s not always fair,

Her critters should be disciplined,

And cute as Yogi Bear.

I love the music of the night,

It lulls me into sleep,

Coyotes yipping, hooting owls,

And bullfrogs croaking deep.

Spring elk trumpeting for a mate,

Antler rattling of the buck,

If watching wonders is my fate,

I consider it my own good luck.

But I’m still annoyed by little things,

with lots of legs and maybe wings,

That surprise me in a bag of chips,

By nibbling on my finger tips.

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THE KITCHEN GARDEN

THE KITCHEN GARDEN

Most modern people are unaware of the kitchen garden. It is no longer part of our lives, but in times past is was a necessity. It was from the kitchen garden that produce for the dinner table was gleaned. I was not born in the 19th century, but I was born in the Appalachians were time was slow moving and old fashioned ways remained. It was my grandmother, matriarch of the family, who managed the kitchen and the garden that supplied it. It was from her that I learned to love the soil and utilize it to grow our vegetables.

There is something almost magical about how good bottom soil feels squishing between your fingers and molding in your hands. The aroma is fresh and Earthy, and the older people would say they could smell the dirt when it was ready to plant. Making furrows and mounds; pushing seeds into the moist soil felt good. It was almost like making love to Mother Nature. You knew those seeds would sprout and grow and give you the most wonderful vegetables to color and fill your table with pure goodness.

Grandma took me out beside the house and showed me the plot, then told me I would be responsible for spring onions and carrots. This was normally a chore passed on to the young girls, but in my family gender was ignored. Everyone learned and participated in everything. And so Grandma and I spent the afternoon, mostly on our knees, planting the seeds that would feed the family. She made sure I knew exactly how deep and how far apart to plant the seeds, and to sort of scrunch the dirt in my hands so plenty of air and water could get to them. Each tiny seed seemed to be special and have it’s own purpose. It would be coming to life, growing and blossoming into a beautiful orange or green and white vegetable. And these would be the sweetest onions and carrots I had ever eaten; I just knew it to be true.

Now, any time a little boy can get dirty and a little muddy is a good time. When we had finished with the garden and I went in the back door my mother stood there staring at me, half cringing and half smiling at the mud streak Grandma had painted on my nose. She laughed and said, “boy, I’m gonna have to hose you down before you can go in the living room.”

I was tired and dirty and glowing with a feeling of accomplishment. When I think back on Grandma in her print cotton dress with her gray/black hair pulled back, on her knees troweling up that rich, dark soil, shooting me an occasional smile my heart gushes with happiness that we had those times together. It makes me grateful I grew up a country boy and learned to love the Earth, the animals and all the natural things people take for granted these days.

Our Mother Earth and what she gives us is precious. It is life. When we harvested that first garden I felt like I would burst with excitement. I pulled up my first carrot and shook off most of the dirt, then wiped off almost all the rest on my jeans, snapped off the root tip and took a bite. That was the best carrot I ever tasted, even though it still had a little dirt on it.

Afterwards Grandma and I spent days snapping beans, shucking peas, cleaning and canning (which we actually called “putting up”) the produce. Before long it was time for the late garden to go in and by the end of summer the basement shelves were filled with jars of everything imaginable. There was also a wonderful variety of fruit trees and a grape arbor. Sure, it was a lot of work, but my first year being a full part of it was one of the most important and special events of my young days. It was the turning point from being a child to being a productive and needed part of the family. I was really growing up.

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THE CONCEPT OF FAILURE

THE CONCEPT OF FAILURE

If you are under the delusion that failure is a purely bad thing, or worse, that it really does not exist in our modern world of “pseudo-winners” there will come a day when you realize that you have failed the test of reality or you will simply walk out of the cave you have been sheltered in and see the bright light of wisdom. One way or the other you will discover that failures, ie, setbacks, are simply part of being human and as with most things, sitting on the fulcrum point of life’s balance, ready to go in either direction, positive or negative. And in the vast majority of circumstances the direction will be completely up to you.

In this age of ’empowerment’ it is absurd for a person to do poorly at something and then just sit back and whine about failing. Women like Camille Paglia and Gloria Allred, and men like President Barack Obama and Frederick Douglas all failed at things from time-to-time, but ultimately were real winners because they looked their failures straight in the eyes, gave them a good shake and said, “Baby, you ain’t nothin’ but a second in time. Get out of my way so I can move on,” or something like that. If you want a lesson in real strength and how to deal with failures read the story Bessie Coleman or Audie Murphy, two of my personal heroes. Coleman was the first female African American to get a pilot’s license and Murphy was the most decorated soldier of WWII. All of these people won in life by putting failure in its proper perspective. Again, failure is just part of being human, deal with it.

Growing up in the Appalachians over a half-century ago was a much different world than today. There was no soft, societal cushion to fall on. We did not get trophies for losing games and we were not applauded, showered with praise and told we were all winners just for playing the game. Yes, it was a cruel world; we had to deal with the truth. In a world where euphemisms are used to mask the truth and make untruths more palatable, “spin” – which in truth means “lie” – is considered natural. Some people even get paid to do it and are touted as “spin doctors.” We used to call them “snake oil salesmen.” Of course the oil was not really from a snake. It was from a whiskey still and guaranteed to cure any ailment. It did not cure anything, but for a dollar you would soon forget what hurt in the first place. Much like “spin” will make you forget what the truth really is. Dealing with truth requires the acknowledgment of failure and it’s true nature. You see, nothing can be called a true failure if one learns and grows from it. It is then merely a setback turned into success.

When I entered the first grade my first friend was the biggest boy in class. That was not because he was a big corn-fed farm boy. It was because he liked the first grade so much he decided to do it again. How is that for “spin?” He failed the first grade. I do not know how one fails the first grade, short of biting the teacher on the ankle, but he did it. So we formed a symbiotic friendship were as I helped him learn his numbers – old people talk for arithmetic – and he showed me the wisdom he had gained by already ‘roping this goat’ once before. Without thinking too hard about it we had turned a situation called “failure” into a positive and purposeful state, one we could both learn and benefit from. If you are wondering if he suffered humiliation and teasing from other students, the answer to both is no. First, there is no humiliation in failure if you understand its true nature. Second, he was too big to tease in a mean fashion. He would have simply beat the snot out of the teaser.

What we had done was recognize the failure as part of life’s experience, taken it in a positive direction and learned from it valuable lessons that helped both of us move toward the future. It is those three principles that can turn failure face-up so we can rise out of the ashes like the Phoenix. I have always wanted to use that overly dramatic metaphor for something.

Now, let us examine those three principles to make sure we all really understand them. That goes for me too. I always learn as I write.

  1. Recognizing the true essence of failure: If a young pole vaulter knows that she can clear the bar at 18 feet but sets it an inch lower and sails over with ease and then smiles and bows to the cheers of the crowd what has she really accomplished? If her only goal was cheers and pats on the back, she got what she wanted and exactly what she deserved, valueless praise. On the other hand, if she had cleared the bar at 18 feet and just 1 inch she could honestly enjoy her victory. But what if she tried to raise the bar 4 inches and hit it, falling onto the mat in a way that would make the Fosbury Flop look graceful? Would that be a failure? Look at #2 for the answer.

  2. Tipping the scale: Now it is time for our fictitious young lady to take control. I do not know about your pole vaulter, but mine is strong and determined. She stands up with pride, wiping the blood off of her arm as if it is a badge of honor and courage. She analyzes her mistake. The bad vault is not a failure; it is a step in learning how to go higher because she made the decision to take it to the positive side of the scale.

  3. Learning and earning your right to evolve: Once she understands why she did not get over the bar she adapts accordingly. In survival training we were taught the AIO principle, “ Adapt, Improvise, and Overcome.” Our young vaulter will use that principle and ultimately overcome her obstacles. She will stretch and test herself to achieve her goal and even more. She has learned by her mistake and persevered earning her the right to evolve into the best pole vaulter she can possibly be. If she did not turn this situation outward and move ahead, it would then be a true failure rather than a temporary setback. The power to make it either was hers. She chose to be a real winner.

    Failure, or shall we say “setback,” like bumps and bruises is just part of life if that life is in motion, striving and evolving to reach a higher level, the highest plane of who we are and ultimately who we can be. Whether your personal objective involves sports or spirituality, or something as mundane as teaching your dog to stop humping your brother-in-law’s leg, the same formula applies. It is truly in your hands. So, recognize failure for its true nature, push it over the fulcrums edge to the positive direction and learn what it has to teach you in order to move ahead. Just three simple steps that will make tour life a whole lot better by helping you become a true winner.

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HOW TO REALLY LIKE PEOPLE – (an editorial)

HOW TO REALLY LIKE PEOPLE

 

 

I am not much of a people person. That is to say, I honestly prefer “lower” animals. My favorite is bears. I have had a lot of experience with them, most of it good until they get into the garbage. Fish are okay, but not very interactive, though they are quite tasty. Birds are beautiful and interesting to watch, until they are directly overhead. Ungulates are sleek and graceful, well, except for cows. Rodents are cute and appear rather cuddly until they eat the wires off of your RV engine. The point is that everything, no matter what the species has qualities of good and bad.

I think too much from people. I expect them to have more intelligence and be more civilized and caring than they are. If I kept a list of things I am wrong about, that would be on it. The sad fact is people are exactly what they are supposed to be, confused, unwitting creatures stumbling through a life of uncertainty, chaos and instability. No one is exactly the way we imagine or want them to be. So it ends up being a matter of tolerance. Cute, furry and cuddly creatures simply rate more tolerance.

When a Deer mouse is chewing on something of mine I simply shoo him away. Just yesterday while I was sitting outside on a lounge chair doing Sudoku puzzles a couple honey bees decided I looked like a big, very big, flower. I brushed them away, having little to no emotion about the situation. On the other hand, when I have spent the morning packing my RV and am just ready to pull out I become thoroughly irritated when an old man walks up and announces, “Hey, I want to talk to you about your solar panels. You’ll have to yell in my good ear, I’m ‘deef,’ but first I’m gonna tell you how I won the big war and then about my various operations and a little something about my anal leakage.” By the time he gets to the war my tolerance is totally shot. And if you think that is a gross exaggeration you do not know any old men.

So right now I am at my favorite spot in the whole world, a remote camping area on the Rio Grande where birds, squirrels, rabbits and a bobcat are the only living things I will likely see during my stay. This is a place of absolute peace and solitude. Not once have I encountered a human here. This is my respite; my place to take a deep breath and forget all there is to forget about the modern world.

There is nothing here to attract my fellow creatures. The amenities of the modern campground are completely absent. There is no concrete patio, no cable TV, nor electric, water or sewer connections. There is no clubhouse, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna or golf course and the closest Starbuck’s is a half days drive away. The only thing here, aside from nature, is an old picnic table that sits aslant under a salt cedar by the river bank. When I open my door I do not have to make sure my neighbor is not opening his at the same time lest we collide. There is no neighbor, and that is my secret of learning to tolerate and like people as I truly desire.

Distance is the key. Frequency is the lock. When the key finds its way to the lock everything changes. Time spent away from others makes time spent with them more precious and enjoyable than ever before. Rehashing the same tired old subjects of everyday conversation and hammering them out like spikes to be driven into our brains is purely past-tense. New and sometimes exciting subjects can be entertained.

Not everyone is cut out for a life of total connectivity. Today people walk around with a complete social network attached to their ear. There is rarely a single moment of release from the tether of civilization and the social order of humanity demanding constant attention. A mind never gets to rest, to simply be at peace.

Consider a hamster, running relentlessly to make a wheel spin, yet never going anywhere. I once watched a seagull on the coast of Oregon lift up from a rock and fly into the wind. He flew furiously into an impenetrable headwind for several minutes before landing back on the same rock in almost the same spot he had taken off from, seemingly quite content with his lack of progress. I wondered if he thought he had actually gone somewhere.

Could it be that there are times when going nowhere at all is exactly what we need? Call it a vacation from life itself; a time when time does not matter; a place where nothing is exactly what is going to happen.

If you find that place, your very own Xanadu, you will know because when you return to the world of today there will be a smile on your face and big new room in your heart just waiting to be filled.

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USO –UNIDENTIFIED SWIMMING OBJECT

USO –UNIDENTIFIED SWIMMING OBJECT

 

There are many times in the outdoors that something you see just does not make sense. An entire TV show is dedicated to “Finding Bigfoot.” Nessie has been chased by the best for decades and “little green men” cost the government enough money to put a colony on Mars and make our own little green men, and women. I remember Yvonne Craig playing a little green alien in the original “Star Trek” and if they look anything like that I will be at the head of the line, along with most men of my species. I say ‘most’ because maleness has taken quite a turn lately and I do not wish to ‘assume.’

What constantly amazes me about unusual sightings is that the photos always look like someone stuck their camera in a mud hole or mass of underbrush and just snapped away hoping that somewhere on the ridiculous picture someone will think they see something exciting. We never do, but there will certainly be a smudgy dark glob somewhere and someone will exclaim, “OMG, I see it! It’s right there!” And when someone with a clear mind asks “What?” they will excitedly answer, “I don’t know, but there it is!”

From that point theories will fly about like mosquitoes in a hurricane, and you can bet that before long a small dog will have mysteriously disappeared and someone’s crazy aunt, the one who makes her own elderberry wine and channels the spirits of passed-on cats, will have a riveting story of abduction.

I would love to have an incredible story to tell about what I saw swimming in El Vado Lake in New Mexico, but I do not know what it was and the only thing I could really see was the breakwater at the surface just above it. What I do know is that there was something very large under the water, moving with purpose to cross the lake. It was swimming. But what was swimming causing a surge of breakwater just above it and over 100 feet long?

Look for the whitish horizontal streak

Look for the whitish horizontal streak

Now you can see it

Now you can see it

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