Wednesday, May 13, 2009

A Note About the Rules

I updated the rules, see the side bar for the rules for this blog. I added a few more and a comment about commenters. If I don't know you or have a way to check who you are, don't be surprised if or when your comments are deleted, and forever (you have a choice with delete option). It's what I get to do as owner and administrator. And while your comments may seem innocuous or not, I don't care. If you can't be visible when posting, then don't expect respect for your post.

That's not hard to understand. I don't tolerate or accept anonymous commenters. It's my choice. Unless it's an obvious spam or advertisement, both of which are immediately deleted, I keep them for a few days. I'm not quick to trash some comments even if I disagree with them. Sometimes I like them because they challenge me. But there are some issues I don't and won't tolerate. We all have these issues, the passion drives our view and expression.

Why the reminder about the rules. Well, I wrote the essay about guns from my personal perspective. It's what I'm entitled to believe and say. I've had enough experience with guns to know they're useful for some activities and they're a part of our world and life. But I don't like the right to own them crammed down our collective throat. It's not our Constitutional right because it's our right to be free, safe and secure, and guns threaten those rights that I'm against guns.

Guns aren't necessary in the everyday life of almost every American. I'm not denying the truth or reality, but I will argue if we didn't have so many guns, our lives would be freer, safer and more secure. And a lot less violent. To say guns are ok because those who don't misuse guns denies the reality of the many who do misuse it. That's the view the NRA takes, forgetting the sheer number of crimes committed with guns over the rights of legal gun owners.

Somewhere we need to look at what guns are doing to our country, our nation and the people, and make a decision about our future. Do we really want to live in fear and suggest we all have guns because the other person has one and just might decide to use it? Wouldn't it be safer if we knew others didn't have guns? Maybe it's time to draw the line when and where guns are legal and acceptable in everyday life and who really needs to own them.

Anyway, that's the new rule. And guns? Well, I have my view. If you want to express yours, use your own soapbox.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Raynaud's Syndrome

I have Raynaud's Syndrome. It struck the winter of 1990 when I was doing field work in the Olympic Mountains. I was on a December field trip where it had snowed for the previous days. I went drove up the Wynoochee Valley Road to the gages on the Wynoochee River and smaller streams. I had finished some of the lower gages and went to the gages below Wynoochee Dam and Big Creek, a creek entering the Wynoochee River below the dam.

I arrived in the morning to Big Creek where having driven most of the road through a few inches of snow to about at foot at the gage. I parked and did the usual routine of servicing the instruments in the gage (takes about an hour) and then prepared to do a wading measurement. The water was much above freezing and the snow had dimished to just a gentle snowfall. I put on the chestwader (warmer than hip boots and helps avoiding getting wet if you slip), grabbed the measuring gear and walked to the measuring section.

Measuring streamflow is done by a variety of methods and instruments, but the traditional methods are either by wading or from cableways or bridges. Wading measurements are made with a tagline for measuring the width and determining location in the cross-section for individual vertical measurements of depth and velocity, with a wading road and attached velocity meter, and a stopwatch and station-measurement notes.

Once you set the tagline across the stream, you determine a 20-28 representatives sections for individual measurements. This takes 1-2 mintes per section, taking 40-60 minutes for the whole measurement. You're constantly holding your wading rod and adjusting the depth of the velocity meter with one hand and holding your field notes and pencil with the other. When you're done you release the tagline, wade back across and reel in the tagline.

To do the last thing you put down your wading rod and field notes (aluminum note holder). I laid the wading rod down and realized my left hand wouldn't move to release holding the wading rod. My hand and fingers was literally locked around the wading rod. My right hand was also locked in a postion from holding the pencil. There I was with two curled hand and fingers which wouldn't move.

I finally slid the rod out of my left hand, and with the curled hands reeled the tagline in, bundled up all the gear and went back to the truck. It took several minutes to grasp the truck keys in my pocket and open the door to start the enginer and heater. After the heater begin blowing warm air I put my hands over the vents for 15-20 minutes and they uncurled enough to finish the work (another 30 minutes).

I went ahead and finished servicing and measuring the second gage for the day. It was a cableway measurement which is just a little easier because you're using and changing your hands continually throughout the measurement so they don't get locked in one position. And later that afternoon the hands got better, but the problem persisted throughout of the rest of the field trip.

I went to the doctor the next week who diagnosed I had Raynaud's Syndrome, and likely the secondary type and a genetic hand-me-down. Once it triggers it doesn't go away the rest of your life. Since it prevented continuing in the field the following summer I moved into an office position, a technical manager where I spent the rest of my career.

And over those years while doing photography I found the condition got worse for two activities with photography during the winter. The first is simply the exposure of my hands in the cold with my cameras where I use fingerless gloves to ensure I can hold the camer and use the controls. I'm down to about 15 minutes where I have to warm my hands for another 10-15 minutes before resuming using the cameras.

The second is photographing events or situations where I have to hold the camera. It's the same issue. I can't hold the camera for more than 15 minutes before I have to relax and move the hands for a few minutes. But over the time in the cold, the hands become stiffer to where after 1-2 hours, I have to quit and seek shelter for 30+ minutes to warm the hands and get the fingers moving again.

I thought all this was just in my hands, which is the most common experience, and mine so far because I've always been able to walk around barefoot even in the winter, even walking home barefoot 3 miles in the rain this last fall because my shoes blistered my feet so bad I couldn't wear them. Or so I thought even through this last winter.

Well this spring when the first real warm weather began I noticed my toes, which had been cold and nearly white all winter, started to swell and turn bright red, and for a week literally hurt. Over the next month the red turned to deep reddening and then blistered. Not big obvious blisters, more like thin scabs, but enough to realize it's a mild-like case of stage two frost bite.

This last winter the temperatures didn't get below freezing, but the sustained cold with Raynaud's Syndrome created the same situation when significant circulation returned to the toes, they reacted like frostbite. And now I have 3-4 toes on each foot with the damage. I still go barefoot most days around the place, but until the weather gets better I'll have to wait for the toes to fully recover and return to their normal size and color.

So that's my life now and my work in photography. And I won't touch on the issue it's also a problem with my nose. No one likes a cold nose.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

30 Years Later

I wrote an essay about my Christmas Day in 1969, when a friend I went through technical school and I missed dinner at the chow hall, and finding all the local restaurants outside McClellan Air Force Base in Sacramento, California closed, we walked to the last place to eat, the flight line cafe, only to find the kitchen had closed for the day and all that was available was pre-made sandwiches, chips and coffee. That was my Christmas dinner.

Well, that friend, one of ten of us who graduated from special electronic technican school (AF job id 99125) at Lowry AF in Denver, Colorado, and I went our ways, him to the Squadron's airborne outfit and me to the ground based system I was trained on. All my career was spent in depot research, development and repairs, and outside of some temporary duties at Edwards AFB, California, Denver, Colorado, Fairbanks, Alaska, Washington DC, and Hanover, Germany, I spent the entire time there, being discharged January 2, 1973.

My friend, Richard Dickison, was later stationed in Japan, and stayed there after being discharged before coming back to the State in the mid-1970's with a Japanese wife. As I noted in the essay (above), I lost track of him along with all of the other 8 in our group. Well, that friend somehow found me and sent me an update, see his biography and sent along the link and an update to his life since we last met.

Well, life seems a quirky thing, especially these days with the Internet. And sure enough, the organization I was in has a Website, the AF Technical Applications Command. The command had several squadrons, one being the 1155th Technical Operations Squadron at McClellan AFB. I was there from September 1969 to January 1973 after basic training and technical school, March to September 1969.

What we did then was to be the US Government's monitor of the Nuclear Test Ban treaty. We had a number of systems to monitor nuclear tests and any denation similar to or related to nuclear tests anywhere on this earth, underground, underwater, surface and atmospheric, even on the moon. It's the nature the earth and nuclear explosions. I working with one of the system which monitored the earth's magnetic field, used mostly for the location, general timing and power of the test.

At the time our command was one of the highest priority organizations after the Strategic Air Commands Squadrons. During the 1970's many of the sytems were phased out or replaced with satellites and the organization was downgraded to Secret and dropped in priority. For awhile in the 1990s' the work was contracted out before being reassumed by the military about a decade or so ago (as far as I can find information, updates appreciated).

It was an interesting four years. We were the score keepers in the event of a nuclear war. There wasn't a place we couldn't detect a nuclear bomb explosion, even on the moon. Scary thought and nice to know we weren't really needed except to keep the other nuclear nations honest as they with us. The then Soviet Union has a complimentary organization as other countries had smaller ones or relied on either the Soviet Union or us for information.

And now the Christmas 1969 story has an ending.