Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Update of Post Below and Other Stuff

1. More on bear spray. First of all, I must mention the other man in my life, my brother. He is three years my elder and my only sibling. Always, he was bigger, stronger and more athletic than me and he still is. Actually, I wasn't athletic at all. When I'd get mad, he would grab my two hands and hold them together with one of his hands and then he'd laugh at me. Now that we are middle aged, it is comforting to know I could rely on him for anything at all in life.

We ended up with completely different lives. He lives in a small town in the middle of no-where Montana and I live in a large metropolitan area. For example, on the phone he tells me how difficult it is to skin a wolf (seriously) while I read in my new Seattle magazine that "How to Cook a Wolf" is one of our new best upscale Seattle restaurants. Typical.

Anyway, he is retiring after 35 years of teaching. He has been a 4th grade teacher and I know from his wife, my sister in law, what a fabulous teacher he has been because she teaches in the same school. In addition, he has worked in the summers for the Forest Service since high school so he knows a thing or two about bears. I love his stories about stupid tourists in his Montana campgrounds and bears. I figured he might have a response on the bear study and I was right--here is his e-mail to me about bear spray:

I read what you had to say about bear spray and its use. I am checked out in the use of it though the Forest Service and it does work but… there are so many variables that each situation has to be evaluated as to whether or not it is right to deploy the spray. One of my FS friends who is the head of trails and is an avid backpacker went to Alaska to float and hike in a very remote area. The first year they did it they only took spray and no firearm. Well the cans of spray looked very small and useless when a 500-1000 lbs. bear thought he would come and visit them on a gravel bar in the middle of the river. This bear was not even mad just interested and left before any spray had to be use. He got within 30 or so yards of the group but the wind was from the bear to the people and the spray would only really hurt the people in this case. The next year when they took a similar trip, Jonathan asked me how to clean up this new 12ga. Shotgun and how do you use it!! They still took bear spray but had the shotgun for a back-up!! Or the bear biologist friend of mine who went to Alaska to study grizz and one decided that he was going to make a lunch of the biologist well the spray was on his belt and too hard to get out so the shot gun had to be used and the bear slid to a stop about a foot away from “lunch”!!

Also, most people have no idea how to transport the spray and just carry it in the car or cab of their truck well the stuff is under pressure and can explode if it gets too hot or hits something sharp. If it does go off you're as good as dead!! The way to carry it is in an ammo box lined with some sort of packing to make the can safe and put away from the passenger area of the vehicle. One also has to know that bear spray does not last in the can for more than about one season and it starts to lose its potency. Meaning, last years can is now more dangerous than not having a can at all because the person thinks they are safe!

So bear spray is another tool to use but… it is not nice to fool with Mother Nature and or her critters. Remember where you are on the food chain! And always remember that the Grizz is the meanest, toughest, biggest critter out there and if you do not believe me just ask him!

My brother and I may not agree on everything but we definitely feel the same way about bears--especially the Grizz.

2. Pickles. I love pickles. I have always loved pickles. My favorite are Farman's Baby Kosher Dills--yum. During the holidays, when I was trying to buy local products, I did not think pickles would be a problem because I had always known the major brands of Nalley's and Farman's were made from local cucumbers and pickled in the northwest. We hear about outsourcing but I am outraged to discover our pickles are being outsourced to India along with everything else. Yes, India. This absolutely should be a part of the discussion in the presidential campaigns. I think the next time I am on hold about a computer or cable matter and I detect the accent, if they cannot solve my problem, I will ask them to send me some of my pickles back. The explanation was headline news in yesterday's paper. Our own Skagit valley farmers have been told their cukes are no longer needed and the Portland pickling company is being shut down. The jars will now contain the phrase, "Product of India." I refuse to buy them. What will I do? My brother's wife is a serious pickle packer. Maybe she can be my supplier because I can't live without dill pickles. I cannot.

3. Nanomaterials. I do not have an update on the risks. I asked my resident expert, now returned from DC, if this was something more pressing than global climate change. His cryptic response: "You'd be surprised."