Archive for the ‘Tracking’ Category

Light Pollution

July 1, 2009

The noise post from a while back got me to thinking about how thecity_at_night_1024 light each of us makes impacts others.   As you can infer from my blog’s tagline, “Suburban survival for the stupid“, I live in the suburbs, so there is a lot of light around here.   To see the Milky Way I need to get into the woods, beach or up to the great north.

If your neighbor has a big motion activated metal halide, that’s going to impact your space.  Your neighbor’s light will prevent you from seeing the night sky like you otherwise could if he didn’t have the gulag light blaring down on you.  Light can even make someone lose sleep.

At night light travels for a real far distance.   So a little light can have a great impact.  If you have a floodlight outside try to have some respect for your neighbors and how your floodlight can impact them.  If you are driving towards people walking at night dim your lights.

When you leave a room shut off the lights.  Shut off any unnecessary lights anytime you can.

Light_pollution_It's_not_prettyThis picture above is the night sky looking at Orion from dark skies and from the Orem/Provo, Utah area. (Courtesy of Light Pollution, Wikipedia.)  You can see how much light interferes with the environment.

Shutting off unnecessary lights also saves energy.  Which saves $.  You look at a picture of a city at night and you know that most of the offices with lights still burning in them are now empty.  The worker bees having left the hive hours ago.

As civilization and urbanization continue to spread the problem has definitely and will continue to get worse.  I wonder if the day may come when our kids’, kids’, kids may not even be able to see the stars at night.  20040921144929!Usa_night

This is a picture of the continental United States at night.  You can see the cities and highways all lit up.  And just because you don’t see your neck of the woods lit up, doesn’t mean that light pollution is not a problem around you. I can’t help but wonder how much of the light is necessary and being used right at the moment this picture was taken.  How much light is the on at dusk off at dawn variety.

city-lights-building-nightThis picture is just over the top.  Chances are fossils fuels were burned to light up this city like that.  And you can be sure that you can’t see s single star at night.

Okay, that was all the neighborly stuff, now for the Suburban Survival stuff.  The other thing about light is that, like water, it will find small opening to seep through.  Light travels out of windows and cracks under doors.  At night people going by your house will be able to see light leaking through small openings.   Light also lets others look into your house and if you look out you won’t be able to see them in the darkness.     Be careful of making yourself a silhouette.  Don’t make yourself a silhouette.  In other words be aware when there is a light behind you.  If the lights ever go out for a long period you best be careful to seal up all the cracks and hang thick blankets over the windows.  Through a towel under the door.  Being the only one in town with lights burning could turn out to be a dangerous thing.  Nothing wrong with having some extra stuff on hand to reduce the amount of light you emit: plywood for windows, duct tape, tarps, maybe some black paint, caulking.  Don’t forget over flat treeless terrain a lighted house can be seen for a very far distanceAnd to someone hungry, cold or hurt light means the end to all of their suffering.   You can also use it to your advantage because light will draw people like moths to a flame.

This last picture was taken during and after a large east coast power outage.  You can see how much of the house w lightnight sky is visible when the power is off, and how much is hidden whan the floodlights and house lights come back on.   If someone were standing in front of the window in that house, you’d be able to see them standing there plain as day.


P1010001This bunny was even too small to eat.  Then again maybe I just wasn’t hungry enough.  I bet I got within ten feet of him.  What works for me is to not look at an animal as I’m approaching it.  Also, just like when fighting never approach straight direct, move at angles.

Let there be light

January 24, 2009

Here’s another gear review.  This entry will be about flashlights.  Please note that I do not have any advertisements on the blog so I am free to give my truthful opinion as I am beholden to no advertisers.   I don’t think it’s necessary to spend $100 or $200 on a good flashlight.  BTW if you have stuff to add, if I made any mistakes or you have any recommendations, please post a comment and I’ll add it into this entry so we can get a real good flashlight article going.

Just some background for beginners-

Basically three different types of bulbs:

  • Filament – these are the old fashioned bulbs, with the little filament wire that glows, they use a lot of juice, I don’t think they’re very bright, they cast kind of a yellowish glow, generally don’t last a long time and are sensitive to shock, as your batteries die the light from these bulbs really weakens.
  • Xenon – I think this is a gas that they pump into the bulb, it glows brighter than a regular filament bulb
  • LED – a computer chip controls how much juice these use, batteries will last ten times longer with an LED light than a filament bulb, because there’s a chip a lot of them have multiple settings, LEDs will last for up to 10,000 hours, I think the new LED’s are real bright.  Some cast a yellow light and others a whitish light, because there’s a chip as the batteries die the level of light remains pretty constant.  The really paranoid (me among them) know that LEDs are sensitive to EMP attack so we have different type of bulbs…I’m not….. saying anything…but….just in case.

And without further adieu…..

First up is an Underwater Kinetics four C light.

p22This is really a nice rugged light.  You operate it with a switch under the lens.  It’s a light made for SCUBA diving so it is as waterproof as waterproof can be.  The strap is also rugged with a rubber sleeve over it.  As I said, it takes four C cells so it’s kind of heavy.  The batteries do wiggle around a bit, so if that bothers you you could put in a little rubber washer or a slice of inner tube to take up the extra space.  It is a very bright light throwing over 200 lumens.   It is easy to light up the tops of tall trees or  the edge of a field 200 feet away.   If I’m out walking at night sometimes I feel I’m being watched by creatures (you will develop this sense if you spend enough time outside.) so get outside everyday.) so I’ll flick it on and shine it at the treeline or up the river and I can’t tell you how many times I see eyes staring back at me.  This light will freeze the creatures in the paths.  Except for that heron a few weeks ago.  I felt bad about making him fly at night.   This will set you back around $35.00.

p72This is a cheapo emergency all in one unit – flashlight and radio.  It runs off batteries, a grinder, DC converter or a little PV cell that runs on top of the handle.  Not bad, but kind of cheap.  I think I paid maybe 20 bucks for it.   Everyone should have something similar in their emergency kit. You just can’t count on this cheap crap to work so have a backup.  Typical Walmart unit.

Speaking of cheap crap…

p14Here’s some more cheap crap.  Upper left is a $10 LED that takes three AAA batteries.  I’ve never been a fan of the multi-LED lights.  This one proves the point.  Not a fan of the 8, 15 or 80 LED lights.  More stuff to go wrong. Get one good beam.  At the bottom is a plastic filament bulb that takes two AA batteries.  Another poor excuse for a tool.  Upper right is the old fashioned Rayovac double D filament bulb flashlight.  This thing was fine 10 or 20 years ago.  Maybe it’s fine to trade or barter with, but I would never want to depend on it.  Spend your money on something more rugged, waterproof and that will last.  For the same price or a few bucks more you can get a real light.

This is another must have, even though it is also cheap crap.

p19I like this.  It’s one of those shake lights.  There’s a copper coil and magnet inside of it.  When you shake it the magnet slides back n’ forth past the copper coil and somehow creates electrcity to charge the battery.  In other words this baby doesn’t take batteries.    Can’t depend on it because it feels cheap, holds a charge a short time and isn’t very bright, but it’ll be better than TP when the batteries are dead and the store shelves are empty.  I think this was probably around $10-15 at Walmart.  Everyone should have a shake light too.

This is a cool light.

p15I know I just said it, but these things are cool.  It’s a PAL light.  It takes a 9v battery, which I’m not a fan of, but the light makes up for it.  It has four settings – dim, bright, strobe and always on. You get that, even off it is always glowing dimly? Crazy huh.  Even when you shut it off the light glows dimly.  It’ll glow in this “sleep” state for a year.  It makes it easy to find in the dark.  I keep a couple on bookshelves and such and they actually work as a mini-nightlight and if the power goes out makes it easy to find.  Ever have a tough time looking for a flashlight in the bottom of your pack?  This is the light for you, because it will always be glowing dimly calling to you, like a beacon or your muse.  It will glow in sleep mode for a year.  It doesn’t cast a heavy, bright beam even in the high setting, but it’s plenty for most close work or to find your way.  Like I said even in the sleep mode it’s bright enough to find your way down the hall.  It seems pretty waterproof in it’s heavy rubber case.  They come in a few different colored beams too.   The one I bought came with a magnetic attachment and a belt loop.   I think they’re around $15.     I have a blue one.  I’ve thought that it may even be possible to set the strobe function put it on the dashboard and maybe be able to get through traffic faster.  If you like flashlights this is a must have.

p16This is a Princeton-Tec Impact XL.  It takes four double AA batteries.  It’s a LED light.  You turn it on by turning the bezel so it takes two hands to operate.  It casts a sweet, pure, white beam.  It’s very bright and very waterproof.  You see it also comes with a nice lanyard.  Almost as nice as the lanyard on the Underwater Kinetics light up above.  There’s a story here.  About a year after I bought the light it died on me.  I was pissed.  I think it cost about $20-25.  For 25 bucks it better last more than a year.  Who has the receipt for anything a year later?  So I send Princeton an email explaining the situation and forget about it.  Maybe a month later I get an email from them apologizing for the delay (some people left the company or what not) and they give me an RMA to send the light back to them and they’ll send me a brand new one.  I did and they did.   Got that?  They sent me a brand new light!! I can’t say enough good stuff about customer service like that.  You just don’t see that these days.  Good product and good people.  Not the brightest light, but great for camping or hiking.

p20These are two Pelican lights.  The top one takes two C cells.   The bottom one takes three C cells.  Both operate by turning the bezel i.e. two handed operation.  They both come with nice lanyards.  Notice the bottom one also has a spring clip on it.  They are both waterproof.  If you look right behind the bezel on the bottom one you’ll see a round thing with two black stripes.  That’s some sort of pressure release valve in case I’m ever 20,000 leagues beneath the sea.  Not very likely, but kind of interesting.   Both are filament bulbs.  Both are extremely rugged.  The top one is rated for use in explosive environments.  It has so many letters on it – MSHA, class 1, division 1, group D, UL, FM approved, P, SA AUS EX 1145X.  This is like THE safety light.  It also has two built in slots on it that you can run some strapping through to lash it to something.  I can’t say enough good stuff about Pelican products.  They are made work tough for everyday use.  Firefighters use Pelican lights.  You can drop these from a ladder or into the pool and they keep going.  If you’re not familiar with Pelican, the next light you get make it a Pelican.  They are both plenty bright for 90% of what you may need to do.  They’re reasonably priced too.  I think each of them was maybe $30 or so, maybe a bit more.  Not tactical lights though, but buy a Pelican and you won’t be disappointed.  Pelican makes tough, simple work lights.

Here’s another nice little light…

p12This is another Underwater Kinetics light.  This little light takes two AAA batteries.  It’s very small.  It’s rated at seven lumens, but I’m telling ya it seems a lot brighter than that.   Because it’s so small and offers great brightness for its size, this is a great light for backpacking.  This and a headlamp would be adequate for any hike.  It’s operated by turning the bezel too.  It’s also waterproof.   It comes with a keyring and that black thing is a clip that can be clipped to a cap or a pack.  It’s an LED light.  I have yet to change the batteries in mine.  The LED just barely sips the power from the triple AAA’s.   Batteries last a very long time.   I like this light.  It’s a nice clean, white beam.  If you want to travel very light and have a flashlight that gets the job done this is the ticket.  You can’t light up the other side of the football field, but if you want to read, BBQ or find your way down the trail this will do it.   I think this light ran about $15.    You won’t be disappointed adding one of these to your kit.

Not done yet…

p11This is your basic Xenon tactical light.  It was more than I like to spend on a flashlight.  I think it was about $40.  It’s bright.  The switch is on the tailcap.  You either push it or twist it for constant on.   It only has one setting.  It takes two of the lithium 123 batteries.  These batteries are expensive.  The batteries only last an hour or two too.  Not a bad light, but not my favorite.  It’s a standard size (1″) so it can be mounted on a firearm.

p18This is a real nice Rayovac metal flashlight.  It’s made much better than the crappy orange one pictured up above.  This one takes three C cells.  It’s an LED light.  The batteries last a very long time becaue of the LED.  There are rings that make it fairly water resistant.  It’s nice and bright.  It also has a rubber sleeve around the body that makes it comfy to hold in the hand.  There is a hole on the tailcap that you can slide a lanyard through.  I think this light was maybe $25.  I like this light.  It’s big enough to bash someone in the head if need be.  You can see it’s operated by a button on the body of the light.  This is the light I use most when I walk the dog around the block or have to check something outside.  It sits on top of my fridge.  The downside is that the body isn’t squared off anywhere (it’s round) so it will roll of the fridge or under the car if you put it on the driveway.

p17Hooahh!  This is the famous Maglite.   This light is an old fashioned filament bulb.  It is made like a tank.  It takes three D cells.  It’s fairly bright, but not really.  These lights are made really well.  It will outlive me.  It has an extra bulb built into the tailcap.  There is only one setting.  The switch is on the body.  It seems water resistant, but not waterproof.  This light has mass and would be an effective weapon.  It extends my reach by a foot.   My light is very old at lest 15 years.  It still works great.  Only had to change the bulb once.  The batteries last a fairly long time.  LED kits are also available for these lights.  These are the lights that cops used to use.  They’d hold it over their heads, shine the light in your eyes to blind you and then lower the boom on your noggin.  This light is round so it will also roll away from you just out of reach.  There is no place to attach a lanyard on this light.

The rest of the lights are from Deal Extreme .  This is a great place to buy good cheap lights made in China.  The lights are shipped from China.

p101These two lights are some type of fairly new LED lights called CREE lights.  They are unbelievably bright.  Make a CREE your next flashlight.  These run on one AA battery.  You can see they’re only about 3-4 inches long. These lights probably run $15-$20 each.  As I said they’re very bright and one AA lasts a long time.  I usually load mine with lithium batteries.  These lights each have one setting only.  You turn them on with a tailcap switch.  They both come with lanyards.

p81These are two more lights from Deal Extreme.  I think each of these lights is maybe $20-$25.  These both are also CREE lights so they are very bright.  I’d say as bright as Surefires and alot less money.  They both operate by a tailcap switch.  They both have rubber rings on the fittings so they are pretty water resistant.  Although made in China the threads feel pretty good to me.  Both of these lights have a great feature.  They come with an extension tube so they have multiple battery configurations.  You can see the extension tubes in the picture.  You can see one of the red waterproof seals too on the tube on the left.  The extension tube on the right also has rings, but they’re black so you can’t see them.

The one on the left runs on either one AA or you screw on the extension tube and it will run longer on two AA batteries.   It also has four settings in this order – low, medium, high, crazy ass blinding strobe like a Japanese cartoon and a unique  SOS strobe …—….  Without a memory though you have to flick through them all every time.  So say I want to use the crazy ass blinding strobe on some BG I first have to click through low, medium and high to get to the crqazy ass blinding strobe.  Not so good.

The one on the right runs on one 123 lithium or screw in the tube and a pair of AA’s.  I use lithium AA’s.  It’s bezel is crenalated, that is it has a scalloped surface that’s good for striking BG’s in the brow.  This light won’t roll away from you.

p9This is another light from Deal Extreme with the extension tube screwed in.  It’s also a bright CREE LED.  This one runs off of one 123 lithium or two AA’s.  It has the tube screwed in now.  Comes with a lanyard.  Operates by the switch on the side of the body.  Bright enough to blind.  The bezel on this one has some really nasty crenalations on it.  Wouldn’t be a problem splitting a brow but good with this one in your hand.

Abraham’s Rule number 15,347.7564 of  living – when you start finding flashlights in the pockets of jeans in the dresser you have enough flashlights.

q121Deer tracks in the snow.

q14Deer sleeping hole.

Farmers Associations

January 12, 2009

I love the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA).  We all know that it’s good to hang out with like minded people so that we can exchange ideas and learn new stuff. leftheader(Come to think of it it’s good to hang out with people that you don’t agree with too so that you can exchange ideas and learn new stuff. Hmmmm.)

Anyways, I’ve been a member of NOFA for a long time.  If you are interested in growing food, food safety, organics or eating healthy (who isn’t?) you really should join the state chapter of your organic farmers association.  Just Google your state name and “organic farmers association.”

My member ship is $35 a year.  They also offer low income memberships.

Why I like being a member i.e. what I get out of it:

  • Quarterly issues of the Organic Farmer – it covers food, organics, government issues and hints, tips and tricks to grow more stuff using better methods.  The last issue had a great 8 page section on mulches.
  • Six issues of the state chapter newsletter.  These have ads for jobs, land and swaps.
  • Annual Organic Food guide that tells ya where all the organic farms, markets, stores and suppliers are located locally.
  • Discounts on the Summer and Winter Conferences – more below! This is what got me thinking about writing this blog entry.
  • Discounts on the Practical Skills Workshops – more below! Ditto.
  • Discounts on the group bulk order – Man, this is the coolest thing.  If you are an organic gardener you know that you don’t feed plants.  Please do not feed the plants. Organics is all about feeding the soil.  Water solubles are bad.  Minerals and stone dusts are good because they don’t get washed away and break down slowly.  (Sorry that’s another blog entry.)
  • Anyways, the deal with the bulk order is that you get to join together with other members and due to economies of scale buy stuff on the cheap.  I’m able to order composts, organic cover crops seed, sets for onions and potatoes, organic fertilizers, organic pest control supplies, all kinds of organic soil amendments like azomite, granite meal, gypsum, colloidal phosphate, potting soils and all kinds of other useful things too.

Now for the nuts of this entry……….

The best part of being a member of the Association are the conferences and Practical Skills Workshops.  For example, the Practical Skills Workshops run throughout the year.  Each one probably costs 40 bucks or so.  They cover such things as: High Tunnels for Season Extension, Breadmaking with whole grains, Cheesemaking, Solar Hot Water, Shamanic Plant Journeying, Biodiesel,  Draft Horses, Veggie Oil Car Conversion, Rustic Stick Furniture, Draft Horses *Advanced*, Composting Toilets, Tofu and Tempeh, Organic Home Lawn Care, Foraging for Wild Edibles, Making Soap with Goat’s Milk with soap-making, Couples Massage, Medicinal Herbs, Yoga for Farmers and Gardeners, Cheesemaking #3! – (ADVANCED*) making difficult cheeses,  Winemaking, Canning your Garden, Seed-saving : keeping your favorites for next year, Tinctures, Salves, and Lotions.

And that’s just this year!!

At the Winter Conference.  There are maybe 30 different classes on things like what I listed above plus: beekeeping, raw milk, nutrient dense crop production, raising pigs, pastured poultry, plants and plans for an organic garden, nursery management, pest and disease control and so on.  The conference runs all day.  There are classes from 8:30-10, 1-3 and 3-5.  During each time slot there are maybe 6-8 classes offered so you just choose which one to go to.  So I can go to three different classes during the day.  There is also a potluck lunch where all the attendees make something depending on the first letter of your last name and we all break bread together.

The Summer Conference is basically the same deal, but we take over a college/university for three whole days and nights.  There are dinners and contra dances and raffles and entertainment and things for the kids to do too.

Probably one of the best reasons to join is that you get to plug into the community of farmers, growers and gardeners so if you have crop, garden, plant or pest problems there is a whole network of supportive people anxious to exchange info ideas, tips and tricks.

I can’t stress enough how good it is to join your state’s chapter of the organic farmers association.  It’s a no brainer.

IMHO what you learn about growing food, storing food, growing animals and building soil is more important than all the guns and ammo in the world. Chance of shooting Zombies = .000001%.  Chance of putting good organic food on the table = 100%.  Don’t be a dullard, play the odds.

Git outside everyday-

p1010100I was out skiing through the woods off piste (I like saying, “off piste.” It means “off path.”) and came upon this rather large pile of deer poo.

A good book

January 10, 2009

A good book to have is Peterson’s Field Guide to Medicinal Plants and Herbs.

home4schoolgear_2028_17435632This is a must have.  To me it’s as important as band aids.  The color pictures that accompany each description help a lot in identifying plants.

The book makes it easy to find stuff.  The contents are organized by flower color, then shrubs, trees, woody vines, ferns, grasses and grasslike plants.

I don’t like Amazon, but this is a cool feature to check out a book,  Click on the link and then click on the menu on the left hand side and you can look through the book.

The best part of the book is Index to Medical Topics in the back of the book.  Here you can look up symptoms and ailments and get a list of plants that will help your illness.  Just a quick run through and I don’t know what 1/2 of these are: abdomen, abortifacient, abrasion, abscess, aches, acne, adaptogen, Addison’s disease, afterbirth, ague, alcoholism, allantoin, allergenic, alpecia and there is another page and half of just bad stuff that starts with an A.

Stop and think about that for a second.  If you have a headache you look up headache and see that you can use prickly poppy, virgin’s bower, passion flower, pink lady slipper and maybe another 30 plants.

To be able to cross reference ailments and plants is invaluable.

My gripe is the same with this field guide as with all the others, there is a lack of pictures for out of season plants.  You know it’s fine to identify a plant by the flowers as long as the plant is flowering, but most plants only flower for a month or two out of the whole year.  How do you identify it when it doesn’t have flowers on it?

And that is why you need multiple field guides, to cross reference the same plant.

When I eventually write my field guide each plant will have four pictures, a picture from each season, to go along with it.

All the books in the world about the outside will do ya no good if you don’t Get Outside Everyday!

x9You gotta look closely at this picture.  Click on it to expand it if you got old eyes like me.  There are a TON of deer tracks here in the snow.  The four brown leafy areas in the foreground of the picture are where deer slept.

x8Ahhh, sweet, sweet carnage.  Not that I have bloodlust or anything, just taking in the circle of life.  I was out following some coyote tracks on my skis for maybe a mile (?) when I came upon this bloody scene in the snow.  I’m guessing Mr. Red Squirrel met his demise and Mr. Coyote had a warm meal.  Any thoughts?

Get outside every day!

Talking about a revolution

December 31, 2008

Talking about a revolution.

Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper
Don’t you know they’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

Poor people are gonna rise up
And get their share
Poor people are gonna rise up
And take what’s theirs

Don’t you know you better run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run
Oh I said you better run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run, run

Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution
Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution oh no
Talking about a revolution oh no

While they’re standing in the welfare lines
Crying at the doorsteps of those armies of salvation
Wasting time in unemployment lines
Sitting around waiting for a promotion

Don’t you know you’re talking about a revolution
It sounds like a whisper

And finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution
Finally the tables are starting to turn
Talking about a revolution oh no
Talking about a revolution oh no
Talking about a revolution oh no

T. Chapman (1988) [smart lady, graduated from Tufts University.]

Get outside every day.

Bushy tail track

Bushy tail track

Just some bushy tail tracks in the first snow.


Water and ice.


December 27, 2008

I own three headlamps.   I’ll review them and tell you what I do and don’t like about each of them so if you are ever in the market you may be able to make a better decision.

Headlamps are one of the best things ever invented.  It lets you light the way or the project and still have your hands free to do what needs to be done.  If you don’t own any you gotta add one or two to your gear.

The first one is a Princeton Tec Solo with a Xenon bulb.  You should be able to pick these up for between $15-20.

Princeton Tec

Princeton Tec

The Solo is a good entry model headlamp.  It runs a long time off of two AA batteries.  It turns on and off by turning the housing for the lamp, like adjusting the beam on a Maglight.  A very important feature of all headlamps is a ratchet mechanism on the lamp so it can be pointed downwards and upwards.  Make sure that any lamp you buy can be ratcheted up and down because when you’re doing something in the dark you want the lamp pointing down at the ground and not up at the trees (unless you’re hunting raccoons).  Before you buy a headlamp work the light part up and down.  Try that ratchet out.  Does it feel cheesy or well-made?  Does it feel like it might wear out quickly and leave your flaccid light forever pointing down at the ground?

p1010069This is the front of the lamp.  Another reason this lamp is good is because it has a strap that goes over the top of your head too.  All headlamps have a strap that goes around the outside of your head, but another nice feature is having a strap that runs over the top of you head from front to back.  This allows the lamp to hang on better to winter hats and helmets.

p1010070This is the battery compartment for the Princeton Solo.  It flips up and stays attached because of a little flexible plastic strip.  In other words you can’t lose the cover to the battery compartment.  This is a nice feature.  The downside is that it doesn’t seem very waterproof, but I have taken countless faceplants in deep powder and I’ve never had a problem.  It may not be submersible, but if you end up doing a yard sale it’ll keep working.  The Solo is bright enough, but not real bright.  It only has two settings, on and off.  Good enough to walk with at night or change a tire, but not bright enough to ski or ride a bike at night.  When you get moving faster you need something that can shine our further.  As the batteries lose juice the beam also starts getting perverted, yellowish and dim.   The Solo is the medium weighing lamp.

The next lamp is also a Princeton Tec.  This model is the EOS.  I don’t know where they come up with these names.  The EOS takes three AAA batteries.  You should be able to pick the EOS up for around $30.

p1010071That gray thing on top of the lamp is the on/off switch.  It’s easy to work even with mittens or gloves.  The EOS has an LED so batteries will last much longer than a filament type bulb, like the aforementioned Solo.  The EOS has four settings – full, medium, low and a flashing strobe.  Obviously the batteries will last longer at the lower settings.  This is a good bright lamp.  I can use this when I ski down hills at night.  This lamp also has a ratcheting mechanism to lock the beam of the light up or down.

p1010074This is the battery compartment for the EOS.  It has a little screw that can be worked with your fingers.  This seems more waterproof to me than the Solo.  The cover is hinged and screw attached so that you can’t lose them.

p1010075If you notice the back of the lamp has two little slots so it is easy to remove the head strap.  This is good so that if the strap gets smelly, dirty or sweaty you can take it off and wash it.  The slots also make it easy to lash the lamp onto something else if need be.  Also notice that the EOS doesn’t have that strap that runs over your head from front to back.  There is just the one strap.  This single strap isn’t as secure as the lamps with both straps – around and over your head.  I think the EOS weighs the least out of these three.

The last headlamp is the Black Diamond Icon.  This is a great lamp.  It takes two AA batteries.  I put lithium batteries in mine. I think this lamp will set you back a little under 50 bucks.  What I don’t like about this lamp is that the switch is on the bottom of the lamp so it’s tough to get too.  Plus it’s tough to work with gloves or mittens.  So when you buy a headlamp check to see where the switch is located and how easy it is to work.

p1010077The Icon has LEDs and a Xenon bulb.  Each (the LEDs and the Xenon) has four settings for a total of eight settings – high, medium, low and a flashing strobe.  Also notice the strap that goes over your head from front to back.  Unlike the other two headlamps the battery compartment for the Icon is at the back of your head.

p1010078This is the battery compartment.  Notice the thumb screw.  Both the screw and the cover are attached so that you can’t lose them.  This compartment seems waterproof to me and I’ve never had a problem with all of my face plants into the snow.

p1010079Notice the little slots on each side so that the strap can be pulled right out to clean or lash the lamp to something else.  It’s not real important, but still it’s a nice feature.

p1010080This is the front of the lamp.  The LEDs are on the side and the Xenon is in the middle.  The Xenon is really bright so it’s great for moving fast at night as it puts a good cone of light a pretty fair distance in front of you.  The LEDs are also bright, but not quite as bright as the bulb.  The good thing is that the LEDs will burn much longer than the Xenon.  Batteries last a really long time.  I’m talking probably 10+ hours for even the Xenon bulb.  The Icon is the heaviest of the three lamps reviewed here.

p1010082You probably can’t make it out here, but there is a little LED that burns flashing green or red depending on how much juice you have left.  This is another nice feature so that you aren’t caught by surprise.

In my experience these are all rugged lights.  Any one of them is a good purchase. I bought the Solo first and then a few years later got the EOS then a few years later got the Icon.  I didn’t consciously “upgrade” but you may find if you buy the cheaper one first that it may not be quite enough for you so you may want to jump right into something better than entry level.  The other thing is that with the Solo as the batteries fade so does your level of light.  The Solo’s lamp gets dimmer and dimmer.  I think the two newer lamps, the EOS and Icon, both have some sort of computer chip in them so that the level of light remains constant even as the batteries start to fade.  This is a real nice feature.  It keeps your light bright white instead of fading, sick, smoker’s teeth yellow.

In summary (just my opinion):

1. that extra strap that runs front to back is good.

2. get a lamp that has both filament and LED bulbs.  In case on goes out you got the other.

3. I like lamps that take regular batteries that can be bought at any 7/11.  Stick to AA & AAA,.

4. check the battery compartment to make sure that it stays attached and if there is a screw make sure that the screw stays attached too.  You don’t want to lose the cover or screw.

5. Check that ratchet mechanism.

6. Get the best light you can comfortably afford.  Otherwise, you’ll end up like me buying a better one a year or two later.

7. Check the waterproof factor.

8. Don’t get something so big that you won’t take with you.

9. All of my lamps are very easy to adjust, but check out how easy it is at adjust the straps of the headlamp you’re considering.

10.  I do like that chip or IC that allows the beam of the lamp to shine steady even as the batteries are dying so check to see if the lamp you’re looking at has a chip or IC.

p1010107Who coulda been wordworking outside in the snow?




|p1010108Woodpecker.  Imagine making a living like this.  Seems like a lot of work for one or two little bugs.  I like how you can see the individual little spots where he chipped the bark away.  I can almost see him standing there pecking away at it.

Getting out some more…

November 3, 2008

There’s a lot of places I can walk to for some R&R right near my house.  There some power lines.  There was some Juniper growing.  Check out the berries.  They’re good with venison or lamb or even a roast beef.  They also use them to flavor Gin.

Juniper berries

Juniper berries

Just a little further up along the power lines I saw some bittersweet.    Being red and orange once the fruits split this stuff is tough to miss.  It has a lot of medicinal properties, but the fruit can be toxic.



Just a little further along we saw some deer tracks. It rained pretty heavy a couple of days ago, so these tracks are new. I usually see tracks up there.  If you don’t know what ruminant tracks look like, they look kind of like a narrow heart.

Deer tracks

Deer tracks

Animals are like people. Actually the better way to think of it is that people are animals. Wildlife likes to take shortcuts when possible, just like us. If it’s a choice between heavy brush and power lines, the deer are gonna take the power lines. They’d rather take a bridge of some sort then get all wet. They get funneled into areas the same way we do, by fallen trees, stone walls, the neighbor’s fence and ponds. And more tracks…

more deer

more deer

And more…does this one look a little deeper to you?  Maybe she was larger?

Deer grande

Deer grande

We then ventured over to the pond.  On the way over there I saw some reddish/purple canes.  That’d be where I get some blackberries during the summer.  When you see this stuff you have to file it away and remember to come back to pick that sweet, sweet summer fruit.  Easy to spot because the canes have that purplish tint.

Blackberry canes in winter

Blackberry canes in winter

You have to keep your eyes open. Look up into the tree tops and look down at the ground. Walk slower if you need to. Stop and listen. What do you hear? If you see something interesting: a leaf, branch, rock, berry or bone bend down and pick it up. Bring it home and look it up in one the Peterson’s Guide Books that you have.

You need to have one of these a bunch of these guidebooks to cross reference stuff.

You need to get out into the woods and walk around.