Stone Age Artifact Meets the Computer Age

What I stumbled across on my farm this May has made me look at how land is developed in the Upper Columbia Valley in a whole other dimension.

I have a cultivated field that required irrigation.  For a few reasons I decided to irrigate the field with sprinklers that have to be moved by hand.  As I was carrying a sprinkler pipe across the wet,mucky section that just had been irrigated,  I spotted a stone in an otherwise stone-free  field.  Picking it up, I realized that this was no ordinary stone.

If things  intrigue me, I “Google” a few words to find out more about the subject.  What I have learned about this stone, has been very interesting and thought provoking.

Like most people who are born from European descendants, I had been taught that history in the Columbia Valley, starts with David Thompson coming to the valley to setup trade relations with the Ktunaxa in 1807.  He wrote journals… there was evidence that his trading post existed.

In recent years  I have read that the Ktunaxa claim that they have used this area for well over 10 thousand years…however, the artifacts that prove that the valley has been inhabited that long ago have been non-existent to my knowledge…maybe kept hidden, either intentionally…or still undiscovered.

After reading what archaeologists have determined from the work they have been doing in the province, the artifact I have found could be 7 – 11 thousand years old. Here are a couple of papers I found interesting.

Choquette 1997

Tools and Change

I have reported the find and location to the BC Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resources,  Archaeological Branch. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this stone….but on the other hand it is concerning how it might impact me.

B.C.’s Archaeological Quirks are Digs At Private Property Rights

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Your Values…Who are you Representing?

Real-farmers-2

I am part of the agriculture community.  My parents taught me, that it is important to involve yourself in helping to make your community an important, yet sustainable segment of the world.

We are all in this together.  This past week has been a eye opener for me.  I witnessed how some members of my community put their own personal interests over the interests of the community as a whole.  It is sad to see someone using various methods, like masked messages in front of a hidden agenda to stop a beneficial community project, in order to protect their personal interests.

On a positive note, these types of confrontations where the truth comes out, are part of the process of becoming a better community.

 

 

Keep the Home Fires Burning

DSC00367

I’m always given a hard time about my woodpile.  They think its a sort of OCD issue.  But its not!

Heating with firewood, is one of the perks of living on the farm.

I like to keep ahead of the chore….I put in an hour here …and there.  You could call it exercise.

There always seems to be a new fallen tree that can be used for firewood and if an old piece of lumber can create heat in the stove…I also cut it up to length.

I always get asked if I would sell them some.  Sorry no firewood for sale.  It would be an OCD issue if I did.

December a Time to Recharge

December is a time for me to recharge on the farm.  The daylight hours are quite short.  So I putter more in the house than outside.  Reading and writing…dreaming of new adventures….browsing the internet.  Lately I have started up the evening scrabble games with my mother.  The fences are tight…the cows are in good shape…there is enough hay…and the woodpile is still high… so life is good.  Seasons Greetings.

P.S. I have had some comments that say I have no pictures in my posts.  I do have lots of pictures to look at in the pages that can be seen in other parts of this site.  Keep poking around I’m sure you will find them.

Garmin Oregon 650, Part 3

So when I got settled in back home from my trek in Crete, I started to sort out the issues I had with the Oregon.  These included:

  1. Power Consumption and Conservation
  2. Power Source Options
  3. Screen Lock/Screen Off Options
  4. How to use the Profiles App
  5. Managing the photos I had stored in the Oregon

Searching the internet for solutions is wonderful.  You usually learn a lot of things about about the subject you were looking for,  however you seem to spend a lot of time going down paths that come up empty for the information you want.  On a positive note, new information is learning, and new ideas are what life is about.  I like the quote from Albert Einstein “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”.  The sites I found most helpful were:

  1. Garmin:  they have a Q and A section for specific units;
  2. Groundspeak forum:  this geocashing site was where I found the answer to my rebooting issue;
  3. Bivouac:  this is a site with lots of good information on hikes in BC and navigation using GPS receivers, including the Garmin Oregon;

Here are my solutions to the issues I have listed:

Power Consumption and Conservation.

  • reduce backlight brightness; I use the slide bar in the “Status Page”to adjust the backlight as low as possible;  the screen is easy to read even with a low backlight setting;
  • reduce backlight timeout;  I usually set the timeout to 15 seconds;  I have configured the “Power Key” to turn off screen manually with one tap.
  • use battery save mode; I do this, and now think this is why the use of the camera caused the Oregon to shut down;  I will experiment with the unit to see how the camera behaves with the “Battery Save Mode”, on or off;
  • decrease the map drawing speed;  two options, Fast or Normal;  normal seems fast enough for me;
  • exit the camera app when not taking photos;  Working on this habit;
  • when hiking change track point “Record Method” to “Distance” rather than “Time”; this is new to me, and I will try this option out;
  • reduce track point interval when recording tracks, to suggested 0.1 km.;  this is new to me and I will try this option out;
  • reduce the use of accessories like the “Tempe”;  I use the temperature sensor when hiking and will continue to use it;

Power Source Options.

  •  lithium batteries operate the Oregon for  up to 16 hours, their high cost per hour of use, and not being able to be recharged, make them uneconomical;
  • alkaline batteries have a lower cost per hour of use than the lithium batteries,  but they too are not rechargeable;  there inability to operate the Oregon fully, make them a poor choice;
  • The Garmin Rechargeable Battery Pack allows the Oregon to be recharged directly from an electrical outlet or a USB outlet, the cost of the pack is quite high to consider buying extra packs;  the pack has to be in the Oregon to be charged;  the pack holds enough power to operate the Oregon for 8 hours, with conservative use;
  • a 16,000 mAh rechargeable lithium ion power brick could be recharged and hold enough reserve to allow the Oregon with a Garmin Rechargeable Battery Pack to recharged about 5 times;  the brick could charge other devices as well;  the brick could be recharged  with a solar panel or any electrical power source; one draw back is the weight of the brick and accessories to recharge it;  some of the accessories used to charge the Garmin Rechargeable Battery Pack could be used to charge the power brick;
  • rechargeable NiMH AA batteries can hold up to 2,700 mAh ,can be recharged up 500 times;  the equivalent capacity would be less expensive  and lighter than the lithium ion power brick;  the charging unit and accessories would add to the weight though;  Some of the accessories used to charge the Garmin Rechargeable Battery Pack could be used to charge the NiMH AA batteries;

I decided on the NiMH AA batteries and charger option.  My gear list also contains a headlamp that also uses one AA battery, a camera that can hold 4 AA batteries, as well as the Garmin GPSMap 60 Csx, which uses 2 AA batteries.   If I had a smartphone I would consider the 16,000 mAh power brick option.

Screen Off vs. Screen Lock.

  • If I can prevent unwanted touchscreens commands while the Oregon is stored in a bag by configuring the Power Key to turn the screen off with one key stroke and turning the screen back on again with another Power Key  key stroke, it would be more efficient than;
  • configuring the Power Key to open the Status Page with a single tap, where the lock screen icon could be touched to lock the screen, then to unlock the screen I would have to open the Status Page with another Power Key single tap, and then touch the unlock screen icon;
  • I have started looking into the customizing “Short Cut Keys” to lock or unlock the screen;  This option would be quite complicated to setup or even possible;  I have not achieved this level of expertise yet to attempt this;

Garmin recommends the more inefficient lock screen method;  I will continue using the screen off method until I see a problem with the method.

Learning about the Profile  App.

A couple of weeks ago, playing with the Profile  App to understand how to use the app, caused me all sorts of grief, .  One day the Oregon was not able to boot up.  I sent Garmin Customer Service a help message.  In the meantime I googled “Oregon wont boot up” and found a solution to my problem.  I tried out the step by step instructions, and sure enough I was able to get the Oregon to enter Mass Storage Mode, where I was able to delete recent files (possibly corrupt).  I unplugged the Oregon from the computer, turned it off, and then was successful in rebooting it.  I think I had reconfigured one of these Profile files with some commands causing a loop that prevented the Oregon to boot up.

Anyway a couple days later Garmin emailed me asking me some diagnostic questions about my issue.  I reported to them I had the problem solved, but I had lots of question about my other issues, and they worked through them in a number of emails back and forth.  It took me about a week before I realized that I only had a few of the Profiles left that were originally loaded onto the Oregon by Garmin.  I asked Garmin Customer Service for a new Profile file,  it was emailed and I  then installed them on the Oregon.  Garmin responded to all my concerns and questions promptly, and I am very happy with their customer service.

What I learned from this episode is that I must connect the Oregon to my laptop and copy all the files in the Oregon’s Mass Storage to my computer, for backup in case of another problem.  I found out that once you delete a Profile file (.gpf) they are gone.  Not a real biggie, but you wonder if the Profiles set up by Garmin would of be useful.

I have been dabbling a bit with Profiles lately.  You can drag apps from the applications drawer, that are useful for the type of use you need the GPS for, to be displayed in the Main Menu, .  Then you configure the settings of those apps to calculate and display the information in the format you like.  Then save those settings as a Profile and give the Profile a name for easy reference.

Photo Management.

What to do with all photos stored on the Oregon after they have been   copied to a computer. With emails with Garmin, and research on the internet,  I have learned that the Oregon holds about 2,000 photos between both internal memory and the micro SD card.  There is only one option to delete photos with the Oregon, that being,  delete one photo at a time.   However when the Oregon is connected to a computer and in Mass Storage Mode, you can open the photo file named 1000 GRMN which contains all the photos taken.  The contents and or the file can be deleted there.  The Oregon will rewrite the file for the next batch of photos.

Thats it for now on the Garmin Oregon 650.  If you have any comments or advice please let me know.

 

 

Garmin Oregon 650, Part 2

The next morning I went through my new routine of booting up the Oregon, and starting a new track record for the days journey.  During my research for the trek I had found track files (gpx.) on the internet, from a hiker from Italy, recording how he had done his Crete E4 trek in 2010.  He has a blog too, and is planning to have a book on the Crete E4 out in February 2016.  I will mention his blog site and in another post or page, so as not to lose you. Anyway I had his tracks available to me on the GPS, but it was not my idea of an adventure, to be following some else’s footsteps.  I used his tracks when researching which route I would take though.  So I always made sure I had my GPS clear of these track records, as I made my way to the waypoints.

Waypoints were great for keeping my moral up, because they broke the trek into short tasks.  As I accomplished the many tasks I had each day, I felt positive that I was achieving my goal.

The Oregon could take pictures!  It was easy to use.  Just touch the Camera app icon , then touch and hold the camera shutter icon, let the camera focus a bit, then take your finger off the icon, and your done.  The camera takes 8 mp pictures.  Good enough for me.   The pictures that appeared on the GPS screen that I viewed after, didn’t look very good.  The color was poor.  I had practiced with the camera at home, and the pictures did look better on the computer screen.  I have seen better quality photos, but I had made the decision to consider the weight and number of electronic devices for this trek, so I was comfortable with the compromise.

What I soon deducted, was that the camera app was the main cause of the energy drain.  At first I was taking photos and plunking the camera back in the shoulder bag.  When I would take out the GPS to check my position, or take another photo,  the screen would be still acting like it was a television, showing me a view of the ground in front of me.  It was like leaving the front door of the house open, when its -20 Celsius outside.  I had no one shouting “SHUT the DOOR”.  But I soon started getting in the habit of exiting the camera app, after taking a photo.

So after I drained the Garmin Rechargeable Battery Pack. I put in the lithium batteries.  Garmin claims you should be able to get 16 hours of life out of a set of two lithium AA batteries.  I was getting about 75% of that, but I’m sure I could do better when I tweak my energy saving skills.  Lithium batteries are expensive.  I brought along eight with me for this trek, so I was good for a few days.  When they were all used up,  I was about to learn another thing about lithium batteries.  Lithium batteries are non-existent in the rural towns of Crete. I had no problem finding alkaline batteries, however the Oregon very quickly told me, that while it would use alkaline batteries, they were not the kind it really likes and it would be managing applications like the camera, accordingly.  So, what the Oregon would do, is let me take pictures with the camera for about the first four hours of battery life, and after that, shut down the unit when I attempted to take a picture. To continue using the Oregon I would have to reboot.  Time, about half a minute would be wasted doing this. It was very aggravating, but when I look back, I was glad the GPS was slowing my picture taking.   By doing this,  I had enough battery life to help me navigate for a full day using one set of alkaline batteries.  There was a couple of times when the batteries were a bit low, and I just had to have a photo taken.  I would then have put in a new set of batteries to take the picture.  Lots of time wasted, but then I would have the picture I wanted.  Unless it (the subject) moved away.

The few times I was staying in a hotel during the trek, I would charge up the Garmin rechargeable battery pack, thus saving not having to buy and throw used batteries into the garbage bin.  Most days I had a shopping list of what I needed when I found a “mini-mart”.  Lithium batteries were always on top of the list.

While, as I mentioned the Oregon would sometimes “shutdown”, it always rebooted and continued helping to guide me through the maze of roads, trails, gorges, valleys, and ridges.  Without the GPS, I would have packed it in, far from my planned destination.  Many times I would follow cairns, or waymarks along a trail, or take a wrong turn, only to realize that I was not on the right route.  The GPS would quickly help sort out, where I was,  where I should be and in what direction I had to go, to get back on course.

In Part 3, I will report on what I learned about the Oregon 650 when I got back home.

Garmin Oregon 650, Part 1

Where to start.  On the Crete Trek, this piece of gear was both a necessity and curse.  I had purchased the Garmin Oregon 650 from GPSCity in 2015, because I thought it would save me from carrying both a camera and a GPS.  I tried it out before the Crete trek to understand how to use the menus to navigate to a waypoint and how to take a picture with it.

I was successful in downloading GPS maps from Openmtbmap.org showing information for hiking in Crete.  I had used this site for GPS maps for my Lycian Way trek, and I was very happy about their accuracy, and their low cost.

I also ordered  9 custom maps (georeferenced map image) from Anavasi, a map making company in Greece.  This included: 3, 1:100000 maps, covering Eastern, Central and, Western Crete; and 6, 1:30000 maps, covering the more popular hiking areas in Crete.  Loading nine custom maps was above the capacity of the Oregon, so I worked around this by using two micro SD cards, one for Eastern/Central Crete, and another for Central/Western Crete.  These maps were very good at showing more information on the maze of roads and trails, and most importantly the water sources, and stone shelters in the mountain regions.

I spent a considerable amount of time pouring over paper maps, digital maps, Google Earth imagery, and internet sites.  I planned my route, as well as alternate routes, making waypoints for road/trail junctions, and water sources etc.  I was beginning to think I was spending more time researching than I would actually be hiking.

I also spent a lot of time making about 50 letter size photo copies of digital maps showing the routes and waypoints, just in case of equipment failure while on the route. I also brought along my old GPS, and the camera, which I left at the hotel in Heraklion for backup.

So I was ready to hit the ground, and find my way across Crete.  I soon realized I had a lot to learn about using the Oregon 650, this was one complicated, powerful piece of hiking equipment.  After, making sure I didn’t get lost, my second priority with using the GPS, was saving a record of my track each evening. That was easy to do, and worked well.  The first problem I had was to find the way points stored on the GPS that were nearby, and that took me a bit of time to find out the right sub menus to set this up.  Luckily the first day was more of a cross-country, find my own route type of hike.  The next problem was, every time I took the GPS out of the shoulder bag it was apparent that the GPS had been busy doing things on its own, and would be prompting me with further instructions on what it would like me to do next.  The touchscreen was very sensitive.  I slowly understood that I had to make sure the GPS had shut its screen off, or I did it, before putting the unit away in a pocket.

On a positive note I was very happy with the process of touching a point on the map page, pressing “Go To”, then pressing the Compass icon.  I would just have to follow the compass needle on the screen, and the GPS would tell how much further to get to that point on the map.  This process was fast, and very reassuring in “I think I’m almost lost” situations. I was also very happy with how I could switch through the maps I had downloaded for the trek.  I had up to three different maps for some areas of the route.  Another very good feature was how easy the screen is to read and view maps on, even in the bright sunlight.

I was first using the Garmin rechargeable battery pack. It soon became apparent that the Oregon 650 needed lots of energy to do all the things I wanted it to do.  The battery level indicator was going down like the fuel gauge on my Ford F-350.  I only got 7 hours out of the batteries the first day, and I would be putting in the lithium batteries soon the next day.  I had to become more energy conscious, to get more hours out of the batteries.

The Washing Machine is Dead

DSC00355It had been sick for a few years now.  Our hard water has caused it to build up calcium deposits inside the tub.  After replacing at least three discharge pumps with broken impellers it was time to say enough.  We worked hard trying to loosen the build ups, when replacing the pumps. But certain conditions like spinning with an unbalanced load would cause pieces of the calcium buildup to let go with the chunks stripping the impeller.  It was only after an autopsy that I could see the condition the tub was in. I also could see a better method to do a more thorough job cleaning the build up.  What I would do next time is use a 5 inch nail, and insert it into the many holes in the tub, and by rotating the tub, the nail would scrape along the stationary wall where the calcium builds up. We had tried a vinegar/baking soda solution to help dissolve the calcium, but it was too little, too late. We have had the appliance for 17 years, so it didn’t owe us anything.  A new one has been ordered from Sears.  If it lasts as long, that would be great.

New Hiking Boots

When I started my Crete walk I noticed that my boots were more worn than I expected. I had never checked the tread wear, however I thought there was still enough tread left to complete the hike.  Well as the days on the trek rolled by, I became quite concerned that I might be without boots before the trip was over. The Crete E4 route consisted mainly of roads and old trails covered in sharp abrasive rubble. I began to change my methods how I descended talus slopes to make sure I didn’t shred them completely.  They made it, with probably just another 200 km. left on them.  I bought them for the Everest Base Camp Trek, then used them on the +500 km.  Lycian Way, then the  500 km. Crete E4.  I decided to buy the same brand, style and size.  from MEC, mail order. They are the Vasque, Breeze 2.0 GTX, for $179.  The picture shows the old vs. the new.  I originally bought them for their light weight,  boot style, lacing system, removable soles, and water proofness with gore-tex lining.  The boots also came in wide sizes, which made them fit very well.  I never had blister problems on the three long treks.  I hope the new ones serve me as well.