Friday, December 8, 2023

One Degree of Change

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” - Andy Warhol

F-16 Fighting Falcon Ready to Rock! (Photo taken by James)

There are quite a lot of aspects of aviation and flying airplanes that, surprisingly, transfer over seamlessly to real life.  One of the best examples of this is if you're flying an airplane and your heading is off by 1 degree then after 60 miles you will be 1 mile off course.  1 mile off course may not seem like a lot but keep in mind that resulted from your heading only being 1 degree off initially, which is a very miniscule amount.  If you've never had the pleasure of trying to hold a heading to an exact degree while hand flying an airplane that's getting rocked around by changing winds and turbulence, I can tell you with great certainty... it is not easy (but it is really fun).  At the same time, going 60 miles may seem like a fairly large distance but you have to keep in mind, the speed that airplanes travel at vary wildly and airplanes can cover a lot of ground... fast!

A Cessna 152 cruising at 120 miles per hour (mph) will cover 60 miles in only 30 minutes, which is at the slow end for airplanes.  A Cirrus SR-22 cruising at 240 mph will cover 60 miles in 15 minutes.  A Dassault Falcon 50EX corporate jet cruising at 480 mph will cover 60 miles in 7.5 minutes.  A Boeing 737-700 airliner cruising at 520 mph will cover 60 miles in 6.6 minutes.  An F-16 Fighting Falcon going 960 mph will cover 60 miles in 3.75 minutes.  An SR-71 Blackbird going 2,300 mph will cover 60 miles in 1.56 minutes.

Back when I was actively flight instructing (teaching people how to fly airplanes), this was one of my many favorite thought experiments to do with students, usually after their first cross country flight (with me onboard) during which they would always, inevitably, at some point during the flight, stop comparing their heading indicator to the actual magnetic compass (commonly referred to as a wet compass).  The heading indicator gauge is not magnetic, it's a gyroscopic instrument and anything with a gyro in it means it has friction which means it needs to be reset often to keep it on the correct heading.  It needs to be compared to the actual magnetic compass every 15 minutes and adjusted accordingly.  If you forget to do this, after an hour your heading indicator will suddenly be off by about 15 degrees (some airplanes more, some airplanes less).  Which is significantly more than 1 degree off, it's 15 times as much in fact!  This results in you thinking that you're on course but your heading is actually 15 degrees off and each minute that goes by you'll be significantly further off course, in terms of mileage.

Friday, November 24, 2023

Open Letter to Boulder County Regarding the Proposed Integrated Weed Management Plan - 2023




Two Radishes


From the Office of Grass to Veggies



Contact: James Lissy | | | Longmont, CO

Re: Boulder County Proposed Integrated Weed Management Plan

Download PDF Version


Earthrise from Moon
Earthrise from the moon – Apollo 8 – Photo by Bill Anders.  “The Earth from here is a grand oasis in the big vastness of space.” – Jim Lovell

As a resident of Boulder County, the county’s proposed integrated weed management proposal is appalling due to its emphasis on using, over-using and unchecked use of chemicals which pose a significant threat to human health, pollinators, water quality, aquatic life, soil and overall health of the environment.  The lack of pro-active notification to the community regarding this plan, lack of emphasis on indigenous / regenerative agriculture for weed control, lack of consideration of modern science and lack of scientific monitoring when chemicals are used make this proposed plan highly unacceptable.
I understand that the County wants the easy button when it comes to weed control.  The County wants to be able to suppress the undesirable weeds as easily and efficiently as possible.  However, the effects that the chemicals have on everything else in the environment is blatantly ignored in this proposed plan.  At the bottom of this letter, you will find a list of scientific articles that walk you through the actual effects that these chemicals have on the environment as a whole.  While a lot of these chemicals do effectively kill the targeted species and some are certainly more harmful than others, the majority of these chemicals have drastic and unknown consequences on the rest of the environment as a whole.  These are extremely important considerations since these chemicals can have negative effects on desirable plants species, pollinators, soil health, water quality, aquatic health, endangered species, and us humans.  Not to mention that the increasing resistance to chemicals in the targeted weed species has been noted in several studies which hints at chemicals that are currently effective will likely not be effective in the future.
As you read through the actual scientific and independent research a few things become abundantly clear.  Governing agencies and society as a whole generally consider these chemicals to be safe until proven otherwise.  Even after the chemicals have been proven to not be safe, the new peer reviewed scientific papers done by independent scientists with independent funding gets rejected and ignored by governing agencies within the US, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  The only “science” that the EPA currently evaluates is what is submitted by the company that manufactures the chemical when they first submit an application to the EPA.  These companies stand to make billions of dollars in profit if their applications are approved by the EPA which is an obvious and clear conflict of interest.  Most governing bodies outside of the US peer review submitted research to either verify or dismiss the submitted research which makes governing bodies outside of the US currently much more reliable for determining harm levels of chemicals.  The majority of these chemicals have adverse effects on plants, worms, soil, fish, aquatic life, and seed production of desirable plants.  These negative effects of chemicals are normally not discovered until well after the wide use of the chemicals, making the damage already done.  Paper after paper cites lacks of research or notes that more research is needed into specific and potentially harmful aspects of chemical use.  When research is done on effects of pollinators, this research is usually limited to honey bees.  This limited research is absurd for a few notable reasons:  Bees in general are not the only pollinators and are only a portion of all overall pollinators.  Honey bees are not native to the US and there are a lot of native bee species in the US which are commonly referred to as native bees.  Native bees are extremely important to the ecosystem since they have adapted to live here naturally, without human assistance.  Chemical effects on native bees have not been researched.  A lot of these native bees are solitary, do not live in hives and live underground or in brush on the ground making them more susceptible to the potential effects of chemicals.  Furthermore, pollinators in general have a wide range of foraging which also makes them more susceptible to chemical use even if the chemicals are not sprayed directly on them.  Chemical effects on soil and water health are often overlooked and it is routinely discovered that chemicals once touted as safe have drastic negative effects on soil and water health.

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Dry Flowers and Herbs

Marigolds Drying
Freshly trimmed marigolds set out to dry.

An often overlooked aspect of gardening are the edible flowers and herbs.  The benefits of these are two-fold: pests tend to stay away from strong scents and they're edible!  So if you scatter flowers and herbs throughout your garden you then have a natural pest deterrent that you can also eat.  In the case of pests whom like some pleasant scents, such as the Japanese beetle, the flowers and herbs will pull them away from your vegetables and into plants that you don't care as much about.  It's important to note that even these dreaded beetles have scents that they do not like so diversity is key!  There are a lot of benefits to growing flowers and herbs in your garden but the part that most people forget about is... eating them!