Tuesday, September 27, 2011

River Run Park remains closed in late September 2011!

Even though the great flood of 2011 is now history, the River Run Park remains closed. This popular RV and camping destination located in Forsyth, Missouri is normally crowded this time of year with late season fishermen and retirees who like the area and have been coming here for years. That is not the case this time, even though the grasses have recovered nicely from spending a summer beneath the waves!

As you can see, some structures like both this restroom complex and even Baker Street, look a little the worst for wear and will require some effort and expense to restore to useable shape. I’m guessing that the cost and maybe lack of manpower are two reasons for it to remain unavailable to the public. It’s good to know, however, that its sister park, Shadow Rock, is open a doing good business.

Update: As of October the 5th, the gate that was closed off Hwy 76 is now open. However the gate that exits the park to the west remains closed. I'm not sure why that is... Anyway, the streets in the park have been cleared of the mud and debris that covered some areas and it looks as though some use can be had. Once again, I thought it might be a good idea to contact the Corps to see what's going on as I have not seen any official notifications in the park proper. Later on, I learned that a neighbor did call the Corps office only to be told he needed to submit a letter explaining why the gate needed to be unlocked. He told me when he heard that, he hung up.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Powersite Dam in September 2011. Come on down the fishing's great!

What a difference a little bit of time makes! Not very long ago the Powersite Dam, located in Forsyth Missouri, looked like this after the area was inundated with over fifteen inches and more of rain in a short period of time! That much water had no where to go and so it backed up and closed down park operations for all of the summer months.

It certainly was all swollen and muddy, I can tell you! Then, the summer came and went on a mostly dry note and now today the waters have receded. Just look at the difference in the height of the water! I took the opportunity to stroll down to the base of the dam on a late September day that was just about as nice as anyone could ask for; seventy two degrees under sunny skies with the barest hint of a breeze out of the northeast. My kind of weather, my kind of latitude! Hey! I even liked the damn dam!

It's nice to know that this weather should be pretty much the norm for the next forty days or until sometime in November when cooler regimes will become the rule. When I first got out of my auto, I immediately ran across a couple of fishermen – and ,as you can see, the ‘fishin weren't too bad’. I then walked on down to the base to get the picture I took at right, and then climbed some (a million) stairs that took me to the top for a more a scenic view.

Yes, it was a great day all the way around. I had the feeling that even this pair of Empire Electric employees didn't seem to mind doing a little welding. They had a small boat tied up down the hill and I assumed they were going to perform some maintenance on the dam itself. Man, some people have a job and others have a great job!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Understanding and avoiding the flu!

'Know your enemy', a saying derived from Sun Tzu's The art of War, aptly describes what could be described as a war between infectious viruses and men. In the case of the virus that causes the flu, what you don't know can make you very sick or even kill you!

The actual size of a virus

In order to understand what you are up against, lets take a look at just how small a virus (like the one that causes the flu) actually is. Click on this very cool link and then use the button to zoom down to the appropriate level. Wow! That flu virus is really tiny isn't? Yet, if that little guy gets a toe-hold in your body, you'll think a Mac truck ran you over...twice!

Flu virus anatomy

Here is a drawing of a typical flu virus. Note the little knobby things all over the surface. These are specialized protein complexes that aid the virus in first attaching to a human cell and then in leaving it once the virus has made millions of copies of itself. These quickly spread to other cells and then the real war begins vis a vie the bodies immune system which ramps up to fight the invasion. When this happens, a person typically begins to complains of fever, chills, etc. Yes, they have the flu! Here is a really good video that will help to visualize the process:

Now, if that were not enough, here's the reason why the flu is such a big problem that it kills over 36, 000 people in a typical year. It turns out that those genes that are inserted into the virus are RNA rather than the more stable DNA. Think of RNA as a really bad coping machine, turning out all sorts of slightly altered copies all the time. Scientists call this process mutation, and the flu virus is a past master at screwing around with its genetic code. To make matters worst, the virus easily goes through a process called re-assortment when ever it gets a chance. This is sort of like shuffling a deck of cards only the cards are coming from other strains of flu. This ability to mutate is why scientists constantly watch to see how the flu has changed from season to season. Right now there are three broad categories of the flu known as type A, B, and C. It's type A that causes most of the problems in humans these days. Remember those little spikes on the surface of the virus? These represent the haemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes and they are the ones that scientists watch for changes. They use a notation that expresses these changed viruses or subtypes in the form of A (H,N) – Here's a list of the most current group of troublemakers:
There are others, but these are the ones that have garnered the most attention. Currently only A(H1N1), A(H3N2) and A(H2N2) are the most active and are found in both humans and pigs. Vaccines are made fresh every season custom tailored to the specific subtypes that are out there.

How to stay away from the flu

The perfect way to stay safe would be to lock yourself in a room, every fall. One that has filtered air, sterilized water and canned food. And, oh yes, no visitors allowed! Not a very reasonable thing to do. In the real world you will always be at some risk. However, you can significantly reduce your risk by doing the following (pdf file):
  1. Eat healthy foods, exercise and get lots of sleep. This will help keep your immune system at its peak.
  2. During bad flu outbreaks, avoid crowded areas like malls, theaters and such. This can be very tough to do if you have young kids in school.
  3. When you are out, stay alert to others. If someone looks sick avoid them.
  4. Make sure you wipe down the handle on your shopping cart prior to using it.
  5. Avoid touching any counter tops (banks, restroom sinks, etc.).
  6. Don't shake hands if you can help it. Pretend you are oriental and bow instead.
  7. Refrain from handling currency. Use a credit card when out and sanitize it when you get home.
  8. If you must eat out, try and look for small restaurants at which to eat. Stay away from large venues with large staffs.
  9. Wash your hands! If you do nothing else, this is one of the best ways to stay out of trouble.
  10. Avoid touching your nose or eyes with your hands. There! You just did it again!
That's it! I hope that you were able to muddle through my poor writing style. I hope everyone stays safe and healthy throughout the coming flu season. Note: Please send me a comment if you see something I screwed up. Just ignore the typing errors and forge ahead. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

OK, so the Bull Shoals Bridge is good to go…for now!

The Bull Shoals bridge I wrote about in June 2011 concerning the rumors that it was going to be closed for up to a year were apparently true…only not as imminent as previously thought. Here's the original link where I got this information from originally.

According to an article published in the September 10th Branson Tri-Lakes News, the work that was going to be scheduled as early as 2013 will not be needed as soon due to some ‘minor fixes’ that were done several years in the past; this according to MoDOT spokesman Bob Edwards.  He went on to say that if the bridge was to be closed, then public hearing would be held to discuss how to ‘deal with the traffic’.

 According to the paper, MoDOT stated that after they had performed an evaluation some time ago – they ascertained that the steel trusses that support the decking are in need of major repairs and even might possibly need replacement. If that were to happen, I would conjecture that this rehab project costing an estimated 8.7 million dollars would take quite some time to complete.

So, whenever this ‘project’ comes to pass, be it 2014 or 2015…. I plan to be present at the 'public hearing' where we all will have the opportunity to bat traffic routing ideas back and forth. Should be a swell time! Now...what about that bridge that crosses Swan Creek?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

US Long Range Winter Weather Forecast for 2011-2012

Yes, it's time for the weather forecast for the coming winter of 2011-2012, which I would like to remind everyone, is right around the corner! The following post represents paraphrased and copied wording from information I gleaned off reliable sources. It may or may not be accurate in all regards. I like to post these to see, months from now, just how accurate they were.
Beginning with trends. Last winter was the coldest in 30 years across many parts of the US. Some eastern parts of the US plunged to a record -50F with the Northeast of the US also seeing many records broken. Temperatures, in general, were below normal for large Midwestern and Eastern cities like New York, Chicago, New Orleans, and Minneapolis. Snowstorms shattered records in New York City in December 2010 and January 2011 to make January the snowiest ever recorded.

So let me turn to the US winter forecast for 2011/2012.

La Niña cooling the equatorial seas of the Pacific and was one of the strongest on record during 2010/2011. (Less warm air rises during La Niña conditions with a cooling influence on the atmosphere that has big implications on global climate and global weather patterns). The changes in global weather patterns originate from air pressure changes in atmospheric cycles known as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NOA) and Arctic Oscillation (AO).

The latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data suggests neutral conditions ahead, but a negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) may yet suggest otherwise. (The PDO is a pattern of Pacific climate variance that recently switched to negative (cold) and will remain that way for the next two to three decades). It is considered likely that La Niña will return more frequently during this time period as a negative PDO results in stronger La Niña (cooling) and weaker El Niño (warming) episodes.

Another fly in the ointment is the current low period of solar activity we find ourselves in. Lower levels of solar output act as a primary driver of atmospheric cycles that influence blocking activity patterns/ridges.

Meteorologists, as they consider all of these factors, are currently leaning towards a particularly harsh winter for many parts of the US during 2011-2012. Large parts of Central and North America will face below average temperatures with above average snowfall throughout this winter Temperatures in many Eastern and Western parts of the US are also continued to be forecast below average with above average snowfall amounts.

The Pacific Northwest region will not escape as the scientists also predict this region will experience a very severe winter, including the Cascades snow pack which is likely to see increased levels due to the negative (cold) phase of the PDO.
The bottom line is most everyone may get some measure of extreme weather this coming winter; so get out there and buy yourself a heavy duty snow shovel, or better yet, book an extended stay in the Bahamas!

Note: For anyone with an interest, here is what I wrote about last winter which was based on the Farmer's Almanac.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Mountain Country Auctions with Rick Findley a lot of fun!

I had some spare time on Saturday,September the 10th and decided it might be fun to attend an auction that was being held on Secluded Acres road in Forsyth, Missouri. The event was attractive to me because it was billed as having lots of guns. I got there about 9AM and yes there were in point of fact, over forty guns laying on tables in the garage. Wow! Most of the firearms were pump action shotguns and they all looked well cared for. There was also one handgun, a left handed grip High Standard .22 caliber automatic that caught my interest. Turned out, when it was finally auctioned in the afternoon that the prices being bid were outside the range of what I was willing to spend.

Still, it was not a wasted trip as I enjoyed talking to folks I haven't seen very often and managed to eat two hotdogs with sodas during the event. Rick Findley was there with his support staff and did an excellent job of calling out items to the crowd. My only problem was that I've never quite grasped the way that a person can call out a bid, and so I kept quiet. While I was there, other items besides guns were handled, I just didn't see anything worth while for me as I already have a basement full of 'nice stuff'.

All in all, the Mountain Country Auctions are worth while if you're looking for a special something at a good price.

Friday, September 9, 2011

It may be a really cold winter!

Well, it’s getting toward the fall of 2011 and one thing is for sure. That means old man winter is not too far off. Before we know it, the sun will be low in the sky. It’ll be getting dark way to soon and my electric meter will be humming away, making my electric company happy.

So, now would be a good time to hit the internet and check up on areas around your home where you can do things that will save you money come the depths of January. I’ve found one of the absolute best things you can do is to make sure there are no holes in the walls that lead directly to the outside. Good places to check are under kitchen sinks and the like. Make sure you also have enough insulation and consider in investing in a small space heater or two.

I have some additional observations at ‘Saving Energy One Watt at a Time’ in case you might be interested!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Shadow Rock Park needs helpers to paint on Sept the 10th!

On what turned out to be a picture perfect day in early September (a high temperature was 79), I packed a light lunch and headed down to Shadow Rock Park in Forsyth, Missouri to see what was going on. I even brought along my bike for a little exercise.

Even though the area where this park is located has been spending most of its time lately under water due to the floods, when I arrived I was still impressed with the extensive recovery efforts. It seems both the city workers and not a few volunteers from the Forsyth Baptist Church had been busy getting the area back up to snuff. I noticed right away that much of the debris, in the form of branches and twigs, had been collected and burned. Even the grass was coming back, poking bravely through a coating of mud that had covered nearly every surface. Now the roads are clear and the due to the efforts of a hard working few the park is beginning to shine again. Another sure sign of recovery was the numerous fishing trailers parked by the bathrooms as you enter the camping side.

I parked next to the Park Attendants RV and was surprised to find Chris Robertson there. Chris is the Manager of Forsyth's Public Services Department (hope I got that right) and is currently doing double duty by watching over the park. He informed me that the park will stay open until either the traffic stops or it gets too cold and they are forced to shut off the water. He then indicated that even after that should hunters want to stay there, the park may be able to offer electrical hookups. In any case they would want to call ahead to make sure.

Chris also informed me they were looking for additional volunteers to do some painting on Saturday, September the 10th. Anyone who is interested in helping can plan to show up at about 9AM on that date. Otherwise, please make an effort to come down and enjoy all the Shadow Rock Park has to offer!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Demo Derby heralds back to medieval times!

While the average small town demolition derby is certainly no clash of knights in shining armor, it does share some of that same charisma. Back in the middle ages, brave men in heavy armor were helped onto their steeds by a page, so that they might vie for personal honor via the time honored sport of jousting; a process whereby one of the combatants was unceremoniously de-horsed by the other. (I can only guess that the winner then did a mad dance of celebration before riding off to defrock the king’s virginal daughter).

Today, in 20-something, we haven’t changed this rite of manhood very much (sadly there are no virgins), with the exception that our ‘horses’ have been replaced by a jumble of rusting metal on wheels. Creations that rumble and rattle their way across a field of mud, belching fire and smoke, much to the delight of  local citizens. As in days long past, the object is still to bash the hell out of your opponent while maintaining the integrity of your own personal ‘steed’. The winner is literally the last one standing. Crude, very crude!

Still, I must profess that there is a kind of attraction to the spectacle! Perhaps because it really is a spectacle. Some of the best memories, I’ve taken back with me after the dust settled, was not so much the cars crashing together in wild abandon, as it was the expressions on a few of the ‘knights’ faces as they fought valiantly to keep from being de-autoed. Inevitably though, there came that ‘coup-de-ville’ moment when a stalled vehicle’s owner watched helplessly as another hormonally charged contestant gained ramming speed with wheels madly slinging up mud; both knowing that the end of one was nigh. Cool stuff that! And, yet another reason I intend to watch the Demo Derby on September the 10th at whatever Park it's at!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Don’t Forget: Demolition Derby on Sept the 10th!

Don’t forget to attend the fall Demolition Derby which will be located at Bull Shoals Park last I heard. You’ll note that the Shadow Rock Park is now open again for business and while I hate last minute changes, I think it is a far better location to hold this event (see side by side pictures). That's just my opinion. You might want to check with the Fair Board at 417-546-4277 prior to attending just to make sure of the location.

Late breaking news: Apparently there is a sign posted that is advertising that the event will be held at the Shadow Rock Park arena after all. Cool!

Farmers Market in Forsyth on Saturday, Sept. the 3rd!

This last Saturday, September 3, 2011 things were busy early in Forsyth Missouri as the early bird may not have gotten the worm, but he or she did get some good bargains at the Farmers Market which was set up across from the new Judicial Building on Main Street.

Both these fellas pictured here were named John and they both were from the Cedar Creek area. They were offering bell pepper, squash, zucchini and tomatoes at bargain prices. While I was there, I ran across Rick Finley who was telling me about an auction coming up on September the 10th at 603 Secluded Acres. I was interested because there will be a lot of guns (see auction flier) for sale there.

Also, in the area, located at major intersections were firemen who were out collecting for MDA. I asked one of them how the collections were compared to last year and he indicated they were up slightly. These guys get up early on a day that they are off work so they can stand around busy intersections in the heat! But, it's for a great cause and I hope everyone, who can, contributes. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Looking back 114 million miles to Earth and her moon.

 (originally published 2010 in Forsythkid.com)
Whenever I get to feeling too big about myself, I make it a point to take a celestial mental stroll out in the heavens. Can you see those two little dots of light? It’s the earth and moon from 114 million miles away. Now, click on the picture to expand it. Can you see the cross?
While not a very far distance in terms of astronomical units, it conveys a sense of how alone we are, or would be, were it not for God and the son he sent to save us. The cross is on an asteroid known as Faith. Not far from it is a dome wherein rests the heart and soul of mankind.
I wish I could take each of our worlds leaders out here, one at a time, so they could stand by the cross and see just how tiny their little home called Earth really is. A mere dust mote, upon the surface of which, seven billion souls of His making call home.
A word to the wise. Please, don't fuck it up. It's all we have.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Just ME Apparel and Accessories in Forsyth!

What's this ? Yet another new shop has opened in Forsyth recently. This time it's a woman’s apparel store. Even during challenging economic times, it's heartening to see new businesses springing up here and there. Just M.E. Apparel and Accessories is located at 15796 US Hwy 160 just across from Peoples Bank in Forsyth Missouri. The phone number is 417-546-5878 Their hours are from Wednesday to Saturday 10AM to 6PM. They're closed Monday, Tuesday and Sunday. That's about all I know at this time.