Monday, December 5, 2011

Benefits of Walking and Running Barefoot

It is the start of November, and things are still crazy but getting better.  After completing my originally assigned classes for WGU, I am doing two extra classes, one of which I passed in a week (excluding wait time to take the test).  This class, which is all about Windows 7 (which I am liking less and less (still better than Vista)), is almost done.
For one of my classes I had to do a research paper.  My subject is about going barefoot (of course).  Now that it is done and submitted and I have some time (and on a request), I am posting my paper.  There are three options for your reading pleasure.
The first is as a PDF, since most computers can already read, even in web browsers, PDFs.  The formatting will be the same as when I submitted it.  Second, the paper as an RTF, or Rich Text Format, which works in almost every word editor, including Microsoft Word, and Pages.  The last is an ePub file, which is a format used for ebooks, such as the Kindle, iBooks (on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch), and other readers I can’t think of at the moment.  Enjoy and let me know what you think:
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Sunday, November 20, 2011


1 Red LED
1 White Lantern
2 Solar powered
1 Hand-cranked
3 Button
1 iPhone 4S
2 EL Wire
1 Headlamp

I don't know why, but I like my flashlights. I have twelve of my own... 5 in my room, one in the hall, and the rest down stairs. I know that seems a little excessive, but it is nice during times like now when the power is on the fritz and you want to see what is around you. It is odd, the power is not completely out, but just enough that most things don't work, but battery chargers and adapters do. And the LED nightlight. Right now I am typing on my cellphone this post using a bluetooth keyboard under the glow of 3 meters of EL wire. A recent acquisition, This very thin plastic wire with a small copper wire in it gives a bright glow for about 12 hours using just two AA batteries. I can see my future dream house lined like the aisles of a movie theater in this stuff, so a power outage does not stop me from wandering around and not step on a catmine.
Another almost necessity is glow-in-the-dark-tape. I first saw this stuff in high school, as we used it to mark out the end of the stage so people don't walk off like they do on America's Got Talent. Every flashlight and water bottle has between 3 and 7 pieces of tape to guarentee visibility from any view angle. Best way to charge the tape? Oddly enough its a UV bulb I got for when I DJ. Too bad that requires house power. Hey Mom...I have another item to add to my Christmas list.

Oh want to see what EL wire looks like:

Friday, September 9, 2011


It has been a week since I got home.  I miss camping and the lake but it has been nice to have some new food, play with the cats and dog (and I am not a dog person) and laugh at our funny and strange chickens.  Now that I am home I can work more on my classes, even though my remaining class is a research paper and I hate papers.

Once this class is done, I plan a few posts about what I need to remember for next year if I am able to camp again.  It might be a while though.  Also when this class is done, I will be done with my first term of WGU, and only 8 will remain.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Wait Wait Please Do Tell Me!

Yay!  I won!  You can listen at  After listening, I actually didn’t do as well as it sounded.  I first thought it was A, but the audience booed, so I said B, even though it would fall apart when it rains, I just really hoped it wasn’t C.  Well it was, a lifeguard being fired for not wearing a speedo.  This apperently was really in the news, but due to camping, I never heard about it!  Thanks to the audience, I still won!

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Ok, my mom read this and told me that what I thought my have been misunderstood.  Let me go back to the story, Roy Lester was a guard in New York.  He wears a tightish swimsuit that goes almost down to the knees.  This is what he normally wears when guarding, as compared to regular swimsuits, because regular swimsuits can slow him down.  He had a choice between wearing a speedo, which will keep him moving fast, or failing by not doing the swim.  He chose not to wear a speedo or a loose swimsuit, so he was fired.

A lifeguard should tested in whatever clothing they wish.  If they wish to swim in a sweatsuit they can...and if they pass, then does it matter what they wear?  They have proven that they can perform a rescue yet watch the water comfortably.  His choice, and others, in swimwear should not prevent testing...just test on swimming ability.  If he had dressed like this in prior summers, then he should be simply grandfathered in.

One of the city's swim requirement that they have listed is swimming 100 yards in 75 seconds.  The lifeguard training I was given was that you must always be within a 25 second swim from any swimmers (45 seconds for swimmers with a lifejacket *shiver in horror*).  I know that for myself I can swim 25 yards in 22 seconds with a lifeguard tube, 15 seconds without a tube while sprinting.  There are two differences between a rescue swim and a regular timed swim.  When doing a time swim you are keeping your head in the water, so you can move thru the water faster.  During a rescue you must keep your head above water so that you can keep watch over your victim.  You also normally have a tube under your arms or chest to keep ready until you get close to your victim.  I should also mention I am only tested on 25 yards due to always being in a pool of that size, and I never taught myself how to do flip turns when becoming a lifeguard, so I can't do a further distance when being timed in a pool.

According to the Red Cross requirements (what I am certified under), there is no unassisted hearing or vision requirements, as so long as the candidate can perform the rescue.  As long as the candidate is over 15, age has no impact behind initial certification.

I wish Roy luck and he gets his job back!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wait Wait Do Tell Me!

Today is my last day camping up here.  I still have a few more posts to put up, but I have a test for one of my classes on Friday morning and the nearest testing center is in the Twin Cities.  Between that and missing my family and cats, I am going to be leaving tomorrow morning for home.   I will do a more proper goodbye when I can, but right now I am a little excited!

I just got a call back from Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me from NPR.  I am going to be a contestant for the Bluff the Listener Challenge!  Bluff the Listener Challenge is where the three panelists each give me an odd story.  One is true, the others are faked (though sometimes really cool or correct and they didn’t realize it).  I have to guess which is real.  The recording is tomorrow night, and airs on Saturday.  As to when and what station depends on where you live.  Look online for more information.  WWDTM is also available afterwords to download.  You can either subscribe as a podcast in iTunes or some other method, or direct from the site at ____.  Listen if you can!  I will post the direct link when it is available.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

♬This is the end, my friends♬

♬This is the end, my friends♬

Yesterday was beach takedown day.  I am officially done guarding for the summer :(  At least the water was warm when I went in to bring in the buoy.  I am going to miss that beach and the loons that come out to visit.  Some days the water was nice and clear, sometimes it was mirky.  Occasionally the minks would come out and tease me with the fact I didn’t have my camera with me.  I’m going to miss swimming under water about 15 feet to pick up two cement blocks and start walking them thru thick, deep mud to put the buoy back to where it should be.  I got to work with some of the best lifeguards Northern Wisconsin.

Yea, there were some troublesome kids that would drive me nuts, but there were others who were well behaved and funny sometimes.  It was fun to watch young families come to the beach for their first times.  Canadians would come down and make fun of the people and guards who think the water is too cold while Floridians would think we are all nuts.

Until next year, from the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the formally lifeguarding camping lifeguard.


I was nice and asleep (I think I sleep better here than in my own bed) and all of a sudden I was jolted awake!  Frogs keep jumping around and two ran into my tent last night.  Normally I get a frog or two over the night for the last few nights, but two at once is a first.  They seem to not realize you need to go around the tent and instead they try to climb up and over it.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Sunday, August 28, 2011


One thing I like to do is partake in a game called Geocaching.  Geocaching is using a GPS to find containers hidden in bushes, trees, between rocks, and in other locations. Depending on the size of the cache, you can find in the cache a log of who has visited, and sometimes some trinkets like toys, coins, and other little odds and ends.  When you find a cache you take out one item and put in a different one.  On sites like, you can find caches near you and get the longitude and latitude, a description of the cache, and sometimes a hint.  Once you find it you fill out the log at the cache and online.

When using a GPS, you have to remember that GPS’s aren't exact.  When your GPS give you the Long/Lat, it is based on the time of the radio signal from some satellites to get to your receiver.  However, things like the atmosphere, warm and cold pockets, clouds, and nearby trees and buildings can change the time it takes for the radio signal to get to the receiver.  This slowdown can cause errors of usually 15 to 150 feet or more. What this causes is when your GPS gives you your location, on a good day, that location it gives you is actually within 15 feet of you, but not necessarily where you are at.  When you are finding something that was hidden, its a good idea to double your reported error distance for your search range.  If you have a 15 foot error and the hider a 15 foot error in the opposite direction on a different day, then where you are standing is actually 30 feet away from where the hider was.
Enough with the technical stuff...I have found 20 caches since I started about two tears ago.  I have also hidden two caches now, the most recent on Friday (this post is on Monday).  I hid it on the dock at Bayview Beach at N 46° 36.200 W 090° 51.884 (When I stored that Long\Lat, I had an error of 17 feet).

After setting it and submitting it on Friday, it was approved Saturday morning, and by that afternoon, it had already been found (good job chiroptera79))!  To learn more about this cache, visit here.  When you do, leave a comment on here but no spoilers!
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard
Ohh!  The coyotes have caught something.  They are a lot closer tonight than the last time I heard them two nights ago.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

2000? Already?

I don’t believe it myself but this morning I looked and less than a month (5 days less) from having 1000 views, I have now had 2000 views!  I was not expecting this to happen, to be this popular.  I love it!  Too bad the summer is almost to a close and I won’t have too many more posts to come.  I am due for a few posts both here and in Seagull Hunting, but have been really busy.  I will try and type them up later this week and post it when I can.
Its a bit late in the game, but I have created a page for those who wish to subscribe in RSS or Google Reader.  If interested head over to  Time to do some school work.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Local Stores

The last 10 days I have been housesitting for a church member.  Today is my last day.  One thing I really enjoyed about being here and in town is I am just a block from a local grocery store.  It is nice to be able to stop by every day or so to get something fresh.  I have lived out in the country all my life and a store run was at least 5 miles.
Sorry...i am having trouble thinking allergies are bad.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Behold a new sport!

Remember my post yesterday about seagull hunting?  Well now I am kind of obsessed seagull hunting...scaring away seagulls.  As I have explained, we need to keep these seagulls away, so between making a seagull simulator and hopefully the “portable dog killer”, I think I am going to start a new blog going just for seagull stuff.  I will be here, the Camping Lifeguard, and there, Seagull Hunting.  Heads up, over there things could get a bit more techie.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the seagull hunting camping lifeguard

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Seagull Hunting

Back between my junior and senior year, I spent about 10 days at a camp called Lead America. I took the engineering camp, and we had a lead instructor who is a physics professor who went to MIT. One day he told us about an underground group he was in at MIT, which performed pranks on campus. Multiple pranks involved disassembling cars and reassembling them in offices and on top of buildings (even running, and in the case of the police car, warm donuts).

One prank that he and his friends did was to go out every morning to a football field. They all would wear referee shirts and take with them a bag of popcorn. The would feed the seagulls, and the birds would flock to eat the popcorn. Over the corse of a few weeks, the seagulls learned. They knew that whenever someone in a referee’s shirt appears, food is on the way. During some home games, there would be so many birds in the stadium and field they had to stop the game for a while.
Here at the beach, we have seagull problems already. People feed them and they get to a point where they attack kids for food. Their poop, when washed from the ground and pilings they sit on, can raise the e-coli levels to a level where it is unsafe and we have to close the beach (also when the nearby creek that runs thru the city gets a lot of water and makes things worse at the beach). This happened already this summer after a heavy rain; we had to close shore, but apparently it was fine to go off the diving board. Made for a very boring lifeguarding day.

Normally we have to tell people to stop feeding the seagulls. Today I got to work and saw someone feeding seagulls. I asked her to stop feeding them, then I went hunting! I don’t know why, I just did.

I am not a gun person besides nerf guns, but I came to work on my bike, and being a lifeguard, I had my whistle. So I hopped on my bike, whistle in mouth, and tried to run them down on my bike, blowing my whistle the entire time. After a few passes, about a dozen, most of the seagulls left the area. On my break I did it again as another group of people were feeding the seagulls.

I am hoping over time the seagulls will learn to stay away for good. I doubt that will happen, but at minimum they will learn that crazy people on a bike wearing red with a whistle is something to avoid. What would really be great is instead being any time a biker goes by OR wearing red OR blows a whistle, then they will flee instead of bike AND red AND whistle.
If my cousins are reading this, they know what is coming because of OR and AND, but for the rest of you, well I just can’t leave enough alone. Yes, I am already brainstorming a program to write where each seagull and person is an object. Have hundreds of seagulls and hundreds of people, and on a given day most of the seagull objects and dozens of people objects with come into play on the “beach”. Each person is either walking, biking, or driving by, some people with group with other people to make “families” with different bonding levels. Each person might pass thru, stop, eat, swim. Those who stop and eat are most likly to feed the seagulls. Kids each have random excitment level, and the more excitable, the more likly to chase of seagulls. Each person also will have described color of shirt, pants, hat, glasses, whistle, and transportation (bike, skateboard, or car (which can’t leave the parking lot)). There will be special people (lifeguards) which stop any and all feeding of seagulls then scare them.

The seagull objects will keep track of when they are scared off people and what they are wearing or on. When scared, they will remember that they have been scared by those properties of the people. They won’t have the best memory, maybe three or four scares, depending on the health of the bird, and if they don’t get scared by say someone with a red shirt for 4 scares, they forget that they were scared by a red shirt. Every time they get scared by a red shirt after the first one, the memory countdown is reset, and they keep track of how many time they have been scared by a red shirt since they first started keeping track. The more often a seagull is scared by people, no matter what they are wearing, the more distance they keep from people. On the other hand, you can domesticate seagulls by feeding them, resulting them in being less likely to be scared. Where seagulls go, home to perch or to the beach to eat, or even elsewhere, depends how hungry the seagull is, and also other seagulls feel about that gull. Over time all seagulls like each other but if a seagull takes food from other another seagull or gets something good (fish from the lake) and other gulls are not able to get the food from them.

Where, what, and how much seagulls eat depends on the number of people in other areas (eat on beach or at Pamida), water temperature (fish), wind (strong wind makes it harder to hunt). Number of people and what they are doing is based on air temperature (amount of swimmers), wind speed and direction (water temperature), day of week (weekends have more travelers), and if there is a special event.
Oviously there is a lot there, and I plan to take it in small parts, and I have higher priorities, but this here is enough for me to remember what I want to do.
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Friday, August 12, 2011

A happy day and connected ramblings

Today is such a beautiful day down here at the beach. One family swimming, cloudy but not rainy, constant breeze, no waves, buoys where they should be, and an occasional mink. It is quiet so I can think, but no quiet I go insane. And unlike most of the nation right now, it's not too hot...maybe low 70s.

I lifeguarded yesterday too. It started off with some annoying kids, but they left and things got interesting. There was a group of girls here, maybe 6 or 7, all roughly 12 +- 4 (I suck at guessing age). They were nice and behaved, just how I like lifeguarding (besides young families here). Normally nothing I would write about but glad to have days like. These girls made my day weird enough though, and all it took was popcorn.

They would take a bag of cheesy popcorn and rub it on their face then jump into the water. I don't know why but it was just funny watching them having orange faces and jumping into the water.
I know that doesn't sound that special, but the last few times guarding it has been stressful as people don't listen to the rules and constantly ask when we are going home so they can break the rules.
Oh, and before you think wearing popcorn into the water is weird it's not. Last year some boys found a can of shaving cream and would cover themselves in the cream. Not great for the water, but not knowing what is in it, it wasn't enough to tell them to stop. Shaving cream bottles hold a lot of cream! Back when I was guarding at my YMCA, I did have to kick kids out of the pool after they coated themselves in soap from the shower, and were going to jump in the pool.

I don't think that would have been as bad as what one friend back at my Y thought of. We had a slide there, so he thought (though did not do) you could take liquid soap, put it into a bag, and pop it on the slide. The slide would have mixed it up and make the water all bubbly. I am curious as to what that would look like, but please don't try that at home. (recently thought about a water balloon of food coloring in a pool and how much it would take to stain someone. Or in a mean approach of that, in general, throwing a food color filled water balloon at someone and how bad that would stain them. Youtube time!)

Actuality the idea of soap on the slide would have been nice one day at the Y. Islam (and I think other cultures) require full body or head covering, and apparently even while swimming. We had a girl come in covered in cloth as required by her beliefs and went down the slide. Unlike swimsuits and skin, cotton is not very slick. She was stuck on the slide all the way down, resulting in doing a crab walk all the way down a 420 degree turn. Hmm, I wonder if they make polyester full body swimsuits that would have met her requirements but still let her slide down the slide. Considering how hot it gets out where Islam is most common, pools with slides would have already found that a problem and found a solution. Must be like cool technology...always slow to come to America.

From the guy with the eye on the sky and water enjoying a beautiful day, Travis, the on-hiatus camping lifeguard.
:) :D
Sorry couldn't help it

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Wait! No! Don't Leave!

The Camping Lifeguard is going on a camping hiatus. I have been asked to house sit until the 20th. I am going to miss camping, but for the next 10 days I can have cold stuff like ice cream, chocolate milk, and cookie dough.

It also leaves the campsite more room, which they are expecting about 200 people for an educational thing. They will need all the room they can get!

I will still post as I have material, but there might be less than normal.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Day Off

I would like to thank one of my co-workers for letting me have yesterday off. My having it off I was able to go on a 4 mile swim along the shore. That 4 mile swim wore me out enough that I took a nap. The nap ment it was harder to go to bed that night, and had I been asleep at midnight like I should have, I would have not gone to the bathroom at 1 am. 1 am was when the aurora was out. Thank you for taking my shift!

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

The Aurora

Last night I had to go to the bathroom before going to sleep and it was bright out. Didn't take long to look up and see the Aurora was out and dancing. A frantic rush to my camera and I got some of the pictures you see here on the right.

Unforchently digital cameras suck at this. There were three lines of lights, the line directly overhead would pulse like a rave. Below that (more north) was a small layer of green glow, then the main system. Again, my camera doesn't do justice. The aurora was bright enough that I could see my shadow on the ground. When you look at the pictures I took, most of them used a 60 second shutter and then were digitally lightened.

Click on the image to see a larger version!

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Oh, and while I was watching I played with the fire too!

Do you have the key?

Act 1 Scene 1

Setting: A day at the beach. Swimmer and Lifeguard are on the dock. Down at the beach is a green row boat

Swimmer: Can we take the boat out?

Lifeguard: Sure.

S: Cool! (runs down the dock)

LG: (shouting) Don’t forget the boat plug!

S: plug?

LG: Yea, plugs the hole in the boat that is used to drain it.

S: Oh….we will use a stick (starts walking down to the beach. Stops and turns to friends and LG) Dude, there is a chain on it.

LG: Yep.

S: Do you have the key?

LG: No, it’s in the lifeguarding house.

S: Oh (gets ready to head to the house) is it locked?

LG: Yep.

S: Where is the key to the house?

LG: In my car.

S: Which one is that?

LG: Green one.

S: Is it locked?

LG: Yes

S: Where are they keys to that?

LG: I’m not letting you into my car!

S: Oh (walks back to diving board disappointed)

LG: Besides, you would need the paddles anyways.

S: Where are those?

LG: One is in the lifeguard house, the other doesn’t fit the boat

Act 1 Scene 2

Setting: NC pool. About a dozen swimmers in the water. Swimmer and lifeguard are talking

Swimmer: Can we use one of the kiaycks?

Lifeguard: Not right now.

S: When?

LG: During open boating.

S: When is that?

LG: During the school year

S: Just a quick ride?

LG: Sure

S: (start walking to the boats, LG smiles) Hey, they are chained up

LG: Yea.

S: Can I get the key?

LG: Sure (points to the key box)

S: What is the combonation?

LG: I belive it’s 135680

S: It doesn’t work

LG: Yea, they changed it

S: What about that boat, it doesnt look chained (points to an unchained boat against the next wall)

LG: No!

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Friday, August 5, 2011


I mentioned with Baydays last month I had to call the police three times to remove people from the beach, one of them I shall call Dude. Dude was removed because he went over the railing twice. On Sunday while lifeguarding Dude came down with his buddies to swim.

It was a beutifle day (though you would never know by my spelling) with calm, warm water, warm air, and no swimmers. My co-guard and I went in the water to hang out and swim and I swam out to scare seagulls away, as they are annoying, fight with children for food, and increase our e-coli levels.

On my swim back to the dock, Dude came to the diving board. He and a buddy were standing on the diving board, which we allow only one at a time, so I asked someone to get down. After I got onto the dock, the three boys walked down to the other lifeguard. They talked to her for a bit then the boys left. I asked later and I was told Dude and his buddies asked if she could trade locations with me because I had called the police on him before.

Yes, this is a true story! Not many people are dumb enough to say they have gotten in trouble before. Oh, and my co-guard, she enforces different rules to a different extent than me, but if you get in trouble, its worse than when you get in trouble with me.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Thursday, August 4, 2011

And a two

It has now been two months from today that I officially became the camping lifeguard. It is August, swim lessons are done after 80+ kids, the Forth of July has passed, Bay Days went by with incident. We have had warm water, heavy rains, and hot days.

Swimming in the lake, I think about what I miss about home, but how much I love being out here. I miss my mom and dad, my sister and brother, all of the cats. I miss being a continual system admin at home, and having computers for video and image processing.

I really like being up here though. I feel happy, and not stressed. I know my parents don’t want to read this but I wish I could stay here past the summer...even all year if winters didn’t get too cold in a tent.

There are a few things I have learned for next year. Next year I want to bring my smaller tent. My six person tent is way too big and I only use about half of it. I have a two person tent that I can use all of since I am so tall I have to sleep at a diagnal. There is a water source up here, so I don’t need as many water jugs. There are other things I don’t need, like some cables and flashlights. I think the only thing I want more of is blankets and another pillow.

And maybe a cat.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Thursday, July 28, 2011


I didn’t think it would happen, yet it did! I have had 1,000 blog visits! Actually 1,005 at this moment.

Blogger, the blog hosting company I am using here keeps track of visits and information about those visits. For example:

  • The most popular blog post is Camp Sweet Camp with 19 views.
  • The website which sends the most people to my blog is (Hi Grandma!), followed by
  • Need to Google my blog? 3 people have found by blog by searching for “the camping lifeguard.
  • Most of my views are from the US, but 13 are from Germany (Hi Lauren!)
  • By computer operating system, 62% of readers use a Mac, 36% use Linux, and 4 views are from Linux (Hi Cousins!)
  • However, even though 62% of readers are on the Mac, only 59% use Safari, others (20% of total) use Firefox, which is more popular than Internet Explorer (12%). Good job on being secure people!
  • Someone uses SimplePie to view my blog, which is an RSS reader.
  • Since I have 1000 views, and 50 posts now, divide and there are about 20 viewers to my blog.

That might not sound right (and a few other numbers), and there is a reason for that. Blogger counts a view for a blog when someone uses their browser (not an RSS reader) to view the blog. When someone reads a preticular article by clicking on a link to that article, it counts the article read and blog read. Going to the blogs main page (, simply scrolling to read does not count for individual reads, just as a visit. Using a bookmark or typing the address in manually does not contain reference information.

Now how did I know who did what reads? Blogger does not tell me individual readers; however, I know that my grandmother uses Netzero to check her email and that is how she goes to view my blog. I know one person who lives in Germany, a friend who went to high school with me. Linux is a fairly complex operating system and the only readers I know who use Linux is my cousins.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...The camping lifeguard

Monday, July 25, 2011

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There are 30 Heck-in-a-Hand-Baskets to choose from, including Wind, Rain, Thunder; Who let the Dogs Out, Lions Tigers and Bears Oh My, Plagues of Plagues, The Trees are Alive, and Apocalypse Now!

Hear what one of our Heck-in-a-Hand-Basket recipients said:

It was an amazing night, I had been asleep for an hour, when all of a sudden a strong wind hit my tent and almost blew me away. I collapsed my tent to prevent it from breaking and drove away to shelter. The next morning it was still very windy but clear out, so I left for some breakfast, only for half an inch of rain to fall. Now my tent is a pool and all my clothing is soaked!

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Remember, call 1866-666-6663 for a free Mini-Heck, and to order your first Heck-in-a-Hand-Basket! Call Now!

©DWA 2011

All Heck!

Just found out why I was blown over and flooded yesterday morning...Mother Nature left me a Heck in a hand-basket. Glad she helped me to clean it up in exchange for a plug! (advertising placement)
I even get to be in the commercial!
From the mobile guy with his eye on the sky: Travis

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Rose is Rose

I have a favorite comic called "Rose is Rose". It always has some nice, happy, family friendly comics. I was reading the comics today and saw this one,, which reminded me of the awesomeness of the other night.
I wasn't carrying garbage, but I, like Jimbo, enjoy a good starry night.

From the guy with eye on the sky, Travis...The camping lifeguard

Woo Tech

I am at the lifeguarding beach right now. Five miles from my beach is the town of Washburn. It is right accross the bay and some people think its Bayfield (some think its Canada). Yet for how far it is from here, I am connected to a WiFi hub at the Washburn Marina! Normally WiFi (the type of wireless internet most people use) is good for roughly 300 ft outside, and 100ft inside. The fact I can get their internet here from so far away is amazing, yet explainable.

Back where I went to school in Iowa, while waiting for the school bus, I could hear our band practice, even though school was about three miles away. What happens is there is warm air near the ground, then a layer of cool air on top. This temperature inversion bounces the sound waves like a sheet of glass, then off the ground until it got to me. This effect is well known for lakes and ponds, but also works under the water, and is a way to hide submarines. I remember a JAG episode in the first season where just this occurs...a sub needs to hide from another sub, so it goes deep enough that it hits a cold water inversion. The attacking sub’s sonar waves bounce off the inversion and can’t find the sub.

AM and Ham radio also do this with the inversion layers and other types of layers of the atmosphere. I remember meeting some Ham radio operators up here last year and they were talking about how during the Katrina disaster, they were able to talk to people in Louisiana and were able to contact family members for those in the disaster area. This was only possible with radio waves bouncing off the atmosphere and coming back down to earth.

WiFi is also a type of radio waves (2.4 GHz) and is reflecting off a cold layer here to give the same effect...communication from a crazy far distance!

Oh, great thing about the internet at the beach...Watching the sunset!

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Edit: If my manager is reading this, Sara, I think each of our parks larger parks need this, free wifi for people to sit outside and work!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Fireworks 2011

It took me a while to go through the 1300+ pictures, but here are some of the best out of the 104 that were good.

Holy Awesome Nights Batman!

Oh last night was so awesome! After 10:30 the bugs left and I was able to go swimming and do some work on my tent. Afterwords I went for a swim and was able to just float on my back and watch the stars. Looking straight up I could see the milky way and satellites flying by. Occasionally I would see a shooting star, including some really bright ones.

The air was warm but not hot, and the water was cool but not cold, and it was very tempting to just fall asleep right there in the sand, only a foot from the water line. I think I will have to do that some time.

During the entire two hours I was out there, part of the sky glowed green from the aurora, and at about midnight there were streaks of light to be seen. Before I saw the streaks I thought I saw it move more south as the eastern sky was getting brighter. Then I saw the tip of the moon rise up. It was only a half moon, but it was bright enough to cast shadows of me and the little hills of sand on the beach.

The awesomeness only lasted until about 2 am, at which point the winds went from calm to 20 mph off the lake and was strong enough to cave in part of my tent while I was sleeping in it. It was odd however as there was still not a cloud in the sky. Because of the wind I decided to collapse my tent to keep it from breaking, gathered up some bed stuff, and while shouting to myself "EVAC EVAC EVAC!", ran to the round house to sleep.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Q&A 2: Humidity

TIme for another Q&A. This one comes from my grandmother, asking “What is the difference between humidity and dew point?” Given our current weather throughout the nation, this is a good question.

We have been hearing lately about how the humidity is high or the dew point is tropical. Temperature is simply how warm or cold the air. On a more technical level, it is the average kinetic energy of what is being measured.

Dew point is simply what temperature air can cool to before it gets saturated and either the water in the air needs to be removed via condensation or rain. The dew point tells us how much water is already in the air. It is measured by finding what temperature water is in the air. Once the dew point pasts 70, it is considered to be tropical. Temperature can never be below the dew point.

Humidity is the percentage of water in the air compared to the temperature. When the humidity hits 100%, the air can handle no more water, so it condenses out, which can cause rain, or droplets on glass to form. When the humidity is high, water evaporates more slowly, which is why when the humidity is high its harder to cool yourself.

The body uses sweat to keep cool because evaporation is a heat absorbing process, so when it is humid, the body cannot cool itself, so you start to overheat. This is why high humidity and hot temperatures are dangerous. It is also why it is good to invest in dehumidifiers. Dehumidifiers remove the water from the air, so that more water can be evaporated, helping to cool you. This is also why a house at 75° in the winter feels nicer than outside at 75° in the summer...less humidity.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Operation: Table

Two years ago a picnic table was floated into the lake for a ride. The waves and currents pushed the table to a small lot of sand down the shore. Between work this weekend, I decided to go bring it back from the mini-beach. Great thing about tables, they float!

It is annoying hard getting the table into the water when you are wearing flippers, but once in the water you can lay on the table and keep afloat. All I had to do is kick over to our beach area, and since I just had to lay there, i could have fallen asleep and been fine.

The table however also became home to many spiders. Those who did not drown took shelter on the dry spots of the table I wasn’t leaning on. Over time, I eventually had some very large spiders on my arms, hoping that this lifeguard would save them. I promised them as long as they stayed on the table where its dry now, they will be fine.

After what was a very relaxed 30 minutes, I finally made it back the main beach. With the table out of the water, there was still a good sized dry spot on the table for the other passengers. The question is, how long will the table remain at the beach before floating away again?

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Monday, July 18, 2011

Bay Days

Every third weekend in July is a celebration called Bay Days. Bay Days is a three day festival at Bay view park and beach, featuring food, rides, bands, competitions, races, and a triathlon.

For me Bay Days started on Saturday morning helping out with the 5K and 10K triathlon. My main job was just telling them where to go. Unfortunately it was really hot and humid out, so standing out in the sun was not fun. Between the runs and lifeguarding, I was able to do some swimming and return a table back to our beach (Read Operation: Table).

My lifeguarding shift for the day was from 11:30 to 5:30. Knowing it was going to be very hot out, I planned to do my entire shift on the rescue board, so I could just hang out in the water, staying cool. Unfortunately a guard didn’t show due to being sick (now our second guard currently sick), so I was alone until 2:00. After the next guard showed, I was able to go have a snack of fried bread then hang out in the water on my board. Being in the water, I was constantly floating away, resulting in regularly swimming back to where I wanted to be at.

It had the makings for a good day, except for multiple rounds of teens who did not care about their safety, resulting in much yelling and eventually the calling of the police.

We have a rule about the railing. The railing goes around the dock and is made of wood, which means it is not overly strong, just a 1-by-4 piece of wood. Kids seem to enjoy jumping over and sitting on the railing. Problem is that the railing can (and has) snapped, so if the railing snaps, the sitter will fall backwards into the water. On the swimming side of the dock, falling will result in landing in the water, but run the risk of hitting the superstructure that is holding up the dock, or more likely the metal sticking out from it. On the other side, falling off is a very short trip into a few inches of water followed by going splat on parts of the old ore dock the swim dock is built on. Old wood, metal rods, and the occasional nail fill the bottom area of the deck.

Jumping from or over the railing has its own issues. If a swimmer were to collided with the rail or the rail breaks, it can injure them and cause them to fall into the water. Unlike the diving board, the other areas are not checked for being clear of debre, such as wood, rocks, and bikes, and can be too shallow for even a lifeguard with entry knowledge to be safe.

After warnings to not sit on or jump over the railing, I issued orders to leave the beach as I cannot focus on them being unsafe and keep everyone else safe. For the safety of everyone, I had to get them out of the area, and since they would not leave, we called the police, twice! The second time the officer came down he had everyone causing trouble to leave and threatened to close the dock, which would have been nice, since at that time of the day, its mostly troublemakers.

Oh, and to that one guy who talked to me that evening, I would not need anger management classes if you would just follow the rules.

Sunday was a busy, early day with the triathlon at 8 am. The first leg is a 500 yard swim, which I have volunteered for for the last three year. It is always fun to cheer on my boss in the race, however she tends to fall behind because her lifeguard instincts take over and she starts helping the swimmers falling behind and the runners and bikers who are also having problems. It was about 80 out, and the lake is running at roughly 75° right now. As with the other two years I guarded, almost everyone was wearing wetsuits. The wetsuits are normally used to keep the swimmers warm and help them float. Wetsuits are worn even in the Caribbean and Bahamas, as even “warm” water can still cool the body. The disadvantage of wetsuits is that they slow you down during the swim or transition to biking. I can’t imagine how hot they were.

After guarding the race I went to wave the runners around a corner to make sure they didn’t take the longer trail. After the race was done I had to restore the ropes for our beach. Luckily I love that job. The easy part is just swimming the rope around the buoy to the dock. The hard part is moving the buoy. It only took me one try to get it exact, but normally its a multi-trip process of diving to the bottom of the lake, pick up two concrete bricks, and walk them until I need air. Did I talk about this before? It seems familiar.

Lifeguarding started with me working with our other head lifeguard. The first two hours went as normal, occasional yelling of railing sitters and people wanting to jump over the railing, then came chaos. First the lifeguard I was with had to go play in the band. While he was playing with the band, part of the Bay Day events involved cardboard boat races. Teams had to build out of cardboard and duct tape a boat they had to use to float from the beach to the rope and back. Some boats have no chance, others are surprisingly good. One boat, built by the family of one of my swim students from last year, was amazingly strong, though lost due to team with twice as many paddlers. While built for two, after the race they stuffed four into the boat and only did a problem occur when a fifth tried climbing in and broke a support structor. It stayed afloat fine, but was now able to cave in.

After the race was done, and I was able to let people back in, though upon doing so, about half a dozen people jumped over the railing into the water. A yell at them not to stand on and jump over the railing got a reply of only “shut up” and I am sure some words which I could not hear. Another round of over the railing and I told the swimmers to leave. This resulted in yet another round of jumps, a call by me to the police to have them leave. It worked and the rest of the shift being nice...until we herd a big boom. We had a thunderstorm near us and we cleared the beach. The storm gave a nice warm rain that was pleasant to be in (minus the windows in my car left open).

Besides the rain, nature gave me “sorry about the day” with a beautiful gust front from a newer storm to the south. The gust front caused a rolling cloud wall that passed over head while I was parked at a gas station to watch it. Then later there was a nice red sunset.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Go Swimmers Go!

Today during one of my Level 1 classes the four kids there swam 30 ft about four times, then 75 ft...mostly by themselves! The pass requirement for a Level 1 student is two body-lengths. I feel so proud!

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Q&A 1: Ads

Earlier today I received a question from my mom:
Does your blog advertising do anything like sorting for the interests of the reader? When you first started blogging, most of the ads were camping related but I've started to notice that lately, it is doing more ads for something called Audiodigest which is something I already subscribe to for continuing ed and now all of a sudden, it is showing ads for a clothing company I occasionally shop, and this one started popping up after I accessed their site because of a sale ad I got in the mail. Is it starting to show me ads to click on based on what it thinks I am more likely to be interested in or is it just a coincidence? Just curious.
Actually this is not a coincidence. The ads here on this blog are provided by Google Adsense. Google Adsense, as well other ad companies, such as DoubleClick, monitor where you go and what you read to give ads targeted to you. In the case of my mom, because my blog is about camping, those were the ads she was first getting. As she visits other sites, it sees that she also likes the clothing, so she gets the ads about clothing, and knowing from her history that she like a certain company, so ads are shown of stuff she might like from the company she likes, figuring she is more likely to buy from there again.

Companies like this of course because it targets their audience, who are more likely to buy something than anyone else. Its good for the consumers because the ads show buyers something they would like but never knew about.

People however worry that these companies are tracking you personally. That is only partial true, as what its actually being tracked is something called a cookie, or a small file that gives a unique ID. Each ID is unique to the combined of computer, user, browser. As a result, even if you have the same computer and your the same user, using different web browsers will result in a different ID and different ads. Don’t worry about these cookies and ads, they are trying to make everyone happy. If you do worry about it, just need to delete those cookies. Just note that cookies store other things, like login information, though nothing critical, just be careful you don’t delete stuff you want.

From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...the camping lifeguard