Thursday, June 24, 2010

Backyard Critters

Nice weather has brought a variety of critters to my backyard each night. I've seen multiple cats, a raccoon, a opossum, many squirrels, and a rat. The raccoon has decided to poo in the middle of the yard each night. I've been capturing photos and videos using my Bushnell Trail camera. Pretty neat.

I haven't seen any skunks in many months, but sometimes I can smell their lingering aroma in the morning.

These are screencaps of video the camera recorded. At night, the scene appears black & white. During daylight, it's in color.

The raccoon is obviously eating the figs from one of the fig trees. I'm not sure what the opossum is eating, or what the cats are chasing. One cat appears to be sitting and watching something, which is probably a rat.

When the animal gets real close to the camera, they get washed out by the IR LEDs. One cat video shows a white blob with whiskers when it came to sniff the camera.

I'm getting tired of cleaning up after the raccoon, so tonight I'll setup the motion activated water sprinkler (Contech Scarecrow) and see if I can dissuade the guy from hanging around.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I read the book "War" by Sebastian Junger. He's a war journalist and author of the bestselling book "The Perfect Storm." I liked this book, and strongly recommend it to anyone wanting to learn more about what our troops experience in Afganistan. It's a blunt description of life for the US Army soldiers fighting in the Korangal valley of Afganistan. Junger was embedded with one platoon off-and-on for about a year.

Junger was accompanied on his trips to Afganistan by filmmaker Tim Hetherington. Together, they used their footage to produce a movie about this platoon. The film is titled Restrepo and won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Here's a link to the trailer for Restrepo on Apple's trailer site.

Restrepo was one of the forward outposts in the valley. They experienced "contact" (were shot at) almost every day. It was an extremely dangerous place. Here's a slideshow from Time magazine about the Korangal valley - nicknamed the Valley of Death.

Junger was there on assignment for Vanity Fair magazine, and they posted some of his articles here and here. Those articles have more photos with links to video and slideshows.

Earlier this year, the US retreated from the valley (Washington Post). Probably a good idea.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Colosseum Mine

I visited the Colosseum Mine west of I-15 near the CA-NV border recently. My last visit was about 6 years ago and it's an interesting place. Last year the road to the mine was closed for repairs by the park service. I used their online contact form to ask if it was open and was surprised to get a quick response. The image above is from Google Maps. The next two shots show the road, first looking up toward Clark Mountain, then looking back down toward Primm.

Colosseum Mine road is in good condition and was an easy drive. Easier than my last visit. To balance it out: the spur up to the mine pit was more rugged than my last trip. I don't think my old Acura MDX could have made that without scraping bottom on a lot of rocks.

Colosseum Mine was an active gold mine from 1988 to 1993. As of July 12, 1990, the mine had produced over 170,000 troy ounces of gold. This data comes from an EPA Site Visit Report: Colosseum Mine, which is chapter 3 of "Technical Resource Document - Extraction and Beneficiation of Ores and Minerals" Vol 2 Gold, August 1994, US EPA, Document Nnmbers: EPA 530-R-94-013, NTIS PB94-170-305. They visited the mine site on May 7, 1992.

I'm no geologist and don't understand how cyanide leach mining works, so I don't know why the water is green.