Archive for the ‘Articles’ Category

An Obsession With Collections

Saturday, June 25th, 2016
Mike Haley with the antique stoves and hard coal baseburners he collects with Jan Daggett. “Mike’s my best friend,” Jan says. “He finds the stoves, I pay for them and he fixes them up. He’s responsible for my addiction.”

Mike Haley with the antique stoves and hard coal baseburners he collects with Jan Daggett. “Mike’s my best friend,” Jan says. “He finds the stoves, I pay for them and he fixes them up. He’s responsible for my addiction.”

Whether motivated by sentimental attachment or potential financial gain, it is in our nature to collect

Whether motivated by sentimental attachment or potential financial gain, it is in our nature to collect

Some adult mother/daughter duos make it a habit to enjoy spa days, others shop together or sit down regularly to tea.

Lisa McDonald and her mom also had a ritual, albeit one that might sound surprising for two grown women.

Every Friday at noon sharp, the two dined at McDonald’s—on a hamburger Happy Meal, no less. Friday was the day the new Happy Meal toy was released.

Lisa’s mother kept hers for the grandchildren. Lisa kept hers for herself.

“I just started collecting them,” says Lisa, who lives in Milton-Freewater, Oregon, and has a cabin in Tollgate. “I didn’t have kids, but children came to my home for me to babysit, so I threw them in a basket for them. Then it got a little out of hand and I decided to collect for myself and not let the kids play with them.”

Today, her collection of children’s Happy Meal toys numbers more than 35,000.

Collecting is in Our Nature
Lisa is one of innumerable collectors who finds pleasure in amassing collections of a particular object.

“Everyone collects something,” says Meryl Starr, a New York-based personal organizer and author of “The Home Organizing Workbook.”

“People have been collecting forever,” says Meryl. “People collect materials to work on a project. People collect figurines, dishes and tea sets; stacks of newspapers, believe it or not; antiques, books, letters; things their children have made in school. It’s almost in our nature to gather and collect.”

A recent search on eBay for collectibles revealed categories ranging from advertising to transportation, with nearly endless subcategories for each.

Under “Breweriana and Beer Collectibles,” the curious could search 318,261 listings under at least 27 headings. Advertising collectibles numbered more than 1.6 million objects. Trading cards came in at more than 1 million.

Collecting often begins in childhood with marbles, dolls, stuffed animals and, of course, trading cards.

“Most children will put together collections of something,” says Randy O. Frost, professor of psychology at Smith College and author of “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things.” “It may be tiny. Sticks. Early in life, people start this process. Some people continue and others drop out of it.”

Generally, there are two reasons for collecting: a sentimental or nostalgic connection or for investment purposes.

Collecting for sentimental reasons is different than collecting as an investment, though often the lines between the two become blurred.

Randy says collecting should not be confused with hoarding—an exaggerated form of collecting that can lead to unhealthy behavior.

“In collecting, there is the courtship process,” Randy says. “There is a lot of thought and preparation for the hunt. There is a specific object that is identified, an attempt to find it and to bring it back and incorporate it into the collection.”

Once acquired, behaviors involve organizing the collection and then displaying it, so the collection tells a story.

“It goes back to something that psychologists call essentialism,” Randy says. “The notion is that possessions have an essence that goes beyond physical characteristics—like a ticket stub from a concert. That ticket stub has an essence, and that essence is the connection to the concert. That essence is in your head. That is where the connection is. It is the essence of the thing that gives it meaning.”

From Hobby to Investment
People who collect purely for financial reasons do not have the same connection to the objects as sentimental collectors, Randy says.

“The connection is not so much the object, or that the object represents something else,” he says. “It’s a means to an end. The connection to the objects is different. There is not an attachment.

“With the other stuff, we’re talking about an attachment. It’s part of their history, part of their identity, part of their self. It is about ownership.”

Some people—like Mike Haley and Jan Daggett of Sisters, Oregon—will tell you they understand the investment aspect, but feel a connection to their collectibles.

The object of their affection is antique stoves and hard coal baseburners. Jan bought their first in about 1992 after Mike introduced her to the old stoves, which he discovered as a young man. They nicknamed that large one—which is taller than Jan—“Gargoyles” for the elaborately carved dragons on its side.

“Most of the stoves were designed to heat two-story or three-story Victorian homes,” Jan says. “Baseburners were designed to burn hard coal. Anthracite coal. We also have some elaborate wood stoves in the collection. The ones that are very fancy are usually baseburners. They are covered in Eisenglass, which is made from mica. I thought they were gorgeous.

“I am a jewelry designer. I carve wax and cast it into metal. These stoves were carved in some other material and cast into iron. I think I was drawn because of the immense amount of detail and artistry in the carvings. Fundamentally, it’s the same process I use to carve wax and cast gold.”

The pair have sold stoves for $1,500 to $20,000.

They plan to expand Jan’s jewelry gallery to showcase and sell others.

“We appreciate their beauty, but we also know they can be an investment,” Jan says.

Memorable Moments
Whether for sentimental reasons or as an investment, the thrill of the hunt often leads to memorable moments and a chance to connect with friends.

“I just got back from a recent trip to Europe,” says Lisa. “I was traveling with my dad, and he made sure we made our stop at McDonald’s.

“McDonald’s is in 200 countries. There are a lot of toys from other countries. One of the guys I used to work with works only in the U.S. during tax season, and then he goes back to China. Every time, before he comes back to the U.S., he makes sure he stops at McDonald’s in China and brings me toys from there. I have a friend who has a son in Japan, and he does the same thing.

“I always thought it would be part of my retirement, but then every toy becomes a favorite and you don’t want to part with them.”

Seven Tips for Keeping Your Cool

Saturday, June 25th, 2016
The cooler wars rage on. Yeti’s dominance in the high-end cooler arena is being challenged by the likes of Rtic, Pelican and other worthy opponents. That is good news for consumers, as features and warranties improve and prices decline. For example, the 45-quart Rtic cooler is half the price of the 45-quart Yeti—$175 vs. $350—and the Rtic’s seven-year warranty is two years longer than the Yeti’s. Photo by iStock/Grafner

The cooler wars rage on. Yeti’s dominance in the high-end cooler arena is being challenged by the likes of Rtic, Pelican and other worthy opponents. That is good news for consumers, as features and warranties improve and prices decline. For example, the 45-quart Rtic cooler is half the price of the 45-quart Yeti—$175 vs. $350—and the Rtic’s seven-year warranty is two years longer than the Yeti’s.
Photo by iStock/Grafner

It’s hot out there, so keeping food and beverages cold on outings is more important than ever.

One of those fancy coolers from Yeti or Rtic would be nice, but it is hard for most of us to justify the expense. So we have to be content using the cooler we’ve got.

Not to worry. Here are seven tips that will maximize your cooler’s potential, whether it is a cheap one or a high-end, mega cooler.

  • Right-size your cooler. Keeping contents as cold as possible begins with the right size cooler. Don’t use a massive, 65-quart cooler when a 20-quart will do. Empty space means warmer internal temperatures and faster ice melt.
  • Pre-cool your cooler. That goes for contents, too, especially beverages. Avoid putting them in the cooler while they are warm. In the field, you can pre-cool the cooler or beverages by sinking them in the nearest stream or other water source before loading.
  • Load contents before adding ice. Then, let gravity and thermodynamics do the rest. For larger coolers, consider layering the ice, beginning with a layer in the midde and one on top.
  • Keep it in the shade. If shade is in short supply, wet a light-colored towel and drape it over the cooler. You will be amazed at the difference this makes.
  • Keep the lid closed. This is a no-brainer. It doesn’t matter if you have a $40 or a $400 cooler, the ice will melt much faster if you leave the lid open.
  • Use the right ice for the job. Block ice lasts longest, but it is not ideal for partial loads or when cooling warm, irregularly shaped items, such as bottled and canned beverages. Ice cubes work best for those items.
  • Retain melted ice water. The water you dump is colder than the air that will replace it. The only time you should consider draining a cooler is if contents are getting soggy and spoiled. A better solution is to repackage or reorganize items that might get soggy in a cooler.

Crank Up Your Summer Bass Fishing a Few Decibels
Bass fishing in summer requires a change of tactics. One option is to use lures that vibrate and make noise.

Bass get lethargic in hot weather and it sometimes takes something obnoxious to shake them out of their stupor. That’s why spinner bait and chatter bait should be included in your arsenal of warm-weather lures.

Outdoors 101: All Tent Pegs are Not Made Equal
Most tents come with general-purpose pegs that are adequate in most circumstances. However, camping on atypical terrain—such as sandy or rocky ground—requires pegs designed specificially for that use. A peg with lots of surface area so it stays in place even in loose soil works well on sandy ground, while a tough, hard peg that can take a lot of pounding is best on rocky ground.

What Day is It?
July 3: Stay Out of the
Sun Day
July 20: Ugly Truck Day
July 22: Hammock Day
July 28: Take Your Pants for a Walk Day

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

24authMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the Gulf Coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

Tuned in to Old Radios

Saturday, June 25th, 2016
Above, Marion Ormsby with the 1935 Zenith table-top radio that started her late husband Gordon’s antique radio collection. Below, Gordon works in his radio room around 2000.

Above, Marion Ormsby with the 1935 Zenith table-top radio that started her late husband Gordon’s antique radio collection. Below, Gordon works in his radio room around 2000.

Gordon Ormsby’s passion for antique radios was born in boyhood, and is carried on by his wife, Marion, through the approximately 100 radios that fill the family’s 1930s-era farmhouse.

“He was a Renaissance man, and radios are the more visible of his many interests,” Marion says of her husband, who died in February.

Gordon built his first radio from instructions in Boy’s Life magazine.

“When he was 12, his Uncle Bob paid him for a summer of lawn mowing with a 1935 Zenith table-top model he’d used in his cabinet-making shop,” Marion says.

Gordon was hooked.

“This radio has followed us our entire married life, from Pennsylvania to Oregon,” Marion says, noting Gordon removed the Mad magazine stickers he had affixed to it in his youth as part of the restoration process.

Gordon’s passion ran deeper than the radios themselves. They were a connection to the world of electricity—his chosen career field—and expanded people’s world in the 1930s as radically as computers did decades later.

Following a similar path as his father—who was a lineman at a rural electric cooperative in Pennsylvania—Gordon’s first two jobs as an electrical engineer were with Pennsylvania co-ops.

When the family moved to Oregon in 1978, Gordon worked as a power transmission line consultant and engineering company manager before co-founding Tri-Axis Engineering, which designs substations and transmission and distribution lines for public utilities in the Northwest.

“I was delighted to see the great satisfaction he got from researching the electronics and patiently, meticulously restoring the wooden cabinets,” Marion says of her husband’s hobby. “It was restorative and creative, and I appreciated that he was saving part of our history.”

Despite his training as an electrical engineer, Gordon relied on old volumes of “The Perpetual Troubleshooter Manual,” used by early repairmen, to coax sounds through the earliest glass tubes and tangles of resistors and capacitors.

“Fellow hobbyists clued him in on junkyards and sales,” Marion says. “When he’d come home with a pickup load of radio stuff, he’d find someone interested in the German WWII tank radio or antique car radios. Usually there was a treasure trove of tubes and miscellaneous parts, too.”

Dozens of old radios awaited Gordon when he retired in 2013, but brain cancer cut short his ability to work on them. Instead, he and Marion meticulously cataloged each one before his death at age 69.

Marion says the radio room now is the saddest room in the house for her.

“It speaks about all of his plans for a radio-filled retirement and unrealized dreams,” she says.

While most of Gordon’s radios work, Marion says she rarely turns them on.

“I usually use that ugly thing,” she says, pointing to a plastic one. “I don’t want to wear the parts out on the antique ones.

“He didn’t just collect them, he loved to refurbish every detail, inside and out.”

Fellow enthusiast Gary Marvin led Gordon through the intricate world of veneers, lacquers, grill cloths, wires, knobs and dials. Just before Gordon died, Gary finished a treasured piece Gordon had been working on before his diagnosis: a 1938 Grunow that had been in his Uncle Bob’s shop.
Marion says her commitment to the radios is part of her love for Gordon.

“I spent many a meal listening to his latest challenges with a wiring diagram or finding a specific knob,” she says. “For now, our children and I agree that we’ll keep the collection intact out of our love and respect for him.”

Collecting Pieces of His Past

Saturday, June 25th, 2016
Relics of a bygone mining era dot the 80 acres of Richard Billingsley’s home in east-central Arizona. Photo by Mike Teegarden

Relics of a bygone mining era dot the 80 acres of Richard Billingsley’s home in east-central Arizona.
Photo by Mike Teegarden

Richard Billingsley of Duncan County, Arizona, surely has ore in his bones.

Along with his parents and four brothers, Richard grew up in the house where he now resides. It is a modest home outside the town of Duncan, down a dusty road with a view of Steeple Rock—a volcanic butte in New Mexico, just across the Arizona border—where much of the area’s mining history was made.

The Carlisle Mine, one of several mines in the Steeple Rock Mining District, became famous in the late 19th century and was the most productive the mine in the area. Richard’s father, Benjamin Franklin Billingsley III, worked there in the 1930s and ’40s.

Richard’s great-grandfather, Benjamin Franklin II, owned a mercantile in Duncan where he did business with the Carlisles in the 1890s.

Richard’s father also built the Ontario Mine, which is part of the Steeple Rock District, in the 1930s.

“Our family was living there in 1946 when I was born,” Richard says. “Off and on through the ’60s and ’70s, all of the family worked in and about the Ontario Mine.”

Richard, who turns 70 this month, and his older brother Les own majority interest in two patented mining properties in the Steeple Rock Mining District: Jim Crow Mine and Billali Mine. They acquired ownership of both properties in the mid- to late-1980s.

The brothers have developed the mines by sinking shafts, driving tunnels, declines and raises to explore for and block out ore zones.

“Over the years, we have erected several head frames with hoisting machinery and other surface plant structures and equipment,” Richard explains.

Production is currently at a halt due to lack of funds for production.

“It takes a lot of money to do anything,” Richard says.

As the mines sit unworked, it is on Richard’s 80 acres of property where his fascination with all things mining is evident. He has acquired more than 60 years’ worth of tools and equipment, much of which is on display and visible from the road in front of his house.

Among the countless items are a rocker shovel, 1-ton and 3-ton ore carts, ore buckets, a blacksmith’s forge, a man-powered drill press, a pneumatic drill and a drifter drill for drilling blast holes in tunneling. There are battery-powered locomotives to pull ore car trains underground, a rock crusher and a water pump recovered from the 200-foot level of Jim Crow Mine. It had been under water for 100 years.

An anvil—which, despite being heavy and hard to carry off—is bolted to the post it stands on to keep it from being stolen.

Richard didn’t start his collection with intention. He found many of his pieces in the mining operations he explored and cleaned out.

“It just kinda came about,” Richard says. “We’d say, ‘We oughta hang onto that’ for nostalgic reasons.”

The tallest piece in Richard’s collec-tion is a 60-foot headframe—the structural frame that sits above an underground mine shaft—still short of its eventual 90-foot stature. It is a project 25 years in the making.

Richard and Les took a contract at a copper mine in Christmas, Arizona, in 1991. Their job was to dispose of machinery. The disassembled headframe was among the trash.

“We asked what it was, and decided we’d better see if they’d sell it,” Richard says.

For years after the sale, the pieces sat in a pile on Richard’s property.

“I decided if I don’t do something with that, someone would take the parts for scrap,” Richard says.

The brothers are reconstructing the headframe in case they want to put it in service or sell it. Some pieces are missing, and they will have to buy more steel to finish the job.

“We don’t have plans or pictures,” Richard says. “It’s kind of like a jigsaw puzzle.”

People have asked to buy some of Richard’s collection, but he has turned them down.

“It’s getting harder and harder to find things,” he says.

Although much of the machinery collection sits dormant, some of the machinery is functional. The town of Duncan has borrowed ore carts—as well as one of three old fire engines parked on Richard’s property—for local parades.

“I just love old iron, whether it’s vehicles or what have you,” Richard says. “They’re just not making them like that no more.”

A Fourth of July Tradition

Saturday, June 25th, 2016
Vehicles decked in bunting, American flags and other patriotic decorations follow a parade route that has been used by friends, families, neighbors and visitors at the Smith family’s remote Cottonwood Ranch annual Fourth of July celebration in northeastern Nevada. Photo by Alecia Maxey

Vehicles decked in bunting, American flags and other patriotic decorations follow a parade route that has been used by friends, families, neighbors and visitors at the Smith family’s remote Cottonwood Ranch annual Fourth of July celebration in northeastern Nevada.
Photo by Alecia Maxey

Every Fourth of July, a flash mob of patriotism erupts at the remote Cottonwood Ranch in northeastern Nevada with an impromptu parade and musical program—cowboy style.

In 2005, ranch owners Horace and Irene “Renie” Smith launched the star-spangled idea at their fifth-generation cattle, horse and guest ranch.

“We’re 30 miles from the nearest paved road and 70 miles from the nearest town,” says Renie, “so we decided to have our own parade and program.”

Only one rule is enforced for their family, friends, employees and guests who come from throughout America and the world: “No one is a bystander,” says Renie, who estimates there have been more than 80 participants at times. “We make floats with whatever material is around, and drive our trucks, wagons, tractors and four-wheelers, or ride our horses.”

Another unwritten rule is to cast aside political differences for a day.

“We’re all Americans,” says Renie. “It doesn’t matter what your political affiliations are. We live in a wonderful country of freedom and liberty.”

After Horace died in 2014, Renie, 86, began leading the parade as grand marshal. Driving an all-terrain vehicle along a sagebrush-lined route from the lodge to a meadow, she flies a flag presented to the family during a military funeral for her father-in-law, Emery, a World War I veteran.

In the meadow, they pause to honor veterans, including Emery, Horace—a Korean War veteran—and Horace and Irene’s son Agee, who served during the Vietnam War.

Gathering in a circle, they sing “The Star Spangled Banner,” “Home Means Nevada,” “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.”

With the fifth generation of Smiths helping to run the ranch, “they’ll make sure our parade continues to be a tradition for all of us,” says Renie.

Reflecting on Shiny Objects

Saturday, June 25th, 2016
Using two lights—one on the backdrop and one on the left to light the base and create a reflection—the wine glass is silhouetted, showing its shape. © David LaBelle

Using two lights—one on the backdrop and one on the left to light the base and create a reflection—the wine glass is silhouetted, showing its shape.
© David LaBelle

A man at the post office shared his frustration in trying to photograph some coins he was selling online.

“The reflection is ruining my pictures,” he groaned, adding, “I learned photography is all about lighting.”

Through trial and error, he found the key that unlocked all the deep secrets to photography. It is about the quality and direction of light.

Since nobody was behind me in line, I gave him a quick tutorial on light and how to best use it to photograph shiny objects, such as his coins. I explained how the direction and quality of light influence how we see and feel about people and objects.

Light changes our experience. When light comes from behind a subject, it shows shape. When it comes from the side, it reveals texture.

If the main or primary illumination—often a pop-up flash—is blasted at the front of your subject, it generally washes away shape and texture.

When the postal worker flooded his coins with light from above, it gave him enough light for a good exposure, but created hard-to-manage reflections, and eliminated the contour and design of the coins. He would have been better served to grab a household lamp and place it to one side or the other, which would create small shadows.

Like photographing shiny objects such as coins, making interesting pictures of glass can be challenging—especially managing reflections.

Reflections can be annoying, especially on eye glasses during portrait sessions. But they also can be helpful aids—accents that add visual excitement and energy to otherwise bland still-life pictures.

Just as photographing the wind is to photograph what it touches, photographing glass or shiny objects such as silverware often is to capture what is reflected on their surfaces.

  • If your camera has a built-in flash, disable it. Look for a setting in your camera’s menu. If not, block the flash with a piece of dark tape or cardboard. You might even fashion a little black hoodie to place over your pop-up flash. The camera will still fire, but the light will be blocked.
  • If showing the shape of the object (or person) is important, consider backlighting. If you know your way around a studio, you might want to add an accent light from above or the side.
  • If you light glassware from above, the light will reflect and follow the shape of the glass.
  • If your object is transparent, fill it part way with a liquid. Photographing glass or water is to photograph the color behind, beneath or reflected on it.
  • Make yourself a little studio in the corner of your garage or empty room and experiment with different colored backdrops. They don’t need to be large or lavish. A piece of dark cloth or paper—red, blue or black—can do wonders for your pictures.
  • Bracket your exposures. Take your camera off Auto, put it in the M (manual) mode, then vary settings for the desired results. Underexpose. Overexpose. Experiment.
  • Change angles and focal length of lenses.
  • Turn off all lights, except the ones used to illuminate your subject. Experiment by adding a second light source.
  • Look for online tutorials. Feeling confident with any concept or technique requires study and practice.
  • Remember that reflections can be friend or foe—annoying distractions or happy helpers.

daveL_mug_2011David LaBelle is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He applies many of the lessons he learned during his magical boyhood years in rural California to photography. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.

Thwart Thieves This Summer

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

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Take steps before hitting the road on vacation

Setting off on a road trip can be an adventure—one you hope to talk about for years to come.

While not all road trips go off without a hitch, being mindful of those with bad intentions can protect you, your family and your belongings.

Becoming a victim of theft thwarts plans to relax and make the trip memorable for all the right reasons. Don’t be an easy mark: Safeguard your vehicle, identity and home, and enjoy the many things you set out to do this summer.

Vehicle Theft
Your vehicle is usually close by when you are on a road trip, so the idea that it could be stolen probably is not a concern—but it should be.

Think of how often your vehicle is unattended: at rest areas, convenience stores, historical sites or amusement parks.

If your vehicle is stolen, your vacation could be wrecked in an instant. And it is not just the vehicle itself. On a road trip, often your car is full of personal necessities that can lure thieves.
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, auto theft peaks in the summer, with most vehicle thefts occurring in July and August.

“Wherever your car is parked—whether at a hotel, in a gas station parking lot or even at your own home—you need to take precautions, especially during warmer weather,” says Troy Sandberg, a security expert. “Leaving your windows cracked, even slightly, can be an invitation for theft.”

To avoid becoming a victim of vehicle theft this summer, he says to:

  • Identify possible threats. “There are a variety of items that are attractive to thieves: electronics, gas, metal and even the car itself,” says Sandberg. “Take a look at your car and note if any of the above are easily accessible.” Parts of a vehicle can be dissected and sold for scrap, including catalytic convertors and tires.
  • Secure your vehicle. Park in well-lit areas. Keep your windows rolled up and doors locked at all times when away from your vehicle. If you have an alarm system, use it, even if you plan to leave the vehicle unattended for only a short time.
  • Keep a watchful eye. If you plan to leave town without your vehicle, inform your neighbors or property management and ask them to report suspicious activity around your home and vehicle. Keep your belongings out of sight, and never leave your keys in your vehicle. “Any pedestrian traffic after dark should be treated with in-depth observation,” Sandberg says. “People walking in groups or less populated parts of a property can be a cause for concern.”

Home Theft
It is unnerving to know your home is vulnerable while you are away. According to Farmers Insurance, every 10 seconds an American home is burglarized—and you don’t need to be wealthy to tempt thieves.

Homes with high-tech electronics and jewelry are targets, but all modern conveniences can lure in robbers, including televisions, computers and cameras.

When away from home, Farmers Insurance says to take these precautions:

  • Suspend delivery or make sure mail and newspapers are picked up.
  • Arrange to have your lawn mowed.
  • Ask a neighbor to park a car in your driveway.
  • Put lights, TV and stereo on timers that turn on and off randomly.
  • Do not advertise your absence with notes or announcements on voicemail, email, Facebook or Twitter.
  • Turn off your telephone ringer.
  • Consider installing a motion detector on outside lights.

Identity Theft
According to the Javelin Strategy & Research 2016 Identity Fraud Report, identity fraud affected 13.1 million consumers in 2015, with $112 billion stolen in the past six years.

While many financial institutions and businesses protect customers when information has been compromised, consumers are still affected.

Becoming a victim of identity theft while on vacation—especially if far from home—can be traumatic.

To safeguard your identity when traveling, Kiplinger suggests:

Inform your credit card company of your travels, especially if you will be out of the country. Financial institutions are cracking down on unusual spending behaviors. Your account could be frozen if your company identifies spending activity outside your normal region.

If you receive an alert about suspicious activity on your cell phone, do not call the number provided or reply by text. This has become a common practice for thieves. Instead, call the number on the back of your credit card.

Rid your wallet of unneeded credit cards or other personal information, such as your Social Security card, and store them in a secure location. Only keep items in your wallet that you will need on vacation. Make copies of those items to use if your wallet is stolen.

Keep your hotel room clear of personal information when you are not there to keep an eye on it.

Be careful using your laptop, the hotel computer and ATMs, which can be rigged with devices that read your personal information.

Check accounts regularly to ensure you are the only one accessing them.

11 Outdoor Uses for a Bandana

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
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Fabric and color are two things to consider when shopping for an outdoors bandana. Generally, you want an eye-catching color, such as red or orange, since the bandana may be used as a marker or signal flag, and because it makes it harder to lose. Cotton is a good, all-around fabric choice, due to its light weight and comfort. Cotton also is very absorbent, which comes in handy when used as a drying cloth, cooling wrap or sweatband. Photo by Tarik Kizilkaya

Bandanas are a lightweight, versatile outdoor necessity. Not only can they make a fashion statement, they also have dozens of practical uses. Here are 11 of the most notable ones:

  • Head cover. Buff. Do-rag. Whatever you call it, a bandana can keep the sun off of your head and junk out of your hair.
  • Signal flag. Also great for marking things, such as trails, hazards or rally points.
    First-aid gear. Use as a bandage, tourniquet, sling or makeshift ice pack. It also works for binding a splint.
  • Cleaning cloth.
    A bandana offers hundreds of cleaning uses. Wash your face, wipe your gear, clean a wound, wash dishes, clean your glasses, blow your nose—you get the idea.
  • Coffee filter. Separate the grounds from coffee by pouring it through a bandana. Also, use it as a salad spinner, a pasta strainer or a water prefilter.
  • Sweatband. Cotton fabric works best. Roll it up and tie around your head to keep sweat out of your eyes. Bandanas also work great as wristbands to keep hands dry when using trekking poles.
  • Cooling wrap. A bandana soaked in water and tied around the neck provides a refreshing treat on a hot day.
  • Pot holder. Protect your hands from burns while handling hot pots or pans on a stove or over a campfire.
  • Face mask. Wear it over your nose and mouth to protect against wind, sun, smoke and dust.
  • Tinder. A dry, cotton bandana can be torn and “fuzzed” to create firestarter. Use this as a last resort, only if other fire-starting materials are not readily available.
  • Cordage. Use a bandana for binding things. For addi-tional length, tear it into strips and tie them together.

Sweat the Small Stuff
It’s easy to overlook the little things. They don’t take much time or effort—and don’t seem significant—but they can make a big difference.

What follows are three “little things” you might consider before heading out on your next fishing excursion.

Keep your hooks sticky sharp. It just takes a few minutes to sharpen them yourself or pick up new ones at the sporting goods store.

Spin on a fresh spool of line, especially if it has been months since you last replaced it.

Take along a thermometer. Water temperature is an important factor. An accurate read allows you to predict hatches, and find cooler water in summer and warmer water in colder weather.

Outdoor 101: Different Rope for Different Folks

  • General-purpose rope. Made of hemp, cotton, or other natural or synthetic material, it has limited strength, but can be used for lashing light loads, clotheslines and practicing knot tying. Its primary advantages are it is cheap and readily available.
  • Poly rope. This is a waterproof version of general-purpose rope. It is inexpensive, durable and floats, but it can be difficult to work with.
  • Marine rope. It is strong and weatherproof, which makes it ideal for rigging and mooring lines.

What Day is It?
June 4: National Trails Day
June 18: Go Fishing Day
June 18: Picnic Day
June 25: National Catfish Day

Got a Tip or a Whopper?
Send us your favorite outdoor tip, photo or story. If selected for publication, we will send you $25 for one-time use of the item. When sending a photo, identify people and pets, and tell us the story behind the picture. Email your submission to gro.etilarurnull@ofni.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMany of Curtis Condon’s fondest memories involve outdoor adventures with friends and family, whether fishing with old school buddies, backpacking in the mountains of the Northwest with his sons, or bird watching along the coast with his wife. He feels fortunate having the opportunity to write about the outdoors and other subjects for more than 30 years.

The Means to Fulfill a Mission

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
Heather Mehra-Pedersen (back row, center) poses with members of the Matsiko Orphan Choir while they visited the Talus Rock Retreat in August 2013. The children are from countries in Africa, Asia and South America.

Heather Mehra-Pedersen (back row, center) poses with members of the Matsiko Orphan Choir while they visited the Talus Rock Retreat in August 2013. The children are from countries in Africa, Asia and South America.

Heather Mehra-Pedersen weaves her way along a street crowded with vendors, beggars, rickshaws, cars and the occasional elephant. The smell of sweat, sewage and other unpleasant odors mingle with the rich aromas of spices and sizzling pans of street food.

As Heather glances at a child asking for change, the voice of an orphan from a past service trip echoes in her mind: “In America, do you dream in rainbows?”

“It does take your breath away,” says Heather. “Delhi should be one of the great wonders of the world in and of itself.”

This is Heather’s India. She has visited nine countries with the International Children’s Network Matsiko World Orphan Choir searching for orphaned or at-risk children in Asia, Africa and South America to participate in the U.S. World Orphan Choir tour. All proceeds earned on the tour support educational sponsorship, giving the children a chance to earn a university degree.

When Heather is not globetrotting for a cause, she owns and operates Talus Rock Retreat in Sandpoint, Idaho. It took Heather and her husband, Bruce, more than 28 years to purchase land, and design and build the retreat.

After the couple and their three children, Kipling, Rio and Selkirk, moved into Talus Rock in February 2008, their vision for the home quickly changed due to the recession.

“We originally built (the house) to serve those who serve others. Those who serve others don’t make very much money like teachers, soldiers, pastors, missionaries,” says Heather. “When the economy turned in 2008, we had a large infrastructure here so we used our biggest asset to hold during the economic downturn. Now we get to do tourism and service.”

The money earned from Talus Rock Retreat allows Heather and her family to serve in countries throughout Africa and Asia. Heather’s favorite is India.

“My father is from India. It feels like home to me and those kids feel like little brothers and sisters, and it looks like they could all be my kids,” Heather says, who is the international director of Asia for International Children’s Network. “I love the food and the challenge of traveling in India.”

Talus Rock Retreat has shaped the Pederson’s lives and allowed them the opportunity to contribute to a global mission. Heather enjoys the many connections she makes with her guests while stewarding her property, which hosts weddings and business retreats year-round. It offers many artfully crafted rooms, a large swimming and fishing pond, and it is located only a mile from downtown Sandpoint, with countless opportunities to explore the region.

The retreat house features many artifacts from the Pedersen’s travels. Small touches scattered throughout the house exhibit true attention to detail and craftsmanship.

Although Talus Rock Retreat is a chic, rustic get-a-way, Heather explains that their property does not reflect the character of her family.

“This really isn’t our skin,” says Heather about the family’s 8,300-square-foot retreat home. “We don’t have fancy cars, dripping jewelry. What we love to do is serve.”

While raising kids at the retreat has exposed them to people from all walks of life, the service trips give the Pedersen kids a global perspective.

“Our kids have grown up realizing what it’s like to not have running water, (to be) sick, uncomfortable,” says Heather. “We eat beetles. You eat whatever’s being served, sometimes you don’t eat.”

Last spring, Heather and her youngest son, Selkirk, completed a three-week tour for the ICN’s 2016 Matsiko World Orphan Choir tour. The trip took them on 14 different planes and through eight countries in 21 days.

Selkirk, 17, recalls one of his favorite moments was playing in the river with Filipino orphan children.

He has been on seven different service trips in his lifetime and enjoys exploring the countries, experiencing other cultures and meeting new people. These trips have enlightened him to the many advantages he has had growing up in America.

“I just think (traveling) kind of makes students my age aware of what’s happening in third world countries to broaden their perspective about how entitled and spoiled (they are) and be more grateful for the things they have,” says Selkirk.

Selkirk has a crowd funding campaign on gofundme.com to film orphans and at-risk children living in third world countries to raise awareness. He plans to study business and law with a minor in film in college.

“I want to continue to travel and film and be a voice for orphan children,” says Selkirk.

Talus Rock Retreat is the reason Heather joined ICN. In 2008, the World Orphan Choir U.S. tour visited Sandpoint, and eight of the tour’s teachers and choreographers needed a place to stay. In 2009, Heather and her daughter, Rio, went on their first trip to Uganda to help with auditioning and filming children for the upcoming 2010 U.S. tour.

Since the start of the orphan choir, nearly 4,000 children worldwide have had their education sponsored.

“You think you’re going over to bless, and you’re the one who comes back humbled and blessed,” says Heather.

For more information, visit www.talusrockretreat.com or call (208) 255-8458.

Snappers, Selfies and Photo Bombs

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
David LaBelle photo bombs filmmaker Ken Burns during a function at Kent State University. Photo by Bob Christy

David LaBelle photo bombs filmmaker Ken Burns during a function at Kent State University.
Photo by Bob Christy

There is a time and a place for everything. Most of us have heard this since childhood.

Photography is a powerful tool for capturing emotion and stirring hearts into action.

Just as the camera can bear witness and reveal the world’s harsh realities and injustices, this magic little box also can be a fun and wonderful toy for children who never grow up. In fact, at a time when it seems images of tragedy and terrorism dominate the news, it is more important than ever to make time to laugh and have fun with photography.

For the most part, photo-journalists are pranksters. More than once I have set down my camera or left it in my car only to find “unsavory” pictures made with it by fellow photographers.

For many photojournalists, humor is a way of coping with the painful things in life that we see and document.

Snappers
I am reminded of a group of very talented photographers in Kentucky who take the edge off photographing the hard news of the day by shooting fun snappers.

Until I taught at the University of Kentucky, I had never heard of snappers. But I soon found myself swept up in this entertaining game played by many of the state’s photographers.

Professionals paid to document people and events also were dedicated to capturing snappers—humorous photographs of fellow photographers, usually in awkward or embarrassing moments.

I soon learned each photographer was as dedicated to getting a funny shot of a colleague as they were of documenting the events they were paid to cover.

Photo-Bombing
Another relatively new term is photo-bombing—the art of jumping in the background of somebody’s picture uninvited.

Though prankster photographers have done this for years, this practice had no official name until cell phone cameras.

Since I had not tried photo-bombing anybody since the advent of digital photography, I decided to let my hair down, so to speak, and join in the fun during a university function. I asked a friend to get ready because I was going to photo bomb Ken Burns, the famous filmmaker.

Childish for sure, but it still makes me laugh when I look at the picture.

Photo Selfies
A relative to photo-bombing is the ever-popular selfie.

There are more selfies shot today than any other type of pictures. It seems no experience is complete without a selfie to validate it.

In a world that feels like it is growing crueler and more selfish by the year—and where it seems we have become overly sensitive and lost our sense of humor while trying to be politically-correct—having fun with selfies and photo bombs can be a nice diversion from reality.

Yes, there is a time and place for everything, including a time to put the camera away and truly be present in the experience.

But lest you be swallowed in the grief of the day, try having a little fun with your camera and yourself.

Love and laughter are strong medicine.

David LaBelledaveL_mug_2011 is an internationally known photographer, teacher, author and lecturer. He has worked for newspapers and magazines across the United States and taught at three universities. He grew up on a frog farm in rural California, roaming the creeks and hills with his coon dogs. Many of the lessons he learned during those magical boyhood years have been applied to photography and teaching the essence of this art form. For more information, visit www.greatpicturehunt.com.