Last Wednesday, my friend and I went to a ropes course at the Adventure Park in Sandy Spring, Maryland. Going there, I didn’t exactly know what I was getting into, but it sounded like fun and I hadn’t seen my friend in a while, so I didn’t see any harm in it. Having never heard of a ropes course before, I was in for quite the surprise. For those of you who are like I was prior to last Wednesday and don’t know what a ropes course is, it is a type of obstacle course suspended in the air. The use of many, many steel cables, harnesses, clips, and, in the one I went to, sturdy trees, makes it very safe.

Since the whole thing is kind of hard to explain, I’ll give an example of an obstacle that a ropes course might have. A hypothetical obstacle would be a steel cable stretched tightly between two trees with planks of wood at intervals of a few feet. In this hypothetical obstacle, there would also be a steel cable stretched tightly between the same two trees but at a higher height. You would be clipped to the top steel cable and would also probably hold on to it for support as you edged across from one tree to the other. This would be one of the easier obstacles. The real obstacles range from very easy to very, very difficult requiring strength, balance, agility, or all three.

Anyway, it was really fun. In addition to fun obstacles, they had things like ziplines. My friend took a video of a zipline in action on his phone. We tried a series of easy obstacles, then a harder series of obstacles, and then we moved right on up to the hardest set of obstacles that they offered. That probably wasn’t the best idea since it was my first time there, but I lived. When I was about half way through the hardest set, I ran out of time and had to quite early.

Overall, it was quite the experience. I think the word that I used most frequently on Wednesday was “terrifying.” In addition, I think my biceps were mostly non-existent for a large portion of Thursday. And now I know what a ropes course is!

It Seems Correct Now

Posted: August 28, 2016 in Articles
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I read a bit about spontaneous generation in my biology book for this school year and I thought it was pretty interesting.

Spontaneous generation is basically the idea that life forms can come from non-living substances. The idea of spontaneous generation has existed for a long time, but it really got going with Aristotle in 350 B.C. when he observed that if meat was left out in the open, maggots would appear on the meat. He guessed that the maggots formed from the meat. Thus began the hypothesis of spontaneous generation. Over the years, more and more experiments were performed and all of them seemed to support the hypothesis of spontaneous generation. (Remember that science cannot prove anything).

The experiments on spontaneous generation continued for one thousand nine hundred years. All of them seemed to support the hypothesis. As a result, spontaneous generation became a theory and eventually a scientific law. One such experiment was conducted by Jean Baptist van Helmont. He put a sweaty shirt and wheat in a closed wooden box. He performed the experiment multiple times and each time, there was a mouse gnawing out of the box within twenty-one days. Another scientist of that time, Francesco Redi, argued that Helmont’s experiment was flawed. Redi said that Helmont didn’t know if a mouse gnawed into or out of the box.

Francesco Redi proceeded to perform an experiment wherein he put a few kinds of meat in sealed jars and allowed them to decay. Even after some time had passed, no maggots appeared on the rotting meat. Redi said that this showed that maggots did not form from meat. However, this time, it was Redi’s experiment that was flawed. The scientists of that time said that sealing off the jars cut off the air supply and that prevented maggots from forming. Francesco then changed his experiment. The jars, instead of being sealed, were covered with a fine cloth that allowed air in but kept insects out. Still, no maggots formed. This showed that maggots could not, in fact, form from meat.

But people still wanted to believe in spontaneous generation, even though more experiments were starting to show that it wasn’t possible. Then, microorganisms were discovered. People then thought that microorganisms could spontaneously generate – that is, until Louis Pasteur demonstrated that even microorganisms cannot spontaneously generate.

Think about that: people thought for 1,900 years that living organisms could come from non-living substances, and we look back and think it’s ridiculous. I wonder if there is anything we believe now that will seem ridiculous a few centuries later.

It’s happened before, it’s bound to happen again. The only question is, what are we asserting as true now that is actually false?

Today I read about a particular type of whitefly that could be quite a problem for our family as well as all gardeners in general.

In 2005, a whitefly that is resistant to pesticides was found in about 24 states in the U.S. but it was only found in greenhouses. Now, the same whitefly has been found outside, and it has a lot of food growers worried. The fly carries diseases that are very harmful to plants and, as mentioned earlier, they are resistant to pesticides. That, obviously, creates a problem when trying to kill them!

This fly’s species is Bemisia tabaci, and it apparently originates from the area around the Mediterranean Sea. The fly will get on the leaves of a large variety of plants, including but not limited to: tomatoes, beans, squash, and melons. These whiteflies can, according to the state agriculture department, live on 600 different types of plants.

Assuming this whitefly species decides to spread more and a more effective solution isn’t found, lots of gardens could be in trouble! We don’t generally use pesticides on our plants. Usually the bugs are picked off or they are ignored as long as we have plenty of the same plants which are bug-free. We let our chickens roam through the yard and garden when possible to clean up whatever bugs they can find, but we’ll have to wait and see what kind of challenge these new whiteflies will be.


Dink’s New (New) Car

Posted: August 23, 2016 in Articles

If you don’t remember from previous posts, Dink has had two cars since he got his license. His first car was a pretty cheap car, and when he had an accident a couple years ago, the car was totaled. Thankfully, it was the other person’s fault, so he got to get a new car! His next car was a much nicer car, but unfortunately, he had another accident after about a year with the car.

It was a head-on collision while going around a curve. While Dink said that the other guy wasn’t in his lane, the other guy, of course, had another story. The policemen said there was no way to tell and the insurance companies also ruled that they couldn’t tell.  Therefore, the official ruling was that it was neither party’s fault, and so each person had to pay for their own damages.

So Dink had to start looking for a new car, yet again. He found a car pretty quickly and it was, thankfully, in his price range. He wound up buying a white 1999 Toyota Corolla. For $2,000, the car is pretty nice but not without problems. Its tires were worn down and needed to be replaced, but that got taken care of quickly.  In addition, the two front doors don’t have handles; somehow, the plastic just broke (according to the man who sold it to us). Anyway, the door handle situation is being worked on.

This is now Dink’s third car, and hopefully, it won’t get totaled quite as quickly as his other ones!

DSCF3529Nowadays, at our house, it’s pepper-harvesting time. All types of peppers are ready for picking: bell peppers, lunchbox peppers, bananas, bull nose, and more various assorted sweet peppers, and all sorts of chili peppers as well as other hot peppers.

On one particular day, my mother focused on picking peppers from a sizable Thai pepper plant. Thai pepper plants grow to become small bushes and produce copious amounts of peppers.

Take the pictures in the article, for example. Aside from the yellow peppers, which are cayenne peppers, all of those red and green peppers came off of one plant. And while we only have one Thai pepper plant, we have two hot Korean pepper plants which produce as many or more fruits. We’re going to have a lot of peppers!

Thankfully, we found a really good sweet chili sauce recipe that we are going to make a lot. It’s reminiscent of a spicy duck sauce and we love it already. This is the recipe:

However, one can only eat so much chili sauce. The peppers are also being frozen whole and also used in various sauces and relishes which will be put up and be available for seasoning all winter long.

The thing is, these pepper plants after being cleaned of all their fruits, will produce almost the same amount of fruit before frost hits. So much food in so little space🙂