Saturday, June 28, 2008

Huntsville Air Show

Today the Pohick family attended the Huntsville Air Show at the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, Alabama. The show was a lot of fun, but despite precautions to the contrary, everyone in the family got a pretty good case of sun burn. We all worn sun screen, hats and sun glasses, but any exposed skin was pretty much burned. The head liners for the show were the US Army's Gold Knights Parachute Team and the US Navy's Blue Angels.

Admission to the air show was "free", but parking was $10 per car and the amount we spent on refreshments was truly frightening. Our estimate is that we consumed 9 bottles of water, 4 sodas, several frozen confections and several other treats during the 4 hour show. So, we spent approximately $60 at the free air show, but we still had a great time. Some of the aero acrobatics were just plain amazing!

The two Golden Knight demonstration teams travel the United States (and occasionally overseas) performing for public audiences at venues ranging from relatively small civic events, to nationally and internationally televised events (such as Monday Night Football games, NASCAR races and large International airshows). The two, 12-member teams travel approximately 240 days per calendar year, and use the team's two C-31 Friendship jump aircraft as their primary means of transportation, and sometimes the De Havilland Canada UV-18A Twin Otter.

There are two demonstration teams, affectionately dubbed the Gold Team and Black Team, in reference to the official Army colors. Team members come from a variety of backgrounds in one of the 150 jobs available in the US Army. Each team has a team leader, who typically has the most time and experience performing demonstration jumps and is typically holds the rank of an Army Sergeant First Class (SFC).

The 24 demonstrator positions on the team are typically held for at least three consecutive years. At the end of their tenure, soldiers will then either rotate back to Army line units or they may request to stay with the team for an additional period in one of several specialty positions. These positions are usually reserved for tandem parachute instructors, videographers, team leaders and competition parachutists.

The demonstration teams perform several types of shows; each is performed to exacting standards of practice but can also be tailored to the specific venue. These shows range from jumpers exiting the aircraft and landing in a major-league stadium, to more involved 20 or 30 minute aerial displays. The 20 minute Mass Exit show consists of multiple jumpers exiting the aircraft and forming a geometric shape, often with smoke canisters employed for additional crowd effect. The 30 minute Full Show consists of several aircraft passes or "jump runs"; with each pass consisting of one or more jumpers exiting and then performing exciting and somewhat unusual parachuting techniques. Once safely on the ground, the jumpers traditionally perform a ground line-up, in which each jumper is introduced and then the team will usually present a team memento to a distinguished selectee from the show audience.

Each maneuver the Knights perform is executed with the enjoyment and safety of the audience being the paramount concerns. As a testament to their professionalism and skill, the Golden Knights enjoy an unparalleled safety record in the professional parachuting arena.

The Blue Angels first flew three aircraft in formation, then four, and currently operate six aircraft per show. A seventh aircraft is for backup, in the event of mechanical problems with one of the other aircraft, and for giving public relations "demonstration flights" to civilians, usually selected from a press pool.

This aerobatic team is split into "the Diamond" (Blue Angels 1 through 4) and the Opposing Solos (Blue Angels 5 and 6). Most of their displays alternate between maneuvers performed by the Diamond and those performed by the Solos. The Diamond, in tight formation and usually at lower speeds, performs maneuvers such as formation loops, barrel rolls, or transitions from one formation to another.

The Opposing Solos usually perform maneuvers just under the speed of sound which showcase the capabilities of their individual F/A-18 Hornets through the execution of high-speed passes, slow passes, fast rolls, slow rolls, and very tight turns. Some of the maneuvers include both solo F/A-18s performing at once, such as opposing passes (toward each other in what appears to be a collision course, narrowly missing one another) and mirror formations (back-to-back. belly-to-belly, or wingtip-to-wingtip, with one jet flying inverted).

At the end of the routine, all six aircraft join in the Delta formation. After a series of flat passes, turns, loops, and rolls performed in this formation, they execute the team's signature "fleur-de-lis" closing maneuver.

The parameters of each show must be tailored to local visibility: In clear weather the "high" show is performed, in overcast conditions it's the "low" show that the spectators see, and in limited visibility (weather permitting) the "flat" show is presented. The "high" show requires an 8,000-foot (2,400 m) ceiling and visibility of 3 nautical miles (6 km) from the show's centerpoint. "Low" and "flat" ceilings are 3,500 and 1,500 feet (460 m) respectively.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Hurricane Creek Park

Hurricane Creek Park is a 67+ acre natural area, nestled in a 500 foot deep canyon in the foothills of the Appalacian Mountains. The park was founded in 1961 by William "Buddy" Rogers. He ran the park as a day-hike/picnic area for forty years. In 2003 he donated his beloved park to the State of Alabama Wildlife & Fisheries.

The City of Cullman Parks & Recreation now has the responsibility of operating the property. There is something here for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages. The park features several waterfalls that are rain fed and run about eight months out of the year. There are many unusual rock formations including a na
tural bridge, and beautiful scenic views. The park has several miles of well marked hiking trails.

In addition to hiking, vis
itors can picnic beside the creek under the covered pavillion or at individual tables in the same vicinity. We are building mountain bike trails that are currently being detailed and finished, we are forging ahead with expansion on a daily basis. Check out our MTB Freeride Elements

One trail passes through the spooky Twilight Tunnel, a dark, rocky crevasse barely wide enough for a person to squeeze through. The tunnel isn't completely dark, but since we ha
d no idea where we were going it was a little disconcerting. Making use of modern technology, we all got out our cell phones and used the collective dim light from our phones to navigate our way through the long cave.

The park also offers a "My First TIme Rock Climbing" program which is conducted every Saturday morning. This program is great for birthday parties, family get-togethers, activity dates, etc. Hurricane Creek Park has been added as a stop on the North Alabama Birding Trail and is host to many species of birds.

Admission into the park is $2.50 for Children and $3.00 for adults.

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Other Cullman, AL Attractions:

Cullman County Museum

The Cullman County Museum opened in 1973 during Cullman's Centennial, and has been collecting and preserving items from the county's unique past ever since. Housed in a replica of Col. Johann G. Cullmann's home (our founding father), the Museum brings the past to life in its displays, paying tribute to the families that made the area their home. Each gallery showcases a different aspect of life in early Cullman.

The Archaeological Room houses artifacts from the earliest Cullman County settlers, the Native Americans. A highlight of the room is an interactive display that gives museum goers an opportunity to make rubbings of projectile points.

Other items include: a timeline of Native American artifacts, demonstrations of arrowhead making and the use of a throwing stick, and examples of Native American pottery with a rare, full pot.
Located in the Primitive Room are turn-of-the-century tools used to carve a living out of Cullman County's hilly landscape. Wood rafters and walls taken from old local barns are the backdrop for plows, lanterns, household items, and other fixtures of daily living.

Stroll along the Main Street gallery for a feel of small town life a hundred years ago. Medical tools and patent medicines from that era are showcased in the doctor’s display. A general store display shows common and unusual items from that time. Old photographs give a feel for the way people dressed and worked and played then. Items from a historic saloon, a case devoted to Civil War skirmishes fought in Cullman County, the county’s three state governors, the bell from the first school in Cullman and artifacts from more recent wars in which Cullman residents fought are on display as well.

  • Regular admission is $4 for adults, $2 for children 11 and younger.
  • Parking is free.
Google Map of Cullman County Museum

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Other Cullman, AL Attractions:

Ave Maria Grotto

Ave Maria Grotto, known throughout the world as "Jerusalem in Miniature," is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park designed to provide a natural setting for the 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world. The Ave Maria Grotto is located at St. Bernard College Campus in Cullman, Alabama. The masterpieces of stone and concrete are the lifetime work of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Begun as a hobby, with various materials he could find, and infinite patience and a remarkable sense of symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph re-created some of the greatest edifices of all time.

The builder of the miniatures at the Ave Maria Grotto was a Benedictine Monk--Brother Joseph Zoettl, O.S.B. Born in Landshut, Bavaria in 1878, he was maimed in an accident that gave him a hunchback, but luckily it did not hurt his ability to bend over and build the miniatures. He came to Saint Bernard Abbey in 1892. After becoming a Brother in the Benedictine Order, he was appointed to the power plant for the Abbey, and while there he developed his hobby of building miniature shrines.

In contemplating the Main Grotto, which was to be the centerpiece of the whole park, Br. Joseph had yet to decide on the type of building materials he would employ and where they would come from. A partial solution was handed to him on April 29, 1933, when there was a derailment of the L&N railroad about twenty miles away near Vinemont, Alabama. One freight car full of marble from the Gantt Quarry, Sylacauga, Alabama overturned and the marble was crushed. It was useless to the owner so he gave it to Saint Bernard. The monks went up and carted it down to Saint Bernard; it was exactly what Brother Joseph needed as the main stalactites to hang in the Great Grotto.

Admission into the Ave Maria Grotto is $5.00 for adults and $3.00 for children ages 12 and under.

Google Map of Ave Maria Grotto

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Other Cullman, AL Attractions:

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We got Pink Flamingos In The Front Yard

OK, all you country and western fans. Do you remember the Tracy Byrd song, Pink Flamingos?

There is a line in the song that says:
We got pink flamingos in the front yard
Picture window with a view of Wal-Mart
Blue collar heaven domestic bliss
It just doesn't get any better than this
We got pink flamingos, pink flamingos, pink flamingos

Well, as a matter of fact we do have some pink flamingos in the front yard. Jake claims that he is testing the reaction time of the home owner's association "Covenant Compliance Patrol". You see, Pink Flamingos and the like are specifically forbidden by the home owner's association rules. We are expecting a knock at the door any day now to let us know that we are not in compliance.

Now, we have learned that there is going to be a new Wal-Mart constructed just down the street. Is this a case of life imitating art or art imitating life? You decide. In any event, just like the song says, "it just doesn't get any better than this".

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Tie Dyed T-Shirts

Today's project was Tie Dyed T-Shirts. Nothing says summer like Tie Dyed T-Shirts. We made these T-Shirts in about two hours using white cotton T-Shirts and Rit Dye Powder from the local craft store.

If you would like to see the complete materials list, step by step instructions and some additional photos from this project, check out this link: Pohick How To: Tie Dyed T-Shirts

Check out our gallery of Tie Dyed Shirts.

Japanese Beatles

Help! Japanese Beatles are eating my peach tree. Jake returned home after a week in Colorado Springs. He left Scribbles in charge of looking after the various plants, fruit trees, raspberry bushes, etc while he was gone. When Jake returned home, Scribbles informed him that there was some sort of bug swarming around the peach tree. When he went out to take a look, this is what he found. Luckily, they hadn't gotten around to eating the entire tree yet. Jake immediately went to the store and picked up a bottle of Sevin Bug Killer which states that it will work well on Japanese Beatles. We will see if this does the trick or not.

Related Articles:

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Manitou Springs Colorado

After the big hike up the Manitou Mount Incline Railway, Jake and Mr. Peabody stopped by the town of Manitou Springs for a short look around and a little food. Manitou Springs is a hippie, artsy, eccentric, touristy town. This town of approximately 5,000 residents, has an interesting history including sacred ground to several Indian tribes, gold-rush-era resort, tuberculosis treatment center and Old West mountainside tourist trap as well as 1960s hippie haven. A 752-building swath of town was declared a national historic district in 1983, and many of its late-19th-century buildings are now bed-and-breakfasts. For dinner Jake and Mr. Peabody stopped by The Loop. The Loop is a quaint little Mexican restaurant in the middle of town. The food was good and the prices were reasonable.

Check out Manitou Springs on this map of places we've been.

Other Colorado Springs Destinations

Mount Manitou Scenic Incline Railway

OK, Jake is a glutton for punishment. Today he allowed his hiking buddy to talk him into another hiking excursion. This hike was decidedly not a pleasant walk in the woods like yesterday's hike up Mount Cutler. Today's hike was up the Mount Manitou Incline Railway. The Incline was originally built in 1906 to move pipe sections up the side of Rocky Mountain. (Mount Manitou is actually the next peak to the northwest.) In 1925, the incline began to haul tourists up the mountain. In 1990 a rock and mud slide damaged about 500' feet of the tracks and the owners decided that the danger was too great to re-open, and shut it down permanently. Local folks decided, hey, lets just use the old incline as a hiking trail. Sort of a demented stair climbing machine. This incline is approximately 1 mile long and climbs 2000 feet in elevation. The incline offers an excellent work out and some great scenery. This hike is not for the faint of heart though. Especially for older gentlemen from places much closer to sea level. On the way back down the the mountain, Jake hiked along the Barr Camp Trail which is several miles longer, but is a much more gentle hike. The Barr Camp Trail can also be taken all the way to the top of Pike's Peak.

Click here to see Mount Manitou Scenic Incline Railway on the map of places we've been.

Other Colorado Springs Attractions

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mount Cutler Hiking Trail Colorado Springs

After work today, Jake and several co-workers headed up into the mountains for a bit of hiking. Today's destination was the Mount Cutler Hiking Trail which is located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Mount Cutler Hiking Trail is located in North Cheyenne Canyon. This hiking trail offers about the best bang for your buck that you could possibly ask for in a hiking trail. There is more scenery packed into this short mile long hike than is probably legal.

The Mount Cutler Hiking Trail is located in North Cheyenne Canyon.

Length of Trail: 2 Miles Round Trip

Elevation: 6,797 Ft. to 7,164 Ft.

Click here to see Mount Cutler Hiking Trail on the map of places we've been.

Other Colorado Springs Attractions

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Water Powered Car

Tired of rapidly rising fuel prices? No problem. Just get out the garden hose. A Japanese company named Genepax claims to have produced a prototype vehicle that runs entirely on water and air. Their new "Water Energy System (WES)," generates power by supplying water and air to the fuel and air electrodes using a proprietary technology called the Membrane Electrode Assembly (MEA). The secret behind MEA is a special material that is capable of breaking down water into hydrogen and oxygen through a chemical reaction. During a recent conference, Genepax unveiled a fuel cell stack with a rated output of 120W and a fuel cell system with a rated output of 300W—and there are plans for a 1kw-class generation system for use in both electric vehicles and houses sometime in the future. At this point, the cost of production on the water-powered vehicle engine itself is around about $18,522, but they hope to drop the price to $4600 or less if they succeed in bringing it into mass production.

Wikipedia Link - Genepax
Company Link - Genepax

Rascally Rabbit

There have been a number plants and vegetable missing from the Pohick garden as of late. Jake interrogates one one the likely suspects in this video.

Guitar Hero

For father's day, Sarah and Scribbles gave Jake a Guitar Hero Game for the XBox 360. Guitar Hero is a video game that uses a guitar-shaped controller to simulate the playing of music, represented on-screen by colored notes that correspond to fret buttons on the controller. Jake was a little dubious about this particular gift, but he decided to give it a try. Just to prove to the girls that he was thankful for the gift, and not to hurt their feelings, he played the guitar hero game for 4 straight hours until his fingers started to bleed and he couldn't see any longer because of the dots floating in front of his eyes.

Friday, June 13, 2008

NASA Crew Mobility Chassis Prototype

This isn't your dad's moon buggy. NASA is evaluating new concepts for moving astronauts around on the surface of the moon. The Crew Mobility Chassis Prototype is NASA's new concept for a lunar truck. Researchers are trying it out at Moses Lake, Wash., this week as part of a series of tests of lunar surface concepts. One feature is its high mobility. Each set of wheels can pivot individually in any direction, giving the vehicle the ability to drive sideways, forward, backward and any direction in between -- important if the truck becomes mired in lunar dust, needs to zigzag down a steep crater wall or parallel park at its docking station. NASA currently is building the spacecraft and systems to return to the moon by 2020.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

How to safely remove a bug from your ear

As we have discussed in previous articles, having a live insect in your ear can be very disconcerting to say the least. The natural human tendency is to try and get the bug out of your ear as soon as possible. Unfortunately, this isn't the easiest task to accomplish and if done incorrectly can lead to permanent hearing loss.

How to know if a bug is in your ear
  • People with a bug in their ear often report the following symptoms: popping, crunching, fluttery, ticklish, or buzzing sound in the affected ear.
What types of bugs can get in your ear?
  • There are a number of insects that can and will enter your ear. Of the many types of insects that can get into ears, gnats, moths, and roaches are the most common. Gnats get tangled in the wax and cannot fly out. Bigger insects cannot turn around; neither can they crawl backwards. They keep on struggling, and their motion can be painful and frightening.
How to safely remove a bug from your ear
  • Your best bet is to seek qualified medical treatment. If no medical treatment is available, use the following steps.
  • First the safety warning: Never try to remove an insect with tweezers, bobby pins, cotton swabs or any other object. This can lodge the insect deeper in the ear canal. It can also damage the ear drum leading to permanent hearing loss. Don't do it!
  • Stay Calm. If you are treating someone else, especially a child, stay calm. This will help your patient stay calm as well.
  • Have the patient lean over with their ear facing upwards.
  • Fill the ear with baby oil, mineral oil, vegetable oil or olive oil. This will kill the insect and cause it to stop moving. If you don't have access to one of the oils listed above, you can attempt to use clean water only.
  • Flush the ear with warm water allowing it to overflow. Watch carefully for the insect to be flushed out.
  • If you are unable to fully remove the insect using this technique, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.
Here is what it looks like when you have a bug in your ear.  Video.

Website Link: Mayo Clinic - First Aid for removing foreign objects from ear

Disclaimer: Jake is not a medical doctor. The information and techniques present on this website are provided as a public service and should not be considered sound medical advice. If you experience any of the symptoms listed on this website, you should seek sound medical advice as soon as possible.

The Path of Least Resistance

So actually, this was the path of a fair amount of resistance. The back portion of our property is not inclined to be civilized. In fact, areas that we have previously cleared have sprung back to life as if we had never touched them. We decided to focus our efforts on a small area and to create a path through the wilderness. We are quite pleased with the results of our efforts. This project allowed us to incorporate a clean landscaping look along with area's beautiful natural foliage.

Construction Steps:

1. First we cleared a small path through the woods. We selected an area that was already relatively clear of foliage.

2. Next, we laid out the path using dead fall tree branches from the forest. Landscaping timbers would probably last longer, but we have no shortage of replacement tree branches. This saves us the expense of landscaping timbers and also the cost and effort of hauling the tree limbs off to a landfill. Additionally, the tree limbs give the path a rustic charm.

3. Finally, we used a 2- to 3- inch layer of pine bark for weed control. Pine bark makes an attractive, usually dark-colored mulch. It can be purchased in various particle sizes, from shredded to large-sized particles, called nuggets. This project required 6 bags of mulch.

Website Link: About Mulch from the

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Belle of Georgia Semi Dwarf Peach Tree Update

The peach tree that we planted on the19th of March 2008 continues to add new growth and is looking quite healthy. The tree is now approximately 8.5 feet tall. It was a little over 7.5 feet tall when we planted it 3 months ago.

Peach Tree Care:
  • After planting, apply sufficient water to thoroughly soak the soil in the area of the tree roots.
  • Keep weeds out of a 3-by-3-foot area around the tree because they compete with the tree for moisture and nutrients during the growing season.
  • Keep mowers away from the tree to reduce trunk damage.
  • Mulching will help to control weeds as well as conserve moisture.
  • In March after the trees have been planted and the soil settled by a drenching rain, broadcast 1 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer over an area 3 feet in diameter. Do not allow fertilizer to accumulate around the tree trunk.
  • In early June and again in early August, broadcast ½ cup of calcium nitrate or equivalent over an area 3 feet in diameter.
  • Beginning the second year, fertilize the trees twice a year in early March and around the first of August.
  • Early March application: Apply 1 cup of 10-10-10 fertilizer per year of tree age to a maximum of 10 cups for mature trees.
  • August application: Apply 1 cup of calcium nitrate or equivalent per year of tree age to a maximum of 4 cups for mature trees. Do not make the August application if the crop was lost to a freeze. Do not apply until the harvest of late-season varieties is completed.
Related Articles:

Raspberry Harvest

Today, the Pohick's harvested the very first raspberry from the raspberry bushes they planted on the 20th of March. In honor of the occasion, the ceremonial first raspberry was cut into four pieces and the pieces were consumed by each member of the family. Though the serving size was small everyone thought that the fruit was quite tasty.

Considering that the trauma that the raspberry bushes underwent this year, it is a wonder that the bushes are producing any fruit at all. In mid April, a rabbit (Yes, we know who you are Mr. Rabbit) decided to eat all of the new growth from the raspberry bushes. The bushes were munched all the way down to the ground. We had almost decided to plow the plants under when we noticed them starting to grow again. They are apparently quite hardy. The variety we planted produces two crops per year. The first in the spring and a second crop in the fall. We are looking to lots of tasty raspberry treats in the years to come.

Harvesting Raspberries: What should you know about picking raspberries?
  • Be aware that raspberries do not ripen once picked. Avoid picking unripened berries.
  • Raspberries which have been picked will only last a day or so.
  • The best solution is to pick them on the day they are required and do not let them be crushed by their own weight.
  • All of the raspberries will not ripen at the same time. The berries will ripen over a period of several weeks.
  • The fruit does not all ripen at the same time, so harvesting can take place over several weeks.
  • Raspberries freeze very well and make tasty treats even when partially frozen.
Wikipedia Link: Raspberries
Organization Link:
North American Raspberry & Blackberry Association (NARBA)

Compact Fluorescent Lamp

Jake had a bright idea today. He decided that he would replace the light bulbs in the house with compact fluorescent lamps (CFL). This idea came to him as his was browsing through one of the local stores. The store was having a sale on compact fluorescent lamps and Jake decided that this was probably a good time to make the investment.

So, why compact fluorescent lamps do you ask? Well, if we are to believe the manufacturer's claims, each lamp should save $47 worth of electricity over it's life time. The lamps that Jake purchased use 13 watts of electricity and provide the same amount of light as a 60 watt light bulb. Additionally, the lamps are advertised to last much longer than a standard lamp. The packaging states that each lamp will last approximately 10,000 hours or 5-7 years of normal usage. The lamps cost Jake $2.50 each so they are a little more costly than a standard light bulb. Electricity costs the Pohick family approximately $136 each month on average for their all-electric house in Northern Alabama. If the lamps manage to save a modest 5% from their electric bill they will provide a savings of approximately $80 per year. In the grand scheme of things, this is about what it take to fill up the car with a tank of gas these days, but every little bit helps. On the plus side, the lamps should pay for themselves in a few months and Jake won't have to change the light bulbs as often.

According to the US government, if every American home replaced just one light bulb with an ENERGY STAR qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars.

Wikipedia Link: Compact Fluorescent Lamps

Government Link: Compact Fluorescent Lamps