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Race Across the High Desert … on Foot

racers support   runners at stage 01    It takes nearly 10,000 volunteers to make the Baker to Vegas Challenge Cup Relay a real challenge, and yet not many people even know about it. To cover the grueling 120-mile foot race through some of the most desolate stretches of high desert, runners must create their 20-member teams with physical endurance, perseverance, and ability to support their participants within a 24-hour time frame.signin volunteers

The Challenge Cup is a relay pitting runners not against each other as much as against the worst the desert can toss at them. Scores are based on times for the legs of each section — some only four to five miles in length and the toughest  with 10.7 miles — but must be completed by the 24-hour maximum deadline. In the past some teams were disqualified because they couldn’t keep up. Extreme weather, heat strokes, and blisters take out many.timing table recorder

What makes this race unique is the fact that only law enforcement personnel can race and you must be invited to help in the support roles. Not everyone can enter; not all can help. LA Police Officers Chuck Foote and Larry Moore created this crazy race 30 years ago, based on the format laid by LAPD Metro Division´s “Death Valley Relay” ending in 1985 — a seven-year stint of running through the Devil´s Graveyard.

Strong interest has grown each year to include not only California and Nevada divisions but other states and even other countries. Japan, Sweden, Germany, UK, and Canada coordinated their teams and flew in for the honor of racing. For more details visit: http://www.bakervegas.org

The foot race begins in Baker, California, at 8 am, climbs through the higher elevations to Shoshone, the Gateway to Death Valley, then veers right through a narrow canyon, across Chicago Valley, and into Pahrump, Nevada. Once passing through town, racers then begin the long climb up the grade toward Las Vegas. In this section,Volunteer Sandee in Comm Center all runners are in the dark wearing flashing vests to warn motorists that they are sharing the road, their added protection is provided by their follow support vehicles. As they clear the crest of Mountain Springs Pass, the lights of Las Vegas prod them on to the finish line at the Las Vegas Hotel Convention Room.

Just looking at one Stage, where a baton is handed off to the next team runner, as many as 200 people can swarm there. They stand in excitement waiting for their runner to arrive, prompted by a trained team of Amateur Radio communicator volunteers who announce each runner coming in. The support teams also include the registration of current teams, a medical contingency, race officials, and the growing numbers of team race supporters and their families. Once the current racers have moved on, all of the support volunteers move on to the next Stage. Volunteer Virginia in Comm Center

Volunteers who are assigned to man one stage for the complete 24 hours, will have been awake throughout the evening, well into the early hours of the next morning. My husband and I have helped in several of the assignment teams, whether it was in Shoshone, or race headquarters, or camped long the highway offering our radio support. We are now Lead Ham Radio assigned support for Stage 14. We’ve be involved for more than 17 years.

As old-timers we still find it fun, tiring, exciting, and enthusiastic to see all the teams milling around waiting for their teammates to break through the chute and hand over their batons. We even recruit new volunteers to invest their time so others can take breaks or even skip a year of service. The race officials also make it more efficient at stages by promoting the newest timing gear and computer-assisted scoring to make our jobs much easier.Friends at dinner

Although the dates of the race tend to shuffle from March to April, next year’s race is now set for March 28th. Reservations in motels and camping resorts are already filling, and surely the teams are gearing up for the 31st year. It’s just another one of those strange desert traditions — one in which we are honored to assist.

Rusty LaGrange

Allow Thoughts to Percolate, Then Write

 As soon as the weather cooled and thoughts of seasonal foods popped up in the blogs, I began thinking of the cozy places I like to be on an Autumn day. Do you find that a place near a sunny window with a steamy cup of tea or coffee is just the right way to start the day?

But who wants to limit the morning to just coffee and steamy tea? Often I will sit and write a poem just because that cozy spot near the window helps my thoughts to flow. I may enjoy the coffee more than the raw verses I’m working on, but eventually the poem takes shape and I read it through one more time to be satisfied.

The question of “what do I write?” and “how can I be inspired to wri

A writer needs the time to think before writing

A writer needs the time to think before writing

te something?” can cause a new blogger to grow self-doubt. It’s better to be ready to write than to sit at a blank screen and struggle to produce something. Your mind can be tricked into working for you.

While you are busy doing other things your mind can be prompted to think of good topics for your blog. Let’s look at a few tactics that can help:

a) If you have a themed blog where you discuss and share ideas about a certain topic, then paying for a subscription to a magazine in that topic or field will be a handy tool to rely on.

b) When you are reading the newspaper or scanning through an online web paper, jot down short notes about topics that may be related to your theme. Always watch for the odd stories that can prompt your Muse in a heartbeat.

c) If you come across an email or a newsletter in your surface mail that may relate to your blog, write it down.

d) Once you have collected several of these leads, you’ll need to research them all a bit to produce a good starting idea.

e) Keeping a camera with you at all times, will make you rely on using it more often. So, if your blog is general news or trends, you’ll have a simple way to snap a photo and write about it. At HighDesertBlogging.com many of our guest bloggers come across new ideas without trying. Some of them go to public events, walk and talk to the people who are enjoying the event then ask for a photo and their name. In just a few minutes, you have a strong story idea, pictures to go with it, and sudden enthusiasm to get home and write.

f) Sometimes, no matter what you try, the words won’t come to you. It’s best to get up and walk away. Take a short walk outside for some fresh air, do a small chore that will take your mind off of the blog for a few minutes. But, never let yourself fall into the trap of procrastination for the blog’s sake. No, no.

All writers need time to allow their thoughts to percolate. They need the uncluttered space to let ideas swirl and combine until a creative action arrives. Relaying on a few researching tools had already prompted your mind to work on those topics. It primed the mind to focus, and while you were busy with other ideas, it focused more intently on your selected subject. Moments later the thought will arrive and your readers will be enriched by it.

And you know all of those ideas that you didn’t choose today, they can each be prompts for upcoming blogs. So you are that much ahead!

 

Rusty LaGrange

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A new year begins

Happy Thanksgiving: Unions Shut Down Traffic to LAX

Airport Lines

First day of school in the High Desert has come and gone.  Our boy is going to a new school and everything has changed. A new schedule, new classes, and a lot more traffic. Our first day of school was akin to dropping someone off at the airport. There was lots of craziness being contained in a small space.

But things have settled down and we’re in love with the new school.

It’s a performing art school and our son is enjoying himself immensely. The curriculum is very different from a traditional school; however, that was the whole point of sending him to a different kind of school.

The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez. $11.54. Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Books for Children (October 25, 1999). 128 pages

The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez

Recently, he came home with questions about our family history. They were reading “The Circuit” by Francisco Jimenez in Language Arts class and he wondered if we had a similar history. Can you imagine my astonishment at his genuine curiosity about migrant farmers?

School hasn’t been in session for a month and I’m so glad we decided to send him there. He’s being inspired and driven to learn, which of course, makes it all worth it.

Now, if I could just get the boy inspired and driven to keep his room clean…

For more information or to get to know Just a HD Mom, please visit my website www.MonicaGloria.com and click the Contact page. I’d love to hear from you.

Early Computer Pioneer Never Saw His Creation

Charles Babbage invented early computer A friend and I were recently talking about the early computers from the late 40s through the 60s that were housed in large rooms. The military think tanks first encouraged designs, sequestered the early scientists who hand-selected people — often women — to learn how to enter the data. Then by the 60s, housewives and women recruited from colleges took on the roles of data entry clerks. Some were mathematicians, like my friend Vivian, who worked for years in seclusion.

Their jobs never appeared as glamorous as the Hollywood celebrities who traveled the world speaking to USO-entertained troops about the benefits of the New Age and defending our country. Back then, the word “computer” didn’t really bring a picture to mind. Gee, we just started hearing about microwave ovens. These computers loomed like large, gray, metal container units  anchored in basements at a university or even a warehouse to manage the size. Any extra room was used for cooling since the computer generated more heat than information.

Calculations still took days to compute but, it was still faster than a human. 

Some of the early methods of calculating was transferred to what we called “an IBM card” — a manilla-colored card stock that had punched holes. Often the data were literally streaming out of the machines on reels of narrow ticker tape, like the Wall Street movies portray.

So I wondered who was the first inventor of a computer?

Turns out that Charles Babbage (1791-1871), was a computer pioneer, who designed the first automatic computing engines as early as 1832. He invented computers but failed to build them. The first complete prototype, “Babbage Engine” was completed in London in 2002, 153 years after it was designed. Difference Engine No. 2, built faithfully to the original drawings, consists of 8,000 parts, weighs five tons, and measures 11 feet long.Early design of computer created

Early design of computer created

The Finished Portion of the Unfinished Engine

A small demonstration assembly was built and delivered to Babbage by Clement, his design partner, in 1832. This ‘beautiful fragment’, one seventh of the calculating section, was all Babbage had to show after a decade of investment. Babbage used the piece to develop his ideas on computation and also for dramatic demonstrations to savants, guests, dignitaries, scientists, and friends. His device proved the soundness of the design and supported the feasibility of a full machine. It was the first successful automatic calculator and one of the finest examples of precision engineering of the time. It remains among the most celebrated icons in the prehistory of automatic computation.

Babbage & Ada Lovelace

In 1833 Babbage met Ada Lovelace, daughter of the notorious British poet Lord Byron, at a party. Lovelace, just seventeen, had some mathematical training which was unusual for a woman at that time. She was entranced by the small working section of the machine and in time became an enthusiastic supporter of Babbage’s work.

 Lovelace speculated that the machine might go beyond numbers and more generally manipulate symbols in accordance with rules. She saw that numbers could represent entities other than quantity – letters of the alphabet, notes of music – and that by manipulating numbers, computing machines could extend their powers beyond the world of mathematics. In the light of developments in the 20th century, this notion is prophetic and one that Babbage appears not to have envisioned with any clarity.

False Dawn

The 19th century movement to automate computation failed and the movement largely died with Babbage in 1871. There is no continuous line of development from Babbage to present times, and many of the principles embodied in his work were reinvented by the pioneers of the electronics era, largely in ignorance of his work. Though the legend of his work was never lost it was only in the 1970s that his designs were studied in any detail and the scale of his accomplishments emerged more clearly.

 Take a Tour or Visit the Web site

If you’d like to learn more, the Computer Museum www.computerhistory.org invites you to visit or go online to see this extraordinary object, its designer Charles Babbage and the team of people who undertook to build it. Discover the wonder of a future already passed. A sight no Victorian ever saw.

An identical Engine completed in March 2008 is on display at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California.

Museum Web text by Doron Swade

Rusty LaGrange
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Home Based Business Part 2

In my previous post I spoke about modern day Americans needing to have a Plan B.  We need to put away for a rainy day, or as SciFi Channel would suggest, prepare for the Sharknado.  Expect the unexpected.  And definitely know that when push comes to shove, you have to be able to support yourself when economy shifts have shoved you out of that “safe” job.

More and more people are turning to home based business than ever before.  Not just being an independent distributor for larger well-known corporations like Pampered Chef or Tupperware, but many people are becoming entrepreneurs and starting their own brands from clothes, ribbons and bows, to foods and cakes.  If necessity is the mother of invention, then it is evident that there is a whole lot of necessity in this day and age.  I follow several Facebook pages like High Desert Sellers and High Desert Women’s Business Group, all of which have the same running theme: supporting the small businesses in the High Desert.  With the hiring drought people are turning to working from home as a means of survival.  And guess what? They are loving it.

As most of us have heard of The Avon Lady and the Tupperware Girl, I have had to ask myself: why get into the business? Now I, like many, have tried direct sales in the past from the timid Avon products to the risque Passion Party bounty.  I have heard of distributors making enough to support their family, but I never had that kind of outcome.  Maybe it was because I got in after the bandwagon had long  since forged a trail, or perhaps it was due to my lack of motivation and direct sales skills.  These points must be considered when looking into a home based business, and you must eventually ask yourself this question: am I ready?

Loss of income is a huge motivator for many, it can make the quiet become loud and the unmotivated become sparked.  So here is a list of questions to ask yourself before signing up to be your own boss.

  • Am I looking for extra income or the ability to support my family?
  • How much can I afford to invest?
  • How much time can I invest?
  • Do I have the support of my family?
  • Where will I sell?
  • Is there a demand for this product?
  • How much competition is out there?
  • Do I believe in what I am selling?
  • How long before I turn a profit?
  • Am I paid in items or money?
  • What types of perks are there? Incentives? Bonuses?

All of these questions must be addressed and seriously considered.  To the person looking to make some extra money it may not matter how much they sell or how much competition is out there.  To the person who is looking to support their family it would mean more to be paid in cash rather than items to add to a kit.  And for someone looking to get their own line of ribbons and bows out there, they need to look at how long it would take to turn a profit and what the demand for such items are.

Go in with a realistic outlook not with rose colored glasses.  If you are outspoken you will fair well.  If you are a quiet house mouse then some kind of internet sales may work better.  Also realize the importance of social media; much of my sales have been directly related to social media outlets. I’ve made more sales through Facebook messaging than through phone calls.  Know your strengths and your weakness and base a business off that.  If the best you can do is drop a catalog off in the lunch room then maybe something simple will do.  If you want to host in-home parties and set up at events then you need something with more pizzazz than the average catalog of make-up left in the lunch room.

And if you are selling something that is pricier than $10 per item, you better believe in your product.  The best way to sell is to love and believe in your product.  Also keep in mind that your biggest sales group will likely be family and friends and you don’t want them coming back at you because of a shoddy product.  Just as much as you should know your weaknesses you should also know your strengths: direct marketing, online marketing, large groups, small groups and more.  All of these will help you in choosing a route to venture into, but don’t go into something lightly because a friend or distributor says you can earn thousands; a lucky lottery ticket can give you the same outcome.  Remember, distributors are trying to make money too and the best way to do that is to get other distributors.  Do not be blinded by the promise of big bucks, it takes work! Research the company, know the payouts, and know your own limitations.

Part 3 next week.

Tania L Ramos, Author, RN, and Indep Distributor for It Works!

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LOOKING FOR A JOB

If you’ve ever had to look for employment, or if you are looking now, times have changed. I’m a little too old because I remember how it was done in the past. When you wanted to look for a job, you got out the newspaper, looked in the want ads for employment, circled the ones that applied to you, got in your car and drove to the destination to put in an application. If you got lucky, or made friends with the secretary you might just get an interview on the spot.

Well, it’s a whole different ball game today. Today, you can’t just waltz into an establishment and fill out an application. Today it’s all about the computer. Look up a job online with a keyword, an establishment, or an agency such as Monster or Indeed.com.

Some of the plus sides of online submission is that you can apply for as many jobs as you can sit through in one day. I mean sit through, because many application processes are lengthy, more than an hour of psychological questions asked the same way, over and over.

I see the downside of today’s application process as being very sterile. There is no interaction between humans during this process. You will receive an e mail that they have your application. Who has your application? Where does the application go? How long will it be before you get a response? These are all very valid questions.

All I can say about this new way of job hunting is apply for as many jobs you can apply for, every day! Happy job search.

WHO ARE WE?

I don’t know about you but I’m amazed at the high desert people. Reading everyone’s post on High Desert Bloggers makes me think about the amazing people we have in our community. There’s writers, there’s gardeners, cooks, friends and family. I’m amazed at the talent we have here and the versatility of the people living in the high desert.

This week has been an exciting week in the desert and so much has happened in three short days. For each and everyone of you that has gone to school, and sweated their grade, that would be me. Normally, I get A’s and high B’s but not in this class. Tough, tough instructor and by the end of last week, I thought “Oh my goodness,” I might not pass. Passing in a doctorate is nothing less than a B. You can’t get a C only B and above.

That’s how much I worried about a tiny little thing like a grade. Nail biting, etc. no need. I should be worrying about my neighbor. I should be worrying about the man and woman I talked to in Wal Mart at 11:00 p.m. asking for money, with a small child by their side, or the mentally ill patient on the street, because he or she is confused about what medication to take.  Such thoughts cause contemplation about  the meaning of my life and it’s importance.

I thank the proprietor of this blog, because here we can talk about the High Desert, and contemplate on how to build our community and make it better. Every day I see cars that turn off the 395 unto dirt roads that don’t even have a sign to the destination and sometimes I think we are like those cars, driving with an unknown destination.

I’m going to think about my path and which turn in the road it will take.

SUNDAY JOY

Today is Sunday. Most Sundays you might find grumbling that work is the next day but not this Sunday. This is a Sunday filled with joy and happiness and reminders that joy is a gift that is given to us freely and we ought to enjoy it. As of late I’ve seen grumbling before me and I’m reminded of the saying my mother says still today, “Get glad in the same pants you got mad in.” In other words no one really cares what you are mad about.

Today was a day full of peace in my high desert world. I got to spend time with great people. I got to spend time with my mother and sister. I got to enjoy another beautiful blue skied day in the desert. Fluffy white clouds dotted the horizon and made the sky look like an inviting pillow. There was a calm over the desert. Even though the weather is hot, it’s not as hot as it was yesterday or the day before.

What more can a person ask for, blue skies, good people to mingle with and an assurance of the Sunday Joy that surrounds the day. Tomorrow is a work day, but if I look around I will find joy in that day too. No one, no one person in this world can take joy from our hearts. Joy is a feeling and even in the midst of a crises, joy can be found.

Thank you for a great ending to a fourth of July weekend. Thank you for joy in our hearts.

LIGHTS OVER THE DESERT

Hey high desert dwellers, the light show goes on over Adelanto tonight. As I sit here writing this blog I can hear the boom, boom, boom of the fireworks lighting the sky. As I watched what was going on at Maverick Stadium from the gas station nearby, several thoughts came to mind. First of all why are people lighting fireworks in the gas station parking lot, next to gasoline tanks?  No wonder some police officers came by to let people know that it may not be a good idea to light fireworks in the gas station parking lot.

For many years I worked in the emergency room of a hospital, and every year on fourth of July there are so many accidents that require emergency treatment, it’s phenomenal. I suppose that people do not always think with the logical side of their brain when they are celebrating the fourth of July.

As we go into the weekend I want to think about more than the fireworks. I want to remember first the first people in America who fought for our country and it’s continued freedom. I remember my father who fought for his country in “World War II”. My uncles and other family members who also fought to keep us free. I remember, young men I knew in High School who fought in Vietnam to rid the world of communism. Most of the ones I went to school with didn’t come home.

Now my grandson-in-law is in the Army. In a few months he may be deployed, destiny unknown. Young men still go to the army, to the navy, the air force and many other avenues of the service, to keep our country free. If you know someone who is serving their country, write them a letter, let them know how much you appreciate them.

Every fourth of July brings a new set of fireworks in the sky, new memories but while we are making our memories let us reminisce about the past and how we have the freedom to enjoy.

Electrical Math

I should come with a warning sign: Leave alone when temperatures reach higher than 90 degrees.  It’s not just the heat that gets me, but knowing as the temperature is rising so is my electrical bill.  There goes the work retropay for over seven months.  Just in time to pay the summer electrical bills.  So correct me if I am wrong, but does it make sense to anyone else that the time when we use electricity most is the time it nearly triples in cost? What kind of convoluted math is that?

My son says its supply and demand. I say it’s pure evil and some red horned minions must be sitting behind a desk laughing at my expense. They don’t even take into account how many people are in the home. There has to be a better system other than everyone is charged the same.  This isn’t IRS math.  Heck, it isn’t even phone company math, and even they give you a break when adding phone lines.

Last year I called the electric company because I just knew my bill had to be wrong.  The woman on the line says, “they [Edison] consider A/C to be a luxury,not a necessity.”  My brain just went blank at that.  It was over one hundred degrees, but cool air is a luxury.  I clearly advised her that this isn’t some third world country and that in the realm of things electricity is the only thing we can actually create without much effort. We use the wind, water, hamsters on spinny wheels . . . it’s a generated resource unlike fossil fuels.  She remained silent.

“How hot is it where you are?” I asked.

“One oh nine,” she answers.

“Is your air on?”

“Yes,” she says.

“Is it a necessity or luxury?’

“When it’s this hot its a necessity,” she answers.

And I couldn’t help but wonder what temperature differentiated the line between necessity and luxury? I’d ask them, but I don’t disturb the powers that control my physical thermoregulation.  Iced tea and walking around nearly naked not caring who or what sees me . . . it must be a high desert summer again!

Tania L Ramos, RN, Author

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