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UGH! It’s a Bug!! The Scorpion That Isn’t

High Desert Insects Challenge Your Sanity

It’s a buggy world. If you stop and consider there are more insects hatched daily than there are people living around the world, you wonder why we aren’t up to our ears in bugs.

That buggy world we live in  — especially in the Southwest — keeps us ever watchful to know which bug is a friend and which one is out to get us!

Sun Scorpion 

Sun Scorpion

Long Legs and Scary Looking Mouth Makes Sun Scorpions Similar to Scorpions

 One of the ugliest insects is a night traveler that looks a lot like a scorpion but doesn’t have a stinger or a tail. Light yellow honey-colored  is the “Sun Scorpion” also known as “Wind Scorpion” or “Sun Spider” even “Nina de la Tierra” or “Child of the Earth.” Its more scientific name is a solpugid and solfugid, depending on the books I looked into.

Its head is large and looks like it shouldn’t be able to walk let along race across the ground. When you find it in your home, it’s usually in your bathtub or crawling up a wall. They sneak around at night, falling into tubs and sinks, then can’t climb out. They can grow as large as two inches (5 cm).

The good thing — if there is good thing about weird-looking bugs — is that it’s fragile, more fragile than any scorpion, beetle, or spider. Just swat it with a rolled up paper or a flyswatter and it’s dead.

Sci-Fi Alien Mouth

Mandibles in a Large HEad

Ugly Bug

Before you annihilate it, take a look at its strange head and large mouth parts. Its sci-fi alien looking mouth comes right out of a nightmare. It has four pointy jaws that open and close like a grappling hook in those stuffed toy coin-operated vending machines. Their bald head is actually covered in fine hairs — always on the alert. It helps them feel their surrounding due to their lack of good eyesight. But that’s typical with nigh bugs.

They also have giant fake pincers called pedipalps that look like they could hurt you but they aren’t harmful or even poisonous. They use these strong front arms with the next pair behind to control their prey. When they feel threatened they raise their front arms up defensively like scorpions or tarantulas do. This can make them look more dangerous to predators or even humans. Most solpugids live less than a year so they need to live on the defensive or die early.

Glow in the Dark

The closest bug that looks like a Sun Scorpion is a large, caramel-colored Jerusalem Cricket it sometimes shares its name “Nina de la Tierra” with the sun spider, also found in the Southwest deserts. It has a large head, long legs, moves slower, but is active at night. I’ve only seen two of these in 40 years so they may be more rare today.

 Jerusalem cricket

It’s not from Jerusalem or a cricket

Another way you can tell differences between true scorpions and pseudo-types is to use a black-light and hunt at night. A scorpion will “glow in the dark” while a Sun or Wind Scorpion  will not.

So keep an eye open for those creepy-looking bugs but also take the time to see what they are and how they share the desert with you. Most are beneficial and eat other bugs, so they’re doing you a favor. Really.

Rusty

Unofficial “Bugologist”

March Flowers to Plant in High Desert Gardens

Spring Garden Planting

Pansies

Spring Pansies

The high desert has seen gorgeous spring days already in February and the first few days of March. Like we always read on many packets of flower seeds, “Sow…after danger of heavy frost.” Victor Valley’s weather report indicates that by tomorrow, temperatures are going to dip down into the low 30’s – heavy frost kind of weather to consider (although frost can happen in April, too) when planting flower seeds.

Pansies may be the answer to your March flower garden. You can find them at nurseries and even WalMart right now. But you have to decide if you want to plant pansies now or wait a little longer to plant spring and summer flowers that can endure the desert heat. Pansies do best with temperatures between 40 degrees at night and 60 degrees during the day. Hesperia only had about five days last month that didn’t go over 60 degrees during the day and fifteen days that were in the 70’s. If you do plant pansies, they can add vivid color to your garden through the spring.

Bulbs and Flowers to Plant in March

Plant flowering bulbs such as dahlias and gladiolas.

summer flower bulbs

Gladiolas (photo from morguefile.com)

Choose from drought-tolerant marigolds and zinnias when beginning your spring gardening. Both are colorful, although zinnias provide a wider variety of colors than marigolds including pink and white.

marigolds

Marigolds (photo from morguefile.com)

Marigolds are believed to have pest-controlling benefits for vegetable gardens. That could be true if you plant them in abundance, but they may not keep out the neon-green tomato hornworm.

Learn how to use the right amount of irrigation to encourage a deeper root system, and you’ll enhance the beauty of zinnias. Zinnias can grow up to 3 feet tall or more and attract birds and butterflies.

zinnias

Zinnias Attract Butterflies (photo from morguefile.com)

Children’s Craft Mother’s Day Card

A Mother’s Day Gift

flowers in a vase

Mother’s Day Vase of Flowers

School teachers, Sunday School teachers, and daycare teachers have something in common. They plan crafts ahead of time. Teachers have the opportunity to make a huge difference in children’s lives. READ MORE »

High Desert Bloggers Traffic-Generating Experiment Continued

Traffic-Generating Experiment

Last month bloggers from Pattycakespantry.com and KitchenHospitality.com joined in a traffic-generating experiment to see if they could increase their traffic. They agreed to a contest to see which blog would have the most traffic and which would increase the most in traffic.  You can see the comparison between the two food blogs below.

PattyCakesPantry.com:

  • December – 422 views
  • January – 584 views
  • February – 483 views

KitchenHospitality.com:

  • December – 142 views
  • January – 287 views
  • February – 251 views

You can see how the blogs had more traffic in February than they did in December yet had less in February than in January. The bloggers have decided to continue the traffic-generating experiment for the month of March, but the rules of the contest will change. Blog posts will be written on the most popular topics according to the blogs’ analytics.

Follow Patty Cakes Pantry and Kitchen Hospitality, two food blogs that include recipes that the bloggers create such as the salsa recipes below:

Sweet & Spicy SalsaSweet & Spicy Salsa at KitchenHospitality.com

The southern food bloggers of Patty Cakes Pantry and Kitchen Hospitality welcome your comments and will appreciate the traffic.

Thank You for Visiting High Desert Blogging!

Chasing Radio Signals Through High Deserts

Why NASA Looks for High Deserts?

Part III

Space scientists studying around the nation need uninterrupted air and land areas to work in. Signals coming from deep in outer space are so weak that we need to bump up the strength so we can listen and capture the radio waves that planets and stars emit. Then we have to trap the signals so they can be sent to places like Jet Propulsion Laboratories (JPL) in California to be studied.

Dishes move on rails

A series of small dishes capture condensed signals

We often go to High Desert expanses like St. Augustin Plains in New Mexico, Mojave Desert in California, and Eastern Oregon’s high plains to receive the clearest and strongest signals. We need a noiseless and fairly high plain without too much interference.

In this Part III look at high deserts, we can say that St. Augustin Plains is remote and clear enough to try new studies. It sits about 50 miles west of Socorro, New Mexico and about 20 miles west of Magdalena. The Very Large Array (VLA) is a series of small satellite dishes running on a closed system of rails on the ground in a specific pattern. With many small dishes working together, a stronger concentrated signal can be captured. https://public.nrao.edu/tours/visitvla

many dishes are better than one

Dishes move to one target signal in space

The flexibility of a rail system also allows the pattern on the ground to adjust to new studies. You can take your family to see the public tours most of the year, watch the system working, the souvenir shop, and other historical displays.

At St. Augustin Plains wild antelope still roam the plains. They don’t seem to care if people get out of their vehicles to take photos. Here you can learn more about radio astronomy and the role the Very Large Array (VLA) and other NRAO telescopes play in current research.

What is Radio Astronomy?

 We see the world around us, because our eyes detect visible light, a type of electromagnetic radiation. Objects on Earth and in space also emit other types of EM radiation that cannot be seen by the human eye, such as radio waves. The full range of all radiating EM waves is called the electromagnetic spectrum.

Radio astronomy is the study of celestial objects that give off radio waves. With radio astronomy, we study astronomical phenomena that are often invisible or hidden in other portions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Radio Astronomy Reveals the Hidden Universe.
Since radio waves penetrate dust, we use radio astronomy techniques to study regions that cannot be seen in visible light, such as the dust-shrouded, busy center of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. Radio waves also allow us to trace the location, density, and motion of the hydrogen gas that constitutes three-fourths of the ordinary matter in the Universe.

Partnerships: How We Study Earth From Space

The primary objective of DSCOVR, a partnership between NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Air Force, is to maintain the nation’s real-time solar wind monitoring capabilities, which are critical to the accuracy and lead time of space weather alerts and forecasts from NOAA. http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/DSCOVR/

The satellite was launched in February and recently reached its planned orbit at the first Lagrange point or L1, about one million miles from Earth toward the sun. It’s from that unique vantage point that the EPIC instrument is acquiring science quality images of the entire sunlit face of Earth.

Nation’s first operational satellite in deep space reaches final orbit

June 8, 2015 — More than 100 days after it launched, NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) satellite has reached its orbit position about one million miles from Earth.

Earth From DSCOVR

First Full Spectrum View of Earth

Data from EPIC will be used to measure ozone and aerosol levels in Earth’s atmosphere, cloud height, vegetation properties and the ultraviolet reflectivity of Earth. NASA will use this radiometry data for a number of Earth science applications, including dust and volcanic ash maps of the entire planet.

In addition to space weather instruments, DSCOVR carries a second NASA sensor — the National Institute of Science and Technology Advanced Radiometer (NISTAR). http://www.nasa.gov/earth Data from the NASA science instruments will be processed at the agency’s DSCOVR Science Operations Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. This data will be archived and distributed by the Atmospheric Science Data Center at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

So without the wide array of remote high deserts, NASA wouldn’t be able to gather as much data from space, use it to understand radio waves that give us measurements to study, or the ability to share the data with our technical scientists here and around the world.

Rusty

Food Cravings and Food Blogs

FOOD BLOGGING

Chocolate and Yogurt

Yogurt Granola Chocolate Sweet Snack

Bloggers on High Desert Blogging write articles about the High Desert, the Southwest, blogging, gardening in the high desert, food, and Victor Valley. Food writing on the blog varies from historical to new recipes, Route 66 eateries, and recommended restaurants. But have you heard of or visited the High Desert Farmers Market? The Farmers Market is held on Thursday mornings from 8:00 am until 12:00 pm. Go to highdesertfarmersmarket.com blog to find their recipes.

SALSA CRAVINGS

What kind of food cravings do you get? One of mine is salsa. The latest one I made, Sweet & Spicy Salsa, has a southwestern flavor and includes corn. So delicious. It is made from the kitchen garden mostly (except the corn and a can of diced tomatoes and green chilies). The corn gave the salsa a sweet flavor. And, of course, it’s spicy with a very hot jalapeno. Sometimes, the jalapenos aren’t as hot. You never know how hot the garden jalapenos will be until you add it to the salsa. I’ve had some turn out very hot, and others seem quite mild.

SWEET CRAVINGS

Top food interests found on Pinterest and in blogs are:

  • desserts
  • recipes
  • healthy snacks
  • healthy recipes
  • nutrition
  • gluten free

When you try to combine dessert, healthy, nutrition, and gluten free, it can be quite a challenge. What do you do when you crave sweets but need gluten free ingredients and want to eat nutritious food? How do you satisfy the sweet or chocolate cravings?

Lately, I’ve had some sweet cravings – some for chocolate and some for lemon. Try this recipe that I came up with to satisfy the chocolate and sweet craving.

Yogurt Chocolate Granola Mix

5 minutes

1 Serving

Approximately 1 Cup

360 calories

15 fat

6.25 sat fat

51.5 carbs

10.5 protein

5.75 fiber

38.5 sugar

149.7 sodium

Yogurt Chocolate Granola Mix

Yogurt Granola Chocolate Sweet Snack

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup Plain Yogurt
  • 1/3 Cup Quaker Summer Berry Real Medleys
  • 4 Guittard Milk Chocolate Baking Chips
  • 1 Tablespoon Sun-Maid Chopped Dates

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Ready to eat.

Notes

Nutrition amounts are approximate.

Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://highdesertblogging.com/2016/02/24/food-cravings-and-food-blogs/

Chocolate Meringue Pie and Lemon Meringue Pie are my two favorite family pie recipes. I’ve had the two desserts on my mind, so when I saw a box of two lemon meringue pies in the frozen section at WalMart, I took it out and read the nutrition values. Not too bad. The only thing that jumped out at me was the 41 carbohydrates. However, my yogurt-chocolate medley’s carbs are higher. The lemon pies were justified. After all, I did pull a mountain of weeds in the yard. Well, maybe not today but yesterday. Uh-huh. They went into the grocery cart, made it all the way up to the register, and only one got to go inside my freezer. Lemon meringue. Mmmm.

High Desert Food Blog Contest

Now you know why I also have a food blog, Kitchen Hospitality. Maybe you’ve been keeping up with the Traffic Generating Experiment between Patty Cakes Pantry j(try her Taco Salad in a Jar) and Kitchen Hospitality. It’s going on for the month of February. Both blogs are fairly new, so Patty Cakes and I decided to challenge each other and also try out strategies on the blogs. We were both raised with southern-style cooking and enjoy sharing our recipes and cooking tips on the blogs. We will report the contest results on March 1st if you are interested in food blogs or want to start one of your own.

Chocolate and Yogurt

Yogurt Granola Chocolate Sweet Snack

Thank You for Visiting High Desert Blogging!

 

Blog Linking Parties:

Inspiration Thursday

Just What Are Those Astronaut Dudes Doing, Anyway?

Part II: A Viewpoint  of Deep Space From our High Desert

As we enter 2016, and sit smugly in front of our big screen TVs enjoying the latest “spinoff” of a comedy show, have you ever wondered how the Earthly industries that create the things around us actually happened to be in our homes?

Have you ever thought about what goes into the items you buy? Did NASA ever spinoff its own stuff? Have you ever wondered “What are those astronaut dudes doing up there anyway?”

Wonder no more. After years of taking a backseat to modern inventions from deep space labs affecting our daily lives, NASA has finally taken an Open and Shared attitude. Tooting its own horn…

What New Inventions and Adaptations From Space Are We Using Today?

Our world has changed by the giant steps of technology since the first man-flights began. Next time you actually remember to get out of your recliner and go stare at the night sky for the current fly-by of the International Space Station, you might think of these:

VEGGIE-GROWING IN SPACE 

Space food

Photos of the Ground Zinnias’ Harvesting inside the SSPF

 

Zinnia plants from the Veggie ground control experiment at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida were harvested Feb. 11 in the same way that crew member Scott Kelly  harvested the zinnias grown in the Veggie system aboard the International Space Station on Feb. 14—Valentine’s Day.

LAND MINE REMOVAL

Rather than blowing things up in war-torn countries and causing huge holes in the ground, The Demining Device flare uses a battery-triggered electric match to ignite and neutralize land mines in the field without detonation. The flare uses solid rocket fuel to burn a hole in the mine’s case and burn away the explosive contents so the mine can be disarmed without hazard. (Spinoff 2000)

FIREFIGHTING GEAR

Firefighting equipment widely used throughout the United States is based on a NASA development that coupled Agency design expertise with lightweight materials developed for the U.S. Space Program. A project that linked NASA and the National Bureau of Standards resulted in a lightweight breathing system including face mask, frame, harness, and air bottle, using an aluminum composite material developed by NASA for use on rocket casings. (Spinoff 1976)

TEMPER FOAM MATTRESSES

As the result of a program designed to develop a padding concept to improve crash protection for airplane passengers, Ames Research Center developed a foam material with unusual properties. The material is widely used and commonly known as temper foam or “memory foam.” (Spinoff 1996, 2008)

NEW MARKETS SPUR OUR ECONOMY

Astronaut in Space

More people are signing up for Astronaut School than in many years

Space exploration has created new markets and new technologies that have spurred our economy and changed our lives in many ways. This year, NASA unveiled two new complementary interactive Web features, NASA City and NASA @ Home, available at www.nasa.gov/city. The new features highlight how space pervades our lives, invisible yet critical to so many aspects of our daily activities and well-being.

HERE’S SOME OTHER SPACE-TECH ITEMS:

Did you know that many of the things we use today weer first developed by the space lab techs and experiments that became our life-improvements?

Enriched Baby Food, Portable Cordless Vacuums, Harnessing Solar Energy, Refrigerated Internet-Connected Wall Ovens, Improved Radial Tires, Anti-Icing Systems, and Infrared Ear Thermometers, just to name a few.

Did you know that there were 136 Space Shuttle flights where they developed ways to deal with space problems that we never heard of? Those travels also helped scientists in the International Space Station to learn how to transport men and supplies efficiently.

We don’t use shuttles anymore due to other countries taking on the task of moving men and cargo to the International Space Station – we’re looking at Mars, as you know, but the problems of long-term travel in space is a whole other matter.

As we gear up for living on a Mars environment, we are using the Moon to get answers faster. More on that in Part III.

To learn more you can go to :

https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2008/tech_benefits.html

Rusty LaGrange

Natural and Drought-Tolerant Plants Good for High Desert Gardens

Natural and Drought-Tolerant Plants

It’s time to plan your spring planting. Lavender and rosemary are two evergreens that can grow well in the high desert. See the eHow article, Rosemary Plant in the High Desert, for more information on planting rosemary in your garden.

evergreens

Rosemary photo from http://www.morguefile.com/archive/#/?q=rosemary&sort=pop&photo_lib=morgueFile

There are several websites with helpful information on organic and/or drought-tolerant plants for high desert gardens. I’ve listed four below to get you started:

  1. Going Organic Magazine – In the article, Winter Organic Gardening in The Desert, Maureen Gilmer gives insight on how to plant with drought-tolerant landscaping. If you are wondering which vegetable crops can be sown or planted in February, this article will be helpful.
  2. Moana Nursery – This website offers Local High Desert Tips on things you can do between February 16 through February 29 for your spring garden.
  3. Garden Solutions for the High Desert – Read Blogger Marnie Brennan’s blog post on Seed Starting for Spring Planting 2016 for help on seed planting.
  4. Mohave Desert Nursery – Learn about natural and drought-tolerant plants that grow well in the high desert.

Organic Salsa Garden

Plant an organic salsa garden – tomatoes, green onions, carrots, and peppers. Green onions and carrots grew in my garden through the winter months. Both go great in a homemade salsa recipe. The last green onions I pulled up out of the garden were so long I had to double them to store them in the frig.

Green onions and tiny carrot

What recipes do you put green onions in? Share your recipe in the comment section for this blog post.

Rain visited Victor Valley’s high desert this week, the best natural watering for a garden. It’s time to dig up the garden weeds and prepare for spring planting.

Gardening takes work, but it’s a good way to exercise and to enjoy natural Vitamin D.

Got gardening tips to share? Let us hear your spring planting plans.

Thank You for Visiting High Desert Blogging

Space Between Our Mutual High Deserts is Deep

Deep Space Complex, Goldstone CA

A sunset like none other through Goldstone Dish

Many readers have been asking me personally how the High Desert is so important to our economy or its versatile history over the years. While it’s true that most think of the desert as a dry expanse of sand and nothing lives in it, we can blame that on early Hollywood movies and mid-century TV westerns. We know that contrary to those first impressions, the desert is vibrant with wildlife, fields of flowers, cacti, and the people who see it as their home.

The link between what the High Deserts in particular around the nation — and there are more than one –offer to the economy covers a lot of industries. Without wide open deserts in Oregon, Nevada, New Mexico and California, we wouldn’t have a territory to experiment with deep space satellites, radio astronomy, radio telemetry or space telescopes.

Goldstone Complex near Bartow CA

Daylight in the Mojave Desert, Goldstone complex

Part One –

Space industry is a general term that can be split into three parts: manned flight, scientific testing, and deep space. The wide open spaces of our Southern California High Desert promotes terrific radio and satellite signals coming and going. The clear air, lack of cities with street lights, and the reduction in noise levels riding on the airwaves, make the desert a perfect place for doing experiments in sending and receiving amplified signals out to Deep Space crafts that have reported their findings automatically since the 1960s.

The Voyager 1 and 2 space crafts, launched the summer of 1977, used as their fact-finding mission intensive cameras to fly by the planets and probe into deep space. They had an approximate life span of six years – they’re now going on 37 years. However, when it comes to battery life, Voyager 1 has a leg up on the iPhone (and just about any other consumer electronic, for that matter). The spacecraft has a plutonium power supply that boasts an 88-year half-life, meaning we’ll stay in touch for years.

The Voyager space crafts will be the third and fourth human spacecraft to fly beyond all the planets in our Solar System. Pioneers 10 and 11 preceded Voyager in outstripping the gravitational attraction of the Sun but on February 17, 1998, Voyager 1 passed Pioneer 10 to become the most distant human-made object in space.

A diagram of Heliopause concept

Voyager is near the outer edges of the known universe

The Heliopause

While the exact location of the Heliopause is not known, it has been estimated that Voyager could reach this entry into interstellar space 10 years after crossing the Termination Shock. The heliopause is the demarcation of where the Sun loses influence in space as it touches the outer edges of the Universe. It’s a concept still being studied. (Voyager 1 entered interstellar space on August 25, 2012.) As of September 2013, Voyager 1 was at a distance of 18.7 billion kilometers (125.3 AU) from the Sun. Voyager 2 was at a distance of 15.3 billion kilometers (102.6 AU).

Sharing Data –

So, to keep tracking these spacecraft deep into the unknown, there are only three quiet and remote desert locations in the world where the signals can be captured. All three are desert-like, provide clear skies avoiding traffic, city lights, and noiseless skies. One is here in California’s Mojave Desert at Goldstone (Deep Space Network) near Barstow. The others are near Canberra Australia and Madrid Spain. Although they aren’t true dry deserts like ours, they provide the environments for good signals and transmissions.

Voyager probe

Unmanned Voyager launched in 1977

The Deep Space Network (DSN) supports NASA and non-NASA missions that explore the furthest points of our solar system. The DSN has these three ground stations located approximately 120 degrees apart on Earth (120 + 120 + 120 = 360). This is to ensure that any satellite in deep space is able to communicate with at least one station at all times. The ground stations also communicate with satellites in order to initiate course corrections, provide software updates, and alter the way scientific observations are made.

In Part 2 I’ll share information about the New Mexico High Desert called St. Augustine Plains and the Very Large Array that moves on short railroad tracks.

Rusty LaGrange

High Desert Food Bloggers’ Traffic Generating Experiment

Traffic Generating Experiment

KitchenHospitality.com VS PattyCakesPantry.com

Community blogging comes alive when fellow bloggers connect to promote interests and events in the area in which they reside – and, yes, when they promote their blogs. What are the benefits of promoting a blog? Drive traffic to your blog, convert that traffic into leads, and make money blogging, to name a few benefits. Two High Desert bloggers joined efforts to promote their food blogs, KitchenHospitality.com and PattyCakesPantry.com.

Cookie Cutter Breakfasts

Egg Valentine Blog Post by KitchenHospitality.com

Fudge Hearts

Fudge Hearts Valentine Blog Post by PattyCakesPantry.com

Both blogs are fairly new, and the bloggers decided to participate in a month-long experiment by scheduling regular quality content. You can learn more
about the experiment READ MORE »

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