How to get rid of flies

How to get rid of flies

 

When I was twenty three, my cousin and I sailed from Manhattan to Cape Cod in a small boat with an unreliable 1000 pound, 4 horsepower engine. At some point the engine decided to take a break for a few days and we were becalmed in the middle of the long island sound. A group of tiny horseflies discovered us and proceeded to drink our blood for several hours while we flailed around in an attempt to kill the little punks. After substantially increasing in size, the flies flew away and had thousands of baby flies.

There are about a quarter million different types of flies in North America and I find all of them to be annoying. For the purpose of controlling a small scale home invasion, we can focus on large flies attracted to rot and smaller flies attracted to sweet things. The big flies that are usually seen hanging around dumpsters are drawn by rotting flesh, in which they also lay their eggs. Smaller flies, which I’m going to call gnats are drawn by sweet things like fruit and often come from eggs laid in the ends of bananas. The easiest way to prevent fruit flies is to cut the ends off bananas and throw them away outside.

Here in sunny rainless Los Angeles, the flying insect problem is small because of the drought conditions. Most flying insects require water to breed so often they won’t get the chance due to the lack of puddles and other standing water. One of the results is that the flies will be extra eager to get into your sink and procreate.

One direct approach is to run around the house spraying toxic poisons at every fly you see, but I wouldn’t recommend this method as it will have negative impacts on the occupants’ general health. Fly traps are the way to go and there are a number of different designs. The traps usually use a combination of bait, sticky paper, and the fly’s own stupidity to trap them. The bait for fruit flies is usually something sweet like banana or apple cider vinegar. The bait for large flies is something that resembles the smell of rotting flesh. These traps should be placed far away from people as possible because the smell of the bait is highly offensive. Once the flies get into the trap, they are too dumb to escape and also it must smell great so why leave?

It is always important to not let a trap sit for too long because the flies will start to lay eggs in the bodies of their dead comrades. Flies aren’t squeamish about, well, anything.

 

 

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Mega Drought in California

California is in a mega drought which may last many more years.

How to respond to the looming specter of enduring drought in California is a controversial topic, subject to much debate and pontification on the part of pundits and politicians.  The first thing to do is to divide the debate into two parts, water conservation by individuals and conservation by farms.

Eighty percent of water used in California is by large agricultural corporations. We see a lot of sad stories about small farms who are losing their livelihood but in most cases it is a result of an unwillingness to change in the face of facts. Farmers have been overusing water for many years with methods like flood irrigation and choosing to grow the most water intensive crops possible. Now that we are drilling for water deeper and deeper, the realty that water is not an infinitely renewable resource has hit the farmers hard.

So while individual efforts to conserve water won’t have as much of an impact as say banning flood irrigation, it is still something everyone should think about and do because every little bit helps. A significant amount of water can be saved by upgrading or changing appliances. A more efficient toilet tank system can save a lot of water as well as a water saving clothes washer. Upgrading appliances can qualify you for a rebate.

There are also a lot of opportunities to save water outside.

  • Use mulch, a layer of groundcover evens out the soil temperature and increases water retention in the soil.
  • Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation instead of a normal sprinkler, this can save up to seventy percent.
  • Plant a tree, trees need less water than grass and they provide shade which reduces evaporation and keeps things cool.
  • Plant drought resistant varieties of plants instead of water hungry grass.
  • Get a timer for the watering system and water at night or early morning to reduce evaporation from the hot sun.
  • If you have a lawn keep the grass long so the roots stay shaded and need less water.
  • Use a broom to clean patios instead of a hose.

We are currently experiencing the worst drought in 1200 years and indications are that it won’t end for 10-20 years. In light of that sobering forecast, we all need to do our part to save water.

History of Bathing

History of Bathing

Prehistoric humans noticed that swimming in a certain part of the river caused the dirt to come off very effectively. This was because animals were butchered in the river and the animal fat caused a soapy discharge and was the basis for early soaps.

The history of bathing is interesting because the popularity of being clean has changed often throughout history. Ancient Egyptians were obsessed with cleanliness to the point of plucking all bodily hair (Cleopatra was bald as balloon). The ancient Greeks and Romans saw bathing as not only pleasant but also an important part of an active social life. Europeans in the colonial era, however, were disgustingly filthy and most believed that bathing lead to sickness and immorality. People often carried flowers or perfumed handkerchiefs to block the smell of the stinking unwashed masses.

The oldest evidence of bathtubs, toilets, and plumbing comes from the Indus River Valley civilization of about 6000 years ago. Their cities were meticulously planned in a grid pattern, complete with a sophisticated drainage system. Houses had their own wells and bathrooms, with clay pipes taking waste water to the drainage running along the main streets.

For citizens of ancient Rome, communal bathing was a daily activity and was considered to be the center of a wealthy roman’s social life. The baths were also very egalitarian as the fees were well within the budget for a free Roman. The first step was the apodyterium where the bather stores their toga and garlands. Next up was the frigidarium, a cold water tank, followed by the tepidarium which was a warm room. The last and best room was the caldarium which had hot baths and lots of interesting people with which to mingle.

During the middle ages, Kings and aristocrats had bathing facilities usually consisting of a wooden tub filled with heated water. Common people in the countryside washed in rivers and lakes while their urban counterparts generally had to make do with washing their hands in whatever fetid, brackish water was available. From time to time, bathhouses became popular but were often abandoned due to puritanical religious zealots and/or plagues.

The first of what we would consider to be modern porcelain bathtubs was invented in 1883 by John Kohler and was prominently advertised as a “Horse Trough/Hog Scalder” for sating horse’s thirsts or boiling dead pigs. As indoor plumbing became more prevalent, bathtubs became more ornate with faucets and heated water.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The first mechanical shower was patented in 1767 and was operated by a hand pump. The dramatic rise in shower use coincided and was affected by the concept that keeping clean is good for a person’s health. In the United States most people take one or more showers a day, which ironically can be bad for your health, washing away beneficial oils and bacteria.

Tips on Bathroom remodeling

Tips on Bathroom remodeling.

Perhaps you have just moved into a new house and the previous owner was not big on cleaning the bathroom. Perhaps the shower head is too low and showering requires bending over. Maybe you just need to remodel the bathroom for a change of pace. Or the previous owner has installed the toilet in an inappropriate place.

 

General tips:

Decide on the materials and allow time for delivery. To get the best prices on materials, comparison shopping is key and things like countertops and tile will take a week or two to be delivered. Wait until you have everything before starting construction.

Create in shower storage. You have the chance to start from scratch so avoid buying a shower caddie later and make a shelf for shampoos right in the shower.

Install a curved shower rod or frameless shower door. Curved shower rods with steel curtain rings look better and are available in different finishes.( http://www.tashmanhomecenter.com/52-72IN-CURVED-CURTIN-ROD-VB-p/0228379.htm)

Update the lighting. Put a small floodlight in the shower and get a nice new vanity light for over the sink. The style and amount of light can really change the feel of a room.

Use caulking with mold control. Choose an acrylic caulk or hybrid with mold control which can be easily replaced and will obviously reduce the chance of mold.

Place towel bars and grab bars at appropriate heights.  A horse jockey and an NBA player are going to want to have towel bars at different heights.

Calculate the household water usage and make sure the hot water heater is big enough. Here are the rough water usage rates for the bathroom.

toilet

 

Showering: 12 gallons per person
Bathing: 9 gallons a person
Shampooing hair: 4 gallons a person
Washing hands and face: 4 gallons a person
Shaving: 2 gallons a person

 

There are three basic types of material for bathroom counters. Natural stone is the nicest and most expensive but must be sealed and is difficult to get in odd shapes. Resin is a very durable material that is not very costly and can be easily made to any shape. Laminate is very cheap and doesn’t last very long, particularly in a bathroom because laminate doesn’t do well with moisture.

It is important to get a vent that is right for the size of the bathroom. Good circulation is necessary to avoid mold and see yourself in the mirror.

History of Wood Doors

The oldest wood door in the world was discovering in Switzerland while digging underneath an Opera house. Built around the same time as Stonehenge, the 5000 year old door has “a clever design that even looks good.”(http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-11593005)

 

 

The world’s largest wood door is in the United Arab Emirates and is dedicated to the country’s president Sheikh Khalifa. The door is made of teak and stands more than eighty feet tall. (http://www.thenational.ae/news/uae-news/inspiration-behind-the-forthcoming-worlds-biggest-gate-in-uae)

largest-gate

 

Cavemen got tired of predators wandering into their caves and causing trouble so they decided to create a barrier that would be easy for humans to get through but hard for animals without opposable digits. While stone and metal were often used in monumental doors such as in Temples and government buildings, wood was the common man’s material. The exception was King Solomon’s temple, whose door was made of olive wood. Asian doors from antiquity often included rice paper framed by bamboo.

Moving up to the High Middle Ages, the designs become unique to a historical period and region. For example English doors from the Tudor period (1485-1625) are very different from English doors during the Baroque period (1625-1715). Discussing the obvious inferiority of wood doors during the British Victorian period (1837-1901) to those of the American Victorian period (1840-1910) seems like a good way to get into a fist fight with a woodcarver. These detailed changes are meticulously cataloged by the woodcarver’s guild of London (est. 1208 AD).

We can touch upon a few of these design periods as some of the styles are still popular today.

Colonial Doors 1607-1780

As the name implies, these doors are of a style adopted by the European colonies. They were generally constructed with wood slates and little decoration. As the colonies became more cosmopolitan, the main entry doors were often carved in patterns akin to their European counterparts.

Beaux arts/Art Deco

Any respectable art history student would be very upset with the above pairing but the two styles are very complicated and inspired by the respected art movements of the times.

Contemporary/Modern

The greatest advancement in wood door technology is the ability to make doors that don’t warp with heat and humidity. Making doors out of wood composite with a nice solid wood veneer mitigates the negative atmospheric effects.

The History of window screens

Keep_out_malaria_mosquitoes_repair_your_torn_screen-_-_NARA_-_514969

 

My parents went camping in Alaska during the summer one year. Waking up in the middle of the night, they observed that the screen on the tent had developed fur. The “fur” turned out to be thousands of mosquitoes sticking their stingers through the screen mesh.

The first attempts to increase air circulation while keeping bugs out was the utilization of cheesecloth. Cheesecloth is a thin cotton cloth used primarily in the cheese making process (what a surprise!). The problem with this material as a window screen is it damages very easily.

In the 1830s, most Americans used sieves to make meal for cooking. A Connecticut company, Gilbert and Bennett, had been making horsehair sieves for many years before they decided to experiment with materials that might sieve better than horsehair. They found success using a weaving loom and fine metal wire. This new wire mesh was used to make cheese and meat safes, ox muzzles, and other quaint inventions well suited to a time before electricity and refrigeration.

When the Civil War started in 1861, the Gilbert and Bennett Company lost all of its customers in the south and ended up with a large screen surplus. An inventive employee (name lost to history) applied a protective paint to the mesh and sold it as insect screening. This invention quickly became popular and coincided with the rise of freight trains and the telegraph, creating economies of scale and new distribution options. Soon families could sleep inside screened in porches during hot weather. For better or worse, the confederate states were initially locked out of the window screen market.

Up until the turn of the last century, most people still believed in the Miasma theory of disease, which says that most diseases are caused by bad air. This led many people to keep windows and doors shut for fear of invading Miasmas. In 1900 Dr. Walter Reed successfully proved that Malaria was caused by mosquitoes carrying the disease, rather than bad air or contact with infected persons. This changed things dramatically from a public health standpoint, leading to the near eradication of parasitic disease in the United States by the 1950s.

The Panama Canal was originally a French undertaking but during the 13 years they were in Panama, most of their workers died of Malaria or Yellow Fever and the rest fled in terror. The United States took over and quickly ran into the same problems with disease. Luckily Colonel William Gorgas was appointed as the chief sanitation officer and he was aware that mosquitoes were the problem, not Miasmas. Congress disagreed but fortunately President Roosevelt was intelligent and gave Gorgas the necessary funding. In addition to poison and pesticide, all buildings and beds were outfitted with screens.

There are many types of screening and screen materials available today but most are not terribly concerned with the prevention of disease. The two most common materials are fiberglass and aluminum. Aluminum is tougher than fiberglass but oxidizes and becomes brittle over time. Fiberglass is still quite strong though, kick a screen in the middle and the frame will bend while the fiberglass stays intact. Black screen is better than grey in the sun because black absorbs while grey reflects. Sunscreen is (you guessed it!) meant to reduce glare from the sun. Pet screen is thick vinyl that allows cats to climb up window screens for a better look at nearby birds and squirrels. Brass or copper screens are mainly for aesthetic purposes but they also don’t oxidize and will therefore last a very long time.

Empire and Nationhood

The sources used by Mary Ann Heiss in Empire and Nationhood are successful in providing credible background for her statements regarding British and American sentiments during the Iranian Oil dispute. The lack of sources from Iran means that it is a largely a two, instead of three sided account of the events. She creates a detailed picture of the negotiations from a western viewpoint using largely the correspondences of Great Britain and the United States while the viewpoint of the Iranians is pieced together from secondary sources and public announcements. The cultural bias of the western representatives is commented on, so although there is a record of Iranian negotiations, they are biased and often indignant descriptions by diplomats.
The overview of the Anglo-Iranian Oil crisis draws on many secondary works and a few books or articles written by people involved or living in Iran at the time. The secondary works are for the most part written by western historians whose titles do not suggest an evenly balanced perspective. For example the official history of the British Petroleum Company is cited a few times and many of the books are primarily concerned with the cold war. Iran was certainly important in the cold war but focusing on it might tend to show the perspectives of those fighting the war rather than that of Iran, which was a chess piece in the games being played between the US and the USSR.
The sources that contribute to the descriptions of the strained relations leading up to the rise of the nationalization movement and the rise of Mossadeq are a mix of British and American correspondences and books concerning the rise of Mossadeq and the political situation in Iran before him. This chapter, “too little too late” shows the greatest balance between eastern and western sources used. The difference is that the sources from the Middle Eastern perspective are written long after the events took place while correspondence on the part of the western diplomats give a more accurate sense of the feeling at the time. Authors whose names indicate Middle Eastern heritage are significant because they are referenced sparingly once Mossadeq is prime minister. This may have something to do with the secrecy Mossadeq afforded himself once in office. Also, the remainder of the book is largely an account of the negotiations between Mossadeq and representatives of England and the US. This means that presently we can look at the negotiations because there is a record of the internal consultations on the western end but we do not know the full extent of the pressure and constraints put on Mossadeq by political entities and public opinion. A dispatch from the state department to someone involved with debating Mossadeq on a key point shows the reasoning behind the American position while the reasoning behind the Iranian posture can only be guessed at.
Another reason for the one sidedness of the documentation is that for the most part, it was a Prime Minister talking to a diplomat who is already biased against the PM. Mossadeq had the power to make concessions so the political motivations behind his actions have to be derived from the situation in Iran. We have such a good record of the western motivations because American and British agents were constantly conferring with each other and their respective governments. It is unlikely that Mossadeq communicated with his advisors in writing and probably kept the details of his situation secret.
An important factor with regard to documentation that is not discussed in the book is the fact the Tehran at this time was chock full of spies. Channels of communication are never one hundred percent secure so information that was considered sensitive would be unlikely to be sent by telegraph for example. The author demonstrates the general fears of the US with regard to soviet interactions in Iran, but the specific threats, real or perceived, are not revealed. The author mentions documents relating to the MI-6 and CIA inspired coup that are withheld but only touches upon why the US thought the USSR would automatically take power in Iran if the economy were to fail. There is certainly logic behind the containment policy in Iran but because there is little mention of popular Iranian sentiment regarding communism aside from the actions of the Tudeh party, the policy seems to stem mainly from American paranoia.
The only primary sources that voice the position of Iran are the Correspondences between his/her Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom and the Persian government, and related documents (concerning the oil Industry in Persia, February 1951 to September 1951) (Concerning the joint Anglo-American proposal for a settlement of the oil dispute, August 1952 to October 1952) The problem with these sources is that they were most likely documents that could be made public and were, if it suited a political aim. Most of the negotiations were done without the public knowledge or proposals were made informally at first with the reaction often eliminating the need to present them formally. What we can see in these formal documents are the last ditch efforts by Briton to save face by standing behind proposals they knew would be rejected.
It is clear that the United States was integral in the dispute between the Iranian Government, the AIOC and the British Government but the records taken from the national Archives verses the ones taken from the Public Record Office show that the available American records are more concise and therefore less accurate. The documents from the Public Record Office in England include minutes, memorandums and other immediate sources. These kinds of sources, if unaltered, are likely to be the most accurate and the most revealing. The record of the Secretary of Defense should in contrast be far less revealing and is certainly not cited as frequently as the Foreign Office correspondence. These American sources are not likely to contain information that could be considered inflammatory. That is to say that the United States would not be likely to make information public that could add to the hatred of the US by Iran.
The author does a satisfactory job of filling in the blanks created by the lack of Iranian primary sources. She gives a reasonable assessment of the political situation in Iran based on western perceptions that were probably fairly accurate because of the strategic concerns in Iran. The memoirs of Mossadeq may have helped to explain some of the pressures he faced in Iran but even a person’s memory of their own actions cannot be trusted as fact. While the author does not attempt to analyze individual Iranian sentiment for lack of material, it would seems possible to find a primary source written by an Iranian who was not Mossadeq or the Shah. She does a good job showing the shift from British to American domination of the Iranian oil as well as their reactions to the nationalist movement.

Review Bibiography

International History Review v. 21 no. 4 (Dec. 1999). Mejcher, Helmut, reviewerhttp://metaquest.bc.edu:4000/sfx_local?sid=HWW:ACIT&genre=article&pid=%3Can%3E199901501686015%3C%2Fan%3E&aulast=Amuzegar&aufirst=Jahangir&issn=0026-3141&title=The+Middle+East+Journal&stitle=Middle+East+J&atitle=Empire+and+nationhood+(Book+Review)&volume=53&issue=1&spage=138&epage=140&date=1999&ssn=winter—There was an error with the Factiva server when I tried to print this review before class but I had read it with the paper.
Diplomatic History v. 23 no. 3 (Summ 1999). Hoffman, Elizabeth Cobbs, reviewer. http://www.blackwellsynergy.com/openurl?genre=article&issn=0145-2096&date=1999&volume=23&issue=3&spage=559