Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Delayed - Cold Dining Out

The temperature is down this evening, a clear rose-colored sky tinges the tops of the bare trees to the south of our house. A variety of flowering tree buds are nearly ready to come out - we saw one ornamental cherry in full bloom on Bay Ridge Avenue - but the rest 
National Geographic Illustrations
seem to be in a holding pattern waiting for warmer days. Here is a sampling of a few kinds of  birds that are having an early evening meal before the lights go out for the night. The National Geographic Backyard Bird Identifier is a nice, easy-to-access Web site, and can be found by clicking here. The illustrations are first class - the ones found in the National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America - Fifth Edition. A video showing the craft of a National Geographic illustrator/writer Jonathan Alderfer can be watched after clicking here - a great talent.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Haiku Photo Opportunity Missed - No Snow

Cooper's Hawk
Up to one inch of snow was predicted for this morning - unseasonably late. The cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. are supposed to hit their peak this week - the flowering tree blossoms around our yard are further behind, but are going to be ready to pop soon. I had already been composing in my mind a photograph showing swollen peach blossom buds in our back yard - peaking through a covering of snow. If my camera was staged properly, maybe I could even include an image of a Dark-eyed Junco in a perfect shot that could be described by 5-7-5 verse - it would be perfect, seasonality included included in the photograph as well as the description - just as
Peach tree blossoms - Spring
a proper Japanese haiku master would do. But nature is unpredictable, especially here in the Mid-Atlantic Region, so the peach boughs didn't even get a dusting of snow before the storm passed by. Nature can also provide surprises, so when I looked out an upstairs window, I saw a large figure below the feeder that was out of place - a Cooper's Hawk. No small sparrows or juncos or squirrels - all had vacated the premises with this predator in their dining room.

On the peach tree bough -
instead of a dust of snow,
a Cooper's Hawk rests.

Peterson's Chart from Life Magazine
From Life Magazine, June 2, 1947 - 15 Cents - Yearly Subscription $5.50. 
This chart [left] shows how the shape of tail, the size of body and the pattern or the wings identify large birds as they fly directly overhead.
I identified the Cooper's Hawk in our yard by using a combination of Roger Tory Peterson's Birds of Eastern and Central North America and checking on the Web photographs of the hawk with the Eastern Harrier - the dark cap on the top of the head finally settled it for me. Looking on line, I also found a
A once classified document
1947 Life Magazine article by Peterson including the identification chart shown above. The caption reminded me that I had once read that during World War II Peterson had helped develop a practical identification guide for aircraft that was based on the same principles used in field guides today to identify birds - a remarkable, but simple approach to distinguishing key characteristics of wings and fuselages. These were once classified documents that became progenitors to the contemporary A Field Guide to Airplanes of North America by M.R. Montgomery and G.L. Foster; or Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide by Derek Wood. Avian-biological and industrial-mechanical - all handled with the same approach.


Duke as the Old Man Tree
From In Search of Methuselah, May 11, 2010, Clark Vandergrift photo blog.
The peach trees that I espaliered a month ago are going into their fourth year (I should have begun training them one or two years ago). Bending the boughs down to tie them to the steel fence posts I drove into the ground between the trees caused major trauma to the trunks and limbs - splits through the heart wood. I figure the trees will recover and heal since the cambium tissues beneath the bark are still mostly intact. Perhaps some really neat scaring will result. These trees make ready perches for the different birds that use our feeder - both when making entrances and exits. It is unlikely that the trees in our back yard will grow to an age such as  Bristle Cone Pines, or take on the notoriety of being named for the Bible's oldest living person - Methuselah. Interestingly, a friend of ours is an actor, and when I was searching for a list of parts that he has played in movies, I came across a short video where he was the old man in the Methuselah Tree that is found in the White Mountains of eastern California. These kinds of remote places have the potential for creating all kinds of new folklore - see the example in the footnotes to the blog: Neo-Ancient Geoglyphs Come to Iowa.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Darting Phantoms - Dark-Eyed Junco

Perched Dark-eyed Junco
A couple of weeks ago, it was Tufted Timouse that dominated the yard - this week it's Dark-eyed Junco. They are very timid - taking flight quickly if I do not open the sliding glass door ever so carefully. When they do, there is a flash of white that shows from behind with a flight pattern that bobs up and down as they make their exit. The juncos stay close to the ground, picking at the seeds that fall from the feeder, but they seem to continually dart in and out when they come
to feed. They are bullied slightly by the White Throated Sparrow who have also made a recent appearance, and stay clear of the mourning dove as they walk about looking for seeds on the ground as well.
White markings on tail

Unlike the White-breasted Nuthatch, they don't fly up off the ground to perch and find a place to crack open the seeds. I have been trying to catch a picture of the juncos in flight, and today caught just a part of one heading toward the cedars across the backyard fence - apprapo for the photo quest. Even though the juncos have stayed around the yard all winter, their number at a time - at least six - have increased, as well as their singing (1). We are familiar with these little critters because their close cousin the Oregon Junco was a frequent visitor to the bird feeder in the front yard patio area of our home in Corvallis. As a side note, when perched, the little head with a small face and what seems a disproportionately sized body (see the photograph in the upper left corner) gives the bird somewhat the appearance of what could be a character in the Jeff MacNelly political satire cartoon strip Shoe.
(1) The birdjam Website is easier to access bird songs on than the Cornell Ornithology Laboratory site. birdjam has a limited number of song entries.

Urban Birdscapes - Food For People, Too

Before I was pulled into my present bioenergy assignment, the food systems efforts I was pulling together were starting to get off the ground. An academic book related to urban agriculture that I read at that time is titled Continuous Productive Urban Landscapes by Andre Viljoen. Coming from an agricultural background, it is fascinating to look at ideas about food systems through the eyes of architects and their perspectives on how food production not only fits into the landscape - plots, fields, and farms - but becomes a part of a solution for the re-design of cities to directly address their social and environmental challenges. Europe is so much older than America, and the evolution of towns and cities there was intertwined with agriculture and urban development through the ages - even as late as World War II, food production and concentrated populations could still be closely tied together, though these had to be revitalized in a time of emergency. I miss being able to put time into this idea - maybe another re-assignment will come along so I can get back into the thick of those kinds of things, again. More information about urban food footprints can be found here.

Along a similar track, urban landscapes to be more accommodating of not only the well-being of people, but birds as well. This morning I happened to take a look at the Portland Oregonian newspaper 
on-line, and one of the feature articles from yesterday was about bird-friendly actions that can be taken to protect travelers in avian migration corridors that happen through cities. Pasted below is the article, with an insert showing the birds that mentioned to be casualties that result from their disorientation caused by night lights in cities. I take for granted how wooded some towns are, but the portion of the land area of cities and suburbs that is fairly inhospitable to wildlife is quite high. Urban planners are considering how to design wooded corridors into the footprint of suburbs to create bird-friendly habitats (click here), just as food-productive corridors in cities. These all seem to be wise consideration, given the world population growth that is expected over the next 40 years - every little bit will help. For more background information about world food security, click here. For more reading about food security in America, click here.
Portland's Audubon Society Fights Light Pollution, Helps Migrating Birds with Lights Out Portland
Katy Muldoon, The Oregonian
March 25, 2011

Pop quiz: Name a phrase that goes hand-in-hand with "bright lights" and "big cities."

You get an A if you guessed "dead birds."

The Audubon Society hopes to ease the avian death toll as it launches Lights Out Portland, part of a nationwide effort to reduce overnight lighting in urban areas, particularly during spring and fall bird migrations -- mid-March to early June, and late August through mid-November.

Birds frequently migrate at night, using stars to navigate. City lights can obscure the night sky's visual cues and can lure birds into urban areas, where dangers abound, says Mary Coolidge, Portland Audubon's assistant conservation director.

"Light pollution interrupts circadian rhythms," Coolidge says. "With birds, it can affect breeding and migrating cycles, foraging and predator-prey relationships."

Plus, birds lured to cities are far more likely to grow confused or exhausted, and to collide with glassy buildings, increasingly prevalent as places such as Portland grow.

More than 209 species migrate through the city and many show population declines. 

Since 2009, volunteers with another Audubon project, BirdSafe Portland, have been on the lookout for birds that die in downtown window collisions.

"The vast majority of the birds we pick up are Swainson's Thrushes (a)," Coolidge says, "but also Yellow Warblers (b), Wilson's Warblers (c), Orange-crowned Warblers (d), Rufous Hummingbirds (e), Varied Thrushes (f), Red-breasted Nuthatches (g)... We've picked up 26 different species of birds."

The deaths prompted Audubon to seek funding to join the Lights Out project, which has measurably reduced collisions in other cities. Coolidge secured a $10,000 Together Green grant from Toyota and the National Audubon Society for this spring's project launch.

Lights Out's roots date to 1960s-era Chicago, when birders noticed dozens of dead birds on the sidewalks after the 100-story, 1,127-foot John Hancock Center was built. William Beecher of the Chicago Academy of Sciences had a graphic idea for drawing attention to the problem: He showed the news media boxes of dead birds that the Chicago Audubon Society collected, for the first time drawing attention to the fact that illuminated buildings attract migrating songbirds.

Chicago Audubon's members, the group's Web site recalls, called managers of the city's tallest buildings before migration, asking them to darken the lights. Response was tepid.

Over time, though, the bird lovers' voices were heard and today nearly all the tall buildings on Chicago's Loop, that city's commercial center, participate, turning off lights from sunset to sunrise during spring and fall migrations.

Portland Oregon Skyline at Night (1)
Coolidge hopes downtown Portland building owners and managers will follow suit, as their counterparts have in New York, Toronto, Detroit, Boston, Baltimore, Minneapolis, Houston, Indianapolis and elsewhere; about 20 cities participate. Coolidge, already in negotiations with some building operators, said she hopes to have 21 Portland buildings sign on to the program by next spring.

She also hopes to secure a mayoral proclamation calling for continued seasonal Lights Out Portland campaigns. Plus, she's working with the city to revise the Portland Bird Agenda, which addresses ways to improve habitat, reduce hazards to birds, manage invasive species, and educate the public about the birds that share our city (2).

And what better time to consider a darker Portland, Coolidge says, than this weekend. Saturday is Earth Hour, a global sustainability movement in which 50 million people across 35 countries and territories are expected to turn off lights from 8:30 to 9:30 p.m. because darkness is good for more than just the birds.
(1) Portland Oregon Skyline at Night, David Gn Photography. To view more of the Gn portfolio, click here.

(2) A checklist of birds found in Portland, Oregon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Animal Art for a Nursery Rhyme

We had all of our grandchildren on video chat (also know as video conference) this evening. Our daughter with her one-year-old, along with our oldest son's three older children - brave daughter taking care of all four for the night. Josiah, the oldest, wanted to show off the Jack-In-The-Box, and after he turned the crank with the expected but not-to-be-too-surprised ending, we three adults tried to remember the lyrics to the tune - he smiled all the time; toothless, missing his two top-front teeth. The marvel of the Internet, and the instant results it brings. A quick Google search produced found the song - we sang it with speed-of-light transmission back and forth between Maryland and Oregon. Josiah lost interest pretty fast, so I went surfing on my laptop for some illustrations to go along with nursery rhyme poetry. I knew to look for possible Beatrix Potter examples - figuring she may have an image of a weasel or possum; she did. Stumbling on the Mulberry Bush drawing by Arthur Rackham was a new one for me - I hadn't heard of him before. He was a turn-of-the-century (19th to 20th) book illustrator whose illustrations from close to a century ago fall into the lineage of fantastic art, and seem as though they could be from comic books or graphic novels today - if it weren't for the themes being from a Victorian era. The second illustration is of Mr. Weasel's Poultry Shop by Potter; and the third, The Wolf and the Crane (1) by Rackham.

The Mulberry Bush

All around the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel;
The monkey thought it 'twas a joke,
Pop goes the weasel.

Mr. Weasel's Poultry Shop
A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle—
That's the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
The Wolf and the Crane
Jimmy's got the whooping cough
And Timmy's got the measles
That's the way the story goes
Pop! goes the weasel.
(1) A wolf, when eating his dinner one day, swallowed a bone, which stuck in his throat. He went about howling, asking every animal he met to help him, and promised a large reward to anyone who could get it out. At last, a stork, who had a long, slender neck and bill, undertook the task. Poking his long bill down the wolf's throat, he got hold of the bone and pulled it out; but when he asked for his reward the wolf laughed, and said, "You may think yourself lucky that I did not bite your head off when it was in my mouth." An Aesop Fable

Monday, March 21, 2011

Art Book Illustration - Faux

About a year ago, a friend of ours' from Oregon flew in to visit. On the Sunday that the Senate voted on the new health care bill, we did a whirlwind tour of the monuments on the National Mall, and checked out the National Gallery of Art and the Library of Congress - walking from Foggy Bottom Metro Station, the Lincoln and Vietnam Memorials, to WWII Memorial, and the around the Capitol. While walking through the National Gallery, I saw this painting and thought about an art appreciation class I took in college a long time ago. I also subscribed to the Time-Life art book series, and remember the illustrations and how certain details were highlighted. I did the same with this piece - a faux art book illustration. The captions for the details could read: (a) detail of bow in hair, and (b) illusion of text in a book, pre-impressionist style. The painting is titled: A Young Girl Reading, painted by Jean-Honor'e Fragonard on canvas with oils, in about 1776.

Adobe Photoshop is a great piece of software. I use it all the time to reduce the size of digital images for use in PowerPoint presentations. I typically use images from my agency's Information Staff Image Gallery, and since these are high quality, they would take up a lot of space in my presentation files if I didn't reduce them. There are also fun features to distort the images. Here are three examples - I wish I could paint like these look. The top image is titled Range of Lights. I noticed when walking east on Jefferson Street from the USDA Whitten Building entrance that faces the Mall, how as the sun was setting, the top of the Smithsonian "Castle" building was still illuminated, while the lower parts of the building were shaded by the horizon from the west. When this happens towards sunset in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the effect is referred to as the range of lights. The place from where I took the photograph is always a good spot for viewing the Marine Corps Marathon that runs every October through the Downtown D.C. area. The middle image is titled: Oregon Coast - After Christmas and Before the New Year. Two years ago with no planning, some friends of ours' in Albany, Oregon and we took off right after Christmas and spent a couple of nights at Lincoln City on the Pacific coast - right off the beach. This was a view from our balcony looking towards the north. The third image is titled: Produce Isle, and was a picture taken at a Safeway store - high priced vegetables, but nicely displayed.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Airline Food - Fruit and Cheese Tray

On my return flight Thursday night, I chose the Fruit and Cheese Tray option from the menu. Earlier at the airport, I got a Starbucks Cafe Mocha Decaf and a banana-walnut muffin - so it was just as well I didn't get upgraded to First Class (1) and get a full meal. I was pleased to see the packet of sliced apples among the goodies in the tray - they are an "invention" of the agency I work for. The flight attendant noticed me looking at the packet, and commented about how she and friends had noticed the apple slices don't brown. I said that the are given a treatment of a low concentration of Vitamin C. She said putting lemon juice on slices does the same, and I replied that both are weak acids - the wonder of chemistry. This kind of technology is having an impact on many kinds of fresh produce offerings being served in fast food restaurants and school cafeterias.
(1) There are only eight First Class seats in the Airbus A319 jet aircraft. I was at the top of the upgrade standby list, but no luck flying home. I was in seat 11D, on the aisle in an emergency exit row, so still lots of leg room.

First of the Spring - Yellow

I have been gone from home most of this past week hosting a workshop Monday through Thursday, so when I drove out of the neighborhood this morning to get a converter box for the fifth television in our house, I was taken back by the bright yellow forsythia shrubs that are in full bloom (a). Where did these come from all of a sudden? There are various crocus in bloom around the yard - they have been doing so for a couple of weeks, and one daffodil in the small flower bed with the mailbox next to the driveway. When we were in California over a month ago, my mom's daffodils were just coming into full display - ours' are that far behind. This after noon just as we were finishing up clearing the tan-colored ornamental bunch grasses that had withstood the winter, the first American Goldfinch of the season showed up on the finch feeder outside the kitchen window (b). I cannot tell for sure if it is a female or male - but with the black striping and a hint of yellow beginning to show, if a male, this and other of its kind will soon be as bright yellow as the forsythia shrubs already in bloom, as well as the soon-to-appear daffodils.

Along with having left the sliding glass door between our dining area and the out-of-doors open all afternoon and through dinner time this evening, the signs of spring also include opportunities to creep outside and stalk the birds that likewise creep and stalk about because there is little cover for them to hide behind, other than the mostly barren ground cover for an American Robin - which is a large thrush - among daffodil shoots that have poked up from their bulbs that were planted last autumn (a), or the dense branches of the trees that are close to blooming, like the house sparrows picking apart young buds that haven't quite yet bloomed (b). Other brightly colored hoovering bird-like-craft can also be seen occasionally through the branches - migrating from the northeast of our house, hovering, and then softly landing in open grassland areas that are afforded by near-by school yards (c).

It is interesting looking at old reference books, and comparing them to modern equivalents - in this case, the American Cyclopeaedia that was originally published in 1883. An excerpt from volume VIII showing the entry for the Goldfinch is shown. Great compilations of information, at the finger tips - the equivalent of the Internet for the time. It is funny how such an old reference is now available at the click of a mouse (or Macbook Pro Touchpad). This reminds me of some musty old natural history volumes I have of my paternal grandmother's. I will have to pull them out see what I can find in the way of bird references.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Plumage for Another Kind of Bird

This evening has been used for a little bit different kind of bird research than I have typically been doing. I have noticed that there are good birding guides available for the Gulf Coast of Texas - the specifics below are not found in the ones I have been browsing on the Amazon Website. The plumage coloring is vivid, but not regular, and quite distinctive for the species.

The official step leading to the construction of the Naval Air Station was initiated by the 75th Congress in 1938. A board found that a lack of training facilities capable of meeting an emergency demand for pilots constituted a grave situation. They recommended the establishment of a second air training station, and further, that it be located on Corpus Christi Bay. NAS Corpus Christi was commissioned by its first skipper,
Captain Alva Berhard, on March 12, 1941. The first flight training started on May 5, 1941. Former President George Bush was in the third graduating class, June 1943, commissioned just three days before his 19th birthday, which made him the youngest naval aviator to that date. In 1941, 800 instructors provided training for more than 300 cadets a month. The training rate nearly doubled after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. By the end of World War II, more than 35,000 naval aviators had earned their wings here. Corpus Christi was the only primary, basic and advanced training facility in existence in the United States. At one time it was the largest pilot training facility in the world. Today, the training program is much longer, approximately 18 months, due to the increased complexity of today's aircraft. Currently, Training Air Wing FOUR produces approximately 600 newly qualified aviators each year.

Training Air Wing Four (TRAWING 4), one of five training air wings under the Chief of Naval Air Training Command, was established in March 1972. Four individual units make up the wing. They are Training Squadrons Twenty-Seven (VT-27), Twenty-Eight (VT-28), Thirty-One (VT-31), and Thirty-Five (VT-35). Training Air Wing Four has a Reserve Component composed of squadron augment units (SAU) assigned to each squadron respectively.

Training Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN was initially established on July 11, 1951 as Advanced Training Unit-B at Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi. The command moved
to Naval Air Station, Kingsville in 1952 and again to Naval Air Station, New Iberia, Louisiana in 1960. It was there the squadron was redesignated VT-27. In July 1964, the "Boomers" were returned to Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi
where we continue to be an important member of the community. One of just five Navy primary training squadrons, VT-27 is one of two located on the Coastal Bend; we take pride in representing our area and the State of Texas. In 1973, the squadron began a transition to the role of primary training squadron with the
arrival on 1 August of the first T-28 Trojan. By 1 October 1973, the last TS-2A, had departed, signifying the end of the advanced training role and the completion of the transition to primary training. In August 1983, the squadron took delivery of the first T-34C Mentor aircraft. Since March 1984, when the last T-28 ever used for naval flight training departed, the T-34C has been the mainstay of the Navy and Marine Corps primary flight training. The "Boomers" average well over 11,000 training missions a year, and more than 70 sorties per training day. Since taking delivery of the T-34C, our safety record sets the standard for excellence in CNATRA. Expected to achieve high levels of production while maintaining the highest standards of safety, VT-27 consistently accomplishes its important mission by producing Navy and Marine Corps pilots of the highest quality for our nation’s defense.

Future Naval Aviators checking into Training Squadron TWENTY-SEVEN are trained in three categories of basic flying skills. These categories are represented by the tri-colored trail left by the
speeding boomerang. The red symbolizes the initial familiarization and basic instrument phase; the white for Radio Instruments and Acrobatics; and the blue for Formation and Night Flying. The lightning bolt, which signifies the dynamics of flight training, occupies the central position of the insignia. In the forefront of Naval Aviation Training, the Boomers, symbolized by the boomerang design which adorns all squadron aircraft, represent a new breed of instructors and students alike. Infused with a new patriotism, these aviators have rededicated themselves to their tasks at hand, training and becoming the best pilots in the world.

Developed in the 1950's as a primary trainer for both the United States Navy and Air Force, the T-34 is used to instruct student pilots in basic flying skills. The original aircraft was designated as the T-34B and was used from 1955 to 1976. In 1978, the turbo-prop version of the T-34 entered service with the Navy. Built by Beechcraft Inc., the T-34C "Turbo Mentor" utilizes a turbo-prop engine manufactured by Pratt & Whitney Aircraft of Canada (Model PT6A-25) large turbo-prop engine combined with a light airframe to produce flying qualities similar to, but safer than, those of military jet aircraft. The T-34 is an unpressurized, two-place tandem cockpit aircraft. It is used as the primary stage training aircraft for all Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard pilots as well as pilots from numerous other foreign countries.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Quiet Saturday Morning - Old Men and Birds

Larry the Handyman
I keep telling myself I need to hang around out in front of our house to see how different the birds are there than in the backyard - I confirmed today that would be a wise birding strategy. The gutter along the highest part of our roof was nearly blown away by the high winds a week ago Friday, and the handyman was by today to fix it. We have had a hard time finding someone to do jobs like this for us, but our neighbor had a flier that was left on his mailbox some time back - I wrote down the number and gave Larry a call and a try. He checked out the damage last week, and said he would come by and fix it today - for $150. I decided a long time ago there are limits to my handiness, and that the skilled workman is well worth her/his wages - I have given up trying to do "quick" jobs myself that end up costing more than hiring them out. (1) While Larry went up and down a very tall ladder and we chatted, I brought out the binoculars and camera and noted what birds were making their way among the trees and neighbors' houses from a vantage point where I rarely take the time to watch. Along with friendly chatter:  learning that we both moved to the area in January 2006 and agreeing that trim paint on house exteriors and complimentary colors in large interior rooms always look better than a single colors; I took a quick inventory of the birds in the front yard area.

There was an impressive number of Tufted Titmouse out there - I hadn't seen as many of these here at a time. When in the backyard, these birds dart in for a quick stab at seeds in the feeder, and then are
One pair of Tufted Titmouse
off to a limb or the top of the fence to eat their catch. After a few rounds of this, they are off to where-ever they spend the rest of their time - the front yard I have discovered. There were seven or more at a time hopping among the leafless branches and serenading up a storm. In the distance roosted in a tree that is just starting to break buds, were many Common Grackles. The grackles came and went in large flocks - there are peeps of chickens, a charm of gold finches, an exaltation of larks, an unkindness of ravens (that is also how they refer to the Baltimore 
A cackle of Common Grackles
defense), and a sord of mallard, but at first I couldn't find a collective noun for grackles. A little more searching and on a New Zealand birding site was listed a "cackle" of grackles - I guess a cackle is a good description for their speech and how they sound together (listen here). Also, soaring with the wind above and beyond the tree tops was an occasional Herring Gull or Black Vulture, and once even a Bald Eagle that happened to cruise by when I was looking up. The winds were blowing with some sincerity today, so there was no way to tell if the drifting birds called out or not.

I need to spend more time out front to take in the bird sightings, and to get a feel for the sites where they hang out in the wider-open spaces 
Bald Eagle soaring overhead
than in our backyard surrounded in trees. It was also great that Larry came in on his price quote - no surprises, and enjoyable conversation to go along with the service. While he worked, his white mane that spilled out from under his cap resembled that of the eagle coasting by over our heads. I am pretty sure both will be back some time in the future, each doing what he does best.
(1) Many years ago in Corvallis, we had a slow leak in a copper water pipe under the house. The leak was because the pipe had been placed on top of a galvanized nail and electrolysis had worn through the copper. After calling a plumbing shop for an estimate, I decided to take the advice of a friend to do it myself. After buying the needed tools, plugging the pipe ends with bread, and repeated soldering tries, bruised knuckles, and primal grunts from the service passage beneath the house while Jan hid our small children in an interior windowless bathroom, while I decided it was best to call the plumber on Monday - the total cost, less than what I paid for the tools I had to buy to do this "easy" do-it-yourself job.