Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What is this going to cost us?

The Lake of the Ozarks is an economic engine for Missouri, drawing hundreds, thousands, millions of people to central Missouri (northern Ozarks) for recreation, creating jobs, some seasonal and some year-round.

Biggest part of the visitors are rich St. Louisans and out-of-state vacationers, plus college students who want to go there to party. It's grown up so much around the lake that septic systems leak into it and have fouled it, although people still go there to ski and swim and fish. It's gotten to where it ought to be called the Lagoon of the Ozarks.

It's so nasty that our Gov. Jay Nixon has announced a plan to clean up the lake. Well, it's kind of a plan. Here's what the Columbia Missourian reported:

"Preserving Missouri's water is of critical importance, and it has long been clear that the Lake of the Ozarks is a resource in need of more stringent protection," Nixon said in a written statement. "Recent sampling results have reinforced what many of us have believed for years: the lake is heavily used but under-protected, and action is needed to change that equation."

Residential septic tanks, which fall under the purview of county governments, would be a focus at the Lake of the Ozarks under the governor's proposal. According to the governor's office, the ultimate goal will be to replace all septic tanks with sewer systems; however, installing sewers at the Lake would be costly. For now, the state will assume responsibility to inspect existing septic tanks in hopes of curbing some pollution.

"The real challenge at the Lake of the Ozarks is that you have thousands of septic systems and many of them have significant problems," said Scott Holste, the governor's spokesman. "By giving Department of Natural Resources authority, it will be major step forward."

In November, the Columbia Missourian reported the failure of septic tanks as a contributing factor to pollution at the Lake.

The governor's office also emphasized that county officials would be given more authority to inspect septic tanks should the governor's proposal be enacted.

This suggestion was met with some skepticism by Tracy Rank, the environmental public health specialist for Benton County, one of the four counties in which the Lake of the Ozarks sits.

"It sounds wonderful and everything to give us authority, and if the state said to do 100 percent inspections of septic tanks, we would do our best," Rank said. "But sometimes, 100 percent just isn't possible."

The counties at the Lake of the Ozarks would be most aided by state government money to help county residents replace failing septic tanks or for the counties to use to construct sewer systems, Rank said.

What does any of this mean? Are we taxpayers in Phelps County going to end up paying for sewer systems in Camden County?

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone.

We hope today will be a meaningful celebration for you of the birth of Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is the Incarnation of God and the ultimate Word and Expression of God. Moreover, through his Crucifixion we have available to us the cleansing of our spirits--though our sins be scarlet they shall be as white as snow--so we can boldly go before the Father's throne. With his Resurrection, he makes available to us eternal life. All we need to do is repent of our sins, believe in him and accept him into our lives by faith.

Often, people complain that Christmas has "gotten too commercial." It never has for me or my family. I choose not to get "commercial." Usually, the choice has been thrust upon me; I've never had enough money to engage in much commerce, what metropolitan transplants to rural areas call "serious shopping" as they complain that there's not enough of it available out here in the hinterlands. I think my low-to-moderate income has been a blessing, for it has forced me to focus my Christmastime attention on music, stories, recipes, family and church. Instead of focusing on getting presents or buying presents, I've thought most about the manger.

This has been a wonderful Advent season, perhaps the best in a long time. Our Christmas activities have included helping put up the church decorations at the parsonage, participating in the Hanging of the Green service at church, singing in the chuch cantata choir, joining other members of the congregation in the annual Christmas carry-in dinner and candlelight service. We also attended our grandson's school Christmas program and we ate chili at the Red Cross Christmas chili lunch fund-raiser. I threw money several times in the Salvation Army bucket at Wal-Mart and gave to our church's Christmas foreign missions offering. At home, we watched several Christmas movies and TV specials. I've listened to a lot of Christmas music on the radio, on CD and on streaming audio.

I've got a pretty full Christmas feeling, and nary a bit of it has come from commercialism. I simply refuse to get involved in that. We gave one gift each to our three grandchildren. I'm not buying for the rest of the family; they've got jobs and everything they need.

If you're tired of "commercialism" in your Christmas season, you can make choices. You've heard the phrases "put Christ back in Christmas" and "keep Christ in Christmas." You can do that.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Too much Santa, not enough Christ

The older I get, the more uncomfortable I am with the character of Santa Claus. I think it is because I have been studying the Scripture more in the last year, and I'm appreciating the true work and character of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The mythological character of Santa seems less like a storybook character and more like a counterfeit Christ to me, the older I get. I found a website that really struck a nerve with me. It's long, and I'm sure most of you will disagree with it. Here it is, though, for your consideration: Santa Claus, the Great imposter.

I think I'm going to pay less attention to Santa, with my children and grandchildren, and focus more on Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Bold statement or just a joke?

The people who wear their pants sagging below their buttocks (they, not me, call themselves by an urban variation of the N-word and say their pants are "saggin' ") think THEY started the trend.

They did not.

It was started by a white banjo picker named Dave Akeman, who went by the stage name of String Bean. He played with Bill Monroe and later went solo. He was a regular on the old Hee Haw show for many years.

Of course, he did it as a joke. He also kept his shirt tucked into his trousers.

The saggin' folks do it seriously; at least, it's serious in their own minds. They think they are doing something important, making a bold statement to society.

The rest of us, though, think it is a joke and are laughing at the silly folks who call themselves an urban variation of the N-word and wear their trousers slung so low their A-word shows.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Skelton assesses Congress in 2009

U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton has assessed Congressional action in 2009:

On Dec. 16, the first session of the 111th Congress came to a close in the House of Representatives. With America suffering from the worst economic recession in decades, this session has faced extraordinary challenges. Many of the good things accomplished this year were built around bipartisan consensus and common-sense logic, but other legislative efforts, although well intentioned, have not upheld the interests and values of rural Missouri.

One new law that will have a profound impact on the health of children in the Fourth District is the Children’s Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act. ...

For women and families, the Congress enacted and the President signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which will reduce workplace discrimination and ensure that women receive the same compensation as their male counterparts. ...

For our nation’s military personnel, I worked as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee to pass a strong, bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act. This bill increases military salaries by 3.4 percent, expands funding for the medical care of our warriors, and includes over $400 million in family support funds. ...

To strengthen Missouri families, the 111th Congress enacted broad tax relief and has worked to blunt the impact of the recession on as many working Americans as possible. Legislation has been passed to stimulate economic activity and create jobs. In Missouri, we have seen teachers and other public servants retain jobs that may have otherwise vanished because local tax revenues have diminished in the recession. The House recently voted to extend assistance to help teachers, police officers, and firefighters retain work and to spur additional job creation.

The 111th Congress has also enacted key measures to strengthen security at U.S. ports and along our border with Mexico; to invest in science, technology, innovation, education, and health research; to improve community safety; and to strengthen tourism and rural economies. Action has been taken by Congress to promote the interests of agriculture, too, as dairy farmers secured $350 million in emergency funds and an international trade dispute with China, harmful for American farmers, was fixed. This year, I also hosted Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee in the Fourth District.

Much work remains on other issues taken up by Congress, like energy legislation, health care, financial regulatory reform, and a chemical security bill. When Congress returns in January, it must continue working to bolster rural economies and spur job growth.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Some Christmas music

Some Christmas music for you from the Glenn Mohr Chorale, who I've never heard of but found on YouTube. Just click on the name and listen.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas specials on the radio

KMST, our public radio station here in Rolla, has a whole line-up of Christmas specials planned. You can learn more about them by following this link.
No matter where you are in the world, you can listen to KMST on your computer by clicking the Listen Live button on the home page.

What happened to global warming?

Winter has arrived in the Missouri Ozarks.
As I type this, the temperature on our front porch is 16.7 degrees. It will likely drop down to a single digit overnight.
I left the house around 5:30 this morning to drive to work. The wind blew the car all over the road. As I walked across the parking lot from the far corner to the front door of the store, the wind swirled snow flurries around my feet and tried to blow my hat from my head. I thought about the pioneers who settled the plains of Kansas, Nebraska and the Dakotas. Those folks were made of much tougher stuff than I, for they built a country without good Owens-Corning or Johns-Manville insulation. They didn't have heated cars. They also didn't have Carhartt overalls or coats during those winters of blizzards and winds.
The heater in my car isn't the best in the world, but it warmed me up enough. Now I'm home in a warm house getting ready to fill my belly with supper.
Here are some links to weather sites:
National Weather Service
The Weather Channel
Weather Underground
Weather for You
Unisys Weather
With an overnight low expected to be around 9, I have to laugh about global warming. Of course, the folks who still believe in that hoax say global warming is responsible for this cold weather.
I think winter is responsible.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Some Christmas music

Record brown trout caught; bigger ones still on the loose

Scott Sandusky caught this 28-pound, 12-ounce brown trout at Lake Taneycomo Nov. 20, setting a new Missouri state record for the species. The Missouri Department of Conservation says chances are good that larger brown trout prowl the lake’s clear, productive waters.(Missouri Department of Conservation photo)

By Jim Low
Missouri Department of Conservation

BRANSON–For Scott Sandusky, the most exciting fish in the world is the Missouri state-record brown trout he landed Nov. 20. For the rest of us, the most exciting fish are the even bigger brown trout that might still be prowling the depths of Lake Taneycomo.

Sandusky, a 49-year-old resident of Arnold, caught his 28-pound, 12-ounce fish on Berkley Power Bait and 4-pound-test line on a spinning rod and reel. The fish – which bore some resemblance to a football – bested the previous record – another Taneycomo fish – by more than a pound. It measured 37 inches from nose to tail.

Sandusky’s catch is dwarfed by the world record brown trout, caught from Michigan’s Big Manistee River Sept. 9. That fish weighed 41 pounds, 7 ounces. However, the Missouri Department of Conservation says Lake Taneycomo could harbor even bigger brown trout.

In September 1997, a Lake Taneycomo angler found a monster brown trout dead near the lake’s 18-mile marker. The fish measured 41.75 inches long. Some estimated its live weight at 45 pounds.

Mike Kruse, now fisheries administrative manager for the Conservation Department in Jefferson City, was the agency’s trout research biologist in 1997. At the time, he noted that the dead fish could have been a world record.

Conservation Agent Quenten Fronterhouse said he has seen larger fish in the Trout Hollow area. Fisheries Management Biologist Shane Bush said Conservation Department fisheries workers have found a number of brown trout weighing more than 30 pounds when conducting electrofishing samples.

“With our annual stocking rate of around 10,000 brown trout a year, Taneycomo should have no problem producing additional world-class brown trout in the future,” said Bush.

“There is no telling how many world-class brown trout are swimming around in Lake Taneycomo,” said Kruse. “The lake’s natural food base is phenomenal, and it has an abundance of deep-water habitat that can hide big fish.”

Furthermore, said Kruse, Lake Taneycomo’s slow-moving current allows big trout to grow rapidly, because they don’t have to expend much energy.

In contrast, anglers are likely to expend lots of energy looking for big browns at Lake Taneycomo, spurred on by Sandusky’s success.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Gardening Calendar

Weeks 1-4: Water houseplants with tepid water. Cold tap water may shock plants
Weeks 1-4: Be sure newly purchased indoor plants are well protected for the trip home. Exposure to icy temperatures for even a few moments may cause injury.
Weeks 1-4: Overwintering geraniums like bright light and cool temperatures. Keep soils on the dry side
Weeks 1-4: On cold nights, move houseplants back from icy windows to prevent chilling injury.
Weeks 3-4: Mulch flower and bulb beds after the ground freezes, to prevent injury to plants from frost heaving.
Weeks 2-4: Holiday Poinsettia basics: Sun for at least half of the day. Keep away from drafts, registers and radiators. Night temperatures in 50’s or low 60’s, days at 70 degrees. The soil should dry only slightly between thorough waterings. Discard the drainage. Be sure to punch holes in the decorative foil wraps to prevent soggy soil conditions.
Weeks 1-4: Hairspray works well to keep seed heads and dried flowers intact on wreaths and
Weeks 1-4: Living Christmas tree basics: - dig the planting hole before the ground freezes. - mulch and cover the backfill soil and the planting hole to keep them dry and unfrozen. - don’t allow the tree’s roots to become dry. - spray with an anti-transpirant to reduce needle moisture loss. - store the tree outdoors in a cool, shady, windless area until the last minute. Mulch the roots to prevent cold injury. - set the tree up in your coolest room. - don’t keep the tree indoors for more than one week. Plant outdoors promptly.
Weeks 1-4: Be sure the root zones of azaleas and rhododendrons are thoroughly mulched. Any organic material will do, but mulches made from oak leaves, shredded oak bark, or pine needles are preferred.
Weeks 1-3: Christmas trees hold needles longer if you make a clean, fresh cut at the base and always keep the trunk standing in water.
Weeks 1-3: Only female holly trees bear the colorful berries. There must be a male tree growing nearby for pollination, if fruits are desired.
Weeks 1-3: Hollies may be trimmed now and the prunings used in holiday decorations.
Week 1: If you feed rabbits corn or alfalfa, they may leave fruit tree bark unharmed.
Week 1: Apply mulches to bulbs, perennials and other small plants once the ground freezes.
Week 1: All power equipment should be winterized before storage. Change the oil and lubricate moving parts. Either drain fuel systems or mix a gas stabilizing additive into the tank.
Week 1: Clean and oil all garden hand tools before storing for winter.

--Missouri Environment & Garden newsletter