Author: mitch Page 2 of 18

California fires = bad air in Reno

The smoke from the fires is making the air in Reno almost unbreathable. I didn’t go out at all this weekend.

Most of the smoke this last week has been from the Yosemite fire, but now the Carr Fire in Shasta County is contributing. I have whined in this space in previous years about how California fires make the Reno air smoky.

This is what Peavine Peak normally looks like from our house:


This weekend it was invisible. So was Downtown, for that matter.

I am closer to the mountain here at the office:


This morning I can barely see it.

Saturday and Sunday I saw the lovely Blood Moon setting; but this morning we also had a Blood Sun rising.

We’ve had our own fires. The Martin Fire was the largest fire in the country this month, at 435,569 acres, or 680 square miles, but it was far enough away from us that we didn’t see any smoke; and far enough away from everyone else that it didn’t make the news outside Nevada. There was a small fire right here in Hidden Valley on Thursday, and the Perry Fire is burning south of Pyramid Lake where Ingrid and I went shooting a month or two ago.

The images from the Carr Fire, like those from last October’s and December’s fires, are pretty alarming. It’s hard to imagine a fire just charging through built up areas like that. I’ve been wondering what you really need for that to happen. What kind of surrounding forest and brush does it take? I look around and I’m pretty sure we are safe here. We don’t have chaparral here on the eastern and northern sides of the valley, our hillsides are covered with grass. The grass burns readily, the hills east of Sparks seem to burn annually, but I don’t think the fires get hot enough to rage into the neighborhoods. I think perhaps the mustangs, widely regarded as pests, reduce the fire risk by keeping the grass cropped.

Last Thursday’s fire in Hidden Valley, which I don’t think was even given a name, just left a big black patch on a grassy hill. The homes less than 100 feet below the fire are newer ones, with tile roofs and stucco walls. Unless surrounded by heavy trees and brush, which they aren’t because they are so new, such buildings seem to be invulnerable to a nearby grass fire. While my own home is older, and the homes below mine on the hill are older yet, with lots of mature trees and other plantings, the homes above us are newer, clad in tile and stucco and with very few trees or shrubbery. I don’t see a fire getting much traction here, aside from burning up the hillside, which would be sad, but the annual east Sparks examples show that the burned areas grow right back the next year. The fires might even rejuvenate them.

The hills to the south and west are a different story: they are heavily forested, and fires are a real scary threat there. I wouldn’t want to live in the Galena Creek area, for example, as beautiful as it is (and we did look at homes down there).

Limebike have come to Reno

Limebike have reported on their first month of operations in Reno: … 747437002/

In May, Reno, Sparks and the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony all received about 1,000 bicycles to test the dockless bike-share service. About 21,000 riders took 36,000 trips for over 35,000 miles, according to LimeBike’s latest numbers.

The article says there’s a ten-member Limebike team in Reno. So the numbers look like this:

     1,000 bikes
   36,000 trips
   21,000 riders
     1.71 trips per rider
       $1 per trip
  $36,000 revenue
       10 employees
  $30,000 average salary (WAG) (probably that's low)
  $25,000 payroll

So they made $11,000 in May, not including overhead costs like office space, collection vans, insurance and the bikes themselves. My guess is once you factor all that stuff in they are either breaking even or going into the red (depending on how you amortize the cost of the bikes themselves; I reckon they must cost at least $150 each to manufacture (they are custom made for Limebike)). But it’s only the first month. 21,000 riders is about 5% of the Reno/Sparks metro area population, which seems like a pretty big percentage for the first month.

So how do they increase revenue?

  • More bikes to get more rides;
  • More users to get more rides.

Personally, I think 5% of the population is a pretty high adoption rate (another unrelated figure to put this into perspective: even in states where a CCW is easy to get, no more than 5% of the population is ever legally carrying a concealed weapon, and it’s usually around 3%). This suggests to me that almost all the people who are likely to use Limebike are already doing so, but of course I could be very wrong about that. I suspect the best thing to do would be to get those early adopters to use Limebike even more, make it a part of their daily lives. I’ve downloaded the app; Zuly actually rode a Limebike last week.

Unlike with most other cities, Reno and Sparks have granted Limebike a monopoly on bike sharing in the area. That’s good for Limebike, but not so good for riders (Waste Management has a similar deal, and it’s a very bad deal for customers). But it might be the difference between Limebike profiting handsomely or losing their ass in the Truckee Meadows.

Releasing the bunnies

Today was the day, just this morning. It was supposed to happen yesterday, but Ingrid said she got too emotional.

We released them in a low hedge near our house in the front yard. The first thing one of them did was run through the hedge and right into Bella, who was standing by watching the whole operation. The bunny ran away from Bella into the side yard, which was a bad place to go as there’s not much cover back there. Luckily, within a few minutes Bella managed to flush that bunny out again and sort of herded it back to the hedge.

Bella is such a sweet, gentle soul. She hates jackrabbits, though. HATES THEM. Dunno why.

So while I hung around for a few minutes before going to work the bunnies explored the hedge and a couple of them would venture out away from the hedge a bit before scooting back. They already seem very comfortable moving around in the fringes of the hedge, they aren’t acting as scared and skittish as they did when they were caged.

They don’t seem much afraid of us. Of course, they won’t let us get very close to them, but they don’t skedaddle on sight like some of the other bunnies in the yard do. They are also very tolerant of Bella, allowing her to come up pretty close. This, of course, worries me. Their most dangerous predators will be coyotes, so I hope they know the difference between my dog and a coyote (Bella sure does, she loves other dogs, but LOSES HER SHIT over coyotes, which of course look just like dogs to me, so I guess animals know the score).

I’ve been getting photo, video and text updates from Ingrid, who is hanging around the front yard this morning, keeping an eye on the bunnies. We left them with water, some carrots (there is plenty for them to eat in the yard, bunnies mostly eat grass), plus a little bunny house I made for them out of pine. Several other bunnies have appeared in the front yard. I hope they help our babies in some way, maybe showing them the ropes.

If they survive the next 48 hours, I think they will do all right.

I hope the other bunnies help our little guys out. I’ve been observing our neighborhood bunnies very carefully, and while cottontails do congregate in small, loose-knit groups, there is nothing like the fairly structured organization I have observed with my own eyes in Europe, and read about in Watership Down . Dunno whether that is good or bad for my babies. On the one hand, it probably means they won’t get much assistance from other bunnies; but then they would probably be regarded as outsiders by a more formal grouping.

Jackrabbits are highly solitary by contrast. Just saw a young one in the yard today, the second I have seen (there’s an adult jackrabbit I see about twice a month). A cottontail was following him around.

Bunny update

Yesterday I went to the feed store and bought a cage, some pine bedding, a water feeder and some kitten formula for the bunnies. They are still very frightened, and huddle in a tea box when I am around, though I can tell they are playing around in the cage when I am away because there are pine shavings all over the floor around the cage and the kitten formula and water dish are empty (but filled with pine shavings).

Last night I gave them more water and kitten formula and this morning it was the same thing, a mess of pine shavings everywhere and the formula and water was gone. The bunnies were huddled together in their tea box.

Ingrid put some bird seed and bunny alfalfa pellets in the cage yesterday, just in case, and this morning I inspected one of the bunny pellets and found little teeth marks. So they are certainly able to eat normal food. In fact, I think they are less than a week from being big enough to release.

I found an informative bunny care document on-line, though every other paragraph basically said YOU SHOULDN’T ATTEMPT TO REHAB BABY BUNNIES ANYWAY AND ONLY EXPERIENCED REHABBERS SHOULD ATTEMPT IT (with links to a directory of rehabbers), so it seemed a little like a big ad. Also, I gathered that most of the advice was for bunnies much smaller than ours, bunnies that had to be fed with a syringe and whose eyes weren’t yet open; my bunnies are much bigger than that, even though they are smaller than tennis balls. But there was a lot of information about bunnies.

For example, what I assumed was a call of distress (since my god it really sounds like one, it’s really kind of horrible) is actually vocalization mom and baby bunnies use to find each other in the dark. So now I wonder whether the blood-curdling scream we heard the other night coming from outside was not the fourth bunny being eaten, but maybe it was just calling for its mom. Maybe he detected his mom in the area and let out a yell. Or maybe so many hours had gone by that he thought it was time to start yelling for mom. I don’t know. But 30 seconds after we heard that one of our own bunnies made the same noise, with no one touching him. So I guess he heard the outside bunny screaming and was simply answering and hoping their mom would come for them too.

The website said the best thing to do is leave the bunnies near the nest and the mom bunny will come back in the night, and while that sounds good to me their nest was in a raised planter, and I have no reason t believe the mom is returning to it. It’s very dangerous for small animals in our yard on account of the motherfucking hawk we have, the one that ate my dove babies, so I don’t want to let them go until I am pretty sure they can take care of themselves.

Ingrid will attempt to handle them some more today, she likes that. I don’t see anything wrong with that, I hope it calms them down. Bella is of course very curious about them and likes to sniff around the cage. I am sure she wouldn’t want to hurt them, but I am concerned about the bunnies becoming too familiar with the dog, as their biggest threat once they are outside will be coyotes (and dogs), in addition to the fucking hawk that killed my baby mourning doves.

Bunny news

Yesterday Bella flushed some very small baby bunnies from the entrance to their burrow in a planter near the front door of the house. Ingrid says there were four babies, and while one ran into the yard, the other three ran towards the door where Ingrid picked them up. There’s no question of returning them to their mother, and they are too small to live for very long outside (in fact, we are pretty sure we heard the fourth one get swooped up by an owl or a coyote or maybe even a skunk last night, those babies can really make a very loud noise).

So now we have baby cottontails to take care of:


We only want to keep them long enough for them to get big enough to release. Right now they are terribly frightened, it’s heartbreaking, but then I suppose living in fear is the natural state for rabbits.

This morning Ingrid will call some wildlife rescue people for advice. We just need to feed them and keep them warm and safe, I reckon.

Return to Black Rock

Spent Saturday night at Black Rock again. It was windy.


It really is an amazing place. We’re going to spend a lot more time there, exploring.


On the way out Sunday we discovered a hot spring by the side of the road:


We also stumbled upon Guru Road:


Almost everyone you know who has been to Black Rock was there for Burning Man. Now while I have never been to Burning Man, I am beyond certain Black Rock is a far more lovely and inviting place when there aren’t 70,000 people with you on the playa.

YouTube fighting the Culture Wars

YouTube Bans Firearms Demo Videos

YouTube will ban videos that promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories, including bump stocks, which allow a semi-automatic rifle to fire faster. Additionally, YouTube said it will prohibit videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms.

This is Culture War. Does YouTube ban videos about any other highly popular legal hobby?

Looks like these excellent videos are still up. I used them when I started building AR-15s myself. I’ve never bought an AR-15, I’ve built all of mine from parts. because I’m evil.

Okay, so he wasn’t such a great Governor, but . . .

Dunno where I found this

How Americans die

I always go to the CDC when I want to see what’s killing people in America.

  • Number of alcoholic liver disease deaths in 2014: 19,388
  • Number of alcohol-induced deaths, excluding accidents and homicides in 2014: 30,722

George Clooney thinks the NRA is bad, very bad. But George Clooney also got rich making and selling literal addictive poison that kills 50,000 Americans every year not including those killed by drunk drivers: … ent-2017-6

That’s a fuck of a lot more dead Americans than are killed in firearms-related accidents or crimes.

Do you think the US media will pick up this story?

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