Thursday, February 22, 2018


I mentioned a few weeks/months ago that I've been enjoying watching "Escape to the Country" on YouTube (from BBC). It is also educational as the host or the property buyers usually spend part of the show examining something of the local area.

On this one:
at about 15:30 in the recording, the buyers visited a farm growing rapeseed for the oil.

When we've visited Europe, we've enjoyed beautiful fields of the yellow flowers. What I did not know (until watching that video) was that the oil was not considered to be human consumable until Canadian researchers created a variety in the 1970s that was lower acid and therefore acceptable to human consumption - called Canola for CANadian Oil Low Acid. Did you know that???

Note: in internet research, I have found that most places say that Canola just means "Canadian Oil" (nothing to do with "low acid").

Note 2: We have begun purchasing expeller-pressed Canola oil to use for our "oil and spices" bread - we like putting oil in a dish and then adding spices to it, and then dipping the bread into the oil and spices. The Canola oil has a lighter flavor than the olive oils that we had been using.
We also like the Kroger organic brand - Simple Truth Organic Expeller Pressed Canola Oil

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Anybody interested in purchasing a small RV retreat?

As our readers know, we've stayed in Yuma at Cactus Blossom RV Retreat for the past few years. We really like it - the location is in the Foothills area of Yuma, in a residential area, it is quiet, and there are storage buildings for 4 of the 6 sites (we always have gotten site 6 which has a storage building).

Mark and his previous wife had the dream for this place and they built it the way that they would have liked to have sites when they were traveling. Unfortunately, his wife passed away just before they were able to get it opened, so we never met her. The first time we stayed here, in February 2016 (, it turned out that we were part of the group staying here the first time that all 6 sites were filled. Mark gave us a certificate recognizing us as "founding customers" ( He also had a party that we all participated in (

Last year, we found that Mark had a new Sweetie, Marie. Though she had come to Yuma with him for the winter, visiting Yuma each year was not something that she had dreamed of, so Mark had decided to sell the RV Retreat. We were sad to hear that, but could understand.

When we contacted Mark in the summer of 2017 to see if he had sold the property and to get contact information for a new owner, it turned out that the property had not sold. So... we let him know that we would like to stay again for a month in February, 2018.

It really is a great place. I hate to lose Mark as the owner (we, as well as all the other folks that we've talked to here are all concerned that a new owner would never show the level of caring for the property that Mark does).

Do any of my readers have a hankering to purchase a small RV retreat?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Making God in my own image

Does God agree with you?

Or does God confuse, contradict, anger you?

Which describes the God that we find in the Bible?

I read this blog this morning, and it was very challenging to me:

Monday, February 19, 2018


A few months ago, I was voting for a charity in Texas to give it a chance to win a monetary award. In doing that, the website had a "reCaptcha" to ensure that the results were not impacted by bots (computerized robots) voting.
You may have seen these before.
I got to wondering about these items and how they worked... you see, the website allowed me to vote as many times as I wanted for the charity of my choice.
Initially, it would process a few moments, and then give me a check mark and I could cast my vote.
But, after about 10 votes, it would start asking me to do things:
Sometimes it would have me select which squares of a picture contained something specific that it was looking for... 

In this case, street signs - I've marked the ones that I think are street signs. By the way, I was wondering - what is a "street sign"? Sometimes the picture has a commercial sign (like a billboard) - is that a street sign? What about the street name signs? See the signs that are kinda fuzzy at the bottom left of this image? Are they street signs?

This is another type - in this case, a 9-pack of pictures out of which I am to pick something specific. On the computer, this is not too bad, but on a smartphone, I am hard-pressed to see what is in any of the pictures!

And this is another type - in this case, I was to select all images with "roads" - but instead of selecting and being done, once I had selected a picture, it would disappear and display a new picture - which may be a road and may not... so I had to check to see if all the remaining pictures had no road.
Sometimes when it gave me a picture challenge, I only had to do one picture challenge, and then I would get the green check and be able to cast my vote. Other times, it required me to do two picture challenges (I can't remember ever having to do more than two). I wondered if I got an extra challenge in a circumstance when it wasn't sure whether I was human or not based on my first responses... so I decided to do some research into how this technology works.

Wikipedia told me that reCAPTCHA
is a CAPTCHA-like system designed to establish that a computer user is human (normally in order to protect websites from bots) and, at the same time, assist in the digitization of books. reCAPTCHA was originally developed by Luis von Ahn, Ben Maurer, Colin McMillen, David Abraham and Manuel Blum at Carnegie Mellon University's main Pittsburgh campus. It was acquired by Google in September 2009.

What is a CAPTCHA?
CAPTCHA (an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart") is a type of challenge-response test used in computing to determine whether or not the user is human.
And what is a Turing test?
The Turing test, developed by Alan Turing in 1950, is a test of a machine's ability to exhibit intelligent behavior equivalent to, or indistinguishable from, that of a human. Turing proposed that a human evaluator would judge natural language conversations between a human and a machine designed to generate human-like responses. The evaluator would be aware that one of the two partners in conversation is a machine, and all participants would be separated from one another. The conversation would be limited to a text-only channel such as a computer keyboard and screen so the result would not depend on the machine's ability to render words as speech. If the evaluator cannot reliably tell the machine from the human, the machine is said to have passed the test. The test does not check the ability to give correct answers to questions, only how closely answers resemble those a human would give.
So, back to reCAPTCHA - did you notice that it said it assists in the digitization of books? The Wikipedia article went on:
reCAPTCHA has completed digitizing the archives of The New York Times and books from Google Books, as of 2011. The archive can be searched from the New York Times Article Archive, where more than 13 million articles in total have been archived, dating from 1851 to the present day. Through mass collaboration, reCAPTCHA was helping to digitize books that are too illegible to be scanned by computers, as well as translate books to different languages, as of 2015.
Further information on its operation:
Scanned text is subjected to analysis by two different optical character recognition programs – one of them, as mentioned the project developer Ben Maurer, is ABBYY FineReader. Their respective outputs are then aligned with each other by standard string-matching algorithms and compared both to each other and to an English dictionary. Any word that is deciphered differently by both OCR programs or that is not in the English dictionary is marked as "suspicious" and converted into a CAPTCHA. The suspicious word is displayed, out of context, sometimes along with a control word already known. If the human types the control word correctly, then the response to the questionable word is accepted as probably valid. If enough users were to correctly type the control word, but incorrectly type the second word which OCR had failed to recognize, then the digital version of documents could end up containing the incorrect word. The identification performed by each OCR program is given a value of 0.5 points, and each interpretation by a human is given a full point. Once a given identification hits 2.5 points, the word is considered valid. Those words that are consistently given a single identity by human judges are later recycled as control words. If the first three guesses match each other but do not match either of the OCRs, they are considered a correct answer, and the word becomes a control word. When six users reject a word before any correct spelling is chosen, the word is discarded as unreadable.
It also included this criticism:
Some have criticized Google for using reCAPTCHA as a source of unpaid labor. They say Google is unfairly using people around the world to help it transcribe books, addresses, and newspapers without any compensation.
I think it is rather clever to allow the use of a facility that helps to prevent computer robots from hacking systems to also help with the digitization of books and articles!

Google's website indicates:
reCAPTCHA is a free service that protects your website from spam and abuse. reCAPTCHA uses an advanced risk analysis engine and adaptive CAPTCHAs to keep automated software from engaging in abusive activities on your site. It does this while letting your valid users pass through with ease. 
reCAPTCHA offers more than just spam protection. Every time our CAPTCHAs are solved, that human effort helps digitize text, annotate images, and build machine learning datasets. This in turn helps preserve books, improve maps, and solve hard AI problems.
Other information on their website indicated that the reCAPTCHA image annotation helps for google map users (of which we are very frequent ones!). So... I guess my validation using reCAPTCHA that I am human ends up helping me as a human with google map content as well!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

4 Wheeling? UTV?

When we were in Quartzsite this winter, we discussed the possibility of spending more time there next year, or possibly in a future year. There are places to stay that are free for 14 days, and then you need to move - either away from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property altogether (e.g. to a private campground), to another BLM area at least 25 miles away, or to a Long Term Visitor Area (LTVA) which is a fee area. When we are camped on Plomosa Road, we are in a 14-day free area, but when we move to the Blue Birds' Nest, we are in a LTVA. In the LTVA, you can pay for 14 days stay ($40) or for the whole season ($180). Even if you are not staying in the LTVA, you can then use their dump and water if you have a permit from there.

One of the things that Dwayne mentioned while we were there was that he really wished we could go off road more. We did a very small amount of off roading after we did the climb up Q Hill - we were following another Jeep that had a LOT higher clearance than we did - he got to one place where his Jeep was going nearly vertically uphill (or that's the way it looked to me!) and the right front wheel was totally off the ground over the ridge of the hill. He couldn't make it across initially, got out to look, and then backed up and went at it a lot faster. It wasn't that tall of a hill (maybe 2-3 feet) and more like a HUGE speed bump (it immediately went back down). I was not willing to risk it in the Jee-rage - it is our transportation vehicle, and really not designed for that type of 4WD in my opinion.

But, I know that Dwayne wants to do more off-road traveling - to me the solution would be to get a vehicle that is designed for that. While in Yuma, we've noticed several consignment lots (or "for sale by owner" lots) with various vehicles, including off road vehicles - so we stopped one day to take a look, just to get an idea of prices. My theory is that this is nearly the end of the season, so prices might be lower... and if we found one that we really wanted, maybe we could find a place to store it in Yuma until next year.

Some of the vehicles we saw:




The tires are behind the one that is for sale for $12,500. The one to the left is $7,700.


$9,250 (Note that Dwayne is eying the motorcycle!)

Dune buggy! Better for the sandy areas that are outside of Yuma than Quartzsite, I suspect. $2,200




So, armed with the information about what some used ones might cost... I looked for rentals. I had looked previously, but found that they were rented by the hour from campgrounds in the area of Quartzsite, and in the range of $400/day.

As I searched, though, I found something called Herc Rental - it looks like it may be a commercial/heavy duty rental sub-company of Hertz - the website definitely has a Hertz look to it. The off road vehicles are "more reasonably" priced for rentals from them - the pick up location is near Phoenix, which would be a pain... but it gives another option to consider!

FYI: I *think* this is just a "Thinking about" exercise that we won't be acting upon... but if it is something that Dwayne really wants, we definitely will do more *thinking* about it!

Saturday, February 17, 2018

What to do with the tire?

When we were in Grants Pass, after losing the wheel/tire on I-5 (, we had to get a new wheel and tire put on. We were not able to get the Michelin tire that we wanted, so we opted to get an off-brand cheaper tire instead, with the plan to get the desired Michelin tire later when we were stopped in Yuma. We did this on Tuesday (

Because of the challenge in getting the size tire that Miss Doozie needs, we had decided to try to carry the off-brand tire with us in case we ever need another tire at some random location in the future. Unfortunately, the tire is very large (the original source of the name "Miss Doozie" was the size of her tires) and very heavy. We can fit it into the back of the Jee-rage, but it pretty much takes up the whole space. We'd like to store it on the roof of Miss Doozie, but getting it up there is going to be interesting...

Dwayne has thought of a couple of options:
  • Building a teeter-totter and he and I jump from the stone wall near our campsite on one side of the teeter-totter while the tire is on the other side, thus flipping the tire onto the roof.
  • Get a hot-air balloon to lift it up.
  • Hire someone with a fork-lift to lift it up.
I got an email about events for the weekend in Yuma and it included this:
Notice that one of the events is "Tire Flip"!
I suggested that we go to the event and get into conversation with some of the competitors - suggest that they should come down and see who could "flip" the tire onto the roof of Miss Doozie. No registration fee required! Don't you think that has possibilities?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Also on Tuesday - Miss Doozie was *thirsty!*

After the tire shop, we stopped at a fueling station that had specific pumps for RVs...
We had stopped by this station and checked out the diesel prices. They were within reason and it was easy for a big rig to get in and out of within the truck area at the back of the station.

My sweetie putting in the fuel...

$2.779 /gallon wasn't the best rate in town, but the place with the best rate would have been extremely hard to get Miss Doozie in/out of (Fry's grocery store).

The gauge had said that we were down to just 1/4 full, but she only took 153 gallons. In the information that we have about Miss Doozie, in one place it says that the fuel tank is 300 gallons, in another it shows 260 gallons. Based on experience (gauge reading vs amount to fill), I'm guessing that the tank size is 260 gallons.
As it turned out, since we were fueling an RV, we got 8 cents off a gallon per Arizona law - so the per gallon price was $2.699 and the total purchase was $413.42 instead of $425.66.