Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, April 27, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page 6



 Mountain Views News Saturday, April 20, 2013


[Nyerges is the author of “How to Survive Anywhere,” and “Enter the 
Forest.” Information about his books and classes is available from Box 
41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or from]


Athens Services and the City of Sierra Madre host the first 
annual Compost Giveaway event on Saturday, April 27, 
2013. The event is from 9:00am-12:00pm at Sierra Vista Park, 
located at 611 E. Sierra Madre Blvd. All Sierra Madre residents 
are eligible to participate and no advanced reservation is 
necessary. Be sure to bring a sturdy container for the compost on the day of the event. 
Shovels will be provided at the event to fill your containers. To ensure all participants 
receive their fair share, there is a 30 gallon per household limit the first hour of the event. 
After 10:00am, participants will be able to receive an unlimited amount of compost while 
supplies last. Athens Services plans to donate 20 tons of compost!

The organic compost is comprised of leaves, yard trimmings and paper litter mixed 
with wood chips, food waste and other organic materials at the Athens Services 
Recycling and Material Recovery Facility. The compost is a nutrient rich soil 
amendment and fertilizer. 

The Compost Giveaway is a drive through event located in the Sierra Vista Park 
parking lot near the sand volley ball and basketball court. For more information 
please contact the Community Services Office at 626-355-52

Have you folks 
been watching the 
news? Almost 
daily we read that 
in Altadena, Sierra 
Madre, Orange 
County, etc., too 
many folks are getting lost or hurt in the local 
hills. We go into nature to enjoy the natural 
world, perhaps to seek solitude and quiet, and to 
get refreshed. Most of us expect to get back home 

 But getting back home safely doesn’t always 
happen. Lots of things can get in the way of 
us getting home safely: unexpected weather, 
various accidents, unexpected terrain. 

 You should never go hiking and exploring into 
the local mountains and deserts without some 
very basic preparedness.

 First, whether you’re going on a car trip, or 
hiking trip, do some pre-trip research. Your 
excitement to get out and go, and your desire 
for spontaneity, are your enemies. Slow down. 
Research where you intend to go, and research 
the weather conditions, and whether or not there 
will be water. Are there any trails at all? Do other 
people go there? Are there great temperature 
extremes between day and night? 

 Make a plan and an itinerary. Be sure to tell 
someone where you are going and when you 
intend to return.

 If you’re traveling by car, be sure to carry extra 
water, as well as a blanket, some snacks, and a 
way to make a fire should the need arise. Have 
a map with you of the area in which you intend 
to travel. Be sure to carry road flares and jumper 
cables, as well as a simple tool kit (things you 
should always carry at all times).

 If you’re hiking – even out for a short day hike 
– there are certain items you should always have 
with you – in your pack, or in your pockets. And 
keep in mind that your knowledge, and your 
experience, are as valuable as all the “stuff” you 

 Carry at least a quart of water. But that’s bare 
minimum, because on a hot day, you’ll use that 
up quickly. Will there be water at your intended 

 Stay alert to sources of water along your 
journey, and ways to purify that water should the 
need arise. Water purifiers could be pills, or any 
of the pump devices sold at every backpacking 

 Did you know that you can fill an old beer can 
with river water, and boil it over a fire to purify 
it? Beer cans are everywhere, and could be used 
in a pinch.

 I believe that everyone should carry a way 
to make a fire at all times. If lost while hiking, 
that controlled fire could be a life-saver. Not only 
would it keep you warm, but it could be a signal 
to someone trying to find you. 

 I like the Doan’s magnesium fire starter which 
can always be carried on the keychain. But there’s 
nothing wrong with a Bic, or even matches as 
long as they are kept in a waterproof container. 

 In fact, I teach my students dozens of ways 
to make a fire should the need arise. Even the 
little fresnel magnifying lens sold at stationery 
stores is a good way to make a fire when the sun 
is shining. 

 But if you didn’t plan ahead, there may still be 
hope. The concave bottom of that discarded beer 
can could create a fire if you’re patient. When 
pointed at the sun, with a bit of tinder held at 
the focal point (you’ll figure this out if you try 
it), you can ignite the tinder with the sun. Then 
there’s the fire by friction method that the Native 
Americans used, the hand drill spun onto a flat 
piece of wood – but if you’ve never tried this 
before, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do this when 
lost. Carry that magnesium fire starter.

 A knife should always be carried, at least a 
multi-blade Swiss Army knife. Get one that has a 
knife, scissors, and a saw, at least. These come in 
handy for countless tasks.

 I always carry a bundle of cord, such as the 
inexpensive nylon cord used for surveying. Cord 
has innumerable uses, and in an emergency, 
could be pressed into service for emergency first 
aid, for making a pack, for various repairs, and 
many other possibilities.

 A small first aid kit with at least a lot of band-
aids and perhaps a few anti-infection creams 
should be included. In fact, you should enroll in 
a Red Cross emergency first aid course because 
“first aid” is more about knowing what to do, 
rather than knowing what to carry.

 A signaling mirror is also a good idea for a 
small day pack. They are small, and could also 
be used for certain first-aid applications. They 
are not expensive, and come in glass or metal. 
As mentioned in a past Outdoors column, the 
used hard drive platters from computers are 
nearly unbreakable, and make excellent signaling 

 You probably already carry a cell phone, which 
is great for emergencies. However, there is often 
no cell coverage in some of the canyons of our 
local wilderness. 

 Compass? Yes, carry one along with the map of 
the area you intend to visit. But remember that 
the compass is of no value if you haven’t taken 
the time to learn how to use it with your map. 

 Though tents and sleeping bags are too bulky to 
carry in a day pack, you should at least consider 
the possibility of spending the night in the wild. 
What would you do? Knowledge of making a 
wilderness lean-to, or other expedient shelter, is a 
good idea. But for the pack, you should consider 
carrying a little emergency space blanket which 
is not fantastic, but certainly better than nothing. 
If you have a slightly bigger pack, consider 
adding a tube tent. Tube tents are lightweight, 
inexpensive, and fold fairly flat.

 You should also add some simple snacks to 
your pack. These wouldn’t be your lunch, but 
just something to eat “just in case.” 

 Back when I first got interested in survival 
preparedness, I’d have long discussions with the 
folks at WTI about the necessity of always having 
a pack ready in case you ever had to make a quick 
evacuation or in case you got lost in the woods. 

 Knives, tools, water, clothes, fire, shelter, light 
– these are the areas of greatest concern. We 
agreed that the ideal survival pack should be 
lightweight and not a burden. 

 We learned that the more you knew, the less 
you had to carry. 

 And yes, there are many, many more items that 
hikers could carry, and many do. But the above 
represents the bare-bones minimum that anyone 
traveling into the local hills should carry.

 Questions? Feel free to contact me c/o this 
paper, or c/o the website listed above.


May 2, 2013

The League of Women Voters Pasadena Area is presenting a free public forum May 2 on the controversial 
topic of charter schools. It will be from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., at the Women’s City Club, 
160 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena. 

Titled “What We Can Learn from Charter Schools,” the forum will address issues surrounding the 
charter school movement, which began 20 years ago and is a growing sector of public education. 
California alone has about 1,000 charter schools serving 360,000 children. Pasadena has six with 
approximately 1,400 K-12 students. 

Critics claim charters siphon funds from regular public schools because they are publicly funded 
but operate independently of local school districts. On the other hand, advocates contend that, freed 
from local restrictions, charter schools can experiment and innovate to develop successful education 
models for all public schools.

The forum will address these issues from different perspectives and answer commonly asked questions. 
One is whether charter schools have met the goal of improving student performance and led 
to better educational practices for all children in public school. Another is whether gains for charters 
are losses for traditional public schools. Do charters provide better educational opportunities 
with comparable amounts of money? What about the question of equity? 

Erick Premack, founder and director of the Charter Schools Development Center in Sacramento, 
will lead off the program with a short history of the charter school movement. A panel discussion 

Panelists include Lauren O’Neill, the head of Odyssey Charter School in Pasadena; David Tokofsky, 
a former school board member of the Los Angeles Unified School District, which houses more 
charter schools than any other in California; and Judy Higelin, a Los Angeles County Office of Education 
supervisor of charter schools. Premack will also be a part of the panel. A lively question and 
answer period will follow. 

Lunch is available for $20, including tax, tip and free parking. The program is free. For information 
and lunch reservations, call 626-798-0965.


 Scientists eagerly await the arrival of a recently discovered, highly active comet that will 
skim 730,000 miles above the Sun’s surface on Nov. 28 and has the potential to be readily 
visible from Earth.

 The comet, C/2012 S1 (ISON), is highly unusual in that it comes to the inner solar system 
for the first time and will skirt around the Sun within less than two solar radii from its 

 Comet C/ISON was discovered in September 2012 when it was farther away from the 
Sun than Jupiter, and was already active at such a great distance. This is distinct from most 
other sungrazers—comets that pass extremely close to the Sun—which are usually only 
discovered when they are already very near the Sun. At such a close perihelion distance 
from the Sun, sungrazers are expected to be intensely heated by the Sun, and sublimate 
not only ice but also silicates and even metals, releasing a tremendous amount of dust. The 
expectation is high that Comet C/ISON will be much brighter and more spectacular than 
most other sungrazers when it puts on a show late this year.

 “As a first-time visitor to the inner solar system, Comet C/ISON provides astronomers a 
rare opportunity to study a fresh comet preserved since the formation of the solar system,” 
said Planetary Science Institute Research Scientist Jian-Yang Li, who led a team that imaged 
the comet. “The expected high brightness of the comet as it nears the Sun allows for many 
important measurements that are impossible for most other fresh comets.”

 Comet C/ISON was imaged with the Hubble Space Telescope on April 10 using the Wide 
Field Camera 3, when the comet was slightly closer than Jupiter: 386 million miles from the 
Sun and 394 million miles from the Earth.

 The team is using these images to measure the activity level of this comet and determine 
the size of the nucleus, in order to predict the comet’s activity when it passes perihelion, 
or closest to the Sun, later this year. Preliminary measurements from the Hubble images 
suggest that the nucleus, the solid, icy body at the center of the comet, is no larger than 
three or four miles across. This is remarkably small considering the high level of activity 
observed in the comet so far. This small size also means that the outcome from its close 
perihelion passage near the Sun is extremely hard to foresee.

 The comet is active as sunlight warms the surface and causes frozen volatiles to sublimate. 
The comet’s dusty coma, or head of the comet, is currently approximately 3,100 miles across, 
or 1.2 times the width of Australia. A dust tail extends more than 57,000 miles, far beyond 
Hubble’s field of view.

 A detailed analysis of the dust coma surrounding the nucleus reveals a strong jet blasting 
dust particles off the Sunward-facing side of the comet’s nucleus. This jet, as projected on 
the sky, extends at least 2,300 miles.

 More careful analysis is currently under way to improve these measurements and to 
predict the possible outcome of the sungrazing perihelion passage of this comet.

 Whether Comet C/ISON will become a “Comet of the Century” and outshine all other 
bright comets in the past still remains to be seen. But the new Hubble images of Comet C/
ISON have revealed much valuable information about this highly unusual comet.

 You can contact Bob Eklund at: