Ginger Bug

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A ginger bug is very simple and easy to grow.  All you need is a one litre jar, ginger root, white sugar, and water.  I found out how to start one from this website.

What exactly is a ginger bug, and what do you do with one anyway?

A ginger bug is a bacterial culture which ferments and eats the white sugar, and becomes a bubbly mixture you can use to make healthy drinks such as healthy homemade rootbeer and ginger beer.

When I started my ginger bug, I didn’t really know what to do with it, until a friend from Thunder Bay showed me how to make rootbeer from roots and plants we foraged for right on our property.

The cool thing about rootbeer is that depending on where you live, you can put all sorts of different things in.  When you make your first batch, don’t expect it to taste like the sugary stuff you can buy at the store.  Homemade rootbeer will still have a bit of the rootbeer flavour plus the flavours of any plants or roots you put in.  It is also much healthier than store-bought rootbeer.

The ginger bug is what makes it turn out fizzy.  You might be surprised at how fizzy it can get.  Sometimes when I open up a bottle for the first time it will bubble all up and over the sides!

I had a chance to teach some of my friends how to make rootbeer, and so once you learn how (you can look up instructions on the internet), it can be a fun skill to pass on to others.  I also taught these friends how to start a ginger bug.

Fishy Facts

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This is a guest post by my friend Isaac, who loves fishing:

Fish have many survival techniques to thrive in their varied habitats. Some techniques are more important than others but all of them matter. Searching for food and avoiding predators consumes most of their time where as reproduction is usually just an annual event.

Feeding is one of the most important parts of a fish’s life. Bigger fish like to eat zooplankton and tiny microscopic animals. Most fish hunt for their prey but a few fish called scavengers feed on the bodies of the dead or wounded. Some fish, for example, a lamprey, are jawless so they suck blood out of other creatures. Swordfish stab their prey with their long mouth and rip them apart.

Another critical aspect for the survival of fish is reproduction. After mating the female salmon will lay many eggs in her rock nest. The male mate will later release sperm to fertilize the eggs after which they can grow. The reason the female lays so many eggs is because only a handful of them survive predators and natural hazards. Some types of fish guard their young to protect them from assailants. Baby fish are called fry.

Fish have many common senses like sight, smell, and hearing. Obviously without them they wouldn’t be able to catch their prey or perform other vital functions. There is one sense that is particularly essential to a fish. On the side of every fish there is a lateral line of holes, which allows water to flow in and out. When another fish moves in the water it sends a vibration to the fish because it moves water into the lateral line, letting the fish know he’s there. This mechanism is important for hunting and navigating especially if the fish is in dark or murky waters.

Out of many survival abilities I have only pointed out three of the most significant features: feeding, reproduction, and senses. Most interestingly, is how they detect their prey and predators with their lateral line. So next time you catch a fish, hopefully you will have more appreciation for these amazing fishy creatures.

The Scout Law

IMG_3430The Scout Law, as originally intended by Lord Robert Baden-Powell (the founder of the Scouting Movement), consisted of these ten parts:

        1. A Scout’s Honour is to be Trusted.
        2. A Scout is Loyal.
        3. A Scout’s Duty is to be Useful and to Help Others.
        4. A Scout is a friend to all and a brother to every other Scout, no matter what social class the other belongs.
        5. A Scout is Courteous.
        6. A Scout is a Friend to Animals.
        7. A Scout Obeys his Orders.
        8. A Scout Smiles and Whistles under all Circumstances.
        9. A Scout is Thrifty.
        10. A Scout is Clean in Thought, Word, and Deed.

As a Scout it was your duty to live up to these laws as much as possible.  Even if you are not a Scout, all the Scout Laws are generally pretty good to go by in regular life.

I will try to explain these laws in greater detail with my next posts.

 

 

Visit To A Small Airport

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For my birthday, my other grandparents took me to a small local airport where the owners gave me a look around.  These are some of the aircraft that they own and do maintenance on:

They have two big yellow biplanes that are used for spraying farmer’s fields.  The biplanes seat one (the pilot) and have a tail drag landing gear (which means there are two wheels up front and one wheel in back).  They have the same radial engine that the WWII Harvard Trainer aircraft had, and the engine drives a triple bladed propeller (or airscrew).  These biplanes are agile and powerful, and have a metal skin.  Every once in a while I’ll see these planes thundering over fields full of crops, flying very low so that the pesticides do not just disintegrate and float away in the air.

The other planes they have at this airport are a few old Piper Super Cubs, that had been converted to plant trees.  Cubs are a very old type of light aircraft, with two seats one in front of the other.  These Super Cubs had been converted by taking out the rear seat and putting in a seed spraying mechanism that sprays the seeds out the bottom of the plane.  The device on the bottom of the plane looked like much like something you would find on the bottom of a grass seed planter that you push by hand in your yard.    Each spring the pilots fly these planes up North and then begin planting trees. They fly about three meters above the canopy, and can cover vast areas much faster than tractors or people with shovels.  They fill in spots where there has been a fire that burned all the trees down and they weren’t old enough to reseed themselves, or they plant trees for logging companies.

I had a lot of fun and learned a lot.  If you are interested in doing this kind of thing, find out the information to a small local airport and give the owner a call.  He might let you come over and show you around.

 

 

Volunteering In Politics

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Because young people often have a lot of time on their hands, it is good to have something productive to do rather than just sitting playing video games all day long (although it can be fun every once in a while).  It is also good to get involved with your country so you start to understand how your government works better.

Last fall I had the opportunity to volunteer for my local government representative.  Through our many conversations, I learned a lot about how the government works in my country.

My jobs as a volunteer included assembling signs, helping put them up, and handing out information cards.  I hung information door hangers on people’s doors, walking from house to house in small neighborhoods.  I learned a lot and had a lot of fun!  I also had the satisfaction of knowing that I had a little part, however small, in the outcome of my country’s whole election.

I encourage you to find out when the next election in your area or in your whole country is, and then find out how you can help support your government representative.  Even though you might not be able to vote, I hope you will try to get involved somehow.  Learning how your country works is a very important thing for people to learn.  And I think the best way to learn is by experience.  Some of you reading this right now might even be leaders of your country some day!

So, go do some research, and find out how you can get involved in the politics of your country.  Of course, if you are still a kid, you might want to ask your parents before arranging anything. 😉

 

Rascal

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Written in 1963, the book Rascal, by Sterling North, is set in 1918, during the First World War (also called the Great War).  It is one of Sterling North’s autobiographies.  The first time I read it, it instantly moved up near the top of my favorite books “list”.

It is about an eleven year old boy (Sterling) who does all the things every kid might wish to do, that aren’t possible in most cases.  He starts building a canoe in the living room, keeps pets of all different kinds, and can do pretty much whatever he wants during the day.

Rascal, his pet raccoon (the one the book is named after) is always getting himself into trouble of one kind or another.  Somehow though, Sterling usually finds a way to evade the threats from angry or startled neighbors.

This book is a great read for anyone, young or old.  I highly recommend it to all you scouters!

Here is the first paragraph of the book:

“It was May, 1918, that a new friend and companion came into my life: a character, a personality, and a ring-tailed wonder.  He weighed less than one pound when I discovered him, a furry ball of utter dependence, and awakening curiosity, unweaned and defenseless.  Wowser and I where immediately protective.  We would have fought any boy or dog in town who sought to harm him.”

Out of five stars I would give it five.

Knives

IMG_8834If you do a lot outdoors, having the right equipment is essential to your own safety, and to accomplishing the task you set out to do.  For example, supposing you are using a cheap, breakable hatchet that you found for a great deal (because no one else wanted it!).  If a part of the axe broke, it could hurt you, or someone else standing near by.

A good all around tool for anyone, whether you live in the city or the country, and whether you have been a logger way up North for twenty years, or have lived in the city all your life and are just a kid, is a knife.  I don’t mean a huge machete hanging in a gigantic sheath from your belt (although some people do have them, they are not very practical for everyday use)!  I mean something small with a two or three inch blade.  Something that you could carry in your pocket, or on your belt.

The reason a knife is such a good all around tool, is because you can use it in lots of different situations.  If you’re trying to clean something out of a very thin crack, just use the blade of your knife.  If you are opening a box or package sometimes you need a blade to tare through some tape or something.  Or you might use it to cut the string of a straw bale.  There are countless other reasons and situations where you could use a knife, which is why you should not just go grab the first cheap knife you see.

Depending on what you are using it for, you will want different kinds of knives.  A good one for a lot of people is a two or three inch long folding blade knife.  Of course some people will prefer a fixed blade knife (stored in a sheath at your belt).  A fixed blade knife is usually stronger, because it does not fold in the middle.  However, they are a little less handy to carry around, and sometimes can make it hard to run if they bang against your leg.  In my opinion, probably the most handy option for a knife is a multi-tool.  A multi-tool usually has a knife blade, plus all the extra tools, sometimes including a screwdriver, pliers, bottle opener, saw, file, scissors, wire cutters, and lots of other things.  I have a multi-tool in a case on my belt that I carry around all day, and I never have to worry about it falling out of my pocket or rubbing against my leg.  You could also use a utility knife.  They are sharp but very breakable so I don’t recommend using one.

I have a friend who has collected over thirty knives of every shape and size!  This is really handy for him, because whenever he is going outside, he can grab whatever knife best suits the job he is going to work on.

The more expensive a knife is, probably the better quality it is.  Before you buy your knife, it is a good idea to look up reviews about the knife you are thinking about, or to ask someone you know who has bought something with the same brand name.

Remember, a knife is a blade and you have to be careful when using it.  A dull knife will more likely slip from whatever you are cutting, which could cut you.  So it is generally better to have a good sharp knife.

Make sure you know what kinds of knives are allowed in your area, and if there are knives that are not legal, don’t buy it if you are offered one!