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of Rogue Valley February 10 - February 16, 2014

Volume 1 Issue 21

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• Leslie Irvin didn’t invent parachutes, but he did revolutionize them by packing them into backpacks. In 1922, he founded the Caterpillar Club, honoring those who had to place their lives in the hands of their parachutes. Because the parachutes were made out of silk, and the silk came from caterpillar cocoons, the Caterpillar Club was born. The club’s motto is, “Life depends on a silken thread.” • Charles Lindbergh’s life was saved by an Irvin parachute four times in two years. In 1925 he was involved in a mid-air collision and bailed out. Three months later he jumped when his plane would not come out of a spin. In 1926 he ran out of fuel and jumped. Seven weeks later he was caught in a snowstorm and bailed out. (Continued next page)

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In 1928, Paul Fisk Collins jumped from a disabled plane over Pennsylvania and was saved by his parachute. On February 11, 1944, his son, Paul Liske Collins, jumped from a disabled plane near Fairbanks, Alaska, and his life was also saved by his parachute. Together, they were the first father-son team to join the Caterpillar Club, whose membership is entirely composed of people whose lives were saved by parachutes. Come along with Tidbits as we consider the Caterpillar Club!


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Tidbits of Rogue Valley

A CLUB IS BORN • On October 20, 1922, U.S. Air Corps test pilot Lt. Harold Harris walked out to a fighter plane at McCook Field in Dayton, Ohio. The plane had been fitted with experimental ailerons the previous day and he was to test it. Harris stopped to clip on his parachute, but was annoyed to find that the straps were too tight. He traded it for a different one but found that the straps were too tight on that one as well. He decided to fly without one. After all, no one had yet had their life saved by one of the new-fangled contraptions. But suddenly Harris changed his mind and decided to wear one. • In a friendly dogfight with another test pilot, Harris was turning, diving, and zooming when his plane suddenly went out of control. He went into a dive and could not recover. When pieces of the wings started tearing away, Harris jumped. He felt for the ripcord on his parachute and pulled three times. Nothing happened. He discovered he’d been pulling his leg strap fitting. He yanked the ripcord when he was just 500 feet (152 m) off the ground— far too low for a safe jump. The chute opened, and he drifted down, landing unhurt in a grape arbor. Lt. Harold Harris was the first person ever to have his life saved in an emergency situation by a manually-operated parachute. • Harris was able to refute many myths. Many people felt that a falling human would become unconscious. Others maintained arms and legs would be pinned by the wind or would flail helplessly. Parachute trials were (continued on page 4)

Music to Soothe an Anxious Dog? By Sam Mazzotta DEAR PAW’S CORNER: My mixed collie “Skipper” gets extremely nervous during storms and when construction is going on outside -- basically during any unfamiliar noise. He cries and hides under the furniture, and I’m unable to approach him to comfort him. Is there anything I can do? -- Anxious in Boise DEAR ANXIOUS: Talk to the veterinarian first, so that he or she is aware that Skipper has an anxiety issue. Your vet can suggest a few solutions, including anti-anxiety medication and some training and behavioral techniques you can try. Many owners want to avoid medication for anxious pets, as they’re worried about the side effects. And in some cases, medication does not resolve the problem. Those are among the reasons owners are looking to alternative solutions to treating anxiety. Some swear by a homeopathic product called Bach’s Rescue Remedy, found in stores that specialize in herbal supplements (although it’s being sold more and more in pet stores). About five drops of the product are added to a


February 10 - February 16, 2014 dog’s water dish daily. Other owners combine homeopathic supplements with other therapies, such as playing music specifically composed to calm dogs during stressful events like thunderstorms. Or they put their dog into a Thundershirt, a wraparound garment that exerts constant, gentle pressure. No matter what therapy you choose, remember that the home environment and your own emotions can affect Skipper. Make sure his life has routine -- same feeding time, same walking times, etc. When a stressful event happens, keep yourself calm and speak in a soothing voice to Skipper. Send your questions or comments to

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Page 4

Tidbits of Rogue Valley

February 10 - February 16, 2014


limited because pilots believed if someone jumped out of a plane, the sudden loss of weight would send the plane into an uncontrollable spin.

• When Harris landed unhurt, one of the people who helped him celebrate his good luck was Leslie Irvin, the man who had designed the parachute. • Irvin had been experimenting with parachutes and trying to convince people to use them. Irvin was the first man to voluntarily jump out of a working aircraft with a parachute. He did it to prove that manually operated parachutes could work, and he made his point when he landed with only a broken ankle, when most people thought he was jumping to his death. The Air Corps immediately ordered 300, and Irvin found himself in the parachute business. • When his lawyer filed papers, Irvin’s name was misspelled as ‘Irving.’ Irving Parachutes made Irvin a wealthy man by the time he reached the age of thirty. • After Harris jumped from his plane, men at McCook Field collected souvenirs of the incident: pieces of the crashed plane, the used parachute, and photos of Harris next to the wreck. They displayed the items proudly in their tiny museum. A newspaper reporter wrote an article and suggested that they start a club for people who owed their lives to a parachute, and the Caterpillar Club was born. (continued on next page)

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by Samantha Weaver

It was writer and cartoonist James Thurber who made the following sage observation: “Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility.” You might not be familiar with the National Chicken Council, but it’s making predictions about you nonetheless. If you ate wings while watching the Super Bowl, you contributed to the 1.25 billion wings that the council’s 2014 Wing Report projected to be consumed during that event. Those who study such things say that if you happen to find lint in your belly button, it’s more likely to be blue than any other color. The name of the state of Alabama comes from the Choctaw word “albah,” which means “plant-cutters.” Accident or not? At an evening event in 1989, a bottle of wine once owned by Thomas Jefferson was up for sale. The asking price? $500,000. It seems nobody was willing to pony up the cash, and at the end of the night there was no sale. At that point, a waiter (inadvertently?) dropped the bottle, destroying the unprofitable item. The bottle was insured, however, and the merchant did end up with $250,000. The White House was not designed by an American. It was Irish architect James Hoban who won the competition to create the architectural plans for the home of the political leader of the United States. Before he became president, George H.W. Bush was, for a time, the youngest aviator in the history of the U.S. Navy, getting his wings just three days before he turned 19. Thought for the Day: “When I am working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I only think about how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it is wrong.” -- Buckminster Fuller (c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

Top 10 Pop Singles

ARIES (March 21 to April 19) Some unsettling facts about a past situation could come to light. And while you’d love to deal with it immediately, it’s best to get more information to support your case. TAURUS (April 20 to May 20) A straightforward approach to a baffling situation is best. Don’t allow yourself to be drawn into an already messy mass of tangles and lies. Deal with it and move on. GEMINI (May 21 to June 20) Don’t be discouraged or deterred by a colleague’s negative opinion about your ideas. It could actually prove to be helpful when you get around to finalizing your plan. CANCER (June 21 to July 22) Ignore that sudden attack of “modesty,” and step up to claim the credit you’ve so rightly earned. Remember: A lot of people are proud of you and want to share in your achievement. LEO (July 23 to August 22) A financial “deal” that seems to be just right for you Leos and Leonas could be grounded more in gossamer than substance. Get an expert’s advice to help you check it out. VIRGO (August 23 to September 22) Don’t ignore that suddenly cool or even rude attitude from someone close to you. Asking for an explanation could reveal a misunderstanding you were completely unaware of. LIBRA (September 23 to October 22) Unless you have sound knowledge, and not just an opinion, it’s best not to step into a family dispute involving a legal matter, regardless of whom you support. Leave that to the lawyers.

SCORPIO (October 23 to November 21) An awkward situation presents the usually socially savvy Scorpian with a problem. But a courteous and considerate approach soon helps clear the air and ease communication. SAGITTARIUS (November 22 to December 21) A calmer, less-tense atmosphere prevails through much of the week, allowing you to restore your energy levels before tackling a new challenge coming up by week’s end. CAPRICORN (December 22 to January 19) Your approach to helping with a friend or family member’s problem could boomerang unless you take time to explain your method and how and why it (usually!) works. AQUARIUS (January 20 to February 18) Someone who gave you a lot of grief might ask for a chance for the two of you to make a fresh start. You need to weigh the sincerity of the request carefully before giving your answer. PISCES (February 19 to March 20) Too much fantasizing about an upcoming decision could affect your judgment. Better to make your choices based on what you know now rather than on what you might learn later. BORN THIS WEEK: You have a way of seeing the best in people and helping them live up to their potential. (c) 2014 King Features Syndicate

This Week Last Week 1. Pitbull feat. Ke$ha ............No. 1 “Timber” 2. Katy Perry .........................No. 4 “Dark Horse” 3. One Republic ....................No. 2 “Counting Stars” 4. A Great Big World & Christina Aguilera ................No. 5 “Say Something” 5. Eminem feat. Rihanna .....No. 3 “The Monster” 6. Passenger ...........................No. 6 “Let Her Go” 7. Lorde..................................No. 7 “Royals” 8. Lorde................................No. 11 “Team” 9. One Direction ..................No. 10 “Story of My Life” 10. Bastille ...........................No. 12 “Pompeii”

Top 10 Albums

1. Bruce Springsteen entry “High Hopes” 2. Soundtrack ........................No. 1 “Frozen” 3. Kidz Bop Kids entry “Kidz Bop 25” 4. Beyonce ..............................No. 2 “Beyonce” 5. Jennifer Nettles entry “That Girl” 6. Switchfoot entry “Fading West” 7. Lorde..................................No. 5 “Pure Heroine” 8. Eminem..............................No. 4 “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” 9. Katy Perry .........................No. 7 “Prism”

10. Imagine Dragons ............No. 9 “Night Visions”

Bruce Springsteen

Top 10 Hot Country Singles

1. Luke Bryan .......................No. 1 “Drink a Beer” 2. Cole Swindell ....................No. 4 “Chillin’ It” 3. David Nail..........................No. 3 “Whatever She’s Got” 4. Florida Georgia Line........No. 2 “Stay” 5. Jason Aldean .....................No. 5 “When She Says Baby” 6. Zac Brown Band ...............No. 6 “Sweet Annie” 7. Eric Church.....................No. 25 “Give Me Back My Hometown” 8. Cassadee Pope ...................No. 7 “Wasting All These Tears” 9. Eric Paslay ......................No. 10 “Friday Night” 10. John Pardi .....................No. 13 “Up All Night” Source: Billboard © 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

February 10 - February 16, 2014 Caterpillar Club (cont’d)

On Feb. 21, 1885, the Washington Monument, built in honor of America’s revolutionary hero and first president, is dedicated in Washington, D.C. The 555-foot-high marble obelisk was the tallest structure in the world when completed, and it remains today, by District of Columbia law, the tallest building in the nation’s capital. On Feb. 20, 1902, the famous Western photographer Ansel Adams is born in San Francisco. Adams’ dramatic black and white images of Yosemite and the West are some of the most widely recognized and admired photographs of the 20th century. Adams was dedicated to the use of “straight” images free from darkroom trickery. On Feb. 18, 1929, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces the winners of the first Academy Awards: The first award recipients’ names were printed on the back page of the academy’s newsletter. On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signs Executive Order 9066, initiating a controversial World War II policy with lasting consequences for Japanese Americans. The document ordered the removal of resident enemy aliens from parts of the West vaguely identified as military areas and into detention camps. On Feb. 23, 1954, a group of children from Arsenal Elementary School in Pittsburgh receive the first injections of the new polio vaccine developed by Dr. Jonas Salk. After mass inoculations began in 1954, everyone marveled at the high success rate -- some 60 percent to 70 percent On Feb. 17, 1972, the 15,007,034th Volkswagen Beetle comes off the assembly line, breaking a world car production record held for more than four decades by the Ford Motor Company’s iconic Model T, which was in production from 1908 and 1927. The history of the VW Beetle dates back to 1930s Germany. On Feb. 22, 1980, in one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic history, the underdog U.S. hockey team, made up of college players, defeats the fourtime defending gold-medal winning Soviet team at the XIII Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Page 5 jumped. He yanked on the ripcord again and again with no result— then discovered he’d been pulling the string holding a pencil to the knee pad that he scribbled flight data on. He was only 300 feet (91 m) off the ground when he found the ripcord. The chute opened barely in time to save him. Pope was the first Royal Air Force pilot whose life was saved by a parachute. His friends sent a telegram: “Congratulations. Forwarding clean pair of pants.”

• It was only a few weeks later when a second man qualified to join the Caterpillar Club. Lt. Tyndall jumped for his life when his aircraft’s wings tore off. Tyndall volunteered to keep the records of the Caterpillar Club. For the next 17 months Harris and Tyndall were the only members of the club. But in 1924, a stunt jumper dove out of an airplane with six chutes on, intending to open one right after the other in an airshow exhibition. The first five failed when they be- • When World War II hit, the demand for parachutes came entangled, and it was the sixth reserve emergenskyrocketed and Irvin’s factory went from a pre-war cy parachute — an Irvin chute — that saved his life. output of 100 parachutes per week to nearly 1,500. Applications for membership in the Caterpillar Club • The first British man to enter the Caterpillar Club shot up, and at the parachute factory a huge bulletin was a man named Scholefield. Two years later he was board held pictures and letters from pilots who owed killed when his plane went down while he unfortutheir lives to Irving Parachutes. By the end of 1943 nately was not wearing a chute. there were over 27,000 members, with a hundred or • S.L.G. Pope bailed out when the rudder gave out. He (continued on next page) was only 800 feet (244 m) off the ground when he

Homeless Vets Get Big Boost in Aid The Department of Veterans Affairs has printed in the Federal Register its intention to provide a record $300 million to address veteran homelessness for both fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The money will go to non-profit organizations in the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program that work with homeless veterans and their families. The list of areas where these groups provide assistance is lengthy: Moving and relocation expenses, child care, rent and utilities for those who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless, transportation, housing counseling, advocating with property owners, security deposits and emergency expenses. In 2013 alone, SSVF assisted 39,000 veterans and 62,000 veterans with families. Once the veteran and his or her family are in permanent housing, the program continues, assisting the veteran with medical care, benefits and services, daily living, financial planning, legal services and more. While veteran homelessness has declined by 24 percent

since 2009, in January 2013 there still were 57,849 homeless veterans on the street. More than 7 percent of those veterans were women. If your non-profit organization wants to qualify to provide support services to homeless or very low-income veterans and their families, start online at www. There is a lengthy process to be accepted into the program. You also can call 877737-0111 or via email at Work quickly because your application has to be received by March 14, 2014. Grants are for three years and will begin Oct. 1, 2014. If you’re a veteran who is homeless or at risk to be homeless, call 1-877-424-3838 (4AIDVET). Someone will answer 24/7, and many of those who respond are veterans themselves. For information about VA and DOD programs for brain injury, go to Freddy Groves regrets that he cannot personally answer reader questions, but will incorporate them into his column whenever possible. Send email to columnreply2@ (c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

Answer on Page 8

(c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Tidbits of Rogue Valley

draw. Don’t plug anything else into that outlet. Consider replacing older space heaters. While I’ve seen many models built as long ago as the 1950s that are very sturdy, they often do not meet current electrical standards and can use a lot more power than newer models, meaning higher electric bills. What’s the best space heater to purchase? I’m not a fan of the classic open-coil model, and there are alternatives. For example, an enclosed oil heater, which looks like a radiator on wheels, circulates heated oil through each section and provides indirect heat and a greater measure of safety. There are heaters that fit inside a kitchen’s kickspace, oscillating tower heaters, and heaters disguised as fireplaces or standing vases. By Samantha Mazzotta Portable heaters range in price from about $50 to several hundred dollars, so take a look at several options both in the home-improvement store and Space Heater Safety Tips online. Make sure any heater you consider has the UL (Underwriters Laboratory) label. Heaters with thermostat control can provide greater energy savings. Q: In my neck of the woods we don’t usually have cold winters, but this one has been a doozy. My mother And it’s important to make sure you purchase a heater that can handle the size of the room where you’ll use hauled out her ancient space heater in December. A it the most. (Check the sizing chart on the heater’s couple weeks ago I was visiting her and noticed that packaging.) some laundry had fallen out of the basket and was lying atop the heater! Fortunately it was not turned on, but I’m terrified of what could happen. Can you HOME TIP: Plug your space heater remind your readers to keep the area around space directly into a wall outlet, not a power heaters clear at all times? -- Lacy S., Valdosta, Ga. strip; if an extension cord is needed, choose a heavy-duty cord of 14 gauge or larger. A: You just did, and I thank you for it. Regardless of the type of portable electric heater you have, it must be set up so that there is 3 feet of clearance around it, Send your questions or home tips to ask@ and placed on a heat-resistant surface (bare floor, for example, not carpet). Additionally, make sure that the outlet being used can (c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc. handle the amount of electricity the space heater will more applications arriving daily. One pilot wrote: “I tourist crowds at Crystal Beach, Ontario. am going to name my son (when I have one) Irvin as • It just so happened that on July 4, 1919, Leslie Irvin it was due to one Irvin in particular that I am alive (who pioneered the parachute) jumped from a Jenny enough to woo, marry, and get me a son.” plane at a height of 2,000 feet (610 m) and floated • Irvin himself witnessed the effectiveness of his paradownward, landing unhurt in Lake Erie near Crystal chutes when the crew of an American bomber bailed Beach. He was testing a new model of parachute, a out near his factory while he was watching. He drove design that was packed into a backpack. He left his to where they were floating down, and five minutes soggy parachute behind, saying he would return to relater the two lucky pilots were in his office being trieve it once it was dry. signed up for the club and toasting their luck with the • And there it sat when Frank Ellis found it. By then inventor’s whisky. the parachute was perfectly dry; Irvin hadn’t come to • Leslie Irvin agreed to give a gold pin to every person whose life was saved by one of his parachutes. At the end of World War II the number of members with Irvin pins had grown to over 34,000 though the total of people saved by Irvin parachutes is estimated to be 100,000.

Famous Canadians FRANK ELLIS • Although the first parachute jump in Canada was made by an American in Vancouver in 1912, the first successful parachute jump in Canada which was made by a Canadian happened in 1919.

fetch it yet; and Ellis thought, “What the heck?” If Irvin could do it, why couldn’t he? Well, for starters, he didn’t know how to pack a parachute. He did the best he could under the circumstances. “It looked like a bag of laundry more than anything else and weighed as much as a sack of cement,” Ellis later recalled.

• He drafted a pilot friend to help him in the endeavor. When they reached 1,800 feet (548 m) they spotted a boat on the water near Crystal Beach, Ontario, and Ellis jumped so he could land near the boat and be rescued. The parachute deployed, but when he hit the water, the wet linen straps shrunk so quickly that he was nearly strangled before the astonished boat owner could pull him out of the water. Undaunted, he just had to try it again. The next jump the following day was successful as well. “If anyone had told me on July 4, 1919, that the next day I would be the first Canadian to parachute from an airplane over Canada, I would have thought he was completely mad.”

• The story starts in 1893 when Frank Ellis was born in Nottingham, England. While in his teens he became fascinated with what were then called ‘aerial machines.’ As a youth, he worked for a bicycle company in England, and then went on to master motorcycle • Irvin, aware of the problem caused by linen shrinking engines. when wet, began to make his parachutes out of silk • Shortly after his family moved to Canada in 1913, he instead, thus leading to the instigation of “The Catfound an abandoned Curtiss biplane. He and a buderpillar Club.” Shortly after after Frank Ellis’ jump, dy rebuilt it from scratch, dubbing it the West Wind. parachutes were used in an emergency situation for They spent the entire summer of 1914 flying it and the first time. performing progressively more dangerous stunts, until a sudden gust of wind picked it up from its parking • Frank Ellis retired from flying in the late 1920s and became a bus driver in Vancouver. However, he spent spot and flipped it over, ruining it beyond repair. his entire life documenting the early days of Canadian • When World War I ended, there were plenty of spare aviation, writing three books on the topic. In 1972, ElCurtiss planes available. Ellis embarked on a new calis was awarded the Medal of Service of the Order of reer as a barnstormer, performing dangerous stunts Canada. Frank died in Vancouver on July 4, 1979, just for small sums of money in front of awe-struck specone day prior to the 60th anniversary of his famous tators, many of whom had never seen a plane before. jump. He worked as an airplane mechanic and took people for rides in his plane for $1 per minute, catering to the

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1. Who was the only pitcher in major-league history to strike out at least half of the batters he faced in a season (minimum 50 innings pitched)? 2. Two seasons in a row (1974-75), a Chicago White Sox pitcher led the American League in saves for a season. Name either

pitcher. 3. Emmitt Smith holds the mark for most career rushing touchdowns in NFL history (164). Who is No. 2? 4. When was the last time before the 2012-13 campaign that the Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball team won the Big Ten regular-season title outright? 5. Jaromir Jagr has played in more than 1,400 NHL games, with the most being for Pittsburgh (806). Which teams are second and third on the list? 6. When was the last time before 2013 that soccer’s MLS Cup winner was decided by penalty kicks? 7. Who was the last undisputed heavyweight boxing champion? (c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

1. Is the book of Miriam in the Old or New Testament or neither? 2. What Moabite widow left her homeland to follow her mother-in-law to Bethlehem? Lydia, Jahab, Ruth, Jezebel 3. In Joshua 7, what Israelite’s goods were burned after he had been stoned to death? Zerah, Edom, Kerioth, Achan 4. Where is Maher-shalal-hash-baz, the longest word found in the Bible? Ezra 2:7, Isaiah 8:1, Joel 3:4, Amos 9:15 5. In Judges 18, what Canaanite city was burned down by the men of Dan? Laish, Philippi, Hebron, Jericho 6. How many times is the word “trinity” mentioned in the Bible (KJV)? Zero, 1, 7, 49 (c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.


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1. GEOGRAPHY: Which two South American countries do not border on Brazil? 2. LANGUAGE: What does the word “Volkswagen” mean in German? 3. LITERATURE: What is believed to be Shakespeare’s first play, chronologically speaking? 4. TELEVISION: What city was the setting in the TV comedy “Eight is Enough”? 5. U.S. PRESIDENTS: How many presidents were born as British subjects? 6. FAMOUS QUOTES: Who said, “The only way to have a friend is to be one”? 7. PSYCHOLOGY: What is venustraphobia? 8. MOVIES: What was the name of the caretaker’s cat in the “Harry Potter” movies? 9. AD SLOGANS: What product’s advertising slogan is: “Betcha can’t eat just one”? 10. BIBLE: How long did Methuselah live, according to the Bible? (c) 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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Tidbits of Rogue Valley

SMOKE JUMPERS • Smokejumpers are fire fighters who parachute into remote locations to put out wildfires. • Russia has more smokejumpers than any other country with several thousand, and Russia also claims the longest history of established smokejumping of any nation. Their smokejumping program got underway in 1936. In the U.S., smokejumping was established in 1939. Smokejumpers are also employed by Mongolia and Canada. Canada’s first smokejumping teams were assembled in the 1950s. • In the western U.S., smokejumper bases were established in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, and Alaska. From these bases, they are dispatched to fires all over the country. • During World War II, some conscientious objectors were put to work as smokejumpers. • In 1945, a smokejumper unit was sent to the west R

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ANSWERS 1. Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel struck out 50.2 percent of the batters he faced in 2012. 2. Terry Forster in 1974 (24 saves) and Rich Gossage in 1975 (26). 3. LaDainian Tomlinson, with 145. 4. The 1992-93 season. 5. He played 277 games with the New York Rangers, and 190 with the Washington Capitals. 6. It was 2009, when Real Salt Lake beat the Los Angeles Galaxy, 5-4, in a penalty shootout. 7. Lennox Lewis, in 2000.

1. Ecuador and Chile 2. People’s car 3. “The Two Gentlemen of Verona”

4. Sacramento 5. Eight -- Washington, J. Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, Jackson and Harrison. 6. Ralph Waldo Emerson 7. A fear of beautiful women 8. Mrs. Norris 9. Lay’s potato chips 10. 969 years

1) Neither 2) Ruth 3) Achan 4) Isaiah 8:1 5) Laish 6) Zero

February 10 - February 16, 2014 coast of the United States to combat forest fires ignited by Japanese balloons carrying incendiary devices, an operation designated Operation Firefly. Fortunately, most of the incendiary balloons fizzled. • In 1949, the worst disaster involving smokejumpers happened at a remote location called Mann Gulch north of Helena, Montana. When the fire changed direction and charged uphill, 13 firefighters were killed, and 12 of those were smokejumpers. This ushered in a new era of firefighting safety measures currently used by all wildland firefighters. Noted author Norman MacLean described the incident in a book called Young Men and Fire published in 1992. The 1952 film Red Skies of Montana was also based on the disaster. • Although the job is considered to be one of the most dangerous in the world, statistically speaking, smokejumping is about as safe as ground-based wildland firefighting. • In the U.S. there have been about 5,000 smokejumpers between the program’s instigation in 1939 and today. • Women were allowed into the smokejumper program for the first time in 1981. • During the heat of the fire season between June 1st and October 1st, about 470 smokejumpers will be on duty in the U.S. They are employed primarily by the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management. • Only people who are already experienced professional firefighters are accepted into the smokejumper training program. Training usually begins in May. Trainees must be able to complete a 3-mile (5 km) hike in 90 minutes or less while carrying a 110-pound (50 kg) pack. • A typical smokejumper will carry about 70 pounds (32 kg) of gear during a jump. Bundles of supplies will be air-dropped, allowing them to set up camp in a safe area near the fire. • One of their main firefighting tools is called a pulaski, which was invented by Ed Pulaski after he was nearly killed in a catastrophic fire in 1910. It’s a combination of an axe and a hoe, used for chopping out timber and scraping a fire line. They wear fire-resistant clothing and carry fire resistant “shake-and-bake” shelters, similar to tents made out of mylar, which help shield them from heat if they get caught in a blaze. • Smokejumping is generally considered to be the single most cost-effective firefighting strategy currently employed.

Tidbits of Rogue Valley Vol 1 Issue 21  
Tidbits of Rogue Valley Vol 1 Issue 21