Difference Between Bowling Shoe and Regular Shoe

Most of us don’t really bother about when in the park or in a bowling alley. People will for the most of the times use ordinary sneakers as their ‘bowling alley apparatus’. Well, this is not good. A normal sneaker shoe in a bowling alley is just like playing cricket with a football.

A normal sneaker with a heavier sole, varying inputs of exterior and interior will make life difficult when used in a bowling alley. Use of normal sneakers at bowling alley would result in spoiling your party. It will not only fill the bowling pitch with filth and dirt instead it will make one slip while rolling a ball towards the ‘destination’.

An ‘area of comfort’ will develop which make life difficult not only for you but also for your fellow friends.

A typical bowling shoe may look semi-ugly in design and outlook but are mandatory to be used when dealing with the wooden structure of bowling alley.

A traditional pair of bowling shoe is heel-less and treadless soles that won’t destroy the wooden floor or mar the wood on the lanes. It won’t make your image clumsy either. It will help ‘consolidate’ your position and image at the alley.

A bowling shoe pair usually has one gliding sole and another shoe with a non-gliding sole. An alternate gliding and non-gliding sole help reduce and balance friction forces and save a player from any potential damage. Gliding sole shoe is opposite to the hand being used by the player to roll the ball over the floor.

A traditional bowling shoe won’t annoy a player while on the field of the ‘bowling buzz’; instead he will relinquish the playing moments with ease and devoid of stress from any possible injuries. It’s not about style only when you are on a playing field, it’s about the ease, comfort, and simplicity that matters. Before buying your bowling shoes pair, check out these guides: http://spryshoes.com/best-bowling-shoes/ and  http://beginnerbowlingtips.com/bowling-shoes-getting-your-own-pair

A regular shoe could be more expensive, more luxurious apparently, more stylish decency personified. But it won’t serve the desired purpose and won’t fulfill the terms and conditions mandatory to be on a bowling pitch. Who wants to be a part of the structure that isn’t adequate for the desired job?

Bowling shoe personifies your presence at the bowling ‘arena’.

A simple, decent and ideal scenario requires a unique kit, designed for the specific task. And for a bowling field, it’s not the sneakers that one must wear, it’s a typically designed bowling shoe which is less suffocated with luxurious stuff and variable amounts of leathers.

Heavy or light sneakers will vary our playing patterns; we will worry about disturbing others via unusual sounds arising from sole rubbing through the wooden floors.

Secondly, we won’t be able to show flexible moves or cannot easily open up to perform the all important job of ‘breaking the shackles’ on a bowling alley by having perfect strikes.

Even if not asked by the concerned authorities dealing with a bowling alley it’s important that we perform our tasks with zeal and zest. Preparing ourselves for physical work or games is necessary and being aligned to do so require specific tools as well.

A bowling shoe is light, soft and delicate and will pious things up for you on the playing field.

Next time when you are planning to go for bowling, don’t forget bowling shoes.

 

FSA Orbit Extreme Pro headset

A year had passed, since I had bought and installed this particular headset on my bike. I gathered that the time is right for me to finally write a review of what has got to be the best headset one could possibly buy.

When I started putting together my bike I already had a quality frame (Cannondale CAAD3), but at the time I didn’t have enough money to buy a really good suspension, so I bought the rigid Cannondale P-bone and made an adapter for so I could use it.

Close up picture of a successfully mounted Xtreme Pro headset.

Close up picture of a successfully mounted Xtreme Pro headset.

What seemed like a thing of real importance was the juncture point between the fork and the bike. There was no suspension which would absorb the impacts which had to endure by the bike, so the headset had to endure all the stress due to the rigid P-bone.

I really did use this bike a lot, I made at least 2000km on it, probably more, mostly under bad weather conditions (cold, mud, rain) during fall, winter and spring of that year. I also did a lot of jumping with my bike, several dangerous falls happened on “Sljeme”, a couple of 2m leaps etc. Orbit had successfully endured all of it. I won’t even mention the regular “going wild” with my bike.

What has to be noted, is the fact that everything went fine with the first 2m jump I took on my bike, but the second time around I didn’t manage to properly raise the front portion of my bike so I landed completely horizontal to the ground. I had fallen so hard that I have been coughing out dirt and leaves (which broke my fall) for a week. And the pain in my shoulders… my god, a rigid bike can really hurt your shoulders. What is fascinating about this story is the fact that the bike itself was never damaged in any way. I slowly got up after the fall and went to bandage myself. I thought that the fork would at least be bent, that something would grind upon turning, but everything was in perfect working condition.

Once I took a fall near my university, the aft rigid part threw me over the nose. Once again I had to recover for a week, but the bike was unscathed.

I didn’t do any precise calculations on the subject, but I suppose that the stress which the fork had to endure was immense (probably more than a few tons of direct pressure) so I really have to commend the fork for its awesome durability.

During the entire time of me using this fork, the fork gave showed exemplary performance. No other bike has ever given me the same wondrous feeling of fine and precise turning of the steering wheel. (Update 2006. – three years later, the only bike part which still remains undamaged is this headset.)

This product has a 10 year warranty attached to it, extending to and including ball bearings, although I seriously doubt that anyone is capable to actually damage it in any way. Smiley

Orbit is packed in a nice round box in which you can find somewhere around 15 separate parts. The quality is supreme, precise to a micron. The cups were lathed using 7075/T6 aluminum, these cups had factory tightly fit closed ball bearings inside… It weighs 119 grams. The one piece ring used on the crown is made of rust free steel and is mounted by hammering it on to the fork. The sealing system is especially interesting, it uses 3 rubber pieces placed on different points along the structure, plus the insulation itself which can be seen on the ball bearings, plus the labyrinth on the upper cap. I drove under very bad weather conditions, and the seals remained intact. With the headset you will also receive a written manual (follow the link to the first and second page of the manual, you can find the links following the text) for the installation and proper use. You can use this manual to learn more about FSA headsets since you can find schematics for all of them in the manual.

One other thing of note about this headset is how the engineers solved the problem of squeezing the fork tube. The lower part is hammered in and it supports the frame. You can lean the lower ball bearing onto it, this lower part is much stronger and is of the exact same width as the fork tube, and there is a wider ball bearing on the upper part. You put a small ring on it, made from rust free steel which is conical in shape and whose purpose is to serve as a wedge between the bearing and the fork. This part in turn is pressed upon by the upper cap which has a rubber ring in its center used to protect it from water. The system used to implement all of this is radically different from anything you could see. You need to invest a lot of time and effort into the installation procedure until you learn how much to tighten in up so that it isn’t tightened too much or not tight enough. I haven’t touched the thing for more than half a year and I was doing stupid things during the entire time, and it never loosened. With this you really don’t need a bike head tightening system.

And now, concerning isolation from water, it’s great, but in order to make it extraordinary, you have to add non solvable grease around the seals and on to the other adjoining places. After that you can put the whole thing under a miniwash without any concern for the bike.

When the time came, and when I was installing the new fork (Marzocchi Z1 Freeride, 2004.) on my bike, I also took the orbit apart and cleaned it up a bit. I cleaned the original grease and carefully put some new grease. When I took apart the seals found on ball bearers I could find no visible signs of any damage, except that I found no grease on one spot (manufacturing fault? maybe water got into it? dunno…), so that spot was dry. Maybe some water dissolved the original lithium grease. I put a new layer of grease there so it didn’t matter in the end.

I still own the same headset and it still works great. It is totally sealed in head tube, with its own seals combined with waterproof grease, just to make sure. It is so reliable you can forget that it is there.

One thing I have to say about this product in a negative sense; there are no stainless steel ball bearings. (Update 2006. – There are some manufacturers who make hubs and headsets out of stainless steel, but I don’t know which. I think one of those may be the British “HOPE”, get more information by surfing the net.)

If you somehow manage to grind or damage the industrial strength ball bearings on your headset (which is very unlikely), or if they somehow get damaged by water (even less likely), you can easily get replacement parts from the SKF, they cost around 50kn (about 5 dollars or 7 euro).

On this picture you can see ball bearings taken out of their housing, one of them was freshly lubricated, and you can see one of my plans which I developed during the time I was trying to figure out a way to put the headset together.

P. S. I forgot to mention one other added value of this headset, it comes with a double sided star. Only a few hours ago mine got broken and I went crazy. It was Sunday, where was I supposed to get a new one? Then it occurred to me that I had an old star which I got with my P-bone so I neatly hammered it out, straightened it up a bit, assembled it onto the fork and drove on! Smiley

Taking apart Shimano XT integrated shifters

It all started very long time ago (in a galaxy far, far away… Smiley

One day I got tired of waiting to gather the money to buy all the bike parts I needed to build a bike so I decided to buy one complete bike (an older LX model) and then mix and match the parts I needed. So there I was having fun, fidgeting with bike parts, until I got to the integrated shifter handles. I though it would be a good idea to lubricate and clean them so I took them apart and went to bed (it was late).

Two days later I went back to the garage with the intent to clean those parts and put them back together. I was shocked when I finally realized how many parts there are in a shifter. There are somewhere around 30-40 separate parts, and I had no idea whatsoever how to put them all back together. Smiley

It took me 6-7 solid work hours until I finally figured out how the damn aft integrated shifter really works. I did quite well up to that point, I did wind the springs and cleaned everything, but I was stuck on the gearbox afterbody. I had to sit down and think hard in order to figure out what the problem was. This is what I found out; some member of my family decided to clean the garage and misplaced several of the parts which belonged to the gearbox. I was missing one piece from the gear shifter and one other part that serves as a lever for the break. It was a ring to which is attached to the spring, and that missing ring I had to manufacture manually. I managed to fix the other parts somehow. The whole thing was driving me mad.

Picture 1.

  1. The ring I made to replace the lost part, I made it up side down to make things easier.
  2. A hole I made on the steel ring which I needed in order to wind the spring.
  3. One other part I had to manufacture manually. It is used as a ring placed on top of the slide bed, which is located on the break lever.
  4. This is all that was left of the drill bore. The drill bore head was 4 times longer than the one you can see on the picture. This came as a surprise to me when I stopped drilling. Until that moment I thought that the sparks that flew around during the drilling were the pieces of the metal ring but it was the drill bore itself that was getting shredded. This was my second drill bore, I completely destroyed the first one.

Picture 2.

Here you can see a complete and completely operational gear shifter. Underneath the thread you can see the hole that I made on the metal ring, I wound the spring through this hole.

You simply wouldn’t believe how complex gear shifts can be. True, the left one (which is used to shift three basic gears) is somewhat simpler, but the right one is exposed to much greater forces so it has to be entirely made of metal (I was also amazed that the housing of the right gear shift was made out of gus (breakable metal alloy), same goes for the spring and levers. It took me some 40 minutes to finish the work on the left gearshift, and some 13 hours for the right one.

After having done this I became aware why mechanics have such a wide repertoire of curses! I had numerous lacerations on my hands, I got burned because I handled a fragment of the drill bore right after the drilling (it was still hot), my hand were numb due to excessive exposure to gasoline and I had numerous pricks from the bike wires. Smiley On top of it all I wasn’t able to wash all the grease off of my hands.

Just for the record, it’s quite interesting to learn how ingenious the Shimano’s experts are in producing different models of shifter handles. XTR is a top notch product. I got my hands on a new service catalogue for Shimanos products, so I begun studying how those beauties operate, and I can say that they indeed are a premium quality product! The entire production process, the quality of raw materials used and other things make a huge difference when compared with other, less expensive models. You will find LX model to be awesome, but XTR model will give you headaches. The only thing that I don’t like about these products is the fact that Shimano doesn’t use industry standard bearings for hubs.

If you are thinking about dismantling a shifter and messing around with it, my advice to you would be: DON’T DO IT! You would have to do a tremendous amount of work, the logistics needed to pull off this project are extremely complex, in addition you have to own a lot of specialized tools and really know your mechanics. I am not saying that you wouldn’t be able to learn all of that, but simply skip the whole process. When it breaks, throw it into the garbage and buy a new one. Smiley

 

Cheating Google

Cheating Google. I bet that there isn’t a web designer who hasn’t looked for ways to “boost” his web site’s page rank. In fact, there are ways you can engineer an artificially high position on Google search engine, but only for a while. When Google bots “notice” you’re fooling them, your site will disappear from Google’s indexes for a long, long time.

Want to increase your page rank “legally”? Then make your design accessible and your materials high quality and relevant. It’s as simple as that. You see, the Google web crawler (Googlebot) can’t see, and is only a computer program (it isn’t able to understand your files). Googlebot depends completely on the ingenuity of its developers. If you help Google to “see” your pages, you also help people who don’t see much, or don’t see at all. If you make high quality material, you make your site more usable and more relevant to anyone, and not just Google – and that’s ultimately what’s important.

If you increase your site’s accessibility and quality, Google will “reward” you by increasing the ranking of your page, as well as listing your site higher in its search results. Then more users can find your site and visit it, and some of those will create links from their websites to yours (which will bring even more visitors to your site).

So, it seems there really is a way to “cheat” Google! Smiley Read on!

Machine code. Henk L.

Google and other search engines

After using the Internet for a while, you become aware that the Google search engine is the best place you can search for information. Also, web designers and other web-related people (like site owners) are quite aware that a page’s position in Google’s results will have a huge impact on the number of visitors.

Of course, Google is not the only search engine, but it is certainly the one with the most visitors. MSN Search, Yahoo Web Search, AlltheWeb, AOLSearch, Ask.com, etc., but the other search engines simply do not provide that level of quality (relevant searches) as Google. But who knows? Maybe in a few years a new and better search engine will emerge, better than Google and all the other search engines together. Whatever happens, relevancy of the information will continue to be a key factor to the success of a search engine, as well as availability and free use.

In years to come, searching for the right information will become more and more important because computer literacy will rise drastically. Today, even in most highly developed countries, Internet and information technologies are still not used to an extent they should be. That will most certainly change, because the Internet itself is still rather young and small. Just think what will happen with the Internet, and how big it will become when standards in China and other low-standard countries rise.

Toy robot. David Di Biase.

Optimization methods for increasing a page’s rank for Google’s search engine will work with other search engines as well. Enhancing your pages will increase their importance and ranking, and making them more accessible you get more visitors and the visitors get high quality content. This is good example of Win-Win situation.

How Google search engine works?

Suppose for a moment that you have a web site dealing with bumblebees. Also, other people may have a web site about bumblebees, or mention bumblebees on their sites. Google directs it’s bots to scan all these sites, using advanced algorithms to determine which ones have relevant information for a certain keyword, here, for instance, the keyword “bumblebee.” After that, it looks for links from other web sites, and also looks for relevant keywords on those “linking” sites, and so on, and on, and on… In all that scanning, and indexing, and Google bots determine which sites are most relevant, and displays response to the search query user inputted.

Bumblebee eating a flower. Smiley Marek Wojtal.

Read how Google works, funny Google description on how their bots work and great SEO text from Mike Cherim.

That means that when you type: “bumblebee” in Google, Google will run a humongous search through their gigantic databases to see which sites have the most relevant information about bumblebees. Then it will sort them all in pages, and on the first one it will display ten of those that had been rated most relevant by the search bots.

You want your site about bumblebees to appear there, because that first site is also the one which gets most clicks. Read on to learn how you can accomplish that.

Blind Google robots

Most people don’t have a clue as to how indexing bots really work. Me neither. Smiley But what I do know, is that Google can’t see. In fact, Google spiders are completely blind, all they do is try to emulate what you see. At the same time, Google bots are robots. They are developed by humans, and they completely depend on the intelligence of people who created them.

It is completely up to you, a web developer or designer, to help them understand what is on your site.

Elevator button vith a Braile description (for the blind)

Hand code!

Both perfection and web design are based on simplicity. But that does not have to mean that simple things are not complicated.

Have you ever looked at XHTML code created by a well respected web designer? You’ll notice that the code is clean and neat, and easy to read.

Accessible design is pretty much all about following W3C recommendations on writing XHTML, and following W3C Accessibility Guidelines. Also, you’ll have to learn to use CSS on your site, so you are able to completely separate presentation from document (that is, use XHTML 1.0 Strict). Use WDG and W3C code validators extensively to get rid of all the errors on your site.

Separating presentation from the content means that you should learn how to use XHTML tags to create semantically correct document without presentational elements. A simple way to check if you’re successful is to load your file without the style sheets (CSS) in your Web browser. If the document is completely readable and looks nice, you did it!

WYSIWYG (WYSIWYGWhat You See Is What You Get) editors are great tools. This site, for instance, was created with Adobe Dreamweaver, but you really shouldn’t rely on it’s “designing” capabilities. Some great and very simple tutorials are located at Tizag.com and HTMLSource sites. Use WYSIWYG design tools to quickly create designs. Study the code that the WYSIWYG editor created and then reimplement the page yourself (you can learn that using abovementioned tutorials). It would be nice if you pick up some PHP at Tizag.com or SSI at HTMLSource. Both PHP and SSI will save you lots of time and effort, because with those two you can automaticly insert oftenly repeated portions of cone in your pages, and focus on changing material.

I am aware that “Hand code it all!” sounds a bit frightening, but in reality, it isn’t. XHTML and CSS are fantastically simple “programming languages”, and to learn the basics of using them would take you perhaps a week of “lightweight” learning. Again, check out the tutorial sites Tizag.com and HTMLSource.

After you learn to hand code your Web sites, you’ll be surprised how much more control you have over your own design.

One more piece of advice: try to avoid using images for purposes other than displaying pictures or logos. I know that there are cool things you can do with images, but ask yourself if you really need them? By using CSS, you can do almost anything with your web site. Using images for navigational elements is simply not a good thing to do. Do so only if you absolutely have to. Images are best if used for decoration, and not for key elements or important elements like navigation or headers. Bear in mind that many people, especially people surfing on mobile devices probably won’t see your images at all.

Cheating Google

You haven’t given up on reading yet? Smiley Now, let’s ROCK!

Google bots may get confused if you put them in a place they have never been before, like aquarium for an example, but on the Internet they’re kick ass.

Nice little female fish. João Estêvão A. de Freitas.

You may have heard this before, from forums, newsgroups, etc., that Google takes, or does not take various page elements into account when evaluating display of the site on the search results. – The real truth is that Google engine simply looks for everything. If you make everything neat, your page will score high.

Create simple and concise title

Title is very important.

Create title from left to right. First goes title of the page itself, and then name of the page or whatever you want. Example: Cheating Google – borislavdopudja.net

Google bots consider the title of the page very important. That’s why it should be relevant to the subject of your page and to the name of the page.

Please notice that web search engines in general tend to display page titles as the search result title.

Repeat your keywords

Before you start writing your page, think about what you will be writing. The written word is incredibly strong, and if you use it in a right way, the results are miraculous. Write down your keywords, and repeat them carefully (incorporated) throughout your text. Many users will be directed to your site via a search engine, and if your text is not descriptive and clear, they are likely to leave.

Don’t use keyword repetition to artificially boost Google page rank, because if your web page gets on the Google’s black list, it will probably stay there. And don’t even try to hide keywords using white letters on white background, etc. Consider that any devious tactic, Google has probably run across many times before. Don’t risk getting your site on the black list.

Bare in mind that bad language and swears on your site could be considered as “bad keyword” which can lower your page rank.

Place the summary before the other elements

Everybody reads pages from top to bottom, including Google bots. Create understandable interesting non-wordy content. Then write an introduction and a summary and place them on the top and the bottom of the page, respectively. Also, while creating your materials, bare in mind that people scan text on web pages following an F pattern, and design your pages accordingly.

Create quality Meta tags

It is amusing to see how many web designers completely avoid creating keyword and descripton Meta tag. They assume that, because of the heavy misuse in the past, keywords are completely excluded from web spider indexing, which is not true.

When a web page first appears in Google’s search results, Google engine will initially display description meta tag as a short description of a page itself. After a few more days, or a week, after robots index the page more completely, Google replaces that “old” description consisting of words from the text of the page.

Google takes account of both Meta and keywords tags, and leaving them out, or not creating them at all would be foolish.

When creating the keyword and description meta tags, be careful! If you insert nonsense, bots will find it. When you finish developing your page, print it out and select the most important words in the text on that page. Select maybe 20-25 words, and put those in the keyword tag. Then think about making a short and concise description of a page, and put that in your description Meta tag.

Use headings and other pure XHTML tags

Headings are the second most important thing after the site title (and after site’s address too, but it is not so practical to have a new address every time you write an article).

If you look at the code of some semantically correct site, you will notice <h1> … <h6> tags. In XHTML “h” tags stand for heading tags. <h1> is for a title, <h2> for a subtitle, and other “h” tags can be used many times on that page. They are intended to give the reader a clue on how important the text below is. Google bot evaluation of the content of the page is also heavily related to headings. Text closer to headings, or text that has keywords that were mentioned in other important sections, will rate higher.

In your page making efforts, try to use specific XHTML tags for displaying different kinds of information. Again, you can learn more about that in online tutorials.

Insert comments for images

Isn’t it nice to read text on the page that contains some pictures? Of course it is! Smiley

Use “alt” tags to describe your images. And forget about using images for navigation. No search engine can read text from the image, so simply don’t use them in a place they don’t belong. Describe images concisely but use enough words to convey what they show to those who can’t see, e.g., the blind and Google bots. Help the blind and the visually impaired.

Remove all errors and stay current

Check for spelling errors on your site. Use Xenu’s link sleuth free software to find broken links. Check your links every month, or every two months. Internet evolves and changes over time. Check everything twice and always be prepared to fix more errors. Ask a few of your friends to review your article / site before official publishing, and pay attention to their suggestions.

Be up to date. Respond to emails promptly, regularly put fresh material on the site, and always think about ways to improve your web site. Remember one thing: continuously improving your site will make it more competitive. There are many people using the great cyberspace, and you are not getting any younger. (Things are not necessarily that bad,… I just want to warn you that there will always be new kids developing new stuff. Life is a race.)

Advertise!

Well, you don’t have to, but advertising can mean a huge difference to your site’s popularity.

When you write some good material, don’t be shy, share it with the others, but be open to accepting criticism. (Speaking of which, do you have any suggestions for improving this article?) You may love your text, but others may not like it. Tell others who host websites who find your site interesting to create a link to your site. Don’t harass people… Ask nicely, and you have a good chance for success. But be careful not to become a spammer.

Add a link to your own site in your email signature newsgroup replies, and other correspondence. Post a link in a relevant forum topic, and get your site listed in web directories like Yahoo, Google Directory, Open Directory and Look Smart.

Good luck!

 

Sky giants – hot air balloons

Balloons are huge and beautiful. They come in all sorts and shapes, ranging from an ordinary ball to a flying dinosaur.

In the beginning you have one large sack, a basket, one burner and some additional equipment. It all fits in a relatively small space, like the one found in a van, which is big enough for both the balloon and the team. When you arrive at the balloonodrome (which is a basically a field, a large open area), all of the equipment has to be unpacked and assembled. The dome gets filled with hot air, and in an instant you have a gigantic air cruiser and a bunch of happy people around it.

The Zagreb balloon on the USA rally.

How did I come in contact with the balloons? One day there was the 16th World Corporate Games opening, and the Balloon Club Zagreb was in charge of the welcoming party, so they put up one nice balloon. Around it was a part of the team responsible for keeping it on the ground – each of them held one rope that was wrapped around his body. I came up to one of the “holders” and asked if I could go for a ride. At first there were a few jokes at my expense, but the answer was no. The wind was too strong. But, nevertheless, I got a lot of useful information about what I should do if I wanted to fly – contacts, a flyer and that sort of thing.

Later on I started forgetting about the balloons ant the whole story, but perhaps a week or two later I noticed the colorful flyer on the table. I put on a happy face and took the phone in my hand. I asked if I could go for a ride, and how would I go about achieving this. There are two ways of flying a balloon: the cost expensive way and the casual way. The cost expensive way takes money, you need 800 furs of our national rodent (Croatian national currency is called kuna, and the English translation is marten) for the flight. The balloon is expensive and can fly for only a limited number of times. The gas is expensive, gasoline is expensive, time, car…

A glimmer in the eyes

The casual way goes something like this: you take a bit of your time aside, get prepared for a some quality leg-pulling, traveling, general enjoyment and that’s it. After a certain number of participation’s in ballooning events you earn a right to fly, and on the side you learn many useful things like how to appreciate these air cruisers.

Four pretty balloons on the morning French sky.

Later on, when I went ballooning for the first time, it turned out that the man I spoke on the phone was Tom Mikloušić – the founder of the club and Nr. 1 for balloons in Croatia. He devoted his entire life to the balloons and his passion for flying. He is one of the pioneers of ballooning, who brought this nice sport to Croatia and our neighboring Slovenia.

The Balloon club Zagreb (www.baloni.hr) exists for years and has gathered some colorful crowd. All those people have one thing in common, except for the fact that they laugh a lot and like quality food, they all share a strange glimmer in their eyes when they see a balloon taking off. One of the reasons for the glimmer is that in order to conquer all the obstacles starting from a balloon in the garage and ending with the balloon in the air, takes a lot of hard work/luck/resources.

At the wind’s mercy

First you need a ready vessel. One balloon from A to Z costs around 300.000 kuna. Then there’s the transport vehicle, trailer, and other necessary equipment. You also need a team and some nice weather.

Balloon over the field, photographed from above by another balloon.

A balloon is lighter than air. As soon as it takes off, it is more or less at the wind’s mercy, and because of that it is necessary to first determine (as accurately as possible) the right weather conditions. And that is a huge complication, because the weather is unpredictable. Not one weather institute can say with a 100% certainty that the weather will be this way or that, so it is important to keep listening to more than one weather station. The second thing you need is a flying license from the government. It often is, but not always, possible to get. The next thing is to find a suitable place for taking off, which also doesn’t necessarily have to be easy. It can easily happen that a fine meadow with green grass turns out to have a swampy nature, or that it is a groundhog’s feeding area (*see below). There is one other little problem at the end; the local microclimatic conditions, in which case it is up to the pilot’s experience. A landing place is usually arranged directly from the balloon with the owner of the meadow, if he is available at the time, or if the field is empty and there are no groundhogs, you can land without problems.

The feeling of freedom

One time I asked what ballooning was like and what it represents. The answer was extensive and again I saw that glimmer in the eye: “Ballooning is something special, it differs from anything else, because you’re actually floating. When you go flying, you wait for a really nice weather and then you get that strange feeling of floating in air. A balloon is the only vessel where you can feel free, no glass or motor humming, you’re actually a part of the air around you, a part of nature. You feel like a bird. Even in a hang glider where there is no barrier between you and the surrounding, you can’t feel this free, you’re enclosed in a box of some sort and have a humming motor near you. In all the other flying machines the speed is too great, what you see goes by you fast, and in a balloon you can look around without any time constraints because everything around you is standing still in time. A balloon is freedom, you land and take off from wherever you like. You have air, that is free, and you are free yourself. There’s also the adrenaline, because the balloon is generally almost impossible to control, you never know where you’ll land. You cant tell where you’re going until minutes after you take off judging by the wind direction. You can talk to people, they will invite you as a guest and laugh, sometimes you will land on their property. Every balloon flight is an adventure.”

I, of course, also wanted to know about some of the funny stories. Once, at a competition in Hungary Tom and his wife, Marija, landed among some bulls. The area was large and fenced, but mostly empty. In the distance were some cows, and they thought it was a mixed herd, but it wasn’t a mixed herd. When “cows” stepped nearer, they suddenly proved to be extremely dangerous bulls. Marija ran across the fence to get help, and Tom used the burner to keep them away somehow. Luckily, it all ended well. Help came in time before they used up all the gas.

A way to enjoy company and have fun

There is much more to ballooning; there are all sorts of happenings, adventures and much laughter. The easiest way to describe balloons is to describe them as means to get some company and to have fun. People fly the balloons over great distances and go far up in the air. Mass gatherings are organized and all the people who enjoy this sport gather from all over the world, and then they take off together. There are world and European championships in precise hot air ballooning – where air layers are moving in different directions, so an experienced pilot can change the direction of his balloon just by changing the altitude. When you watch them taking off from a distance, it seems as if the laws of physics have failed. They look as if drops of water were falling upwards in the skies.

 

Hot air balloons tend to be addictive. They get more attractive every time. I’ve fallen for it, now it’s your turn, my dear readers. Every time you come into “close” contact with a balloon, you will have an adventure, and that’s guaranteed!

The first flight happened in the eighteenth century in France and from that moment on we just keep climbing higher up to reach the stars. The balloon was the first flying vessel and is still here with us, because it has to offer something that you can’t find anywhere else. A hot air balloon is the only ecologically safe flying vessel which can take off by itself. It doesn’t pollute air, so even the Greenpeace people are happy with it.

If you find some spare time and want to experience something you’ll always remember, join the Balloon club Zagreb, and fly!

 

Paklenica – Croatian national park

On the first day of my visit to Paklenica, I met a tiny and cute French girl who was traveling around the world and climbing mountains. Her name was Jihanne. She said something that made me think during the days I spent in Paklenica, walking around the slopes of Velebit: “Paklenica is peculiar, different from other national parks. It seems to be here for nature lovers, not for tourists.”

Velebit panorama.

Whether you read about Paklenica or not, the real thing is bound to amaze you. As soon as you enter the park and see the canyon rocks, hear the rustle of life and trees in the silence of virginal nature, you feel at peace. The fragrances of pine woods and Mediterranean herbs spark your imagination while you plunge in this fantastic scenery. At night, after the people are gone, it is not unusual to see the real inhabitants of the park appearing out of nowhere. They all avoid man, but they take over Paklenica every night.

The Three Faces of Paklenica (First face)

Paklenica has three faces. One is calm and pleasant. The Paklenica Canyon can be reached easily. You can enter the park by car, the road leads up to the first rocks. You can find plenty of parking spaces, kindly indicated by the park staff. If you come by foot, you can catch the bus which goes back and forth all day long. You can reach the park by foot or bike.

Paklenica highway

Some trails in Paklenica are arranged and marked particularly well. They have been adapted to tourist visits, like the panoramic terrace with a telescope, standing above the park entrance. What is probably the most beautiful mountain trail in Croatia leads through the canyon to the lodge in the middle of the park. This trail was used for centuries by the ancient dwellers of Paklenica. It is wide and well-trodden, enabling the visitors to freely enjoy the miracles of nature around them. There are several sources of drinkable water along the way, so you will not need any water bottles before the lodge. Most of the trail follows the river of Velika Paklenica, which gave its name to the canyon. It is a magical experience. While you tread the path in the shade of trees in the summer heat, you are accompanied by a watercourse of wonderfully clear and drinkable water. Still, there is one special spot: next to the trail, near one of the characteristic wheat mills of Paklenica, there is a small lake. It is deep enough for you to jump into it from the rocks sheltering a small waterfall. What an incredible feeling! Right in the middle of a national park, you can refresh yourself in a pool of the cleanest and clearest water you can imagine. Velika Paklenica will flow along you until the mountain lodge.

A boy plays with the dog in front of mountain hut.

The lodge has one permanent resident who takes care of it. Vehicles are banned in Paklenica, so the only means of transportation are mules, donkeys and horses. The lodge stands above an old mill. It has been nicely furnished, and its terrace has several tables in the shade of large trees. You can sleep over, eat lunch, drink coffee or juice. There is plenty of drinkable water.

Second face of Paklenica (Mountaineering heaven)

One of the tourist attractions of Paklenica is the cave of Manita Peć. It is a magnificent natural structure in the belly of a mountain, 570 metres above sea level. The ascent to the cave is hard and long – it is on the sunny side of the mountain – but once you get inside, you will be rewarded for your effort. The lighted and tourist-friendly cave has stalactite and stalagmite cathedrals of stone rising all around you.

Inside in the cave Manita peć

Paklenica National Park covers 96 square kilometers in the vicinity of Zadar. It used to be an inhabited area. When you wander around Paklenica, you will occasionally see the ruined structures of its ancient inhabitants. The foundations of old shepherds’ shelters, stone borders, wells… Grandma and Grandpa Ramić, both older than 80, are the last people living here. They have spent their entire lives in a stone house in the heart of Velebit. They will invite any traveler, talk to her and wish her a pleasant trip.

Grandma and granpa – Ramići.

I understood the unusual remark of the French girl only when I started on the mountain trails. Paklenica has three kinds of trails: for tourists, for climbers and for experienced mountaineers. Tourist trails are relatively few, but they are the most popular and least demanding. Mountain trails weave across all the slopes and peaks. There are also paths left by shepherds, beekeepers and people familiar with Velebit.

Look through the treetops.

While I walked on the well-trodden path, I found Paklenica beautiful. But when I left the path, I was simply awed. The views from mountain inclines will leave you breathless. I often felt as if I was walking among the gigantic monuments of a world long forgotten, buried in nature. In such moments, overtired and exhausted, I felt overwhelming peace and joy of existence.

Mala and her puppies.

Mountain hut mascot is one little and cute bith called Mala, who live here together with people. I have spent some time in hut, enjoying in nature and in sound of the river. The game of five little doggies amused me, while their mom Mala was watching on them. When you watch that unusual simbiosis between dog and the man in such remote places, you can’t help your self. You simply fall in love with dogs.

Beautifull Paklenica (Third face)

When I climb a rock, slowly or quickly, or just watching it before I will climb, I seem to become a part of that stone. Then, as the mobile part of the rock, you move up and merge with pleasure at the top.

Climber on the rock.

Paklenica is famous for climbing, so many climbers come from all over the world with their ropes and equipment, and climb the rocks. I heard many ordinary tourists say that climbers are mad. Who knows, it may be true, but when you sit down with them, you will see laughing and open-minded people with a lively and warm spirit.

When you climb to the top of Velebit, it is like arriving into another world. No trace of humans, with millions of insects buzzing on golden fields of mountain flowers. I had the impression of walking into a watercolor, not of being on the actual mountain. Everything simply seemed made to be beautiful to the eye.

Up there in the mountain, the weather is merciless, wild nature is all around you. You are an uninvited guest, so when the sun goes down, you should go too. The third face of Paklenica is the horror of realizing how tiny and insignificant you are when surrounded by great, powerful and unforgiving nature.

I got lost. An awful fear gripped my body, together with the creeping sensation that I was in the wild, where I did not belong. While crossing a plateau, I came across a wild deer. It was hard to say who was more afraid. The animal looked at me with bewildered eyes and ran by me.

Velebit platou.

When the sun is setting, everything is golden – fields, horizon and rocks. Everything around me looked completely unreal, but a lone man is anxious to get away from those golden fields.

I returned to the lodge in the middle of the Velebit night, exhausted and calm. The fear which I felt in the living forest and the sharp black shadows on the trail, cast by the lamp and jumping towards me, gradually dispelled. Then I started to appreciate the calm, silence and nature around me. It did not fear me, either. I became a part of it, Velebit let me be.

Sunset from the top of the Velebit (Vaganski peak).

The mountain part of the trail I used on my way back is mostly a steep landslide, here and there marked by climbers. In a pause to catch my breath – one breathes and tires fast on such altitudes – I lay on a rock and watched the sky. And what a sky it was! Sprinkled with a twinkling multitude, so deep, with our Milky Way clear and bright like a silk blanket. Between the light of stars and the lights of our islands and cities, shining in the darkness, I felt like I was floating in space.

Acknowledgements

My Paklenica Odyssey would not have been possible without the people from Iglu Šport, Iglu Športa – www.iglusport.hr, who helped me with equipment and good advice. A big thank you to the nature lovers working in the national park management and in Paklenica itself (www.paklenica.hr) and to my friends who made my stay so pleasant. The panorama of Velebit in this article has been made with PTgui, www.ptgui.com. Hvala ti Joost!

Jolly climbers.

I also like to thank my sister Ivana for some constructive criticizm!

Photographs:

All photographs in this article are shot with Olympus E-500 digital SLR camera and Zuiko Digital lenses 14-45mm i 40-150mm. Information about exposition, F-stop number etc. are located in EXIF of every jpeg file.

Only few of the photographs I have made in National park Paklenica are included in article. You can view selection of others below in photo gallery. If you want to publish some of these photographs, contact me.

Velebit panorama Back to photograph

This panorama of the Velebit is one special photograph. It is made form six other photographs with PTgui program for making panoramas. Original is one huge picture, about 100Mb. Panorama for this web page is shortened, but enlarged view of this photograph is in correct proportions. Of all pictures I have taken on my visit to Velebit, this one shows best how up there really is.

Paklenica highway Back to photograph

Mountain path – “Paklenica highway” goes all through Paklenica to mountainers hut. It is wide, beautifull, and it isn’t difficult to walk. Ordinary visitor vill have to walk about two and a half hours to get to the end of the path (where mountain hut is). Only harder part of this path is in its sole beggining in the canyon, where you have to climb elevaton of about two hudred meters.

A boy and the dog Back to photograph

Everybody visiting Paklenica mountan hut stopped to play with the puppies. Who can resist to that little furry balls? Whole place is magical, especially in the evening and in the morning. If you will have the chance to stay there overnight – do ti.

Manita peć (cave) Back to photograph

Manita peć, cave in Paklenica national park is one fantastic place to visit. Since I was up there photographing all that stallactites and stallagmites, I have had a privilledge to stay in the cave for about ten minutes completely alone. It is really nice in there.

Grandma and grandpa Ramići Back to photograph

While you walk on the sides of Velebit, you don’t reall expect to meet anybody up there, and especiall not someone living there. Old Ramići alvays invite mountaineers to rest a bit. To talk with them is a real pleasure.

Look through the treetops Back to photograph

Whole Paklenica is vacation fot the mind. There are a lot views like this, and some of them are really fantastic.

Mala and her puppies Back to photograph

Mala is one nice dog. She is to everyone around, especially children. When I have came back to mountain hut, I have laid down on the bench to rest a bit. Mala camed, laid beside and guarded me.

Climber on the rock Back to photograph

– merge –

Velebit platou Back to photograph

Plains of Velebit are the most beautiful landcape I have ever seen. They simple tek your brath. When I have shot this photo, I was lost, and was looking for a mountain path marking for a good hour or so. I was thinking about all that in the next few days, and I don’t think that I would like to change anything. I were indeed in not so nice situation, but with my own eyes I have seen unbolievable things. People say that memories fade with time. I don’t think that will ever happen to these ones.

Sunset from the top of the Velebit Back to photograph

This is the last photograph that I have shot from the Velebit. Photo is taken from the highest peak of the Velebit (1757 m) in 9:31 h – exactly when the sun falls down. When night take over the day, cold winds start blowing on the Velebit and everything changes. Valebit is not calm and shy mountain. Velebit is like a giant wno sleeps over the day. The feeling one could get is like the nature itself started to move and change beneath. While I way laying on that rock, on a steep and rocky descent betven the stars of a sky and Croatian towns, I have had a chance to make one more photograph. The one of the deep sky I was talking about. But I didn’t. I have decided to keep that one only for myself.

Bumblebees

Bumblebees, Bombinae, are insects with membrane wings – Hymenoptera, from the family of bees – Apoidea. The characteristic representative is the earth bumblebee – Bombus Terrestris.

Every fall, with the first chills, impregnated queens are looking for a place to safely hibernate. If you happen to find a living, but sleepy queen, in a bundle of leaves, leave her be in peace. If awaken too early, she will surely die from cold. Cover her gently with leaves and wait a few months for the warmer days to come. Smiley

Bumblebee during collection of nectar and pollen.

Bumblebee during collection of nectar and pollen. Photo by Tamas Nyari.

The nest is usually spherical with only one way in. In her new nest she lays about six eggs in a ball of nectar and wax and builds a semicircular cup of wax all the way to the exit and fills it with nectar. When the eggs hatch, the larvae try to penetrate their way out trough the reserves of pollen, but the queen continues to add new layers as the larvae feed and grow. These larvae are fully developed into completely grown up drones (female) in just a few days. As soon as their wings dry out, they start to support the colony and the queen. She continues to lay eggs, and since it takes up more and more of her time, the task of collecting the pollen and the nectar is dependant solely on the drones, and the queen starts to spend her entire time in the nest. The drones are similar to the queen, but a bit smaller. At the time of its highest activity, the nest reaches a diameter of 120 millimeters becoming the size of an apple.

The nest develops until it reaches its appropriate size. Usually that happens in late spring or early summer. As the summer closes to an end, the queen starts to lay unfertilized eggs which are later developed into male drones. At the same time she lays eggs that are fertilized, from which new queens develop. The mating happens shortly after young queens mature.

One more busy fatty. Smiley Photo by Tamas Nyari.

Male drones are characteristic because they have no sting. After they grow, they leave the nest in an independent search for an unfertilized queen. Their only role is the continuation of their species.

Unlike bees, young queens will stay in the colony to collect the nectar and pollen for the rest of the summer and fall. When the weather starts to change, young and fertilized queens leave to find a safe and warm place to make it through the winter in hibernation.

With the first bigger chills all male and female drones and the queen die. Only the fertilized young queens in hibernation will survive the winter and resume the life cycle in spring.

The amount of honey which the bumblebees produce is too small for industrial exploitation, but they are one of the most important pollinators. As such, they have no rivals. They are equally effective and systematic. They search the flowers from bottom to the top, so that they can avoid visiting the same flower twice. Bumblebees direct themselves by scent. A full flower has a much stronger scent than an empty one. They are much larger than the other insects, which enables them to visit more plants and flowers in one minute, about 20 – 30 usually. Because of their size they have better contact with the stamen and pestle. They have pollen bags on their rear legs. The climate has a far lesser effect on them than on the other pollinators. They stay active even if the temperature is around 5°C and the light is faint. Even the rain and the wind don’t have much effect on them. Their build and modifications enables them a broad specter of activity. They are one of few insects who can control their bodily temperature. They do it by shaking their flight muscles – producing heat, and their furry coats which serve as insulators are also helpful. These adjustments enable them to live in colder areas and on higher ground.

Human is the bumblebee’s greatest enemy. They can’t stand the chemicals used on crops to prevent other wrongdoers because they have a similar metabolism. Pesticides which are harmful for the bumblebee can hurt humans and other mammals if the dosage is large enough. Mostly it’s poisons which affect the nervous system.

Bumblebee sniffs a flower. Photo by Tomasz Frankowski.

Since the natural pollination with help of the bumblebees is more profitable, today they are used to pollinate the greenhouses and fields. Young bumblebee colonies can be bought and taken to the area that needs to be pollinated. On the target surfaces, the use of other insects which feed on vermin is recommendable (ladybird for instance eats plant aphides) to avoid the use of chemicals.

There are parasitic bumblebees as well, who parasite the nests of non parasitic species. Such bumblebees do not posses pollen bags, so they can’t gather it from flowers. They kill the nest queen, and force the drones to raise parasitic bumblebees.

There was a lot of discussion about the bumblebees if they have some sort of a “dance” like bees. Some explorers have noticed matching attitude changes if the bumblebee finds an area with a lot of flowers. It is suspected that they use pheromones to communicate with each other.

Bumblebees are good hearted, becoming and very useful bugs that aren’t nearly as aggressive as bees or wasps. If a bumblebee ever starts to buzz around you, don’t wave with your hands because you’ll only frighten him. Let the bumblebee smell you. When he finds out that you’re not a flower, he’ll fly away. Smiley

Adapter for bicycle forks

This article came to life in a form of a written account of all the work that had to be done in order to successfully manufacture an adapter for either a rigid or forks a suspension forks on my bike. The purpose of the adapter was be to raise the bike frame. The bike frame and the headset carrier (which is located on the adapter) would be assembled together with the help of aforementioned adapter…

If you need this schematic in the form of vector graphics, please contact me.

The adapter schematic.

This whole project started out as a low cost way for me to get an awesome bike. I already had a decent bike frame but I couldn’t save enough money to buy a good suspension forks, so I had to do some re-designing.

Finished adapter, two mounting screws and a spacer.

Finished adapter, two mounting screws and a spacer.

An opportunity came up so I bought a Cannondale P-bone – rigid forks. The only problem with this forks is the fact that it was made to be used on a completely rigid bike. If you mount it on a bike which was designed with suspension forks in mind, it will change the bike geometry in such a way that it will greatly influence the performance. A bike with ruined geometry does retain its function, although just barely. You won’t get any comfort or any performance when using such a bike.

In order to avoid ruining the geometry I had to invent an adapter which would be used to elevate the frame to a desired height. (Updated 2006. You need to use a specific forks for each bike (each forks has a prescribed length) in order to successfully mount it on the bike. Follow the specifications given for you bike and don’t mess with the geometry. Each company has a team of experts working on bike design for a reason. If you feel dissatisfied with your bike bike frame, it is much better solution better to buy a new one if you can afford it.)

Picture of an adapter when successfully mounted on a bike.

The adapter itself is really just a simple actor (workaround) made of steel. Its sole purpose is to mimic a headset crown race located at the crown of the forks as to elevate the mounting ring (located on the headset) for an additional 6 cm.

This is how it should look like.

I encountered a problem during the manufacturing process. The steering tube had a different diameter from the forks, starting right at the supporter ring. Steering tube has 28.50 mm in diameter extending for 99% of its length, but near its handle its diameter gets big larger; 30.00 mm. I found out later that this was normal for all the steering tubes which are of 28,50 mm in diameter.

Another picture, this time with exact measures.

I spent a lot of time figuring out a workaround for this problem. One of the first ideas that came to me was to simply forget about using a support ring. I wanted to make an adapter which had a fixated hole on it. Smiley The upper portion of the adapter body would serve as a main headset ring. But how was I to accomplish this? Worst of all, where was I supposed to get high quality steel? I didn’t want to spend too much time on this project, nor did I want to travel far to find an alloy that would suit my needs. It turns out that almost all lathe machine operators use low quality steel (which is easier to work with). I decided not to ruin my fine FSA Orbit Xtreme Pro headset (read review) with rust coming from the adapter made from low quality material.

Turning the spacer on a lathe machine.

Lathe machine operator Antun Bender.

Unfortunately I found no alternative but to go ahead and manufacture a turbo complicated custom adapter. The upper body of the adapter (where the bike geometry is identical to a F600 model) needed to be resized to match the lower body, which was thicker. In other words the upper body had to be exactly 30.00 mm in diameter, while the lower body had to be 28.50 mm in diameter. The outer wall has to be 0.75 mm thick. The height of the adapter had to be no less than 7.5 mm.

Now… Since I am neither a metalworker nor a machine operator, I had to do a lot of reading and had to talk to many people who knew more.

I found out that it was possible to find a quality piece of steel, which would conform to what I need (precision, safety) and then work on it using a precise lathe machine.

Luckily for me, the manufacturing process was relatively simple because it involves nothing more than turning (in a lathe machine) and then a bit of lathing. There was nothing special about the manufacturing process. Smiley I visited several lathing facilities in Dugo Selo and upon visiting the first one, the people working there tried to make me look like a fool so I moved on and found another one: “BADIM-COP – Lathing services”. The name of the lathe machine operator was Antun Bender, Tel.: +385 (1) 276 0420, address: “TRSTENIK, 73 Zagrebačka street”.

The adapter, viewed from below. Notice the narrowing at the base of the adapter.

I spoke to the owner, explained what needed to be done, gave him the blueprints, the forks, the headset main ring and everything else he needed. We finally struck a deal, I had to pay 200 kn (about 35 dollars, or 27 euros) and he would use his own materials. He used a part of some wicked looking axle, which he took from a tank I think. I went home to grab some lunch and to bring the bike frame so we can put the adapter into actual use.

Drilling holes which would later be used to fasten the adapter to the forks.

By the time I got back the work had already been done, we both were happy. We started testing the adapter and noticed that it had a serious flaw. The work was done without a flaw but unfortunately the whole piece was up side down. The small ring did make a tight fit but unfortunately it was up side down… Smiley What can one say when something like this happens? We decided to ignore this temporary setback. We started from scratch but this time under my direct supervision.

A 3 cm diameter drill bore.

We had to invest a lot of effort into making this adapter, it wasn’t easy at all, but the lathe machine operator was real good at his job.

On this picture, the adapter is mounted on to the bike forks.

For the first time in my life I came to realize that there indeed was a difference between one micron (1/1000 of 1 mm) and one millimeter. Smiley When all was done we drilled 2 holes on the adapter body (for the screw threads). Using these, we could tightly fasten the adapter on to the forks.

A schematic for a small improvement to the existing design.

When all was done I gave 300 kn (about 50 dollars, or 40 euros) to the owner. We washed our hands and parted our ways.

You wouldn’t believe all the things I had experienced with that forks mounted on my bike. For a time I was an owner of a unique bike and I have to admit that I often gloated over other people when they started staring at my self-made contraption Smiley You had to be there to believe it.

Beside all the work we did on the adapter we also did some work on a ring 12 mm in height, which we used as a spacer.

The adapter can be used on any rigid or suspension forks as a distancer for achieving the desired height (of the frame), the only thing that may vary from bike to bike is the length of the adapter body. I think that any potential reader should further customize my design to suit his own needs, I didn’t need any further customization myself so I haven’t made one but I was thinking about using a three piece system that would make a tight fit – in that case you would be able to reduce the weight of the adapter by 50 to 70%. The core should be made of aluminum and the rest should be made of steel. You could also make it out of one piece of steel, with cavities, but that would look awful. You can find out more about P-bone adapter in a. The adapter simply had to be as thick as it was, because its length is dictated by the Cannondale head tube (which is 5,5 cm thick).

By the way, I also considered making a custom headset for my bike, so I drew another plan (have a look at the picture above). In the end I concluded that it isn’t any good so I stopped developing it.

I saved the best for the last: the whole adapter thing I made weighs 980 g , or 2 kg together with the forks…

Ticks, article and experiment

NOTICE: I get a lot of emails where people asking me what should they do as they, or their pes have been bitten. Please, don’t hessitate and go and visit an expert! This article is of informative nature, and I am not a doctor. Ticks can be very dangerous pests, and if you or your pet were bitten by one, searching assistance of an expert (qualified doctor or a veterinarian) is only right thing to do. If you don’t do so, there is a possiblity of infection of you or your pet with some of the dangerous diseases ticks can bear.

Ticks are parasites that live on a host organism, and which can infect that host organism with a number of different diseases. A man or any other higher mammal (such as a dog, a cat or a cow) can serve as a host to a tick.

This article is somewhat of experimental nature. It is based upon my personal experience dealing with ticks (I have a rather furry dog which acts like a tick magnet).

In one of our walks, I found a big tick in my dog’s hair. When I looked better, I discovered that there was yet another tick hanging on the first one. I found all this very interesting, so I took my finding home, observed them for a while, took several photographs and wrote an article about them. This is a revised version of the original article that I wrote in 2003.

The term “tick” in the article mostly refers to “dog tick,” which is the most common tick in Europe.

Types of ticks and some basic facts about a common tick

The Latin name for ticks is “Ixodides“. Ticks are arthopoda belonging to the order of Acari (maggots).

Ticks are related to spiders (they both have eight legs). They are two to three centimeters long, and are yellow or brown. There are about 300 species of ticks.

Ticks are divided into two families:

  • Ixodidae – “hard” (hard exoskeleton) ticks, usually found in thick growth areas
  • Argasidae – “soft” ticks (usually found near or around human habitats)

The adjective “hard” perfectly describes the members of the Ixodidae family. A tick which has transformed (in physical appearance, thickness of its carapace) due to sucking host’s blood is extremely hard to destroy when using simple mechanical force.

Female and male tick on the bottom of the jar.

Female and male tick on the bottom of the jar.

Ticks are very dangerous for human, as well as for animals, because they act as carriers for various diseases caused by protozoa, rickettsia and viruses. All ticks are parasitic organisms. Since they suck blood in order to sustain their existence, their mouth area is well adapted to the task. The harpoon-like mouth structure cuts into the host’s skin and protrudes hooks into it, which makes ticks extremely hard to remove. Their “jaws” are set into motion by an innate reflex. If a tick feels nearby movement, it will attach itself firmly to the hosts skin and will not let go, at least not until its head is detached from the rest of the its body, which in turn can cause an infection in the host organism. If they are not powdered or coated with a substance that can choke them prior to trying to pry them out, they will eject their insides into the host organism hence causing an even worse infection.

Female ticks from the Ixodidae family can often be found on the skin of people and animals. During their life cycle and their different stages of development, these ticks can change several hosts. The best known representative of this group is the common tick or dog tick – Ixodes ricinus. It is spread all over Europe, it lives in grass and bushes, and it will attach itself to various animals and even man. It is a carrier of piroplasmosis, spirochetosis, encephalitis and other diseases. When a female tick is well fed it will swell to about 200 times its original size and volume, and then drop to the ground where it will lay its eggs and die afterwards. Its larvae will then continue their life cycle by attaching themselves to lizards, birds and smaller mammals to feeding on their blood. Only after they fully undergo the last stage of their development, the larvae (at this time transformed into a fully grown insect) will attack larger mammals. The tick you will find on your body or on your four-legged pet is therefore already a seasoned veteran.

Another species of tick that can usually be found on birds, and less frequently on man and other mammals, belongs to the Argasidae family.

The Persian tick, for example, (which is spread over Africa, Iran, South Caucasus and China) is a parasite that is found exclusively on fowl and is a carrier of bird spirochetosis.

Ornithodorus moubata found in tropical Africa transmits African typhoid fever to man.

Still, although ticks serve as carriers for many diseases, those diseases are usually not very harmful.

A tick usually needs a relatively long time period to successfully transmit a disease (about 24-36 hours). This incubation period happens because bacteria need fresh blood in order to fully develop and multiply. When the parasite starts sucking blood, bacteria start multiplying.

Bacteria can reach the critical number needed to infect a man about 24-36 hours after the tick first attached itself to the host. It is in no way dangerous to the host organism if the ticks head remains stuck in the host’s skin because the primary source of the bacterial infections is the tick’s insides which it may eject into the hosts body.

The head itself is easy to remove by using a sterilized needle. Ticks do not attach themselves to the skin in a spiral manner, but simply push their head into the skin. Ticks use their harpoon-shaped proboscis to attach themselves to the host’s skin.

Dog tick

The female tick attaches itself to a dog; when it is comfortable and is feeding, it uses its scent to attract a male tick. The male tick is small and black and it will attach itself to the host in the close proximity of the female tick in order to mate.

Some time after the mating, the male lets go and starts moving through dog’s hair looking for a new partner. Also, sometimes the male tick will stick to the female tick for a long period of time.

The fertilized female produces growth hormones and starts growing rapidly. While feeding it takes all the nutrients it needs from the host’s blood and will not secrete the waste byproducts through its digestive system, instead it will dump it all back into the host. This will cause further infections, and the fresh influx of blood into the infected area of the skin will make it easier for the female tick to feed.

When you see a pea sized tick (a female), you know that it has already sucked the amount of blood a few times the size of its stomach.

The male tick climbs onto the female and places itself symmetrically in respect to the position of female ticks legs

Upon feeding, the female’s stomach will be full of nutrients derived from blood. The female tick will then drop off, produce a few hundred poisonous eggs (which even the ants won’t try to eat), and die.

Babeiosis (piroplasmosis) is a disease that is deadly to dogs, but it can be diagnosed easily and in time to save the dog. The infected dog will be cheerless and weak. By the time you notice blood in the dog’s urine, you may still have enough time left to help your dog, but sometimes it may already be too late by then.

When you note some of the abovementioned symptoms, you should urgently take your dog to the vet’s for the life-saving shot. You must not run with the dog to the veterinarian; you need to drive it in or carry it there. The dog is not supposed to run or walk because its heart may stop due to the lack of oxygen. After the illness, the dog should not strain itself for a period of three weeks because its organism, and especially the blood, must first recover from the illness.

Babeiosis is found in people as well. Some may have it without ever knowing it. The symptoms are pain in wrist area and other rheumatic ailments. If you have a strange rash on your skin looking similar to an insect bite, there is a possibility that you may have been bitten by a tick. If the bite is spotted in time, it will be relatively easy to stop any further complications. It gets much more complicated and dangerous if you conceive encephalitis. Luckily there is a cure (vaccine) available.

How to locate a tick?

Ticks can usually be found on the front of the dog’s body because of the large number of muscles that are located in that area making it well supplied with blood. Ticks can also be found on the dogs head, on the entire neck area, and on the dog’s front legs. Just imagine a two equal parts of a dog – front and rear. Ticks will usually gather on the half where the head and front legs are.

You should look for ticks by gently moving the entire palm of your hand through the dog’s hair. If you come across a tick, you’ll feel a small lump. This way you can find even a tick that has not yet attached itself to the host.

A small warning: do not make a mistake and think that a dog wart is a parasite… Smiley Warts look really strange on dogs. They are big and hidden in the hair.

Tick found on a dog

When taking your four-legged pet for a walk, you should always check its paws for ticks. 90 per cent of ticks get to your dog coming from the grass and low bushes. If you check the dog’s legs from time to time you might discover black “spots” on them. Those “spots” will often turn out to be ticks. A “spot” is usually the size of half a square centimeter.

A tick is surprisingly unnoticeable on a man. Ticks like to remain close to the genitals, so after taking those nice walks in the countryside, you should give yourself a self examination (while taking a shower, for an example).

Removing a tick

A tick will instinctively attach itself to the host quite firmly and if you want to remove it, you should try not to make the tick aware of your intentions. Luckily, this will not be all that difficult. Shellfish, for example, have a similar survival mechanism. If you ever played with a shellfish as a child, you already know that it will close firmly when it senses danger, when you start touching it or when it feels unusual motion of water.

The degree of tolerance is a key to the ticks. Ticks are not as sensitive as shellfish, because they live on the skin and beneath the fur which means that they are accustomed to a lot of motion. A dog will typically lie down, roll on the ground, scratch itself and do other things that dogs normally do – ticks won’t mind. When looking for a tick imitate the movements that a dog, cat, cow etc. would normally make.

When you do find the parasite in your pet’s hair, gently, as if not on purpose –  (like a dog would do Smiley – separate the hair around the parasite. Then swiftly pin the blood sucking creature with two fingers, pressing mostly at its head, and pull it out.

The size of a female bloated by feeding.

You may also find special tweezers used to remove ticks. You can buy them in pet shops. Pen-shaped tweezers are designed in such a way that they allow you to get around the tick’s body and get hold of its head close to the skin. Gently turning the tweezers to the left and right is enough for the tick to detach itself, and then you can gently pull it out.

It is no good trying to suffocate them with oil (they can survive for quite a while without air), poison them with insecticides, stupefy them with petrol or alcohol, and burn them with cigarettes and the like. You might manage to detach the tick and easily remove it after applying alcohol or any other easily evaporating substance. However, at the moment of release the tick’s whole body will relax as a balloon and dump its insides into the host.

A small tick that has not yet bloated from feeding is very hard to destroy after being pulled out. It is flat and very hard.

The experiment

During a regular examination of my dog’s hair I stumbled upon two ticks; a female and a male, who later became the main protagonists of this little “experiment”.

After I discovered and consequently removed the two unwanted guests, the big, bloated female kept holding firmly onto a piece of coagulated blood that was stuck on my dogs hair.

After the initial shock and revulsion had passed, I noticed that there was another, smaller tick symmetrically attached to the big one. At first, I thought that this was a little unusual. “Could it be that they actually suck on each other’s blood?” Of course, that was not the case, but at the time I would not have been surprised if it were.

The small tick attached itself to the big one from below, head to head with legs intertwined, remaining in that position for the entire duration of my journey home (which took 5-10 minutes). I probably wore a pretty disgusted expression during my voyage home. I was transporting the ticks by holding the hairs with the ticks. It is interesting to note that it took the female tick almost 30 minutes to finally let go off the dog’s hairs. The female tick finally let go of my dogs hairs when it figured out that it was no longer located on the hosts body (because of the change of temperature or something).

It conducted the entire experiment and took all the photos right there on my desk, covered with printing paper. (Thank the Lord that you were not in my shoes at the time. It is hard to believe how much anguish one can feel by simply observing a tick. The parasite has got eight legs and if it is hungry, i.e. not bloated as a result of feeding on somebody’s blood, its movements are frightfully fast.)

Ticks were held in a position which was best suited for
transportation and possibly even mating…

Ticks seem to use their two articulated front legs to attach themselves to the surface on which they are “walking”, and they use the other six legs as support while walking. The front legs are hook-like appendages used for walking, but all of its legs are equally sharp. Apart from the proboscis, front legs seem to be crucial for anchoring firmly on to the host.

Ticks move with incredible speed. Small, pointed and articulated legs allowed the male tick to climb the smooth wall of a glass jar all the way to the top. I had to shake the jar four or five times to make it fall down.

Try to compare the size of a tick to the size of a man. Then compare their respective speeds of movement and their relative grip strength. If a man (typically weighing 75 kg and being 180 cm tall) should have the tick’s characteristics (strength and such), he would be able to successfully climb a glass hemisphere of 100 m from the inside, walk calmly on the edge and hold on to it so strongly that an earthquake ranked 7 on the Richter scale could not make him fall down. Each of the tick’s leg has six joints and a root, which explains this parasite’s great mobility.

It is a different story with the female tick. Eight little legs seem to be provisionally attached to the stomach which is way too big and colored sickly brown. However, when laid on its stomach, the satiated female is still quite agile, but not quite as agile as before getting bloated.

The bloated female is able to turn on its stomach using the front legs to help her rise on a slightly rough or uneven surface. The female ticks head is small and almost unnoticeable on the stomach, while a hungry female has a head compactly integrated with the rest of the body. You can guess its position only from looking at the distribution of legs.

I noticed some sort of a white tentacle on a few small ticks I found in my dog’s hair. This white tentacle sticks out one quarter of a millimeter from the tick’s mouth area and is comprised of a proboscis with harpoon like hooks and two blood pumps.

This picture shows a male tick calmly walking on the smooth side of a jar.

Ticks do not have a fragmented body. They are more or less made of one piece. At any rate, the fragmentation of the body would be of no use to a tick. When engorged on blood, it gets deformed wholly, which makes it hard to remove. The transformation includes the legs – which move away from their starting position by almost 6-8 millimeters.

Ticks do not have a head in the regular sense of the word, but instead they have a mouth area which protrudes from the rest of the body. The tick’s simple eyes are placed on its back. We do not know how well a tick can see and to what extent those eyes are functional, because some species of ticks lost eyes completely. Ticks probably use some other senses for finding a host. Their sense of smell must be well developed.

The female tick had a total of three holes on its stomach which were not mentioned in any of the literature.

Although ticks are not “ordinary” bugs such as wasps, bumblebees or butterflies, there are some black spots to be noticed on their bellies, that I believe may be parts of a respiratory system. Ticks are team players, which was a really shocking discovery. I was almost sure that a creature like that would be a loner and that each tick would go its own way after mating. This was obviously not the case.

The first time that I discovered that the two parasites were cooperating was when I took them home. The male was holding on to the female tick all the way to home. The placement of legs on the female tick is such that by this placement the male tick is able to fit in its own legs in-between the female tick’s legs. As the big tick grows, one can begin to notice a couple of holes in its exoskeleton. Later I noticed that the small tick is able to crawl beneath the big one in order to help the big one to turn onto its belly by using those holes. Once turned on to its belly, the big one was again able to move independently. However, the satiated female is also able to twist its legs around her exoskeleton and turn to its belly with no outside help.

The small male helping the big female to turn on its stomach.

Ticks are obviously able to actively communicate among themselves. I observed a tick lying on its back for a relatively long time. The male was helping the female to turn, but as the bottom of the jar is relatively slippery, it was difficult and it took them a long time. A couple of times the male tick gave up and went away and but soon thereafter came back. More in-depth studies would probably show some pheromone based communication system that ticks use for communication.

Ticks are robustly built and their shell is extremely hard. A female tick (if not enlarged as a result of feeding on the host’s blood) or a male tick is very difficult to destroy. Ticks bodies are able to withstand great pressure without any consequences and still be able to crawl away from you.

Beware of ticks (advice on how to protect yourselves against ticks)

Beware of ticks ( advice on how to protect your dog against ticks and flea:

Link 1, Link 2 ).

This article highlighted only the problems dogs may have with ticks – this is because I was able to easily find ticks in my dog’s hair. Ticks attack people, dogs, cats and other higher mammals, but the methods of how to remove them are the same for all the species.

When they attack people, ticks prefer areas where the skin is humid and soft, such as the stomach, bikini area, armpits, and the skin behind the ear. Beware of ticks. If bitten, you can get infected by a number of diseases. Although most of them are not dangerous, some might be. There are single-cell micro-organisms living inside ticks that can be transmitted to the host by saliva. The most dangerous diseases that can be transmitted to man are the Lyme disease and the tick-borne meningoencephalitis. If you happen to find a tick on your body, remove it as described, without any fear or panic. Do not let it realize your intentions. After you remove it, put it in a box, close the box safely and go to the doctor’s office and take the box with you.

The best cure against ticks is to simply be cautious. When you come back from the country, conduct a thorough examination of your body and/or your pet in case there is a parasite using your body as a host.

There are also a lot of repellents used to protect one against ticks and other parasites. Get some information about them at the closest pharmacy or vet ambulance.

Some external links which might be of some use:

I hope that this article will help you enjoy your trips into nature and to keep you safe. If you have any further comments or any remarks, feel free to contact me! Good luck.

Some of the material used in this article was taken from the feedback that I got on the following newsgroup – hr.rec.bicikli (in Croatian) by: Grga Frangeš (on the topic of spiderlike creatures), “Oldtimer” (topic: ticks in general) and “Wanguard” (information on means how to protect oneself from ticks).

In addition, I would like to thank Borna Kišpatić ( for his contribution on the topic of “ticks as parasites on human hosts”), Boris Gnjip (who sent me a copy of an article from “Glas Istre”) and Tibor Keser (for information on how much time is needed for a tick caused infection to develop fully).