Is Phoenix the Most Miserable City in the US?

According to a new report from the Wall Street Journal, Phoenix has been named the most miserable city in the US.

This new “misery index” looks at unemployment, gas prices and a change in home prices. What do you think? Are we worse off than those residing in Boston, Cleveland, New York and Detroit… which are apparently the least miserable?

What Causes “Pool of Water” Reflections on the Road?

Q: On a cross-country trip, my husband and I started wondering about those “pool of water” reflections on the road ahead. What causes that?

A: These travelers have seen, as we all have, a very common mirage. There are two kinds of mirages: inferior and superior. Inferior means the object is displaced downward. Superior is the other way around. The road thing is an inferior mirage.

On a sunny day the surface of the road and the air just above it get very hot. The air just above that is fairly cool in comparison. Now, light travels faster through warm air than it does through cold air because warm air is less dense. Hence, when light hits that hot air just above the road surface at a certain angle, it changes speed and is bent upward. As a result

How Miners Dug Gold in Old Arizona

gold mine

Back in 1850, when the New Mexico territory was cre­ated, the wild, untamed western portion that would become Arizona was sparsely populated by non-Indians. The only white community was Tucson. Word quickly trickled back east about the vast mineral riches. “If ya stumble on a rock, don’t cuss it—cash it” or, “If ya wash yer face in the Hassayampa River ya can pan four ounces of gold dust from yer whiskers.” Rumors—but each one sent thousands of would-be millionaires scurrying up hundreds of arroyos searching for the elusive madre del oro.

Placer gold, the kind you could mine with the toe of your boot, or a jackknife, soon played out and the day of the romantic jackass prospector evolved into the era of the hardrock miner.

What’s Lurking Around the Valley? Snakes, Gila Monsters and More

Rattlesnake

Q: Since we moved to Arizona, my daughter and I have become avid hikers. The other day we saw our first rattlesnake. How many kinds of rattlesnakes are there around here?

A: I hate to tell you this, but there are a lot of them. And not just rattlesnakes. There are coral snakes, and a lot of others, including Gila monsters and killer bees. We’re not supposed to call them killer bees anymore. Africanized bees is the term. Call ’em what you like, they’re not nice neighbors.

The good news is your chances of being bitten or stung or otherwise killed by any of these creatures are fairly small, unless you’re a dope or just naturally unlucky. A study a few years ago showed, as I recall, that the primary victims of rattlesnake bites are young, White males who had been drinking. Of course, the primary cause of a lot of problems is young, White males who have been drinking.

Pauline Weaver: The Story of Prescott’s First Citizen

Pauline Weaver

When old Joe Walker, a big, strapping, ex-mountain man, and his party of prospectors arrived at Granite Creek in the Spring of 1863, another old mountain man, Pauline Weaver, was already camped there. The area where the future territorial capital city of Prescott would be founded was the stomping grounds of the Yavapai and Tonto Apaches. Both groups had a reputation as formidable foes of the whites who asked no quarter and gave none. Surprisingly, the earliest days of Prescott’s history were relatively free of bloodshed and the credit goes to Pauline Weaver.

Weaver is one of those ubiquitous characters who best fits the description of one who never had time to write or narrate early Arizona history—he was too busy making it. Born in Tennessee around 1800, he was the son of a white father and Cherokee mother. For a time he worked for the Hudson Bay Fur Company but preferred warmer climates, so he headed for the Southwest.