Sunday, July 31, 2011


One can only hope.

Made me laugh.

Coolness. Owl in flight.

Bullseye. (see what I did there?)

Relax, this is for politicians.

Another cool picture. Rain from up in the air.

An alternative to stocks in our shaky economy.

Gramps always said that the newfangled technology weren't no good for kids.

Ah yes, good ol' school days.

Finishing up with the most badass thing you will ever see.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

More Links

YouTube videos: Smarter Every Day

How To Be A Retronaut

Guitar Racks

Marc and Angel Hack Life

The Simpler Life

Zen Habits

Simple Productivity

Organized Mom

Life Optimizer

Good Life Zen


Minima Soup

Tools for Thought

Simple Desktops

Shoe Comics

Standup Desks

Seating Experts

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dirt Watch - Quickie Edition

Just two photos. The first is misty because my camera lens fogged from being brought out into the humid mid-90's from the relatively cool house. It was too hot to stand there and let it acclimate. It's also sideways because I'm friggin' lazy.

So if you pretend you're squinting, you'll notice the many, many, many cherry tomatoes on this bush. A smut, or rust, or whatever the hell you call anti-tomato plant disease, is destroying this plant from the ground up, but damned if there aren't about 40 little tomatoes left with more popping out every day. I've been eating them every day with lunch for a week now.

Now this was today's harvest. Two Beefsteak tomatoes, five Roma (good for making sauce) and a handfull of those luscious little cherry tomatoes. The limp basil was cut yesterday.

Maybe more pictures this weekend. You should see the cucumbers!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Randomness from Left Field

Remember the song, "Oh Babe, What Would You Say" by Hurricane Smith? He was a one hit wonder to most of us, but quite well known and respected in the music industry.

Besides his hit song*, Hurricane (aka Norman) was a recording engineer and later producer for all of the Beatles albums up to Rubber Soul. Later he produced the early Pink Floyd albums, amongst others.

Now you have something to ponder while that song plays over and over in your head.

* which was written for another artist but the producer liked the demo so much they released it as is.

Dirt Watch - Confessional Edition

Let's get the bad news out of the way immediately, shall we?

There has been some clamor for a reprise of Nog Watch, and this Dirt Watch is a pale imitation. Long time readers were used to fine brandy, and now I regularly serve up flat Tab. I regret your disappointment.

A couple of weeks ago, Rachael's boyfriend was coming over for dinner, and we decided on home cooked Chinese: Beef and Broccoli, snow peas, homemade wontons, the works. While whooping up the filling for wontons, Liz asked if we had any teriyaki marinade in the fridge.

Understand now, we hadn't made Chinese in a long time, kinda fell outta the habit, you know? So imagine my surprise when I did, indeed find a bottle of teriyaki marinade in the fridge. It was even unopened, seals intact.

The "use by" date was 2008.

I immediately tossed it into the trash and we improvised for the wontons, they were yummy. Liz is a master at the fillings, and I'm the fry-cook who turns them out by the piping hot bowlfull.

During dinner, Rachael remarked that I could've used the teriyaki marinade as a new Nog Watch. I considered it, but rejected the idea on a couple of points. First, it was still sealed. That seemed to violate the spirit of the concept. Second, it had already been thrown away, and fishing it out to put it back in the fridge rubbed my inner-artist wrong. I think I made the right choice.

Whew! It feels *good* to get that off my chest!

Anyway, onward and dirtward. Last night I picked some basil and our first two ripe tomatoes and made a tomato, basil and mozzerella salad. Delish was the verdict.

Tonight we feast on fresh-picked green beans (first of the season) with dinner. I did a quick inventory and there are now a dozen Roma tomatoes in various stages of ripening, no less than 30 cherry tomatoes on that plant, and eight beautiful beefsteak tomatoes that we'll be munching on in the next few weeks. If you've toured the produce section of the supermarket in the last year, maybe you've had the same little heart-lurch as I when you see the prices on tomatoes. Tomatoes may be the only vegggie (fruit, I know) that's actually going to save you money by growing your own.

The cucumbers are starting to appear, ten or fifteen about an inch long at this point. I nibbled the last snow pea from the vine yesterday and pulled the peas from the garden and tossed them into the compost pile. Peas were a huge disappointment this year, as were radishes.

I expect the harvests will start getting better and better since I'm growing plants I've grown before and know (kinda) what I'm doing. Still though, I've really enjoyed having the garden this year. I seriously suggest it for everyone, even if nothing more than a cherry tomato plant in a big ol' pot on your porch.

It's good for the soul. And lately, I've felt the need for more of that kind of thing.

Friday, July 08, 2011

So Far, It Hasn't Collapsed

Daughter Robyn and granddaughter Lorelei came to visit last week, so we took a morning to hike out to the bridge I helped build on National Trail Day. As bridges go, it's on the small end of the scale, but I invested sweat in its construction, so it's special to me.

We went early enough to beat the worst of the heat, and only did a mile or two in all. Lorelei enjoyed the birds and pointing out the berries popping out on the various bushes, and as she rode on my shoulders (part of the time) she quickly learned to spot the webs that enterprising spiders weave overnight from one side of the trail to the other. A quick wave of the hand usually clears the way, and we stopped a few times to watch spiders do their little spider morning chores.

When I pointed out the trail blazes* to Lorelei, she quickly got into the game of looking ahead for the next one. This trail is blazed with an odd aqua color, which I think is supposed to be blue (see the tree above her).

On the way back we had to road walk a fair distance because the county had a crew trimming trees along the trail. We did a little bushwacking to get around them on the way out, but coming back it was just easier and safer to use the road. The flagmen even held up traffic in both directions for us as we walked a narrow part of the road.

All in all, a good time. Tick free too, which is always a bonus.

* A "blaze" is a small rectangle of paint, about 2 inches by 3 inches (I think), painted on trees along a trail to help you stay on course. Different trails have different color blazes. For instance, the Appalachian Trail is blazed in white for its entire length, whereas all of the intersecting trails along the way are blazed with anothe color (ofeten blue or yellow) to avoid confusion. In areas without a lot of trees, i.e. above the treeline or in a desert, a rock cairn is sometimes used instead.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Dear Product Container Designer

If the product in question is *chunky* bleu cheese dressing, putting it in an "easy squeeze" bottle with an opening the size of a sparrow's sphincter is just going to piss off the consumer, no?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Travelling Light

Just for fun during this long weekend, I decided to see if I could put together a super-lightweight overnighter gear list. For Fall through Spring, I have a decent set of gear, but I was wondering just how light I could go for Summer. As an added challenge, I wanted to try to fit the whole kit into a smallish day-hike backpack I bought at Wally World - the Outdoor Products Skyline 8.

By the way, I really like that pack, even if it's just a little too small for my gear setup. Big features for a stunningly reasonable price.

As I was saying, how light could I get it? I do have a specific trip in mind, something like that overnighter to the Chopawamsic backcountry area I did a while back. You may remember, I drove straight there from work and hiked in. Camped and then hiked out before lunch the next day. Short and sweet.

If you were planning for an all-day hike, then you can go lighter because you walk until dinner, then go to sleep. Not much need for comfort or luxuries. This is a little different, in that there's more camping and not so much hiking, although weight matters because you do have to backpack in to the campsites.

The old adage says that you pack for your fears. Some people are afraid of the dark, so they carry two or more flashlights (just in case) and multiple methods of making a fire (lighter, matches, another lighter, etc).

As you get more experience in the great outdoors, you learn what you need to feel safe and secure, but more importantly, what you *don't* need to still feel comfortable.

I managed to get my gear weight down to 16 pounds, not including water. That does include my tent, sleeping pad and flannel blanket, rain gear, food, and even a couple of goodies like a pillow and camp chair. I'm pretty happy about that, but like I said, it'll have to go into my regular backpack, because the Skyline is just a wee bit small to hold everything. Dang.

While I was playing, Liz asked me if I wanted to go out tonight and camp. Did I want to? Hell yeah! Was I going to? No way, Jose. Much too hot and humid, and right now I'm listening to mucho thunder as a line of strong storms moves through to clobber us.

I do have a couple few weekend trips planned over the next several months though, and I'm sure y'all are dreading my trip reports.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Evolution of the Idiot Light

Maybe one of my lovely readers can enlighten me, one that owns or drives a Honda automobile.

Is there a dashboard light that stays *on* until you're behaving like a complete asshole in traffic?