Saturday, April 16, 2011

Planted This Week...

Monday I planted four potatoes in the bed along the fence. They had sprouted over the winter so hopefully they'll do well in the ground. I like the bushy potato leaves too!

The potato bed by the fence

Tuesday's seed packets
(A photo is the easiest way
to remember their names!)

Tuesday I planted a few small bulbs I found in the bottom of the "Seeds" cannister, along with some snapdragons, in what I hope is the start of a parking-strip garden. It turns out to be pretty easy to break the sod with the mattock, although not really a fast process. I also planted some herbs in to flat pots (seed packets as shown).

Add caption
A few days later I planted a few more (per seed packets shown)
Add caption


Sunday I planted mixed flowers in a strip bed along the driveway. I wanted to make the bed bigger, but realized I was impacting one of the hawthorn's root systems. I'm not sure how durable those trees are, so instead of turning the entire planting strip into a flower bed, I think I will convert it slowly, over the course of several years. That should let the trees adapt.
The sod from the strip bed when into the side yard to elevate a low spot. I also moved a mint from the side bed (where last year's mint are growing like weed hooray!) into the duff garden under the big from pine tree. I'm not sure how the mint will do but it's a native so perhaps it'll be happy there. We won't use that mint's leaves in tea since it's very close to the driveway, but it'll look and smell nice!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Goodness About Garfield

Garfield is a staple of the comic genre and, frankly, I had been thinking it was getting a bit stale, when three things happened that puts it up in my area of interest again.

Garfield and Liz

The comic itself perked up a lot when Jon ( the leading human ) finally got into a relationship with Liz, Garfield's veternarian. This changed a comic about a loser and his cat into a comic about a very fallible guy and his cat and the woman in their lives. Loser jokes get old, but relationship jokes can go on forever.

Garfield minus Garfield

Someone noticed that since the cat Garfield doesn't actually speak, most of the strips have John acting very strangely. He airbrushed Garfield out of a few strips for a joke, started getting massive site hits. This grew into .
I read in the book that  Jim Davis very good-humoredly blessed the project, which you have to admit is pretty awesome.

The Random Garfield generator

The story I heard goes that someone thought it would be funny to put together three random Garfield panels. This one has to be used very carefully becauase of quite appropriate intellectual property concerns, but some will find it very amusing.

" this guy noticed that Garfield comics make just as much sense if you throw random panels together, and sometimes are actually pretty funny. He got a cease and desist letter. So he made the code available for people who wanted to try it for themselves. Here we go!"

Lock Lock Lock


Monday, April 11, 2011

Driving Smart: A Lenten Carbon Fast Challenge

Driving smart is fun!Everytime you hit your brakes, you're wasting fuel. Your car converts fuel into momentum to get you where you're headed and, (unless you're driving a hybrid or electric car with regenerative braking), your brakes convert that momentum into heat. What a waste!
The challenge is to get from here to there with an absolute minimum of breaking. This is a challenge - and challenges are the basis of everything fun!
The basic technique is to be aware, very aware, of everything going on on the road and committed, very committed, to not getting sucked into meaningless contests. It can be an awkward social dance, deciding who goes in front of whom, but there's no point zooming ahead of someone only to hit the brakes at the next light.
It really helps to know your road. If you have a regular commute, you can build up a whole lot of practical knowledge about where to put the clutch in and coast to a stop instead of staying at full speed and then hitting the brakes.
Another part of driving smart is to have a good grasp of practical math  On a short trip, going 75 instead of 60 will get you there maybe one or two minutes sooner. On a long trip, this may add up to an hour or two but the higher rate of gas consumption means you spend some of that savings gassing up more often. Add to that the time you spend making the money that you put into your gas tank, with a due allowance for the aded wear on your care from going faster, and I doubt that you actually save time driving faster - you just can't see it if you're not used to calculating costs.

The third element of driving smart comes from a story someone told me long ago.
"An experienced martial arts student was driving to the dojo's annual seminar when he encountered heavy traffic. He used all his training and skills to keep cool and to manuver decisively and precisely, to ensure he arrived on time.
The dojo senior instructor encountered the same traffic. He realized that risky driving was inappropriate; he'd rather be late than risk injuring himself or others through speedy maneuvers.
The school master was already there; he had anticipated the possibility the traffic might be bad, so he had hit the road early."
I really like to hit the road early. It lets me relax and be on my way and drive smart. As a side-benefit, it often opens up possibilities even when nothing goes wrong!
These thoughts came together in response to today's Lenten Carbon Fast challenge: (courtesy of my bloggy friend Small Footprints):
"Keep your highway driving speed between 55 and 60 mph today. For most vehicles, 55 mph is the most fuel efficient highway speed and will save you up to 20-30% in fuel costs compared to driving at 75 mph. Automobile emissions are one of the leading causes of greenhouse gases. Don't idle your car at drive-up windows. If you have to stop for more than 10 seconds, you will save gas and reduce greenhouse emissions by turning off your engine."
This is a very practical challenge, and one that nearly all of us can improve on. I'd be happy to hear of yout techniques for driving smart!

I Pay Taxes. I Did Not Cause The Recession

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Next Generation May Be Smarter Than We Are

I know a heck of a lot of students (I volunteer at a thrift store where work-study students labor) and most of them are nice, studious and intelligent. 

Sure, they're making some of the same stupid mistakes I made at their age, and I'm sure they're listening to my warnings just as carefully as I listened to the old farts warning me at their age (that is to say, almost not at all). But anyone who thinks they aren't at least as bright as our generation is just being arrogant.

Their generation makes a convenient punching bag for people with an agenda. And there's no denying that some of their fashion choices and much of their music can't measure up to the generations that featured the duck tail, the parrot-do, bellbottoms, polyester jumpsuits, MacArthur Park and Bobby Goldsboro's "Honey". Oh yeah!

But between email, texting and so one, a strong case could be made that they're writing FAR MORE than we did in our youth. Pounding away on my Brother (tm) Portable I could do a ten quality pages a day, much less if it were heavily sourced. My nieces can do that in two hours ... typing with their THUMBS.

I'm sure that's a lot of stupidity going around and, thanks to the internet, we can see it more easily and mock it. But the smart stuff is there too and I for one salute the upcoming generation.