Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"Book Review"

Ok, so my sister always posts book reviews in her blog so I thought I would give it a shot. In elementary school, one of my favorite times of year (other than "field day" and "kite day") was the book fair! The fine folks at the Scholastic book company would cart in these large book shelves on wheels that were actually two book shelves hinged together and they would fold open. It was always an exciting day when I would see them wheel in those bright blue and red cases down the hall towards the library. Instead of choosing a classic literary masterpiece, most of the time I would purchase a "Choose Your Own Adventure" book, much to the chagrin of my parents and teachers. So without further ado, I give you my review of "Secret of the Ninja"!!
The story immediately grabs your attention. Something mysterious is going on at my friend Nada's dojo. It seems that the building is under attack by an evil spirit of some kind and then a sword is mysteriously delivered to the dojo so she calls me to help. Nada also says she has a secret to share with me. Unfortunately, shortly after that I am killed by a stealthy band of ninjas and the story ends.

Overall I give this book two stars. It really grabbed my attention at first, but about the time I was hooked I ended up being murdered. On the plus side, it was a really quick read. A great book if you are looking for something to read to fill the time between your appetizer and entree.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Conspiracy Theory for the Day

I think a meteor apocalypse is upon us.

Ok, not really, but
I am intrigued by outer space. Whenever there is a news story about anything space related I read it. I think it's strange and kind of sad that shuttle launches are so commonplace now they make the tail end of the news, if they make the news at all. Luckily I get most of my news from the internet so I can stay apprised of the goings-on in the galaxy. I was excited last month when there was a report of a meteor over Texas:

(click to view article)

Then on March 7th, I read about one over Westchester, New York:

(click to view article)

Then on March 9th over Nanuet, New York:

(click to view article)

Then on March 17th over Staten Island, New York:

(click to view article)

And most recently, this past weekend, March 29th over Virginia:

(click to view article)

Now, meteors are usually observed as "falling stars" waaaay up in the atmosphere, tiny little meteors that burn up in the atmosphere. Meteor showers happen when the earth passes through a meteor field (left behind by a comet). But these recent events are much different. They are not small falling stars, but huge streaks across the sky that cause sonic booms to be heard. Very intriguing to say the least.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Glow Crosses

I found these entertaining..

Let your light shine, figuratively and literally, only 50 cents!

My wife bought one, I'm not sure what occasion she will wear it for though.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Chicken Tractor

Continuing what seems to be a farming theme... have you ever heard of a chicken tractor? I stumbled across this while looking up various gardening stuff.

Photo by VanTucky

It's a portable chicken coop that lets the chickens be free range, but with protection from predators. It has an open bottom so that the chickens cat eat up vegetation (like weeds) while they poop fertilizer. Once they've cleared an area, just pick up one end and scoot it down a little. I think it's brilliant, but our city ordinances don't allow chickens within 150 feet of any property line. Since that is geometrically impossible, we are chicken free. I've thought perhaps we could get some sneaky-chickens, but that probably wouldn't be a good idea.

Friday, March 27, 2009


I knew the expensive method of starting seeds was no better than the cheap method!

I planted them Saturday or Sunday so this is day 5 or 6. Contrary to my previous post, they will be moving indoors for a little while thanks to the unpredictable Texas weather plunging into the thirties this weekend.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Spring Planting

Every year we plant at least a couple of tomato plants. The plants only cost a dollar or two but I have always wanted to start some from seeds. My wife would rather have plants than seeds because of the instant gratification factor, but I like seeds because it gives me memories of elementary school when we would plant beans in Solo cups. I love the anticipation of waiting for the plants to sprout! I looked around online and read a bunch of advice on starting tomato seeds. I found pretty much the same advice everywhere and gleaned from it what I thought were the better ideas and totally ignored what I thought was unnecessary. I took the following advice and used it:
  • Planting in toilet paper roll tubes (cut in half) rather than spending money on special seed starting pots.
  • Putting all the tubes in one container so it's easy to move them around
  • Using plastic wrap on top to create a greenhouse effect and keep it moist.
And I chose to completely ignore the following advice:
  • Plant in a sterile soil-free "seed starter" mix to prevent disease. (I figure the pilgrims planted in dirt, so the potting soil I had laying around was even better).
  • Keep seedlings indoors (Too much trouble, the weather outside right now is stable enough).
  • Put sprouted seedlings under fluorescent grow lights (The sun will do).
Here is my mini-greenhouse:
And a blurry closeup of the toilet roll seed planters inside: I immediately wanted to plant more stuff but had only bought tomato seeds. Luckily, we never threw out our dead jalapeƱo plant from last year, so I cut one open and planted those. I exhausted our supply of toilet paper rolls, but luckily we had a nice disposable casserole dish from tonight's dinner. Instant greenhouse!
Total cost:
Tomato seed packet: $1 for about 30 seeds
Toilet paper rolls: free byproduct of already purchased toilet paper
Potting soil: practically free, left over from years past.
practically free,left over planter box & used disposable casserole dish.
Plastic Wrap: Half a penny. About one foot of a 200' roll from the Dollar Tree.

So $1 for 30 (potential) tomatoes (about 3 cents each) rather than $2 for one existing plant, a savings of
98.5% (if I did my math right!). A significant savings over special pots, grow lights, seed starter mix, etc. Well, it is a savings if they actually grow. I planted about thirty of each. I will keep tracking progress here if there is any progress to track..