Friday, June 30, 2006

Ultimate Garden: Day 30

On June 1st when I planted the second annual "Ultimate Garden", my worst fear was a super-dry summer similar to last summer when I was frantically supplementing my garden with city water right from the spigot. Sure, its void of nitrogen but it saved the garden. Of course, a bit of Miracle-Gro every 7 days transformed the tomatoes from wilted weed-like vines to lush, tree-trunk-esque shrubs which made the tomatoes grow faster than Barry Bonds' head.

So far this year, we've had between 4 and 7 inches of rain. Last year, we had a little over an inch during the month of June.

Stats aside, here are the pictures comparing the first few days in June to the last few days of the month.

Monday, June 26, 2006

My First Father's Day

Nothing against my dad but I never really thought of Father's Day as a big deal...that is until I became a father myself. Last Sunday was my first Father's Day and I must say, it was very special. I know that my son Nathan won't remember it because he's only a year old but my wife and I will.

At the store a few days before, Nathan picked out a new pop-up baby book which we read Sunday evening before bed. Heck, he even got me this really cool "My Dad Rules" coffee mug which I proudly display at work amidst my desk full of family pictures.

But, as with most holidays, there is always some unorthodox set of events that occur at the most inopportune time that make the holiday something to remember. In this case, many of the events didn't occur on Father's Day itself but occurred on the days surrounding it which made the weekend as a whole very long and of course, memorable.

Rather than go into a diatribe of details describing my extended weekend spanning the four day period from last Thursday through Father's Day and ending Monday morning, I would like to borrow and idea that the colonel used in his post describing his Father's Day.

Let's play: "Can you pick what event DIDN'T happen."

Here are your choices. They are listed in random order.

1. Gracie, my dog, ate 7 ounces of chocolate and had to be rushed to the emergency veterinary hospital

2. My wife threw up after eating dinner

3. The computer crashed

4. I ran two miles and then lifted weights for an hour culminating in five sets of pullups in my basement.

5. My dog developed a bladder infection

6. My wife, me and my son Nathan had brunch with my parents, sisters and brother along with his god parents. Everything was great. Nothing newsworthy happened.

7. I was locked out of the house

8. My one year old son vacuumed the family room with a real vacuum cleaner

If you answered NUMBER 3 then you are correct. The other seven items were all true .

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Something you don't normally see in Ohio is a "Shelf Cloud" or an Arcus Cloud. Last night, a squall line developed around 8PM and produced a fast-moving Arcus Cloud. They rarely produce any rain themselves. Its the massive Cumulonimbus Clouds behind the Arcus Cloud that contain the rain/hail/severe weather.

Arcus Cloud - Northwest View

Arcus Cloud #2

Arcus Cloud - West View

Mammatus Cloud - After Arcus Cloud Passage

Friday, June 16, 2006

Television Viewing Habits

My television viewing habits have had a major overhaul over the last year since becoming a father. Come to think of it, "overhaul" isn't the right descriptor. The word "non-existent" fits so much better.

I went from not missing an episode of 24 to being 8 episodes behind with no appreciable chance to catch up on those episodes. For all I know, Jack Bauer could have changed identity again and I would be totally left in the dark as Season 6 begins next January.

Aside from 24 and other hit FOX shows like American Idol (not a big fan), I have no idea what shows are popular and what ones are not. Most of my family room time is either spent reading, vacuuming or watching PBS programs like Arthur or Clifford the Big Red Dog or Its a Big, Big World starring Snook and his friends.

Why do I know that?

Being a parent of an almost one year old baby, television becomes less and less a driving force in ones life. It's a shame really.

That's about to change.

After a year on hiatus, it's now time to rekindle the television experience. A solid recommittment back to the glory days of lounging on the couch spending good quality time staring at a box gleaming with moving color pictures of activity spanning a multitude of genres at the expense of house upkeep and paying bills. Look, not that my life has to revolve around television. But taking some time to reacquaint ones self with the remote is our American duty. Remember, nothing says "My brain is shut down until further notice" more than a day chalked full of television entertainment.

Popularity aside, here is my list (in no particular order) of television shows that I would watch if I had unlimited free time.

1. 24

The hit FOX show which airs on Monday nights at 9PM just ended its 5th season. Viewers have to suspend disbelief due to the inordinate amount of "stuff" that that happens in one episode (one hour of real time) in Los Angeles. If you've driven in L.A., try getting more than five miles in less than a half an hour. If the show took place in North Dakota, no problem. But L.A.? Nope. Not happening. Seriously, superb writing makes this show what it is along with Keifer Sutherland's innate ability in keeping his facial hair at 2 days growth.

2. House

Another FOX show I thought wouldn't last mainly because it was another medical drama. Boy was I wrong. Hugh Laurie who plays Dr. Greg House is masterful. After watching one episode, Mr. Laurie (born and raised in england) will make you believe that he is really from the states.

3. The Sopranos

Honestly, I've never watched an episode because I don't have HBO but I figure any show with gangsters (not gangstas) is good in my book.

4. Mythbusters

Create a show that revolves around experiments you always wanted to try as a kid but never had the stuff to do it. That's Mythbusters. What kind of gun if shot into a lake would not reach you if you were hiding from bad guys under the water? The answer awaits you on Mythbusters.

5. Family Guy

Yes, FOX has done it again with this irreverent animated comedy about a dysfunctional family with a talking dog and a baby that is bent on world domination. Add in a few 80s pop-cultural references and its a half hour of quality entertainment as long as your not easily offended.

6. Desperate Housewives

Okay, I put this on the list because its the popular thing to do. I don't watch it and I'm not real geeked up at the prospects of one day seeing it. Housewives in suburbia. That's all I know. But if Eva Longoria stays on the show then maybe a ten minute paroozing of this one hour drama will be in order in the fall.

7. Scrubs

Another medical show that I thought was doomed when it aired in 2001. For 5 seasons, its held its own on NBC and has become a cult favorite. The plot surrounds a young doctor who is trying to learn the ways of medicine, friendship and life. The characters all deliver their lines in a quick, sometimes sarcastic, comically steady tone. For instance, Dr. Cox played by John McGinley plays an intimidating character oozing with sarcasm but deep down, has a heart of gold. By far, the best character on the show. However, his perm has to go.

8. American Idol

So many parents are looking for a family oriented show versus content driven by sex and violence. Enter American Idol...or American Karaoke as radio talk show host Jim Rome refers to it. The plot: Get a group of singer wannabees who have no job, send them to Hollywood, tell them they are the best entertainers since Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope, give them a mic and have them sing. At the end of the season, every karaoker will end up going home dejected only to realize that they're only good enough to sing at Flea Markets and County Fairs. The winner, although not guaranteed, might actually have a singing career. after its all over. Last season, a grey haired 29 year old won the whole thing. Come on. The guy is really 48! Anyway, tune in for more wacky wannabee singer hijinx during season 6 starting in January of 2007.

9. The Daily Show

Forget the liberal bias or the conservative slant in daily news. The Daily Show hosted by Jon Stewart is the news stripped down and presented in a satirical manner with a ton of embellishment. In other words, it entirely fake but pure comedic perfection.

10. Lost

A very hot show. Survivors of a plane crash are forced to live with each other on a remote island. Gilligan's Island this isn't.

There you have it. But alas, I have no unlimited free time so all of this TV watching won't be happening. Well...maybe an episode of 24. After all, it was a cliffhanger. When do they go to the bathroom?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Brand New Weather Photos

There pics were taken last Sunday in the early evening. The weather setup: A piece of upper level vorticity came down from the north along the jet stream kicking off early evening thunderstorms which produced a few downpours and these cloud formations. Aren't you sorry you asked?

Mid-level convective clouds with blue sky & sunset. (Northwest view)

Brief sunny break. (Northwesterly view)

During a sunny break, the red portion of the light spectrum was filtered out as the cloud crossed it's path producing a red rainbow. (East view)

Monday, June 05, 2006

Future Fruits of My Labor

For the second straight year, our family garden, commonly referred to by many neighbors as "A Vegatable Eden" and others as "A Garden Experiment Gone Wrong" is planted, hydrated and thriving beyond expectations.

My garden isn't huge by any means but it does the job. Keep in mind, when it comes to gardens, size really doesn't matter. It's the quality of the food that the garden produces in August and September that is the barometer of a successful garden. After dumping 160 pounds of compost and other nitrogen rich additives, get ready for an endless supply of tomatoes, peppers and other viney fruit in roughly 80 days. Pictures will be forthcoming...

Notice the second picture. Yes, that is a tobacco plant. No, its not "Hippy lettuce" or "The Chronic" or some other illegal leafy plant, it's just straight-up tobacco. If all goes well, I plan on harvesting it and rolling a cigar in the fall. Then again, it might curl up, dry out and die next week. We shall see.