blk: (flower)
My last SOTY post was three months ago and it's been that long because I've basically been completely ignoring the yard since then (and feeling guilty about it).

The project in July was to clear out the compost pile, so both gardens got a nice thick layer of composted stuff on them. A couple weeks later I realized that was the thing that was supposed to happen in late spring instead of midsummer, as all the latent seeds found the sun and promptly sprouted about a zillion volunteer tomato plants. Which I didn't have the heart to kill right away, even though there wasn't enough time to get much in the way of actual tomatoes from. Jim even staked a couple up for me, but I kept on ignoring them, figuring they were all doomed, and depressed because my garden tomatoes pretty much all died off by early august.

But we've been starting to get down to near freezing weather at night, so yesterday I went out and pulled up approximately a gazillion tomato plants, several of them even with half-ripe tomatoes on them. I tossed the ones without any fruit, but tied up the rest to a pole and have plans to try this thing where I hang them in the basement and hope they ripen. Unfortunately, I also have a bowlful of half-ripe tomatoes that dropped. Some of them are split, so they won't last longer than a couple days. Is there anything I can do with half-ripe tomatoes other than compost them?

I also decided it was time to hack down the overgrown Brussels sprout plant, which was up to about 4 feet and had gotten top heavy enough to fall over since a few weeks ago. I de-fruited that stalk tonight, giving me a little over 2 lbs of sprouts... and several lbs of leaves. Leaves which look and act basically like any edible dark leafy green. Teh googles indicate they can be cooked just like collards. I roasted up a few of the top ones tonight to test this out and they were pretty tasty. I tossed about half of the biggest ones that looked extra tough, and de-ribbed and washed the rest, leaving me with just about a full lb of just edible leafy parts, which are now sitting in a Large Pile on my counter, waiting for me to figure out what to do with them. Help! Do you have suggestions on what to do with large dark green leafy bits? Recipes to share? I am probably the only person in the house who will eat them, so something that can freeze (I may likely see about blanching and freezing some of the leaves straight tomorrow) would be nice...

That was about the only prolific food this year though. While the strawberries did start producing ripe berries sporadically through August, the apple trees really didn't do much of anything. I had mostly expected this, as I'd noticed extremely way fewer blossoms in spring than I'd expected. I have no idea if it was the super cold winter, the weird spring, or just a natural cycle of these particular apples. The trees themselves seem to be doing just fine, with the exception of not growing any viable fruit this year, so hopefully next year it'll come back.

For other growing things, I successfully managed a second sowing of cilantro this year, which was fabulous (and there is still a little left). Parsley grew well enough to give me a large bunch harvested twice. The pepper plants did pretty much nothing all summer long, and now there is one green pepper on one of them. The volunteer pumpkin plant gave me one little orange pumpkin, then succumbed to powdery mildew. The zucchini flowered but never produced. The eggplant never grew (never died, either). The basil plants grew well and provided me with about 2 quarts of pesto, which is now frozen. The rosemary is slowly growing, and I haven't decided whether I'm going to try to bring it inside over winter or not. I still have three more brussels sprouts plants to harvest, but they were significantly smaller than the one I did today, and I hear they deal with cold pretty well, so I'm going to continue to ignore them for a bit longer.

For more outdoor work this weekend, I also gave the lawn one last haircut and mowed up all the leaves which have fallen so far, yielding most of 4 leaf-bags full, in partial prep for (the one, sole, only slightly useful) leaf collection day in two weeks. There are still a bunch more leaves to fall so I'm sure the lawn will be covered again by tomorrow, and next weekend the boys and I can do some more. And I also made soup and pie to help use up farm-share food and apples. I finally sat down and figured out how to use the Kitchenaid to mix pie crust dough, and it's pretty easy and came out really well. I might make more pies soon. I also saw an old friend for lunch, did laundry, cleaned the kitchen too many times, helped the kids with homework, drove with Justin, grocery shopped, and finished my book. I wish I didn't still feel like I didn't get enough done this weekend. Phooey.

Here is my bunch of hanging tomato plants and the brussels sprout harvest, pre-plucking.
greens )
blk: (computer)
1. I want an app that works with googlemaps so that I can input a route (or source and destination), optionally plus vehicle weight and axles, and get the total (and parts) toll amount that I would have to pay. For example, if I were driving from Boston to Philly, what are the various options for routes if I want to compare distance, time, and tolls? As far as I can tell, such a thing does not exist yet. This seems silly. The information exists on the web already. Someone just needs to combine it into more complex routes. Google? I'm lookin' at you, here. Hire me, I'm willing to work on it.

2. A lot of people are talking about the new Lady Gaga video, "Telephone" (warning full version NSFW). [ profile] moominmolly linked to MTV's cheat sheet (and the supplement) of various pop culture references that are in there, but there's one I don't see mentioned that I really want to know about. At about 2:17 in the video, there's a background sultry woman's voice saying, "Hey baby, wanna go out? Wanna go out honey?" This is a sample I have heard in at least half a dozen different songs (and maybe a couple movies, according to the intarwebs), but I have no clue what the original of it is from (Richie Rich's "Real Pimp" has another few lines of it). I first heard it as a sample in a song by christian electro band Deitiphobia in a 1995 remix album, and so far haven't found any other reference that predates that. Anybody have any clue?

3. A box of thin mints I bought this year costs 175% as much and has 75% as many cookies as a box did 25 years ago. Sad. But I'm still buying 'em. Crack, they are.
blk: (computer)
Last weekend, I picked up some old computer games for the boys -- too old, it turned out, as one of them was for Windows 3.1, and wouldn't run on our current system. With some searching, I managed to track down a copy of it online, which ran easily. I also grabbed Number Munchers and Rocky's Boots, a couple of favorites from my youth that came to mind.

Then I started thinking about other old games I'd played and liked. There was this one that [ profile] katybeth and I used to play together that was ridiculous fun: It started out with a screen of a short pinball-like game, with a drain hole at the bottom that slowly expanded, and was labeled with a category, and when the "ball" went through it, you went to that type of quiz. The quiz screens covered language topics such as rhyming and others, and there was a time limit to get a certain number of answers. It had almost no graphics, and was mostly text and some borders. Input was from keyboard only.

Katy and I searched for a while on various 80s Apple II computer game lists for the name of it, with me thinking it had "mind" (or "brain?") in it, and she (separately) thinking it started with an "M," when, from the dark recesses of her brain, she recalled the name "Mind Bind," which I am 95% certain is correct (and so does my mom).

Google, however, apparently doesn't think it existed. I can't find any reference to it ANYwhere, with various searches, no space in the name, variations on it, etc. We think we played it at some point between 1986 and 1990, on a Apple IIe (with a greenscreen).

Does this sound familiar to anybody out there?

[While scanning through old games lists, a bunch of awesome memories are coming back of things like Castle Wolfenstein (the original, bay-bee), Choplifter, Spirit of Glenmore Castle, Nord and Bert, Miner2049er, Olympic Games (summer and winter), Great American Cross Country Road Race, Hacker, THGTTG, King's Quest, The Coveted Mirror, Lode Runner, Marble Madness, Joust, Transylvania, Oregon Trail, and others. I will not will not will not go spend too much time on]
blk: (Default)
I want to go strawberry picking this Sunday. Any recommendations on the best place to go?
blk: (jump)
Answer me these questions three! (in case there is anybody out there who knows)

1. How the heck are you supposed to get from the Eliza Furnace Trail to the Point on wheels?

I keep seeing references to the trail connecting, supposedly through downtown, to the Point and then cross the river to the North Shore trails, including signs on the trail itself promising "2 miles to the Point!" but nowhere obvious to go. I weaved down Blvd of the Allies and through a variety of downtown streets yesterday, looking for somewhere that looked more deliberate, but nothing was there. Fortunately, it was Sunday evening, and so there was almost no traffic to speak of, and I got to (st)roll through PPG Place, which is always fun. (Pittsburgh really has a pretty downtown in good weather. I like it.) Is this one of those "to be constructed" virtual trails?

2. Can you recommend to me blade-able trails or routes near Pittsburgh that are more than, say, 5 miles long?

I know of a few trails I've done so far, and a couple more I want to try out, but it's really hard to figure out from websites what trails are blade-friendly and which ones expect you to have bigger wheels (and thus more tolerance for uneven pavement). Yesterday I went over from the Jail Trail to Station Square, and up and down a short bit of the River Trail (or whatever it's called), which was OK. While I don't totally object to street routes if they have good pavement and low traffic, they generally aren't my first choice.

3. Um, there is no question three (aiiiieeeeee!). Here, look at some other pictures of Pittsburgh downtown.
blk: (paw)
So, back in the late fall last year, $MERCHANT emailed me advertising a sale they were having for previous customers. I took a look around, decided to go ahead and get a few shinies, and clicked off an order. They emailed back when it was shipped (not insured), with a tracking number.

Unfortunately, I was out of town the weekend it arrived at my house, and I didn't think about checking up on it at the time.

problems ensued )
blk: (thinking)

What are some yummy things I can do with lots and lots and lots1 of fresh basil?

Besides making lots and lots of yummy fresh pesto.

1 and lots and lots
blk: (jump)
I've decided that I want new inline skates. My current pair still work, but they're old (~10 years?) and kinda crufty and plasticky and I got them used when I was figuring out if I really wanted to do this. So I think I'm ready to spoil myself. Only problem is, I have no idea how to do this.

I am looking for recommendations for where to shop, what to look for, what to buy, or where to ask about the above.

Current rolling habits:
  • I tend to blade on streets or bike paths.
  • I don't care about going super fast, but I like smooth and comfortable rolling.
  • I'm not so good about doing a lot of regular maintainence, although I take decent care of them otherwise.
  • I'm not a trick, speed, racing, or very skilled skater. I can go and I can stop, and that's mostly all I care about.
  • My blading frequency is somewhere between twice a week and once a month, generally for 10-50 minutes at a time. I might do more if I had more comfortable skates.

Suggestions? Thoughts?
blk: (thinking)
Why is that when my body temperature increases as a result of exercise (or hot tub), I feel warmer, but when my body temperature increases as a result of fever, I "feel" cold?


blk: (Default)

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