Sunday, December 21, 2008

Snow Removal Less Than A Week Before Christmas

Finally received some real snow. The storm slowly started midday on Friday, and this is what we had Saturday morning.

We had about a foot of snow. It was still a light, yet steady snow when we started clearing the driveway and cleared off the cars and truck.

It's about 110 ft from the house to the road, and the driveway is wide enough to have three vehicles parked side by side at it's widest and could just barely fit two side by side at the road.

In years past, when the driveway would be cleared by someone with a snow plow on a truck, we would park the cars single file to one side, leaving the other side wide open for the snow plow.

The removal would be charged per storm, and during one year when we had a lot of storms, my dad spent so much money he decided to by a snow thrower (we've always called them snow blowers).

That was five years ago, and this Yard Machine snow thrower has more than paid for itself.

I started thinking about what I might look for to replace this if it would break down, and considering the size of this driveway and the large amounts of snow we get, I'm not sure if any of the electric models would be able to handle it.

Maybe I'll buy one anyway, and use it when we don't have as much snow.

As for getting another gas powered one like this one, I found that they no longer rate them by hp (horsepower), so I guess I would get another two-stage with a 24 inch clearing width which has the 179cc engine.

The 24 inch seems to be just the right width for getting in between the vehicles when we park normally.

Regardless of how good the snow blower is, sometimes you can't beat a good shovel. I like this snow shovel/pusher I have here. The shape is good for shoveling and pushing the snow around, and with the metal edge, it does a great job of getting right down to the pavement.

This morning I cleared out the parking spaces again using just the snow shovel, it's a nice excuse to get some exercise.

There's another storm predicted for Christmas Eve, and if it's rain, I won't be having a white Christmas. We'll see.

New pages I've authored include Saitek Eclipse Keyboard: The Best Backlit-keyboard Ever, Logitech Cordless Optical Trackman (USB/PS/2): The Best Trackball Ever, All Natural Herbal Cough Syrup, Back To School Bedding, and Cash Gifting Cash Leveraging Giving Programs All Are Pyramid Schemes Scams.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Wondering About A White Christmas

Second snow of the season, and it's really not all that much. I'm hoping for more by Christmas.

I still haven't had much time for blogging as I continue to write on Squidoo. I'm doing pretty well with topics such as Natural Gifts And Decorations For Christmas, Eco-Friendly Christmas Gifts, Presents and Decorations, Eco-Friendly Gifts For Him, Eco-Friendly Gifts For Her, Old Fashioned Christmas and Rock N' Roll Holidays Celebrate The Holidays With Rock Music.

Since those are all holiday related Lenses, I'm now working more topics good for all year round like Clean Water - Water Filtration, Cayenne Pepper, Natural Toothpaste, Natural Mouthwash, Hydrogen Peroxide Mouthwash, and Using Spirulina - What Is Spirulina Good For?

I currently have 38 published pages on Squidoo and my goal is 50. Once I reach that goal, I plan on going back to Green For A Cleaner Life and rebuild it using things I've been learning from Squidoo and some of the people I've met there.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

There's Still Time To Take the Local, Organic Thanksgiving Challenge!

Here's the backyard in the summer, all green and full of life!

This was the backyard just before Halloween. Lots of dead leaves falling off the trees, and covering the ground. It's no secret that I do not care for Autumn very much, and this may have been why I've been having a hard time trying to come up with a new post here.

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I'm reminded of some better times when Jenn stopped by and left this great post on my entry about Fresh Tomatoes:

Hey there. Thanks for the great post about Eat Well (as well as the widget). Tomato season has come and gone, but I wanted to let you know that the Eat Well Guide is still very active. Eat Well has teamed up with the Consumers Union, nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, to issue a Local, Organic Thanksgiving Challenge. We’re inviting people to take a spin on the Eat Well Guide to find local food and cook at least one local (preferably organic) dish for Thanksgiving, and share recipes at the CU site. Read more about it at the Green Fork...

So, I'm embarrassed that I haven't been keeping up with things over at the Green Fork blog, and Eat Well, but I'm encouraging all you readers to stop by and check it out for yourselves. Especially if you support eating locally, it's good for you and the environment!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Pumpkin Carving Just In Time For Halloween

I put pumpkin carving off for too long this year, I should have started at least a week earlier, but I've been so busy.

This year I took a tip from Pumpkin Carving and keyed the lid to my Jack O' Lantern. First I used a crayon to draw the line to follow to make the lid.

Then I used one of the pumpkin carving tools from the Pumpkin Masters Pumpkin Carving Kit to make the lid. When I first tried carving a pumpkin last year, I used a sharp kitchen knife, even though I had bought the Carving Kit, and it didn't take long for me to put aside the knife, and use one of the saws in kit.

This is the second year I've used the same saw kit. I can see how it would be very easy to break a blade, but if you take it easy, these tools can last you through a few pumpkins, at least.

The saw doesn't even need a starter hole, at least I didn't need one. I thrust it right in, and started sawing. I did need to saw along the path twice, then work the saw along the path as I pulled up on the lid. I think I was cutting the strings inside that were holding the lid in place.

Another cool tool in the kit is the scoop. It's simple and plastic, but perfectly designed to scrape the inside of the pumpkin. I forgot how well this worked, I used a metal spoon on the pumpkin I cut up last week. It took at least twice as long with the spoon, and my wrist and arm really ached afterwards.

The kit comes with some really nice patterns to use as carving templates. I took the easiest one, and made a reduced copy to fit the size pumpkin I was using. Just a little tape to hold it in place, and I'm all set.

Well, at least I got it done in time for Halloween, but here's what I really wanted:

Seeds! More than I got from the last pumpkin, even though this was a bit smaller. Too bad I can't get even more from a single pumpkin, but since I can't, I'll have to settle for store bought pumpkin seeds.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Autumn: Fresh Pumpkin Time

Fall is here, and this year I wanted to roast pumpkin seeds. Last year was the first time I had ever carved pumpkins, and loved having fresh roasted pumpkin seeds. When I ran out of pumpkin seeds, I tried roasting melon seeds. Not as satisfying as pumpkin seeds, but still worth a try.

So, this autumn I decided not to waste the first pumpkin as a Jack O' Lantern, and tried making pickled pumpkin. The first pumpkin turned out to be too big, but I didn't realize this until I had enough pumpkin cut up for one batch of pickled pumpkin -- just a quarter of the pumpkin!

I finished cutting the first half of the pumpkin and began blanching what I wasn't going to pickle before deciding to roast the second half before cutting it up. I had seen tips saying to roast the pumpkin before cutting it up, I should have followed those tips in the first place!

It was so much easier to finish cutting up the pumpkin after roasting it, but when I was all done, I had two jars of pickled pumpkin, a batch of roasted pumpkin seeds (much smaller than I had been hoping for) and enough pumpkin for nine pies, assuming two cups per pie.

The next day, my sister agreed to help me make some pumpkin muffins, but we ended up with a batch of pumpkin cupcakes instead, quite good, too. All decorated for Halloween!

I seriously doubt they'll last until Halloween, guess we'll have to make more!

I posted a link to this video on Twitter, and several people thanked me for posting it, if you haven't seen it, here is Forever Autumn by Justin Hayward -- Enjoy!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Do It Yourself Wireless Backup Camera Installation

A backup camera on whatever type of auto, car, truck, SUV or RV you are driving will help you see what you cannot see with your rear view mirrors. A backup camera can help you avoid hitting another vehicle, running over a pet, or running over a child while in reverse.

Installing the VR3 Wireless Backup Camera is very easy and can be installed on almost any vehicle. The camera does need to connect to the electrical harness for power, but the connection between camera and the monitor, which can sit on your dash, is wireless so you don't need to worry about running a cable to connect the two.

See How:
DIY Auto Backup Camera: How To Install A Backup Camera On Your Car, Truck, SUV, Or RV

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Nothing Says Fall like Leaves...

...And A Woodchuck In The Front Yard!

Ain't she cute?

Well, to be honest I can't be sure if it is a she or he. We know there are woodchucks living in the back woods. Almost on a daily basis, we'll see one or two grazing in the back yard. The lawn isn't just grass, there's a lot of stuff that grows wild, but gets mowed into conformity. The woodchucks seem to favor eating something with large leaves that's mixed in the lawn.

The woodchucks are normally satisfied with that, and are rarely in the front, but the lawn isn't growing very fast since the daily temperatures have dropped, so I guess it's getting harder for them to fill up on the stuff out back.

There were rabbits living in the yard, but they haven't been seen this year. In years past we'd see the cat chasing them, but he died earlier this year and he hasn't been replaced. Last year the cat had actually attempted to chase one of the woodchucks, but the woodchuck didn't run like the rabbits do. Instead, it chased after the cat. Didn't chase the cat for long, just long enough to let the cat know not to try that again! :)

Well, as you can probably tell from the picture, even if woodchucks aren't intimidated by cats, this one didn't like me watching her eat, and it didn't take long for her to casually make her exit.

I don't like people watching me eat either!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gas Or Electric String Trimmers

I had been using my dad's gas powered trimmer to edge the lawn and trim tall grass around the yard where it's hard to get to with the lawn mower. It was such a frustrating experience. It was heavy, noisy and awkward. A dirty little "2 stroke" engine that burns a mixture of gasoline and oil, real great to be breathing this exhaust, I'm sure.

I had problems starting it, then it didn't want to continue running. It probably needed a tune up, but I didn't like the looks of it. The fuel lines connect at the top of the fuel tank, does it run on fumes? I really don't know much about engines, but something about the way it looked bothered me.

I was already thinking that an electric trimmer would be better. The electric motor is lighter, and there's no exhaust to worry about. No chance of spilling gasoline, no mixing gas with oil, no fussing with air filters, and spark plugs.

A quick search online, and the Black & Decker Grass Hog Cordless String Trimmers looked like my best choice, especially when it comes with two 18v batteries which are compatible with other Black & Decker products...

Gas Or Electric String Trimmers

Friday, September 19, 2008

Greg Lake, Not Just One Third Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

For over four decades, Greg Lake has been a popular and innovative musician who has combined sophisticated pop and rock with the influence of Europe's golden age of classical music. He burst on to the international music scene in the late 1960s as bass player, and lead singer of the progressive rock group, King Crimson, then dominated the 1970s wave of progressive rock as one third of Emerson, Lake & Palmer.

Known for writing songs such as "Lucky Man", which he wrote while still in school (included to fill space on ELPs debut album, it became their first hit), and ELPs best selling single "From the Beginning". He is also well know for his solo hit, "I Believe in Father Christmas", co-written with Peter Sinfield, it has been one of the most played radio songs during the holiday season since it's release in 1975 when it reached number two on the UK Singles Chart, despite often being misinterpreted as an anti-religious song.

More: Greg Lake, Not Just One Third Of Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Art Garfunkel

Art Garfunkel -- Voice Of An Angel
Art Garfunkel's voice is his instrument and one of his most recognizable features.
"Art Garfunkel is one of those great, rare voices," James Taylor wrote in Rolling Stone Magazine. "I would know it anywhere at the drop of a hat, in half a bar."
As one half of the "folk rock" duo Simon & Garfunkel, Art Garfunkel released a string of hits from 1965 to 1970 with his childhood friend, Paul Simon, which helped land them at #40 of Rolling Stone Magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.

They've also received several Grammys and are inductees of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame.

"They were fabulous years," Art remembers warmly. "I'll always be happy to say a little on behalf of the duo. I'm proud of singing those great songs. Now they teach Paul Simon songs in churches and schools as part of the curricula... it seems that part of good citizenship is the knowledge of the songs we did. How can I grasp that?" (From the Art Garfunkel Bio page)

Continued... Art Garfunkel

Friday, September 5, 2008

Welcome to My Nightmare

Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare

After a record breaking tour in 1973, Alice Cooper, the band, released Muscle of Love, which didn't do as well as they had expected.

The band broke up, and Alice Cooper, the singer, songwriter and musician, decided to return to the studio without his former band mates...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Check Out Google Chrome

First, let me set the stage:

Internet Explorer is my comfort zone. I was slow to start using FireFox, and still not very keen on using FireFox.

These are the only browsers I use, and I haven't used any other browsers since Netscape was a big deal -- wow, how long ago was that?

Well, I can see that changing real soon, Google Chrome beta was released today, and I started hearing so much about it, I decided to try it out.

I'm not sorry!

First impression: small learning curve, but it is much faster than IE or FireFox. I tried it out on a few sites I thought were slow (I visit them often) -- they loaded so fast! Incredible!

 I had been thinking that with so many of my neighbors now getting high speed Internet on the same main cable feed as I, the bandwidth was really getting eaten up, but now I see I'm wrong!

Well, maybe there's some deterioration, but using Google Chrome, with no changes with my OS, router, or modem, my speed is so much faster.

Oh, there are still sites that seem to be taking a noticeably long time to load, but these are popular sites, and they are taking less time than they used to with IE and FireFox.

I see some things I do not like:
  • My favorites, now listed as "Other bookmarks" are on the right side beneath the address bar (maybe because these were imported from IE? I haven't seen where new bookmarks end up) -- I'd like to be able to move it to the left side.
  • After I've zoomed the text, new tabs open at the default -- I'd want it to work more like the text size feature in IE, actually I'd like both a text size feature and a zoom.
  • The zoom only enlarges text, not images -- IE has two different was to change sizes, one just changes text, and the other does text and images up to 400% (I've actually needed this on certain sites)
  • The built-in spell check does not allow for going back to change spelling -- the red line indicating a word is spelt wrong shows up when you type a space or punctuation, but I was unable to use the spell check to correct the word until I had back spaced to the bad word.
  • When I open a link into a new tab, the browser doesn't automatically switch to the new tab -- if I can change that, I haven't found it yet.
  • The spell check doesn't appear to work in search boxes.
  • When I close a tab, the browser switches to the nearest tab, not the last tab used -- again, seems like something I should be able to change, but I don't see where.
All in all, the bookmarks were imported without a problem. When I first open the browser or a new tab, I get images of my most visited pages, I'm such a creature of habit, I'm sure this is going to be a very useful feature.

If you are visiting a page, and you want to see the Html, you can look at the page source, similar to FireFox, but Google has include a tool I haven't seen before called "Inspect element" which I don't totally understand yet, but it looks a lot more involved than just viewing the page source.

Something new I haven't needed, but sounds very good, is being able to open Chrome's task manager, which allows you to see things like the memory being used for each tab, and gives you the option to close an unresponsive tab, instead of having to shut down the whole browser.

I haven't covered everything yet, but this is the beta release, so I'm sure there will be some changes. Others will disagree with what I don't like, and find their own gripes, but I'm starting out very positive.

I need to get back to web surfing now!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Tony Levin -- An American Bass Player

Tony Levin is an American musician best know for his work with British progressive rock artists Peter Gabriel and King Crimson, he's also known for his use of the electric musical instrument known as the Chapman Stick.

Originally from Massachusetts, Tony Levin moved to New York City in the 70's where he became a much sought after session musician playing bass on albums by some of the biggest names in music during the 70's and 80's including Alice Cooper, Art Garfunkel, Cher, James Taylor, John Lennon, Judy Collins, Lou Reed, Paul Simon, Peter Frampton, Pink Floyd, and Yes. See Tony Levin's Discography for the complete list.

Working with producer Bob Ezrin on Alice Cooper's Welcome to My Nightmare, and Lou Reed's Berlin lead to working on the first Peter Gabriel solo album, and Tony has recorded and toured with Gabriel ever since.

Tony Levin

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fresh Tomatoes

It's fresh tomato time! These were not all red when picked, but I guarantee they were much more ripe than anything you'll find in the store! Why is that? Because commercially-grown tomatoes are picked while still firm and green to be able to survive the shipping and storage. They use ethylene gas to artificially ripen the green tomatoes.

Unless your grocery store gets locally grown tomatoes, the only way to get them this fresh without growing them yourself is to buy them directly from a farmer at a farmers market, roadside stand or right on the farm. If you like tomatoes, or any sort of produce, it is certainly worth buying them as fresh as possible and the Internet can help you find food grown close to you. The Eat Well Guide is a free online guide to finding local, sustainable, organic food in the US and Canada.

Even though the US salmonella outbreak of 2008 is now being blamed on jalapeno peppers, this article, The Tomato Pickle from June 2008, does a great job at explaining why buying local food is always the best choice.

Further reading: Commercially-Grown and Hydroponic Tomatoes and "Still No Free Lunch: Nutrient levels in U.S. food supply eroded by pursuit of high yields"

This works with Canadian postal codes, too!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

King Crimson

King Crimson: The Beginning Of Progressive Rock?

Formed in the late 1960's, the British group King Crimson, wasn't the first, but is considered one of the most influential progressive rock groups.

Originally, Robert Fripp joined drummer Michael Giles and his brother, bassist Peter Giles to form Giles, Giles and Fripp. Even though their first album didn't do well, they continued on, adding Ian McDonald, Peter Sinfield. Eventually, Greg Lake joined, becoming the lead singer, and replacing Peter Giles as base player.

King Crimson made their live debut on April 9, 1969 at a free concert staged by The Rolling Stones:

King Crimson

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Love Of Dragons: Dragons In Books And On Video

Dragons: One Of The Most Popular Mythical Creatures

Stories of Dragons are found all over the world. The oldest known dragon story is probably that of the Rainbow Serpent, passed down from the aboriginal Ngadjonji tribe in Australia, which is believed to date back to around 10,000 BC.

Dragons: One Of The Most Popular Mythical Creatures

Saturday, August 9, 2008

TwitThis Test

testing... 1... 2... 3

Friday, August 8, 2008

Observations about Back to School Fashion

Personal Expression

We use various ways to present ourselves. We use words and symbols to communicate. We have signals and gestures to help articulate ourselves. We use fashion to tell the world what we want to say. Whether we think about it, or not, when we put on our clothes for the day, we're setting our image for the day. This is why it is so interesting to observe people's back to school fashion preferences. Back to school fashion preference may show someone's personality for the whole term.

Observations about Back to School Fashion

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

I'm on Technorati!

I've just started, not much there yet -- visit if you dare! :-P

Technorati Profile

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Mom's Garden

My mom has a small flower garden near the kitchen door, which is the main door, as far as anyone is concerned, even though it is on the side of the house. At this time of year, it's especially nice to have flowers like this near the house, they give off such a sweet scent for everyone to enjoy. They also look great.

Here's an interesting site I found about natural health and flowers.

This can't be seen in the other two pictures, it's closer to the house, and I believe it is a Nikko Blue Hydrangea. It's relatively small now, but will hopefully grow to be 4-6 feet tall and 4-6 feet wide.

Because of how the flowers appear, Hydrangeas like this are often called "mopheads".

Friday, July 25, 2008

Dad's Garden and New Squidoo Lens

Fresh food is best!

The recent rains have delayed the summer squash in my dad's garden from ripening.

Hopefully this rain will help the tomatoes get larger before they start to get red! :)
New Squidoo Lens A Greener Diet For A Healthier Lifestyle is now online.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Worrying About Raspberries

Raspberry season is winding down. They grow wild all around my parents' property, and every year we try to pick the ripe ones before the birds can eat them all. This year I even spotted a squirrel picking some hanging close to the ground.

One day last week when the berries were just starting to ripen, my sister brought a girl she was babysitting over to my parents' place to help pick the berries. The girl is like 10, or 11, and we had a bit of a laugh because she wouldn't eat any of the berries before they were brought inside to be cleaned.

At the time it was amusing to us because we knew that the berries hadn't been sprayed with any insecticides, and besides that, growing up we never had any problems eating things found growing around our parents' property. Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and tomatoes are top on the list of things we'd pick and eat fresh growing up. We'd check whatever we had picked for dirt and obvious signs of damage left by bugs or animals, but the most cleaning would be a quick polish on our own shirt before enjoying the freshest taste you can get.

Sunday, the same girl was at my parents' with her sister and my sister's family for lunch. When my sister related the berry picking story with everyone who hadn't heard it. My sister figured that the girl was worried about needing to clean off the insecticide like food bought in the grocery store, but actually the girl stated that she was worried that the berries had been touched by actual bugs.

This got me thinking, we now hear about insects carrying diseases like West Nile Virus and Lyme Disease. I don't think I had ever heard of those when I was a kid. Also, with the recent outbreak of Salmonella some reports said that the tomatoes could have been contaminated from bird droppings on the foliage absorbed by the plants. Scary stuff indeed!

It's sad to me when a child, or anyone, is so worried about germs and disease that they can't enjoy a handful of freshly picked raspberries. As for what we buy from the store, I hope some good comes out of this latest outbreak. Maybe this will lead to some changes to how our food is handled, and set up a way for it to be tracked.