Monday, March 28, 2011

Strange Daze...

It's a rainy day, so God is doing the work of wetting my garden, I did have to turn the compost today though, and did so in a light rain. No biggie, I still worked up a sweat, and was amazed at how warm the heap was. Composting works! When it gets ready, it will probably go in the front yard, around my landscaping, mainly because this compost is questionable, i keep finding grubs in it even though it's warm. I don't want to add problems to my garden, I already don't get enough sunlight for my taste. Why add grubs!
My garden is a square foot garden, although I admit the pepper plant is in a container, and is likely to remain in a container. My goal is to see how big I can get this cayenne, and how long it can survive. I would like to plant seeds from this cayenne though, I have three set aside, from my first red pepper, and look forward to planting them. Even though the plant was in only moderate sun, the pepper did turn out to be good and spicy! perhaps there's something to the old grape growers tale that struggle makes for good grapes.

On a side note, handling a shovel on a daily basis is reducing the wimpyness of my information service oriented palms. I almost got a blister!

Friday, March 25, 2011


So I found a package of Cayenne seeds left over from two years ago, the last time I seriously tried to start a garden. They were an heirloom variety, and pretty spicy from what the package claimed at least. At some point last fall I said "what the heck!" and planted them in a yogurt cup. I figured if anything, I will grow a small pepper plant in a small pot over the winter, and it will be fun. I put the pepper in the windowsill, and watered it. It bloomed, but it was cool enough all winter that the blooms fell off, and the pepper slowly grew. Finally, in February, the blooms set fruit! I had tiny cayennes on my bush, even though the bush was growing in a yogurt cup. I started taking pictures when the pepper started turning red, mostly to upset my yankee cousins who are still experiencing the thralls of winter, whatever winter is.... (side note, Florida has four seasons: They are Dry, Rainy, Summer, and Hurricane, in that order.)

So I now present to you a complete timeline of my amazing over winter cayenne pepper goodness. This morning I ate it.
Omlette ingredients include: 2 eggs, splash whole milk, two chopped cayenne peppers (one red, one green), salt, cheese, 1 clove sliced garlic, and sage.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Amateur Radio! Hobby, Adventure, Nerd Fun at it's Finest.

I've had a lot of hobbies in my day. I mean that these are things that I enjoy doing just for the enjoyment of doing them. Two stand out in my mind especially, bird watching and ham radio.
Yeah I know, birdwatching makes me a nerd, and ham radio makes me a geek, but what can I say, I yam what I yam!
I want to talk some about amateur radio, especially in light of the current tsunami/earthquake/nuclear meltdown situation in Japan.
First watch this video:
About a contact hours after the tsunami. Here, you hear two radio operators talking about stuff, one in Japan, the other in America. The Japanese operator is glad to talk to someone. My point? When all other communication infrastructure degrades, amateur radio can get through! One of the reasons I became an amateur radio operator is because it can play such a vital communications role in times of emergency. It's also a lot of fun to build antennas, fix radios, build radios from scratch, talk to people all over the world, and just generally explore science.

So what is amateur ('ham') radio? Technically, it's a government mandated service regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. Here's the purpose as outlined in Part 97 of the FCC's rules and regulations:

§97.1 Basis and purpose.-

The rules and regulations in this Part are designed to provide an amateur radio service having a fundamental purpose as expressed in the following principles:

(a) Recognition and enhancement of the value of the amateur service to the public as a voluntary noncommercial communication service, particularly with respect to providing emergency communications.

(b) Continuation and extension of the amateur's proven ability to contribute to the advancement of the radio art.

(c) Encouragement and improvement of the amateur service through rules which provide for advancing skills in both the communications and technical phases of the art.

(d) Expansion of the existing reservoir within the amateur radio service of trained operators, technicians, and electronics experts.

(e) Continuation and extension of the amateur's unique ability to enhance international goodwill.

Practically, it's a group of hobbyists dedicated to having fun building, fixing, and using radios to communicate with people both near and far. We stand ready to help establish communications with cut off groups of people, stand ready to accept and pass along messages of hope when disaster strikes close to us, and we like having a good time. A soldiers life is filled with long periods of boredom, followed by brief moments of terror. Hams find a way to not be bored while waiting for the terror.

Many amateur radio operators have become electrical engineers, computer scientists, and other 'nerd' skills. Many of us have done other things with our lives, we are janitors, preachers, broadcast journalists, doctors, policemen, firemen, soldiers, (shudder) lawyers, politicians. Hams come from all walks of life. Even Ted Nugent is a licensed amateur radio operator.

In today's world, it's hard to understand how something like amateur radio can still serve a purpose. Communication infrastructure is everywhere! We all have cellphones, internet access, text messaging, smart phones, satellite phones, anything! Much of this communication infrastructure is interdependent and fragile. With one hurricane/In 2004, my wife and I endured 3 hurricanes while living in Orlando. She was impressed with the fact that while our cellphones only worked every once and a while, I could communicate and get news via my hand-held ham radio. Or consider the case of Gary. I Guarantee you ham radio made a difference to Gary that day.

Ham radio makes a difference in the world today. It's present, whether you see it or not, in every natural, or man made disaster. If you would like to know more about how ham radio helps in emergencies, and find out what it takes to become a ham, visit The ARES page. If ham radio has helped you, or you have a story to share, post a comment! Tell it!

73, (how hams say 'best regards')
DE KG4GVL (DE means "this is", and KG4GVL is my ham radio call sign)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

for... The Gastronome...

So it's late brunch time in my house. My middle daughter is wanting an 'egg on a blanket' basically a fried egg (well) on toast, with cheese between them. She loves that stuff. Recent controversy at my house has forbid the use of teflon covered pans, they are starting to peel, and so we don't cook on them anymore. It's ok, I got a cast iron skillet I can use for eggs. Apply butter, and voila! I don't need no stinkin' teflon!

looking at this hot skillet, I think to myself, 'I got a hot skillet, I should do something with it.' And immediately begin thinking about fried eggs. Then I paused....
I like spinach, and we recently bought some for a after church dinner salad. We didn't have all the leaves gone yet, so I've secretly been munching them instead of potato chips late night after I get home from work. Nomnomnomnomnom.. I really like raw spinach! I looked at that hot skillet and thought to myself 'Skillet needs some spinach.... and garlic'
hmmmmm, I crisped up some garlic, and spinach in the skillet, whipped the eggs together, poured them into the skillet, applied cheese, ham, more spinach, tri-folded it, garnished with a lil' rubbed sage(secret thing about me, I didn't make it if it don't got no sage), and plated it all up into the delicious looking thing on top of this blog post. I like giving away surprises, and let me tell you, you go do this at your house, you'll get a tasty surprise.