24 July 2009

Traveling Man, Hawaii Day 1

I'm sitting in LAX as I type this, at the top of a 4.5 hour layover. MY day actually started yesterday (7/22), because since I got home from work yesterday afternoon I've only aught a few catnaps, some watching TV, some while in the plane. I might just be exhausted enough to sleep from LA to HI. Of course, there's a Starbucks 30 feet from where I'm sitting, so bets are off. I do know that I'll sleep the sleep of the dead tonight. Whenever tonight is.
Back home it's 1130 in the morning - it's only 830 here (just in case you couldn't do the math). It took us just about 5 hours to get from Virginia to California.
Speaking of the flight, as I stared down at and took photos of the stark beauty that is the Western half of our nation I had a thought: it's called 'flyover country' by those of us on either coast (East Coast represent) as a derogatory term, but I would state that one of the few ways to truly enjoy the magnitude of the austere majesty of our nation is from the air.
Here's another thought - why not make the seats on the planes out of the same material as the seats in the boarding lounge? These things are comfy! Well, let's see if I'm still saying that in four hours.

Other random thoughts:

§Industry and Government should partner to use commercial aircraft as atmospheric data gathering platforms, if they aren't already doing so. Think about the real-time data that could be gathered as planes criss-cross the country.

§I'm hoping for a few celebrity sitings over the next four hours, but do celebs fly Delta? After all, Delta loves them some flyin, and it be showin'...

§My Teutonic Tourist count is presently at 9. There were 5 young ladies speaking German (I almost understood them ... almost) that shared the flight from Dulles, and there is a German speaking family here in the lounge. What's the deal with German tourists this year?

§I'm not giving it a full review, but "17Again" was the in flight movie, and it didn't suck. Sure, Matthew Perry's acting range makes Jeff Goldblum look positively Shakespearian, but it was a fairly clever retelling of "It's a Wonderful Life". Thomas Lennon was pretty good, and even though it's a goofy movie, it wasn't Twilight bad.

- - - The Next Day (T + 1) - - -

Sat next to a Ms. Swan analog on the flight from LA to HI, and watched the following movies:

§ Dragonball: Evolution; I invested a lot of hours in Dragonball Z years ago, and I was afraid of what this movie was going to be, but maybe it was the sleep deprivation, maybe it was the desire for escapism, but I enjoyed it. Shut off your brain fun, but that's what it was always about. I actually think they did a pretty good job of translating it from animation to live action, of course if they'd been exacting, the fight scenes would have made it a 4 hour movie. I've already typed too much, but I'd pay to see a sequel in theatres. Again, not Twilight bad.

§ Monsters vs. Aliens; Another fun movie. Dreamworks did a good job with this. I enjoyed the jokes, especially those that were intended to go over the heads of kids, which made it even funnier. We need more multi-layered cleverness.

§ Taken; only the first 2/3 I think, but enough time to watch Liam Neeson kick ass on 2 continents. I really want to see the end of this now, because I'm hoping he gets to stick it to the kid's mom and her 2nd husband, because they act like toolbags.

- - -

I've had dinner, half a concert (where the singing was good but I was exhausted), about 12 hours of sleep, and some freakin' awesome breakfast, and I've even managed to get the Internet connection working where I'm staying. Seriously, though, Waimea Coffee Company. They are completely awesome. We got there just in time to get a pretty large piece of Organic Blueberry Coffee Cake with icing to go with my 2 shot Americano.

There's a stream with just enough of a waterfall right outside our window to generate soothing white noise, and the view is amazing. Honestly, though, some of it reminds me of home; the hills, the standardized signage. Down by the shore is definitely a Martian environment, with lava fields just in the first stages of growing grasses and lichens that are breaking down the rocks and generating the biomass so future plants can take root. I'd love to see some of these in 1000 years, it'll probably be jungle.

As you can tell my thoughts aren't incredibly organized at the moment, but I wanted to share in some more detail than Twitter might allow. Check out my Twitter feed (look to your right) for some iPhone photos I've taken so far. I promise to aim for some more coherency as the trip progresses.


17 July 2009

Garden Ramble: WTF Edition - UPDATE 7-24-09

I've mentioned the volunteer cucumbers and tomatoes that choked out what little spinach I grew and have been thriving in a corner of my garden (well, the "cucumber" has been slowly vining out into the rest of the garden) ? Well if not, there you go.
Anyway, I was looking at the garden this evening and I noticed that the babies on the vine looked a lot rounder and fuzzier than any cucumbers I've ever seen.
I, I think I might have some kind of melon or something. Now I'm trying to think of what sort of seeds have been tossed into the compost - watermelon, cantaloupe?
It is a mystery, one that I likely won't find the answer to until after Hawaii.
Nothing like surprise gardening!

7-24-09: Looking like watermelon, based on the WATERMELON I found growing on the vine, all distorted because it (the melon proper) was growing around the handle of the plastic compost can.

T-6: Thoughts

Getting ready for work this morning I was thinking about my impending trip, mostly the flight, whether I'd go contacts or glasses (contacts), and decided that I was probably going to be awake when the plane landed in Hawaii because I'm not going to miss that approach and landing (much like one of Aerosmith's worst songs, I don't want to miss a thing. Hey, wasn't Liv Tyler in Pearl Harbor? This feels like a bad road to follow...anyway...) when I realized that my awesome new 18-70mm 3.5-4.5 lens, with its 67mm diameter glass, doesn't have a polarizing filter. Crap, that means most of my attempts to shoot the shores of paradise from the air would end up with the ghosts of my fellow passengers' reflections in the shot. That might be fine for Pa Kettle's vacation snaps, but I'm practicing my art here, and you never know when luck, preparation, and timing (timing is similar to luck, but something that you can learn, unlike luck, which is probably tied up with quantum theory) will coalesce into a shot for the portfolio. Preparation and timing are the largest parts of the equation ... I wonder what that equation would be, maybe:

Pr = Preparation
T = Timing
l = Luck
Ph = A Good Photo

(Pr3) * (T3) + l = Ph

I'm opening the floor on this one if anyone else feels nerdy enough to help fine tune the formula. Again, I digress.

To the point, I've ordered a circular polarizer for my lens, which means I should be able to cancel the reflective effects and maybe, just maybe, get an awesome shot of the Hawaiian shore. I ordered my filter by first checking out what Ken Rockwell has to say about them. Ken's never steered me wrong, and he's put a lot of work into his site's content. He has links to vendors that get him paid when you click them (you know how it works), so I went through him to Adorama, a vendor I've had good dealings with, and blammo, $30 later I have a Tiffen 67mm circular polarizer on order, should ship today (from NYC), and by the grace of God and a good tailwind should make it to my door tomorrow, or at worst Monday. Definitely by Tuesday, because if it doesn't arrive by Wednesday I'll be sleeping as the plane descends into Kona.
Can you tell I'm ready to go?

15 July 2009

Always Watch Your Six

I was going to call this "Highway to the Body Shop: My Wednesday Morning Commute", but that headline is blatantly sensationalist and my car is fine, and I am fine.
That said, I was riding up South Mountain this morning rolling with the flow (probably following a little too close for regulations -- but no closer than anyone else, commuters know) when suddenly the line of cars snaking its way up the left lane lit up with red.

RED Anger, frustration, Holy Shit everyone is stopping short BRAKE check the rear view - the guy behind isn't going to slow in time release the brake oh crap the angry red line is a lot slower and much closer time to brake nope he's gonna rear end me don't need that time to ditch but let's try to stay on the road swerve left don't hit the guy in front rumblerumblerumblerum - hey it's moving again.
Traffic spread out nicely after that, we all kept a safe distance, and I noticed behind me that the new friend I narrowly avoided making this morning (work through the syntax ... there, you got it) had moved into the middle lane, safely away from the rear of the vehicle he only avoided by the skill of the driver in front of him. Me. This is my web-log so I think a little braggadocio on my part is only warranted because half the point of keeping one of these is to remind people of how clever you are, right? I felt particularly clever, but mostly lucky, after that averted crisis.
To all the kids reading out there pay attention to your Driver's Ed instructors. Mr. Leasure's words rang in my ears today, "always leave yourself an out". If I'd had myself wedged between a few semis and a jersey wall with nowhere to go, I'd still be on the phone with the insurance company.
Oh, and just some generally good advice from me: always watch your six.
Also also: eat your broccoli. It's good for you.

Garden Ramble: I spoke too soon?

The peace lily I had given up for dead has sprouted a new bud!
There's an allegory buried in all this somewhere, which I will leave as an exercise for you, the reader. If you want to see the photo, I posted it to Twitter last night (I'm so current), so hit my just-added Twitter feed in the right hand column.
No, this was not posted just to pimp the Twitter, I really am thrilled that patience, faith, and Grace have brought this plant back from the brink of death. It was just a really good opportunity to mention the Twitter, and because I don't feel like re-posting the photo.

14 July 2009

9 Days 'til Hawaii

In such short time my friends I will board winged Mercury and take flight with old Sol into the West, alighting on the shores of Paradise. For a fortnight's half I will breathe the heady airs and trod the nubile shores wrought of Pele's anger brought cool by Pacific kiss. I will be rejoined with my love, segregated from my toils, and set free to indulge in my passions. I shall enter that burning Ring of Fire seeking transfiguration, but I'll settle for some lazy days, tasty coffee, and abundant margaritas. I'm ready for my vacation.
9 days til Hawaii. I'm so close to mentally checking out. Coming to work next week is going to be painful. I started packing last night, since I've done all the laundry and have more clean clothes than I ought.
While I'm out there I plan to do a lot of photography (duh), drink a lot of good coffee (double duh), and kill off the weaker brain cells (margaritas are my friend).
Actually, it's closer to 8 days at this point. That's just awesome.

10 July 2009

Garden Ramble: A post guaranteed to be as overgrown as my herb garden

It's been too long since I shared the going on in my garden. I've been through life, death, and life again with my botanical treasures. As usual I'll work from from to back. I'd like to make note of something, first. As I was pulling weeds from the sidewalk a few weeks back I noticed an oddly familiar plant sticking up out of the cracks - how did spearmint get in the sidewalk?! But it was there.
Now then, my front porch has faired better this summer than in summers past. The bricks of the house hold that morning heat all day, making it something of a brick oven, meaning that it's impossible for the soil in the pots and baskets to hold water for very long. Marigolds grown from last year's seeds are flourishing, zinnias are fighting the battle (also from collected seeds) but are much more needy in the water department. The ponytail plant I inherited is loving its new pot, and I haven't killed the hanging baskets we bought yet! Dad also gve me an awesome looking colias (sp?) pot with different colored foliage, and it is quite literally the cornerstone of my little front porch garden.
The houseplants are thriving as well! My spider plant has found a happy home in the bathroom, I'll hopefully have some babies this summer! One of my peace lilies has seemingly given up the fight, though; it never recovered after I split the plant in two. The other half is growing nicely, mind you. Likewise the indoor palms I almost killed with too much sun last summer, now split into two pots, are growing nicely.
The back porch has tomatoes and a bean plant (an accidental planting) as well as some seedling cayennes sprouted from seed that had wintered outdoors, mixed in with some flowers. Hanging proudly on the back porch is the officially recognized spearmint, transplanted back in the spring after wintering in the office.
The herb garden is indeed run riot. Several cuttings of peppermint, sage, chamomile, chocolate mint, lemon balm, and oregano are drying in the basement. Smells like tea down there. I need to get out there again soon and take another round of cuttings - oh, and I have an anise hyssop plant I picked up on clearance that has made itself at home. Very licoricey. The poinsettia we bought around Christmas is thriving in its predecessor's pot, and the rubber tree and snake plant are loving the sun and their new large pots.
The vegetable garden has been my largest source of frustration this season. Out of about 100 carrot seeds planted I have maybe a dozen carrots dispersed throughout the garden; the radishes were a huge failure. I mis-calculated my planting location and the hedge blocked too much light making them leggy and more interested in growing leaves than bulbs. Argh. I also got ONE stinking broccoli plant out of a dozen seeds, and that singleton was just transplanted because the squash plants were growing over it. I cut those back some so they wouldn't take over the pepper plants I just a week ago stuck in the ground. Finally, I had brown potato beetles attack my redskin potato experiment (where I stuck redskin potatoes that had grown roots while in the drawer into the ground to see if they would bear potatoes). That said it's not all bad, because...
I got taters, precious! Some things are growing nicely in the patch. I pulled out potatoes this evening, enough for a single serving. I tended to my remaining potatoes; hopefully there'll be enough for me and the mrs. to share after we get back from paradise (more on that in another post). The squash are growing, too! I'll hopefully have one with dinner before heading out. The garlic I stuck into the ground is just about ready to come out also, which elates me because that's just cool. My romaine lettuce is forming some heads, but other heads are pulling a radish, if you will. That corner of the garden is running riot because apparently the compost didn't sterilize all the seed and I have volunteer tomatoes and cucumbers that are growing better than they ever did when I planted them on purpose. I feel like God is looking down and saying "this is how it's done, hah!" Our God is an Ironic God.
As I contemplate the rest of the growing year, I'm going to give radishes another shot in the fall (I'm a glutton for punishment), and some more lettuce, and some onions! Dad has been sharing the largesse of his onion patch with us, and they are delicious. I want to get enough together to freeze for the winter because even thawed onion is better than dried onion, and who wants to pay for onion if you don't have to?
In the end it's all worth it, even if just staring at all the green punctuated by the yellows and blues and purples and reds of flowers and vegetables. It beats the hell out of the brown wasteland we get all winter, or the awful blandness of a manicured lawn.
That reminds me, I have to mow the grass tomorrow morning.

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