August 2006

At least one night per week, this is a fairly typical scene in our living room.

Me podcasting while Elsa sleeps behind me

Elsa looks concerned in that picture, but I think it’s only because she heard me say something that rhymed with “treat,” “walk,” “car ride,” “outside,” or “cheese.” Regarding the podcasts, I’ve now been doing them for about four months in addition to the regular music reviews on my site and just last week I passed the nice round number of 50. It’s a bit more work, but honestly it’s kinda fun, and I have to try to use up my web storage space somehow. Yeah, I still need to make an RSS feed for them, I know that. I have some vacation days coming up in the next few months, so maybe I’ll get to it then.

I mentioned the garden a long time ago, and despite a rather brutal heat spell a couple weeks back, it’s now growing and thriving more than it ever has. Due to some diligent composting by TG and a lot of groundwork by me, our expanded beds have provided us with lots to eat this summer.

First off, we have the basil plants. We have several varieties, and what started out as three small plants has not only taken over nearly the entire herb garden bed, but have re-seeded around themselves, leaving small plants growing out of our brick path and a small planter that was sitting nearby (the picture area is roughly 4 x 2 feet). We’ve made batch upon batch of pesto, and from the looks of the new growth I’m going to have to make some more this weekend.


Next up, we have our swiss shard, which went through a really productive stage before being beat back by the heat (and is now back again). This stuff is amazing in soups or even sauteed up by itself with some diced onion and balsamic vinegar.

Swiss Shard!

On a whim, we planted a single small chili pepper plant and it has completely gone off. We both like hot food, but these little peppers are so strong that it only takes two of them to do an entire batch of soup or stir fry. They’re strong enough that you don’t want to cut them up and then go to the bathroom anytime soon unless you’ve washed your hands really well. I found that out the hard way. We’ll probably end up making some chili paste out of them.

hot pepper!

We have a couple green pepper plants, a single sweet gypsy pepper plant, and a couple red pepper plants as well. Although we’ve gotten quite a few from each plant so far this year, all of them seem to be absolutely flourishing right now. It’s hard to tell, but this shot is of the top of a single plant, where there are at least six peppers all growing near one another. The entire plant has something like ten to fifteen peppers growing on it, and that is repeated for each plant. So yeah, we’re going to be eating lots of peppers soon.

green peppers!

One of our experiments for the year was to grow some viney plants, and our luck with them is hit or miss. The butternut squash plant has gone insane, spreading all around our beds and forcing us to wind and re-wind the vines around as it continues to grow. We have between 8-12 butternut squashes growing right now in various sizes. Kick-ass soup will be made with these.

butternut squash!

Lastly, we have the lone pumpkin that has grown from our pumpkin plant. Like the squash, the vines are snaking all over the place, but it’s just not putting out. This little fella is cute enough, I suppose, but I was hoping for at least a single pumpkin big enough to carve (or make cinnamon-pumpkin ice cream out of).


We also have some huge tomato plants, carrots, and a couple other things, but everybody has tomatoes and ours are going through sort of a quiet streak right now.

Needless to say, our little garden experiment has gone really well this year. We even had enough raspberries to make homemade ice cream with earlier in the summer, and our grapes (Concord, not the greatest) fed the squirrels and birds for weeks. Once again, we learned a lot about what grows well and where, so hopefully next year is even more successful for us.

If you get the reference in the title of this post, you are way cool, but in fact our dogs cannot eat quite a whole watermelon (even though I’m sure they’d like to try). During the summer, a little bit of cold melon has become a big favorite of both Elsa and Zoey, so tonight I decided to get a snap of them getting their fruit scraps and making a bit of a mess in the kitchen.

Yes, this household is a bit silly.

Elsa and Zoey eat Watermelon

Contax Zeiss Ikon CameraI used to thrift a lot, but over the course of the past few years I’ve sort of let my habit dwindle, only stopping once in awhile to see if I can find a decent pair of pants, a dress shirt, or a vintage tie. I usually scan the book shelves, spin through the electronics isle, and look at what’s usually a sad and discarded pile of CDs.

Today, though, I was at a local thrift store when I saw an old camera laying in a bin of stuff that still needed to be put out on the floor. At first I thought it might be another cheap clunker knockoff, but after checking it out a bit more, I realized that it was the real deal.

So, for $3.99 I got myself a vintage 50s Zeiss Ikon Contax camera. It’s one of the most solid 35mm cameras I’ve hoisted in my hands, blowing away my already nice Canon AE-1. It has a built-in light meter and lots of other neat little features. The best part of the whole deal is that it looks like it’s barely been used at all. The shutter works like a charm at all speeds, the lens doesn’t have a single scratch on it, and it doesn’t seem to have any issues at all. As a photo major in college, I was more than a little bit giddy to run across such a nice find.

Race by Studs TerkelBack when I was in college, I worked for a writing center on campus. One of the rooms that we used for conferences had an entire wall that was covered by a bookshelf with titles on it that I never pulled out to read. I did scan over the titles, though, and the book Race stuck out at me simply because the authors name was Studs Terkel and in the mind of an 18 year old, that seemed kinda funny to me.

As you can probably tell if you’ve looked at this site any in the past two years, I have obviously become a huge fan of Mr. Terkel. To date, I’ve read five of his books and plan on reading everything he’s compiled at some point in the future. As I’ve mentioned in the past, he’s one of the best distillers of perceptions and language that I’ve ever read. His books have numerous, numerous instances of “normal” everyday people who say some of the most profound, beautiful, and meaningful things that I’ve read in the past five years.

I’m a person who likes good documentary films, and that’s usually because of the people and the personalities portrayed. One of the best things I can say about the books (especially Race) of Terkel is that when you’re reading them, you feel like you’re sitting in the middle of an outstanding documentary film. He guides you through different passages with skill and ease, and even in short interviews of a couple pages, he manages to paint vivid pictures of the lives and people he’s interviewing.

If it seems like I’m gushing, I am. As far as I’m concerned, Studs Terkel is a bit of a national treasure at this point. If you haven’t read any of his books, pick one up and get lost in it. If you’ve read his work and you know of other authors or collections of oral history style writings that you think I might enjoy, let me know.

I haven’t updated this site in some time, and there are a couple reasons for that. The first is that I’ve been insanely busy. I was out of town for a couple days at a web conference in Baltimore (more on that later, maybe) and life has been rather busy in general. In addition to that, I’ve been relegated to working on my older, backup computer for over a month now due to my powerbook being in the shop.

At any rate, last Monday I called Apple again after a series of breakdowns in repair and replacement times. I didn’t raise my voice at all, but was obviously frustrated, and was actually sent up the chain of command several levels. After I’d been on the phone for some time, I ended up talking to someone that looked through my long case history and flat out told me that Apple would get me a new computer.

Because they don’t make the powerbooks anymore, this meant that I got a new Macbook Pro. Needless to say, I was quite excited, although I tried to temper my enthusiasm until I had the machine in my hands.

One month and 5 days after Apple initially checked-in my old machine, I am now the official owner of a new Macbook Pro. I haven’t gotten everything up and running on it yet, but it’s clearly faster. Another nice gesture from Apple was to not only make sure that I had the same amount of RAM as my old machine, but max out Macbook with a whopping 2GBs. So yeah, it’s noticibly faster, and I can’t wait to really see what happens once I start chugging it away on Logic Pro.

And so that’s the end of the story for now. I don’t have any image editing software on here yet, so this post will go without a picture, but I have several posts I’ll be making in the near future to catch up on things (I managed to finish a book and start another on my recent trip).