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    Growing from Seed: Jiffy-7


    2012 - 06.09

    For Easter Karin got some seed starting kits, and she’s had pretty good success with them so far.  In fact so much success that she needed to give away a bunch of the seedlings because they all sprouted.  So that’s pretty cool, and maybe she’ll talk more about her experience herself.

    The point of this post though is to expound a little bit on the Jiffy-7 Pellets which are very interesting things.  They are an integral part of the seed starting greenhouse that Karin used, and you would think that because they are called Jiffy-7 that you could just go anywhere and buy additional pellets and refill your greenhouse.  You’d think that, right?

    Well it turns out that the pellets come in different sizes, which isn’t really that problematic, but you’d think that they might be Jiffy-1, Jiffy-2, Jiffy-5, Jiffy-7 pellets and such.  Turns out that logical system doesn’t apply to the Jiffy pellets, regardless of size, they are all called Jiffy-7 and they go from about 18mm to about 60mm.  What this really means is that it’s significantly more difficult to find the right size pellet, because they all have the same name, and the sizes are not always clearly marked or indicated either on the boxes of additional pellets, bulk pellets or on the Jiffy Greenhouses themselves.

    So the bottom line is that they are a great product, but that you need to be especially careful that you know what size you’re looking for so that you aren’t disappointed.

    Class Size


    2012 - 03.04

    This is the sort of topic that could get me in trouble, given how many teacher’s I know…  Back when I was in school, having smaller classes would have been a bad thing.  Most of my teachers will remember me as being a decent-to-good student who stayed out of trouble.  This fond recollection is made possible by large classes.

    If teacher’s didn’t need to supervise so many students there are countless things which would have been noticed and could have possibly tarnished that teacher-pupil relationship.

    Of course when I was in school there was a healthy respect (and a little fear) of teacher’s which doesn’t appear to exist today (among students or parents).  So maybe today’s kids are less concerned with being caught doing things that they shouldn’t be doing… and likewise perhaps the parents are less demanding that they don’t.

    Thankfully I’m not a teacher so I don’t actually need to deal with that situation directly, but it certainly does seem as though a lot of respect has been lost somewhere along the way, and that’s really unfortunate.  If you look at the turnover in teacher’s and if the loss of respect was actually due to any of the teacher’s, those at the bottom and most hurt by changes are unlikely to have had anything to do with it.

    It’s actually strange thinking back on being in school, given that I graduated nearly half my lifetime ago (that’s a little scary to realize), but schools and the world are a fundamentally different place.  Things which have occurred in the world and dramatically affected the lives of parents and children (and teachers) since then include (in no particular order, and not limited to):

    • Harry Potter
    • Twilight
    • The Internet
    • Cell Phones
    • Texting
    • Columbine (and other school shootings)
    • Integrated classrooms (e.g. special needs students in the classrooms)
    • Bullying
    • Dual Incomes

    There once was a time (and it’s still the case in some countries) where everyone was so pleased or proud to be able to go to school and receive an education that students and parents worked with teachers.  Now it seems that there’s such an entitlement to an education that this respect is no longer afforded teachers or even the education system.

    I’m enough of a realist to not try to defend all teachers and especially not the education system, there are definitely flaws in both at times.  The larger problem though is in a society which essentially requires that students achieve a University degree, but which doesn’t respect the educators which help make that possible.  That same society then elects politicians who share that view, and those politicians undermine the system as a whole.

    So I joke about not wanting smaller classes, but when I went to school although there were smarter kids and less skilled students, everyone was fluent in French and English; behavioral problems consisted of talking too much during class, or failing to follow instructions.  But even so everyone yearned for the teacher’s approval, hoping for positive feedback, or a stamp or sticker.  We were not concerned that a student might bring a weapon to school.  Bullying happened, but it was limited and it was not of malicious intent.  Fights happened, but they resolved issues and everyone moved on (in fact two of my best friends became my friends after such altercations, and we’ve been friends for about a quarter century now).  It was a different time, and dare I say a better time?

    I often think that when people colour the past and remember it as better than today that they are inventing a past which might not have actually existed.  I actually believe that the respect with which teacher’s were treated is something that has diminished over time and to the detriment of all.

    So smaller classes, I suspect that it would help in a lot of cases.  It would help the teachers, but especially the students.  But we would all benefit IF we gave teacher’s more respect for the education and expertise which they have and for the difficult job they do.  If we could repair and rebuild this respect, then maybe we could repair and rebuild the system, and perhaps then politicians would have the good sense to offer some deference and respect when addressing education related issues.

    Word of the Day


    2012 - 02.21

    One of the items that we received for Christmas this year was a Word of the Day 2012 Desk Calendar (this year featuring 366 words).  Since I just opened it today, we’re a little behind.  So I’m going to highlight some of the words which have already appeared on noteworthy dates:

    Jan 1: autodidact

    Jan 2: inchoate

    Jan 3: fop (totally inappropriate choice for this day)

    Jan 7: evanescent

    Jan 26: lapideous

    Feb 1: balustrade

    Feb 14: bevy

    Feb 18: carnivorous

    Feb 21: felicity

    All links above are to dictionary.com.  Since it’s open now, you may see further references to the calendar…

    In Case the Internet Crashes Tonight…


    2012 - 02.14

    …I know why: one of my friends is intending to post an online dating profile for the first time.  Demand is expected to dramatically exceed supply, and the bandwidth of the entire internet may not be enough to satisfy the frenzy.

    Then again, it might not happen like that.  However, if the internet does go down tonight, it’s a fair guess that’s the cause.

    Teriyaki Salmon at The Keg


    2012 - 02.02

    The Keg has been sort of our special family restaurant for really as long as I can remember, and although we’ve gone to other restaurants as a family over the years, none of the others quite measures up.  I think part of that is probably because we didn’t go to the Keg often, but when we did it was usually for a special occassion: birthday, anniversary, graduation, and those types of things.

    Although my usual order these days is “Teriyaki Classic medium rare, works on the baked potatoe, with a ceasar salad to start and a pepsi”, and you can literally quote me on that.  I even had to refine it over the years, one of the servers through me one time because I didn’t include the salad part, and although the classics (at that time) came with ceasar salad by default, I guess enough people would substitute a garden or spinach salad that they felt the need to ask.  It was totally unexpected, but I adjusted.

    Regardless, when I was growing up steak wasn’t my go to choice at the Keg, which seems strange to me now, but then again back in those days they had a salad bar too…  My go to would have sounded like this: “Teriyaki Salmon with fries and a darth vader“, but I wasn’s so sauve in those days as to order it like that.

    Anyway, the Keg has a “Winter Grill” menu at the moment and Teriyaki Salmon is on it.  I think it’s probably changed from the one I remember, but that’s not going to stop me from having it.  Here’s the current description (which probably would not have appealed the the younger me): “Grilled and lightly basted with a sweet Teriyaki glaze.  Served with a pineapple cilantro salsa.”.  Another item which is interesting, but not appealing (to me anyway) is Onion Rings… there may need to be some strategic seating plan implemented at the next Keg visit to avoid the onion…

    P.S.  There’s a Keg contest at the moment where you can win dinner at The Keg for a year, it’s actually $2,400 in gift cards ($200/month) but still, if you enter (and win) you owe me dinner!  http://thekegcontest.com/

    Karin’s Resolutions


    2012 - 01.04

    This year, I’ve actually made some resolutions that aren’t “quit smoking” (I don’t smoke, so haha, I did it…go me…etc.)

    • Eat breakfast.  I’ve been having this nasty crash in the morning when my blood sugar drops. Dizziness and nausea are not fun in the morning.
    • Exercise. I started doing almost daily yoga/Pilates on Boxing Day.  I need to remember how good I feel when I’ve done yoga. I am very bad at remembering things that are difficult but enjoyable.
    • Write. I kind of stalled on the novel again.  I’M SO CLOSE TO FINISHING!!!!  I need to get it down, then start editing.  Also, I have several websites that are collecting dust.  I need to get myself moving on those.
    • Focus. I have things I need to do, things I want to do and things that would be nice to do.  Time to focus and do them…in that order.
    • Not be so hard on myself. I have a LOT of negative self talk, and I tend to spiral myself into fits of anxiety over what someone might be thinking of me.  Time to let some of that go.  Also, just because I make a mistake or mess up on a resolution…doesn’t mean it’s all over.  If I discover in March that I totally forgot to exercise for three months, then it’s just time to start again.

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Sleep Hygiene


    2012 - 01.02

    Today is the last day of vacation for me.  I tend to be nocturnal when left to my own devices (aka: not being forced to get up early due to work) and this vacation was no exception.  A week of staying up past 3 or 4 wreaks havoc with my schedule, so in an attempt to regulate sleep patterns, I’ve tried to get up early (ish) the last few days and last night I was in bed by around 8 with a dose of melatonin in my system.

    This was a risk, albiet a calculated one.  Sometimes I’ll go to bed early and sleep through and it will be absolutely amazing.  Other times…well…not so much.  I wind up sleeping like a baby.  Awake and grumpy every half hour.  Fortunately, it seems to have panned out.  I (mostly) slept through the night, waking myself up around 0600 (yikes) with a teaching dream.  Ugh.

    Messed around on my phone for a while until Dave came to bed (apparently he’d been working on the Abandoned Towers website since 9 the previous evening. O_o) then got up to look at the changes, write some email and mess around on the computer for a while.  Now I’m going to have something to eat and do some yoga…two resolutions: breakfast and exercise.  Writing this post is another resolution in the can…trying to keep up with the blogs. :)

    Vacation’s Over


    2012 - 01.02

    The phrase “vacation’s over” actually always makes me think of a Sting song “Saint Augustine in Hell”, of course I had to go and find the song to verify that I had the title right.  It’s from Ten Summoner’s Tales, and the phrase comes from the section which starts at 2:33 and goes through 3:10.  Although the phrase in the song is actually “break’s over”.

    Here’s a video that someone put together featuring clips from Supernatural to go with the song, it’s a Dean/Meg theme.

     

    So it being the first day of the year 2012, the vacation I’m referring to is not the pleasant couple of weeks of having Karin at home predominantly to myself, but rather the vacation we’ve taken from talking about ourselves.  On the bright side, since we haven’t been talking about what we’ve been up to for the last couple of weeks, we might actually have some good stories.  Well we can pretend together at least.

    Turf Goaltimate Kit: Illustrated Step by Step


    2011 - 12.19

    A while back I talked about my struggles to get Goaltimate to work on turf fields that you couldn’t physically anchor “into”, and documented a bit about how I thought I’d overcome those problems in “Turf Goaltimate Kit Reborn!“.  Well, it’s been 9.5 months since then and we’re still using and happy with that same system, so it’s probably about time I illustrate it a little better.  If you want the full part’s list, check that earlier post.

    Bushing:

    Goaltimate Kit

     

     

    Reducer:

    Goaltimate Kit

     

    Flange attached to half of shelf:

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit

    Pipe:

    Goaltimate Kit

     

    Attach reducer to the flange/shelf assembly:

    Goaltimate Kit

     

    Assembled “base”:

    Goaltimate Kit

     

    Take the bushing, and put it on one end of the pipe: 

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit

     

    Insert the bushing/pipe assembly into the base:

    Goaltimate Kit

     

    Voila, a completed support (repeat for the other side):

    Goaltimate Kit

    Goaltimate Kit

    Now assuming that you have an actual Goaltimate arch (generally out of PVC pipe) you can insert each end of the arch into one of these supports, add an Ulti bag, sandbag or some other “weight” to the extended portion of the shelf to provide additional stability.  Ideally use something soft, or at least without any dangerous edges in case someone runs into it.  It should be possible to run into the completed assembly and have the weight move and/or the arch fall down and/or the support come apart.  All of those are definitely preferable to having a broken person.  In almost a year of use, these mechanism has survived tumbles and collisions, has been responsible for zero injuries, and has not needed to have any components replaced.

    Good luck, and let us know if you’re using it, or if you improve upon the design.

    Just Over 2 Weeks


    2011 - 12.09

    I don’t know about you, but I haven’t started my Christmas shopping yet.  There might be the odd gift that we bought ages ago, but in terms of coming up with a list and starting to comprehensively find gifts for everyone, not even a little bit.

    Perhaps worse than not starting yet myself, I haven’t even started to come up with a list of things that I/we might want, which doesn’t really help anyone else out.  I guess I know what we’re going to need to start working on this weekend…