Backyard Destruction

Posted on April 25, 2010 by Stephen

The previous owners of our house had some interesting ideas for the photinia plant in the back yard. The plant is a common bush on roadways in cities. The previous owners decided to turn a bush into a tree. Normally the photinia flowers after the last rain of the season, but 2010 has been a very wet year into April. The explosion of flowers coupled with the rain nearly toppled the photinia into our house. The long branches were dropping from 30 feet down to 15 feet and the weight was incredible. I had to do some emergency trimming at 10:30 pm one night in the rain to keep the tree from breaking.

Backyard Planting 2010

Posted on April 19, 2010 by Stephen

Over the last two weekends my wife and I have made huge transformations of our backyard. We had planted grass (sod) a few years back, but the ground has too much clay and compacts very tightly. The grass was nice a green for the first two years, but the past three years the grass has looked spotty and weed-choked. Using a digging mattock and shovel, we tore through the remaining grass and removed the sod's plastic grid. We dug holes twice as wide and 50% deeper than the plant's original pot and fill the extra space with either potting soil or "Paydirt". We also bought a tub of lady beetles (lady bugs) to place on all of our new and older plants to control aphids.

Almost Boating Season 2010

Posted on April 16, 2010 by Stephen

Well, it is Friday and I am at work dreaming about Lake McClure and the California Delta. This weekend my wife and I will get the boat prep'ed for the coming weekends. I had service done to the outdrive and engine last December. The wheel bearings were re-greased and the trailer breaking system had fluid added. Now I need to work on getting new radial tires for the trailer--the original bias-ply tires are wearing out already after 2 years.

To prep the boat, we will be vacuuming the winter cover and spraying off some of the collected grime that has accumulated over the last 5 months. We will probably remove the snap-covers and clean them along with the boat's exterior. I need to get some fuel stabilizer and dry-fuel additive and add those to the first fill-up of the season.

I tried to call Lake McClure to find out how high the water level has risen, but there was no answer. The lake can hold an elevation of 867 feet above sea-level, but for the past few years the lake was down under 600 feet. Five, maybe six, years ago the lake was at its highest, which made for very good houseboating and wakeboarding. The height of the lake increased the amount of ski-able area nearly exponentially and allowed for some great places to park the houseboat.

Ripping Music with FreeBSD

Posted on April 02, 2010 by Stephen

Now that I have a larger hard drive, I figured it was time to rip my CD collection. I am running FreeBSD 8.0 on and AMD 64 X2 CPU. I looked on the internet for possible KDE programs to make ripping look pretty, but I found some issues with the programs Audex and KcD. Neither program recognized my CD player even though I configured the program to look at the correct device. There is something missing in my knowledge of KDE (so what else is new?). After a trip through the audio ports, I settled on and old favorite and a new twist--cdparanoia and abcde. I knew that for my favorite Jazz CDs and other special music I wanted a lossless format as my archive format. I chose flac for these archive files and setup the audio/flac port along with audio/lame and audio/vorbis-tools. Most of the popular music I just rip as mp3 or ogg to save space. Once I set the abcde.conf file, all rips were filed to my liking and the CD information look-up filled in the album name, artist and track name/number. Two of the finer applications for KDE with regard to music are Amarok and JuK. JuK allows me to adjust the mp3 tags very easily and it sorts the music into neat and clean play lists. Amarok has better audio handling, but it lask the ease of editing the mp3 tags. Between the two, I use them evenly.