Friday, June 25, 2010

water recapture for compost

In the spirit of "you got chocolate in my peanut butter", I submit the following:

  1. I have two AC units that both generate a good deal of water from condensation.  My old central air generates about 5gal/day, vented outside via PVC pipe in the style of the 1980s when it was installed.  There's also a window unit in the workshop that I keep barely turned on just to keep temps in there below 90F.  It generates about 1.5gal/day.
  2. My compost piles are quite dry.  I try to remember to water them from time to time but the heat has been incredible. 
So, now I put buckets under the drips and rehome the water to the compost piles.  I'm putting most of it around the periphery as that seems to the be the driest part when I restack piles.   I don't think I'm overwatering the piles because the heat is so bad, and because the piles are stacked in wire mesh cages.  Excess water should flow out the bottom or evaporate out the side.

The stack nearest the 5gal bucket gets a little a day then I dump the rest at the base of the trees in the front yard.  

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

first watermelon of the year

Ate my first melon of the season.  Ok, but not really good.  Haven't had a REALLY GOOD melon in about 3yrs.


BTW, if you ever wondered if chickens like watermelon rinds:

That's the pink and white innards chowed down until the green shows.

How to coach (I mean "teach") History in Texas

I run many canned searches each day.  This is how it came up this morning (note:  I was not searching for coaching in any way).

Teacher-Coach-Assistant Basketball-Social Studies Composite

Basketball-Social Studies Composite Location: Roosevelt HS REQUIRED CERTIFICATIONS: Social 

Teacher-Coach - Social Studies Composite/Ass. Football

High School Social Studies Composite Teacher, Softball/Volle...

School Social Studies Composite Teacher, Softball...

Teacher-Coach-Social Studies-Assistant Football

Social Studies Teacher/Coach

Social Studies Composite/Asst. Football & Basketball Coach (...

Teacher-Coach-Social Studies/Asst Girls Basketball-Softball-...

Teacher-Coach-Social Studies Comp./Head Softball Coach

I bring this up so folks getting into the field will see how it works.  When making life plans it's useful to have someone point out the hidden obstacles.

I will close with a quote from Bierce:
ACADEME, n.  An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.
ACADEMY, n.  [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Not done with the DMN survey yet

This one is about the survey structure itself, not the content.

I hated this survey.  I actually yelled at the screen a few times while taking it.  It was full of suck.  Let me count the ways:

  1. Flash is slow and unnecessary.   Stop it.
  2. Don't make us fill out 48 (4x12, not joking) panels from scratch.  Use defaults from the previous page and let us fine tune them as we go.  
  3. Don't put the "stop and come back later" button in the default Submit location, particularly if you can't Back to the previous page.  I had to go back to the original email invite 3x.  Grrr!
Piece of crap.   Piece of crap.  Piece of crap.

DMN survey is not good news

Looks like folks that are registered on got a survey invite:

The Dallas Morning News and would like to invite you to participate in a survey that will help our writers and editors learn about your opinions on digital media and the news. If you participate, you will help us provide better news and information through both traditional and new personal digital products. All answers will be treated as strictly confidential

It would be in poor taste to publish all the details, but overall the survey suggests that DMN is so freaking out of touch with the online audience that they couldn't "find their ass with both hands", as my father used to say.

Behold the lunacy:

  • All subscription options involved a contract of some kind.  A contract.  A committment. Really?  
  • All subscription prices were based on particular subject areas (shopping, entertainment, etc) which are bought separately, at jaw dropping prices you will see next
  • All subscriptions per subject area were $1-$6 per month, up to a max of $20.  That's up to $240/yr!  Ha ha ha ha ha! Yer killin' me!  hahhaha!  That's a good one!
My professional opinion:  someone/everyone is smoking crack at DMN.

My unsolicited advice to DMN
The cost:  You might get $20/yr for all content combined out of some people.  You definitely aren't going to get $20/month in your wildest, most unrealistic, incestuous/inbred boardroom strategy sessions.    If you could make that $10/yr for all content folks might consider that a good deal and might do it just to support their hometown paper.[0]  For $240/yr you can get low-end internet feed.  THE ENTIRE INTERNET, not DMN.

Rewarding print subscribers:  If there is any kind of paywall, the online content really should be free to anyone who is still has one of the dead tree edition subs.

Rewarding crowdsources:   if you start a paywall, you BETTER be giving free access to your citizen contributors like Destiny and others who are doing your freaking job for free.   Pay attention:  if you charge us and don't give contributors access for free, then your contributors will monetize their own blogs instead and let the free market teach you a painful lesson.  

The contract:  Don't do that.

ex-DTH subscriber
daily reader

[0] regardless what they did to the DTH in the past.  Bastids. v

Monday, June 14, 2010

my nonexistent pressure cooker

I bought a Presto 8qt pressure cooker (model 0128204) off Amazon a couple of years ago and was looking for regulators and other parts for it.  Apparently that model number is a figment of my imagination even though it is stamped in the aluminum pot.  As of this writing there were three (3) google hits that positively listed that model number, and none had parts.

So I called Presto and asked about it. The rep seemed to sidestep the issue a bit, but when I asked if the listed 0128202 used the same gasket, overpressure relief and regulator she said it did.  She also advised the only regulator for this unit is 15#.  I would like to have a 5# and 10# for it like I do for my 22qt Mirro canner.  10# would be a bit gentler on my agar media, I suspect.

Posting this bit of trivia here so some other lost soul with a 0128204 wouldn't have to duplicate the effort.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Transition to the tractor

Chickens are a month old today, and it's warmer outside than it is inside the brooder. Over the past week I put them in the tractor for increasing amounts of time, up to 8hrs. They are much bigger, and are starting to pick up chicken proportions. At this point they are bigger than pigions but a bit smaller than the giant crows I've seen this year. They'll end up around 6# or so. In the pic one of the RIRs is pecking at a piece of corncob to get the little edible bits out.

Thursday night we put them out but they were scared and cried. We picked them up around 1am and put them back in the brooder.

Friday we put them in the brooder all day and they all went to sleep around 10pm. They went upstairs to the nesting area around midnight. They peeped quietly a bit then fell asleep.

Today (Saturday) we moved the tractor a few feet to expose a fresh bit of chicken-yard interface. This evening they nested by sundown. I left them a little 25w "nightlight" to calm them. They need it less and less but I want the transition to outdoor life to be as easy as possible.

They roost a bit but end up sleeping on flat surfaces. At some point they will start to roost more as we used the recommended 2" width, sanded the edges to make them comfy, and made them a bit higher than the nesting area.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

scope of war

"There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket."
Attributed to General Smedley Butler, USMC

What some call isolationism, others call tending one's own garden first.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

teaching, tilting at windmills

Introspection and explanation.

It's been a year and a half since I left a corporate/technical job to pursue teaching. My timing turned out to be quite bad; the economy immediately tanked and the teaching market constricted mightily. School districts like Richardson have quit accepting applications altogether from alternative certification folks like me unless one is in a high needs area (Math, Science). I'm not. And I can't get into a high needs area without getting a certificate in my non-high needs area first. This in spite of recent findings that there is no particular edge that traditional hires bring to the table.

I promise this isn't a whine or a complaint. My mood is one of acceptance and reality. A new alt cert applicant asked me the other day if the job market was depressing or scary. "No," I replied, "depressing and scary was about a year ago." I should point out that she asked me this during a 30-hr block of Saturday classes I'm having to retake for TEA because I didn't get the internship before the 18-month limit timed out. And I wasn't the only one like that in the classroom.

I tell you that to tell you this: I just filled out my first application for a non-teaching job. The market may pick up soon but subbing doesn't pay enough to keep me from burning through my resources: savings, checking, retirement, eBay/craiglist-able nonessentials and credit line. Subbing every single day (no days off, no cancellations, fully booked) yields a max of about $16k/yr. I figured I'd sub until I got a teaching job or ran out of resources, whichever came first.

If I do not get a teaching job for the Fall it's safe to say it's over. Neither the mortgage holder nor student loan officer will accept good intentions or dreams in lieu of cash, and I don't blame them. I gave the public school system first right of refusal and they exercised it. Fair enough. But I do feel a tiny bit like a fellow who had his proposal turned down on the jumbotron at the ballpark, or a volunteer the Peace Corps wouldn't accept.

I continue to email, hobnob, apply to ISD websites, look at 40+ ISD/charter/private school job listing pages each day but it appears the die has been cast. I'll keep trying to get a teaching position right up to the point I get hired to do something else.

Edited to add: even if I get a non-teaching job I'll continue to teach on my own time and my own dime. It's a vocation, and finds its way to the surface like St Francis preaching to the birds. Maybe I'll teach the chickens in the backyard.

Anyone getting grounds from Starbucks?

Apparently some Starbucks locations will give away used coffee grounds for composters.

Anyone tried this at Richardson locations? I generate my own coffee grounds each day :-) but it might be useful for others.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Seriously? Graham cracker looting?

Yes, that appears to be the case.

If we are willing to commit theft on so petty a scale I am pretty sure Dallas would look like a 3rd-world postapocalyptic madhouse if any major disasters occurred here. Plan accordingly.

A more strident Libertarian than myself would use this opportunity to reflect on how nanny state paternalism encourages the devolution of character.

"Do not sell your honor so cheaply."