Saturday, October 31, 2009

Overwinter Transplants off to a Good start

My pepper plants have been doing well inside. This is the first time I have tried to bring a plant that was growing in the garden and convert it to the container and bring it indoors. The flowers have been setting on the plant and I have been making sure the door is closed to not allow for any drafts. But so far so good. My goal is to keep this guys green until spring and then I can take the containers outside and mother nature can take care of the rest.

My eggplant seems to have taken well to the transplant as well. I would really like for this guy to be successful. The Japanese eggplant are unbelievable and this is coming from someone who really doesn't like to eat eggplant. He is definitely a winner! The trick again is to preserve these perennials through the winter and have a head start for spring and summer next year. Speaking of next year I have to start planning for what type of seeds I want to purchase next year. We are definitely going to grow more of what we eat regularly and I would like to try growing some fruits and veggies from the middle east in containers. It should be fun.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Growing Butternut Squash in the Fall Zone 8

Over the past few weeks my Butternut squash have been producing many male and female flowers. Our hand pollination techniques are producing sub par results. I have noticed that there are these tiny ants that have been navigating to every open flower collecting what I think is pollen. There are some butternut that have started to grow and then for some reason or another they fail and those same tiny ants are walking in and out of the shell. I suspect they may also be eating the squash. The one pictured has been doing very well along with three others. The butternut unlike other varieties of squash seem to take forever to grow and the longer they are on the vine the more I have to contend with fighting off everything that wants to eat them. Nevertheless, they really enjoy the cool weather and when we have warm fronts that move in they are taking full advantage of it as well. But all in all I am really liking my butternut this time of year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

No Wonder They say we all look the Same

The other day I called a surveillance installation company and spoke to a gentleman that has been installing cameras for 20 years. In the past few months somethings have been happening in the neighborhood that we think merits the surveillance of our property and surrounding areas. So anyway, I got the gentleman on the phone and we started talking about all the different systems and the cost to purchase and install. In the back ground I could hear several chickens and we struck up a great conversation about raising chickens and how much fun they are. This went on for approx 5 min, after which, we again got back on to topic about the cameras and I asked the question about what is the difference between the two types of cameras. He began giving me a breakdown about one camera and when he got to the other camera he began by saying in a whisper, "We'll I don't mean to be racist, but if you get a negro coming to your door it will be really hard to identify him if he's dark." I said, "Oh really, Because I don't want a camera that can't pick out all Negros; when can you come over and install?" I don't think this guy realizes I am black. It's going to be real funny when he sees me. Other than the Old style negro comment, I think he is a really nice guy. I will have to bust on him though and make sure my camera passes the Negro test:)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hugo, Tommy and Cheeba Oh My!!

The Big Guy Hugo is going through a crisis of some sort, for many years he has been the King of the house. Hugo is some kind of cat with a great personality. He loves to be stroked and his deep purr lets you know that he appreciates every bit of it. But something happened when we left for Vegas. Things changed for some reason. The one thing we noticed when we came back was that his scratch post was in the middle of the hallway. Im not to smart on cat behavior, but I know that big cats use scratch post to show other cats how dominate they are. I love having fun with Hugo when he starts to scratch, because as soon as he starts I will position myself in a door way and start scratching as far as I can reach. Apparently the higher the scratch marks, is a great indication of how much of a bad ass you are. When he sees that his hair flares out and he starts running for the nearest hole to squeeze in, Hugo as you probably have figured out is not a small cat, he is an XX Large Tabby that weighs almost 25lbs. My wife brought him with her from Japan along with Tommy. Hugo and Tommy are like apples and oranges. But unbeknown to us a power play has been in the works for some time and now Tommy is the ruler of the house. I use to think Hugo was a bully; but once I got to know him, I understand him better and realize that the way he ruled the house was actually based on order and fairness. But now with Tommy "the Quiet One" aka "Night-Stalker-Psycho-Boy" who never sleeps. He has exploited this weakness for his benefit and has pushed hugo to one section of our home, Our Bedroom; which Hugo Never leaves now. I think hugo got caught on the scratch post and couldn't get loose and Tommy jumped on him. There was hair in the hall way and a spot on Tommy, but whatever happened Hugo will not leave our Bed Room he was so scared to leave our side that he pooped on the master baths rug. Right in fron me Grossssssssssssss! But I love Hugo he is a great cat. What does my dog Cheeba think about all of this? She just roles her eyes. She is absolutely oblivious to the inner dealings of the feline world.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bok Choy Second Growing Season Zone 8

Bok Choy, is hands down one of my favorite leafy green veggies. They are a great alternative to spinach and cabbage. As the cool weather sets in here in the south our Bok choy are loving every bit of it. About a week ago I thinned several of the plants and my wife and I ate the tender clippings in a stir fry. Today I went back out to the garden to prepare another meal and noticed that the Bok choy was growing in full force with much stronger leaves. As I started clipping the leaves I noticed that there are just way to much and I got tired I finished about half way through the clippings until I got smoked. They went really well with the stir fry of other fresh veggies we pulled from the garden and fresh pesto we made over the weekend that went will with our grilled Chicken breast... Absolutely delicious!!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Growing Japanese Cucumbers

After several attempts this year to grow Japanese Cucumbers we finally got a few seeds to grow and set flowers. It seems like this variety really does well in cooler weather. The whole plant has several Flowers with both male and females strutting there stuff. My wife and I are hand pollinating them all and so far so good. This past summer we were up to our ears in Cucumbers and although my wife was not a big cucumber person she really started to like them. They just add a really fresh crisp to our food and I started adding them fresh, to all my meals. Even though its cooler these days I really hope this Japanese variety really hangs in there. It's kind of tough for our pollinators at this time of the year, they are all hunkering down getting ready to embrace the cold.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Social Responsibility

Many popular food chains are advertising on their websites that they are socially responsible. But upon closer look, I start to question how could someone call themselves being socially responsible when they serve food that has calorie laden food that should be considered socially unethical. We scanned through many of these sites only to find food so high in calories that it would make up your one total meal requirement for the day. How is this being socially responsible? Its actually disgusting. My wife and I love to go out and eat, but honestly what can we eat that will be considered healthy from us from the major chains. Im sure I can go to these places and pick through the menu and search for a meal that could be healthy. But it would seem to me that a company that is claiming social responsibility should already consider these issues and try to do what they can to curtail the problems. I understand that eating fresh organic food can only be purchased at really nice restaurants, so I start to wonder, why in the world would I want to eat anything else and since it costs too much to eat at most of these places, I would rather cook myself. So it looks like there will be no more dinner and movie for us. We will just go to the movie. But wait, there is that Popcorn washed with fake butter and a soda Issue, that cost wayyyyyyyyyy more than the movie. I'll talk about that at another time.......

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

First trapped Red Tail of the Season

Over the past several weeks I have been extremely busy and I have been scouting for immature Red Tails to trap so I can hunt with this hunting season. Today as I was leaving work I had my trap ready and I was on the look out for any signs of a Red Tail perched high on a tree or on a utility pole. I figure this would be a perfect time to trap because Red Tails are looking for their last meal before the sun sets because they will pretty much be in seclusion during the night.

So here I was listening to NPR and in the distance I can see the tall tale distinct sign of a perched red tail on the top of some trees scanning a field. I drove by and scouted the area to see where the best place for me to throw my trap out of the window that can serve as a good presentation for the tail. I found that place, threw the trap out of the window and drove down the road a little ways when I saw the the hawk take flight from my rear view. YES!!!!!!!!!! I got one...... I drove up to the trap and saw the red tail and became excited. The only thing that could make this date go wrong would be a RED TAIL!! Like literally. As a falconer I am looking for an immature red tail hawk and immature birds do not have "RED" tails. Only adults do and unfortunately so did this one. He was a beautiful male red tail. There are many reasons for why falconers don't trap and hunt with adults and one of them, is because adults have proven that they can live through the seasons and have lived long enough to contribute back to the population. Immature birds who are less than one year old are perfect for falconry, because they are easy to train and the take of immature red tails does not have any impact on current population numbers. Furthermore, many falconers like myself release there red tails back into the wild after the hunting season and start fresh with a new bird every year. SIMPLY AWESOME!!

What a Week!!

I can remember preparing to go hunting last week saturday to only find out that it was way to windy to be really succsessful. It was a hoot trying on my ghille suit for the first time. I felt like the yeti; in fact I could almost bet that the guys who made that infamous big foot video had on a ghille suit. But nonetheless, I had a great time out in the field. I saw tons of sign and I look forward to getting back out this weekend for some hot pre-rut action.

On sat afternoon and all day sunday, I did some much needed yard work and the misses and I planned our meals for the week. This week it was homemade chili, with jalapeno Cheddar cornbread, baked chicken with fresh veggies, lasagna rolls, or fajita burgers with lean ground beef. The wife and I have been planning our meals every sunday for the week and making sunday our official cook family day. I told her my official name is chef. Shes still rolling her eyes.

I uprooted my eggplant and transplanted it into a container and brought her inside and so far so good. My beautiful pepper plant the habanero is not doing so well, all the leaves have drooped and although it remains green, it looks really really sad. All my other transplants are doing great with a few flowers being set this week as well. I really hope the big habanero gets well. I think its from being left outside and taking in a tremendous amount of rain. Im at a lost of what to do. I just hope he pulls through. Big Sigh...............

Monday, October 12, 2009

Ground blind for Hunting

This weekend is the opening of Gun season and Im looking forward to tagging my first deer of the season. This year I am trying something new. Today I walked in the woods and found a great spot to make a ground blind. Essentially the blind serves as a way to break up your pattern so that wild animals can not discover you. If you have never hunted before, it's tough to find the perfect spot. Many people think that it's a disadvantage for hunters because we have weapons, but to the contrary deer, wild boar, turkey and other big game animals have extremely keen senses with smell being there most powerful senses. This is not true for turkeys because birds use more of eyesight than smell. But nevertheless, its extremely difficult to sneak up on game if you don't know what your doing. So this year I decided to make a ground blind. I usually climb a tree with my tree stand so that way I can get above the line of sight for most game and therefore get the advantage. But recently I have been doing alot of reading on how effective ground blinds can be if placed right. So today was my attempt to find the absolute best place and from the looks of it I found just that place. When putting up a ground blind you want to keep in mind that you have to find funnels. Funnels are areas where animal movement can be predicted by terrain. For instance: if there is a river running from north to south, and a patch of woods separating the river from a wide open field. We can safely assume that the patch of woods will serve as a funnel area for animal movement as they move secretly. I found a perfect funnel along a ridge that has a spur which concentrates predictable animal movement. It has been raining intensely over the last couple of days so trails have been washed out, but it is pretty apparent where deer and wild hogs will travel. So I decided to stake my blind along a group of trees that overlook the spur and give me the ability to see deer and hog movement with 360 degree capabilities. So my ground blind is set. Even though deer will be spooked by my scent over the next day or two, By this weekend it should back to business as usual, but that time I will be there waiting hopefully, with fingers crossed and the taming of my infamous buck fever. I don't even get buck fever. I get everything fever, Because everything that comes into range, Buck, doe,hog and turkey I get the jitters and my excitement always gets the best of me. Oh well. As I headed out of the woods I saw a nice sized hoof print from what appears to be deer cross the path I walked through. This is a great sign!!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Transplanting Peppers To Overwinter in Containers

Today was a busy day; I made some shelves for my sun room and for a guy with virtually no carpentry skills I kind of did alright. I really want to utilize my sun room this winter to overwinter my pepper plants, tomatoes and eggplant. So today I jumped off that cliff and decided to pull the Harbanero plants out of the raised beds and transplant them into containers. My main concern was damaging the root system. I understand this is always the risk for transplanting, but it is either now or never; so I gently pulled the Plants out until they separated from the earth. I was cringing every time I felt a pull and then a tear. But when it was all said and done I was able to gather the majority of the root. With the plants out I prepped two containers by layering the bottom of the containers with heaping amounts of compost, then with another layer of soil I layed the plants in the container and finally filled the container with more soil until the plants were able to be supported by the soil and some stakes. Im crossing my fingers on this one. As expected I see some drooping of the leaves, there are still several peppers attached to the plant, whether this was a good idea or not only time will tell. After the plant was set I watered them and placed them on my porch. Over the next few weeks I will be looking for signs of a perky plant and hopefully signs of new growth.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Butternut Squash Hand Pollination

My Butternut squash have been doing really well. The one thing that I am impressed the most about this variety, is the fact that they don't take up much space at all. Unlike Zucchini the butternut squash stay in there own raised bed. In fact I only planted 6 seeds in half of the bed and they have contained themselves there. The key is to buy space saving Seeds. I purchased this Butternut Squash Space Saving variety From Burpee. The seeds do much better if you soak them for a day before sowing them. We tried sowing without soaking and none of the seeds germinated. When we Soaked them, they all germinated.
I also decided to plant 2 in containers and surprisingly they are doing well. Today I noticed a male flower blooming in his glory from one of my containers and I decided to snip him off with some scissors, pull the flower petals back to expose his pollen and began hand pollinating the female plants in the raised beds by simply connecting the male to the female pollen. I don't have a large garden so hand pollinating will be ok for me. I think I can control it better and from the way it looks I am going to have a bounty of Butternut Squash this fall and winter. More updates to follow..........

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Will Mentorship Work For Inner City Kids?

With the recent murder of an honor student caught live on a cellphone, the country is up in arms on what to do with our displaced youth. I am a bit upset about the response this is getting because countless number of youth have been killed in our inner cities without even a mention. I guess the reason for the shock is due to the fact that many of us go about our everyday lives knowing that the streets are tough but if we don't have to see it, than we don't have to deal with it. Until.... it's right in our faces bold as day witnessing the cold blooded murder of a child with a promising future. So now we are here and every idea is being brought to the table to curtail more events like this. So what do we do?

Mentorship is at the top of the list, but from whom; Million Dollar Athletes, Rappers, Actors, all of whom, most of the displaced youth are striving to be, but less than 1% will ever achieve that goal. If mentorship is going to get serious play, what type of delivery should it receive? I would hate to see any attempt at dealing with such a delicate issue confronted prematurely and lose its; effectiveness. Chicago is flirting with the idea of using 10,000 people from the community for the approx 10,000 displaced youths; will it work? Who knows. But Im just sick and tired of living in a reactive society where something has to happen first before we act.

Should people be paid to provide mentorship? Ohh this is a slippery slope if I ever saw one. The idea of paying for mentorship may seem a bit selfish, because after all you are trying to give back to the community and it shouldn't cost you a thing. I am for and against paying for mentorship. I feel that if you don't pay people for mentorship the quality of support will be dismal. Because after all you are relying on the good hearts of individuals to achieve a goal. If payment was implemented than any person may feel compelled to provide the service at any cost and you may get a slew of bug-a-booes trying to mentor young adolescents with only money in mind.

I am not one of those guys who complains about how things are not working but never offers any alternatives. Those people sicken me; so in an attempt to separate myself from the pack here is my suggestion:

First Parents, Guardians, Schools, or Correction facilities need to identify those kids who are at the highest risk of making Jail a career. Mentorship is great for kids who are doing well to stay on track, but for mentorship to really work it needs to start at ground zero; with the kids who are living the lives of criminals, future gang bangers and wannabes.

After these kids have been identified they need to be placed on a system that measures how high risk they are. For instance, kids that have a history of violence and criminal activity would go to the top of that list and kids with lesser infractions will subsequently fall in merit of order along the list. With regards to each kid that is separated into these groups they are again separated in order from worst case on down. It is also very possible that some kids who have committed the most criminal activities can be the most salvageable and the groups of wannabes who are lower on the list can in the future reek more havoc. These variables will have to be looked at first when determining who or what type of behavior is considered to be the most at risk.

This is the time when I think a Mentorship program should be implemented. But not just any type of mentorship program. Im talking about mentors getting paid for results instead of time. For instance a mentor would receive a list from all the cases in his or her city and pick which kid or kids they will choose to mentor. The mentor will than be given 18 months to change the kid around on a path from which the kid was on and to make a noticeable positive contribution to society. It could be going back to school and getting good grades, finding a job to get off the streets, or working on community projects. Whatever it may be the kid has to change his or her life around. Payment will work in two ways; First, based on the severity of the case the payment will be much higher than the less severe cases. Second that payment would only be paid out to mentors every 6 months based on their performance and the results they were able to achieve with the kid.

This is a touchy topic but I really think with a program like that you will get some quality mentors that will come from all walks of life. From Doctors too Military professionals who want to change the life of a kid. Sure they will get paid, but collectively we cannot afford to keep looking the other way while our youth prey on each other.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Vegas on a Budget

Our trip to Las Vegas was great. It was everything we expected and more. We are not ultra conservative folk and we are not the type that live on another planet. So with everything that Las Vegas has to offer we found ourselves somewhere right in the middle.

Since we are not rich folk like the guy who was playing $300 dollar hands at the roulette table and Lost friggen 5 times before he moved to another table. We budgeted everything for las Vegas, from shows, to food, to gambling. Needless to say the first two we did great at; gambling---um--noooo. However, we had alot of fun. The key was setting money aside for gambling and when it was done we were done. My wife had a great plan, she would win in increments and move on, instead of staying there and win more and then 'Like ME" lose everything. Yeah we were Vegas Virgins and as I read before and 'SHOULD HAVE" learned (THE HOUSE ALWAYS WINS).

We stayed at the MGM Grand and it was very nice but it was a ways down the strip across from Newyork, Newyork. The Mega Hotels were great but they all had this smell that resembled Grandmas Closet. MGM had a really nice buffet special that cost approx $30 for the day. It included breakfast, lunch and dinner. Being home grown foodies we were really impressed at the level of super fresh, vegetables and fruit that vegas had to offer it was awesome. Even though the MGM had a great Buffet it was not something that we wanted to do everyday. We felt kind of compelled to eat there since we paid our money and when the day was over we moved on to the other hotels with extraordinary buffets.

A few places that I will visit again is Le Village; they had an unbelievable brunch buffet, french inspired and all you can drink champagne. The seafood was great, along with the lamb and unbelievable creme brule. It was Absolutely amazing!! If you are feeling squirrely For seafood and sushi Todai Japanese Buffet was another great deal. In most small American towns buffets are not going to cost you $20-$30 range, But for the quality of food you can not beat these prices for the level of freshness that you will receive there.

ll in all when we go back we will probably stay at the Planet Hollywood because most of the shops, $5 dollar tables and great places to eat are in that general area. When we do go back we will probably stay no more than 3 days max with 2 nights, see a a show or two and back to normal life.
Seeing shows; I have never even wanted to see a show in las vegas until my wife convinced me that it will be fun. But at $100 dollars a ticket up to $180. How can you reasonably see a show? Online offered no real deals, so when we got there we found these places that were along the strip tix4tonight they offered anywhere from 20%-50% off on the shows. But before we headed to those places we went to our Concierge and they were able to pull some really good deals for us on the shows. We saw Ka at the MGM and it was just WOW!! I recommend this show for everyone. If you can get seats a little further back looking at the stage, you will be able to see everything.
The second Show we saw was Zumanity ; okkkkkkkkkkkkk so what do I have to say about Zumanity. First of all it was a GREAT SHOW!!!! But this show is not for anyone with extremely conservative values. This show offered Old world and New world Lasvegas. Lets face it, it is an erotic show and no matter how many times people are told this some idiot still buys the ticket and gets offended and walks out. Warning!!!!!!!!!!!! Zumanity is for Adults and Only adults who are willing to open up and have fun. It was a Great Show!!! but I will only recommend this show to people who are open minded. And if you want to be apart of the show do yourself a favor and sit near the stage. I am soo glad we didn't we had perfect seats along the outer edge. It was perfect.