Monday, August 30, 2010

Pardon me while I panic

It's shaping up to be an interesting week (month?).

Put an offer on a house today. This is the second house we've made an offer on. Can I just say, "$250,000" and "a quarter of a million dollars" may be the same amount, but the second just sounds like more money.

And we're looking for a preschool for El Burrito. So far, our option is a morning half-day class (9 a.m. - noon) in a French-immersion preschool. First issue here: I know almost no French - maybe a dozen words, mostly related to horses (dressage, capriole, courbette). Second issue: that 9 a.m. start time means moving our whole schedule, including wake-up time, earlier by 3 hours. And preschool starts in a week. Cue the headache.

Plus, no more library storytimes, since they're all in the morning. And - unless we play hooky for a day - no "kids' tour" of the library next month, which El B (and I!) were excited about. I really need to ask why the storytimes are all scheduled in the mornings.

I'm off to find an ibuprofen. House + preschool = headache and nervousness.

Friday, August 20, 2010

August "garden" update

The garden, such as it is, is doing better than expected.

The 5 sunflower seedlings are now 2 surviving plants. "Mammoth" sunflowers do not prefer life in a not-so-big flower pot (say, 12-inch clay). They're growing more sideways than up, even after being moved to the sunnier back deck, but one has bloomed this week. Last year we got six stunted seeds from two plants; I wonder how well we'll do this year?

The 5 miniature bell pepper plants are going great guns. They apparently are okay with being in a 14-inch or so flower pot, and moving them out back agreed with them. They've been blooming like crazy, and last time I counted, there were 11 peppers in progress. Granted, most of them are marble size at the moment, but it's better than I'd hoped. They're a mix of green, red, and chocolate bells, I think, but I'm not sure which actually grew.

The pumpkins - miniature Jack Be Nimbles - are sort of iffy right now. Three plants survived, they seem marginally okay growing in a pot, and they're actually blooming a lot. However, the flowers are all male flowers so far - you have to have female flowers to get actual little pumpkins. And apparently I'll be hand-pollinating them if we ever get a female flower, since I doubt our neighborhood has a lot of squash bees or whatever. I'm wondering if they'll ever come up with a female flower, though. They've been blooming for 3 weeks, and the sites I read online said that usually you get male flowers for a week or so before the female flowers show up. I have fertilized them, since the pot's so small. Maybe they need more. Or less. Need to Google "pumpkins with no female flowers" or something similar. The wicked heat may also be an issue, since it seems that pumpkins don't like to set fruit when it's over 90 or so. Har - it's been 90+ here lately, heat indices over 100. I moved the pot into a shadier spot; we'll see if that helps. If not, I may have to buy a little pumpkin and tie it on to encourage El Burrito. Or call the peppers pumpkins and paint them orange.

The peppers are also not shy or subtle about saying "Water us!!" either. They go nice and droopy, sort of like my oxalis, but perk up within an hour of drinking. I've been watering every other day now, so they won't be stressed by the dryness.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A new line of experimentation

I've got something new to dabble in (like I don't have enough interests/hobbies).

Digital infrared photography. I've been thinking on it for a while, and finally ran across a cheap-enough digital camera of the model I was after (Olympus C-2020) on eBay. Older digital cameras of certain models are known for being better than others at infrared; newer ones, not so much, because of the newer designs.

Along with the camera ($22.99, it has issues with the battery door and came with no accessories, not even the lens cap), I bought an infrared filter from Hoya ($29.50 on Ebay) and then yet another camera case ($15ish, because decent cases for any camera larger than a deck of cards are hard to find). As luck has it, the filter will fit both adapter rings that I own, so if I want, I can take IR pics with 3 of my 4 cameras.

This is a pic from the 2020, taken in auto mode with no adjustments. I need to read the manual and figure out if it can do a custom white balance. I kind of like the purple/red tinge in the sky, though.

This is a picture from the SP-510, no adjustments. Lots of red there.

SP-510 picture with a custom white balance. Much better, although the 510 really needs a tripod to take a decent picture. The 2020 loses less light with the IR filter, so it can take a decent picture without a tripod.

Another picture with the 510, of my old horse barn.

El Burrito (from the 510). Blurry, but I like the shadow in the background mimicking his pose. Wish I'd had a tripod, or that he would have stood still a bit longer.

The tricky part is getting the photo files from the 2020 to the computer. The 2020 I have came with nothing - no lens cap, no cables, no manual, etc. Originally, it did come with a cable, but it's old enough that it was a serial port cable, not a USB. And the 2020 uses SmartMedia cards, which are pretty defunct these days - I'm not sure there are any card readers out there that read them. I know our HP printer, which does have card slots built in, doesn't have a slot for SMs. The work-around currently is to take pictures with the 2020, then swap the SM card into my semi-retired C-3020, which does have a USB cable, and transfer them that way. I have an old Lexar card reader with an SM slot, but I'm not sure it plays well with XP. That's something to look into, just in case the 3020 bites the dust.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Wherein I scream "like a girl"

I screamed "like a girl" today - and that's my phrase, not DH's. It's not something I usually do - I've stomped my share of bugs and didn't hide in my dorm room when I was living in a dorm that averaged one visiting bat per year (although I'm still not a big fan of mice, or large spiders). I'm blaming my reaction on on the shock. Plus, it was on my shoulder! Much closer than on the floor.


We used our free movie tickets (from the Toy Story DVD/Blu-Ray upgrade deal) to go see Toy Story 3 today. Before the movie, I changed into "public" clothes instead of my bumming-around-on-the-weekend clothes. Went into the bathroom to wash my hands, and glanced into the mirror to see a Big BUG on my shoulder. I believe what I screamed would be spelled "aaaaiiaaaaiiaaaaiihhh!!!!" or something like that. I was dancing around our tiny bathroom swatting at my shoulder with a soapy wet hand. DH heard me on the other side of the condo, over the running water in the sink, and came to see what happened. El Burrito's reaction to Crazy Dancing Mommy was to make tracks away from me, losing a shoe as he went.

The bug disappeared, so DH and I were crammed in the bathroom looking for it. El Burrito came back to watch the fun. Then I saw it - crawling on my leg. Cue another round of the Crazy Dance as I tried to shake it off and step on it. Unfortunately, it disappears again, until El Burrito told us it was crawling on my (other) leg. Whereupon I jumped through the door, shook the Big BUG onto the bedroom floor, and stomped all over it.

The corpse was unable to be identified.

And then we finished getting ready, and left for the movies. I waited long enogh that Toy Story 3 wasn't in 3D anymore, but that's okay. DH and El Burrito saw it in 3D while I was in Florida. But geez, is Pixar getting a little depressing lately or what? Wall-E was kind of a sad background (no decent Earth left), parts of UP were tear-jerkers, and then we get to the beginning and end of Toy Story 3. Wow.

And of course, on the way home, we stopped at Target for some bug traps and spray. I can deal with bugs on the floor, but when they crawl on me, they've crossed the line. I haven't done those kind of moves in a while. Last time was either (a) when I reached into a dark feed bin for chicken feed and a mouse ran up my arm or (b) when I realized that one of those big black hard-shelled bugs was inside the jeans I'd just put on.