Monday, November 2, 2009

Growing Veggies In The Winter

Various kinds of winter squashes and pumpkins are ideal to plant later in the season and harvest during the late fall and winter. You can harvest your pumpkins and winter squash in late fall or early winter, store them, and enjoy cooking with them well into winter.

Some hot chile peppers are also a good pick for a fall harvest. See this website from the Chile Pepper Institute for tips on growing chiles in the home garden.

Rhubarb is a great plant to start growing late in the season. In some parts of the country, you can grow rhubarb as late as October and November. Rhubarb is a perennial plant that grows for many years. The University of Illinois has a good site about growing rhubarb in the home garden.

If you live in states like California or Florida, you can grow a wider variety of vegetables well into the winter. Try out greens like kale and chard, lettuce, brussel sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, beets, leeks, or carrots.

Depending on the climate of your specific region, you can plant most of these vegetables well into the fall months. However, in some cases it’s best to plant a little earlier to avoid problems with low levels of light and plant pests and diseases.

Vegetables that mature quickly like turnips are okay to plant in the fall. Arugula and spinach are also great greens to plant in cooler months for an early winter harvest. The soil still needs to be above 40 degree F for the seeds to germinate so make sure to test the soil before you plant.

Artichokes are an interesting crop to grow and you can plant them in late fall. Plant artichokes from root stock and you should be able to harvest by early spring.

Sweet peas and fava beans are good to plant in late fall, roughly before Thanksgiving, for an early spring harvest. You can also plant peas in late winter and early spring in many parts of the country.

Onions and other bulb vegetables such as garlic are a good choice for late summer and early fall planting. The size of an onion depends a lot on how much sunlight it gets. Green onions that don’t need to develop bulbs are a good pick to plant all year long as long as the temperatures don’t reach freezing.

Leeks are a great veggie to grow in cooler weather. You can plant them in the summer for a fall or winter harvest. You can also plant them in the fall or winter and harvest the tender leeks in the spring. Leeks planted in the winter will generally not get as big as leeks planted during the summer.

Garlic, onions, leeks, etc. require well draining soil with plenty of organic material mixed in, so try out making your own compost and adding it to the soil before you plant these bulb vegetables.

If you grow herbs in your garden, you can move many of them indoors and enjoy them throughout the winter. This is especially easy to do if you grow them in containers. Perennial herbs like lavender and rosemary are excellent to grow in the winter garden outdoors. They will both survive frost and rosemary is considered an evergreen shrub.

Here, we’ve summarized some basic information on vegetables that are good to grow in the fall and winter. Remember to talk to your extension agent for more information about specific vegetables to grow in your area. Some of these vegetables are great choices for Italian cooking.
Recommended Fall and Winter Vegetables *When to Plant (Ask Your Extension Agent for Specific Dates) Frost Hardy?


Late Summer

Yes, light frost


Mid Summer

Yes, light frost


Mid Summer

Yes, very light frost

Brussels Sprouts

Mid Summer

Yes, heavy frost


Mid to late summer, early fall

Yes, light frost


Late summer, early fall

Yes, light frost


Late summer

Yes, light frost

Fava Beans

Late summer, early fall

Yes, medium to heavy frost


Early fall

Yes, light to medium frost


Mid summer

Yes, medium to heavy frost


Spring, Fall

Yes, light frost


Late summer

Yes, very light frost

Mustard greens

Mid to late summer

Yes, light frost


Late summer

Yes, light to medium frost


Late summer

Yes, light to medium frost


Later summer

Yes, light frost

*Note that these planting dates are listed for a fall and winter garden. Many of these vegetables are appropriate for growing during other seasons as well.

Winter Squash

Winter Squash varieties





Note that late fall and winter is an important time for properly storing your fall vegetable harvest. Store your beans, winter squashes, root crops, etc. in a cool, dry place. If you can spread them out so they’re not touching each other, this will help prevent problems with decay. Monitor your crop to make sure they show no signs of decay or disease.


The best way to find out what you can and can’t grow during fall and winter months (and all year long) is to determine what gardening zone you live in. Gardening zones are also known as USDA Hardiness Zones. What exactly is a gardening zone? The USDA has divided the country into numbered zones based on what plants can grow in certain regions. The zones are defined by what plants can survive the lowest average temperatures of that zone.

There are now 10 different hardiness zones listed throughout the U.S. The higher the number, the higher the average low temperature is. For example, Omaha, Nebraska is located in zone 5, whereas Los Angeles, California is located in zone 10. There is also an 11th zone being considered that would be a 100% “frost free zone.” Honolulu, Hawaii is located in this new zone.

An alternative to the USDA system of hardiness zones is Sunset Magazine’s “Sunset Climate Zones.” This system takes into account such factors as the length of the growing season, rainfall levels and times, winter low temperatures, summer high temperatures, and humidity. The Sunset system is divided into many more different regions, making it more specific than the USDA system.

You can find a clickable Sunset gardening zone map here.

When you buy a plant, you will find information on what hardiness zones it is suitable for. Most plants list a Sunset gardening zone as well. This way you will know if the plant will survive the cold temperatures of your region.

You can also use this handy guide from the Old Farmer’s Almanac to determine the approximate dates of the first fall frost and the last spring frost. They also list the length of the growing season.

This website also has lots of information on the average first and last frost dates, in addition to what kinds of plants grow best in each zone. These dates, along with information about the average length of your growing season, can help you determine when to plant.

If you have any doubts about what to grow, make sure to ask your local extension agent!


Wikipedia has an excellent website with a thorough definition of USDA plant hardiness zones.

See here for a large, clickable hardiness zone map that can help you locate your gardening zone.

See this website from the US National Arboretum for gardening zone information on specific woody perennials.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Control Horse Arena Dust & Dirt

Control Horse Arena Dust and Dirt
Whether you ride indoors or out, take action to keep your arena footing grounded for everyone's health and welfare.
image fpo
Airborne dust is hard on your respiratory system, as well as your horse's.

Imagine inhaling all the dust and debris from your horse arena as you and your horse work hard in the horse arena. On average, a resting horse inhales 150 liters of air per minute. Add in strenuous exercise and your horse could realistically suck in 10 times that volume of arena dust. If your horse is older or has a history of respiratory infections or heaves, he could be even more susceptible to airway problems when breathing in airborne arena dust and dirt.

Arena dust is bad. But, maybe you feel a little helpless to control the micro-climate that is your own personal arena dust storm. How exactly can you keep all that arena dust and dirt from rising? Here are some ideas to help you control arena dust, from economical strategies to more expensive ones:

Dust to Dust
It’s possible your arena is actually a flat spot in your pasture, or that your arena footing is made up of the existing soil or sod. Not a bad place to start in terms of dust control. If you have plans for adding footing, either all at once or over time, you’re a step ahead in terms of choosing a low-dust footing, rather than dealing with a dusty footing already in place. If you’re dealing with existing dusty footing, you have choices to help that situation, too.

Before you can start to control dust, you have to understand where it comes from. Basically, dust is made up of small particles that float or fly through the air, because they aren’t heavy enough to stay grounded.

Sand is a traditional footing in many regions, especially since it’s usually a naturally abundant product. However, depending on where you live, the word “sand” can mean different things. For example, sand derived from the beach is very different in texture and content than glacial sand. What’s contained in that sand also plays a role in how much dust a footing will produce.

Wayne Gregory, general manager of Footing Unlimited in Chicago, points to four causes of dust:

1. Footing containing lightweight particles, such as unwashed sand that contains bits of clay, silt or broken-down organic (naturally occurring) materials. “Imagine the particles of sand are the size of a basketball,” says Gregory. “In comparison, particles of clay are the size of a pinhead.” So, the small bits float into the air, causing dust.
2. Sand pulverized by use. Over time, the weight and concussion of the horse’s hooves on the sand will break individual grains into smaller particles, which then become dust. 3. The arena base, usually made of clay or stone dust, begins to rise through the footing, becoming dust.
4. Manure, a fragile organic material left in the arena, gets broken down into small particles that easily go airborne. To protect you and your horse, keep a manure fork and wheelbarrow close by, and scoop any poop left in the arena after your ride. Then roll it off to your compost bin.

Based on what makes up dust, the basic way we control it is by adding weight to small particles, which then keeps them from floating into the air.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How to build a duck blind

Researching here this week as duck season is fast approaching. Time to start looking for those duck decoys for sale, tune up your favorite duck calls, and of course find time to build a duck blind! Over the years I have relied heavily on my cheap, homemade duck blind. It has treated me very well over the years. That said, it isn't all that applicable outside of the boat (it works ok when put into the ground, but only in specific circumstances).

To that end, I was on a mission to find a way to build a new duck blind. Ideally it could be used both in the boat and on the ground. At this point you are probably laughing at me since I am asking a lot. Well, you would be right. There isn't anything that really go across both spectrums and does both or either well. To that end, it seems that a couple of blind options are needed. First, if you are hunting the fields and will be in amongst the cut corn, soybeans or wheat, layout blinds are far and away your best option. They are comfortable to sit in and provide great concealment with their low profile and camoflague covering. Add in some vegetation that is native to the area you are hunting and you have a great recipe for success. You can obviously build a higher profile blind yourself for much cheaper, but the results are not as impressive. And really, once you have found that perfect spot being hidden is really the most important part of the hunt (besides shooting straight).

For the boat, a homemade duck blind such as the one I detail here seems to work well. Basically you want to have a barrier from the duck eyes to hide silhouettes and more importantly movement from the blind. To that end, blending in to your surroundings is important. Even better when out in a boat is to stash the boat down the bank from you and wade in the water or stand atop some land and/or cattails to keep the concealment perfect.

What are your thoughts on how to build a duck blind?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Evolution Of The Walkman

Walkman History 101

Olympus Pearlcorder SD w/ Tuner Discussing the beginnings of the walkman probably requires a brief look at the audio scene in the '70s. The audio industry was enjoying success in the growing home stereo market, and the implementation of the transistor for a portable AM band receiver created a pocket radio "boom" in the '60s which continued well into the '70s. "Boomboxes" or battery-powered one-piece stereo systems were growing in popularity near the turn of the decade, with sound eminating through two or more loudspeakers. Consumers appreciated the ability to listen to high fidelity sound without being confined to sitting near a home stereo system. Pocket-sized micro and mini-cassette players were also successfully sold by companies like Panasonic, Toshiba and Olympus.

So, was the development of a "personal" stereo system an obvious step in the evolution of audio? Shu Ueyama of Sony cites that this invention was purely accidental. Organizational changes were taking place at Sony in 1979 and the tape recorder division was pressed to market something soon, or risk consolidation. They came up with a small cassette player capable of stereo playback. The invention was born from a tweaked Pressman (Sony's monaural portable cassette recorder) and a pair of headphones.

Sony chairman and founder Akio Morita heard of the invention and was eager to market it. The final design of the TPS-L2, the personal stereo cassette player was completed on March 24, 1979. Sony then formulated a unique marketing campaign to sell the contraption. But first, what to call it?

Cyan Walkman Logo The name needed to present the idea of portability, so they considered Stereo Walky. Unfortunately, Toshiba was already using the "Walky" name for their portable radio line. The new product was a descendant of the Pressman so Walkman was proposed next. Senior staff responded to this name with doubts, as it sounded like a Japanse phrase clumsily made English. The name would fly in Japan but the product would be marketed in the US as the Sound-About and in the UK as the Stowaway.

Again, senior staff thought twice about the naming conventions--globally marketing a product with regional labels would prove costly, so Walkman was ambivalently accepted as the name of this new personal stereo system.

Walkman Ad 2 The next task was marketing the product. The story behind Sony's market research was legendary: they didn't do it! Said Akio Morita in a 1982 Playboy interview, "The market research is all in my head! You see, we create markets." But how does one convince the public they need a product that they've never owned or seen? The first step was to get the word out to people who had influence on the public, like celebrities and people in the music industry. Sony sent Walkmans to Japanese recording artists, tv and movie stars free of charge. They also began an innovative marketing campaign, targeting younger people and active folks. The Walkman was engineered carefully to make it affordable to this market, priced to be around 33,000 yen (Sony was 33 years old at the time. Coincidence?) The imagery Sony successfully used around their Walkman gave the feelings of fun, youth and most importantly, freedom. Their invention allowed one to bring an exceptional listening experience anywhere.

Stereo Walky Logo The Walkman craze began in Japan and reached the US by 1980. Other audio companies jumped on the personal stereo bandwagon, and by Spring of 1981, at least two dozen companies were selling similar devices, many of which were marketed with catchy names of their own. Toshiba had their Stereo Walky, Infinity had their Intimate, Panasonic sold their Stereo-To-Go, GE marketed their Escape, and even discount audio producer Craig followed suit with the Soundalong. Styles and colors varied from the Walkman, but several key features were found on early models: two headphone jacks (listen with a friend!) separate left and right channel volume controls, and a neat but impractical "hotline" switch, as Sony called it. Pushing this button turned on an ambient microphone so the listener could hear the noise around him instead of the music. Strangely enough, all of these features disappeared from portables a year or two later.

While one may be tempted to criticize these other companies as Walkman "wannabes," We should instead appreciate their accomplishments, for together they provided us with what we refer to as the walkman "Golden Age." Toshiba RP-S2 A marketing person described this movement accurately. "During any product development," he said, "the first few years are associated with innovative design and quality." He's absolutely right. Many personal stereo products emerged and surpassed the Walkman in terms of features and price. Sanyo's M5550 was smaller than the Walkman, more durable with its all-metal chassis and contained a variable tape speed dial. Aiwa, owned by Sony since 1969 created a product line initialized by their TPS30, a personal stereo cassette recorder. Akai's PM-01 had FM tuning capability through the aid of a cassette-shaped radio module. What an incredible concept: in an effort to confine the space of a personal stereo, how can one add features at the same time? The logical, yet nonetheless remarkable idea was to place a radio within an audio cassette chassis and engineer it to send the audio into its cassette player home. Toshiba had the same functionality and offered an AM module, also.

Companies like Infinity worked at sound quality. Their Intimate offered Dolby noise reduction. Koss sold their radio-only Music Box with a set of their well-reputed over-the-ear headphones, and offered circuitry to notify the user when he or she was listening to audio that was "too loud." High grade stereo component manufacturer Proton even stepped into the ring and sold a model that included some hi-tech circuitry previously available only on $1000+ stereo equipment.

Mura Box Many groaned after seeing the $150 price tags of Sony and Toshiba and settled for their $20 earphone-clad radios until names like Unic, Randix Audiologic, Craig and Yorx came along cheap personal stereos. Discount manufacturers seized the opportunity during the portable stereo craze. Products similar in shape and functionality (but not necessarily quality) were marketed as the Walkman, using photographs of people on the go, in sneakers, roller skates and on bicycles. Fortunately, these companies made a personal stereo available for everyone.

Competition was strong as throughout the early '80s and new ideas were popping all of time: Sony feeling the pressure worked on engineering their Walkman line be smaller, while still looking and sounding better. Long Island, New York audio company Mura decided to focus on the radio-only stereo, so they enhanced functionality in their Hi Stepper line. One model even offered TV audio reception. Popular US electronics distributors like Radio Shack, Sears and JC Penney also jumped on the bandwagon by selling their own personal stereos. Walkman Ad Overseas audio manufacturers like Grundig and ITT were selling similar portables that rivaled the quality of Japanese brands. JVC announced the "be-all" of portables in 1982: the CQ-F22K. This was the first portable stereo that included all of the features we're accustomed to having today, like Dolby noise reduction, auto-reverse and AM/FM tuning. Perhaps the most exotic feature offered on a personal stereo at the time was the wireless feature discovered on some gray market Aiwa CS-J1 units. They apparently transmitted an audio signal that would be received by special headphones. Sony offered their affordable Walkman II, or WM-2 in a small, shapely all-metal chassis. This remains the most successful model of all time, selling 2 1/2 million units. By 1983, Everyone was shopping for a personal stereo.

As with any fad, many groups raised concerns with the Walkman. Were we at risk while performing daily activities like driving or walking around town oblivious to the world around us? Would we go deaf or catch brain damage? Would we turn into anti-social creatures, encapsulated in our little personal stereo world? Of course, these concerns didn't slow the Walkman movement even slightly. 16 Candles clip

We caught MTV's tongue-in-cheek airing of "Video Killed the Radio Star," but teenagers didn't think twice about strapping on a pair of samarium cobalt headphones and banging their heads to Autograph's "Turn Up The Radio." The generation gap widened as young people became "wired." With the exception of school, many kids spent their waking days with a personal stereo on the hip.

Several initial players in the personal stereo market dropped out as the '80s endured, but Sony, Aiwa, Toshiba, Sharp, Panasonic and Sanyo thrived. Product lines widened from $25 "disposables" to $200 professional-grade models. Niche models popped up, like Sony's durable Sports line, and Aiwa's featured-packed J Series recorders with stereo microphones and wired remote controls. Perhaps Sanyo and Sharp enjoyed the most success with their inexpensive portables, aimed at young and price-conscious buyers. If you were sick of wasting AA batteries, you had solar-powered walkmans available, like Sony's WM-F107 and Mura's Sun Stepper. Sony and Panasonic even offered models that contained two cassette drives, so you can listen to one cassette right after another, or dub a copy of an original recording.

Signatech Speaker Vest We also noticed the blossoming of an industry to provide aftermarket accessories for personal stereos. We've all had to buy a second set of headphones at some point, some of us purchased little desktop speakers allowing our little personal stereo to become a home one of sorts. Unitech marketed a cushioned vinyl travel bag for your walkman that contained little stereo speakers inside. Simply pop your unit into it and you've got a boombox. Signatech sold a trendy vest that sported loudspeakers on the shoulders and special walkman "pocket" for an audio source.

The walkman craze (note the lower-case "w", as the name was entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1986) continued its run, and prices dipped as functionality rose. By 1985 many models featured graphic equalizers for even better sound, tape direction change and auto-reverse features for ease of use. The average model required two batteries, as opposed to the typical four in 1980. Sony announced a belt-free "direct drive" mechanism for remarkably low wow and flutter (terms that describe the warbling noise in audio cassette playback). Panasonic offered their "Radio Card," the thinnest pesonal stereo radio ever.

1986 marks the year that we identify the beginning of the end for the walkman, for it was in this year that Sony announced the D-50, a portable audio device that played a new digital medium called the compact disc. Aiwa J800 The public was eager to hear the "perfect" sound of the CD so they rushed out to grab a "Discman." Audio companies again followed Sony and began focusing their efforts to this new technology. Walkmans didn't wane in popularity initially, for all pre-recorded music was available in cassette form and there was no consumer CD recorder at the time. As we approached the turn of the decade, features digital tuning, clocks, alarms, rechargeable batteries, wireless headphones and logic controls. But the walkman novelty had worn off, replaced by the CD and later the mini-disc.

Today, personal stereo cassette players and radios bear little resemblance to their predecessors from years prior. They're absolutely disposable, averaging $20 in price and offering key features like pastel and chromy colors, rounded edges and clear plastic chassis. Obviously little effort is put into the design or engineering of the walkman, for manufacturers believe the audio cassette is a dying medium, soon to be replaced with the digital technology of hard disks and RAM cards.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Improve your Memory

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Ancient accounts show that early Greek and Roman orators used the "loci" method of remembering long speeches and lists. You may be able to use this method to enhance your memory at test time.

The term loci refers to places or locations. To use the loci system, you will first need to thing of a place or route that you can picture in your head very clearly. It can be your house, your school bus route, or any place that contains clear landmarks or rooms.

For this example, we will use the thirteen original colonies as a list that we want to remember and your house as the method for remembering.

The list of colonies includes:

  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Delaware
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • Massachusetts
  • Connecticut
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Georgia
Now, picture yourself standing outside your house and begin to make connections with words on your memory list. In this case, you could make a mental note that the front of your house faces north and the back faces south. We have our beginning!

North = North Carolina
South = South Carolina

Your tour continues.

    Imagine that you enter your house and see the coat closet. Open the closet door and note the smell. (It helps to invoke all the senses you can in this method). There you see the coat that Aunt Mary gave your mother (Maryland).

    The next room in this imaginary house tour is the kitchen. In this tour, you are suddenly hungry, so you go to the cupboard. All you can find is some virgin olive oil (Virginia). That won't do.

    You turn to the refrigerator and look inside. You know your mom just bought some new ham (New Hampshire) from the deli—but where is it? (Delaware).

    You manage to locate the items and assemble a sandwich. You carry it to your bedroom, because you want to change into your new football jersey (New Jersey).

    You open the closet door and a pen falls on your head from the top shelf (Pennsylvania).

    "What's that doing there?" you think. You turn to put the pen in your desk drawer. When you open the drawer, you see a giant mass of paper clips (Massachusetts).

    You grab a handful, sit down on your bed, and begin to connect them together to form a long chain (Connecticut).

    You realize you're still hungry. You decide you are ready for some dessert. You go back to the kitchen and look in the refrigerator again. You know you'll find some leftover New York cheescake from yesterday (New York).

    It's gone! Your little brother must have finished it off! (Note the shock and anger.)

    You turn to the freezer.

    There are two types of ice cream. Rocky Road (Rhode Island) or Georgia Peach (Georgia). You eat both.

Now look over the list of states again, and think about the place association for each one. It won't be long before you can recite the list of states easily.

This method can be used for remembering a list of objects or a list of events. All you need is key words and associations for them.

It may help you to come up with funny things that occur along your path. Emotion and sensory experiences will reinforce the information and enhance the exercise.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Facts about Recycling


An estimated 80,000,000 Hershey's Kisses are wrapped each day, using enough aluminum foil to cover over 50 acres of space -- that's almost 40 football fields. All that foil is recyclable, but not many people realize it.
Bullet Rainforests are being cut down at the rate of 100 acres per minute!
Bullet A single quart of motor oil, if disposed of improperly, can contaminate up to 2,000,000 gallons of fresh water.
Bullet Motor oil never wears out, it just gets dirty. Oil can be recycled, re-refined and used again, reducing our reliance on imported oil.
Bullet On average, each one of us produces 4.4 pounds of solid waste each day. This adds up to almost a ton of trash per person, per year.
Bullet A typical family consumes 182 gallons of soda, 29 gallons of juice, 104 gallons of milk, and 26 gallons of bottled water a year. That's a lot of containers -- make sure they're recycled!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Rapid Rain

Make sure to drop by the website and check out the specs. Maybe The Rapid Rain could be useful for your watering needs.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Learn How to Tie a Tie

Four in Hand Knot VideoFour in Hand Knot

Asymmetrical tie knot, good for button-down shirts
Pratt Knot VideoPratt Knot

Tidy & fairly wide tie knot, suited for any dress shirt

Half Windsor Knot VideoHalf Windsor Knot

Symmetrical tie knot, goes with any dress shirt
Windsor Knot VideoWindsor Knot

Wide & triangular tie knot, good for spread collar shirts

Videos are available for all four knots, so it would now be helpful if you had a tie at hand and a mirror nearby so that we can "dig right on in".

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Irony Of It All

1. Online pop-ups offering to help you get rid of online pop-ups advertisements.

2. When your Seeing Eye dog goes blind.

3. Needing to pay someone to help you pay your taxes.

3. Wondering if you are entitled to the deep sense of loss you feel when a celebrity you admire dies.

4. That Valentine's Day was placed in February, just in case single people who have recovered from the loneliness that Christmas and New Year's Eve induced.

5. That even the fanciest restaurants suffer from pest-control problems.

6. Wondering who was rude enough to leave an empty roll of toilet paper and then remembering it was you.

7. Tipping the bartender for handing you a bottle of beer, but giving nothing to the guy who pumps your gas in the pouring rain.

8. That we judge balding men by the choices they make in copying with their baldness.

9. That finding your roach traps empty only adds to your fear that they don't work, instead of reassuring you that you don't have roaches anymore.

10. That all good things come to an end, but some mediocre things seem to last a very long time.

11. When you wish, as you blow out the candles, is that this be the last birthday you spend with the people around you.

12. Cults that build up huge arsenals, refuse to pay taxes, and complain that the FBI is watching over them.

13. People who refuse to see a psychologist because they don't need to pay someone to help them out with their issues, but will gladly spend $100 a week at a tanning salon.

14. What most telescopes are used for.

15. When your fear of overpacking causes you to underpack.

16. Paying a toll to cross a bridge when you know you're going in the wrong direction.

17. The fact that many old people are forced to live out the remainder of their lives in formerly good neighborhoods.

18. Paying three bucks for a cup of soda that's 70 percent ice.

19. That the most intense laughter you have usually comes at the least appropriate time.

20. That you wouldn't have the faintest idea if your accountant was ripping you off.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Things that make you go hmmm...

If you have 3 quarters, 4 dimes, and 4 pennies, you have $1.19. You also have the largest amount of money in coins without being able to make change for a dollar.

The numbers '172' can be found on the back of the U.S. $5 dollar bill in the bushes at the base of the Lincoln Memorial.

President Kennedy was the fastest random speaker in the world with upwards of 350 words per minute.

In the average lifetime, a person will walk the equivalent of 5 times around the equator.

Odontophobia is the fear of teeth.

The 57 on Heinz ketchup bottles represents the number of varieties of pickles the company once had.

In the early days of the telephone, operators would pick up a call and use the phrase, "Well, are you there?". It wasn't until 1895 that someone suggested answering the phone with the phrase "number please?"

The surface area of an average-sized brick is 79 cm squared.

According to suicide statistics, Monday is the favored day for self-destruction.

Cats sleep 16 to 18 hours per day.

The most common name in the world is Mohammed.

It is believed that Shakespeare was 46 around the time that the King James Version of the Bible was written. In Psalms 46, the 46th word from the first word is shake and the 46th word from the last word is spear.

Karoke means "empty orchestra" in Japanese.

The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight. These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.

The first known contraceptive was crocodile dung, used by Egyptians in 2000 B.C.

Rhode Island is the smallest state with the longest name. The official name, used on all state documents, is "Rhode Island and Providence Plantations."

When you die your hair still grows for a couple of months.

There are two credit cards for every person in the United States.

Isaac Asimov is the only author to have a book in every Dewey-decimal category.

The newspaper serving Frostbite Falls, Minnesota, the home of Rocky and Bullwinkle, is the Picayune Intellegence.

It would take 11 Empire State Buildings, stacked one on top of the other, to measure the Gulf of Mexico at its deepest point.

The first person selected as the Time Magazine Man of the Year - Charles Lindbergh in 1927.

The most money ever paid for a cow in an auction was $1.3 million.

It took Leo Tolstoy six years to write "War & Peace".

Monday, September 28, 2009

So, who invented the paperclip?

When Johann Vaaler patented his paper clip in 1901, therealready were similar designs on the books. William Middlebrook of Waterbury, Connecticut patented his design in 1899. Cornelius Brosnan of Springfield, Massachusetts patented his Konaclip in 1900.

The paper clipSo, who was first? Well, it is thought to be Johann Vaaler. Drawings of his design date to early 1899, but since Norway had no patent law at the time, he had to seek patent rights in Germany and the US in the following years.

Johann Vaaler was born on 15 March 1866 in Aurskog, Norway. Known as an innovator in his youth, he graduated in electronics, science and mathematics. He was employed by the owner of a invention office when he invented the paperclip in 1899.

Several designs followed the original. Only a few remain, such as the Ideal, Non-Skid, Owl and Gem.

The first double-oval clip, the Gem, was launched in early-1900 by Gem Manufacturing Ltd of England.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tips

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #1

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #1 As winter approaches, gradually lower the mowing height of your mower. Winter should begin without any young, tender growth that makes your lawn more appealing to winter diseases.

Besides, new growth on the lawn is vulnerable to dry out after the first winter winds come through, which will give you a brown winter lawn. So for the sake of lawn maintenance, as winter approaches, begin to gradually reduce the cutting height on your mower, until you are almost, but not quite, shaving the lawn. However, be sure to do this in several steps to avoid suddenly removing all the green leaf tissue and damaging the turf.

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #2

In late fall, be sure to give your lawn a final fertilization. Inactive during winter, your lawn won't use the fertilizers immediately. Much like mammals bulking up for the cold, your lawn will store these nutrients in its root system and take full advantage of them at the first signs of spring.

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #3

Clear your lawn of any debris like logs, toys, or gardening equipment. Once snow comes, these objects can smother your grass, damage your turf, and leave your lawn more vulnerable to diseases.

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #4

Be sure to aerate your lawn before the first freeze. Thatch will only get worse with the affects of winter. A good aeration, along with a round of fertilization, will set the stage for bountiful spring growth.

Winter Lawn Maintenance Tip #5

Winter is a great time to learn more about your garden and your lawn in particular. Take this time to buy some lawn maintenance books and research the Internet for tips on how to keep a beautiful lawn and garden.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cutting Horses

Have you ever dreamed what it would be like to be a top-notch cutting horse rider? Can you imagine the feeling of riding a good horse when its working a tough cow?

I'll tell you, it's an experience that is absolutely thrilling!

Once you ride a cutting horse and experience those big stops and hard turns, there is no going back. You are "hooked". And I mean totally... hook, line and sinker.

I remember well the first time I ever rode a trained cutting horse. It had such an impact on me that I'll never forget it.

At the time, I was working for a huge cattle ranch as their colt starter. I was just
beginning my career training horses and I really didn't know much. But, I had a burning desire to succeed at my chosen profession and worked hard to learn
all I could.

This cattle ranch was always short on cowboys and one day the cow boss asked
me if I would work with the cow crew that day because they needed extra hands to help with gathering and sorting some cows and calves.

I said sure, I'd be happy to go along but I wouldn't be much help riding one of my
2 year olds. He pointed to a palomino mare out in the pasture and told me to use her for the days work. He also warned me she hadn't been ridden for over a year.

I caught the mare, saddled her up and turned her loose in a pen to see what she'd do. She crow-hopped a bit but that was it. So, I climbed aboard and away we went.

The pasture that we were to gather, contained around 200 head of mother cows
plus their calves. The plan was to drive the whole herd into a corner, then separate
the "dry" cows (these are cows that didn't produce a calf) from the "mother" cows.

Separating or "cutting out" the dry cows from the herd this way was a tricky business. One wrong move, one mistake, could spook the herd and send them scattering in all directions. Thus wasting all the time and effort it took to get them rounded up.

Because of the skill involved, it was usually the "cow boss" (foreman) who did the cutting.

On this ranch, the cow boss was a man named Walter Matlock. What a hell of a hand! To this day, Walter is still one of the best all-around hands I've ever seen. His horses would rope, head or heel, cut cattle, stop on a dime and spin like a top.

The man knew horses and he knew cattle.

Walter was also the best "marksman" with a bullwhip that I've ever seen.
At will, Walter could either "sting" or "cut" any part of a cows body with
that whip. He could easily hit the cow's left ear, right ear, the nose or tail.

One day, I jokingly said, "Hey Walter, there's a horse fly pestering my horse. Get him with your whip".

In the blink of an eye, Walter's whip literally "exploded" the insect off my horse's back. It sounded like a high-powered rifle shot. He got the fly and didn't even touch the horse. (I'm not exaggerating here. You had to see it to believe it).

Anyway, I'm getting off track. Back to the herd of cattle.

I watched Walter quietly enter the herd and ease out a dry cow. When the cow would turn to get back to the herd, Walter's horse would counter each move with a "bigger", "faster" move and contain the cow in one small area. It was mesmerizing to watch.

After watching Walter cut cattle for 20 minutes or so, he asked me if I'd like to give it a try. You betcha, I was dying to! Trouble was, I'd never done it before and didn't have a clue. My focus had always been on learning how to train a reining horse. I didn't have much experience working cattle.

He told me, "just ease in and drive out that "brindle" colored cow. Once you have her clear of the herd, drop your rein hand, sit relaxed and keep both your eyes focused on the cow. Trust the mare and let her work on her own".

Well, I did as he instructed and when I dropped my hand to signal the mare that she was on her own, man o' man, what a ride.

This little palomino mare dropped straight down on her belly, crouched and ready to spring. Each time the cow moved, the mare would leap through he air and then drag her butt in the dirt, blocking the cow's every attempt to rejoin the herd.

By far, it was the most fun I'd ever had on the back of a horse. Actually, the word "fun" doesn't accurately describe it. "Exhilarating" would be more like it. I was so excited by the experience, I could hardly sleep that night.

I learned later, that palomino mare had competed at the NCHA futurity a year earlier. She had done well, made the finals and placed 5th. No wonder she was so good..

Over the years, I've met a lot of folks who have experienced riding a cutting horse and gotten "hooked" the same way I did. Unfortunately, some of them haven't had the benefit of receiving good instruction. They encounter problems when riding their cutter.

In reality, learning to ride a cutting horse isn't that difficult. If you can master a few
basic principals and practice those principals until they become "muscle memory",
you will have success pretty darn quick.

Below I've listed some of the most common mistakes new cutters make.

Biggest Mistakes Made by Cutting Horse Riders

Trying to Learn to Cut on a Green Cutting Horse.
If you are a person who loves frustration, then trying to learn to cut on a green horse is definitely the way to go =o)

Seriously though, cutting is one of the most challenging show events you can do on horseback. During a cutting run, you have three separate "beings" to deal with... yourself, the horse and the cow.

When you're new and just learning, its hard enough just to concentrate on YOURSELF. Let alone a cow and a horse that doesn't know his job.

Its far better to learn on a fully trained horse that really knows his job. You will learn much faster if you do.

Now, let me make this clear. I'm talking about "competition cutting" here.

If you just want to have some fun by working your horse on cattle, by all means, have at it. You'll have a blast and gain some valuable experience. However, if you are serious about competing, then go get help from a top cutting horse trainer.

Rider's Body is Tense & Stiff Instead of Loose & Relaxed.
Its imperative that you ride with your body totally relaxed.

Trying to ride a cutting horse while your body is stiff is the most common fault you will see in the cutting arena. It's also one of the worst faults a cutting horse rider can have.

Why? Because body stiffness causes a MULTITUDE of problems.

Here are just a few...
A. Causes the horse to miss the stop.
B. Causes the horse to round the turns and leak up the arena.
C. Causes the rider to fall forward and lose his balance.
D. Causes the horse to lose his form and style on a cow.

Bottom line, if the rider can't sit in the saddle relaxed, nothing goes right.

Failure to Make a Clean Cut in the Middle of the Pen.
In other words, cutting on the run. If the run doesn't start right, it usually doesn't
finish very well either. Ideally, you want to cut a cow in the center of the arena
with your horse "faced up" and "even" with the cow.

This means before you drop your hand, the horse needs to be looking directly at the cow you want to cut and be positioned on the cow correctly. Not placed out-of-wack, too far to the right or left of the cow.

Many beginning cutters will experience "tunnel vision" and get focused on running cows. What they need to do is slow down and focus on the cows that want to stop and stay for their horse.

Rider Takes His Eyes Off the Cow & Looks at the Horse's Head.
This is the quickest way I know of to get thrown off the back of a cutting horse. Many beginning cutters are unable to "feel" the position of the horse's body so they take their eyes off the cow and look at the horse to check what he is doing.

This is a huge mistake. See, the rider's "timing" and "balance" comes from watching the cow. Whenever a rider takes his eyes off the cow and looks at the horse's head, he is no longer aware of when the cow is going to stop and turn.

I've seen plenty of riders hit the ground because they took their eyes off the cow just as it stopped and went the other way. The horse went the other way too but the rider didn't. Usually, the rider isn't even aware of this problem.

The Rider Not Correctly Sitting the Stop.
This one mistake is responsible for cutting horses "missing" their cattle than any other thing I can think of.

When the cow is running across the pen and then stops and goes the other way, it's imperative that the rider sits down in the saddle to help his horse. This "sitting down" does two very important things.

1. It tells the horse that its time to stick his butt in the dirt and apply the brakes.

2. It also allows the rider to maintain balance during the hard stop and turn.

The "sit down" consists of the rider rounding his lower back, tucking his pelvis under him and trying to sit on his jean pockets. It's also important for the rider's shoulders to be positioned directly over his hips... Not leaning too far forward or too far back.

Unfortunately, many riders "hollow out" and arch their back. Making their spine rigid. The result is usually the horse not stopping in time with the cow and the rider losing his balance by falling forward.

The Rider Leaning His Upper Body Towards the Cow.
Okay, this is the rider mistake I see the most at the shows. And it's a mistake that MUST be corrected if the horse is ever going to work correctly.

See, a horse will "follow" the rider's body weight. If the rider is leaning towards the cow, the horse will travel towards the cow. This causes the horse to round his turns instead of sitting down and coming over his hocks.

This leaning will also cause the horse to "leak" up the pen and lose his proper position. Leaning can also cause a horse to get out of sync with the cow. All in all, this "leaning rider syndrome" causes some pretty ugly stuff to happen.

What causes the rider to lean in the first place? It can be a variety of things. Maybe the rider doesn't trust that his horse is going to turn with the cow and he is leaning in an attempt to get the horse to turn.

The leaning can also be caused by just plain old nervousness or fear. Many riders have "stage fright" when they first learn to cut.

The cure is to condition your "muscle memory" to keep your body relaxed, loose and centered while you ride.

The Rider's Lack of Essential Horsemanship Skills.
A lot of people think that because cutting horses work on their own, all the rider has to do is just cut a cow and hang on. Well, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Yes it's true, cutting horses do work on their own but the rider has a HUGE influence on how well that horse works. A cutting horse rider needs to be more of a "jockey" than a mere "passenger".

That means you will have a lot more success cutting if you are a knowledgeable horseman. The rider who knows how to stop and turn a horse over his hocks and position a horse's body with leg cues, will have a tremendous advantage over the rider who doesn't.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Bermuda Grass Upkeep

MAINTENANCE practices for Bermudagrass depend upon the variety and purpose for which this grass is chosen.

Golf course and athletic fields are the highest maintained areas. These are usually the hybrid Bermudas that were specifically developed for this kind of activity and in the past were only sodded. Seeded varieties are now opening up the field for home owners to achieve a better Bermudagrass lawns than previously possible.

The Basics Of Bermuda Grass Maintenance

WATERING: Golfing greens, athletic fields of all kinds need a particular watering schedule (usually irrigation) to maintain the highest degree of growth that can be obtained with grasses. Over watering can bring about fungus and invitations to insects. Trained groundskeepers time all maintenance to conditions and season. Lawns that are not highly maintained can use the drought tolerance of this grass to their advantage. In most average rainfall seasons little if any water may be needed. Although Bermuda grass is drought tolerant it does responds well to watering and fertilization if the desired density is not sufficient or if it is slower growing than usual during peak seasons.

WEEDING: This is an aggressive grass and can usually take care of weeds on its own once the sod is established and well managed. A regular mowing program helps control weeds. The same goes for pastures.

FERTILIZATION: Although Bermudagrass generally requires lower amounts of fertilizer, usage will determine how much "fuel" this grass will need. Under intense wear, mowing and watering schedules more of the fertilizer will be used or leached into the soil. Bermudagrass used in average lawns and erosion control situations generally needs less fertilizer.

MOWING: Lawns planted with this grass can be mown much closer than other warm season grasses. Once more this information is according to the variety and cutting heights range from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches. The closest mown Bermudagrass are the most improved varieties which include the vegetative as well as the newer seeded varieties. The newer seeded varieties can be maintained as low as 3/8 in. while the hybrids can be mown down to 3/16 range. Low mowing of Bermuda will generally require daily mowing during peak growing seasons.

DISEASE / INSECTS: Pearl Scale is a big problem on Tifgreen and other sodded Bermuda grasses.
Unfortunately, there is no good method to control them on some of the improved vegetatively established Bermudas. The pearl scale feeds on the roots, so getting insecticide down in the soil where the insects are is difficult, and insecticides are not that effective against them. The best option in turf infested with pearl scale is to plant seeded Bermudagrasses which are naturally resistant to them. No one knows the mechanism of resistance in the seeded Bermuda grasses to pearl scale - they just never get infested with it.

OVERSEEDING: Why overseed, when to overseed, how to overseed and with what grass, does one overseed with? These are the questions that can be answered at the lawn forum. A short version at this time from us is that overseeding accomplishes many goals for improvement, continuous green look, and is the prime example of human ingenuity over Mother Nature. Grass coverage is now (more than ever before) an erosion control factor. Once in place we yearn to keep the cover as green as long as possible. Overseeding warm grasses with cool grasses in the transition zone has succeeded with this goal. Athletic fields and golf courses led the way with a demand for grasses to provide a year round playing field.

  • Perennial rye grass is the number one favorite to overseed Bermudagrass. The perennial ryegrass will not compete as aggressively with the Bermuda and will die back as soon as the temperature rises. Also it germinates quickly and has good disease resistance and high traffic density.
  • Annual rye is also used in a lot of lawns because of the price and ease of overseeding. Sometimes the annual may return in weed form and cause problems later.
  • Overseeding also thins the Bermuda turf and over a period of time this results in having to overseed with with more Bermudagrass seeds. This is an excellent opportunity to add newer varieties to improve the old lawn's characteristics. The best advice for overseeding is water according to directions and keep off the grass until it is growing sufficiently. In the spring you should start a transition program to encourage the Bermuda to grow while forcing the ryegrass to die out.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Going Green - Insect Repellent

Bug sprays with the chemical DEET—the most active ingredient in insect repellents—are considered safe in small quantities by U.S. health and environment agencies. However, some studies have shown that DEET exposure can cause headaches, nausea, and psychological problems in people who use the chemical often.

But with a wide array of plant-based repellents now on the market, you may want to go the natural route—unless you're traveling to an area where serious insect-borne diseases are a real threat.

Active Ingredients: For most of your backyard barbecues and hiking trips, you can keep mosquitoes, ticks, and other biting insects at bay with products containing plant oils. Many products contain geranium, lemongrass, and peppermint oils. Citronella and oil of lemon eucalyptus are specifically recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Picaridin and DEET are also recommended by the CDC.

What they kill: Bug sprays aren't a one-size-fits-all product. Most protect against mosquitoes, but read labels to make sure the product you purchase fits the right bug problem, such as ticks for long hikes or sand flies for trips to the beach.

Usage Tips

  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, closed shoes and socks in areas with high mosquito or tick populations.

  • For added protection against ticks, tuck pants into socks and shirts into pants.

  • Wear light colors. There is some evidence that mosquitoes are more attracted to dark colors than light colors, and light colors make any ticks that might crawl on you more visible.

  • Avoid being outside when the bugs are worst, generally dusk to dawn.

  • When walking in tick-infested areas, stick to the center of the path and avoid brushing against grasses, where ticks wait to hop a ride.

  • Check for ticks at the end of each day, paying careful attention to your head and warm spots such as underarms, behind the knees and between the toes.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Sometimes appearances are everything!

Taken from Fugly Blog

I’ve frequently talked about how important it is to look at what you put on your farm’s web site with an eye to how the world will see it, if you are intending to sell horses or stud fees or training or pretty much anything. (If your site is just for fun and is Suzie and her three rescue geldings, oh heck, do whatever makes you happy…glittering flying horses galore.)
You don’t need an expensive, professionally done site, but you do need to ensure that the pictures you put up show your horses to their best advantage. This means posing them properly, bathing them, clipping them up, and displaying them properly. If they are loose in the field, the field should look appealing with no junk, scary fence, etc. in the background. If they are haltered, use a properly fitted halter that does not look like a terrier puppy has been using it as a chew toy. If they are ridden, use properly fitted tack and a rider who is decently outfitted for riding (i.e. no midriff shirts, bra tops, shirtlessness on guys, shorts, flip flops, crocs). You are riding a horse, not feature dancing at the Spearmint Rhino – no one wants to see your nipples. Seriously.
It’s true for rescues as well as breeding farms and trainers, which is why I went out to help SOS Equines with their spa day on Saturday…we got some horses cleaned up and took much better pictures of them.
Which picture makes you want to give this rescue horse a chance? Same horse but with a bath, a detangled and conditioned mane and tail, a bridle path and his ears up, he looks like he has so much more potential. (Yes, we should have found a more uncluttered background for the “after” shot, and the halter is still not properly fitted. But it’s an improvement.)
(This attractive gelding did find a home, but FYI they have a super cute La Saboteur daughter who needs a place to go right now…click here)

Especially in this economy, if you want to place or sell horses, they need to look good. So I’m always a little confused as to why I see breeding farm web sites with pictures like this one. Look, it’s Furball McShag. Putting a show halter on a horse you haven’t bothered to even clip a bridle path on is like putting on a cute strapless dress but forgetting to shave your pits. It looks ridiculous. Then there’s the fact that the halter is hanging down so low that it’s almost over his nostrils, and it’s paired with an old cotton lead instead of a show lead.
The immediate impression of lack of professionalism is further enhanced by the web site’s copy. Apparently he is “out of” World Champion sire Troubles A Brewing. Ooookay. That I’d like to see. Ouch. Come on guys, how confusing a term is “out of,” anyway? OUT OF. I am pretty damn sure he came OUT OF a mare. If not, call Ripley’s Believe it or Not!
They claim their other stud is OUT OF Zippo Pine Bar. Well, not only I am certain that’s not physically possible, but Zippo Pine Bar was foaled 2 years after I was and therefore I’m equally certain he does not have any five year old sons running around. I was so interested to find out what the actual breeding here was that I spent the $3 to look it up. Well, ZPB is his great-grandsire. He’s actually by a Jack of No Trades called Ima Commander Zippo. Uh, false advertising much?
Don’t get me started on their sale page where you can buy the Zippo’s False Advertising horse for $2500 with a truly hideous “conformation” shot or a “versitial” Arabian for $1000. And why is the fugly-necked paint foal parked out?
For those who think I am too harsh on breeders like this, let me give you an analogy. Let’s say you opened up your Sunday paper and there was a dealership with a Nissan for sale describing it as having a 12 cylinder engine, anti-latch brakes, a DC player and power storing. After you got done laughing, my guess is your first thought would be “what a bunch of idiots” and “how can they be in the car business if they don’t know anything about cars?” That’s my point. The horse business is a business and if you can’t conduct it with the same level of professionalism and demonstrated knowledge of your product that we’d expect in any other business, you shouldn’t be in it. This is just another example of someone breeding stunningly mediocre horses that have a high chance of ending up in a kill pen. You’d really think that by now, given this economy and how difficult it is to sell young stock that aren’t high quality show or race prospects, people would be starting to get the message, but linnks to these web sites keep showing up in my in-box…
By the way, I’m having a very amusing back-and-forth with AHA regarding my recent blog about them. Apparently Kenna Ashley was just an innocent admin who accidently forwarded around an internal memo (don’t you hate when that happens?) and is concerned about all the skeery internet people e-mailing her about the pro-slaughter crap. So please, stop e-mailing her. I think you should e-mail the dude I’m going back and forth with if you don’t agree with AHA’s pro-slaughter stance. His name is Dan Lawrence and he’s their Director of Marketing. Remember, threats are never acceptable (other than the threat to stop paying membership fees and showing at their events – that’s fine!) – opinions are, and strong opinions are understandable given the subject matter but a profanity-free, logical letter is always best!