Saturday, December 31, 2005

Security Now Audio Show & Podcast

I have always been a big fan of Steve Gibson's website ( with all his neat little programs. After using his hard drive repair utility (Spinrite) years ago, I have tried to follow what he is doing.

Now he has an internet audio show with Tech TV's Leo Laporte and talks a lot about computer security and new network ideas. It looks like they make a show every week that last about 20-30 minutes.

Check the show out:

I am listening to episode #20 now about the new Windows security problem and his show is quite informative. I like that he gives you more technical explanations. I learned about the security issue after my father told me about a story on NPR. That story was pretty vague about the issue except it be triggered by looking at image files on webpages. They interviewed someone from McAfee. Refer to

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Microscope Pictures of Water Particles

This Christmas season I have been sick with mostly a cough that does not want to go away. A number of days ago I bought a Vicks vaporizer to raise the humidity in the room I was sleeping. The instructions said black particles could appear in the water tub after a while. The device seems to work by extending a column down into a tub of water. Inside the column is a heater that heats the water to a point where it turns into steam. A small plume of steam appears about 10 minutes after the unit is turned on. After it had run overnight I looked in the tub and grayish flakes were sitting at the bottom of the tub. These flakes looked like good candidates for the microscope. I am guessing they are small pieces of charcoal used to filter the water at the treatment plant. Why the form into flakes is a question I cannot answer.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mars Pictures

Well, my pictures of Mars are not all that great. Getting the camera locked on Mars turned out easier than I thought but getting it focused proved elusive.

Here is another picture of the moon that I took last night. It has not come out yet tonight so I might try and image it tomorrow morning.

Monday, December 19, 2005

More Telescope Pictures

It must be 20 degrees outside which just adds to the fun of trying to take a picture of Saturn. I was having a lot of trouble focusing even though it was a clear night. Lots of Christmas lights in the neighborhood so that always makes for good astronomy.

As you can see from the next picture my Saturn image did not turn out. I could not get it into focus.

My pictures of the moon did not do so well either.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Processed Moon Image from Last Night

Here is my first processed image from RegiStax. It is a neat program and I picked out 8 images and stacked them.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Moon Picture

I have taken my first image with the NexImage camera attached to a Meade telescope. The quality is poor due to several factors: 1) cloudy skies made the moon hazy, 2) I did not read the manual for the NexImage so I was muddling through the program while capturing images, 3) I need to read the manual for the image processing program as well. After capturing the images, I will probably upgrade to a faster computer to grab images. Also after finding the manual on the CD, I found that I was not using the maximum resolution to capture images. Also my exposure was not correctly set.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Microscope Pictures 3

The image to the right is of white house flour illuminated with the bottom light on the microscope.

The image on the left is of the same flour sample but illuminated from the side with white LEDs that seem to make the flour turn blue.

The image on the left is the same flour sample but illuminated with a red led from the side.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Microscope Pictures 2

An American Eagle coin magnified 60 times. The surface on this coin is rough and not smooth like other coins I have seen. Very coarse looking when magnified 200 times.

Metal fragment found in a piece of shale. It original was a sphere about the size of a BB. I broke it apart to see what the metal looked like inside.

The nose of a buffalo on a new nickel.

Monday, November 28, 2005

More Images from the Microscope

Using the Intel play microscope I took some more images for items I found in the kitchen.

Artificial sugar magnified compare it to the later images of sugar.

The right image shows several sugar crystals illuminated with a red LED from the side with small amount of the tungsten light on the microscope. Magnification I think is 60 times.

Here is a sugar crystal magnified 200 times with side illumination by a white LED. I noticed that the white LED makes items appear slightly blue.

Parsley flake magnified by 200 times. Focus would have been helped if I had a flatter specimen.

Popcorn shell magnified 60 times.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Cold Weather and Tires

The onset of cold weather in northern Kentucky got me to check the air pressure in the vehicles. I found that pressure in about all the tires was about 5 pounds per square inch lower than it should be. The tires were inflated to match the pressures shown on the label inside the driver's door.

Doing a little research I found this website about vehicle tires:

The item that relates to what I saw is this, "Every time the outside temperature drops 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the air pressure inside your tires goes down about one or two pounds per square inch." So I need to reduce the pressure once the air temperature warms up again.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Edwin Hubble and His Connection to Louisville

The Courier-Journal posted an interesting article today about the astronomer, Edwin Hubble who the famous space telescope is named after. The piece chronicles Edwin's life and how his father moved the family to Shelbyville, KY in 1910 where Hubble would witness the return of Halley's comet. He traveled to Oxford to study law instead of astronomy. His father died in Louisville in 1913. Edwin returned to Louisville and taught high school in southern Indiana in 1914. In 1915, he moved to the University of Chicago to study for his PhD.

It is a very informative article written by a local science teacher. The only odd thing is it was in the editorial/opinion page. Check it out at:

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Woodman's Pal

Reading the Pursuits section of the Wall Street Journal today I found an interesting ad. It showed a machete like tool that has a curved blade on one side and hooked shaped blade on the other. I have been looking for something like this to clear brush on some rural land that has quite a few briars and overgrowth.

The company that makes it is in Pennsylvania since World War II. Reading their website it appears to be a tool the military used when serving in jungle environments.

Check out this tool at:

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Pictures from the Microscope

Today I will post some pictures taken from a electronic microscope.

The image to the right is of powdery mildew on a petal of an African Violet.

This image is a close up of fool's gold. Notice the crystal formation rising from the rock surface.

The metal in the image to the left is not identified. I was digging holes in a backyard to plant watermelon. The tool I was using was a post hole digger and it was going through a slate bed. A piece of slate has a shiny pellet in it and when I broke it open these fragments made up the pellet.

This picture is an EPROM that has been magnified 60 times.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Christmas Gift Idea

Christmas is a time for giving and not just receiving. So it might be a good idea to make a donation to your favorite charity. I know I will. A neat site I found that rates charities is at:

Right now I am looking at several local 4 star charities: Dare to Care Food Bank, Public Radio Partnership, and Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust. Also one international one: Food for the Poor.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Nova on PBS

I just finished watching Nova on our PBS affiliate. The show was entitled "Hitler's Sunken Secret". It was about heavy water production and shipment in Norway during World War II. Very interesting show, I learned that heavy water in the containers could be determine by the pH. The researchers brought up barrel #26 and found that it did indeed contain 1.1% of heavy water. Later research found that the Germans were just experimenting with the water and were not very close to building a nuclear bomb. Check out more about the show at:

A somewhat related topic, during the show a scientist showed electrolysis in a flask. I found a site on the internet that allows you to easily break water into hydrogen and oxygen. Check it out at:

Next week's show about Isaac Newton and his interest in alchemy looks good as well. I am glad to see Google putting some of their wealth to work by supporting the science show Nova. The world needs more scientists figuring out how the universe works.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Star Wars Episode III

I rented Episode III earlier in the week and watched it again. Definitely, the best of the newer trilogy. I liked seeing the deleted scenes and hearing George Lucas's commentary. They let the graphic supervisors discuss their scenes as well. In the opening space battle, one pointed out they actually had a kitchen sink fly out of an exploding ship and hit another ship.

Another neat feature on the bonus DVD was an analysis of 49 seconds of the light saber duel at the end. The documentary makers showed how all the people involved in the making of that section of the film. Let's just say, a lot of people are involved! It looks like a lot of work on the movie was done in Australia. I thought they would have done a majority of the work in California but apparently not. It was also interesting that they traveled to China to take pictures of the hills there for the Wookie planet.

One other thing that I learned was that the actors are in front of a lot of green and blue screens. It must be quite hard acting when you have no idea what your surroundings look like. They seemed to have had a lot of computer generated backgrounds. Also they put the heads of actors on stand in doubles.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

It's Getting Cold

Over the last week, the temperature has been down right cold. I decided to finish putting extra insulation in the attic. When I wired an overhead light in the extra bedroom, I discovered an area in the attic that did not get any blown insulation. This area would explain why when feeling the ceiling in the master bedroom this summer and it was hotter than the rest of the dry wall.

I took some more fiberglass insulation up and filled in the area and added some more through out where I traveled to get to that area. As I moved through the attic, I found it to be very tight quarters up there. A very useful tool was Brinkman headlight that has several white LEDs. I really needed both hands free up there to contort around that small space and move insulation to and fro. It was good to have it.

An added feature to the headlight is that it has a red LED for night work. When I was out working on the telescope it is nice to have a red light so the eyes are more acclimated to the night. When I made my Mars post last night, I thought the planet was overhead but looking at my telescope this morning it was elevated to 63 degrees. After more thought, I did have the telescope on a slope. I will try and look at it tonight as well.

Went to a very nice wedding this weekend. Here is a picture the church ceiling while I was testing my camera before the ceremony.


I just came in from looking at Mars in the telescope. It is very bright and very large in my viewfinder. The image I saw was white circle with dark pattern near its center. I was viewing as it was almost directly overhead which means it did not have as much atmospheric distortion.

I only wish that the neighbors would turn their lights off more. My neighborhood is not the greatest to for sky viewing.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

100 Things About Louisville, Kentucky

The Courier-Journal produces a free weekly called Velocity. I pick it up time to time and enjoy reading its younger, hip content. They recently had their 100th issue and commemorated by publishing a "100 Things You Didn't Know About Louisville" section. The full list can be found at:

Things I found interesting:

#21 Louisville has a company called National Products that produced disco balls. I wonder what kind of market there is for this product?

#37 The steamboat, The Belle of Louisville, is the oldest in operation in the United States. It was built in 1914. I remember the Sunday morning I was cycling down by the riverfront and thought the Belle was sitting in the water funny. It turns out someone had tried to sink her. The boat was repaired but it was not cheap.

#67 That Jefferson Memorial park is the largest American urban park at 5,500 acres.

It an interesting newspaper. Check it out at

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Trip to Indianapolis to See Whad'ya Know

Over the weekend, we visited Indianapolis to see the public radio show Whad'ya Know? It was an interesting show but the crowd seemed a lot smaller than the one in Louisville. The audience seemed low key as well. I gathered that the public television and radio stations are tied together in Indy. The show was at an arts building at a local high school. They had a nice facility and plenty of parking. The picture to the right shows the stage the show was broadcast from. It is somewhat blurry since the area was pretty dark and I could not hold the camera steady with the longer exposure time.

The Louisville crowd may have been in a smaller theater and having the host open the show by opening a bottle of Woodford Reserve Bourbon and start drinking definitely set the stage for that show. The band was definitely enjoying it as well. At the Indy show, we were seated on the left side of the theater. Michael Feldman comes down the right during the first half show and interacts with the audience and then the left half at the second part of the show. He got within 3 seats of us and this picture was taken. It is pretty cool that they allow cameras at the show.

During the show, he interviewed a writer from the Indy Star who was pretty good. He also interviewed a writer who was professor at Butler College (or University). She wrote an interesting book about Indiana manufacturing, called Fabrications. I might read it, if I can find it in the library. I found it nice that after the show, the cast stayed around and allowed the audience to come up on stage and have their pictures taken. You can learn more about the show by going to

Here is a picture of a waterfall on a river that runs through part of the city. Very relaxing area.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pictures from Myrtle Beach

This weekend I had a chance to look at some pictures on the camera memory card. The picture of the flower was taken in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was in a planter on the patio of a hotel that was next to the beach.

It has such a vibrant red color that stood out on that windy, overcast day.

The picture to the left shows the overcast weather over a pretty much deserted beach in September 2005. Myrtle Beach is a nice place but it really is geared to golfers. It is a nice place to fly into though the airport is small and not very busy. After flying out of New York or Atlanta and having to sit on the runway, their airport was a pleasant change.

Here is another picture of a flower that was reddish-pink. I liked the contrast of the flower to the rest of the planter.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Polystyrene-Cement Housing

I was listening to the BBC on the radio and they interviewed someone from the Federation of American Scientists. The story was highlighting a building technology that stand up to hurricanes and earthquakes. Here is a link to their paper on this:

It is an interesting idea. I have heard of houses in my area that have foam insulation used to create forms for concrete.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

More Cycling Musings

One thing about cycling is you have time to reflect on the surrounding environment and current events. During the ride yesterday, my group came upon a train crossing the road we were traveling. It appeared to be long train, maybe 50 cars. At first, I was seeing stacks of vehicle frames going by, probably making their way to the Ford plant. Cars filing by then were loaded with containers that appeared to have come off of ships. I read about the large trade deficit with other countries and this brings the realization home. If you go to Wal-Mart and start looking at where things are made, it becomes very obvious that the United States is importing a huge amount of manufactured goods. All those shipping containers I saw just gave me another solid item to attach that deficit number to.

Another thing that I realized on the ride was our mortality and the how older people reflect back. The young tend see what is coming up and where they can go. Older generations reflect back on what was and who is gone. Older riders in the group reflected on where they had grown up as we passed houses in their old neighborhoods. One woman told me her grandfather had lived in a spot now rebuilt with brick townhouses. I would hear stories from the ride group like "this is the house I earned money in high school cleaning" or "there is the church I attended as a youth".

Last, our society has made high technology disposable. When I started using computers decades ago, equipment was somewhat rare and very expensive. So you valued the electronics and hobbled together things to make computers do some limited tasks. Today, all this is very common place and computers are orders of magnitude more powerful. As I was riding, I came cross a pile of discarded items on the side of street. I counted 3 monitors that were either 17" or 19" in size waiting to be hauled off. It is amazing that technology has permeated through our society where once expensive devices are not even attempted to be fixed but just thrown in garage heaps.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Tour de Spirit -- Louisville, Kentucky

Today I rode in a bicycle event called the Tour de Spirit benefiting Urban Spirit. What is Urban Spirit? Quoting from their own literature, " Urban Spirit is a non-profit retreat and poverty education center, dedicated to being a voice for those who live in poverty, and to bringing change through new perspectives."

The ride offered three loops to explore Louisville. I chose to ride 2 loops: the 12 mile route 1 which toured western Louisville and 14 mile route two going through downtown and the business district. I rode though several areas of town that I do not think I have been in before. It was an interesting ride. The most spectacular new thing I saw was the fountain at St. James St.

Joe Ward came up with the ride routes. I bought two of his books "Wheeling Around Louisville" and "Wheeling Around the Bluegrass". He signed them for me as well. More information about Joe Ward can be found at http:// and he was interviewed on a local radio show look at the show for November 13, 2003:

The ride started at 8 AM so only about 30 people were there. I am not sure the total number of riders but they may have been larger groups that came after we left. It was a chilly morning start but since we were riding into streets that had a lot of active traffic, I can understand now why we went out early. The less cars the better for bicycling.

At lunch a big thank you to Papa John's, based in Louisville, for a lot of delicious pizzas. Volunteers also made cookies for desert. Plenty of good food at the SAG as well.

All and all it was a good ride. The ride map included a handout entitled "Things to Notice as You Cycle Through Louisville's Neighborhoods". I wish I had seen it my packet before we started. It listed what different numbers on the map signified. Item 9 on route 1 was marking Muhammad Ali's boyhood home. So I passed that house not realizing it.

Find out more about Urban Spirit at:

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

MPG and How Save Gas for Future Generations

Well, all Americans can see the price of gasoline is going up. My area of the country the price is approaching $3 a gallon. So I started driving the subcompact car about every day to work. It is a pretty nice ride, just have to watch out for semi-trucks and large SUVs that can blot out the sun when I get too close to them.

After reading a Wall Street Journal article about the economics of whether to switch to a hybrid or not. The author mentioned this site: where you can find all kinds of useful information about cars and conserving our favorite natural resource (well, behind water & air). I logged in and started tracking my vehicle. Right now I am averaging 36 mpg which is the car's highway rating. I think I can reach 40 mpg if I drive the speed limit and avoid rapid accelerations.

Another change I might make is switching to synthetic oil. The cars are getting older and you do not have to change the oil but every 10,000 miles. Right now I put a Dupont engine cleaner in the car to help clean out the 12 year old engine. I will probably use regular 5W-30 for the next several changes. What prompted my interest in synthetics those was this article in Consumer reports about some cars that have problems with oil sludge:
Since my wife drives a car that has this problem, I switched her oil over to Mobil One synthetic on the next change. This oil change brought up another point can I mix old synthetic oil with conventional oil in the recycle container? After going to the Mobil One site, I found that you can. Here is there site with the benefits of using synthetic:

It is amazing what air resistance does to gas mileage. This site shows how an engineer modified his VW Beetle to get better gas mileage with aerodynamic wing. Check it out at:

Closing Thoughts: I read or hear people saying there should be a boycott of gas stations on some particular day to show them not to raise prices. I think that is not really proving anything, you still need the gas. Instead people should drive the speed limit, not try to rocket accelerate when the light turns green, and maintain proper tire air pressure. This behavior if performed in mass will create less demand for fuel, that will LOWER THE PRICE OF GAS. After driving every day, this is a pipe dream. I see illogical driving every time I go out: people accelerating toward red lights just to have to hard brake when they get their, during morning rush hour, vehicles barreling 10-20 mph over the speed limit into an area mile or so ahead where traffic is moving 10-20 mph so they have to come to a stop minutes later, cars following too close to the one in front of them so they are hitting their brakes every 30 seconds or so, etc. As the price of gas rises, I think this type of stuff will become less and less because there will be less and less cars.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Watermelons, watermelons, the season winds down

Yesterday, 5 more watermelons were harvested which pretty much finishes the melons in the back field. Up to this point, I have given away 22 watermelons. I have thrown away 6 melons due to being not ripe or they rotted.

Here is a picture of a Moon & Stars melon that has been cut in half. The picture shows this melon as being quite red but in reality it is more pink. At first, I thought they were not ripe but I now think this is the way they are suppose to look.

The picture on the right shows the melon before it was cut. Note the yellow spots that look like stars/galaxies in the night sky. Also look at the film on the melon's skin, they get this way as they ripen.

The largest melon in picture is a moon & stars variety that weighed 28 lbs. It is accompanied by two melons that might be the Sugar Baby variety. While looking solid green in the picture, they do strips. My understanding of the Sugar Baby variety is that it is solid dark green. Also notice the shine of the skin, looking at seed catalog pictures the melons also look shiny and have a nice color. I found that coming out of the field the melons are dirty and have white film on them. They have to be washed and hand dried to get that shine. If I was selling them, that would be a must because I believe a lot of people buy on not just taste but also appearance.

The melon in the picture to the left has been a real pleasant surprise. I am not sure what its name is but it might be the Ultra Cool variety I bought from Wal-Mart for $0.97. Of course, it was suppose to be seedless according to the package. Looking at the picture you can see 9 black spots that are seeds. Besides that this melon is very red and sweet. I really like its taste. It has the skin pattern of Charleston Gray but shaped more spherically. I believe the 4 that were picked weighed between 10-20 lbs.

Last week, we visited New York City. I found it to be an amazing place and I will post about it later. When we toured through China town with its open air produce stands, a number of stacks of large melons could be seen. They were selling some large, elliptical shaped seeded melons. The weight was probably in the 20-30 lb range. It was good to see others appreciate the traditional melons.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Watermelon Harvest

I have not done a good job at posting my harvest results or keeping track of them. The watermelon count so are is probably around 20+ picked. The largest watermelon so far as been a Moon & Stars at around 28 pounds. There appear to 4 varieties: sugar baby, sweetheart (cross with sugar baby), ultra (that turned out not to be seedless), and moon & stars. The sugar baby melons has turned out well with every one picked being ripe.

I have given away 10 melons so far. Five to people at work, four to relatives, and one to a friend.

Cycling has been taking up my spare time as I try to get in better shape. After riding for a while I am feeling better and my legs are getting stronger.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

I Think a Deer Slept on My Biggest Melon Plant

I visited the melon patch today and the melons are getting big. My biggest melon (possibly > 25 lbs) is a moon & stars but it looks like something mashed down the plant. Some of the other plants have folded up leaves. I poured some water on the plants and I hope it brings them back up some. The tendrils on some of the melons are turning brown but I am going to wait until they really look dead.
I cut the light green melon tonight and it was not ripe. It was pink and the seeds were under-developed. Oh well.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The First Melons

Today I picked two melons, one is a sugar baby (9 lbs, 9" diameter) and the other is a??? (looks like a Charleston Grey) but sized like a basketball (13 lbs, 11" diameter). The tendrils were brown, they had solid spots on the bottom and the skin was a dull color.

I saw a number of moon & stars melons and with their large yellow spot. I will get further into the patch later and see if they are ready. Next year I need to plant some Crimson Sweet melons.

Picked 5-6 squash and 2 tomatoes. The tomatoes are starting to ripen and there are probably 10 ready to picked.

Sunday, July 24, 2005


Congratulations to Lance Armstrong for a feat never accomplished at the Tour De France.

I worked on my bicycle this weekend to install two new Continental ( tires from Germany. The bike shop told me that these were less prone to flats. I decided to install them myself to get practice changing the intertube on the bicycle. It was a small disaster. I changed the flat on the rear tire but I must have punctured the tire because it went flat after 4 rides. So that is when I decided to get new tires. I also got more intertubes. The front tube stem was not fully extended from the rim. I tried to pull it more and broke off part of the stem (that tube is history). After I installed a new tube and put the tire back on, it would not inflate. I removed the tube and found two small holes. So I installed another tube and it seemed to lose air as well. AHHH! I removed that and could not find a hole just pumping up the tube. So I reinstalled it and found that not putting the pump head on correctly caused the problem. I then replaced the back tire with not too much of a problem (or I thought). I took the bicycle out for a ride and I found that I had the magnet on the wrong side for the bike computer to work. Later on in the ride was I was turning on a street my gears locked up right in front of a car. I pushed the bike into the grass and found that the back wheel was becoming detached from the frame. The quick connect was not properly locked down. Fixed that and the ride seemed to go okay.

Visited the watermelons today and they are coming along. The moon & stars melon has developed some yellow spots. My father found 3 more moon & stars melons hiding in the leaves on the plants in the back field. It looks like the plants will be producing late so it will be good if I can get a staggered harvest.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Fun With Nissan

Well, I went to the Nissan dealer to buy a new fan resistor board. I could not figure out how to fix the other one. I think there is a fuse inside the connector casing that has blown. The schematic shows a fuse but I do not see it on the board.

So I pull into the parking lot and get out. I go over to the passenger side and detach the circuit board from the place under the glove compartment. I take the board into the parts department and ask for the replacement part. The guy seems to be familiar with the part and pulls it from a shelf not far from his computer. It costs $26.86 and is part number 27150-62J60. I then took the part out to the parking lot and reattached it to the cable and bolted it back in. Started the engine and the fan works on all settings. It was kind of funny fixing it in their parking lot in about 3 minutes. Being hot outside I needed that fan with A/C in the car.

If you look at the new board (not really in focus), you will see a silver looking rectangle at the left of the board. I think this is the fuse. It will melt if too much current is put through it. The nice thing is it can be repaired but if it were to burn through, why?

I got new pedals for my bicycle and two new tires. The owner of the store told me another model was less prone to flats so I bought those. I think they were more expensive than my car tires! But I do not want a flat on that bike miles from anywhere so they will be worth it.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I finally got my cycling computer a battery and it is nice know the distances I am traveling. My short trip tonight amounted to over 3 miles though I need to make sure my wheel diameter is set correctly in the computer. If that is a correct value then my longer evening rides are in the 5-10 mile range.

Watermelon prices at the grocery store were between $5-7 for seedless melons that looked to weigh about 10-15 lbs.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A Busy Day

I had quite a few things keeping me busy at work. My windows have come in so I made an appointment to have them installed.

The watermelons growing. The leaves seem to expand out more where the fruit did no seem so obvious. We had a sunny and humid day today so that may have something to do with it. The vine that I thought was wilting had opened leaves today so I am not sure what that means.

The picture I post today is of a variety of watermelon I am not sure about. I have misplaced my planting map. It has the skin of a Charleston Grey but I did not plant any of those this year. I have found about 5 of this variety that will probably reach maturity.

I continue to read about the new Harry Potter book. It amazes me that people were finishing it in 6 hours. I know on Friday night/early Saturday morning had 47 user reviews and now they have almost 1000. Most reviews are favorable and some of the negatives ones have some good points though some people are just mean spirited. I probably read it too fast but I wanted to give it to my nephew since he is a big fan. The webpage I had for was just refreshed and the review count is now 1002. So cheers to all the other readers who finished. Enjoy the movies while we wait for the last book to come out. One really good thing they did was release it on a Friday night during the summer when kids are out of school.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Well, I see that Jupiter is making an appearance in the south western sky so I am taking the telescope out to view it.

I inspected the watermelons today I finally spotted one moon and stars melon. It has a shiny green skin. I have 6-10 plants and only one melon. This production yield is disappointing though they have another 4-6 weeks to produce so maybe things will happen. The garden has quite a few sugar baby melons and the fungus infection on the leaves does not appear to be spreading too much. I did see one vine further in the patch start to have rolled up leaves so I hope that is not some sort of wilt problem.

Mowed the grass this evening and it was somewhat depressing in the front yard. The grass was pretty brown and it had mildewed/molded. I can only hope the sun will come out and get rid of that. The rain clouds are approaching from the west so we might be getting some rain tonight. It could be worse though, it could be drought.

I need to figure out how to get the pedals off my bicycle. I worked at a while this evening and I did not seem to make them budge. Maybe if I go to the bike shop, they will show me after I buy some new pedals. There was an interesting story done by a local TV stations investigative reporter about motorists and cyclists. He basically found that both groups abuse the law and are not respectful to each other at times. The story might still be found at this website in Real Player or Microsoft Media Player format:

Sunday, July 17, 2005


Well, I finished the book and it is pretty good. I would recommend it to others. The character that got killed was who I thought would get killed. After reading how she is connecting some of the characters together, I have changed my mind about a dark ending for book 7. It will be stretch to see how good will triumph over evil in this series though. Now I will give the book to my nephew so he can enjoy reading it. Hopefully, the reading pace will be a little slower.

I was amazed at how fast some user reviews were posted on Our world has some fast readers. Readers in England have a 5 hour head start on American east coast readers so they might have been posting those reviews.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Reading What A Lot of Other People Are

Well, I am about 200+ pages into the book and it is following the previous formula for the most part. No big surprises so far but the author is bringing in foreshadowing (or is she) in the passages I have encountered so far. Only more reading will reveal or disprove my suspicions. The mystery I am trying to figure out is: who will she kill off? It will be interesting to learn how well the sales of the book did.

Here are some more watermelon pictures. The new imaging tool is definitely more convenient to use and allows image to be put into the text. The image on the left shows a melon that looks like a miniature Charleston Gray melon but I did not plant any of those. The image on the right shows some of the melons in the back field. They have flowers but no fruit that I can find. The ones in the picture are Moon & Stars.

So Mr. Potter... We meet again

Well, I joined the legions tonight buying the next Harry Potter book. I decided to avoid the parties at the bookstores and went to Kroger on my way home. I got there right at midnight and saw a young man leaving the store with a book. I saw the registers and there were more people leaving with bags with books in them. I heard the manager ask the people setting up the table, how many books had been sold. They said three boxes and looks like they unpacked maybe 20. I got some more groceries before getting a book so maybe another box had been sold by the time I left the store. The store I was at had no lines and with self check out people were getting out pretty quick. I think some places had it cheaper but the convenience was worth it. At almost 700 pages, I am not sure I will be able to finish before the weekend. I expect the story to get dark from here on out.

A new season of shows started on Sci-Fi. SG-1 looks to be interesting with a number of new people and some of the main stars missing. I thought Atlantis got off to a good start and hopefully the story lines will be better than last seasons. Battle Star Glactica is a dark show though I liked that it had more action than some of the ones I saw last season. Off to a good start and hopefully I will get a chance to watch some more.

The watermelon garden is looking pretty good. The fungus does not seem to be spreading too rapidly but it would be nice if we could get some sunny days to help fight off the infection. I brought some leaves back and I hope to look at them under the microscope.

Well, I need to get some reading in...

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Watermelons in Peril?

Well, I visited the watermelon patch and found that the fungus was on the leaves of some of the watermelon plants. It may only be attacking some of the seedless melons right now.

I mixed a fungicide of canola oil, baking soda, sulfur and tap water into a spray bottle. I mixed it up and sprayed it on the leaves of the watermelon that had the brown spots. I tried to get under the leaves as well. The really bad leaves I cut from the stem and placed in a plastic bag. I probably trimmed 14 leaves. Hopefully, the fungus will not get into the stem where I cut off the leaves. The spray bottle jammed after a while, maybe too much oil? So I started pouring the mixture on the leaves. I ran out by the time I got to the last part of the patch affected by this outbreak. So now I have three groups: one set of leaves sprayed, one with the mixture poured on them, and another that was left pretty much untouched. I will collect a leaf tomorrow for closer examination.

The Ultra Cool and Moon & Stars varieties appear to be un-affected by the fungus so far. I might dig up a potato plant tomorrow as well if it is not too wet.

Cycled tonight and got in a good ride. I started a little late but I probably rode for about 30 minutes. Visited some areas of the subdivision I do not think I had been to before. We let the yard get brown when it was hot instead of paying for water to keep it green. Well, that might have been a mistake. The dead grass has started to mildew since we have had about 5 days of overcast and rainy weather. I went out and raked the front yard to de-thatch it and get rid of some of the mildewed grass. I hope it does not rain tomorrow so I can mow it and get a little more air down into the grass and try to promote some new growth.

My mother's flower garden is looking nice. Here are some pictures

More About Watermelons

This site talks about growing watermelons.

This site has brix refractometers for sale. They are used to measure the sugar content of watermelons though I am not sure how to use one.

A maker of refractometers can be found at this site:

I am also looking into what some brown spots that appeared on several watermelon plants are. I wonder if I should remove the leaves that are affected or let the plant take care of them. It appears to be on 3 of maybe 21 plants. The spots may be on only one variety of watermelon. According to the University of Georgia site ( it could be Anthracnose. Reading the details of this Colletotrichum lagenarium fungus this does not sound good. It is on the oldest leaves at the center of the plants.

Of course, it might be a Cercospora citrullina fungus that can cause leaf spots described at this Texas A&M site ( It does not appear as harmful but the pictures at the Univ. of Georgia site look closer to what I am seeing. Here is a list of watermelon problems

I think I am going to remove dying leaves and spray a mixture of baking soda/vegetable oil on leaves that have few spots and those near by. I might try sulfur and hydrogen peroxide as well. Fingers crossed this will not spread with all the overcast and wet weather that is occurring.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Rain... rain... mist...

We continue to get rain but it might be more like mist or a light shower. Driving home today the road was dry looking, then wet, then partially wet. The day was mostly overcast. Need to get out and cycle.

Buenos Noche

Tuesday, July 12, 2005