Thus Begins The Month of No Weekends

Contrary to popular rumors, I have neither died, been kidnapped by the minions of the cat, nor have I run off with a Swedish Chef.

No, this is the time of year that I like to call ‘The Month of No Weekends!’

Case in point – I worked both days this past weekend for First Year Move-In.  We’ve touched probably over 600 computers in the past week with a fairly small crew of students.  Combined with the start of school on Wednesday, I’m in extreme stress mode.  It makes living with me practically unbearable.  Sorry, Steph.

Next weekend, I’ll be gone for the Rock Island Grand Prix, followed by a very brief respite the weekend after during which I’ll be digging up all the potatoes from my garden plot (which is a substantial amount of taters and will require a pick-up truck), and finally races on each of the following weekends.

Despite this, I did manage to outline the final seven chapters of Genie Memories.  Will I finish it by the end of September?  I’m gonna say not likely.  October?  Maybe, if I push hard.  I also hope to get some work done on my short piece now that I got feed back from the geniuses that attended Viable Paradise.  If I can knock that out by the end of October, I’ll be quite happy.

What Runners See

It’s not a stretch to say that runners see the world differently.

We have a tendency to go off the path or maybe visit it at an ungodly early/late hour, when the weather is terrible or generally just when no one else with an ounce of sanity is anywhere around.

Their loss, I say.

Lately, Steph and I have alternated our long runs so that while one runs, the other acts as a sag wagon.  For instance, I ran on Saturday while she biked along with water and Gatorade.  On Sunday, I repaid the favor.  I also brought a camera along.

All the pictures (after the break to save on load times for those with RSS feeds) were taken on the Trout Run Trail around Decorah.

Continue reading “What Runners See”

AISFP – The Physics of Superheroes

The Physics of Superheroes
The Physics of Superheroes

Holy libraries, Batman!  It’s another review up at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing!

The book this time?  The Physics of Superheroes by James Kakalios.  You might remember this one from my w00tstock post back in mid-June.  I had a lot of fun with it.  Being that I am currently writing a sci-fi/superhero story, I paid special attention and learned quite a bit.  It has changed portions of the story too.

So head on over to AISFP and take a look.

Community Garden Plot Rules

Having returned from a visit to our community garden plots, Steph and I feel that it is necessary to publicize several rules requiring Community Garden Plots.  (Click to enlarge all images.)

  1. Do Not Abandon Your Plot :

    Gardening is not a Plant-And-Forget technique.  It requires regular visits to remove weeds, prepare soil, tend to plants, etc.  This takes time, sometimes four or five months.  While the average American in this day and age barely has the patience to finish this sentence, we implore you – Do not abandon your plot.

    Abandoned Plot = Bad
    Abandoned Plot with Squash, Potatoes, and more that will never see the table.
  2. Keep The Pathway Clear :

    The pathway between your plot and any neighbors is all of your responsibility.  Man-up and help keep it clear of weeds.  Better yet, lay down a nice thick layer of straw to keep the weeds down.

    Sorry, No, Your Squash Does Not Get the Walkway
    Sorry, No, Your Squash Does Not Get the Walkway
  3. Supplementary Rule – Zucchini Harvest :

    During Zucchini season, it is permitted (and strongly recommended) that you lock your car doors while working at the community garden.  This prevents other miscreant gardeners from off-loading their abundance of extra zucchini into your vehicle.

    Pay Attention to the Windows Too
    Don't Forget to Secure the Windows
  4. Safe Guarding Your Perimeter (aka The “Possession is 9/10ths of the Law” Rule) :

    If you find yourself having to actually remove/cut down actual plants (i.e. squash or beans) that has begun to infiltrate your plots perimeter or tear down your fence, you are permitted to take any produce from that plant.

    This would classify as a threat to the perimeter.
    Yes, the weeds on the left would classify as a threat to the perimeter.
  5. Machetes Are Not Garden Tools :

    Should a machete is required to remove weeds, said plot owner forfeit all rights to any produce that emerges from that plot, however unlikely.

    Right Side = Well Tended Plot,  Left Side = Machete Playground
    Right Side = Well Tended Plot, Left Side = Machete Playground

Pictures from the Farm? Soyently!

Between my Father-in-Law’s surgery and harvest season fast approaching, we’ve been spending a lot of our free time out at the farm.  Even with us being out there as often as we are, it’s still a beautiful place.  So for those who are curious what being on a family farm in Northeast Iowa is like, here’s a few pictures (click the image to enlarge):


Sunflowers – Lyle plans on having these processed for oil and seed.  There’s about thirty acres or so that run along the crest of the hills.  Weird thing about these – about half face west, the other half face east, no matter where the sun is.  A bit on the unusual side.


The soybean harvest.  Not sure how many plants we put in the ground but this is what it looks like when they’re harvested.  Our haul (on the right) came out to be just under 29 pounds.  The In-Laws took 30 pounds.  Most of these end up as Edamame for stir-fry, salads, or dips.  If you had told me a couple of years ago I’d enjoy these, I’d have laughed in your face.


A Puffball Mushroom that we found on the farm.  The thing was huge and according to a knowledgeable friend, this is a small specimen.  Some of these things get to over a foot in diameter.  Ours was about 8 inches.  We cooked it up in some breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, and pan-fried it in butter.  Tasted like French Toast.


And last, how we unwind after a day at the farm.  No, it is not staged.  Steph really got those letters.  And she STILL beat me!  @#$!

Blades of Grass

Walt Whitman has Leaves of Grass.  Me?  I have Blades of Grass.

Today was yet another day off of work (almost got all the vacation time burned) and I set myself the goal of mowing the lawn.  It’s been getting a bit on the long side.  Of course, today was also the day that Mother Nature set the goal for it to get upwards of 93 degrees.

Clearly, she and I need to get on the same wavelength.

That said, I leave you some choice quotes on the subject :

  • Plans to mow the lawn delayed by the fact that it’s hot enough to melt the lawn mower.
    – Tweet @ 3:54pm

  • Me : Going outside to mow.  If I die of heatstroke, I just want you to know …
    Me : … you can’t have any of my stuff.
    Jon : Bastard
    – IM conversation with my brother @ 5:50pm

  • I always learn something while mowing the lawn. Today I learned we have an underground bee’s nest in the backyard. #owstingow
    Tweet @ 6:30pm

Something tells me ol’ Walt has nothing to worry about.


Don't Bale On Me
Don't Bale On Me

While the Father-in-Law recovers from his heart surgery, I’ve been doing my best to help out at the farm.  This week, that included making a bit of hay.    I’ve done the raking before, but this week marked the first time I did it all – mowing, raking, and baling.

I shall confess to a bit of nervousness on the last item.  There’s three objects to keep track of – Tractor, Baler, and Wagon.  Fortunately, I seemed to have picked it up pretty quick.  I was also assured the rule was that if the bale misses the wagon, you’re responsible for picking it up.  I’m proud to say that out of 120* bales, not one missed the mark.  That included one that ricocheted off the left post, over to the right side, and then down into the wagon.  Boo ya.

I mentioned on Twitter what I spent the day doing and a friend asked ‘How was haying?”

I replied – “Haying is fun.  Hard work but it catches on like a fever.”

Clearly I am a literary genius.

No, Mowing is Not Any More Fun on a Tractor
No, Mowing is Not Any More Fun on a Tractor

* My original estimate of 60+ bales was incredibly far off.  Counted as we unloaded today and it came out to an even 120.

Shucking – The Double Entendre Version


That’s a lotta corn.  Sixty one ears, to be precise.  We got it from a fellow co-worker at Luther who didn’t even charge us a dime, which was nice.  We plan on freezing, canning, and eating it fresh.  So that’s a whole lot of shucking.

And a perfect segue into story time.

It’s impossible for Steph and I to get corn into the house without a little laughter.  This all stems back from an incident that occurred during one of my first summers working at Luther.  The group that was working for us was a great bunch of kids, some of my favorites, and we thought it would be a good idea to have a cook out for them.  Brats, Chips, and some fresh Corn on the Cob.  I told everyone I had leave a bit early to help Steph shuck the corn since there was so much of it.

One of my students, Matt Kinney, gave me a wry look and said “Oh, so that’s what you’re calling it these days.”

Okay, that was good for a hearty laugh.  When I went home, I told Steph the story and she thought it was pretty good, then we set about getting things ready for the cook out.  When the students showed up, we were still getting prepped.  In time, they wandered outside where all the table was setup and Steph was still working on the corn.

As soon as Steph saw Kinney she held up a cob of corn and said with a wink,

“Hey Matt!  Wanna shuck?”

The boy turned bright red while everyone roared.  He finally bowed to acknowledge Steph’s wit and we went on to have a great night.

So, Matt Kinney, this evening’s shucking is for you.  😉