I Harvested A Few Vegetables From My Garden

Despite my problems the vegetables are growing. I harvested two armenian cucumbers and a zucchini squash, and there’s more on the vine. That large cucumber is about 12 inches long. We plan to eat them for lunch today.

Vegas Vacation

I’ve posted some photos of our trip to Las Vegas this week. In the next few days I’ll write some more about the trip.

I took about 100 pictures and almost a hour of video. I put the 25 most interesting pictures on the web. I did much better with the pictures as I think I got a good handle on working the exposure settings on my PowerShot S100. Unfortunately I am hitting its limitation and wishing I had more control. Looks like a new camera will be in the works.

Update 01/25/08: The orginal link has been removed and all the photos have been posted on a flickr set.

What’s most interesting is the camera I took these photos in 2003 with, the Canon Powershot S100, at the time seemed to do a poor job. Most of the photos seemed under exposed. Since then I’ve been going through my photo archives with Aperture and found I was able to really clean them up. It’s amazing what a good job that little camera did after all. Here are a few of my favorites.

Fountian Outside the Pairs Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas

Vegas strip at night

Funky resturant in Vegas

2003 Vegas Vacation 50

2003 Vegas Vacation 53

A ECM for Barking Dogs

Lucky me. I have two neighbors with dogs. All of those dogs are kept primarly in their back yard with nothing else better to do than to bark at me when I’m in my back yard. Short of reporting them to the city I have tried this device call “Bark Free”.

One one side of out house is two dogs. They are still young and appear to be golden retrivers. Behind us is are 3 dogs. I can only see one of them and it appears to be the leader. In other words when it barks the other follows. It also is the one that can climb up on the fence and stick its head over. I have talked to both of these neighbors both of which took action after the complaint and slowly slacked off. I have investigated making a formal complaint to the city, but it may require going to court. I’m not prepared to do that just yet. So I have been investigating alternatives.

In steps the Bark Free by Lentek. It claims that it “has a specially designed audible sound selector that lets you choose high ultrasonic frequencies, which can only be heard by dogs, or lower sound tones audible to human ears. Both sounds have been proven to assist in controlling dogs from incessant barking.” So the idea is that when ever a dog begins to bark a sensor will recognize it and emit the irritating noise that only dogs can hear. Thus the dogs will stop barking so they wont hear the noise any more.

This is what you get in the package. (sorry for the fuzzy picture)

One thing I always look for in the packaging is if they put enough time an effort into the design of the product so it will work. Or did they just through it together to sell it. In this case they seemed to including everything. A 50 foot extension cord for the power brick and a water resistant cover are two examples.

I installed this thing on the back of my house under a eve of the roof. I first set the sensitivity to max for a while. Just about any noise will set this thing off at max sensitive. And I can tell when it goes on and off because the speakers will make a clicking noise. I did this so that the dogs would be aware that the noise is there. I left it at this level for a week and then set it an normal sensitivity.

Unfortunately this thing only has a 25 foot range in front of it for about 180 degrees. Which means the dogs on the side of our house don’t always get the benefits of it. And it doest quite reach all the way into the neighbors yard behind us. But it does react to the dogs that get near the fence.

Having had it up for about a month now I can say I have noticed reduced barking from the dogs. They still bark at me when I’m out there, but they seem to bark for only a short time then leave. I have also noticed that 2 of the 3 dogs behind us don’t come right up to the fence, they stay some distance when they start barking. The dogs on the side of our house I have not heard barking at me when I’m in the back yard for some time. The bottom line is I think it does modify behavior but depending on the dog it does not eliminate barking all together. 

How Does My Garden Grow?

I cant say its doing well this year. First off I started it later than I should, not until the beginning of May. I should have started it at the beginning of April even though the last frost here is about April 18th. I should have at least started it on that date if not earlier.

One of the tomato plants looks good. The rest don’t seem to look so great. Most of the seed I planted didn’t sprout. Except for the radishes. The cucumbers are now starting to look good.

The summer isn’t over, I probably have till September for gathering the harvest. Hopefully we will get some good rain in July, which I think is the big problem.


El Paso, Texas & Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

I wanted to take my Girlfriend and her boys to Carlsbad Caverns since none of them had been. I had been there once before. Since her sister lived in El Paso we decided to visit here for a day and go to Carlsbad the next day. I had never been to El Paso before and was expecting a dirty run down city. Being so close to the Mexico border and Juarez, Mexico. What I found there was a city bigger than Albuquerque and very historic.

IMG_3140The trip down Interstate 25 from Albuquerque to El Paso has nothing interesting to see. But it only takes about 4 hours. In El Paso you can see Mexico from the freeway. The Rio Grand is the border between Mexico and the US, and the river isn’t that wide at the border. Looking at the Mexican side of the border you see a lot of brightly painted houses and small streets. I can imagine what the US side looks like to the Mexicans with our tall buildings for shopping and industry. As if were mocking them with our prosperity.

IMG_3145We did not go into Juarez and the people we met there hadn’t been either/ They mostly told me that there wasn’t much there unless you want to go and party. On the next visit I don’t plan to go either. However on the next trip I hope to stay longer and check out the more historic parts of down town El Paso. On our way out of town there was a border patrol stop. It was interesting that it was there as it was. I wonder if they have one on every exit out of town. They just asked us if we were all Americans and then sent us on our way. It was a mostly boring ride down highway 62/180. But there was some interesting parts like Salt Flat, TX the Guadalupe Mountains National Park. El Captain is visible along the drive. Along the drive I saw quite a few abandoned gas stations and hotels. I often see them along I-40 when I drive to Arizona. I suppose there was a time in the early 1900’s that cars were less capable and it took longer to get from place to place so people needed to stay at hotels along the way.

IMG_3148The Caverns are just south of Carlsbad New Mexico. Prices are reasonable at the cave and they don’t charge for parking. It’s a long into the main part of the cave, half of which is just walking down. But don’t worry there’s is a elevator to take you back up. Bats live in the cave. At night there is a sitting area where people can watch the mass exodus. We did not stay to see that.

The drive back was the most horrible. I figure it takes 6 hours to get to Carlsbad going south of it via El Paso. There are no major high ways into Carlsbad and going north you have to take smaller state roads where the speed limit is 55-65 MPH. This makes a big difference on how long it takes and it must have taken us 9 hours to get back. Our route was north to Roswell the west to I-25. Since you pass through many towns along the way that slows you down even more, and just before we reached I-25 it seems like we had been driving for ever. Which we had. These sort of trips remind me that there was a time when people rode horse through this country with no road or stops along the way. There was some stuff to look at along the way and they were thinking I was lost. I kept assuring them I wasn’t lost, it just was taking a long time.

Lincoln New Mexico was in between Roswell and i-25. I had no idea this place even existed. There is a It is certainly a historic town, nestled in the middle of Lincoln Nation Forest. This National Forest is the birthplace of Smokey the Bear. If we ever go to Carlsbad again, for my Family’s sake I will drive south through El Paso

We Could Use The Summer Monsoons Already

Most people may not expect this, but Albuquerque has a very wet summer most of the time. The summer monsoons usually bring in a lot of rain especially during June and July. We can get near half our rain for the year this way. But this year is different. Instead we are treated to temperatures in the high 90’s. Although not unusual to get temperatures this high, its unusual to get them this high for this many days. They say a ridge of high pressure is keeping the summer monsoons away from New Mexico and it may let up next week.

I blame the lack of rain (partially) on my issues getting the grass growing and for all the bugs that have invaded our house. We have ants, beetles and all kinds bugs that we usually don’t see in the house.

We have been pretty lucky not to have a lot of water restrictions imposed on us, but if the rain doesn’t come soon next spring is going to be unpleasant.

I'm Growing To Much Crab Grass

Because if there is, I have a ton of it in my garden. Crab grass and this weird little “milk weed” that stays low to the ground and is hard to pull up. Everyday I go out and pull as much of the crab grass as I can and everyday there is more. Not to mention that the sod we put down is 80% brown and the crab grass as started to move over there.. I guess I didn’t water it enough but I have been watering it more and it looks like its starting to recover.

Next year I have some plans to rectify this.

For the vegetable garden, over the winter I will put a clear plastic cover it which should produce a green house effect. But I wont vent it and let the heat build up, which should be enough to kill everything that tries to grow there. Next I will try Compost Tea after I plant stuff next year. There is a guy in Alaska that grows huge edible vegetables and attributes it to Compost Tea. In fact I may try it this year if I have time.

As for the grass, I’ve already taken steps to revive it. One thing I did find is the parts of the grass that were in shade are still alive. So I re-seeded the yard with a shade/sun mixture. I have been watering it every night as well. We will see how it looks in the next few weeks. If I can get that seeded well it will (hopefully) not give the crab grass room to grow. Oh and I will get some basic “weed-n-feed” to put out there too.