3/15/2011

Lotus Update

There isn't a lot to do in Michigan from January to March, so this has given me something to keep from going insane. If i lived in Florida it wouldn't be this difficult. Down south the hot and humid air allows the plant to grow almost all year round. The problem is that my house is cold and dry. The first thing i learned is that i can't just put the growing seed in an open bowl of water like people online suggest. Once the shoot reaches the surface it immediately dries out and dies. The air in my house is way too dry and instead of the shoot reaching the surface, unrolling and becoming a lillypad, it reaches the surface, dries up, turns black and dies. So i've had to use Saran wrap to keep the air above the water like a mini-greenhouse. This seems to work. It also holds in heat, which helps too.

But in order for the plant to really get big it needed more space, so i got a big bucket from Home Depot for $5. I actually got 2. The second one is in case the first one leaks.
Then i went to the clearance area of Meijer and bought a water heater, aerator, grow light and a timer.
what you need to grow lotus plant indoors, heater, airator, thermometer
The optimum temperature for the plant to grow is somewhere around 77 degrees. The bowls that i put over the heat vent only got up to around 65. So i tied the water heater to a rock and set it on the mud in the center of the bucket. The grow light and the aerator run through the timer which is set to run between 7am and 9pm. I also added a thin layer of sand over top of the clay to try and help keep the clay particles from floating around in the water.
how to grow a lotus, lilly pad, indoors, bucket, light

Here it is with the Saran wrap covering the top. The moisture does build up on the inside and i have to periodically wipe it down to let as much light in as possible.
saran wrap on bucket to keep the lotus plant humidity high

I thought everything was going great but i killed some of the older plants when i moved them to the big bucket. They started getting white, then brown then they slowly sank and died.

lotus leaves brown, dead, too dry, too cold, not enough sunlight

lotus leaves brown, dead, too dry, too cold, not enough sunlight
I might have added too much fertilizer. I broke in half 2 sticks of slow release fertilizer and stuck it into the mud. But i put fertilizer in the small pots and it didn't kill them. It also might have been a chemical i put in to make the water clearer. Whatever it was the plants weren't doing as well as i had hoped. It might just be that they just need more time to grow. The good thing is that i do have plenty of time. I probably won't be able to move them outside till May or June when the outside air stays above 50.

Once again the process in which i learn something stays the same: I completely screw it up the first time, guess and get it less wrong the second time, understand why i screwed up the third time, then finally get it right the fourth or fifth time. Hopefully by summer i'll have it all figured out.


I also got Asian Lotus seeds when i saw them at a store, 3 pods for $4. The pods were only about half full of seeds so i got around 20 in total. Online it would cost $10 or more to have them shipped.
asian lotus seeds, seed pods, michaels, crafts store
The seeds look a little different from the American Lotus i got in Lake Erie. The Erie ones are much rounder and a lighter brown color. They are the ones on the left.
american lotus versus asian lotus, seeds, shape

We'll see how these new seeds do. I scarified the outside, put them in a jar of warm water and set the jar on the heat vent, just like before.
asian lotus seeds, scour, sand seed shell
So far they seem to be just fine and they started sprouting after only 3 days.

sprouting lotus seed, asian lotus, 3 days

I also noticed that the 2 seeds grow differently. The American lotus seed put most of its energy into growing its first main stem, which is green. The Asian lotus quickly grows 3 smaller stems, which are brown.
how to grow a lotus in a cup, indoors
Hopefully things go better this time.
grow lotus plant inside, in water
The asian lotus also started growing roots sooner.

asian lotus plant grows fast, roots, leaf

Here's one that i grew just in a bowl of water, covered in Saran wrap, over a heat vent. It did the best of any yet. Maybe there's something in the clay or sand that i'm using that is causing the plants to die.many roots from the lotus seed, leaf

Here are the roots from that plant in the water.
lotus seed in water, in a cup, bowl of water, roots, leaf

As of right now i know 20 ways to grow a lotus, then have it slowly die. Hopefully i realize what's going wrong.

Potholes 1 : Me 0

I'm not sure if it's true or not, but the potholes this year seem worse then ever. While driving on Big Beaver Rd by my house i hit a huge one. When i got home i went over to the tire and heard a hissing noise. I had hit the pothole so hard that it compressed the tire and put a slice in the tires sidewall. You can't really see it but there was a cut in the ribbed area.cracked, cut, tire sidewall, popped tire, hole
So the next morning, the day i was leaving for Arizona, i changed the tire.
changing a flat tire, pontiac grand prix, bent rim
bent tire rim, pontiac, tire change
space saver tire on the car, new tire
While changing the tire i noticed that the swing arm link was not attached to the shock. The pothole not only popped the tire but broke the rotating bolt that attaches to the link.broken swing arm link, from pothole, michigan
After putting on the spare tire i went to Goodyear, Firestone and Discount Tire. They all quoted a price of around $130 for the tire and $120 for the sway bar link.

I know that in about a year i will need to get 4 new tires so i was hoping that i could get them to put on a good conditioned used tire for me. None of them had the right size, but one guy suggested a Citgo gas station down the road.

I went in the garage there, told the guy what my problem was and he said, "So how much do you want to spend?" The part cost $30, the tire was $30, so i said $75.
Also they didn't care if i stood there and watched them when the put the tire on the rim and bolted on the new link. I definitely wouldn't have gone there for anything more complicated than that.
shady gas station, new tire, tire change, used tiregetting a used tire put on my car at a gas station

Spring Training - 2011

I went Arizona again this year for spring training baseball. I was there with Adam and John, John's uncle and his buddy Opitz. We saw 4 games in three days between March 11th -13th. I think the teams we saw were the Mariners, Diamondbacks, Angels, Padres, Rockies, and Reds.
Here's us waiting to go into the Angels Stadium.
Arizona Spring Training, Tempe Diablo Stadium, angels

I tried taking some panorama pictures of the fields. Like before i took 3 to 5 overlapping pictures and combined them using the program AutoStitch.
(click to enlarge)
panorama, scottsdale stadium, spring training baseball
scottsdale stadium, spring training baseball
panorama, spring training baseball stadium, arizona, scottsdale
panorama, spring training baseball stadium, arizona

View from right field.
spring training baseball stadium, arizona, scottsdale, diamondbacks

Empty batting cages.
arizona spring training batting cages

The second day in between the 2 games there was a car show going on outside of the stadium in a parking lot.
E type Jaguar, V12, black, convertable, car show
E type Jaguar, V12, black, convertable, car show, sun
It's a little blurry but look at both of the pitchers names. UNKNOWN.
unknown pitcher, spring training baseball

A typical fan.
fan at spring training baseball, fat old white guy
Outfield signs
dos gringos, a good place to day drink
John and Adam at the new Diamondbacks stadium in Scottsdale.
beer at the diamondbacks stadium, arizona, spring training

$30 Mower

Last week i bought a lawnmower on craigslist for $30. It runs, which means it is already better off than the old Snapper riding mower i bought last year. It can also mulch or attach a bag to collect the grass clippings. The one downside is that it isn't self propelled. That's not a huge deal because i will only be using this to mow in tight corners where i can't get with the riding mower.

So i got it home, cleaned it, sharpened the blade, sprayed it with WD-40 and then oiled everything. The motor is a Briggs & Straton just like the Snapper mower. It's 5hp and seems to run well.
craigslist lawn mower, briggs and straton

One problem it had was the throttle cable was jammed. Apparently the last owner figured the way to un-jam it was to pull so hard on the handle that it snapped off. So i removed the cable and tried everything to loosen it. After about 30 minutes of bending the cable and twisting the wire it finally freed up.
broken throttle cable, lawn mower, jammed, stuck

Now i had to fix the broken throttle handle. First i thought of just cutting a piece of aluminum and bolting it on to where the original had snapped off. But then i noticed an old bicycle tire quick release. I ground off the rivet and the new handle fit perfectly around the broken plastic dial.
homemade, make, diy throttle cable lever, lawn mower

One bolt and nut was all it took. Simple and strong.
homemade, make, diy throttle cable lever, lawn mower

It almost looks like it was meant to be there.homemade, make, diy throttle cable lever, lawn mower


3/09/2011

HTC Freestyle

It's been 2 years and a few months since i got my last cell phone. I was thinking of joining the rest of society in 2011 and getting a smart phone with GPS, Google, E-mail, apps and everything you can think of. The problem with those phones is that they cost around $200 even with the rebate, plus you have to pay a monthly data fee. For AT&T that meant another $25 per month. It seems like a good idea and i'm sure i would have loved one of those phones but i decided against it.

I waited for a few months and then i found the perfect solution. The HTC Freestyle.

HTC Freestyle, fake smart phone, BREW operating system, slow

It looks and acts like a smart phone but it isn't. Through Amazon.com it only cost $20 and there's no monthly fee. The reason is that it's sort of a hybrid. All those other phones that i liked REQUIRED you to pay the $25 per month. This one didn't. It can have GPS, Google, E-mail and all that stuff, but it can also be just like another basic phone.

So after using it for a few days i'm not 100% happy. I wish it ran on Android instead of the BREW operating system. All those great Apps that run on Android don't work on this phone. If it did have Android i could download tons of great apps online then transfer them to the phone. But with BREW it seems a little dated. It's kind of like a Ferrari that someone removed the steering wheel and replaced it with some cheese. It has the ability to do all this stuff but it just doesn't work. I guess i can't have it both ways.

In 2 more years i'll most likely be ready for a phone with unlimited everything. But for right now this is just fine for me.

HTC phone, att, apps, android, don't buy, unhappy



3/01/2011

Las Vegas

Last week i flew to Las Vegas with Karrie and her mom. We stayed at Imperial Palace which is right in the center of the strip.
map of the las vegas strip, casinos on the main road, las vegas

The last time there i walked the whole time because it was 80 degrees. This time it was around 50 so we rode on the monorail. I never knew that Las Vegas had a monorail but it was great, you could make a 2 hour walk turn into a 10 minute monorail ride.

The first morning, while waiting for everyone to come down to breakfast, Karrie went to get a new players club card. They give you a book of coupons to use and one of them was half off breakfast. I signed up too and since i was getting a card for the first time i got $5 to use in their casino. I figured i would lose it in about 3 seconds.

We walked around a bit and Karrie said i could always try a slot machine. After playing for about 5 minutes i won $4, i was pretty happy. Still waiting for them to come down, Karrie suggested i try a one dollar Wheel of Fortune game.
wheel of fortune slot machine, las vegas, free money for signing up

After 4 spins i was down to the last dollar, but luckily the 3rd dial stopped on "Spin" which meant i got to spin the big wheel at the top. Karrie said "The least you'll win is $20." I was very happy about that because it would pay for breakfast. So i pressed spin and waited for it to land on the 20 or 30 or maybe even 35. It ended up landing on the $1000.
Spin the wheel, win 1000 dollars, wheel of fortune slot

how to win money at las vegas, slot machine, wheel of fortune, free spin

The good news was that i won a thousand dollars, the bad news was that Karrie said "way to go Dave, now you get to pay for everything we do for the rest of the trip." Rightfully so i guess.

how i won 1000 dollars at las vegas, first day, casino, slot

I would highly recommend winning a thousand dollars your first morning in Las Vegas. It makes the trip more fun knowing that you are coming home with more then you left with.

Besides winning hundreds of dollars there's a lot of other stuff we all did. We went to see the Price is Right Live show. It was fun, there was around 300 people in the crowd and they called about 50 names in total. They didn't have as good of prizes as the real show that John and I went to but it was still pretty good.

With the monorail passes we went to MGM, Slots of Fun and lots of places in between. We also rode the roller coaster at New York. I was planning on taking pictures during the ride but just as we were about to go up the first big hill the ride stopped and they came out and took my camera away. It was a good thing they did because i would have probably dropped it. The ride was way faster then it looked. I was holding on with both hands the entire ride. It was a lot of fun.
las vegas casino, new york, roller coaster, MGM, lion

The last day we went up in the Eiffel Tower at the Paris casino. We happen to be there at 5pm and got to see the fountains at the Bellagio.
bellagio fountain, from the eiffel tower, paris casino

View to the south.
view of the strip from the eiffel tower, las vegas, south, ph, planet hollywood

View to the north.
view of the strip from the eiffel tower, las vegas, north, ballys

View out of our hotel room.
view from our las vegas hotel room, mountains, casino, strip

The Venetian hotel.
the river at the venetian casino and hotel, treasure island

the venetian casino and hotel, detail, las vegas

the venetian casino and hotel, detail, las vegas

View north from New York.
las vegas strip at night, cars, lights, casino, night life

A typical visitor to Las Vegas.
typical visitor of las vegas casino