Sunday, March 25, 2007

Tomato Plants in the ground

Better Boy zucchini 'Ace' View from the office Long shot of back yard Sharon and I planted our first garden vegetables this afternoon, March 25, 2007.

Left to right, tomato 'Ace', Zucchini squash (Verdura Calabacin), and Better Boy tomato.

May 10; Better Boy tomato flowered a week or so ago. The Ace tomato has not yet flowered. Zucchini, who cares, I started growing straight away and had flowers after several days.

May 28; first zucchini, 4 inches. We ate it and it seemed better than store bought.

June 9; we noticed the first tomatos on the Better Boy. There is another zucchini as well.

Auburn Dam Site

We parked at the Auburn's Outlook Park just east of Railhead Park, behind the Gold Country Fairgrounds. The hike was all paved road with no vehicular traffic (Sunday). You start down an overgrown Dump Road and turn left do Dale Drive, just go down. Did you follow the previous link, it will show you the dam sight from the map satellite. Later this year the diversion tunnel will be closed up and the water will return to it's "original" path.

The first picture is looking up river, the American River.

Up stream

Below is straight across. You can't see the pump house from this spot but it is straight down the mountain.


Looking down river you can see (click on picture it set a clear view) where the diversion tunnel comes out of the east back back into the river.

Down stream

The massive scare were the western footing of the dam was started. We took a side road over to look down on the massive project. Part of the road we were walking on had slide down the mountain. The rocks that we stepped on were breaking beneath our feet. I can't imagine building anything substantial is such an geologically unstable area.

western footing, downstream

Fast Facts: The Auburn Dam
A report by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation released Tuesday provides new numbers for the long-standing Auburn dam debate:
  • The new estimate on the cost for an Auburn dam project is between $6 billion and $9.6 billion.
  • Expenditures totaling $315 million that have already been made since the dam was first authorized by Congress in 1965 are not included in the estimate.
  • The report says environmental and other mitigation costs totaling $1.5 billion and new land costs of up to $2.3 billion are two major factors driving the increases in new cost estimates.
  • Total annual benefits would range from $76 million to $240 million, compared with the $60 million estimate in 1963 projections.
  • Much of the gain would come from hydroelectric power generation. Forty-two years ago, the estimated annual benefit was pegged at $6.5 million. The yearly range is now believed to be from $53 million to $113 million.
  • Source: U.S. Bureau of Reclamation

    Wednesday, March 21, 2007

    Bollywood clips

    Hare are a couple of clips from some Bollywood films to show you the music and dance aspects of the genera.

    Cool, but what about the plot lines you ask? Well that's another story all together.

    Tuesday, March 20, 2007

    Space shuttle design based on horse's ass

    In the requirements class we learned about a requirement for the Space Shuttle design that is mapped/traced to the width of two horses hind quarters when they are standing side by side.

    Post your comments on how you think this could happen. After I get a few comments I may post the answer as I under stand it.

    Hint, this is one of those James Burke "Connections" type trails.

    What is your plan?

    The instructor in the requirements class I am taking this week told this story to explain why he has started two green companies. His mentor was one of his high school teachers, Mr. Sage. Sage sat him down when he was 16 and said the following.
    Your job is to save the world.

    What is your plan?
    Mr. Sage may be known to you as the character Capt. Hilts, played by Steve McQueen in the Great Escape (1963).

    Some day I will find the autobiography Sage, written by Colonel Jerry Sage "Dagger" of the O.S.S.. The book details Sage's adventure in WWII and his strong Christian faith.

    Mushrooms in the House 2

    We harvested the first successful crop of oyster mushrooms last night for dinner. As you may recall Sharon bought a grow your own mushroom kit back in January. Here's the cook, she's so proud. 'My babys are ready.' Some day I am going to learn how to operate the digital camera in manual mode so that I can do some art shots, without the flash washing out the image. 6.35 ounces

    Monday, March 19, 2007

    Safe way to process improvement profit

    Safeway has about 1800 stores. They know that if they reduce the time to check out by one second per customer it will increase their profits by $1,000,000 per year. That is why they do a lot of R&D to streamline the checkout process.

    I stopped by the Safeway in Dixon on the way home tonight and asked them about linking my Club Card to my checking account or Visa card. This is one of the process improvements that Safeway has added to speed up your checkout.

    They said, "Sure, I think? Most of our customer's don't want that. There's a process and a lot of stuff to fill out. It takes a while to do it I think. Besides, our computer doesn't work so you'll have to go to Fairfield to use the card there."

    Music and Lyrics

    We saw the new Hugh Grant & Drew Barrymore romantic comedy this weekend called Music and Lyrics.

    Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant

    I've always enjoyed Drew Barrymore ever since her cute giggle at her brother Elliot's retort to his older brother in E.T.. :)

    Music and Lyrics is the first time I can recall that her character's romantic interest has been someone worthy of the goddess.

    Saturday, March 17, 2007

    Blog Photo Album

    FYI, all the pictures in my blog may be viewed at Picasa in photo album format.
    Be Good, Do Good

    Sunday, March 11, 2007

    Auburn Hiking Guide

    Back in 2006 when Sharon and I first came up to Auburn to considered buying property here we picked up the American River Canyon Hikes; Practical guides to Hikes in the Canyons of the North and Middle Forks American River by Jim Ferris, Michael Lynch and Sheila Toner. We bought our copy at the Placer County Courthouse Museum in Auburn.

    Check out this link for a look at the book's covers.

    It is a very useful booklet with good information about the hikes in the wilderness just outside of Auburn. All of the hikes that we have blogged to date originated in this guide. Many of the hikes are available from the ASRA website. ASRA Canyon Keepers

    The folks who did the research and published the book are the Auburn State Recreation Area Canyon Keepers (ASRACK).

    Saturday, March 10, 2007

    Boulders for the Yard

    On our weekend walk Sharon and I saw two rocks that are just the ticket for our landscape plans.

    The first boulder we spotted was perfect. It looks like it was thrown high in the air and burried deep into the ground on impact.

    I think we liked this second boulder because of all of the moss. This one was spotted on the Flood Road Trail.

    Do you see the baby elephant?

    Upper Stagecoach Trail

    We took a modest hike today down the Stagecoach Trail along the Upper Stagecoach Trail then back up the Stagecoach Trail to the car. A 2 hour walk; not recommended in rainy weather.

    The trailhead is at the corner of Russell Road and Foresthill but Google Maps puts it at Canyon Dr. and Russell Road, park at the hairpin turn just before you get to Canyon Dr. It's just a couple of minutes from the Starbucks just north of Russell. If you know what your are looking for in the satellite image you can see the old stagecoach road making its way down the mountain to the American River confluence.

    Sharon with guide book overlooking American River Confluence

    One of the reasons I like this trail is that there are a couple of benches at key stops to sit and view the American River Canyon.

    The Upper Stagecoach Trail, heading north, takes a hard right turn down the mountain to get back to the old Stagecoach Trail. This turn is not well indicated. We kept walking straight and missed the turn to spite the fact that there are nice tail signes posted, they just didn't say "--> to Stagecoach Trail". The trail we eventually took back is the one behind Sharon, it looks like a gully for dirt bikes more than an hiking trail. None the less, the Flood Road Trail was nice walk on a trail less traveled, not much of a grade either.

    Friday, March 9, 2007


    movie poster Saw the new film Zodiac last night with the cool kids from work.

    A good film of the police/reporter procedural subgenre. I recommend it if you like thrillers. It is not a slasher or horror picture show.

    We drove over to Vallejo to see it. You'll have to read about the case or see the movie in order to appreciate this tidbit.

    I'm sure the information in the film are not the complete/correct facts of the case. But we all know that film does not purport to be "real", it tells a story. This story is from the point of view of the cartoonist and guess what, he turns out the be the hero.


    March 15-further research has revelled that cartoon boy has selective insight and chooses it ignore information that does not support his believes. Still makes a good movie it's just that much of the information is out of tune with reality or fabricated.

    Thursday, March 8, 2007

    Cute Kitten Photo

    The World Famous Random Kitten Generator

    I strongly recommend Nine Lives Adoption for your next kitten. Tell them Dean and Marilyn sent you.

    Monday, March 5, 2007

    Chunky Guacamole

    From the American's Test Kitchen Episode: Fajitas and Margaritas, Tex-Mex Favorites

    To minimize the risk of discoloration, prepare the minced ingredients first so they are ready to mix with the avocados as soon as they are cut.

    Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups

    3 medium avocados , ripe, (preferably Hass)
    2 tablespoons minced onion
    1 medium clove garlic , minced
    1 small jalapeño chile , minced (1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons)
    1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves
    1/4 teaspoon table salt
    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (optional)
    2 tablespoons lime juice
    1. Halve one avocado, remove pit, and scoop flesh into medium bowl. Mash flesh lightly with onion, garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, salt, and cumin (if using) with tines of a fork until just combined.

    2. Halve and pit remaining two avocados, and prepare. Gently scoop out avocado into bowl with mashed avocado mixture.

    3. Sprinkle lime juice over diced avocado and mix entire contents of bowl lightly with fork until combined but still chunky. Adjust seasoning with salt, if necessary, and serve. (Can be covered with plastic wrap, pressed directly onto surface of mixture, and refrigerated up to one day. Return guacamole to room temperature, removing plastic wrap at the last moment, before serving).

    Step-by-Step: Dicing the Avocado

    1. Use dish towel to hold avocado steady. Make 1/2-inch cross-hatch incisions in flesh with a dinner knife, cutting down to but not through skin.
    2. Separate diced flesh from skin using spoon inserted between skin and flesh, gently scooping out avocado cubes.

    Sunday, March 4, 2007

    Home & Garden Show

    We went to the Home & Garden Show at Cal Expo on Saturday.

    Many of the salesmen pointed out that their products were "Made in USA".

    We orders a Little Giant® ladder system for the house. We need it to clean the gutters, hang pictures in the stairwell and wash the windows in the Spring. Besides, my 6' step ladder is not tall enough for me to safely reach the ceilings in the house.

    Looked at an attic exhaust fan that caught my eye. It is solar powered and fairly quite. There are a few large passive vents in our roof so we probably don't need a fan to vent the place in the summer. I'll have to go up into the attic this summer and see how hot is gets. We also need to track the shadows of the oak trees on the roof to find the idea location of the fan. In the same booth were some sun tunnels. Yesterday I told the salesman that we had no need for skylights in our new house however, I realized this morning that the hallways and walking closet could benefit for a sun tunnel. Hell, maybe a pair of larger ones in the kitchen.

    Sharon fell in love with the wall beds or Murphy beds she saw. One vendor has a couch that the bed folds down over hiding the couch under the bed. There was also a work area the disappeared under a pull down bed.

    Friday, March 2, 2007

    Stone wall with Manzanita

    We have been talking about using the rocks on the property to build a short wall along the sidewalk. My idea was to have a flat place to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers that thrive in baking summer sun.

    Some of the places we go for walks have Manzanita trees so we got to thinking about using them in the front. They can be pruned to emphasize the clean bark and line of the tree. I like the skeleton nature of the plant in winter; it would look great under up lighting.

    Stone wall with Manzanita

    Sharon created this image. Isn't her work amazing! I love her and I think I'll keep her.

    The picture below shows the manzanita in a more natural setting. If we use it out front we will prune it to accentuate the wood, not so much foliage.

    Manzanita in the wild