Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Practical Importance Of Martial Arts

I cannot over-emphasize the need for everyone to know how to defend themselves. The world is a dangerous place, and for example, I see the emails that have been coming through from Building Management at work. Over the past couple months, there have been three separate incidents of homeless men attacking women out on the street, in broad daylight. And in each case, Building Management responds the exact same way: they send an email alert out, after the fact, telling people to be careful. Read it thusly: they're certainly not coming to your rescue, should anything happen to you, but they don't want to be held liable either. It's the way of cowards. But are you a coward? What will you do if you're attacked? Yell for Batman? Get a grip. Everyone should learn martial arts, or at the least, some form of self-defense. Everyone. That means you. Do it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The "Show About Nothing" Isn't Really About Nothing

So the show Seinfeld was supposed to be "the show about nothing", but as I was watching a re-run last night, it occurred to me that this is not, in fact, the case.

Although the show seems to be, at first glance, a series of random comedy sketches, there is an over-arching theme that connects them all.

What the show is really about is the awkwardness and nuances of social interaction. This theme runs through every episode (even that weird final episode about the Good Samaritan law). In the grand comedic tradition, the show offers no solutions or guidance.

It is not heavy-handed, in the way that tragedies can sometimes be (think of the message against household disputes given in Romeo & Juliet).

But then, that is in keeping with the purpose & traditions of comedy.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why Dark Soda Destroys Rust (It's The Phosphoric Acid)

So if you haven't seen the MythBusters episode on this one, check it out.

Since I'm a fan of conducting independent experiments though, I did one on my own that backs this fact up - dark soda destroys rust. Why?

It's because of an ingredient that gives dark sodas their tartness - phosphoric acid.

For my experiment, I'd been given a set of Ren Faire leather armor, studded with copper disks that were badly rusting. I went to the dollar store and bought a jar of garlic, preserved in water and phosphoric acid. Then I removed the garlic, leaving a phosphoric acid/water solution, which, when applied with a Q-tip to the rust, took the rust away entirely. Yay - cheap rust cleaner! Ew - this is in the soda you drink!

What's a person to do?

Well, you know what I always say. Moderation in all things.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fallenwood has Re-Released, this time in PRINT!!!

Hooray! Fallenwood, book 1 of my Fallenwood Chronicles, has re-released!!! It's now available in print!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Small Steps Toward Self-Sufficiency - Plant A Garden

So right now, it's October and here in Sacramento, it's not hot and not cold, just a kind of in-between. It doesn't feel like fall quite yet though, since up until now, we've had some really hot weather and this drought has been clutching our state in a vise-grip.

Garden-wise, I planted a bunch of seeds, but the only things to have come up are a couple of swiss chard plants and some peas. As for the old garden, all the squash has died out, and the tomato plants have slowed their production, but are still yielding up some tiny tomatoes. The wax pepper plant is doing well and I just picked a few, and I have another pepper that's just now starting to take off.

That being said, gardening where I'm at is no simple task. There's hardpan everywhere, and when I first got my house a couple years ago, the backyard was a barren desert. At least I get a good amount of sun, and I'm hoping that the SMUD shade trees I got will take off, and provide some cover back there.

So how do you garden in hardpan? Well, the simple answer is that you don't. With my starter garden, I dug into the hardpan, shoveled the dirt out, and filled the sunken space with planting soil. With garden #2, on the opposite side of the yard (where the swiss chard and peas are), I tried a different approach, creating raised beds and planting on top of the hardpan. Both methods seem to have worked thus far.

Still, winter approaches, and you can't plant a garden in winter, right??? Wrong. You can, you just can't plant the variety of foods that you can in spring and summer. In winter, you can plant lettuce - and there are different varieties of lettuce, too. Last year, I planted a patch of purple lettuce and it was my favorite.

Please note that the photo is not from my garden, unfortunately. But I'll have some original pics soon.

The veggies you can plant in winter are: garlic, leeks, onions, radishes, lettuce, peas, potatoes, chard, spinach, rhubarb, bok choy and kale.

So start planting your winter gardens! A garden is a great way to get some fresh food and to save money.