karl.tsakos.us/blog

The view from the top.

Archive for the 'Non-Fiction' Category

Published by Karl on 27 Mar 2016

Other Signs of Life

I mean, I just planted them, so soon anyhow. I hope.

garden bedsToday I started planting my early spring plants. Of course that was after I prepped the garden having let it go wild towards the end of the last growing season. I removed weeds and turned over the soil in the beds and removed any fresh oak sprouts which seem to come up like weeds themselves at this time of year. I also mulched around the garden beds using the mulch which had been sitting in my driveway since late last spring. Shows how involved I was with the garden last year. Anyhow, there wasn’t enough to go around all the garden beds as I had to use some around the plants in the front yard as well. I will have to get some more this year and then use it immediately.

the long bedsAs is my habit, I like to rotate the beds. You know, just mix it up a little. So this year the long beds are starting off with snow peas, brussels sprouts, lettuce, swiss chard and, spinach. I always seem to start my early plants very late, so this year I figured that it’s spring already so lets get cracking. There are plants already sprouting in the yard, my seeds should join all the fun. I hope.

I’m still not sure what is going in the garden this year. I haven’t bothered starting any seeds indoors. After last year when my seeds all stopped at the cotyledon stage, I got very frustrated. Better to leave that bit to other people for now. Or, just plant the seeds directly at the right time and hope the birds and other critters don’t dig them up first. I think I will have to search for someplace that has a larger variety of tomatoes than the Usual home center. That is important to me.

Published by Karl on 13 May 2013

Gardener’s Update for May 13

Just a quick update today. I just filled the new beds I started last year with dirt, peat moss and manure. Last year I made the frames, but couldn’t afford to top them off at the time. They became areas of lawn segregated from the rest of the lawn.

Last weekend I turned over the soil, placing the roots on top and the grass on the bottom. In the ensuing week, they have remains that way, with most of the grass evidently being smothered and the roots starving. Today I laid down 8 bags of garden soil, 2 bags of manure, and 1 bag of peat moss. Mixed it all together and spread it out. It just slightly bulges above the edges of the beds, but I expect it to settle in nicely.

Tight now the beds have maple tree seeds planted in them, mostly because it’s that time of year and it can’t be avoided. I will be covering the beds with a garden fabric to keep the weeds and the maples down. The beds will be the home to tomato plants which are going in next weekend. I also plan to plant some zucchini on the edges of the beds as well.

I would just like to take one moment to notch about the ridiculous price of dirt. The list I mentioned above, plus an extra bag of peat cost me $102. $102 for bags of dirt and manure!? Prices of everything have become ridiculous. I plant the garden to save many on produce during the summer. Well, at least next year I won’t have to buy so much, just a little manure to refresh the soil. Still, does nothing inexpensive anymore?

Published by Karl on 16 Oct 2012

115K People in a 105K Person Bag

NYCC Day 3 - 39While always notable for the artists, the costumes, and the atmosphere, the 2012 New York Comic Con (NYCC) stood out in a new way; 115,000 people attended during the four days of the event. In the four years I have attended the NYCC it has grown steadily in size. In 2009, with attendance of 77,000, it filled only a portion of the Jacob Javits Center in New York City which it shared with the New York Anime Festival. Last year it expanded to the point it occupied the entire convention center. This year it filled the entire convention center and it still could have used more room. They moved the comic artists to the North Hall (which in the many visits I have made to the Javits Center I never knew existed) leaving more room for exhibitors on the show floor. According to the NYCC website the attendance for 2011 was 105,000 people. Those additional 10,000 seem to make all the difference.

NYCC Day 3 - 9For the third year in a row I ran into the internationally beloved technology columnist Andy Ihnatko. After I reintroduced myself and finally told him my name for the first time in three years we talked about the size of the crowds. With his press credentials, Andy gets to go to Comic Con on the press day which is before the NYCC is open to the general public. To be honest, the NYCC is open to the press, professionals, and VIPs (people who purchase a special 4-day package which includes more than the hall pass) on Thursday. Andy told me the crowds were just as bad on Thursday (without general admission open) and the trend seems to have carried on through the rest of the weekend.

NYCC Day 3 - 2 Enough with the business of the crowds, on to the festivities. I went to NYCC for the same reasons I go every year. First, my pal Jim (seen here with his custom knit Daredevil hat) is a huge comic fan and would go whether or not I was with him. It’s sort of become our annual thing which we both get about excited for months ahead of time.

NYCC Day 3 - 11Second, Jim has gotten me into collecting commissions from comic book artists. More specifically, the art of Dan Parent who has been synonymous with Archie comics for the last 25 years. What I resent Jim for telling me is the artists will usually draw any character or idea you have in mind (within reason and good taste of course). Last year I asked Dan to draw Betty as Dax from Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and he did! It has become one of my favorite possessions. This year I really splurged and commissioned Archie, Betty, and Jughead to be drawn as Doctor Who, Amy Pond, and her husband Rory respectively. Dan did not disappoint. Yes, the picture to the right is Dan holding the commission.

NYCC Day 2 - 16Finally, there are the costumes. You’ll see everything from store bought costumes to custom designs. You’ll see whole families dressed up to individuals dressed as their favorite character to roving gangs of diehard cosplayers. A couple of my favorites were home grown. The Tintin you see on the left was awesome. I love the commitment of going with the character’s haircut using his own hair. He had great attention to detail. NYCC Day 3 - 65

One of my other favorites worth mentioning was the alien from the Alien movies. I loved this costume for exactly the opposite reasons as the Tintin costume. While they were both homemade efforts, the alien was made from cardboard, duct tape, soda bottles, and string. Seriously, the tail was suspended by a piece of monofilament from the back of the head. This was a genius solution to keeping the tail up as it also made it swish around with a mind of it’s own. The costume wasn’t polished nor fancy. It was made from the heart and you can see by the costume maker’s pose, commitment. That’s what it’s all about to me.

You can see all my photos from the event on my Flickr page.

Published by Karl on 05 May 2012

Gardener’s Update

Short post today.

I just did some more weeding. The bronze fennel is acting like an invasive. It grew back nice and healthy in its bed as well as spreading to the bed my spinach is growing in. It’s also in the path in around the garden beds. Oh, it’s also growing in the lawn. I mean, fennel is nice, but come on!

The spinach is finally starting to grow in ernest. It has been sitting there with small leaves for a long time. We had a couple of days of rain and now it finally is starting to expand its horizons as it were.

Today I seeded the two beds I worked on amending a few days ago. I am now growing Leeks, swiss chard (2 varieties), lettuce (iceberg and mixed lettuces), beets (2 varieties) , and carrots (three varieties). We shall see how it goes, but I am looking forward to a whole bunch of fresh veggies in the next few months.

Published by Karl on 28 Apr 2012

Gardener’s Update

prep supliesIt’s time to get to work in ernest. Or, at least put a little effort into it. After creating the garden beds a couple of years ago I haven’t added any soil. The garden beds are getting a little compact despite having a healthy dose of manner and compost every year. The levels have dropped and the soil is a little rocky. I decided I would fix those beds that I could. The plan was to amend them with not just manure this year but also peat moss.

turning the soilI started by digging down about a foot and a half into the bed with a garden fork to loosen up the soil. This took some effort in some places but it mostly broke up easily. I almost broke the edging for one of the beds. Not supposing since they are just untreated pine and have been sitting in the ground for a couple of yeas now. I think repairing the edging will be on next year’s agenda.

soil amendmentsAmending the soil was the next step in the process. I added a bag of manure and half a bag of peat moss. This was followed with much turning over of the soil with the garden fork. Yes, much turning over in deed. fulle bedI dug the peat and manure in to the beds and then had to spread it out evenly. One bed came out perfectly level. The other wound up over flowing so, I spread the excess in some of the other beds.

thymeIn the herb garden things are coming along quite well. The oregano, thyme, sage, bronze fennel, and chives are all very healthy. I have seeds started for dill, basil, cilantro, and something else I can’t remember right now. The bronze fennel is actually doing too well. It spread seeds that are growing in half the garden as well as the walk ways between the beds. It looks so fragile and yet it’s a big jerk.

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