Teh Slows – I Haz Them.

Halloo internets!!  I have a new theme, whattya think?

Yeah.  I know.

It’s slow.

S    L    O    O    O    O    O   W.

I can’t even say slow slow enough to fully capture just how slow my blog loads now.

No fears tho!  Thanks to the fabulous Jason Grigsby and his talk  from last year’s WordCamp Portland ,  ”Speed Up WordPress: Make Readers Happy and Your Site Green”, I have this handy little tool on my FireFox called YSlow .  And I’ll be using it to optimize my blog so the SLOW WILL BE NO MO.

Just as soon as I have time.  I mean, you see how long it took me just to install a couple new themes to play around with? 

THE BUSIES.  I HAZ THEM.

Still.  Here’s a short little list of all the plates I have spinning merrily:

And that’s just my projects.  I still go to martial arts class, I still work on the Eternal Project, I date people, I try to keep my dog well exercised and happy because she’s the bestest dog on the planet, I am trying to build a couple of DJ sets to shop around, and I still love to write using blogs for my various writing outlets (this here personal one, OurPDX, and now the WordCamp Portland blog is gonna need some loves from me.)

Oh yeah, and work. 

So, busy.

I could use some help with that stuff, you know.  If you’re not doing anything.  Stuff like:

  • Recommending great local bands who’d like to play the 30 Hour Day 2 Variety Show on July 3rd
  • Volunteering for some core responsibilities for WordCamp Portland
  • Mow my front yard

Ok I was kidding about the yard one.

Mostly kidding.

Also, just so you know – lolcats  might be taking over my brain.  If my posts start to become a bit gibberishy-make that more gibberishy than usual-please send a couple dogs, or cat exterminator, to save me and my dog from the lolcats.

iPhone 3Gs – The Aftermath

I’ve had my new 16GB* 3Gs iPhone for a week.  Now that the hype is over, the dust has settled, the protective film and case have been purchased and applied…  Was it worth the $199 bucks to upgrade from my original, 2G version?  Here’s my analysis.

  1. Camera: One of the biggest improvements has been the camera.  The quality of picture is clearly better, which isn’t surprising given the move from 2 megapixels to 3.  Combine that with the autofocus, tap to focus and geotagging of pictures, makes this a winner for me.  Especially since the camera I use for my amateur photography is on the fritz, this is a nice way to fill in the gap – although it would never suffice as my serious I’m-an-amateur camera.
  2. Video: Of course the other big bonus for me is the video recording.  It’s amazing what people will do after you videotape them and then show them the “Send to YouTube” button.  My blackmail potential has increased exponentially!  The video quality is decent (VGA up to 30 fps with audio), plus you can trim the video right on the phone.  For longer video, when you tap and hold a section of the video, the frames will spread out in that area so you can get pretty granular.  Very nice touch.  And of course geotagging of video is seamless, just like the photo geotagging.
  3. Speed: Like I said, I’ve been using the original 2G iPhone this whole time, so the move to the 3G network has been very nice.  With the 2G, browsing over the Edge network could be painfully slow. Not so with the 3G – it rivals the speed of a wifi connection.  I’m not sure whether or not the Safari improvements improved browser speed.  I haven’t seen any noticeable improvements over wifi between the 2G and the 3Gs, but I haven’t used the new phone over wifi networks a lot yet.  I have yet to enable my phone for my home wifi network, and haven’t been bothered by that too much, since 3G is so comparable.
  4. Battery Life: It’s a little difficult to determine if the battery life is improved, as Apple claims.  I kept my 2G pretty constantly plugged in; I had a charger in the bedroom, one in the car, and one at work, in order of frequency of use.  However, the 3Gs does not support the charging feature of the FM transmitter/charger I use in my car, so I haven’t been able to replicate my charging habits with the new iPhone.  Suffice to say, I run out of juice a lot faster, it seems; but I do use my phone nearly every time I drive to play music, and now that is sucking juice that wasn’t getting sucked before, so to speak.  I have noticed that there is FAR less interference with the transmission than before when I don’t enable Airplane mode, as the phone suggests I do when I plug it in.  In fact, the interference was very noticeable and could get quite annoying with the 2G, especially when the phone was checking mail or receiving a call; now, there is virtually none whatsoever.  Very nice.
  5. Voice Control: This feature is one I’m finding I like using more and more.  I just wish I could voice control the current time when I’m wearing my headphones!  It has made mistakes on occasion, but I find that half the time, the problem was me saying the command wrong (“play <artist name>” instead of “play artist <artist name>”).  Other incorrect results are fixed by just talking a touch slower.  I would say it gets it right about 85% of the time or more, however, even when I completely butcher which playlist I’m requesting.  I suppose it helps that I only have a handful of playlists, too.
  6. Assisted GPS: Now this one is the feature that I’ve been dying for.  I used the mapping on my 2G constantly, and have often wished for more accuracy and better updating of my current location to see if I’m on target to reach my destination.  As recently as a few weeks ago in Boston, I ended up walking several blocks in the wrong direction because of the slowness of the updating.  When I got my 3Gs, I swear I watched myself driving to work the first couple of days.  Probably not a smart thing to do while driving on the freeway!  I was probably giggling maniacally as well, but was too giddy to notice.  It’s everything I was hoping for – accurate to within 10-50 feet, and constantly updating.  I love it.

There’s other stuff that came with the new software and hardware; cut and paste, shake to undo, digital compass, a fingerprint-resistant coating, and lots more I’m sure.  But these six are the ones that stand out for me at the moment.

So was it worth it?  I think so.  I don’t think it would have been worth it if I’d had to pay the full price, but since I was due for my upgrade through AT&T, I was approved for the lower price.  At $199, I think the improved camera, video, assisted GPS, and voice control are totally worth it.  Plus, I dropped my expanded text messaging plan, so my monthly bill dropped by 5 dollars.  All in all, I’m quite pleased with my decision.

*I didn’t get the 32GB, since my 2G was 16GB and I barely used 5GB of that after 18 months or so.  I carry about 500-1000 songs, 200-300 pictures, and 3-4 screens of apps; with the addition of video, I will probably see an increase in my average memory usage, but I don’t think that will amount to 10GB worth.

EPU: Whoa. Like, spring, dude.

Ok all you garden-y types.  Time for a long overdue Eternal Project Update.

Yes yes, it’s been awhile since I’ve updated you on the goings-on in my never ending backyard improvement project.  I’ve been remiss.  Lax in my duties.  Being slackerific.  Seriously though, I’ve been busy.

Mind you, that isn’t to say I’ve been slacking off on the Eternal Project itself!  Oh  no no no my dear flora-nistas.  I’ve been a busy little beaver in my bustling backyard, I have!  I’ve been growing lots n lots of stuff of the green leafy chlorophyll-filled CO2-mitigating variety.  And I now have a lovely little patio set, so I can actually sit at a TABLE and, like, work and stuff.  Or read.  Or surf the interwebs.  At a TABLE.  OUT SIDE.  Amazing!  I’m still trying to decide which big project I’m going to tackle this year.  Last year was the fire pit (which got some great use this past weekend!).  The year before that was pouring the patio.  This  year, I’m toying with the idea of some planting, some wall building, and perhaps a stone-paved hammock nook, complete with hammock-level shelf for drink storage.  Ahh, the lazy days of summer. Bring it.

The Lilacs:

Lilacs smelled AMAZING.  I wanted to snort them like cocaine.

Lilacs smelled AMAZING. I wanted to snort them like cocaine.

The Salad Garden:

So I had this goal to 1. eat way more salad and 2. never buy salad from the store this summer.  Ergo, salad garden.

BEFORE.

BEFORE.

NOW

NOW

The First Salad!

The First Salad!

MY VERY FIRST ROSE BLOOM FROM MY VERY FIRST ROSE BUSH

I think the picture speaks for itself.

I live in Portland.  Isn't there an ordinance that says all PDX residents must have at least one rose bush?  I'm just doing my civic duty.

I live in Portland. Isn't there an ordinance that says all PDX residents must have at least one rose bush? I'm just doing my civic duty.

Bamboo…

is finally growing.  At an approximate velocity of 5.3 feet a day (roughly, compounded).  Help me.

Grow faster grow faster grow faster eeep!  grow slower grow slower grow slower...

Grow faster grow faster grow faster eeep! grow slower grow slower grow slower...

A Tale of Three Bamboo

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

For some reason, even though that first line from A Tale of Two Cities resonated in my young brain so loudly, I just couldn’t get into that book.  Never did.  I’m sure I read that first page at least a dozen times.  Maybe I should try again.  But this, dear interwebs, is A Tale of Three Bamboo.  Or is it Bamboos?  Whatever.  Our story opens…

The Triff...er I mean Bamboo

The Triff...er I mean Bamboo

Despite numerous warnings that I was insane to even contemplate the idea, I planted bamboo in my backyard.  And not even the relatively safe kind, i.e. ‘clumping’ bamboo.  No, I planted the ravenous, crawl into your house in the middle of the night and kill your pets kind of bamboo.  The Day of the Triffids bamboo: timber bamboo.

(Side note: OMG!  The BBC is going to film a new version of Day of the Triffids! W00t, I say.  Wewt even.)

But on the other hand, this is the same kind of bamboo they make floors out of.  And utensils.  Gorgeous ones!  Or at least that was the counter argument in my head when I was rationalizing this step in my Eternal Project.  Seriously, everyone I talked to thought I was insane:

“And then, I’m gonna plant some bamboo along the fence here…”

“You’re going to plant bamboo?”

“Yeah.  The big kind.  Timber.  Black, and Tiger.  They’re so pretty!”

“You’re going to…plant.  Bamboo.  Willingly.  In your backyard.”

“Um, yeah.  Pretty much.”

“Do you KNOW what bamboo does??”

“Yes…I’ve taken precautionary steps.”

“Yes but…it’s crazy!  It gets into EVERYTHING!”

“Yes, I know.  Like I said, I’ve taken steps.  Two sides are going to be surrounded in concrete, for starters!”

“Well…I still think you’re crazy for even considering it.”

“Thanks.  Your concern is duly noted.”

That’s how most of my conversations went.

But I did it.  It’s done.  And so far, all my pets are still here.  Or, well, they didn’t die of bamboo related injuries, at least.

I can’t say the same for my poor bamboo though.

I did my research, you know.  Like I said, I surrounded the planting area on two sides with concrete.  The other two sides, a foot and a half deep bamboo barrier, especially made for the task.  I planted them in little mounds, so the runners would be easy to spot.  I fertilized only the top six inches of soil or so, so the runners would stay close to the surface and be easy to maintain.  I check all the runners twice a year, and trim the ones that are heading in the wrong directions.

I did not, however, protect them from my dog.

I started with 3 bamboo.  Two black and one tiger, just like I wanted.  (Interestingly, both are classified as  Phyllostachys nigra.) Jessie and I drove waaaay out to Hillsboro to the Bamboo Garden Nursery (Yes, Jessie and I did meet Oggie the Bamboo Dog).  We were driven around the woods in a golf cart by the nice and helpful bamboo guy, who helped us pick out two black bamboo and one tiger bamboo. We carefully drove them home, planted according to directions, watered and carefully watched over my new charges.  Well, watched them except while I was at work.

I guess Jessie was still in her destructive stage, because it wasn’t long before one of the black bamboo was ripped out of the ground.  And replanted.  And ripped out again.  And replanted again.  And ripped out AGAIN.  And replanted, but by this time, it was becoming clear that the poor thing had met its match.  Eventually I had to admit that the plant was dead, and had now become a doggy chew toy.

Now, I have a fence around my bamboo.  They’re probably safe at this point, but I’m not taking any chances.  I have since replaced the unfortunate black bamboo with some free golden timber bamboo that I found on craigslist.  One of my favorite things to do around this time is to look for all the new little bamboo shoots popping out of the ground, letting me know that my mission of creating a privacy screen between me and my neighbors is coming to fruition.

So far….nothing.

Sigh.

Grow faster, bamboo!  FASTER!

Apparently my endless reserves of patience do not extend to plants.  Or actually, weather.  Because you know once the weather warms up for a couple weeks, those bamboo are going to be all crazy in yo face growing fiends.  Unkillable.  Unstoppable.  With poisonous whip-like stingers.

Hmm…perhaps I should get a really big machete.  You know, just in case.  Plus, it gives me an excuse to go to Andy and Bax!

Stay tuned for the next chapter, wherein my bamboo start growing at a rate of 2.65 feet a minute for the entire summer, and I next complain that they’re growing too damn fast.  Yay, gardening!

EPU: Lilacs.

I am the proud owner of lilacs, once again!

See, I love lilacs.  They’re the state flower of New Hampshire, so I spent quite a few years smelling them in the springtime growing up, and they served as a nice replacement to the summer mulberries in New York.  I’m especially fond of the dark purple ones.  Purple is full of awesome.  It’s not my favorite color, per se, but I do like it.

So about a week ago, I cruised by Seven Dees on Powell to see if they had any lilacs.  It was freakin cold, and I figured my chances were slim.  Surprise!  They had bunches, all shapes and sizes (and prices).  I picked out two Ludwig Spaeth lilacs, cuz they’re the darkest purple of the ones they had.  And so because they had tons of lilacs I’m so cool and awesome and stuff, they gave me a 20 dollar discount on the pair right on the spot!

Now, I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to put them.  Lilacs like a lotta sun, and this is my sunniest corner, complete with fire pit of awesomeness:

Before....

Before....

I’m planning on putting some sort of tree (yes, I’m considering the state tree of NH, the white birch, and no, I’m not making some NH flora exhibit), or some clumping bamboo, right in the corner there.  Do the lilacs go one on each side?  Or both along the fence on the right, which would get the max sun?  Decisions, decisions.  I had Jessie, my trusty yard dog, help me decide…

First, we tried both lilacs to the right of the future tree/bamboo planting area.  Jessie says “Hmm, I dunno.  I’m not a feng shui master or anything, but I tend to prefer some balance, and this just feels all lopsided to me.”

Lilacs on the right side

Lilacs on the right side

Then we tried putting a lilac on either side of the future center planting.  Ideally, the tree or bamboo will be quite a bit taller than the lilacs.  Thanks Jessie, for standing in as the tree/bamboo.  Cute pup, right?  After perusing the two options for a bit, I decide that I’m liking the balanced layout better.  Decision made, time to plant!  And yeah, that’s a post hole digger near the fire pit.  FEAR ME, FUTURE LILAC HOLES!!!

Centered Lilacs

Centered Lilacs

So the hole digging begins.  And when I dig holes for plants I’m planting, I always look for WormSign.  Of course, a decent amount of wormsign means the soil is well aerated and stuff.  And also, because I’m a total nerd/geek/awesome person, every time I find a worm, I say “Shaaaaiiii-Hulluuuuuuuuudd……”  And THEN, I get the following phrase running through my head when I do find a decent amount of worms: “Usul, we have wormsign the likes of which even God has never seen!”

Yes, I’m a dork.  But here’s my WormSign: (There’s actually two worms there.  Look closely.  Or not.)

Worm Sign

WormSign

So yay!  Lilacs are planted, and have oodles and oodles of buds.  The guy at the nursery told me (thanks nursery guy!) that lilacs love hard cold winters, because it gives them a chance to really go completely dormant and fully recharge, so I’m expecting lilac blooms of total awesomeness this spring.  Yay!!

Stay tuned for further Eternal Project updates!

Spring Implications

I’m giddy.

I don’t usually like to use that word to describe my mood, because it has such sophomoric (ha! props to @smithrockneil) connotations for me, but…there’s no better word to describe how I feel when I get that first hint of spring in the air.

After the giddiness, however, comes the speculative gaze over my backyard.  The time where I announce loudly, to no one in particular, while standing in my backyard, that I am the MASTER OF MY DOMAIN, dammit, and ALL VEGETABLE MATTER EXISTING THEREIN SHALL BOW BEFORE ME.  And that, my friends, is what happened last weekend.  Yes, interwebs, hold on to your hats: it’s time to resume my Eternal Project.

e·ter·nal audio (-tûrnl)

ADJECTIVE:

  1. Being without beginning or end; existing outside of time.
  2. Continuing without interruption; perpetual.
  3. Forever true or changeless: eternal truths.
  4. Seemingly endless; interminable.
  5. Of or relating to spiritual communion with God, especially in the afterlife.

Right.  My eternal project is my backyard.  I have a grand vision of a peaceful, secluded sanctuary, and I’m constantly trying to figure out how to balance my available funds against my vision.  Hard hard hard to do.  Especially now, when funds are so scarce these days, right?

So the plan for this year:

  • Figure out what to do with the slide in my backyard.  It’s just in the wrong place.  But I do love watching my dog run down it.  And, I must confess, I’ve been known to run down the thing myself, but don’t tell anybody, k?  Our secret.  Yeah.  So, a slide compromise is required.
  • Plant a tree in the back corner.  Birch, or maybe maple.  Or both?  Huh.  Or…maybe a paperbark cherry.  Love those.
  • Plant lilacs.  No, I’m not making my backyard an homage to the official New Hampshire state flora.  It’s a coincidence, seriously.  Yes, I did live in New Hampshire for 9 years.  So?
  • Do something with the grass on my little front planting strip.  I know, not part of my back yard per se, but there’s project leakage.  Scope creep. The backyard is the biggest piece, is all.
  • Pergola?  Maybe?  If I build it myself.  I can do that, right?  Right?  Sure.  I think?

And then of course there’s the bamboo maintenance, so it doesn’t turn into all Day of the Triffids on me (by the way, one of my favorite movies growing up!).  And figuring out possible seating around my fire pit of awesomeness.  And of course, building a shed.  Ugh.  So freakin much to do!  Oh, and I want to grow veggies this year too.  Mmm, backyard salad.  And disconnecting my downspouts into a nifty little bioswale.  And more lavendar, since it seems to withstand dog antics pretty well, unlike many of my other unfortunate planting attempts.

So.  I’ll be posting updates.  And pictures!  It will be GLORIOUS.  Perhaps, dare I say it?  as glorious as John Metta’s blog.  Stay tuned!

I am currently taking bids for any of the above-mentioned work.  Payment will be in the form of  beer, pizza and of course my undying gratitude.  Please submit your bid in the comment section below.  Extra points if you request good beer.  I reserve the right to determine what, exactly, is good beer.

Good stuff.

One thing I’ve learned about myself as time goes by…I write WAY more when I’m down and feeling crappy and bleh and stuff.  When things are going right, I don’t ..well..write.  I guess only one right/write can I handle at any moment.  But I feel kinda remiss about not writing about the rightness, or increase of rightness at least, that’s going on for me.  Especially when I’ve unloaded so much wrongness in this space!

Um…so I’m feelin good.  I smile when I look in the mirror more and more.   I’ve met some really cool people and been strangely emotionally intimate with these relative strangers, and that’s been …ok.  Good even.  I’m starting a business!  oh em gee!!  I’ll probably do a nice little plug on here for it soon, as soon as my website is closer to being done.  So yeah.  Life is good, I’m envisioning my beautiful backyard every day, and soon you will all be invited to feast on my new patio and enjoy the tranquility of it all.  Just wait until you see it, it’s awesome.  I can’t wait :D