Wednesday, March 31, 2010

front yard update

Somehow the little project in the front yard just keeps getting bigger and bigger.  I thought we were on our way to wrapping things up.  It was great to rent a 65# jackhammer and break up the old steps - made quick work of it - broke it up and loaded the 1/2 ton of debris in the truck in an hour... then found the first in a series of 3 clay pipe drains.  The first we found was one that seems to come diagonally from the center of the garage.  This looked clear, so we decided we needed to keep it - we connected it to our new-ish drain system in the front.  The other two lines were filled with dirt, so figured there was no need to connect those!

We decided to put the outfall with the other two we found a couple weeks ago.  Then we kind of covered them up a little with the stone.  We have kind of figured out what we are going to do with this space... so look for more photos in the coming weeks... it will involve more stone, and now also sprinkler work and maybe some lighting.  Oh yeah, and a new tree (isn't this how it all started - just replace the tree?!).

After a weekend's worth of hard work, the perfect way to finish it was a glass of our newly ready Moose Drool clone.  I know, perfect name - I should have made a label with our dog, Moose, drooling!  And I promise there is no actual Moose drool in the beer.

cheese update - end of march

Just a quick cheese update at the end of March, sorry no photos... believe me, you didn't want to see it!  Unfortunately, I had to toss the brie.  There was a little fruit fly infestation.  It's a good thing they only like brie, because that's the only cheese box they got into.  I think they were initially drawn in by the beer, but then found the moist brie.  Darn!!!  As I was tossing them, I decided to cut into one just to see what the consistency was like - it looked just like a brie should.  I think they would have been great.  They might have still been okay, but I just didn't like the thought of the fact that there were some flies in there.  Oh well, next time!  At least I know the schedule for the brie works for me and that I need to create a better/safer aging environment.

Meanwhile, the manchego and blue seem to be doing okay.  No fruit flies in their boxes.  The manchego is still keeping the mold at bay... and at this point, I'm sure the skin has developed enough where I wouldn't be too concerned about some mold anyway.

Monday, March 15, 2010

cheese update again

I finally made some time last night to tend to my cheeses (probably a week overdue):

The manchego is definitely faring better in the fridge - molds are at bay, although from the slight cracking, maybe it's not humid enough.  I added a little salt to make sure no more molds show up, and oiled it again.

I wasn't sure how the scraping was really supposed to be performed for the bleu - was I supposed to kind of smear the mold, or scrape it all off?  I ended up just scraping it off because the top layer of cheese was a little slimey (like you would see on the outside of a store-bought wrapped bleu that's been wrapped for awhile).  It's actually really starting to look like a real bleu!  It compared well to the Point Reyes Bleu we had with dinner last night (which was the original host mold).  This could be really good in a few months.  I re-pierced to make sure there was going to be enough internal mold.

The brie are getting a few other strange colors on them - some red/pink color and a yellow spot.  It doesn't really look like mold, but I don't know what else it could be.  The white mold is obviously dying off, so that probably leaves them a little vulnerable.  I decided to unwrap them and see if the white mold will grow back.  Meanwhile, the one I cut and shoved the two halves back together seems to be knitting back together just fine!

And here is the entire cheese collection at this point:

After playing with the cheeses, we opened some of Megan's wine to have with dinner.  She still didn't want a full glass, but agreed that it was getting much better.  With my less discerning palette, I was fine with a full glass!  I bet it will be even better tonight now that it's had some air.  At about 13 months old, I imagine it's about hitting its peak.  I think we'll try it again in another 3 months or so.  It might be even better then.  If not, I will assume it has hit its peak.  Here it is next to our standby, TJ's Coastal (which Megan had to drink).  You really can't beat this Castoro sourced chard for $4.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

San Carlos budget woes

Yep, our City (San Carlos) is in dire budgetary straights... along with many other Cities, Counties, and States. I thought I’d share a great article by one of our bright council members (seriously, this guy’s got a good head on his shoulders):

I could go on for pages about what I think we should do... but the gist of my thoughts are – the City needs to become more flexible to more quickly react to various economic conditions; and we should pay for what we get (i.e. use taxes) – the General Fund just seems so irresponsible. I want to see a nexus between the City’s income and the City’s expenses. That way, the public can be more easily educated, and others are held more responsible for the City’s budget.  Don't get me wrong - I don't think it's all the City's fault - it's the fault of circumstance, history, and the State... and don't get me going on about the State!

Traffic complaints

A coworker passed this comic along to me, thinking I’d appreciate it. I certainly do, as I’m sure anyone involved in the public works field can as well. But I find myself in this same driver’s position many times... or, even worse, the signal fails to even recognize me waiting at the stop line. As I watch the signal go through the second cycle, I wonder if I would get ticketed by running the red light even though it’s safe.

Traffic signals have become much more advanced with video detection, advance detection, interconnect with other signals, fully actuated signals (i.e. they can tell if a car is waiting), emergency vehicle pre-emption, etc. Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) could be the new wave, but having seen it at school 15 years ago, I haven’t seen it really become commonplace. Small municipalities are never going to be able to afford this for their entire system.

I see at least three options:

1. Maybe some day in the future, we will all have the ability to control each signal... you’re waiting at a red light and there are no other cars in sight... and you’re waiting... and waiting... push a button in your car and the light turns green. Wouldn’t that be nice? Could we be trusted with that much power?

2. Maybe we’re just better off if there’s a person back at City Hall watching every signal and they can turn it green for us... if the City had the budget. The technology is certainly there.

3. Maybe the laws could change so it’s okay to run a red light. Have you seen how they drive in Mexico or Rome? Red lights don’t seem to mean much there and I don’t recall seeing any accidents during my visits. Apparently it’s been considered for it to be legal for bicyclists to run red lights and stop signs. Here’s one example:

Monday, March 8, 2010

front yard project update

Well, it's a long way to go, but at least it's a start... starting to get the structure in place.  The stone "curb" will create a transition from the landscaping to the driveway and the gutter, so the ground cover doesn't spill over too much.  With an extra 12" width to the driveway, it will be easier to fit two cars, and I don't have to park in the landscaping like I had been doing.  I left the DG a little low since I know we will be doing more work and it will get dirty.  The last step will be to add another inch or so of DG that I will park on.

As for the structure, I think we need to take some dirt out, but I also want to add more stone around the drains - sort of like headwalls.  This will also create a little bit of terracing like the neighbor's yard.  That should add some interest to the space... and tie in to some similar styled steps going up the side yard.  Thanks to our friends at Lyngso for the stone and DG - very friendly people and they usually have exactly what you want.

I wanted to get to the cheeses this weekend, but just didn't have the time.  Maybe tonight.  I did, however tune the mountain bikes up and put the new pedals on.  I also pulled out all our gear and ordered new bladders for the camelbaks, new helmets, and batteries for the bike computers.  Once that shipment comes in, we'll be set to ride!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Last weekend's house project

The idea was to get this tree out before any birds decide to nest it in.  Plus, this time of year, it should be easy with the soft ground...

Taking this tree out was a little more work than I expected.  I figured I could just dig around and cut roots, but one root I found was probably 9" in diameter!  I did dig around and cut as many roots as I could, making sure that by taking the stump out, I wasn't going to break a pipe of some sort or another.  Sure enough, in my digging, I found two storm drain pipes with outlets buried in mud and ground cover.  It's hard to say where they come from, but it's easy to enough to clean them up and make sure they drain well.

So, after loosening the stump as much as I could, I hooked it up to the FUNTRD, put the truck in 4-lo, locked the rear diff, and gave it a few good pulls... out it came, tearing apart that giant root.  That was fun.

Yes, I know, I should have had a fiber roll along the perimeter and inlet protection at the downstream catch basin... but I was careful not to get too much mud in the gutter.  Plus, the NPDES General Permit doesn't apply to projects of only 10 square feet... yet...