Month: October 2007

Results of my NCAAF Picks

USC beat on Notre Dame pretty good, winning 38-0 and covering the spread, so I managed to pick up a point in the Commissioner’s game.  This would end up being my only point for the weekend. LOSE – Oklahoma only won 17-7, so 10 points didn’t cover the spread. LOSE – Texas won 31 – 10, so 21 points didn’t cover the spread either. LOSE – South Carolina outright lost to Vanderbilt, 6 – 17 WIN – But at least Oregon beat Washington 55-34, covering the 13 point spread. So this week, I’m 1-4, earning 0 points for the parlay...

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My NCAA Football Picks for the Weekend

Every year my family has a “college football pick ’em”.  Every year, I do horribly.  So, I thought I’d share my lousy picks with everyone…  including my rationale as to why I chose the various teams.  Maybe someone out there can help me with a few pointers. First up, The Commisioner’s game – the commisioner (aka my cousin) picks one game, each member of the family picks the team that they think will cover the spread.  Whoever get’s this game right gets one point. USC – that’s an easy pick… despite the bumpy ride getting to ND And then we do a parlay pick, the more teams you pick, the higher the points you’ll recieve, but all of your picks must win in order to recieve any points.  Pick 3, get 3 – win a point.  Pick 4, get 4 – win 3 points.  Pick 5, get 5 – win 5 points At the end of the season.  Family member with the most points has bragging rights for the year. for the parlay points, I went with 4 teams, so hopefully I’ll pick up an additional 3 points on top of the one I win if USC covers the spread in the comissioner’s game Oklahoma (-28.5) – even though the coach says bowl rankings don’t mean anything right now, he’s going to run up the score pretty good Texas (-24.5)– I think the stunt...

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Star Wars – The TV Series

Well, for those of us out there that have grown up on a steady diet of Star Wars to feed the inner Geek, Hollywood Insider is reporting that George Lucas is in town meeting with writers to talk about a live-action Star Wars series. According to one agent familiar with the project, Lucas’ plan is to recruit several freelancers – aka “writers of real significance” – to spend a week at the Skywalker Ranch in November to come up with story ideas for the series. The agent also said that Lucas has indicated a desire to hire writers from other countries. The scribes would then disperse and write the 13 episodes that would be produced and financed by Lucas. When Lucas first began recruiting Hollywood writers for the project as early as February 2006, according to the agent, his original intent was to produce 26 episodes before he went on the lookout for a network partner. The news put fans in the frenzy as speculation swirled that the live-action series would take place between Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars IV: A New Hope, though the agent believes those rumors are unfounded. Plot points for the series, as a result, remain sketchy. I just hope they don’t try to put it on opposite Heroes, Stargate Atlantis, Dr. Who, or Flash...

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Giant Organic Pumpkins from Compost

Every year around this time, the great pumpkins come out. I’m not talking about THE Great Pumpkin from the Charlie Brown Halloween Specials, but instead the gargantuan pumpkins that people grow in various vegetable growing competitions. Pumpkin Contest HowToCompost.org has a contest every year for the largest pumpkin grown worldwide without the use of chemical fertilizers. Now my little pumpkin won’t win anything this year (especially as I didn’t actually enter the contest and it probably tops out at 20 pounds), but I think I’ll have to see if I have what it takes for 2008. The rules for growing the pumpkin are pretty simple. Use only compost to prepare your soil (no chemical fertilizers/supplements allowed). No force feeding of nutrients through the vines. The pumpkin must be grown outdoors. (Seeds can be germinated inside and transplanted outside in the early spring. Composting Composting is an important way to recycle and can be done at home. It is an easy way to reduce the amount of household garbage by about one third. As well, it produces a valuable soil amendment for use in gardening and landscaping. We have been using a Mantis twin barrel composter for about 2 years. It was a gift from both sets of parents for Christmas (it’s fairly expensive for what it is, but convenient and it actually looks good in the side yard). I...

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Gnomes back in the Garden Thanks to J-B Weld

For some time, I’ve always loved gnomes. Growing up I had a book that described gnomes in detail. It wasn’t really a children’s book per say, but I enjoyed it none the less. Gnomes 30th Anniversary Edition by Wil HuygenRead more about this title… I thought this was one of the greatest books ever, and so naturally, when I started my own garden, I wanted gnomes as well. The word gnome is derived from the New Latin gnomus. It is often claimed to descend from the Greek gnosis, “knowledge”, but more likely comes from genomos “earth-dweller”. In the Harry Potter series, gnomes are considered garden pests and appear to be more akin to animals than intelligent beings, and there is a scene in the movies where they are busy “de-gnoming” the garden. So, knowing my love of gnomes, and in an effort to head off the invasion of plastic pink flamingo lawn ornaments, my lovely wife bought me some gnomes a while ago. The first one I received was of a gnome sleeping, with his but sticking up in the air. [Insert picture here] This particular gnome was named “Lucky Butt” and has wandered throughout my backyard, from the back slope, to my daughter’s Barbie play house (bought used off of eBay), and finally to the garden just below the kitchen window. Earlier this year for father’s day, he...

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Why I Buy Sunspire Chocolate

So on my quest for organic chocolate, I found this at Henry’s Market.  I bought a bag of their chocolate sun drops (bottom left side of the picture).  What is great about these products can best be said from their website Sunspire was founded in 1979 by Janet Jennings, a fourth generation “chocolatier” who used her family’s old-fashioned chocolate making know-how to create all natural chocolate products for baking, snacking and candy making. Fueled by Janet’s vision and our decades of chocolate experience, we stand by our belief that the best way to practice our craft is without any artificial colors, flavors, preservatives or additives, using only the highest quality ingredients. So they have  a great philosophy on keeping things as natural as possible.  And, they’re really good.  I think I paid 99 cents for a single pack at 1.19oz.  Granted, I can go buy a big pack of M&Ms for less, but I think there is a real difference in taste and in the “mouth feel” of the candy – much smoother and richer so well worth the extra cost for a good quality chocolate.  Even better, they also have an attitude where they take care of their suppliers and their communities.  Again from their website: We provide hands-on support to our cocoa growers by donating tools and resources to improve their harvests. When you buy Sunspire, you’re...

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Are We Overmedicating our Children?

I’m not a big fan of medications, at least those that treat symptoms rather than the cause.  I can understand taking medications for things like high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart conditions, etc. that you use to get things under control, but when you cover up a symptom, you’re usually not treating the root cause. For instance, get on cholesterol reducing medication if you need it, but be sure you also watch what you eat.  Take blood pressure lowing medication, but also go out and exercise.  I’m always troubled by the mentality that just by popping a pill things are all better. In America, I think we live in a highly medicated society.  Growing up I was told I had ADD/HD and I had to take Ritalin.  I still think I was just bored in school.  Feeding a kid a form of speed in order to make things seem more interesting isn’t my idea of treating the root cause, maybe there problem is that school really is boring? There is an interesting post on a blog over at Vox, it rambles a bit, but definitely gets the point across that we do live is a society that overmedicates. So it wasn’t really a surprise when I saw an article from the Washington Post,because most people seem to be under the impression if a little medication is good, then a lot of medication must be...

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Cloth Diapers

Now that we have a newborn on the way, we’ve started to break out all the old gear that we packed away last year.  Included in the various onesies and sleepers is a big stack of cloth diapers. When my wife and I first decided we would use cloth diapers, we got a lot of funny looks.  People wanted to know what  diaper service we were going to use.  We didn’t actually use a diaper service.  With a few simple tips, I think you’ll find cloth diapers are both more economical and more ecologically friendly than disposables.  I thought I’d share a few of those tips and resources here about what worked for us and see if anybody has some good advice to add. 1.  Is using cloth really economical? Some people have said that they thought that cloth was so much more expensive than disposables.  And in the beginning it is.  Cloth is something you have to stick with for several months before you reach a break even point. The folks over at www.diaperpin.com have a great calculator for figuring out what your break even point will be, as well as how much you will save in a year and a half of using cloth.  Since my daughter was potty trained closer to 2 and a half, we saved more than what the calculator can currently show.  The “common” wisdom out there that...

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Barbeque: Santa Maria Smoked Tri-Tip

My wife got this recipe from the July 2007 edition of Cooking Light Magazine I think this dish turned out really well. The meat was incredibly flavorful and my wife made way too much salsa. This was actually a bonus for me as I used the salsa in place of the tomatoes I would normally put on my brown bag lunches. Now the meat we used is tri-tip, which comes from the sirloin area of the cow. Tri-tip steak is also known as bottom sirloin or sirloin tip. While tender, it is also pretty far back on the animal and as such is one of the leaner cuts. A good rule of thumb for beef is the farther back on the animal the cut comes from, the less fat it will have. Ingredients 3 cups hickory wood chips 1 teaspoon kosher salt 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1 (2 1/4-pound) tri-tip steak, trimmed Cooking spray 2 cups Santa Maria Salsa Cilantro sprigs (optional) Preparation Soak wood chips in water 1 hour; drain well. (Note: I usually soak my chips overnight. I couldn’t find my hickory chips in the garage, so I grabbed a hickory log, cut it down to size in my chop saw, and then used a hand axe to make little hickory chips) Combine salt, pepper, and garlic powder; sprinkle evenly over...

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Article: Dad Warns Parents of Online Perils

Just saw an article the other day that really sends chills down my spine… Fla. Dad Warns Parents of Online Perils ORLANDO, Fla. — The father of a 15-year-old girl who was found safe 400 miles away from home a day after she ran away with a sex offender she met online had a message Wednesday for parents across America… http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/03/AR2007100302707.html It’s things like this that make me realize that when my daughter is old enough to actively surf the net, I’m going to be installing not only all sorts of Internet filters on the router to block certain sites, but will probably be actively purchasing and installing software like “The Boss“, that not only log URLs, but also e-mail, chats, web page snapshots, and restricts Internet access to certain times of the day. At three she already knows how to use my wife’s old laptop to play games like Reader Rabbit Preschool, and she also can go to some of the web sites out there that we’ve set up menu buttons for like Elmo’s...

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Household Chemicals: What’s In My House?

Today my in-laws came over to celebrate my birthday.   I got two great things – a book on barbeque and some craftsman tools. The book is the Barbeque Bible… Barbecue Bibleby Steven Raichlen Read more about this title…   And the tools are a set of locking pliers and a set of the Arc-joint pliers… So at the end when they left, my wife gave them a bunch of household chemicals to take with them that we didn’t want to keep around the house… seems like a good deal…I get a cool book and tools and they get deadly chemicals. Now, they don’t have any small children in their house anymore, so we figured they could use these chemicals as throwing them away just seemed wasteful.  But since we’ve got a three year old and a second child on the way; our family is moving away from using harsh household chemicals to more natural cleaning solutions that usually involve vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. So if you do have potentially dangerous chemicals in your home, you need to make sure that they are properly stored and used.  Now, what are these dangerous household chemicals? Let’s take a tour of the rooms of your home and discover what some of these chemicals are and what health harms they may cause. Keep in mind that most household cleaning products and pesticides are reasonably safe when used as directed,...

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Chicken Manure as Fertilizer

Bars represent (from left to right) fresh poultry manure, aged poultry manure, standard poultry compost, ammended poultry compost, fresh dairy manure, aged dairy manure, standard dairy compost, ammended dairy compost, fertilizer. So the above graph was taken from a study over at NewFarm.org.  Basically, nothing really beats the chemical fertilizer because it makes Nitrogen immediately available for the crop to convert.  However, the study was done only over a period of one year and it looks like the slow release nature of the nitrogen in manure and amendments and the need for the soil microbiota to “get up to speed” in converting that nitrogen into forms available to the crop means that it will take several years to get to be just as good as if you were using the chemical fertilizer. So, if you’re looking to switch to organic farming methods then initial heavy compost applications will maintain crop yields during the conversion of chemically fertilized fields to organic management.  And of the organic mixtures, it looks like fresh poultry manure and aged poultry manure seems to be the best alternative to the chemical fertilizers. Just another reason to have a couple of chickens in the back yard to help out with some organic soil amendment if you’re looking to grow some organic vegetables in your...

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Endangered Species Chocolate

For those of you about to discover the joys of fatherhood for the first time, good luck.  I’ve read all sorts of books on expectant fathers, birthing, and there are enough books out there that just seem to add to the confusion. Here is one life saver though, chocolate! My wife goes through some pretty big mood swings, and nothing helps better than chocolate.  My wife and I are also pretty big believers in sustainability and organic foods, and as I was walking through the local Henry’s, I came across a display of chocolate that drew me in. This is what I picked up and brought home: Smooth Milk Chocolate (52% Cocoa Content)This 3oz. milk chocolate bar is made with all-natural, shade-grown, ethically traded, single-origin smooth milk chocolate. At 52%, this chocolate bar has a relatively high cocoa content as far as plain milk chocolate bars go. The northern sea otter artwork from Judi Rideout is printed on recycled paper using 6.2% soy inks. The chocolate is ethically or fairly traded guaranteeing the workers fair wages and humane working conditions. This product is also certified Kosher by Orthodox Union. On the inside of the label you can learn about the plight of the otter as well as additional information on Endangered Species Chocolate’s core value, Reverence for life, conservation tips and coupons for other Endangered Species Chocolate products. http://www.chocolatebar.com/shop/p-30-smooth-milk-chocolate.aspx...

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The Cost of Going Organic

Just read a great article from Motley Fool on going Organic. I thought one of their best tips was the following: Learn how to cook. If your definition of cooking is mixing the neon orange powdered cheese into macaroni noodles, then you’re likely to be stuck with the overpriced and overpackaged grocery store organics. To take advantage of fresh organically grown produce and meats, take a few courses at a local cooking school or pay a culinary friend for lessons. Raw, unprocessed food are not only better for you, but cheaper as well.  I’m not a master chef by...

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Book Review: Creepy Children’s Books

My daughter is three and she loves having stories read to her and I love reading them.  That being said, there are some books that are just down right creepy.  Is this really what we are teaching our kids? Two books spring to mind that I’ll never read to my kids… Love You Foreverby Robert N. Munsch, Sheila McGraw Read more about this title… This starts off kind of cute.  The mother has a child in her arms and she tells him, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.”  As an expression of a parent’s unconditional love it’s a great little saying from a mother to her son.  And then you turn the pages, the kid gets older, and the you see the mom sneaking into the teenage son’s bedroom and repeating the mantra.  It seems a little Oedipus, as I’d not really like to think about my mom sneaking into my room when I was a teenager but ok, still kind of cute. Then the son gets married and moves away.  Happy ending?  Not exactly.  Now the mother straps a ladder to her car, drives across town, and breaks into the son’s house, sneaks into his bedroom and while he’s sleeping with his wife next to him tells him “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long...

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SQL Server–A Significant Part of SQL Server Process Memory Has Been Paged Out

Recently started seeing this Information Item pop in the event logs: A significant part of sql server process memory has been paged out. This may result in a performance degradation. Duration: 0 seconds. Working set (KB): 2091292, committed (KB): 4140648, memory utilization: 50%%. This occurs when you are using SQL Sever Server standard edition 64 bit on a Windows 2003 64bit system.  There are a couple of good support articles, but ultimately what happens here is SQL Server is forced to release memory to operating system because some other application or OS itself needs to allocate RAM. We went through many support articles like: 918483: How to reduce paging of buffer pool memory in the 64-bit version of SQL Server 2005 905865: The sizes of the working sets of all the processes in a console session may be trimmed when you use Terminal Services to log on to or log off from a computer that is running Windows Server 2003 920739: You may experience a decrease in overall system performance when you are copying files that are larger than approximately 500 MB in Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 1 Still had the same issue where this kept popping up and we had extremely slow performance.  Now this was a small VM with 4 GB RAM where 2 GB is maximum limit allocated to SQL Server. This left 2 GB...

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