Sunday, October 21, 2007

Be kind to your fine feathered friends

Second post of the day...

So the birds (finches, mostly) have been eating like crazy from our feeder and I've got the pictures to proove it:

This next picture was taken exactly one week later...

These birds are hungry!, originally uploaded by arwild01.

What's really interesting is that we were getting some unique weeds right under the feeder. I decided that what was actually happening is that some of the bird seed was being dropped by the birds onto the ground, and then those seeds are germinating.

So we decided that a strategically positioned bird bath under the feeder would catch most of the seeds. We went to Iron Plus here in Humble, which is a really neat shop. The birdbath wasn't exactly cheap, but its made out of some kind of stone with a petina on it. If you look closely at this photo of it you can see some remnatnts of seeds already in the bowl and this was taken just about an hour after getting it. So its already doing its job. Besides, it adds another interesting element to our landscaping.

New Bird Bath, originally uploaded by arwild01.

Here's More...

As I hinted in my last post.... we did more landscaping this weekend. Before I go much further I need to give a serious "Thank you" to Matt Chanda and Jonathan and Angela Finley who came over to help (and we proceeded to abuse their assistance).

Anyway, the day started by first loading all of the piles of sod that were on last weekends photo into the back of Chanda's Truck. Then we dug up the sod under this new bed. Chanda, Finley and I went to the Atascocita Landfill to empty the truck. With us in the cab, his half-ton truck weighed over 8900 pounds! The maximum weight capacity of the truck was supposed to be 6400 pounds so we were over by a full ton! Fortunately, his truck didn't appear to be any worse for wear.

We then went to Dirt Cheap Mulch and bought another cubic yard of garden mix to put down. We unloaded the dirt, ate lunch, and then the girls started putting the plants in the ground while Chanda, Finley and I proceeded to dig up the privet in our front flower beds so we could replace it with a sweet olive tree.

Front of house, no privet, originally uploaded by arwild01.

We ultimately replanted the privet next to the other two, installed edging, mulched, and put hoses back down before all was said and done.

I'm happy to say that for all intensive purposes we are finished with this project. We've got some more sand to put down on the pavestone (in the crevices) and we might want to lay some more blocks on the far side of the garage (where we are now keeping the garbage cans), but the major work is clearly done.

New Bed, originally uploaded by arwild01.

Now we just need to keep watering everything and hope it all takes root. There are more photos in our Flickr photo set. As I've said before, you need to have a flickr account and be marked as a "friend" or "family member" for you to see all of photos. If you don't have access but would like to, send me an e-mail using the link on the right and I'll send you an invite.

Landscaping in the back yard, originally uploaded by arwild01.

Monday, October 15, 2007


DSC01396s, originally uploaded by arwild01.

I thought a good "Before" picture was warranted for some of the landscaping work we did. This picture was taken right before I closed on the house so it's pretty old, but it does show you how much we've changed things (and it was also conveniently taken from about the same spot as the second picture below.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

We were busy this weekend...

IMG_2648, originally uploaded by arwild01.
The gardening continues. We built beds on the house side of this area (including laying the pavestone the bench is setting on and if you look closely, you can see another bed against the fence line.

New View of our patio, originally uploaded by arwild01.

This is another view of our patio area. This is all pretty much "done" for now, but I keep thinking that and we keep coming up with more things to do.

Another shot of the Birch, originally uploaded by arwild01.

Here's the birch tree I planted myself (with the assitance of Shannon)... it's about 15 feet tall. In the background you can barely see some of the other plants in the yard.

More to Come?, originally uploaded by arwild01.

There's clearly some more to come. If you want to see more check out our set on flickr. To see most of the photos I'll need to have you marked as a "fried" or "family" member in my address book. If you don't have access, send me an e-mail and I'll send you an invite.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My Gaming News

So first off, I'm super excited that Nintendo decided to use Virtual Console to bring some titles to us that have never been commercially released in the United States before. This is bloody brilliant. I've also heard it suggested that we could even one day see "new" titles developed directly for virtual console. I'm not sure we'll see that or not, but to be able to play the real Super Mario Bros. 2 (and not the re branded Doki Doki Panic) is really cool.

On a personal gaming note. I took advantage of Toys 'R Us's recent "Buy 2 Get 1 Free sale" to pick up Guitar Hero 2 for the PS2, Heavenly Sword for the PS3, and got Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for free. This clearly violates my "I only buy games for $20 or less policy", but I can explain...

Metroid Prime 3 is a game that always got an exception to that policy. I would gladly pay the full retail price of $50 for that game. Likewise Guitar Hero 2 needs a custom controller. Given that the game retails for about $80... I was willing to spend $50 for that game with the controller. Finally, Heavenly Sword was worth $20 to me. So all told I was willing to spend $120 for the three games. Well, Guitar Hero 2 was $20 off for $59.99 on top of that sale. Heavenly Sword retails for $59.99 and that meant Metroid Prime 3 was free. So I was willing to spend $120 for the three games and I spent exactly $120 for the three games. Given that their full retail price for all three right now is $189.97 (a savings of $75.76 when you could sales tax)... that's not too shabby. Especially considering that Heavenly Sword had just come out that week (and Metroid Prime 3 hadn't been out real long either). BTW, it appears that Toys R Us is going to turn around and have this sale again!

I have not touched Heavenly Sword or Metroid Prime 3, but I have complete Guitar Hero 2 on both easy and medium. I'm going to spend some time completing 5-star ratings on all the songs before moving on to Hard.

I've also finished Enchanted Arms. I think it took me somewhere between 45 and 50 hours. I may go back and spend some garbage time playing around, but for the most part I'm done here.

As far as I'm concerned Metroid Prime 3 is the next "real" game I'm starting. Guitar Hero is something that's really fun that I can pick up and put down. That said, I'm finding myself picking it up a lot.... and I haven't started Metroid Prime 3 yet. Hmmmm....

One last aside, I hooked the PS3 back up in the study to play Guitar Hero 2. I did pick up Pelican's PS2 to USB adapter. My initial thoughts are that it didn't work too well, but I didn't realize that I need to "calibrate" the game for my television and if the adapter is introducing any delay, I expect the game's built-in calibration mode should compensate for that. The fact that you have to switch the adapter from "menu" mode to "Right Hand" mode to play (or "left hand" if you are actually playing left-handed) is super kludgy and Pelican admits that Hammer-Ons and Pull-Offs will not ever work. So on the whole not real great. That being said.... this adapter does let you use PS2 controllers and since I only have one SIXAXIS that might be useful for multiplayer PS2 games. Also, Guitar Hero 1 is supposed to work perfectly (GH2 is the only one that's so difficult to use) and finally, I will need this adapter if I ever get around to playing my couple of Taiko: Drum Master.