Friday, May 01, 2009

You Durn Kids! Get Off My Lawn!

We I got home from picking up the car from the shop last night, I finally got up the motivation to work on the bald spot in the front lawn. Because we live next to the community's playground, kids use our yard as a shortcut to get there. You know, rather than walking the extra five feet to the path designed for it. Durn lazy kids! Anyway, it's been growing bigger every year. This year, I resolved to fix it. A couple of weeks ago when Jon and I were shopping for his new mower, I picked up a few items to fix the problem, and keep those durn kids off my lawn.

1 bag of grass seed/fertilizer combo
1 roll of biodegradable grass cover
2 bags of biodegradable grass cover stakes (Mmmm, steaks. No! stakes.)
6 yard stakes
1 spool of green yard twine

I had to rough up the bald spot with my lawn rake. What? It deserved roughing up! It was looking at me funny. Besides, that breaks up the scads of clay we have in our soil to help the grass seed find purchase.

I then emptied the whole bag on the bald spot, as well as a big patch of dead grass a few feet away that was new this year. I had hoped the bag would be enough to fix the shady spot under our tree on the other side of the stairs, but I'm not even sure I got down enough in the bald spot as it is. I'll be heading back to get more before long. After all, it's "guaranteed to grow anywhere!" They even had a picture of it growing on cement. I'll believe that when I see my lawn come back to life.

After watering the mixture to the advised level of saturation, Stacy and I fashioned snuggly blankets for to tuck in the baby grass. Ok, so it's not snuggly. The grass cover is made from some fibrous plant material woven into a biodegradable plastic mesh and further held together by some light twine. I'm pretty sure it wouldn't make a comfortable bed spread. I have to say that the biodegradable stakes were pretty cool. I'm not sure how they work, because they seemed to be just like a non-biodegradable plastic stake.

Lastly, I plunged the yard stakes as far as they would go around the perimeter and surrounded the whole thing with two levels of twine. Now, I just sit back and wait. Oh, and water. Oh yeah, and yell at those durn kids to stay off my lawn!

The large patch is the main bald spot, the smaller one is the new patch of dead grass.

If you look closely, you can probably see the twine stretching between the stakes.

Also notice the ginormous, tree-like bush in the background. It's gotta be 8'+ at this point. That's what Jon will be bringing his chainsaw down to Manassas to trim.

The twine describes the most skewed hexagon you'll find on my lawn.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

So Much Time, So Little Motivation

Warning: One long, dry data dump on this last month's goings-on follows. You may want to skip this one if you're not obsessed with my life.

That's it? Everyone's gone? I'm all alone now? Good, on to the post.

It's been a long time. So long. It's just been one of those months. Either I haven't had the chance to post, or when I have, I've lacked the motivation. No longer. Here I am to bring things current.

Let's see, what happened this month?

We went camping for Spring Break. Stacy and I took the kids along with some good friends of ours and their kids, down to Virginia Beach. The First Landing campground is a short walk to the beach. Camping in early spring, you say? Who would do such a thing, you ask? Wasn't it cold, you wonder? Yes, not my idea, and frak yes.

I don't regret going, especially since some of those that went had good reasons to get away from Manassas for a few days. That said, it was testicle-shrinking cold during the first night. The temperature would have been tolerable with some bundling. It was the wind that sent the chills straight to the bone. A park ranger let us know that we'd be getting 40 MPH gusts over night, so we better stake down the tent real good. We stowed the entire camp (food, table, chairs, etc.) back in the vans overnight so we'd still have some of it the next day. Sure enough, we lost a few stakes overnight, but no one blew away.

The next day wasn't too bad. The wind had died down and the temperature was up a few degrees. We took a nice long walk on the beach with the kids. They found all sorts of cool shells and rocks. I didn't know their was such a high concentration of pumice and lava rock on the east coast. I don't even know what volcano is near enough to deposit the amount that the kids found. It was cool, though. That night was much more tolerable.

The next day was the best of the three. The sun was shining, we had a light breeze, it was perfect camping weather, and we had to go home. Ah well, it was a good time. The kids had a blast. Once I gather pictures from various sources, I'll get them onto picasa and plop in a slideshow.

We saw Monsters Vs. Aliens at Vicki's school-sponsored event. It wasn't in 3D, but it was better than I thought it would be. Either that, or I am becoming even easier to amuse than before. I tend to think not since I unfortunately caught the last 30 minutes of Twilight with Stacy and our friend Susannah this month. Guh. That is just a painful experience. The acting is either over-the-top or completely wooden. No chemistry. The story has as little bite as the so-called vampires that populate it. The special effects were worthy of Dr. Who circa 1970. I just feel bad for the huge number of fans that have been caught up in the books and movie. There's so much more material out there along the same lines but orders of magnitude better in terms of delivery. Thankfully, the helpful fellows at Rifftrax.com have released commentary for the movie, which should make it almost-watchable. I believe Jon and I are going to do that this week.

My car's emission inspection is due this month. I only have one more day to do it. I'm worried poor Nikki won't pass inspection this time. She doesn't spew as much oily smoke out as she did before, but I don't know how the inspector will take the engine idling problem.

I took Vicki to work for National Take Your Child to Work Day last week. We both had a blast. I think my favorite part was teaching her how to write a simple perl script. She told me that she wants to grow up and work at AOL now. How cute is that? I didn't bring her last year because I figured sitting in my cube watching me work all day would be boring. It turns out they have all sorts of activities for the kids. Vicki got to stand up front with the HR VP that hosted the event and help him lead the kids in some rousing "AOL! AOL! AOL!" chants. She even got $20 at Toys 'R Us for her trouble. We went around to various stations after that. One of them was the AOL studio in the basement of HQ where Regina Lewis does her appearances for news shows and promos. Regina gave her a dusting of make up and invited the kids to be interviewed. Unfortunately, there wasn't enough time for everyone to sit in front of the cameras, but Vicki got to see how everything was done there.

She also got to design her own video game for KOL. They had eight or nine computers set up in a row with MS Paint running for kids to draw their concepts. Poor Vicki didn't get to sit at one, even though she tried to camp out the chair. She was crushed. They had paper and crayons for the kids that didn't get a computer. I managed to convince her that drawing her idea would be much better than using the computer. After a little cajoling and cheering up, she dove in. Her picture turned out fantastic. She thought so too, after I pointed out how horrible the MS Paint pictures turned out. Getting a bunch of 6-12 year-olds to draw in Paint? It was pretty bad. Her game was "Snowflake Catcher", apparently an adaptation of a similar one online where you control a blue puppy that catches snowflakes with its tongue. It was a big hit with the guy running the booth. I wonder if KOL will have a snowflake catcher this winter?

At the end of the day, the hosts put on a movie for the kids and offered to let the parents head back to their desks for the duration to get some work done (yeah, right.) Vicki wanted me to stay with her, so we watched Racing Stripes. Well, we tried to watch it. The movie crashed about halfway through. It was very amusing watching the organizers trying to keep down the crowd of kids hopped up on sugary snacks with nothing to do. They kept asking them to "sit down," which was pretty funny considering the huge assembly room they had them hanging out in. I'm surprised as many of the kids were as well-behaved as they were. Vicki and I cut out after about 20 minutes of waiting for them to fix the movie. I smiled as we left the chaotic scene behind us.

It was a good day for both of us. I'm looking forward to bringing Vicki and Zoe next year.

We got the great news that Susannah is engaged after a year and a half of serious dating with her fiance. She's got her work cut out for her now. Congrats, Susannah!

Vicki and I also went to the Daddy/Daughter Masquerade Ball sponsored by the Girl Scouts. She made the masks for us one week at girl scouts. She took great pains to make sure my mask wasn't girly and had plenty of my favorite color on it. She was so cute and excited. The two daughters of our good friends, Paul and Paula, were there with their Pop-pop (grandpa). Vicki and I did a bunch of dancing. I stood by and watched her and the other girls dance for a couple of numbers while Pop-pop and I talked. We stopped by a 7/11 on the way home and got Slurpees to finish off the night.

We quietly celebrated Jon's, Casey's, and Casey's son's birthdays this month. Last weekend, Casey, Clay, Clay's son Jeremy, Stacy, and I attended a gun show in Dulles. It was a lot of fun. Casey got his birthday present from Jamie, a Springfield Xd. He was pumped. He and Jamie got to try it out at the range this weekend, sounded like fun. Stacy and I were going to pick up a shotgun while we were there, but the prices weren't right. We got a gun safe for our .22 pistol at home instead.

Now I have to decide between getting an affordable shotgun at Wal-Mart or a new sofa for the basement. Let's see, one is fun and ostensibly for protection, but won't get used that often. The other I'll sit on just about every day and allow us to get the Wii Fit out more often. I think I know what I'll be choosing. We've decided to go with THIS. It should be fun. Now I just have to save up for the shotgun.

I'm sure there's plenty more for me to talk about, but this has turned out pretty dry as it is. I'm just trying to get it all down without going into too much detail or humor. I'll make an effort to improve on the humor bit next post.