Time Vampire: Magic Pen

I need to find another addictive online game about as much as I need another 6 inches of snow to shovel off my driveway.  But, like the weather, some things are just beyond my control.  The latest in the list? Magic Pen.

The object is simple–which is always key in the addictiveness of a game–you get the red ball to roll across the little flags.

You, armed with a crayon and some vague idea that making things bump into a ball will make it roll, are in charge of drawing in whatever shapes you need to guide that red ball as well as figuring out how to get that ball rolling.  It’s the most subtle lesson in Newtonian physics you’ll ever find yourself loathe to part from.  It’s so addictive that I actually found myself paying more attention to manipulating the path of that stupid red ball than I did to the new episode of Bones (which is unheard of for me).

And with that, I will leave you to get your own ball rolling.  I have a game to get back to.

A New Appreciation for Weather

I’m sorry to disappoint those of you who were hoping to see all Kristy posts here (among the disappointed?  Me), but I did return from Oz and apparently I have to take up my portion of the slack.

As with most cases of international travel, I learned a few things that maybe I should have known, found some more things to be jealous of Australia for having (TimTams), and found some things about right here at home that I’d taken for granted.

Like the weather.

Not the actual events in weather–rain, sun, what have you–but weather reports.

I’m a product of tornado alley, a place that kind of turns one into a weather-forecast connoisseur.  It’s not enough to have the high and low temperature.  I didn’t spend so many elementary school science classes learning the markings for a stationary front for nothing.  I want hourly temperature forecasts.  I want satellite.  I want radar.  I want wind speeds.  I want to know what’s coming at me a minimum of 2 days before it gets here.  By damnit, I can’t control the weather, but I can sure as hell know what’s coming at me.

Exposing me to Australia’s excuse for weather reports was kind of like taking an oenophile and locking them up with nothing but Manischewitz.  In the three weeks I spent down there not once did I see a tv weather report (or hear a radio weather report) that was even as comprehensive as Al Roker’s reports on the Today show.  I nearly lost it.

First of all, if you’re not in a major city (or at least a major city for your region–after all, Alice Springs is half the size of my suburban town), you’re not going to get jack from most sources.  Sometime we’d catch a bit on ABC which would show a few more places, including one that was only an hour down the road from my parents and thus a moderately appropriate approximation of the temperatures they would experience.

Second, assuming you catch some manner of report that relates to an area near you, you’re going to get a grand package of the high, the low, if it’s rain or shine, and, if you are very lucky, a synoptic chart with the wind directions.  No 3 day forecast.  No “power doppler” that can show the hook echo so you know exactly where the tornado is.  No cadre of amateur weather nerds who send in photos of the snow fall totals in their backyards.  Want to know if it’s going to rain tomorrow?  Well, you’ll just have to wait until tomorrow, and if it’s wet, you’ll know–they’re not going to spoil you.

I’m not sure if it’s just broadcast media that’s so devoid of weather reports.  I didn’t manage to get into the news agency to pick up a paper.  And I know there’s probably something more comprehensive online–but internet access is not as ubiquitous there as it is here (and sure isn’t as cheap).  All I know is that if you’re stuck with radio and TV only, it’s a damn good thing tornadoes aren’t as prevalent there.

I realize that between the 10 year drought the Australian continents been dealing with (nothing like weather monotony), and the low population density, it’s probably not easy to justify the kind of infrastructure you need for the 10 day look ahead in every corner of the country.  I can accept that.

But it made me all the more delighted to be back here at home where my local weather-dude has been refining his prediction for a winter weather blast twice a day for the past two days,  to the point that I knew that if I want beer, I need to get it by 6pm tomorrow.  Poor Australia.  How do you know when you need to get the beer today to avoid going out in the storm tomorrow????

I Should Learn to Watch the Weather

It’s been cool, dry and sunny for a week here.  I’ve been taking advantage of this one by leaving the windows open.

You see where this is going, right?

Yeah.  Every window open.  About 2 in the afternoon, I overhead someone coming past my cube at work telling another co-worker he’s going to need an umbrella.

Shit.

So, my head pops up out of the cube like a prairie dog out of burrow.

“Seriously?  Is it raining hard?”

“Not hard, but steady.”

Crap.

Not much I can do from work, and by the time I could get home the rain would be over.  So, I came home to wet carpet, thankfully only in one room.  Yeah, because I needed this to happen with my folks coming in this week.  Fantastic.

In an age of weather reports literally at my fingertips, you’d think I’d figure out how to prevent things like this….

Last Ditch Effort At the Outdoor Summer

The great summer outdoors experiment has been mostly a bust.  Yes, overall, I did manage to spend more time out of doors than I have in the past decade or more of summers, but it wasn’t nearly as much as I’d hoped for.  The hammock spent a lot more time hanging in the basement than outside, and while I grew a lot of food outside,between my work schedule and the uncharacteristic humidity, I didn’t consume much of it there.

But, as with most things, the good part often comes at the end.  Yes, gentle readers, as I type this, I am in the hammock, outside, on a sunny, gorgeous made-to-order day with low humidity and a current temperature of 73 degrees with a light breeze.  Here on what most people use as the weekend marking the end of summer, I’m finally getting some outdoor enjoyment.

And just for today, I’m not going to say better late than never.  I’m just going to bask in moment and hope that there are many more like it next year.

Happy Summer

The Gardening Update

Odd fact:  rain is only good for a garden if it comes the right way.

In true Midwest fashion, our rain has been coming in the form of violent thunderstorms (although, even for the Midwest it’s been a bit odd in the timing–usually at this point in the summer we’re dry).  While the volume of water is greatly appreciated, the flow is a bit much.  Until about two weeks ago my cherry tomato plant was about 4 inches shy of being as tall as I am.

Then came “The Storm”

Yeah.  Massive straight-line wind from the outflow, followed by a deluge.  I may as well have aimed a fire hose at my plants.  My tomato plant went  completely parallel to the ground.  The two stakes and massive tomato cage were no match for the weather.  I found myself wrestling it back into an upright position, re-staking and trying to restore it to it’s former vertical glory.

It almost worked.  Until storm two.

The process repeated.

And then storm number 3.

Yeah.  It’s even money as to whether or not I’ll bother to continue this process.  That’s a lie.  I’ll totally keep at it because if I don’t keep it up off the ground, the oodles of little green tomatoes will be in easy bunny-rabbit reach and I can kiss them goodbye (little bastard has already picked clean the lowest part of the bush as well as everything on the smaller volunteer plants).

And thus continues Cammy’s summer gardening adventure (the only part of my great outdoor plan that’s going to survive this humidity).