Thursday, April 25, 2013

Quit Bugging Me! A Cicada Story

Note:  If you don't know what a Cicada is, please check out this Wiki article.  It will explain a lot.

When Northerners come down to Florida for the first time, the thing that catches their attention pretty quickly is the number of bugs that are flying around.  And not just flying around, but crawling inside, outside, and all over the place.  Some are bad, some are good, and some are just plain annoying. 

In older times, the "song of the South," was the "song" of the Cicada.  When you have a number of them singing together it is unbelievably loud.  As in, up to 120 decibels loud. 

Cicadas go through a series of changes in their life cycle.  Namely they shed their exoskeleton so they can change into a bug with wings.  Being in the South, I find the shells all the time.  However, I had never seen one emerge from its shell.  That is, until now.

As I was walking the dog up to a favorite tree of his, I noticed something on the oak tree.  And there it was.  A Cicada was emerging from it's shell.  I was only able to get one picture since all this happened so quickly. 

As I was trying to hold it up to get a better picture, it crawled out of its shell, and fell.  But it was neat to see something like this.  I only wish I was able to get more pictures. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Adrian: Amateur Handyman

To understand this post you might want to read these blogs first.

Adrian: Amateur Gardener

Adrian: Amateur Gardener, Part 2

It all started with a Girlfriend, Lyli (not her real name.)  And then it continued when she made a much needed move into a new place.  It seems the previous tenants did their best to destroy the place she moved into.  So the landlords (an old man and his sons) have been doing their best to repair and restore the house as quickly as they can.  But Lyli wants to put a few add-ons to the house. 

That's where I come in.  I can repair a guitar, and do fine work, but can I do house repairs?  Well, it's either put up or shut up, and I'm gonna put up.  It's time for me to become Mr. Do it all handyman.  It's kind of like being a husband with a honey-do list, except for the marriage part.  Luckily I have taken pictures of everything.  And what's a blog without big ole pictures?

First up was building the plant beds.  The pictures from that can be seen in the two blogs I posted at the top of the page.

Next up was laying patio bricks.  Lyli wanted them in a checkerboard (red and white) pattern.  So first we had to clean out the back of her Ford Explorer, and then make the trip to Home Depot.  However, we couldn't fit 136 bricks in the back of her truck.  We could only get 80.  Which lead to the interesting thought about moving really heavy patio bricks. 

1.  You move them from the shelf to the cart.  2.  You move them again from the cart to the truck.  3.  Then you move them yet again from the truck to the ground.  Now these things weigh a ton.  Or at least 800 pounds, from the best I can figure.  Seriously, 80 bricks time 10 pound a piece?  That's 800 pounds.  You should have seen how the Explorer was sitting low.

But after all my moving the front looked like this:

And even the dog enjoys it.

Now obviously, you can see where some tiles still need to go.  But I definitely know that the other 56 needed tiles would not fit in the truck.  With that much weight in it, it might have been scraping the ground.  But I'm happy with it so far.  I get the rest finished up on the next trip to Home Depot.  And hey!  I'll get another blog out of it.

Next up was the missing railing.  I think the house had it before, but it might have rotted or been trashed by the previous tenants.  So here's the before pic.

As you can see, no rails.  But I did something about it.  Here's the after picture.

As you can see, I added the wood (the wood without paint on it) support and rails.  I added the top beam so that Lyli can hang wind chimes from it.  Here's a better view of it.

As you can see, I already added the nails into the wood to hang stuff.  That way I don't have to do it later.  I like thinking ahead like that.

So next up is the planting.  Now that I have the garden beds built it was time to add some plants next to the bromeliads.  Here's the before picture.

And here's the plants we bought.  Note:  We were able to buy these from a number of vendors at the flea market as well as Home Depot.

So I was working with very little daylight when I started planting them.  I wanted to finish before it was dark so I could take pictures.  Luckily, the camera I was using has a really strong flash.  So if these pictures look a little odd, it's because it was almost dark when I took them.

So that's where I am so far.  Here's the future projects I will be attempting over the next few weeks.  1.  I will complete the brick patio.  2.  Primer and paint will be added to the front door, steps, and ramp.  (It will be an awesome shade of red.)  3.  Rails will be added to the back steps.  4.  Then the back porch will be primed and painted.  5.  Then the painting will be moved inside.  The kitchen needs painted.  And yes, it will be red.  6.  Then the trellises need to be replaced, and Lyli wants them painted as well.  7.  Once summer comes around I may start to plant more plant beds. 

The good news is that this will give me plenty of blogs to write about.  I feel that I have been slacking lately on writing my blogs.  But more importantly, Lyli is really appreciative of the repairs I have been making. 

On a funny note, I told her that she should ask for a discount on her rent for all the repairs she's having done.  It couldn't hurt to ask could it?

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Happy Radish

Every now and then it happens.  A old Catholic woman who may or may not be of Spanish heritage finds a food item that has Jesus or Jesus' Mother Mary in it.  I never put much thought into it.  I mean, I thought it was funny, but that's about it. 

That's until something similar happened to me.  I encountered Happy Radish.

I saw that radish smiling back at me, and knew everything would be alright.  It told me, "Have a nice day, and oh yeah, enjoy eating me with Italian dressing." 

And I did just that.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

How I Would Make Soccer a Better Game

Whether Americans want to admit it or not, soccer is the most followed worldwide sport.  Americans however just can not seem to get interested in it though.  I believe that the rules of soccer have not kept up with the times, and need to be adjusted.  If you look at the sport of hockey, and specifically the NHL, you can see that they have made major changes to the rules over the last 20 years.  For American audiences to get interested in soccer, some rule changes need to take place.

Here's some of the rule changes that I would implement to make soccer a better game.

1.  Expand the roster to 22 players. 

Since there are 11 players on the field, I believe that every one of them should have a backup.  This will go hand in hand with rule change number 2.

2.  Allow unlimited substitutions at anytime, so that players can come in and out of the game.

In soccer, once a player is pulled out of the game, they can't re-enter the game.  Why is that?  When players are forced to stay out there without substitutions a few bad things will happen.  1. Players play beyond their limits, and risk getting hurt/exhausted.  2.  Players fake injuries to take a break.  3.  The game slows down. 

When allowing substitutes, coaches will be allowed to put in different players according to strategy.  If a team is behind, then the coach can pull a defenseman, and put in a more offensive type of player. 

Unlimited substitutions would also increase the amount of offense in a game.  A coach could put one player in for just 5 minutes and let him run crazy around the field trying to score. 

2B.  To clarify, players can substitute at any time like hockey.  A coach does not have to call a time out.  The player coming out of the game crosses the sideline into his bench will give a high five (or a slap) to the player that is substituting him.  They do this on the sideline so that there are not 12 men on the field.  The substituting player can then enter the game. 

But to clarify even further, players can substitute during a timeout. 

3.  Move the offsides line. 

One reason the old NASL (North American Soccer League) did so well in the early days was that they moved the offsides line.  This lead to more scoring, something that American audiences wanted.  However, FIFA came in and bullied the NASL to move the offsides lines back to where they are in the international game.  This then, lead to the decline of the NASL.

4.  Change the overtime rules.

A lot of soccer games go into overtime.  But since the players are usually so tired by the end of the game not much scoring happens in overtime.  I believe that when overtime occurs, two spots from each team will be pulled from the field making it 9 on 9, instead of the usual 11 on 11.  This will open up the field to allow more scoring. 

5.  Penalize the fakers.

If a player fakes an injury for the purpose of trying to get a yellow or red card called on an opponent, that player will serve a one game suspension.  And to make sure this rule is strictly enforced, after the game is played, the film will be reviewed to make sure no player faked an injury. 

This rule goes hand in hand with rule change number two.  A player won't have to fake an injury to take a rest.  He (or she) can come out and have a substitute come in and play.  When that player is rested up enough, they can go back in the game. 

6.  Red Card Ejections

I do believe that players given a red card should be ejected.  However, under my suggested rule changes, that player's team will not lose that spot on the field for the game.  To clarify, when a player gets a red card under the current rules, that team loses the player and the spot.  So that team has to play 10 on 11. 

I would do away with that.  Namely, a lot of teams throw cheap fouls so that other teams will retaliate against them and thus draw a red card.  Once that team is a player down, then the opposing team actually gets around to playing soccer. 

So to clarify, on a red card the team will lose the player, but not the spot on the field.

7.  The Enforcer

This is not a rule change per se, but a change in strategy.  A lot of times coaches will send in a player to take out the other team's star player.  Again, they throw a cheap shot so that the star player will retaliate and get thrown out of the game.  Under the new rule changes I've suggested players can have unlimited substitutions. 

If a coach sees that the other team is sending a player to hurt his star player, he can send in an "enforcer."  It's just like in hockey.  The enforcer goes in, and makes sure the star player is unharmed.  This will do away with a lot of the tickey-tack fouls.  If a guy is out causing trouble, the enforcer will make a "hard foul" and put the joker in his place. 


These rule changes are admittedly proposed to speed up the game, and take out the fake injuries.  I realize that a lot of Europeans would not like these rules due to the style of soccer they play.  However, if soccer is to ever take off in America, I really think that these changes need to take place.