Saturday, July 24, 2010

France Rocked!

We're home and trying to recover, but the trip was fantastic. We managed to make it home only an hour or so late, and with only one missing bag. Naturally, that's the bag with most of the gifts in it. Ah, well. At least the folks at baggage services have found it and we should see it Monday. I think it just wanted another day in Amsterdam. Who can blame it, really?

I know I promised that I would post pix and stories while I was on the trip, but, really, I was too busy taking the pictures and living the stories. I make a new promise that I will post the pictures and stories over the next several weeks.

For now, though, here are a few pics to whet your appetite:

First up: the cheese monger at the (small, I am told) Tuesday street market in Laval.



And another of some flowers outside of the chateau in Mayenne:



Stay tuned!

Monday, July 12, 2010

We're in France!

Finally, our delayed honeymoon has arrived!

After something like 16 hours of travel we were picked up at the train station by our new friends (the father of the bride whose wedding we are also here for) and after a nice lunch they brought us to the beautiful converted farmhouse/manor that we'll be staying at.

After a much needed nap, we had our first (of many, I hope) great French meal. For me: wine, salmon carpaccio, bacon-wrapped rabbit with seasonal vegetables, followed by frest strawberries and lemon sorbet. Hard to beat!

Some pictures of the (for lack of a better word) hotel. As usual, click for the big picture.

It was overcast and drizzling a bit, so the pictures are a little dark, but here is my morning cafe au lait.





The Manor House:



And the little chapel:


Until later, I think it's time for a little exploring. And maybe some more wine.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

SpaceX has made orbit

With its latest test launch, SpaceX has successfully placed a payload in orbit using its Falcon 9 platform. This bodes well for the private space industry in the US. Here is an image I screen-grabbed from the launch video stream from the second stage as it was almost in orbit:

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

So you wanna have a garden?

By command of Her Royal Highness, our friend Tia Maria:

Grow buckets:

Say you don't have a lot of land, or none, for that matter? Well, no problem! Just about anyone anywhere can have a few self watering buckets to grow something in. If you have a porch or patio attached to your condo or some place that gets good sunlight somewhere, you can grow at least some herbs. In this post I'll take you through how to build a really simple self watering contraption that we have had very good luck with in our little suburban yard. All you need are two five gallon buckets (check with local restaurants, we get our buckets free from a pub, former pickle buckets), a length of 1" diameter (approx) pvc, some 2-3" pvc, a drill and saw, some way to maky bigger holes (I have used keyhole saws, rotary cutters, utility knives, or easiest: hole saws on a drill) and some zip ties. Let's get it going:

Take your first bucket and drill a whole mess of holes in the bottom. This provides both drainage and a way for the soil and roots to get the air they need.



After that, we need some way to get the water to the plants. The water will be in a reservoir made by the second bucket to come later. It will sit under the one you've drilled. We need a wick, so measure a piece of the wide pvc (2-3" diameter) so that it will reach the bottom of your second bucket when they are stacked. In our case, that's about 4". Cut that bit of pipe and fill it full of holes with the drill. Make a big hole in the middle of the bucket a little smaller than the inside of the PVC wick.



Then, with zip ties, and a few strategically placed holes, fix it to the bottom of your holey bucket.



Good. Now we need a way to get the water into the reservoir. That will be done through the use of the thin pvc you gathered. Drill or cut a hole that is a bit bigger than the outer diameter of the pipe on the rim of the bucket, then cut the pipe so that it's long enough to go to the bottom of the two stacked buckets and stick a bit above the top one's rim. A little angle trim will let the water out into the reservoir when you're filling.

cutting the hole:


cutting the angle into the fill pipe (note, you can drill it, too.)



With that done, a couple of holes near the top of the holey bucket can be used to secure the fill pipe with another zip tie. Then, just put the finished holey bucket into another bucket. Just below where the inner bucket meets the outer bucket, you need to drill a few holes so that excess water can drain (you don't want to drown the poor plants, do you?).



After you've done all that, you have a useable self watering bucket to grow almost anything in. Stack it all up, fill it with potting mix (N.B. make sure that the pvc wick is full of dirt so that some soil is down in the reservoir to bring water up to the plants) and plant away!




You can use the lid of the planter (with a hole for the fill pipe and a hole for the plant) as a substitute for mulch and weedcloth, but we usually don't bother with this step.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wedding Teaser II*



*With bonus mother-in-law photobomb.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Wedding Teaser I



*Gulp* Do I look as nervous as I feel?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hello world... (Part II)

OK, I'm back. Wow has it been an eventful few months, and I apologize for the complete absence of content here.

So I am sure you're wondering what all has transpired in the intervening time since I last regaled you with content-free drivel, so here is a synopsis:

I got married.

Isn't that enough? That'll take up a month or so out of anyone's life (insert "Only a month?" joke here).

Aside from that, life in the lab has been really busy. We've got a manuscript about ready to submit, lots of samples to process and all kinds of good nerdy fun about to be had. We might even have some really cool genomics stuff in the works. I have a coral disease course coming up in August for which I am quite excited (lots of diving!) and I'll be listening to the newly discovered Skeptic's Guide to the Universe (I know, I live under a rock).

I have a couple of posts that I will be working on soon. Many will involve pictures from our wedding, which was fantastic and brought together by the hard work of our cherished friends. I promise lots of pictures. Mrs. LabBoy's brother filled our hard drive with professional-quality photos (thanks, Tom!) and we have all kinds of shots from our guests as well.

I also have planned a few gardening posts, such as how to make your own Earth Box inspired self-watering containers.

There will also be more in the "Microbes in the Kitchen" series. We've got some great bread recipes to share as well as cheese, vinegar and BEER! Love those bugs and they'll treat you with Good Eats (don't sue me Alton!).