Monday, May 22, 2023


So I finally bit the bullet and bought myself a new 360 camera to replace my Theta-V which Ricoh never bothered to update to support the new streetview system (and which was kind of a terrible camera in the first place).

Rather than send Ricoh more money for their newer cameras, I decided it would be more prudent to spend my dollars with a company that seems more interested in actually serving its customers. So, I bought a Insta360 X3 instead. Here's hoping this isn't a grave mistake.

Below is a quick test video I shot in my back yard. Except that the video embed doesn't seem to enable the 360 controls, so you might just end up seeing a fixed panning shot of the back of my house rather than the full 360 glory.

I also took a still photo, which I used to be able to upload in such a way that it was navigable, but sadly that got broken a while back due to an unrelated change with how Blogger serves images, so you'll just have to put up with it looking weird and distorted. It's at least somewhat viewable in the middle.

I have yet to try an actual street view capture, but so far I have high hopes of it working at least reasonably well.

As an aside, it does annoy me that nobody seems to care about maintaining technology, or keeping different systems working with each other. It feels like this entire escapade is just one long story of companies half-assing things and leaving their customers to pick up the pieces. It's a damn shame.

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Life Springs Eternal

The daikon sprouting is a good thing. Too much daikon sprouting is less than ideal, as they need about 4-6 inches of space between them. My haphazard sewing of the seeds did not result in the ideal spacing.

There's a few patches where I didn't end up with any sprouts, and there's not really much I can do about that. There's also patches where the sprouts are much too thick on the ground, and there is something I can do for those.

Overseeding like this is actually a pretty normal technique. The idea is that you plant more than you need to hopefully ensure you aren't left with any gaps, then once the sprouts pop up you pinch out the weaker ones to make room for the stronger.

Provided these actually grow properly, they should spread out their leaves to cover most of this space. Maybe. I'm still not entirely confident in this actually happening.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023


It looks like the daikon seeds are still good.

At least, they're good enough to sprout. It remains to be seen if they'll grow properly or not, but I think if I keep them wet for a few more weeks they should have a chance at least. I'd really like to see them form a proper taproot this time.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Night of the Living Spray Foam

The slime mold in the back yard continues to amuse me.

A new lump of it just appeared overnight, not far from where the previous lumps had been. I guess the mulch is pretty tasty here, if you're a giant single-celled organism. Either that or one of the witches in the neighbourhood is trying to spoil my milk.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

An Engrowthing Hobby

Beside my slowly reviving emotional support lawn is a small flower bed.

Which is a term I apparently use very, very loosely.

The soil here is truly awful. It's basically silty gravel that keeps trying to turn itself into sandstone whenever it dries out. There used to be a daisy growing amongst the supposedly picturesque rocks in the middle but it just kinda died. The blue potato bush in the back basically never looks any better than half dead.

At one point I tried to grow some daikon radish here to break up the soil a little bit, but they pretty much immediately went to seed and never developed a taproot. But with the water restrictions temporarily gone, I figured I might give it another shot and see if keeping it wetter helps.

First task, move the stepping stones and plausibly decorative rocks, then rake off the regular rocks and the scattered remnants of bark mulch.

Well, it looks tidier now, at least.

But still pretty shit.

Next up, whack the "soil" with a hoe to try to at least break up the top inch or two. Then, speaking of shit...

When I top dressed my lawn, I got two extra bags of chicken shit to spread up here too. So spread them I will.

Instead of just top dressing, like I did on the lawn, I was able to actually mix it into the soil this time, so it promises to reek less and hopefully fertilize the soil more.

With the soil prep done, I moved the stepping stones back into place. I left the artisanal rocks piled up around the base of the plum tree, though, as I didn't really fancy having them scattered around the planting bed.

Finally, I scattered the remaining quantity of daikon seeds and lightly raked them in.

These things better fracking grow properly this time.

Not pictured: me watering in the planting bed. Also not pictured: me contemplating mulch options. I'd kind of like to use straw mulch, but that doesn't seem to be a thing in California, so I'll probably end up defaulting to black dyed bark mulch again. Either way I need to wait until after the seeds sprout so I don't smother them.

Saturday, May 13, 2023

Blackbirb Rises

Way back in the before times, in 2017, I dropped a whole hootin', tootin' $1500 on a Kestrel MXZ Pro, which I dubbed "Blackbirb".

This mighty steed has carried me for many miles since then. 1912.5 miles to be exact. In those miles it has brought me great joy, however it has recently become overshadowed somewhat.

Back in the beginning of the apocalypse I bought myself a full suspension trail bike, Crimson Ghost, in order to be better prepared for chunkier, or unfamiliar-and-possibly-chunkier rides. Just this past summer I built up The Stig, my new gravel bike, for long rides on dirt roads and smooth trails. Blackbirb was getting squeezed out from both above and below.

There are only two sensible solutions in a situation like this: I could either sell Blackbirb and move on with my life, or I could spend thousands of dollars throwing parts at it in order to revive my interest in riding it again. So, really only one sensible solution.

Since this will be a long post, you'll need to click through to see the rest after the break.

Making A Mole Hill Out Of A Mountain

I have moles in my yard. They've been here, as far as I can tell, longer than I have. They enjoy running around under the mulch and munching on bugs. They don't pay rent, but for the most part they also don't make a mess.

Well, for the most part.

Usually they just leave little raised tracks that are easy to stomp down, but sometimes they need to properly dig to get under something hard and immobile, like this concrete step outside of the former hantavirus shed.

When this happens, just stomping it back down isn't really sufficient, and a more invasive intervention is needed.

I need to rake back the mulch, level out and stomp down the dirt, then rake the mulch back into place again. A bit more of a bother, but all things considered, not the worst thing that could happen.

Good as new. Until their next digging session.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Life Begins Anew

Despite being quite fond of xeriscaping, I do find that having a patch of lush green grass does wonders for my mood, which is why I've been putting some time and effort into regrowing my emotional support lawn in the back yard this year.

I reseeded it about a week before spreading the compost, which I wrote about last week, and now this week the new grass seedlings are finally popping up.

I've had quite a bit of difficulty with previous seeding attempts, largely due to poor timing on my part. The lawn would end up drying out before the seeds germinated, and then the local bird population would just fly in and pick the whole patch of dirt clean. Not this time, though; thanks to the wet spring and the thin layer of compost the seeds have had time to fully rehydrate and sprout up, and with any luck they'll grow into strong, deep rooted grass plants over the next few weeks.

In other outdoors news, the geraniums are blooming.

They're a little damp from the unseasonably late rain that fell this morning.

The blue potato bush is also blooming.

This is about as nice as it ever looks. It really is one ugly motherfucker. I'll probably remove it at some point.

The echeveria is also getting ready to put on a show.

These will soon turn into 2-foot-long flower stalks.

Friday, May 5, 2023

Male-Pattern Baldness

So after 1220 miles, the rear tire on The Stig was starting to look a little thin on top.

The rear tires on bikes tend to burn through much quicker than the fronts, thanks to all the pedalling forces going through them.

Though the knobs down the middle no longer exist, you might well note that there's still some tread rubber left, and point out that I've simply created a semi-slick tire here. This is true, and I probably could have squeezed a few hundred more miles out of it, but rear tires also tend to suffer from a lot more punctures than their front-end brethren.

This one, for example, was actively seeping sealant, as was the one pictured below, along with perhaps another half dozen or so around the tire.

The sealant does do a pretty good job of keeping the air in, but the two issues taken together: the worn of knobs and the pinhole leaks, were enough for me to send this tire to the trash bin.

Here's its replacement, for comparison.

It looks quite a bit fresher.

Also, the front tire, with the same 1220 miles on it.

Now to be fair, the front tire has a different tread pattern with larger, taller knobs, so it would likely wear slower even if it were on the rear, but it certainly wouldn't look this fresh if it was riding on the back all this time.

In fact, on my road bikes where I run the same tire front and rear, I'll usually move the front tire to the rear when the rear wears out, so that I can actually wear it out before it succumbs to too many cuts and pinholes. Just a little life hack.

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

Golden Brown and Delicious

I made up a new batch of pot pies this weekend, and decided to perform a little experiment. Previously I had been doing nothing special to the pastry crusts after assembling the pot pies, but this time I mixed up some powdered egg yolk and whole milk to make a bit of an egg wash to brush over top.

The result? Lots of browning on top.

The browning is a little bit uneven and streaky on this one, though. The egg wash mixture I whipped up was a bit thick, so after the first two I thinned it out with a bit more milk and so I expect those will look more even.

This is what it looked like before baking, fresh out of the freezer.

If you look closely you can sort of tell that the egg wash on this is a little bit uneven.

Of course, the most important thing is that it was very tasty indeed.