Snow Storm

We’ve got about 18 inches (46 cm) of snow on the ground right now.

Wesley & InvoTek

My younger brother, Wesley, has been a quadriplegic for the last 9 years. After the swimming pool accident that led to his disability, he returned to high school his Senior year and graduated Valedictorian of his class. He’s also completed a BS and MS in Agriculture at Southern Arkansas University.

Now that he is entering the workforce, he’s finding some new challenges.
A while back he got in touch with a company called InvoTek.

“InvoTek, Inc. is a research and development company that improves the quality of life for people who find it difficult or impossible to use their hands by giving them new, efficient ways to access computers.”

InvoTek has taken Wesley’s case and are now taking donations help to cover the costs.

Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay

A few fellow Automatticians and me were having drinks at Annabelle’s tonight. Stephane and I stepped outside for some fresh air. An older black man walked over to us and started singing The Dock Of The Bay. He said his name was Otis as he politely asked our names. He offered a fist bump instead of a handshake. He looked to be in his late fifties or early sixties. His hair was balding, he had a short and scruffy salt and pepper colored beard. He was dressed in a worn out navy blue blazer, pin-stripped shirt, jeans, and tennis shoes. He was missing his upper teeth, but that didn’t stop him from singing his heart out.

I knew that he wanted money, and I rarely ever give money to people on the street, but he seemed eager to sing us a song in exchange. Surprisingly, he sings very well.

I gave him the twenty-dollar bill I had in my wallet. I figured he’d just move on, but he stayed and talked to us for a while. He said that he always sings The Dock Of The Bay “Because everybody just loves that song, they always ask me to sing it for them”.
As it turns out, Otis was from “A little town called Stamps, Arkansas”. I said, “Well, I’ll be damned, I’m from Waldo”. He smiled real big and said, “Yeah, that’s not too far from Stamps is it”. “Nope, only about twenty or so miles down Highway 82”, I said.
I asked him how long since he’d been back to Arkansas. He said he hadn’t been back there since the early 80’s. He said he still had family that lived in Stamps and Pine Bluff.

Otis is a bit of a storyteller. He told us a story about his father who lived to be one hundred years old. He said “Daddy was a hell of a shot, even at seventy years old he could still throw an apple up in the air and shoot it with a pistol using only one hand”.
He told us about how he used to be homeless, “But now I have a hotel room” so he felt like he was doing pretty well. He said, “One time this man gave me a hundred and fifty dollars just because I sang for him and just talked to him for a while. That man offered to take me to the store and buy me some groceries too. But at that time I was homeless and wouldn’t have anywhere to keep them. So he just gave me another eighty dollars. Just like that.”

For some reason, Otis’ story touched me. He looked like he’d lived a hard life, but over the years he’d also known kindness from strangers. That makes me happy and sad at the same time.

I’ve been sitting in my hotel room listening to Otis’ song over and over again while writing this. I wish you all the best Otis. Thank you for the stories and for your song.

Posterous Importer Plugin

Yesterday I released the Posterous Importer plugin. Like the Vox Importer plugin, this one depends on the WP_Importer base class, so make sure to install that first. This plugin is based on the WordPress.com core importer. You can read about that on the WordPress.com blog.

I know it’s not ideal to make plugins that depend on other plugins, but right now the core import API does not have the functionality that I need. I’m working on that part though. Getting patches into core is not easy.

When you have the Posterous Importer installed, click on Tools -> Import from the WordPress admin screen. You should see Posterous in the list of importers.

Type in your Posterous host name, user name, and password. Click the Submit button. The importer will now validate your login credentials with Posterous.

If the authentication succeeds, the import will now begin. Depending on the amount of posts, comments, and attachments the import may take a while. You can not navigate away from this page while the importer is working.

If the importer times out or runs out of memory during the import, just keep restarting it until it finishes. The importer keeps track of what it has already imported so that you don’t end up with duplicate posts.

Vox Importer Plugin

Last week I was finally able to release the Vox Importer as a WordPress plugin. The plugin does have a dependency on the WP_Importer base class, so make sure to install that first.

This is nearly the same importer that we deployed to WordPress.com a few months ago. You can read about it on the WordPress.com blog. A few adjustments had to be made to make this plugin compatible with self-hosted WordPress blogs, but the functionality is basically the same.

When you have the Vox Importer installed, click on Tools -> Import from the WordPress admin screen. You should see Vox in the list of importers.

Type in your Vox host name, user name, and password. Click the Submit button. The importer will now validate your login credentials with Vox.

If the authentication succeeds, the import will now begin. Depending on the amount of posts, comments, and attachments the import may take a while. You can not navigate away from this page while the importer is working.

If the importer times out or runs out of memory during the import, just keep restarting it until it finishes. The importer keeps track of what it has already imported so that you don’t end up with duplicate posts.

If you have posts marked as private on your Vox blog, they will be marked as private in WordPress. You can optionally set a password for all posts imported from Vox.

Here is a potential gotcha. If any post with attachments is set to hidden, the importer can not import the attachments. The reason for this is because Vox does not give us the option to send authentication credentials when viewing or downloading attachments. The work around for this would be to set the posts to public in Vox, then run the importer. This works, but could get quite tedious if you have a lot of hidden or private posts with attachments.

Edit: I just realized that I had comments disabled on my site… fail. If you have any issues with the importer, please leave a comment or send me an email via my contact form.

Crackerjack Marigolds

The Crackerjack Marigold seeds that I got in my Field Notes “Packets Of Sunshine” sprouted last week. I thought I’d share a few photos of them as they grow.

I’ll keep updating this gallery every few days or so. I’m not sure yet if I’ll keep them in terra-cotta pots or plant them in the ground. I have a bunch of other Marigolds that are nearly ready for planting too.

EarthTainer

I built an EarthTainer™ on Sunday. Just like the guide says, I was able to find nearly all of the required parts at my local Lowe’s. The one exception is the 5” Net pot for the wicking basket. Next time I’m in Rogers I’ll stop by Anuway Hydroponics and see if they have it.

I went ahead and used the 10” square one that Lowe’s had. I’m hoping that this one minor detail change doesn’t screw the whole thing up.

I did make a few tweaks while building. I used zip ties instead of a wire rope clip for securing the tomato cages together. I zip tied the 4” PVC aeration bench supports to the bench so that they wouldn’t shift around while moving the box. I also zip tied the tomato cage legs to the aeration bench instead of using a wire rope clip.

I love zip ties and I have a lot of them. I’m also pretty sure they are cheaper than the clips.

I don’t even have a clue how long it took to build the thing. I kind of worked on and off most of the afternoon.

Here is the list of supplies that I bought.

Item Quantity Unit Price Total
31 Gal Rugged Tote 2 $12.97 $25.94
4″ X 5′ S40 PVC Pipe 1 $7.12 $7.12
1 1/2″ X 5′ S40 PVC Pipe 1 $2.62 $2.62
3X50 Landscape Fabric 1 $9.92 $9.92
1 1/2″ S40 PVC Cap 1 $0.83 $0.83
1/8″ Wire Rope Clip 8 $0.48 $3.84
1/4″ X 1 1/4″ Fender Washers (pack) 1 $7.97 $7.97
3/16″ X 2″ Toggle Bolts (12 pack) 1 $3.98 $3.98
10″ Planter Basket 1 $3.94 $3.94
54″ Tomato Cage 2 $4.58 $9.16
Total: $75.32

The estimated project cost for one EarthTainer™ is supposed to be around $33. It may seem like I’m way over budget, but keep in mind that some of the products listed above are not sold as single pieces. If I decide to build another one, I wont have to buy some of these parts again.

Got my new Field Notes today

Here for your viewing pleasure is a little Field Notes porn. Very sexy!

I was pleasantly surprised at all of the free stuff included in the package. By they way, How did they know that I love Marigolds? I can’t wait to get them planted. I’ll post pictures of them as soon as they start sprouting.

I’m also loving the pencil. I’ve been writing with an ink pen for so long that I’d forgotten how it feels to write with a pencil.

I can’t wait until they release the Orange books. Do want.