Monday, April 30, 2012

Do you Roomba?

We recently got one of those robotic vacuums that clean the house automatically.  It is called a Roomba (sounds like a Latin dance) which is made by a company called iRobot (sounds like a movie).   But what an incredible age that we live in.   My mom had to use one of these vacuums, an Electrolux which was really a very good vacuum cleaner.   It had skid railings instead of wheels.   Why didn't they have wheels?
But this Roomba vacuum is totally automatic and goes from room to room cleaning as it goes.   It runs on a rechargeable battery pack and returns automatically to its charging dock when it needs a charging.   There are many other things which I won't go into here.   I was worried about how good of a job that it would do.   Surprisingly, it did a pretty good job of getting the floor clean.   Here it is running around the living room doing it's thing.
I am just fascinated by this device and I just wanted to share my wonderment with all of you.   Have a terrific day.      Lew

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Cuban greenhouse

They say that sometimes you can see the coast of Cuba from Key West on a clear day.   Has anyone done this?   I was living in Miami, Florida back in the middle 60's.   Living next door was a man who had recently come from Cuba.   A very pleasant individual who saw me planting some seeds in starter pots.   
You know the kind, the tray with the clear plastic cover to keep the moisture and the warmth in.

It makes like a mini greenhouse.   This man showed me how to make a very inexpensive seed starting mini greenhouse.   I decided to use the method that he had shown me many years ago.   I took am empty 2-liter soda bottle.

And I cut a portion of the bottom of the plastic bottle off.
Then I cut a long slit along the side.   Can you see it?   I have circled it in yellow.

It is really hard to see because the plastic bottle is clear.   This slit allows me to collapse the upper half of the bottle some so that it can slip into the bottom portion.   So far. so good?

I put some potting soil in the bottom portion, plant my seed, add some water, and then slip the top portion of the bottle over the bottom portion.   I take it outside and put it into a semi-shaded area.    I leave the bottle cap off so that the heat can vent some through the top of the bottle.    I wouldn't want to make it too hot.
After a few days my seed has sprouted and is rapidly growing.

Here is a nicer picture of my seedling.
What kind of a plant is this going to grow into?   A passion vine with the most beautiful flowers imaginable.
I would like to give thanks to this man from Cuba who was kind enough to take the time to show me this.  I can't remember his name and so I call this method a Cuban Seed Starting Greenhouse.   I hope that all of you have fun making your own Cuban Seed Starting Greenhouse.   Have a great day.      Lew

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Whistler's Mother

Whistler's Mother

I have taken up a new hobby, Stamp collecting.   I like the older commemorative stamps of the United States.   Since these stamps commemorate some event in history I figured that it must have been something of historical significance.   I got some of these commemorative stamps which were very inexpensive and started looking up the history of each stamp on-line.   My first stamp was Whistler's Mother.   We all remember the famous painting.   But there is a story behind the painting which I was not aware of until I started to research it.   I got the description below from the internet but I don't remember the site so regrettably I am not able to give credit.

The Mothers in America stamp was issued on Mother’s day (May 2) 1934 after a campaign by the American War Mother’s group. The design is James McNeil Whistler’s famous 1871 painting, “Portrait of my Mother” or “An Arrangement in Grey and Black”, which is more commonly known as “Whistler’s Mother”. The story behind the painting is that the original model for the painting became ill and Whistler’s mother volunteered to replace here. His mother’s health was not the best, and it was necessary for her to sit for the painting instead of standing as originally planned.

Over the decades, the painting became very well known and by the time the postage stamp was issued, it was considered one of America’s most famous paintings. The artwork was cropped to fit the standard stamp design and some of the elements of the original paint were modified to balance the new dimensions; flowers were added and a picture was removed from the wall. A number of artists were unhappy about the changes, but the stamp itself proved to be popular with the public.

Can you spot the differences mentioned above between the stamp and the original painting?   The picture on the wall that is obscured somewhat and the flowers that were added?

Original painting.


I thought that the story was interesting and I learned a lot of new facts that I hadn't known before.   I am enjoying this inexpensive hobby.   Is the stamp above mine?   No, that is an unused new stamp.   My stamp below is a used stamp with the unsightly cancellation marks on it.   Used stamps are a lot cheaper than the unused stamps.

Have a great day and live your life to the fullest.        Lew