Adventures in Gardening, continued

May 11th, 2011

The table has been planted. The kids LOVED helping plant the garden. There has been a lot of interest about my table, and I would love to talk about it more if anyone is interested. In fact I can even build one for you ;)

Garden

I will post more when the trellis is built, might be tonight!

Adventures in Gardening, continued

May 8th, 2011

Today as part of Dee’s Mother’s Day present the boys and I built the garden table I had been designing. There were few hiccups but the build went rather quickly. This was the first time I did ANY home improvement/building project that did not require numerous trips to the hardware store. I suppose I could say that is because of good planning, but I might chalk it up to a little dumb luck too.

Issues:
– Lowe’s could not cut the 4′’x4′’ posts I wanted so I needed to visit a friend on the way home from the hardware store to get the posts cut.
– Some of the lumber prices jumped nearly $1 since I priced them out only a week ago.
– My drill battery did not last until I was finished. Hand-tools FTW!
– Only 2 screws were needed per joint ( a pleasant surprise) but now I have about 40 extra screws.

Surprises:
– There is a contractors discount at Lowe’s. No idea why the lady thought I deserved that, but thanks!
– Everything fit!
– Trellis will be easy to build with left over 2′’x2′’. I will need to pick up one 2′’x2′’ and some mesh.
– Matthew and Joseph were quite helpful and fun to work with. The boys engraved their initials, Dee’s and mine as well as the date into the wood.
– Only ONE trip to Lowe’s!
– SHCSD Horticulture class was selling all the plants I wanted to put in the garden! (Bonus!)

The table is “finished” but I need to pimp it out and plant yet. Since the top soil I bought was VERY damp I am letting it sit for a day or two before I plant. Until then I will work on adding a trellis to the table and I will post plans and pictures when that is complete.

Here is a link to the Pictures of the process and the First plans. I will post the final plans with dimensions and cut diagrams when I get finished.

Adventures in Gardening

May 1st, 2011

When Dee and I first lived in Ames, her twin sister and family allowed us to have a garden in their backyard. We then moved to Mason City and the garden returned to “yard”. I loved growing fruits and vegetables in that garden. That little 10′x20′ patch gave a lot of funny stories, including one where Chris ate one of my Habenero Peppers and nearly killed himself. I had peppers, tomatoes, corn, watermelon, beans, peas, cucumbers, you name it. Now I have nothing.

I grew up being dragged to our garden and was tasked with gardening and picking and prepping.. quite frankly I hated it. So now you ask, why am I designing a garden table that I can grow fruits and veggies in? Well, first off, it is MY idea ( or at least Dee and my idea). With vegetables and herbs costing so much money being able to grow my own is very tempting and really quite exciting.

Dee and I have always talked about wanting a garden but since we rent we can’t dig up the back yard. So we just let the idea pass and never acted on it. With our recent trip to Italy Dee and I learned (and experienced) the importance of fresh ingredients in our cooking. Since we both fancy ourselves culinary experimenters we need fresh items for our cooking. HENCE…. the GARDEN!

So, Dee and I started exploring container gardening and I stumbled upon a lady who uses a raised garden bed, but it is not a traditional raised bed that is still on the ground, but instead is elevated. I decided that this is something that I could tackle. I would not consider myself terribly “handy” but I can get by with a few power tools and instructions. Except with this project there are no instructions, so I needed to design them myself. I enjoy drawing and modeling and have sine I was young. I remember designing sneakers, buildings, rockets, and even a kite or two. So I jumped into this project and started doodling (to scale and with a ruler mind you!). I hope to draw up the plans in a CAD program or drafting program later today but I am really partial to pencil and paper when it comes to designing and diagramming projects. I know most of you are surprised by that.

Now, since so many people have asked about this project on Twitter and Facebook I decided to chronicle it on my blog here. I will post pictures and final draft ideas here. I am going to use my Flikr feed for this since I need a refresh on using it.

A letter to the Ames School Board

April 8th, 2010

I am taking the opportunity to write this note to speak to the school board as I will be unable to attend the board meeting to express my concern over the board’s plan to reduce all full-time kindergarten to half-time. As an educator and administrator I know how difficult and trying the current economic times are. I am also aware that sometimes cuts have to be made in unpleasant places in-order to maintain the districts financial obligations and liquidity. It is also very apparent that schools are held to much higher standards with regards to academic success now, more than ever before. With these things in mind it is folly to reduce a proven educational resource that will, in the long run damage the academic standing of a great district in the state of Iowa.

Over the last decade, or so, as schools have started to move away from the half-day kindergarten model many different groups have taken the opportunity to evaluate the success of such undertakings. Ignoring the findings in these research based articles (or that they even exist) would be a near dereliction of duty. In a recent article published by NCES (National Center for Educational Statistics) the research found “that public school, first-time kindergarten children in full-day classes are making greater gains in read- ing/language arts and in mathematics achievement. As found in other studies, children in a full-day kindergarten program generally make greater gains in both reading and math compared to children in half-day kindergarten.” There is even more research on the importance of full-day Kindergarten for minority, low SES, and other undeserved populations. In article after article, journal after journal it has been proven that a full-day Kindergarten is an important stepping stone for future academic success.

As new directions come down from the state and federal government (NCLB, Iowa Core, Early Childhood classes) it is important to be poised to provide the greatest education that Ames can offer and meet mandates and expectations from law makers. The Iowa Core Curriculum has essential skills and outcomes that specifically address the Kindergarten level, and from my perspective these can not be mastered fully in half-day or alternating day schedules. NCLB is an unfortunate reality in today’s educational landscape and putting Ames CSD behind six to nine months due to a schedule can only harm the district in the long run.

I realize that there are many items to consider and in the end I know that not everyone will be happy, but reducing full-time Kindergarten will have long term and far reaching effects that I feel the board is over looking. I have attached a few research articles that I found interesting and help support the importance of a full day Kindergarten.

As a father of three children (5, 3, and 20 months) this issue strikes very close to home with me. We are very supportive of Sawyer elementary and my son loves going to school everyday, and I have seen great improvements to his reading and math skills compared to when he started in Mrs. Fisher’s classroom. I hope that the board will do their due diligence and research fully ALL budgetary choices and do what is best for every student, and future student, in the Ames district.

Karl H. Hehr

iFixit

September 23rd, 2008

I found a great site with take=apart help and replacement parts for iPods, iPhones and laptops. They have everything you could want from AC adapters for your older powerbooks to replacement batteries for your old iPods! They have been a GREAT help when it comes to fixing my out of warranty laptops. The site is called ifixit.com