Watering the Lawn

Last year I purchased a Melnor 4200 water sprinkler from Home Depot. It looks like this:

I have read from various places that you should give your lawn at least a full inch of water every time you water it.

What amazed me is that after this Melnor sprinkler ran at full blast for an hour and 10 minutes, it had delivered so little water that I couldn’t see much water some containers I set up around the yard. (This is a common way to determine the output of your sprinkler.) I don’t think this is a problem with the sprinkler per se; I just need to leave the sprinkler running for hours at a time to get the deep water penetration necessary to encourage deep roots.

Update: After 3 hours of watering, the rain cups barely measured 1/2 inch!

Stupid Politics

Many apparently believe that the US President uses magical levers to control the economy. Apparently Reagan and Clinton pushed the levers to “full steam ahead,” but Bush I and Bush II chose to pull the levers back to “slow.” It’s all Bush’s fault that we’re barely emerging from a recession, right?

Bull corn! What silly logic. Suddenly we forgot the hangover from the irrational exuberance of the late ’90s, 9-11, and general global instability? Somehow the current President is entirely to blame for these? Ever heard of something called the business cycle?

If presidents really had such clearly-labeled levers to pull, then every president in history, regardless of party, would prevail over an expanding economy.

Slowpoke vs. Enjoy the Ride

“Slow down, take it easy, and enjoy the ride” is dumb and paradoxical. This statement is a sugar-coated way of suggesting that slothful driving–or strict adherence to artificially low speed limits–makes a trip more enjoyable. Strictly from a transportation perspective, nothing could be more wrong.

The bulk of vacation scenery is featureless cornfields, road kill skunks, and billboards. The faster one blazes through this, the more enjoyable a vacation is.

A small portion of driving scenery is scenic features like wide vistas, distant mountains, and approaching storms. Whether you are doing 55 MPH or 155 MPH doesn’t affect your enjoyment of these distant features. Yeah, so you may only have 15 minutes to enjoy a mountain view instead of 30, but who cares? After the first few seconds of the view, you have absorbed about all meaningful information you are going to get. Compared to “going there and doing it,” looking at something through the window is excruciatingly trivial. Summiting a 12,441 foot mountain peak is an amazing experience; looking at it through a car window is no better than staring at pictures on your computer. Slothful speeds only starve you of time for stops at meaningful destinations. More time to savor the dead skunks is better than time with grandma, right?

Some people think that fast speed has a direct correlation to a poorly planned vacation, and that by driving slowly the vacation will magically be more enjoyable. The truth is that again, by squeezing time out for meaningful activities, slow travel speeds worsen the quality of any vacation, well planned or not. A better approach is scheduling plenty of stops, be realistic with travel times, and, most importantly, stop cheating yourself and your family with short vacations!

The two easiest ways to maximize enjoyment is to minimize time in the car and maximize meaningful stops. In other words, drive as fast as you are comfortable, and stop often.

I Hate Gambling

On Wednesday I stayed at the Isle of Capri Casino in Bossier City, LA on the way back from a trip. The nickle and quarter slot machines cleaned my wife and I out of $30 within 45 minutes. That would translate to $40 a hour, very expensive for such lousy entertainment!

Sheesh! The other two times I have gambled were in August 2001 at Cripple Creek, CO and December 2001 at Vicksburg, MS.

At Cripple Creek I let myself get caught up in the gambling mindset. As I fed each slot I thought of the neat things I could buy with winnings: a video camera, down payment on a house, etc. Whatever! Stepping back I saw what a crock the whole thing is.

Now I hate gambling. I can’t stand to see my hard-earned money disappear down the drain, even though my lifetime gambling losses add up to about $70. I know that the odds are stacked way against me. Even the games that have a modicum of skill, such as solitaire or blackjack, are still mostly chance.