The Wine Diaries: Fish Out of Water

Our third Carnival cruise on the M.S. Conquest was not exactly what we thought it would be. To begin with, we had to sit and wait at U.S. Customs in the Port of Galveston from noon until 4:30pm due to fog keeping our boat from coming ashore on time. Yes, "fog." What kind of crap is that? I mean, I would think that Carnival would be able to sail through fog, but that delay was definitely the beginning of a terrible vacation.

Eventually, at about 4 pm, the Carnival Staff decided to provide sandwiches for everyone waiting. Wow, it was really helpful that they decided to wait four hours to bring them; considering there was only one restaurant open within hiking distance since the rebuilding after Hurricane Ike is taking a while. Needless to say, we did not leave Galveston until 9:30 PM that evening. The upside is that we paid for this incredible balcony suite and there was suppose to be a nice sitting area with a couch, but the picture was deceiving and we were only provided with a stupid chair. (SEE ATTACHED). Not only did the bathroom reek of urine, but there was only one electrical outlet in the entire room and none in the bathroom. Isn't this the modern era of society? The boat was completed in 2002; you would think that they would realize by then that people have certain power needs. How am I supposed to charge my phone, play on the computer, listen to my iPod on the docking station and blow dry my hair all at the same time? I spent way too much money on this vacation to not be able to do at least 3 of the above at any given time. This boat was definitely much nicer than the other boat we have been on prior, but aside from the décor and fixtures, it sucked a whole lot more.

I can understand that day one would be a little hectic from the ship being delayed, but I was expecting the second day to be considerably better. After all, these people do this day in and day out, they should foresee delays, have experienced them before, and should be trained to deal with them properly and get the ship up to full steam in no time. Day two was not so wonderful considering our room steward did not give us our list of daily activities and we had to go complain to the Purser's Desk. We tried to call room service several times, but there was no answer. What is up with not being able to get room service? What is the point of going on a cruise if you cannot eat every two hours? It's not like I'm some spoiled rich girl…they advertise 24 hour free room service, I'm just holding them to their promise they made to me. There were constant lines for everything; due in part to 3,500 people and not enough staff. It was formal night … Read the rest

Ms. Tea Kettle

Tea kettle, tea kettle
Boiling, boiling mad,
And when she gets real angry,
She often wakes up dad.

“I’m really steamed,”
Remarks tea kettle.
“I’m spouting off to you.
Get me off the burner now
Or else I’ll cry boo hoo.”

Mom turns the burner down.
The water’s nice and hot.
Now tea kettle is feeling better.
She hisses, “Thanks a lot.”

Mom takes the tea kettle.
She pours hot water in a mug.
Then she places the kettle on a cool burner,
And wakes up dad with a hug.

But the tea kettle looks very proud.
She has served the Garners well.
And oh the aroma of peach tea
Gives off an enchanting smell.

The tea kettle will be used quite often,
For this there is no deny.
And if she is left on the burner too long,
She will give a piercing cry.… Read the rest

Different Almond Tree Varieties

Almond trees (Prunus amygdalus or Prunuus dulcis), produce one of the world’s mostly widely grown and oldest nuts. These trees grow in temperate regions and belong to the rose family. They resemble the peach tree, producing white or pink flowers in early spring. Their dry leathery fruit surround the almond nut. Although there are two main kinds of almonds, there’s only one type that is edible.

Bitter Almonds

The bitter almond tree (Amygdalus communis, var. amara) is a variation of the sweet almond tree. It has somewhat larger flowers and nearly white-tipped petals that darken into a rose color at the base. This tree produces bitter almonds which should not be consumed, although the oil is used as a flavoring agent. These almonds contain prussic acid, a dangerous toxin, and are mainly grown for extracting almond oil. They have roughly 50 percent of the same oil found in sweet almonds and are starch free. Of the several bitter almond varieties, the best varieties come from south of France, with others originating from Sicily and Northern Africa (Barbary) where the bitter almond is a staple trade item.

Sweet Almonds

Sweet almond (Amygdalus communis or Amygdalus dulcis) trees produce almonds that are safe to eat. This type of almond tree blooms earlier than the bitter almond tree and is more largely cultivated.. Sweet almonds are valuable food sources and used for baking and in medicine. These trees yield a fruit rich in bland oil that’s nutritious. The sweet almonds variety has been tested in both animals and humans, although its effectiveness and safety hasn’t been always proven. Some medical values are believed to be linked with sweet almonds, which include improving cholesterol and for treating anxiety. It’s also used in radiation skin therapy purposes, according to Wellness.com.

Standard Varieties

There are five main types of standard sweet almond trees.

  • Carmel almond trees produce an almond with an excellent quality, with their nuts well-sealed within the shell. According to the University of California, this variety is an excellent pollenizer, meaning the tree provides pollen.
  • Mission almonds are productive trees that bloom late and produce hard shelled nuts with short kernels.
  • Nonpareil almond trees turn out the most popular of the paper shelled varieties and are inter-fruitful with Mission, Price and Carmel almonds.
  • Price almond trees are similar to nonpareils and are good pollenizers.
  • The Ne plus ultra almond tree produces large, soft-shelled nuts and is another good pollenizer.

Finally, be sure to enjoy both the experience of planting your almond tree, as well as picking off almonds and then eating them. While some people grow almond trees for eating the tree’s nuts, others just enjoy them for the cosmetic quality they add to a landscape. Regardless of the reason for planting an almond tree, many gardeners have reaped the rewards of cultivating these trees.… Read the rest

The Best Approach to Learning Computer Programming

Are you interested in computer programming and you do not know how to go about it? Are you in another industry and your interest is to acquire the basic skills of computer programming? You should not despair for there are is a simple and cheap method of understanding the fundamentals of computer programming. This method is in three parts and consists of:

i). Acquiring a computer language compile.

ii). Acquiring the computer language programming tutorial

iii). Learning other languages.

The first step on learning a computer program cheaply is to acquire a computer language compiler. The language maybe Pascal, C++, Java script, C, Visual Basics (VB), or SQL. For starters, I would recommend to either acquire latest versions of Pascal (Pascal 5 and above) or VB. This is because the two languages are very simple to understand and master. They therefore suit those who are new in the computer programming industry.

A compiler is a computer program that has been designed to interpret the human language into computer language. Computer language consists of byte characters in the form of 0s and 1s (that is off or on switches and circuits).

Instead of mastering the combinations of 0s and 1s that will form an instruction, computer programs have been developed to ease the interaction between the human programmer and the computer itself. Most of these compilers come as software that is installable from standard discs for CD-ROM and others.

After you have acquired a suitable compiler, then you have to get a guide tutorial through which you will learn how to program using the particular computer programming language. The reason why I said that I would prefer the Pascal and Visual Basics is that not only is it easy to acquire their compilers, but also finding online tutorials for them is quite simple. Just type in the words ‘Free Pascal tutorials’ or ‘Free VB tutorials’ on any search engines preferably Google and you will get many websites dedicated to providing these free online tutorials.

After getting the compiler and online guides, you can then easily dedicate a period of time to slowly and logically follow the tutorials. Try to follow the examples given. Learning computer programming language requires someone who will be interactive with the compiler, not just following the guide without actively participating in writing the codes. Most of the tutorials have been divided into lessons and it is my advice that you go through each lesson per day instead of accumulating several lessons in one day that might end up confusing you.

An expert computer programmer must learn several computer programming languages. This will mean that one language is learnt after the other. Being up to date with the current computer programming languages will help you be a good computer program developer. It is worth to note that computer programming is a continuous field of study and any dedicated computer programmer will not relax and sit back if excellence is to be achieved.… Read the rest

The Woes and Tribulations of the Substitute Teacher

Substitute teacher,
Class of woes,
There goes Gary picking his nose.
There goes Shirley texting Mary Lou,
And Goof Ball Harry is playing his kazoo.
Mike is chewing on a chocolate bar,
While Mary is strumming her electric guitar.
Thomas Smith is rocking in his chair,
While Laurie Banks is brushing her hair.
Big Lou Rocker is swearing a lot.
He’s complaining that his video game system is shot.
Billy Bumper is telling a joke
About an ogre and a frog that croaked.
Jill and Jack are playing a game
That Wally says is really lame.
All at once, the bell rings.
The students yell, the students scream.
The substitute teacher
Is starting to shake.
Her class is like one
Giant earthquake.… Read the rest

Free Tote Bag for Teachers at Michael's Arts and Crafts

On Sunday, August 21, Michael's Arts and Crafts stores are offering free tote bags to teachers as a back to school promotion. This tote giveaway is available from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at participating Michaels stores.

Teachers must show a valid educator ID to receive the free tote bag.

The same day, Michael's is offering the following free back to school events. These craft projects are for children ages 3 and older:

– Artists Trading Cards, 11:00 to 1:00 p.m.
– Foam Print Event from 11:00 to 3:00 p.m.
– Collaborative Painting from 11:00 to 3:00 p.m.

All of these events and make it and take it projects are available while supplies last.… Read the rest

How to Prune Meyer Lemon Trees

The Meyer lemon pygmy tree was named after Frank Meyer, who imported it to the United States from China in 1908. Until 1940 the trees were grown throughout America. Meyer lemons were then banned because they caught a virus. A new strain of Meyer lemons was introduced in 1970. Since this time they have become a common homegrown, lemon choice.

The trees are smaller than most lemon trees, making them easier to grow indoors, on a balcony or in a small space. They provide an abundant crop of thin skinned, waxy lemons. Follow these step-by-step instruction to get the best crop from your lemon trees.

How to Prune a Meyer Lemon Tree

  1. Check your tree for dead or damaged branches and leaves. Dead branches will feel hollow. Damaged branches may have, lumps, fungi or blemishes on them. Cut all the damaged and dead branches from the tree. Cut the branches off at a slight angle where they are joined to the tree. Clean your sheers with a disinfectant spray to prevent contamination of other branches with fungi or disease.
  2. Cut off any light or thin branches. Check near the base of the tree for suckers. These will be areas of bright green leaves, growing between the soil and the graft site. The graft sight is the area where the Meyor lemon was grafted. It is a visible, vertical mark near the root of the tree. If you leave the suckers on they will grow quickly, and will drain the energy of the plant.

Shaping the Crown of the Tree

  1. Remove some of the weight from the top of the tree so light can penetrate through the branches. Just remove the odd branch that is underneath the top section, and is heavy with leaf and sticks. If the top of the tree is too thick, the lemons will struggle to ripen and develop.
  2. Cut straggly, unruly branches that are spoiling the overall shape, and growth of the tree. Decide whether you want to cut the tree back severely, due to space restrictions or, whether you want to just shape it and leave it with the same overall size. If you want to severely prune the tree, cut each branch, just above a joint. Cut them off at an angle. Continue to cut back the tree until it is a suitable size and shape for its surroundings.

Some people choose to cut the tree right back to the base branches. Other people encourage the trees to grow to their full potential, and minimally prune.… Read the rest

The 1st Avenue Wine House in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

The 1st Avenue Wine House is aptly named as it is located at 3412 1st Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Owners Ron and Traci Weber opened the business in an old three level house in October 2003.

At the 1st Avenue Wine House there is an enormous selection of wines. There is a wine for every palate and price range. If you go in with an idea of what you like, they will help you find something that suits your tastes. If you don’t have the first clue about wine, they will be more than willing to help you by giving you a sample or explaining whatever you don’t understand.

At the 1st Avenue Wine House there is a wide selection of gourmet food and cheeses. There are a number of different kinds of cheese from Wisconsin, California, Canada, or overseas choices from Spain, France, Holland, Denmark, and England. For something different and special try the year-aged Swedish Cheddar with Currant Vodka.

There are also French pates, cheese stuffed olives and/or red peppers from Austria, and soups from Turtle Island.

If you have a sweet tooth, try some of the jams and jellies from Campagna, Robert Rothschild Farms, Earth & Vine, or Lollipop Tree. You could also grab some dessert mixes from Gourmet Village.

If you are in a snacking mood, pick up some dips or a cheese-ball from Monks Meadow & Amelia’s. The Antipasto from Splendid Spreads is a great treat too.

The First Avenue Wine House is partnered with Taylor-Made Gift Solutions. If you aren’t good at putting together a gift or if you are not sure what kind of gift to choose, let Taylor-Made Gift Solutions come to the rescue. They are located at the 1st Avenue Wine House and specialize in gift baskets. They offer creative gift solutions for all occasions.

Taylor-Made baskets can be delivered in the Cedar Rapids area. There is a $5 delivery fee added to baskets under $100. There is no delivery fee for baskets over the $100 price range. Ask about shipping options if you are wanting to send a gift to someone from out of town.

The next upcoming event at the 1st Avenue Wine House is September 25. It includes a wine tasting and live music by Billy Heller. Cost is $20.00 at the door. You can receive $5 back with a purchase of two bottles of wine.… Read the rest