More Garden Work

My garden isn’t growing as well as I would like and I realized it is because the garden doesn’t get much sun. I decided that the bush in front of the garden needed to go. Here is the time line of it going away.

Next on the list of things to do, is wait for my lemon cucumber plant to finish doing its thing (another few weeks) and then I’m going to pull it out and have the stumps ground down.

OwnCloud – My Review

I have to give it to OwnCloud for making the installation really easy! In less than  two minutes I had OwnCloud installed and ready to go.The GUI has a nice sleek feel to it. It doesn’t have as much functionality as I thought it would, but none the less I took it from sandbox to live the same night. Linking my Desktop and Phone to the install was incredibly easy.

Now to the things that bug me enough to make me tell you about it.

  • No built in Quota bar. This is a MUST. How am I to know where my current storage limit is?
  • The default text editor isn’t a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get). It is the ugliest interface for typing that I have seen since Basic on a Tandy Color Computer. You have no control of font size or formatting.
  • I would like to see some sort of a built in Open Office type suite. Not everybody wants to use Office to generate a spreadsheet or word document.
  • Changing the colors is a challenge. This should be an option in the Admin section. A user should not need to climb into the Terminal and edit config files to change colors or theme settings.
  • For music to show up in the Music category and be able to stream from the web GUI it shouldn’t be a requirement to have music in a folder named “Music”.

All in all, I am happy with it. It’s a nice alternative to Dropbox or Google Drive. However, if you don’t have an ISP with a decent Upload speed you will suffer a lot.

I will get some screenshots added later tonight.


You’re familiar with the term cloud right?… If not, I’m sure you have heard of Dropbox, Box, Google Driveetc. These are all Cloud services, they store your data on a server that is accessible from anywhere. So, what I’m going to do, is create my own using OwnCloud and an Ubuntu Server I have (currently it sits and runs PyTivo.. That’s a different blog post 🙂 ) (Edit: Yes I am aware of Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud Server.. I will look at installing and playing with this.)

I was watching TWiT‘s new show “Know How…” and their first episode was about rolling out your own cloud a few different ways, they shows the Tonido Plug and the Pogo Plug. Now Tonido has a software suite you can download and use but from the sounds of it, you are actually allow them to see some of your data (at least that is how it is with the Tonido plug device). I’m not so interested in allowing that to happen, not because I’m doing anything illegal but because I don’t like the idea of people willy nilly looking at my data.

Now, looking at OwnCloud you can run the software on your machine (Desktop or Server, I prefer server) and it will simply host a Web GUI that you can access your data from. OwnCloud comes with a client you install on your device and you can access your data from your server. I don’t know if there is a mobile app yet. I mainly want this setup so I can easily access content from my home server without needing to worry about a super low max limit (Dropbox currently has 4gb on my account and Box has 50gb).

I plan on toying with it and seeing what all it does and then writing a review on it. The idea of running your own cloud (If you have an ISP that gives you a nice upload speed and doesn’t limit you) is a really neat idea. You don’t have to worry about uploading to a server, where God knows who is looking at your data.

The other option is to use software to encrypt your data before you upload to these cloud services, the reason I dislike that idea is that when I want to run in and grab something quick I don’t want to have to worry about, “Does this computer/device have the software to allow me to view this?”

So, I will install and toy with OwnCloud on my Sandbox machine and see what I come up with.  If you do not have a sandbox machine. You should REALLY invest in one. Mine is basically an old computer I had laying around after an upgrade that I tossed some hardware into. You can also pick up computers pretty cheap on ebay or a local computer recycler. Free Geek is a good place to look too.

See you on the other side!


Just a reminder…

July 16, 1995 – The Columbian
Take yourself back to that soft summer night when you last saw the rocket’s red glare.
It was the 33rd annual fireworks show that capped the holiday over the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

There were 45,000 or so of you on the National Park Service grounds. Another 25,000 to 50,000 watched from vantage points around the city and south on the Oregon shore. The Columbia River was dotted with firefly lights of watercraft large, small and gigantic.

A television audience delivered for the first time through KGW-TV added 600,000 viewers.

This was Vancouver the place to be on the Fourth of July. It was the place known for having, whether by myth or magic, the largest fireworks show west of the Mississippi River.

And it was spectacular: Bursts of stars and red and white lights floating to the river under tiny parachutes. Flashes of orange light and the thumps of sound from shore to shore marked the launch of fireworks shells into the night. The brilliant bursts of light and sound drew oohs and ahhs of appreciation from young and old. It was exciting to watch and wonder what next would ride its light trail into the sky and burst into beauty.

This was Vancouver, and its fireworks show a mark of recognition and identity.

Summer festivals may come and go, but Vancouver’s annual fireworks display already extends past a third of a century.

When the sound had ebbed and the smoke cleared from the last shot, thousands headed home to Vancouver, Battle Ground, Camas, Washougal, LaCenter, Ridgefield, Amboy, Yacolt, Woodland and Portland.

A northbound traveler on the I-5 freeway after midnight told of a steady stream of cars returning south from Vancouver across the Interstate bridge to homes in Portland and beyond. It was like rush-hour traffic.

This was Vancouver, and on this night it achieved a magical quality.

If it is magic, then there has to be a magician. It is, and there is. He is Jim Larson, who organizes and orchestrates the show with the help of a few hundred of his friends all volunteers.

This show has been staged year after year.

People who don’t know think this is Vancouver’s show. They have come to demand this free event as an entitlement.

That’s the rub. It isn’t Vancouver’s show, but it should be. Vancouver’s leaders natural and political should understand that this event, more than any other, focuses regional attention on the city. But volunteers struggle year after year to make ends meet to raise $250,000 for that entertainment and safe fireworks. And they raise thousands of dollars for good charitable causes through sales from food and other booths at the site.

Financing is touch and go. Volunteers fret and sweat over the money. Will it be enough? Will fireworks sales cover the expenses?

Larson has waved his magic wand year after year. He’s scrimped and pleaded, borrowed and bartered to make sure it happens.

But this year, scrunching his bear-size frame into a battered chair at a staging area near the airport, he reflects weariness and irritation.

He thinks Vancouver, which reaps the rewards, ought to do more for this show.

“The city has not even paid its fair share,” he said.

Vancouver kicked in a paltry $10,000 this year, plus police and other in-kind services estimated at $12,000. Even so, city representatives pressured Larson to hire more outside security people for crowd control.

The city gave the Vancouver Festival $25,000 for its one and only event last summer. That fete, which flopped in most every possible measure, also received in-kind help from the city. The debts the effort left behind gave Larson some headaches. “We use the same sound, stage and lighting outfits as they did, and these guys worry about getting paid,” he said. “We’ve always paid our bills.”

There are other costs, too, such incidentals as trash cleanup and portable toilets.

The Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce isn’t at the top of Larson’s Christmas list either.

“The only help they gave us was to put a recording on their phone system talking about the event,” Larson said. “Big deal.”

Every year he worries the event will die. “If the state limits us to safe-and-sane fireworks (those that do not leave the ground), we might as well pack it in. If the Native Americans establish a casino near Washougal and are able to sell their more high-powered fireworks, you can forget about sales here.”

There’s another uncertainty next year as well. Larson will be working with four new major players: mayor and city manager of Vancouver, commander of the Vancouver Barracks and superintendent of the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

And if the Fourth of July show should lapse for one year, Larson doubts it could ever be pulled back together.

Will he try to do it next year? “Yeah. Probably,” he says with a shrug. “I don’t want to see it end.”

“I’m not negative on fireworks, but I don’t like the problems they bring in the hands of unsupervised young people and I wish we didn’t have to depend so heavily on those sales.”

It’s pride that keeps Larson going, and such things as the television image of a 79-year-old bed-ridden woman who was helped to the site because she loves the show.

It’s knowing he and his volunteer army brought excitement, patriotism and identity to Vancouver.

Next year, though, he’d like a lot more help from his friends. The City of Vancouver ought to be first in line.

Tom Koenninger is vice president/editor of The Columbian.

Blast from the Past!

The Columbian
To spectators, the stunning TCI Presents the Fort Vancouver Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular appears like magic: enormous, sparkling explosions fill the sky, rising and falling in perfect synchronicity with a patriotic soundtrack.
The spellbinding show is a result of months of behind-the-scenes work by people with decades of experience.

“My involvement with the show started when I turned 21,” said Jim Larson, chairman of the Fort Vancouver Fourth of July Committee.
For his birthday that year, Larson’s father bought him a membership in the Elks club. “I was installed in the first part of June, and the Elks asked for volunteers to work the Fourth of July fireworks show down at the (Pearson) airpark,” he said.
Larson signed up and has been helping out ever since.
“It started off with digging trenches … then all the sudden I was really involved,” Larson said of his growing role. This marks Larson’s 35th year of working on the show, which has enjoyed a 37-year run.
The Fort Vancouver Fourth of July Committee counts on Western International Fireworks to deliver an astounding display each year.
“We have a long-time relationship with them,” said Larson. “They’re good people.
Western International Fireworks is co-owned by husband and wife Bob and Judi Gobet. They are the third generation to run the business. “My grandparents started the company in 1948 (and) my parents continued the business,” said Judi. In 1984, she and Bob took over.
“I’m real familiar with all the displays on the West Coast, and what’s unique about Fort Vancouver is it’s a very large display,” Bob said. “There’s a lot of hype about some other shows put on … (but) Vancouver is out-and-out, based on the sheer amount of shells and the quality of the shells, second to none. … It’s a world-class display, and it’s free. … It’s good clean entertainment.”
Beauty by design
“A lot goes on before you can get them up in the air,” says Judi of their fireworks shows.
So how does one go about designing the largest Fourth of July fireworks display west of the Mississippi? In late May, Judi begins by “writing” the show.
“First, you have to know what the shells do,” she said. “I have to plug in the timing and listen to the music. Then you use other products to accent and affect the mood of the music. … It is choreography.”
Though each show is unique, Western International’s Web site (www.western lists a formula for making a memorable display.
Start the show with a bang and create immediate excitement via eye-catching or unusual effects. Next comes what’s called “thrilling mid-show flights,” with shells repeatedly filling the sky. Each volley is selected to heighten the crowd’s anticipation.
Of course, a spectacular ending is a must, and can include flash curtains, long-duration shells and multiple break shells.
“You have to leave them with a finale that just knocks ’em over,” said Judi.
The fireworks used in the show come from far and wide. “Some of the shells are made right here in the U.S.,” said Judi, adding that others come from Australia and China.
While the visual display is the primary focus, the audio portion is important, too.
The Fourth of July Committee supplies the soundtrack and Western International makes the fireworks fit the music. Whitney Houston’s rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” is one of Judi’s personal favorites, so she was happy to hear it on the tape for this year’s Fort Vancouver show. “It’s a wonderful selection, so powerful,” she said.
One of Bob Gobet’s favorite songs is “God Bless the U.S.A.” by Lee Greenwood.
“You can’t do Fort Vancouver without that,” Judi said.
Larson said the soundtrack always contains a good mix of contemporary music and classic hits. Portland’s Z-100 (FM) radio station produces the soundtrack.
Larson said he tries to videotape the fireworks show each year. The televised display is great “for people who can’t get out people in nursing homes or hospitals,” he said.
But no matter how good the TV coverage is, he said, “It’s still not like the real thing the noise, the smell.”
Unfortunately, Judi is typically too busy troubleshooting or overseeing other shows to make it to Fort Vancouver to see her company’s handiwork on the Fourth. So she always views a videotape of the show.
“It looks totally different than being there in person,” she said. Some colors, like turquoise and magenta, just aren’t captured well by the camera.
Bob credits Fourth of July Committee members for the superior quality of the Fort Vancouver show. “They know a good one from a bad one,” he said. “They do an excellent job. I just think the general public needs to appreciate all their crew does.”
Changing times
Larson and the Gobets have endured constant change in the fireworks field.
In less high-tech times, Larson said after the show he and the crew would make a bonfire from the leftover cardboard mortars and roast marshmallows while the post-show traffic died down.
Back when her parents ran the business, Judi said, electric firing of fireworks was just coming onto the scene. And with the advent of today’s computer-fired displays, there is a lot more control.
“As far as the appearance of the display to the general public, (computers) have made it a lot better,” said Bob. “The show is done the way it’s designed to be done.”
However, from a show producer’s standpoint, he said, “it’s more work, more difficult and more technical. Some little glitch in the computer can make it so complicated.”
Still, the sheer magnitude of the Fort Vancouver show makes the extra technical work well worth it, he said.
“It’s a lot of hard work to do it right,” said Bob, who has to deal with a myriad of agencies, including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration.
While all the regulations make it more difficult to stage the show, Larson and the Gobets say they appreciate the enhanced safety and the spectacular end result.

KRISTINE WHITE, for The Columbian

Copyright 1999 The Columbian Publishing Co.

Work in progress. Music Festival.

It wasn’t that long ago I saw an article about the Tourism office here in Washington State had closed down. Which means that revenue for most of the state will be going down as a result of less people coming and visiting the area.

Upon hearing this, my brain automatically started running on all cylinders. I started to think of a way to help the Vancouver area increase revenue by bringing tourists in, or even getting people out and spending money.

I pitched this idea to the Fort Vancouver Trust as part of the annual 4th of July Celebration, but because they are a non-profit they don’t have the means to make it happen.

During the 1990’s when the fireworks were going up 1000 feet or so, there were people coming from all over the country to see the fireworks. People lined the field between Clark College and Hudson’s Bay High School.

I am determined to see it happen though. Here’s the idea;

Imagine a three day Music Festival headlined by regional, national and world wide artists. Covering all the music genres. Something for everyone to enjoy. My dream would be this festival would take place from July 1st – July 4th. The first 3 days being the actual festival and then the 4th day being the normal event put on the Fort Vancouver Trust, followed on the evening of July 4th, a huge 40 minute firework display.

In the map below I have plotted out 3 points, or 3 stages. The Main Stage is in the place where the old 4th of July stage was positioned and would be the largest stage facing Northeast.  Stage two is in the upper parade ground facing west and then to the east a little bit is Stage 3 which would be a smaller stage that faces east.

[mappress mapid=”1″]The first year would need many financial backers to assist in making each stage possible, but the hope would be to bring in enough money so create a self sufficient event that would only need a few major backers (as there are now) to assist in off-setting a few of the major costs. Ticket prices would range anywhere from $40 dollars for a single day (within the first 3 days) up-to $120 for all three days. That could change, the idea would be to charge enough that there is money to pay all the bands and production costs and still have enough to allow the event to live on. As-is if the pre-2008 crowd shows up for all three days, crowds were estimated to be 60,000 people roughly. If that many people bought a 3 day pass the event would bring in $7,200,000. Lets say that half of that goes to paying the bands and production costs, they would bring in around $3,600,000. As apposed to the current roughly $300,000 they bring in which results in the smaller display and less people showing up.


Cucumber has a disease

I had put this off as long as I could. I was attempting to stay as natural as possible. But it came to a point where the leaves became so brittle and were getting holes in them. Here is what the plan looked like yesterday. (July 3rd)

I bought a spray to combat the issue, I forget the name of it (I will post it later today) but the spray smells really good because it’s all natural oils from different plants. One is peppermint, but I soaked both sides of the leaves. I will know if it worked by tomorrow (July 5th).

Matt Morgan comments on his future

Matt Morgan tweeted last night about his future in wrestling. It appears he is no longer with TNA Wrestling.

I can only assume the “$” in ass means he went to WWE and is going to be making a decent chunk of change. But, you never know! He might head to Ring of Honor (doubtful). But again, as Shannon said in her tweet, Good luck Matt!