Alex Camacho
Crosby, TX, United States
Born in Houston, Texas and raised all over living the life of an Army Brat. I Went to eight different schools (three elementary, one middle school, four high schools) and have one little brother who’s not so little anymore. I’ve been married for nearly fourteen years now to a woman who rocks my world and I've been blessed with two wonderful children. Our dog, Sally, is a big black lab saved from a local shelter.
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Friday, June 27, 2008

Project Complete!!!

vivtank_10g27It's done and I have to say I'm really pleased with how it came out. I didn't get started until the evening when we got back from dinner with friends but it really went together rather well. Lana kept me pretty entertained the whole time reading this cool little book Kelly loaned her with random facts. Did you know that M&M's were actually designed with U.S. soldiers in mind? I always wondered why just about every MRE came with them and not some off brand generic. Anyway. The installation went very smooth except for one small scare.

I say small but there was a point I thought I was going to have to tear the whole thing out and cut out some of my rock wall bottom to allow for more water flow underneath it. When I initially hooked up the waterfall it flowed faster. Too fast in fact. It quickly overflowed the water section since the small gap under the rock wall couldn't keep up with the flow. I had a reverse waterfall into my land. After a moment or two back I remembered my pump has a small flow regular switch. So I just slowed it down and bam! I gots me ah workin' waterfall. :)

The frogs seem happy in their redesigned home and the construction was pretty easy. There's lots of new hiding places for them now and the snail went right to work on munching down on my leaves. I never really knew what snails ate. I always assumed it was aphids or something. So after laughing about with Lana I looked it up. Yup, he did leave that trail of holes on my Peace Lily. Arg. Marcel really likes that snail though. I did google the damn thing and I think I can distract it with fresh vegetables like tomato slices and cabbage. A bonus will be the fruit flies for the frogs so long as they don't get out of hand and out of the tank. We'll see I guess...

And just cause I can...


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Getting Dirty

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The tank rebuild is coming along rather nicely. I'm not very happy with the look of the rocks but I think that'll just come with more practice. Today I'll be finishing it up and planting. I've already got plans to sculpt something out for another ten gallon to practice on before I tackle the big one.

It's been a pretty busy past few weeks. It's been very hands on with Lana very much into gardening now, and me playing with concrete. Somehow I ended up doing a lot of reading on concrete sculpting when I was reading up on building faux rocks. It's a very cool hobby and I can't wait to do a few. I've still got something like sixty pounds of cement sitting in my garage from when I did my big tank rebuild so I have plenty to experiment with. With Lana working so much in the yard it'll give me a little direction for stuff to work on. I should probably start off with small stuff but I can't help but start thinking of paving stones and retaining walls...

I'm hoping to mix up my first batch of concrete today. I think for my first piece I'm going to attempt to sculpt a bunch of forest spirits from the movie Princess Mononoke. I think those would be neat to have in they yard lost in a tangle of green. Plus it'll give me a good feel for timing. I'll probably take out my clay and practice first. ;)

I bet Marcel would love to do something like that with me. That is, if I can pull him off the damn computer long enough. He might actually realize that there's more to life than playing computer games. I think I'm going to start regulating his time online a little more. He's such an artistic kiddo. Anyway, off to eat and setup some concrete!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Ribbit

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Being without air conditioning in the house really hasn't been the worst thing to happen to us. We've been getting out of the house much more lately and been working on our hobbies a little more. Lana's discovered gardening and I've decided it was time I to rebuild my little vivarium as practice for the big one I'm envisioning. Nevermind the garage full of half finished projects. I've got a reaper ready for monster mud, unfinished headstones, and a cylinder lathe that's nearly done. Oddly enough, I seem to get more done when I've got more than two or three things going at once.

So after spending the past few weeks thinking about how I'm going to redo my little tank and tackle the 120 gallon tank I'm planning, I'm nearly ready to start. After weeks of reading at ViviariumForum it was time to start doing a little shopping. The scary thing is our hobbies seem to be intermingling these days. Lana's gardening works out well for me since I need specific plants and my tendency to research something until my eyes bleed works for her. Then add to the mix that one of our friends from the barn happens to grow and cultivate Bromieliads and Aroids!! Did I mention these are great for vivariums?

We took a trip to an absolutely incredible nursery out in Seabrook. The first time we went to MaasNursery was with Allison and we only were there for about fifteen minutes thanks to our outstanding planning and sense of direction. I blame Lana's Blackberry GPS but I have a feeling we would have ended up lost even without it.
We went back on Saturday and just had an awesome time. Even if you know near nothing about plants (like me) you'd have a thoroughly enjoyable time just walking around and taking it all in. There's sculptures everywhere, woodwork art, ponds, and even a wild pig. While we were there it decided to downpour on us but I really didn't mind so much I was having such a good time. We spotted lots of toads, listened to the tree frogs calling all around us, chased a few lizards and even managed to pick up a few plants. We left sweaty, smelling of green plants and body odor, completely soaked and in a great mood. Olivia refused to stay under her stroller canopy so even she was wet (she's a water baby in case you hadn't noticed). Lana's guess is that someone's hobby ended up taking over and became something of a business. Their home is on the property with a second story backyard balcony overlooking the whole area. It must be pretty incredible to see that view.

I managed to pick up rabbits foot fern, creeping jenny, elfin purple thyme, maidenhair fern, a peace lily and canna lily. It seems like a lot but I know once I get the new 120 gallon built it's going to look a littles sparse at first until it all grows in. Man, I can't wait to get rolling on the big tank. I'm really trying not to jump the gun too soon though. I got to get the little one rebuilt, sell my Oceanic (it can't be drilled since it has tempered glass for the bottom pane), and construct the new tank.

The overall cost for the big one shouldn't be too bad. Here's all the stuff I have laying around the garage from other projects:
  • old tank my brother gave me for the sides - 48"x18" (a planted tank that never came to pass)
  • plywood that I have laying around for the back and bottom pieces (sealed with epoxy paint - see below)
  • Marine Epopy paint from my first background build
  • Great Stuff for the background (three cans sitting on my shelf from skull molds)
  • gravel and pump from my first tank
  • concrete and insulation foam I have laying around for fake rocks (the foam was for headstones)
  • a ten gallon tank donated by Micah and Kelly for my sump
  • Mistymate Lana gave me for misting
  • computer fans for ventilation (leftovers from various computer rebuilds)
  • light diffuser from my little tank build
  • window screen from my cricket breeding attempt


The only things I'll have to buy are:
  • *two front glass doors and hinges
  • *a lighting hood
  • *misting pressure water pump (modified rv water pump)
  • *lumber for the stand and hood
  • a timer
  • a digital Hydrostat and thermostat
  • hydroton
  • some more coco fiber bedding
  • a computer power supply
  • GE 100% Silicone I
(* cost over $50.00)

The selling of my current Oceanic tank should cover all of it plus I should be able to get at least what I paid for it initially being that I got an incredible deal on it!

Hopefully I'll get some photos of it in the next day or two so I can post it on Craigslist. My tree frogs will have room to roam!! I'm going to get Marcel to help me put this monster tank together (it's going to stand over 6 feet tall and be 3 feet wide) and hopefully we'll be done before he has to go back to school. Man, I love summer. It's so good to have Marcel home all day even if he's getting to that bitchy stage of being a kid.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

On Track and Off Again

honeybee03Sometimes it seems if it's not one thing, it's another. So I got the new cargo carrier and I'm loving it. I can't wait to break it in with a trip to the beach. I was so excited that I decided to try in on the truck and see how it attaches. Well, it was originally designed to sit directly on the roof of the car and clip onto the rain rails. Most newer cars don't have these anymore but we do have a luggage rack so I sat in on there but now it no longer clears the standard garage door since it's sitting about four inches higher than it was designed for. So I was adding the clamps onto the roof rack when Lana comes in and decides to open the garage to let some air in. It brushed the garage door but seemed okay. I was worried at first but it seemed okay since it came up with just a slight bump. Fast forward about an hour...

I take it off the truck, remove the locks (the woman I bought it from lost the keys), and head off to a local locksmith so he can make me some new keys. It closes without an issue - for now.
When I get home I open the garage door (without incident) and pull the car in. I hit the button to close it when I notice something isn't right since it won't close. I get out thinking it's just being stubborn like it does now and then when I notice one of the rolling wheels is out of the track. I don't think much of it and try to pop it back in place which only seems to make it worse when another one falls out. I disingage the automatic door opener and try to manually roll it up all the way and put the top roller back in. Thats when I notice the cable is keeping it from going that far. I disconnect that...

Somewhere around there I let the garage door slip down. Turns out a garage door is pretty damn heavy without the assistance of those spring loaded cables. It crashed down on a chair I was using to stand on, broke the chair, and tore the back windshield wiper off the truck, and one of the windows broke on the garage door.

A few hours later (with the help of an incredibly good friend to watch the kiddos) Lana and I managed to dismantle, hammer the bent panels back into place, reassemble, and reinstall our garage door.

It worked for two minutes before coming off the track again. We did have enough forethought to pull the truck out of the garage though. So for now we've got a non-operating garage door. The good news is we now now how to install a garage door. We're pretty sure it's a combination of the rails being bent out of shape and the door panels being slightly warped.

WhooooooSaaaaaaaaaaa

Monday, June 2, 2008

Summer!!

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The weekend was a rather busy one. We packed up the truck, hooked up with my brother, and headed out for Galveston for the weekend. It was Olivia's first beach trip and we discovered that she's very much a beach baby. I'm always so amazed at how different Marcel and her are at this age. I remember the first time Marcel saw the beach. He was a little overwhelmed at first and wouldn't go near the water. He took his time but was very analytical about it. It was a slow step by step process for him. He watched, he approached slowly with Lana or me and just took his time to get used to the idea of all that water. I can sympathize. Olivia saw all that water and tore a quick path to the water like a fish to water. I had to chase her up and down the beach to keep her from going too deep. To say she loves the water would be a gross understatement.

It's been a while since we've taken a trip to Galveston and I've missed it. They were doing the Sand Castle Tournament on the beaches but we never did get a chance to go take a look. I really wanted to but I'll just have to catch it next time. I really thought with us spending two days at the beach (Saturday with my brother and Xiomara and Sunday with Laura and Charlie) I thought we'd get around to it but we just didn't squeeze it in. Besides, I was really more excited to just be there and was really looking forward to getting my own hands dirty a little. It wasn't too long ago that I did a lot of reading up on building sand castles. I abso-tively (Sorry, I'm currently reading Anansi Boys) love working with my hands, especially if it's something creative. I'm hoping I can get Marcel as interested in it as I am. He's really a very creative kid and I'd love to have a partner especially if it's my kiddo. I ended up with something of a sunburn. I was a little surprised since I don't usually burn but I guess that's just one more thing I can caulk up to getting older. We got home and Lana slathered on Aloe Vera juice on all of us. We all got a little bit burned except for Olivia. We were pretty good about putting lotion on her about every hour, just not ourselves. I didn't put any on until Lana made me but I think it was already too late by then. She even made me put a shirt on. I hate swimming with a shirt on. It just feels gross to have a heavy wet shirt hanging off you. So I just played a little more in the sand until it was time to pack it up.

Now that the weekend is over, it's back to work. Lana's busy working her Passion Parties, getting our credit reports fixed, and working in the yard. For me it's back to website work, taking care of the kiddos, and the usual house stuff. On the bright side, summer is HERE!!!

Marcel gets out of school on Thursday and I can't wait. I'm heading out today to pick up a cargo carrier for the truck so this summer, when we go camping or back to the beach, we won't have a crowded truck! Man, it's going to be an awesome summer.