Wherefore Art Thou, KTracy?

During the April 2013 QUESTION TIME, I hinted that I was beginning some yard and garden work.  So here’s why I haven’t been writing:

My potato towers were the first things to go into the KTracy garden complex... also known as "my garden."
My potato towers were the first things to go into the KTracy garden complex… also known as “my garden.”


They’re not quite as tall as the Freedom Tower, but the potato towers in my back yard are just as awesome (if you love potatoes as much as me)!  I promised pictures during that QUESTION TIME but never got around to posting them.  Here are my potato towers.

The idea of the potato tower is that instead of digging up potatoes during harvest season, we’re just going to knock the tower over and pick up our potatoes.  These were relatively simple to make and have several layers of potato seeds and sprouts facing outward instead of up.  The straw will keep the soil insulated and cool during the summer months while we plant some other crop on the top.  This is a theory that the future Mrs. KTracy (Krista) found on Pintrest and I couldn’t turn down the idea of growing my own potatoes like my Irish ancestors… hopefully I’m a bit more successful.

Maybe I should say “Potato Power” and “Tater Towers”.  What do you think?

The guy who sold us this mulch was as Republican as they come.  They clear cut this forest so fast that the birds didn't even have time to leave their nests!  That's where the red coloration comes from!
The guy who sold us this mulch was as Republican as they come. They clear cut this forest so fast that the birds didn’t even have time to leave their nests! That’s where the red coloration comes from!


And then there was mulching.  We mulched really late last year and I regretted it.  This year, we found an awesome deal on mulch and took advantage of the opportunity to begin improving our soil in certain places utilizing some hugelkultur methods.

Hugelkultur is a German term for mound culture.  It’s a method of gardening that involves burying wood beneath your soil and mulching heavily to improve the soil.  The benefits are that the decomposing wood helps aerate your soil and keep it incredibly moist even during dry spells.

Whether or not hugelkultur is environmentally friendly is a matter for debate. You use less water in your garden, but you often burn a lot of fossil fuels in the process of cutting the trees and moving the soil around.  If you’re an inconsiderate jerk like me, you will also cut down a couple trees just for the purpose of making this happen (I already cut down one tree in my back yard for our blueberry and raspberry bushes and grapes.  I’m cutting down the birch tree in this picture next.  It’s pretty big, so some of it will be used for firewood next year).

On the other hand, you save a lot of water.

I'm hellbent on raising my property value and the property taxes of my neighbors!
I’m hellbent on raising my property value and the property taxes of my neighbors!


The main project the past few weeks has been building a deck onto the back of my house.  As I’ve mentioned before, as far as I can tell, I own the only home in the subdivision without a deck.  If I had to sell this house, that was going to be a problem.  So with the help of my parents, Krista, a family friend so close he might as well be called my uncle, and my sister’s boyfriend; I began building a deck.

There have been a few problems, though.  For starters, we used the building codes for the neighboring town.  Those codes called for footings of at least 36″ for new houses.  So, because this is only a deck, we figured 36″ would be plenty deep for our footings and dug accordingly.  Unfortunately, we found out a couple days after renting an auger and drilling the holes that my town required footings that were 42″.  So, with one weekend blown, we rented another auger (ALWAYS RENT HYDRAULIC!) and went down almost 48″.

Because the holes sat there for about a week, some of them filled with water; which was a pain in the butt to deal with when we wanted to pour the concrete the next weekend.  Needless to say, we used a lot more concrete than we planned.  It didn’t help either that the instructions on the bag called for the wrong amount of water when mixing.

Another problem I’m constantly dealing with as a new homeowner is not having a good selection of tools in my garage.  It’s a problem complicated by a lack of shelves and other storage solutions to keep the tools I do have organized.  The next project I’m taking on is putting drywall and shelves up in my garage.  Hopefully that will solve the organizational problems.

If you want to surprise me with gifts, I NEED TOOLS!


As much as I would love to write more on KTracy.com, I have another priority.  Finishing The MSPaint Comic!  The comic was supposed to be completed last year, but the work around the house, planning a wedding, and working and commuting 11 hours a day has really limited my time.  As Krista’s been taking on more political responsibilities, I’ve been stepping away slowly (though not always successfully) to buy some more time.

Fans of the comic will be happy to know that, for the first time in a very long time, The MSPaint Comic right now has a higher priority than blogging here on KTracy.com.  Fans of the blog, unfortunately, are going to be shafted until this first installation of the MSPaint Comic gets released.


I can’t go into too much detail about my real job, but I think it’s enough to say that I’m designing electrical systems for new fossil power plants and helping existing fossil power plants meet increasingly strict environmental regulations.  Right now, I’m the electrical design lead on five different projects, including three domestic and two international.  I’m also the backup design lead on two more domestic project and helping out on three more projects.  This is an insane amount of work (not that I’m complaining) and I’ve got bigger fish to fry than some tin foil hat wearing freak show who got elected to the US Senate from the state of Kentucky.

So wherefore art I?  I’m running around like an immortal chicken with its head cut off.

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Kevin Tracy is an Air Force veteran, terrorism/counterterrorism expert, and jack of all trades. KTracy's day job is designing electrical systems for new fossil power plants and environmental solutions. On the side, he keeps a blog, fundraises for political candidates and the St. Baldrick's Foundation, writes and illustrates comic books, and studies foreign affairs in depth.

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