Oats de la Mer 3

February 26, 2015

This is different from our previous oceanic oatmeal. This one involves fish. You see, MJ recently brought home a package of pre-breaded fish fillets. Some sort of whitefish. Sweet-potato-based breadcrumbs. There was one fillet left over.

I decided to go minimalist on this one, since the fish had lots of seasoning. I also decided that our decidedly beefy beef broth was to turf for this surf, so I went with plain water, and a scant quarter teaspoon of dashi granules. That’s still twice what they recommend.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one quarter cup of chopped up breaded fish fillet, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of water, one quarter teaspoon of dashi grains, no salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Very aquatic. I’ve got half a fillet left. I might try it again, with seaweed and shoyu.

Rating: *****

Oatmeal Stuffing

February 19, 2015

Or maybe, stuffing oatmeal. For breakfast, not for stuffing stuff.

We had roast chicken the other day, and in a moment of hastiness, MJ bought a box of bread stuffing to go with it. Standard commercial product, essentially sage and onion croutons, with the odd crazin thrown in. Wasn’t all that bad, when topped with MJ’s home-made chicken gravy. There was lots left over, so I thought I’d try it as an oatmeal extender.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, 1/3 cup of bread stuffing, two dinner tablespoons of chicken gravy, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of chicken broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the stuffing and gravy at the start, and the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Not bad. I’ll definitely make it again, should we ever come up long on stuffing. The bread sort of disintegrated into a bread pudding consistency with a surprising amount of liquid.  Was sloppy enough that I added a third teaspoon of potato flakes. Was salty enough that I didn’t have to add any additional salt, and what does that say about your commercial product salt content?

Rating: *****

Anime Worth Watching: Mononoke

February 15, 2015

Demon Girl

Not Her

Demon hunter

Him

The title makes you think of Studio Ghibli, the protagonist is a more colorful version of Mushishi Ginko, and the stories are something that Alfred Hitchcock might make.

Mononoke are vengeful demons, not wild girls of the forest. They are hunted by a medicine-seller, otherwise nameless.

The stories are all ghost stories, in one way or another. A haunted room in an inn, the curse of a murdered sister, a murder mystery on the first subway out of Edo. As with Mushishi, they examine the depths of the human condition. Likewise, they are strong on atmospherics.

The presentation is … colorful. Changes of scene are marked with the closing and opening of sliding panels, as if in an old play. The colors are pastel, but the painting is sharp-edged. The music is minimalist, austere, traditional. The twelve-episode series is well worth watching (it’s currently on Crunchyroll).

A subdued riot of color

A subdued riot of color

Goatmeal

February 5, 2015

MJ bought a small tube of goat cheese last week. It’s a soft-ish cheese, something like ricotta, with a somewhat lemony sour creamness in the middle of your mouth, and another flavor in the finish that I can’t really identify but which might be goat. It’s … OK … on crackers. Kirai janai, as they say — I don’t dislike it. MJ dislikes it enough that we won’t be buying it again, and I am free to experiment with it for breakfast.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth (turkey, this time), salt, one fat dinner tablespoon of goat cheese.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the cheese either at the start about a minute before you’re done (depending on how much of its own identity you want it to keep), and the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Acceptable. Like mixing in a fat tablespoon of ricotta, or maybe some sour cream. Adding the dregs of a jar of figgy jam helped immensely.

Rating: *****

Girls und Panzer – The Anzio OVA

February 4, 2015

Last summer saw the release of “This is the Real Anzio Battle!” Original Video Anime, a double-length episode that falls at the end of Episode 7 in the TV series. I, of course, ordered it, despite the minor problem of it being all in Japanese, with no subtitles. It came this week.

First thing I noticed was that it was packaged for the Japanese market. That is to say, no security tags and no impenetrable seals. Break the flimsy plastic wrap and you’re in. Additional swag is minimal — a book of screen-shots and tank specs, and another one of character pencil sketches.

Watching it in Japanese without subtitles was fun, and frustrating, because I can only pick up one word in twenty or thirty (OK, forty). On the other hand, this was GaruPan at its finest, and much of it didn’t need translating. The one place I missed it most was the meeting between Suzuki Takako (AKA Caeser) the Roman history expert and gunner loader for the History Club’s Hippo Team and Hina-chan (AKA Carpaccio), a childhood friend with a similar interest in things Italian, now attending Anzio. Her full name might be Tsukoda Hina, if I heard one discussion correctly.

I won’t go into a lot of detail, because spoilers, but there are some key plot aspects that I think it’s OK to talk about: like Yukarin pulling another intelligence mission onto the Italian school ship (based on the never-completed WWII Italian carrier Aquila), and the fact that, this being an Italian school, food plays a big part (Yukarin has a plate of the Anzio School’s idea of omurice — omuspaghetti). Much of the first half is a training montage, with the Volleyball Team playing the part of the Anzio CV33s.

The Anzio tanks are typical of the poor-quality systems Italy fielded in WWII, all the more so because Anzio’s finances are in a typically Italianate state of disrepair. Their big gun tank is a Carro Armato P-40 (75mm gun), equivalent to the PzKwIV, purchased with their lunch money; they have several M41/Semovente 75/18 self-propelled guns, equivalent to the Hippo Team’s STUG III with Caeser‘s friend Carpaccio as the gunner loader for one of them; and a bunch of cute little CV33’s, more properly called tankettes.

They're not much, but they're all we could afford

They’re not much, but they’re all we could afford

On the Oarai side we only have the original five tank teams – we see the Porsche-Tiger being overhauled, and the Hall Monitors have only just signed up.

The battle itself takes up most of the last half of the OVA. It starts with a [redacted] surprise, and soon breaks up into a running fight between the P40 and PzKwIV, a slugfest between Caeser and Carpaccio in their self propelled guns, and everybody else and all the CV33’s that are scampering around. It’s exciting and hilarious at the same time. It ends with a re-enactment of the closing scene from Episode 7, after which there’s a party. And after the final credits, which for once include the opponent’s tanks and not the Oarai tanks, we find out why “Duce” Anchovy didn’t show up in Episode 11 to congratulate the Oarais.

This OVA was a little more cartoony than the standard episodes – the Ducks pick off CV33s running along a ridge like they were targets in a shooting gallery; the CV33s keep flipping over and over and ending right side up. Since it doesn’t mean much if you haven’t seen the original anime, I think it was the production team having fun and dropping in in-jokes and playing off tropes. They skimped a little on the animation, but not where it counted. So, the food scenes were mostly stills, and in one shot of the Rabbit Team zig-zagging it was just the girls heads that moved. On the other hand, all the combat was animated with the same loving skill as the original anime.

The music was selections from the high-quality soundtrack of the original series, marred only slightly by the producer’s choice of which tracks to include where. Sometimes the effect was jarring. The only addition was funiculi funicula as the BGM for Yukarin’s mission to the Aquila.

Extras include a discussion of Italian tanks by Yukarin and Anchovy (in Japanese, follow along with the pictures), and coverage of a couple of the Oarai City GaruPan festivals, including appearances by some of the Seiyūs (which end up looking about as inane as those things usually are).

If you’re a GaruPan fan, it’s worth spending the Japanese import price and putting up with the lack of english. Maybe you only get half of what’s going on, but with GaruPan, that’s still 10% more entertainment than any other anime will give you.

Blueberry-Banana Oatmeal

January 29, 2015

This is more of a traditional style of oatmeal. On a whim, I bought a carton of blueberries, encouraged by reports that they help lower blood pressure, but (it turns out) only if you eat enough of them to earn a new nickname. We also had some leftover banana chips, remnants of intermittent attempts at trail mix. These are the hard-dried, crunchy chips. The ones that don’t really taste like bananas. For the liquid, well, we’re still working our way through the goosebroth, which has got to be better than plain water. I mean, we’re cooking, not washing.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, 1/3 cup of blueberries, 1/3 cup of banana chips, one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the berries & chips when you start the broth, and the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Needed a teaspoon of sugar to bring out the fruitiness. Looked vaguely purple, due to the blueberries. There was a distinct bananalike air about it, but nothing like when I used real bananas. The banana chips themselves softened, but didn’t come apart — much like lightly fried sliced potatoes — and tasted more like plantains. The goose broth added a useful dimension, but beef or mandrill would probably have done as well.

Rating: *****

Opera Browser: The Long Farewell 3

January 27, 2015

Just in time, as the old one fades there’s a new Opera on the horizon. It’s called Vivaldi, and it’s the creation of Opera’s founder, Jon von Tetzchner. Right now the only Linux version is Fedora, but they promise to change that Real Soon Now. I suspect this “Technical Preview” was rushed out to steal some mindshare from Microsoft’s forthcoming Spartan browser.

Meanwhile, I’ve downloaded the Windows version and will be playing around with that. There’s no screenshots here, because The Reg article has enough of those.

So far, it looks OK. I mean, it’s a browser. I haven’t had time to test out many of the features. The deal-killer for me will be the RSS feed. In Opera, RSS is integrated with Mail, and they haven’t implemented that yet.

Definitely not an "O"

Definitely not an “O”

Oatmeal Chili

January 15, 2015

Being fed up (ha ha) with holiday fare, MJ made some chili. Nothing special. Ground beef, onions, some of our garden tomato sauce, commercial chili powder. Cooked on the stove, not sous vide nor in the slow cooker. It turned out not bad. Just spicy enough. Lots left over.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, 1/3 cup of leftover chili, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove..

Results: It turned out not bad. The oatmeal cut the chili flavor and left it tasting more like …  I don’t know … a sloppy Joe, maybe. A tomato-y hamburger stew. Not overly bland, and not overly chili-ish. I will certainly try it again, when the leftover roll round.

Rating: *****

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2015

January 13, 2015

One final pass at possible programming before the full weight of the quarter lands on me. Besides, MJ is off on a trip, so I don’t have to watch those stupid game shows in the evening but can concentrate on high school harem anime, instead.

We start off with a couple of right fafners, you know?

Fafner Exodus:

Aliens invade, to the sound of pretentious music, forcing Japanese special forces to nuke Pearl Harbor in order to save it. Or something. High school students with special powers are involved.

Aliens invade, to the sound of pretentious music, forcing Japanese special forces to nuke Pearl Harbor in order to save it. Or something. High school students with special powers are involved.

Unlimited Fafner:

Boy with unique powers attends special all girls high school and ends up... Yes, this is a repeat from last week

Boy with unique powers attends special all girls high school and ends up… Yes, this is a repeat from last week

Military:

Chibi cross between Garupan and Aoi Sekai no Chushin de. At 3:30, it's about three minutes too long.

Chibi cross between Garupan and Aoi Sekai no Chushin de. At 3:30, it’s about three minutes too long.

 

 Death Parade:

Everybody who isn't old enough to have seen Steambath likes this one. Newlydead couple comes to an après-vie bar where they play a game that determines their postmortal fate -- reincarnation or the void, with no indication which one means you won. Too contrived and too arbitrary for my taste.

Everybody who isn’t old enough to have seen Steambath likes this one. Newlydead couple comes to an après-vie bar where they play a game that determines their postmortal fate — reincarnation or the void, with no indication which one means you won. Too contrived and too arbitrary for my taste.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Winter 2015

January 10, 2015

Winter is supposed to be a good season for anime. It’s a new year, with new budgets, and new stories. Studios can take risks, and emphasize quality. Sometimes it doesn’t work out that way.

Yurikuma Arashi

Lesbian teddy bears invade a girl's school and eat the lilies.

Lesbian teddy bears invade a girl’s school and eat the lilies.

Absolute Duo:

Boy with unique powers attends special high school and ends up rooming with a girl. Yes, this is a repeat from every year since 1980.

Boy with unique powers attends special high school and ends up rooming with a girl. Yes, this is a repeat from every year since 1980.

Cute High Earth Defense Club:

Awkward attempt at parodying the magical girl genre using magical boys and a pink wombat goes horribly, horribly wrong, and not even the inclusion of a passionate discussion of what makes a good bowl of udon can save it.

Awkward attempt at parodying the magical girl genre using magical boys and a pink wombat alien goes horribly, horribly wrong, and not even a passionate discussion of what makes a good bowl of udon can save it.

Your Lie in April, Second Cour:

Young boy who was beaten into becoming a piano prodigy by his sickly mother and then went piano-deaf at her death is slowly brought back to his original love of the instrument by a wild-child violinist -- who is likely to have a bad case of Anime Wasting Disease herself.

Young boy who was beaten into becoming a piano prodigy by his sickly mother and then went piano-deaf at her death is slowly brought back to his original love of the instrument by a wild-child violinist — who is likely to have a bad case of Anime Wasting Disease herself. Good music, bad angst.

 Rolling Girls:

Skateboarding girls attempt to reunite a shattered Japan. No mention of Oda Nobunaga.

Motorcycle-riding girls engage in a ramen-eating contest, then attempt to reunite a shattered Japan.
No mention of Oda Nobunaga.

Oatmeal de foie maigre

January 8, 2015

When one cooks a whole goose for Christmas, it’s possible to dine on the leftovers for weeks. Months, if your back deck stays cold enough.

MJ made a gallon of broth from the goose. Two quarts were using the liver and other giblets, and two quarts were using the wing-bones, the skin, and some odds and bobs of the meat. One batch tasted gooselich, and the other tasted mildly  liverish. I used the liver-flavored one for breakfast one morning. Another couple of quarts are in the offing, just as soon as we get the bones stripped.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of goose-giblet  broth, salt, poultry or other seasonings, as desired.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the salt and seasonings at the start, and the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Fair. The broth is a little too delicate on its own, but it would make a good base for something more exciting. Cheese helped.

Rating: *****

Black Bean Oatmeal

January 1, 2015

Back in early December, in that space between holidays when one fights to keep the weight off, in preparation for putting the weight on, MJ made some beans and rice, served on a bed of spinach.  The beans were canned, and heated on the stove. The rice was short grain, brown, and cooked in the pressure cooker for twenty minutes. The sauce was made with the last of our garden tomatoes — they were too far gone to use in a salad, but not black or furry or thingy. The broth was newly-made, also in the pressure cooker, using smoked pork neckbones. Pretty good, for simple country fare. The leftovers ended up in my oatmeal.

I used two fat teaspoons, at least a third of a cup, along with more of the pork broth. Not being sure if it would need salt after all that, I held off until the end.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of black beans and brown rice, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of pork neck broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the beans and rice and bring it up to steaming before you put in the oatmeal, and the potato and salt-to-taste when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. The tomatoes and herbs were noticeable. The rice was chewy, as brown rice is wont to be (you could probably go another five or ten minutes in the pressure cooker if you like). The beans were there, but not intrusive. This would be a good side dish for dinner when unexpected guests drop in (or are still there New Year’s morning) and you need an extender. This is one of the few dishes where I’d consider using steel-cut oatmeal, so the chewy rice and chewy oatmeal could fight it out for who would fit in the space where your dental filling was.

Rating: *****

Anime worth watching, 2014

December 30, 2014

I’ve been pretty regular about announcing to the world the anime that I thought weren’t worth watching, but what about the good stuff? What anime from the two dozen or so shows I watched in 2014 would I recommend to my friends and family? The following are all keepers, shows I plan to order once they come out on DVD in the US. First off, the five new shows:

Barakamon
Young, immature, calligrapher exiled to rural island, where the local farmers and (mostly) their kids teach him what’s important in life. Even though I don’t particularly like shows that highlight kid’s antics, this was a good one. Family show.

Loser

Loser

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
High school girl falls in love with classmate who is also a manga artist. When she declares her love, he thinks she’s just a manga fan, gives her an autograph, and invites her to be his assistant.

Nothing more romantic than a bicycle built for two.

Nothing more romantic than sharing a bicycle built for two.

Plays off his cluelessness against her fantasies. Large, varied cast, all well developed, and most in gender-bender roles. The most aggressive, all elbows, basketball player is a girl (Sawashiro Miyuki), Nozaki-kun’s way of researching girl talk is to invite his male friends in for a sleepover and take notes.

Unless it's sharing an umbrella in the rain

Unless it’s sharing an umbrella in the rain

Hozuki no Reitetsu
He’s a bureaucrat. In Hell. He hates his boss, and rules with an expressionless face and iron club. He also raises kissing koi … flowers. I’m sure I only got about half the jokes, because it’s deeply involved with Japanese culture of the afterlife.

Hell has lots of bureaucrats

Hell has lots of bureaucrats

Shirobako
Slice of life look at the anime industry. Light hearted, but still more serious than Animation Runner Kuromi (and with more cameo visits by industry greats than a Michael Todd film). According to one report, it’s realistic but rose tinted. The director (Mizushima Tsutomu) also did Girls und Panzer, and so brings some real life production cliff-hanger experiences.

Life in the fast lane

Life in the fast lane

One of the side notes was a list of anime worker annual salaries.

You expect us to live in the Tokyo suburbs on how much?

Yes, those are dollars. Yes, it’s the Tokyo suburbs

Witch Craft Works
Another gender-bender. Fire Witch vows to protect classmate who is her “princess.” Classmate, a boy, spends most of his time being confused. Absolutely zany, with rabbits in shining armor,

Defending her princess

Defending her princess

aggressively inept villains,

Even evil witches have to hold staff meetings

Even evil witches have to hold staff meetings

and a little sister who kidnaps her brother on an airplane she made out of their house.

The roof, and part of your bedroom

The roof, and part of your bedroom

And here are four second seasons of shows that were exceptionally good.

Yama No Susume
Four middle-school girls go mountain climbing. The episodes are only 13 minutes long, and the mountains are all walk-ups (with steps and halfway houses). Well, they also make an attempt on Mt Fuji. Two of them make it. Two turn back. So there’s friendship, fun, and failure, and lessons learned about friendship and failure.

Next year, we try again

Next year, we try again

Another cute kids anime, but it’s a good introduction for any tourist who might be thinking of trying it. Gorgeous scenery. Family show

Monogatari Second Series/Hanamonogatari

What can I say? It’s Monogatari. A season and a half’s worth. Black Hanekawa meets her inner tiger and Araragi saves the day.

Araragi-kun saves the day

Araragi saving the day

Hachkuji finds peace at last. Sengoku reveals herself as an insane God, and Senjogahara gets Kaiki to save the day.

Kaiki Agrees

Kaiki agreeing to save the day

Everything you need to know about the only two males in this season of the series is expressed in their choice of shirts.

Finally, in the Hanamonogatari arc — marathoned separately, for marketing purposes — Kanbaru (Sawashiro Miyuki) kills her demon.

Mushi-shi Season 2
In this series, mushi (actually the Japanese word for insect) are submicroscopic near-life forms that are almost as prevalent as bacteria, and which humans interact with at their peril. Enter Ginko, a mushi-shi, or mushi-master. Disconnected stories in the mushi-of-the-week format. Quiet, dark, gorgeous, thoughtful. Season 1 was almost ten years ago, but it might have been last year, the way people talk about it. In this second season, nothing has changed. It’s still superb.

What secrets does the old cherry tree protect?

What secrets does the old cherry tree protect?

Space Dandy Season 2
Slacker Dandy and his friends continue to wander the universes. Zero continuity from episode to episode because (as the ED lyrics explain) each one takes place in a different version of the multiworlds universe, so it doesn’t matter if everybody gets killed at the end of an episode, because their doubles will continue on elsewhere.

Each episode is the work of a different director, which means the art changes from week to week. One is a high school musical, another has them chasing a giant fish. And so forth.

Kindof reminds you of John Travolta

Kindof reminds you of John Travolta

Buttered Oatmeal

December 18, 2014

For Thanksgiving, MJ made a very nice compound butter — butter with otherstuff added — for topping the potato dressing. Now, most books on compound butters will mention oatmeal only in the same paragraph as jam-based butters. Apricot jam, sugar, and butter go quite well on the standard sweet morning oatmeal (it’s the oatmeal that’s sweet, I don’t know what your mornings are like), particularly when mixed together beforehand. But of course I’m a savoury oatmeal kind of guy, and so I have no problems with taking a compound butter you’d put on a potato and putting it on a dish of oatmeal instead, particularly one made with a good strong lamb broth.

In this case, the butter was made with sour cream, garlic powder, cumin, and smoked paprika. Not particularly herbal, but it was designed for topping my grandmother’s potato stuffing.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, a a dinner tablespoon of the compound butter of your choice, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove, and the butter when you put it on the table.

Results: Excellent. It opens up a whole new dimension of oatmeal flavor exploration. Of course, it does rather go against the idea of oatmeal as a healthy breakfast.

Rating: *****

Postcard from Pearl Harbor

December 14, 2014

Written 73 years and four days ago. Note that the censors were a little slow. Not very informative, but I guess they couldn’t say more.

Front Side

Back when "penny postcard" meant something.

Back when “penny postcard” meant something.

Back Side

No mention of any incidents involving the Imperial Japanese Navy

No mention of any incidents involving
the Imperial Japanese Navy

My brother just found this in a box of old papers.

 

My Grandmother’s Stuffing Oatmeal

December 11, 2014

She is?

Actually, it’s not my grandmother’s stuffing. It’s something that started out to be, but lost its way on the way to being something else entirely. We were making it for a Thanksgiving not-exactly-a-potluck Dinner. MJ started out all enthusiastic about recreating an authentic stuffing experience, but then got into the cooking sherry. First change was, don’t peel the potatoes, ’cause we’re running late. Then, all we had was a packet of gizzards — no hearts, livers, or necks. Yeah, and the bread. It had to be gluten free, which kindof kills the whole point. After that, why not add celery, ya know?  So we ended up with something that was not quite, but almost, totally unlike my grandmother’s stuffing. Tasted good though.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two big sloppy dinner tablespoons of a suitably festive potato stuffing (call it 1/4 cup), one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato before you add the oats. It’s like risotto, needs breaking down.

Results: Very good. Filling. One might even say, Stuffing. Goes well with hot gravy poured over it. Would probably been even better if it were closer to the original. I’ll put it in the holiday rotation.

Rating: *****

Oatmeal Risotto

December 4, 2014

Sometimes I go overboard. MJ was off on a trip, and I had a bunch of boneless chicken thighs. There was a good looking recipe for slow cooker rice and chicken thighs (with onions and mushrooms), so why not. Except I didn’t have any regular rice. Well Arborio will do just as well, right? Wrong. Arborio is designed for risotto, and wants three cups of water per cup of rice, instead of one or one and a half. By the time I was done I had enough risotto-style rice to feed a family of four for a week. Longer, if they didn’t like their kids.

Next day, I started on the long process of using up all that leftover rice, and the first place was as an oatmeal extender.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, 1/4 cup of risotto, one cup of broth, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the rice before you add the oats, so the glutenous mass can break up properly.

Results: Very good. All the flavors came through, and the overall result was something you could serve as a side-dish for dinner. I don’t plan on making it again.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose: Lessons Learned – 2014

December 1, 2014

So this is really, truly, 本当に the last garden report of the year. Our first hard freeze hit on November 11th, and the second one this weekend. Temperature 18″ down in the KHG on a 28F December 1st noon, after a 10F weekend, was 42F. Used up the last of the lettuce last week, and will use up the last of the tomatoes this week. Last year we had a smaller harvest, but we still had tomatoes ripening indoors in mid-December.

General
1. Hit hard by powdery mildew this summer. Garden plants, ground cover plants, and plants in the front yard were infected. Go for mildew resistant strains of everything.

2. The small greenhouse worked well to get the plants through a variable Spring. Was positively humid inside, which attracted mosquitoes. Try hanging flypaper.

Yard Crops
1. Can’t do much with the area that’s in deep shade. Avoid next year (although part of that might have been the mildew).
2. Hops netting worked well, but was too narrow at the top. Need to reposition the hooks, or add new ones.

Containers
1. Plant long beans and lemon cucumbers earlier

2. Try more miniatures

3. Work even harder on getting the labeling right

4. Daikon are not container plants, not even in big containers.

Keyhole Garden
1. Abandon Section 4 as a berry farm. Too much work for too little return. Plant to peas and beans this year.

2. First pick of one pea plant last Summer gave about five pods, with four or five peas each — call it twenty peas per plant. One serving seems to be about 80-100 peas (I’ll confirm next dinner time), so we need 4 or 5 plants per person per meal. Which means I plant at least 20 plants next time. Six lima bean plants made two small servings.

3. Replace all the covers with the redesigned versions.

4. Re-do all of the irrigation hose. Set it so each section can be watered individually.

5. In early Spring, rebuild the SW corner of Section 1. Consider re-coring the center basket as well.

6. Plastic bottle cloche covers worked well.

Review of Last Year’s Plans
1. Early fertilization helped. We don’t generate enough kitchen waste to support four KHGs. However, watch the nitrogen.
2. We did better on tracking dates, but not good enough.
3. Did not have as much of a blossom-end rot problem, but specific cultivars did poorly. More Ca.
4. Hops did well. Don’t think I’ll need any more plantings.
5. Planting squash in the ground cover zone didn’t work. Mildew was at least as much of a problem as location.
6. Didn’t plant long beans, and the lemon cucumbers got mildew.
7. The big cherries did well in the containers. Next year will try them in the hanging baskets. Also try some additional cherry varietals, to get a wide range of colors.
8. Removing the keyhole kneeholes worked, but one does need steps to get up on the dirt.
9. Labeling still needs work
10. Slugs not as much of a problem this year
11. Moving from 2×4 to 1×1 helped lighten the KHG covers. I think I need to separate the chickenwire from the plastic as well — second plantings need chickenwire.

Next Year’s Plan
Section 1
Tomatoes and squash. Try beefsteaks again, but with a different watering plan. Seriously look for mildew resistant varieties of everything.

Section 2
Brassicae. Cabbage, mostly. Make one last effort to grow daikon

Section 3
Peas and beans and greens (oh my). Plant lots earlier. Deb Tolman says to try amaranth, since some of those have a 30-day to harvest cycle.

Section 4
Not quite sure what to put in here. Maybe just a cover crop. Figure out the best way to fit it into the rotation.

The Schedule

Move everything up about a week
early Feb – Start seeds indoors
early April (60 days later) – move to greenhouse

early May — transplant
early July (70 days) – early varieties ripen
late July (90 days) – late varieties ripen

Girls und Panzer, The Game

November 30, 2014

Got my new PlayStation Vita a couple weeks ago, along with the Girls und Panzer game. Full details over on my wargames blog.

D Team, E Team,  C Team, B Team All immobilized

D Team, E Team,
C Team, B Team
All incapacitated

 

Pearl Harbor War Warning

November 29, 2014

On Thursday, November 27th, 1941, a week before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Chief of Naval Operations sent this message to CINCPACFleet at Pearl Harbor:

“Consider this dispatch a war warning. The negotiations with Japan in an effort to stabilize conditions in the Pacific have ended. Japan Is Expected to Make an Aggressive Move Within the next Few Days. An Amphibious Expedition Against Either the Philippines, or Kra Peninsula or Possibly Borneo Is Indicated by the Number and Equipment of Japanese Troops and the Organization of Their Naval Forces. You Will Execute a Defensive Deployment in Preparation for Carrying out the Tasks Assigned in Wpl 46. Guam, Samoa and the Continental Districts have been directed to take appropriate measures against sabotage. A Similar Warning Is Being Sent by the War Department. Inform Naval District and Army Authorities. British to be informed.”

This would seem to be about as direct as it gets. It’s what the Indications and Warning community would consider a true warning — the leaders have been warned, and they know they have been warned. On the other hand, the Army commander at Pearl got a wishy-washy-waffling kind of a warning from the War Department:

“Negotiations with the Japanese appear to be terminated to all practical purposes with only the barest possibilities that the Japanese government might come back and offer to continue. Japanese future action unpredictable but hostile action possible at any moment. If hostilities cannot, repeat cannot, be avoided the United States desires that Japan commit the first overt act. This policy should not, repeat not, be construed as restricting you to a course of action that might jeopardize your defense. Prior to hostile Japanese action. You are directed to undertake such reconnaissance and other measures as you deem necessary, but these measures should be carried out so as not, repeat, not to alarm the civil population or disclose intent. Report measures taken. Should hostilities occur, you will carry out the tasks assigned in Rainbow Five so far as they pertain to Japan. Limit the dissemination of this highly secret information to minimum essential officers.”

Neither one was directly warned of the possibility of an attack on Pearl Harbor (all locations mentioned were in the Western Pacific or Asian littoral), and each took their own measures to prepare. General Short believed that the biggest threat to his forces (mostly, the Army Aviation units) was from 5th columnists among the second and third generation Japanese, almost all of them American citizens by birth. (Those are the ones who today say things like “The Jap planes came in over that ridgeline there”.)  That being the case, he had the aircraft brought to central locations, where they could be guarded, and drained of fuel, so they would be harder for a saboteur to ignite. The result was a massed target that couldn’t respond to an air attack in time. Interestingly, the only mention of possible sabotage was in the Navy message.

I think the underlying cause of the failure of commanders up and down the chain was the lack of a war mentality. We hadn’t been in on the start of a major declared war since the Civil War, and that uncoiled with a lethargic 18th Century slowness. The Great War was one we saw start elsewhere and slowly girded our loins to fight. Even after Pearl Harbor, our commanders might have been combative, but they were not really combat-minded. Witness all the lessons we had to learn during the early days of the Guadalcanal campaign, when we lost one night surface action after another. If you can’t conceive of what a war might be like, you can’t properly prepare for it, no matter how strong the warning.

Video Game Violence

November 9, 2014

Let me start by saying that this article won’t change anyone’s mind. The kind of people who obsess over this kind of thing are not the kind to take kindly to having their kind of world view challenged by these kinds of facts.

C.J. Ferguson, at Stetson University, in Florida, did a simple study* of the correlation between real world youth violence vs video game violence, using historical statistics. Earlier studies were lab-based, forcing subjects to both play violent video games and take psychological tests, and many came to the conclusion that the more they did this, the more violent their experimental subjects became.

Here’s the key graphic.

A good example of non-causality

A good example of non-causality

The correlation is negative (R = -0.85). Based on this, one could claim that video game violence actually reduces youth violence. After all, if you’re at home playing games, you’re not out on the street, getting wenches with child, wronging the ancientry, stealing, fighting.

Of course, since correlation does not necessarily imply causation (although, as Randall Munroe says, it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there’) we can’t necessarily claim that video games reduce youth violence. What we can say is that the doomcriers theory fell at the first fence, that violent video games, in general, demonstrably do not, in general, increase youth violence.

*In case the link rots, here’s the full citation: Ferguson, C. J. (2014), Does Media Violence Predict Societal Violence? It Depends on What You Look at and When. Journal of Communication. doi: 10.1111/jcom.12129

Pre-Columbian Oatmeal

November 6, 2014

MJ came home sick from her trip — minimal bleeding from the eyeballs, so it’s not Ebola — and it was up to me to do dinner. Her last healthy act had been to bring home a couple of turkey thighs and a refill for my oatmeal. Unadorned thighs, not thigh-and-legs’s. That wasn’t enough to waste a chimney of charcoal on, so I just did them in the toaster-oven. Since Thanksgiving is only three weeks away, I decided to have a pre-Columbian Dinner, with only Native American food. So, we had turkey, tomatoes, and squash. In honor of any pre-Columbian trans-Pacific contacts that might have been, I made it a Kabocha squash, AKA Japanese pumpkin. The squash was cooked in the pressure cooker, a-la-last-week. The tomatoes were, of course, from our garden. Afterwards, I made broth, possibly the best broth I’ve made so far (even if it does look like your fish tank badly needs cleaning). Turkey bones, leftover turkey meat and skin, kabocha water, some more tomatoes (these were our watery superfans and some others that were going a little wonky), a few of our garden onions (too big for cocktail onions, too small to be worth cutting up for frying). Two fat pinches of salt (not enough) and two quarts of water. The next morning I used the broth for oatmeal.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of pre-Columbian broth, more salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Needed salt.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

November 2, 2014

Garden Report for 141103

This is the next to last report for the 2014 gardening year, unless something untoward happens. The last report will be a “lessons learned”, in a week or so. Meanwhile, the gardens are well and truly closed out (except for the remaining greens). I will be ripping up the irrigation hose and stacking the tomato cages as time goes by. One container of iceberg is still producing, and one container of cabbage is hanging in there and may sometime do something useful.

It’s the third of November and we have yet to see a frost this gardening year (UPDATE: we’re forecasting a low of 13F on Veterans Day). The composting thermometer says it’s a toasty 55F, eighteen inches down.

I’m trying something new in the compost line. Back along the south fenceline I have a bare spot that’s shielded from esthetically offendable eyes. When I shut down the garden, I dumped the greenstuff there, raked a bunch of leaves over it, and covered the leaves with dirt from the containers. Come Spring of ’16 it should be suitably compostized, and ready for gardening uses. Meanwhile, the container dirt from last year is still settling in, next to this year’s.

The tomatoes I harvested at the end of the season filled four 10×20″ boxes, mostly green. Now, we’re down to two boxes of green tomatoes, and one box of ripes (UPDATE: a week later, everything is ripe, and we’re making soup). There’s a number of largish ones, Brandywine Pinks, that I’ve sampled. Not impressive. They are the ones that were so soggy when first picked. A month of ripening of the green BPs has allowed most of the water to evaporate, leaving us with a mass of dense, pink, flavorless, flesh.

Meanwhile, here’s an interesting item on nitrogen in gardening.

Oatmeal Squash

October 30, 2014

Since we had such a lousy squash season in the garden this year – 2 for 8 with the game called on account of mildew – we are reduced to buying squash at the super. MJ was out of town, judging dogs or something, so I brought home only part of a squash: a slab of Hubbard that looked like something that had spalled off of the Monitor. Not wanting to wait two hours for dinner, I popped it into the pressure cooker, with enough water to cover the bottom. Thirty minutes later, I had a pretty well decomposed Hubbard, with slabs of skin floating about in the water. The chunks of squash I fished out were very good, once they’d drained, The water that was left was very squashy, and so why not?

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of squash-infused water, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Very mild squash flavor, enhanced by the addition of cheese. Next squash we do, I’ll add extra water.

Rating: *****

Memories of my youth

October 29, 2014

I’m a child of the Space Age. I lived on Vandenberg AFB when it was still Cook AFB and they were still pouring concrete for the Atlas-C launchers. I worked summers during high school on Point Arguello Naval Missile Facility, before it became Vandenberg South, putting in drainage ditches for the SLC-6 launch facility, the one that never saw a shuttle. I once had a transporter carrying a Agena upper stage, the one for the Corona reconnaissance satellites, drive over my foot.

Those were the days when the US was rushing into space, and wasn’t quite sure how to do it. Launch failures were common. Sometimes the missile would fail at ignition (or before — one Titan I night-test I saw had the silo elevator fail and drop the loaded bird into the silo), sometimes early in the flight (when it was easier to see), and sometimes later, when the only evidence was the crazy dance of the contrail as the bird tore itself apart at the edge of space. At VAFB, we all knew when a launch was scheduled, and I would sometimes climb up on the roof of our Air Force family housing to watch. The very first launch I saw was an RAF Thor training launch. My mother chased my brother out of the shower, naked, so he could see it.

Yesterday’s failure of the Orbital Sciences Corporation’s Antares launcher hearkened back to those days.

So we start with the familiar cadences of a launch crew in the final stages of the countdown, marking off lines from the checklist. Ignition (at 2:54) looks good, and the bird clears the tower OK at (3:03). That’s when we start to hear the familiar, to me, crackling roar of the 734,000 pounds of thrust from the pair of NK-33 engines — five times what a Thor would generate. At about 3:08 on this vid, the exhaust plume brightens (as if the oxidizer pumps were overclocking), and then there’s an explosion at the base of the booster, at the top of the engine, near the pumps. The bird loses power and sinks back to the pad, possibly toppling to the left as it drops. It looks like the main explosion takes place just prior to impact, which probably means the RSO destroyed the booster just before it hit and destroyed itself. Hard to tell. The RSO might not have even seen the booster falling. He just knew from his readouts that it was doing something dangerous, and hit the destruct switch. The ball of fire is followed by the distance-delayed sound of the explosion, and we end with the LCO starting his post-launch-failure checklist.

OSC’s stock immediately dropped 16%, and you can be sure their competitors will start a jeremiad of all the reasons the contract should be canceled.

This failure doesn’t bother me, and it doesn’t scare me into selling OSC stock (if I owned any). I’ve seen it all before. This is spaceflight. This is the big rocket business. You learn from your mistakes. You keep going.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 18, 2014

Garden Report for 141020

Final Score: 97lb of Tomatoes, 125lb Total

The weather this week was about like last week’s. No frost (in fact, unseasonably warm lows), but not suitable weather for tomatoes, either, even if it’s great on the coast. Their unseasonably warm lows are 50-55F, our unseasonably warm lows are 38-45F. I decided that as long as it was unexpectedly nice I’d close out the tomato part of the garden. I wouldn’t expect to get more than a couple of cold weeks out of the end of October anyway, El Nino or no El Nino, and this way I can do it on my own time. Beets and greens will be left to their own devices.

The deck containers yielded six pounds of tomatoes, but four poundsworth were green. None of them were big enough to bother weighing, and some were positively tiny. MJ wants to experiment with chopped green tomato recipes. I mean the tomatoes are chopped and green, not the recipes. I have one container with four cabbage plants in it, that I hope will produce something before the snow falls.

The yard containers produced nine pounds of tomatoes, seven of which were green. The five ounce “Beefsteaks” were finally starting to turn. I’ve left the two lemon cukes to hang out for a while, and see if they get any growth.

In the KHG itself, I got 15lb of tomatoes total, including 2.5lb of ripe ones, and a handful worth measuring. The heaviest was a 6.5oz Marglobe. The Beefsteaks didn’t make the cut. Also harvested were just over half a pound of unshucked lima beans. I’ll let you know how that works out next week. Unlike last year, I didn’t find any errant squashes while doing my tomato-whacking.

Total tomatoes this week: thirty pounds, only six pounds of which were ripe…ish.

I haven’t emptied the containers yet. My plan is to dump the greenery into a back corner of the yard, add leaves, once they are done falling, and cover with container dirt. Meanwhile, last year’s container dirt is composting nearby.

 

Week Ending 10/20 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Season Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  many  240  336  97
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball / Zucchini  2  1.9
Delicata / Buttercup  2  1.5
Cuke  3  0.5
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  9.5  -  -  0.75
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Carrots  8  1.5
Radishes  7  0.45
Onions  ~50  1.3

So, we round out the year with 125lb of veg, including 97lb of tomatoes. That’s two-thirds more than last year, and probably about the same as in 2012. Of course, if the cabbage and the beets come through, there will be a little bit more.

TL;DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2014

October 18, 2014

Four more shows bite the dust. No common theme here, except boredom.

Yuki Yuna wa Yusha de Aru: Yuki the hero. Four middle school girls in a “Hero’s Club” have to drop their normal lives of finding homes for cats and picking up trash to become real magical girls, defending the planet. The transition from slice-of-life to magical girl was exceptionally well done. The transformation-to-magical-girl app on their cellphones was original. Their battleground is looks like a deep dive into a pastel-colored fractal of a taxidermist’s sink trap. The picture quality was low — jaggies on my 32″ TV — and the whole magical girl trope is aimed at a demographic that isn’t me.

Celestial Method: Girl comes back to town she left seven years ago, meets a lot of people she knew but doesn’t remember, has enigmatic encounters with grey-haired girl who has been waiting for her to come back. Oh, yeah, just before she left, a ginormous flying saucer came and permanently parked itself a thousand hectometers or so above the town. One of her newly-met old friends shoots a bottle rocket at it.

Nice artwork, but, as someone said “When people leave the theater talking about how good the scenery was, your play is a failure.”

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace: Literary club suddenly gains superpowers, and nobody cares. Some cute “Here’s a dimensional gate to the Arizona desert (saguaro cactus) so we can practice blowing things up and creating lava and stuff with our powers” action. Male lead is a cheap Togashi Yūta style chūnibyō knockoff. It’s the sort of thing you’d watch if there wasn’t anything else on.

Karen Senki: Humans fight the machines. Machines try to become human. Too long at ten minutes per ep. Badly animated — looks like it was done using a low-budget RPG graphics engine.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Fall 2014

October 14, 2014

A classic trope is the “princess in danger” situation, one that can be traced all the way back to Andromeda and Perseus, and all the way forward to Princess Peach and Mario. This season there were two entries in that category, and neither one made the cut.

Akatsuki no Yona: Semi-bratty, air-headed princess sees her kindly father killed by her childhood sweetheart, is rescued by her faithful guardian general.

So far, she isn't doing much to help herself

Warrior princess makes daring escape

Cold opening of the first episode, and the flashback at the end of the second episode shows she makes it back, as a warrior princess leading a band of superhero allies. Think, medieval Justice League.

Poor artwork, mediocre animation, boring presentation — evil sweetheart had four different opportunities to kill her, stopped to exposiate each time — makes it not worth wasting bandwidth on.

Cross Ange – Rondo of Angel and Dragon: Beautiful, athletic, charming princess Angelise, beloved by all, turns out to not have the mana-wrangling powers that true humans are supposed to have and so is stripped of her name, titles, and clothing, and send off to a women’s prison for “Normas” as plain old Ange. There to suffer various forms of sexual violation and harassment by the female guards and the other Norma women. Later on there are dragons, and bathloads of women washing each other’s backs.

Relax, it's just a physical exam.

Relax, it’s just a physical exam.

Really bad art and animation made it painful to watch, and its disregard of the proprieties drew at least one stinging on-line rebuke. Plus, I’m not particularly a fan of the “let’s throw in some rape to show how bad her situation is” approach to story-telling.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 12, 2014

Garden Report for 141013

The weather turned Autumnal this week, but in a good way. Off and on cloudy and breezy, with spotty rain. Eighty F at the beginning of the week, and 62F at the end. Still no frost in the forecast, but cold and rainy.

Some of my bigger (6oz) tomatoes are ripe, so that’s nice. Harvested those, some smaller ones, and a pound and a half of some big cherry-sized. Beefsteaks are just beginning to show color, so we’ll have those to harvest in a week or so, plus a bunch of green ones, pre-frost. Harvested my ten bean plants, and got about 4.0oz of pinto beans out of it. We soaked them overnight and MJ did them in the pressure cooker. We had them with Santa Maria BBQ, and they were superb.

Container peas still haven’t sprouted yet, so I expect there’s something about using a former tomato pot that they don’t like. Neither has my last planting of lettuce. Not sure what the problem is.

Since this is my last nice weekend, I decided to start closing out the garden. Section 4 onions had all fallen over, a sign they weren’t going to get any bigger, and the white radishes in Section 2 were a week past their harvest date. So I pulled up all of those, plus some carrots that wandered by. I still have the red radishes, the beets, and whatever greens decide to keep growing. Also pulled down the hops. I wanted to get them down while they were still green, and before the berries started falling off (hops berries are poisonous to dogs). I’d put up some plastic bird netting for them to climb on, so it was just a matter of unhooking the net at the roofline, then cutting everything off at the groundline, rolling up the net, and putting it in the trash (can’t compost nylon).

Week Ending 10/13 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Season Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  8  33.0  4.0  336  67.5
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball / Zucchini  2  1.9
Delicata / Buttercup  2  1.5
Cuke  3  0.5
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  4.0  -  -  0.25
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Carrots  4  8.0  2.0  8  1.5
Radishes  7  7.24  1  7  0.45
Onions  ~50  21  0.42  ~50  1.3

This time last year we were fully done, with frost on the way and all the tomatoes cut down for indoor ripening. Total harvest was 47lb of tomatoes, and 76lb of veg overall, not counting the 40lb of jack-o-lanterns. I don’t have an overall total for 2012, but we closed out the tomatoes this week, for a total of around 100lb. So far in 2014 we have 67lb of tomatoes and 28lb of otherstuff, for a total of 95lb. Shows you what kind of uncertainty farmers live with.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

October 5, 2014

Garden Report for 141006

Native American Summer continues, and the forecast is for more of the same through the week. In fact, NWS is predicting above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation through the end of the year.

Here’s an explanation of why the tomatoes are doing so well — nightly minimums have been higher than average.

The tomatoes are still producing, but slowly. I picked about a pound and a half of bigger-than-walnut-but-smaller-than-plums. Plus two lemon cucumbers totaling just under 4oz, and one lone buttercup squash that is just over a pound. There’s half a dozen possible SuperFantastics that are orangish and need another week, plus a dozen or so so-called beefsteaks that are showing no color at all. The nice thing about having the tomatoes come in like this is that we are managing to keep up with the eating of them.

Last week’s squash turned out to be an 8-ball, but, alas, it was so far gone that only a 8mm strip of flesh remained around the outside. The rest of the interior was seeds.

Week Ending 10/06 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Season Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  28  < 2.0  328  60.5
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball / Zucchini  1  11  1  2  1.9
Delicata / Buttercup  1  17  1  2 1.5
Cuke  2  4  2  3  0.5
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Carrots  4  16  4.0  4  1.0

Container peas haven’t sprouted yet.

Full Winter

October 2, 2014

Well, Winterfylleð, an Anglo-Saxon month. Wherever the Angles and Saxons and Jutes (oh, my) came from, the weather was cold enough to be considered winter by early October, so the first full moon of that month was the Winter full moon. Or maybe it was just because almost all the harvesting was done, and the only thing left to do was carve the trunips into lanterns for Samhain — and yes, I know that Winterfylleð is Germanic and Samhain is Celtic. but they’ve got all these extra turnips and they might as well celebrate something.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 28, 2014

Garden Report for 140929

The weather certainly has been paying attention to the calendar. Sunday it was 86F. Monday was the Equinox, and by Friday it was 68F. Next week it will be near 60F, with lows just below 40, but things will improve for the weekend and into mid-October.

Did another sweep of anything red in the tomato line. Two over 5oz, 25 (54oz) big enough to count, plus another 47oz of ones that were bigger than cherries, but not much bigger than walnuts. Also dug up four carrots: a 9oz monster, reminiscent of a Mousterian hand ax, a couple of 2.5oz, and a double that still didn’t go much past 2.0. Finally, an 11oz yellow softball I found in amongst the tomatoes, next to the tag saying 8-Ball. It’s not solid enough to be a pumpkin, so I think it really is a really ripe 8-Ball. When MJ gets home from her trip, I’ll try it on her.

Possible 8-BallPossible Pumpkin

Possible 8-Ball
Possible Pumpkin

 

Week
Ending
09/14
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Season
Total
Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  27  64  2.4  328  59.0
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  11  1  2  1.9
Delicata  1  0.4
Cuke  1  3  3  1  0.2
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Carrots  4  16  4.0  4  1.0

Tore out the last of the summer greens and planted some more. Of the 12 peas I planted in a container two weeks ago, only one has sprouted, so I repeated the application. I may have buried the first ones too deep. Now, they’re due in early December.

So far, we total 87lbs of produce for the season. That well exceeds last years, and is beginning to challenge last-years-plus-jack-o-latntern.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 21, 2014

Garden Report for 140921

The weather this week was warm, but not hot. Highs were 80F +/- 3. Lows were mid 50s. Cloudy, with no rain to speak of, but some pretty brisk winds. Warmer at the weekend. The NW weather guy says this summer is much like what the average summers will be like in 2050, so I guess we’ve go that to look forward to.

Harvested a few tomatoes, but nothing else. Radishes due any day now. Original lettuce from Section 1SW is still hanging in there. New lettuce in 1SE is just starting to show. Beans in Section 4 are starting to brown off, six weeks early. Not sure if it was last week’s near-frost or if it’s the browned-off disease. One of the container snow peas has finally sprouted (planted Saturday a week now), so we should have some nice salads come December.

Week
Ending
09/14
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Season
Total
Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  20  70  3.5  301  52.0
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  1.2
Delicata  1  0.4
Cuke  1  3  3  1  0.2
Spaghetti  3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Finally tried the zucchini I harvested a week or so ago. Bitter, just like the summer squash. I tried some web-based amelioration (use only the blossom end, cut up, salt, and rinse) and it tasted like a lump of salty fat, with, if you paid attention, a very slight echo of a bitter after-taste in the distance. Obviously, the powdery mildew had left its mark. So I tore out both the summer squash and the zucchini, and the non-productive eight-ball. Not using them in the compost.

This time last year, we had ten times the number of squash, and they were all edible. On the other hand, with 52lb of tomatoes, we are ahead of the 51lb total harvest from 2013 (not counting the big jack-o-lantern pumpkins). Same same in 2012, but with only “a few” tomatoes ripe.

Opera Browser: The Long Farewell 2

September 15, 2014

As I wrote last May, the Opera browser was, even then, a mere shell of its former self. It would appear that the decline continues.

Last week I bought a Windows 7 PC. Go ahead and snicker. The fact is, there’s a lot of stuff I have to do for work that can only be done on Windows, and I didn’t want to spend time fiddling with various virtual machines and emulators. Naturally, I keep it in the closet, with just the screen and keyboard showing. Also naturally, I downloaded Opera (24.0), because that’s what one does. The hope is that the Win version is still a decent product.

Not.

The Help/About is as bad as the Mac version. Three paths – to the .exe, to the cache, and to the ‘profile’, whatever that is. But given that I rarely need the paths, I shouldn’t really complain. Except.

The old ‘Hit F12 for site preferences’ functionality is gone. Now I have to dig through the various settings to set the ‘exceptions’ for a website. This makes Opera no better than any of the other browsers.

In the past, Opera would treat each tab individually, even if multiple tabs were looking at different pages of the same site. If I was on a page with lots of fine print, I could hit +++ until I could read the text.* If I had another page from the same website open (e.g. comparing products on Amazon), it wouldn’t be changed. This was good, because not all the tabs needed enlarging. Now, all the tabs from a given website get enlarged or reduced, whatever my preferences are.

Finally, a really cool Opera feature was the “reload every x minutes” function. This was particularly useful for Twitter, but it would help track any other site that refreshed its content rapidly. Now, that’s gone. Right-clicking the page lets you ‘reload’. Anybody can do that. Even Lynx would let you do that.

I suspect these ‘features’ are the result of Opera abandoning Opera and becoming a re-badged Chrome clone. I’ve got nothing against Chrome. Well, their bookmark system is ugly, but so is Firefox’. But if I wanted to run Chrome, I’d do that.

Fortunately, Opera 12 for Linux still retains the old ways. But word is, they’re working on Opera 25 for Linux. I won’t be upgrading.

—————–
* This is personally important to me. It used to be I didn’t have to hit + at all. Then my eyes started to deteriorate and I had to hit it six or seven times. I got computer eyeglasses and all was well, except that my eyes have continued their decline, and now I have to hit + six or ten times, even with the glasses on. I suspect I’ll be getting cataract surgery next Spring.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 14, 2014

Garden Report for 140914

The weather this week was about like last week. Highs averaged about 70F, with one day peaking at 63F. Three nights in the low thirtys. Cloudy, with no rain to speak of, but some pretty brisk winds. Warmer at the weekend.

Because one of the nights was supposed to touch 32F, I went out and harvested any tomatoes with any kind of color, ten pounds worth (plus another couple pounds of big-cherry-sized that I don’t bother to count in the stats). Also harvested a small Delicata, and a couple of small spaghetti squash. Lots of green tomatoes left, and one small Buttercup squash.

Week
Ending
09/14
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Season
Total
Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  64  171  2.7  281  48.0
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  1.2
Delicata  1  7  7  1  0.4
Cuke
Spaghetti  2  12  6 3  2.3
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

 
On Saturday, I cut down the hanging tomatoes and the containerized Napa Grape. Funny to think that I’m closing out parts of the garden when some of the tomatoes have not yet produced a single ripe fruit. Dug up the soil in the NG pot and planted a bunch of Snow Peas. They should be ready by the end of November. Also planted some more greens in Section 1 (and put down a grid to discourage squirrels). Another end-of-November crop. If the forecasts of a warm winter hold, it should be OK.

This time last year we still only had 11 pounds of tomatoes, and eight pounds of various squash. The year before was even worse. I guess the question is, will this year be able to go the distance, and keep up with last year’s late-but-big harvest?

Green Thumb Up My Nose

September 7, 2014

Garden Report for 140907

The weather this week was colder than expected. Highs averaged about 70F, with one day peaking at 63F. Cloudy, with no rain to speak of.

Tomatoes are the only thing producing right now. Interestingly, we had one tenth this amount of tomatoes by the first week of September last year, and one tomato the year before. Other produce was about the same — six squash, of all kinds, and three cukes in 2013, and five squash/two cukes in ’12.

A quick check of the Garden Gantt shows nothing new to come in until October, so all I have to look forward to for the next three weeks is more squash and more tomatoes. I don’t think there’ll be a lot of squash.

Week
Ending
09/07
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  33  70  2.1  184  33.0
Summer  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  1.2
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti  1  1.8
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Did a taste comparison on the various tomato varietals. Not much to report. They all were pretty good. The smaller ones tasted more tomato-y (not just more intense, more like a tomato). The Super Fantastics were watery, both those from the garden and those in the container. Interesting, considering they were on the same watering regime as the others. Another interesting item: the Brandywines are much afflicted by blossom-end rot. This, despite them being, again, on the same watering schedule (and they’re producing fruit in the 2-3oz range, so it’s not like they need more).

Ham-n-Cabbage Oats

September 4, 2014

So, we had half a head of cabbage from the garden, one that was getting pretty elderly with the black spot syndrome. I discarded all the evil bits, and ended up with about a cup of chopped cabbage. Perfect for use as an oatmeal extender. I used a half a cup for this experiment, and will have a different take on the recipe next week. For broth, I had the ham-hock broth that MJ had made in the pressure cooker last week. Not too hammy, but flavorsome.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, half a cup of moderate chop cabbage, loose pack, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of ham broth, no salt (because ham).  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the cabbage at the five minute point (don’t want to overcook), and the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. Cabbage had a crunch to it but didn’t dominate. Gives you one of your recommended threetofive helpings of veg for the day.

Rating: *****

What, after all, is Art?

September 1, 2014

Paleolithic News Item

StuartFinlayson-dn26134-1_300

Uncle Tok tends to think of himself as an artist, or maybe that’s an artiste (they’re both pronounced “ugh”, but the enunciation is different). We all know he’s a great inventor — look at his barkless birch log canoe, and I’m pretty sure he’s the first proto-hominid to come up with the idea of making your arm longer by tying your shale knife to the end of a branch — but we were less convinced of his artistic capabilities. Sure, he’d spent weeks drawing pictographs of birds on the desert floor the last time we visited Far-South Beringia. And sure, when we visited the Old Country by walking around the east end of the Mediterranean he’d spent a whole summer piling up blocks of stone to prove that it was possible to make a cube that came to a point. But what was the point? Was it really art?

Well, this year we were back at the west end of the Mediterranean. It was our first time back since Uncle Tok had the smart idea of cutting a notch at the top of the Gibraltar Dam to make a thousand-foot waterfall as a tourist attraction.* This year he was feeling artistic as well as entrepreneurial, and he had this wonderful idea about carving the faces of all our tribal elders in the rock that was all that remained of the dam.

Aunt Ja said it would never work. She said the rock was too hard, and that he couldn’t get enough goat’s intestines to let him hang down far enough to do a proper job. Uncle Tok said he was plenty stronger than that rock, and that he’d just find a bigger goat. They argued about it for hours, until Uncle Tok got fed up and wandered off to party with the locals down at the beach. They had this really potent spirit that they made from grapes. They’d put them in a big haggisbag and stomp on them until all the bad tasting juice ran out. Then they’d tie it up until the grapes inside started leaking through, at which point they’d get together and have a ro’tgu’t party.

The next morning Uncle Tok was feeling bad, and crawled off to an un-used cave. We didn’t find him until later that afternoon, when we heard this rhythmic scraping coming from inside. We all dashed up, and discovered him working on an inscription, describing his Rock of Gibralter idea and saying how certain reactionary elements had kept him from accomplishing it. Of course, being proto-hominids and not having a proper written language (the elders were still arguing over whether or not to require a special symbol for a subjunctive clause), he’d had to simplify it. But it was there for everyone to see.

All us kids thought it was great, and that it would really make Aunt Ja sorry she mocked his ideas. But that was not to be. She came in and glanced at it, told him it wasn’t very artistic, told him his supporting arguments were shallow, told him his handwriting looked like a Neanderdude’s, and finally, asked him why he’d written it on the floor of the cave instead of the wall. Uncle Tok looked at her, a little bleary-eyed, then looked around the cave. “Floor? Wall? Tok can never remember which stands up and which lays down.”

————————————
*Aunt Ja never forgave him, but I thought it was a good idea to have an inland sea between us and some of our relatives in the Old Country, even if it did mean we had to walk all the way around to visit them.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 31, 2014

Garden Report for 140831

The weather this week was, well, weatherlike. High high was 84. Lowest high is 68, forecast for today. Breezy and overcast. Cliff Mass says it’s a typical pre-Fall incursion. Next week is shaping up to be 73F +/- 5. This week, the lows were in the 50’s. Next week, the 40’s.

Other parts of the garden are starting to produce. Got a handful of peas from my second pea-planting. Two summer squash and one zucchini. The powdery mildew finally killed one of the spaghetti squash plants, so I harvested the one squash on it. Cut a wide swath through the lettuce, leaving just the shortest behind. The containerized cukes are blooming like mad, but no fruit yet. Harvested a bunch of 4th of July, Early Girl, Marglobe, and Super Fantastics from the garden side. Just over 4lb total, and nothing over 6oz. While I was digging around in the jungle, I found one Delicata squash. If it was a Zucchini, I’d say “harvest it now, before it gets too big”, but the Deli’s can go until the plant dies.

Week
Ending
8/31
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  24  69  2.9  184  33.0
Summer  2  24  12  3  2.0
8-Ball /
Zucchini
 1  18  18  1  1.2
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti  1  30  30  1  1.8
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  2.5  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Checking the intertubes for information on powdery mildew, I find some good advice here, and some possible resistant varieties. This seems to be the summer for PM. A number of non-crop plants have it as well.

Police Keep Misplacing Their Military Gear

August 28, 2014

It seems that America’s police departments have a hard time keeping track of weapons and Humvees and other military equipment the DoD gave them. A lot of it’s gone missing. And what do they say when the federal government asks about it?

I'm sure it's around here somewhere.

I’m sure it’s around here somewhere.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 24, 2014

Garden Report for 140824

The weather this week was variable, with highs running from the low 90’s to the low 70’s, and thunderstorms (mostly) in the distance.

Three baskets like this. And you thought the "Crimson Tide" was a football team

Three baskets like this.
And you thought the “Crimson Tide” was a football team

Harvested twenty pounds of tomatoes, about half from the containers, the other half from the KHG. The KHG tomatoes, where I can tell (it’s a jungle out there!), were mostly Early Girl and 4th of July, with a couple of deeply buried Super Fantastics.

Here’s how the containers are doing:
Containers, Deck:
4th of July– Mix of medium and small. Pretty much tasteless, and nowhere near ready on the 4th…even of August.
Marglobe — n/r
Northern Exposure — n/r
Husky Red — One medium, the rest small. Good taste, sweet.

Containers, House:
Brandywine Red — All are small. Taste is good.
Super Fantastic — The only really large ones. Excellent taste
Early Girl/Best Boy (2 pots, not sure which is which)  — n/r
Beefsteak — Appears to be a bush version, or maybe mislabeled (it’s the store label). Small fruit. Good taste.
Red Cherry — Big, for cherries. Good flavor. Maybe use these in the hanging bags next year
Crimson Cushion — n/r

Hangers, or ought to be:
S-100 — Lots. Small. Taste OK. Mostly skin.
Napa Grape — Not a lot, but this is the plant that was blown off the deck. Taste OK. Skin.
Glacier — Determinate, so it’s done for the year. Not a lot, but good tasting.

So far, only about 20% are what I call supermarket size — 5oz or bigger — and less than half of those are of the big, slicing size. The skin on all the tomatoes so far has been very thick. As in, chew up a tomato quarter and spit out the skin thick.

I decided to not include a Last Week this week. Fiddling with the HTML was just too tiresome. So last week was the last Last Week as well as being the first Last Week. This week there’s just a This Week, and next week will also be just a This Week.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/24
Tomato 93  330 3.5  160 28.7
Summer  1  0.5
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  -  -  -  3.0
Peas  -  -  -  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5

Looks like we will have an El Nino Winter this year*, which means warmer and dryer (all our water is going to California). That said, I think I’ll take a chance on some late plantings. A couple weeks ago, I ripped all the non-performing (i.e. all) brassicae out of Section 3, and replanted some cabbage and Brussels sprouts. That left a lot of bare ground, and KHG farmers hate bare ground. So, on Friday, I planted a bunch of lettuce, some beets, radishes, and carrots. Not much of a risk there** — they are all about 60 days to harvest, so only pushed the last harvest into mid-November. I also reconnected the drip hose that had come off. This is the fourth time I’ve had to fix a blown connector. Next year, new hose all around!

*And of course, no sooner do I act on this, than they downgrade the probability from 80% to 65%. If we do get a visit from The Kid, it could move the date of the first frost from mid-September to mid-October.
**Except that the squirrels went mad digging in the fresh dirt. I could drag out the chicken wire covers, but I think I’ll just let the plants take their chances. The cabbage, et al., are each in their own water-bottle cloches, so they should be OK.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 17, 2014

Garden Report for 140817

The weather this week was variable, with a high of 98F on Monday trending down to 73F during Friday’s T-storms (which didn’t get close enough to give us any rain).

Not much produced this week. Harvested the last of the string beans — 8oz, one serving each — and ripped out the plants. The beans have been hard to cook properly, and they are tough. Probably won’t do them again. Planted half my remaining peas (64 days), short cabbage (60 days), long cabbage (105 days) and Brussels sprouts (85 days) in Section 3. I figure by the time the brassicae are big enough for the temperature to matter, it will be cool autumn. Tomatoes have paused, and given us a chance to eat what we harvested so far. Looks like 30-40 getting ready to be ripe in the next week or so, and half a dozen of those are supermarket size. The rest are plum or smaller. Not counting cherries.

The lettuce I planted last week hasn’t sprouted yet, which is a little worrisome. I may not have watered it enough. The container cabbage and iceberg lettuce are sprouting.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/17
This Week
Tomato 4  25 6.3  67  8
Summer  1  8.5  8.6  1  0.5
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  7.25
Beans  - 8 -  2.0
Peas  3.0
Cabbage  5  7.5
Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/10
Last Week
Tomato 10  68 6.8  35  5.3
Summer
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  116  19.3  6  7.25
Beans  - 24 - -  1.5
Peas  - -  3.0
Cabbage  24  5  7.5

This time last year, we still didn’t have any tomatoes or summer squash, and in 2012, I was getting a good bean harvest.

Pumpkin Oats

August 14, 2014

Almost two years ago I wrote about a failed oatmeal experiment involving an ancient bottle of pumpkin spice liqueur. I said then that I’d wait until I had some real pumpkin available to make another test. Well, recently, one of our dogs got sick.

It turns out that canned pumpkin is one of the things you feed sick dogs. Ours had eaten some industrial fabric that didn’t want to be digested, and it waited until 2AM to let us know that. One thing and another (you don’t want details in a cooking blog, OK?), and MJ decided a bland diet of mashed potato, pumpkin, and a smidge of dogfood was the dinner of the day, until various innards had settled down.  We had almost a whole can of pumpkin left over (it was a big can), so I decided to see how it would do as an oatmeal extender. We were out of broth, so I used plain water. I know, but where can you find a pound of brothing chicken at 5AM of a Sunday morning?

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, two generous dinner tablespoons of canned pumpkin (probably close to a quarter cup), two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, one cup of water, salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the potato when you take it off the stove..

Results: Quite good. Definitely pumpkin-y, but it didn’t overwhelm, like cornbread wants to. Would be a good base for something more elaborate. Needed more salt. Needed a good ten grinds of pepper melange (it sounds like a lot, but our grinder is feeble). I’m going to try it again, once the government delivers on its promise of two chickens for every pot. Maybe I’ll even try some pumpkin spice.

Rating: *****

Crafting the future we desire

August 11, 2014

Recent experiments have confirmed the link between increased brain testosterone and increased activity in those parts of the brain that mediate aggression and response to perceived threats. This happened even though the testosterone levels were moved from low to a more normal range. More testosterone leads to more aggression.

This lends credence to a report in Science Daily, saying that it’s likely that a drop in testosterone levels 50,000 years ago, demonstrated by the growth of feminine skull features, is what promoted greater cooperation and improved group-living skills, and it’s those skills that lead to improved technology and the growth of civilization.

Faced with encroaching feminism, girlyskulls, and the concomitant threats of peace and prosperity, our society has found a way to fight back:

Civilization is doomed.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 11, 2014

Garden Report for 140810

The weather this week was dry, mid-90’s to start, mid-80’s in the middle, climbing back to the 90’s at the end.

This is turning into a very depressing season. Powdery mildew has killed the pumpkin plants — with only a couple of full grown pie pumpkins to show for it — and has kept the other squash from producing much at all. Second planting of container sugar peas didn’t do well. Strawberries were eaten by birds, despite the covers. Beans and snap peas both produced two meals each.Lettuce is doing OK — I think I’ve figured out the best way to thin it. Tore out the container beans and ate both pods. Replanted with 4 cabbage. Tore out the Chioggias — they were so small I thought they were radishes but my notes say they’re beets (I checked, after MJ complained that the salad had an ‘earthy taste’). Replanted with iceberg lettuce. It won’t head, but it’s nice and leafy.

Container tomatoes are starting to come in. The Super Fantastic (I think, the tag is lost) is producing like mad — three giant 8oz globes so far. The Beefsteaks aren’t doing as well, but some look to be as much as 6 or 7 oz. These are the ones on the sunny side of the house. The deck containers are still thinking about it, and the KHG tomatoes are still being green. A lot of walnut-sized/ 1oz stuff, that pulls down the unit weight.

I gave the pumpkin plants a chance to recover from the powdery mildew search and destroy, but they never did. Harvested the pumpkins. Only two were what I was expecting as a mature size.

Mouse to show scale

Mouse to show scale

So, now it’s time to start the scorecard. Since this is the first pitch edition, some of the data points summarize previous weeks. Also, for tomatoes, the weekly totals won’t match the running totals, because the running totals will include the count and weight of the “big cherries” (around an ounce each). The weekly totals are only for “supermarket size” tomatoes. Next Week there will be a Last Week.

Week
Ending
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
8/10
This Week
Tomato 10  68 6.8  35  5.3
Summer
8-Ball
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin  6  116  19.3  6  7.25
Beans  - 24 - -  3.0
Peas  -  24  3.0
Cabbage  24  5  7.5

I suppose I shouldn’t complain. This time last year the corn had been destroyed by squirrels, the summer squash were struggling, and there were no tomatoes except cherries, while in 2012 we also had no tomatoes (at all) and were getting sick of summer squash.

Cornmeal Oats

August 7, 2014

I’m not a big fan of cornbread. I mean, I don’t dislike it — kirai janai — and I’ll eat it when served, but I never suggest it, except to go with specific dishes. Some bean dishes, for example. One problem is, it’s too crumbly. It’s either hot and moist and crumbly right out of the oven, or it’s cold and dry and crumbly after sitting about for an hour or so. If it’s not piping hot, the butter sticks to the knife on one side, and pulls up crumbles on the other. And so forth.

MJ made a bunch of cornbread for some sort of church potluck, presumably involving beans. There was lots left over, cold and crumbly, the next morning, and why not?

Experiment 1: This was a test of cornbread as an extender. Since I was loading it up with corn-starchiness I left off the potatoes.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, 1/4 cup (loose pack) of cornbread crumbs, one cup of broth (whatever’s on hand – – I used chicken), salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: More like corn-meal mush with an oat extender. Totally overwhelmed the oats. Would probably be better with bacon crumbles. I gave it two stars, but you might like it.

Rating: *****

Experiment 2: This was a test of cornbread as an ingredient. Once again, I left off the potatoes.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, rounded measuring tablespoon of cornbread crumbs, one cup of broth (whatever’s on hand – – I used chicken), salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.

Results: Strong cornbread flavor. Would still be better with bacon crumbles.

Rating: *****

As soon as people learn how business works,

August 3, 2014

…they flee the stock market

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 3, 2014

Garden Report for 140804

The weather remained warm hot, being consistently above 93F. That was nice for the garden, but two power outages didn’t help the gardener. Core temperature of the KHG on August 1st was 80F.

Winds blew a container off the deck — Napa Grape cherry tomatoes. Put it back up, and they’re still alive, but feeling hard done by.

White lung disease

White lung disease

Squashes are being hit hard by powdery mildew. I’ve tried baking soda, with no luck. Vinegar, with no luck. What seems to help the most is a brutal triage effort, cutting off the worst of the leaves (update: no, that didn’t help either). In any event, I’m working my way through all the usual remedies, except that I don’t really want to use any chloroflurocarbons. I guess I’ll just have to take my losses this year, and be more aggressive next year.

The lettuce finally bolted, and made its final contribution as compostfodder. I’m planning on starting another tranche of lettuce in the space, unless the squash from next door takes over first.

No sprouts here

No sprouts here

Meanwhile, over in Section 3, the Brussels Sprouts still haven’t done anything. I’m going to pull them next week, and plant 90 and 120 day cabbage. Hopefully, things will have cooled down by the time the plants start really growing.

Still no production elsewhere. Three spaghetti squash and four pumpkins are all the squash I see, and none of them will be ready for weeks — assuming they survive the mildews. No summer squash at all. Three Beefsteak tomatoes are starting to turn. Other than that, it’s only the cherries. Of course, when the tomatoes start coming in, we’ll be eating them day and night.

The irrigation system continues to fall apart. Two more breaks this week. Well, two more places where the hose separated from the t-junction and I had to put on some hose clamps. All that hose is at least ten years old and is probably stiff and brittle by now. Come winter, I’ll pull it all out and replace it, or at least hose clamp all of it. I’m thinking of using flat sprinkler hose as a replacement. The soaker hose is great for established plants, but the seedlings don’t have the roots for it.

Pruning the Feeds

July 29, 2014

I like RSS feeds. They fill an ecological nich that none of the other social media can. Let me put it this way. There are sites that update pretty much daily — Slate, for example, or McClatchey — so if you check them once a day, you know what they have. Those, I put in a “Morning Papers” folder, for reading with my breakfast oatmeal. Then there’s sites that update continuously — Fark, or Reddit — and all I have to do is check in periodically. I put those on my speed dial for when I’m bored. Yes, a lot scrolls off the page between readings, but any individual item that I miss has a fairly low impact. At longer timescales, there are sites that update weekly, or twice a week. These go into the “Daily” folders, one for each day of the week. But suppose there’s a site that updates at longer intervals, or irregularly, or that has information you’d rather not miss due to scrolling, what then? That’s where an RSS feed comes in. If Girl Genius is late this week, or MegaTokyo is finally getting an update, or EurekAlert is pushing out 80 science press releases at a whack, they all show up in the feeds. Twitter isn’t a solution, due to noise and the scrolloff factor. Tumbler or Facebook are just places one can host a differently-enabled blog. So the feeds are important.

As a result, part of my OS upgrade travails involve updating my RSS feeds. One reason I still have Opera hanging around is because it’s such a good RSS feed manager. While I couldn’t find any information on migrating the feeds, I managed to find Opera’s feed index file on the old drive, and copy it over to the new, but (as with many cloning experiments) something went wrong with the details: all the feeds show up on the Manage Feeds panel, they just don’t do anything. I’ve had to convert the old file by hand, clicking on a feed, copying it to the “Add Feed” dialogue, and saving it. When I was done I deleted all the old feeds. This was a tedious way to do things, but it worked. Finally.

The experience might be described as Internet archaeology, sifting through the websites to see what has changed and what hasn’t. For example, there are blogs that have just dropped from sight, not updated for years. Sometimes the feed is still active (I get old articles), and sometimes it isn’t (I get a blank). And sometimes it points to articles that are no longer hosted where it says they are.

Sometimes, I know what happened to them. Perhaps there’s a screen making a formal announcement of closure, or maybe the last entry is a farewell. Or maybe I know from other sources. Sometimes the reasons are sad. A few examples:

AaronsWeb — a techno blog which hasn’t had an update since late 2012. This is understandable, because it was maintained by Aaron Swartz, who committed suicide at the instigation of the U.S. government, in January of last year.

Baghdad Burning — A description of life in Baghdad during the American occupation, from 2003-2007. Riverbend, a young Sunni woman, and her family left Iraq in 2007 and she made one update post that year, and another in 2013. As interesting as I found her writing, the life of a resettled refugee is less dramatic than life in a war zone. Her posts have been collected into two books, which I’m thinking of buying.

Groklaw — a superb resource that has ceased updating last year because the owner, PJ, could no longer stand to have her e-mail read by NSA.

Creating Passionate Users — a vibrant, insightful resource maintained by Kathy Sierra. In 2007 she was set upon by trolls, who made the usual hateful remarks, including death threats, and decided not to put up with their shit.

Those last two I will keep, in my Inactive folder, checking in periodically, just in case something wonderful happens.

There’s a large number of websites (mostly anime and comics) where the author declared a brief hiatus to [get married, get a job, take finals, recover from a medical condition,…] and then disappeared, never to be seen again. Sometimes they are comics that halted in mid-story. Sometimes there are comics that halt in mid-story, with no explanation. As for the anime, I’ve been reading reviews and commentary for about ten years now, and most of the dropped blogs were ones that started back during the ‘golden age’, which peaked about the time I found it. My guess is that the authors grew up and moved on. Maybe that will happen to me someday as well.

On my old machine I had an estimated 400 websites I was tracking via RSS feed. It’s easy to fall behind with that kind of a workload, and I had something over 13,000 unread messages. Not exactly unread. Read the titles and the summaries and said “I’ll save this and come back later”. And of course I never did. Much like those comics.

Having done a fairly intense triage, I am now at less than 300 websites (including a few I added), and just 500 unread messages. Most of the sites dropped essentially dropped themselves, by being inactive for two years or more. Others were ones that had changed format too much. One anime site was now mostly vid clips, and I’m not interested in vid clips. Another tech site had covered itself with popups and mouseovers.

What sites am I following now? Well, embarrassingly, the largest group (20%) is anime related sites, followed by comics (15%). Next comes work-related MIS and technology sites at 14%. A full 10% of the sites are currently inactive. The rest are things like cooking, news, politics, and gardening.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 28, 2014

Garden Report for 140728

The weather this week trended cool, with a high of 68F on Thursday. Now it’s warm again, and Cliff Mass says it will be dry for the next week, and WeatherSpark says it will be 94F and up through the weekend.

Still waiting for the garden to be bountiful. Dug up the lettuce in the SE part of Section 1. I’ll get some new stuff in later this week.

In previous years, the end of July was equally barren. I had one Early Girl last year, and nothing the year before that. This year the summer squash and zucchinis are not producing. Might be the powdery mildew. The best antidote seems to be dry warmth. We’ll see. Two possible Delicata coming along, and three pie pumpkins. Lots of still-green tomatoes.

I’m about ready to do a third harvest on the peas, and second harvest on the beans. Peas are starting to turn brown, so they’re probably done. Went out this morning while it was still below 80F and thinned out the new lettuce. So tomorrow we’ll have peas and beans and salad (oh, my).


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