Archive for April, 2012

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 30, 2012

Garden Report for 120430

Nothing much done on the garden this week. Weather was ugly the first part of the week, and I was out-of-town the second part (which didn’t keep the weather from continuing ugly). Did lay down a good infusion of coffee grounds, which seems to be working in keeping squirrels out. Not totally effective — it looks like there was a little bit of digging done while I was gone.  I probably jumped too soon with putting out seeds and plants. The weather has stayed in the rainy mid-30s /upper 40s all week, and it looks like we may have had a bit of air frost, because the tomato in my hanging basket is now…hanging.

I’ve started a compost can using a 20gal garbage can set up on the keyhole garden, with holes drilled in the bottom. That’s where our scraps will go until we get the next increment of compost (this coming Friday). Then we’ll spread the scraps and cover with compost.

Only about half of the seeds I planted in the seed sprouter actually sprouted, mostly the squash (of various denominations). I have reloaded those cells that didn’t sprout with a second round of seeds. In the empty cells, I’ve planted zucchini, yard-long beans, and a Brandywine tomato variant.

If I get a chance before Friday, I might plant out some asparagus and blueberries. They’ll go in kindof shallow, but then be covered up with the new load of compost.

Grad Students

April 28, 2012

I went through the Systems Science PhD program at Portland State at the end of the last century. I just got back from a quick trip down there to discuss two different research projects, and to give an impromptu presentation on one of them.

I currently teach in a College of Business. It is a great job, with superb colleagues and fun students…and yet. Most business schools don’t really have grad students. They have students going for their MBA’s. The difference is, most folks going for an MBA have been out in business for a while, have a job and a family, and are getting the degree as a way of moving up into management, or into upper management. It’s a straightforward practical program for those who have a life.

In other disciplines, like Systems Science, the grad students are there to continue to develop as researchers in their academic discipline. They often don’t have families. They often don’t have jobs outside the school, unless you count ones that require you to wear a paper hat. They very often spend their time working for their professors, doing research and teaching.

That struck me as I was sitting in the Systems Science building at PSU, listening to the grad student, and student/professor discussions that went on around me. My right ear was getting snippits of a discussion of biosystems simulation, one that ranged from cell diffusion to the language of bees, and the issues associated with writing code to support it. My left ear was picking up discussions of symmetry breaking in physics and information theory, and of frozen accidents in evolution. In my presentation, on agent based simulation, the discussion ranged from fractal networks to random boolean networks to the desired level of expertise in a field. Afterwards, I sat in a group that discussed the importance of good data and consistency in phenotype definitions for GWAS analysis. Note that all of these were associated with actual research issues, and weren’t just late night beer-fueled gabfests. Those came later.

Good as my job is, I miss that kind of wide-ranging, yeasty, no limits discussions.

Cheesy Oats

April 27, 2012

Next up, in our intermittent evaluation of cheese and oats, is another impulse buy, Kerrygold’s Dubliner Cheese. For those in the Pacific Northwest, it tastes a lot like WSU’s Cougar Gold, only not as gritty. I am told, by the way, that the grittiness of Cougar Gold is intentional, and that we didn’t just get a whole string of overcrystallized cans. While the flavor of both wouldn’t be called ‘delicate’, it’s not a strong flavor. That’s probably the reason Dubliner Cheese doesn’t stand up well against the bland. Nice cheese. Good on crackers. Don’t put it on your oatmeal unless you add something more.

Sorry, Slate, DC doesn’t need any skyscrapers

April 25, 2012

John Kennedy once said that Washington, DC was a city “of Northern charm and Southern efficiency”. There’s now a discussion going on about relaxing the height restrictions on buildings in the District to allow the construction of skyscrapers. The proponents of taller buildings are arguing that this will improve its efficiency. The opponents should be arguing that taller buildings will destroy what charm it now has.

Washington DC Skyline from the National Cathedral

The DC regulations are fairly stringent, and restrict building height to about 130ft. Slate’s Matthew Yglesias has weighed in on the side of the skyscrapers, taking issue with an article in the Washington Examiner by Harry Jaffe.

In my opinion, both sides get it wrong, but Yglesias is egregiously more wrong than Jaffe. Both are arguing the economic side of things, with Yglesias claiming that taller buildings will create more jobs and lower land costs, while Jaffee argues, weakly, that no jobs will be created and that it’s healthier that firms are forced to move to the suburbs. Yglesias brings in all sorts of absurd extraneous arguments, making it look as if the law is trying to keep out steel frame construction, and pointing out that Fargo, ND, has more tall buildings than does DC (as if that matters — we’re not talking about erectile dysfunction here).

Throwing DC open to skyscraper development will turn it into another collection of soulless canyons, indistinguishable from dozens of similar places around the world. Jaffee nails it when he says that only reason it’s even a topic of discussion is pure greed. DC doesn’t need an economic boost. It’s the one true recession-proof city, with this thing called the national government providing a constant outpouring of local jobs, everything from janitorial to judicial. In this modern day and Internet age, it doesn’t need people living and working stacked up on top of one another. Anyone who lives in the (ever more expensive) suburbs, and makes the (ever longer) commute to work in the District will tell you that we don’t need to pack more office workers into DC’s 60 square miles. The only beneficiaries will be the real estate agents and the building contractors.

However weak Jaffe’s economic arguments are, he gets it very right when he talks about the architectural and cultural aspects:

Thomas Jefferson set the tone for building heights in our town. He admired the low-lying architecture of Paris. Pierre L’Enfant laid out the city in European scale and design. When skyscrapers started to rise and dominate skylines in New York and Chicago, Congress in 1910 enacted a law to limit building heights and maintain D.C.’s European feel, which also served the purpose of allowing the U.S. Capitol to dominate the skyline.

Because of those height restrictions, the District is more visible, has a more human feel, is more European, if you must put it that way. But that’s because DC and Paris are both reaching for the same goal: a city at human scale, with a few towering landmarks to give it character.

Click on the picture above to get a closer look. Use your [+] key to zoom your browser in a bit. Notice how the otherwise pleasant landscape is marred by the collection of buildings across the bottom. Now imagine those same buildings, only thirty or fifty stories higher.

Yglesias complains that Jaffe doesn’t understand the purpose of a city. Yglesias doesn’t understand the purpose of a capitol city.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 23, 2012

Garden Report for 120423

Not much work on the garden in the early part of the week. Still waiting for warmer weather and the final load of compost for the keyhole garden.

On Friday, MJ picked up a batch of hops rhizomes from our local home brewing store. It’s Jim’s Home Brew Supply, if you’re interested. A good place to go in the Spokane area. Saturday was the first of a forecast string of nice days, so I planted the hops on the south side of the house, first mixing in a bag of paver sand. They can grow a foot a day in high summer, and will hopefully shade that side of the house. I like beer, particularly microbrews (which are hard to find on tap in the Spokane area), but I’m not a brewer, so these are just for ornamentalism.

It really came up hot on Sunday — officially 77, but my shaded backyard thermometer showed 84. I dumped another load of coffee grounds into the regular garden, dug them in, and put in some lettuce under a long plastic tunnel: transplanted iceberg, last years baby romain and buttercrunch, plust some new radicchio. Transplanting the iceberg freed up the germinating tray, so I’ve started some squash: acorn, butternut, buttercup, zucchini, 8-Ball, and summer. Also some tomatoes: Oregon Special and Sweet 100. I tried putting one of my cherry tomato plants into a new hanging garden container. If it frosts, I’ll just bring it in.

We expect the warm weather to continue for another couple days, and then it will regress to the mean — highs in the low 50’s, lows in the high 30’s.

Droid X Power-Off Issues – Update on the Update

April 23, 2012

UPDATE: So, it looks like Motorola has finally fixed failed in their purported attempt to fix the ‘independent power on’ problem. At least, that’s what everybody says. They pushed out the 15MB 4.5.621 update at midnight. I tried it once and it worked.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: I tried it again, and it didn’t work. Idiots.


April 20, 2012

Ten Things that work well with oatmeal (in place of bland old water):

1. Apple juice
With with apple jelly topping, it’s very…apple-y

2. Minute Maid Five Fruit Blend (apple, grape, pomegranite, blueberry, raspberry)
With non-dairy creamer topping. Tart but nice.

3. EarthWise Orange/Carrot/Mango juice
With orange marmalade topping, it’s very…orangy

4. Safeway 100% Valencia Orange Juice, with pulp, with glop of marmelade. 20min oatmeal.

(MJ’s had a cold this week, can you tell?)

5. Dry sherry (< 1/4 cup), Beef broth (to make a cup). Rosemary/garlick grind. 20min oatmeal. Go a little light on the oatmeal so you have some gravy

6. Chicken stock with Golden Curry, and a little yogurt at the end.

7. Chicken stock on its own, with salt.

8. Roasted Red Pepper Bisque, with beef stock.

9. Orrington Farms Ham flavored soup base. With cheese.

10. Almost anything with cheese and pepper

Note: these are all 1/4 cup oatmeal (usually the one-minute semi-instant) plus one tablespoon potato buds plus usually salt plus slightly less than 2/3 cup of the liquid mentioned (for the one-minute oatmeal), or almost one whole cup (for the 20 minute variety). Add the potatoes at the end.

Disclaimer: No, Safeway and Minute Maid didn't pay me to say their juice tasted good when boiled for twenty minutes with oatmeal.

Chihayafuru Lasertag

April 17, 2012

Over on Instructables there’s a description of how to make your own mechanical Karuta practice opponent using lasers. How cool is that?

The idea is, you have cards marked with both machine readable code and human readable characters. The machine uses a webcam to pattern-match a line of text to a specific card. The human uses brains to pattern match the spoken (via a text2speech tool) text with a specific card. The human points to the card with their hand. The machine points to the card with a laser. If the human is faster than the machine, they can flip the card out of the way. If the human is slower than the machine, they get a laser burn on the back of their hand. This is called reinforcement learning. Based on the embedded vid, the machine is really fast. While the machine doesn’t act like a real human, it does give you the advantage of actually pointing to the card (so you know where it is if you couldn’t find it), or not moving at all (on one of the 50 dead cards).

The Instructable itself leaves a little bit to be desired. The key to the whole process is a flow-chart that is stuck in the number two position. The actual building of the tower and the assembling of the webcam and laser are not mentioned. I guess if you are an Arduino hacker who feels comfortable with circuit boards already this is not much of a problem. If you are an Ikea-challenged fumbler like me (I give a whole new meaning to the term “hacker”), it’s a little problematic.

As an alternative, I’d like to see someone come up with a Dance-Dance style practice board. You’d have a board, with pressure sensors in a 6 x 9 grid. When the machine reads a line, it starts a timer. When you hit the card, the timer stops, and you get to see how fast you were. You get to use real cards, not ones that are half QRC code, and you can collect statistics on how well you are doing, and what cards need more work. Plus, it’s kinder on the hands.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 16, 2012

Garden Report for 120416

It looks like Spring is here at last. No freezing weather this week, and a couple of days it hit an unofficial 70. So far, this week was above average, the week before was below average, and next week is scheduled to be about average. So on average, it looks like things will be about average. Unfortunately, our averages tend to be a little cold, and the coming week doesn’t look too good. Highs in the upper 50’s and lows in the upper 30’s. Not terrible weather, but not good weather for plants.

Peas are doing OK in the garden. Tomatoes are doing OK inside. Putting them outside in the nice weather. Thinking about moving everything forward a month, in honor of Climate Change. Started a bunch of iceberg lettuci inside. About a 75% germination rate. Bought an assortment of herb seeds — rosemary, oregano, etc — and broadcast seeded them in the ground clutter area under the cherry tree. I dug up and tamped down the next patch of the garden. 24hrs and no squirrel digs, that’s amazing.

Our lawn man came around and de-thatched the lawn. Actually, it looks more like he mowed and then aereated it. That’s OK, it needed that as well.

I won’t be able to get any more compost until next month — I’ll be in meetings when they are open — so I won’t be doing any more work on the keyhole garden. Meanwhile, I’m collecting potting soil for use as the top layer, once I put up some more compost.

Fifteen Minutes of Fame…

April 14, 2012

…and forever after, you’re the guy who wrote that Dinosaurs in Space paper. It’s gotten a certain amount of criticism, plus a spit-take or two.

The paper sounds like it started off reasonably rational. I can’t be sure, because it’s behind a paywall, but most of the commenters commented on this. It talks about chirality, or handedness in the shapes of various life-building chemicals. Life-building amino acids are left-handed (L-)*, not right-handed (D-), but there’s no reason they had to be**, and there’s no reason we couldn’t have a more even mix of the two kinds of handedness.

I suspect, as a simple systems scientist (that is, non-biologist, non-biochemist, non-evolutionist, your way through the rest of the Standard Occupational Classification System) that what we are seeing is a frozen accident. Life accidentally started out left-handed, and made more left-handed chemicals. Right-handed amino-acids didn’t have such a support group, and got out-competed. That hypothesis turns on the idea that a primitive L-amino based life form would prefer left to right-handed amino acids. It’s testable. (more…)

Oat Punch

April 13, 2012

MJ made some punch the other day, for her Ladies Club or something. There was lots left over, so I thought I’d try some in oatmeal. It was a mango/pineapple-nectar-based punch — sweet, but not overly so. I did the usual cup of liquid to 1/3 cup of 20min oats. Instead of potato flakes, which I thought might clash, I thickened it with mochi rice flour. No other additives, since I wasn’t sure what would work.

Result: Not….bad. Sweet, and a little gluey (that would be the mochi). I get the impression it’s only partly there. Like it was a cake-like recipe that needed icing, or an icing recipe that needed more sugar. I’m still not sure what would be a good additive. Maybe fresh fruit.

un-Health IT

April 12, 2012

I went in to get a blood test today. I’m a pretty healthy guy all told (when I had my mustering-out physical, the doctor thought part of my records must be missing, my career health record folder was so slim), and I’m usually only in for an annual physical. That’s what this was in preparation for.

Since my last visit, actually since last month, the clinic had gone to a new IT system — new provider, cloud based, the usual. What was irksome was that none of my medical insurance data had come across (I didn’t think to ask about my actual records), so they had to re-enter all of the data from my employer’s plan, my Medicare, and my Tricare coverage. Produce the cards. Scan them in. Re-enter things like emergency contact number. Wait for the servers, somewhere out in ‘the cloud’, to respond.

This is stupid. This is wasteful. This borders on criminal. Any company who cannot engineer a simple data transfer from one system to another shouldn’t be in business, and they certainly shouldn’t be in the health IT business. I didn’t think to ask what of my actual health records didn’t come over. Do they still know what drugs I am allergic to, or will they find out through trial and error?

I have said it before, and I’ll undoubtedly say it again. I lived my whole life, man and boy, in the military health care system. It worked, and it worked well. It is a government-run single payer system. Was it perfect? No. But, I’d take it in a heartbeat over the crapped up system we have today.

Apollo 13

April 11, 2012

I have updated my Ballad of Apollo 13 page with a YouTube audio performance by Julia Ecklar.

UPDATE on the 12th, from the Funny Old World department: Ballad is one of my more popular posts. Not in a HOTD class, but it consistently gets a few hits every month. Yesterday…nothing.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 9, 2012

Garden Report for 120409

We had a break in the weather last Monday, so I cut the bottoms out of fifteen assorted plastic bottles and planted out my peas. They seem to have survived the snow and the frosts and the squirrels.

So Friday was the first day that our local compost center was open.

They shred the garden waste turned in and then mix it with biosolids (30%) — AKA processed poop — and wood chips (30%), and let it compost inside for two months at a temperature of 132-155F. Then it’s piled outside for another two months, and then they sell it for $16 a yard.

I went down and got two garbage cans full. Well, not quite full — I couldn’t have lifted them if they were, for $6.50. When I got home I had to tip them into the wheelbarrow and take half a can at a time down to the keyhole garden. It made a nice layer on top of everything, but didn’t begin to give me the volcanic cone that KHGs are supposed to have. The wood chips make the compost a little coarse, with 2-3″ chunks of shredded treestuff throughout. I plan to go back next month (it’s only open three hours a day on two Fridays a month, and I’ll miss the next one) for two more cans. Then, I’ll plop down about 6 or 8 cuft of potting soil, wait a couple of weeks, and start planting out in mid May.

Meanwhile, I’ve laid out the plastic from the collapsed greenhouse to help warm up the soil and keep off squirrels. I plan to pull it back and cultivate every few days, and then broadcast plant spinach and see how that does, with the plastic left on for a good long time. By the time the spinach and the peas are ready for harvest, it will be time to dig everything over and plant real stuff.

GARDENING ADVICE: If you are going to put a 3ft long container full of soggy potting soil and newly sprouted lettuces on a sunny window sill, make sure the sill is wide enough to hold it before you go off and leave it overnight.

Just sayin.

Chihayafuru – The Anime, Season 1

April 6, 2012

What do you call a sports anime with no sports? A romance anime with no romancing? An anime about a family card game usually played only on New Years? Chihayafuru!!*

This is a gorgeous 25 episode series about a group of friends who bond in elementary school and stay emotionally close through high school. The framework is the Japanese card game Karuta (かるた). It’s a game only the Japanese could invent. You have 100 cards, each with a two-verse poem — one verse on the front, one on the back. Fifty of the cards are laid out face down in front of two players. A reader picks a card from another deck at random and reads the first verse. The players vie to pick up and discard the equivalent card, based on having memorized the first lines of each part of the poems. The winner is the first one with no cards. While there is a version of Karuta played by families on New Year’s Day, we are talking here about competitive Karuta. It involves memorizing 100 12th Century poems, then spending your days on your knees on a tatami mat, getting callouses on the tops of your feet and practicing your card-capturing swing. It has to be fast (faster than your opponent), wide-ranging (the card might be on your opponent’s side), precise (pinky on the corner counts), and decisive (blasting away four or five cards is fine, as long as you hit the right one). Think Rocky in a kimono. The Wikipedia entry is here, and this YouTube shows what a real game looks like. (UPDATE: and here’s a better one)

Got all that? Good. Now forget it. Chihayafuru isn’t about Karuta, much, even though it’s all about it. It’s really about the people who play it. (more…)

Cheesy Oats

April 6, 2012

Cheese has always been a leader in the savoury oatmeal department. I have decided that one of my oataku side-tracks is going to be testing the efficacy of various cheeses as oatmeal toppings/additives. To kick off, I am testing Cahill’s Porter Irish Specialty Cheese, made from Irish cheddar cheese, and the dark beer called porter. That’s ‘porter’, not ‘port’, and yes, it was an impulse buy of a sub-half-pound chunk at the local Safeway.

At first glance, you’d think that this was a marketing department product, thought up by Celtic Mad Men who have come no closer to a real dairy than a glass of Harvey’s Bristol Cream. And you’d be almost right. The product is a breccia of cheese chunks in a dark, gelatinous matrix. The cheese is unremarkable. The matrix tastes surprisingly like the super-Maillarded meat juice you get at the bottom of a roast beef pan. It doesn’t exactly crumble when you try to eat it, it just comes apart at the seams. When served at room temperature, the matrix is runny. When chilled, the cheese is tasteless. If you don’t mind eating something that comes apart on the knife, it actually tastes pretty good.

It’s better on oatmeal.

Specifically, it’s better on a chicken broth oatmeal with enough extra broth to support a little extra potato, plus enough more for gravy. Don’t crumble the cheese on top, instead, add it as a last-minute ingredient, just after the potato, crumbled and stirred in. Any earlier and the cheese disappears into the oatmeal as a thickener. Any later and you are reminded of how cheesy this particular product is.

It isn’t quite as bad as I may have made it sound, but it isn’t something I’m going to eat on a regular basis. Not at $23/lb plus shipping from Amazon.

WordPress Comments

April 4, 2012

This is the new WordPress comments policy. Evidently, if they recognize your email as a bonified, validated, loyal WP user, you have to log in to comment. If you are just some wandering clown who is using an email that has never been associated with a WP account, you don’t have to log in.

Making things hard for your users is no way to build up traffic.

Just sayin’.

Anime I’d like to see

April 4, 2012

I recently came across the aniblog site The Untold Story of Altair & Vega*. Among their many interesting colloquia was one on what each of the blog team’s contributors would like to see in a future anime. All of them were original and interesting, and each of them was built around a single anime on a specific topic (Akkadian history, Taisho Tokyo Noir…). I’d like to take a slightly different approach, and talk about what books I think would make good anime. My ground rules are that I will avoid the low-hanging fruit (Pratchett’s Diskworld) or obvious manga (Gallagher’s Megatokyo), or graphic novels (Foglio’s Agatha Heterodyne), and concentrate on the more obscure novels, or novel series. The structure of the story should allow breakup into a 13 or 26 episode anime series, and the audience is towards the adult end of the otaku spectrum. Herewith, in as-it-popped-into-my-head order, is my list:

Glen Cook’s Garrett series. Garrett is a private investigator in the southern hemisphere of a fantasy world, one populated by the usual run of giants and trolls and dwarves…and vampires and pixies and centaurs. If it exists in someone’s fevered fantasy, it lives here and has crossbred with humans and others. Here is a gritty 16th century-style civilization, with beer and carriages and tricorn hats and eyeglasses, but no gunpowder and no steam power. It’s a monarchic aristocracy, and the power behind the throne is the warlocks, who burn silver like it was oil, and promote wars in desert wastelands to obtain it. As usual, power begets corruption, and most of Garrett’s cases deal with the rich and powerful and corrupt. There’s 13 books in the series, and any one of them would make a good single episode, or four episode arc. What with his many girlfriends, it would make a perfect harem/fantasy/detective series.

Wrede and Stevermer’s Sorcery and Cecelia. A standalone novel, with a separate and somewhat less engaging sequel, this started life as a writing exercise — letters between the two protagonists, one in London, the other in The Country. They are two teenage girls, approaching coming-out age, and are caught up in the affairs of wizards, and plots that extend from old country houses to the most modern (for the mid-1800’s) townhomes. The letter format means that the story can be easily broken and assembled at will and still retain the feel of the original, even in a 26 episode season. The girls are both plucky adventuratrix’s, neither of whom needs rescuing thank you very much. The male love interests are both competent and believable, but there is also a beautiful but ditzy older sister and a bratty older brother to provide the comic relief.

Martha Wells’ Death of the Necromancer. Is the second book of a five book semiseries. I call it a semiseries, because the first one is set several hundred years before the second one, and the last three are set several decades after. Think, Stuart, Victorian, and early Windsor London, except that the feel of the place is more like Paris (despite being called Vienne).

C.J. Cherryh’s Rusalka series. Possibly the least known of her series, this is a dark, Russian, tale of three wizards in the shadowy forests north of Great Kiev. One of them is young, and just learning. One of them is old and tired after years of struggle against magical forces. And one of them has been dead for decades. This is, of course, a mere inconvenience for a wizard, much like living two blocks too far off the tramline. It is a handicap which doesn’t, for example, keep him from draining the life from the forest, and marshalling his magical forces to resume his former place in the world.

Mercedes Lackey’s Diana Tregarde series. This series suffered the fate of Firefly back when Joss Whedon was still writing for Roseanne — poorly placed, released out of order — it died the death of inept marketing after only three novels, despite having a large number of fans. As in fanatics. As in fanatical believers in the truth of the backstory. Never mind. It was good. Tregard is a paranormal investigator and “Guardian”, who bumps into things that go bump in the night every time she turns around. She even has a vampire boyfriend, ten years before that became trendy. The series is long enough to support at least a 13 episode season, although it lacks the closure of a final battle. The three main story arcs — evil people killing gypsy children (and the evil people include a sort of Japanese serial soul stealer), ancient Aztec gods trying to make a comeback, high school students playing with evil just for fun — provide a wide range for action. Tregarde is young enough to be youthed up for the mid teen set.

Connie Willis’ To Say Nothing of the Dog. OK, this one is in here just because I’d dearly love to see an anime based on it. Time traveler and cat inadvertently cause rift in the continuity of time. Other time traveler is sent back with the cat to try to fix things. Ends up at an English Country Home of the late 1800’s. With a dog. Great fun. Could be done in multiple drawing forms — Emma, for the Victorian episodes, Ghost in the Shell for the 23rd Century shots, other minor styles for the 1940’s and 1340’s. The protagonist is of college age. The dog and the cat make admirable animal foils. Tocelyn “Tossie” Mering, the flighty contemp, provides plenty of moe.

I am open to further suggestions, not that this entry will be read by anyone in anime authority, or, well…anyone.. for that matter.

*A reference to the Japanese folktale of the lovers Hikoboshi and Orihime, separated by the Milky Way. Their story is celebrated in the July/August festival Tanabata. It features on the first episode of season two of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Bamboo Rhapsody.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

April 2, 2012

Garden Report for 120402

“Dear Diary, March 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. It rained today.”

Our Spring continues to look like a Portland Winter. Rain, not quite freezing, blustery. Followed by more rain, and the sump pump came on every half hour, and it kept coming on for a day after the rain stopped. Our Inland NorthWest twist on things is the fact that for the second year in a row we have had snow the first week of April.

No work on the garden. Pulled the remains of the greenhouse out of the corner where they were huddling. I am thinking of using the plastic as a ground cover, to start some seeds early.

Meanwhile, the peas I started indoors are ready to transplant. I’d have done it Sunday, if it weren’t for the 30kt winds and blowing snow. Today fer sure. I’m going to cut a bunch of MJ’s water bottles to make individual greenhouse thingies. I plan to put them out between class and my Fac Rules meeting. I’ve got 15 plants in peat pots, 12 of which look to be in good condition.

The lettuce containers and the white radish container have sprouted and are doing well. The tomatoes are around 4″ high, and I need to think about the next step for them. I’d like to try putting one in a pot in the basement next to the furnace, with a flourescent shop light above it as a way of getting some early tomatoes — under normal conditions we are lucky if the outdoors ones ripen by mid September. If that works, I plan to see if I can have an indoor plant that lasts into November or so.