Archive for July, 2012

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 30, 2012

Garden Report for 120730

Not much doin’. We’re in the ‘you grow girl’ part of summer. I decided that one way to use up the extra compost would be to extend Section 4 one brick North. That gives me a 27″ workspace on that end. I am right now watering it in, and this afternoon, I’ll plant carrots.

Ichiro to the Yankees

July 23, 2012

They announced the trade about four hours before the game.

Lest we forget*:

Games At Bats Runs Hits HR RBI AVG OBP SLG OPS
1844 7858 1176 2533 99 633 0.322 0.366 0.418 0.784

Oh, well, at least he’ll have a chance of being in the playoffs*

  Wins Losses % Games Behind Runs Scored Runs Allowed Playoff Probability
New York 57 38 0.6 0 459 383 91.1%
Seattle 42 55 0.43 15.5 384 397 0.07%

*Through 22 July, 2012

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 23, 2012

Garden Report for 120723

Hot, humid, thundery all week. Clear and hot at the weekend.

Saturday I had five tons of compost dumped on my driveway.

Five yards of compost in my driveway, at about a ton per yard

Due to a lack of foresight, I didn’t leave enough room between the garden and the fence to get a wheelbarrow back to Section 4, so I had to halfway fill (I’m weak) a couple of plastic storage bins, call it 2cuft each, cart them to the garden, and haul them to the back. Once I got Section 4 done, then Section 3 went faster, because I can get to that with the barrow, and it was a simple fill and dump job.


July 22, 2012

Chick-Fil-A’s president has gone public with the official company anti-gay policy: “We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit.”

You know the Biblical definition of the family unit don’t you? Patriarchal father, subservient wife (purchased for a herd or two of sheep), multiple concubines, a few slaves, and a son you can set fire to if the voice inside your head tells you to.

I’m not particularly gay myself, and I’m certainly not an activist, but this stikes me as just stupid.

Ginger Oats

July 19, 2012

A while back I bought a sushi bento at Safeway. Who knew that mere rice could be compressed into such a strong, rubbery compound? The bento included a couple packets of soy sauce, and one each of wasabi and pickled ginger. The wasabi wasn’t real wasabi, of course. It was American horseradish, dyed green. I tried it in oatmeal, to my everlasting regret. This time, I tried the pickled ginger.

The official name is gari (ガリ), and you usually see the pink slices served as a condiment with many Japanese dishes.

The setup was standard — beef stock, oatmeal, the packet of gari (about a tablespoonsworth, plus liquid).

Results: Not bad. An acquired taste, I think. The dose was just small enough to flavor the oatmeal without overwhelming it. The actual ginger bits gave a nice surprise crunch.

John Fisher’s Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

July 18, 2012

John is an old friend from my RAF Mildenhall days — he was in the UK Customs there. He’s retired to New Castle Upon Tyne.


  • 2lb prepared rhubarb
  • 3oz crystalised ginger
  • 3tbsp lemon juice(1 lemon)
  • ¼ pint water
  • ½ oz bruised root ginger
  • 3lb sugar ½ bottle Certo(pectin)


  1. Wash and chop the rhubarb very finely
  2. Put the rhubarb in a pan with the water and lemon juice.
  3. Add the bruised root ginger ion a muslin bag.
  4. Bring to the boil and simmer gently the rhubarb is tender.
  5. Add the chopped crystalised ginger and the sugar and heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Bring to a full rolling boil for three minutes, stirring occasionally.
  7. Remove from the heat and remove the muslin bag and stir in the Certo.
  8. Allow to cool slightly then pot and cover in the usual way.

Depending on your particular taste for a stronger ginger flavour I add ground ginger, about a tablespoonful or more, instead of the root ginger. Best of luck; I hope you enjoy it. We certainly do. Also, a quick tip. When the jam is boiling and before you add the pectin, toss in a knob of butter. This helps reduce scum floating on the surface

Dinosaur Killers 2

July 16, 2012

In a NYT article, by way of Boing Boing, columnist Errol Morris, asks for your opinion on a statement by David Deutsch about the asteroid threat to Earth:

…we live in an era of unprecedented safety: the twenty-first century is the first ever moment when we have known how to defend ourselves from such impacts.

The survey asked not only for your opinion, but your level of confidence in that opinion.

The problem with this survey is that it asks for a single answer to two questions: “Do you think Deutsch’s claim is true? Is it true that ‘we live in an era of unprecedented safety’?” Of course, that’s because Deutsch makes two claims (1) we live in an era of unprecedented safety and (2) the twenty-first century is the first ever moment when we have known how to defend ourselves, and both of these miss the point.

My answer to claim (1) was that his claim was false, and there wasn’t any place I could answer claim (2), which is true. Claim (1) is false because of the third claim that no-one mentioned — that we not only know what to do, but we have the technical capability to do it on an appropriate timescale. (more…)

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 16, 2012

Garden Report for 120716

Hot all week, with highs in the mid-90’s.

Continued work on the KHG. Got the walls completed, and pavers down on the North Landing. Just need to insert the knee-holes, and the fill. Section 4 is about half full of detritus, and I’m still thinking about getting a half a truckload of compost dumped in the driveway. Sunday, I started on a frame for part of sections 1 and 2 — old deck railing designed to hold netting, primarily to keep the dogs out, and to give the squash a source of support.

The hot weather is starting to have an effect. On the bad side, the radishes bolted, as did the daikon. My lone bok choy also bolted, without ever producing a real bok choy head. On the good side, the tomatoes are flowering like mad, and my S-100 already has 1/4″ tomatelets. The lettuces are taking longer to come back from their haircut, and I think it might be that successive cuts are further down the leaf. As an experiment, I’ll trim them a little higher each time. There’s gazillions of squash coming along, but nothing is ready yet.

One, at least, of my summer squash plants seems to be throwing off bad fruit — they don’t mature. Remain wrinkled. Blossom end rots (if it were a tomato, I’d know what to do). Squash falls off the vine. As far as I can tell, it’s all the fruit from one plant. Based on online research, I guess it is blossom end rot. Went around to the hardware stores, and found one little handpump bottle of feed that has CA in it. We’ll see if that works.

My Daw Gauk beans sprouted indoors just fine, and I’ve transplanted them to where the bok choy and daikon used to be. Call it my Asian corner.

Dinosaur Killers 1

July 12, 2012

In a NYT article, by way of Boing Boing, columnist Errol Morris, asks for your opinion on a statement by David Deutsch about the asteroid threat to Earth:

…we live in an era of unprecedented safety: the twenty-first century is the first ever moment when we have known how to defend ourselves from such impacts.

It’s interesting, in that the survey asks not only for your opinion, but your level of confidence in that opinion.

I’ve given my opinion, and I’ll talk about it here, in a follow-on essay, in a couple of days. That will give you time to vote, and it will separate this entry from all possibility of spoilers.

Cheesy Oats

July 12, 2012

This time it’s Naturally Smoked Gouda. I used the tail end of a round that we’d been eating off of for the last week. As a snack cheese, it’s not all that great, wanting to gum up your teeth. The flavor is OK.

Standard setup: chicken broth, some grinds of pepper, oatmeal, cheese, diced, about a 1/4 cups worth.

Result: Very good. The cheese didn’t want to melt until stirred. The pepper added just the right bite. MJ said it smelled like bacon.

Nisemonogatari – The Anime

July 10, 2012

Nisemonogatari is the sequel to last week’s Bakemonogatari and again it’s a set (in this case a pair) of (mostly) disconnected stories, filled with disconnected events. It is just as clever, funny, erotic, (even more) perverotic, over the top, opaque, and incomplete as the first one. Also gorgeously drawn. As with Bake-, each episode starts with an OP that features the main character of that story. In this case, it’s Ararage’s little sisters: the bigger little sister, Karen (火憐 Fire Mercy) and the smaller little sister, Tsugi (月火 Moon Fire)*, known (in English) as the Fire Sisters. The ED is the same for all. Sadly, none of the music is as good as in Bake-.

Question: If one is an immortal monster, and the other tries to kick your chest out through your spine,
do they still count as sisters?

The common theme in these stories is fakes, and what it means to be a fake. The Fire Sisters are devoted to fighting for justice, but because they are not strong enough to do anything, it’s really just a game, and they are really just fake justice fighters. Then there’s the villain Kaiki. He’s a con man and a fake, as he will readily admit, although he maintains that if a fake is so good you can’t tell it from the real thing, then it’s better than the real thing, because it achieves realness of its own volition. Finally, there is Tsugi-chan, who fills Kaiki’s definition exactly. (more…)

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 9, 2012

Garden Report for 120709

A cool and windy start to the week, with a low that hit 43, then turned into warm and then hot, peaking at 97 on Sunday, with nothing but 90s in the forecast.

Started on Sections 3 and 4 of the KHG. Fought my way into the tangle of weeds and greenhouse remnants that’s been untouched by the hand of man since last Fall. Rescued a lot of plastic sheet and a number of support rods, all of which can be repurposed for….some…purpose. I decided that rather than nickle and dimeing the thing, hauling one Ford Focusload of compost after another, I would just order five yards of compost from the local landscapeman. But first, the structure has to be built.

Saturday we picked up 20 cinderblock and 12 pavers, and I did a bunch of digging of that end of the old garden. Killer heat. I moved half of the blocks out of the back of the car and then had to go have a lie down. On Sunday, I got the rest out of the car, and about half of them deployed into the garden. I think we’ll need two more trips to build the whole thing. The way the heat is right now (Sunday it got up to 97F), I’m only able to work a couple hours a day.

Meanwhile, in Sections 1 and 2, things are growing like crazy, but nothing’s ready to eat. I think our cold snap killed some of the flowers on the squash, because we had one misshapen summer squash — flared on stem end, with flower rotted at blossom end, about 4″ long. I cut one open and found it looked OK, except at the blossom end, where there was a void, with a bug in it.

I transplanted a number of iceberg lettuce from the old garden to Section 2. Four of the five made it, but none looks like they want to head. On our container tomatoes, I had originally only filled them partway, so I could put wire over them to keep out squirrels as necessary. Today I went around and filled them up with potting soil, then gave them a good wet-down.

With MJ’s help, I snaked a soaker hose through Sections 1 and 2 and ran it for an hour on Sunday. We’ll see how well that works.

Wasabi Oats

July 5, 2012



Happy 4th of July, CERN

July 4, 2012

On the day we reserve to tell ourselves America is great – July 4 – Europe reminds us that we suck at science. #HiggsBoson
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) July 4, 2012 via Twitter

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel

July 4, 2012

“Of course the people don’t want war. But after all, it’s the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it’s always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it’s a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger.”

— Herman Goering, quoted in Nuremberg Diary

So, the lying started at the top. Cheney lied about Iraq. Bush lied about BinLaden. Together, they instituted a regime of fear that we were being attacked, and that led us into two wars, wars that killed more Americans than Bin Laden did. We knew that. We tried to vote them out, but the politicized Supreme Court stole the election.

At home, it was just as bad. TSA, home of incompetence, thieves, and the worst sort of bureaucrats, convinced us that lining up and following orders and removing our clothing and walking into that chamber over there is the patriotic thing to do, because they are patriotically defending Americans. DHS, which translates quite nicely, and chillingly, as Dienst Heimat Sicherheits, trampled on Constitutional rights and freedoms of citizens, and convinced us that it was the patriotic thing to do. NSA refused to respond to a direct request from Congress on violations of citizen privacy, giving an excuse that is contemptuosly bogus.

And it’s not just the conservative, neocon, Republicans who are doing this (although it was their program). Lest they be labeled unpatriotic, and asked insightful, probing questions like “Why do you hate America?” the Democratic politicians have gone along with it. After all, no one wants to be accused of lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger. This of course, recalls the words of Edmund Burke, conservative, and contemporary of the man who gave this essay its title: In order for evil to triumph, it is only necessary that good men do nothing.

There are patriots to be celebrated this day. The men and women of the armed forces who patriotically followed their leaders into two quagmires, because they believed in our country and believed that our system only produced wise leaders, and who came home to a 12% unemployment rate, untreated PTSD, and record-level suicide rates. Those are the true patriots. The others, the ones you will hear praising them today, and praising the system that’s been inflicted on us for the last decade, they aren’t patriots. They are scoundrels.

Bakemonogatari – The Anime

July 3, 2012

This is the first of a maddeningly good pair of anime, based on a series of light novels. It is by turns clever, funny, erotic, perverotic, over the top, opaque, and incomplete. Monogatari (ものがたり, also 物語) means tales, or stories, or the story of. It applies both to national epics, like the 650 year old Tale of the Heike, and to modern collections of children’s stories. Here we have Bake (ghost, monster) stories, and later I will talk about Nise (fake) stories. They center on 3rd year high school student Araragi Koyomi, a human who was briefly a vampire and now retains a small amount of superhuman strength, rapid healing, and a vampire servant as a result.

The Bakemonogatari opening is actually from an early chapter of the prequel novel.


Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 2, 2012

Garden Report for 120702

Mostly warm, sometimes wet. Pouring down thunderstorms on a couple of occasions.

Finished off Section 2 of the KHG, and got it planted.

Preliminary planting. Beans on the left, squash on the right. Greens in between.
Probably should have built the center up more.

You might note that I have a central peak, despite my original plan to make it a mountain range. I realized that if I did that I’d have one big garden, and couldn’t do as well with crop rotation. This setup — with a cinderblock wall separating each section — lets me plant tomatoes in Section 1 the first year, move them to Sections 2 and 3 in succeeding years, and only plant them in Section 1 after a two year rest.

Speak of Section 1, it’s going wild. There’s already a summer squash almost ready to harvest. I’ve been trimming the lettuce as it gets big enough. Still no tomatoes on anything yet.

KHG Sections 1 and 2. Taken from under the spruce tree that protects the garden from getting too much sun.

I tried a trick I came across on a gardening blog. We were at the end of a package of celery, so I cut off the bottom inch and put it in a saucer of water. A week later it had grown green foliage and started putting out rootlets. On Saturday I moved it to a peat pot filled with seeding soil, and planted the pot in Section 2. We’ll see how that works out.