Archive for July, 2015

MH-370 at Reunion

July 30, 2015

Preliminary reports indicate part of the Boeing 777 might have washed ashore on Reunion island. Here is the latest CNN report. And here is a useful summary from Aviation Herald. To this untrained eye, the photos show remarkably little sea life attached to the debris. However, what plants and crustaceans are found there will help determine the history of the object after it hit the water.

Preliminary statements indicate that Reunion is a reasonable place to expect debris from the calculated crash site to drift to. In Bayesian terms, this means the new information gives us no reason to change our original conclusion.

Anime worth watching, Spring 2015

July 28, 2015

I watched a lot of anime last season, most of it unmemborable. Some of it unmentionable. Only two worth repeating. There were a number of disappointments. The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan was worth watching, once, if you are a fan of the original. There’s a good drinking game to be had, picking out the callbacks to the original (“Kyon-kun, denwa“). The ending was a disappointing cop-out, possibly because there’s another three volumes of the manga yet to be written (see episodes 23 and 24 of Shirobako). Everybody else liked the second seasons of My Teen RomCom SNAFU, and Nisekoi. They were reasonably well done, but I thought they overstayed their welcome. So what two made the cut?

Sound, Euphonium:  響け! ユーフォニアム (hibi.ke! euu.fuo.ni.a.mu), perhaps better translated as Resonance! Euphonium. Overall, Eupho is the best anime of the season, and firmly ensconced as one of my all-time favorites. In some ways, it’s a typical sports anime, another going to Koshien series, where the underdog team fights its way to the nationals. Only the sport is high school concert band.

We open with the end of the concert season at a middle school, where the graduating senior
Ōmae Kumiko (our POV character) sees her band take a ‘dud gold’. They won a gold, but didn’t get selected for the nationals. She moves on to high school and joins a lackluster band that decides they really do want to go to the nationals. The rest of the story is about the struggles of the band to come together, the internal politics to smooth out, and the individual relationships to jell.

A girl and her horn

A girl and her horn

As with all good stories, it’s about the characters, and it does a good job of highlighting the personalities and desires and struggles of a good number of the band members, even those that drop out early, or don’t make the final cut. There’s a number of budding romances, some of which are nipped in the bud, and Kumiko unexpectedly finds herself smitten with another girl, trumpet player Kōsaka Reina, and they provide one another much needed emotional support throughout the second half of the season.This not being a romcom or fanservice anime, the relationship never goes beyond mutual declaration, but some of the scenes are emotionally intense, in a quiet, understated sort of way.

Declaration of love

Declaration of love

The studio is Kyoto Animation, KyoAni, which means gorgeous artwork, expert camerawork, and excellent pacing. KyoAni is famous for attention to detail. For example, in episode eight, the one where Reina declares to Kumiko, they’ve decided to walk up a local ‘mountain’ instead of going to a festival. It’s really just a tall, steep hill at the edge of town, with steps and handrails and benches at the top. Reina, who never does things by halves, has dressed all in white, with high heels, as for a date. At one point, the camera zooms in on her feet, and we see that the straps have rubbed her heels raw. Show, don’t tell.

The pain is worth it

The pain is worth it

The sound track is, well, concert band, and very well done.

Our final goal

Our final goal

Blood Blockade Battlefront: 血界戦線 (ke.kkai sen.sen). A literal translation of each kanji is blood.boundary.war.line, and the last two characters are a good example of how two Japanese words can sound alike but have totally different meanings, depending on the kanji.

Gate to the netherworlds opens up inside a bubble enclosing New York City, which becomes overrun with weird beings. Young man sneaks in to make his fortune.

If you can't make it here, you can't make it anywhere

If you can’t make it here, you can’t make it anywhere

Meets up with group of human superheros called Libra, each of whom has a weird power (e.g. Zip can turn his blood into a sword).

The Libra Dancers

The Libra Dancers

Frantic, frenetic hilarity ensues. Monster of the week format, with nonstop action and good jazz BGM. You have to watch each episode two or three times or you miss stuff.

The only way to win is not to play

The only way to win is not to play

Multiple Perspectives and the F-35

July 28, 2015

A couple of weeks ago there was a leaked report  on the inability of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to defeat an F-16 in a set of Basic Fighter Maneuver engagements (read it here). This set off a firestorm of discussion on the web, amongst those who want to kill the project and those who said the report, and its interpretation, were flawed. There were complaints from the fighter pilot community that anyone with a blog had now become an air to air combat expert.

F-35 and F-16 strike a pose for the photographers

F-35 and F-16 strike a pose for the photographers

Well, IANAFP, but I think there are some aspects of the discussion that have been missed. Let me map the discussion to Linstone’s Multiple Perspectives approach. This will hopefully shed a different light on the arguments, as well as providing a good example of how the Multiple Perspectives approach works.

Hal Linstone, who I had the pleasure to know when I was a grad student in the Portland State Systems Science Program, is a former RAND Corporation associate, and one of the developers of the Delphi methodology. Not Delphi the Object Oriented Pascal product, but a technique for getting agreement amongst experts. He is also famous for the approach to framing a problem that he calls Multiple Perspectives.

Basically, MP says that every business problem can be considered along three dimensions: Technical, Organizational, and Personal.

Technical, as you might expect, holds that a given problem is one of inadequate technology, and that it can be solved by throwing more engineers at it. This viewpoint informed most of the systems development projects at the end of the last century, and its proponents were always surprised when their approach didn’t work out.

Organizational says that many problems occur because of how the organization is structured and what its rules are. Very often something cannot be done because there is no box on the form that can be checked. When same-sex marriage was finally allowed, many counties had problems, because their software wasn’t set up to hand anything other than one male and one female. You might think this is a technical issue, but the root is the failure of the organization to consider the possibility when they wrote the requirements. Counties that still relied on paper forms had the same problem, but at least there they could make a pen and ink correction.

The Personal dimension says that very often the root of a problem is people, sometimes a specific individual in an organization. People interpret the rules, and one individual’s interpretation can differ from another’s. If that person is in a position of power, then their interpretation rules. In an extreme case, an individual might block a technical improvement because they fear that the new technology will harm their job.

Deming’s parable of the red and white beads can be used as an example of MP.  Is the problem a Technical one, of not giving the worker the tools to reject wrong-colored beads? Is it Personal, in that the worker needs better training and motivation? Or is it Organizational, because the worker should never be required to separate out the beads in the first place?

So, how does all this apply to the F-35 in general, and to the air combat discussion in particular? Before we begin, let me say that a number of the arguments presented are spread over different articles, and so you are going to get multiple links to the same article. Now let’s see.

Personal: The argument here is that the flight was a test flight, and that the pilots were looking to accomplish test objectives, not win a bar bet. More to the point, the F-35 hasn’t been around enough for anyone to become an expert in it, and so we haven’t developed tactics for it. This is true as far as it goes, but the main article makes it sound like the pilot was a n00b. He may only have had 100+ hours in the F-35, but I’m pretty sure he’s a multi-thousand hour test pilot.

Technical: Two points stand out. First, not all the F-35 technology was available, off-boresight aiming being the most important example. Second, as with your car, changing the performance of a modern fighter is mainly a matter of changing the software. You don’t optimize your carburettor any more, you reburn the EPROMS. So too with today’s computers-with-wings. Indeed, one of the reasons for the test flight was to define areas where the software needed tweaking.

Organizational: The current employment concept says the F-35 should never have to dogfight, just as a combat Marine should never have to engage in hand to hand combat, except as a last resort. The idea is to use it as a networked sensor platform and employ the full range of US weapons, including long range AAMs and SAMs, while using the stealth to keep from being detected. This approach was demonstrated using a commercial air combat game.

My Two Cents

Personal: I have nothing much to add here. Our pilots and aviators are the best in the world, with more flying time than the pilots of any other country. We may have cut back training hours due to sequestration funding, but the worldwide operations tempo continues unabated. The Russians, and the Chinese have, historically, gotten what one of my commanders used to call “just enough flying hours to kill you.”

One of the articles notes that the only people who are really competent to comment on the J-35 capabilities are the program managers with the appropriate clearances, and the rest of us are, essentially, sitting with our backs to the fire, trying to interpret the shadows. This is certainly true. On the other hand, I can tell you from my years at the Pentagon that it’s also true that program managers will lie, and will leak classified information to support their programs while suppressing unfavorable evidence via overclassification. On the other other hand, “any stick will do to beat a dog”, and much of the furor over the test report is being raised by people who are against the F-35 for other reasons, such as cost, or “not produced in my district”.

Technical: My issue here is what might be called the historical component of the technical perspective. The F-35 supporters pooh-pooh the comparisons with the F-4 and F-105 in VietNam, pointing out the tremendous differences in weapons capabilities since then. This is correct, but misses the point. At a more abstract level, in the early 1960’s we had a concept of what an air war would look like, given the new weapons systems, and we designed our force structure around that concept. When the war actually started, it turned out our weapons didn’t perform the way we thought they would, and the hostile environment was different from what we thought it was going to be, and we ended up with deficiencies that took a couple of years of combat to overcome. Years.

Organizational: From the discussions, the employment concept for the F-35 is much like our ideas of how the early hours of WWIII in Europe would roll out — clouds of their fighters meeting clouds of our fighters, and stay inside your root cellar lest you be hit by falling debris. Or set piece engagements in narrowly defined regions, like the Gulf, or the Baltic. All of them seem to be based on a networked and ‘weapons free‘ scenario where, on a good day, you shoot all your missiles Beyond Visual Range, and head home in time for Happy Hour.

The problem is, IMHO the most likely future conflicts will be narrowly constrained affairs, where third-party neutrals will be going about their business while you fight. Think of Pratchett’s “melee coming through“. During the Tanker War in the Gulf, everyone continued to operate commercial shipping and airlines, with sometimes disastrous results. If my quick check on Orbitz is correct, there’s something like sixteen flights from Tokyo to Singapore per day, all of them flying in the vicinity of Taiwan. It’s entirely likely that the F-35 will have to operate in an environment where the Rules of Engagement require visual ID before weapons launch.

UPDATE: Here is a much more detailed discussion of flaws in the F-35.

The bottom line is that these issues are much more complex and nuanced than a simple blog post on turn rates and energy levels would have you believe. The proof of the pudding won’t be found for another five years or so, when all the teething troubles and upgrades and tactics have been worked out. Most of the current discussions are about “did we build the system right?” A much longer blog post is needed to discuss the key question, “did we build the right system”?

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 26, 2015

Garden Report for 150727

The weather this week was warm (around 80F) and dry and windy, and next week is scheduled for very warm and dry (approaching 90F).

Harvested most of the beans, almost two poundsworth, which looks to be three dinners for two. This, from about half a section of the KHG. Picked a bunch of tomatoes, just short of ripe. I figure that will encourage the others. The Red Zebras averaged about an ounce each, while the two Patio tomatoes from the garden came in at 5oz and 3oz. The pie pumpkin was totally orange, so I picked that – maybe we’ll get another one, and in any event I plan to let it ripen some more inside.

The container squash are going wild. It says on the tin that they are “bush buttercup”, but that’s not what it looks like from here. I planted two, side by side in the two white containers you see below.  As you can see, the left hand one has leaped clear over two containers and is encroaching on the Asian beans. The right hand one has grown across three containers and is producing flowers in the vine maple next the dog run. The focus is pretty bad on this shot, but it’s too dark now to get another. I’ll update in a week or two.

Tomorrow, the World

Tomorrow, the World

This makes for some interesting squash fruit. Here’s two of them, hanging four feet off the ground.

Two Buttercups

Two Buttercups

Here’s the latest scoreboard. I note that in 2013 and 2014 it was almost mid-August before I had enough harvested to start posting to the scoreboard.

Week Ending 7/27 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  25  42  1.7  45 5.1
Summer
Zuccini  2  36 18  5 5.1
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pie
Pumpkin
 1  26  26  1  1.6
Beans  –  30  –  –  1.8
Peas  –  16 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 14.5lb

Memories of my youth: Phantom Sounds

July 21, 2015

My time in the Air Force pretty much coincides with the heyday of the F-4 Phantom. The 366th TFW flew F-4Cs out of DaNang AB, my first base level assignment. The 48th TFW at RAF Lakenheath transitioned from F-100s to F-4Ds when I was next door at RAF Mildenhall. My own 51st TFW flew F-4Es out of Osan AB in Korea, my last base-level assignment.

The early F-4’s had leading edge flaps to help maneuverability. In later models, these were replaced with two-position leading edge slats, which reportedly gave the same maneuverability with more stability. What they took away was the distinctive deep whistling sound, almost a moan, that an F-4C would make as the flaps were cycled in the final turn in the landing pattern. Despite hours of searching, I’ve only been able to find one video that halfway captures this sound (and then only 7sec worth), at

Boise, Idaho, in 1988.

In case it doesn’t queue up properly, the sound starts at the 2:24sec mark.

The sound of an F-4C in the landing pattern, and the sound of a C-130 “low-speeding the outboards”, are the quintessential sounds of my Air Force career.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 19, 2015

Garden Report for 150720

The weather this week was warm and dry (around 80F), and next week is scheduled for very warm and dry (approaching 90F).

This is the boring part of Summer. Stuff is growing. Grow stuff grow. I water stuff. Water, water water. The brief surge of unseasonably early ripenings,  probably due to unseasonably early warmth, has been choked off by the unmentionably high temperatures earlier this month. A few leftover early tomatoes are ripening. The ever-fruitful Zucchini is fruiting (or whatever you call a fruitfulizing vegetable). Our one pie pumpkin is starting to turn. The bush buttercup squash I planted in the containers is now 12ft long, causing me to reconsider my concept of what a “bush” is.

A perfect time to hide inside and recover from my cataract operations. Next week this might be a review of farming anime, instead of a garden blog.

Week Ending 7/20 Vegetable Count Weight oz Unit Weight oz Total Total Weight lb
Tomato  10  16  1.6  30 3.6
Summer
Zuccini  1  9  9  3 2.5
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin
Beans
Peas  –  16 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 7.1lb

Sorry, Slate, DC (still) doesn’t need any skyscrapers

July 16, 2015

Just over three years ago, I posted a short comment on an opinion piece in Slate on the the then-ongoing debate over whether to relax Washington, D.C.’s limit on building height. The crux of my argument was that DC, as designed, had maintained the balance between human scale and public function that caused European cities like Paris to be praised for their historic beauty. DC, like Paris, is a capitol city, and esthetics should rank first when talking about change.

Now, from Slate, comes a tale of another European city, London. Unlike Paris and DC, London has given way to developer’s greed, to the point where even those who love the city are leaving it.

The new Slate article covers one of the symptoms of the decline, the destruction of the esthetics of central London. What’s happened there? Consider Saint Paul’s Cathedral, begun on the still warm ashes of the Great Fire of London, survivor of the Blitz, and for 150 years the tallest and, as Shepps says, the most prominent building in the city.

Saint Paul's, 1891

Saint Paul’s, 1891

Here it is now, in a photo from the Slate article, a small parish church, huddled amidst the encroaching cranes, dwarfed by The Shard, prominent only in memory.

Saint Paul's and The Shard, 2014

Saint Paul’s and The Shard, 2014

If that’s what you want DC to become, then build those skyscrapers.

Memories of my youth: Gangsters

July 14, 2015

Having just turned 68 a couple of years ago, and thus having to finally admit that I’ve entered middle age, I thought I’d start writing down some incidents from my past — little snippets of memories that bubble up from time to time, and that others might find interesting. Or not. And even if you don’t, it leaves a record for me to gum over a couple of decades from now.

This is a tale related to me by an old audiologist, when I was in elementary school and he was in my ears, conducting tests. He was talking about his life as a young doctor in a rather sleazy district of Chicago, back in the days of Prohibition and gangsters.

One day, a local member of the gangster profession — we will call him Big Louie because I cannot remember his real name — comes into the doctor’s office. It seems that Big Louie has an ear ache which is bothering him more than somewhat and he wishes our doctor to examine it. Our doctor inserts his otoscope into Big Louie’s right ear and he takes a look around. He figures it is a regular old ear infection, and since antibiotics have not yet been invented, he knows there is not much he can do, which is sad. Instead, he finds a snarl of string, with several blobs of pus and other detritus sticking to it, and he follows said string all the way back into the depths of Big Louie’s ear. It seems that Big Louie sticks this string in his ear one day, back when he is just Little Louie, and there it sits for the next few decades, rotting and infecting and interfering with his hearing in general. Our doctor pulls out the string, and the pus balls, and the detritus, cleans up the ear, writes out a bill, and sends Big Louie on his way.

A week or so later, Big Louie is back. “Doc, I gotta thank you” he says. “Don’t nobody say anything on that side that I don’t hear now. Get your hat and coat. We are going for a walk”.

So, out they go, arm-in-arm, for a half-hour stroll around the district. Up this street and down that, across town and back, Big Louie saying hello to people now and then, and them saying hello right back. After a while, Big Louie and the doctor are back in the office. Big Louie says another big thank you, and leaves, leaving our doctor more than a little confused.

A week or so after Big Louie’s second visit, our doctor is walking towards his office in this sleazy district of Chicago, when what should happen but two tough-looking guys appear, one on each side of him. And these tough-looking guys start pushing our doctor towards an alley, the assumption being they are looking for a quiet  place where they can mug him in private. Suddenly, three other guys come running down the the street towards them. They stop the two tough-looking guys, and they say to them “This, is a friend of Big Louie’s”. Well, right away the two tough-looking guys get all apologetic and say that if they know this when they see him, they never would bother him.

And our doctor is never bothered by criminals in this district again.

I suspect that the doctor tells me this story as a way of reminding me that it does not matter what my career goals are, I should not put stuff in my ears.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 12, 2015

Garden Report for 150713

The weather this week was mixed: mid 90’s the first half of the week (hit 100F one day), and low 80’s with one day of light steady rain in the second half.

The first Zucchini of the year is always a big one (23oz in this case), because I don’t think to look for them until they become obvious. The yellow tomato finally ripened, and came in at 8oz. Also harvested 10 or so Champions, at about 2oz each, and another 8 Celebrities at 1.5oz each. Since almost 50% of each had to be discarded due to BER, the reported weights are a little misleading.

Planted some radishes in Section 2. Iceicle (long and thin) and Watermelon (red centers). 28 days for both. Afterwards, I’ll plant true daikon for harvest in late Fall.

I guess it’s time to start the scoreboard again.

Week
Ending
7/13
Vegetable Count Weight
oz
Unit
Weight
oz
Total Total
Weight
lb
Tomato  19  41  2.1  20 2.6
Summer
Zuccini  2  33  16  2 2.0
Delicata
Cuke
Spaghetti
Pumpkin
Beans
Peas  –  16 1.0
Cabbage

Grand Total: 5.6lb

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2015

July 11, 2015

We are two weeks into the season, and the shows are dropping like exhausted fruit flies.

Danchigai Slice of life HS kid lives with four sisters, two older, two younger, one a tsundere brocon. Parents traveling overseas. Etc. Very generic. Very vanilla. Very uninteresting.

Castle Town Dandelion  Eleven super-powered children of a middle-class king vie, with various levels of enthusiasm, for a shot at the next kingship. Not…bad…just not compelling. Or interesting. Second show this season where people with superpowers have just one, and that very restricted.

Shimoneta: A boring world where the concept of dirty jokes doesn’t exist  In a 1984-style Japan, everyone wears dog collars, that detect whenever the wearer uses sexually related words. Even soft-core porn is prohibited (the episode starts with a SWAT team raiding a bunch of teen boys with girly mags), and children grow up with no understanding of the birds and the bees.

Naturally, there’s an underground resistance, led by the vice-president of the Student Council of a highly moral HS. She does things like prance around the roof of a train station wearing only a robe, shouting subversive cries, like “c**k a doodle p***y”, or whatever that is in Japanese. Her disguise is a pair of (hopefully, washed) panties, worn over her face. She recruits our male protagonist, and proceeds to hijack a student assembly with slides of two fruit flies going at it, to the sounds of off camera moans.

Hilarity ensues. Well, onscreen. Offscreen, the best I could do was mild smirking.

This is most likely a reaction to the Tokyo Metropolitan law called Bill 156, and other laws that  attempt to let bureaucrats define what constitutes pornography (particularly child pornography), showing what happens “if this goes on”.

Not enough redeeming social value, although I suspect there’s a whole lot of culturally relevant nuances I’m missing, or that got translated out (e.g. the show’s p**is-substitute word in Japanese is mushroom, subtitled here as cucumber).

Prison School Mizujima Tsutomu, what’s happened to you? How could you go from directing Garupan and Shirobako to this? Bad art, bad acting, stupid premise (roughly – boys imprisoned in an all girls school). Admittedly, a premise is only stupid if it’s executed badly. Garupan, after all, was about girls driving tanks on giant aircraft carriers. This was executed badly. How badly? After ten minutes of P-School, I flung the controller across the room and ran, weeping, out to the back deck to teach the local mosquitoes about the effects of gin on the human bloodstream.

TL:DR — Anime I never finished, Summer 2015

July 10, 2015

Ranpo Kitan (Ranpo Mystery Stories)
Based on the works of mystery writer Edogawa Ranpo. Emotionally stunted HS student (“Wow, a dismembered body, life is no longer boring”) goes to work for brilliant crime-solver, who is also of HS age. Think “Ghost Hunt”, only with dead bodies instead of dead souls, and an off-putting male POV character, instead of a sympathetic female.

Chaos Dragon
Based on a D&D game, and these never turn out well. It’s like you’re watching somebody else play. Now I know why gamers don’t have nongamer girfriends.

My wife is the student council president
Plot line 1: Innocent girl wins election as student council president by throwing codoms into the student assembly, and promising free love on campus.
Plot line 2: Innocent girl student council president moves in with the vice president as his wife because of an agreement their parents made sixteen years earlier. Finds out all about first base.
For the first time I know of, CR is broadcasting both a censored and uncensored version, (because it does need censoring). Why couldn’t they have done this with Highschool Of The Dead? Oh, yeah. That had a plot.

Aoharu x Machine Gun
Hey, guys! Looks like anything featuring cute girls with guns is a hit (Sabagebu, Upotte, C3-Bu) these days, but what can we do to up the game? How about making her a HS student with a strong sense of justice? Sounds good. Yeah, and she could be ultra-strong! Great! …and a cross-dresser! Now, you’re talking! And, and — you’ll love this — her love interest in the paintball club is an obnoxious guy who…who…works at a host club!! The fans will go wild!!!

Curried Date Oatmeal

July 9, 2015

Now, everybody likes a bowl of curried something for breakfast, particularly on hot summer days that remind one of the Raj. I find that curried oatmeal goes best with some kind of fruit or jam. Earlier this year we went on a trail mix kick, but decided that since our car wouldn’t fit on any of the local trails we’d give it up. That left us with some spare fruitlike substances, including an almost full container of date bits. Date bits are to dates as chicken McNuggets are to poultry, except for the deep fat frying part. They’re small, machine-processed, half-raisin-sized chunks of dried dates, with the occasional date by-product. They’re not crunchy, but neither are they raisin-soft. I used a couple of heaping dinner teaspoons, since heaping is the only way the bits fit. Don’t worry about getting too many — they’re like human skulls, in that they don’t stack very well.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, a quarter-inch strip of Golden Curry roux, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, two dinner teaspoons of date bits (carefully screened to remove any stems or palm fronds), one cup of broth (your choice, I used a mix of pork and oxtail), salt.  Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats.  Add the dates when you start and the potato when you take it off the stove.

Results: Very good. The cooking softened the dates to the point that I didn’t notice them, and the date flavor leaked out into the oatmeal so you had a blend, rather than just a date-flavored object in an oatmeal-flavored matrix.

Rating: *****

Warka Water

July 7, 2015

Just over a year ago, Smithsonian Magazine had an article on an insect-inspired rig to pull water out of the air. The inspiration was a Namibian beetle that sits on top of sand dunes and uses airflow across its body to extract dew. Because of our ongoing drought here in the NENW, I thought I’d take another look at the concept. This photoshop shows what the rig looks like:

Aliens have landed

Aliens have landed

While this is all cool and aerospace and everything, I’m inclined to think it’s mostly architects having fun. Not that it won’t perform as advertised, but that it doesn’t have to be that avant-garde to work.

1. That artistic outer screen is simply a support. I suspect a chain link cylinder would do almost as well, and it could be recycled as child restraints later.

2. The inner orange thing is just a net, cunningly sloped to funnel the dew. Bigger mesh than window screening, smaller than anti-bird nets. You could probably knit one out of old speaker cord.

3. And it most likely doesn’t even have to be that shape. A plain old funnel would likely work as well.  It’s round because it has to handle wind from any direction. In fact, the roundness probably lowers its efficiency. A simple slab would probably work as well, as long as it was positioned cross-wind.

I built a test rig last summer — simple sheet of the kind of netted plastic sheets you get with those small hardware store greenhouses, with lots of holes poked in the sheeting. It didn’t work, probably because it doesn’t get as humid here, and the day-night temperature swings aren’t as wide as in the Ethiopian highlands. I might wait until early September, when we do get some good day/night differences, thoroughly water the lawn around it, and see what happens. That won’t do me any good, but if it works it would be a nice proof of concept for other folks.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

July 5, 2015

Garden Report for 150706

More blistering heat, with three days over 100F.  Next week is lower 90’s. Watering limits still in effect, so if it weren’t for the weeds my lawns would be totally dead. I’m reminded of a drought they had back when we were living in the UK — much talk about playing cricket on the old village yellow. Sunday was quite a bit cooler than forecast. I think it was the smoke from the British Columbia fires, drifting over eastern Washington.

Harvested all the peas. One pound unshelled. Two servings shelled. Waited too long, so they were a little mealy, and a little underdone. Given that the peas were planted across about one third of a section, that means we could get three meals out of a KHG section planted totally to peas. Meanwhile, the Santa Maria beans are doing well.

Beans and the new plantings grill

Beans and the new plantings grill

The clean sweep I made of the lettuce in Section 2 cleared out all the kholrabi as well. I planted some more on Saturday. Theoretical harvest in mid-September. Also planted some chard, as well. Planted chard and lettuce in Section 3. I have two more open spots that I’ll put lettuce into mid-month or so.

Cucumbers continue to grow, every plant component but cucumbers. I had to extend the tomato cages they were on, by inverting a second cage on top of them. The trouble is, the heat keeps killing the flowers. Fifty feet of vine, no cucumbers. On Saturday morning, none of the tomatoes were ripe enough to pick. Sunday, five of them were, but four were badly BER’d.

Rickety cages.

Rickety cages.

I picked a couple and cut off the blossom ended end. They were a little short of ripe, but tasted good.

So, the current state of play is:
Section 1: Tomatoes and Squash. Doing well, but nothing near ripe yet
Section 2: Harvested everything. Planted kohlrabi and lettuce and chard (oh my). One panelsworth still open. Plan to plant lettuce there in a couple of weeks
Section 3: Bush beans. Doing well. Due mid-July (except I think the heat has retarded them). Santa Maria beans, doing well. Lettuce and chard.
Section 4: Cleared out. Asparagus in part, but no signs of life. Three panelsworth available now.
Note: a ‘panel’ is one of those shelf grids I use to keep the squirrels off.

Now, all I need to do is decide what to plant. Section 4 has already had peas in it, and they were looking a little diseased (or heat killed) at the end, so I don’t want to do peas or beans there again. I already have two panels of greens just planted, and another panel that I’m planning to plant later. That leaves essentially one small panel in Section 2, and two large and one small panels available in Section 4. Looking at my seed collection, and leaving out squash (Section 1 is full and the other sections are resting), peas/beans/and greens, my seed stock looks limited to various radishes, and some out of date carrots. And of course, our local stores are out of seeds for the season. I guess I’ll put the radishes in Section 2, with the Brassicae, and the carrots in Section 4.

The Declaration of Independence

July 4, 2015

…according to Stan Freberg