Archive for August, 2018

Pineapple Oats 1

August 30, 2018

A few months ago, a friend of ours went to Hawaii, and brought back a really fresh pineapple for us. It was fantastic. A few weeks ago, they had pineapples in at Safeway, so we bought one. Not as good. As Apu Nahasapeemapetilon might say, it was picked fresh in Hawaii, then shipped …. to warehouse for a week, then put on a containership for San Diego.

It had a fairly big core, and lots of eyes, and we were left with a large pile of discards. Fortunately, I had just read an article on what to do with that kind of stuff. Essentially, you chop it up, sprinkle with sugar, and leave overnight. In the morning you have a half cup or so of intense pineapple syrup. You also have a large pile of discarded discards.

In an effort to squeeze one more use out of them, I put them into a cup of beef broth, and simmered for ten minutes. Strain out the dregs, bring the broth back to a boil, and you’re ready to go.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of pineapple dregbroth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Pretty good. The pineapple flavor is pretty mild by that time, and it wouldn’t hurt to put some honey into the mix, but that can be done to taste, later. And BTW, the pineapple syrup goes very well on vanilla ice cream, but you have to use a fair amount of it, because one teaspoon per scoop just kindof sinks in.

Rating: ***

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 27, 2018

Garden Report for 180827

The weather was hazy and warm. In the mid  80’s, declining to the mid 70’s, with lots of haze and smoke from BC and California. AQI for the most part in the Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy range. Then, over the weekend, it rained, and cooled and the AQI went back down to 52. Of course, that won’t last.

I harvested one 150g standard cucumber, one 120g cricket-ball sized pumpkin, a 320g .jp cucumber, two zucchini, and a bunch of tomatoes. The pumpkin is too small to be useful, or even to be carved. I might draw a mouth and eyes on it with a Sharpie for Halloween.

count /  total wt / wt per

Carolina Gold: 7 / 670 / 144

Big Boy: 7 / 870 / 92

One of those is a pumpkin

Once again, I brought the cabbage container in for four days early in the week to avoid the heat. I want to keep them out in the sun as much as possible, but without exposing them to anything over 90F. I should be able to leave them out pretty much full-time now.

Vegetable Count Weight
Total Total
  tomato 10 1400 140 64 8.1
zucchini 2 520 260 9 2.7
cucumber 1 150 150 1 0.15
1 320 320 4 1.08
Grand Total 12.03

We are still chasing last year’s total of 15.0kg.

Anime Preview Fall 2018

August 26, 2018

Unlike others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on just the title and the cover art.

First, let’s say what’s not in here. Sequels to stuff I didn’t like before (IdolM@ster, Tokyo Ghoul), kids stuff (Hoshi no Shima , Captain Tsubasa ), movies and OVA’s, and anything with The in the title.

WILL WATCH: The title or the cover art is properly enticing, so I definitely will watch at least the first three eps.

1. Akanesasu Shoujo: Four girls try to survive a storm at sea

2. Ulysses – Jeanne d’Arc: Young girl tries to drive the English out of Dublin

3. Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken: Riding the unicorn cat-bus

MIGHT WATCH: The cover art is not too off-putting, so I might watch it.

1. Kishuku Gakkou no Juliet: All girl Romeo and Juliet

2. Tsurune: BL with weapons, but hey, it’s KyoAni

3. Yagate Kimi ni Naru: two girls lost in the woods. It’s getting cold, and they have only one pair of stockings

WON’T WATCH. The cover art and/or the title tells me more than I ever wanted to know on the topic.

1. Tokigoe no Derrida: Young engineer deconstructs AI’s

2. Shuudengo, Capsule Hotel: Nihon bodice ripper

3. Anima Yell!: Young girls learn to spell out words with their arms, suddenly learn about Kanji


Green Thumb Up My Nose — Dirt Poor

August 25, 2018

There’s something wrong with my dirt.

For a couple of years now, my cunning plan was to take all the soil from my garden containers, about 25cuft worth, and dump it in a pile in one corner of the yard for 18 months, before mixing it up and loading it back into the containers. That way it would lie fallow and I wouldn’t be planting tomatoes in dirt that was contaminated with the previous year’s crop.That worked for a couple of years, but this year, for some unknown reason, it didn’t.

I have five containers on my deck, two on the south side of the house, and seven on the east side. The tomatoes on all but two are puny things, some of which are bepestered with blossom-end rot. Three of them have produced but one tomato each.

Here’s the ones on the East side.

Three spindly, three unproductive/BER’d, one OK, and one cucumber.

Jet Star


So, what can I deduce:

  1. It’s not the environment — there’s three distinctly different sun/shade patterns.
  2. It’s not the watering — I water whenever they get droopy, which is pretty much every day. Same amount of water each time.
  3. It’s not, I think, the nutrients — the soil was previously used, but I put a small scoop of commercial fertilizer in each one, and applied a nutrient spray a month ago.

The only common factor is the dirt. It’s not … dirty … enough, or something. I guess I’ll go back to buying bags, and using the old dirt as mulch for the lawn and around the trees (to cover the soaker hoses).

Our Old Trees

August 24, 2018

Our house was built in the 1960’s, and presumably that’s when our trees were put in. So they are on the order of half a century old. In addition, I have been somewhat neglectful of them, the tree in the back, in particular. In these hot, drought months we haven’t been watering the lawn, which means we haven’t been watering the trees. To make matters worse, when our groundskeepers (OK, lawn guys) trimmed the trees last Fall, they cut the weeping cherry out front way back. Which, I find, is not something you are supposed to do with old old trees.

As a result, the tree out back has lots of dead wood, and the tree out front is just dying.

So, earlier this week we had a man in to pull out the old weeping cherry out front, and trim the big whateveritis in the back.

Before, Front

After, Front

Before, Back

After, Back

That should do it.

Now, we need to decide what to replace the front tree with. The house faces West, and gets direct afternoon sun, so we want something for shade. Right now I’m torn between Metasequoia glyptostroboides, and Phyllostachys aureosulcata. We are going to run down to our local tree nursery and see what they have.

Curried BananaOats

August 23, 2018

We’d gone off on a trip and left a couple of bananas sitting on the counter. They were pretty ripe by the time we returned. Waste not want not, and bananas are pretty good in oatmeal, when properly skinned and filleted. Previous efforts along these lines included other fruit, and some kind of broth. I thought that this time I’d try plain water and Golden Curry.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Surprisingly bland. Curry roux can’t hold up a meal on its own, and neither can a lonely banana. Together, they were bland in two dimensions. Adding additional salt and butter made it taste like salty butter.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 20, 2018

Garden Report for 180820

The weather was clear and very warm, in the upper 80’s-low 90’s all week, with lots of haze and smoke from BC and California. Over the weekend the AQI edged from Unhealthy to Very Unhealthy, and areas north of us were Hazardous. The sky looked like it wanted to rain, but that was just high altitude smoke. I stayed inside.

The garden continued to produce:

I harvested one 410g zucchini, one 280g zucchini, and one curly 340g Japanese cucumber. My standard cucumber, out front, seems to be getting too much sun and has only started one fruit so far.

count /  total wt / wt per

Champion: 7 / 670 / 144

Big Boy: 7 / 870 / 92

Unidentified 3 / 154

Big Beef  5 / 1070

Black Prince 3 / 156

That represents the last of the Champions, and they were noticeably smaller than last week’s. Last week was the last of the Brandywines. I didn’t realize how many of the big tomatoes were determinants. The unidentified tomatoes might be Oregon Spring. I know I bought one plant, but I can’t find it in the garden or the pots, and the U/I plant doesn’t have a label. On the other hand, they look more like the picture on the Pink Accordion packet, and the one Pink Accordion didn’t look like that at all, but since one was planted in the garden and the other up on the deck, it’s unlikely they’d be mixed up. The Black Prince is coming in at about 50g each. They don’t taste bad, but they don’t make my clothes explode off. Not sure if it’s worthwhile planting them next year.


California Prop 13

August 18, 2018

Proposition 13 was a 1978 reaction to California’s rising property taxes. Property values were rising fast, homes were being reassessed annually, and the elderly were being taxed out of their homes. Prop 13 limited tax increases to when property was sold, or underwent major construction. As usual, there were unintended consequences.

This article, in Axios, goes on about how rich families are passing down their multi-million dollar homes and how the children who inherit pay no additional taxes. The article says that this has lowered tax income by 2.5%. That sounds big, but it’s not the biggest impact from Prop 13. (more…)

Curried Coconut Oatmeal

August 16, 2018

MJ brought home a packet of frozen chicken-in-curried-coconut-sauce. As usual, not as good as home-made (too spicy, and you had trouble detecting the coconut), and there were leftovers. I didn’t use any of the chicken chunks, but I did scoop up about a quarter cup of the sauce.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of curry sauce/beef broth mix, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: OK. The sauce had been a little too spicy on the chicken, but diluted by the broth, and spread across the oatmeal it wasn’t bad. I’m not going to rush out and buy another packet, however.

Rating: ***

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 13, 2018

Garden Report for 180813

The weather was clear and hot, starting in the low 90’s early in the week, peaking at just over 100F, and coming back down to the upper 80’s by the weekend.

The garden is in full swing. At the start of the week we had 18 tomatoes that were ready for harvest, and another ten showing color.

I harvested one 220g Japanese cucumber, and two 245g zucchinis.

count /  total wt / wt per

Champion: 8 / 1150 / 144

Beefsteak: 7 / 642 / 92

Pink Accordion 1 / 120

Early  Girl 1 / 80

Big Beef  1 / 120


On the big squash front, there’s a Delicata that’s coming along nicely, a couple of small Spaghetti squash.

Once again, I brought the cabbage container in for four days midweek to avoid the 100F heat. I want to keep it out in the sun as much as possible, but without exposing them to anything over 90F.

Vegetable Count Weight
Total Total
  tomato 18 2132 118 32 4.0
zucchini 2 490 245 5 1.6
1 220 220 2 0.42
Grand Total 6.0

Last year was a marvellous year for tomatoes, et al. By this point in the season, we were at 9kg of produce. But remember, we’re working on half a garden this year.

Starlight Promises

August 10, 2018

Starlight Promises really wants to be a Miyazaki movie. It has the young protagonists, the mystical happenings, the colorful animation. What it lacks is heart. And coherency.

Spoilers follow.

Mihara Shoma gets a call from his former best friend, who he hasn’t seen in years, inviting him to meet at a location in the mountains. That location turns out to be the site of a Tanabata festival, celebrating the legend of the celestial lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi. His friend isn’t there, but he meets a hologram AI named Kana, and a girl,  Senozawa Shiori. It turns out that this festival is also designed to carry out a ritual that will let the participants meet anyone they wish to. The participants — several dozen of them — build the stage settings, and Mihara and Shiori are to enact the parts of the star-crossed lovers.

Kana and Shoma and Shiori

We immediately have questions.

How do they gain the skills needed to carpenter up an elaborate stage setting? How do they know how to move in the ritual?

It’s just like Ikea

How do the rest of the participants know how to do the Busby Berkely dance number at the start of the ritual? Well, they have these AI suits, that just know how to move to do things, ya know? And the wearer is sortof goes along for the ride.

We built it, and we can dance on it

OK, so how does the ritual conjure up the ghosts (and it looks to be all ghosts, nobody’s asking to meet Shinzō Abe) of the people the participants want to see? Well, so, it’s not really those people. It’s a new super-AI program that can take in all the information about the person and recreate a hologram of them. The participants just get to pretend they are real.

For that matter, why are they doing this during a Tanabata festival? Wouldn’t a Bon festival, honoring the dead, be more appropriate? Could it be that the Bon festival doesn’t have a romantic couple at the center?

Back in the action, the festival AI is malfunctioning, because of the existence of Kana. Why? They don’t say. In any event, it conjures up [AI hologram depictions of] the ghosts of the former castle, who proceed to attack the participants. Shoma and Shiori fight them off, using skills their AI suits taught them (and swords that are really debugging tools), while Kana sacrifices herself to install the patch, or something. Since this is hologram on AI suit action, nobody actually gets hurt, but they all act as if they could.

We will avenge our lord!

At the end, there’s a lantern ceremony, and everyone gets to see the person of their choice. Shoma sees his friend Atsushi — who it turns out is dead and Shoma just forgot about it, as often happens in anime — and Shiori sees her sister. Then the lanterns take flight, and the ghostly holograms fade away. Shoma and Shiori have found closure, and look to become friends, leaving open the possibility of a Starlight Promises Afterstory.

Is it really you?

Part of the problem with this anime is that Starlight Promises is only one hour long. That’s not enough time to develop the multiple threads of the story, or even the explanations and backstory and such. On the other hand, the whole knights-of-the-old-castle thing seems just bolted on, as if they needed some conflict to pad things out but couldn’t figure out what to do. Finally, the heart of the anime, the recall of the dead, is based on a logical fallacy. The participants are not talking to the dead, they’re talking to an AI construct, an updated version of ELIZA, from half a century ago.

But it looks pretty

Overall, Starlight Promises isn’t bad, but it’s not Miyazaki. It’s an OK way to waste an hour, unless there’s a My Neighbor Totoro rerun on.

Surimi Oats

August 9, 2018

Surimi is a Japanese fish … product. Boiled, powdered, sintered whitefish paste. In the US, it’s usually found as fake crab or lobster. Every now and then you can find it as unabashed surimi — small chunks, painted red on one side. I thought I’d try it in oatmeal. Of course, one doesn’t want to cook it in beef or chicken broth because the flavors would clash. So I dug out my supply of dashi crystals. One half teaspoon in a cup of water gives a nice, seafoody, slightly smoky liquid.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of water, 40grams of surimi chunks, chopped fine, half a teaspoon of dashi crystals, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the surimi at the beginning so it has time to blend.

Results: Not as good as I’d hoped. The oatmeal didn’t soak up all the water, so you had a clear liquid with lots of bits of oats floating in it, plus surimi chunks. Plus, the surimi/dashi combo just barely had enough flavor to overcome the oatmeal bland.

I think it needs more experimentation.

Rating: *****

Green Thumb Up My Nose

August 6, 2018

Garden Report for 180806

The weather was clear and hot, in the high 90’s early in the week, and the rest of the time in the mid to low 80’s. Watering restrictions continue in effect.

Garden production is ramping up.  At the start of the week we had 16 tomatoes that were showing color.

Taste Test: Moskvich 150g / Brandywine 180g / Supersonic 220g

Moskvich vs Brandywine: Not as mushy as the first tomatoes, but still mushy. Cutting back on the watering helped. Not much to say about the flavor. Not too acidic. You could tell the two apart in a side-by-side test, but the difference didn’t seem to amount to much.

Supersonic: picked later. Firm. Acidic. More tomatolike. Preferable to the other two. Too bad it looks like we’ll only get a few more off this container plant.

The Japanese cucumbers were 8″ long at the start of the week. I harvested one that had sprouted close to the ground and was growing in a circle.

Brought the cabbage container in for four days midweek to avoid the 98F heat.

Vegetable Count Weight
Total Total
  tomato 6 900 150 14 1.9
zucchini 1 370 370 3 0.8
1 200 200 1 0.2
Grand Total 2.9


Meanwhile, here’s the official ripening schedule, updated with the actual dates.

Name D/I Wt Planted Days Ready Actual
Early Girl I 4-8 05/21/18 50 07/10/18 08/xx/18
Oregon Spring D 5-10 05/21/18 60 07/20/18 08/xx/18
Champion I 6-8 05/21/18 65 07/25/18 07/24/18
Big Beef I 12-16 05/21/18 73 08/02/18 08/xx/18
Moskvitch I 115g 06/04/18 60 08/03/18 08/02/18
Beefsteak D 250g 05/21/18 75 08/04/18 07/24/18
Hybrid Beefsteak D 250g 05/21/18 75 08/04/18 07/24/18
Carolina Gold D 8-10 05/21/18 75 08/04/18 08/xx/18
Sun Sugar I cherry 05/21/18 75 08/04/18 07/10/18
Big Boy I 16-32 05/21/18 80 08/09/18 08/xx/18
Better Boy I 15-16 06/04/18 70 08/13/18 08/xx/18
Black Prince I 5-7 06/04/18 70 08/13/18 08/xx/18
Pink Accordion I 14-16 05/21/18 90 08/19/18 08/xx/18
Moreton I 8-10 06/11/18 70 08/20/18 08/xx/18
Brandywine I 560g 06/04/18 80 08/23/18 08/02/18
Cherokee Purple I 10-12 06/04/18 80 08/23/18 08/xx/18
Jet Star I 8-9 06/11/18 75 08/25/18 08/xx/18
Supersonic I 10-12 06/18/18 75 09/01/18 08/04/18
Mortgage Lifter I 18-32 06/18/18 85 09/11/18 08/xx/18

MH370 Final Report

August 4, 2018

So the Malaysian government have issued their final report on the loss of MH370. At 495 pages, plus appendices, it’s quite a bit longer than their original effort. Unfortunately, as anyone could have predicted, it doesn’t tell us much that we didn’t already know, and it finds it impossible to come to a conclusion as to the reason for the loss.

What we do know, is that shortly after contacting Ho Chi Min ACC, the various communications systems were shut down, and the Kuala Lumpur – Beijing flight made a roughly 120° left turn to the SW, flew back across Malaysia, turned NW, flew past the north end of the island of Sumatra, turned S towards the Southern Ocean, and flew until it ran out of fuel.

Some of the report deals with procedural errors by the various air traffic control authorities, but none of those would have altered the outcome.

There were a couple of points made that it’s useful to report, because they deal with events that are the basis for various theories about what happened.

1.The changes in aircraft heading required human input. This means that someone was alive and in the cockpit from 1720UTC to 1822UTC. This leaves out the various decompression/oxygen malfunction scenarios.

2. The altitude track, based on radar skin tracking, not transponder data, is admitted to be wrong. At one point, the track shows the aircraft climbing from 36,700ft to 58,200ft in six minutes. That’s a 3,500fpm climb to 15,000ft higher than the service ceiling. It then is shown descending to 4,800ft (53,000ft drop) in about a minute. Simulations have shown that such actions are beyond the capability of the aircraft. This lets out the theories that the pilot manipulated the altitude to suffocate the passengers.

UPDATE: A more recent article in The Atlantic says that “circumstances suggest” the aircraft depressurized and climbed to near 40,000ft, close to the rated ceiling. This just requires that the radar track be slightly wrong, rather than totally wrong. My report on the article is here.

3. Damage to the right outboard flap and flaperon indicate the flap was retracted and the flaperon was in neutral — an in-flight configuration — at the time of the crash. This contradicts earlier reports that the flaps had been extended, which would require aircrew intervention.

So, we are left where we were a year or so ago. Someone, crew or intruder, diverted the flight across Malaysia, around Sumatra, and into the Southern Ocean. My guess is that it was one of the pilots. The aircraft maneuvers required a trained pilot. There was no indication of any intrusion into the cockpit, despite current tools that allow the crew to indicate that kind of an emergency to ATC. Besides, a cockpit intrusion implies terrorists, and terrorists want publicity. Nobody has claimed responsibility. That leaves the aircrew. There’s no hard data to support this, but we are in a Sherlockian situation where all the other possibilities have been exhausted.

Cola Curry Oats

August 2, 2018

This started when we ended up with a couple of cans of cola. We’re not big cola drinkers, which is probably why we still have all our teeth.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of cola/broth mix, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.


Experiment 1: Beef and cola. Surprisingly bland. Beef barely noticable, but no strong cola flavor, either

Experiment 2: Cola. Still bland.

Experiment 3. Cola and curry, no potatoes. Not great, but not bad. A little spicy compared with water- or broth-based curry. First time there was a definite cola flavor.

Rating: **