All posts by c

Underutilized Crops

Reading about the history of spelt and emmer today, I discovered that Wikipedia has a category devoted to underutilized crops—it’s a term of art in agricultural biodiversity circles—highlighting 95 crops that don’t see a lot of agrarian action these days. There’s some interesting stuff in there, like Dioscorea opposita, the lube yam, and the only one suitable for eating raw. Or the tantalizingly brief entry on Kañiwa, an Andean quinoa relative whose “domestication is not complete.”

That’s it, really. Note to self: read more about underutilized crops.

Soundscape: Nativity!

Reel-to-reelTap-tap-tap. Hey. So, our friends Will and Ariel are going to have a baby soon. Its ETA is December 19TH, but you know how these things are. Could be sooner, could be later. Among his many other skills, Will is a musician and audio engineer, and has conceived of a project to mark the occasion. He would like your assistance in recording The Sound of That Day, the day his child is born, so that he can give it to said offspring some years down the road.

If you’re willing to help, sign up to be notified at the site. When the kid is born, Will will light-up the email/sms Batsignal to notify everyone, and then you’ll use your cell phone, video recorder, laptop, pearlcorder, etc. to capture some sounds from your world. Then you upload them. There’ll be a form-based interface for you to upload your sounds, along with lots of meta information like location, time, description, etc.

Short-term, Will’s going to build a Google-map API hookup and whatnot, with Flashy bells and whistles, to plot the received samples across on a world map and give contributors an interface to explore the results of the project. Long-term that’s probably not too future-proof, but he’ll try to maintain and update it over the years. Eventually, when the kid’s old enough to care—which is probably sometime around the year 2030—it’ll be something cherishable.

Eh, just go there and read Will’s explanation. So far he’s had about 100 sign-ups, which will probably translate into 30 actual participants or so, if we’re to be realistic about things. Hopefully there will be some far-flung, globe-spanning submissions. It should be fun and interesting to hear the results, not to mention satisfying, knowing that your sounds will be part of a time capsule being sent to a kid 20-odd years into the future. C’mon, help out.

It’s that Veat. That Veat, that Veat…

A Leguminous Update

The Fasolds have long since topped their strings and are now engaged in further sky-reaching endeavors, twining around one-another in an attempt at the Indian rope trick of sorts. They’re all a-flower now — started sometime mid last week — so I should expect to see some wee beanage on them shortly.

The Climbing French, on the other hand, are of markedly different inclination. They’re only half the height of the Fasolds at the moment, but the cunning things put off multiple vines, so it’s not surprising. Fasolds just have the one, central runner from which they leaf, flower and bean-up. The Climbing French are at least bifurcate, if not more — I haven’t rustled about in them to count the number of branchings — so one can imagine that their energy is somewhat divided. No flowers ‘pon them yet.

Ah, and speaking of flowers, the very heavily scented Stargazer lilies began to open on or about July 18th. Man, they have a heady scent. Particularly at night.

One or two of the Italian honey figs (Lattarulla) are looking ripe as well. The recent 100° days can’t have hurt … though come to think of it, I’m not sure if figs care about growing degree days or not. Anyway, figs soon. Hooray.

D F# A F D…

Bummer of bummers, the bass arrived on Monday with a broken tuning peg. It being of Chinese extraction, replacements were hard to come by, but ultimately Trade Up was able to locate a semi-compatible piece among their collection of scavenged parts, so all was well and I’ve got a shiny brass peg on my D string. A replacement should be in the mail from musiclandcentral sometime soon. Had to make a few additional purchases, but I am close to being kitted:

Jay Turser JTB3 Bass : $299
Roland Cube 30 Bass Amp : $225
Gretsch Guitar Strap : $29
ULTRA Guitar Stand : $20
10′ Cable : $6
Pick : $0.25

Not too bad. I’d like to restring it with Thomastic-Infeld Jazz Flats, but haven’t found a shop in town that carries them yet. Other than that, and a case, I’m pretty good. Buying the Cube 30 will probably save me a bit of money that I’d have otherwise been tempted to spend on pedals — it has some built in effects, like an an octaver, chorus, flanger, wah, reverb, etc., as well as some nicely modeled tube amps o’ the past. Shouldn’t be mucking with it at this juncture, I know, but it’s fun.

Right now I’m just working on familiarizing myself with the fretboard… a fretted short-scale is a definite change from a 7/8ths upright, but I think I’m getting there. Slowly rebuilding calluses on the fingers of my left hand, and playing a lot of scales. Woo hoo for arpeggios. I’ll worry about technique once I’m not overshooting third position. There seems to be a fair bit of buzz, which might well be down to my own incompetence, or to needing a bit more clearance, but I’m waiting to have it professionally set-up until I receive the replacement tuning machine and locate some Jazz Flats.

Beans Grow Counterclockwise

a backwards clockI was redirecting a few Fasolds that had strayed from their allotted strings the other day and noticed that they were all twining in a counterclockwise fashion (as seen from above). Apparently this is the case for almost all beans, though runners twist clockwise for some reason. Can’t say I’d paid particular attention before. Whaddayaknow.

The Old UPS LogoHooray! The bass is en route to Portland as of June 30th, albeit moving rather slowly. No planes for this axe — it’s being shipped via UPS Ground — so it’s only covered about 250 miles. Just 2,600 to go. Brown estimates arrival to be on Monday, July 10, which is a bummer. Hopefully some trucker will be bucking for a bonus and it’ll arrive a few days early, but I doubt it — these things are probably fairly regimented.

The bass is currently in New Stanton, PA, cooling its heels on a Sunday afternoon. Track its progress, if you care to. I know I am.


The lettuce has bolted. All of it. I blame several days of temps around 100°F, but they probably weren’t long for the table anyway. A couple of weeks of salads didn’t begin to put a dent in the rows that I planted (all at once, I might add. Thus the merits of succession planting are made manifest), so there’s a wealth of vegetable matter headed for the compost bin.

The beans are bolting upward as well, in a good way. The Fasolds are much more spry than the French Climbings — the former are climbin’ the twine with a vigor, while the latter are just looking promisingly leafy. Not a lotta vine action from them yet.

Oh, and we have tomatoes. Green, yes, but they’ve all set some early fruit. Strange, given that they’re still relatively wee, height-wise (dwarfed by the 10′ cages they’re planted in), but doing their thing.

And yeah, damn the aphids. Never found anything kind to apply to the Brussels sprouts — not that we looked that hard — and previous experience has been borne out in spades, as they almost vanish beneath a milky-grey layer of insect love. Eh, it was but a lark. I’m not interested in high-maintenance crops anyway. Take that, brassica family!

Yielding to Temptation

Hrm. Still no response from Jay Turser on the email, but I’ve located a Turser dealer who sells via web and eBay — — and who comes highly-rated by those in the harmony-central reviews who have purchased from him. Via e-mail, he tells me that though it’s not listed, he has a JTB-3/N in stock (or maybe he’ll have one drop-shipped… either way, he can get me one). Though I’ve not played one, I have tried out short-scale basses and was comfortable with them, and also enjoyed the feel of the Ibanez (q.v. earlier). That, in conjunction with a couple of fine reviews, and the fact that it just looks like a beautiful creature, has me thinking I’ll order a JTB-3 sight-unseen. What the hell… it’s $300, and I can resell it if it’s not my bag. I don’t have a playing style yet, so it’s unlikely to violate any preconceptions.

I’m waiting to hear back from the musiclandcentral peeps about a few questions I had, but that’s more just so that I know what I’m getting and won’t be surprised, I think. Don’t know yet if there’s a custom case to fit it (that’s one of the questions) — if so, I’ll buy it from him so that it can be shipped in a better-protected container than cardboard boxen. Then all I’ll be lacking will be an amp, some picks, and instructional material.

A Small AmpRe the amp: shall I buy a lil’ 10 or 15 watt practice amp, or ought I size-up (in a small way) to a 30 for better sound, if not louder playing? Buy it beforehand, to be prepared when the axe arrives in the mail, or wait until I can lug it around with me and try ‘em out on? I’m thinking the latter may be excessive — particularly if I don’t have a case or even gig bag — so maybe it doesn’t matter. Time to hit the amp reviews, I guess.