Category Archives: General

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.

Garden, Mid-July

As I write this, C. is downstairs plunking away on his new bass and has been for at least an hour now. Since purchasing the amp, he has practiced playing everyday. It’s quite pleasant having live music in the house, I enjoy overhearing his practice sessions. :)

Anyhoo, the real point of this post is simply to note the progress of the garden in the clutch of bullet points listed below:

  • The Paprika Supreme and the Thai Hot peppers are doing quite nicely, despite being potted in containers. Both have put forth a nice batch of peppers — green for now.
  • The Lemon Cucumber has a few small cucumbers on it. The plant seems a bit wee to me, but healthy enough.
  • We have now harvested a couple batches of both Zucchini and Yellow Crookneck Squash. I think that thinning down to one plant per mound was a good idea. We seem to be getting just as many squashes out of each single plant as we have out of double planted mounds in the past. The plants are healthy and green.
  • The Correnta Hybrid Spinach is a bit of a disappointment. There are maybe 8-10 spinach plants surviving out of — oh, gosh — 50 some plantings? I think the summer sun was simply to harsh for the seedlings which came up during our 100 degree heat streak a couple weeks back. I’m thinking about starting some more seedlings in peat pots and keeping them in a sheltered spot until they are strong enough to stand the full sun.
  • Both eggplants, the Black Beauty and Asian Eggplant are blooming but seem a bit small. No eggplants have made an appearance, yet.
  • The Fortex Pole Beans are growing like k-razy. They have topped the trellis and extended into the empty air another 3 feet or so, I think they would climb another six feet if we gave them a taller support. The French Climbing Beans are also showing good progress, though they are overshadowed by their surpassingly dynamic neighbor.
  • Early Cascade Tomatoes are present, but still green.
  • A second batch of lovely orange Tiger Lilies are blooming. It looks like the pink (Stargazer? Sorbonne? I’m not sure) lilies are about to bloom, too. They are more fragrant than the tiger lilies, and I am greatly looking forward to them. They are purty. :)
  • The Yellow Banana Potato plants seem to be experiencing about a 60-75% success rate. I think they didn’t get enough water early on (the drip irrigation to the barrel in which they are planted was turned off, unbeknownst to me, but is now on again). The plants that haven’t withered and disappeared seem to be doing okay, though I’d feel more confident if they were leafier.
  • I picked what I thought was our first ripe Fig today, but it was just on the cusp. Soon, soon.

That’s really all that I’m prepared to report on. If anyone is reading this, I apologize that the “weekly report” has evolved into something more monthly, but them’s the breaks.

The Hedgekitten

Now Listening to: “Pussycat Meow” by Deee-Lite, The Infinity Within, 1992.

There’s a kitten living in my hedge. I first heard it Friday night, mewling over and over again, but I couldn’t locate it. Later, I thought I saw it on the back porch, but by the time I’d unlocked the door it was gone. Last night it returned, sending out the sonar-like cries of a kitten in search of its mother. It’s black, which makes it hellish to find at night, and very small. The damned thing is not interested in humans at all, seems to be most comfortable in the middle of thick laurel hedges, and I’m guessing is at least four weeks old since it can run like hell when a flashlight beam gets too close to it.

Given its size, I assume it’s either abandoned or from the litter of a stray who’s been killed. There was a dead cat in the road a few blocks up, so my suspicion is the latter. We set out a bowl of milk-soaked cat food, hoping our visitor might be tempted to emerge when unobserved and find something to eat. The bowl was empty this morning, but it’s hard to say what ate from it, since strays, raccoons, birds and the occasional opossum might have taken an interest as well.

If we do manage to lure it into the open, the little guy’s destined for the caring services of the humane society. I say this now because, well, we are all subject to our baser desires from time to time. Generally, they lead us to decisions we mighn’t otherwise make with a clear head in the light of day. The horrible tempting power of kitten must be resisted!

The Traditional Towel Animals

“Our steward, Edgar, introduced himself on the first evening and let us know he was available if there was anything we wanted. Then, he disappeared for the rest of the cruise. We did however see evidence that he was taking good care of the room, preparing the traditional towel animals and turning down the bed linens in the evening.”

I somehow surfed my way into a cruise review site this evening, whence the above … I find it pleasing to imagine that there exists a people — a nomadic servant class — whose chief cultural expression is communicated through the medium of towel origami.

Not being a cruise-ship type person, I was heretofore unaware of this art form.

Blue Cranes

Mississippi Pizza Pub Neon SignBiked down to the Mississippi Pizza Pub (1.3 mi) for a late dinner tonight, where we discovered the very pleasant Blue Cranes playing the last four or five numbers of what must’ve been a fairly long set. They’re a laid-back and pleasantly-riffing bass, drum & sax trio that I wouldn’t mind hearing more of. I’m a bit ashamed — no one was taking cash at the door and they packed up after wrapping without passing a hat. It’s only now, checking the schedule, that I see there was a cover. I should’ve thrown them some shekels, as they certainly deserved it. I’ll catch you next time, guys.

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A vulture flapped and shifted on the iron roof and Wilson looked at Scobie. He looked without interest in obedience to a stranger’s direction, and it seemed to him that no particular interest attached to the squat grey-haired man walking alone up Bond Street. He couldn’t tell that this was one of those occasions a man never forgets: a small cicatrice had been made on the memory, a wound that would ache whenever certain things combined — the taste of gin at midday, the smell of flowers under a balcony, the clang of corrugated iron, an ugly bird flopping from perch to perch.

– Graham Greene, The Heart of the Matter. New York, NY: The Viking Press, 1948.

CERN Rocks!

CERN is the world’s largest particle physics research center, which makes it home to some very funky brains. Sometimes they do things other than particle physics in their spare time. CERN is where Tim Berners-Lee developed the WWW, of course, so it’s not surprising that CERN is also the home of the first band on the web.

There are at least 10 rock and jazz groups on the CERN campus, ranging from the CERN Big Bang Orchestra (very big), to the straight-forward indyrock sound of 24Seven, the novelty science doo-wop of Les Horribles Cernettes, the chanson-rock of Der Schöne Bahnhof, and the one-man electronica of Pretty Blue Fox. Some draw on physics for their musical inspiration (the Cernettes in particular) while others are content merely to jam.

Most offer MP3s to download, several are happy to sell you a CD. Sample the sounds of CERN!

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Pictures of the Deceased

Hit a few estate sales this weekend — wasn’t hard to hold myself back since there were really only two that sounded worthwhile. Wasn’t looking for anything in particular, and didn’t find anything either, except for some nice old photos: three of Rhode Island Reds — poultry-fancying was evident in the deceased’s collection of books, magazines, and memorabilia — and two rather charming pictures of what appears to be a fat cigar-smoking guy named Jack in the middle of a brace of lasses (his name’s on the back of one, in a woman’s hand, “Millie, Jack and I”). He certainly seemed to like getting his squeeze on. Bit of a leer to our Jack.

Old pictures tell stories, but they don’t tell nearly enough. Or perhaps they do. I suppose I wouldn’t have bought the photos if they didn’t invite so much speculation.

If I can find suitable frames, I suppose Jack and his lady friends will find a home in the Bathroom of the Dead. The chickens, on the other hand … hell, what am I going to do with snapshots of show-chickens from the 40’s?