A week and a half ago, in a post called "Coming Attractions," I made reference to something so super-cool that I couldn't even tell you what it was. Well. Um.
What it was, was a digital microscope, which I am sorry to inform you turned out to be kind of a piece of crap. The basic idea sounded good. There are all kinds of interesting things that I'm sure would be even more dramatic at a micro scale:
the stomata of a Ficus elastica leaf!
by the growth of a Saintpaulia shoot from a leaf cutting!
at the texture of a Gynura aurantiaca!
in terror as the true hideousness of a spider mite is revealed!)
However, this particular one had pretty crappy image quality, I couldn't get it to take still photos, and the lights were those weird blue-white LEDs that turned anything I tried to look at weird colors. The software that comes with the microscope has a hue-adjust slider, but however much I played with it, I couldn't get it to produce anything like realistic color.
And all the other products Amazon carries seem to have problems, too. Either 1) it's more of the same, a cheap, low-powered, poor-image "microscope" that's not even as impressive as my digital camera, or it's 2) a good-looking, presumably competent, microscope without digital photography capabilities, or 3) a digital microscope capable (one assumes) of taking excellent pictures, but which costs several hundred dollars. Also, for some reason, none of them have any examples of photos that were taken with the 'scope in question, so the customer can get some idea of what they're capable of. This seems like a really obvious thing to include, so I'm confused about why none of them do.
So. I'm returning the one I got, but I'm open to suggestions for a replacement. I must have at least one reader who knows something about the subject.
The book I mentioned (Handbook of Poisonous and Injurious Plants), though not nearly as disappointing, also failed to be as comprehensive as I'd hoped. It does include some solid information about a number of houseplants, and it's exceptional in that it actually tells what parts of the plants in question are poisonous, and what the symptoms of poisoning are, and what the actual toxin (when known) is, and OMG even pictures, so I'm happy about all that. But it doesn't contain a list of safe plants, and most of the toxic plants I knew about already, so it didn't add a terrible lot of new information. A handy book, a good book, but not quite the book I was wanting. It's beginning to look like if I want that book, I'm going to have to write it myself. And, since I can't find the information I'd need to write that book, I'm guessing I'm going to just have to eat one plant at a time and write down what happens, which sounds like a slow, painful, and expensive way to proceed. I'm open to other plans.