Saturday, April 8, 2017

Anthurium no. 0802 "Dana International"

Dana's the first good Anthurium news I've had in quite a while. The color doesn't photograph all that clearly (the camera lightens it substantially), but in person, it's a fairly dark purple, only barely lighter than her grandparent (the NOID purple), and substantially darker than her parent (0200 Mario Speedwagon).


Not only that, but the spathes on Dana are larger than those of the NOID purple and Mario, as well, and she's remarkably productive. I don't keep track of every single bud produced by every single seedling, but I think she's just started building her sixth bud since the first one appeared five and a half months ago.

Even the new leaves are pretty.


Which I guess just goes to show you that if you pull the lever enough times, sooner or later it'll come up BAR - BAR - BAR. Or whatever the winningest combination is for slot machines these days.1

Here's the plant as a whole, back when the first bud appeared.


It doesn't look like that at the moment, because not long after that, I moved the plant up to a 6-inch (15 cm) pot. It's remained fairly compact (short internodes). Not much suckering, unfortunately, but there is a little bit. The overall habit is on the good side of average, at least.

There is also some thrips damage on the leaves from time to time; I don't see much of it on the spathes, but it's hard to know if that's because purple isn't attractive to thrips or it's just dark enough to hide the damage better. Possibly some of both.


Anyway. Very happy with Dana.


A couple other seedlings are doing things I haven't seen before -- I've mentioned 0648 Bianca Del Rio before, I think, which isn't doing anything you've never seen before, but Bianca's something the seedlings haven't done before, so that's interesting. And 1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess produced a bloom, which isn't like any of the others either. Two other seedlings currently in bud, 1299 Sinthia D Meanor and 1325 Dixie D Cupp, have the potential to be something brand-new, if the bud colors are at all related to their final color, but it'll be a while yet before we find out.


Anthurium, the genus, still needs to do an awful lot of really amazing shit if it wants to get back into my favor, but seedlings like Dana, Bianca, and Li'l Miss Hot Mess are a good start.

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1 I've never played one in a casino, or even particularly wanted to. This is partly because one of my grandfathers had a hobby buying and refinishing old slot machines, and one day when we were visiting him, he gave my brother and I each a roll of quarters and had us play one of them until the money ran out. Which took very little time at all. If I had been thinking at all, I would have put the roll of quarters in my pocket and merely pretended to play with the slot machine. I don't remember how long ago this was, but I do remember feeling like $10 was a substantial amount of money. I mean, it wouldn't have been in the spirit of the thing, and I guess the actual experience effectively immunized me against gambling for the rest of my life, so it's probably saved me $10 in the long run anyway.


Thursday, April 6, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 069

The four name finalists for seedling 069A are: Lucky Bounce, Stalemate By Repetition, Sweetie Darling, and Torch And Pitchfork.


Lucky Bounce is difficult to explain, but there's something about the way the flower in the above photo is angled that evokes a football bouncing off the ground. Maybe it only makes sense to me.

Stalemate by Repetition is a term from the game of chess: if, near the end of a game, one side's pieces are so limited in their ability to move that the pieces all wind up in the same position three times, whether in successive turns or not, one or the other player can claim a draw (stalemate). I feel like there's a plant-breeding parallel in here somewhere, once enough seedlings produce identically-hued flowers.


Sweetie Darling, an Absolutely Fabulous reference, has been a name candidate twice before, for 083A Psychedelic Bunny and 208A Raspberry Possum. When I rejected it for the latter, I noted that it seemed more appropriate for an orange seedling, as the character who says it is much more given to wearing orange than pink. And now, here we have an orange. So maybe?

Torch and Pitchfork are the traditional markers of an angry mob.


So. When I selected Torch and Pitchfork for this seedling, I thought that by the time I wrote this post, it would seem a lot more timely than it does. So I'll drop it. And Lucky Bounce would work better if the seedling had been lucky in some way, or dropped on the floor, or something, but I can't think of anything along those lines, so I reject the name as nonsensical.


Which leaves Stalemate By Repetition or Sweetie Darling. Both more or less work, but I don't have a strong preference for one over the other, so I'll go with the shorter one: Sweetie Darling it is.


Hopefully future flowers will show a bit less thrips damage; this seedling did most of its blooming in sync with the other plants in the tray it was on, which means that there were lots of hungry thrips in the vicinity. I get prettier-looking flowers from the seedlings that bloom very early (before the thrips have built up sufficiently large populations in the plant room) or very late (after the thrips population has already mostly starved to death).


Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 092 (again)

Not especially new, again. I've made a number of mistakes in the course of breeding my Schlumbergeras, and growing out too many seedlings was one of the bigger ones. At the time, I was a couple years away from having seeds from any other crosses, and I didn't know how variable the offspring would be, so it made sense to pot up everything I could get, but now that I have other combinations to try, and so much space devoted to the first batch of seedlings, I wish I'd restrained myself a little more.

092B is also a good example of the other main mistake I made: putting multiple seedlings into the same pot. The plants don't mind, but it complicates record-keeping, and in some cases I don't know whether I have a pair of differently-colored seedlings or a single highly variable one.

I've at least learned from those mistakes: I've potted up fewer individual seedlings from subsequent crosses,1 and individual seedlings get individual pots.

Anyway. The four name finalists for 092B: Dorothy Parker, Naughty Santa, Nine of Hearts, Rooster.


Three of the four name finalists are there because the first bloom (above) was mostly red: Naughty Santa (originally suggested by Nadya W-G) makes sense for a red / white seedling. Nine of Hearts implies a red seedling (I think it was originally a random word combination). Rooster is maybe a little more ambiguous, since rooster feathers can be a lot of different colors, but the comb is always (?) red.2

Which means that, then, when the same plant produced this much oranger flower three months later,


I was pretty much stuck with either Dorothy Parker or choosing a whole new set of finalists. And choosing one set of finalists is difficult enough. So 092B is Dorothy Parker.

I don't remember when I first became aware of Dorothy Parker, but my guess is that it was probably in high school; I went through a spell where I read all the books of witty, famous, or otherwise notable quotes I could find, and copied them by hand into a notebook.3 And Parker is nothing if not quotable, so she wound up in there a lot. Some of them you probably already know: on being challenged to use "horticulture" in a sentence, Parker came back with "You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think." She drank a lot (was almost certainly an alcoholic), which led to "One more drink and I’ll be under the host." The one I liked the best that I hadn't heard before researching this post was:
If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.4

Parker was not a happy person. The impression I got from this piece at The New York Review of Books (which I strongly recommend reading) is that she could be delighted at how wonderful the world could be, and yet was so often disappointed by how mediocre, lazy, unjust, and pretentious it often actually was. The cynical, caustic exterior she presented wasn't because she hated the world and wanted to die; it was a defensive response to being disappointed so often, by so many, including herself. Few of us would (or could) make a career out of disappointment, but we've all felt it, which is maybe partly why we still remember what she had to say.5

When Parker died in 1967, her will left her entire estate to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; on his assassination in 1968, it was transferred to the NAACP, and her ashes are now buried at the NAACP's Baltimore headquarters.

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1 Lately, I'm even keeping track of the pollen parents. Those seeds won't be doing anything interesting for at least a couple years, but at least I won't have to try to guess where their colors came from when they do.
2 Embarrassing but true: until I looked this up, I was not aware that hens generally also have combs. They're often smaller, duller in color, or both, and they don't appear until chicks are at least a couple weeks old (often longer; it depends on the breed), but the combs are nevertheless there.
3 In the snow! Uphill!
4 (It's funny because it's true.)
5 No doubt an oversimplification. And I may be overidentifying with Parker a bit too. But that sure seems to be the foundation of the piece from The New York Review of Books.


Sunday, April 2, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 062

Seedling 062 is pleasant, maybe a little lighter in color than the usual, but not otherwise terribly remarkable.

(see?)

The four name finalists are: Bashful Whisper, Booster Separation, Fred Rogers, and Open World.

Bashful Whisper sounds a lot like a random-words name, though it does have in its favor that it describes an actual thing, and people who saw the name would understand what it meant.

Booster Separation is the point, during the launch of a Space Shuttle or other item, when the rockets used to propel the item out of Earth's gravity detach themselves and fall to the ground, where they can be recovered and reused later. (This is apparently by design, though I'm kind of amazed that it's possible to design an object to fall 28 miles / 46 km to the Earth and then use it again.1) This was inspired by the way the petals curve away from the flower in the above photo, though it would make more sense if the flower had been pointing up, rather than down.


Fred Rogers is of course the children's TV show host.

Finally, Open World is a video gaming term, describing games in which the player has the option to wander more or less freely around the game world doing whatever they like, rather than being forced into following a specific plot.2 Some of the bigger open world games are Minecraft, Fallout 3 / Fallout: New Vegas / Fallout 4, the Grand Theft Auto series, No Man's Sky, the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, Sims 3, etc.


So I want to drop Bashful Whisper first. Initially I was fine with it, but at some point it got "Careless Whisper" stuck in my head and that drives me crazy. And I think we can lose Booster Separation too, since the flowers aren't consistently shaped like the one that inspired the name.


The problem with Fred Rogers is one that's come up before: while he's seedling-worthy, he's also got a ton of things named for him already, including an asteroid, just like Sojourner Truth. This shouldn't count against a name, except that I figure names honoring heavily-honored people are more likely to have been used by someone else already. Since I'm trying to choose final, official names for the Schlumbergera seedlings,3 I'm kind of hoping to come up with things I won't have to change later.

Open World is a little bland. I suppose it still sounds nice (except maybe to agoraphobes), but if you're not a gamer it doesn't have a clear meaning. It does have going for it that I really open world games (according to Steam, I've spent over a thousand hours of my life playing Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas combined, for example), but then, I was a pretty big fan of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood at one point too, so I'm not sure that works as a tie-breaker either.


What did wind up working for me as a tie-breaker was running across an article via MetaFilter that talks about a specific game that doesn't quite work, despite being able to generate a very large number of possible game puzzles. I mean, Covert Action doesn't appear to be an open world game, technically, but it does talk a little about whether games should be primarily about telling a story (like in more linear games) or about the experience of being part of the overall world of a game, where one makes up the story as one goes along (like in open world games).

So I think I'm still happy with calling this one 062A Open World. I'm sure the name Fred Rogers will come up again, given enough seedlings4 and enough time in which to name them.

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1 (I mean, I have a LCD-display kitchen timer that got dropped about four feet onto a carpeted floor and has never worked quite right ever since.)
2 As distinct from linear games, with a single plot that doesn't progress until you do whatever thing it is the game wants you to do (e.g. Half-Life 2), or games with branching plots, where the player occasionally gets to make choices that influence how the rest of the game plays out, but are linear between branch points (like reading a "choose your own adventure" book).
3 As opposed to the Anthurium seedlings, where the names I use here are basically placeholders, so that I can talk about them without getting confused by all the numbers. I mean, some of the Anthurium seedlings' names might eventually be official patented names too, should things get that far, but I work harder on the Schlumbergera names because I think of them as being the final word on what a seedling will be called. Not that most of these -- or maybe any -- will ever be patented anyway. But I still might want to, someday. So.
4 Speaking of which -- I potted up another 68 Schlumbergeras on 25 March. The Schlumbergeras may outnumber the Anthuriums now; it depends on whether you think the relevant number is how many distinct pots I have to move around and check for watering and so forth, in which case the Schlumbergeras win, or the number of genetically distinguishable plants I have around, in which case the Anthuriums (barely) win.