Saturday, September 11, 2010

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

Road-tripping today. Mom bought a bunch of the Ball potting mix I like for me, when it went on clearance at her grocery store, and that was a couple weeks ago. Not only has the potting mix been sitting in the family van ever since, but I actually am out of soil at the moment, so it works out for everybody if we go pick it up today.

So I'll be around, eventually, just maybe not so much this afternoon.

We're probably bringing Sheba with us (this hadn't been definitely decided at the time I was writing the post), even though long car trips wear her out. This picture is from Sept. 3, when we visited a nearby greenhouse for the first time and then for some reason went grocery-shopping. She did really well, but clearly by this point she'd had too much fun.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Milestone: 1,000,000 page views / PATSP De-Lurking Day

UPDATE: At 12:05 AM, CDT, on Saturday, September 11, 2010, someone in Mosman, New South Wales, Australia looked at the Salvia elegans profile (which they'd found via Google) and became hit #1000000. I can prove part of that:


Celebratory Gazania.

Unless something really unusual happens, PATSP is going to get its 1,000,000th page view at some point today. Maybe very early tomorrow, if traffic is slow.

I feel like I should say something about this, but I don't know what one is supposed to say. A million page views wasn't something I considered or anticipated when I started this. (Which is good, because if I'd had that goal to begin with I would have been very depressed. You know how many I got the first day? Seventy-six. And a lot of that was just because it was the first day and people were coming from Garden Web out of curiosity: by the third day, that had dropped to twenty-one.)

But then, none of this has really gone the way I was expecting. The idea when I started was that this would be practice space for book-writing, and a place to share pictures of the stuff I was working with at my then-new garden center job. A little over 660,000 words and 1145 posts later, there's still no book (When would I work on a book, for fuck's sakes? The blog takes 40-45 hours a week.), and there's also no longer a job.

In short, blogging has turned me into an unemployed loser, just like people always said it would.

Or possibly I was an unemployed loser already, deep down, and blogging just unlocked my potential. There's a definite argument to be made there.1

Whatever. This is really more about you guys. I mean, you're the ones who loaded the pages. So:

Some websites have occasional "de-lurking" days, where people who visit a blog but never leave comments are invited to do so. So just for today, if you normally never comment, or even if you do, say hi. I don't care so much what you say -- leave a link to your own blog, tell me what you do for a living or how many grandkids you have, tell me you like my shoes -- whatever.

I will still delete anything resembling spam, though, so please do try to sound like a human being.


1 I would probably be sounding happier about the milestone if I were feeling better physically: I've been having a lot of (literal) headaches this week, and don't know why. The list of possible causes includes: sleep disruption, unusual levels of physical exertion, dehydration, allergies, stress, eyestrain, and changes in the weather/humidity. Or the husband could be poisoning the food. I mean, he says he isn't, but of course that's exactly what he'd have to say if he really were.
And it could be the case that none of these are correct and it's some mysterious and unimaginable ninth thing, though my personal guess is that it's some combination of stress and the change in weather.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pretty picture: Doritaenopsis Happy Valentine x Phalaenopsis New Eagle

Phalaenopsis1 don't normally do that much for me. Nothing actually wrong with them, but I've seen a lot of them, I've picked up dropped flowers from a lot of them, I've watched quite a few of them die, I've seen a couple produce keiki,2 and by this point I feel like I've pretty much seen everything a Phalaenopsis -- at least the commercially viable ones -- is capable of doing.

This one is not hugely different either, but it's different enough to bother with: I hadn't seen this paint-dipped effect before. Don't know that I particularly like it, but I hadn't seen it before.

It's sort of terrible, by the way, to be an orchid snob already when I've only ever owned seven orchids, two of which are dead.3 I feel like I should have paced myself better, or something.


1 I know, this is Doritaenopsis, but the two names are pretty nearly interchangeable, Doritis being a genus of orchids which some taxonomists consider synonymous with Phalaenopsis anyway.
2 As noted in the Phalaenopsis profile, the word keiki is both singular and plural in the original Hawaiian, so it's respectful, if not required, to use it the same way in English. Not everybody does, so one does see "keikis," and in the grand scheme of things the decision of whether to add an "s" to keiki is trivial, but I try to use it in the original Hawaiian way, both out of respect for the culture and because that way I get to write nitpicky footnotes about formation of plurals. And when I get to write nitpicky footnotes, then we all win.
3 In chronological order: Ludisia (R.I.P.), Dendrobium, Dendrobium, Brassolaeliocattleya, Paphiopedilum, Phalaenopsis, Oncidium (R.I.P.). Though to be fair, the Ludisia stuck around for a long time, and only died because of a bad repotting decision, and the Oncidium was unwell to begin with. So.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Question for the Hive Mind: Bright Orange Something

I saw these in the spring. They were more or less in a ditch, next to a corn field. The ditch was dug up in maybe April, more or less right before they planted the field. They look like carrots, but carrots don't get that long, do they? Especially not if they get dug up every year, as these apparently do. Also I think they might have been horizontal under the soil, before getting dug up, though these pictures don't really support that and it's been a few months so I don't know what that impression is based on.

But so anyway. What are these? Opening the photos in a separate window may be helpful.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Pretty pictures: Pink

Today we have various thoughts from the plant kingdom about the idea of "pink." In a couple cases, it's maybe more my questionable judgment, and the plant was actually thinking of "purple," but whatever. I had a whole bunch of pictures that I needed to do something with, having just sifted through almost the whole photo backlog, and this sort of post is a really efficient way of getting through a lot of photos in a hurry, even if they're not seasonally-appropriate, as some of these aren't.

Asclepias syriaca flowers in extreme close-up. Some insect life visible if you look closely and/or open the photo full-size in a new window.

Polygonum persicaria. I don't think anybody actually likes this plant, but it's awfully familiar, at least. And technically pink, so it counts.

Lamium NOID. Shortly after taking this picture, I was looked at suspiciously by two women talking to one another over their backyards' fence. I expect that the suspicious looks happen all the time, but I'm not normally in a position to see them, so it was noteworthy.

Cyclamen persicum NOID. I don't see the frilly-edged Cyclamens for sale very often. Not that I necessarily want one. I just think it's interesting what is and isn't popular.

Torenia 'Catalina Pink.' This is arguably more purple than pink, but the tag said it was pink.

Ipomoea NOID. If loving morning glories is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Zinnia 'Profusion Cherry.' I had sort of intended to get some Zinnias this year, or at least some Zinnia seeds. As with all my other outdoor-related plans, that didn't work out.

Cyclamen NOID. This is probably my favorite photo from the batch.

Portulaca grandiflora, second-generation flower. These have not yet taken off like I'd hoped, but considering how late I started them, I suppose I can't be too disappointed. I should still be able to collect enough seeds to try again next year.

Weigela NOID. Came with the house. The husband and I are both kinda meh about it, but it'd be a lot of work to take it out, and neither of us have any ideas for something we'd rather see in that spot, so it stays.

Hibiscus moscheutos 'Dave Fleming,' at the ex-job. I've seen hardy Hibiscus varieties I covet, but this isn't one of them. It's big and bright enough that I find it sort of alarming. Not the sort of Hibiscus you want to run into, walking around the back yard at night.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Animal: Graphocephala coccinea

This is the candy-striped leafhopper, Graphocephala coccinea, on a Salvia elegans leaf. They're native to North America and Central America. They make a living by sucking plant sap and are therefore, technically, pests. They can even spread viruses from plant to plant, like aphids. So they're pretty unequivocally bad.

I don't squash them, though. For one thing, it's hard to do. Though you might think that the "hopper" part of "leafhopper" is an homage to Dennis Hopper or something -- and in a perfect world maybe it would be! -- it's actually because they jump, far, on very little provocation, so you have to be really quick. For another, it seems like having to wear turquoise and red together should be punishment enough.

Mostly, though, it's 'cause I think they're fascinating to look at. (I like Bridget Riley paintings too. Do a Google image search. I dare you.)

Which I'm aware that being decorative is not a good reason to let them run free to spread viruses, suck precious sap, and knock over liquor stores or whatever.

The leafhoppers, I mean.

Not Bridget Riley.

Though she might spread viruses too, I suppose: I mean, I don't know her. And she is an artist, and you know how they are.

Not that it would be okay to squash her if she did spread viruses, obviously!

Let's get away from the Bridget Riley thing. My point is that I find candy-striped leafhoppers (see? Even the name is adorable!) too ornamental to kill. I apologize to all the outdoor gardeners.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

PATSP Crossword #3

I haven't posted one of these in forever, because they're very time-consuming to do, and I wasn't sure if people were really bothering to solve them, and if they did solve them I wasn't sure they, you know, enjoyed solving them. But it's been over a year and a half (the last one was in January 2009), which I think is enough elapsed time for the people who hate crosswords to feel like I'm looking out for their interests and concerns, plus I went to all the trouble of making one so here you go.

I have three more half-finished puzzles somewhere; it may surprise you to learn that actually putting the puzzle together, getting all the words to fit, is actually not the time-consuming part; writing the clues is. So the others will be posted when/if I manage to finish writing the clues. Here's puzzle #3:

As with the first one, a fair amount of this is site-specific, obscure, or whatever, and may or may not be of interest to you.

I recommend printing out a copy of the puzzle image, and then working on the paper. Sharpie on your computer monitor will also work, but will be more trouble. Googling should prove useful if you're stuck on one, though you know Googling makes you a cheater, right?

Feedback about difficulty is welcome. I will post the solution next Sunday afternoon.

Made with the demo version of Crossword Compiler, as was the first puzzle.

1 Military officer trainee
7 Where baby corn sleeps, or, a place for storing and drying corn
12 The military's favorite green
13 The part of most cacti where photosynthesis happens
14 The longest river in France
17 First and middle initials of Wilson, the creator of sociobiology
18 Women without direction
21 Hillary Rodham Clinton (abbrev.)
23 Popular material for flowerpots
24 Ordinary term for 32 across
25 The country code top-level domain for Spain (analogous to Canada's .ca or Sweden's .se)
26 Boringly stupid, or stupidly boring
28 He around whom the universe revolves
29 Cycas revoluta, for example
31 Fluffy/thorny filler plant
32 Mostly-obsolete, female-specific slang for 24 across
33 Sansevierias are sometimes called _________ plants
34 More than one peen
36 Was television about music
37 A plant adapted for conditions of little or infrequent rainfall, as e.g. Lithops or Crassula
38 LOLCat greeting
40 Outlook Express (abbrev.)
41 Untied, negated
43 They bring good things to life. Or maybe they don't anymore. It's been a while since I saw an ad.
44 Urban slang term meaning disrespect
46 ___________ of endearment
48 Or you can call it Fraxinus
49 They get hot when the sun is out, due to some kind of effect
51 Iowa (postal abbreviation)
52 Secret ______ Man
53 Bryophyllum daigremontianum's profile calls it an ___________ Genius
57 Transparent-topped enclosure for protecting young or small plants in cold climates (Hint: it sounds like it should be a new CBS crime drama)
60 Person who repots
61 Japanese plant torture

1 Not sin or tan, but ____
2 Joyweed genus
3 What Gardenias mostly do indoors
4 Electronic voting machine (abbrev.)
5 Tellurium (chemical symbol)
6 South Dakota (postal abbrev.)
7 Annoying but deceased "Battlestar Galactica" character (as of season 4)
8 Woodwind instrument
9 Medical professional
10 Prescription (abbrev.)
11 Poetic flowers, or multiple Mayim Bialik shows [shudder]
15 Music group ______ & Glaciers (they're "post-hardcore," whatever the fuck that is)
16 Even if you kill all the adult pests with one pesticide application, you still have to repeat a few days later to catch any new pests that hatched from these
17 Dizygotheca _______________
18 Plant family names all end in these five letters
19 Interlibrary loan (abbrev.)
20 A kind of monkey
21 Howdy
22 The starchy root of Manihot esculenta (minor spelling variant), or, "house is going" in broken Spanish
27 The three numbers on fertilizer packages in the U.S. stand for the percentages of these elements (chemical symbols)
28 For example, shredded leaves, grass clippings, pieces of bark, newspapers, recycled tires, cocoa hulls, and the others
30 The gay one includes a break for brunch
33 Having worse air quality due to smoke and/or car exhaust
34 Fruits of Prunus domestica
35 Hallow___
37 Denise wanted to know how to care for her plant, ________ (2 words) looked it up on PATSP
39 Concept
42 Measure of water hardness
45 Block of metal
46 S/He's supposed to help you learn
47 _____: Your Brains (HINT: Google "Jonathan Coulton")
50 All at _______ it happened
53 Really short for "Ernest"
54 _______ deferens
55 You could get one made of Plumeria flowers in Honolulu
56 Windows before Vista
58 Initials of actor Woodside, played Principal Woods in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
59 ________ shizzle