Saturday, January 8, 2011

Music video: Go Home Productions "Smells Like Rockin' Robin" (Jackson 5 / Nirvana mashup)

Much less politically problematic than yesterday's. This is more . . . stylistically problematic. I find it kind of riotously funny, but I'm into songs with depressed/angry lyrics over top of bouncy, happy music anyway, so this is exactly the sort of thing I would like. Maybe you'll like it too, maybe not. (If you do, see also "Groove is in the Black Hole Sun," at the top of this post, which combines Dee-Lite's "Groove is in the Heart" with Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun." I've been fond of it for a long time. Alas, there's no video to go with it.)

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

I've known for a while that Nina changes color slightly during the course of the day, every day. For some reason, I was under the impression that I'd already talked about that, but apparently I haven't, so that's what we're discussing today. (And for once, no whining about the uncleanable terrarium! Everybody wins!)

For most of the day, she looks like this:

There's a light-colored, repeating diamond design down her back, with dark triangles to either side and a main body color that's kind of in-between.

In the mornings, though, she looks like this:

Much darker along the backbone, and in general.

I didn't find any websites that would confirm this for me, but I assume this is most likely a temperature-regulation thing, and she just wakes up dark because that's the best color for absorbing heat from the sun. Not that she actually sees the sun, but you know what I mean. I don't know what time of day she switches from one to the other, never having tried to find out, but on the day I wrote this she'd changed at some point between 9 and 11 AM.

Some species of anole are also able to change from brown to green, but Anolis sagrei (Cuban brown anole), which is Nina's species, doesn't do that: they're always a shade of brown.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Music video: DJ Tripp "Run This Firefly" (Jay-Z / Owl City mashup)

Jay-Z VS Owl City "Run This Firefly" (DJ Tripp Mash) from DJ Tripp on Vimeo.

NSFW for language, probable mild homophobia.1

I'm not particularly impressed with the Jay-Z lyrics, and actually the video doesn't do that much for me either (not enough Rhianna, too much Jay-Z -- though I'm oddly impressed with the "passports" / "ask for" rhyme), but I really love the way this all works together musically, and have been playing it over and over and getting it stuck in my head and all that. So I bring it to your attention. Respond in whatever way feels appropriate.


1 I know, I know. But it's only two words in a five-minute song, and the words are, in context, sort of ambiguous. Or at least I'm sufficiently unfamiliar with Jay-Z to know how to interpret them. Odds are it's bad, but the rest of the mashup is so damned catchy that I kind of don't care. Shame me if you feel you must.

Random plant event: Homalomena 'Emerald Gem' flowers

This has happened to me before, but it's been a while. I realize it's not a pretty flower (In fact, the actual flowers aren't even visible in the picture: Homalomena is in the aroid family, and so produces spathe-and-spadix-type inflorescences, where the actual flowers are on the spadix. Some aroids, Homalomena among them, won't even open the spathe so the flowers can be accessed, which I think is probably a matter of not being happy with the environment. I don't really know for sure.), but it still counts as one of the plants doing something this winter, so I get to blog about it, because that's how this blog thing works.

'Emerald Gem' and I have managed to get on better terms since I wrote the profile on it, and have been doing okay together for quite a while now, but even though it's doing better, it's still never looked as good as it did when I first bought it. I wouldn't necessarily recommend one for someone new to houseplants. On the other hand, there's something to be said for any plant that stays alive for me for three and a half years, too.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Newish plants

This batch isn't very interesting until you get to the last one, and the last one isn't as interesting as it could be, in the context of yesterday's post, but, you know, they can't all be exciting plants you've never seen before.

Alpinia zerumbet variegata. Lowe's, Coralville, $3.25.

I have such mixed feelings about Lowe's. I wish they didn't have to mistreat the plants so badly, but if I'm honest, that's the main reason I still check to see what they have: I get curious about whether they have anything interesting marked down because it's on the brink of death.

I got a division of this variety of Alpinia from a reader last summer, and potted it up, and it did so well that I decided it would be worth it to try to revive this one. Ominously, when I asked about the price (it wasn't marked, but was on the distressed rack, so I figured it was discounted: I just didn't know how what the new price was), the employee asked, "gonna nurse it back to health, are you?" and laughed. I'm not sure if the idea amused him because he assumed I wouldn't know what I was doing and was therefore throwing my money away, or because he knew that it didn't matter whether I knew what I was doing because the plant was already so thoroughly destroyed that there was no bringing it back possible, or if he's just the kind of person who thinks everything sounds friendlier and more customer-servicey if accompanied by a laugh ('Twas the season to be jolly, after all), but in any case I was kind of disturbed by the reaction.

Since the photo was taken, mostly I've just cut off more leaves, but there are a few new ones opening. I should probably try to find a better spot for it, too: right now it's sort of in the path of a heater, which is likely not helping.

Asplundia 'Jungle Drum.' Lowe's, Coralville, $0.75.

Same thing, though in this particular case they had about seven or eight of these discounted, and this was the only one that looked like it was going to survive. The others were all soaking wet, standing in about an inch of water, and the emerging leaves were black. If only I'd gotten there sooner.

Not that I need more Asplundias: I just like them, and they're still rare enough around here that I feel sort of obliged to pick one up if I see one. Particularly when they're only $0.75.

Euphorbia ingens? Lowe's, Coralville, $9.

Yet another Lowe's rescue. They had bigger specimens of this same plant for $27, which I declined to buy the last time I was there because it looked like they'd gotten pretty beat-up in transit, but I have wanted one of these (whatever it is) for a while, so now I have one.

Dizygotheca elegantissima 'Olympia.' Lowe's, Coralville, $2.68.

This wasn't a rescue: I actually paid full price for this. Dizygotheca elegantissimas still make me nervous, even though I've had one at home for three and a half years now. It's been fine (though it did drop a ring of leaves from the very top of the plant recently, which was odd), so I'm pretty sure I can do this, but even so.

'Olympia' is the name Exotic Angel gives this variety: it's basically the same as the species, but the leaves are shorter and stubbier. I don't know that I like it, but it was different, the plants looked like they'd just come in, and it was under $3, so I'll gamble.

Saintpaulia NOID. Ace Hardware, Iowa City, $5.

More bravery. The 'Shimmer Shake' I bought in Cedar Rapids a month ago (see previous new plants post) is flowering abundantly now,1 and the one I've had for years, the only survivor of the 2009 mass death, has been doing well and flowering continuously for over a year now,2 so I figured I'd push my luck a bit further. I don't know what flower colors to expect here; it didn't have any when I bought it, and hasn't produced any flowers since, but it's only been three weeks or so.

Schlumbergera NOID. Lowe's, Coralville, $2.50.

Schlumbergera NOID. Lowe's, Coralville, $5.50.

Well I said I was going to grab some Schlumbergeras when they started marking them down. I was hoping to wait until they were cheaper than this (last year I saw several for $1, so I assume the same happened / is happening this year), but there were almost none available that weren't 'Caribbean Dancer' or something that looks like 'Caribbean Dancer,' so I panicked and bought early. The pink/magenta one is a 4" (10 cm) pot, and the white is a 6" (15 cm) pot.

Sophrolaeliocattleya Hazel Boyd 'Debbie.' Orchids and Moore, Iowa City, $22.44.

Orchids and Moore is a one-woman operation at the Sycamore Mall in Iowa City. Jacklyn Moore has been selling orchids there for about nine years there, but the hours are weird because it's a side job, so a lot of the time when I think about going, she's not there. I don't actually get into town that much, and to the Sycamore Mall even less, so I think I've only actually looked at what she's got twice.

Both times, I really wanted a Masdevallia, O&M being the only place I've seen them for sale,3 and both times I talked myself out of it because I knew if I bought one I'd be dooming it to death by underwatering.

The first time I looked at what she had (a long time ago -- I was still working in the garden center then), I didn't wind up buying anything, but this time, I have a few years of keeping a Brassolaeliocattleya alive under my belt,4 and I'd just bought the two Potinaras, so I was feeling more adventurous. It took a long time to rule out the Masdevallia, and then there was a scented Epidendrum or Epicattleya (some kind of Epi-something or another, anyway) that I thought about for a long time, but then at the end I grabbed this Slc., which I hadn't been considering particularly, or even thinking much about, because apparently my subconscious was working out the decision while I was dithering about the Epiwhatever.

It's a ridiculously difficult flower to photograph, because the color varies a lot depending on the lighting. Sometimes it's a bright orange-red, sometimes a satiny pink-red as in the picture, occasionally it's a deep wine-red. And then the camera sometimes makes colors up besides, so I wouldn't say the above is a particularly good representation of the flower, but it's the best I'm going to be able to do.


1 Though, disappointingly, the color is not what I thought I was going to get: the spent flowers that were still attached to the plant looked like they were light pink or lavender with dark blue-violet flecks, like a variety I used to have, so I bought it because of that, and instead I've got a plant with monstrous, huge, ruffly, doubled things that are a solid color somewhere between blue-violet and lavender. No flecks at all. For the moment, it's flowering so robustly that I don't mind that much, but even so: not the variety I thought I was buying, and I'm puzzled as to how I could have been that far off.
2 (Though it needs to be root-pruned and re-potted.)
3 It's possible that someone was selling them at the orchid show at Wallace's Garden Center last March, but A) if anybody was, I don't remember seeing it, and B) it wouldn't have mattered, because I have a very clear and distinct memory of not having enough money to be buying orchids at the time, so I actually sort of tried not to look too closely at the stuff that was for sale.
4 And not just alive, but getting bigger and stuff too. I knew when I bought it that it wasn't of flowering size yet, but figured that was the only way I could afford to try one out. It still hasn't flowered, but there are some interesting, tiny buds as of the last couple weeks, which are either leaves or flowers. Since I've never even seen the flowers, except in photos online, this would be very exciting news, if they turned out to be flower buds, but I think they're probably actually just leaves. But leaves would be sort of exciting too. I'm just tickled that it's not dead, really.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pretty picture: Potinara Samantha Duncan 'Orange Tart'

This is a pretty awesome flower that I expect to clash horribly with the current color scheme. (Blogger preview shows your post and photos as they will appear on the blog, except that it shows your text on a white background. So I don't know how the blue and orange are going to go together, but I expect it to be bad.)

Long-time readers will probably be able to guess that I like this particular flower, since I'm a fan of the Cattleya Alliance flowers in general, and Potinara in particular, plus it's orange and I like orange. So if you guessed that, pat yourself on the back.

The parentage is Sophrolaeliocattleya (Slc.) Little Precious x Potinara (Pot.) Hawaiian Prominence. Doesn't mean much to me, but maybe it does to you.

We're getting close to the end of the photos from the Wallace's Orchid Show last March: there's only one left. After that, I'm not sure what happens. I haven't heard anything yet about whether Wallace's is going to have another show this year (last year was, I gather, kind of an experiment), but it's been nice for me personally to have regular posts planned throughout the year where I could basically just point and say ZOMG look flowerz r pretty and go on to the next post, so I kinda hope they do. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Random plant event: Schlumbergera fruits

I got a few successful cross-pollinations between my various Schlumbergera varieties, so I will find out whether my instructions on growing them from seed in the Schlumbergera profile were any good or not. The female parent in both photos is 'Caribbean Dancer;' the male parent is probably a NOID yellow-flowering variety I bought this year. The NOID yellow formed some fruits as well, but late enough that I didn't get pictures of them for this post. (They were more or less the same color as the flowers: pale yellow.)

I only got one flower from the salmon variety this year, and it bloomed and died before any of the other plants' flowers were ready, so I didn't get to cross it with anything. I also bought a NOID pink and a NOID white on clearance at Lowe's, but the unopened buds on both are just sitting there: not getting any bigger, not falling off. So I think that's all the cross-pollination for this winter. Maybe in the spring, if any of them decide to bloom again.

Fruit with the remains of a flower still attached.

Even with the fruits I have, the seeds will take six to twelve months to mature before I can plant them, and then the resulting seedlings will have to grow out for three or four years before I'll know whether they're worth holding onto or not. So it's kind of a long-term project, and very probably not worth the effort, but one never knows. I can think of worse things than being overrun by Schlumbergera seedlings.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Biological Terminology Idea

Be it resolved that, whereas the entomological community presently refers to the fecal material of insects as "frass," and the orifice from which said frass emerges as the "anus;" and whereas students and laypersons not in the entomological community may find the terminology difficult to remember and understand, dull, or otherwise problematic; said community is hereby ordered, on the authority of Mr. Subjunctive and any of his blog commenters as may see fit to undersign this resolution, to immediately modify all internal or public documents, including press releases, textbooks, published papers, or other communication, in which the individual or collective anuses of any insect or group of insects are referred to, in such a way that all instances of the word "anus" are replaced with the word "frasshole." This action is to be completed no later than 1 July 2011.

Mr. Subjunctive
3 January 2011

Pretty picture: Echeveria coccinea flowers

Even more winter blooming. This one was foreshadowed a couple weeks ago, when I first noticed the buds. I don't have a lot to say about the flowers, though. They speak for themselves, I think.

I would have attempted a photo of the whole plant, but it's hard to get on and off the windowsill because there's a set of shelves next to the window, and I was already taking a lot of pictures of other plants last week and kind of didn't have time to mess with more. (Long, boring story, but I took like 1100-1200 pictures between last Wednesday and Saturday, which now all have to be sorted through. Not looking forward to it, but it needed to be done.) Also the flowering stems are long and floppy compared to the rest of the plant and I wasn't sure whether I could get a good picture out of it anyway.

I've had bad Echeveria experiences in the past, but so far E. coccinea looks like it will be different. And if it wants to be an easy flowerer also, hey, I'm not going to complain.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Top 12 PATSP posts of 2010

Once again, I wait to do the year-end retrospective until after the year is actually over.

The husband: But you're supposed to do those at the end of the year, when you're looking back. The beginning of the year is supposed to be about looking forward.

Me: Well yeah, but how can I say they're the best posts of 2010 before 2010 is over? I mean, maybe I'll write a really kick-ass post for December 31.
Not that I did. I'm just saying I could, and then it wouldn't be on the list, and nobody would know about it, and even I would probably forget that I'd written it, but even if I remembered it and put it on the 2011 list, it wouldn't be the same because it's on the wrong year's list, and in the future somebody who's combing through the debris of our civilization after the apocalypse has happened will run across my blog on some server somewhere and they'll be all like, wow, this guy must have been brain-damaged or something: he's got a post on a "best of 2011" list that was written in 2010, no wonder the zombies got him, and I DO NOT WANT PEOPLE CALLING ME STUPID AFTER THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE BECAUSE I DIDN'T DELINEATE YEARS PROPERLY, OKAY?

The husband: Oh. [pause] Okay.


Last year I came up with sixteen favorite posts; this year, either I sucked more, or I had higher standards, 'cause I only wound up with twelve. (Actually, it's neither, I think: I was reasonably fond of most of the plant profiles I did this year, but I figure the main purpose of writing these lists is to call people's attention to posts they might have missed, and the profiles, though I work hard on them, already have links in the sidebar and get read regularly regardless. I did include my very favorite 2010 profile, but I didn't include all the profiles.)

So without further ado.

12. Pretty pictures: Paeonia cvv. (28 May 2010) I still don't necessarily like peonies all that well, but I really liked the way this particular photo turned out:

11. The One About Plant Theft (20 July 2010) Sometimes people will steal plants. Does this mean people are terrible? Yes. Yes it does.

10. Pretty pictures: Passiflora spp. (11 July 2010) This has very little to do with the pictures (though they're nice) and everything to do with me being proud that I managed to come up with an argument that Passiflora flowers are actually all about the TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," instead of the crucifixion of Christ like everybody thinks.

9. Random plant event: Hoya lacunosa flowers (17 January 2010) Mostly me going off on the Garden Bloggers Bloom Day participants for not having a sufficient number of houseplants, something I'm tempted to do again this winter. (Instead, though, I think I'm going to try to get it together to participate.)

8. List: Houseplants Which Could, In Theory, One Day Produce Something Edible, Perhaps (5 October 2010) May or may not have been one of my best posts of the year (though my preamble, with an eight-item list of disclaimers, is certainly the acme of something or another), but it attracted lots of comments.

7. Lawn Ornaments: Frozen Water Balloons (6 January 2010) This post has been weirdly popular with people who don't otherwise read PATSP: I've seen it linked to from a number of non-gardening websites, which surprised me. Plans to build on the idea this year by constructing a multi-colored back yard ice-block fort have been hindered by the lack of suitably large and durable containers in which to freeze the water. I'm still hoping to figure something out, though.

6. Pretty picture: Vanda Pakchong Blue (20 April 2010) Included because this is, upon review of all 2010 posts, my favorite photo from the whole year.

5. List: Houseplants You'll Want to be Growing During the Zombie Apocalypse of 2014 (5 March 2010) This was also extremely popular with non-gardeners (lots of zombie enthusiasts out there, it turns out), but gardeners liked it too. (Enough that one of them may have ripped off the idea, which I find bothersome, though I can't prove it was malicious.) And it won me a Mousie, which means a lot of you knew about it already and you want me to move on to the next one on the list. So I will!

4. Being Robin Ripley (8 April 2010) PATSP's contribution to the Ugly Vegetable Garden War of 2010.

3. BREAKING: Dog Adoption Complete (25 March 2010) The very first Sheba-related post that included pictures. You knew there was going to be a Sheba picture somewhere in this list.

2. Carmen Miranda (Ananas comosus), Part I (17 June 2010) I made an exception to the general no-plant-profiles rule for this particular post, for the simple reason that I will never again write a footnote that's as perfect as this post's footnote 5, and I will not stop telling people about it until everyone in the whole world knows.

1. Book Review: Hothouse Flower, by Margot Berwin (30 September 2010) I read a book once and found it unsatisfying.

What will the best posts of 2011 be like?

Probably quite a bit like these, actually. But we won't know for a year, so keep reading.