Saturday, March 12, 2011

Technical difficulties, again

Blogger's post-scheduling function is not working for me tonight. I don't know if I accidentally told it to publish the post the first time, and the subsequent crap is because Google still recognizes the text as the same, or what, but it's very frustrating. Sorry for any confusion.

ALMOST IMMEDIATE UPDATE: F*#*@& Daylight Savings Time screws me up again. I can't schedule posts for 2:30 AM on March 13 if there won't be a 2:30 AM on March 13.

Why is it 2:30 AM in the first place, you may ask? Well, when I started working at the garden center, way back in the early history of PATSP, I was getting up at 5 AM for a while. I didn't want the posts to be up for a long time before I was able to check it and make sure it had all posted the way I wanted it to, so I scheduled it to post at 4:30 AM my time. This is 2:30 AM Pacific Time, which is for some reason the time zone Blogger has always thought I was in. And yes, I've tried to change the time zone thing.

Anyway. So twice a year, I get confused because I try to schedule a 2:30 AM post and Blogger won't accept it, and it takes me a really long time to figure out that it's because that time either doesn't exist (spring) or exists twice (fall) during the early morning in question.

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

I appreciate everybody letting me have a couple days off. It was seriously needed.

Our basement flooded at the beginning of last August. Since then, the husband has torn the basement apart and then put part of it back together, noisily. Only part of it, but enough that I was able to spend a solid chunk of Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week disassembling and reassembling a bunch of plant shelves downstairs, which was ridiculously stressful. (Slightly more than half of all the plants in the house live in the basement, and of those, approximately 300 were affected by the move. I'd sort of been looking forward to the process, because some of the plants involved have been in spots that were less than ideal for them for some time, and I had thought that by starting over from scratch with the shelves, I could come up with a better setup than what I had. This failed, of course, and I suspect that the plants are going to be wandering up and down stairs for a long time to come before I'm satisfied with where everything is again.)

The reason why I bring this up is that today's Sheba pictures are from the period in between the completion of part of the basement and the dis-/assembling of the plant shelves. We took her downstairs a few times so the husband could throw tennis balls for her to catch, and I could try to get action pictures or something.

It didn't work out all that well, because there wasn't enough light down there to get decent pictures, but I did still get some interesting shots. E.g. Sheba blurry and levitating:

Or Sheba looking terrifying as fuck (would not want to be that tennis ball):

Also, since I've brought it up, this is what the new shelves look like at the moment, as seen from the south --

--and from the north (with bonus Sheba).

You may be thinking well what's so terrible about that, Mr. S.? It looks fine.

It may look fine, but by comparison to the previous set-up, I think there are a lot of plants which are now getting less light than they used to. I mean, it's the same number of shelves, and roughly the same number of plants, but somehow I couldn't put it all together again in a way I was satisfied with. This is maybe to be expected, since I wasn't entirely satisfied with the old set-up either, but the point is that a different set of plants will be suffering now, and they're not going to be prepared for that.

Oh, before I forget -- Nina has a new light bulb now. The package says they're good for a year, which means that the previous one was in use for a year longer than it should have been. (Maybe more like ten months, since she didn't have the special light bulb until she'd been here for a while, and the first one I got stopped working quickly and I had to take it back for a replacement.) But if she has rickets or something, it's not obvious, and hopefully it'll be corrected by this time next year.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Historical Illustration, and Site-Related: Post Frequency

Okay, so on Sunday I posted a new thing, which I'd hoped might be a way to save me time on the short posts so I could work more on the long posts (the plant profiles and etc. which were the original point of the blog), which I like doing more than I like trying to come up with the filler pieces between them.

And then a number of you left comments saying that you wouldn't mind less-frequent posts if that meant more-frequent longer posts. I had already been having thoughts about doing something different with the posting frequency: I've been thinking for at least a year that maybe I should cut back. I mean, back when I only had 250 plants and I could get all of them watered in like three days and then have 9 to 11 days off to write, that was one thing, but now I have four times that many plants, and it takes about four times as much time to water, and I have to water pretty much every day. It's not that I can't water and write in the same day, but that doesn't leave time for anything else, and there are times when I'd like to do something else.

For reasons I'm not entirely sure I understand, whenever I've thought about posting less often, I've consistently rejected the idea, but we're coming up on a time of year when it was going to be necessary to do, one way or another.

The reason is that I'm hoping to do some selling and trading of my plants, once the weather warms enough that I can start shipping them. We've also been talking about trying to do the Farmers' Market thing this summer, which I'm not 100% convinced that that's a good idea, what with the heat and all, but it seems likely that we'll try it at least once. These things could wind up being great, but they're also all time-consuming.

I haven't done one of these in a long time, mostly because it's hard to find usable images on-line, but I enjoyed them. I think my favorite is the one with the Young Realtors' Club.

For now, I think the plan is to take a couple days off (I kinda do need it, honestly), then come back on Saturday still trying to come up with daily posts, but not to the extent that I'm posting something I don't care about just to have a post. Which I have been doing. Which may or may not have been obvious.

There are some dangers to this plan. Sometimes the posts I forced myself to do just so I'd have something to post were popular. Sometimes pushing myself to find something interesting about a topic I found boring worked, and I liked what I came up with. I tend to rework posts longer than is helpful, and having to have something to post the next day, I feel, helped me curb that tendency, so I'm a little worried that not having to have a deadline will lead both to fewer short posts and to fewer long ones. But these are problems which I hope can be dealt with, and if I really hate how things turn out with the irregular schedule, we can always go back to daily posts.

Comments? Questions? Solutions? We've got a couple days for a conversation here, if people want to have one.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Technical Difficulties

We've had connectivity issues occasionally in the last few weeks, and my computer was also running really slowly yesterday afternoon and evening, plus I was sort of caught up in internet drama elsewhere for most of the day, so I just didn't get it together to do a post. I would have had time if the computer had been behaving normally.

It is not yet known whether this indicates that something is wrong with the computer or not; this sort of thing has happened before, though the degree and duration are sort of new.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Music Video: "A & E" (Goldfrapp)

The video is sort of plant-related in an amusing way, so I think this counts.

I would have posted this a long time ago -- I've liked the song for months -- but I didn't run into an embeddable copy of it on YouTube until last week.

"A & E" (Accident and Emergency) is the UK equivalent of U.S. "Emergency Room."

Lyrics (as best as I can figure them out):

It's a blue, bright blue Saturday, hey hey
and the pain has started to slip away, hey hey

I'm in a backless dress,
on a pastel ward,
that's[?] shining.
Think I want you still,
but it may be pills at work.

Do ya really wanna know
how I was dancing on the floor?
I was trying to phone you
when I'm crawling out the door.
I'm amazed at you,
the things you say that you don't do --
why don't you ring?

I was feeling lonely,
feeling blue,
feeling like I needed you,
and I've[?] woken up
surrounded by the

It's a blue, bright blue Saturday, hey hey
and the pain has started to slip away, hey hey

I'm in a backless dress,
on a pastel ward,
that's[?] shining.
Think I want you still,
but it may be pills at work.

How did I get to
All I wanted was you
to take me out.

I was feeling lonely,
feeling blue,
feeling like I needed you;
I hoped you'd call,
I hoped you'd see the [?]

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Elsewhere on the Web, Inaugural Edition

I'm hoping that this winds up saving me some time: as I wind up with more plants to take care of, I'm spending more and more time on watering (and propagating, grooming, etc.), which leaves me less time to work on the blog. I've still been managing to come up with posts every day, but the reduced amount of time to work on the blog is making it harder and harder to write the plant profiles, and the plant profiles were the whole point of the blog in the first place. I've considered posting less often, but occasionally people have commented about having PATSP worked into their daily routine, so if I went to only posting, say, four days a week, then I'd feel guilty. So, I'm trying this on Sundays for a few weeks. It may or may not last longer than that, depending on how people feel about it and whether or not it actually saves me any time.

New York Times: In a Brooklyn Backyard, Local, Tax-Free Tobacco (Via Comsumerist)
Summary: Brooklyn resident Audrey Silk has taken to growing, curing, shredding, and rolling her own tobacco rather than pay New York's high (and increasing) cigarette taxes.

Far Out Flora: Huntington's Iconic Cacti.
Summary: Pictures of cacti and spiky-pointy cactus allies like whoa.

Minneapolis City Paper: Inside the Multi-Million Dollar Essay-Scoring Business.
Summary: The essay portions of standardized tests are being scored according to how well the essays fit a rigid formula, are subject to pressure to fit certain pre-determined score distributions, and therefore have no reliability as an indicator of a child's ability to communicate through writing, with the most creative thinkers being penalized most severely.
(Not related to plants, but a topic I find interesting. Essay-scoring is a big employer in the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids area, because we have a lot of people with college degrees in non-practical fields who have to pay their bills somehow. As I kind of suspected, essay-scoring sounds like a terrible way to make ends meet, even if you do get to sit indoors in relative comfort while you do it. One also feels bad for the students whose futures depend, however slightly, on a system this arbitrary.)

Flickr: Nature's Assets' Photostream.
Summary: eleven pages of plant pictures, most of them aroids and most of them fairly unusual varieties of familiar plants. (S/He seems to have a special fondness for Philodendrons and Monsteras, though Syngonium, Aglaonema, Scindapsus, Anthurium, and Raphidophora all also make appearances. Several of the IDs strike me as questionable, but it's still a varied and interesting collection, and I'm seriously jealous about a lot of them.)

Bug Girl's Blog: No, Bounce Fabric Softener will NOT protect you from bugs.
Summary: There is some scientific evidence that Bounce brand fabric-softener sheets repel fungus gnats, though they have not, as reported elsewhere, been shown to deter mosquitoes.

All Andrew's Plants: I'm back, a small update.
Summary: Pictures from the Toronto Zoo; do not miss the triggerfish.