Friday, February 12, 2016

Pretty picture: Phalaenopsis Kaoda Twinkle 'Dusty's Midnight'

I loved this one so much. The photo disappointed me (especially the out of focus and overexposed flower in the top left), but it was gorgeous in person. Plus there's sort of a white-tie tuxedo thing happening with the labellum.

The closest I got to a jaw-drop moment from the 2015 orchid show was the black Paphiopedilum (Black Cherry x sukhakulii) I showed you last June, but I also really liked the Papilionanda Erika Cizek Dann from October, and this Phalaenopsis. I don't know whether it means anything that my favorite orchids from the show were all much darker than the typical varieties. Maybe I was just in a dark purple mood that day. Either way, this is one of the few Phalaenopsis varieties I've seen that I actually covet.

Phalaenopsis Kaoda Twinkle 'Dusty's Midnight' = Phalaenopsis schilleriana x Phalaenopsis Malvarosa Valentine Pearl (Ref.)

Phal. schilleriana is pretty consistently lavender/pink in photo search results (e.g.); Phal. Malvarosa Valentine Pearl doesn't seem to show up in searches (you get results, but they're all pictures of Phal. Kaoda Twinkle).

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Schlumbergera seedling no. 067

067A, like a couple seedlings before it, has complicated coloration, where the petals shade through white, orange, and red before ending on a magenta margin. I don't know whether this will turn out to be a consistent trait; 067A has only produced one bloom so far.1 The seedlings have started the spring blooming cycle already,2 so there's a chance that maybe I'll have the opportunity to confirm the coloration, but in the meantime, I need to name it something.

So. You know the drill. Bunch of name possibilities, narrowed down, widened again by adding some emergency names, narrowed down again: seven maybes.

First one to go is Fruit Punch. I wanted to eliminate it on the grounds that any particular brand of fruit punch is always a single color: you don't pour a glass and wind up with orange on the left and magenta on the right. But then it occurred to me that sometimes, if the glass is tipped, or you have the punch in a really wide, shallow punch bowl, it actually can appear to be different colors, depending on how much liquid the light has to travel through before it reaches your eyes. So instead, I reject it on the grounds that it's not a very interesting name.

Prism seemed remarkably appropriate at first -- a flower with multiple bands of different colors named for something that splits sunlight into multiple bands of different colors -- but it's been used for so many things already that it's tainted. I mean, try to convince me that a name with ties to government surveillance, a compact car, and, most damningly, Katy Perry,3 is a good idea.

Circus Conference is what Google Translate thinks the tagged "circus renz" means in German. I didn't look into it too deeply. I like the contrast between the freewheeling, gaudy "circus," on one hand, and the dull, sedate "conference" on the other, but it feels like it's trying too hard.

Mae West is safely dead, so we'd probably know if she were an especially awful human being, and she's got a lot of great quotes,4 but this is probably not the right color for a Mae West seedling: she apparently preferred to wear white in public, and decorated her home in white and gold.5

Which brings me to the final three names.

Dandy is notable for supporting a double meaning -- both "fine and dandy" and also a man excessively concerned about appearance and clothing. Having two meanings that both work reasonably well is unusual, and makes the name worth consideration.

Carousel Horse was previously considered for 107A "Nova Prospekt," and would be a good fit here as well.

Cyndi Lauper has likewise been previously considered, for 083A "Psychedelic Bunny" and 079B "Haleakala."

Image search results for "carousel horse" turn up mostly subdued, realistic colors, or at least more subdued and realistic than I expected to find. Cyndi Lauper's image search shows that at one point or another, she has had her hair dyed in every color 067A contains, plus quite a few others, so if I was looking for a substitute for Prism, Cyndi Lauper would be a good one. And if image search results are any indication of reality, historical dandies were not necessarily inclined to vivid color so much as extreme tailoring, cravats, and fur. Dandy also suffers a bit from association with the character in American Horror Story: Freak Show.

So Cyndi Lauper is the only one of the name options that is accurate at all, which I suppose makes the choice easy. Cyndi Lauper it is.


1 Which seems to be normal for the seedlings with this coloration: 107A Nova Prospekt has also only produced one bloom, I think; 083A Psychedelic Bunny has produced one per year for two years. This isn't enough seedlings to draw conclusions from, but I don't like what it's hinting at: that I can have lots of blooms, or complicated hues, but not both.
2 As I write this, on 24 January, there are repeat blooms open on 'Caribbean Dancer' ('Caribbean Dancer' never completely stopped blooming), the NOID white, 027A "Kiln," 082A "Strawberry Madeleine," 030A "Diwali," 021B "Birthday Dinner," 099A "Dessert Room," 099B "Karma Cobra," and some first-time blooms on 003A [name TBD], 058A [name TBD], and 072A [name TBD].
3 Time has not softened my Katy-Perry-related feelings. I admit to enjoying "Last Friday Night," and I can tolerate "Teenage Dream," but "Firework" is the worst earworm for me (to the point where I am a little concerned that it might have been a bad idea for me even to type out the title here), "Roar" and "Dark Horse" make me want to claw my ears off, and I feel like I have to dislike "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot N Cold" on principle. (I have managed to miss the rest of the Perry oeuvre and ask that you do your part to keep it that way.)
• "I wrote the story myself. It's about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it."
• "When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better."
• "Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere."
• "Love thy neighbor -- and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier."
• "Men are like linoleum floors. Lay 'em right and you can walk all over
them for years."
• "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."
• "When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."
5 (Ref. Though it's not difficult to find photos of her wearing dark colors, so I'm not sure how true that is. The white/gold apartment thing is confirmed by a first-person account.)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Anthurium no. 0516 "Brooke Enhart"

I'm afraid there isn't a lot to be said about Brooke; she's only produced one bloom so far, which was of pretty lousy quality (small, half-dead, boring color).

The leaves aren't terrible, and the plant overall is fine (or at least fine-ish). It's possible that if I give her a second chance, the next bloom will be better, but she's hard to get excited about. So I won't ask you to. Instead, I had another thought about Cleve Backster's plants-have-feelings theory (previously covered at PATSP in a three-part post: one, two, three) recently, and wanted to bounce it off of you.

By the end of those posts, I had pretty much concluded that the whole "primary perception" thing was less about the emotional life of plants and the deep interconnectedness of all living things, and much more about human egos (particularly but not exclusively Cleve Backster's1). The reader may or may not agree, but that's what it looked like to me.2 The new idea is another bit of support for the all-about-ego hypothesis, which is:

If plants having feelings is evidence for some deep interconnected psychic link between all living things, why do signals from that link only ever go in one direction?

Which is to say, Backster claimed that plants were sensitive3 to the emotions of specific people known to the plant,4 over a relatively short physical distance,5 and they reacted to those emotions6 by altering the conductivity of their tissues.7 He took this to mean that human thoughts and feelings are capable of affecting plants and influencing their consciousness, or whatever the plant equivalent of consciousness is.

But as far as I can tell, Backster never attempted to see whether that worked in the opposite direction, whether something happening to a plant would affect a person. Which if primary perception is about the deep psychic interconnectedness of all life, there's no reason why it shouldn't work the other direction. Life is life, after all. No obvious reason why plant thoughts/feelings/actions shouldn't be just as important as human thoughts/feelings/actions. Backster should have done experiments where a person sat alone in a room, hooked up to a polygraph, reporting their feelings, while someone turned the lights out in another room containing a plant. Or waved caterpillars around near a plant. Insulted and threatened a plant.8 Whatever.

But, you know, I don't feel a sudden pang of irrational terror when I throw a plant into the garbage. I can turn the light off in a room with plants present without suddenly feeling hungry, or tired, or angry, or whatever plants should feel when lights go off. Not once has a panic attack tipped me off to a scale infestation. I don't feel sexually frustrated if a bee flies past the window; I am not terrified by butterflies.9 I can hold a plant upside down for repotting without feeling dizzy.

Why not? Well, it's possible that I am some kind of soulless golem who is forever cut off from the splendor of psychic communication with salads. It's also possible that everybody is theoretically capable of having this kind of response, but we all learn to suppress it over time because if we actually did experience all those feelings 24/7 we would be rendered unable to function, what with all the lawnmowers, forest fires, herbivores, and flower shops around. Not to mention shit like the EcoLog 590D:


So. Uh.

The third installment in the original Cleve Backster series concluded that Backsterism was about ego, in that it gives you credit for everything a cultivated plant in your care does right (it bloomed! It must love me!) without giving you any of the blame for anything that it does wrong (it died! Well, I guess the air was too dry.). This is just another angle on that same idea: primary perception gives you the chance to believe plants feel my pain! I must be really important! without having to believe at the same time I feel plants' pain! They must be really important!


1 Who, according to Wikipedia, died in June 2013. Which we all remember, because that was the month when all everybody's plants freaked out.
2 If you want to disagree with me on the subject here, that's totally fine. I don't mind discussing it. However, if you're going to disagree, please do me the kindness of actually reading the posts in question first.
3 (except when they weren't)
4 (except when the test subjects were people not previously known to the plant)
5 (except when the people having the emotions were hundreds of miles away)
6 (except when they didn't react at all, reacted after a significant time delay, or reacted in advance)
7 (because that was the only thing Backster knew how to measure)
8 ("And your . . . uh, roots. Your roots are so puny. It's a wonder you even know what water is, with roots like that. And your foliage is not a deep and robust green. I bet your stomata are all like, duuuuuhhhhhh, all the time. If I was you, I wouldn't even bloom. You don't need to pass on your genes: you're so weak, all the other plants would grow taller and shade you out, if you were planted in the ground. Algae make fun of you. Pollinators say nasty things about you behind your back," etc.)
9 Butterflies would be a difficult and interesting problem for people studying plant emotions, were anyone still doing so (I'm not aware of it personally, but I assume someone must be: bad ideas never actually go away), since butterflies' and plants' lives are tangled in complicated ways. Some butterflies are pollinators, which the plants should like. But butterflies also lay eggs on plants, which hatch into caterpillars and devour the plants, which the plants should not like. Except that butterflies are usually pretty particular about which plants they lay eggs on, and ignore others. Can the plants distinguish butterflies that intend to eat them or pollinate them from those that would ignore them? And how could we tell the difference between increased electrical conductance caused by excitement at a potential pollination and increased electrical conductance caused by terror of being chewed by caterpillars? So an ideal test of plant feelings about butterflies, and their transference to humans, would be pretty complicated.
(Or, at least, it would be complicated if we assume that plants can tell different butterflies apart. It's possible that plants aren't that smart, in the Backsterverse. I mean, the claim is that they have feelings, not that they're geniuses. Nobody denies that 3-year-old humans have feelings, but we don't put them in charge of butterfly taxonomy, do we?)
10 Which in fact does inspire certain emotions. Admiration for the engineering, dark amusement at the name (I can see how a device like this might actually be ecologically preferable to constructing logging roads and whatever, but it's still hard not to see "EcoLog" as some kind of ironic black humor, given its purpose.), a bit of delight at the -- as a MetaFilter comment had it -- "casual, almost lackadaisical dexterity of the thing," and then, you know, the terror, horror, and revulsion.
Hypocritical terror, horror, and revulsion, 'cause it's not like I don't use lots and lots of paper products. Better tree harvesting than petroleum. And this is probably a tree farm in the first place (how else to explain the uniform spacing and trunk diameter?), so this is all those particular trees were ever destined to be anyway. But still.