Thursday, July 19, 2018

Schlumbergera seedlings: assorted

Two reasons for the recent long gap in posts: one, I got hung up on a name for seedling 226A (didn't like any of the four names that I'd come up with, couldn't find any names I liked better), and two, Japanese beetle season is upon us once again and it's way, way worse than previous years. Like, if someone told me that a count had confirmed that there were a hundred thousand individual beetles in our yard alone, I'd be like, only? Judging from my estimates of how many I'm catching in a jar of soapy water, the population is about ten times more than it was in 2015, and 2015 made me want to cry.

So I've been distracted and frustrated, is the point. Meanwhile, the Schlumbergeras continue to bloom (two first-time bloomers in July alone, and July isn't over yet), so the longer I stall on one seedling, the more work it's going to be to catch back up. (I am aware that I don't actually have to name the seedlings, but usually I like doing it.) So for the sake of making progress at all, I'm going to announce the names of a few seedlings I can assign names to, and we'll just have to come back around to the difficult ones later.

To begin, let me present Schlumbergera 382A Permanganate:

It's named for the chemical potassium permanganate,1 a strong oxidizer that also happens to produce intensely-colored solutions in water. Concentrated solutions are a very dark purple, but more dilute solutions are sort of pink-magenta similar to the flowers, so it works for me.

Rejected names:
Calmth (a state of calmness, by analogy with heighth or breadth; from the dialect dictionary)
It Is To Laugh (382A is another non-yellow offspring from the NOID yellow parent. The failure of the NOID yellow to produce yellow offspring is not exactly funny, but it's not not funny either, see 369A Punch Line.)
Jellybread (also from the dialect dictionary; bread with jelly on it. Really only works if you're imagining grape jelly, and even then the color's not quite right.)

And 379A Can't Find The World:

This is a reference to a moment when I was playing around with Half-Life 2 developer console, so I could use the noclip cheat and look around at spots which are normally not visible within the game. I don't remember what I did, but at some point the game gave me the error message "can't find the world." I didn't know what that meant, but the idea pleased me somehow, and I wrote it down as a possible seedling name. Then this seedling started to bloom but never quite finished, and the seedling seemed to match the name. I still haven't found out what "can't find the world" means exactly.

379A is also another non-yellow seedling from the NOID yellow parent. It turns out that mostly the NOID yellow produces more oranges, though for some reason we also got a couple magenta/white flowers out of it, plus a couple new combinations.

Rejected names:
Dysphoria (not really a reference to anything in particular; the flower just kinda looks dysphoric)
Flea-Bit Dog (mostly a reference to thrips damage, plus the "dog" designation for seedlings that don't turn out very well)
Fools Rush In (not actually sure what this one's supposed to mean -- maybe I was thinking that the plant was trying to bloom before it was actually mature enough to do so?)

Here's 424A Speedrun:

Speedruns are where someone attempts to play through a video game, or a level of a video game, as quickly as possible, often using unintended bits of the game code to bypass certain time-consuming scenes, or to travel faster than the game normally allows one to go. It works for this seedling because, while it's not technically a record-fastest bloom, 424A was nevertheless very quick to go from seed to flower.

Rejected names:
Alexis Carrington (character / main antagonist from Dynasty. The husband and I can now say that we've seen every single episode of the original Dynasty, by the way. I tried watching one episode of the rebooted CW Dynasty and it is awful, please do not watch it. Somehow it manages to be just as nonsensical and over-the-top as the original series without ever being even a little bit entertaining.)
Flamboyant Tendency (basically just a description of the flower in general; not really any deeper meaning intended)
Prismatic (a reference to the number of colors in the petals, though obviously they're not arranged in rainbow order like a real prism would produce, and other seedlings have done better at keeping the colors prominent and distinct from one another. Don't mind the name, but this wasn't the best seedling to give it to.)

188A Freyja's Turkey:

This is another chemistry-related name, though in a more roundabout way. I remembered that the element vanadium was named for the goddess Vanadis, which was a reference to the wide range of colors produced by vanadium compounds (Vanadis being the goddess of, among other things, fertility and beauty), but I didn't remember that Vanadis was just another name for the goddess Freyja.

The "turkey" portion of the name comes from the way some of the photos had the petals fanning out like a turkey's tail.

Both 424A Speedrun and 188A Freyja's Turkey are offspring of the NOID magenta.

Rejected names:
Hetty Reckless (a runaway slave and abolitionist, who was part of Underground Railroad, fought against prostitution, worked toward improving education and skills in AA community, and just generally did impressive and good things. She's totally going to get a seedling someday, it's just not going to be this one.)
Rainbow Flag (another reference to the range of colors, though if we're speaking literally then it should be noted that like half the colors in the actual rainbow flag aren't found in the flower)
Vocal Fry (I think this was a reference to the slightly ragged edges of some of the petals? Or the way the thrips had chewed them up a bit? Mostly I just like having a term for the phenomenon, which I would probably otherwise never have even noticed.)

237A Neptunium:

Yet another chemistry name, though since I've talked about neptunium before (in the post for seedling 239A Plow The Seashore, specifically footnote 3), I probably don't need to explain it again. The short version is, this is seedling 237, and isotope 237 is the most stable isotope of neptunium.

237A is also another of the seedlings from 025A Clownfish, along with 239A Plow The Seashore, 240A Schwa, 244A That's My Purse, 250A Glede, and a handful of others that haven't been named yet.2

Clay Court (because it's approximately the color of clay tennis courts, and why not?)
Horseback Opinion (implying that the bloom wasn't well thought-out or well-planned; I found the idiom in the dialect dictionary, but it's apparently still known today, because The Free Dictionary has it. The implication is of an opinion offered so quickly and with so little thought that one hasn't even taken the time to get off one's horse first -- something unconsidered or off the cuff)
Snakeypoo (this one came from the random word combination "serpentine nickname." I asked myself what a good nickname for a snake would be, and "snakeypoo" is what came out. It amused me, so it went on the list. I don't think it signifies anything about this particular seedling: it's probably just that I was still finding it funny when I was generating the list of name candidates.)

The next post will happen when it happens.


1 Technically just the permanganate half; a positive ion has to be there to balance the charges, but it doesn't have to be potassium. Potassium is just a common counter-ion, for reasons I didn't bother to investigate. All my personal exposure to permanganate salts has been with potassium permanganate (KMnO4) as far as I'm aware.
2 (236A, 241A, 248A, and 252A)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 272

272 is, as I said in the last post, also from Schlumbergera x buckleyi (pollen parent unknown). Like 256A Yes And No, it's not great, but it does have at least one notable quality, which you wouldn't be able to tell from the photos alone: the blooms were unusually tiny.

Which led me to realize that the flowers I've seen on Schlumbergeras, whether in stores on named varieties or from my own seedlings, are surprisingly consistent in size. This sort of makes sense with the named varieties, because whatever the most lucrative size of Schlumbergera flower might be, you'd assume that breeders would eventually zero in on it and produce only that size, but I'm surprised that there's not more variation in the seedlings.

Even with 272, I'm not positive that the small blooms are going to be a permanent feature: it may be that the flowers were stunted by one environmental condition or another, and next year they'll be normal-sized. We'll find out when we find out, I guess.

Our name finalists are: Canch, Deimos, Hootsle, and Mercury In Retrograde.

Canch is another name from the dialect dictionary; its definition there is "A small portion of anything;" and readers are advised to check the entry for "smidge." (Though I'm not sure why, because the smidge entry doesn't contain any additional information about canch.) It was apparently heard in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina in the late 1920s and early 1930s, though Merriam-Webster knows it from England, as a small stack, pile, or quantity. Wordnik is aware of canch too, but defines it to mean a small quantity of a very specific thing, or a small duration of time. So the meaning seems to be kind of all over the place, but with the central concept of smallness.

The original meaning is mining-related, and refers to the situation of having sections of a mine that are at different heights, like when a single layer of something you want to mine has been pushed up or down, so that one section of the material is higher than the other. The canch is the wedge-shaped section of material you have to remove in order to create a walkable surface between the parts you're mining. (Therefore: a small amount of something.) I'm guessing that English (Scottish? Welsh? Irish?) miners who settled in Tennessee / North Carolina brought the word with them, and it became generalized to other materials, though I don't have any proof of that and maybe it's wrong.

Deimos is the Greek god of terror and/or dread, specifically the personification of the terror and dread caused by war.1 He doesn't really appear as a proper character in Greek mythology, according to Wikipedia, but is more of a metaphor. One of the moons of Mars is named Deimos, also.2 I've thought about naming a seedling Deimos last year, with seedling 211A, but went with 211A Bruce Lee instead.

The thinking about why Deimos works for a smaller-than-normal seedling owes a lot to the Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode "Fear Itself" (episode 4 of season 4); readers who are unfamiliar can get what they need from Wikipedia. Possibly Gachnar (the episode's villain) would make even more sense, under the circumstances, but I think the Buffy writers made up the name for the episode, so it doesn't quite have the same historical gravitas. I don't know.

Hootsle (The "oo" looks like it should be the same vowel as in "cute," but was reported at the time to be the same vowel as in "butt." So more "hutsle" than "hootsle.") is another one from the dialect dictionary: it's an adjective meaning small or contracted,3 or a noun meaning a small person or thing, and was observed in southeast Pennsylvania in 1903. I figure its relationship to this seedling is pretty self-explanatory.

And, finally, Mercury In Retrograde. I assume this is on the list for a reason, but I no longer remember the reason. It has sometimes been a joke around the house, when several things go wrong at once,4 but I should stop saying that because it's not true or funny.

So, yeah. As you can tell from my grumpy footnote, Mercury In Retrograde is out. And I'll drop Hootsle too, because nobody would ever pronounce it "correctly," and I already have a dialect word for small.

Which leaves us with Canch or Deimos, and although I'm not thrilled about Deimos, I'm kind of bothered by Canch, which . . . doesn't sound like it should mean "small amount." To me. (I have the same problem with "skosh."5) So I guess this is 272A Deimos.


1 As compared to Phobos, who personifies fear and panic. They were, of course, twin brothers, and the sons of Ares (the god of war).
2 The other is Phobos.
Point of interest which is not related to plants at all: an observer on Mars would see the two moons orbit in opposite directions, with Deimos rising in the east and setting in the west, and Phobos doing the reverse. Both moons orbit in the same direction as the rotation of Mars, but Phobos moves around the planet so much faster than Mars rotates that from the surface, it appears to go "backwards."
(Phobos is in fact so fast that it rises and sets multiple times during a Martian day. Which pleases me for some weird reason.)
3 The specific usage example given is "They lived in a miserable, hootsle way."
4 It comes from astrology. Both the planet Mercury and the planet Earth go around the Sun in the same direction all the time, never stopping or backing up, but their speeds, and geometry, are such that Mercury appears, from the perspective of Earth, to move backward in the sky. (Wikipedia will try to explain it to you, though the explanation could be clearer.) This happens a few times a year. Astrology believes that Mercury is the planet that affects communication and technology, and that when it appears to go backward in the sky (even though it is still going forward and has not reversed its direction or speed in any way), this means an unusual number of communication and technological glitches occur on Earth. And confirmation bias does the rest.
I hadn't intended this post to involve two examples of astronomical bodies appearing to move in ways they do not actually move, but there you go anyway. Call it a theme.
5 Incidentally: skosh is a corruption of the Japanese sukoshi (pronounced "skoh shee," according to Merriam-Webster). For some reason I had always assumed it was originally Yiddish. But no. It came back to the U.S. with the servicemen who had been in Japan following World War II.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 256

At this rate, I'm never going to get all the Schlumbergera seedlings named. I'm not even making progress -- number 183 has produced a first bloom since I wrote the last post.

On the up side, I think I can go ahead and tell you all what the secret project was: I wrote a piece for the 2019 Old Farmer's Almanac Garden Guide. I have not yet been able to find a print copy to look at (despite having looked at almost every store in the area I can think of that might have physical magazines1), and OFA is currently still selling the 2018 Garden Guide on their website, so I'm thinking maybe it hasn't been officially published yet? I mean, they do have one for 2018 already, and this is 2018, so maybe the 2019 one gets printed in the winter? I don't know; they never actually told me, and I didn't think to ask. (Or they did tell me and then I forgot. Either way.)

In any case, I'll be keeping my eyes open for it, and I'll let you know if I see it available somewhere. The article in question is a quick run-through of how I wound up with so many plants, and what that's like. You probably have some sense of that if you've been reading the blog, but I think there's some stuff in there that I haven't mentioned here previously.

But let's get a seedling named.

256 is the second seedling from Schlumbergera x buckleyi to bloom, the first being 271A Not Here To Make Friends.2 Out of 26 buckleyi seedlings so far, only three have bloomed (the third, 272A, is coming up in the next post), which suggests that the offspring tend to inherit buckleyi's fussiness about setting buds.3

I've had trouble assessing the quality on 256's blooms. I think there have only been two or three in the first place, and the flowers all go through spells of being more photogenic

and less photogenic.

Either way, we've seen worse, but the goal is a flower that's going to look decent all the time, so I'm having trouble deciding how I feel about this one.

Our name candidates: All Of A Floption, Loblolly, Meteoric, Yes And No.

All Of A Floption and Loblolly are both taken from the dialect dictionary I explained in the post for 095B Pele's Lipstick. All Of A Floption means "caught unawares," and dates from (at least) eastern Canada (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland) in 1895. Which the flower certainly seems to have been surprised to be photographed, some of the time, so that kind of works.

Loblolly gets two entries, once as a noun ("Gruel; food, variously defined" and "Mud, ooze, mudpuddle, mess") and once as an adjective ("Careless, slouchy; -- used of one's gait & dress"). The name is intended to refer to the latter.

Both forms appear to have been pretty widespread in the U.S. in the early 20th century, though the "thick gruel" / "muddy mess" use appears to have started much earlier and persisted much later. The book cites a use from the West Indies in 1657 for the "a kind of food" definition, and The Free Dictionary suggests an origin in the 16th century, probably as nautical slang for a thick gruel. The careless/slouchy meaning appears to have disappeared since the 1940s.

"Loblolly" has become part of the common name for a few species of tree, in particular Pinus taeda, the loblolly pine. Which is neither slouchy-looking nor gruely; apparently the name comes instead from the swampy, muddy lowlands in which it tends to grow.

Meteoric is just a reference to the extremely reflexed petals the flowers have in some of their pictures, which evokes meteors,4 but also refers to how rapidly the flower changes from bud, to ugly, to pretty, to dead.

Yes And No is kind of an unexpected option, but does kind of summarize the difficulty in naming the seedling. (Is it pretty? Well . . . yes and no.)

First I'll drop Loblolly, since the intended meaning of "careless and slouchy" doesn't seem to have ever been as common as the dialect dictionary makes it sound, and there's nothing particularly porridge-like about the flower.

I don't necessarily mind All Of A Floption, but it doesn't work as well as the other choices for me, for reasons I can't really articulate. I'd probably like it better if Floption could be used by itself, but 1) that doesn't appear to be the way it was ever used originally, and 2) searching the word by itself, at the moment, brings up a lot of pages related to health insurance in Florida, and an icky page at Urban Dictionary which you can look up for yourself if you want.5

Which leaves us with the concrete Meteoric and the abstract Yes And No. Under normal circumstances, I would go with the former, but Yes And No summarizes my feelings about the seedling a lot better: it kind of feels too perfect to pass up. So this one will officially be 256A Yes And No.


1 Except Barnes & Noble, because fuck Barnes & Noble.
2 271A Not Here To Make Friends had a great year in 2017-18, by the way. There had to have been at least ten completed blooms, and it's not a large plant. And they mostly looked pretty good, even. If I wind up having time to do the Schlummies for 2017-18, it's got a really good chance of winning Most Improved Returning Seedling (2016-17 Season).
3 Though of the ones in the plant room, close to 50% have bloomed (three of seven), so it could be that buckleyi seedlings aren't hugely particular, just particular enough that they don't want to bloom under lights in a warm basement.
4 (Well to me it evokes meteors.)
5 It's not clear, from the Urban Dictionary page, whether this is actually a term anybody actually uses. There are no competing definitions (usually several people will have attempted to provide Urban Dictionary with definitions, if it's something that people actually say), and as I write this it has one thumbs-down and no thumbs-ups.
So it looks to me like someone is trying to make "floption" happen. (Gretchen, stop trying to make floption happen! It's not going to happen!)

Monday, June 4, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 369

Still waiting to find out for sure whether I can say anything about the secret project. Also, since the last post, some stuff has happened with my family that is maybe going to complicate blogging for a while. So it's kind of starting to look like the 2017-18 Schlumbergera seedlings and Schlummies may not happen on-time, or possibly at all. About which I have mixed feelings.

For now, though, we can still get one seedling closer to being done, so let's get to that.

Seedling 369 is notable for being the first seedling from the NOID yellow to bloom. You'll probably remember that I was pretty excited about that, since it was a good opportunity to get some new colors and color combinations from the seedlings.

Guess that didn't happen. (Don't worry; it does happen eventually. You'll see one of them if I manage to get another six Schlumbergera posts written.)

Our name candidates for seedling 369 are: Je Me Souviens, Mary Jayne Gold, Punch Line, and Sodium Vapor.

Je Me Souviens is the official motto of the Canadian province of Quebec. Wikipedia says the literal meaning is "I remember," and that a less literal translation is "We do not forget, and will never forget, our ancient lineage, traditions and memories of all the past," which is a lot of meaning for three words but apparently there's some historical significance. The meaning for me has nothing to do with Quebec; it's another one of those names that refer to a particular person from my life.

Mary Jayne Gold was a wealthy American heiress who helped to smuggle refugees from Nazi-occupied France in 1940 and 1941, at least partly by funding the smuggling but Wikipedia is kind of vague on what she was doing. Her contribution would be notable regardless, but it happens that a lot of the people she helped leave the country were prominent in one field or another: the two I'd heard of personally were artist Marc Chagall and writer Hannah Arendt. Most of the results for her name are obituaries (Gold died in 1997), but there's a somewhat more detailed article here.

The "joke" for Punch Line is that 369 is the first seedling of the NOID yellow to bloom; the punch line is that it is also orange, like the majority of the other seedlings.

Sodium Vapor is a reference to the color; sodium-vapor lights are the yellowish lights mainly used outdoors for things like streetlights; this isn't quite that color, but maybe it works anyway?

So, of the four name options, the first I'll let go is Sodium Vapor, on the grounds that there will probably be more color-appropriate seedlings someday. And Je Me Souviens is complicated by the fact that the person I associate with it is kind of a problem for me lately (they weren't as much of a problem when the name went on the list), and maybe I don't actually want to remember them with a seedling. At least not right now.

Which leaves Mary Jayne Gold and Punch Line, and although Gold's story is important and worth remembering, there are two things that make me prefer Punch Line instead: one, Gold's own name implies a yellower seedling, and two, lots of orangish/yellowish seedlings could be named Mary Jayne Gold, but there's only going to be one seedling for which Punch Line makes sense in the way I'm imagining it making sense here. Therefore 369A Punch Line. I think.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 414

I may not be back back, but we're getting closer to resuming routine blogging, and closer to the big reveal of what the super secret project was.1 It may take me a while to ramp back up to normal posting, but for the moment there's a Schlumbergera seedling to name, so let's start with that and see how it goes.

For reasons I no longer quite remember, I was pretty impressed with seedling 414 when it bloomed last fall. It seemed somehow a little aggressive and loud, partly for the color, and partly because the first bloom started out with kind of an odd shape:

I mean, maybe you don't see it now; I'm not sure I see it now, in the photos. But in any case, the name options reflect those feelings. And they are: Devil Take The Hindmost, Mariya Oktyabrskaya, Orenda, and What About My Needs.

Devil Take The Hindmost is new, but the idea is not; it's basically a rewording of Outrun The Bear, which I considered and rejected for seedling 020A Feet Of Clay.

Mariya Oktyabrskaya was a Soviet woman with kind of a complicated backstory. The gist is that the Germans killed her husband in a battle near Kiev, and when she found out he was dead, she sold everything she owned and sent the money to the Soviet leaders, earmarked for the purchase of a tank, and requested to be the tank's driver. They said yes, she got the tank, taught herself how to operate it, painted "Боевая подруга" ("Fighting Girlfriend") on its side, and then kicked all kinds of German ass from October 1943 to January 1944, when she jumped out of the tank to repair it in the middle of a battle and was rendered unconscious by a nearby artillery hit. She was rescued and taken to a hospital, but remained in a coma until she died in March 1944. More detailed versions of Oktyabrskaya's story are available at,, and Wikipedia, and are worth your time.

Orenda is another one of those "untranslatable" words that websites are so fond of making lists of (in fact, I found it at the same BBC page as Iktsuarpok); the claim is that the word comes from the Wyandot people and means "the power of the human will to change the world in the face of powerful forces such as fate."

What About My Needs isn't really a reference to anything in particular; it's just one of those things people say sometimes. For some reason it seemed appropriate for this seedling.

So. I no longer remember the reasons for putting What About My Needs on the finalists list, and it's not seeming particularly appropriate, compared to the other three names, so we can drop it. And as much as I love the story of Mariya Oktyabrskaya, that's a hell of a name to ask people to type and spell and pronounce. I mean, I can do it, but then I took four semesters of Russian in college and got used to the way it looks and sounds. It seems unfair to throw at anyone without the background.2

Which leaves Devil Take The Hindmost and Orenda, and I think the latter wins based on ease of typing alone, never mind that I also like the sentiment behind it better. So 414A Orenda it is.


1 At which point you will think to yourself, why on earth was that a secret?, and probably also how did it take him two whole months to do that? That's like, an afternoon's work, max.
2 I did consider "translating" it to Mary October, but that feels weird too. I mean, that wasn't her name, and she's not a story, she's a person. It felt disrespectful. So that wasn't a very satisfying compromise.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 420

I'm happy about this one, though I'm not sure whether it's actually doing anything new. The one bloom it's produced to date is similar to some of the other red/pink seedlings (e.g. 099B Karma Cobra or 103B Must Be Love). The seed parent is the NOID magenta, which makes me wonder whether the original batch of 114 seedlings from 'Caribbean Dancer' might have had multiple pollen parents: it wouldn't surprise me that much to learn that I'd tried to rub pollen from the NOID peach and NOID magenta on a flower from 'Caribbean Dancer.'

Even so, it's lovely, and considering that the seedling was less than two years old when it bloomed this December (sow date 23 April 2016; first bloom 8 December 2017), I expect it will produce a lot more flowers this fall.

Also: yes, it's been a while since the last post; yes, this is partly because of the secret project (which is going well); no, I'm not likely to begin posting regularly again anytime soon (because the project is not yet finished).

Our name finalists: Eat Your Heart Out, Epicenter, Franceska Mann, Love Is All Around.

Eat Your Heart Out and Epicenter are both glancing references to the coloration: especially as the flower was first opening (above photo) and dying (below), the petals sort of seemed to make a red ring around a zone of pink, drawing attention to the center (ergo Eat Your Heart Out1) or resembling maps of areas affected by earthquakes (Epicenter2).

Franceska Mann was a Jewish ballerina in nazi Germany who, while being taken with a group of other Jewish women to a room next to a gas chamber and being ordered to strip, managed to distract the guard by stripping all sexy-like, steal his gun, shoot him fatally, and injure another SS officer.3 It's not, ultimately, a happy story, as Mann and all the other women were killed anyway, but, you know. It's happier than the stories where no nazis die.

And then, in a dramatic mood change, Love Is All Around, the title of the song that served as the theme for The Mary Tyler Moore show, which was previously considered for 167A East Of East St. Louis. I rejected it then because I wasn't sure I wanted to risk having a permanent MTM earworm, but it's a year later and I can think of a lot worse things than that, so maybe we should consider it anyway.

I'll let Epicenter go first; of the two names that reference the bullseye / red-ring effect in the photos, it's the less appropriate one. So that's pretty easy. And I can let go of Love Is All Around, I guess, both for the earworm concerns and because I find the remaining two names a lot more pleasing to me. But after that it gets really hard to choose one.

Franceska Mann is a way better story (since Eat Your Heart Out isn't a story at all); Eat Your Heart Out is really appropriate for a pretty seedling, whereas Franceska Mann doesn't necessarily have to be pretty. It doesn't hurt, obviously, but it's not required.

The detail that's going to decide it for me, I think, is that Eat Your Heart Out, taken literally, is pretty gross, and idiomatic English is a lot harder to understand for people who don't speak English. So this one is officially going to be 420A Franceska Mann.


1 ("Eat your heart out" is also used as an idiom for jealousy: if you tell someone to eat their heart out, the implication is that they are, or ought to be, very jealous of you. Which works well for a seedling that's prettier than average, making the name doubly appropriate.)
2 (though depending on the type of quake and the configuration of the rocks involved, the actual epicenter -- the point on the surface directly above the origin of the earthquake -- is not necessarily the location which sees the most surface shaking or damage)
3 Some of the details of the story are inconsistent depending on who's telling it (, but the central story of a Jewish ballerina named Franceska Mann stealing the gun of Josef Schillinger and killing him with it isn't disputed. (Well. Except by the sorts of people who dispute everything about the Holocaust, but we don't need to take them seriously.)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 136

Still dealing with the secret project. It's not going well. I'm beginning to suspect that I'm not actually going to get all the seedlings from this year named before next year's seedlings begin to bloom.

Here's 136A:

It's okay! Not amazing. Really don't need any more white seedlings.1

The name finalists are: Khutulun, Magician's Dove, Pegasus, Serenity Prayer.

Khutulun is really interesting. She was the great-great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan, the youngest of fifteen children (and the only girl) born to Kaidu Khan. She was a legendary warrior, archer, and wrestler, and was in fact so good at wrestling that although her father wanted to marry her off, she got him to agree to the condition that she would only marry a man who could defeat her in wrestling.2 To make things more fun for her, and (I'm guessing) to limit the amount of time she had to spend every day on wrestling, she got her suitors to agree to the additional condition that they had to bet either ten or a hundred horses if they challenged her.3 The chance to marry into the Khan family was very tempting, and so men came from all over the place to try -- and she wound up with a pasture containing 10,000 horses.4

There's a lot more, of course, if you're interested; I especially like this and this.

Oh, and she's especially appropriate for a white seedling because her name apparently means either "bright moon" or "all white" in whatever language Kaidu Khan spoke at the time.5

I think Magician's Dove is pretty self-explanatory. It was previously considered for 119A There Would Be Peace, and rejected on the grounds that it wasn't quite me enough.

Pegasus is the mythological winged horse; the name was previously considered for 127A Cooperating Banjos, and rejected on the grounds that Cooperating Banjos was clearly much, much better.

And then Serenity Prayer is the familiar prayer originally written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Though it's mutated some in the years since, as different people adapt and rephrase it for their own purposes. It's become especially associated with 12-step programs, to the point that I was actually surprised to learn that it didn't originate there.

So okay. Evaluation time. I don't hate any of these, but I feel like Pegasus is a little basic. I mean, it's concrete and visual, but it could maybe stand to be narrowed down a little bit. And Serenity Prayer, while I actually like it (as both a thing existing in the world and a seedling name), seems a little . . . "inspirational." In the bad way.6

Which leaves Khutulun and Magician's Dove, and I'm pretty impressed with Khutulun the historical person, so it has to be 136A Khutulun.


1 (though there will be at least ten more white seedlings anyway, mostly bunched up together late in the season, because the universe doesn't care what I want or need)
2 Mongol wrestling in the late 1200s CE was not what we think of as wrestling now: it's basically two people fighting with few (or no?) rules until one of them hits the ground, at which point the one still standing has won. Khutulun is agreeing to take on any man, of any weight, who can do basically anything he wants in order to get her to fall down.
3 Apparently sources disagree on the number per bet; most of the on-line stuff says 100 horses.
4 Which one source says is probably the equivalent of saying "a kajillion:" an uncountably large number, not an actual inventory. Verified or not, the herd of horses she amassed was said to rival that of the emperor at the time, and she remained single, though she did eventually marry, more or less by choice.
5 Chinese, probably, though there are a lot of Chinese languages, and also I'm not positive that the Mongols didn't have their own language, and I didn't bother to look it up for this. So I don't know. One of you reading this probably does.
6 Either you understand how there's a bad way to be inspirational, or you don't. If you don't, I probably can't explain it to you.
(I imagine this is mostly because of the contexts in which I've encountered the serenity prayer over the years, more than the serenity prayer itself, which seems pretty sensible and non-saccharine on its own.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 179

Mostly what I've learned from crossing Schlumbergeras is that anything x anything = orange. (This is not strictly true: sometimes you get white/pink. But it feels true.) The seed parent this time was the NOID magenta; obviously the pollen parent was one of the orange/white or orange/pink offspring of 'Caribbean Dancer.'

Three of the four name finalists for this one refer to the never-ending orange seedlings. We have: I Saw A Deer Today, Majority Rule, Plagiarist, and Repeat After Me. (I Saw A Deer Today is the exception -- it's a line from the game Portal 2, and also one of the titles on the Portal 2 soundtrack.)

(I thought I had previously considered I Saw A Deer Today as a seedling name, but I can't find it now. Possibly I was thinking of Deer Devil?)

So. I can lose Plagiarist, I think, on the grounds that nobody likes plagiarists. And I'm kind of meh on Majority Rule though I can't pin down exactly why -- it seems a bit bland and abstract, though so does Repeat After Me, and I like Repeat After Me.

So it comes down to Repeat After Me or I Saw A Deer Today. Repeat After Me is slightly shorter, and more related to the seedling color; I Saw A Deer Today is a more pleasant and concrete mental image. I've also already named a seedling for Portal 2.1

I think I'm going to go with Repeat After Me, on the grounds that I Saw A Deer Today is easier to reuse for a different seedling. No doubt we'll see it again sooner or later.


1 The video-game references so far are:
062A Open World (type of game design; not honoring a specific game)
067B Clyde (Pac Man)
072A Chell (Portal / Portal 2)
107A Nova Prospekt (Half-Life 2)
193A Arcade Gannon (Fallout: New Vegas)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 047

This one might be something of a trap, name-wise: the photo is in fact pretty accurate on the color of the flower, but previous seedlings that started out unusually light in color, or pinkish-orange, often do something different when they bloom again. 061A Leather Fairy got a lot more ordinary looking in its second year;1 074B Crone Island has been so inconsistent that I don't know what color it "actually" is, as I noted last year. (And it hasn't bloomed even once for me this year.) I'd figured I'd be able to tell what was going on with 047A once I got a second bloom, but of course this is another seedling that's only produced one flower.

The name finalists: Cantaloupe Candy, Gillian Anderson, Pluto, Soft Light.

I'm not sure where Cantaloupe Candy came from as an idea -- it was possibly a random word combination that caught my attention? -- but it's gotten me curious as to why cantaloupe-flavored candy isn't a thing. An online search turned up lots of possible sources for buying artificial cantaloupe flavoring, so clearly the technology exists; watermelon-flavored candies are already easy to find, so it's not like people have a problem with melon flavors specifically; it doesn't have a color that would be easily confused with a more common candy flavor, and it isn't especially obscure. I mean, most people in North America have probably had cantaloupe before. Jelly Belly does sell cantaloupe-flavored jellybeans, but then they go out of their way to cover unusual flavors.2

Not that cantaloupe is one of my favorite foods or anything (not a fan of melons in general, actually, and everybody knows honeydew tastes like disappointment), but artificial flavors don't have to taste that much like the actual foods anyway: it could still be good as a candy. Just saying.

Gillian Anderson is the actor from The X-Files, The Fall, Hannibal, and other stuff. I liked her before, but The Fall is what turned me into a fan.3 There are the usual concerns about living people being secretly horrible in a way that will forever taint anything associated with them, of course. I feel like Anderson's probably pretty safe, but it's something to bear in mind. I don't know why this color makes me think of Gillian Anderson anyway.

One of my favorite things about the New Horizons NASA mission to Pluto was that it revealed that the planet Pluto4 is pale orange. It's not quite the same color as this flower (planet: more brown; flower: more pink), but I'm not likely to get any closer than this, so why not roll with it? Everybody loves Pluto, right?

And then Soft Light, which previously rejected for 239A Plow The Seashore and 034A Wahine. It's kinda vague, and maybe not incredibly interesting, but that could be an advantage, if we're trying to pick a name that will work regardless of what subsequent blooms look like.

This is another case where all the options seem to be fairly well-balanced against each other, so there's no obvious one to choose. Something that's worked for me in the past sometimes is to imagine choosing each one in turn as the final name, and then noticing how disappointed or dissatisfied I feel. If I do that, then the choice is between Gillian Anderson and Pluto, and I'm just worried enough about Gillian Anderson becoming horrible in the future that I think the name kind of has to be 047A Pluto. Which I can live with.

FYI: future posts are likely to slow down a little bit for the next few weeks, due to a plant-related project you may or may not hear about someday.


1 (It was still pretty! It just wasn't unique or special anymore.)
2 Apparently Jelly Belly no longer makes them, but when I was a kid, I enjoyed their jalapeno flavored jellybeans. Presently the website offers flavors like plum, maple syrup, champagne, tabasco, pomegranate, draft beer, margarita, birthday cake, and chili mango, some of which sound like genius ideas and some of which . . . do not.
(I've had the margarita and pomegranate before. Kinda meh on margarita, but pomegranate is nice.)
Oh, and hey, Jelly Belly, if you're reading this, could I suggest cloves? There's some brand of jellybeans around here that does "spicy" mixes (peppermint, spearmint, cloves, licorice, cinnamon, maybe one other one?) at certain times of the year, and the clove ones are awesome.
3 Not an easy watch, and it would be a stretch to say that I "enjoyed" it. But Anderson is so, so good in it.
4 "Dwarf planet" is still a planet. Just a dwarf one. I don't have a problem with kicking Pluto out of the club of official planet planets, but I prefer to think of the redefinition as expanding the idea of "planet" by adding the 5 officially-recognized dwarfs (Pluto, Eris, Ceres, Makemake, and Haumea), rather than contracting it by removing Pluto.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 122

Another seedling with only one bloom all season, but I got multiple photos of it, at least.

122 isn't very interesting; I don't mind the white ones, but it's hard to get excited about them either. The only variation in color is in how much pink there is on the "tube," and I suspect that that is probably determined by temperature anyway. (There is occasionally some variability in flower shape, though at least some of that is environmental as well. Also sometimes determined by the angle at which I'm taking the photo.)

A special problem with 122A is that I already know what I'm going to name it, because I just like one of the names that much more than the others. I mean, we'll go ahead and look at the list of names, because it's something to talk about, but don't expect me to act like there's any suspense here.

The list: Coconut Shavings, Lyle Lovett, Myrtha, Tickly-Benders.

Coconut Shavings is, I think, pretty self-explanatory: the color and slight translucence of the petals is similar to that of coconut shavings.

(While I'm here, I feel like I should also note that despite the recent faddishness of coconut oil, it isn't especially "healthy." If you want saturated fat, eat butter. Food is not magic; nothing you eat will prevent your eventual mortality; coconut oil as a health food is a scam, and in 10 years the people currently telling you it's healthy will claim they always knew it was basically lard in a fibrous woody shell.1)

Lyle Lovett was previously considered for 112A Lavaball, 128A Sloths Arrive Late, and 290A Our Lady Of Assumption, and was respectively rejected because 1) the name works better for a white seedling, 2) it's probably a good idea not to name seedlings for living people if there's a chance they might turn out to be horrible, and 3) it was up against a name I preferred. Being up against a better name is why it's going to fail for a fourth time.

Myrtha was suggested last June by an anonymous commenter:
May i suggest Giselle or Myrtha for another white flower? These are both characters from the ballet giselle where spirits of rejected women (called wilis) curse any trespassing men to dance until they die (as you do in a ballet). Myrtha is the queen of the wilis and is stumped when giselle steps forward to protect a count from certain death.
I'll probably use the name eventually, but not for this one.

I'm going with Tickly-Benders, yet another term from the dialect dictionary. It describes thin ice (like on a pool or small lake) which is strong enough to hold a person without breaking, but thin enough that it bends under their weight, and also the act of walking on such ice. There are a number of variations on the term, including one I actually like better,2 but "tickly-benders" seems to be the most widely used. I'm charmed both by the term itself, and by the implication that this was a common enough recreational activity to warrant having a term for.

It doesn't hurt that the photos I have of the flower involve a lot of petals that are curved and bent in unusual ways, making it feel even more appropriate, though later blooms probably won't look the same. In any case, this one's going to be 122A Tickly-Benders.


1 Coconut water, on the other hand, may be fine; it sort of depends on what you'd be drinking otherwise. If you're replacing water with coconut water, you're not doing yourself any favors. If you're replacing soda with coconut water, good for you, that's a step in the right direction. Coconut water doesn't give you anything you're not already getting elsewhere, but it's not as sugary as juice or soda, so go for it, I guess.
Coconut water does not hydrate you any more / better / faster than regular water -- I'd even question whether "more / better / faster hydration" is a valid concept in the first place. (If your body needs water, maybe . . . give it water?)
Also coconut water is grotesquely overpriced for what it is. If you are overburdened with money and need to burn some of it to feel better about yourself or healthier or whatever, the donate button is in the sidebar, at the top of the post.
Unless you're reading this on a phone, in which case I have no idea where the donate button is.
2 ("Kittly-benders")

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 062 (again)

Yet again: one bloom, one photo.

Also: not entirely sure that this is a separate seedling from 062A Open World. It looks pretty different, but when I check all the photos I've gotten from pot 062, there are some flowers with colors intermediate between 062A and 062B. The one in this post is substantially different from the average bloom, but I don't know if it's actually a separate seedling. So whatever name I come up with here might have to be dropped and recycled at some point in the future.

It's really striking, at least, whether it's new and awesome or old and variable:

And the name finalists are: Charo, Pure Energy, Royal Grandma, Underestimated.

Charo has previously been considered for seedling 066B Sigrid the Haughty; that was totally the correct decision, since I think Sigrid the Haughty is my favorite name of all the seedlings ever.1 But it would make me sad if the world forgot about Charo, so I'd like to do my part to prevent that, sooner or later.

There's more to Pure Energy than it appears; it's one of the names intended to honor someone from my life. Previously considered for 011A Annie Lennox, and rejected because, based on image searches, it seems most people associate "pure energy" with blues and purples, plus Annie Lennox is just cool.2 But this is certainly a very energetic-looking flower, and the magenta may be as close as I'm going to get to purple. So maybe.

Royal Grandma is a slanted reference to a fish, Gramma loreto, known commonly as the "royal gramma." They're insanely pretty and appear to be good in salt-water aquaria.3 Royal grammas don't exactly match the colors of the flower, but that's okay, I figure, since Royal Grandma doesn't exactly match the name of the fish.

Underestimated is just a reference to the fact that I hadn't thought 062A Open World was that impressive -- it was fine, but nothing we haven't seen before -- and now 062B is really striking.

So okay. Drop Underestimated; it's not wrong, but it's abstract and boring. And the uncertainty about whether this is a separate seedling or not makes me want to hold off on Charo as well, on the grounds that Charo surely deserves a real, confirmed, distinct seedling of her own.

Which leaves Pure Energy and Royal Grandma, and Pure Energy has the same problem as Charo -- the person it refers to is a big deal, and deserves a distinct seedling. So this one will have to be 062B Royal Grandma, at least until I figure out whether or not it's separate from 062A Open World.


1 Though 056A Demons Begone, 106A Jaws Of Elmo, 127A Cooperating Banjos, 132A Pointy Space Princess, 244A That's My Purse, and 271A Not Here To Make Friends are all way up there on the list too.
2 Annie Lennox is, in fact, so cool that I have more than once caught myself thinking, oh, I should name a seedling for Annie Lennox -- after I already have.
3 I've never had a salt-water aquarium before, salt-water tanks being way more complicated and expensive than I've ever wanted to deal with (also, for obvious reasons, salt-water fish are not available in Iowa all that often, and when they are they're generally not in great health), but as a kid I was periodically obsessed with books about fish. There was one book about salt-water tropical fish that I checked out of the local library so often that it's entirely possible I was the only person who ever got to.
The royal gramma is one of the few species I still remember from the book, along with moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus), sergeant major (Abudefduf saxatilis), and powder blue tang (Acanthurus leucosternon). Plus of course clownfish (particularly Amphiprion ocellaris), who already have a seedling.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 250

I'm only just now noticing that most of the early-blooming seedlings from the 2017-18 season only produced one bloom. (I think 044A Iktsuarpok is the only exception so far?) I don't think previous years were like this, so it must mean something. Not necessarily something worth caring about, but something.

Anyway. So seedling 250A is another one of those: only one bloom. It's mostly interesting for its second-generation ancestry; it's another of the seedlings from 025A Clownfish.1

Name finalists: Apple Chankings, Glede, Maraschino, and Pat Benatar.

Apple Chankings is another term from the dialect dictionary I referred to in the post for 095A Pele's Lipstick. "Chankings" are the remains of a piece of fruit, like an apple, that are discarded and not eaten. The term seems to have been most widespread in northeastern New England. It's not really an appealing image for a flower, but I love that there's a term for this and that it sounds comical, so we'll at least consider it.

A Glede is a live (burning) coal, in the dialect of 1930s Pennsylvania. It's in modern dictionaries as a name for birds of prey generally, and the European kite (Milvus milvus) in particular. No idea if the two uses of the word are connected at all; the dialect book doesn't include any information about word origins.

Maraschino is in reference to the cherry, but it's sort of complicated: the original maraschino cherry was a sour cherry from the Marasca region in modern Croatia, and "maraschino" was the liqueur produced by distilling Marasca cherries, hence the name. Then somebody got the idea to preserve Marasca cherries by putting them in maraschino, and then people started cutting corners and preserving other varieties of cherries in maraschino liqueur, and eventually the term degenerated to the point where it was used for cherries preserved in pretty much anything, whether it contained alcohol or not.

Wikipedia says that in the U.S., maraschino cherries pretty much never involved cherries from Marasca in the first place (there only being just so many cherry trees in Marasca), and then when Prohibition began in 1920, cherries preserved in alcohol were no longer legal. So other processes for preserving cherries were developed, and then when Prohibition was lifted, for some reason the FDA redefined "maraschino cherry" to mean "cherries which have been dyed red, impregnated with sugar, and packed in a sugar syrup flavored with oil of bitter almonds or a similar flavor," possibly because that's what everybody had gotten used to during Prohibition.

So maraschino cherries aren't Maraschino cherries. Odds are you've never had actual Maraschino cherries.

And Pat Benatar is just kind of awesome, or at least was the last time I checked, last year, when I considered naming seedling 198A Prophecy Of Joy after her. Rejected the name then because I felt like she deserved a more impressive flower. Not sure that 250A is that much better, honestly, but let's see how it goes.

This one is actually tough, because I kind of like and dislike all the options about equally.

I feel like Pat Benatar wants a redder flower than this, and we have a few of those coming up (241A feels like it would be an especially good fit). Plus I'm always worried about living celebrities suddenly becoming horrible for no reason.2 So we'll postpone Pat Benatar for a while.

And as much as I love that there's a term for it, Apple Chankings is maybe not a concept I want to associate with any of the seedlings, so I'll drop that one too. Though if I need a name for a crappy red seedling someday, I suppose I've got something that might work.

Which leaves Glede and Maraschino. And although I'd rather have a Maraschino, because the word is more fun, I think, again, that it needs a redder flower than this. Glede works fine for anything in this general color neighborhood, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the connection to birds of prey; bird-related names pretty much always work for Schlumbergera. So, *shrug*, 250A Glede.


1 The other named ones were: 239A Plow The Seashore, 240A Schwa, and 244A That's My Purse. A few others will be receiving names later this year (237A, 241A, 248A, 252A).
2 Though that seems not to have happened to Benatar. Probably she's safe.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 044

This one's been around for quite a while, as you can tell from the low seedling number, and it's one of the seedlings from the NOID peach, which is still mildly unusual.1 It did manage to produce a fair number of blooms, once it got going, though I think I only got photos of the first one. The blooms are unusual in a couple ways: one, although most of the white-blooming seedlings produce some pink at the base of the petals (what I refer to as "the tube," though there's probably a more precise technical term for it), 044A had consistent, intense pink there. Two, the flowers were a bit smaller than average. At least two other seedlings this year produced unusually little blooms (248A and 272A); I'm unsure why.

Our name finalists: Iktsuarpok, Ice Castle, Jellybean Cake, White-Knuckle.

Iktsuarpok is an Inuit word that I found via one of those articles about words with no good English equivalents (specifically this one2). It's the feeling of anticipating someone's arrival to the point of checking and rechecking to see whether or not they've arrived yet.

Ice Castle is a name I've kind of liked for a while,3 that seems suitable for a white seedling.

Jellybean Cake is one of those names that I don't explain because they reference a particular person from my life.

White-Knuckle is the idiom, chosen mostly just because it includes "white," and the seedling is partly white.

First one to go will be White-Knuckle. It seems especially inappropriate for a seedling with this much pink in it, for one thing; for another, I just know it'll get this song stuck in my head all the time:4

and that would be intolerable.5

And then Ice Castle, too, seems better suited for a pure white flower.

So Iktsuarpok, or Jellybean Cake. Both suit the flower well -- I had been waiting a while to see a bloom from this seedling, and consequently had checked it several times in the past to see whether it was producing buds; the situation referenced in Jellybean Cake involved a jellybean which was either white or pink,6 so a flower that is both colors works either way.

Both are also slightly problematic: Iktsuarpok is awkward to pronounce and type; Jellybean Cake makes me think of a rectangular block of jellybeans mashed together, maybe with frosting on top, which is not what the name is supposed to evoke.7

I'm going to go with Iktsuarpok, because the situation it refers to (checking and rechecking to see whether a seedling has bloomed yet) is more specific and less common than having a bloom that is both white and pink (which has happened with most of the white-blooming seedlings to one degree or another). So: 044A Iksuarpok. I'm sure once I've practiced pronouncing it in my head enough times (ick-tsu-AR-pock? maybe?), it'll seem like a real word.


1 Although I'm fairly certain that the first 114 seedlings were all from a mutual cross of 'Caribbean Dancer' with the NOID peach, they've performed very differently, depending on which seed parent they had. The seedlings from 'Caribbean Dancer' have mostly been pretty robust and quick to bloom; the ones from the NOID peach have grown more slowly, took longer to produce blooms, and seem more prone to producing misshapen stems or flowers or both. This has been less of a problem with the second batch of seedlings from the NOID peach, but they're still often a little weird, as you'll see if and when we get to seedling 143A. I don't have any idea why this would be the case.
2 We may wind up seeing a second word from that list later this year; the Japanese "boketto" (staring vacantly into the distance, without thinking). I feel like English actually does have a concise term for this ("spacing out"), but maybe there are nuances. Who am I to argue with Mental Floss?
Boketto doesn't have any particular connection to the Schlumbergera seedlings, but we're still watching Dynasty, and Krystle Carrington, in particular, still does this a lot, so it's on my mind. And it's a pretty-sounding word.
3 (considered and rejected for seedlings 074B Crone Island, 119A There Would Be Peace, and 290A Our Lady Of Assumption)
4 I had a phase a while back where I was watching a lot of Ok Go videos; "White Knuckles" was easily the worst earworm.
5 Also I've been trying not to assign names that have the bloom color in them: White Knight, Orange Crush, Red Queen, etc. I may eventually have to break the rule, but I don't have to yet.
6 It was a long time ago, and I can't remember; if forced to guess, I'd guess white.
7 The mental process being that a "jellybean cake" is a cake made of compressed jellybeans, in the same way that a "fruitcake" is a cake made of compressed dried fruit. The actual moment being referenced involved a perfectly normal piece of sheet cake, with green frosting, which had a single jellybean on top.