ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms

May 2010

News and Photos29 May 2010

This summer we decided to grow some herbs in our apartment. Sweet and Thai basil, oregano, parsley, mint, and… beans?

Guess which one isn’t a herb

I chose bean seeds on a lark. I wanted to try to grow a few bean plants, even though beans are not too space-efficient when it comes to indoor gardening. Realistically, the best I can hope for is that my harvest will provide a fresh side-dish for one meal later this summer. People tend to laugh when the see our little bean patch, but I am undaunted.

From past experience we have found it is better to grow the plants entirely indoors, rather than putting them on the balcony periodically where they can be exposed to wind, hungry birds, and punishing afternoon sun. For herbs, this is fine, but urban apartment-dwelling vegetables face certain challenges that their rural cousins don’t have to worry about. I mean that delicate issue which might be metaphorically referred to as “the birds and the bees”, or, in this case, literally referred to as “the bees.” In other words, sex. Vegetables grow from flowers, and flowers require pollination, i.e., the male flowers have to send their magic dust to the female flowers. Outdoor veggies enlist friendly insects to help with this vital transfer, but there are no insects where my beans live.

When flowers started appearing, I realized that I’d have to midwife my little beans into existence. I googled for “manual pollination” and started reading up on how to play floral match-maker. However, it turns out that I needn’t have worried, because indoor beans are randy little creatures capable of pollinating without extra help from q-tips or delicate paint-brushes. All I need to do is stand by and wait.

And lo: the bean patch has produced its first bean.

I’m following “Junior’s” progress with great interest

If that bean is the only one I manage to get, I’ll still be happy with the indoor bean experiment, ridiculous as it may be. Growing things is fun.

Links20 May 2010

(Title stolen from Dan Bern’s song about the baseball pitcher Cy Young.)

And the subject of this post is certainly small. Eri Yoshida, 18 years old, 5 feet 2, is about to make her American professional baseball debut in the west-coast Golden Baseball League for the Chico Outlaws. She’s a pitcher. She throws a side-arm knuckleball that floats in at 55 miles per hour. And apparently, putting the Japanese teenager on the squad wasn’t just a publicity stunt by the Outlaws: the word is that the girl can pitch.

From this article about her recent two-inning performance in a pre-season exhibition game:

She retired six batters on two pop-ups, two fly balls and a grounder, walking one but then picking him off immediately. The 5-foot-2 pitcher drew a walk at the plate, stole second and later scored on Mikael Jova’s two-run single.

She picked someone off! She stole second base! She’s clearly a competitor. I’m rooting for her. I think I’m going to be looking at a lot of box scores from the Golden Baseball League this summer.

Links and Strange15 May 2010

The Daily Mail reports on the latest trend among young British drinkers: Vodka Eyeballing. As in, pouring vodka into your eye. Go click on the link and look at the ridiculous photos of people with bottles stuck in their eyes. This seems to fantastical to be real.

Apparently, vodka-in-the-eye gets you drunk quickly, which I suppose I’d buy, given that there are lots of little blood vessels in your eye to absorb the alcohol, and it is a but a short vascular hop from the eye to the brain, but really? People actually think this is a good idea? Mind boggling. Also, apparently, damaging to the eyes.

Rest assured, I’m not in the habit of reading the Daily Mail. I only found this after following a link from a google image search for hedges trimmed to look like animals. Which I’m not really in the habit of looking up, either.

Links and Musings10 May 2010

Ah, Facebook. Walmart of the Internet. Sad to say, I have a profile, though it’s becoming increasingly bare: the more they strip away the screen of privacy, the more information I delete. It’s not that I really miss the privacy. I’ve always considered anything on Facebook as being effectively public anyway, I’ve been under no illusions in that regard. I’m just not really sure why I should be so cooperative as to neatly present all my vital statistics in a form that can be easily data-mined and sold to marketers. Hmm…

Two articles:

In The Guardian, Facebook is just the latest sensation to contract a case of megalomania suggests that Facebook now thinks it can own the entire internet, and that it will eventually pay for this hubris.

In Wired, Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative suggests that the admittedly valuable functionality of Facebook ought to be taken out of the hands of one company and turned into an open internet standard, which is an interesting, but I think far-fetched idea.

I don’t know if I’ve reached the point of actually deleting my profile, but I’m having some serious thoughts about it. I wonder if Facebook might face a bit of a backlash. True, they’ve been slowly dialing back the privacy settings for years and nobody complained all that much, but it seems like the pace of it is accelerating. Every other king of the social networking scene fizzled eventually, can Facebook hold on forever?

Links01 May 2010

My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and enoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment

Albert Einstein, as reported on one of my favorite blogs these days, Letters of Note.