A little something extra

The Phalaenopsis orchids I got back in November have been doing well, so I picked up a few more at an auction yesterday.1 When I took some close-ups of the ones in bloom, I discovered that I had acquired more than just orchids. The plant below is in isolation until the insecticide arrives later this week. (Click to embiggen; right-click and open in a new window to see at maximum size.)

Look very closely

Continue reading “A little something extra”

Purple dragon

Paeonia suffruticosa “Kokuryu-nishiki”

The botanical garden recently added a “Chinese” garden. It doesn’t look like much yet, despite the big ceramic dragon on the wall leading to the little pagoda, and the plants that catch your eye are as likely to be American as Asian. I did spot the tree peony above there yesterday, which is definitely Asian, albeit Japanese. It’s Paeonia suffruticosa “Kokuryu-nishiki”, first introduced at a Yokohama nursery in 1905. The name, according to at least two sources, means “Black Dragon Brocade,” though Giggle Translate says “Small clew nishiki.” More pictures from yesterday’s visit are here.

Surfin’ Suomi

Alfred M. Yankovic and Brave Combo have conclusively demonstrated that virtually any popular song can be improved by polkafying it. It’s also true that rendering a song as a surf instrumental almost always makes it better.1 Charles Hill posts a couple of surf transformations that are superior to the originals and links to a third. My favorite re-arrangement, though, is this one by Laika and the Cosmonauts, yet another eccentric band from Finland. They call it “Sauna Soul” for no obvious reason, but you probably know it by another name.

The samurai orchid

The Neofinetia falcata (or Vanda falcata) that I got back in November survived my inept care and is now in bloom. It’s a small plant, almost a miniature. The blossoms are about five-eighths of an inch across, and the length, including the spur, about an inch-and-a-half. This, I gather, is on the small side; an inch across and two-and-a-half long is more typical, according to what I’ve read. At night the flowers smell like vanilla with a slight hint of lemon.

I’ve mentioned before that the Japanese obsessed over these little epiphytes.1 Cacti, which would have been unknown in Japan until the later 19th century, turn up in everything from Martian Successor Nadesico to Elf Princess Rane, so there ought to be an occasional Neofinetia here and there in animated shows. But, as far as I know, there isn’t. Perhaps there’s one in the later episodes of Hyouge Mono, which I never finished, but probably not. I can’t think of any shows featuring orchidaceae.

Typical Kansas afternoon

Men at arms, with cellphone

Snapshots from the local renaissance faire on a dreary March day. (The calendar says “April,” but the thermometer doesn’t agree.)

Juggler
Big smile

Update: there are more pictures here.

Caution: if there are Scotsmen toting cabers in the area, make sure that they are heading away from you.

Greenhouse in detail


Greenhouse at Southwestern College, Winfield, Kansas

I spent last Sunday afternoon at Southwestern College in Winfield, where there are a couple of humid greenhouses filled with orchids. Above is a panorama from inside the smaller greenhouse. It’s the largest panorama I’ve made yet, assembled from 37 individual pictures: 29,186 x 14,593 pixels, which works out to more than 400 megapixels. You can read the labels in the pots if you zoom in. It’s best viewed in full-screen mode.

If that doesn’t work for you, try the lower-resolution Flickr version below. (Panoramas in Flickr don’t work well in Safari, unfortunately.)

I also took some conventional photos in the other greenhouse, which you can see here. I wasn’t able to take as many pictures as I had hoped, unfortunately. There was the inevitable society business meeting, which wasted half an hour. That was followed by a slide show, which wasted the remainder of my time there. Why would I want to look at pictures of orchids when I can see the real thing the next building over? Grrr.

Greenhouse at Southwestern College

Another minor anniversary

I’ve had some sort of presence on the world wide waste of time for about twenty years now, starting with a website on Geocities.com.1 Fifteen years ago today I launched my first solo weblog, after participating briefly in a group blog. I eventually abandoned it when the blogging software was abandoned by its originators, but not before starting a replacement on another host. There were further abandon-and-replace cycles over the years, but I’ve always had a weblog going since 2003. Nothing remains of the first weblog except the items in the “ancient texts” in the sidebar at right, but everything since then is preserved in the archives.2 I wrote a brief history of my blogging five years ago for the tenth anniversary, and there’s little to add to that.

Is running a weblog continuously for fifteen years a great achievement? Hardly. Just post something every once in a while, and you can call yourself a “blogger.” Keep doing it for years and years, and the word count will build steadily to a superficially impressive magnitude.

Maintaining one worth reading regularly is another matter. There are many bloggers out there who have written far more, and better, than me (though probably very few have as eccentric a range of interests). And then there’s Charles G. Hill, who makes all the others seem like beginners.

What I’m mindful of today are the many memorable bloggers who faded away or disappeared. Remember The Hatemonger’s Quarterly? The last post from the crack young staff is almost nine years old. How about Strange Herring? It’s gone, probably forever, and all my links to Anthony Sacramone’s wisecracks are dead.3 The Shrine of the Holy Whapping still exists but hasn’t been updated in years, as is the case with Quenta Nârwenion. I rarely suffer from nostalgia — I don’t have much to be nostalgic for — but I do miss these, and the many others who are no longer active.4

Snapshots from work

Over the years, we’ve acquired a modest collection of doorstops at the office. The above are currently exhibited on a shelf near my desk. The average price of each was around $25; none of them were of much use. I’d say that they illustrate my observation that the thicker the manual, the less helpful it is, except the thin ones were also pretty much useless.

This poster was taped to the elevator wall. Just wondering: do such posters actually do any good beyond making the persons who post them feel momentarily virtuous?

Kilts and daggers

It’s Tartan Day today, so here’s a Scottish fiddle tune, James Scott Skinner’sFingal’s Dirk,” in a not-quite-traditional arrangement.

Technical stuff, for those interested: This arrangement was assembled in Logic. The guitars are two instances of the AAS Strum GS-2, run through NI’s Guitar Rig; the bass is the String Studio VS-2; and, the percussion is Logic’s Ultrabeat.

(Want to make music on your own computer? If you have a Windows machine, you can download Cakewalk for free. Add a cheap MIDI keyboard (preferably velocity-sensitive, with pitchbend and modulation wheels) and download a few freebie VST soft synths (u-he has a generous selection, including Zebralette, Tyrell N6 and Triple Cheese), and you will have more more synth power at your fingertips than Keith Emerson could dream of during his glory days, for peanuts.)

Hanami II

The Yoshino cherry is coming into bloom now at the botanical garden. Unlike the crypto-British Okame cherry I photographed earlier, this one is a genuinely Japanese variety. (Click to embiggen and see with better color.)

Other colors on display include red-orange,

pink,

purple

and yellow.

There are many more pictures from yesterday’s outing here.

Real or not?

It’s hard to tell. The screencaps above I believe are genuine, but the pictures below might be fake. Then, again, perhaps London really is turning into an updated suburb of Scarfolk. In either case, it would be difficult to top these, and I haven’t had the time to work anything up.

Posts from previous years appropriate to the first day of the fourth month are archived here.

(I’m posting this a day early because tomorrow is Easter.)

Hanami 2018

Yesterday, the Okame cherry at the botanical garden reached peak bloom on a sunny day with light wind, and I was able to visit there then. Most years this doesn’t happen, so I took a lot of pictures to record the event. There are more here. As usual, click to embiggen and view with better color.

Curious fact: although Prunus “Okame” is a hybrid of asian cherries and has a Japanese-sounding name, it was actually bred in England.

The last Phalaenopsis, and some more yellow

Phalaenopsis. Cross your eyes to see this in three dimensions.

This orchid was already in bloom when I got it back at the beginning of November, and it kept going and going. Every single blossom lasted at least two months. We’ll see if I can get it to bloom again in the fall. (The other Phalaenopsis, the little P. equestris, is still going strong, and it looks like there is a new bloom spike emerging.) (Update (April 14): The last blossom finally dropped off yesterday.)

Click on the images to see them larger and in better color.

Continue reading “The last Phalaenopsis, and some more yellow”