Saturday, March 23, 2013

Saturday morning Sheba and/or Nina picture

I know a lot of y'all hate snow, but I am going to miss it so much when it's gone. I'm not a fan of slush, of course, because . . . well, I don't think I need to defend that, because who likes slush? And I acknowledge that snow is dangerous to walk or drive on, and that it's frequently accompanied by unpleasant cold, and all that. But snow is just so neat.

This particular snowfall happened on 18 March, and was an unusually heavy, sticky, wet snow. Not my favorite type, necessarily, but I'm happy to take anything. (It was gone within a couple days anyway.) It's looking like Eastern Iowa may be clawing its way out of last summer's drought, though officially we are are still "abnormally dry" and a couple inches short of normal. Our long-term forecast for this spring is warm and wet, which potentially means thunderstorms and tornadoes, my other favorite kind of weather, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I suppose I should probably mention the dog in the photo at some point.

Sheba's doing fine. The ear infection went on forever, but seems to have cleared up finally. Or at least her ear doesn't smell terrible anymore. Hopefully those are the same thing.

She's still getting hot spots, off and on. This is irritating to all three of us, but it doesn't seem to have much to do with whether or not she's taking the Benadryl, and in any case it's been harder to convince her to take them. So long as it's just one, every once in a while, I think we're all just going to have to live with it. Everything else seems to be fine.

Nina says hello. The terrarium is still in shambles from the last batch of crickets, and it looks like possibly the Episcia is on its way out, but it's been clear for a while that eventually the terrarium was going to fill up with Begonia 'Tiger Kitten,' so this isn't the most surprising thing in the world.


EDIT: I have elected not to completely disable anonymous commenting for the moment; instead we're going to go with captchas for a while, to see how much that cuts down on the spam comments (if at all). Or at least that's the plan. One of the quirks of Blogger is that I apparently can't see the captchas when signed in, so I'm not sure whether that's actually happening now or not.

If the captchas don't solve the problem, then we'll move on to disabling anonymous commenting entirely, but hopefully this will be enough.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Other: Mayflower Residence Hall, University of Iowa

This post isn't about anything in particular and is mostly just an excuse to post the picture.

It's from 23 December 2012, and is a shot taken from City Park of the University of Iowa's Mayflower Residence Hall. The husband and I were there late at night for . . . I think no good reason? If I'm remembering right, I was just feeling cooped up and restless that night and wanted to go somewhere and do something, so we bought groceries or something, walked around briefly in the park, looked at some Christmas lights people had put up, and went back home. Nothing big. But nice.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Pretty pictures: Dendrobium Nopporn Green Star

Not really green so much as a kind of dirty yellow, but I suppose "Nopporn Dirty Yellow Star" isn't as marketable. It helps, in the horticultural world, not to be too hung up on color names matching the actual colors. (see: "blue" petunias, "black" tulips, "red" Phalaenopsis, etc.)

The backlighting and black/white background were unfortunate. The people presenting their orchids are obviously not thinking about what it's like to try to photograph them. This isn't even as bad as it gets -- the worst background by miles and miles is the parallel sticks one, which was back again for the 2013 show. I nearly cried when I saw it.1 This black-and-white one was also back. It's not that it's so terrible, it's just that it breaks up the outlines of the plants and confuses the camera and just generally makes it harder to see the actual plant. It's not, like, Hitler bad, but it's irritating. I wish they'd all just invest in some plain black foam board.

Backlighting should be less of a problem for the 2013 set, at least, since we had a nice overcast day for once. My camera gets confused by partly cloudy days -- it adjusts itself for sun, then the sun goes behind a cloud as I press the button and I wind up with a picture that's overly blue, or vice-versa and I get pictures that are too yellow. For 2013, though, I used the cloudy setting throughout, and mostly got nice pictures as a result. So there's that.

Anyway. Dendrobium Nopporn Green Star is a cross of Dendrobium Burana Jade (seed) x Dendrobium Srimahapote (pollen).


1 (exaggeration for comic effect)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Site-related: anonymous comments

On Saturday, I'm going to disable anonymous commenting on PATSP. This might inconvenience some of you, so I thought I should let you know sooner rather than later. It is my understanding that existing anonymous comments will not be affected, just the ability to leave new ones.

The reason for the change is that I am getting flooded by spam comments, and have been since about last November. First I tried to ignore it, then I tried to enjoy it, and now I'm trying to shut it down entirely.

The Google/Blogger spam filter does catch a lot of them, but there seems to be a bit of a time lag. It looks like a lot of stuff gets sent to legitimate-comment moderation initially, and then after a few hours, the system detects it as spam and puts it into the spam filter. Which means that I am constantly noticing "Yay! A new comment!" only to be disappointed when I check it out and it's a bunch of gibberish like this:

If you really want to read this, it will probably be necessary to open it in a separate window.

The worst part is that it seems to be accelerating. PATSP receives a new spam comment every 40 minutes, on average. It's making me crazy. I considered just adding Captchas and retaining the anonymous comments, but Captchas are kind of annoying, and I'm getting the impression sometimes that the spam might be being left by actual people who can solve Captchas anyway. (Those of you with blogs who use Captchas should let me know how well they've been working for you.)

So anyway. I apologize to those of you who will be affected by this. It's not personal. I held out as long as I could.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

New plant

I had planned on buying something at Wallace's Garden Center (Bettendorf, IA) even before we left the house. I like Wallace's -- they took me seriously once, long ago, their selection is generally healthy and well-maintained, and they've never banned me from the store.1 I didn't know what I would be buying, but I was going to try to come up with something.

I'd sort of been expecting an Agave, since I seem to be having an Agave phase, and since I've gotten Agaves from Wallace's in the past,2 but they didn't have many, and the one that was the best size and price is one I'd already bought from them. I'm also unexpectedly appreciative of Epipremnum aureum lately, but they didn't have any varieties of that that I didn't already have either. So it wound up being an Anthurium.

This is, of course, ridiculous, since I already had 224 Anthuriums (out of 883 plants total). I mean, if there was any genus I didn't need more of, it would be Anthuriums. But it seemed like something new. I have Anthuriums that bloom white, pink, orange-pink, orange, red, purple, and red-purple, but I did not yet have one that bloomed white with red flecks.

So this seemed like a chance to add even more genetic diversity to the group. The ID tag wasn't helpful; it just said that it was an Anthurium, produced by Twyford, and asexual propagation was prohibited. Where a cultivar name should have gone, it just said "KS.1." I looked that up when I got home, and found nothing relevant on Google. Twyford doesn't even seem to have a publicly-accessible website anymore. I did eventually find a list of plant patents owned by Twyford. Only one plant on that list was an Anthurium with white-and-red-spotted spathes, 'Peppermint Gemini.' This was initially very exciting to me, since 'Gemini' and 'White Gemini' have produced the most seeds by a huge margin,3 and it seemed reasonable to think that 'Peppermint Gemini' would be equally prolific, but when I got into the details of the patent, it turned out that 'Peppermint Gemini' was a sport of 'White Gemini,' which itself was a sport of 'Gemini.' So all three look different, and apparently all three are different on some level, but they're also so closely related to one another that crossing 'Peppermint Gemini' with something else is not that likely to get me anything that I couldn't have gotten with 'White Gemini' or 'Gemini.' Disappointing.

On the plus side, it was only like $5, the flowers are pretty, and if it is more or less genetically equivalent to plants I've already got, this is at least a way for me to produce even more seeds even more rapidly. Which is something that I totally needed. [eye-roll]


1 Yes, it's that easy to get me to like your store. Pretend you find me interesting, talk to me briefly, carry plants I like and then give them appropriate care, and don't throw me out. (Talking to you, Pierson's.)
2 Specifically A. bovicornuta 'Reggae Time,' now dangerously and alarmingly huge, and A. 'Blue Glow.'
3 I don't have the exact numbers handy, but the last time I checked, the seed parent was either 'White Gemini' or 'Gemini' for about 80% of the seedlings I've got in the basement right now. A few plants consistently abort their fruit before the berries are fully mature, a couple will produce a couple seeds every now and again but seem to be difficult to pollinate, and there are a couple that steadfastly refuse to produce fruit no matter what I do.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Pretty pictures: Paphiopedilum Wossner Kolosuk

Oh, Paphiopedilums, how you torment me. I've whined about this plenty of times before, so I don't think I need to go into details: you can read the whining here if you want. (Or here. Or here.)

tag: Paphiopedilum Wossner Kolosuk
previously featured: (2010)