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June 26, 2005

How to Fight Boredom

I noticed something the other day at work, which was that when you are just drafting all day, your mind needs something else to think about or you slowly start to go insane. So I took advantage of the iPod and downloaded a bunch of radio shows from NPR.

Two days later I was all out of radio shows to listen to, so I went back and hit the CBC. That held me over for one day, along with some playlists of comedy.

Now I've finished off all the radio shows available on NPR, CBC, and BBC (that might possibly be of interest to me; I cannot get bored enough to listen to some shows). I've also used up a bunch of non-radio podcasts that I've been pointed to. My next step has got to be books on tape, or on CD, I suppose. I tend to hate being read to, but on the days when I don't listen to music things seem to go a lot slower, and I find myself performing web searches for things like "crushed glass" or "snout" just to see what comes up.

# Posted by ayse on 06/26/05 at 2:56 PM

I'm so Boring I'm Reduced to Telling Others How Boring I am.

Cameron Marlowe is finishing up his PhD at MIT, and I filled out his relatively simple survey on my blogging habits just to ruin his nice, clean data.

Take the MIT Weblog Survey

# Posted by ayse on 06/26/05 at 11:44 AM

June 21, 2005


May I always have you to help me plan complicated tasks, sweetie.

# Posted by ayse on 06/21/05 at 7:53 AM

June 18, 2005

Oh, OK

I went to get some groceries, and when I came back there were a couple of little boys rooting around in the lavender with a bucket. I went over and saw they had a bug net, so I asked, "Are you catching bugs?"

"We're catching bees," they told me.

They spent an hour or so out there. Every now and then we would peek out at them, and they were diligently catching bees and putting them in their bucket. I have no idea what they plan to do with the bees once they catch them, but OK. I'm sure I did weirder things as a child.

# Posted by ayse on 06/18/05 at 2:53 PM


One of my little tasks this summer is fixing all sorts of broken code I have all over this site. So today I fixed all the broken photo albums on our wedding web pages. I know, it's only two years after the event, and all. I'm not even sure why I leave that up, but now the photos are viewable on more than a limited number of platforms.

# Posted by ayse on 06/18/05 at 11:36 AM

June 15, 2005

Planty Madness

This evening I did a bunch of garden-related things that had stacked up. Yesterday after work I stopped by a nursery and bought a bunch of annuals (on sale!) to plant in our large containers for the side porch. I also bought some peat pots and seed starter mix.

It all really started in November, when we got this nice big bunch of grapes from the store, and they had seeds in them, and we wondered if they would sprout. So following some directions we found on the web, we put them in a baggie of moist peat moss in the fridge for a few months, until a month or so ago, when I planted them in a couple of pots to germinate.

I didn't think much about spacing, figuring half or more would not sprout, but it seems that every one of them has sprouted, so last night when I got home with my booty, I potted the larger ones up into their own pots.

grape sprouts

Grapes don't generally grow true to their parents, so we're panning to grow these guys out and see which ones we like. The rest we can give away or compost or whatever. Of course, it's a multi-year undertaking; we should not get real fruit from them for at least three years. We'll see how many of the roughly twenty seedlings make it that far.

This evening, I potted the flowers up in some of our containers. I overbought, so I ended up with three containers of flowers, but they look quite nice and when the plants grow larger they are going to be totally out of control.


Noel specifically asked for snapdragons, and he never asks for anything in the garden (except the pepper plants and a coffee bush) so I bought pink snapdragons. I'm fond of them, as well. There's also some salvia, and petunias, ageratum and cosmos. Very pink and purple.


# Posted by ayse on 06/15/05 at 10:24 PM

June 11, 2005

Garden Crawl

We went off on a grand excursion today, to visit a number of nurseries about which I have heard, in search of good sources and ideas. Our destinations: Native Here Nursery, Annie's Annuals, Magic Gardens, Dry Garden, and Berkeley Horticultural Nursery.

Native Here was pretty good if you knew exactly what you wanted, and were willing to raise it from a weensy little seedling, even if it happened to be an oak or something equally slow-growing. Not for the impatient. On the other hand, they had the best selection of native clump grasses. And they're cheap.

Annie's Annuals, our second stop, was the win of the day. Holy crap, they had a lot of stuff! Here's Elaine, stunned:
Annie's Annuals

One of my secret reasons for going to a bunch of nurseries was to get positive IDs on some plants I'd been wondering about. Like this one, which is Linaria reticulata 'Velvet Red':
Linaria reticulata

But even the best nurseries have a few plants sitting around with no labels on them. Like this one:
pink thing

Which they of course make up for with weird and wonderful new things that never seem to be highlighted or particularly vivacious in the botanical gardens. As evidence I submit this Asclepias speciosa, aka Showy Milkweed:
Asclepias speciosa

This one probably had a label, but I was flagging from the sun and it was lunchtime.
Big blue flower

After a delicious lunch at Picante, we went on to Magic Gardens, where I visited my old friend, the kiwi vine. Kiwis are remarkably hardy, and I have great plans to plant one on a pergola connecting the front yard to the back, the better to randomly pelt us with ripe fruit from above.

Magic Gardens had some really excellent plants, and I'm definitely going there to get our fruit vines when we're ready to plant up the pergolas of doom.

The Dry Garden was kind of a disappointment, because I have already decided against putting in a cactus garden. But Noel found a new plant for his office there, and they had a few plants I'd been wanting to see in person after seeing them in books.

Noel began to feel unwell, so we hydrated him and parked him on Elaine's sofa while we continued on to Berkeley Horticultural Nursery. Where they have a righteous water garden with fishies.

more fish

water garden

I've been on a big blue flower kick lately, or something. Here we have Osteospermum ecklonis 'Nasinga Purple.'
Osteospermum ecklonis

Berk. Hort. had a good selection of ornamental trees, although some of them had very awkward grafts on them, and others had mildew or spots. They seemed to have one of the better selections of fruit trees, which is worth keeping in mind, although of course I hate parking in that part of Berkeley.

A pretty good day, all told. Next time, we wear hats and bring water, though. Also, we will endeavor to not eat bad take-out the night before so Noel doesn't suffer mightily for the last half of the day.

# Posted by ayse on 06/11/05 at 7:51 PM

June 7, 2005

Why Am I Such a Bad Judge of Character?

I had German Auto Repair, in Alameda, replace my timing belt last summer. They attempted to double-charge me for it, which should have been my first clue to get my car the hell out of there, but it would be nice to have a local auto mechanic instead of taking my car into the city all the time. A couple of weeks before Christmas, it failed on me in the middle of nowhere while I was driving to SLO. I limped the car into town and got it fixed at the local dealership, where they told me that the belt had been mis-installed. The damage was on the order of $1200.

So I wrote letters and called asking for German Auto to make good on that bad installation, and basically German Auto ignored me. Then I filed a complaint through the state Bureau of Auto Repair, who were very nice about it but basically powerless because, get this, German Auto says that they don't have to make good on their shoddy repair because I didn't give them a chance to fuck up my car a second time. That's right: they claim that when my car failed 230 miles from their garage, I should have called them and had them tow it (where?) and get me a rental car. This, without knowing what was wrong with the car. Or, once I had taken it to Kimball, they suggested I should have called them to have them fix it. From 230 miles away. When I had other things I needed to be doing. Right.

I wonder what a Small Claims judge would think of that defense. Not much, I imagine, but I'm going to find out this summer. I'm getting really sick and tired of having to take businesses to court in order to get them to be honest with me. At any rate, I don't recommend you take any car to German Auto for anything.

# Posted by ayse on 06/07/05 at 1:29 PM

Bland Greens

How is it that in one generation, we seem to have forgotten how to add salt to salad dressing? Does nobody else notice that sweet vinaigrettes make salad greens taste bitter?

Also, what the heck is up with the incessant "fresh ground pepper?" question? If it needed pepper, why didn't the cook add it in the kitchen?

# Posted by ayse on 06/07/05 at 11:04 AM

June 2, 2005

Botanical and Zoological Garden

Out at El Chorro Regional Park, they're building a botanical garden on 150 acres of land, planned to be one of the largest Mediterranean climate gardens in the world. Well, that's in the future. Right now they have a small "preview garden," and today after a discussion with our lawyer, I went out there to take a walk.

It was evening, a weekday, and the fog had rolled in, so the garden was entirely empty of people. Not of animals, though. In one of the beds there's a bird feeder, and lots of animals were chowing down. First I kept hearing lots of rustling in the shrubbery near me, then these guys erupted:

California quail

That's some California quail, toddling around like little idiots. Good thing I didn't have a cat with me.

Then later in my walk, this fellow hopped by right in front of me:


He sat in the middle of the path, nibbling on whatever plant he'd gotten into and giving me a watchful eye. Later I saw him hanging out with the quail by the feeder, eating seeds off the ground.

bunny eating

One of the first plants I saw made me a little ashamed of our little single-blooming artichoke. These certainly are impressive plants in full bloom.


This bush is called a sweatpea bush, for good reason. Its latin name is Polygata dalmaisiana.

Polygala dalmaisiana

This Teucrium betonicum was taking over. Actually, a lot of the plants in the garden are sort of delightfully out of control.

Teucrium betonicum

For example, this sweatpea vine had invaded several neighboring beds, and was working its way up a number of trees, too.

sweatpeas into everything

Lavender always looks good in terra cotta. They're a naturally good pairing.

lavender pot

This plant, Calandrinia spectabilis, is sort of plain and ordinary, until it blooms and gets tall and dramatic. The leaves and main body of the plant are about three inches tall.

Calandrinia spectabilis

I always stop to pet the lamb's ears.

Stachys byzantina

I've been liking Penstemon quite a lot this season. Hummingbirds like them, too. This variety is called 'Blackbird.'

Penstemon Blackbird

This Arctotis acaulis was identified as an African Daisy, but I always thought that common name was for Gerberas. Anyway, it looks like it will open out into a very pretty flower.

Arctotis acaulis

There were some plants I could not identify. No tags, and too much conflicting information in my guidebook (or they're from off this continent, and thus not included in Wildflowers of North America for obvious reasons).

Cute little red plant growing in a cactus bed:
cute red plant

Lots of these all over the place, but no tags. They look like Passiflora blossoms sitting on a California poppy body.
unknown blue flower

I must be getting all sappy about bell-shaped flowers or something. This looks like a Penstemon in some ways, and in others not.
pink foxglovey thing

This might be a native, as I've seen it growing in other places like on the dunes at the beach. I just can't seem to find it in the book.
purple shore flower

# Posted by ayse on 06/02/05 at 10:49 PM