Author Archives: Ryan B.
I love Broadly.
So, so funny:
Canadian William Gadoury invested a lot of time looking at diagrams of constellations and maps of known Maya cities in what is now Mexico and Central America. He noticed two of the brightest stars of the constellations overlaid perfectly with the locations of the largest Maya cities. No scientist had ever made this connection previously. He then studied 22 other constellations and found that they meshed with the locations of 117 Mayan cities. Looking at a 23rd constellation, he matched two stars to known cities but could not match a third star with any city. Using Google maps, Gadoury found a location on the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, once the heart of Classical Maya culture, where he thought there should be a city. He persuaded the Canadian Space Agency to train its satellite telescopes on the spot. This returned photos of of geometric shapes in the jungle, what appears to be an ancient Maya pyramid surrounded by 30 smaller structures. Gadoury has named the city K’aak Chi, which means “Mouth of Fire.” The site has not been verified on the ground yet, and it is in a very remote, expensive to reach area. But if Gadoury’s research proves accurate, K’aak Chi could be one of the largest Maya cities ever found.
As you may know, the American Film Institute has compiled a list of the (in their considered opinion) 100 greatest films of all time. And since we all need goals, I’ll use this posting over time to keep track of the films I’ve seen on AFI’s list. Right now I’ve seen 48 of them.
It’s spring – which for me, means that it’s planting time. Unfortunately I’m not in a place where it makes sense right now – I anticipate leaving Pittsburgh when I get my next job. So at the moment, the best I can do is to reflect on the gardens of yesteryear, and yearn for the gardens yet to come.
Back in 2007, I started out by planting sunflowers and morning glories around the porch of the house I was renting. I created their bed by hand, sifting through the soil to filter out the rusty nails, bottle caps, stones, plastic, and shards of broken glass I found there (yielding many cut fingers). But the flowers brought me joy every time I came home.
2012 was the first year I could garden where I lived in Seattle, and I started out small , with just a few pots on my back deck, overlooking the Cascades.
I grew sunflowers again, as well as green beans and cherry tomatoes, both of which bring me their own form of joy.
The next year I expanded, by building a protected raised bed on the deck outside. I couldn’t protect everything I grew from the squirrels, but I wanted to protect everything I could.
Inside, I grew what I love the most – tomatoes, as well as peas and green beans. I think I tried cucumbers as well, but they put in a desultory performance. In the last photo, you can see the beans stretching high along the fishing lines I strung up to the roof.
I also carved out a little plot on the earth below – a neglected, weedy corner underneath the staircase that led from my apartment. There I planted pumpkins – not befcause I expected to harvest any, but just because the way they grow makes me happy.
In my pots, I grew what squirrels should find less interesting – sunflowers and morning glories and a beautiful pot of jasmine. Of course the squirrels eventually did find the sunflowers, but not after I’d enjoyed them for a while.
In 2014 I expanded again, building a new raised bed in a neglected patch of our backyard.
Again, I cleared the sod by hand, sifting away the glass, stones, and other detritus I found there. The lumber came from a store a mile and a half away; they thought I was bizarre for not buying pretreated wood. “You know that will rot away in 2-3 years,” they told me. And I said that was fine – it was a rental property anyway, and since I was buying the lumber out of my own pocket, I didn’t want to pay extra for long-lasting usage I wouldn’t be around to enjoy.
They also thought I was weird for getting the wood without a car. I had several 12-foot-long boards, which I planned to carry home by hand/shoulder – unpleasant, but much nicer than either owning or paying to borrow a car. I made it a few blocks before I realized that the weight of all those boards simultaneously was just too great and unwieldy to carry all at once. So I split up the burden, carrying half 2-3 blocks, and then going back for the other half, in a leapfrog manner that took longer, but still got everything where it needed to be.
I did the same with the lumber for the raised bed on my deck the year before, but that was easier, since it took less lumber.
Getting all the soil was a trickier task – try carrying all this in one go. But I managed thanks to a wheeled platform which, again, was far far preferable to a car. This time the source was about two miles away, but the wheels made everything easier. The only trouble I had came from the rain, which made the bags slick and inclined to slip off, so I had to keep re-stacking them again.
Much of that soil made its way into the new raised bed I built, but I used some to fill additional pots and windowboxes, and to enrich an additional stretch of land alongside the house.
That plot didn’t end up producing much, and I never really thought it would. It was on the north side of the house and didn’t get much sun, and even the rain didn’t always reach it. So that’s where I planted the seeds that would have gone to waste anyway – at least they had some opportunity to live out their lives.
In the corner plot went peas, which adored the spot and grew lustily.
I gave the old raised bed on the deck entirely over to beans…
…and the new raised bed entirely to tomatoes. I put in 15 plants – too many for the space, but what can I say? I love tomatoes, and home-grown are (by far) the best.
In my pots and window-boxes, I planted garlic, cucumbers, peppers, arugula, lettuce, tomato, basil, mint, sunflowers, morning glory, carrots, gourds, cauliflower, and pumpkin. Many didn’t do that well; the tomatoes, leafy greens, carrots, flowers, and herbs did fine, but the rest performed poorly. Better soil composition, mulching, and lighting would have helped.
Still, I got to enjoy all sorts of delicious produce that year, particularly tomatoes. Have I mentioned that I love tomatoes?
In 2015, I planted with the knowledge that I’d be moving in late August, and therefore be unable to enjoy the full vegetables of my labors. So I avoided spending money on many tomato transplants, given their relative expense and their likely time of maturation. Instead, I mostly relied on seeds I already had at hand (and in some cases, bought). Hence, my ground-level bed was entirely given over to green beans – and if they ended up producing more beans than I could consume myself, well, so be it:
I could have invested in bean poles or something similar, but why bother? Hence this unruly mass. Which actually happened to harbor several tomato plants anyway, just because I’d grown tomatoes there the year before, and some of the seeds from the prior year germinated, as seeds are wont to do.
In the corner plot and the raised bed on the deck, I planted still more beans, along with a few peas.
But I couldn’t resist planting a few tomato plants after all, as well as some corn, strictly for ornamental purposes.
In the end, aside from a few carrots, I mostly harvested beans – surprise, surprise! On just about any day I could go out and pick my fill of fresh beans to eat. And they were delicious.
Eating the food you grew yourself is healthy, yes, and often delicious. But more than that, it’s delightful. There’s a magic to tending the plants and watching them grow that brings me joy regardless of whatever produce they may provide.
I yearn for the gardens yet to come.
Penguin swims 5,000 miles every year to visit Brazilian man who nursed it back to life after he found it covered in oil and dying on a beach
…Because we need more and better sex research, rather than this drivel, which Dan Savage helpfully deconstructs.
“I spoke with Helen at a conference once,” a researcher who did not wish to be identified told me in an email. “Helen said there is a single gene that will determine whether a man cheats or not. We carefully explained why this couldn’t be so.”
Fisher, like so many other hacks in the love-and-relationship racket, wants sex and love and marriage to work in a certain way—they insist it only works this one way—and this monogamist bias informs and distorts Fisher’s work.
ASASSN-15lh is the most luminous supernova ever detected; at its brightest it was approximately 50 times more luminous than the whole Milky Way galaxy, with an energy flux 570 billion times greater than the Sun. …According to Krzysztof Stanek of Ohio State University, one of the principal investigators at ASAS-SN, “If it was in our own galaxy, it would shine brighter than the full moon; there would be no night, and it would be easily seen during the day.”
I suppose it’s better to be cast as a grump in a robe than as some kind of horned Satanic figure. Oh, wait…
Chicken Moambe, Pittsburgh, late 2015:
Curried Goat, in August of 2015.
I mean, holy cow: