Author Archives: Ryan B.

A Belgian Meal

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With Belgian beer!

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Manservents

I love Broadly.

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Pregnant

So, so funny:

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This is So Cool

From DailyKos:

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.

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AFI’s Greatest Films List

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.

# MOVIE YEAR
1 CITIZEN KANE 1941
2 THE GODFATHER 1972
3 CASABLANCA 1942
4 RAGING BULL 1980
5 SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN 1952
6 GONE WITH THE WIND 1939
7 LAWRENCE OF ARABIA 1962
8 SCHINDLER’S LIST 1993
9 VERTIGO 1958
10 THE WIZARD OF OZ 1939
11 CITY LIGHTS 1931
12 THE SEARCHERS 1956
13 STAR WARS 1977
14 PSYCHO 1960
15 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY 1968
16 SUNSET BLVD. 1950
17 THE GRADUATE 1967
18 THE GENERAL 1927
19 ON THE WATERFRONT 1954
20 IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE 1946
21 CHINATOWN 1974
22 SOME LIKE IT HOT 1959
23 THE GRAPES OF WRATH 1940
24 E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL 1982
25 TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD 1962
26 MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON 1939
27 HIGH NOON 1952
28 ALL ABOUT EVE 1950
29 DOUBLE INDEMNITY 1944
30 APOCALYPSE NOW 1979
31 THE MALTESE FALCON 1941
32 THE GODFATHER PART II 1974
33 ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST 1975
34 SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS 1937
35 ANNIE HALL 1977
36 THE BRIDGE ON THE RIVER KWAI 1957
37 THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES 1946
38 THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE 1948
39 DR. STRANGELOVE 1964
40 THE SOUND OF MUSIC 1965
41 KING KONG 1933
42 BONNIE AND CLYDE 1967
43 MIDNIGHT COWBOY 1969
44 THE PHILADELPHIA STORY 1940
45 SHANE 1953
46 IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT 1934
47 A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE 1951
48 REAR WINDOW 1954
49 INTOLERANCE 1916
50 THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING 2001
51 WEST SIDE STORY 1961
52 TAXI DRIVER 1976
53 THE DEER HUNTER 1978
54 M*A*S*H 1970
55 NORTH BY NORTHWEST 1959
56 JAWS 1975
57 ROCKY 1976
58 THE GOLD RUSH 1925
59 NASHVILLE 1975
60 DUCK SOUP 1933
61 SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS 1941
62 AMERICAN GRAFFITI 1973
63 CABARET 1972
64 NETWORK 1976
65 THE AFRICAN QUEEN 1951
66 RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK 1981
67 WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? 1966
68 UNFORGIVEN 1992
69 TOOTSIE 1982
70 A CLOCKWORK ORANGE 1971
71 SAVING PRIVATE RYAN 1998
72 THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION 1994
73 BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID 1969
74 THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS 1991
75 IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT 1967
76 FORREST GUMP 1994
77 ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN 1976
78 MODERN TIMES 1936
79 THE WILD BUNCH 1969
80 THE APARTMENT 1960
81 SPARTACUS 1960
82 SUNRISE 1927
83 TITANIC 1997
84 EASY RIDER 1969
85 A NIGHT AT THE OPERA 1935
86 PLATOON 1986
87 12 ANGRY MEN 1957
88 BRINGING UP BABY 1938
89 THE SIXTH SENSE 1999
90 SWING TIME 1936
91 SOPHIE’S CHOICE 1982
92 GOODFELLAS 1990
93 THE FRENCH CONNECTION 1971
94 PULP FICTION 1994
95 THE LAST PICTURE SHOW 1971
96 DO THE RIGHT THING 1989
97 BLADE RUNNER 1982
98 YANKEE DOODLE DANDY 1942
99 TOY STORY 1995
100 BEN-HUR

1959

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The Ghost of Gardens Past

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.

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Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2007

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Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2007

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2012

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Seattle, Washington, 2012

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Seattle, Washington, 2012

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2013

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Seattle, Washington, 2013

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Seattle, Washington, 2013

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2013

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Seattle, Washington, 2013

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2013

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Seattle, Washington, 2013

In 2014 I expanded again, building a new raised bed in a neglected patch of our backyard.

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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…

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

…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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

Still, I got to enjoy all sorts of delicious produce that year, particularly tomatoes. Have I mentioned that I love tomatoes?

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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Seattle, Washington, 2014

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:

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

In the corner plot and the raised bed on the deck, I planted still more beans, along with a few peas.

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

But I couldn’t resist planting a few tomato plants after all, as well as some corn, strictly for ornamental purposes.

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

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.

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

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Seattle, Washington, 2015

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.

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A Penguin Story

Amazing:

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

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This is a Crying Shame

…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.

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ASASSN-15lh

A recent discovery:

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.”

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Preferable?

I suppose it’s better to be cast as a grump in a robe than as some kind of horned Satanic figure. Oh, wait…

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With coffee – bitter, of course.

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Modus Operandi

Specifically, mine:

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What I do

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Plants Need Justice Too

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Justice!

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A Congolese Meal

Chicken Moambe, Pittsburgh, late 2015:

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This was delicious.

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A Somali Meal

Curried Goat, in August of 2015.

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It was okay.

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In Tukwila, Washington

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A Singaporean Meal

Hainan Chicken, someplace in Seattle, sometime in 2012:

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Yum.

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The Video Doesn’t, At Least

I mean, holy cow:

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