News about me, and my thoughts, jokes, and stuff.

Sean's Blog

Doubly Sirius

I have posted each of the past few years as we got blooms on our night-blooming sirius plants.  For each of 2011, 2012, and 2013, we had exactly one bloom.  This year, we had 2 flowers growing in late July.  Even though we have 2 separate plants now (having divided the original plant in the spring of 2013), both of these flowers grew on the same plant, and the smaller plant remained bloomless (but perhaps blameless).

It looked as though the 2 flowers might open on the same night, but they ended up being 1 night off from each other.  Here is the one that opened on August 4 (click photos to make bigger):

2014sirius1-1

2014sirius1-2

On that same night, the one that wasn’t yet open looked like this:

2014sirius2-1

Then that one bloomed on the evening of the 5th:

2014sirius2-2

2014sirius2-3

As always, each bloom closed and withered the next morning, and fell off within a few days.

We thought that 2 blooms in the same year was quite special, since it had not happened before.  It appeared a month later that there would be more, as 6 flower buds appeared on that same plant in early September, and they started to grow.  A few of them got almost the size of the August ones, but they never actually opened, likely because of the colder weather (this is technically a tropical plant).  We were prepared to be flabbergasted by a 4-8 bloom year, but 2 blooms and 6 more attempts are certainly impressive.  Most impressive.

 

Posted by seaking on 11-03-2014 at 06:11 pm
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Kneecap Recap

It has been quite a long time since I last posted on the blog.  My previous post was about 1 year ago.  There’s no particular reason I went so long – I just kept not getting around to it.  But, now I am back, and will talk a little about what was happening last September.

I had signed up to ride in the second year of Will Bike 4 Food for The Food Bank of Western Mass, and had raised a bunch of money in donations for the event.  The weekend before that ride, I went on a shorter route for the Northampton Cycling Club’s Bikefest.  That took place last year on 9/22, and I was riding 72 miles.

The route covered a lot of roads that I was familiar with, first heading from Florence into Williamsburg, and then north and west to Ashfield (which involves a long, slow hill climb – and I do mean long).  From there it went east on some very quiet country roads into the town of Conway.  The morning was cool and cloudy, and in the section between Ashfield and Conway there was some fog to be seen:

bucklandfog

Soon after that, the route went north into Buckland, and to the Shelburne Falls section of town.  Coming into the Falls, I came to the first of 3 water and snack stops:

1ststopncc

The building is, I believe, a cutlery factory.

From there we crossed the Deerfield River and climbed a bit of a hill in the town of Shelburne.  Here’s a view of the river while heading up that hill:

shelfallsriv

The ride went east for a ways, until we reached Greenfield (this was the part that I had never ridden, and which had some more hills), and then started going south, coming to the second stop, which was outside a bank:

2ndstopncc

At this stop, there were bagpipers:

nccbagpipes

I guess they were there for entertainment.

From here I went south some more, crossing the Deerfield again, and then the ride progressed northeast through Historic Deerfield.  The ride took the bike bridge across the Connecticut River into Montague, and then headed south to the Book Mill.

Just past the Book Mill was the third rest stop.  It was shortly after I left that stop (about 50 miles or so into the ride) that I started to have pain in my right knee.  It wasn’t the usual muscle soreness that one can get on a long ride, but a sharp pain right in the joint as I was pedaling.  I tried to take it easy on that side, but I couldn’t get the pain to go away completely, except by not pedaling.

Fortunately, there were no real hills left in the route, but it was painful to get through the flat areas of Whately and Deerfield before I made it back to the starting point.  I did finish the 72 miles, hoping that my knee just needed some rest.

 

A couple of days later, I rode my bike to work, and experienced the same pain after only a few miles.  At that point, I made an appointment to see my doctor.  He examined me and had me get an xray, and it seemed that there was some misalignment in my knee such that the kneecap was grinding against my femur.  It only seemed to be painful when pedaling my bike, but he thought I would only make things worse by doing any more long rides, so I had to bow out of the Food Bank ride the next weekend, to my disappointment.

I did start visiting a physical therapy clinic, and over the course of 2 months saw 3 different therapists there.  I got mixed advice from them, but they did give me stretches and exercises to do which seemed to help align things better and strengthen important muscles for biking.  I have not had any further problems with the knee.  Another step I’ve taken to help keep my alignment good is to put pedal cages on my bike, which serve to keep my feet in a consistent position on the pedals.  In the past I might have moved them around a lot and had my legs at various angles when pedaling, which probably contributed to the misalignment.

Coming up, posts on this year’s riding.

 

Posted by seaking on 09-15-2013 at 10:09 pm
Posted in Other with 1 Comment

Red Skies in Morning

Yesterday morning I got out of bed, and noticed an interesting color to the light that was coming in the window.  I looked out, and saw that the eastern sky was very red.

The camera kept wanting to focus on the screen, so I tried getting pictures through screenless windows, though I didn’t have as direct a view through those:

Nevertheless, it was a really pretty sunrise.  It was also transient – less than 10 minutes after I took these pictures, the sky was just gray.

 

Posted by seaking on 11-29-2011 at 08:11 pm
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Cyber Warfare?

So, today is Cyber Monday.  A day when online retailers offer various deals on goods – always the Monday after Thanksgiving.  It’s sort of an electronic version of Black Friday, though I noticed plenty of ads for Internet bargains this past Friday, not just sales in physical stores.

As I recall from when I first heard of this day’s designation, the reason for this being a day of online deals is that people would return to work after 4 days off and would do a lot of shopping online, presumably because they have better Internet access at work than at home (FWIW, the Wikipedia article on the day bears this out).  I would guess that a lot more Americans these days have Internet connections at home that are perfectly fast enough for shopping, but now that the day is established for marketers, it probably will be a special designation for many, many years.

Here’s what I find confusing: offering all these deals would seem to encourage workers to spend their time buying stuff rather than working.  In other words, on this day each year, one segment of the business community – retailers – is attacking the productivity of the rest of the business community.  Are there employers that resent this marketing?  Have they tried to put any pressure on retailers (and would it do any good, since promotions like this seem to be very helpful to retails bottom line?)?  Do lots of employees run afoul of computer use policies today?

I googled a few news stories on this, and it seems like businesses do seem to lose a lot of productivity on the day, but they have different ways of coping with it.  Some places probably don’t have an issue, simply because they keep a tight rein on what sites can be visited from their network.  Nevertheless, this is one issue where the business community is certainly not of one mind (alth0ugh that community might be less monolithic in general than I give it credit for).

 

Posted by seaking on 11-28-2011 at 10:11 pm
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Web of Intrigue

There’s a picture I could have posted in last night’s entry, but it doesn’t quite fit with the creatures I mentioned before.  The salamander and mantis had both visited my house, but the picture below was taken in the public parking garage near where I work.  The garage has a built-in lighting system that is old and decrepit, and so a lot of the original fixtures just don’t light up.  There are newer lights that don’t seem so permanent, that have been tacked up to walls and ceilings in various places, and plugged into outlets via extension cords.

These lights tend to be pretty bright, but some are rather directional, and aren’t necessarily angled in an optimal fashion.  One light that shines outward from a pillar is in the area I usually park in, and one day I noticed a bunch of webs had been built in front of it, and they were occupied.

I would guess that this is a good location for catching moths and other light-attracted insects.  This is in the lower level of the parking structure, so it’s always dark there.  It must be good eating for these individuals.

 

Posted by seaking on 11-04-2011 at 10:11 pm
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Critter Visits

I have two different creature sightings to mention here.  One is from quite a while ago, but involves pictures.  The other just happened this evening, but I didn’t have a chance to take any pics.

First off, back when the weather was warm (mid-September) I heard a small noise on the sliding door to our deck, as though something had hit the glass.  One of the cats ran over there, so I thought I would see what was going on.  I turned on the deck light (which is on a motion detector), and saw a large praying mantis:

That’s not a great picture, but I could see that the bug was 3 or 4 inches long – bigger than most mantises you might see.

I went outside to get better pictures of it, but the light wouldn’t cooperate.  I managed to get this one pic with the light still on:

After that, the light went off and wouldn’t come back on, even though I moved around in front of its sensor, and we tried flipping the switch off and on again.  I got some pictures in the dark with the flash, but they were even blurrier.  Still, it was nice to see the thing, as praying mantises are my favorite type of insect.

Tonight I came home in the later evening, and as I got out of the car, I spotted movement near the garage door.  It was a salamander, perhaps 3 inches long including its tail.  I’ve only seen salamanders once before, and those were much smaller.  This one wanted to leave the garage (perhaps because of the light and noise that resulted from my driving in), and so I re-opened the garage door that I had just closed to let it head out.  I didn’t have my normal camera handy, and my cell camera would have been useless in the low light, otherwise there would be photographic evidence here.  In any case, I hope the thing manages to be warm enough this evening (the low temp tonight will be 34 degrees).

 

Posted by seaking on 11-03-2011 at 11:11 pm
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Tenants

A quick post here to share photos of some different creatures who live on (or frequent) our yard.

This individual was seen a lot in April and May:

Here’s a dove, on the table where we often scatter birdseed:

And we sometimes see a flicker pecking at the lawn:

More posts to come on other topics.

 

Posted by seaking on 07-06-2011 at 09:07 pm
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Attention to a Nation?

I’m writing this blog post from bed (a time when it’s useful to have a laptop).  Normally, I don’t get to bed quite this early, but my partner needs to be up at the crack of 3:30, and can’t easily fall asleep alone.

I’m musing on this week’s puzzle given by Will Shortz on NPR.  It is as follows:

“What is the longest familiar phrase, title or name in which the only consonants are N and T, repeated as often as necessary? The other letters are vowels. Try to think of an answer with at least 18 letters.”

I’ve come up with a few 18-letter phrases that fit the bill, except that they aren’t familiar at all.  Nonetheless, the words might be used to make up the answer.

I was thinking that longer words would help, but it could be that what’s needed are several short words.  Here are words I’ve come up with that only use those 2 consonants:

  • attention
  • nation
  • attenuation
  • inattention
  • tone
  • note
  • nine
  • in
  • at
  • to
  • into
  • tenant
  • tint
  • tiny
  • intent
  • intention
  • inane
  • inanity

Anyone have other words to suggest?  Note: if you know the answer, or an answer, don’t post it – I don’t want it spoiled.

Posted by seaking on 11-14-2010 at 10:11 pm
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Spotted!

A few weeks back, while mowing the lawn, I spotted this (spotted) individual in the grass, hopping away from me:

Fortunately, it held still for a couple of cell phone pictures.

Posted by seaking on 07-24-2010 at 05:07 pm
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Culture Cultivars

A few weeks ago I had reason to be in the Boston area, and one of the places I went was the DeCordova Museum, which is located in Lincoln, MA (a town that happens to be the birthplace of John and John of TMBG).  I was there before the museum opened, which was fine, as I was interested in seeing the sculpture garden.

One of the first pieces of statuary I came upon was this set of 5 tigers:

Here are closeups of a couple of them:

A bit further along, I came upon a pair of pants and a skirt (inspired by a Dada piece):

Near that was a Tower by Sol LeWitt:

The steps spiral all the way around, so it was tempting to climb up it.  However, for almost all the sculptures, the plaques say “Please do not climb on the sculpture.”   This one was no exception.

This twisty, wormy one had a name that didn’t have to do with worms, or tubes, or any such thing.  It’s called “Reflex”.

At a few points, there were installations almost hidden by trees.  This is one, and it was also among my favorite pieces – it’s called “Pine Sharks”:

Yes, it’s three shark sculptures suspended from trees, as though they’re circling in the air.  No, they don’t move, except for swaying a bit in the breeze.

Moving on, I came across this very teal “Hand”:

And another cool one made entirely of pine (and other tree) cones and wire (simply called “Cones”):

There is at least one motorized piece there.  “The Merry-Go-Round of Hidden Agendas” has a windmill at the top, which powers a set of figures who have word balloons and pass through several ‘houses’.

Here’s a closeup of the moving part:

Those are the works that I found most interesting, though there are several others that are neat and fun.  You can actually see pictures of many of them on the museum’s web site, like these, which I failed to take my own pictures of.

Posted by seaking on 04-04-2010 at 10:04 pm
Posted in Other with 1 Comment

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