Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Summer garden plans

The best thing about February is planning for summer. We get stacks of seed catalogues normally, although some haven't found us at our new address yet. Someone once asked me how you get a seed catalogue. I just can't figure out how to get off of the list. Once they have you on the meta-gardener mailing list you can never get off. It is like moving to a new area to escape from the church. Somehow those hometeachers will just keep finding you.

So I have big plans for summer gardening.

1. Add 50-100 strawberry plants to our front flower beds.
2. Replace the bushes devoured by japanese beetles with berry bushes.
3. Expand tilled garden area behind the garage.
4. Re-lay the brick around the raised beds. - need to put sand down and a border edge.
5. Build a container for compost heap - I never have gotten compost heaps to work well so I am looking at methods that help to rotate the compost. Maybe one of the round barrel types or something.
6. Plant peppers and herbs in any empty space in flower beds
7. More bulbs - we NEED more daffodils. Desperately. I planted 100 tulips this fall.
8. Decide which patches of phlox to encourage this year and which to tear out.
9. Rake out leaves left in the flower beds from last year.
10. Get some more mulch for inner flower beds, again.
11. Trim bushes, again.
12. Decide what to do with the front corner that last year went to weeds - maybe eggplants and geraniums? with lettuce borders?
13. Remember to put iron and phosphorous on the roses along the side of the house
14. Divide some of the hostas?
15. lettuces, spinach, basil, sage, oregano, parsley, peas, carrots, tomatoes, onions, endive, rosemary. Am I forgetting anything?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Where are you on the internet?

From the Opte project: A visual map of the internet from 2005

When I started college in 1996, I had a telnet and a gopher account to go online. I remember just a few websites that had pictures and no movies. When I got back from Nicaragua, the inventor of Napster came to talk at BYU about the future of the internet and intellectual property. Ironically, around that same time, I watched a pirated version of the Lord of the Rings someone from the lab had downloaded from the internet before it came out in theaters.

The internet has grown and grown. It has infiltrated almost every home and cell phone in the US and across the world. This is a universe of information that for the most part is freely accessible. I did almost all of my research for my last paper sitting at my desk and querying databases and the internet. I have 1000s of .pdf files saved on my harddrive that just a few years ago I would have printed out and bound.

I get emails now from friends in Nicaragua that live in towns where we struggled to find a telephone and had electricity only part of the day. Crazy.

I was just thinking today as I was reading a sci-fi novel that our present didn't turn out like the future depicted in the book: No flying cars, no fusion powered vacuum cleaners, no settlements on mars or the moon, no aliens with consulates in Chicago, no interstellar travel. Now none of that seems plausible for our future, but if someone had described the internet to me 20 years ago I would have thought that was pretty absurd also. So who knows. Maybe.

from xkcd.com - illustration map of the internet

From Discover magazine 2006- diagram of how data moves around the world on the internet. with representation of the world as a flat disc.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Solution for Afghanistan or Heart of darkness?

I read this fascinating article in the Washington post online.

Jim Gant was special forces in Afghanistan in the tribal areas. While he was there he made the decision to embed himself in the local tribe and make a deal with them to fight alongside them. To fight in their battles. To die for them if necessary.

He is arguing for a personal relationship with each one of the tribal warlords. One where American soldiers live, fight, kill and die with the tribal leaders. This has the potential to make true allies where we have none. But, and there is a big, but there is a great potential for abuse. By choosing sides, we may be choosing the wrong side. American fatalities will rise. Special knowledge of language and cultures will be required.

It appears that his proposals are getting some attention in military circles. Let's just hope he isn't like Mr. Kurtz.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Freezing in Iowa . . . And happy about it

When I heard about the winter storm watch yesterday I was excited. We were expected to have 8-10 inches of snow with 35 mile an hour winds, and the storm delivered. Schools were closed today. Visibility was low and it never got about 0, again. We have had three weeks of below 0 F weather.

Amazingly, I have not complained and I will be sad to see the winter go. Since we moved from Texas and to the frozen midwest I have whined and complained all winter long. Cold dark days filled with snow and freezing temperatures make me antsy for spring when the garden is growing and it is warm. I love the heat and humidity of the summer. I rarely complained in Texas even when it was 105, 90% humidity, and sweltering. Leila dreaded it because she hates the feeling of sweat beading up on her brow as soon as she stepped outside. I rode my bike to work and spent most of the summer in a cotton field and my winters in a 95 degree and humid greenhouse. I don't think that I sweat normally or something.

So what has changed? Iowa is colder than ever.

1. Long underwear - I now have a full complement of very long, very warm long underwear. I am warm when everyone else is shivering for once.

2. Wool socks - Even my feet are warm.

3. More weight - although I grumble to Leila, the last ten pounds I gained I think have helped me stay warm in the cold.

4. No animals to take care of in the cold - although I miss my little farm constantly, it is nice to not have to worry about water freezing, snow in the barn, keeping the chickens from getting frostbite, moving hay, finding the cows and pigs at the neighbors barn, and all of the other winter chores. This may also explain the extra ten pounds. Gotta do something about that.

and last but definitely not least:
From early january 2010

5. Cross country skis - I bought them off of ebay, they have old three pin bindings and I have had to repair the shoes already, and I ski like Goofy in that instructional cartoon, but I look forward to getting out in the snow every night. The cold isn't so bad if I get to flail about on skis every night.

From early january 2010