Friday, February 29, 2008

Worth the subscription

The current New Yorker shines a spotlight on the T. Don Hutto out-sourced detention center in Taylor ("The Lost Children," by Margaret Talbot; issue of March 3, 2008). Whether the feature will be available eventually in on-line form or not, it's just one of the reasons to go out and buy this issue or read it at the library. There is a press release outlining the contents of the piece. There's a Wikipedia entry on the Hutto Center, and a site called Shut Down Hutto, not recently updated. The ACLU settlement comes in for its due share of attention.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Once in a great while

I ran across a word new to me, and that's a rare thing. The word is "agist," used in "agist's lien" and found in discussion of laws relating to livestock. Related words are "agistment" and "agister." A related lien is a stock breeder's lien. And then there's always "estray."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Ready to do it again

I love these books of Moo stickers. The first set came today, the ones where I let the selection be random, so a couple of bad interior shots are included. They're so called Flickr stickers from the on-line Flickr album of pictures taken using these toy cameras: JamCam and Concored Mini-EyeQ. The JamCam has a flash but is temperamental transferring images to the computer; the Concord has no flash, but the pictures aren't as good and the difference between what the viewfinder shows and what image is actually captured can be very great.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


New arrivals run from pink to puce to red: from a paler shade of pink hyacinth joining oxalis to one shade of anemone to another shade of anemone. These are great favorites: two rows of red petals with a white ring enclosing the center.

Monday, February 25, 2008

New arrivals

There are Carlton flowers everywhere. Carlton does everything that King Alfred does, only on a friendlier scale. These are from a bag of remainders picked up at the last minute a year or two ago, and they're naturalizing well, holding on, blooming again, and multiplying. Arriving sometime between last evening and this morning are buds on two stalks of Dutch iris, color yet unknown.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Who's supposed to read this?

The feature on Clive Davis and the look-back to the CBS of a certain era, with quotes for attribution by the few willing to do that, was interesting to me and to scores of others I can think of, but what interest does it hold for the world at large? Just wondering. This isn't all on line, but took a good five print pages in the February 21 issue of Rolling Stone (the one with Britney Spears on the cover). Coming in for mentions are Goddard Lieberson, Harvey Schein (but not Walter Yetnikoff), and Bruce Lundvall (who speaks on the record). A footnote to this entry is that there was an obit for Teo Macero in the NYT this past week, which did mention his work with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, among others. Anyhow, Rolling Stone continues distancing itself from current events, becoming more and more something aimed at codgers.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Beginnings in the yarden

There are pods forming on Little Marvel. There's a pink haze on all the redbuds; soon the bare branches will be covered with flowers. Leaves are raining down from one of the oak trees. We are happy to see many mourning doves and few whitewings.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Yesterday's high technology lives on

I loved this piece from the Economist about telex service (shouldn't the "t" in teletype and telex perhaps be in upper-case form?). It's called "A faint ping: an ancestor of e-mail lives on." Apparently, it's the rotary telephone dial that makes it a Telex kind of Teletype transmission. I think of Teletype as being incoming, at least as I knew it. Wikipedia tries to explain some of the nuances of the systems, and I found an on-line entry about the Associated Press. Anyone who ever worked in a shipping department during a certain period of time is familiar with sending and receiving via Telex. Wasn't that an ITT brand name? I can't remember. I'm sure there was once a Teletype Corporation. It wasn't fun to deal with these machines. As I recall, once a connection was established, it was possible to transmit "live," but it was much better to prepare a paper tape in advance of setting up the connection and then using that to send, as from a recording, which in a sense it was. The machines were extremely tricky and temperamental, and time was money. It's interesting to know that Telex is still very much alive in Japan, which was one of my most frequent connections way back when. I've also been around news-wire machines. Some of the incoming stuff would be routine; at unexpected times, unexpected transmissions would cause everybody to run to the basket. As I recall, some law offices and many radio stations had these Teletypes. I hadn't realized that ocean-going ships are still required, for safety reasons, to have a Telex on board.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


This is a first. Somebody spoofed one of my e-mail addresses and used it to send spam to another of my e-mail addresses.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Are they called sound-designers?

Whoever they are, those people who set the background music to political commercials, they need to think again. I cannot be the only person who detests the swelling strains of generic "inspirational" Coplandesque musique.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New on the roster

Joining all the blue hyacinths is the first pink one. Ice Follies keep appearing in very surprising places, no doubt courtesy of the squirrels.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Added attractions

Joining all the previously reported flowers (most of which shall go unmentioned here), of which there continue to be more and more, are renewed tomato blossoms from the volunteer in the pot, plus another mystery smallish daffodil, this type with a fluted trumpet that is definitely orange from the beginning, as well as a tiny two-toned yellow cyclamineous flower (but not Jack Snipe or Jetfire), in appearance a beautiful miniature shooting star or comet as such heavenly phenomena were depicted in old engravings. One of the mystery lettuces in pots almost seems to be forming a head; the leaves are handsome, green on one side and a rich purple on the other. Two kinds of potted nasturtiums have begun to bloom again, one is all-over orange, the other is a red-orange with an orange-yellow stripe on each joined petal. Both of these are trailing types. We have our first Geranium narcissus, perhaps where it is courtesy of a squirrel. Alliums in the ground, not just in pots, are opening. Avalanche appears in new places. The scent of the stock is quite pervasive early in the morning, just from two stalks so far. There are more and more blue and white anemones. There seem to be more and more larkspurs germinating in the lawn. Nearly everything we have that's not in a pot is growing in a naturalized way in the grass.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Now making their first appearance of the season

What a beautiful and peaceful day after yesterday's gusts and lightning accompanied by torrential downpours delivering way more rain than the official amounts recorded. The marathon creates a cordon that isn't worth crossing and the peace is delightful. Seen today as new arrivals are white anemone blanda, pink oxalis, and shoots of vestigial Dutch tulips that eventually produce vestigial or no blooms. There's more and more of everything previously reported and there are new buds on various sorts of daffodils, narcissi, and jonquils. I'm hoping that this will be a good year for single jonquils; there's no color like that sharp, sharp yellow.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

New in the demesne

The Ice Follies have made their first appearance; perhaps they are evolving in a Darwinian way in order to avoid being larcenously plucked on Valentine's Day. More white and blue anemones are opening. We've seen our first 'jums (leucojums). Some smallish narcissus with a yellow perianth and an orange cup is opening. We're seeing other stocks flower.

Friday, February 15, 2008


The people at Phi-lickr, after offering all those enticements to join and upload pix, then impose a 200-photo limit for display, unless a person wishes to pay to show more. So the album displays 200 and only 200 items right now. I'm looking more closely at the rival that begins with the letter "P" but the offending site beginning with the letter "Phi" is extremely active and has reached a critical mass that renders it sticky enough to keep people in thrall.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The immutable law of shampoo

The container empties rapidly, but only until the last half inch or so remains. Then, the residue will last for months and months. The secret? Merely keep adding water, and the substance will keep lathering and cleaning. It's sort of like the story of Baucis and Philemon (this is the story as I first knew it, courtesy of Hawthorne). The pouring never ends. As to the shampoo, the greatest mystery is that the greatest portion goes so fast and that the remainder lasts for an eternity, or what passes for it these days.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I love this poem ("A Measuring Worm," by Richard Wilbur), published in the current New Yorker (February 6 & 18). The form is five stanzas of three lines each, ABA. A little punctuation would have helped; we decided that the inchworm is green, with yellow stripes, and not the other way around, especially with the later description of "dark omegas," but maybe not. Henceforth, I'll always think of them as forming omegas. Windows that were much in my view at one time displayed an intertwined alpha and omega in stained glass.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Floral census

In the pleasure grounds before suppertime today the following were observed in bloom: English peas; the first hyacinth flowers, blue ones, on the oak motte and near the front porch; five blue florists' anemones (with two white ones not yet open); alliums, in pots only, not in the ground, yet; dozens of Montopolis narcissus flowers; rosemary; both all-yellow and orange-and-yellow milkweeds; a few nasturtiums in pots, sweet William; five of those very sturdy mystery daffodils, naturalizing well in the grass (I think this is year three for them; as they stay open, either the trumpets darken or the perianths lighten some, although they begin as the same color; the trumpets are fluted and have no ruffle on the edge); and stock (this is from Lone Star seed; it didn't bloom last year and went through the summer and now the winter so far undamaged; we have grown these successfully just twice, both times years ago and also from Lone Star seed). All the flowers just reported are not near the street. Near the street and open are just a few Avalanche and Grand Primo flowers. On many Valentine's eves or days there are Ice Follies ready for stealing and presentation to the larcenous ones' sweethearts. They won't be ready this year.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Key issues

First it was a random key or two, intermittently, and always on the row below the number row. Then the problem manifested itself more and more often. I liked this keyboard, with its two extra USA ports. But I've given it up. And I don't like the new one as well as the old one. The pitch isn't as steep, even with the little legs set up; the travel is too far; the touch is squishy; the resistence is low; the springback is slow. I hate looking all the time to see whether what I entered is what was produced. So I'll live with a different keyboard. It always amazes me that people will pay for a "wrist rest." A person using a keyboard correctly and at a good ergonomic height doesn't rest a wrist on anything. I've never had a keyboard just give out like that before, no matter how heavily it's been used. This is just another case for the handbasket department.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sentimental and worse

On KNCT's Concert Time USA today was played a version of Tenting on the Old Campground, only the most innocuous verses, but done in a stirring arrangement as part of a medley and featuring a truly wonderful soloist. This was the kind of performance that bring chills and hair standing on end.
Many are the hearts that are weary tonight,
Wishing for the war to cease;
Many are the hearts looking for the right
To see the dawn of peace.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Why this day is beautiful

There are new leaves appearing on the lantanas. Lettuce is growing like crazy. There are honeybees in the milkweed flowers. Blossoms have appeared on the peavines. All the birds are taking baths and we see them really up close.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Those sandboys

It's been a while since I've searched for "jolly as a sandboy" or "three jolly sandboys." Then I read a book that used "happy as a sandboy" three different times, so I've just searched again. Since the first time I read The Old Curiosity Shop (see chapters 18, 19), I've always wondered about the sandboys. All anybody ever says is to consider the saying to be equivalent to "happy as a clam." Today I found the fullest explanation yet (scroll down). I prefer my sandboys to be jolly rather than happy.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


We have yellow: butterflies of various kinds, one medium, not large and not miniature, yellow mystery daffodil on a sturdy stem, and several Montopolis / Bastrop narcissi, as well as monocolored milkweed flowers and even a couple of fennel blossoms.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

From what mailing list?

Here's another poser. How is it that I've been sent a free issue of Garden & Gun magazine? It's true that I'm interested in reading it,although probably not in subscribing to it, no matter how great the deal. I'll read any magazine, practically, and I'll read just about anything that can be read, at least once. But how was I identified as a subscription prospect for this very handsome and glossy magazine? The tag is "21st century southern America." It's perfect-bound, not saddle-stitched. I guess I'm flattered to be in the same demographic as Road Bike Rider and Garden & Gun. Or should I be? Here's the current G&G table of contents.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Out of season

The self-sown mystery tomato plant in the pot that has stayed outdoors all winter is sporting a handsome yellow blossom. The tomato shares its maceta with a three-branched milkweed plant with yellow flowers, also in bloom and also self-sown.