Posts Tagged ‘advice’

corn at my community garden plot The corn is as low as an elephant’s toe? Just 2 or 3 weeks ago, it was about 70 centimeters and still going strong!

I saved a draft of this post a couple of weeks ago, and really want to get it out there for my garden buddies who may just be getting started on corn. I wish I’d known some of this stuff last year when I tried growing some flour corn in my tiny backyard garden! I didn’t take the right kind of care of my corn– too close together, didn’t hill it, and interplanted too heavily with squash– so I got only a few ears due to aphid infestation and not enough spacing for good pollination. But I still really loved growing a bit of corn of my own, and the first batch of corn flour was worth all the trouble. The difference between fresh-ground home-grown corncake and stuff made from even good organic commercial flour is amazing.

I can’t plant flour corn in the community garden, as it would mess up everybody else’s sweet corn, so the advice below is mostly about sweet corn. However, except for the staggered-harvest advice, it’s all applicable to flour corn as well!

yellow blue cobs Typical blue and yellow painted corn, in a midsummer harvest pic from 2007.

When planting sweet corn in a small plot, you want 2 – 3 per foot, with about a foot between rows. You also want to plant the northernmost row first (so it won’t shade the rest), and then when those plants have a good start, say a handspan above the ground, put in the next row, and so on. That way you’ll have sweet corn in small batches. This was another case of “reading after planting” on my part– I planted the whole little stand of corn in one shot. Well, I’ll have plenty to share, I hope!

Two corn tips that I’ll be trying this year, courtesy of a very savvy gardener who’s been growing in Sunnyvale for over 30 years. The first is that he has great luck starting carrots, notoriously sensitive to drying out during germination, in his corn patch. The shade from the corn keeps the soil from drying out, and carrots apparently sprout and grow readily. I’ve had really poor luck with carrots, so I’m going to try this!

brightly colored corn cobs I saved kernels from some decorative corn purchased in 2003, and in 2007 planted primarily red and orange ones in one stand.

The second tip is how backyard growers can keep those pesky raccoons from pulling down all your sweet corn. Hold up your hand and look at where your thumb meets the hand. If somebody were to pull down hard on your thumb, ow! That kind of pulling is how raccoons pull ears of corn off the plant. Our local garden sensei uses twine, or sometimes even tape, wrapped around the stem and halfway up the cob: about where your knuckle is on your thumb. Do this when the ears are full size but before they ripen– when all the silk is still green, even at the tips. Without the leverage, the raccoons can’t pull the ear off. They may eat a low ear right off the plant, but won’t be able to ravage through your little corn patch, pulling a pile of ears off and ruining them. I’ll be really interested to see how this works!

colorful maize Wonderful color but odd pollination due to adverse conditions.

My third corn tip is one that I hadn’t known, and that I’m glad our garden coordinator told me. You can’t have both sweet corn and field corn in one garden. They’ll cross-pollinate like crazy, as corn is primarily wind-pollinated. So that’s why I have sweet corn at the community garden, rather than the Mandan Red or Hopi Blue flour corns I had been eagerly waiting to plant there. Because it’s all for one and one for all, when it comes to corn. Maybe I can convince everybody next year to try flour or dent corn, but I kinda doubt it. I’ll have to see if I can tuck in a tiny patch of flour corn again in our backyard, but the way I set things up this year, it doesn’t look good. Dang!

colorful maize Red and orange cobs from my 2007 tiny maize plot.

Finally, if you’re growing flour or dent corn, hilling your corn is really worth doing! I’d thought that hilling corn meant planting it on a mound, for drainage or something. OK, good thing ya can’t see me blush! Growing painted corn last year, I noticed the stalks changed color as they got taller, and developed little knobby growths about 20 – 30 centimeters off the ground. Turns out that those are additional roots– that is, if you hill up the corn when they start to show! Pile up additional soil and those roots will dig in, anchoring the corn more firmly against wind, and maybe getting you an extra ear or two!

An easy way to do this is to actually plant corn in a slight trench, and pile up the soil between rows. When the corn comes up about shoulder high, hill it in (and add some nice compost!) by pulling in that extra soil. I’ve gotta try that on my next flour corn planting.

gorgeous patterned kernels I’d love to be able to stabilize this color! I’ll be carefully saving from this ear, for sure.


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Plz! No paparazzi at naptime!

Our bestest buddy the Booster is doing really well and has regained much of the weight she lost this past fall, when we feared the worst. None of the tests we ran turned up anything: she was pronounced incredibly healthy for a 13.5 year old kitteh, but she was growing noticeably skinnier and I could feel more bones along her back.

I started reading the labels on the canned food, the treats, and dry food in the pet store. The dry food has 2 to 2.5 times the protein of the canned stuff, and more carbs, and the treats were similar. I wondered if the canned food was simply not providing enough protein and carbs to maintain Boo’s muscle mass and keep her warm during the colder fall/winter weather. I got some high-quality dry food and started offering them free-choice dry food again. They were all over it with great enthusiasm.

When I listen to sidewalk, I can hear ocean! … What you mean, no?

Within the week, Boo stopped losing muscle mass. Her hind legs, which were getting so thin that I could feel the tendons near her paws, plumped up again. She’s regained all her muscle mass, though not much fat, and her neck and back are noticeably more muscular. I’m really shocked that high-end canned food made with good ingredients is not enough to keep her healthy. I am very glad that she is fine again, and kind of shocked and scared that I could have been accidentally starving her! OK, not *starving*, the vet said that she was a far cry from that, but it was a startling change in Boo that I picked up on pretty quickly.

All’s well now, but I wanted to post about it in case other folks’ aging kittehs are starting to get bony. Don’t just chalk it up to the aging process. See if different or better food, or combinations of food, will work. Feed high-energy treats like Greenies, bits of cheese, etc, to help your fuzzball build up strength. And don’t give up! I look forward to many more happy years with the Booster Bunny. They don’t stay with us forever, but we want them with us as long as possible, as long as they are still enjoying being here. She’s back to her sassy self!

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After a long negotiation process between my DNS provider and the registrar of the domain thieves, virtual.net is back where it has belonged since early 1993: with me.  Huzzah!

My advice, in retrospect, is that if your domain is hijacked, immediately file with ICANN, over the protests of your registrar if necessary.  Fortunately I got my domain back, but if the remote registrar had not finally given it back (after making my registrar send some kind of “we won’t sue you” papers), I’d have been SOL, as the ICANN waiting period for opening a case had already expired.

How did I eventually lose the domain?  My provider offers both secure and non-secure login pages, and I believe that I accidentally logged into a non-secure page while at a public wireless location.  At first we thought my email provider had been compromised, but we found nothing but my home network access in the logs, and no suspicious activity.  The fact that the thieves had to change the contact email to “inbox@greatdomains.com” to get the transfer key is further proof that they had no access to my email.

If your provider offers non-secure login pages, make a bookmark to their secure page and only use that bookmark for login, never surf there directly or use a sidebar login on a provider’s main page– unless it says “secure login”.  There’s really no excuse for offering non-secure logins in this age of ubiquitous wireless– I’ve mentioned to my provider that they’re a bad idea, we’ll see if they go away.  I was on my laptop, with a new hard drive, and I hadn’t pulled over my bookmarks yet, so I think that’s how I screwed up.

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There’s a completely fascinating analysis of the American political scene, and the 2008 race, at the Atlantic Monthly. Interestingly enough, unlike much of their content, it’s available to nonsubscribers– are they backing a particular candidate? Regardless, the author, senior editor Andrew Sullivan, makes a point which I, as a barely-Boomer, found to be a stunning epiphany.

Sullivan’s premise is that the true dividing line in the USA political scene is the Boomer generation’s experience of the Vietnam War. It polarized people on particular viewpoints against members of their own generation in a fundamental way but was never resolved. The all-grown-up Boomers, now in positions of influence and importance, are still butting heads over Vietnam, and how it defined (for them) what it means to be an American, a patriot, a responsible human being. The clashing impacts of these opposing viewpoints are still echoing down the cultural canyons. Or, to put it more succintly, the Jarheads and the Hippies are still fighting it out, and trying to use the Iraq war to prove their points.

This is a fundamental question, and explains a great deal about seemingly irrational elements I’ve seen operating on politics and policy during my adult life. How can the generation that literally opened fire on each other at Kent State learn to work together again? How can they be prevented from imprinting their culture war on the current generation? Andrew Sullivan’s suggestion is get Barack Obama into the White House. I am inclined to agree with him.

Obama’s reach outside his own ranks remains striking. Why? It’s a good question: How has a black, urban liberal gained far stronger support among Republicans than the made-over moderate Clinton or the southern charmer Edwards? Perhaps because the Republicans and independents who are open to an Obama candidacy see his primary advantage in prosecuting the war on Islamist terrorism. It isn’t about his policies as such; it is about his person. …
What does he offer? First and foremost: his face. Think of it as the most effective potential re-branding of the United States since Reagan. …

Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can.

Regardless of your politics, this one’s an interesting read. It may not change the territory, but it sure stretches and refines the map.

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One of the professions near and dear to my hear is that of graphic design. I’m still not sure if it’s Brigadoon lost or a bullet dodged, but either way, I pay attention when I can. I recently encountered a gem of a Laugh Out Loud moment courtesy of Speak Up, namely the long-suffering lament, now a soulful metal ballad: “Make the Logo Bigger”. “I don’t wanna tell you how to do your job, but could you make the logo bigger?.

The comments on this posting are a real humor-drizzled slice of life on their own, leading to places like Von Glitschka’s “Day in the Life”, documenting a “Make this 400% bigger” post-it note, and the inspired nonsense (brilliantly conceived, if gigglingly executed) of The Bauhaus Rap.

SRC art, worldtree, copyright 2007

I’m happily blown away by all the great design tutorials on the web these days, like Illustration Class and Computer Arts. These folks sure know how to teach– they walk you through the workflow from sketch to finished digital product, or tool-by-tool techniques for specific effects. There’s many a happy afternoon here for design dilettantes like myself who are thinking of taking our sketchbook art to the next level.

SRC art, serpent nest, copyright 2007

Just started checking out the pro-mag Design Tools Monthly, especially their great Mac tools section. It’s almost enough to make me go out and get a Design certificate. But I really should upgrade my own website first. Hey, maybe I should make the logo smaller!!

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I’ve been on a grand unification quest to find all the duplicates and old versions and generally clean the heck up on my desktop Mac, in preparation for a clean full “reference” backup and then a Leopard upgrade. I’m hearing enough security kerfuffle about the new (dis)improved firewall on Leopard; that I’m feeling glad that I didn’t buy a copy yet. Some of the issues are less relevant to me than to some, as I have a gateway firewall on our local net.

I’m disappointed to hear that Apple may be taking some of the Unix magic out of the hands of us old fogies in the course of prettying up subsystems like the firewall manager. I wouldn’t want to see quite the level of bells, whistles, and occasional frag-grenades of, say, some of the Linux GUI sysadmin tools. The princple behind those tools, however, is one that Apple would do well to emulate: provide a graphical user interface to the actual scripts and command-line / config-file changes needed to accomplish a task. Rewriting the UI as a program of its own, intertwingled with the functionality, is bad compartmentalization and should be avoided.

Speaking of firewalls, they do only protect you from stuff that is coming IN to get you, not stuff that you helpfully download and that opens up connections OUT to wreak havoc or spew spam. The emergence of Mac-targeted web trojans; is something that neither Tiger nor Leopard will prevent. It’s another class of security problem entirely, the kind that comes in via the keyboard or the mouse– what ham radio old-timers used to call “a short between the headphones”.

What I do find helpful for dodging some bullets is a the NoScript plugin for Firefox, which lets you selectively approve or deny scripts running on web pages that you are browsing. There is even some ongoing work on preventing cross-site scripting via NoScript. I find it very handy. Still, caveat clickor and all that.

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Regis said it best…

…lo, these many years ago:


Just sayin'.

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Following links a couple of days ago, I found a really compelling and honest account of someone firing their employee. I didn't want to close the window, because one of the phrases was resonating so strongly with me.

This morning I summarized the teaching I found there and printed out two lines that I've now taped at the top of my monitor– because I need the reminder in this distraction-filled life. Two reminders, really: how to focus, and that people can't see inside each other's heads, we have to go on what we know externally.

“What you really do is who you are; what you say is just moving air. We show our true priorities in life by things we actually do.”
— SR Chalup

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career meme

An amazing, amusing, and appalling example of career advice, via a friend’s livejournal:

1. Go to http://www.careercruising.com/.
2. Put in Username: nycareers, Password: landmark.
3. Take their “Career Matchmaker” questions.
4. Post the top umpty results
5. Bold the jobs you've had
6. Star the ones you've seriously considered
7. XX the ones which would absolutely not suit you

    cat /tmp/fu

  1. Taxidermist (WTF?!?! How they get this from 'really like' working with animals?!) XX
  2. Industrial Designer **
  3. Interior Designer *
  4. Fashion Designer *
  5. Cartoonist / Comic Illustrator
  6. Desktop Publisher
  7. Graphic Designer *
  8. Artist **
  9. Exhibit Designer
  10. Computer Animator
  11. Medical Illustrator
  12. Veterinary Technician
  13. Website Designer **
  14. Potter *
  15. Craftsperson *
  16. Animal Breeder
  17. Environmental Consultant
  18. Marine Biologist

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…it’s time to change your mind.

When confronted with evidence that recalled petfood with new UPC labels over the recalled labels was being sold in their stores, Wal-Mart had a number of choices.

  • “That’s terrible, we will check into it immediately!”
  • “We doubt it, but we will check on it.”
  • “It must be an isolated case, we would never do that.”
  • “You’re wrong, we aren’t doing that.”
  • “There isn’t any recalled pet food at our stores. And if there was, it would be somebody else’s fault.”Guess which option they picked?
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