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Archive for the ‘Other’ Category

Well, This is Fun

Instead of writing an adventure-filled epic saga for your lunchtime perusal (or whatever it is I originally planned to post today), Mr Man and I are shopping for a new refrigerator. Because that’s fun.

The bad news? Compressors break. The good news? Our options are no longer limited to preserving our milk with frogs!

Refrigerators that Ribbit?

(Srsly tho, do not try this at home!)

* * * 

green frog in a purple flower
We are not amused! Ok, maybe a little bit amused.
Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

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A plant is running a casino in my yard. Also, yesterday was World Bee Day, so let’s talk about the intersection of the two.

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As I’ve mentioned before, lawns are a pain. Right now our lawn is an interesting mix of grass, ground ivy, and wild strawberry, with a few dandelions thrown in for good measure. It actually looks quite pretty, with green grass and purple, white and yellow flowers.  

The ground ivy, or Creeping Charlie, is particularly good at spreading.

We’re moving in, see? And there’s nothing youse guys can do about it.

It’s also good at bringing in the bees. Right now there are several big bumblebees happily flitting from flower to purple flower. Watching them fly, I noticed that they bounce from plant to plant before settling on a flower. Curious, I did a bit of research.

It turns out that Creeping Charlie is playing those bees like a fiddle.

“Creeping Charlie employs a unique strategy to attract some bee visitors, such as sweat bees, bumble bees, and honey bees, that is tied into how the flower produces nectar.  The flowers have a unique strategy for rewarding visitor pollinators, commonly referred to as the “lucky hit” strategy.  Creeping Charlie flowers produce an average of 0.3 microliters of nectar per flower, but the amount of nectar in any one flower varies greatly, ranging from 0.06 to 2.4 microliters. “

— Creeping Charlie: Management and Value to Pollinators | Turfgrass Science

Like the psychology of gambling, such random reward mechanisms keep those bees coming back for more. The good news is that on average, these flowers are worth the bees’ time and energy.

* * *

I’m all for pollinator planting, but before you sign on to the Creeping Charlie train, let me say that it is considered invasive in many places and is most certainly difficult to remove.

“While Creeping Charlie could be a good nectar source for bees, we are not recommending that you let it take over your lawn.”

(It’s a bit late for that, but at least the bees and I can look on the bright side.)

Consider a turf alternative like this Bee blend, or plant clover instead. Bees love it, and they aren’t the only ones.

* * *

Nom nom! Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

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Today, a minor exercise in venting, over-the-top opinionation, with a bit of history on the side.

This is a photo of me this morning, about to head out to the wilds of Costco:

sure, that fits.

Yes, that’s my phone, perched precariously in my woefully inadequate pocket. (And off screen, Mr. Man is laughing at the mismatch between the two.)

* * *

Dear fashion industry: Pockets matter. 

You know this. Jeans for men have perfectly adequate pockets. Mr Man carries a wallet, pass, and iPhone 12XS Max in his pockets just fine. And don’t get me started on the differences between men’s and women’s suit jackets. There was a reason I borrowed my father’s suit jacket as a teenager. (Ok, the fabric shifted between green and bronze and cool doesn’t even begin to describe it, but yeah, also functional outside pockets and actual inside pockets. So many pockets!)

I could carry my phone in my back pocket. It still sticks out, but would stay in place just long enough for me to walk at a more-than-geriatric pace and break the thing. And purses? I find purses deeply annoying, not least because I know for a fact that they are often a solution to a problem that doesn’t need to exist.

There is a time and place for bags. For example, I spent two weeks traveling through Latin America with a backpack, and took a portable bag for my round-the-world tour. And if I had kids, I’d definitely rock a backpack. That’s what bags are for! For all else, pockets.

* * *

Now, there can be downsides to keeping things in your pockets. Mr Man has sent more than one USB key through the laundry, and you can bet this woman will never keep anything important in her pockets ever again:

Lottery jackpot ‘winner’ says she destroyed $26m ticket in laundry wash

Still. In case of emergency or just plain forgetfulness, I want everything critical with me at all times. No “Where’s my phone, I need it to find my AirTag-enabled wallet.” No “Goodness, where did I put that handbag with all my cards and cash?” while the flames encroach. No “Wait, a zombie apocalypse? Like, now now?”

No, thank you.

* * *

I’m hardly the first to make this observation (and this isn’t the first time, either), but sadly, I doubt I’ll be the last. More reading on the long and sexist history of pockets, because it’s good to show your work:

When it comes to women’s pockets, size really does matter

The Bewildering and Sexist History of Women’s Pockets

* * *

On the plus side, women no longer have to climb mountains in a corset and skirt!

Lucy Smith and Pauline Ranken of the Ladies’ Scottish Climbing Club climbing the Salisbury Crags in 1908.

* * *

Progress, it can be made!

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Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

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What would you do if you could go back in time for, say, one day? When would you go, and perhaps just as importantly, where?

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For today’s educational adventure I learned how to make a portal. Next time I’ll choose an image with a puddle for the reflection, but the effect is still pretty magic.

Photo by Etienne Boulanger on Unsplash

So, we have a target place, a target time, and a portal. Who wants to go first?

* * *

Fiction-related aside: Time travel usually isn’t my genre (weird for someone with a history degree once upon a time, but there it is), but this series about historians tasked with maintaining the time stream is fun:

Just One Damned Thing After Another by Jodi Taylor

* * *

“History does not always repeat itself. Sometimes it just yells, ‘Can’t you remember anything I told you?’ and lets fly with a club.” 

― John W. Campbell Jr.

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It Was a Good Plan

I had a plan for the day. It was a good plan. It was shiny and perfect and now it is gone. In its place I have a Post-it that looks like a Rorschach test, a list of things I did not intend to do (but did, so that’s nice:) and a handbasket of good intentions.

Let’s hear it for tomorrow!

* * *

“The belief that tomorrow is a different place from today is certainly a unique hallmark of our species.”

 ― Douglas Coupland

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Imagination Itself

In memory of the pretty tree in full bloom around the corner, which our neighbor just cut down.

Also, it’s Tuesday.

(This is the part where I like to bring it back to a cheerful ending. Right. Hmm.)

Ah yes! I’m making excellent progress on the bird front, lots of goldfinches, robins, cardinals, chickadees, juncos and sparrows. Nature finds a way, even if it sometimes needs a little help:)

* * *

“The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.”

― William Blake
Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

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I have this funny thing I do where I associate certain visuals with a functional emotion. 

(By associate I mean I pull it out of the old memory bank when I run into a situation that makes me feel a certain way. And by functional I mean that this visual helps me shift to a more useful mindset.)

You know that feeling you get when you’re lying in bed worrying about that weird pain just above your right eyebrow? Or imagining fingernails on a chalkboard or what it would feel like if a sentient Matrix probed your belly button? 

That feeling? I counter it with a shimmering green shield surrounding my body like a superhero suit. Sure, no one else can see it, but it works.

* * *

Or when it’s Monday morning and my mind is chock full of random crap, to do lists, things I should have said, things I shouldn’t have said, questions that need to be asked and answered, etc. etc. etc. ad freaking nauseam.

I do a superhero landing complete with dramatic cloud of mental chaff blasting away from the point of impact.

Not really, of course. That sort of thing is hard on the knees.

* * *

Just the act of imagining either of these things helps defuse the mental pile-on.

Of course it’s not real. Despite decades of absorbing scifi via bio-ocular interface, I cannot actually will a force field into being. But my worries are all in my head. Why can’t the solutions be there too?

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Photo by stein egil liland on Pexels.com

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I’m not that great. Not really.

I mean, I’m mostly nice (with just the right amount of geeky snark), I make a pretty terrific brownie, and try to be a good partner, daughter, friend, neighbor, and co-worker, but I haven’t started a food distribution center to feed first responders this past year, or learned a new language or solved the medical problem that’s stumping a family member’s doctors or crossed off everything on my to-do list or single-handedly saved Ontario’s bees. At some level, I feel I should have done all of those things and more, but no.

I’m not Melinda Gates, Mother Theresa, Jane Goodall, José Andrés, Greta Thunberg, Jonas Salk, David Suzuki, world-changingly great. 

Sorry, supportive parental units. You tried.

* * *

And please don’t take offense, but you probably aren’t either. I bet you are kind and thoughtful and a good hugger with excellent taste in music and a winning smile who looks out for pets and children, but you aren’t, say, Malala. By definition, most people aren’t. 

So I’m not extra special super amazing. You’re probably not extra special super amazing. And that’s ok.

Because together, we are magic.

* * *

What makes a society great?

I submit to you that we regular folks have far more impact on society than we’re given credit for. The median is the best indicator of a curve’s central anchor, not the outliers.

Yes, innovation like the automobile, vaccines, or the personal computer can upend the ways we live and work, but those events happen within a context. 

That context is the one we build every day, with every action, big or small. Have I sent out Mothers’ Day cards, let myself off the hook for not sending those cards sooner,* waved at the neighbor, picked up that annoying plastic bag stuck in the cedar, fed the birds, voted, donated to a nonprofit doing good work, planted for pollinators, baked for our mechanic, followed traffic laws, ignored rabid commentary designed to monetize my attention at the expense of democracy, and generally done my best to help steer the ship to a better place?

* * *

What we do matters. Maybe I’m not extra special super amazing, but that’s ok. I don’t have to be. I can still be part of something great.

We all can.

* * *

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Unsplash

* * *

* Sorry, Moms!

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Wishing You Happy

Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

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I may have mentioned my unspoken, one-sided, possibly small-minded battle with the neighbors for “Favorite Neighborhood Bird Oasis.” For years, our backyard was the place to be, featuring sustainably under-managed undergrowth, a giant tube feeder full of black oil sunflower seeds, a bird bath with water three times a day in summer, and a heated bath in winter. What more could a bird want?

What the neighbors now have, apparently. Feeders that are easier for squirrels and larger birds to break into, a bird bath with a powered fountain, and oh yes, even more feeders (I think they have about a dozen).

So I’m out numbered and outgunned, but not giving up. I’m plotting next steps, including a new feeder with nyjer seed for the finches and more bird-friendly spring plantings.

The bad news is that I’ll probably still lose because I also don’t want to be out there twice a day refilling feeders decimated by all of squirreldom.

The good news? This all spells a net gain for the local wildlife, no matter what.

So, win win. That’s the kind of fight I like. 

* * *

Photo by Miikka Luotio on Unsplash

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