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Monthly Archives: December 2007

Bo made us this unique African themed “tree” for Christmas 2007 …

Bo’s Christmas Tree Bo’s Christmas Tree branch decorations

… and for the first time in nearly eight years, since we emigrated here, Carolyn said she felt a bit homesick! Here’s wishing all who read this blog a very Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year! Harry, Carolyn & Bo-Ashley

I recently rediscovered an old photograph taken by Michael Kuhn, friend of my brother-in-law, Alan Field. Alan was a keen skydiver, his enthusiasm for diving was infectious and together with the misguided notion that skydiving might help ease my fear of heights, I took a lesson and jumped. Just once.

skydiving boarding the plane Skydiving

Take note of the parachute on the ground in the far right of frame. That was the target landing spot on which the instructor was standing, guiding me in with a pair of paddles. Also note two things about the guy with the paddles: First is that the position of his paddles are reflected in the degree to which I’m flaring the chute and second is that he’s running away (left of frame, slightly behind me).

I’ll let you in on something: This is the first time for both of us. Me in the air, him with the paddles. Never again! Read More »

Suggested reading: Amaryllis on Alcohol Revisited | The Amaryllis Experiment: Part I (introduction) | The Amaryllis Experiment: Part II (the movie)

These footnotes to the amaryllis series provides some additional anecdotal information to round out the experiment …

Amaryllis leaves fall over

Why bother with alcohol? Because amaryllis grown indoors, especially in water, often grow tall and fall over. Here the leaves of the water fed bulb fall down and had to be tied back up. At various times in the time lapse movie seen in an earlier post you’ll notice that the water fed bulb was rearranged to stand upright.

Read More »

UPDATE 10/23/2009: I’ll be repeating the experiment with a slightly more diluted alcohol to see how much bigger I can grow the bulbs before they fall over! Watch for updates in November and December of 2009 in a follow up post: Amaryllis on Alcohol: Revisited …

This frame grab pretty much sums up the experiment’s results: The alcohol fed bulb on the left is shorter and has smaller blooms compared with the water fed bulb on the right. Blooms from each bulb lasted equally long.

Comparitive bloom size

Watch the time lapse movie* comparing the growth of an alcohol fed bulb (left) with a water fed bulb (right)…

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This past September strange things started happening in our fish pond, a plastic-lined half whiskey barrel set out in the corner of our deck. At first the water lilies were being destroyed. Large parallel tears started appearing in the pads. I imagined it was a cat striking out at the fish with its bared claws.

Excepting for the destruction of the vegetation I didn’t think the fish stocks were dwindling — but they were indeed. When some old friends stopped coming up at feed time and then some stones off the bottom of the pool were found scattered on the deck I was determined to find out what was causing the loss.

I clamped a compact fluorescent lamp to the back of a garden chair and aimed the reflector at the pond, set my PowerBook on the kitchen table with its iSight camera facing out through our sliding glass door and set up the software to capture time-lapse images every second throughout the night. On the very first night the culprits were revealed in this silent movie …  

What I’d appreciate hearing in comments is how other people protect their small fish ponds from raccoons. I’ve heard of a dark, rigid hexagonal grid that can be mounted below the surface of the water which the fish can swim under to escape — but which would limit the ability of tiny hands from swishing around to catch their prey. But that won’t save the water lilies …

UPDATE 10/23/2009: I’ll be repeating the experiment with a slightly more diluted alcohol to see how much bigger I can grow the bulbs before they fall over! Watch for updates in November and December of 2009 in a follow up post: Amaryllis on Alcohol: Revisited …

I’ve been growing a pair of amaryllis bulbs as an experiment. One bulb has been drinking water, as it aught to. The other has been taking a tipple of vodka.

The hypothesis is that the height of alcohol fed amaryllis bulbs will be shorter — but that the blooms will be of equal size and last as long as water fed bulbs.

I’ll be wrapping up that experiment and posting the results — which includes time lapse video and a growth chart/graph. Links to the research on paperwhite narcissis that prompted me to do this experiment follow below the photographs.

UPDATE: I have a new experiment going in 2009 using lower dilutions of isopropyl alcohol to optimise growth without going leggy on the foliage. Amaryllis on Alcohol: Revisited.

amaryllis alcohol vs water

ABOVE: These are the amaryllis I’m growing at the office which feature in the time lapse movie you’ll see in an upcoming post.

amaryllis in alcohol

ABOVE: This short little fellow was fed a 7:1 water:alcohol mix from day one and remained alarmingly short, so when the flower head was near fully formed, but not opening, we switched back to 100% water and were rewarded with this diminutive display.

The Amaryllis Experiment: Part II (the movie)
The Amaryllis Experiment: Part III (footnotes)

FOLLOW UP: Repeating the water vs alcohol experiment on paperwhite narcissus.

Suggested reading: Amaryllis on Alcohol Revisited | Cornell’s Research Newsletter Using Alcohol to Reduce Growth of Paperwhite Narcissus dated February 2006 | Easy to Grow Bulbs article Pickling your Paperwhites

In July 2007 I was one of many early adopters who sprung for an iPhone, but after limping along on it for a couple of weeks I took it back for credit after discussing my laundry list of issues with my local Apple store geniuses. That original list of gripes is appended to this article.

Without cut-copy and paste on the iPhone, you have to memorise information you need to transfer between applications!

Today I’d like to focus on just one item from that list, the one I absolutely could not do without: No select-cut-copy-and-paste!


Yes, even the omission of select is a deal breaker for me. You can’t select a line of text to delete it. So what? You could just fat finger the delete key for 10 seconds! True. So how about receiving a long email and just wanting to reply to one paragraph? You can’t just select it and reply to that quoted paragraph and neither can you copy-paste it into a new email either.

So how bad can it be living without copy-and-paste? Read More »