Who is Visiting My Hedgerow?

The Hedgerow is in bloom and it’s full of bees and butterflies. These are just the ones I managed to photograph:

There are literally hundreds of bees. If bees are disappearing, it doesn’t seem like it on a day like today.

And look at this Tiger Swallowtail. I got within inches of him:

A Painted Lady:

A Red Admiral. There were sooo many of these:

What I couldn’t catch: something that looked like a Monarch that wouldn’t stay still, either a Comma or a Question Mark, and something else with orange and black checkers.My garden is usually full of Cabbage Whites but oddly I didn’t see even one today.

I love spring. It’s peony season too:

 

All pictures copyright me. I’m thrilled that camera technology is advanced enough that even I take a half decent picture.

How I Feel About Matt Smith: Best Thing Ever

Over at So Comic (via Tor.com) an artist I can’t identify because the website is in Greek sums up my feelings about the eleventh Doctor:

Is it me or does Matt Smith play the Doctor as if he has brain damage? Tom Baker is my Doctor, for nostalgia purposes at least, and he was plenty silly. I’ll even admit David Tennant’s Doctor got a bit too dark under Russel T. Davies. But under the direction of new-ish show runner Steven Moffat the whole thing has gone a little too silly for me. It leaves me wishing Christopher Eccleston had stayed on for a few more seasons. :/

Have a look here and here for more Doctor Who themed stuff. It’s the Best Thing Ever.

Early, Early Strawberries

Look what I pulled out of my garden today:

yummy global warming berries...

I’m in Zone 6, where the average first frost-free date is May 9th. Pick-your-own strawberry places don’t open for business until mid-June. And here we are on May 29th and I already have cups and cups of garden fresh strawberries. I’ve been thinking about what to do with them, but honestly I will probably have them eaten before I decide what to do…

 

Sunday Star Trek: MIT researchers develop Star Trek-style hypo-spray injections

The Daily Mail reports that researchers at MIT have come up with a prototype needleless injection system. A highly pressurized stream of whatever drug is injected at nearly the speed of sound if, say, you need to immunize Sonic the Hedgehog. And the stream is as fine as a mosquito’s proboscis so in theory it would be painless.

And yeah, I know it’s the Daily Mail, so here it is straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak:

Sometimes I suspect that scientists develop these things just because they were on Star Trek. And I’m totally OK with that.

Also, this:

 

Flash Friday: Angry Re

Another dry spring, another crop of hard sour strawberries. I dropped the little berry into the grass, wiped my hands on my trousers and watched the bees come and go from the onion flowers. The onions had never failed, but they would be very hot. I wondered, what would onion honey would taste like? The flowers themselves were hot and papery.

You never could count on the weather, but at least when I was young it had been less actively hostile. New Pillar had been fertile, with spring rain and mild summer sun, before Re’s anger. Before the People of the Village had stopped following Re’s law. Before they burned the black blood of the earth and brought everything to hard baked soil, empty wells, and angry sunshine.

Now Re consistently burned off the clouds before they could drop more than a mist of rain. It didn’t even wet the skin. Re was always angry, it seemed, especially at those trying to make a living out of the soil. My own name, Mesedsure, was a common enough name for a farmer. It meant ‘Re hates him.’ As he hated nearly everyone else.

But I had a different job today: It was extra money and I still had a bicycle. I pulled the tarp from over my bike. It was rickety but I kept it oiled and rust free. If rust got to it, it would be eaten away in no time. I pulled on my rucksack and started the short ride into the village of New Pillar.

New Pillar was lucky, it still had a Machine. After the government stopped paying for them they slowly broke down one by one. People were resourceful and fixed them as long as they could. But ours would be gone too eventually. Then the dead would have to be buried in the ground like offal, dug up and eaten by coyotes.

I swerved around potholes and bounced over tufted chicory and couch grass. I passed the odd rusty bike coming the other way, but mostly people on foot or with handcarts.

I swung out around Nuru and her son – I turned and waved.

“Nuru!” I called.

“Mesedsure! Tell Halima how sorry I am.”

“I will,” I called back.

I sped up as much as I could on the broken road and soon came to New Pillar. The Machine was housed in the old town hall, and the main square spread out around it. The Disk of Re hung over the door, a red sun with two snakes coiled around it – one rearing up on each side. It was there to remind us of Re’s wrath. As if we needed reminding – every failed crop and empty well attested to the anger of Re.

Inside, Menmaatre was working quietly. I was never exactly sure what he did, and I had never seen the Machine.

“Menmaatre.” I said, by way of greeting.

He turned and motioned for me to follow him to a shelf full of jugs all more or less full of water. He pulled out one small jug and handed it to me.

“For Jedefre and Halima. A final gift from the dead.”

I took up the jug outside and bundled it into the pannier on the back of my bike.

A human body is mostly water if you think about it. But that was never more apparent than when I was making these deliveries, and I thought about it a lot while riding. The first few times I had been surprised how heavy water was, how it made my bicycle sluggish. There are forty litres of water in a human body, but in practice you can never process forty litres out. Twenty five, thirty, maybe less if there’s been a long sickness. I rode out of New Pillar and into the countryside.

Halima and Jedefre were outside in front of their small house. I jumped down from the bike and brought out the jug. There were formal words I had to say.

“A final gift from the dead.” Then I added, “Nuru sends her thoughts.”

Halima nodded and cradled the jug into her arms. She took it into the house without saying anything. Jedefre approached slowly.

“The people of New Pillar are good people,” he said quietly. “We obey the laws and cause no harm. And still, this.” He shook his head and looked at the ground.

“I know,” I replied, “but Re is very angry. We can only do our best and hope.”

There was nothing else to say. I had other deliveries to make so I headed back into town.

I May or May Not be a Cartoon

There’s a scene in Who Framed Roger Rabbit where Judge Doom lures Roger out of hiding by tapping out Shave and a Haircut on the walls. The reasoning being that no cartoon character can resist finishing the ditty in full on over the top ‘toon fashion. I consistently fail this test, so I got to thinking, ‘What other cartoon cliches/tropes/mishaps have I encountered?‘ (BTW I actually think in slash-lists like that).

In classic western cartoons one way to show the poverty of a character is to have a moth fly out of their wallet. I guess because it’s been empty for so long that moths have moved in. I’ve done this. I have opened my wallet and had a moth fly out.

Yeah. I’ve done this too. I have walked into my backyard, stepped on a rake and had it hit me in the face. And you know, I thought, “No one even saw that.” Because if you get hit in the face with a rake somebody needs to see it. Otherwise, where will your laughs come from?

My camera case was made by Acme. And I often break into song. I don’t know? Cartoon or not? What do you think?

Tuesday Text-Based Adventures

If you are of a certain age, i.e my age, you’ll fondly remember the world of text based adventure games. If you are in any other age group you may not know what the frig I’m talking about.

Text based adventures are like D&D for the friendless: no Dungeon Master required. You are presented with naked text – no graphics at all – describing the setting and objects in it. You type in commands, and are presented with more text. Until you figure out what the hell is going on, and you hope, eventually win.

The game I’m most familiar with is the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy game from Infocom. I never made it all the way through, because back in the bad old days I didn’t have regular access to a computer. But I do now! And you know what? Hitchhiker’s Guide? Still fun. And Zork? It’s effing hard!

The BBC has a special edition of H2g2 here.

You can play Zork too. It says, “Pick me, I’m fun.”

I field tested Avalon. Tres weird. And good if you have unlimited free time.

Try them out and watch your free time dissolve! Like magic! It’s the Best. Thing. Ever.

Sunday Star Trek: We Can Build the Enterprise in 20 Years

For some easy, and inspiring  Sunday reading, check out BuildTheEnterprise, where one ingenius systems and electrical engineer, Dan,  suggests we do just that. From the site:

  This website proposes something truly inspiring. It is this: We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it. The ship can be similar in size and will have the same look as the USS Enterprise that we know from the Star Trek science fiction. It ends up that this ship configuration is quite functional. This first generation Enterprise can have 1g artificial gravity and ample living space. It can be as comfortable to live in as being on earth. A thousand people can be on board at once – either as crew members or as adventurous visitors. While the ship will not travel at warp speed, it can travel at a constant acceleration such that the ship can easily get to key points of interest in our solar system.

That’s all I need to hear. We can do it, so let’s do it. Damn right. Space travel in the last forty years has been a disappointing waste of time spent in low Earth orbit. Let’s get out there.

This guy has apparently done a lot of thinking, and I mean a lot of thinking about this. Build the Enterprise includes a summary of costs, ship specs, and a funding model. Dan estimates Americans can build this thing in 20 years for .27 percent of the United States’ GDP. That’s one quarter of one percent.  He points out that the US federal budget for 2012 is 3.7 TRILLION dollars. So, the 1 trillion dollars he proposes to spend over 20 years suddenly seems pretty doable.

Go check out the site. Spread it to your friends. It’s time to dream big again.

Flash Friday: Text Based Adventure

For the last couple of weeks everything I wrote came out sounding like an old-timey text based adventure game. I gave up trying to fight it.  You are walking up a gently inclined lane into a cemetery. There is a heavy iron gate in front of you and a stone pillar on each side. This isn’t out of the ordinary; you have walked the dogs here a hundred times, over the mossy hillsides and past the silent stones, through sudden pine groves alight with Monarch butterflies. You are wearing a jacket and scarf against the chill.

>Look.

On your left is a large hollow tree. There is a path that winds around behind it. In front of you is a gravel lane that goes up a hill and disappears around the corner of a small house-like building. On the right is a chain-link fence hidden in an overgrown hedge.

>Go left.

You can’t go that way.

>Go right.

You can’t go that way.

>Go forward

You walk up the lane. As you pass the stone pillars and the gate that ought to be locked, you worm your hands farther into your pockets. You pass a dozen silent grave markers skewed at odd angles.

>Listen

All you hear is an icy gravel-crunch against the silence as you walk.

>Look

You are at the top of the hill. In front of you is a parkette, with a steel bench and an ornamental garden. On your left is the little house.

>Look at house.

The house is small with white stucco walls and a green roof. The windows are covered in a green metal mesh. There is a wooden plaque that reads ‘Cemetery Operations Building.’ The house is bathed in silvery moonlight, and it’s windows are dark. You pause, confused. Why are you here? You realize its nearly two in the morning.

>Go to parkette

You can’t go that way.

>look up the lane.

The gravel lane winds around behind the Cemetery Operations Building. You can’t go that way.

>Go to parkette

You try to walk but you can’t move. You look around but there is nothing but moonlight, frost, and breath-smoke. There is a prickling sensation at the back of your neck.

>Look up.

You stiffen, then look up, even though you already know what you will see: a single huge star. It grows and resolves into a triangle marked by a white light at each point. It is spinning in a way makes no visual sense. It comes to a stop and hovers silently overhead in a way that defies logic. It can’t be real, but it is. You throw your head back and scream.

 

Wednesday Random Roundup

My Irises are blooming. I love them: they smell like candy.

Mmmm...grape freshie...

 

My flowers are all the purple of the rainbow:

My Springy Chickens are at the bird feeder. Within a half hour of getting home today, I watched a crow, two bluejays, a grackle, a starling and a baltimore oriole fight over the prime nesting area next to my mulberry tree. Unfortunately I couldn’t find my camera in time. Yesterday, the blue jays tried to take away a ball of garden twine that I left outside – my mom was still holding the other end. If I can ever get it edited I’ll post it.

I finally gave up trying to match the colours for my Doctor Who scarf, and have gone with colours that are ‘close enough.’ The tiny Adrian Monk in my head isn’t happy but I’m putting duct tape over his mouth and forging ahead. I’m 55% finished! At this breakneck speed, I’m on track to have it done for fall 2018.

I'm gradually getting looonnnger....