Garden Update June 1st

All four boxes are over growing. The yellow squash has been prolific. The zucchini has been good too, but only one of them. The cucumbers and melons haven’t produced yet, but are supposed to be good all summer. The okra was a dud. The beets and carrots haven’t done much either. The peppers have been slow. The tomato’s are thriving but have only given a couple of ripe fruits each so far. The sunflowers are huge.

My irrigation system is nearly 200 gallons per hour of drip emitters. I’ve been watering once a week for 2-4 hours. Looking forward to seeing how things go as it gets hotter.

The shade structure has been effective. Nothing has burned, but it’s not clear that it’s been necessary yet. We haven’t had hot days yet. It’s been a mild May. The sun flowers have grown up and out the back. Does that meat they are doing well or are sun starved?

The wildflower meadow has started to flower with greater density. Maybe the heat is what it needs.

The potato trench is full of ground cover and nitrogen fixer. Planning on Planting it full in the fall.

It’s been three months since I had things set up and growing. My first harvest was May 10. The next three months will be hot. Hopefully the cucumbers and melons will fruit.

I’ve been trying to get it cleaned up. I wish it were more photogenic.

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Daily Harvest

Two more giants. I’m eating a lot of yellow squash these days. That reminds me, I need to make a couple more zucchini breads today.

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Deadline White House

Deadline White House is one of my favorite news show. It’s very satisfying to watch Bush-Republicans wallow in shame every day. Trump is obviously a selfish liar to anyone paying attention, but to watch deluded republicans squirm about it is amazing.

It always confuses me how they think Bush wasn’t a lying liar. I guess he kept the veneer of credibility by upholding some of our democratic norms. But Bush also stole an election and presided over a decade of insanity that ruined our economy.

Somehow Trump’s hideousness has broken through their conservative veil, while much of their old world view remains in tact. I wonder how they will adapt in the post trump era, which I hope starts soon.

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Star Trek Discovery

I’ve been watching Star Trek Discovery this week. I’ve never been a trekkie. I didn’t love the original show but I did kind of fall for the Next Generation. I watched it on tv at 11pm weekday nights.

In terms of immersive sci-fi with good graphics, it works. I really enjoyed the beginning with the two women commanders, their relationship and inherent conflicts of judgement. It was sad to see that situation resolved so soon. Seeing women of color as central characters in sci-fi is pretty rad. Not sure exactly why I think so. Maybe it’s because every imagination of space on screen is full of white guys.

It’s hard to see how this show fits into the timeline as a prequel to the original show. It feels much newer than that. The ship and costume design aesthetics don’t feel retro or 60s to me at all. The other issue is the spore drive, which is an improvement over warp drives but doesn’t seem to be in the later series. I suppose they could explain all of this at some point.

The Klingons are interesting. They look more….complicated than I remember. There’s a lot going on in the face. And there are different skin colors and paint markings to help distinguish them. The scenes with Klingons are translated, but their language seems slow.

It turns out there are gay people in space on Discovery, which again predates most of what we have already seen that didn’t have such diversity. I wonder how that gets explained.

Overall the show feels a little bit too much like CBS and not quite enough like HBO. The weird commercial cliffhangers in the middle of episodes and the monster of the week feeling reminds me of TV’s past. There is definitely a grand narrative here, being pushed forward in each episode, but it doesn’t always feel like the main story.

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woolmoon

It’s been a long time since I enjoyed leveling a character in world of warcraft. Years. Usually the repetition of quests makes me sleepy. On top of that, whenever I consider leveling a character, it starts to feel pointless. There is so much to do at the level cap in terms of reputations, achievements, pets and mounts, I’d rather work on things using my most powerful characters.

In BFA, there are a few new races. They are unlocked by long questlines. One of the new races are the Zandalari Trolls, which have appeared plenty in wow over the years, but never playable. The Zandalari druid forms are brand new. They look cool. I haven’t wanted to play a druid in years, even though my very first max-level character back in 2004 was a druid.

Something about it is working for me. I played a few hours at it last night and with all the XP bonuses, I crushed 10 levels and didn’t hate it at all. The reworked moonkin spells feel powerful. I was one-shotting regular mobs using a special attack. It makes kill quest go by fast.

ContraPoints

I’ve been watching ContraPoints channel on youtube this past few weeks and it’s great. Natalie Wynn is pretty amazing.

I’ve watched a few of the videos so far — be prepared, they can be long. I put them on while I’m at my computer and just pause them whenever to pick it up later. Today I finished the “Are Traps Gay” episode, which holds many fascinating secrets.

The basic point is that if you accept the idea that the category “woman” is socially constructed, rather than biologically determined, then a trans woman is a woman and therefore men who are attracted to these women are not gay.

But that’s not where the fun ends, that where it begins.

There’s a section on the ‘lady penis’ which is too good to be true. As a man on long term Androgen Deprivation Therapy as a cancer treatment, it’s the only open discussion of the issue I have ever heard. It’s liberating.

And it reinforces the idea that I am having a trans experience.

GoT Patriarchy

In the last couple of days I watched all of GoT season 8. I didn’t hate it. I was seriously bummed to see who ended up at the high table in the last episode. Not sure why, but I was hoping that Daenerys, Sansa, Arya, Yara and Brienne would sort out the future of the continent. How the fuck did we end up with so many shitty dudes at the table? Assuming that the two DBs are total shitheads, it’s a predictable yikes.

Going into it, I was hoping that the white walkers would wipe Westeros clean of all humans. I figured the idiots would never get it together, winter would come, they would all feel the wrath and all the good people would be dead. This is the ending that would be fitting for the series.

My favorite thing about the books was that the heroes died. My favorite characters would get dramatically and surprisingly murdered, then the people who conspired against them would become more sympathetic as a new bad guy emerged. The TV show didn’t stick with this, and maybe the final books won’t either. But I was still hoping that all the heroes would die or something massively surprising would happen.

I didn’t expect Bran to end up King, but I definitely didn’t think they’d make him king without exploring his experience and memory of the old gods and their power. What was cool about Bran in the book was that he wasn’t really human anymore and was essentially an all seeing tree. But in the show he’s just the snarky disabled kid who gets to be king. Whatever.

The first two episodes of reunion, planning and storytelling were pleasant. I was surprised at how much I felt at seeing some of my favorite characters reunite. I prefer quiet, observational cinemas, so the style worked for me.

I don’t generally like long fight scenes. Tons of meaningless bodies dropping is boring to me. Long war scenes, like in Saving Private Ryan and the Band of Brothers series work because there is a specific narrative progression accomplished by each scene of the fight. The only element of the Winterfell fight that worked for me was the moat. At least that gave some structure to the fight that made sense. The rest of it was a lot of slashing and gore with some minor characters dying.

I wish that Arya had been more of an assassin and had sniped the undead that were chasing her. That she was so incapable of killing anything until the Night King was weird. I mean good for her, that move of dropping your knife or an offhand gut shot was dank, but unpredicated. Her killing of the Frey’s was totally badass. I just wished she’d planned to kill the Night King, maybe using some kind of white walker faceless shit. Instead, she got some kind of pep talk from Melisandre and the next thing we know the Night King is dead. Ok. She saved their asses. And it landed like a dud. There should be epic songs about Arya.

In the aftermath of the fight, only Daenerys sees clearly. She knows that the only way through is for Jon to sit on the truth. But he’s a Ned Stark acolyte, and has to tell the truth no matter what. I relate to that — I’ve ruined plenty of relationships by being hardheaded about “telling the truth.” I groan at my memories of such stupidity and inflexibility, but I still do it. At least Jon’s action is in keeping with his character’s history and trajectory. He hasn’t been changed by any of it.

Not sure why Varys went out like such a bum. Eunuchs everywhere deserve better. His great strength was his duplicity, subterfuge and timely alliances. He blew it. Why was he so open about his intentions with Tyrion? Probably lazy writing. Wouldn’t it have been nicer if all of his spy-kids turned on him? Maybe someone like Arya, who was once a fleabottom urchin herself, could have won them over.

The end of Cersei was super lame. She had no plan? Wow. And why didn’t Daenerys or Sansa send the realm’s best assassin to take her out? Arya went anyway, but without taking any faces. Cersei just stood there. Finally she broke and wept. When Jamie found her, it was a reunion of the depraved. I was still hoping that he would shank her, but no. That they ended up crushed by rocks was anticlimactic, but even worse was watching Tyrion weep over them. I felt nothing for the Lannisters. Did anyone? Good riddance.

Daenerys always had a bit of the mad king in her. She had better motivations, but she could kill some people. That she got so angry at Cersei and acted in brute force wasn’t out of character, but it was interesting that the men trying to talk her out of it were so falsely moralistic. Jon’s argument was always that we need all the humans to fight the undead. With at over, what, he loves the Lannisters? And with Tyrion, the interesting part was that he might actually be a traitor, willing to sell anyone out for his family, as much as he hated them. That weakness is compelling, but at least for me I had lost so much sympathy for him and them by the end that I couldn’t care.

That Daenerys was killed by Jon in a parallel with Cersei and Jamie was interesting. Jon’s choice was to go down as a Jamie (things we do for love), and start it all over again, or kill his queen and also become a Jaime (kingslayer). So incestuous hetero-(ab)-normativity kills us all. Great.

What if Sansa and Yara and Brienne had stood up for Daenerys against the men with bad grooming? Why not have Sansa tell Jon to stfu and support his queen? Why didn’t the ladies band together and support each other? Oh right. All that hope about a future of westeros ruled by women was our collective fantasy, but it was never a priority for the showrunners. Despite all the opportunities given to them by the many strong women characters, they managed to kill or neutralize all of them via the petty squabble. How fantastic.

Should Jon have been sent to the wall? Sure, but by Queen Daenerys, just like extraneous Targaryen’s before him. Bran should have gone back under the tree and been consumed by the roots, to become the old gods and the new. Arya should do what she wants, because she’s a badass. Tyrion should have been killed or given a haircut.

And the small council should have been the women.

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Where are the pollinators?

I have plenty of flowers in my raised beds. The pepper plants, melons, cucumbers and tomatoes are all blooming but many blooms don’t become fruit.

Over the winter the wild mallow was full of bees, but now I barely see them. Where are the pollinators?

Vegan Yellow Squash Lasagna

I start by making a big batch of cashew vegan cheese. Soaking the cashews overnight with multiple drain/rinse/add fresh water cycles gives it a milder flavor that I prefer. 4 cups of soaked cashews with a cup of water and 1/4 cup of lemon juice blended smooth. You can salt and pepper if you like or spice it up. It’ll be creamy and heavy, giving weight to the lasagna.

I sautee onions with garlic, ginger and cilantro in olive oil, then add diced red and green peppers. I used all six of my yellow squash. Cut up and added to the sautee on high heat. A little water, salt and aminos for moisture. When they cook down and soften a bit, I put in the spaghetti sauce and spinach. If I’d had a bag of vegan crumbles on hand, I’d have dumped them in too. Lower heat and stir until well cooked and combined.

Organic lasagna noodles al dente, as I don’t want them to fall apart and they will finish during the bake. I layer the noodles first, then the red filling and a layer of the vegan cheese. The repeat. In this case, I cut a block of firm tofu as it’s own layer. Topped with red filling and sprinkled with vegan parm. Bake for an hour or the top slightly browned.