May 2011


Original  article

Thanks to animation tools, a face can be made to morph into another. But a new illusion created by Rob van Lier and Arno Koning from Donders Institute in the Netherlands shows that your eye movement can affect how dramatic the transformation appears to be.

In the video above, follow the moving red dot superimposed on the face. When it stops moving, fix your eyes on the stationary spot. Did the morphing seem to be more pronounced?

According to van Lier, when our eyes are tracking a moving object we are less aware of changes in the scene, in this case moving eyebrows and colour fluctuations. He says:

The processing of incoming retinal information is attenuated. For example, try tracking your eyes when standing in front of a mirror – it’s hardly possible

When focusing on a stationary spot, the morphing effect is much stronger and can even appear to be blown-up. “We chose to use faces because small variations in features can induce completely different facial characteristics,” says van Lier. The team came up with the illusion while trying to combine different visual stimuli.

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The asparagus we stopped picking 5 days ago is hurtling towards the sky and embracing the sun.  Picking the shoots is a human twist on its life cycle, it wants to grow up and become a solar collecting fern. That is how it stores energy in its roots for next spring’s burst of life.

We pick the new shoots for 6-8 weeks (once established), basically until we see the shoots getting smaller and woody. Then we have to let it go or we will have nothing next spring.

We are still eating it, thanks to the use of the demoniac local agriculture slaying refrigerator, which is good because the peas aren’t really cranked up yet.  We have picked the first of the early peas but due to poor germination and lingering cool spring there will be a slight gap between the asparagus and the peas, from the perspective of having as many as we want.

What we shoot for is asparagus in the beginning of April, then peas, then the beans come in and carry through the summer so we have a good supply of  hearty green veggies throughout the growing season. Lettuce and spinach are nice but not what I consider hearty, more of a healthy filler.

When using hot caps to get tender things off to an early start, I keep a wire basket with all the lids in it in the garden so if frost threatens I can put them on.  A strong wind came through, remnants  of one of those tornado producing systems in the Midwest, and blew it into a newly planted  basil plant. I was short on hot caps so although most of the basil was covered, this was the only one that wasn’t and it sustained some damage, see the broken stem.

The leaves didn’t wilt so even though I had some backup plants for a replacement (standard operating procedure, we have extras of what we transplant so in case one doesn’t make it we can replace) I let it go just to watch it. All my logical faculties were telling me it was too broken to survive, and it might not yet, and to insure exposure of all the tomato plants to basil I really should replace it but a week has gone by and I still haven’t.

It seems to be beating the odds even forming new leaves above the break. It is just something interesting to watch in the garden. If one is sensitive enough to mode of goodness type pleasures, not completely jaded by the  sensory overload of omnipresent consumer society, there is always something to pique your curiosity.

I guess the lesson is don’t give up on relationships just because they superficially appear to be broken.

My early tomato is blooming. Always nice when the Queen of the garden decides to bless us and the goal of fresh tomatoes with real flavor  by 4th of July seems to be on track.

Of course, there is a 90 year old gardener near St. Clairsville who is already picking fresh garden tomatoes but I assume he used a warm greenhouse. The 4th is about the best we can do without a heated greenhouse.

Speaking of the Queen, the King has also made an appearance.

Prabhupada referred to the potato as the King of vegetables because it could be prepared so many different ways.

The bed we had selected for potatoes was worked and tossed up into raised beds last fall, but it never got dry enough to till this spring. I went through it with a broad fork so the roots will have some channels to follow, but I couldn’t really plant the seed potatoes as deep as they should have been so I just tucked them in the soil and covered the bed with hay.

As it turned out, the seed would have probably rotted in the ground, given the cold wet spring we had, and it remains to be seen if some don’t any way, but at least a few have started to emerge, so hopefully the rest won’t be far behind.

I do have some shriveled and heavily sprouted seed potatoes left in the root cellar so worse comes to worst, I will replant.  Here the times to plant potatoes is March/April and then again in June, so hopefully we will be okay.

Today is mulching time in the garden so I better get to getting it.

MOORESVILLE, N.C. and OAKLAND, Calif.—May 16, 2011Lowe’s, the world’s second largest home improvement retailer, and Sungevity, the nation’s fastest growing residential solar company today announced a new agreement that will offer homeowners the easiest and most affordable solar solutions in the marketplace, marking a significant step in the mainstream adoption of residential solar.

Through the agreement, Lowe’s will provide consumers with Sungevity’s quick, easy and proprietary iQuote, a process that utilizes satellite images and aerial photography to calculate a same-day, firm installation estimate, eliminating the need for a home visit.  As part of the interactive, in-store experience, consumers will be able to view a rendering of the proposed installation and get a firm understanding of the cost-savings related to Sungevity’s innovative solar lease program.

Customers typically experience an immediate savings on their electricity bills through Sungevity’s solar lease, which includes monitoring, maintenance, repairs, insurance, and a money-back performance guarantee. Additionally, as part of the agreement, Lowe’s has taken an equity position in Sungevity.

“I am thrilled about the potential of reaching Lowe’s 15 million weekly customers at their more than 1,750 retail locations, with Sungevity’s services,” said Andrew Birch, chief executive officer, Sungevity.  “This partnership marks a major acceleration point in our mission to make solar power easily accessible and affordable to homeowners nationwide.”

“Lowe’s has always delivered innovative energy solutions for our customers and we are seeing an increased demand for solar solutions,” explained Patti Price, senior vice-president, merchandising, Lowe’s.  “Lowe’s new partnership with Sungevity responds to customer demand by providing a convenient and affordable process for going solar.”

The partnership will commence with interactive Sungevity branded displays in select Lowe’s stores, beginning Summer 2011, and continue to roll-out at all Lowe’s stores in states where Sungevity provides services.  Sungevity currently operates in eight states, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.

Source

I use WordPress.com for my blog because it is fast, easy and free.  Plus they are always updating it.

The feed of my blog to its Fan page on Face Book stopped working. I tried a fix that had worked in the past but not this time.

Going to the Feed Validator provided by Facebook my blog feed was valid but it showed some problems in the CSS coding for the theme I am using.  This was out of my league so I forwarded that info to WordPress help and they responded thusly:

“If you want to use it at your Facebook Fanpage, I recommend this Facebook Application: https://www.facebook.com/RSS.Graffiti

“Feel free to take a look at our Publicize feature: http://en.support.wordpress.com/publicize/

The Publicize feature is on the WordPress side where you can set it up in a minute  or so that anything you post on your blog automatically appears on your Facebook page or any number of other places, Twitter included. It seemed to only work on personal page, I couldn’t figure out how to make it post to a Fan page.

The RSS Graffiti is  a Facebook App (or plugin as they would call it if you installed WordPress on your own server). It was another simple install that takes post from your blog or any other blog and posts it on your Fan page Wall automatically.  It may work for personal pages but I didn’t try it there.

It didn’t update immediately upon installation but I waited for a while and sure enough it works.

The default Import Blog feature on a Fan page only allows one blog, your own. RSS Graffiti appears to give you the option to do more than one blog.

I just picked my first pint of strawberries for the season. This may mean nothing emotionally for those who are accustomed to year around strawberries so for you I can only give you jnani, knowledge.

For those who live with seasonality as part of your life, you have the realized knowledge of what that means — the separation, the anticipation, watching the flower buds manifest then open, the anxious moments looking for pollinators,  the first little  bead size berries, their growth, the  first noticed tinge of pink in the morning,  the first  almost red by evening and the next day picking.

This being the next day and the washing done and little leaf at the top removed, some organic yoghurt and freshly ground flax seed added, I will now cease writing to consummate the logical next step.

From AARP magazine

Got knee pain? Drink some soy milk. Sore back? Eat salmon. The right foods can ease your aches: Recent research suggests that some pack as much pain-fighting power as common pain medications like ibuprofen. “What we eat has a dramatic impact on levels of pain in the body,” says Beth Reardon, M.S., R.D., a nutritionist at Duke Integrative Medicine at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina. Read on for the best pain remedies to put on your plate and try some delicious recipes.

See also: Berries for brain power.

Painkillers in Your Pantry

— Corbis

Red Grapes

This deeply hued fruit contains resveratrol, a powerful compound that blocks the enzymes that contribute to tissue degeneration. The evidence: In lab experiments at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, resveratrol protected against the kind of cartilage damage that causes back pain.

Although the research is preliminary, it can’t hurt to fill up on foods rich in resveratrol, including blueberries and cranberries, which contain other powerful antioxidants as well…

Ginger

Long used as a digestive aid, ginger is also an effective painkiller. Almost two-thirds of patients with chronic knee pain reported less soreness upon standing after taking a ginger extract, according to a six-week study from the University of Miami. Those who consumed ginger also reported less pain after walking 50 feet than those taking a placebo — and they needed less pain medication. And new research suggests ginger may also help tackle post-workout pain.

“Ginger relieves pain by blocking an enzyme that’s a key component of the inflammatory process,” says investigator Christopher D. Black, Ph.D., assistant professor of kinesiology at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville, Georgia. Two to three teaspoons a day should do the trick. “That’s not an overwhelming amount,” he says. “You could easily add that to a stir-fry or soup.” Other options include ginger tea and beverages made with fresh ginger…

Soy

Want to cut your osteoarthritis knee pain by 30 percent or more? Add some soy to your diet. An Oklahoma State University study found that consuming 40 grams of soy protein daily for three months slashed patients’ use of pain medication in half. The secret lies in soy’s isoflavones — plant hormones with anti-inflammatory properties, says main study author Bahram H. Arjmandi, Ph.D., R.D., now professor of nutrition, food, and exercise sciences at Florida State University in Tallahassee.

Tofu, soy milk, burgers, edamame: All are good options. But be patient. “It takes two or three weeks for it to take effect,” Arjmandi says…

Turmeric

A recent Thai study found that the spice common in many Indian foods fights the pain of rheumatoid arthritis as effectively as ibuprofen. Turmeric also seems to inhibit the destruction of joints from arthritis, according to National Institutes of Health – supported research on rats at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Turmeric inhibits a protein called NF-kB; when turned on, this protein activates the body’s inflammatory response, leading to achy joints. Investigator Janet L. Funk, M.D., and others are still working out the optimal dose, but “using turmeric as a spice in cooking is safe,” she says…

Cherries

High amounts of antioxidants called anthocyanins are the key to cherries’ pain-fighting power. In a U.S. Department of Agriculture study, participants who ate 45 Bing cherries a day for 28 days reduced their inflammation levels significantly. And a Johns Hopkins study of rats given cherry anthocyanins hinted that anthocyanins might also protect against arthritis pain. Unpublished preliminary data from the Baylor Research Institute in Dallas further showed that a tart-cherry pill reduced pain and improved function in more than 50 percent of osteoarthritis patients over an eight-week period. A cherry-juice drink likewise reduced symptoms of muscle damage among exercising men in a University of Vermont study: Their pain scores dropped significantly compared with the scores of those who did not drink the juice. Pain-calming anthocyanins are also found in blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries…

Fish

(Gosh’s note: The sixth food in the article is caffeine which because as devotees we don’t use caffeine I am skipping. The seventh is fish but it is because of the omega 3s in it. The best vegetarian source of it is some freshly ground flaxseed or flaxseed oil, with other things like walnuts also being sources. So read flaxseed oil where it says fish.)

The omega-3 fatty acids in fish that help keep your ticker in top shape may also tame the pain or inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, and some autoimmune diseases, including Crohn’s disease. Even chronic neck- and back-pain patients can benefit: In an open trial at the University of Pittsburgh, 60 percent of respondents experienced some relief after taking fish oil for three months, and almost as many dropped their pain drugs altogether. “We found we could substitute fish oil in place of drugs — an anti-inflammatory with no side effects in place of pharmaceuticals with side effects,” says Joseph C. Maroon, M.D., clinical professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the study’s coauthor…

In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.

It is difficult to be an atheist when you garden, as it is so abundantly clear we are dependent on a higher power.

April was rain every day except for 6, only once did we get two days in a row with no rain.  That was so much fun April decided to stay and here we are the 20th of May on the calender but still having April temperatures and the same old same old rain rain rain.

This has been good for some plants like the Lilies of the Vally

but not so hot for the rest of the garden.

Remember my pea seedlings?  I planted 3 varieties — a main season shelling pea, an early type, and a snapping type where you eat the whole pod. Caselode, the main season pea, germinated pretty well as did the fava beans seen behind the pea trellising.

In the foreground you  can see the 5-10% germination I got from the snapping pea and Sugar Sprint the early pea, whose blossoms can be seen on the few that made it. At first I thought maybe the Caselode was treated, as there are chemical treatments to prevent seed rot and I thought maybe I was careless in my ordering and got the chemical but I checked and none of them were.  It was a learning experience that Caselode is just better able to endure cold wet soil.

I reseeded the other peas but who knows it might get hot early next and they won’t get much of a season. Peas like cool weather, assuming it isn’t too wet, and poop out when it gets hot.

My sweet peas rotted and I had to reorder the seed and will be replanting them today.  Sweet peas make a nice fragrant cutting flower.

Things I would have normally planted in April I didn’t get in until about the 10th of May because I couldn’t get any ground worked up.

I planted parsnips, carrots, beets and kohlrabi. Between the slow growing parsnips and carrots I inter-planted coriander, lettuce, spinach, red radishes and white radishes which are all up except for the coriander which either rotted or was dead seed, so I got fresh seed and replanted that.

The spinach that was overwintered in the cold frame is almost finished, mostly bolted as is the coriander that wintered over with it. Normally the spring planted crops would be coming in when that happens but there will probably be a gap due to the delay in planting. The lettuce is still holding so we might have some continuity there, and we will probably extend the asparagus harvest for an extra week or two to fill the gap.

My early tomatoes out grew their cloches (see them in the foreground, buds forming) so I have removed them and used them on basil and peppers which I put out yesterday.  I also used hot caps made from milk jugs. The rest of the tomatoes were planted  out in the open and not doing badly considering the cool temperatures.

I had worried about the strawberries not getting pollinated but that turned out to not be a problem.

Should have ripe berries by the 1st of June. With  early, middle and late season varieties we should have them for a month or two, won’t that be heaven, real strawberries not those faux tasteless imitators found in the stores.

I have also planted some beans and edamame which might rot but worth the chance, gambling the cost of the seed  against the hope it warms up. I always plant some beans early and about one out of three years actually get some early beans that way.  Of course, this year the early risky planting came by about the normal planting time if I was simply going by the calendar instead of the actual conditions, which is basically we are still in April, hopefully May arrives soon.

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