Caffeine: the most potent artificial intelligence drink!

Caffeine: the most potent artificial intelligence drink!
Deep in the Lair of the Perpetually Curious Fox

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Male Partridges (Perdix perdix) fighting for dominance.

The dominant resident partridge chases the interloper ...

Then does a challenge dance, and initiated a fight when the interloper did not leave!

Monday, 19 March 2012

Interesting spread of readership!

                     Wynken, Blynken, and Nod (Dutch Lullaby)

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
   Sailed off in a wooden shoe---
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
   Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
   The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
   That live in this beautiful sea;
   Nets of silver and gold have we!"
   Said Wynken,
                     And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
   As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
   Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
   That lived in that beautiful sea---
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish---
   Never afeard are we";
   So cried the stars to the fishermen three
                     And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
   To the stars in the twinkling foam---
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
   Bringing the fishermen home;
'T was all so pretty a sail it seemed
   As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 't was a dream they 'd dreamed
   Of sailing that beautiful sea---
   But I shall name you the fishermen three:
                     And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
   And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
   Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
   Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
   As you rock in the misty sea,
   Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
                     And Nod.

by Eugene Field (1850-1895) 

I was just checking the "audience" list for this blog -- am really surprised at the diverse spread of readers.

To my Indonesian readers: Kabare & Selamat Sore

To my Russo readers: Доброе утро

Please feel free to drop in your comments and messages on what you wish to see here. I gotta admit my russian is very rusty (learnt it from a couple of flatmates few years ago) but I do find the language very beautiful. Gotta thank Leo Tolstoi and Fyodor Dostoyevski for introducing me to the russo-world.

As for my Javanese readers, kita serumpun ya. No matter where I go and what I see, I still crave botok-botok, tempe and krupuk belinjau! Kalau ada yang hendak berkenalan, sila poskan sepatah dua kata ... jangan segan jangan silu!

For the North American readers: thanks for dropping by -- I'm still learning about this Continent, the people and the cultures. Pilama yaye!

South Americans: bueno, I hope to visit your corner of the world soon in the future. 

Readers from the old world: I miss the diversity of Europe! Geia sou, merhaba, bonjour, Grüß dich, buenos dias

I suppose I must have inherited the "itchy feet" gene from a very distant ancestor of mine who was a sailor with a portuguese merchant fleet (maybe in the 16th century) who went "native" in South East Asia, and got adopted into a local Minang family. I wonder what stories you would tell, grandfather Bintong, to your descendents who inherited your wanderlust and fierce attraction to the sea, stars and boats!

P.S: Dutch readers, can you send me a link to someone reading the original dutch version of the Poem above?

Friday, 16 March 2012

Oh happy joy! The birdies are posing for me!

After a month of trying to get a good photo of them together, Pirate Phil and Liz the Hen has decided to do a courtship dance under the birdfeeder! Methinks a new camera with audio is in the wishlist now ...

The happy pair
And for once, Liz doesn't flutter away from the Pirate's one legged dance. You can see from their postures that they are eyeing each other. Tried to get a video of them dancing, but my 2nd generation 4.0 megapixels Nikon really sucks at capturing it. Nonetheless I give you the feeble offering:

Also got some really good high resolution photos of the pair this time.

Phil is in a terrible fix
His yard's invaded by Perdix perdix
The locals, for fun, call them Atilla (the Hun)
But to me they look more like Obelix!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Cyanocitta cristata (Blue Jay) and birdies ... and crazy bunnies

They are catching up with the feeding after yesterday's windy spell. It's kinda funny watching a young magpie launch himself clumsily from a rooftop, narrowly missing smacking the side of the house with the gusty winds.

Cyanocitta cristata -- Blue Jay feeding on the millet seeds.
OK, the bird turned to look to his right when the shutter snapped;
so he looks like a weird, beakless, pointy-headed thing here.
It's fascinating watching the bonded pair of Blue Jay reaffirm their bond by feeding each other millet seeds.

Guess who is an avid bird watcher?

Birdies whets his appetite! There's a very good reason he's not allowed out without
his jingly bell collar!
Cardualis pinus (pine siskin) at the feeder
Pica hudsonia (black billed Magpie) feeding

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Yaaarrrrr! One legged mongolian ringneck pheasant rules!

There was once a Pirate Pheasant called Phil
whom as a gamebird is impossible to kill
          "Though a dog chewed one leg,
           I won't whine nor I beg
As long as you keep the birdfeeders filled!"

Now Phil has a hen called Lizzie
He makes her all happy and dizzy
            "I would happily pick
             A popsicle stick
To replace my broken leg gone gimpy"

Then Phil had some strong exchanges
With some philandering Hungarian Partridges
            "They steal all my seeds!
            Lizzie and I need to feed
How I wish I could stuff them all in cages!"

This is a story of courage that can't be killed
The brave one-legged pirate pheasant called Phil
             "Just wait till Liz and I have chicks
              It'll be disgustingly cute and sick"
As he nomnoms on seeds that are spilled

Sometimes when things are not going your way and you get tetchy and annoyed with the world and your painful muscles and joints, problems breathing and sleeping, endless stomach and GI pain, it's always useful to look for lessons to be learnt from Nature.

Phil still hobbles around on his good leg, feeding himself, harassing Lizzie and the partridges in his territory, squawking at Polydactylus and Kato the neighbourhood cats, and generally being a cocky bird (pun intended).

Yes, I'm being followed by a moon shadow
Moon shadow moon shadow
Leaping and hopping on a moonshadow
Moon shadow moon shadow

And if I ever lose my legs
I won't moan and I won't beg
Oh if I ever lose my legs- Oh if...
I won't have to walk no more

And if I ever lose my mouth
All my teeth, north and south
Yes, if I ever lose my mouth- Oh if...
I won't have to talk...

Did it take long to find me
I ask the faithful light
Did it take long to find me
And are you going to stay the night
-- Cat Stevens

Thursday, 8 March 2012

The rise of the Ents ....

Decided that it is the right time to start some seeds for the summer vegetables and herbs.

But first, lets have a look at how some of the indoor, overwintered plants survived.

Dioscorea elephantipes (Hottentot's Bread; Elephant's Foot vine)

It overwintered just fine! Although the growth has slowed greatly over the winter. It still has the same two leaves it had in the summer, but the caudex has swollen appreciably! Hopefully it will vine out more this spring.

Notice the swollen caudex with slight indication of the unique "Elephant foot" scales on the top. Caudex has grown form just under 0.5mm to 0.7mm in the winter. Getting more sun now, hopefully it'll vine out more!
Cereus forbesii spiralis

For some reason, this strain grows faster than the other cacti I have. Starting to show the identifiable characteristic of "spiraling" of the thorn line. I wonder if it'll take anti-clockwise sense.

Crassula ovata (Jade plant) and mutant strain "Gollum"

Crassula ovata is growing happily, but slowly, in the cake container LOL
Gollum fares very well indoors. He has doubled in size since I first got him in July.
Lavandula officianalis/angustifolia (Lavender var English)

I haven't checked to see how his outdoors compatriots overwintered under all the snow ... but the indoor chap has gone to "hibernation" mode. Still alive, but no new growth whatsoever over the winter months.

Rosa chinensis (Miniature rose, angel wings)

I'm surprised at how well this plant over wintered indoors. There's been plenty new growth even under the rather pathetic, inadequate grow lighting. No flowers, but lots of new canes. Slight case of rust though. Need more sun. This particular plant is a weirdo just like me. Eventhough all the canes came from the same seed, each cane produces different coloured roses! Teeny weirdo.

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

Looking really leggy and weedy for now, but it survived the cool basement temperature and inadequate lighting. Hopefully it'll bloom and seed again! The cats love it, the bees bumbles around it, and I love making tea out of the fresh leaves. It's a mint relative, so it is useful ... if you can drink the tea without the cats fighting you for it!

Gymnocalycium mihanivichii spp var friedrichii (moon cactus)

Unfortunately his cousin, var hibotan (orange moon cactus), did not survive the winter. Friedrichii is doing well though. I hope I can induce flowering so I can get some mutant seeds.

Now for the newcomers ...

Mesclun salad mix

Seedlings poking their first sunleaves out of the soil. Mesclun is not a species name, rather, it is a combination of different species in a french style green leaves salad.

Ipomea batatas (sweet potato, ubi keledek, ube jalar)

This plant will always remind me of my grandmother, for she has an endless supply of high quality greens growing in her garden, and prominently the sweet potato bushes and vines. Contrary to local belief, Ipomea batatas is NOT a local of South East Asia but was brought from the South America by traders, and naturalised well in the hot and humid equatorial tropics of Asia.

As the name implies, it is a cousin of the morning glory, and indeed the sweet potato vines are usually sold as ornamental plants ... and the wonderful sweet tubers and nutritious leaves are often ignored by the modern gardener.

Rooting the tuber in a jam jar filled with water. Some new roots have come out!
Hopefully it'll produce some healthy slips to start a hanging vine garden for the swing!
Capsicum frutescens var Scotch Bonnet

I have a fondness for peppers of all sorts. Hopefully these seeds will germinate, flower and fruit before growing season ends.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Listen to the plants sing ...

Image courtesy of Click the link to see more spectacular lightning pics from the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano.

When I was a wee kid, I used to hate it when it rained; as being in Southeast Malaysia the rains are hard, heavy and last for hours, interspersed with continuous thunder and lightning flashes (kilat sabung-menyabung, as the locals would say). It interfered with my play time romping around in the bushes, and it made me a very unhappy kid when it rained.

That is until one day my (late) grandmother saw the disappointment and impatience in my eyes, and she whispered the mystical sentence:

"Don't be hating the rain ... listen to the plants sing instead. They only do so when it rains"

That was maybe 30 years ago. It took me nearly as long to finally make sense of that mystical sentence whispered in the gloomy darkness of a Southeast Asian Thunderstorm, with winds howling through the trees, rain crashing down not unlike waterfalls from the Heavens, and bolts of lightning ripping through the skies, and thunder threatening to strike you dumb with fear.

When the weather is not to your liking (e.g. heavy rain) listen to the plants sing. If you listen, and pay attention, really hard, you can hear it, too. It's not something that I can explain tangibly in writing; it's more of an observational skill, and takes a bit of imagination. But indeed the plants do Sing.

Thank you, Nenek, for the words of Wisdom. I can now hear the plants Sing, and I wish to pass the wisdom to all you readers.