garden bloomed 28may2014a

the poppy is, botanically, not an ephemeral plant \ but in the everyday sense of the word, it is / i did not notice until this morning that the poppy buds of last saturday have bloomed <as have the iris, rhodies, potentilla & indigofera | the peony still has a way to go> \ the bold orange petals i know will not last long especially with the showers we’ve been getting the past days / i wonder what it feels like to be “ephemeral” \ it must feel light & unburdened / not a bad way to travel in life…


the everlasting garden in my mind

strawflower-garden memorial weekend

spring has been late to come in pittsburgh this year \ perhaps an aftereffect of our polar vortex winter / the poppy, iris, indigofera & rhododendron in my garden are not yet in bloom this memorial day weekend \ so unusual since they are typically the first to provide color to our surroundings along with the bleeding heart, columbine, clematis & hyacinth <now long gone>

i used to be an avid gardener but these past few years, my attention has been diverted to more fulfilling pursuits \ thus my gardens have been left to thrive on their own / i have a democratic gardening attitude \ even if a growth is called a “weed,” i let it flourish if its form, texture, color or scent pleases / and so only when the garden becomes overran with prickly thistle weeds do i intervene \ and that is the extent of my involvement in my garden’s life

but this weekend i was inspired to do much more to my outdoor & indoor gardens \ the summer blooming buddleias that need to be cut down to the ground in spring got their trimming / i cleaned up the remains of my beloved lavenders \ they did not survive the winter / though perhaps they had long been gone, i just hadn’t noticed \ i cleaned up last season’s remains of purple coneflowers & gauras <the workhorses of my garden> knowing that once again this summer they will be back / another bright spot – what used to be a twig is now a young corkscrew willow tree \ flanked by the reliable boxwoods, there is no need for any more companion plants where they are

inside, my house used to resemble a greenhouse / before this morning, it sadly housed withered jasmines, gardenias & scheffleras <my all-time favorite indoor plants> \ even the unkillable pothos & other “house plants” looked wasted & forlorn / the glass terrarium lifeless since before i had a teenager in the house is now finally in the basement <i do remember this because it fit as a halloween decoration the first time & so it remained for a couple more halloweens> \ only the sturdiest remained: the rubber plant, my oldest & tallest schefflera, the snake & lemon plants and dracaenas in the entryway & one other pothos

a garden, no matter what, will thrive season after season \ it can look different from year to year, it may not look the prettiest, but it lives on / sometimes it can surprise, sprouting the unexpected plant with delicate blue or white flowers from seeds sown by some unknown agent or some long forgotten bulb \ it marks time & memories just like a favorite nagging music or song / it is best of all a symbol and a metaphor for life, renewal, hope & continuity

my favorite young person wishes for the strawflower like the ones that i hang to dry some years ago \ we call it “everlasting” in the philippines & it is made into garlands to adorn the altar & santos at home  / it will keep its color & shape indefinitelyyes it would be nice to have them this year

this post is dedicated to my siblings

the race start sequence

race starts 18may14

the race start sequence is an exercise that both my rowing & dragon boat teams practice well before a racing event / our first sprint race is on june 7 & the start was what we did today for our indoor practice in the tank & on the erg <we were indoors because the waterflow on the allegheny river was 66 kcfs + there was a lot of debris, seen & unseen, on the river that can do serious damage to the boats> \ googling the topic, i found that there are a number of variations that rowing coaches favor such as:  3/4, 1/2, 1/2, 3/4, full;   3/4, 1/2, 3/4, full;   1/2, 1/2, 3/4, full;    3/4, 1/2, 3/4, 3/4, full; and … is this a joke?  full, half, 5/8, 6/8, 7/8, full <apparently not, this was reported by a lightweight rower> \ based on their experience, coaches select the sequence that provides the quickest start

starts are powerful strokes <high spm> that jumpstarts the shell or dragon boat \ it typically consists of 5 strokes followed by power 10s or 20s until the cox or db steerer calls to “settle” or “lengthen” / a good start cannot win a race but a bad start can lose a race \ probably more important is the “settle” which is getting into race pace after the start sequence / this is the sustainable speed & ratio that the boat carries through most of the race punctuated only by the cox or steerer’s call for “power” or “focus” 10s & 20s <in my db team, also called “heroic measures” 🙂 > and finally the “finish” or the really heroic sprint to the finish line

though the finish of the race may look like the most exciting part for rowers, paddlers & spectators, i think there is a greater benefit in mastering a good start than a good finish \ first, there is a great psychological boost when a boat has a successful start <in dragon boat, our coach tells us how much distance a good (or bad start) covers; take that as a fraction of the entire race distance (500 meters for dragon boat sprints) puts the value of a start in context> / second, the start sequence gets everyone in synch quickly before race pace | i personally find it easier to be in time with short strokes and so by the time we are about to “lengthen,” i am mentally prepared to do so \ a strong start & race pace on a good ratio both set up for a strong finish / thanks, coach, for a wonderful rowing practice today!


TDMM’s race start sequence is as follows:  

1) 5 strokes:      3/4 ,   1/2,    3/4,   90%,  full slide but not total body swing

2) 20 strokes still at high spm & full slide but not total body swing

3)  in prep for race pace or settling which is at full slide & total body swing, cox says “1, 2”;  recovery on “2”

4)  settle or race pace


al fresco

lunch al fresco 13 may 2014

one of the nicest things about working dahntahn* is the vast offerings for dining – both cuisine & place / my favored place is out in the sun at either market square <no available table today!> or ppg plaza \ which is where i enjoyed my first day of lunch out! \  it was 93 degrees F at 5pm today! /the polar vortex is a distant memory of negative degrees!

it was definitely sunscreen weather & the air was warm even on the allegheny river at rowing practice / alas for rowers, the forecast does not look good for sunday / the forecasted waterflow is 108 kcfs! \ to compare, the waterflow at 1:30 pm today was 19.3 kcfs  / and the safety zone matrix has max 60 kcfs within the safety limits given certain conditions / if the forecast is realized, our boathouse at washington’s landing will likely be flooded & our equipment will need to be moved to higher ground \ let’s hope we won’t get torrential rain in the next few days!

latebreaking news:  sadly, the pittsburgh penguins lost to the philly rangers <2-1> and ends their season

*pittsburghese for downtown

about a newly discovered nickel-eating plant

metal eating plant1

a new species of nickel hyperaccumulating plant, rinorea niccolifera, was recently discovered in the philippines <specifically in zambales province in luzon>\ by a team of scientists led by dr. edwino s. fernando of the university of the philippines in los banos / the new species can consume, without poisoning itself, 100 to 1000 times more metal than other plants \ nickel hyperaccumulation is a rare phenomenon / discoveries such as this offer exciting possibilities of practical applications: hyperaccumulator plants as green technology \ such as phytoremediation which is the use of hyperaccumulator plants to remove heavy metals in contaminated soil and phytomining which is growing & harvesting hyperaccumulator plants for the purpose of gathering commercially valuable metals

my work colleagues and i were recently pondering what the next advances in technology will be as we discussed the atlanticcities.com’s recent article on google’s driverless car \ my favorite analyst feels that it would be in transportation <love his example of “car drops me off at the airport, i tell it to go home & pick me up later,  i won’t have to pay for parking!” | then we got to thinking, hey car can take us to & from work!  we won’t have to pay for parking!> / i agree that it would be in this realm & also that we will increasingly have mobile-enabled houses & appliances that are also economically viable

and there will always be the promise of new possibilities, cures  & innovations as a result of the global scientific community’s continuing exploration, study & research of the natural world such as discovering nickel-eating plants


a pdf of the journal article is here: