• Cry havoc and let slip the ladybugs of war

    Ladybugs eat aphids. My precious blood orange tree was infested.

    Over the course of the last few weeks, I was watching as aphids slowly grew out of control. I wondered why some leaves on my blood orange tree had been cupping and curling and then noticed aphids. I also saw a few volunteer ladybugs and hoped they would handle it.

    They did not handle it.

    Earlier this week I saw that some branches of my poor tree looked infested! I searched the internet to learn what to do, as clearly I had waited too long. The internet told me I had done wrong. You can rely on the internet.

    Based off the internet's advice I sprayed the tree down with a shower of cold water trying to knock as many of the aphids off the leaves and out of the pot as I could. The ground around my potted semi-dwarf blood orange is gravel and hopefully, they just died and went to aphid Valhalla. This somewhat worked, but many still clung to the tree's leaves.

    To up the ante, I mixed up a small spray bottle of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap (the bald me's favorite all-in-one soap) and water. About 1 tsp of soap to 1 quart of water mixed, then sprayed in a fine mist over the insects did an amazing job of killing them. Then next day there was a sticky mass of blackening dead aphid bodies. I was surprised at how it did, but I should know to trust Dr. Bronner. Dr. Bronner is MacGyver to Doctor Who's Elmer Fudd.

    There were still some aphids wandering the leaves, however.

    So, I brought out the big guns. Next up was a bag of ladybugs. While my garden shows a few year-round, I figured a big huge bonking dose might knock the aphids back enough to consider the problem solved with occasional spraying. I followed the directions and released refrigerated bugs at night, on sprayed trees. So far, the mischief seems managed. There are more ladybugs everywhere in the garden, but the vast majority left after the first day. This was anticipated.

    If new leaf growth is unmarred by the curling and cupping, I may leave the plant alone. If I see continued damage from the aphids, I will keep spraying every 3-5 days with the soapy water. I might add cayenne or garlic, but just two applications really reduced the population and I think there are more than enough ladybugs hanging around.

    The lady bugs are also lovely. I may build them a hotel.

    1500 Live Ladybugs – Good Bugs – Ladybugs – Guaranteed Live Delivery! via Amazon

  • Concrete gets tougher with graphene

    Perhaps someday we will once again achieve Roman levels of concrete artistry.

    Graphene Exponent:

    In July 2020, Thomas Swan, a global chemical manufacturing company signed an agreement with Concrene for a graphene-enhanced concrete product. That concrete product is now planned to be available in the US market in April 2021. The products in the lineup include a graphene-reinforced precast firepit, in production by Fairview Hearthside.

    The graphene present within the product improves the hardening process of the concrete, creating a stronger, thicker concrete. This mixture has the potential to be revolutionary in the production of concrete for buildings, leading to superior, more powerful concrete on the market.

  • Fmr. Speaker Boehner casually tells Ted Cruz to "Go F*ck yourself"

    Purportedly from the recording of Boehner's new book, this audio shares the former Speaker and now pot and tobacco lobbyist sending a quick message to Cruz.

  • The double-wide driveway will sell Baltimore's goth house

    Dan Kois at Slate couldn't resist interviewing Matt Godbey, the agent selling a goth'd out single family home in Baltimore.

    Slate:

    Slate: When you have a house with decor as unusual as this, do you try to get the sellers to neutralize it a little? Or do you just embrace it?

    Matt Godbey: Well, you should have seen it before. He somewhat neutralized it. I told him: I've been doing this for 33 years, and I know what sells. Some of the things in there, I told him, will frighten people. There were about 25 mannequins in the basement and some upstairs.

    Mannequins?!

    His thing is horror movies. It's not a cult thing. And I can relate—I've seen quite a few of those movies myself. He removed the mannequins. He did what he could, but between getting the house ready for sale and working six days a week, it's just about all he could do by himself. Some of the pictures are fastened to the wall, and he said he'll have to tear them out and plaster and paint. But sometimes you don't get 100 percent of what you ask a seller to do.

    It is good to see that Mr. Godbey can find a positive twist on anything:

    What's the most sellable feature of the house, do you think? What do you lead with when you're telling people about it?

    Oh, there's quite a bit. Unusual for that neighborhood, there's a double wide driveway, so parking is easier. And you can access the garage from the front or the back—it connects to the alley. It's a two-car garage.

    Image via Picture Perfect

  • I think this Corvette is too boring to drive

    With 15k miles on the odometer, it would appear someone had a hard time finding a reason to drive this Vette. The only exciting things about her are the awful yellow paint job and the pop-up headlights.

    Bring a Trailer:

    This 2000 Chevrolet Corvette convertible is finished in Millennium Yellow over black leather and is powered by a 5.7-liter LS1 V8 paired with a six-speed manual transaxle and a limited-slip differential. Equipment includes a black soft top, magnesium wheels, continuously variable damping, an active handling system, fog lights, sport bucket seats, air conditioning, a head-up display, and an AM/FM CD stereo system. The car was sold new by Marin Chevrolet in Corte Madera, California, and reportedly remained with its original owner until the current owner's recent acquisition. This C5 shows 15k miles and is now offered on behalf of the owner, a California wholesale dealer, and should the winning bidder be a California private party the transaction will be processed through a licensed retail dealership. The sale includes partial service records, owner's manuals, a window sticker, a clean Carfax report, and a clean California title.

    Didn't these still use leaf springs?

  • Fortnite! Now with tame-able attack raptors!

    Fortnite Chapter 2 Season 6 has added raptors. They seem really troublesome to tame and unlikely to provide much benefit, if prior experiences with tame-able non-player beasts are at all indicative of their non-performance.

    Getting eaten by wild wolves in the middle of a fight with a real player is a joy. Beyond that instance, I have not found the animals to be a meaningful or even distracting addition to the game: being the last one alive on the island.

  • VW really is going to become Voltswagen

    We are awful close to April Fools, but The Verge reports VW is dumping Volks for Volts. The Volkswagen Group is going to change the name of Volkswagen of America to Voltswagen of America, or something like that.

    The Verge:

    Volkswagen is changing the name of its American brand to Voltswagen, in a not-so-subtle nod to the German automaker's multibillion-dollar effort to become the biggest electric vehicle manufacturer in the world.

    The company was apparently planning to make the announcement at the end of April but accidentally published a press release about the name change early Monday afternoon, which was first spotted by CNBC before it was taken down. The proximity of the name change to April Fool's Day initially raised suspicions that it was just a joke. But VW insists that it's a real thing, so here we are.

    The company confirmed the change to The Verge, and the announcement was later published on Tuesday morning. The larger Volkswagen Group (which sits over brands like Audi, Porsche, and others) will keep the Volkswagen name for its American division. The name change will officially take effect May 2021.

  • Meanwhile, the container garden continues towards its ultimate purpose

    Last year I tried tomatoes in the ground vs tomatoes in self-watering containers. The results were so clearly in favor of the containers that I covered over all the exposed soil in my yard with weed nets and gravel. My entire garden is now in containers.

    Roma tomatoes in an Earthbox

    April is pretty closeby, so rather than hearing 'starting tomatoes kinda early?' from the guys at my local garden center, I am beginning to see January and February's work pay off. I enjoy a sea-side climate in sunny Southern California.

    Strawberries in various pots, chair in situ

    I am already eating strawberries every few days. Some are harvested off the half dozen planted strawberries in an Earthbox, and another two or three have lifted from the small pot outside my back door. My two big strawberry pots are not yet performing — but they are growing well. One is a survivor from last year and may look a little downtrodden but seems to be springing back. I believe that with food, water and care they will likely produce all year. I let the first pot go dormant over the winter, but should have just kept feeding and watering it.

    Electra was uprooting these strawberries but has given up, for now

    My strawberry hope is to harvest enough in one batch for ice cream. I have a lot of plants growing and it should not be too much of a stretch.

    Artichoke apparently not wanting to grow very large yet

    My artichoke is slowly progressing but not a lot of action yet and I have a sad looking basil.

    The sunflowers may be overcrowded, but that was my daughter's choice.

    I told you about the walrus and me, man

    Similarly, these abundant onions were planted by my daughter and then raised out of reach of our canine companions by me.

    Tomatillo

    Our tomatillo plant is starting to reach for the stars. It already has. some lovely yellow blossoms but it also continuing to expand it foliage at an impressive rate, so I left the flowers alone. A good friend tells me the tomatillo should become a pretty decent sized bush and may produce for me most of the year. Research suggested I should give the tomatillo it's own Earthbox and no expect it to share.

    These blueberries are to be compared

    Project Compare the Blueberries continues. Eventually I will move them a few feet apart, to frame a gate, but for now I've had these two pink lemonade blueberry bushes growing side-by-side. One is in a regular ol' pot and one is in a self-watering container packed with organic fertilizer. I do have some organic 4-3-6 berry food I will mix into the pot in a week or two — but so far they are both clearly doing well and the Earthbox plant only looks slightly bushier.

    I will leave the trees out of this update, as they got a visit last week.

    Hope your garden is going well, too!

  • Melted gummy bears dramatically fail to spice up sex life

    This is one of those BAD idea stories that gets much worse by the end. A young couple decided that licking melted gummy bears off of one another might be a good idea. Things go so wrong in so few sentences below.

    LAD Bible:

    Josi explained: "It was hot – in my head I'm comparing it to things like candle wax and I'm like, 'It's going to instantly start cooling down.'

    "My chest was on fire."

    Then things took a turn for the worse.

    Michael, in an attempt to ease his lover's pain, started trying to lick the sugar off her.

    Bad idea.

    He burned his mouth, and Josi's skin started to peel off.

    They rushed off to the emergency room where it was determined that Josi had suffered from third degree burns.

    Can people really be this clueless? Should I even doubt it?

  • My new brisket trimming knife

    I am enjoying this Dahlstrong boning knife.

    I wanted a boning knife for trimming brisket, now that BBQ season is arriving and vaccines appear prevalent. This knife is made of steel, highly recommended and more affordable than other models with a less attractive to me handle.

    I trimmed that brisket with my new knife, and then seasoned it.

    It worked great. I also wear these cut-resistant gloves under some surgical gloves as well.

    DALSTRONG Gladiator Series Fillet & Boning Knife- 6"- German HC Steel – Curved Blade – With Sheath via Amazon