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Our Lord of Inconspicuous Consumption July 3, 2018

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Responses, Wow.
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Recently, my spouse and I were driving from DC out to Indianapolis, and decided to see if there was anything interesting to stop and see along the route.  We were going to have a whole day to make the drive, and we were thinking maybe there was a mound with an interesting museum attached, or some other educational point of interest.  So I hit the internet, to see if there was something at a good lunchtime stopping point, and I saw “Palace of Gold” pop up.  A Palace of Gold?  In the hills of the West Virginia panhandle? What the heck was this, and why hadn’t I heard of it? (more…)

Mystery solved! June 29, 2016

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Wow.
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Daylily closeup

I don’t often write about gardening.  The reason is simple, I have a very small yard, and most of it is shaded, so growing anything besides shade plants is very difficult.  So I don’t really have much to write about.

But I’ve had an ongoing mystery for years now, and I finally have an answer.  Some time back, a neighbor who was redoing their yard said “I have this daylily plant a friend gave me.  I was going to throw it out, but do you want it?”  “Do you know what color it is?”  “Nope, don’t know.”

Well, I adopted the plant, and planted it in a bed in my backyard.  This yard has a tall fence on on side, and the neighbor’s huge shade tree on the other, and gets almost no sunshine at all.  The daylily didn’t die, but it didn’t bloom either.  It multiplied like crazy, sending off lots of shoots, and after several years I had a flower bed full of fairly sickly greenery, but still no flowers.

Then a neighbor cut down their tree in the front yard and that gave me one new sunny spot in the front yard where I could plant something.  So I moved a clump of the daylilies there, and waited.  I was hoping for something more interesting than the typical plain orange or yellow flowers.  For the whole first year they grew happily, with tons of lush greenery and lots of new shoots.  And still no flowers.

So this year I decided that if there were no blooms I was going to pull up the whole lot of them, front and back, and plant something more cooperative.  But then this happened:


Wow!  The flowers are orange with a lovely red and yellow center, and they are not just double flowers, they’re triple.  Time to go look up what this is.  I found two possible names “Kwanso” and “Flore Pleno” for this variety.  Sometimes I found the names used interchangeably, but other websites were specific that Kwanso has double flowers and Flore Pleno has triple.  So I have Flore Pleno daylilies, and I’m very pleased.  Wikipedia says that this variety is genetically triploid, which is cool, but also means that it is unlikely to set seed.  Which is fine, these things spread like crazy anyway.

So thanks to my neighbor for the gift of these amazing flowers, even if it took years of waiting.  Totally worth it.

I ♥ Pluto! July 18, 2015

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Events, Wow.
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Over the past few of weeks I’ve been pretty obsessively following the news from the New Horizons probe.  It’s distracted me from the volcanocam and even the photos of Ceres from Dawn!  I’ve watched the images rapidly go from small and smudgy:

Pluto May

To showing some surface features:

Pluto June

To an amazing image of a world that’s far more interesting then I would have imagined:


Wow!  Look at the color, and how few craters there are, and it even has a heart!

Of course, in space, there’s not actually an up or down, and so the orientation of this photo is rather arbitrary on the part of NASA.  They could have published it like this:

Pluto inverted


Then instead of saying “Pluto has a heart!”  We’d be saying “Pluto is mooning us!”  Which is probably a good reason for NASA to have the photo orientation the way they do.

Here’s probably my favorite image from this past week:

Love Pluto





Unexpected Connection April 6, 2015

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Wow.
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I recently spent a weekend in New York City, and had quite a bit of free time, just on my own.  So I was able to do something I don’t get enough of, and that’s wandering at my own pace in a great museum.  In this case I picked the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It looked lovely from the outside in the snow:

Met with snow

Since the last time I was there I had pretty thoroughly done my favorite part (Ancient Egypt) I started this visit with Greece and Rome.  I had no idea there were so many Grecian Urns still in existence, and my eyes started to glaze over after room after room of of black on red and red on black.  But then I found an atrium full of Roman Statuary.  And tucked along a side wall was this:


Not a spectacular statue.  A smallish Funerary Altar, where someone could make offerings on behalf of the deceased.

What struck me first was the carved relief.  Not a powerful statesman, or a noblewoman with elaborately styled hair.  No, this is a small boy.  A pudgy little boy with funny ears that stick out, and he’s playing with his dog.  I had to stop and look more.

The inscription reads:

Diis Manib


L Ivlivs Gamvs Pater Fil Dvcissim

I had four years of high school Latin, and still remember enough that I didn’t need to read the guide on the pedestal to translate this.  To the spirit of Anthus.  L. Julius Gamus, Father.  Sweetest Son.

Oh, man.  I just stood there for a few minutes because this hit me so hard. Then I moved on, but stopped and went back again.  No political statement here, just the grief of a parent who lost a beloved child.  I was connecting emotionally to an unknown parent who lived a couple thousand years ago.  Someone who wanted to preserve an image of his son just the way he remembered him.  And now I can remember him too.

Later that day I spent some time in the galleries of the Old Masters.  And here is Vermeer, making an ordinary moment into something luminous and amazing.

I realized then that I was the only person in that room of the gallery.   Vermeer painted this over 400 years ago, and for a brief moment I was the only person in the whole world looking at this painting.  Across time, one human connecting to another human.  Something so simple, but so much more meaningful than all the religious claptrap I have ever sat through.  Wow.


Pie! November 27, 2014

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Wow.
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Sometimes I get discouraged, reading all those great bloggers out there and seeing all their accomplishments, advanced degrees, and professional experience, and I don’t have any of that.  I don’t teach science to kids, I haven’t made a great discovery, I’m not an experienced speaker, sometimes my life seems pretty ho-hum.

But last night I made this, and it came out perfectly, and I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself right now.


Small triumphs.

Edit 11/30:

It sliced well too, and we served it with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  Needless to say, it’s gone now.


Inspiration June 5, 2014

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Wow.
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A few months ago I had an opportunity to spend a long weekend participating in musical events with composer Morten Lauridsen.

In the choral world Lauridsen is a really big deal, but I rarely run into non-singers who have heard of him.  So for reference, here’s his most famous work (go take a listen):

O Magnum Mysterium

He’s really quite a mystic, and over the weekend he spent a lot of time talking about where he gets his inspiration.  For O Magnum his inspiration came from a painting, Francisco de Zurbarán’s “Still Life With Lemons, Oranges and a Rose.” (more…)

Joyfulness for Festivus December 23, 2013

Posted by Ubi Dubium in Wow.
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Yes, I know that Festivus is supposed to be for Airing of Grievances and Feats of Strength.  But this song has been refusing to get out of my head for the past several days, so I’m going to Share Some Happy for Festivus instead.

Level Up from Vienna Teng

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