Gardening Time Again – The First Tomato

July 5, 2007

I harvested the first tomato from my garden last Saturday, July 1. It came in 60 days after I planted its mother-plant, under the waxing moon early in May. (Here is the sliced version, just before we ate it.)


Here it is on the mother-plant, just before I picked it:


All of my tomato plants are “heirloom”varieties. The First Tomato variety is called “Gary O’Sena,” and it is an open pollinated cross between a Brandywine and a Cherokee Purple. This is the first year I’ve grown it and I must say I’m really impressed. Not only does it produce early, but its fruits are dark and rich with a sweet-acidic flavor. 

What is an “heirloom” variety? First and foremost, all heirloom tomatoes are open pollinated. This means that seed saved from this year’s fruit will produce the same variety next year, unless natural or intended cross-pollination occurs. A hybrid tomato variety, such as the “Better Boy,” will NOT plant true in the next generation. 

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New Blogroll Addition: Intelligent Travel

July 5, 2007

Sometimes, I do bad things to myself. For example, recieving National Geographic Traveler email updates has often seemed like needless self-torture, since I can never actually go on any of the fabulous vacation deals they advertise. But they recently changed their format to pointing out more information and articles, with less emphasis on deals, which is both more distracting and more tolerable. This week, they pointed out that they have started a blog, Intelligent Travel.

This seemed like an ideal candidate for addition to the blogroll. Yes, fine, they’re arguably a commercial blog, but you know, there’s something to be said for reading the blog of people who think about traveling, in-depth, for a living. The blog’s tagline is, “The blog about authentic & sustainable travel,” which seems to fit the proclivities of this blog’s writers pretty darn well.

So far, they have supported the use of trains (which I have also felt the need to do on several occasions), written about the pros and cons of polar vacationing (which I have also thought about, because the news all seems to indicate that we’ve got to see those glaciers while we can!), and the inequity and ridiculousness of flying first class vs. coach. They’ve got some other posts up, too, with tips on traveling responsibly. I’m looking forward to more of their thoughts on travel.

Sochi to host Winter Olympics in 2014

July 5, 2007

Sochi 2014 logo The IOC announced yesterday that it had selected Sochi in the Russian Federation to host the Winter Olympics in 2014. You can read their press release here.

I have been to Sochi, just before the summer tourist season opened in 2001. I have a hard time believing that, even with 7 years head start and $12 billion that President Vladimir Putin has pledged to the project, Sochi will be remembered fondly by Olympians or guests. That comes simply from my experience with Russian project management and building practices. I expect the athletes to be sleeping in Potemkin Villages.

But here’s my speculation, and you heard it here first: the 2014 Olympics will be the impetus for Russia to reform its restrictive and ancient visa regime. I believe the international spotlight being shone on the country will bring Russia to scrap its Soviet-era invitation requirement and streamline application and registration processes. Heck, the Duma might even vote to bring back forms with English AND Russian instructions. Crazy, I know. I’m probably just an optimist.

Does anyone know of the long-term effects hosting the Olympics has for host cities or regions? Are there any examples — good or bad — of dramatic cultural or economic changes resulting from the investment and attention? Is China doing anything to loosen its visa restrictions for the 2008 summer games?

And just for fun: do you prefer the summer or winter games? And what’s your favorite event?