More Hot Pepper Action (2008 Garden Update #7)

Time for another update on the garden. Let’s start with an image:

One day\'s harvest

That is pretty much the type of harvest we’re getting about twice per week. We’re getting a ton of peppers. We have been drying them and storing them in jars, and will grind them to powders to use as a spice when the season is over.

Everything is going quite well. The weather is starting to cool off a bit, so the plants are experiencing their first relief from the heat in quite some time. They are responding with new growth and new blooms.

The garden has been attacked by squash bugs. These nasty bugs sit on the peppers and puncture them so they can feed. The only way I’ve read to get rid of them is to use some really, really nasty chemicals that I’m really not interested in using, so I have come up with my own method.

First, for the mature bugs, I use scissors. I simply cut the adult squash bugs right in half. They stink when you cut them, kind of like a mix between cucumbers and a gallon of latex paint. It’s nasty. For the nymphs (baby squash bugs, they’re bright orange), I knock them off the peppers/leaves and into a dish of water mixed with a small amount of automatic dishwasher detergent. They stop moving almost instantly. I check the garden three or four times per day, scanning for bugs, and manually killing them. It has worked pretty well so far, and the population is dwindling. I haven’t seen a mature squash bug in about a week, although the number of the nymphs has risen.

I’m starting to put together a mental plan for wintering the plants, although I have at least two to three months before our first frost. The plan includes using plastic, PVC, and a southern exposure spot in the yard that is conveniently sheltered between a fence and our furnace.

Anyway, that’s it for now. More to come later!

Brother can you spare a dollar?

So I stopped at the gas station today. I parked in front of the pump and headed in to pay.

I stood in line and waited my turn. As I stood there, I watched some guy turn in a scratch-off lottery ticket, apparently having just won a free ticket. He turned it in, and the lady behind the counter asked, “another of the same?” and he confirmed.

So I do my business and leave. I get in my car, start it up, throw it in reverse, and start slowly backing away from the pumps.

This guy from inside the store comes up to my window, and I know what’s about to happen. He’s about to ask me for money. And sure enough, the pitch starts. “Excuse me sir, I’m homeless. Do you have a dollar?”

Well, I didn’t have a dollar. I never, ever carry cash. You want to mug me, fine. Have my credit/debit card. I’m on the hook for $50 maximum, and I guarantee it will be canceled before you get an opportunity to use it.

But beyond that, the bigger pictures is that this guy had just spent money on a lottery ticket. That means he had money to buy a lottery ticket. That means that he, as a supposed homeless person, chose to purchase a scratch-off lottery ticket instead of putting the money towards housing or, likely just as much in need, food.

I told him I don’t carry cash, and continued backing away.

As I pulled out of the parking lot, I look in my rear view mirror. What do I see?

That same guy– the homeless guy, the guy with no money, the guy who had been gambling– got into a work van, fired it up, and began backing away.

And that is why I never give money to beggars and homeless people. Every time I have done so, I have been ripped off. There are two separate instances I recall that have caused me to stop giving money to beggars.

The first time, a friend and I were leaving a bookstore. A guy came up and said he was a couple dollars short for a bus ticket. The bus station was across the street. We, high school students at the time, scrape together the remains of our leftover lunch money, minimum-wages, and spare change, and give this guy a few bucks total. He crosses the street headed towards the bus station. He approached the door. He took a left. He approached the next door. He went in. He came out with a bottle in a bag. It was a liquor store.

The next time, I was getting on a highway just outside of Chicago on my way home from work. As I waited at a red light, I looked to my left and saw a guy sitting on the side of the road with a “WILL WORK FOR FOOD” sign. I had brought a lunch that day, but felt like having something hot so I had a perfectly intact brown bag lunch. Sandwich, chips, soda, etc. A full lunch. I roll down my window and hold out the bag. “Hey man, I didn’t eat my lunch today. Would you like it?” The response, “NO.” I say, “But your sign says ‘WILL WORK FOR FOOD’ and I’m trying to give you food. You don’t even have to do any work.” He says, “I don’t want it.” My light turns green, and I pull away. Obviously, he didn’t want food, and his desire to work was also highly suspect. My bet? “WILL WORK FOR FOOD” is beggar-eeze for “GOT ANY CHANGE?”

OK, last story. My favorite of the bunch. It doesn’t have to do with someone directly asking me for money or food or anything like that, but it is still hilarious. I was headed to the highway here in Savannah. I get stuck at a red light in front of a gas station. I look over and I see a homeless guy sitting next to the ice machine with the standard “WILL WORK FOR FOOD” sign. I tilt my vision upward to one of the signs in the window of the gas station, right above the homeless guy’s head. The sign reads “HELP WANTED.” I laughed my head off.

That is all.

Rick Wright

For those of you who are Pink Floyd fans, Rick Wright died today at age 65 of an unspecified cancer.

Wright was an amazing keyboard player, not because of his technical prowess, but because of his perfect intuition as a supporting member of a truly great rock band. It seemed as though Rick knew exactly what notes to play and what tone to use. He knew the role of a keyboard player in a rock band was to provide support, and he did a damn fine job at providing that support.

I never got to see the entire Pink Floyd in its 1969-1983 incarnation, but I did get to see them in the post-Roger era. It was July 12, 1994, during the Division Bell tour. I saw them at Soldier Field in Chicago. It was a great show in a great setting. Rick’s piano playing was simply amazing.

Rick Wright’s music will play long into the future.