Sloggers: A-OK

Hank’s recent gushing Slogger Report reminded me that I haven’t come clean on my promise to review the free pair I received as a consequence of being one of the most verbose commenter over at GardenRant.

Best feature: Rugged construction should last forever.

Biggest drawback: I had to drill my own drainage holes. And they didn’t come with any hanging hardware.

They’re really A-OK. It’s just that I have a high arch and sweaty feet and the combination of not being able to feel my toes in a puddle of sweat convince me to return to my favorite garden footwear.

Seriously, they’re a fine product. I’ll just have to go back to the Slogger website and see if I can find a style that fits my foot better than the ones I ordered.

sloggers planted
‘Jaggies’ in the image courtesy of PaintShopPro.

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Anniversaries, gardening and otherwise

Dock Ellis baseball cardSome folks see June 12 on the calendar and they think, that’s the anniversary of the launch of GardenRant. (I sent good wishes and some music to get the hippie chicks dancing.) But the GR women share that anniversary with the that of the greatest feat in baseball history, if not all of athletics.

27 years ago today, June 12, 1970, Dock Ellis of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched a no hitter against the San Diego Padres while he claims he was tripping on LSD.

Long story short: Dock was partying and got his days mixed up and took acid around noon, only to discover he was to pitch that night. (Keven McAlester tells the whole story artfully in the Dallas Observer.)

All my personal experience with Dock’s drug of choice comes only from reading. But I believe him based on his quote:

Sometimes the ball looked like a beach ball. Sometimes it looked like a dot.

Sure, he was more wild than usual, walking 8 and hitting a couple of batters. But you gotta admit, that had to be one wild trip.

The happy ending: Dock cleaned up his act and is now a prison drug counselor. In addition to sharing part of his name with this blog, if you listed his name as it might appear on a roster — last name first, first initial — it spells out the chemical that got the whole story started: Ellis, D.

Needless to say, he got an article in High Times magazine. But his accomplishment is also celebrated in a song by Chuck Brodsky, whose Casey-at-the-bat style lyrics are enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame, not far from here:

Dock Ellis’s No-No

Listen (mp3)

Go buy Chuck’s Baseball Ballads CD

It was a lovely summer’s morning
An off-day in LA
So thought one Dock Ellis
As he would later say
His girlfriend read the paper
She said, “Dock, this can’t be right…
It says here that you’re pitching
In San Diego tonight”

“Got to get you to the airport”
And so off Dock Ellis flew
His legs were a little bit wobbly
And the rest of him was too
Took a taxi to the ballpark
An hour before the game
Gave some half-assed explanation
Found the locker with his name

Time came to go on out there
Down the corridor
The walls were a little bit wavy
There were ripples in the floor
He went out to the bullpen
To do a bunch of stretches
Loosen up a little
Throw his warm-up pitches

All rose for the national anthem
People took off their hats
Fireworks were exploding
The cokes were already going flat
Dock was back there in the dugout
So many things to watch
Some players spit tobacco juice
Others grabbed their crotch

The umpire hollered, “Play Ball!”
And so it came to be
Dock’s Pirates batted first
And when they went down 1-2-3
Dock’s catcher put his mask on
And he handed Dock the ball
It was 327 feet
To the right & left field walls

The Pirates took the field then
And Dock stood on the rubber
He bounced a couple of pitches
And then he bounced a couple others
You might say about that day
He looked a little wild
The lead-off batter trembled
Nobody knew why Dock Ellis smiled

You walk 8 and you hit a guy
The things that people shout…
Especially your manager
But he didn’t take Dock out
Dock found himself a rythym
And a crazy little spin
Amazing things would happen
When Dock Ellis zeroed in

Sometimes he saw the catcher
Sometimes he did not
Sometimes he held a beach balll
Other times it was a dot
Dock was tossing comets
That were leaving trails of glitter
At the 7th inning stretch
He still had a no-hitter

So he turned to Cash, his buddy
Said, “I got a no-no going”
Speaking the unspeakable
He went back out there throwing
Bottom of the ninth
& He stood high upon the mound
3 more outs to go
He’d have his name in Cooperstown

First up was Cannizzaro
Who flied out to Alou
Kelly grounded out for Dean
The shortstop yelled, “That’s two”
It must’ve been a mad house
The fans upon their feet
The littler ones among them
Standing on their seats

Next up would’ve been Herbel
But Spezio pinch-hit
He took a 3rd strike looking
And officially, that was it
It was a lovely summer’s morning
An off-day in LA
So thought one Dock Ellis
As he would later say

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Saint Francis was right

st francis

Interesting article in this morning’s Washingon Post: If It Feels Good to Be Good, It Might Be Only Natural. It’s about some neuroscience studies conduted at the National Institutes of Health and their implications on moral behavior:

The results were showing that when the volunteers placed the interests of others before their own, the generosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex. Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.

Their 2006 finding that unselfishness can feel good lends scientific support to the admonitions of spiritual leaders such as Saint Francis of Assisi, who said, “For it is in giving that we receive.” …

The research enterprise has been viewed with interest by philosophers and theologians, but already some worry that it raises troubling questions. Reducing morality and immorality to brain chemistry — rather than free will — might diminish the importance of personal responsibility. Even more important, some wonder whether the very idea of morality is somehow degraded if it turns out to be just another evolutionary tool that nature uses to help species survive and propagate.

Read the whole thing.

Between work, gardening and holiday festivities, it’s been hard to find time to blog. Will start sorting through pictures tonight and be back in action soon.

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Freakonomics on ‘yardening’

gardener or yardener?Laid-Back Labor, the latest Freakonomics column in the NY Times Sunday Magazine, adds insight into the yardening vs. gardening discussion over at GardenRant.

To roughly paraphrase the GR discussion, we gardeners are passionate in our work and our quest for knowledge and understanding about what we do. ‘Yardeners’ want a nice-looking yard but don’t necessarily want to spend a lot of time doing it or understand all the underlying theory. For those of us who see gardening as the salvation of the world, and want every yard to be an oasis of eco-friendly plant and animal life, it’s an important distinction to make as we proselytize.

Some excerpts from the Sunday Magazine article:

According to Census Bureau statistics, only 7.3 percent of American adults have played a musical instrument in the past 12 months.

Compare this with the 17.5 percent of adults who currently engage in what the Census Bureau calls “cooking for fun.” Or consider that 41 percent of households have flower gardens, 25 percent raise vegetables and 13 percent grow fruit trees — even though just 1 percent of Americans live on a farm today, down from 30 percent in 1920.

Isn’t it puzzling that so many middle-aged Americans are spending so much of their time and money performing menial labors when they don’t have to? Just as the radio and phonograph proved to be powerful substitutes for the piano, the forces of technology and capitalism have greatly eased the burden of feeding and clothing ourselves. So what’s with all the knitting, gardening and “cooking for fun”? Why do some forms of menial labor survive as hobbies while others have been killed off? (For instance, we can’t think of a single person who, since the invention of the washing machine, practices “laundry for fun.”)

Well I’ve tried to convince myself that laundry is fun by doing the folding in front of the TV.
The columnists go on to explain how economists separate what we do into three categories:

  • Market work (which produces income)
  • Home production (unpaid chores)
  • Pure leisure.

In a study the columnists cite, gardening fell just barely into the home production category, narrowly missing falling into the leisure category. I wish they gave us some idea of the variability of responses on that. I suspect that many rated gardening as blissful leisure while others rated it as pure hell. The columnists add:

Whether or not you’re getting paid, it’s work if someone else tells you to do it and leisure if you choose to do it yourself. If you are the sort of person who likes to mow his own lawn even though you can afford to pay someone to do it, consider how you’d react if your neighbor offered to pay you the going rate to mow his lawn. The odds are that you wouldn’t accept his job offer.

And so a great many people who can afford not to perform menial labor choose to do so, because — well, why? An evolutionary biologist might say that embedded in our genes is a drive to feed and clothe ourselves and tame our surroundings. An economist, meanwhile, might argue that we respond to incentives that go well beyond the financial; and that, mercifully, we are left free to choose which tasks we want to do ourselves.

Read the whole article. Who hasn’t grown cherry tomatoes for $20 a fruit.

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