August 27, 2010

Easy Plant: Jalapeno Peppers

Last for the month in the series of relatively easy plants to grow in Texas is this lovely guy, the Jalapeno.

I have grown these from seeds, and they are pretty easy to do, but generally I don't need more than one plant, and a six inch tall Bonnie plant is about the same price as a pack of seeds.

The jalapeno can easily be grown in containers (as shown here), it produces a ton of peppers if it grows tall enough, and can survive dry heat (even if the begonias I had planted around it at the base did not all survive.

Jalapenos will flower small white flowers with triangular or almost diamond shaped petals, and then will fruit.  The fruit turns red when it ripens, but you can pick them whenever they are large enough and green all the way until they turn red.

If you do decide to grow from seed, you can always remove the seeds from one of the jalapenos you harvest and dry them out in a small bag to save for the following year.  Often, we end up removing the seeds anyway to cut down on the heat from the pepper (remove the seeds and membranes and the pepper tames down quite a bit).  If you do start from seed, it's a good idea to start indoors (and I might try next year starting some inside with a sub-irrigation pot made from 2-liter soda bottles.

What you can DO with 15 or 20 jalapenos is up to you.  As for me, I always save 2 to make my annual batch of Jalapeno Pale Ale.


August 26, 2010

Good Podcast

So I suppose that it is appropriate as we near Thursday, September 2 (that's right, the beginning of NCAA College Football for 2010 is just one week away), to share a (pretty well known) podcast that I enjoy throughout the year (even though it is more frequent during the fall): 

ESPNU College Football Podcast with Ivan Maisel and Beano Cook

I'll admit, when I first subscribed to the podcast last year, it took me a while to get used to Beano's nostalgic moments, but overall, I have to say I enjoy the insight they give week after week.  And when I went all "crazy insane about Big 12 Realignment news" day after day this summer, it was interesting to get two or three podcasts from these guys with their speculations (which were less accurate than my "prediction" that it was done realigning and the Big 12 would stop at 10).  Then again, not even I thought that was going to be the outcome.

Over the summer, there was even a fleeting reference to I think the 1980 Baylor conference championship in the old Southwest Conference.

Who knows, maybe we'll hear some Baylor talk this year as well.

August 20, 2010

Entertainment Anywhere

Hey, I didn't say that every day this month would be some mountainous, meaningful content.  Just something.

So today, wanted to share a link to a quite entertaining "urban improv" group called Improv Everywhere.  They basically go around and perform scenes or sketches out in public, video them all, and post them on their site for all to enjoy.

I initially saw their Ghostbusters video (filmed at the New York Public Library) on a link from my friend Stacy, and then just last month was entertained again, when they shared this lovely gem:

August 19, 2010

Easy Plant: Elephant Ears

One more in our "easy plant" series here, for hot summers, it is difficult to beat Colocasia, more commonly referred to as Elephant Ears.

We have had several varieties of Elephant Ears year after year, and I love the lush tropical image they give.

Pictured here is an interesting variety, called "Upright" because the leaves point up instead of down.

Also in our garden we have "regular" elephant ears, though at 3 years old, they need to be replaced since they did not do well after this year's winter, as well as "Black Magic" with purple foliage and another one this year called "Kona Coffee" which has brownish stems and green leaves.

Super easy - grab some bulbs in April and get them in the ground in May or so.


August 15, 2010

The Halfway Point and Monkeys on Twitter

Rhesus Macaque by Paul and Jill (Not the Tampa Monkey)
Licensed under Creative Commons
So here we are, at the halfway-ish point through the month, and in reviewing what's been posted so far, there seems a healthy mix of things worth posting and junk that was just a day's filler.  Hopefully it gets better for you, but I can't promise much.  Today's post is this (filler).

It is a little odd to call this the halfway-ish point, though, because as I am putting this out there, there are really only three more posts to write, so I'm really 90% done with the month, but August 15, 21, and 22 were not finished.  So here's your August 15 post, and I'll come up with SOMETHING of value for August 22, I am sure, though my thoughts right now are for a walkthrough of what to find on my blogs which you probably have already found or an analysis of why I don't like Facebook anymore, which really amounts to little more than I think the CEO seems like an insolent little jerk, but then again I was probably an insolent jerk ten years ago, too. (Who am I kidding, I probably still am)

Anyway, I do wish to sincerely offer my hope that the "chasing content around my pages" exercise for the past two weeks has been fun (and fun enough that you keep doing it through August 31), as it has certainly been a challenge to create that much stuff (hence the filler posts).  Still, it has inspired me in different ways (one of which is now going to be my topic for a post next weekend on either the 21st or 22nd.  See how the thought process works?).

And that said, let me introduce you to one of my favorite Twittererererers to follow:  The Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay.  This monkey lives in the Tampa Bay area and tweets often about his monkey exploits.

OK, seriously, I know it is not a real monkey (probably).  But it's funny.  And the truth is, there is a REAL MONKEY that lives in Tampa Bay and is referred to as the Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay.  And yes, I think ABC needs a proofreader to tell them that "Simeon" is a name and "Simian" refers to primates.  But whatever.

Regardless, the twitter account is still funny and worth checking out if you do such stuff.

Hope you are having a nice weekend, and enjoy reading about Weihenstephaner Vitus tomorrow on my beer review.

August 13, 2010


If you have not seen these, you should.  And be disturbed.  And enjoy.  I think this is appropriate for Friday the 13th.  I mean, it's no Templar Massacre of Friday, October the 13th, 1307, but, you know.  Llamas!

And once you're done with those, you can stop over at FilmCow and see all their other weird disturbing things like Charlie the Unicorn.  Banish paraskevidekatriaphobia!

August 12, 2010

Easy Plant: Butterfly Bush

The butterfly bush is another easy plant for Texas, if you have the space for it.  As you can see ours in the center of the photo, they can get quite large (that fence is six feet tall, and you can see the butterfly bush blooms from the other side).

Since this photo was taken in late summer, the garden is looking a little ragged, but the butterfly bush still thrives through the heat.

The other nice thing about the butterfly bush is that in addition to the long, cone-shaped flowers, it actually works and works well to attract all manner of butterflies to your garden, as its name implies.  We have seen at least ten or twenty types of butterflies swarming the bush to get the sweet nectar.

Also pretty amazing is that we bought this butterfly bush from Michigan Bulb, who shipped it in a very small pot, and by the next summer, it was already this size!  The success and size of this plant has led me to think we may be adding a second one on the other side of the planting area to balance it out.

Ours is a "Black Knight" which ended up quite a bit lighter purple than I thought it would, but it is still really attractive.  Next on the list will be either a "Rainbow" or an "Empire Blue" which we may order in time to get this fall.  We shall see!

Maintenance note - you WILL have to chop this bush down in the winter.  It gets HUGE!  I take big pruning shears and cut it back by about half in mid-winter before new growth starts in the spring.

August 7, 2010

Good Podcast

I Should Be Writing Logo
Used with Permission
from Mur Lafferty
Another podcast recommendation for something that fills up a good chunk of my commute time (or at least it did while I was catching up):

I Should Be Writing

ISBW is a podcast by Mur Lafferty about writing and for writers.  It is slightly fantasy/sci-fi heavy, which can be a little annoying at times (lots of convention talk and authors I have never heard of nor read, though I am sure millions have).  However, Mur does provide some interesting insights into keeping motivated as a writer, the entirety of the process, and getting published, all through the eyes of a self-proclaimed "wanna-be fiction writer" herself.

August 5, 2010

Easy Plant: Cannas

As part of my "ridiculous amounts of things to put out on the web in the month of August" ongoing project, I thought I would write on the Garden Blog here about some of my favorite easy plants to grow in your garden.

Living in Texas, I have found lots of plants just die and drown in the heat, and some work very well but not at the times they might thrive in other parts of the country.  Still, there are some plants that are very easy to plant and work with, and can greatly help your landscape.

One of these are the common canna flowers.  Every year I forget that these wait to bloom until July and August, and carry through with beautiful reds into the late summer.  The large foliage also gives a nice tropical flair to your yard.  I have a small spot on the side of the house that we call "the grotto" where I keep my tropical plants, and cannas are a large part of that.  I have found that year over year, it is helpful to keep augmenting the canna bulbs with more and more.  Last year's bulbs will come back, but perhaps later and not as vigorously as new bulbs.

The ones pictured here are "The President" - large red flowers that last a week or two and then slowly die off (like these are doing).

Cannas are easy to plant, just get some bulbs (either at your local home improvement store or from a grower such as Horn Canna Farms) in the spring, then dig a hole about 4 inches deep or so, drop the bulb in facing upward, and cover with dirt.  Then water it in and leave it alone.  Horn's has a ton of varieties selling for about 3 for $4.20 or so, which makes it very affordable to pick up several varieties.

So next Spring, grab some canna bulbs and by next summer, you'll be looking at flowers just like these.

August 1, 2010

The Month of August - 31 Days, 31 Posts

So, if you are reading this, then it is at least August 1.  As I'm writing this, we're still a few days away.  But if you happen to flounder around between site after site after site after site after site after site of mine, then you may have stumbled across a little challenge that I made to myself a couple of weeks ago.  The thought was that I would basically schedule something to publish every day for a month on some random site that I maintain.  So there would be 31 days of content for 31 days.

So this is the first kick-off post of that whole pile.  It's scheduled to "magically appear" on August 1 at 12:24 PM Central Time on  And yes, writing a post about the posts I am going to be writing is some sort of a meta-layer-experiment in redundancy, and it is somewhat of a cheating way to get a first post already in and scheduled, I admit.   Still, I figure if I put something meaningful in here, it counts.  So, here's what I'll start with.  I'll let you have a small preview into my "general posting/schedule" as well as some of the stuff that is already slated to come out, and then maybe even look at why I am doing this, though that's obvious, haha.

So as far as generalities are concerned, you will most likely find stuff from me on scheduled days in August as follows:

  • Sunday - Could be anywhere, any time.
  • Monday - Beer+Wine beer reviews, 6:00 PM Central, starting 8/2 with a review of the delicious Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
  • Tuesday - Poems - usually appearing at about 8:00 AM Central, starting 8/3 with a poem about starting new projects and how that's so much fun (somewhat apropos).
  • Wednesday - Can't say for sure (not much scheduled yet), but my general modus operandi is to write about writing on Wednesdays.  You might see a cheat meta-post in there, too, but it is something.
  • Thursday - If I had a set schedule, Thursdays would probably be write about gardening and yard maintenance day.  But I don't really have a set schedule, so I can't promise that is where you will always find something Thursday.  And given that I will most likely write this stuff asynchronously and schedule it out, don't expect too many tips on what to do to your lawn in August.  Unless I plan it that way.
  • Friday - who knows.  Maybe a podcast link here, maybe just a video, maybe a bonus poem, maybe a bonus liquor or wine review over at Beer+Wine, who knows.
  • Saturday - see Friday.

So really, the only thing I could tell you to count on would be Mondays and Tuesdays (because those are usually scheduled out months in advance, despite the multi-week poetry hiatus in June/July).  Then you can probably hit the main Cameron Mathews site and check the blogroll on the right to see where I'm hiding on a given day.

Finally, why am I doing this?

  • Well, for starters, I like putting things out on the internet(s) and a few months ago I had written quite a bit and checked to see that I had covered maybe fifty percent of the month with posts.  So I wondered if I planned it right could I hit an entire month (and not just any month but a long 31-day month).
  • I've also thought about these folks that do daily podcasts and figured that I could give enough time to produce fifteen or twenty minutes' worth of content on a daily basis.
  • I'm also not going to be online as much (or at least that's my prediction) in August, or at least not necessarily online as much when other people are awake.  But I could be wrong.  Remember, all this planning and thinking is occurring pre-August.
  • It's a GIANT PUBLICITY STUNT.  No, really, I don't have a book coming out (yet) or anything like that.  But I still think it would be interesting to see how much (if any) traffic comes from more frequent updates of content.  In other words, nobody but the four of you read this stuff normally, but if I put out a whole lot of other stuff, would it potentially draw more people in?  Who knows.
  • It's just another challenge in the long list of challenges.  That's right.  Just something I wondered if I could do, and so I did.  Kind of like building a bookcase, writing a novel, growing tomatoes, or any of those things.  Can I put out 31 straight days of content in some variety?  Maybe.

And all that said, there's still the chance that I run out of time before any of this actually occurs!  Which means that since this post is already scheduled to post (at 12/1/2010 12:24 PM CT), it will post and nothing else will (or certainly not daily stuff).  So it's a surprise!

And don't get me wrong, I fully intend to write a small note to wrap up on September 1 (Wednesday) if I happen to have made it all the way through the month with a ton of content.  So stop in often, comment often, play along, and have a nice month!