Attack of the Leaf Killers

I first noticed them earlier this week. Little, tiny almost mite looking critters in the area of the container garden in my kitchen. This is diametrically opposed to my personal philosophy that bugs outside are okay as long as they don’t bite me, whereas bugs in my apartment? Not cool. Not cool at all. The only exception to that statement is assassin beetles because their awesomeness outweighs their bugginess.

Over the course of the last few weeks my bean plants went from growing beautifully to looking, well, a bit sickly. First, the leaves started turning yellow then white with an almost lace appearance. If not for the fact it was happening in my kitchen to my plants I might have even thought it pretty. Never having grown green beans before, I thought at first that it was the ping pong weather we’ve been having here in Michigan of late. Surely they didn’t appreciate the hot then cold then suddenly then gray thing that had been going on, so I cleaned out the truly dead ones and made sure to keep a closer eye on watering them.

The flaw in this plan was that not only did the beans keep getting worse, my beautifully healthy looking 1+ year old green pepper plants started to exhibit the same symptoms. So I decided to take a closer look and that was when I saw them. The nasty little bugs fraternizing illegally with my plants. I had noticed the adults before. They remind me of fruit flies, but don’t behave like them so I thought they were some sort of gnat-like creature flying in through the window. Gnats, however, do not kill bean plants.

I did some research based on the leave’s color change and the little black dots appearing underneath and I think I have finally been able to determine my variety of pest: lace bugs. Being an indoor garden I am lacking in the usual natural predators (like assassin beetles) and there is a chance I could be wrong in this diagnosis, but luckily the information I have found on natural pesticides is pretty consistent. So taking the various bits of advice to heart I have mixed up a batch of natural insecticide soap. It’s kind of a hybrid of what I read.

Natural Insecticide Soap Spray

1 quart water

2 tbl spoons liquid dish soap

1 tbl spoon baking soda

Splash of canola oil

Fresh chopped garlic

Ground ginger

Ground mustard

As you can see it is meant to be used as a spray. I was impatient so thoroughly disgusted by the black dots that yesterday I drenched cotton balls in the solution and gently wiped down the underside of the leaves before spraying the tops. Needless to say, my kitchen smells like garlic. They plants are looking a little healthier now, but we shall see. This may have been just the first battle in the war for my plants.

What’s in a Name?

I admit it. I have a little bit of an obsession when it comes to names. Behind the Name is bookmarked on multiple computers so I get to it at a moment’s notice. I can tell you the historical route that my name took to achieve the spelling that I have. In fact, I figured out in high school what each part of my name means.

I’ve always been a word nerd and the 4 or more years of etymology in grade school probably didn’t help. So when it came to choosing a name for this blog naturally I had to ponder it a bit. A lot of names were tossed around in my head when one day, as I was sitting there contemplating some notes from the 2010 UX Web Summit, it hit me – Something Magic.

I do not practice magic. I can’t pull quarters out of people ears or escape from locked chains or even pull a rabbit out of a hat. If you’ve come to this blog thinking that you might pick up that kind of magic trick I’m afraid you’ll be sorely disappointed. Instead the reference comes from a presentation by M. Jackson Wilkinson (@whafro) entitled Designing the Product.

Wilkinson had a lot of good things that he covered in his presentation about balancing goals, being cognizant of your objectives and reality, and knowing when and how to change. He even included the quote that graces my mac’s wallpaper (which winds definite cool points):

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

– Douglas Adams

The part of the presentation that really stuck with me, though, and the one from which this blog’s name comes was #7: Sweat the Important Details or, as I have it in my notes, Make it seem like magic. It only has to be one part.

He was speaking in terms of designing user experience with products, but as I thought about it I realized that it really can apply to so many parts of life. As adults we tend to forget to see the magic around us. We discount it as some parlor trick and in the process we can lose a bit of the wonder that we once found. I can’t promise that I won’t take things apart from time to time in my posts as I seek to better understand the inner workings of whatever has caught my interest, but I want to make ‘magic’ in the things that I do and try to find and appreciate that magic in the work of others.

I hope that you will do the same.

A special thanks to Refresh Detroit (@refreshdetroit) and Environments for Humans (@e4h) for making the viewing of the 2010 UX Web Summit possible. It was awesome.

Adventures in the Land of Directing: When I say ‘Off Book’…

…I mean why don’t  I own a camcorder. We are currently about 3 weeks out from the opening night of The Odd Couple and I dropped my former co-director now set designer, Holly, off at the airport the night before the dreaded day on the calendar that reads ‘Off Book’.

That’s right. Cue the ominous music.

I promise you, when Holly printed off the calendar – pre-landing an actual paying theatre job – those words really were printed on May 24th  with the scenes for the day. However, as I  know from the world of UX, people don’t actually read the things you send out. Well, some do, but they’re a rare breed.

Anyway, as I’m sure is no surprise to anyone familiar with The Odd Couple, the members of the cast are all characters in and of themselves. So when on Monday started a bit late; even before Desirea laid claim to all of the scripts for the evening it was apparent it would be interesting. Murray freely admitted he didn’t have his lines all memorized and several of the other poker players weren’t far off. I don’t think they believe us that we would take them away.

This is not to say they lacked awareness of their lines. Murray would on many occasions stop, look to our stage manager and simply state it was his line but he didn’t know what it was. Roy actually raised his hand on at least one occasion as if back in school to request his line and Speed, well, Speed has awesome ad libs.

Speed is 92 years old and a long veteran of community theatre. He told us he knew two lines, which wasn’t precisely true, and by the end of the night he literally had us laying our heads on the table laughing. Neil Simon is a genius, but I almost wish I could let Speed loose from the script to ad lib his way through. My favorite of the night was when he went off on a rant about Felix and chocolate guns and how you could never trust any of Felix’s stories.

Chocolate guns.

I can assure you that there is nothing in the actual script about chocolate guns. Really there is not, but you would have believed there was by the straight, earnest disgust Speed gave the line when he said it.

Fast forward to Tuesday night or the date with the Pigeon sisters from upstairs. The Pigeon sisters have a tendency to giggle even when they aren’t in character, so you can only imagine what it’s like when something strikes them funny on stage. Case in point – Gwendolyn is the empathetic sister. Cecily is not so much so. Cecily is also apparently fond of snack foods. So when Gwen accidentally ended up with the fictional bowl of potato chips in the middle of Felix’s breakdown it seemed only appropriate that she pass the bowl oven the sobbing Felix to her sister, so that Cecily could eat the chip as written in the script. If that were not bad enough, when I reminded them that this was a very serious matter, Gwen decided that she must have dip to go with the very serious chips thus yelling across the stage that dip; they needed dip. It spiraled downhill from there.

A blooper reel would be amazing. I really need to find a camcorder for the rest of this week. That and some rubber balls can throw. My big toe sacrificed half a toe nail to our couch in the name of theatre tonight, so I was directing like this tonight:

a sacrifice in the name of theatre

All that Boy Scout first aid training really does come in handy from time to time. I’d post a picture, but my stage manager agreed that might be a bit gruesome. She has also dubbed that toe the ‘bad’ toe’. It seems a bit unjust considering the toe was just an innocent bystander.

If this is the first week off book I can only imagine what the next few weeks are going to bring.


What is Blingo?

Blingo is a fun afternoon of food, friends and bling. Just like in regular bingo guests will try to get 5 in a row and, if they do, they’ll get a chance to choose from great prizes including jewelry, candles and accessories. Guests will also have an opportunity to order from lia sophia and PartyLite with a portion of their purchase going to support the Owosso Community Players. However, no purchase is necessary to come and join in the fun!

Sound like fun? Admission is free so bring a friend!

Blingo will be taking place from 3-6pm on May 15th at the West Annex (114 W Main St) in downtown Owosso.

Any orders placed online with lia sophia and PartyLite will also count as a part of the fundraiser. Just enter OCP Fundraiser as the hostess. Also, any hostesses that book a lia sophia or PartyLite party off of the event before May 15th will have a portion of their sales donated to the Owosso Community Players as well.

To view a current catalog or place an online order follow the links below.

lia sophia