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May 23

Weekly Report: May 14, 2023



I’m somewhat embarrassed to have only discovered the amazing library system in our part of the Bay Area. There is a small offshoot branch of the main city library about 2 minutes’ drive from our house that has a great selection of new releases and children’s books. And, through that library, I can request books online from any of the dozen or so other libraries in the same system. They ship the book to my local branch and notify me when it’s ready for pickup. They seem to get all the major new releases. Self-checkout is simple — they have a neat scanning machine where you pile all the books you’re checking out on top of the checkout surface. The machine detects all of them and deactivates the security tags in one fell swoop. The books are initially lent for 3 weeks, but as long as no one has a hold placed on them, the library will automatically renew them for you. They let you check out 50 books at a time! I visit with my daughter every second Saturday.

Anyway, the library is not what this post is actually about. While at the library, I picked up a field guide to identifying mushrooms (on a total whim) and learned a few things, including what a “spore print” was. Basically, it’s a method of identifying mushrooms by observing the attributes of the spores they drop, such as their color and drop pattern.

I tried to make one. It’s easy: I bought a portabella mushroom from the supermarket, cut the stem, placed it gills down on a piece of paper and covered it overnight with a glass container. The next day, you get your spore print on the paper. (And if you spray it with a fixative, like hair spray, you have something you can hang on the wall.) Below was the result:

I also learned that portabella mushrooms are the same species of mushrooms as white mushrooms, button mushrooms, and cremini (brown) mushrooms — all supermarket staples.

Mushrooms are just one part of a fungus. Similar to an apple on an apple tree, mushrooms are the fruiting body for the underlying mycelium (a threadlike network that exists in soil or a substrate like wood) that makes up the rest of the fungus. Mushrooms are the way fungi reproduce, since they are basically receptacles for dispersing spores.

Mushrooms are incredibly diverse, but I was particularly intrigued by giant puffballs. They can grow larger than a soccer ball and, for a limited span of their lifecycle, are edible!

Further Observations

  • In a civil case, Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation. He is appealing. I doubt this will significantly change whatever trajectory he’s currently on. Once DeSantis enters the race, things will get interesting.
  • In another case of chickens appearing to come home to roost, habitual liar and member of Congress George Santos has been indicted on 13 federal counts including wire fraud, money laundering, theft of public funds, and making false statements to Congress. He has pled not guilty.
  • Warriors :(


Charts, Images & Videos

Movies & TV

  • Beef (Season 1)
    Sucked me in deeper and deeper with each episode. The main characters are mostly Asian and about my age, which in a strange way (because things get really crazy) made this show more relatable. Worth a watch. ★★★★
  • Air
    I’m a sucker for Damon/Affleck flicks. The 80s montages were also spot on. ★★★
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3
    Surprisingly good for a third installment. A little dark, a lot of fun. ★★★★

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