Monthly Archives: June 2015

Ginko Biloba June 2015

Ginko Biloba Tree Comes Back From the Dead

Ginko Biloba Shoots
New Ginko Biloba Shoot

I have a Ginko Biloba tree that was planted in approximately 2009 from a seedling and it was pulled out of the ground in fall-2013 while moving. It sat indoors over the winter, not a good idea for deciduous trees as they need to go through the cold of winter to set their clocks for the Spring budding. It was watered off and on when it was dormant that Winter, but it was mostly dried out feeling. In the Spring the buds were dry and the branches turned pretty hard and dead feeling, snapping off easily. I planted it in the ground in late April 2014 and it sat there dead looking for the entire season.

I decided not to give up on it and pull it out as I have heard that sometimes deciduous trees will come back the following year. The winter of 2014-2015 was particularly harsh, one of the coldest in 100 years with the temperatures reaching up to -28 F below here. In the Spring, still nothing, but I waited and waited to see if anything would happen and if it didn’t I would plant a tree in it’s place in 2016. I was already considering where I might get another small Ginko Biloba tree.

2015 provided a hot May and a wet June, so the ground was good and warm early and had plenty of moisture. One day in mid-June I was mowing the lawn and cutting close to a lot of obstacles such as the tree,  when I stopped dead in my tracks as I noticed what appeared to be weeds growing around the base of it. But, something looked different about the “weeds” and I stopped just in time as to not mow them down. Sure enough it was actually new growth sprouting near the base of the Ginko tree.

For this year I will let the new growth run wild. Leaving the dead stick part of the plant as a marker so I don’t mow or step on the shoots coming up. Next year I will pick the best shoot and let it thrive, cutting the dead growth and the runty shoots that may appear.

It is amazing how nature surprises you just when you least expect it. One of the oldest species of tree the Ginko Biloba has a few tricks up it’s sleeve for survival after all.

Ginko Biloba
Ginko Biloba: June 2015

Hungarian Pancakes

Inspired by Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, episode aired February 24, 2014, between 11-12PM EDT.

I have made pancakes with potatoes and onions before but, watching this episode made me experiment with paprika, garlic, old bay. Plus I generally like to put a little bit of curry and or turmeric in too, it helps stabilize the potatoes as they tend to oxidize quickly once chopped. I have noticed red potatoes are better in this regard; they take a long time to discolor.

4 medium size potatoes
1 small onion
2 clove garlic
2 heaping tbsp white flour
1 egg, I used a large one
1 tsp turmeric or curry, more if you like
1 tsp baking powder
Oil or fat for the fan frying. I used coconut oil and bacon fat.

The following to taste
Old Bay

1. Cut up the potatoes and onions, add in garlic cloves and run through a food processor on chop mode.
2. Dump into a bowl and add salt, mix.
3. In a second bowl add flour and other dry ingredients, mix thoroughly.
4. Start preheating pan, put the oil and fat in it. This is not deep frying, so coat the pan but coat generously.
5. Add egg to potato, onion and garlic bowl and mix thoroughly.
6. Add the premixed dry ingredients in slowly while mixing in. Slowly prevents lumps of flour from forming.
7. When the pan is hot enough, like when a drop of water will sizzle in it; drop in a serving spoon sized amount of the mixture and flatten it out a bit with a spatula.
8. After a few seconds, when it has set, shimmy the pan around so the oil can get under it and all around the edges.
9. When it is golden brown on the bottom flip it over and get the other side golden brown. This requires a guess, based on size the time may vary. The first few might get flipped over a few times until you get the timing down.
10. When done, place on a plate with paper towels to absorb excess oil. I like to keep them in the over on warm until I am done with the whole batch.

These pancakes are good as a side to many dishes and are a different way to use potatoes. The DDD episode shows them topped with goulash which looked great. The first time I made them I used them as “buns” for a nice grass-fed beef hamburger (Wegmans has great grass-fed beef). It was a great tasting and filling too.

Hungarian Pancakes

Hourly Chime for Linux and Mac

It is easy to set up a simple CRON job to run a sound on the top of the hour by running aplay on a Linux machine. Something like this would also work on a Mac with minor changes, afplay is the default command line player for Mac, CRON works the same. For Windows, I have not tried it but task scheduler, every hour and there must be some easy command line program out there to fire off, that stuff has been around since DOS.


aplay works with wave files so you can use oggdec to convert ogg files to wav. A lot of sound theme files come in ogg or wav. aplay and mplayer come installed in Ubuntu at least by default in 14.04 LTS, which I am running. If not a simple…

 sudo apt-get install aplay


sudo apt-get install mplayer

…will get them installed.


Oggdec is part of a very small install package, takes seconds to install.

To install…

sudo apt-get install vorbis-tools

To convert OGG ausio file to a WAV audio file…

oggdec filename.ogg

Sound Themes

The sound themes are located at /usr/share/sounds . If you go there and try out the sounds you might find one that sounds good to you for an hourly chime.

Two level tree of /usr/share/sounds, using the tree command. If you don’t have it get in a few seconds using…

sudo apt-get install tree

Output of tree command show 2 levels below /usr/share/sounds

(tree /usr/share/sounds -d -L 2)

├── alsa
│   ├── Front_Center.wav
│   ├── Front_Left.wav
│   ├── Front_Right.wav
│   ├── Noise.wav
│   ├── Rear_Center.wav
│   ├── Rear_Left.wav
│   ├── Rear_Right.wav
│   ├── Side_Left.wav
│   └── Side_Right.wav
├── fLight__2.0
│   ├── Copyright
│   ├── index.theme
│   └── stereo
├── freedesktop
│   ├── index.theme
│   └── stereo
├── Fresh_and_CLean

Sound Theme Downloads

I went to a site see link below and downloaded two sound themes (fLight 2.0 and Fresh and Clean, the third one on the site was a dead link ) and tried out the sounds. I found that the Message sound in the fLight 2.0 theme was a pleasant but catchy enough sound to be heard at a distance and over any music I might be playing at the time the CRON job runs.

The CRON job that runs to do the hourly sound is..

00 09-23 * * * aplay /usr/share/sounds/fLight__2.0/stereo/Message.wav

It will produce a sound from 9AM to 11PM and uses the Message.wav which I converted from an ogg to a wav file…

I have attached the Message.wav below for your listening pleasure!



So far I have not switched my overall sound theme from the Ubuntu default, but I might try out the two themes that I have downloaded for variety.


Create Cron Jobs on a Mac

Command Line Audio Player on a Mac

U.S.D.A. Forest Service Webcam Image - Cloud Peak, WY

Active Desktop Wallpaper using wget

It is nice to have a desktop wallpaper that is not static, I like to see some outdoor scene that has a good view and a dynamic sky. Wyoming certainly has some ever changing skies and nice terrain so I have a wallpaper background set to show the Cloud Peaks Wilderness in Wyoming that updates every hour.

It is possible to load a JPG file periodically from a source using the Linux built-in wget command. In the example below, I am loading a scene from Cloud Peak Wyoming that is captured by a US Forest Service Webcam. It is loading right into my home folder, it could be put in any place that you prefer.

There is a nice bunch of pictures taken by the Forest Service from all over the country and they provide some nice high resolution scenery. See the links at the bottom of this post.

Code for script file

#! /bin/bash
 rm /home/erick/cpwa1_large.jpg

The code first removes the old copy of the image and then it uses the wget command to fetch a new copy.


It is not necessary to modify .wgetrc to use wget, but I put this here as an FYI. There is a configuration file for wget. It is located at /usr/local/etc/wgetrc. More info on wget locations. You can make a copy of it and put it in your home directory. Once in the home directory any modifications to it will work for your user profile. I have mine modified to do a few non-standard things, one is to use timestamping which will make wget only download when the file it is trying to download is newer than the local copy.

# Set this to on to use timestamping by default:
timestamping = on

Secondly, I also added a line at the end of the file that puts an option for wget for limiting the rate of downloading. Otherwise wget will run as fast as possible and will use the entire bandwidth. This option can be used on a case by case basis by putting in the line when wget is called as well. Doing this makes it so wget doesn’t slow down your connection to the Internet a lot and doesn’t hit the server hard with high speed downloads, important if you are downloading multiple large files.


It is also possible to add a bit of a delay between connections when downloading. This avoids hammering the server that you are downloading from when downloading multiple files. This makes it easier on the server load and makes your download activity less likely to be obnoxious to the folks running the server that you are downloading from. Obnoxious down-loaders and site scrapers are more likely to get banned I would imagine if someone notices a spike in server load and pins it down to the IP address.

# It can be useful to make Wget wait between connections.  Set this to
# the number of seconds you want Wget to wait.
wait = 1

Some sites go as far as prohibiting downloads unless the user agent has a string inside of it. I didn’t do this yet as I have not had a problem with this issue. But it is possible to set the user-agent via --user-agent=“Acceptable String Here”

More on user-agent modification

CRON entry

01 08-22 * * * /home/erick/cpwa1/

Using crontab -e, a line can be loaded into your CRON file to run the script periodically. The one above runs every hour 1 minute after the hour between 8AM and 10PM. There is no sense in loading nighttime pictures so that is why the times are bounded to load pictures during daylight hours ( right now) for Mountain Daylight Time. The picture I load is update around 59 minutes after the hour so loading 1 minute after the hour provides a bit of a guard band of time.

USDA Forest Service Webcams

USDA Forest Service Real Time Image Description Page
USDA Forest Service Real Time Image Gallery