Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Honeycrisp Apples

In 2011, I convinced my mom to finally plant an apple tree.

The tree she selected was a Honeycrisp tree from Bylands.

Combination Apple Tree:

To be accurate, it wasn't entirely a Honeycrisp tree. It was a Combination Apple (5 in 1),  containing multiple grafts from other types of apple trees. Multiple grafts, because apple trees require cross pollination. That is, they need pollen from a different type of apple tree, to make the pollination process work.

As explained here, two trees of the same variety will not pollinate each other. From mom's house, there are no apple trees in the neighborhood, so the combination apple tree was a great solution and innovation. 

Interestingly, if you were to take the seed from your favorite apple, and plant it, when it finally would produce fruit, the resulting apples would actually be a cross between your favorite apple, and the other apple variety that pollinated it.

HoneyCrisp Advantages:

Non GMO:

Honeycrisp apple trees were developed at the University Of Minnesota as a hybrid of some other apple cultivars. They were developed using cross pollination, so they are NOT genetically modified.  Great!

HoneyCrisp Grow In Really Cold Climates:

One really "cool" thing about Honeycrisp, is that they will grow in really cold climates. My mom lives in Winnipeg, Canada, nicknamed, "Winterpeg". Cold days in the winter can reach -30 degrees celcius, or about -22 degrees Fahrenheit, or even colder.  (If you're ever stuck doing mental conversions, just remember that -40 celcius equals -40 Fahrenheit).  Winnipeg is a Zone 3 growing zone, where the coldest temperature is listed as -34 to -40 celcius.

If a winter is too harsh, some plants simply won't grow in that climate. Honeycrisp can handle it.

However, even if the tree grows in the climate ok, if the weather suddenly freezes after the spring flowers have bloomed, the freezing can kill the flowers, and therefore the fruit for the season. Wrap the tree in a blanket before it freezes.

Big Apples:

Honeycrisp apples can grow really big.

As you can see in this picture, the diameter of some of the largest is 3 to 3 1/2 inches!  Perhaps NYC should adopt the HoneyCrisp as its official apple.

Great Taste:

The Honeycrisp taste great. I'd compare them to the taste and texture of Red Delicious apples. 

Great Harvest:

The tree was bought and transplanted in 2011, and now, 5 years later, the tallest branches are about 9 feet from the ground. Although, the tallest branches, reaching straight up, did not have any fruit on them. Most all the fruit was within 7 feet from the ground.  It was a great harvest, producing 4 buckets the first time the apples were picked. However, there were still some apples ripening in the shade of the leaves, and a week later, another bucket was harvested.

To be fair, the first few years did not always give good harvests. I'm told that sometimes, the tree just concentrates on growing, not making fruit. One year, there was no fruit at all, attributed to either a really cold winter and spring, and/or a really cold snap after the tree flowered.

Fruit Keeps For a Long Time:

The Honeycrisp apples last a long time after they are picked off the tree. You can even wrap up each apple in newspaper, and store them in the basement for over a month at basement temperature, and they will still be good. Although, they will have started to soften a little bit by then.

This is good, because we really like to eat them!

In retrospect, my mom is really happy to have the apple tree now, and wishes that she had planted it a long time ago.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Weddings And Pictures

For 11 seasons, from 1988 until 1998, I owned and operated a wedding photography business in Winnipeg, my home town. It started as a part time business during university, and then continued after that.

It was a great grounding in business! There is lots of customer facing, and people interaction when you are a wedding photographer.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Simple Method to Bleed Methane from Fracked Water

Some time ago, I saw something on TV about how fracking was contaminating the local ground water with methane. As a result, when a nearby resident put a match to their kitchen faucet, the water would actually light on fire! 

The residents and farmers could not drink the water from their own taps. Nor shower with the water. Showering affected the skin in a horrible way. They did not dare drink the water, as it would do the same thing to the inside of the body, with no way to relieve it! All their water needed to be trucked in, at significant expense.

Due to methane contamination from fracking, Jessica Ernst can set her tap water on fire.

HyCap Energy in Wyoming has come up with an expensive ($55K) device to clean the water of methane. It extracts methane from the water, allowing it to be used as energy. Apparently, if there is enough methane, they will install the equipment at their own expense, and share in the revenues.

But recently, I thought of a simpler way to clean the water of methane.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Themes In The Fabulous Japanese TV Series, Ryomaden

A few years ago I started watching the NHK Japanese series, Ryomaden. It is based on the true story of the historical Japanese figure, Ryoma Sakamoto (or, in Japanese convention: Sakamoto Ryoma).

If you are not familiar with Sakamoto, first read this fabulous essay that already explains his life, times, and biography really well.

Sakamoto Ryoma: The Indispensable “Nobody”, By Romulus Hillsborough

Ryomaden is an epic TV series. It ran for 48 episodes over four seasons! I don't know any TV story in the US or Canada that ran that many episodes! It goes to show, is how important Ryoma Sakamoto was to the history of Japan and to the Japanese. 

Part of the Ryomaden soundtrack is the incredible choral singing by the jazz vocalist, Yucca!

The story is told through the eyes of Iwasaki Yataro, who, in real life, rises from abject poverty, to help found Mitsubishi Corporation and become its president. Interestingly, these two very famous and influential historical figures, grew up in the same village, and knew each other. They took very different roads, but crossed paths many times. 

Fabulous Acting and Direction:

Friday, May 31, 2013

Blue Flowers!

I like to grow flowers from seed. And I like the color blue. 

It's easy to find flowers that are white, yellow, orange, red, purple/violet. But it's rare to find a blue flower.

The flowers for the crop, flax, are blue. Bellflowers (Campanula Persicifolia) are sometimes blue. As are Astors and Balloon flowers.

When I see a packet of seeds with a blue flower on the cover, I buy it. You can see some of the seed packets I've bought here. 


Monday, September 3, 2012

World CO2 Production

After my other posts on CO2 production over the life of a car, I began to think about the total macro impact of oil consumption on the whole world.

CO2 Produced Per Barrel Of Gasoline Burned:

19 pounds of CO2 are created by burning a gallon of gasoline. 

= 42 gallons per barrel * 19 pounds of CO2 
= 798 pounds of C02 produced per barrel
= 362.7 kilograms of C02 produced per barrel of oil. 

World Oil Consumption:

Yearly, how much CO2 is created in the atmosphere by burning oil? First, what are the numbers for oil consumption? From The Economist, and using the numbers from: 

Over 80 million barrels of oil is now consumed in the world each day. 

World Daily Oil Consumption:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

At Constant Consumption - Not

There are a lot of reports coming out lately that say we have 100 or 500 year supply of resource x, y, z, and especially oil "at current consumption". Which really means, at the current rate of consumption. Say, n units per year. It also assumes that the n units of consumption per year will remain constant, and never change. Which of course is not realistic at all, as the world population grows and demand for oil and everything else increases.

As Dr. Albert A. Bartlett notes in "The Most Important Video You Will Ever See", this totally ignores the fact that consumption rates are going up exponentially.

In finance, there is the "Rule of 72". It's a simple finance rule to determine how quickly money will double at a given compound interest rate.

72/interest rate = years required for the money to double

We can use the Rule of 72, for some quick calculations. If you have a population growth rate of 7%, in ten years, the population has doubled. And in 20 years, the population has quadrupled! If your city's sewer system in inadequate now, think how bad it will be in 20 years!

I was thinking about this, and decided to model it in Excel. Just how much remains, and how quickly does it run out? It's amazing how fast things do run out.

Even if there is only a 1% increase in consumption, the "500 year supply" will only last 181 years!  Less than half the time of the original 500 year prediction.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Book Review: Financial Times Briefings - Sustainable Business

A few months ago, I read at the book:  Financial Times Briefings - Sustainable Business, By Brian Clegg.

It is a book aimed at executives on incorporating sustainability into their corporations. Not unlike a financial analyst's primer on certain new technologies for investors.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Hummer Versus Prius

There was a rumor that was circulating a few years ago. I recall it being on the internet, but not in the mainstream media.

It went, that because a Toyota Prius used lithium batteries, and that mining lithium caused so much environmental damage, the Hummer was actually better for the environment over the long term. Really?

A number of writers have since clearly disproved this. See their valid analysis here:



However, I did my own simple analysis. It was not difficult at all. The hardest part is finding the correct numbers.


Prius - Weight Of The Battery:

How Much Gas Do ICE Vehicles Burn Up Just Idling At Red Lights?

Further to my previous post on CO2 in Evs and ICE vehicles, how much gas is burned over a car's lifetime idling away at red lights and stop signs? And then accelerating up to speed again?

A Honda Accord gets approximately 25 MPG in city driving, and 31 MPG on the Highway


Assume 25 MPG for a Honda Accord in city driving.

200K miles / 25 MPG
= 8000 gallons of gas in the car's lifetime

8000 Gallons * $4.00 per gallon:
= $32,000 for gas in the car's lifetime

$32,000 / 200,000 Miles
= 16 cents per mile, just for the gasoline


Assume 31 MPG for a Honda Accord for highway driving.