A Saturday on Campus

Work has been demanding. My To Do List is reproducing faster than I can kill it. That means I spent most of today at the office. After hours of productivity I decided to walk around campus with my camera to see some things I’ve been wanting to see. It was a short, eclectic walk.

My first stop was a tree across from my department building. I saw the tree in full flower when I was visiting the campus to interview last fall. Recently it has been flowering again. I wanted to see it up close, take some pictures, and identify it.

A large tree covered with large pink flowers.

The mystery pink tree, which I believe is a pink silk floss tree (Ceiba specisoa).

Upon closer observation I noticed that the tree was being swarmed by hummingbirds. I’ve never seen so many hummingbirds in one place before. They were zipping around like the tree was producing nectar laced with crack. I believe the tree is a pink silk floss tree (Ceiba specisoa). Mystery solved.

Next up was the Graphic Arts Building on campus. My goal was to find a bathroom on the second floor. For many years the campus radio station, KCPR, had a studio on the second floor of this building. In the 1970s Weird Al was a student at Cal Poly, and he worked as a DJ at KCPR. Across the door from the studio was a men’s bathroom, and Weird Al appreciated the acoustics in the room. When he decided to record his first demo, the song “My Bologna,” he did so in the bathroom. Later he would jokingly refer to the bathroom as “Studio 229” in reference to the room number. (As an aside, there are two men’s bathrooms on the second floor of this building–and I thought the other bathroom had better acoustics.)

"Studio 229" where Weird Al recorded his first demo, "My Bologna."

“Studio 229” where Weird Al recorded his first demo, “My Bologna.”

From the Graphic Arts Building I walked back to my car, then drove to the Horticulture Unit. At the Hort Unit I checked in on some plants in the lath house. Back in the spring quarter I propagated several succulent plants from leaf cuttings with my EHS 315 class. The new crinkle leaf plants (Adromischus cistatus) are emerging. When a leaf cutting is stuck in a substrate the new plant emerges from a growing point at the base of the leaf, the leaf itself is not part of the new plant. (When I see leaf cuttings I think of the line from Sin City: “An old man dies; a young woman lives. Fair trade.”)

A large succulent leaf planted in a substarte, with a tiny new leaf emerging beside it.

A crinkle leaf plant (Adromischus cristatus) growing from a leaf cutting.

Some of the cacti we grew from seeds are still growing. It’s a test to their tenacity, for I neglected them for a long time. The Ferocactus alamosanus are the best looking of the bunch.

Tiny cacti, about as big as dimes, in a plug tray.

Some cacti seedlings.

We also set up stem cuttings of Trichocereus spachianus. These cuttings now have roots, and the top of the cuttings have started to develop new stems. I have to admit I was less than certain that these cuttings were going to grow. I’m curious how they will develop.

Sections of a thick cactus in pots, with little new stems growing from them.

Cactus cuttings!

As I was leaving the Hort Unit I stopped by the Equine Unit and took some pictures of Bishop Peak with the sun beside it. I was playing around with different camera settings to capture different types of sun spots, when a guy flagged me down from a nearby parking lot. I ceased mountain photographing to help him jump start his auto.

Bishop's Peak in the distance, with a very bright sun near it in the sky (the picture has sun spots in it).

Bishop Peak in the sunlight.

On my way off campus I stopped at Spanos Stadium. I read in the newspaper (well, maybe I should say on the webpage of the local newspaper) that a big donor to Cal Poly was recently arrested. He has a prominent ad on the football scoreboard. It turns out Mr. Moriarty was allegedly running a big Ponzi scam. I wonder if the sign will soon be removed?

A football scoreboard.

A soon-to-be-removed sign?

And then I drove home. The California Boulevard entrance to campus is my favorite entrance (and exit) because of the large palm trees. Even when I’m working ridiculous hours I still feel a little like I’m on vacation when I drive in and out past this gauntlet of stately palms.

A road lined with large palm trees.

The California Boulevard entrance to campus.

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