the two highlights of this sunday was to watch the women's world cup final between the US and japan and later catch the season premiere of breaking bad.
caterpillars are messy eaters. they're essentially designed to be feeding machines, so when it comes to waste management, it's pretty basic. it's easy to tell if a caterpillar's been feeding because there will be telltale caterpillar poop everywhere. that's how i realized one of them was eating my sunflower. i first noticed the dark pellets which are the droppings. i saw some of the leaves on one of sunflowers had been eaten, but i couldn't find the caterpillar itself, until i checked a second time and found a white hairy caterpillar on the underside of a leaf. it wasn't feeding anymore, which makes me think it's about ready to pupate. this particular caterpillar is called a yellow woolly bear (even though it's kind of white), and is the immature form of the virginia tiger moth. since it didn't do too much damage other than chew a few leaves and wasn't going to eat anymore, i decided to leave it alone and see if it'll spin into a cocoon.
my father has discovered arugula this season and has allowed all the arugula plants to bolt so we can collect seeds for future harvest. the arugula has essentially gone wild and taken over RB1; i put up a fence today to keep the long stems from spilling out of the raised bed.
snapdragons are in fact perennials but grow as annuals in cold-season areas (like new england). the ones we have growing in the backyard are a dwarf variety, much to the disappointment of my sister, who was hoping for something larger. they're so tiny they're not even worth cutting for making floral arrangements.
the secret to making hot peppers hot is to make them angry. and how is this accomplished? by growing them in poor soil and water sparingly. these steps make them go berserk and in retaliation they become as hot as possible in an attempt to murder their cruel garden master. the hot peppers we have growing in the backyard unfortunately are not that angry. we don't water them very much but they're growing in rich compost which causes them to become mild. mild plants make mild peppers. one of the long green ones who ate later for dinner wasn't hot at all.
the women's world cup final began at 2:00. does it make me a bad american if i didn't root for team USA? they're favorite to win and in 25 meetings between the two teams, US has won all 25 games. it's just more satisfying to root for the underdog though. you take a look at the japanese team and you can't believe they've made it this far. physically, they're like a team of asian munchkins, and i say that with the utmost respect. they have to be somewhat legit though if they managed to beat both germany and sweden. but maybe those games were flukes. up against american dominance, they should be happy if they can just manage to score a goal before happily ceding the championship to the US.
i watched with my mother, who was almost too anxious to last through all 90 minutes. later my father tuned in as well when he got home from the cafe. the US had possess of the ball for most of the first half, attacking japan's goal multiple times, but amazingly not managing to score. the ball would have the post, or sail over the net, and a few times the goalkeeper managed to catch the ball.
in the second half we finally had our first goal, when the US kicked the ball into japan's net at the 69 minute mark. all the US needed was to hold on for about 20 more minutes, but that was too much time and japan managed to score as well with just 9 minutes left in regulation, to tie the score at 1-1.
in extra time (30 additional minutes), the US managed to score at the 104 minutes mark with an amazingly precise header by wambach (she and goalkeeper solo seem to be the charismatic stars of the team). all they had to do was play defense for 16 more minutes.
at 117 minutes japanese team captain sawa scored an amazing goal to tie the game at 2-2. she hit the ball from an angle that didn't seem to have any camera coverage, so it looked she just magically diverted the ball into the US net.
so japan managed to stay alive, coming back twice to tie with the US. once extra time was over, it was time for the penalty shoot-out. i personally think that's a stupid way to decide a game, but better than additional playing time, which won't guarantee one or the other team will score before players pass out from exhaustion. penalty kicks are just too stressful; i always feel bad for the goalkeeper, the kind of pressure they're under.
anything goes in penalty kicks and anything went today. on paper, it seemed the US was still the favorite. with the face of US professional soccer hope solo as goalkeeper, versus an unknown japanese goalie who looks more like a boy than a girl, who stands the better chance? so what was amazing was that the japanese goalkeeper managed to stop 3 consecutive attempts. first one was an amazing leg block that was sheer luck; second one the US kicker missed the net entirely; and third the goalie predicted correctly and blocked the ball with her hands. on the US side, solo almost didn't even seem to try to block the first kick, which softly went into the net straight down the middle. second kick she blocked, and would've blocked the third kick if the ball didn't continue bouncing into the net.
with the US having failed their first 3 attempts, japan needed just one more goal to win. kumagai successfully coverted the penalty, and just like that, the world was turned upside-down and japan ended up winning the world cup.
during dinner, we watched the encore broadcast of the women's world cup game. my mother was able to enjoy it more now she knew the final outcome.
i had to circle the block before i found a parking for my motorcycle when i went home; street cleaning is tomorrow, so i had to make sure i wasn't on the side of the street that would be getting towed. later i went out to put the rain cover on the bike since there might be some showers tomorrow morning. i saw my roommate coming out of the house and locking the door. "don't lock the door," i called out, since i didn't have my key with me.
the season premiere of breaking bad was a good start. this show can't do any wrong so i won't extol how great it is. i thought this was the season where walter white becomes even more of a bad ass, but in this first episode he's revealed to be a lightweight in the face of true psychopathic criminality. there will be reckoning! gus vs. walter!