Category Archives: Stuff that doesn’t fit

Stuff that doesn’t fit in any category, or leftover posts from the big category revolution of 2009.

Living on a Boat

[fr] Ce matin, j'ai passé une heure et demie à lire les aventures de Capucine et Tara Tari.

I’m writing this (“yesterday’s”) post late, because I unexpectedly ended up joining a party of one of my clients’ — I sailed past it as I was bringing the boat back into the marina, saw the big banner with their name on it, texted my contact, and he promptly invited me to join them.

On Wednesday nights during the “good” season I usually go sailing. We have training races. Tonight I was at the till, and we did good, better than I expected. That means there were more than one or two boats behind us when we crossed the finish line.

I might have mentioned it: sometimes I dream of living on a boat. I’ll probably never do it, but I like dreaming of it. This morning Corinne sent me a link to Where is Tara Tari? — the blog of Capucine and Tara Tari, her boat. She crossed the Atlantic with it. Corinne told me it made her think of a cross between she and I: a nomad on a boat.

I spent an hour and a half reading through the blog, and reading articles about Capucine and Tara Tari. Check out the blog. The boat is beautiful. It’s a 9m boat built in Bangladesh on the model of traditional fishing boats, using a jute composite. The guy who built it sailed it to France, and Capucine took over from there.

The Mollymawks also get me dreaming. I have spent hours reading their blog and books. Unlike Capucine who is at sea alone with her boat, the Mollymawks are a whole family with three children born at sea — now grown and growing up.

Funny how some dreams or obsessions we have seem destined to remain just that. And I say this without bitterness. I’m not sure I would like living on a boat “permanently”. But I like dreaming about it.

3rd #back2blog challenge (3/10), with: Brigitte Djajasasmita (@bibiweb), Baudouin Van Humbeeck (@somebaudy), Mlle Cassis (@mlle_cassis), Luca Palli (@lpalli), Yann Kerveno (@justaboutvelo), Annemarie Fuschetto (@libellula_free), Ewan Spence (@ewan), Kantu (@kantutita), Jean-François Genoud (@jfgpro), Michelle Carrupt (@cmic), Sally O’Brien (@swissingaround), Adam Tinworth (@adders), Mathieu Laferrière (@mlaferriere), Graham Holliday (@noodlepie), Denis Dogvopoliy (@dennydov), Christine Cavalier (@purplecar), Emmanuel Clément (@emmanuelc), Xavier Bertschy (@xavier83). Follow #back2blog.

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Posted in Does This Need a New Category?, Personal | Tagged capucine, mollymawk, nomad, nomade, sailing, tara tari, voile, yottie | Leave a comment

Bol d’Or Mirabaud 2013 avec le Farrniente

[en] YouTube video and Storify of my three days sailing on the lake with the Farrniente for the Bol d'Or.

C’était mon troisième Bol d’Or, le week-end dernier. Genève-Bouveret-Genève à la voile. Ça va pas forcément vite (29h de course pour le Farrniente) mais ça donne un peu le même sentiment de satisfaction qu’une longue randonnée en montagne: tout ce chemin parcouru sans source d’énergie extérieure!

J’ai posté quelques photos et séquences vidéo en cours de route, jusqu’à ce que mon iPhone rende l’âme (malgré le chargeur de secours que j’ai vidé aussi). Grâce à Storify, voici donc le Bol d’Or 2013 du Farrniente presque comme si vous y étiez. J’ai pris pas mal de photos que je dois encore trier (avec celles des éditions 2009 et 2012!) et en attendant de faire mieux, j’ai collé bout à bout les séquences vidéo pour en faire le film d’une quinzaine de minutes que vous pouvez voir ici:

Moins pénible peut-être que la vidéo, le Storify mentionné plus haut (et il paraît que les liens vers les vidéos dans Facebook marchent quand même, même si on n’a pas de compte Facebook!):

J’ai profité de l’engouement provoqué par la possibilité de suivre le Farrniente live durant la course pour créer une page Facebook pour le bateau. Click click!

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Posted in Does This Need a New Category?, My corner of the world | Tagged bol d'or, bol d'or mirabaud, bouveret, course, farr 727, farrniente, genève, histoire, lac léman, live, photos, régate, sailing, suisse, vaud, video, voile, voilier | 2 Comments

Downtown Project Las Vegas

[fr] Quelques infos sur Downtown Project Las Vegas, un projet très inspirant.

Yesterday, before diving back into #joiito, I was rummaging around a little to see what Zappos and Tony Hsieh had been upto since the Amazon acquisition, where Tony’s book Delivering Happiness ends.

A bit of googling later, I understand that Tony is in fact the driving force behind the Downtown Project in Las Vegas. I first head of Downtown Project through Cathy Brooks, who was moving from San Francisco to Las Vegas to start Downtown Dog House. I was happy for her (as I pretty much always am when I see friends embark on big life changes) but also curious as to what was bringing her to move. The answer was the Downtown Project. I visited the website a bit then, got the gist of it, but only truly got what it was about when I understood that this is the continuation of Tony’s community and values-based vision.

I invite you to check out these links for more info:

I personally find all this inspiring, and next time I go to the US (no trip planned at this stage) it definitely makes me want to visit.

Serendipitiously, one of the first people I ended up chatting with last night on #joiito, Thomas Knoll, is also involved in Downtown Project. I took that as a sign that #joiito has to live on.

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Posted in Connected Life, Does This Need a New Category? | Tagged cathy brooks, downtown project, las vegas, thomas knoll, tony hsieh | Leave a comment

My Interest in Organisations and how Social Media Fits in

[fr] Ce qui m'intéresse dans ces histoires d'organisations, et le lien avec les médias sociaux (du coup, aussi des infos sur mon intérêt pour ceux-ci).

I found these thoughts about organisations at the beginning of Here Comes Everybody fascinating: organisations and how they disfunction are a long-standing interest of mine, dating back to when I was a student with a part-time job at Orange. My initial interest was of course function rather than dysfunction. How does one make things happen in an organisation? What are the processes? Who knows what? It was the organisation as system that I found interesting.

Quickly, though, I bumped my head against things like processes that nobody knew of and nobody was following. Or processes that were so cumbersome that people took shortcuts. Already at the time, it seems I displayed a “user-oriented” streak, because my first impulse was to try to figure out what was so broken about those processes that people found it more costly to follow them than come up with workarounds. Or try to understand how we could tweak the processes so that they were usable. In reaction to which one manager answered “no, people must follow the processes”. I didn’t know it then, but I guess that was when I took my first step towards the door that would lead me out of the corporate world.

More recently, and I think I haven’t yet got around to blogging this, I have remembered that my initial very “cluetrainy” interest for the internet and blogging and social media really has to do with improving how people can relate to each other, access information, and communicate. The revelation I had at Lift’06 (yes, the very first Lift conference!) while listening to Robert Scoble and Hugh McLeod about how this blogging thing I loved so much was relevant to business was that it pushed business to change and humanised it. Blogging and corpepeak don’t mix well, blogging is about putting people in contact, and about listening to what is being said to you. As the Cluetrain Manifesto can be summarised: it’s about how the internet changes the way organisations interact with people, both outside and inside the organisation.

That is what rocks my boat. Not marketing on Facebook or earning revenue from your blog.

Again and again, when I talk to clients who are trying to understand what social media does and how to introduce it in their organisation, we realise that social media is the little piece of string you start pulling which unravels everything, from corporate culture to sometimes even the business model of the organisation. You cannot show the human faces of a company that treats its employees like robots. You cannot be “authentic” if you’re out there to screw people. You cannot say you’re listening if you’re not willing to actually listen.

Of course, there is the question of scale. I’ll get back to that. Personal doesn’t scale. Radical transparency or authenticity doesn’t scale. But your average organisation is so far off in the other direction…

I’ve realised that my interest lies more with organisations and forms of collaboration and group effort than with social media per se, which I see first and foremost as a tool, a means to an end, something which has changed our culture and society. I find ROWE and Agile super interesting and want to learn more about them. I have a long-standing interest in freelancing and people who “do things differently”. I’m interested in understanding how we can work and be happy, both. I’m also realising that I have more community management skills than I take credit for.

In the pile of books I brought up with me to the chalet, next to “Organisations Don’t Tweet, People Do” by my friend Euan Semple and books around freelancing there is “Delivering Happiness“, the story of Zappos, and “One From Many“, the story of VISA, the “chaordic organisation” — and “Rework” (37signals) has now joined the ranks of the “have read” books in my bookshelves.

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Posted in Connected Life, Does This Need a New Category?, My work, Personal | Tagged auchalet, cluetrain, communities, company culture, corporate culture, groups, happiness, human, My work, orange, organisations, people, Social Media and the Web | Leave a comment

Economiser vite des sous avec Orange CH

[en] Two ways to save a little money with Orange Switzerland (or maybe, not spend it uselessly).

Bon, des fois on apprend à ses dépens comment ne pas donner de l’argent inutilement à son opérateur télécom. Même quand on a de la famille qui y bosse et que ledit opérateur télécom est un client (full disclosure, hein).

Alors je partage avec vous:

  • Les plans tarifaires Orange Me ont changé de prix. Moins chers. Mais ce n’est pas automatique. J’ai renouvelé mon contrat en prenant un nouveau téléphone (il était temps) et donc ça a réglé mon cas. Mais peut-être qu’en appelant pour demander à être basculé sur le nouveau plan tarifaire (qui si j’ai bien compris a le même nom et les mêmes formules que l’ancien, juste des prix plus avantageux), on peut changer le prix de son abonnement. A tester.
  • A l’étranger, vous faites bien gaffe de désactiver les données cellulaires, et de ne pas répondre au téléphone ou en faire? Bravo. Par contre, saviez-vous que chaque fois que quelqu’un vous appelle et est dévié sur votre boîte vocale, ça vous coûte? 1.20 + 0.40 à chaque fois. Sans que vous ayez à lever le petit doigt. S’il y a des gens motivés à vous contacter et que vous les ignorez royalement, ça peut finir par vous coûter cher. La solution? Désactiver sa boîte vocale avant de partir à l’étranger. ##002#[Appel] ou bien ##004#[Appel] si vous avez un iPhone. Pour réactiver, le code est un poil plus complexe: **004*086[votre numéro]#[Appel] pour l’iPhone. Ah puis oui, il faudra enregistrer à nouveau le message d’accueil de votre boîte. Eh.

En espérant que ceci permettra à un lecteur ou deux d’apprendre de mon ignorance!

Ah oui, et si vous avez des soucis, essayez le nouveau forum en ligne Community. Je n’ai rien à voir avec, mais je trouve que ça marche pas trop mal et c’est pas encore trop saturé ;-)

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Posted in My corner of the world, Stuff that doesn't fit, Technology | Tagged facturation, orange,, Practical, pratique, suisse, switzerland, télécom | Leave a comment

A Bunch of Links

[fr] Pelote de liens.

Linkball time.

Now that you’re nice and depressed, let Kim Wilde lift your spirits with an impromptu performance on the train home the other night.

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Posted in Does This Need a New Category?, Music, News and Politics | Tagged linkball | Leave a comment

Back to Blogging Challenge Wrap-Up

[en] Retour sur le challenge "back to blogging".

So, a good ten days after the end of the Back to Blogging challenge, how are things going?

Well, first of all, I’ve been putting off writing this article because I’m setting myself constraints which make it a big pile of work. For example, the last two days of the challenge I was too busy to link to the articles by other participants (arguably the longest part of publishing those posts). So I’m thinking “ah, I need to do the wrap-up, but before that I should complete those articles”. Well, nope. Obviously it’s not going to happen. Maybe somebody else feels like putting a list together for those two days?

I’ve also been thinking “ah, I should make a list here of all the bloggers who successfully did the 10 days”. Participating is great, and I’m sure many of those who did not complete the challenge got something out of it, but hey, sticking to it is even greater!

So, congratulations to all those of you who stuck through the whole ten days. I’d love to hear feedback on what participating did for you!

For me, even though I feel myself sliding back into “long blog post” mode (this is an attempt to break that) I kind of got into the habit of “a post a day”, which means that when I skip a day, I notice it, and blog the next day. So I’ve been publishing pretty much every couple of days I’d say, which is pretty good.

The other thing I got out of the challenge is a sense of community amongst bloggers — something I hadn’t felt for years and really miss from the early days of blogging. I was really amazed at the sheer number (about 20!) of people who took on the challenge!

At the root of this sense of community, in my opinion, is reading what other people write. A blogger is not an island. In my last post musing about what makes a blog a blog, one of the criteria that comes up is that a blog is in the network. It links to others, is linked to, commented upon, the blogger has contacts with other bloggers or readers. A blog cannot thrive in a vacuum.

Let’s try and keep that alive, shall we? Or we’ll be overrun by the fashion bloggers ;-)

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Posted in Stuff that doesn't fit | Tagged back to blogging, back to blogging challenge, back2blog, bloggers, challenge, community | 5 Comments

La fausse sécurité du digicode

[en] Codes on building doors? Less safe than keys, imho.

Il y a quelques années, la gérance a fait installer un digicode à la porte d’entrée de mon immeuble. Auparavant, l’immeuble était ouvert la journée, fermé la nuit, et il fallait pour rentrer une clé protégée (non copiable sans autorisation).

Argument: meilleure sécurité, demandes des locataires.

Je précise: digicode sans interphone ni sonnette. Si vous ne l’avez pas, vous appelez votre hôte au téléphone, et celui-ci soit vient vous ouvrir (mais oui bien sûr) soit vous dicte le code, que vous rentrez quelque part dans votre carnet d’adresse histoire de ne pas être embêté la prochaine fois que vous venez en visite.

Fermé la journée? Super, sauf pour le local commercial qui tient lieu d’espace coworking où des professionnels reçoivent durant les heures de travail clients et collègues. Juste invivable. J’ai d’ailleurs fait installer à mes frais une sonnette FM (discrète) pour l’eclau.

Résultat? Alors oui, la porte est fermée la journée. Super.

Qui peut accéder à l’immeuble avec le code? A vue de nez, à peu près la moitié de Lausanne (je suis sûre qu’il n’y avait pas autant de clés en circulation). Entre les locataires, leurs familles, leurs amis, les livreurs et autres professionnels qui doivent pouvoir rentrer, les gens qui sont venus une fois à une soirée (je ne mentionne même pas tout l’écosystème qui tourne autour de l’eclau), les ex-locataires (“rendez-nous le code!” haha!), les ex tout court… On a toujours confiance dans les gens qu’on connaît. N’est-ce pas?

Ah oui, et il y a aussi tous les autres locataires des numéros avoisinants qui partagent le même bâtiment. La gérance a en effet envoyé un courrier unique aux trois numéros avec les digicodes des trois entrées.

Et encore? Un code, c’est comme une idée, un objet numérique, ou un mot de passe, ça se transmet super facilement à un tiers. Une clé protégée? Un peu plus dur à dupliquer.

Alors qu’on n’aille pas essayer de me dire qu’en plus de tous les emmerdements que nous procure le digicode, il accroît notre sécurité.

#back2blog challenge (4/10) — articles des autres participants suivront, en attendant allez voir #back2blog sur Twitter.

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Posted in Stuff that doesn't fit | Tagged coup de gueule, digicode, interphone, rant, securité | Leave a comment

More About Hearing Aids (And Geeking Out a Bit)

[fr] Des nouvelles de mes aventures au pays des appareils auditifs: réflexions pour geeks et moins geeks, tant l'expérience humaine que la technologique sont passionnantes!

I got my hearing aids a month and a half ago, and I thought I’d write a bit more about some of the techy aspects as well as what it means to (a) be wearing hearing aids and (b) be hearing better.

Past the initial shock of “OMG do people really hear sounds this loud?!”, I’m really appreciating how relaxing it is to understand pretty much every word people say to me. Even in “good/easy” situations, I realize how much of my hearing is actually “deducing” — specially on the rare occasions nowadays when I talk to people without ma aids in.

As my brother aptly put it when we compared notes as I was coming out of the audiologist’s, it’s “as if sound were coming to me, rather than having to go and fetch the sound”.

Physically, my hearing aids are really comfy now, and I am generally not aware that I’m wearing them. Like a pair of glasses (or a bra!) — you know they’re there if you think of it, but they’re not drawing your attention to them all the time.

The model I’m trying now (I’ll be moving on to my second trial when I get back from holiday, more about that below) is the Widex Clear220 C2-PA (here’s the Widex product page, but it’s not nicely linkable, you’ll have to click around to see the once I have). It’s a mini-BTE (“behind the ear”) with the receiver in the canal (RIC). I’m still learning the terminology, and I have to say “receiver” sounds like a very illogical word for what is in fact the “loundspeaker”.

There are two microphones on the top of the piece that lies behind the ear. My audiologist told me that in noisy environments, the second one kicks in and the aid then reduces the sound coming from the sides and back to focus mainly on what comes in from the front microphone (theoretically: the person I’m speaking with).

The two hearing aids also communicate wirelessly with each other, and do fancy stuff to help with sound spatialisation (ears do fancy stuff too, but with RIC the hearing aid is sticking sound directly in your ear canal, so it needs to mimic what your ear does to sound before that).

The aids also clip loud sounds so that they don’t go above (a) potentially damaging volume (b) the volume above which sound becomes uncomfortable for me (I think).


If you look at the line around 80-100dB, that’s where my discomfort to sound is. It’s quite common that people with hearing loss also have a low tolerance to noise. That means there is less “bandwidth” for the audiologist to work with.

Oh, and you know one of the things associated with hearing aids? The Larsen effect? You don’t really get that with digital hearing aids, because they’re programmed to detect that kind of sound and remove it.

So, what about the less exciting stuff? Well, I was lucky enough to have a car on loan during the first weeks I had my aids. That gave me a chance to test their reaction to loud singing (!) at different frequencies ;-) .

Here’s where it gets interesting: my left hearing aid (in theory the one with slightly less amplification) would clip or chirp at certain frequencies (understand: me singing at the top of my voice as high as I can go — only in the car, people). It’s annoying enough to hear sound that seems to be coming out of a saturated loudspeaker, but when it’s only in one ear, it’s quite maddening.

Other than that, during my first few weeks of test, I had one or two occurrences of chirping. Chirp! You’re walking around in town, and suddenly one of your ears chirp. It happens so fast it leaves you wondering if you dreamed or if it really happened. I’ve actually managed to produce some frequencies (in the car, not reproducible elsewhere ;-) ) that reasonably reliably make it chirp, but other than that I’ve had trouble reproducing the problem.

Early on, another problem I had was that I had the impression my left hearing aid wasn’t amplifying some frequencies. The symptom was I felt as if I had a blocked ear, or cotton in my ear — but it was very mild. It felt as if the receiver was maybe not in the right place (but it was, my audiologist checked). So we did a few tests, and during one of those, one of the frequencies we tried sent the aid into a long continuous beep that didn’t stop until we opened the battery casing to turn it off. I had to pull it out of my ear, and my audiologist was able to witness the sound himself (he has a stethoscope with a special attachment that allows him to listen to what is coming out of a hearing aid). Bug, he said! That hearing aid will be going back to the manufacturer at some point…

We never did completely pinpoint what it was that caused this “muffled” sound, but spatial orientation tests showed that I was slightly disoriented towards the left. So we boosted the right ear by 1dB (counterintuitive… but oh well, audiology is an experimental science). I suspect that the “muffled” feeling could in fact be due to the pressure of the tip in my ear (my left canal is smaller than the right) or something like that. Later on, I discovered that the top of the BTE casing was a tiny bit loose, and we changed it. Right now I have to say I feel this “muffled” problem has completely gone away. Either I got used to it, or something we did made it go… Don’t know.

A couple of weeks back I got an extra 2dB (I started at -8dB, and my audiologist usually starts people at -4dB). It was loud, but bearable. However, the clipping got worse, and worse than that, I found myself having trouble understanding people in situations where it seemed to me I should not be having so much trouble. Restaurants, hallways, noisy places. Back in the office, we actually tested this: word recognition in noisy environments. And the verdict seems to confirm my experience: I understand more words with less amplification. One more reason to try another hearing aid before making any final decision.

I walked out of the office with an extra toy: the M-DEX. The M-DEX does a bunch of things:

  • it connects to your phone by bluetooth and allows your hearing aids to function like a bluetooth headset, streaming sound directly into your aids
  • it’s a remote for the hearing aids (sound up, down, left, right, zoom, mute, music/voice programmes).


As far as I’m concerned, the phone bit (what makes it so expensive) is a complete fail. Pairing with the phone is not a problem, and I manage to get sound into my hearing aids, but the sound quality is much much worse than if I simply put the phone to my ear or stick in my earbuds. This reminds me to mention that I can actually fit my earbuds in my earn “over” the hearing aids. They’re a bit loose and fall out easier, and the sound doesn’t really get amplified by the hearing aid, but it works. For the moment my preferred option is still “earbuds and no hearing-aid” for the phone.

I tried with music rather than phone, and I have the same problem: a huge amount of static background noise, and volume so low that even at maximum setting I have trouble recognizing the song that is playing.

The M-DEX comes with a jack cable, so I tried connecting my phone to it with the cable rather than bluetooth. There is much less static, the sound is much better, but it’s still not really loud enough or clear enough to be an interesting alternative to simply wearing the earbuds, even over the hearing aids.

I have to say I’m pretty disappointed about this bit: I use the phone quite regularly, and listen to a lot of music and podcasts. I can’t believe there isn’t a simple “equalizer” software or application for my phone which I could feed my audiogram to and which would then amplify the frequencies I need. Clearly it wouldn’t be as good as a proper hearing aid, but I’m sure it would help a bit. If you know more about why this isn’t done, I’m all ears (!).

One thing I’m really happy with, though, is the remote function of the M-DEX. Given the problems described above in noisy places, it really helps to be able to bring amplification down a notch (both for troubleshooting and better hearing). I’ve toyed about with the zoom function a bit (selectively amplify sound from behind, left, right, in front) but for the moment I haven’t found a real use for it. Same for selectively amplifying left/right ear.

I absolutely love the “mute” button. Even though I’m trying to wear my aids as much as possible to train my brain to adapt to my new sound environment, it’s quite a relief to be able to just switch them off when it gets too noisy, or when I want to concentrate on something (reading on the train, working in the office), without having to physically remove the hearing aids.

One other annoying thing about the M-DEX (this is a comment I saw somewhere, can’t remember where) is this idea that the M-DEX is going to be the device you interact with rather than your phone. You can dial from it, pick up calls, hang up. Well, OK, maybe this makes sense for technology-confused people, but as far as I’m concerned I’d rather have, as the author of that same comment suggested, an app on my iPhone to control my M-DEX. Leave it to phone manufacturers (or Apple) to make phones.

Leaving aside the tech, one of the effects of wearing hearing aids is that I hear my tinnitus more. Luckily, it’s not bothersome: “white noise” type, not too loud, and not an annoying sound to me. It’s a normal phenomenon: while wearing hearing aids, I’m training my brain to tune out other ambient sounds which are louder than I’m used to, and as everything is louder, my brain doesn’t spend the whole day tuning out my tinnitus so I can hear stuff. It’s relaxing, but it means I’m “out of practice” tuning out the tinnitus, so I hear it more when I remove the hearing aids. No biggie, but I thought I’d mention it, because it’s an interesting phenomenon.

And as far as sharing online goes, I stumbled upon the Hearing Aid Forums — a lively online community of hearing aid users and professionals.

So, where am I, overall? I’m now pretty much “habituated” to hearing better (still -6dB from my “ideal” settings), and if you give me the choice between giving back my hearing aids and keeping them, with the glitches, I am definitely keeping them. But maybe the next trial will give me something even better!

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Posted in Personal, Stuff that doesn't fit, Technology | Tagged amplification, bluetooth, chirping, clipping, hearing aid, hearing aids, iPhone, m-dex, mini-btw, phone, remote, review, ric, widex, widex clear, widex clear200 | 9 Comments

Begonia Flowers

[fr] Saviez-vous que les bégonias faisaient des fleurs femelles et mâles sur la même plante? Je viens de le découvrir.

I realized this morning that my begonia (who has identity problems, more on that later) first produces male flowers, then female ones. I noticed a couple of days ago that the new buds on the flower branch were slightly different from the old ones.

Plants 1.jpg

See the change?

Plants of mine 4.jpg

Above, the “old” male flowers. Below, the “new” female flowers:

Plants 2.jpg

Plants 3.jpg Plants 4.jpg

Of course, inspired by Derek, I’m going to see if I can get seeds out of them, given I still have male flowers in the kitchen :-)

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Posted in Stuff that doesn't fit | Tagged begonia, female, flower, male, plants | 2 Comments