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Archive for July 29th, 2010

I was moved to searcha certain name on Google this afternoon as I was trying to cool down after my morning’s forays into the brassica patch.  I mean “forays” in the most military of its usage.

It has come to my attention that since I removed the floating row cover from the broccoli, which was getting entirely to big to be contained within the narrow confines of the piece I had on it, the cabbage looper butterflies, corn ear worm moths, harlequin beetles and several other herbivores have discovered the existence of this most elysian of grazing grounds.   So I was out there, in the sun, without my hat on (I know, my bad!), making a surgical strike against the bug population by locating their egg masses and squashing them,  . . .

cabbage looper moth egg case

harlequin beetle egg case

. . .putting the squeeze on any and all caterpillars I came across in my search for the eggs including the little tiny ones that are still only 3-4mm long right now, . . .

. . . and capturing and despatching all the adult harlequin beetles that dared to show themselves.

I ruminated on the realization that I was essentially attempting to commit genocide.  Unrepentant, I continued my activities.  I was happy to despatch this newly hatched group of harlequin beetles.

Notice the older nymph just above the hatchlings.   It has been feeding in the area for a couple of days, and you can see the characteristic damage to the leaf just to its left in the photo.

A further flight into fancy involved the cosmetic industry and the power of advertising.   It occurred to me that if the Madison Avenue types could figure out a way to convince the Great American Consumerwoman that rubbing the juice of freshly smashed harlequin beetles into their skin would prevent them from getting the dreaded Wrinkle Disease, I would have people lining up at my door, clamoring to come help me kill harlequin beetles, and even paying for the privilege.    Somehow I found this line of thought amusing, although I did not try rubbing any dead bugs on my face.

Below is a pair of images, one of a broccoli plant that I did not get around to checking thoroughly the other day and which had a substantial number of herbivores eating their dinner on it.   The second one is one that I cleaned off a couple of days ago.  Please notice the acute difference in the health and glossiness of the leaves.

I realize that this method of organic pest control is way too labor intensive for a large operation, but it suits my purposes just fine. I find killing bugs is a wonderful antidote to any feelings of negativity I have, plus  I find considerable amusement in meeting the members of the ecosystem that occupy my garden.   A little mason bee took a break from its pollinating activities, visited me and helped himself to the potassium and sodium on my skin.  That is the base of my thumb in the shot.

I also saw lots of little spiders.  This one was busily hunting for the small harlequin beetles I missed, so I left her to her work.

I came inside to get my camera, because after I finished going through the whole patch, I picked the daily crop of cucumbers (one of which I have been munching on as I type this post).   While I was searching the cucumber vines, I noticed the asparagus has decided to start a new little flush of stalks.  I noticed that because the cucumbers have made it all the way across the path and have begun using the  forest of old asparagus stalks as a new trellis.

So I picked a little asparagus, and while I was doing that  I noticed a cucumber hanging amidst the asparagus patch that was so beautiful and surreal I just had to come in to get my camera.  Once I got inside, I realized that I needed to cool off a bit, considering I was pretty much bathed in sweat.

Now I have cooled off a bit, and I shall go out to see if I can locate said surreal cucumber, and photograph it.   I am not sure it will actually still be there, as we have developed a theory about cucumbers designed to help explain how a cucumber can possibly get to be six inches long when two people are combing through the patch, once in the morning and once in the evening, in a concerted effort to gather enough 1-2″ long baby cucumbers for a batch of sweet gherkins.   Our theory involves alternate universes and multiple dimensions:   we think the cucumbers go off into an alternate reality where time is speeded up radically, thereby becoming able to grow several inches in what appears in this dimension to be only a few hours.   So, if our theory is correct, it is entirely possible that I will go out to the cucumber patch and not be able to locate the cucumber that sent me inside for the camera in the first place.

Back in a few. . .

It must have heard me coming and flipped back into this universe when I opened the garden gate, because it was still there where I left it.

Anyway, the Google search made me wonder what I would turn up if I googled my own name, and when I searched the nickname I generally go by I discovered that there is a singer in the SF Bay area that is a lot more important than I am, and some woman died  someplace about four years ago, and that is also more important.   Then I thought to search my formal name, and that was when I came across this abstract of an article which was published thirty two years ago in Estuarine and Coastal Marine Science, Volume  9, Issue 4:

Arene and alkane hydrocarbons in nearshore Beaufort Sea sediments

David G. Shaw, Douglas J. McIntosh and Eleanor R. Smith

Institute of Marine Science, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Alaska 99701, U.S.A.

Received 30 June 1978.

A suite of nearshore arctic marine sediments whose alkane composition suggests only biogenic sources, contains complex mixtures of arenes (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Among the stations analyzed, distributions of arenes characteristic of both pyrolytic and fossil sources were observed. The geographic distribution of pyrolytic arenes and other lines of evidence suggest that their source may be long distance transport of anthropogenic combustion products. Fossil arenes are present at some locations in sufficient quantity to mask any pyrolytics present.

You know, I remember writing that article for the journal at the behest of my boss.  I can hardly believe that I actually wrote an article with such an arcane abstract; that I actually understood the subject well enough to write a journal article.  There were others I wrote, one of which appeared in the Journal of Hydrocarbon Chemistry.

I was also required to present a paper based on that research at an oceanography conference held at the U of A.   That article appears in Volume One of a report entitled “The Eastern Bering Sea Shelf: Oceanography and Resources”.  All I really remember about that presentation was the acute stage fright I suffered when I got up to the rostrum to present, and the way I almost could not talk when the Q and A session began.   But my boss, the David Shaw in the above list of authors, told me I did a great job.

Anyway, when I googled my name, that listing was fifth on the list of the Google “finds”, my Facebook page is 7th.  I don’t think  someone looking at those two google results would necessarily put those entries together as referring to one and same person.

Goodness, how life has changed and progressed in the interim.

It boggles the mind.

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