News from the Real World


Pan from ATL Bot Garden

I understand that the US builds flood control barriers for what is at the time of construction (and that this assessment is not regularly adjusted is part of the problem) thought to be a “100-year” flood. Of course, that’s theoretical, but it is a label that provides perspective. I also understand that in Holland they build for 1000-year flood events.

HUGE difference.

Meanwhile, at one earthen levee along the Mississippi River:

Officials spent nearly six hours choking off the leak caused by a muskrat burrowing in the soft ground early Monday.*

Six hours, mind you. Now, I’m not the most knowledgeable at natural history, but a muskrat? This is not an unexpected species (Wikipedia has its range as across the continental US), and its habits are well-known. Will we soon be hearing that we taxpayers must ante up X-gajillion dollars because of ONE MUSKRAT?

This from an AP story in the NYTimes this afternoon, dateline Winfield, Missouri.

Spoiler is right….


When the body shop saw the Prius after the tree hugged it, they said it’d take two-and-a-half weeks to fix it. Well, they had it four, and must have decided that they just wanted to divest themselves of it. I don’t even remember that the spoiler needed any work, but this is what the right end of it looked like when we picked it up (blobs on top of paint, holes through paint). Yeah, we need it, so we took it like this, with the assurance that they will fix it NEXT TIME. I’m sad!

Freestone vs. Clingstone


The other day I had some lovely south Georgia freestone peaches. Right now, I’m eating my way through some tasty clingstones, grown on an in-town otherwise-ornamental peachtree.

My dad always grew freestones; although I see several places on the web claim that freestones tend to have a harder flesh, Dad’s freestones were always super-juicy. I remember coming home from school in the fall and heading out to the trees directly from the school bus, and selecting an especially huge, red specimen, then bending over to eat it so the juice dripped harmlessly off my chin into the grass instead of on my school clothes**.

Despite the fact that Georgia continues to be (proudly, in some quarters) nicknamed “The Peach State*,” the USDA statistics record that for some years the state with the biggest peach crop has been California. In 2004, CA grew 76% of the US peach crop, up from 75% in 2003.

Peaches are from China. They weren’t in the New World until the arrival of European-types. Thus, finding peach pits on an archaeological site of indeterminant age in the Southeast, for example, means it dates to the historic period.

* Sam Henry Rumph, of Macon County, developed a peach he named Elberta for his wife. Apparently, this lead to the state taking the Peach State moniker.

** Other than the obvious uniforms, do kids even have “school clothes” any more?