Field of Science

Botanical Fashion?

This pantsuit outfit was seen yesterday inside a fairly fancy
shop in downtown Wellington, NZ.  TPP knows that this is about half way around the world from the big city of Chi-town, which sort of rules our small part of the fashion world.  So the question is simply, Where would you wear your pineapple decorated pant suit?  Is this the kind of fashion you spring on people all at once or do you dole it out?  Seriously, is TPP out of line?  Or is this as hideous as he thinks?  Maybe if you were giving a tropical fruit lecture, it would be OK, just at TPP matches some of his Hawaiian shirts to the lecture topic.  

Friday Fabulous Fern - Sort of

TPP missed another Friday, sorry, sports fans, a lodging that advertised free WiFi made it as difficult as possible to connect and the lap top did not want to cooperate, so without a real keyboard, no blogging.  A popular area near Rotorua NZ is just called "redwoods", and darned if it isn't a planted grove of California redwoods!  The oldest trees were planted in 1901, so they are now well over 100 and decently big trees.  There may be Ewoks here as walkways and platforms are everywhere, hundreds of meters of them.  Like a real redwood grove, there is not much of an understory, mostly ferns, mostly tree ferns, and quiet.  Hundreds of people walk, run, bike, and generally recreate in this area daily, but you know what none of them ever see?  Well, you need to travel with TPP if you want to see neato things that escape everyone else's attention.
Every 3d or so tree fern had a ferny epiphyte growing upon and within its trunk, and although TPP has seen this plant before, never was it so common.  The ferny plant is Tmesipteris (mez-ip-terr-is), a whisk fern. It's only close relative is Psilotum (seye-low-tum), which is considerably better known.  TPP is not happy calling this plant a fern, although it has common ancestry with ferns somewhere.


Lost a Friday here somewhere - but Friday Fabulous Fern anyways

Somewhere out there in the middle of the Pacific TPP lost a Friday, and a decent night's sleep too.  A day or two later it's Monday here in Aukland New Zealand.  Lots of unfamiliar plants around here, but thought a post on an old favorite might be in order.  Here's a nice view looking down on the crown, the whorl of leaves, the fronds that constitute the crown of the fern, Cyathea dealbata.  They can grow several meters tall, this one was about 3 but TPP was on a walkway above it.  The fronds are generally a meter and a half to two meters long.

"Raw" water, not a craze, just crazy

Sometimes, maybe not enough times, the lack of a scientific perspective can be dangerous to your health or that of others (anti-vacc people).  The promoters of raw water want you to have all the minerals, and Pro-biotics, in untreated water.  Now in the view of a biologist having ready access to safe, hygienic water is one of the best examples of how science and technology have improved the public's well-being.  And remember this: "In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is strength, in water there is bacteria." (David Auerbach, 2002).  TPP, as a frequent traveler in the tropics, even appreciates the marketing insight of soda makers who realized that by the time you had the water filtered and treated to make it safe for soda, you had a marketable commodity before you even added in the sugar, or its substitute, and the flavorings and colorings and carbonation, and charge nearly as much for no more ingredients.  So you can find nice, safe bottled water all across India, and the rest of SE Asia.  And you can stop wondering if the water treatment tabs you brought from home will kill elephant liver flukes as well as they kill moose liver flukes.  So the raw water people are just being stoopid and ignorant, as stoopid and ignorant as their gullible prey, presumably the same people who buy things because they are labeled "non-GMO" or "no gluten" especially items that could not possibly have a cereal grain protein.  Or could we market a homeopathic water purifier?  Would it magically remove things from water as well as it puts them in?  Or are we going to have another PT Barnum moment of never under estimating people's ability to fool themselves, but can they fool their intestines too?