Monday, June 14, 2010

Nature Walks: June 14

I took a walk under the powerlines next to the school today and was thrilled to see two native milkweeds to help out our monarch projects. There were probably 12-20 individuals of each of the two species. We have several cultivated milkweeds in our classroom gardens, but it's nice to have some natural colonies of them about. First is, I think, Curly Milkweed.

Curly Milkweed
Asclepias amplexicaulis

The flowers had faded - this was the best example left.

It seemed to grow as individual stalks topped by a flower.

This one had gone to seed -- well, one seed pod.
See how the leaves curl. Their bases clasp the stem so tightly that they seem to join with the opposite leaf.

When I removed a leaf the milky sap fairly gushed from the wound.

The other milkweed under the powerlines is Butterfly Weed. It is one of the milkweeds that doesn't bleed milk when you pull a leaf. If is also one of my favorite wildflowers. We have several of these plants in our gardens that we have purchased. W could have as easily dug them from under the lines.

Butterfly Weed
Asclepias tuberosa

There were several other things in bloom or fruit as well. Which composite is this?

The ripe blackberries disappeared soon after the photo was taken. They were delicious.
Southern Blackberry
Rubus argutus

There were several of these showy little flowers.
Sensitive Briar
Mimosa microphylla

I don't know if this is fully opened. Could it be a pea?

Another common composite.

I don't know this guy.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Nature Walks: June 7

Yesterday I couldn't resist a walk along the school trail and then on back into Berry property to see what's blooming and to get a little exercise. I found several pretty blooms, some I know, some I don't. I'll label them the best I can, but always understand my labels are preliminary until they have Richard or Teresa's OK!

Black-eyed Susans everywhere. Rudbeckia hirta, I suppose. This one was enjoying a visit from an interesting wasp.

All along the old railroad bed were clumps of this showy flower. I think it may be Wild Bergamot, Monarda fistulosa. It is a very pretty flower that is new to me.

This one looks like a Scuttellaria of some sort?

Wild Petunia? Ruellia sp?

This is growing in our little stream. It's Lizard's Tail, Saururus cernuus.

Alright, Richard and Teresa, set me straight.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

What Makes A Story "Newsworthy"?

I posted this article today on DaytonOS

I just had a chance to talk briefly with Lynn Hulsey, the reporter for the Dayton Daily News. On my way home from making copies of the resolution for the Montgomery County Democratic Party Reorganization Meeting, I stopped in at the DDN office in the old NCR building on Main Street, and asked at the desk if I might speak with Ms Hulsey.

I was pleased that within a few minutes Hulsey showed up and greeted me. I know I’ve met her before in a couple different settings -- very professional and very considerate.

Ms Hulsey let me know, gracefully, that she doubted that my resolution was newsworthy and that the DDN is not likely to print any story concerning the inner workings of the MCDP at their Reorganization Meeting. “Now, if it passes ...” she said. Of course, I told her, I didn’t expect the resolution to pass, but that, to me, it still would seem a good story for the DDN to cover.

Ms Hulsey told me that for political junkies the story would be interesting, but most people just wouldn’t be interested. But she thanked me for coming in, said she appreciated the information and asked to let her know the outcome. I told her that I very much appreciated her time.

I'm hoping that the DDN might change its outlook about what makes a story of value, worthy of investigation, worthy of investing time and effort into researching and writing. I would argue that the kind of stories that help explain our world are the stories that interest people. Everyone wants to have some insight into the answers to these questions: Why do we continually elect such weak leaders? Why does our political process fail to produce men of vision, imagination and conviction? Why is our democracy becoming a failure?

Just recently, the DDN printed an article about family members who work for other family members who are elected officials. I’d like to see Ms Hulsey, or some other industrious reporter, do some research about the local Democratic Party. A good place to start would be to research the individuals who show up this evening as voting delegates to the Reorganization Meeting: How many of these people hold patronage jobs assigned to them by elected Democrats? How many of these people, themselves, are elected officials?