Saturday, 30 July 2011

Things I Learned on the Road-II

Things I Learned on the Road (and long afterward, at home)

Some notes from a trip a few years ago with some updates from recent readings.... enjoy (or if this is your second time, re-enjoy)
Newsflash!! Spanish Moss is NOT Spanish...AND (wait for it.....) it is NOT moss... talk about bad names... The French gave it the "Spanish" name as an insult???? Guess you had to be there. Probably an old Monty Python skit about that, "Your Moss is Spanish and your Mother smells of Elderberries!!!". Ok, and the moss part, NOPE... its an epiphitic (gets its food from the air) bromeliad (cousin of the pineapple). Now you know

I also was reminded that people are really strange. In the middle of the road in Enterprise Alabama, there is a statue to the Boil Weevil . Now if you are really a city child and know nothing of the agricultural history of the south, the weevil wiped out many cotton farmers in the south around the beginning of the 20th century. The idea of a monument to the weevil in Alabama would seem like a giant grasshopper in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Ok, So a few years later I came across a reason for this at the Futility Closet blog by Greg Ross.  It seems that, after the weevil's wiped out all the cotton crops for several years in a row, "local businessman H.M. Sessions convinced indebted farmer C.W. Bastion to try planting peanuts instead of cotton. When Bastion produced 8,000 bushels that year, neighboring farmers followed suit, and in 1917 Coffee County brought forth the largest peanut harvest in the nation.
Because the new, diversified crops proved more profitable than cotton, in 1919 local businessman Roscoe Fleming proposed dedicating a statue to the pest that had proven a “herald of prosperity,” and an $1,800 classical statue was commissioned from an Italian sculptor. Thirty years later, one Luther Baker fashioned a large weevil to place atop her outstretched arms. Might as well be explicit."  --And now you know, as Paul Harvey would say, ....

I also continued my road heroics on Jekyll Island (which used to be called Jeykl Island, but someone thought the extra L would be better ). I saved a Loggerhead Turtle and set him free. Ok, I didn't do it all by myself. The Georgia Sea Turtle association was releasing a ten year old (about 150 pounds) that had been kept in the Georgia Acquarium since its egg-ship. I did happen to be in the crowd watching as Dylan, that was his name, went free. He seemed to need a little encouragement as he turned back to shore several times. Eventually prompted by the workers in the waters urging he swam out to sea. Perhaps he was also encouraged by the shouting on shore as the crowd yelled "DIll - Enn.. Dill Enn... repeatedly, especially if he was as confused as I was at first. I thought I had fallen in with gourmets of the turtle soup variety yelling "Kill him, kill him..' eventually I got it straight, and hope Dylan also knew we were NOT trying to have him for supper.

More stuff I learned, don't explain palindromes while driving through Elba, Alabama. As I came into town the name of the town reminded me of one of the first palindromes I ever leaned (OK, second, the first was Madam I am Adam.. read it backwards if you don't know what a palindrome is); Able was I ere I saw Elba. In math, we call numbers like 121 or 1331 or 14641 (surely you recognize the powers of 11) palindromic numbers. We even refer to a polynomial like 1x2+2x+1 as palindromic (look at the coefficients). As I was making sure my wife understood, I saw flashing lights in the rear view mirror... apparently the speed through town was only 25 mph and I was, as the kind officer explained holding thumb and finger an inch apart, "A little over." It was Sunday Morning, and in the spirit of Christian charity, he let me off with a warning.... Thank goodness I was not in Georgia.. I might still be rotting in Macon County Correctional Institute for Out of state drivers.
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