Monday, November 12, 2012

CA bulrush ~ 11/12/12 ~ Frog Pond


edited 11/15/12 - This is not a sexy post.  I've been off my blogging routine the past few weeks thanks to major headlines occupying my morning internet time:  Giants winning the 2012 World Series, Sandy, elections, Petraeus resignation, all interspersed with gruesome murderous plots. I've wanted to write about Buster Posey's incredible comeback one season after his horrific leg injuries, big companies and local neighborhoods utilizing the reach of social media to provide immediate help in the aftermath of Sandy, like Duracell's Rapid Responder, Google's Crisis Map, and Occupy Sandy (ARC could learn a thing or two), Nate Silver's statistical forecasting of elections, post-Petraeus implications for the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, and how cooking human flesh has become the fashionable way to murder (case in CA, case in NY)... but they're not appropriate for Nature ID.

One thing that has hit home for me is "news" these days is mainly compiled of opinions, speculation, and reporting other's reports.  It becomes a real-life game of telephone.  The facts are few and far between, and by the time they're reported, in many cases in a matter of a few hours in the race to be ahead of the competition, they're disturbingly distorted from the actual truth.  It's unfortunate, but I've seen this with nature information, too, albeit at a slower pace. What one author states clearly in a scientific paper is a wild guess gets referenced, second referenced, down the line until finally another group states definitively that what was once a guess is indeed fact.  Then it gets put into textbooks and field guides. Lovely, eh?  Because of this spectacle, I consciously try my best to focus Nature ID on my first-hand observations rather than rewording "facts" from books or sites.  This practice makes my blog appear to lack content, but at least it's original.

So, getting to CA bulrush.  I've largely ignored grass-like plants on Nature ID, since I have a mental block around them, like with trees, and find them very difficult to ID.  I had to look up the difference between grasses, rushes, and sedges just so I knew which families to search.  I narrowed down the above ID by using the published plant list for the Frog Pond.  It's impossible to tell how tall these bulrushes are from my pictures, but here's a comparison photo with a small human.  Now that I have the basics of this sedge ID, I can look into more information, like these amazing Peruvian tortora horses made out of this plant (tortora is the name for a South American subspecies of CA bulrush and the horses are actually reed boats).  Cool!


John W. Wall said...

I couldn't make out what those totora horses are for, but maybe they are ridden by totoros.... I use the same method of trying to ID plants, finding a local list. Especially when it's grasses, etc., but they're useful anytime to really nail the species and have the most up-to-date name. I had no idea Scirpus had changed.

I feel the same way about the news, especially when it's just stenography or polls, and it kills me that facts have been so politicized that there no longer seems to be such a thing as a fact.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Hey, John, I have a favor to ask. Just 20 minutes ago I got a spam comment on this post. Did you subscribe to comments and did you get an e-mail of the spam?

I've edited the above to help explain tortora horses. The names of plants seem to have the most recent changes thanks to the new Jepson edition. Both Jepson and Calflora are still updating their online dbs.

I'm continually searching for a reliable news source. NY Times, CNN, Fox, and NPR have all issued mea culpas this year for grossly reporting incorrect information. It's frustrating as h*ll, but what can we do?

Jeannette said...

Thank you for writing about your relationship to the I read I felt like I almost, could have, should maybe in my dreams I did, write quite a similar note of frustration.

I reread a book review I did over on write purpose How the News Makes Us Dumb The Death of Wisdom in an Information Society, by C. John Sommerville. It calmed me down a little.

Such a balancing act..stay in your body, your life, watch the birds, make dinner, work, be informed, communicate, be aware, look for ways to Identify those most potent circles of influence that are ours to function in and prioritize. ( Not preaching to you...just a note to myself)..Appreciate your outlook from yyour perch in the trees.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Jeannette, I had completely forgotten about your posts back in January 2011. Just 2 weeks ago Loughner was sentenced to life. I hope it allows the victims and their families to continue to move forward from the experience with some measure of comfort. Unfortunately, I know too well what it's like to have a family member with that kind of violent mental instability. It's the stuff of nightmares. I'm generally not a proponent of psychiatric medications, but in some cases it's truly necessary for everyone's safety.

I still haven't read the book. I wonder what he'd say now 13 years later with the explosion of social media. It always amazes me how topics seem to coincide through various experiences into themes I want to learn more about. After watching the movie, I've been fascinated by J. Edgar Hoover and his extremely loyal assistant Helen Gandy and how their relationship compares with Petraeus-Broadwell.

This holiday I plan on sitting down with my uncle for a lengthy chat about all the current events and to hear his historical take on things.