Worms and Flowers

Big Box Stores Blight the Country

Posted in News by Lzyjo on July 21, 2009

I’m not talking about parking problems and increased traffic, I am talking about late blight being spread across the country by infected tomato plants sold a nation-wide retailers.

Professor of Plant Pathology at Cornell University, Meg McGrath called blight, “worse than the Bubonic Plague for plants.”

Blight is well-known for causing the infamous Irish Potato Famine in the mid 1800s. Despite its reputation as a potato-killer, tomatoes are actually more susceptible to the fast-moving fungal condition.

Scientists monitoring the advance of the fungal disease report this year’s infection has started earlier and has been more severe than years past.

We all know, this spring and summer has been unusually wet and cool, providing the perfect conditions for blight.

Right now infections have been found is almost all of the Eastern states, excluding, Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, and West Virginia.

The New York Times reported that Alabama-based Bonnie Plants recalled all of its remaining tomato plants on June 26. Bonnie, known for their peat pots, distributes their plants to Wal-Mart, Home Depot, and Lowe’s from more than 60 greenhouses in 38 states .

The disease moves so fast, there are reports of entire fields of tomatoes dying over a weekend. Farmers are already talking about the price of tomatoes doubling from the squelched supply.

More articles on the Blight situation:

Associated Press “Plant disease hits eastern US veggies early, hard”

Albany Times Union “Blight like a nuclear bomb”

Albany Times Union “Big-box blight hits tomatoes”

New York Times “Outbreak of Fungus Threatens Tomato Crop”

Fir Tree Surgically Removed from Lung

Posted in News by Lzyjo on April 14, 2009

There are some things that just make you go, how did that happen? Normally it would be a tree precariously growing out of a crack in a cliff, but this is even weirder.

Worldwide news agencies have been reporting a story from Russia about a 28-year old who was misdiagnosed with lung cancer after complaining of chest pains. Doctors were shocked to find fir needles in the biopsy of lung tissue taken from the patient. The doctor said he kept blinking, unable to believe what he was seeing. He called the assistant to confirm the presence of green fir needles.

Doctors operated on the patient, removing a 5cm (almost 2 inch) long fir tree along with some lung tissue.

Needless to say, the patient was greatly relieved to learn that the blood he coughed up was caused by the sharp fir needles piercing the capillaries in his lung.

According to Russian doctors the 5 cm tree was too large to be inhaled. They believe the patient may have inhaled a small bud that grew inside the lung.

On one hand, it seems like this story is a total anomaly, of freakish proportion, but on the other hand, the hand of due diligence, we learn that the Russian patient was not the first person to have a small fir tree removed from a lung.

In 1995, a sixteen-year-old from California had a one inch fir sprig removed from her lung after fourteen years of chronic coughing and breathing problems. The family believes she inhaled a portion on a Christmas tree, which caused a violent chocking fit when she was two.  The article doesn’t say weather or not the sprig was growing, but it remained green after fourteen years inside the lung.

All of this endo-cultivation makes me want to reconsider the old addage about watermelon seeds. Okay, watermelon seeds won’t sprout in the digestive system, but what if they were inhaled?

Video of 1995 CNN Story

Russian News Story

BUSTED! Lawnmower Mfgs Sued for Overstating Horsepower

Posted in News by Lzyjo on December 25, 2008

Sears and Roebuck, (Craftsman,) Electrolux, Honda, Briggs & Stratton, Kawasaki, Husquvarna, John Deere, MTD, Toro, and others, have all been named in a class action lawsuit filed by several South Dakota residents. The suit alleges these corporations have been overstating the horsepower their lawnmower engines since 1994. They have gone so far as to make several amendments to Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) labeling requirements to better defraud the public. SAE requirements now allow a 15% differentiation from actual and advertised values. Normally, horsepower in the automotive world is expressed as “net” horsepower, the actual horsepower achievable under normal conditions, but the lawnmower companies are using a “gross” horsepower convention, which means they use the best number they can obtain under ideal laboratory conditions. They also use torque measurements on product labeling, which is a meaningless number that does not rate performance. The people who filed the suit purchased mowers ranging from $130 to over $4,600, naturally the people who purchase the more expensive movers thought they were getting a more powerful product, like the label said, but this was not the case. A mover that was advertised as containing a 7 horsepower engine, only tested at 3.75, a more than 80% inflation. Many of the companies advertise their mowers as “the mot powerful,” some boasting close to 30 horsepower. Part of the deceit was revealed when EPA and CARB (California Air Resources Board), documents showed a disparity between actually reported horsepower and the advertised horsepower. Some of the more expensive models actually contained the exact same engine as the cheaper model, although this was not indicated on the labeling. I remember lawnmowers being about 3 HP, which seemed like a lot at the time, if you think of three horses chomping at the bit. 24 HP does seem a bit excessive, not only excessive, but impossible.
Be careful what you buy and remember, more expensive does not always mean better quality.