Monday, 11/02/09, Public Square

timesup2Around this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, as the days grow shorter and colder, those changes trigger a hormone in leaf-dropping trees that sends a chemical message to every leaf that says, in essence, “Time to go! Let’s part company!”

Once the message is received, little cells appear at the place where the leaf stem meets the branch. They are called “abscission” cells. They have the same root as the word scissors, meaning they are designed, like scissors, to make a cut.

And within a few days or weeks, every leaf on these deciduous trees develops a thin bumpy line of cells that push the leaf, bit by bit, away from the stem. You can’t see this without a microscope, but if you looked through one, you’d see those scissors cells lined right up.

That’s where the tree gives each leaf a push, leaving it increasingly dangling. So with that very slender connection, they’re sort of ready to be kicked off, and then a breeze comes along and finishes the job.

The tree is deeply programmed by eons of evolution to insist that the leaves drop away. Why? Why not let the leaves stick around? Why drop?

Leaves are basically the kitchen staff of a tree. During the spring, summer and early fall they make the food that helps the tree grow and thrive and reproduce. When the days get short and cold, food production slows down, giving the tree an option: It can keep the kitchen staff or it can let it go.

If trees kept their leaves permanently they wouldn’t have to grow new ones, but leaves are not the brightest of bulbs (sorry!). Every so often, when the winter weather has a break and the days turn warm, leaves will start photosynthesizing. They get some water up and they start operating and making food and then it freezes again.

When the cold snap’s back on, the leaves will be caught with water in their veins, freeze and die. So instead of a food staff that’s resting, the tree is stuck with a food staff that’s dead. And when spring comes, the permanent help will be no help. The tree will die.

That’s why every fall, deciduous trees in many parts of North America get rid of their leaves and grow new ones in the spring. It’s safer that way.

So for leaves, falling in the fall isn’t optional. The trees are shoving them off.



Filed under The Public Square

43 responses to “Monday, 11/02/09, Public Square

  1. “Look at the Birdie,” a collection of early Kurt Vonnegut unpublished short stories is out.

    No telling why they were unpublished, and he became a much better writer over the years.

    But the first line of the first story, “Condido,” begins with this sentence:

    “The Summer had died peacefully in its sleep, and Autumn, as soft-­spoken executrix, was locking life up safely until Spring came to claim it.”

    Pretty damned elegant.

    • Beautiful.

      As a collector of quotes and a person who realizes everything has already been said in a better way than I could ever say it, my favorite has always been —

      “We are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is.”
      Dr. Kurt Vonnegut

  2. From the thread header: “They are called “abscission” cells. They have the same root as the word scissors, meaning they are designed, like scissors, to make a cut.”

    Insurance companies have rescission departments. They work to figure out how to deny claims and cancel policies — like scissors, they cut benefits you’ve paid for and don’t receive.

  3. Another good read —

    The lede:

    “Liars, delusional, petrified, hypocritical, idiotic.

    I often can’t decide which of these most accurately describes regressives when I’m listening to their insane rants. Maybe it’s all of the above, in some combination or another.”

    • I enjoyed that read, thanks for sharing!

      So, they get to interpret that “hard fist of tyranny” the same way they interpret their bibles and their gods. Pass the popcorn while we watch them fight over which interpretation is properly ‘conservative.’

      It really does hurt me when I realize all the truly good people in this world who practice The Golden Rule everyday, and are fooled by this evil that masquerades as something good.

  4. When you read all the stories in the news of Goldman Sachs, do you wonder what it could mean for Hawker Beechcraft, who are partially owned by Goldman Sachs?

  5. prairiepond

    I do think fear is at the root of the “aginners” and their stubborn refusal to accept the world as it is.

    Hell, these days, most of the aginners were born in the fifties and dont really remember those supposedly good ol’ days of the post war boom.

    And for some folks, like queers, racial minorities, and women trapped in their homes against their will, the days werent so good anyway.

    Most of the aginners are just angry white men bemoaning their loss of status, and the Stockholm syndrome women who support them.

    Oh yeah, and the young white men who, based on the tales of their grandfathers and fathers, wish they could have been there…

  6. prairiepond

    And no, I dont hate men. I love the guys on this bloggie and the way they dont dominate and hate. Good on you guys, as the great Molly Ivins used to say.

    Sigh. November 10. I miss her so. Imagine what fun she’d be having right now. I miss her uncanny ability to push the knife in precisely in the soft tissue between the ribs.

    Right after she made ’em laugh!

  7. prairiepond

    I’m paraphrasing here, but I loved her quote that sometimes she woke up in the night screaming “bipartisanship” and she scared herself!

  8. prairiepond

    Well Fnord, it could mean that Hawker is lucky to be owned by someone who also owns the US Treasury and Tim Geitner.

    I dont think Hawker is anyworse off now. Goldman has always been ruthless to be impeccable. I dont think they could BE more ruthless. If they dump Hawker now, they would have done it before, too.

    Bloodless and heartless bass turds those Goldman folks. They are just the kind of folks Ayn Rand loved.

    • We seem to be overrun with those kinds of folks and those kinds of companies. Sometimes it seems hopeless…

      • prairiepond

        Oh Fnord, dont be like me. It’s no fun. Hopeless is not good. And if optimists like you are hopeless, folks like me will slit our wrists! heheheh.

  9. prairiepond

    Well crap. I gotta go to work, but I’d rather stay here with you all.

    Irony raised it’s head last night. Some of the local “hoy pol-loy” called and want me to take up one of their pet causes in my column this week.

    Funny, but when the conservative town “elite” were coming after me with pitchforks and torches, they were conspicuous by their absence. They also sort of regard me as unwashed rabble. They NEVER dirty their hands with any public cause. Too good for that, ya know.

    But they damn sure know who to call when they want someone to raise their hell FOR them.

    I guess I’m the house darky for them.

    Sigh. But I agree with them on this issue and will, as my duty at the paper, write about it.

    But I want to say “FU, where were you so called good friends and classmates when I needed help? Counting your money?”

    Ok. rant off.

    • Might be an interesting take on the fair-weather nature of people who always show up when they want you to give them something.

    • tosmarttobegop

      “Sheriff… Sorry about that up yours Ni%er early today….
      Xxxxxxxxx xxx xxxxx …

      You will be nice enough not to mention to anyone I spoke to you won’t you?”

      (Blazing saddles)

      Lesbian, Liberal well at least you are not also Black! But would still think you are just alright Lady!

  10. There is little to find ‘funny’ about politics, but I really am laughing as I read about who the far right-wing nutjobs think is too liberal. Now they’re saying Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison isn’t conservative enough? Of course, they already threw Newt Gingrinch under the bus (ker thunk).

    Good op-ed piece titled, “How the GOP Loses Women

    “Former Republican congressional candidate Dede Scozzafava cried real tears Saturday as she conceded the right-wingers had pushed her out of her race. Even though her local party had picked her to run in Tuesday’s election for the upstate New York seat vacated by the new secretary of the Army, John McHugh, her support for abortion and gay marriage made her too liberal for the new national party. Insurgent Republicans, led by Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck, mounted a candidate on the conservative line, and fought Scozzafava so effectively that she turned tail and ran. She then endorsed the Democrat.

    Watch out, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Locked in a Republican primary battle for governor of Texas, and unwilling to say women should go to jail for their abortions, she is the next duck in the barefoot and pregnant shooting gallery.”

    • lilacluvr

      If there is a just God, the new Conservative Party’s golden boy won’t win tomorrow in New York. But, help us God, if he does.

      That will embolden these loonies into thinking they have real power.

      Or maybe that would be a good thing? Then they will run Sarah Palin and Michele Baachman for president and VP in 2012?

      Now, that would be very interesting. The late show comics would have a field day – wouldn’t they?

      • ‘Tis the goal of the C Street group to get as many of ‘their kind’ elected as possible and then make America their kind of theocracy. All in the name of their god and with great support from many innocents who really trust that all is good because these people are christians.

      • Once this C Street gang gains power over everyone, will decreeing every sperm a living breathing human be their first new law? Will they make punishments / consequences to those who break their law?

        Talk about jail over crowding! 🙂

  11. lilacluvr

    I saw John Boehner in a news clip this morning ranting about Obama taking too long to make his decision about Afghanistan and the fact there are dying soldiers and Obama is causing their deaths.

    WTF? I didn’t see Boehner and his goons ranting about Bush and Gang sending soldiers to their deaths in Iraq for 6 years. In fact, the country never got to see any of the caskets coming back as a reminder of what the consequences of war really are.

    I wonder, do Republicans like Boehner even have a conscience? Do they even care that it was their side that sent thousands to their death – and all in the name of God, Country and the Flag?

    May God have mercy on their souls.

    Personally, I think Obama is correct in carefully assessing the Afghanistan situtation. And now with the only challenger to Karzi (sp?) pulling out of the run-off election, the whole thing stinks up to high heaven.

    But, let’s not forget who put Karzi there in the first place – wasn’t it Bush and Gang that propped up that particular thug? And what’s with Karzi’s brother being on the CIA payroll?

    The whole thing stinks up to high heaven.

    • (The Big) Dick Cheney declared the Taliban wiped off the face of the map…6 years ago.

    • wicked

      “May God have mercy on their souls.”

      You’re far too kind, lilac. Let them burn in Hell.

      I’m not in a joyful, giving mood this a.m. Not in a bad one, either. Just feel like being honest. 😉

  12. Just thought I’d share this.

    Nature is glorious today.

    But take a listen and a look at the glory of human genius —

    • wicked

      Beautiful music.

      Only the Catholics would have such opulence. Anyone know what cathedral that is?

      Sitting on my hands so I don’t rant about churches of gold.

      • In a weird way, maybe the Trickle Down Theory worked a little bit back then.

        It’s just run its course.

        If it took a theocratic dictatorship to create those cathedrals and those glorious organs in business — and J.S. Bach, for that matter — then more power to them. THEM, not me, today, in the 21st Century.

        I dunno.

        I doubt the Toccata and Fugue in D Minor was a “church” piece. Probably ol’ Johann showing off at an afternoon concert. (They didn’t have the NFL back then.)

        There are stories about Bach how he spent his weekdays composing stuff for church and his wife would use Sunday’s music to wrap up Monday’s garbage. Almost a story too good to be true, but believable just the same.

        Back then he was just “Ol’ Johann down the street,” after all.

        I think it was one of Jack Handy’s “Deep Thoughts” from SNL: He said —

        “I wish I’d shared an apartment with Ludwig von Beethoven just so I could turn to my girlfriend and say, ‘My ex-roommate wrote that.'”

      • wicked

        And you can bet those composers weren’t paid all that well, at least not when the were in the Church’s disfavor. Most died in poverty.

      • 6176746f6c6c65

        I think you’re correct about the piece, Monkeyhawk. J.S. was an accomplished organist, and this would be a way for him to showcase his skills.

      • wicked

        The church I was married in had a huge pipe organ. I have to admit that Ode to Joy, the song we used for the recessional, sounded superb coming from big pipes.

      • What a great choice for a recessional, “wicked!”

        For some reason I don’t remember recessionals as much as processionals.

        I was spoiled by my sister’s best friend who chose Handel’s Water Music to come down the aisle. So much dignity, so much appreciation of the solemn rites she was going to face.

        So perfect to march to.

        I mentioned it to my sister’s friend last time I saw her…40 years or so hence… and she teared up. It was important to her, too.

        Look. I’m really not a snob. I like “I Like Friends in Low Places,” as much as the next slob. But sometimes someone catches the voice of the angels… and it didn’t start in the 20th Century.

        Listen, people.

        That’s why we’re “libruhls.”

        We listen.

      • wicked

        Hmmm, well, the recessional was the Theme from Brian’s Song, The Hands of Time. (I’m eclectic with my music, too.) At least I didn’t choose the Theme from M.A.S.H., although it was played. Do you know the name of it? 🙂

        I helped hunt for music for my oldest’s wedding. I can’t remember which classical piece she finally chose for the processional. Vivaldi maybe? Something from The Four Seasons? I know it was in the running.

  13. Others don’t have as short a memory and we see the flailing arms, listen to the newest and latest ‘deeply held conviction’ while we pass the popcorn.

    “Short memory for Republicans

    Today to keep the traditionally GOP seat, the RNC put up a radio ad with a full-throated endorsement of Hoffman — with nary a mention of the mid-course correction.

    “The eyes of the nation are on the North Country,” the announcer says. “What we decide on Tuesday, will echo from Albany to Washington.”

    continue reading —

    • wicked

      I’m running out of popcorn. 😦

      I’m running out of patience with all of them.

      I’m pretty much out of hope.

    • Even if this tiny band of bloggers here at PPP are the last and only ones who see the importance of each American being given the dignity and the right to purchase adequate and affordable health care, we will still have hope. I won’t lose that! And I’ll always share!

  14. “Suicide is Painless?

    How’d that marriage work out?

  15. Here is some really great news!

    A private measure of U.S. manufacturing activity grew in October at the fastest pace in more than three years. The better-than-expected reading is a positive signal for the fledgling economic recovery.

    • lilacluvr

      And imagine, Obama did not have to change the classification of fast food workers to ‘manufacturing’ to accomplish this miracle. Remember that little slight of hand trick Bush used to make his numbers look good?

      Kinda reminds me of those Reagan days of ketchup being a vegetable….ha,ha

      • tosmarttobegop

        Some time ago I was a financial aid officer (that always was a shock to me. Math was never my long suit) at the computer programming school I attended.

        One of my duties was to call former students that had graduated and ask about if they had found a job?
        Now even if the job did not have anything to do with computers, I was to count it.
        So the clam of employment of our students would count… We have 85 % of our students employed!

  16. Really cool!

    We can plan to go about anywhere (except Salina) and be free of those old-white men who make up the ‘conservatives’ and will want to go leer at their idol! I’m sure she understands that every sperm is a living breathing person! Or, at least, she is sure willing to make them think she does if it furthers her ambitions! 🙂

    Palin to speak Feb. 5 in Salina

    Former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin will be the featured speaker at the Salina Chamber of Commerce annual banquet on Feb.5.

    The event, at the Salina Bicentennial Center, is expected to draw people from across the state.

    Read more:

    • lilacluvr

      Is this another one of those 6-figure speaking engagements she is said to be worth now?

      I think I’d rather go hear Levi Johnston speak instead.

      Now that boy will probably tell you everything. Even if you take half of what he says as truth – that is still some mixed up crazy dysfunction going on.

    • I don’t know exactly what Palin hopes to do by speaking in this state. She’d have to convince them to move to other states to have any effect! All six electoral votes from Kansas will go to the candidate with that little “R” behind their name, no matter who visits or doesn’t.

      I thought campaigning was to interest voters who weren’t already in your pocket?

  17. David B

    Crap.. homeowner mission creep.

    I’ll repaint the house trim.. ready … let’s paint! grr oh, crap. The wood’s rotten.

    Carpentry time… 4 hours later. A coat of primer goes on.

    Stop me before I fix anything more.

    • tosmarttobegop

      HEEEE HOOOO welcome to Hell…
      Yes the goal is in sight…. the total remodel is near…. Then and only then will the state come to appraise the tax value of the house… Your home will now be worth forty thousand dollars more then you could sell it for!

      My shower is now done, on to the tile on the wall. Today it was repairing the tub… I dropped a hammer on it and chipped off an area. I want to start on the front room, but the problem is as it is with the rest of the house. My wife and I are pack rats, if there might be some use within the next twenty years we hold on to it.
      The front room is my wife’s enclave and it full of all kinds of crafts and crap.

      I am slowly moving things toward the front door with hopes of it going out!