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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Dendrochronology and Bristlecone Pines, POETS and PEOTS


      Bristlecone pines have held a bit of magic and poetry for me since spending junior year "abroad" at the University of Arizona. The tree ring class at the Dendrochronology Center in Tucson introduced me to taking a closer look at how much the rings say about annual changes in rainfall and growth conditions:




     The rings have both earlywood and latewood parts to each annual ring, with the center core or pith (Pith helmets are made from the wood of African trees, often covered with cloth):




      The ring patterns can be overlapped and matched to map patterns back to over 5000 years in bristlecone pines:




     These majestic ancient beauties have survived in the high White Mountains of Inyo County, CA, in very harsh conditions so that the trees grow minimally every year.





 

     Cores of trees taken with a drill or auger enable dendrochronologists to study pencil-width cores of trees without destroying them.





      Methuselah Grove in eastern CA is home to these windswept bristlecones which are the oldest non-clonal organisms in the world. I was witness to "Methuselah," the then-oldest known tree. 





It was quite humbling to stand before a tree that had its start in its original pith neary 4900 years ago. . . (In 2013, a slightly older tree was discovered in the same grove):



       Dendrochronology is also used to date wood in buildings, paintings, furniture, tools, shoes, and other wooden structures.

      As to the PEOTS and POETS part of this week's post, every time I write PEOTS, I think of one of my favorite films, Dead POETS Society, and of course, Robin Williams:


       Thank you for all the laughter, tears, and joy, Robin. You were, at your pith, as beautiful and majestic as Methuselah in the harsh, windy mountains. . .





      Carpe Diem,

Steph
(Word Woman)

Throwback to SEMIOTICS: How about Bolivian Ametrine for a mineral to place around nuclear waste as a warning sign:








SMITH COLLEGE KNOTTY SHRUB-BERY: What's the under/over semiotics here?

 

43 comments:

  1. Sorry, but your twin themes this week just remind me of that awful Joyce Kilmer poem.

    "A tree that may in summer wear
    A nest of robins in her hair"

    I had a high school English teacher who mocked that poem by miming the tree, bent forward to press his hungry mouth against the earth, his leafy arms lifted in prayer, looking back over his shoulder at God, all at once.

    And carpe diem, in this context, reminds me of my father, after fishing trips, burying fish carcasses next to bushes for fertilizer. A carp a day keeps the (tree) doctor away!

    That useful dendron root (no pun intended) shows up all over the place in science, referring to branching of crystals, nerve endings, and topological spaces.

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    1. Well, jan, since you started us down that road, I'd thought of titling this week "Tree Ring Circus" and discussing "Crap-e Diem," a bowel movement a day keeps the doctor away.

      I am so sorry you brought up the Kilmer poem. . .but the image of your English teacher must have been a treet.

      "Dendron" is a great and ubiquitous root. And "Root Down" is a cool restaurant here that capitalizes on all those roots ;-). Now, what route did we take to get here?

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    2. I have reconsidered Kilmer's "Trees" given the visual "poem" I discovered on the internet and added to the end of yesterday's post.

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    3. Here's my poem:

      "Poetree. . ."

      Wonder what Garrison Keillor would think?:

      http://mobile.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/books/review/garrison-keillor-by-the-book.html

      His enjoying "bad elegiac poems" in his bookstore next to the Macalester College campus in St Paul, MN, made me think of this good oft-quoted-the-past-two days Walt Whitman elegiac poem:

      http://m.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/o-captain-my-captain

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    4. "Poetree, version II":

      Poetree

      Arbor Ardor.

      Quoth the Leaves Nevermore.


      Word Woman, Branch Chief

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    5. Emily Dickinson never read Whitman, because she was told he was "disgraceful". (Random factoid from Ken Jennings' 49th Final Jeopardy.)

      Quoth the Leaves of Grass, etc,...

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    6. A little WW couldn't hurt. . .

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    7. "Poetree, version III":

      Poetree

      Arbor ardor. . .
      Quoth the leaves nevermore:
      "I think that I have never seen
      a thing so pithy as a tree."


      Word Woman, Branch Chief

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  2. Here's what we in New Jersey think of when we hear "tree rings".

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    1. Venn in New Jersey. . .More semiotics.

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    2. Even though the Ballantine Brewery is defunct, we're still dealing with the legacy of Peter Ballantine, the founder. His great-great-great-grandson, Rodney Frelinghuysen, my useless U.S. Congresscritter, has the largest campaign war chest in the House, with heavy funding from the defense and pharma industries.

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    3. Let me amend my previous posting. My claim about the relative size of Frelinghuysen's campaign war chest was based on something I heard a couple of years ago, and seems to no longer be true. He still seems perennially unbeatable.

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    4. I've not heard of your Congresscritter before. He sounds scary. Andrew Romanoff is running for the U. S. House of Representatives here. He is awesome, learned a great deal from Ken Gordon (who died in December) in our CO Congress.

      Then there's Cory Gardner who is running for U.S. Senate with deep, deep, deep Koch pockets. He is truly scary. . .

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  3. Putting on my "pith" helmet (which makes one pithy): bristlecone pines >>> knotty pines >>> naughty pines >>> ???

    Three rings >>> trefoil >>> quatrefoil images in shrubbery at Smith (see end of today's post):

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trefoil_knot

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    1. I tried unsuccessfully to find the Gary Larsen cartoon in which the husband frog is driving erratically, causing his wife to complain, "Criminy! You're driving like you've been pithed or something!" But I thought you might identify with this.

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    2. That's a perennial favorite, jan. Thanks!

      Don't you think a pithy pith helmet would be a good idea for some of our Congresscritters?

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    3. ...Or maybe just pithing?

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    4. Yeah, but that might be pithing them off.. . .

      Oh, wait. . .

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  4. Speaking (once again) of semiotics, trefoils are popular for warning symbols: radiation hazard, fallout shelter (keep those two apart!), biohazard, recycling, and as a warning to stay away from those tasteless Girl Scout shortbread cookies.

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    1. So there's both hazard symbols and bringing/weaving together symbols as in the Christian symbol for the Trinity:

      http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triquetra

      Hmmmm, wonder what the semioticists would say about that dichotemy (Girl Scout cookies aside).

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  5. I echo jan's questions elsewhere~~ lego, where are you?

    Maybe this will lure you back:
    http://www.npr.org/blogs/krulwich/2014/08/14/339710632/stephen-hawking-s-ferocious-dazzling-life-becomes-a-movie-but-what-sort?

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  6. LegoLAMBDA, they named a virus after you!

    http://news.brown.edu/articles/2014/08/lambda

    If that doesn't bring you back, I don't know what will!

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  7. Replies
    1. Insufferably twee doofus here. In college, I once produced a 2-column, double-justified report on a manual typewriter, just because I had learned how. (You first type it normally, keeping strict right-hand margins, then you count the number of blank spaces at the end of each line, figure out how many to add evenly to the existing spaces on each line, then retype the report with the added spaces.) Speaking of pests, it was for a parasitology class.

      We just saw Dinosaur 13 today. Interesting, quirky, not at all an unbiased documentary, but I think you'd like it.

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    2. But will Tom's app let you hit two keys at once to get the type bars to jam? What about the smell of the ribbon?

      Reminds me of the old joke about how you know a blonde's been using your PC? (It's the Wite-Out on the screen.) (Or Liquid Paper, invented by the mother of Monkee Mike Nesmith, I suppose.)

      And, speaking of typewriters and sons, I hadn't known that Studio 360's Kurt Anderson's father composed this little ditty.

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    3. Oops... Turn's out that's a different Kurt Anderson, not the radio host (who's an Andersen.) (But it's the real Mike Nesmith.)

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    4. jan, you win the insufferably twee doofus award for that double justified double column paper.

      Enjoyed the Dinosaur 13 clip and will check it out.

      "The Typewriter"- piece with the symphony was great too.

      What I miss is the way my old typewriter's "e" was just a little higher on the line than the other letters. It gave my writing a definite personality.

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    5. YOu don't need a typewriter for that. GOt a friend who can never get his finger off the shift key fast enough, SO all of his sentences start with double-capitalized words. LIke this.

      I remember an "Our Gang" episode in which Alfalfa refers to his cowlick as his "personality".

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  8. Replies
    1. Becarefulwhatyouwishfor. Thespacebar onmyphone hasstartedtostick (howcanthatbe?)

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  9. Weren't we recently talking about muskrat, er, MARMOT LOVE IN 49 seconds?

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  10. Word Woman,
    Sorry I missed all the PEOTS fun: Typewriters, marmots bon mots and twee doofi, Oh My!

    This twee doofus, when he was a college frosh writing English theme papers on "Heart of Darkness," and other Joseph Conrad angst, type with a gray portable typewriter in a plastic case (maybe a Smith-Corona?). When I typed an "o" a little o-shaped hole appeared in the paper, like a paper punch.

    I made so many mistakes and typos (I bought liquid paper by the gallon) that I ended up editing my "dazzling prose" by literally "cutting and pasting" sheets of typing paper together using scissors, scotch tape and baling wire (very Mcgiver-like).

    I have tardily and finally posted this week's Puzzleria! blog (only two puzzles this week).

    LegoLabamba

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    1. We were just about to send out the troops on a Lego Labamba search. Glad all is well. . .We did miss your Lego-ness this week.

      You didn't have the little Smith-Corona erase cartridge that you could insert to erase? My S-C did me proud at SC. . . Hmmmm, I wonder if S-C is the reason people out west would ask if SC was a typing school back east.

      Heading over to Puzzle-ria! now.

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  11. Type a two-word phrase describing something you might see at a football game during an extended time-out (like for a disputed call or an injury or something). Eliminate one character to get a word describing something you just did.

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    1. Instant replay and instant repay? That's all I got, Paul.

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  12. You'd need quarts and quarts of that ametrine to warn people away from a nuke waste site...

    Anyway, it looks like Bardabunga in Iceland may be getting ready to erupt, which would be a huge improvement over that completely unpronounceable 2010 volcano, despite sounding like a party at Silvio Berlusconi's place.

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    1. Quartz and quartz, huh, jan? ;-)


      I was preparing to post this about Bardabunga in Iceland:

      http://www.icenews.is/2014/08/18/intense-seismic-activity-in-icelands-bardarbunga-volcano/


      and there you are already!

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    2. I missed the whole bunga-bunga thing; did SB party to a (in a?) new bunga-low?

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    3. From various sources:

      An eruption at the remote Bardarbunga volcano doesn't immediately threaten any Iceland communities, as the surrounding area is uninhabitated, but an ash plume could shut down flights in Europe. The 2011 eruption of Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano closed airports for six days, stranding passengers and costing airlines $1.7 billion in lost revenues.

      Happy to read about the surrounding area being uninhabitated. I seem to recall hearing that death by Bardarbunga can be particularly nasty.

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    4. @r, Roger that, Paul. An edit button on blogger would help.

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  13. Tree ring furniture with wood and, for the Brits, aluminium:

    Wooden you know it?

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