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Though not for lack of trying, Steve Pavich and I failed to land an audience with plant intelligence “guru” Stephano Mancuso in Tuscany last month. As Pavich’s sidekick, I’d less than enthusiastically agreed to visit a weird Tuscan vineyard whose Sangiovese grapes are serenaded 24/7 by strains of Mozart, Hayden and Vivaldi over loudspeakers. Eccentric winemaker Carlo Cignozzi has carried on like this for over a decade, aiming to enhance vineyard health and his vintage’s quality. Nearby University of Florence’s Professor Mancuso’s data indicates ￼￼plant intelligence. [Read more…]
I don’t like to quibble with the Good Book. Though Matthew 5:45 alleges “He sends rain on the just and the unjust alike”, that was not the case last week. Without regard to which Californians might be of higher virtue, Fresno-Madera’s half-inch storm total was exceeded in Los Angeles by four times and by ninefold in San Francisco! Yosemite National Park’s Superintendent Don Neubacher extolled the restoration of roaring flows over long-silent Yosemite Falls. Even in generous precipitation years, the watershed feeding that cascade, commencing at 7,000 feet, should be a frozen wonderland by December, releasing little more than a midday trickle. [Read more…]
“DeCesari Olive Oil Syndicate” is harvesting the neighborhood’s trees this day after Thanksgiving to press our coming year’s domestic supply. Four men scramble up and down ladders, stripping every black, oil-engorged fruit in hopes we can meet the 350 lb. minimum that Mill Valley’s Frantoio requires to press a separate lot. Last year, these same trees yielded over 900 lbs. Olive shares an “alternate bearing” habit with a number of other fruits and nuts. Voluminous crops demand extra energy and nutrients that otherwise would be appropriated to form a following year’s fruit buds. [Read more…]
I nearly lost a hand and could have lost my life, as 11,000 fellow Americans do each year, when that chance 2007 encounter with MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) landed me on hospital operating room tables, three times. Last week’s Centers for Disease Control report, Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States 2013, warns MRSA deaths represent only half the total lives lost annually to 18 bacterial pathogens that have become exceedingly difficult to treat with available drugs. CDC cites abuses in human and animal medicine for this long-developing crisis. Popularly viewed as miracle cures, antibiotics have been [Read more…]