the sometimes senseless ravings (and the occassional rant) of an aspiring marine ecologist who may enjoy killing things a little too much

Friday, May 26, 2006

Flammable Liquids

i have a couple of gripes for you guys today. the first one involves flammable liquids (and no, i did not set anything on fire). as you should know, i have been ordering a ton of supplies for my experiments lately. well, a shipment arrived for me at the sea lab yesterday, and the folks in the administration building gave me a call to let me know (which i'd asked them to do). well, i can't go back over there to pick everything up until tuesday, and the guy who called said that wasn't a big deal. then about an hour later, i got a call from katy telling me that someone else from admin had called the lab saying something about some kind of liquid. well, i ordered lots of liquids - two kinds of alcohol, acetic acid, and liquid phenol. she didn't know which one it was. i told her that i'd already to talked to someone in admin and he said i could pick it up tuesday. then i called admin again to see what the big deal was, and i got a different lady. she was freaking out because the box was marked 'Flammable Liquid.' it was the phenol. so, i had to call katy back at the lab and get her or susan or somebody to run over to admin and put the box in the lab for me.

now, it isn't like the package was going to spontaneously combust or anything. it wasn't sitting near anything hot. it was next to a bunch of mailboxes in an air conditioned building, packaged up in plenty of bubble wrap and styrofoam. now, how many other flammable liquids reside in the admin building? let's see, shall we? hmm... cleaning products, the air freshener in the bathroom, the nail polish remover in someone's desk drawer, the bottle of touch-up hairspray in someone's purse, and a million other little things that could be found in the average person's house. so, what exaclty is the difference between having that package sitting in the admin building and sitting in my lab? nada.

ok. i was really annoyed at the freak-out that the label 'Flammable Liquid' caused, and i just wanted to get that off my chest.

something else that irks me is the mobile botanical gardens people that do a gardening segment on the morning news. i never had a problem with them until yesterday morning, when i saw them promoting the growth of a very destructive invasive plant by local gardeners. most of the plants that i see them selling are natives like azaleas or some sterile hybrid varieties that pose no threat to local wildlife outside someone's garden. but there are no native species of Alternathera in our area (though there is one species native to south florida and several found in the southwestern U.S.), which is the plant that these people were promoting. this plant is a vegetative grower, meaning that if you break off a stem of Alternathera and throw it on the ground somewhere, it will grow into a new plant. many members of this genus are highly invasive and can overgrow native plants quickly, which in turn affects local animal populations, etc., etc. one of the most destructive forms of Alternathera is called alligator weed, and it is clogging drainage ditches and invading waterways throughout the southeast, driving down numbers of local plants. these problems seem small compared to the destruction of crops caused by alligator weed in asia, where rice crops are constantly threatened by this hard to destroy weed. the gardeners touting this plant often say that "it grows like a weed." well, that's because it is a weed, and a very destrcutive one that costs millions of dollars per year to control.

so, my point here is really a recommendation to gardeners everywhere: before you go buying plants for your garden, make sure that they are native plants. yes, the exotic ones might be pretty and attractive because no one else has them and they aren't plants that you can see every day, but you can't do anything to stop them from spreading beyond your garden. and that could have vast detrimental effects on your native flora and fauna. so don't buy invasive plants. and tossing the ones you have into the garbage will only spread them farther.

ok. those are my gripes for the day. everyone have a nice memorial day weekend, k?

1 comment:

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