It’s Not About You

Did you know that plants intentionally move? It’s called tropism. Phototropism to move toward the sun and gravitropism when moving toward the earths core. I was inspired to read it (What A Plant Knows) after watching a PBS documentary called What Plants Talk About.

I don’t have any Redwood tree seed starts (like the first video below), but I did find a handful of Maple tree seed starts floating between the 2×4’s on my back porch. I noticed them while stretching after a run; leaning forward to reach my toes something green and white caught my eye hey I know what they’re doing, the seeds looking for starting ground. It’s called gravitropism. An intentional move towards the earths core to establish their roots before growing their shoot, looking for the sun and ultraviolet light to grow. 

The video also my attention because one) I’ve always been interested in old growth trees and investing in timber and two) recently I had to put a estate transfer and tax return together. It made me think about what I want to leave behind. What would I leave behind today at 25 for my niece and new nephew (now a few months old) versus what I would want to leave behind.

The time frame changes your perspective. Your daily thought process of how you want to go about living your life and making investments. What do you want to build? What you want your estate transfer and tax return to say?

Video – How plants find food

It’s Not About You –

When I read Charles Wheelan’s 10 ½ Things No Commencement Speaker Has Ever Said, I mostly nodded in agreement. Originally conceived as a Class Day speech at Dartmouth College, Wheelan’s practical, real-world applicable advice ranges from “Marry someone smarter,” to “Don’t make the world worse.” It’s the wisdom of age combined with an understanding of the needs of his particular audience of new graduates.

Charles Wheelan is a senior lecturer and policy fellow at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College. He’s also the author of Naked Economics: Undressing the Dismal Science, and the forthcoming  Naked Statistics: Stripping the Dread from the Data. (January) His work has been published in the New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal among other publications, and is a frequent contributor to public radio. He lives in Hanover, NH with his wife Leah, and their three children.


What A Plants Knows –

Indeed, we tend not to pay much attention to the immensely sophisticated sensory machinery in the flowers and trees that can be found right in our own backyards. While most animals can choose their environments, seek shelter in a storm, search for food and mate, or migrate with the changing seasons, plants must be able to withstand and adapt to constantly changing weather, encroaching neighbors, and invading pests, without being able to move to a better environment. Because of this, plants have evolved complex sensory and regulatory systems that allow them to modulate their growth in response to ever-changing conditions. An elm tree has to know if its neighbor is shading it from the sun so that it can find it own way to grow toward the light that’s available. A head of lettuce has to know if there are ravenous aphids about to eat it up so that it can protect itself by making poisonous chemicals to kill the pests. A Douglas fir tree has to know if whipping winds are shaking its branches so that it can grow a stronger trunk. Cherry trees have to know when to flower.

On a genetic level, plants are more complex than many animals and some of the most important discoveries in all of biology came from research carried out on plants. Robert Hooke first discovered cells in 1665 while studying cork in the early microscope he built. in the nineteenth century Gregor Mendel worked out the principles of modern genetics using pea plants and in the mid-twentieth century Barbara McClintock used Indian corn to show that genes can transpose, or jump. We now know that these, “jumping genes” are a characteristic of all DNA and are intimately connected to cancer in humans. And while we recognize that Darwin was a founding father of modern evolutionary theory, some of his most important finding were in plant biology specifically, and we’ll see quite a few of these in the pages of this book. . .

We are utterly depended on plants. We wake up in houses made of wood from the forests of Maine, pour a cup of coffee brewed from coffee beans grown in Brazil, throw on a T-shirt made of Egyptian cotton, print out a report on paper, and drive our kids to school in cars with tires made of rubber that was grown in Africa and fueled by gasoline derived from cycads that died millions of years ago. Chemicals extracted from plants reduce fever (think aspirin) and treat cancer (Taxol). Wheat sparked the end of one age and the dawn of another, and the humble potato led to mass migrations. And plants continue to inspire and amaze us: the mighty sequoias are the largest singular, independent organisms on earth, algae are some of the smallest, and roses definitely make anyone smile.

Baby Bee. The one person who makes me realize it isn’t about me.


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