A look into dangers of using herbicide to control wild parsnip outbreak in Lanark County
COMMUNITY Feb 03, 2016 by Theresa Peluso

I write from the point of view of a Rideau Lakes Township property owner who looks after fifty acres of trees on a 107 acre fam. Wild parsnip is a current problem to my seedlings because it has spread from the township road into adjacent fields. Ms. Peluso naively claims that “After two years, the plant dies.” She further suggests that the seeds don’t spread far. Nothing could be further from the truth. The seeds are magnets for birds. I now have clumps of wild parsnip growing wherever on my tree plantation there was a patch of bare ground and a bird has stopped to roost after a big meal of parsnip seeds. These were not “disturbed” sites in almost all cases.

After eight years of careful mowing, I can state definitely that Ms. Peluso is wrong when she claims that regular bush-hogging before the plant goes to seed will kill wild parsnip. In its first stage it will regrow and flourish indefinitely.

Until this year I have used increasing concentrations of Roundup in a spot-spraying program to keep the wild parsnip from overwhelming my seedlings. Reluctant to spray excessively, I mowed the aisles between the seedlings with a rotary mower. The Roundup worked, but the areas I chose to mow repeatedly, simply grew back. But now the wild parsnip survivors have become tolerant of the spray. It’s time for a new herbicide.

“With proper management, using environmentally sustainable solutions, we can control the spread of this plant.” Sorry, Ms. Peluso, we can’t. Not unless we kill every small bird in Eastern Ontario with a taste for wild parsnip seed.

My merchant just quoted me $1450 for a container of Clearview. Roundup ran $265 last time. Clearview is a serious financial step for a hobby farmer or a municipal government, but I see no point in unleashing Roundup-tolerant wild parsnip seeds on the environment.

Finally, I would suggest that parents not listen to those who belittle the risk to kids of wild parsnip. It’s nasty stuff, far more of a threat to unprotected faces and arms and legs than poison ivy.

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Yesterday while perusing one newspaper’s mandatory Father’s Day opinion article I saw a variation of the following clause:  “When a dad sees their kids.”  I gagged.

How far have we fallen, on Father’s Day, this most gender-specific of all roles of all days, when it’s too much work for that writer to use the third person, masculine, singular pronoun for the unique relationship between a father and his child?

I admit that language forms and reflects thought, but does it have to inhibit it and sew confusion?  How many of the transgendered are there out there to offend, anyway?  Before you dismiss me as a troglodyte of the old school, I should specify that, while I gulp in discomfort before every proclamation of “My pronouns are they, them, and their” on the TV show Billions, I quite like that character, and I wish the character well on future seasons.

My complaint stems from a career of marking the essays of rather bright teenagers as they struggled to distinguish between one and many.  To a certain extent I blame day care and rock videos for the underlying assumption of interchangeability:  should one’s companions meet a minimum standard of age, gender, and appearance, each will do as well as another.  This fuzzy focus from an excess of choices embodies itself in many students’ written work through the misuse of “their.”

Indeed, my frequent exhortation to the brightest writers was to exercise great care in distinguishing between one and many.  The use of a singular subject is a good way to initiate a sentence which informs as well as it can.  Let’s use the Father’s Day example again:  “My dad used to encourage me to use his basic woodworking tools to build things from boards I found in the scrap pile.”  Of course it’s acceptable to use a plural subject:  “Parents often support their children by sharing their personal toys with them as they grow up.”

Plural subjects such as “parents” don’t need a gender-specific pronoun.  Nonetheless, it is hard to feel confidence in a writer too lazy not to begin a sentence with a singular subject and then lose his way to “their” after the first verb.

It’s as though a writer’s understanding of basic grammar runs up against unbreakable rules of political correctness and his brain shorts out to “Whatever!” mode and his fingers type in “they.”

Is it any wonder that journalists today seem overwhelmed by specific details of complex stories?  They have lost their editors’ permission to use the necessary language to examine them.

Look at the rise of Eric Grenier, a blogger-turned-columnist at CBC.  Grenier has established a reputation as an analyst of polling data.  It was this blogger who had the temerity to write that Baby Boomers were the principal supporters of Justin Trudeau’s 2015 electoral majority, not Millenials, that marijuana legalization attracted these Millenials to the party but they voted on jobs and the environment, and that the much-touted Aboriginal vote actually went to the NDP, despite loud protestations of betrayal from First Nations leaders in British Columbia who claimed to have voted Liberal in the federal election.  He formed these conclusions from careful, poll-by-poll analyses of turnout and vote counts.

Grenier’s particular gift is his ability to distinguish between the one and the many, and it quietly puts the lie to some of the half-truths which slide conveniently into Canadian political writing.  On one occasion I corrected journalist Stephen Maher on one of these slips.  He quickly apologized that he had been in a hurry,  he should have checked his data, but hadn’t, and promptly rewrote the article to eliminate the slip.

As Canadians in a world increasingly afflicted with diseases of thought, we need to pay careful attention to the accuracy of what we write and read.

UPDATE:  20 June, 2017

As satisfying as the first half of the rant above might have been to compose, a reader suggested a more appropriate perspective on Arcamax.com:

It’s called ‘singular they’.  Intended for cases where the sex of any particular member of a group is irrelevant to the meaning of the message– it’s vaguely stupid when talking about members of a group whose sex can be assumed, like fathers.

Local Flooding

May 6, 2017

A look on Chaffey’s Locks Rocks on Facebook just now showed photos of water flowing over the Opinicon Road at Telephone Bay.  A commenter on the Newboro Lake FB page claimed the water is overflowing the upper gates at the Newboro Lockstation.

I just read that Canada’s Minister of Justice, Jody Wilson-Raybould,  plans to make the punishment for selling marijuana to children a 14 year maximum sentence, the same as for child molesters.

On July 20, 2013 I posted the following article to my blog.  I also sent it along to whatever contacts I could find in Ottawa.  Coincidence?  Probably.  But I think they’re right in their thinking:  drug dealers have no more place in the schools than child molesters, and both offences should receive equal social opprobrium.

July 20, 2013           The Walnut Diary

As a retired secondary school teacher and vice principal, while I detest marijuana for the damaging effect it has on the learning of young people, I support legalizing it with one important caveat: take strong steps to keep the stuff away from kids under the age of 18.

In particular I would suggest that the type of electronic surveillance which has proven effective at rounding up child pornography rings should be directed toward the use of cell phones in secondary schools.

The grade 12 drug dealer sitting in the back of an English class will be a lot less likely to take orders by text from grade nine kids if Signals Intelligence has made a copy of his morning text traffic available to the local police before his lunch-hour delivery time.

Kids, especially boys with ADHD, are badly damaged by early cannabis use. I have seen too many bright kids ruined by the drug to have any use for it in or around the school yard.

If we treat marijuana dealers who sell to kids as the child molesters they are (and not just as students misbehaving), let the rest of society pay their taxes and buy their grass at the LCBO.

UPDATE:

I fell into a discussion online in which a guy challenged me to put up proof that grass is bad for kids with ADHD. So I’ll add a few links here as I find them.

Rod

http://www.okanaganclinicaltrials.com/public/column.php?category=Addiction&title=Marijuana+use+and+psychiatric+illness

http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/cannabis-use-and-abuse

http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/newsandeventspggrp/imperialcollege/newssummary/news_1-7-2013-11-49-21

These were the first three Google listed.

IMG_20170507_165706At last the frozen lakes are out of the way and Grandpa can finally get around to fixating on the only important topic in his world:  Me!  Today is my seven-month birthday. Doesn’t everyone have birthdays every month?  Maybe it’s only because there’s just one of me and two sets of grandparents.

In any case, Mommy shot this video while riding in the back with me as I tried out the new car seat, which is good.  Daddy’s really fond of the Cayenne, too.  I like to go for rides in it because Mommy can sit right beside me, I can take naps if I get tired, and when we get to Grandma’s house that loud stuffed animal wags her tail and Mommy pats her a lot.  They call her Taffy.

About the Porsche? I like to ride in it.  Daddy loads all of my stuff in and there’s still room for Mommy and Grandma beside my seat.  I have to sit facing back, but I can see out the windows well.  Daddy mentioned shades for the back windows and a sunroof, but I haven’t seen either yet.  He’s happy when he drives it, though.  Mommy is calm when she rides in it, too, even when there are a lot of other cars going by, or snowstorms.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy my review of the ride to Grandma’s house.

Ada

 

 

How the Lake works

April 8, 2017

Readers of the ice reports on this blog have a proprietorial attachment to the body of water which surrounds Scott Island, but the coming summer will be one of celebrations on the canal and free lock passes, so it’s a good idea to look at surrounding lakes and the culture of those who cherish them.

The Big Rideau Lake Association’s website now features an ongoing series of learned essays under the general title How the Lake Works.  They sent me copies of the first six papers.  Of very high quality, the essays seek to inform without bias, so the tone remains carefully neutral and the bibliographies are good.

I particularly recommend the paper on water levels by Brian Hawkins, and Life Under the Surface by wildlife biologist Buzz Boles which will be posted over the next few weeks.

https://www.bigrideaulakeassociation.com/howthelakeworks/

Or you can go immediately to my neighbour Doug Bond’s lyrical description of the geological features of the area:

https://www.bigrideaulakeassociation.com/how-the-lake-works

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For years I have told anyone who would listen that the most hazardous driving conditions of the winter occur in April, when a quick fall of snow is saturated by rain at 32 degrees F.  I even had a name for the phenomenon, April grease.

We drove into some on the way home from Merrickville today.  I was mildly curious to see how Ruby would do on zero-traction slush, but primarily I was eager to get her home without damage.

The trip began bravely enough, with very little traffic on the back roads.  The few winter- hardy drivers plowed along, their pickups in 4WD and loaded tanks of sap in the back.

As long as I was exactly in their wheel ruts, things were normal.  But if the right wheels climbed a 1″ pile of slush, Ruby let me know with a stutter-step to the right, the same as any other car I’ve driven in this stuff.

On a side note:  because of this slush I quit using a Volkswagen for winter commutes.  A light FWD like our Jetta would lose control for as long as both front wheels were floating on slush — in passing situations, for example.  I opted for a series of Volvo sedans, those of the skinny, tall Michelins. They were pretty good, though I managed the odd front-wheel skid with them, as well.  When the new 4Runner came along I learned just to drive it in 4WD through thick and thin.  It was very stable in the passing lane unless in 2WD, at which point it behaved like an annoyed pig on ice.

Back to Ruby and the unfamiliar April slush.  As we passed Toledo things became greasier, though I noticed that most drivers were still holding a pace for dry pavement.  Then one guy braked to turn.  His SUV split-arsed a bit, but he recovered neatly and continued into a barn yard.  Though well back, I tried my brakes on the tricky surface.  To my surprise nothing happened for a bit.  It wasn’t a skid — no machine gun rattle from various corners of the car — but rather it seemed that the brakes just weren’t working.  Ice on the rotors, or all wheels with zero traction?  Likely ice.  I’ve noticed that before on Ruby.  This never happens on a Lexus, but Toyota engineers didn’t have to worry about brake cooling on a sedan designed for geezers.  Cayennes occasionally find themselves on a track, so the rotors are built to run very cold.  32 degree F slush, a whirling, shiny object and you have a perfect chance for ice to form.

So part of the routine for driving Ruby in near-freezing conditions is frequent touches of the brakes to defrost them.

Once they were dry, I over-applied the brakes as a test.  The usual muted machine-guns went off, and the car slowed quickly, dead-straight.  A basic safety line established, I experimented with the Goodyear winter tires and the grease.  Frankly, I wasn’t all that impressed.  The wheels are simply too wide for the weight of the vehicle on grease.  The coarse off-road treads of my pickup would grip the asphalt better, I think.  I slowed down to just a bit over 80 km/hr.

Why the critical attitude when I certainly should have been driving more slowly in bad conditions?  In my wife’s Lexus, a pretty good slush car with a relatively high weight-to-tire width, I know how quickly I’m driving without a look at the speedometer.  In Ruby, I really don’t know without instruments.  Speed creeps up if I don’t use cruise control.  Stealth speed is not what a driver needs in April grease.

Will I leave Ruby at home next time in bad conditions?  Naw.  I’ll just set the cruise at 80 km and go for it.  It’s still by far the best, safest car we’ve ever driven.  I just need to adjust the control nut behind the wheel.

And now that I think of it, on one memorable 5 a.m. drive to the Ottawa Airport on April 7th, I refused to drive my Volvo an inch further because I couldn’t keep it on the road.  We went in our friend’s Dodge Mini-Van with AWD.  It drove like a motorized living room, but it didn’t slide around on grease.