March 13: Lawns, Urban Burning, Spring, Brown Sauce, Envy

March 13: Lawns, Urban Burning, Spring, Brown Sauce, Envy

Slide1
A good urban lawn (left, Androp’s; note bare ground), a bad lawn (right, note evidence of fertilization, herbicides, and gasoline mower).  Reasonable urban space management (below): prescribed fire applied to native plants.

Humans spend excessive time and energy on maintenance of tame grasses they call “lawns.”  Nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, and gasoline are all used in abundance on these largely useless grassy areas.  They are pollution pits and wastes of fossil fuels.  The tendency to try to manage the environment seems universal among humans, but urban lawns are a particularly radical, and way too popular, example.  City ordinances sometimes preclude reasonable people from doing the right thing: they force the pollution and waste that goes with lawn maintenance on homeowners.  Androp favors those humans getting over it.  Late winter burning of unfertilized native plants seems more reasonable.

Slide4
Decorative magnolias and Bradford pears always bloom before the last cold snap.

The decorative magnolia trees and Bradford pears bloomed two weeks ago, so this last blast of freezing temperatures in town was due.  The return of cold corresponded with a return to Daylight Savings Time, so confusion and disorientation resulted.

Slide2
Photodocumentation of cold snap, and what made the unicorn’s butt wet.

DST was adopted nationally by most states in 1966.  The primary result was supposed to be energy savings.  Now, nearly nobody approves of switching time twice a year, and no real energy savings result.  However, switching back to not switching time would take an act of Congress, and everyone knows that will not happen.

The culinary note involves a brown sauce (gravy), in this case, made for serving over rice and seared scallops.

Slide3
Stages of brown gravy making: browning flour in butter with onions, garlic, and milk waiting to added (left), bubbling gravy (top right), and gravy over seared scallops and rice (bottom right).

The easiest way to make gravy is to put equal parts flour and butter in a pan, brown a bit, and then add whatever is desired for flavor.  In this case, onions were browned, then some crushed garlic was added.  Those were removed, then scallops were seared.  Finally, 1 tbl butter and 1 tbl flour (plus salt and pepper) were added and the flour was browned.  Then 1 c milk and the browned onions and garlic were added back and heated until bubbly.  Hint: for white gravy, the flour is not browned, but this results in a somewhat doughy-tasking gravy.  Androp prefers to brown the flour.

Finally, under humans are strange, Androp has been considering the source of envy.  Probably, recognition of good resources is adaptive, and a desire to take those away from other troupes of humans could be seen as adaptive.

Slide4
The once-adaptive tendency for humans to recognize and acquire resources to enhance survival and reproduction is now manifest in desires for useless objects, like fancy cars and huge mansions.

Modern humans manifest this desire for resources a yearning for material goods such as automobiles and houses.  Ironically, survival and reproduction of modern humans in the developed world is not enhanced by owning these types of resources.  High social status might also have improved fitness throughout most of our evolutionary history, but not any longer in the developed world.  The current desire for high social status may partly explain our fascination and admiration of celebrities.  Possibly, this explains partly the election of he who must not be named.  Humans are an exceptionally strange species, and possibly are becoming more and more ill-adapted to the environment they have created for themselves.

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