Off Topic

Jim McKenney
Sat, 20 Mar 2010 06:42:29 PDT
Mary Sue wrote “Sometimes I think the members of this list are more
interested in talking about food than bulbs. I suspect it drives some people
who subscribed to talk about bulbs, corms, rhizomes, tubers, geophytes 

Yet why should it be otherwise? Throughout history and throughout the world
today geophytes are major human food sources. The multi billion dollar fast
food industry is based on a geophyte, the potato. The grocery stores are
full of geophytes: potatoes, sweet potatoes, yuca (manihot), onions, garlic,
shallots, water chestnuts, taro and many other edible aroids, and in upscale
markets or ethnic markets such things as true lilies, oxalis, tropaeolum,
yacon and lots of odd-looking gnarly things I don’t recognize. You are wired
very differently than I am if you can look at bulbs and not be aware at some
level of their salient sapid quality. 

Thanks to these wide-ranging discussions I’ve learned about the comestible
oxalis and tropaeolum, I’ve learned about yacon: when I first saw this word
(in a culinary context) I thought it was a misprint for bacon. Now I not
only know what yacon is but I realize that a member of the same genus grows
in the local woods (I won’t say anything more about this one because the
local one is not a geophyte. Other than Aaron, I doubt if anyone else who
posts frequently on the list would know about it.) 

As far as the complainers are concerned, I just don’t get it. It’s not as if
there is only so much room on the list for postings, and that an
enthusiastically pursued thread is going to crowd out some other thread. And
I’m not so narcissistic to expect others to post only things of interest to
me. This group is much better disciplined than some I’ve seen about keeping
the chit chat to a minimum and using the subject line usefully. I have a
hunch some people need to learn to use the delete key more frequently.

And then there is this: why do people complain to Mary Sue? That makes no
sense to me. Why not address directly in a private email the person who is
doing something you think is inappropriate? We post in what is essentially
an email format, and email is notoriously clumsy about expressing the
subtleties of actual speech: it’s easy to misunderstand what people mean, to
misconstrue someone’s intentions. A non-threatening, private response might
be enough to nudge some one in a different direction – or it might induce a
response which helps you understand why things happened the way they did. 

I do agree with Mary Sue about the inappropriateness of chit-chat responses.
For instance, when I thanked Alberto for his response to my olive pit
question, I was not setting a good example:  I should have done that

Some of us are more prolix than others. You know who we are. That’s where
the delete key comes in handy. Remember, some of us are older, have long
attention spans and like to read; we enjoy a carefully crafted phrase now
and then, and we’re not comfortable with information delivered in sound
bites. Those of you with adult onset ADD (aka media-induced ADD) will just
have to contribute and develop your own threads expressed in the mode you’re
used to. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
7, where we're in for another day with temperatures over 70 degrees F. 
My Virtual Maryland Garden
Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 
Editor PVC Bulletin 
Webmaster Potomac Lily Society

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