Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Retirement Musings - More Potpourri

It looks like today’s post will be another of those potpourris that I slip in now and again. Usually (and today is no exception) it’s because I don’t have a particular theme in mind, but I’ve collected a few tidbits that I want to share.

Let’s begin with some snippets from Time magazine over the last few months. These are mostly items of limited words and no elaboration. They usually appear in the World section, the numbers column in the Briefing section, or some other similarly quick-read section.

My favorite in this group is the blurb about exploding watermelons. No, these were not IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) set out to trick unsuspecting soldiers in Iraq. Farmers in eastern China planted these melons using some type of growth chemical to fatten them up. It must have been exceptionally effective, because about 115 acres of watermelon fields were destroyed in the great fruit explosion. I don’t even want to think about where all those seeds might have wound up…

The same section snapshots a UN report that 1.3 billion metric tons of food is lost or wasted worldwide. There was no mention of how much of that is exploding watermelons.

Another odd snippet is that four beehives from a research project in Scotland were stolen from a university laboratory. One imagines these poor bees as conscripted laborers, forced to pollinate acre upon acre of flowers. Perhaps they were shipped off to China to get those watermelon fields back into production. More likely, they’re being used to make honey.

If so, those bee thieves had best keep that honey out of North America. My online sleuthing discovered that The True Source Honey Initiative was set to launch a program sometime in 2011 to certify the origin, food safety and purity of honey. The True Source Honey Traceability Program was created by Canadian and U.S. honey companies and importers to address illegally sourced honey, which is a major industry concern.

Here’s where this gets interesting. Last year, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the DOJ indicted a passel of individuals and companies for conspiring to illegally import $40 million of honey. It was coming from—you guessed it—China, the land of exploding watermelons. Some of the honey contained an unapproved antibiotic used to fight a bacterial epidemic that attacked hundreds of thousands of Chinese beehives. So, maybe we know where those bees were abducted to after all.

Finally—and you’re going to love how I manage to tie this report in to the others—a June issue of Time reported on knitters as the new graffiti artists. Many folks out there will argue that their work is really conceptual art. I’ll let you be the judge.

This new trend is called “yarn bombing.” It involves yarn artists surreptitiously taking to the streets to cover all sorts of unexpected items and places with their colorful works, creating Dadaesque installations. Time’s photos showed a tank blanket in Copenhagen, a leg warmer on an enormous statue in Paris and subway seat covers in Philadelphia. Canada declared June 11 International Yarn Bombing Day.

You’re probably thinking: “Just mentioning Canada does not qualify as a segue from the honey story.” Not to worry. I’ve saved one last yarn bomb. A photo from Vancouver showed firefighters at the end of their extension ladder hanging knit cherry blossoms on a tree. This of course begs the question: if knit cherry blossoms are here, can crocheted honey bees be far behind? Let's hope they're not made in China.

Okay. You can applaud now.

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