Chapter 2

The Physiology

Alice frowned. That one was straight out of Encyclopedia Britannica; kicked from program.

She sighed. This kid copied off the kid that copied off of the Encyclopedia. Also kicked from the program.  

Plagiarism. Learn not to do it kids.

She flipped through the submissions, most of them were fine, some questions the class needed to be brought up. And then this:

Lesson One

What is a weed?

Tanner Lloyd Reid

There was this line of poetry someone shouted right after you gave me this homework. I like it though. When I googled I found it, and this article on what makes weeds weeds, so I’ll talk about that bit first. Dr. Morishita seems ligit, he’s a professor in the weed department of some school in Idaho. Basically he talks about how a weed is a weed, the characteristics that make it so invasive and quick to crop up.  The biggy he talked about are reproduction. The seeds of these weeds are successful because they tend to be small and easily dispersed into soil and by wind, such as dandelions. Seeds of weeds can also come from tubers and stolons, so even if you got the above part of the seed there could be tons below. And the other thing he said was that for serious, weed seeds can live like seriously, forever. They’ve found lots of seeds that still germinated over huge timespans.

So cool. Now; our reading assignment. Have to find the one I’m thinking on. Hmm. It was saying  some funny things about the first garden and the first weed trying off to much off the the garden’s fair share of resources. So man just like that started to select for things they wanted and the ones they didn’t want did their own selecting. So you started with one thing  and it basically splits into two. Wanted plant vs Unwanted plant. A struggle for dominance. That’s when the first weed pullin started happening the war began. (find source for this)

So what does the physiology tell us about how the seeds are? Small. Able to be tracked everywhere, moved by those big ag rigs, like that you have to be careful on the highway all summer long. Also small and light can be airbound.

So then some article.. I swear I’ll find it prof. It was talking about dormancy and seeds waiting for the go ahead to spread and then another go ahead to start growing.

Ok. I totally understand dormancy and quiescence. (hopkins and huner). The seeds are really dry, so they need to wait to come back with water, so they’ll germinate and become active again. There’s seeds that need special attention, like different needs to get back alive. Hey… are seeds like plant zombies? So, if they are, how’s that game got  zombies with the plants. Uhm yeah. Anyway. Quiescence is a rest for seeds that have no issue with rising from their seedly graves. But like there’s lots of things the seeds work with as far as wanting to come back.

(Grundy and Joneos) But I was kind of looking at the reading for next week and I figured out our concept for the semester so. Anyway. Seed banks are bit, stopped reading because I realized what track I was on. So anyway… Seed viability and dormancy. Dormancy is a scale, not black and white. (I don’t get why people get so dedicated to being white verses black when its just white and a gradient. I think that came up with those peas. Sorry Doc, I just am prone to wonder whilst I wander. Like, typing this paper with Siri and voice recognition.  So yeah. Dormancy, lots of ways to shed it. Some plants require bonus items to get it right, you can win without but its better to have them. It could because it needs water, or a temperature like tin needs to have gotten really cold or really hot or maybe just because its old vs young in place in the soil. Some seeds need help because their seed coat so they make some hole in it I guess, and then it can take in water. So yeah. That’s your review of lesson one. Have a fun weekend Dr. Swan!


Back to the story

After trying to write a straight paper from the past two months, my major professor asked for a status update.  I admitted to not have gotten much going. Then I voiced my desire to write a novella. He green lighted it. This weekend I’m going to try to get a lot of stuff done. The first thing will be chapter two. I think chapter two will be proof of concept.

A realization.

Sorry guy’s My brain has been mulling this and the paper really needs to come together before I can insert fiction in it.

Once I get part one done (weeds and seeds oh my!) approved, we’ll see where this goes.



How to Write a Literature Review, Chapter 1; PART Four of Many

Chapter One: What is a weed?

Dr. Aysel Sycamore looked out at her still gathering undergraduate Integrated Pest Management class.  It was the third week of class, she was still matching faces to names. The ones that drew her eyes first were the marching band and flag corps that came straight from rehearsal. There was a group of students from the civic engineering program, right smack in the t-zone for them every time. There were a few that had been in her summer session, the ones that would never missed office hours,  those that were excelling, as well as the ones that were struggling. There were a few that Kali, her TA, told her to watch.

The bell rang and a few stragglers got to their seats, the chattering died down.  She cleared her throat, and began her lecture.

“What is a weed?”

A  girl in the back raised her hand.

“Yes, go ahead Merriam.”

“In this context it’s a noun. As in a plant that is unwelcome and causes to damage to useful plants.”

Aysel nodded at the girl. “Precise as always Ms.Webster.”  

A male voice somewhere in the middle of the hall with a sarcastic tone budged in before Merriam could speak again. “Marijuana!” Half the class started roaring with laughter whole the others glared where they thought the voice had come from.  There was always one of those in all of her classes since she had began teaching.

She spotted him. “Yes Mr. Reid, in some places cannabis is considered a weed, however that is out of the purview of this class. Also, I did warn over disruptions to the lecture, it’s in the syllabus. I want five definitions of the vocabulary terms from your reading assignment. It will reflect on your grade.”

She looked out at the rest of her class. “Five points extra credit if you wish to do this as well.”

“Now Mr. Reid, may I continue my lecture?”  The pale faced freshman nodded ever so slowly and Aysel came back to her lecture. Going to the digital projector, she takes out a pen and began making a concept map.

figure1“Ok good. This is a very good start. However we’re missing a few things. Cultural control for instance.  A big part of cultural control leads us to your assignment, also connected to stolons and seeds (and tubers).”

“What I am speaking here of is the weed seedbank”

She looked out at her class, looking for understanding. She only found a few, and nodded to herself. The bell rang and she looked up at the clock. Lost track of time again.  “Right. That said, I want a five paragraph essay on what the seed bank is for next Friday. Don’t forget, extra credit on terms from our concept map, up to five points, due this Wednesday”

Aysel exhaled as the last of the class filed out, and spoke to a few of the students looking for clarification on the lecture. They were on the first unit of the class, and she wasn’t sure what to expect on this one, it was her first time teaching this class. Dr. Fowler had retired after one last go around in the summer, and she had shadowed him on it.

She could do this, she knew she could. She wanted to be a better professor than some poor examples she had, as far as being a woman in a man’s field.  “Field. Heh. I’m going to go to pun hell for that.”

She packed up her bag and slid her phone out of her pocket. Three messages. Anita confirming plans for lunch the next day. Vet confirming head to tail examination for her rabbit. A third one, number unknown. She frowned, no transcript. She was about to listen to the message but it charmed a text message instead.

“hi!” She smiled, their customary greeting, and replied. “hi.”

“What would you like for dinner?” Aysel tended to forget to eat, thus Lee had decided to make sure she did.

“Tuna melts.”

“Hmm, beef is on sale.”

“Ok… goulash?”

“Can do!”

“Okies, love you.”

“Love you too.”

She smiled and then looked back down at the missed call. Unknown. Probably a scam, it was hard to know, usually they were cloning other people’s numbers.

She hit the button to listen and started walking again. The phone emitted this ear rupturing noise that was half ancient dialup connection noise, half that obelisk at the start of “2001, A Space Odyssey.” She dropped her phone with surprise, and watched in terror as it somehow missed the giant puddle between herself and the parking garage. Exhale. Fish phone from shrubbery. Inhale. Think of attached Knights who say “Ni” associated with shrubberies. Enter giggle fit. Inhale.. INHALE!

She peered around to see if anyone had noticed, then grabbed the phone AGAIN and then worked on traversing the flooded lot. It wasn’t this bad usually, but the lot just had issues of being secondary containment. She almost set herself in another giggle fit remembering the time that  she and her work friend Jane had made a sign for a similar parking lot that read: Lake Parkinglot, No Wake.

She snorted to herself, “Dr. Sycamore, stop being so good at amusing yourself, people are going to start noticing.”  Then reached the garage elevator, punched in her floor and looked back at her phone. The message was gone. Huh. No time to wonder though, she had errands, and she needed to start now, or be late for Lee’s special recipe goulash. The secret ingredient was cheese. Mmm.


Prologue: How to get to the point where you end up needing to write a literature review. PART Three, of Many

So things were moving on splendidly in the academic sphere.  On the professional sphere, my company is a daughter company of a sister company that just recently merged with another big industrial company.

Things get lost in the shuffle. Project idea two was one of them.

My in-laws have a seed dealing friend that had an oddity coming up with his customers. Soybeans were yellowing in different places in their, and other producer’s fields. It had been really obvious when you were looking down at the field, but in the field not so much, very subtle.  So I got some funds for soil testing and collect soy samples for the next year’s harvest.

Communication and resources killed it. You have to be very tenacious with your growers. With everything happening with work and school, I just couldn’t stay on top of it all. In addition, my only help was the in-laws, and it would never have been up to standards as far as a quality experiment went.  I was way out of my league. Plus there non-grower problems.

I had been told that “nothing” had been done to the fields I’d be looking at.  Nothing means incorporating chicken manure into the ground. (Apparently the field they did this to did better, but I’d never be able to know if it was the manure or the tilling.) Nothing also meant side dressing N. I’ll learn the lingo sometime. 

I’d never be able to discern a true cause, because of this and some other disorganisation.

It would have not been practical to have gone to check every week. It’s a three hour drive from home to the in laws and then another drive to the fields. Even if I had better means, the whole thing just would have never worked.

Honestly though, someone had repeated to me that a theory was the snow drifts on top of the fields. This could have caused compaction. So the health of the plants could have very well been hardpans.

So Project number two took one to the heart.

Didn’t take enough for project idea three either. My  advisor suggested I go back to the Co-Op/farm center, and suggest that I could take a few of the customer’s nutrition suggestions based on soil testing and the two recommendation schools.   Then write up what would have been more expensive and then comparing the effectiveness. Co-Op employees also need to be kept on top of if you’re not a customer. Plus, the merger ran me out of resources to make the correct introductions.

Why this way?  Because I have been putting this thing off since May (it is now October), and it means a big change in my life. It’s scary. Chris has been trying to help, but just last week I realized what I needed to do. Which is because I got an email about NaNoWrMo, and it stuck in the back of my brain a little. Before just out of the blue I found myself writing this prologue.  Halfway through this and I realized… why not just write a novel… and frame my lit review around it.

This might crash and burn, but I need to give it a shot.  I asked on Facebook what my genre should be. I asked my lab tech what genre it should be. And then the biggest “light bulb” came to my brain.  Time Travel… this is time travel.

And now we are here.  Welcome to the actual start of the story.

Prologue: How to get to the point where you end up needing to write a literature review. PART Two, of Many

I owe a lot of my entry level class professors. I was afraid that my first class with stats was going to be as bad as the undergrad course that I somehow walked around. But as a first class, it made me feel that these things were real and I can overcome the obstacles I put around myself  knowing that it was inevitable that I would somehow mess things up. But AGRON 113 put me in a whole new level of regrowing self confidence. I could remember how it felt to be successful at something. That I found a new way to learn, and that class put me back in the zone. Especially working with fellow students in blackboard (btw, I wish we had canvas before my last semester, canvas is just so nice.)  


Over that summer I took 501, which feels like a breeze went through in my memory. But the really thing that stood out was going to orientation in Ames. I got to meet my favorite advisor in person. It felt really good. It was a good glance into what he program was with the 592 students there, and getting into their heads about the program. Campus is beautiful, maybe better than UNL. Oh and.. Don’t tell Herbie and Lil’ Red that I cheated on them with Cy. I think that joke is getting worn out more and more each time  tell it. I just need to stop. (But hey, if I end up with a job through K-State when all of this is over, Don’t tell Cy about Willie) One last thing I remember about the staff at Agronomy Hall is that they are very helpful and kind. I bought an agronomy t-shirt, and then got lost in the building and promptly lost it. But no fear, they gave me a new one on the spot. Much love to the department, may I always remember your dedication to the students.


Then the magic really happened. AGRON 502. Two things. I went to every office hours  season that I could my first year. Within those office hours I really fell even more in love with soil science, and how great that professor was. Also, I met my best friend from grad school and the agronomy program. I owe a lot of debt to her as we helped each other through every class that we were taking at the same time. I’d read her drafts, she’d read mine, we’d sit and talk through homework problems, (on messenger). Every time we were in the same discussion group, we rocked it. I think between our advisor, the instructors of 513 and 502, and her, I felt success again as I hadn’t academically for a long time. Just cranked out those A’s and B’s, and it felt right and good.


So that brings us to Creative Component project one. At the time I thought I had support from work to make my experiment work.  It was going to be fabulous. I wanted to look at the effect of cobalt had on rhizobium, and also how it was supported by molybdenum. This idea came about because a new product that I helped switch from a nitrate potassium source to an acetate one. It was a starter that has all the bells and whistles from previous profitable formulations, and I wanted to know how the cobalt work for the rhizobium . The simplest/most complicated way I can say it is “plant hemoglobin”, even though that is a misrepresentation of the interactions. I did a lot of paper research for it, and I might be confusing a few things. There just wasn’t anything out there much for studies on it and functions of it. I think some of the most of the research I was doing on that was from the 1960’s, or was coming from south america, written in spanish. And yet that spanish major from undergrad was very valuable… and google translator.. Lots and lots of google translator.


So then, when I lost the two fields I’d be experimenting on, due to work, I never did get those farmers to help me out with it. I was up at Practicum in 2016, and finally met my major professor in person. We had one last shot for trying to do the experiment without help from my company, and I had no takers. I found little glints of hope with a friend and sometimes random strangers, but when it came to needing to get the experiment going, it totally fell through.  


RIP project numero uno.