Memory and goldenrods

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My old-aged memory just ain’t what it used to be many long years ago. I forget the names of people I should remember, and I often forget how to spell simple words, whereas in my younger days I was a champion speller. On the other hand I can remember the names of nearly all of my childhood friends and can identify and know how to spell the scientific names of hundreds of animals and plants I was required to learn as a college student. And my episodic memory is just about as good as it once was. Episodic memory deals with times, places, and events, recent and remote.

When I read that students at the University of Northern Iowa had elected a transgendered co-ed as its homecoming queen, and that a gay male “drag queen” had been elected to the position at George Mason University, I recalled an  episode at Auburn University when, in 1970, a straight male student received the most votes to be homecoming queen. He could not serve, however, because of a rule that only a co-ed could be so honored. The runner-up was awarded the title.

The boy said he did not want to be the queen anyway because he didn’t want to be kissed by Albert Brewer, who was governor at the time.

I also remember admiring a voluptuous coed named Ouida Dean when I was an A.U. student, as did nearly every other male student at Auburn who had attained puberty and wasn’t wearing blinders.

Ouida was enrolled in a biology class taught in Comer Hall on Ag. Hill. Shortly before she arrived for class each morning, the dean and other honchos in Comer Hall would walk outside, stand until Ouida made her entrance, then return to their offices. It was sort of a ritual.

I did some research on memory and learned that noticeable impairments on some aspects of memory can be detected in most people as young as 55 years old but that determining the precise capacity for short-term memorization is difficult because it will vary depending on the nature of the material to be recalled. All the research indicates that short-term memory declines with age.

Now let’s see, where did I put the drink I poured a few minutes ago?

“Alabama Power Company Gets What It Pays For,” captioned a column written by John Archibald in The Birmingham News (Oct. 18 ed.). He writes that according to documents filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, during the past 36 months the company spent $50.4 million to influence politics and public opinion. Archibald’s research revealed that “average spending by the nation’s five largest electric utilities….was less than half of Alabama Power’s spending for influence since the end of 2010.”

The column is lengthy and should be of interest to residential and commercial users of electricity supplied by APC. I am served by APC, and its service personnel are first class. However, statistics provided by Archibald make me wonder about the fairness of the rates consumers are being charged and if our Public Service Commission is not being unduly influenced by the company’s lobbyists.

The company is obviously doing well financially as exemplified by the fact that its president, Charles McCrary, was in 2012 compensated by an amount totaling $5,608,015, and this is not a misprint. Heck, he’s making more than Nick Saban, whose paltry wages are only $5.3 million.

Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention will have noticed until about a week or so ago the profusion of goldenrods blooming in our area. Several species of goldenrods thrive in Alabama. Just about all sunlit patches of land, including rural fallow fields, un-mowed roadsides, and empty lots in urban areas support stands of goldenrods.

In 1927 goldenrod was designated Alabama’s state flower. In 1959 a group of Butler County ladies objected to the designation and successfully petitioned the Legislature to change the state’s flower from goldenrod to the exotic Japanese camellia.

At the time it was widely believed that goldenrod pollen was responsible for causing hay fever, but it was later determined that the causative agent was ragweed pollen, and goldenrod pollen was exonerated. I and many others believe goldenrod should have remained the state’s flower.

Relatively few Alabamians can afford the luxury of growing Japanese camellias, whereas all citizens are able to enjoy the beautiful stands of native goldenrods gracing our fields, roadsides, and urban vacant lots.

“Nuff” said on this subject.

Bob Mount is a Professor Emeritus with the Dept of Zoology and Entomology, Auburn Univ. He is also chairman of the Opelika Order of Geezers, well-known local think tank and political clearing house. He writes about birds, snakes, turtles, bugs and assorted conservation topics.

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