Monday, July 31, 2006

"Claude would even ask you to turn your face away when she squatted over the bidet. All wrong!"

Things have been very busy. I've accumulated a type of tired heretofore unfamiliar and uncharted yet obviously eventually obligatory territory:

I took my sorry over the water and toward the dorry.
I said "Quick man! Ferry me across!"
The swift river never quicker, taste of fear metallic flavor.

Dorryman a surly bloak, a bloody bad taste in my mouth.
Again I flee along the road, carry always a burdensome load.

And so it was that I came to watch The Libertine, a movie starring Johhny Depp that was good. It's a period piece which is well done, except they're always drinking wine not beer. In London. In 1675. This is very unlikely I must say. Anywho, a very good movie otherwise. Reminded me a lot of Henry Miller, at least Tropic of Cancer (hence the title of this post). Lots of sex. Lots of graphic sex. Not necessary nudity; just very graphic. But John sure does pull it off.

I'm living completely by the seat of my pants; there is no hope for the cuffs of my pants. is pretty slick. They are part of the online presence of Seed Magazine, a new and apparently popular science magazine. does the hosting, homogenizes, and clutters up with ads, many of the net's best science blogs. For instance, Pharyngula is there.

Anyway, I wonder how much money they make from all those bloggers and I wonder how much they pay. I'm pretty sure they pay for hosting and support etc., but I doubt they pay salaries? Well, just looking at their new front page I noticed how they're doing a better job making use of the blogs' content in a more traditional webpage format. They even have a "top 5 emailed articles section". Pretty slick. I'm not sure I think the authors are being taken advantage of. I'll have to think about that some more. But I am very curious about how much ad revenue comes from clicks on Pharyngula, a very popular blog.

FDIBS is now over. It wore me out something bad. But that's ok. I had a great time, learned a lot, met a lot of people, talked about a lot of stuff. Good. Tired. This is my favorite picture from the workshop, from Joe Cain's talk on the social cement of scientific disciplines.

Here are some pictures from the family reunion. I used to ride the shit out of that four wheeler. It was my grandfather's now it's my uncle's. My family is local. That is a picture of my other grandfather in Tibet in 1943 (they both owned all terrain vehicles). My Uncle Kurt both piloting the cart and the paper airplane. My dad, the coolers, uncle Joe. Chris and Jama and Elena. Jama and Elena.





And now for the rest of the non-enlargers:

And finally, my father stayed a couple days after the family reunion last week to hang out with his mom and do some work around her house, but also to go fishing with "Cousin Ricky", one of the local Fish and Game guys up in Elk County. He also happens to be the guy who manages the Wolf Run pond which I mentioned here. He also happens to be the guy who took several of the pond fish and put them into Wolf Run.

They are thriving. Cousin Ricky feeds them fish food a lot so they get really fat. Not necessarily my type of fishing, but that huge rainbow trout my dad pulled out of a very small stream on a #14 Adams is pretty nice. I also don't endore my father's method of handling that large fish, but whatever, they are stocked there. My dad with a large and rotund brook trout. And then, the monster 'bow (with patented Dunn-tongue).

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

blueberries and brook trout no more

Things are a touch stressful here in good ol'Indianer. It is stupidly hot. Stupidly humid.

Abundantly clear that the stress in the air just isn't around in the mountains.

The trip home was going great. I stopped into Rich O's, one of my top 5 favorite bars, to drop off some canned (gasp!) beer for the good Dr. Baylor. I also managed to have a large pizza with 4 toppings, a half pint of New Albanian Brewing Company's hoppy, cask conditioned "red ale", and an imperial pint of, get this, Monk's Flemish sour ale.

Thank the good fucking lord.

If they have it at Big Red here in B-town I might just collapse into a puddle of orgasmic joy right there on the floor, good for nothing salespeople crowded around my sticky mess of a meltdown.

"Clean up, aisle 5."

Anyway, I purchased a growler of the NABC Elector Ale and literally skipped out through the 100 degree swelter to my car. I was very pleased with myself. Only a quick 1.5 hour trip to Bloomington from here! I sang along with Tony Furtado the entire way home.

Pulled into the driveway. Weeds had pretty much overtaken the back yard. The recycling bins were filled to the brim with foul water filled to the brim with foul larvae wriggling and squirming, as if they could already smell my fat, juicy, blood filled body, as if they were already the bloodsucking pests they had not yet become.

Brian sure did a great job taking care of the house while I was gone. The inside was spotless too.

But that don't confront me. As long as I get my money next Friday. Now next Friday come I didn't have the rent. Out the door I went.

What did confront me, however, was when I dropped my cool, dew covered growler of Elector Ale. It shattered. The driveway slowly soaked up the precious nectar. I cried a little bit.

Eh. C'est la vie and all that nonsense.

I did get to go to Upland with Grant and Megan and Catherine and Emily and Joel so that was cool. But today has been hectic time doing stuff for the conference that I am now officially a co-organizer of.

And tomorrow it's off to the Family reunion in northern PA! Then back on Sunday for more FDIBS things, then the conference starts on Wednesday.

You only live once. Pack as much shit into that life as humanly possible and hope you don't have a breakdown. That's my motto anyhow.

At least I have the memories from the short, 3 day backpacking trip in Panthertown last weekend to dull my busypains.

Forgive me father for I have sinned. It has been 6 days since my last backpacking-fishing trip.

I hiked in from Salt Rock Gap. To the top of Little Green. I didn't bring much food. Some nuts. Some granola bars. A bit of beef jerky.

After I urinated on the rather rare granitic dome lichen community I supplemented my meager rations with blueberries. Lots of them. I ate them 10 at a time, pulling the bunches to my mouth, biting them off the bush. There were pangs of guilt, I'll admit. What will the bears eat? I don't need these berries. The bears do. Those buddies need all the energy they can get. They don't have nuts and granola in their pack.

But then I realized, about 500 berries in, that I was probably going to get the shits something fierce. Serve'em right them goldang humans. (Editor's note: the editor is happy to report that he did not, in fact, get the shits.)

The extreme headwaters of the Tuck. Potholes and all.

A front done come through. Bigger for click.

Little Green. Bigger click for.

Panthertown Valley is called "the Yosemite of the East", and when I was out there last week I was thinking, this does remind me of a spot in Yosemite backcountry. But then I looked at the picture from the Yosemite and it turns out that, well, not so much. For bigger click.

The obligatory Schoolhouse falls picture:

I hiked down the river. Into the bowels of Panthertown, aka Devil's Elbow, where even the brook trout are mean. For click bigger.

Blick for cligger.

A beautiful buddy. Flick cor bigger.

The beautiful buddy in his natural habitat. Click bor figger.

The sunset was fixin' to be pretty nice, then there was that one damn cloud. But it turned out ok I suppose so low go flow know Bo knows bono's my least favorite Irishman.

You can view a larger version of this digital image by clicking on it.

There was this guy up on Little Green Sunday night. At dusk. I saw him twice. He was maybe 20 years old? I don't know. Younger than he was old. Whatever the hell that means. Anyway, he was wearing a shorts, a t-shirt, and some yellow throwback Saucony sneakers with blue socks. A Jansport book bag that looked empty. It was dusk. It's at least an hour hike to the nearest trailhead from where we were. At least. And he's up there in my way on the trail talking on a cell phone.

He stops. "Hey, hey, hold on a sec yo. Hey man, how are you? I get reception up here, isn't that crazy?"

"Ummmm, yes."

"Hey, do you know what these blue berries are?"

"Those are blueberries dude."

"Oh, cool. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't killing myself."

So I says to him I says, "I just saw a big bear back there."

(Editor's note: the editor likes to think that the punk got the shits somethin' fierce.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

into the grand holler

The Bradley Fork watershed starts high up above 6000' on the crest of the Smokies between Charlie's Bunion and Peck's Corner. It drains a sizable chunk of land, maybe 4 miles between ridges at it's widest (10 miles along the ground? You know if you ironed West Virginia flat it would be bigger than Texas?), and joins the Oconaluftee river at Smokemont. The lower parts of the valley were certainly occupied by early white settlers and the Cherokee before them, but pockets of the area were never logged and while it's a longish hike to get away from most human sign (~5 miles), it's a fairly easy climb (just less than 1000 vertical feet) and most of the hike is on an old road bed.

And the upper reaches of the creek are as beautiful as anything I've seen in the park.

The access to the heart of the Bradley Fork wilderness is the Cabin Flat's campsite (there aren't actually any cabins).

The trail stops there.

Last Sunday I only made it about 1/2 mile up the creek above Cabin Flats, but that was far enough. No foot prints. No trash. No trails. There are probably some other fisherpeople and park service folk who venture up this way, but probably not too often.

The forest is shockingly beautiful. The stream is shockingly clear. A much richer forest than I saw in the Raven Fork watershed. This might be because we were at almost 4000' on Raven Fork and I was just over 3000' on Bradley Fork. And of course it was pretty much winter on Raven Fork when I was there. The two creeks are very close in size. Raven Fork is certainly more remote. Much harder to get to. But once I was up a good distance from Cabin Flats it felt just as wild as anything on Raven Fork.

I caught more Rainbow trout than Brook trout. No Brown trout. I saw many beautiful Rainbow trout. I don't hate them so much anymore.

Yet I persist in my view that, beside the Brook trout, they are dull.

I think Brook trout and Rainbow trout epitomize the difference between eastern and western wilderness in the U.S. The Rainbow trout is blankly metallic; galvanized against the harsh western environment. The Brook trout is dark, soft, and mysterious; sheltered in pockets of rain forest. The western mountains are wide open, sterile, and intimidating. The eastern mountains are closed, fertile, and nuturing.

I'll work this all out soon and get back to you.

Be can of these some made bigger by on them clicking.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

beautiful, cold, clicky genetics

Practically buried in petri plates. Yeast surrounds me. Hunched over the Quebec Colony Counter, frantically CLICK CLICK CLICKING away. Tens of thousands of clicks have passed; tens of thousands more loom ominously. Alternatively scribbling numbers in a frayed notebook, folded over a laptop CLICK CLICK CLICKING them into a spreadsheet. Science is really nothing more than a series of clicks. Dolphins no doubt have a very advanced scientific method. Hence all the swimming.

I stop clicking abruptly. Look up...

"I think my yeast have the pleiotropy."

"Pleiotropy, eh? That's no good", says Emily from across the bench.

"No. No it's not. And they've got it bad. Can't you hear these little buddies coughing?"

"No. I can smell them though."

"Well, I can hear them coughing. I think they have a touch of the epistasis too. Evolved it all by themselves."

"Bummer. Poor little guys."

"I know, I know. But that's the price of science. All the clicks have finally caught up with 'em. The noblest wee beasts sacrifice themselves for the glorious edification of the human species. Heart of a champion and all that. Strange arrangement, eh?"

"Not really. I like the smell of freezers."

"Ummmmm...that's kind of an odd thing to say at a time like this, what with my little buddies comin' down with genetics and all."

Emily, standing up, walks to the fridge, opens the freezer compartment, places her head well inside for a long, awkward minute (at least for me). She withdraws and closes the freezer door gently, even tenderly, removing her hand in a long, soft, slow, graceful caress down the length of the freezer door handle.

"Well, I suppose it's kind of a strange thing to say any time. It's even stranger because it's true. As the sky is blue, as the morning dew, as a similie slew could never capture the veracity of my love for the smell of a brand new freezer! The cool, crisp folds of fluorinated hydrocarbons and fresh-bent plastic wafting me over..."

Her head now tilted back, eyes closed, a look of post-orgasmal satisfaction painted softly on her face. Turning away, with more than a hint of disdain for our poor, innocent lab freezer, she says authoritatively, dismissively, with a severe curtness: "This one here kinda has a funk to it. You gotta get 'em fresh."

“Ah...indeed...that’s a fine point, a very fine point. Let us leave the lab and drink the beer and be the merry whole night long!”

And we did so thusly. And it was good.


T-H-E D-O-U-B-L-E P-O-S-T L-O-O-M-S O-M-I-N-O-U-S-L-Y? So say I doth rightly does.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

an open letter to the trout of Jackson County, NC

Little Squirming Writhing Buddies,

I hope this letter finds you well. It has been far too long since our last communiqué. Things have taken a turn for the worse here on the farm. Ma was struck down by the typhoid fever last March, God rest her soul. If only there had been more protein in her diet. And omega-three fatty acids (nudge, nudge, wink, wink).

But I realize you can't read so I'll make this brief.

Look, I appreciate everything you do for me. How you compel me to drive two hours on dirt roads in my '96 Honda Accord with the rattly muffler. How you compel me to hike four miles with wading boots in my pack in the wan light of a July night, my nostrils perniciously pricked pungent by Galax and horse shit. Every dark shape in the woods a bear. Every bear...a predaceous bear. How you compel me to negotiate Little Canada locals as they show me their hunting knives. On the side of the road. Drinking Miller Lite. At night.

I appreciate these various compellings little buddies. Honestly I do.

The thang I'm 'a writin'bout here'n'now is the fact that ya'll won't set still long enough for me to get a good picture image of your colorful fusiform selves. You wriggle and worm your slimy tiny bodies slick from my grasp. I try to hold you tight, but I don't want to crush none'a'yer vitals [EDITOR's NOTE: try reading the previous line like John Stewart impersonating George W. Bush]. I'm not gonna eat ya'll little buddies. That thing about omega-three fatty acids was just a joke.

So I'm'a'jus'a'askin' that ya'll hold still next time.

Give the tangerine darters my love. I was always quite fond of them.

Very best,
Matthew Dunne.