Friday, August 25, 2006

my boss takes bees home in his trunk from work

"Finds the queen bee, puts it in his trunk. All the other bees follow her. He shuts the trunk and drives home to Ohio."

Or so R tells me.

There's a lot of corn in Illinois. This is the password. Don't forget it. It will become very important as the weeks wear on. Trust me.

So I have thusly returned from my circumnavigation of the upper midwest, or at least the portion that I was interested in. I suppose I actually circumnavigated some spot in NW Indiana. From Bloomington to Lafayette to Chicago to Madison to Dodgeville to Fennimore to Coon Valley to Madison to New Glarus then south through Bloomington ILLINOIS and east to Indy finally arriving back in the liberal bias of southern Indiana around 10:30 your time last night. I'll be honest with you, it was touch and go at times. When I accidentally put skim milk in my coffee in Lafayette I almost called it all off right then and there to flee back to my Bloomington cocoon.

But I perservered and it was well worth it.

I will here recount only small bits and pieces of the 6 day adventure because I am writing a three part piece for to which I shall dutifully link when they are posted on aforesaid website.

OK then. Chicago was great. Tracy is the hostess with the mostess and the little buddy Mia. I should have taken pictures of that little buddy. We drank a lot of beer and saw a lot of things to see including a really sweet Marching Band of street performers. I have video of it and will hopefully post it soon. I like Chicago a lot. My first trip there. Tracy is so urban.

Then I went fishing in the driftless region of Wisconsin. This place is called driftless because the last continental glaciers never touched it and thus never left glacial "drift" there. The driftless watersheds are tributaries to the Wisconsin River east of La Crosse. Kind of superficially looks like central PA what with the ridges and the farm land and the trout, but it is actually very different. All the relief is caused by erosion not acutal mountain building. Also, while all the excellent trout streams in the area are limestone spring creeks, like central PA, they have a much much lower gradient, flow through very large, flat bottomed, intensely farmed valleys, and have mostly silt, sand, and mud bottom substrate. They are also narrow, deep creeks. There is a TON of plants and algae in the stream as well. They are very hard to fish. The wading is difficult because of the soft bottom, deep water, and tangly aquatic plants. The casting is difficult because the rivers are narrow and the grasses and plants come right down to the water; no nice rock banks. The water is also crystal clear and the wild brown trout are wary and very selective so a perfect presentation and fly choice is necessary. This is very technical fishing.

But very good fishing if you can hack it.

I fished Mt. Vernon Creek, Big Green River, and the Coulees area. I only fished for an hour or two on the Mt. Vernon and Big Green. I spent most of my time on the Timber Coulee and it's tribs. The trout populations are very large in the Coulees. I saw more trout than I've ever seen anywhere. 50 trout a hole. Big trout too. Saw some 20" inch fish. The biggest one I caught was probably 14 or 15". The vast majority of the fish I caught were between 8-10". But I caught a lot of them. They are beautiful wild brown trout. I also caught one big brook trout the first night on the Coulees.

The big brook trout:

Click to enlarge:

Click to enlarge:

This is all for now. The first Indianabeer piece will hopefully be posted in the next day or two.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

the anatomy of a snort

I seemed to have developed a snort. The ends of my laughs are now infected with a distinct up-sucking of breath simultaneously through nostrils and mouth. This vigorous inhalation seems to be so far regularly accompanied by the rapid, staccato flap-flap-flapping a lacquered slick back passing of soft palate through nasopharynx.

Or perhaps my uvula is involved. It's hard to tell. I'll use the mirror here in a few minutes to really give it all the once over. Get this thing figured out. Solve the mystery. Hard the puzzle. Answer the question that's been burning a hole in my brain for days and days of restless sleep will wear a hole in one's head if one is not careful one may learn something one may not want to know the best way to incapacitate an attacker Bas Rutten style with the magic of Pancrase grappling technique! For only $9.99 learn the secrets of Muay Thai masters Bas Rutten and Ken Shamrock!


That's not all!

We'll also throw in a 45 minute Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu workout DVD by none other than Royce Gracie himself which includes a detailed explanation of his finishing moves from UFC 1, 2, 3, AND 4!! At no extra cost! This deal is just too good to pass up!


I'm not sure how permanent this whole snort thing is going to be. I'm not even sure how I feel about it right now. But have no fear, I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 11, 2006

misdirected affection

Up early this morning. 11am. Days upon days of sloth and pot, good for nothing lay-about lout. Get my act together today. Gonna go to Encore. Gonna do some work.

I’m on Myspace a lot. It’s not so much that I’m addicted to Myspace as I’m addicted to the interwebs. Myspace is just one more thing to do on the interwebs. Anyway, in this young woman’s “Who I’d like to meet” section she writes “henry miller in 1920s paris”. Well, honey, Henry Miller didn’t spend so much time in Paris during the 1920s. Apparently a couple months. With his wife. Most of Miller’s time in Paris that is chronicled in, for example, Tropic of Cancer, was during the 1930s. The Paris that made Miller’s themes so unique was the Paris of the 1930s.

The case could be made that had Miller been in Paris in the 1920s he would have never written the kind of books he did write. Tropic of Cancer is about poverty and a kind of perverted asceticism, irresponsibility, and bed bug ridden malaise. All of Miller’s friends are incompetent, weak, and disgusting in some form or another.

Paris of the 1920s was Hemingway’s Paris. Post war Paris was a very happy city. Everyone had enough money. Everyone had enough food. There was more absinthe than they knew what to do with. All of Hemingway’s friends were talented, famous, and powerful. There were no “gutters running over with sperm”. Hemingway could never have written A Moveable Feast in 1930s Paris.

At least this is my untutored assessment.

resplendent shiny foil, flicker in the night
hands so tight do toil, brave but mundane knight
altogether now we go, along the fields so brown
a wavering malicious beast, looking king a crown

their king a naked head for now, a naked head no cause
a naked head no cause for fright, great metallic jaws!

great metallic jaws descend, upon the party’s line
“seek not your glory now, your king for feast is mine!”

the wavering malicious beast, with middle section gone
draws bows to arms and takes good aim, let loose the arrows fly

clinking off the cold steel jaws, falling back to earth
cold steel jaws no right thing for pursuits pure amorous

Wednesday, August 09, 2006


Being that I am now ensconced in my native interwebs browsing environment, I have once again been taking Rocketboom regularly. The new host, Joanne Colan, is, um, very attractive. More attractive than Amanda Congdon I must say. I think it's the accent and the slightly more polished but still somewhat amateurish performances. She is apparently a former MTV Europe VJ. She is much more polished than Amanda Congdon. But she is not nearly as quirky or creative. But I don't think Rocketboom has suffered. the only thing missing is Congdon's quirkyness, which I guess is fine. I guess Rocketboom is going to go more "mainstream" and that's fine. I think Rocketboom wil continue to grow and find easier access to traditional media with Colan as the host. But then they won't be able to say whatever they want and be as creative as they could be, but such is life. Life is shit, you do what you can.

Editor's note: this Joanne Colan episode is fairly creative. I like it. This one too. And oh my good lord, they did an episode with Tiki Bar TV. That is fucking awesome.

Monday, August 07, 2006

the now slightly more common double posting: "I can go anywhere!"

"Take a look, it's in a book - Reading Rainbow."

I have discovered a very excellent website. It's called and it rules. They have a whole slew of weather data for cities all over the earth. Average monthly temperatures, precipitation, days with x amount of sunshine, etc. It further confirmed my belief that Columbia MO is a bit hotter than Bloomington IN and both are much hotter than West Chester PA.

I have also discovered another very excellent website called xkcd. The comics are pretty funny. I like them a lot.

And finally, these are some images I got from Google Earth today. Google Earth has added a lot more high quality images in the last 6 months or so. These two images are from the Amazon Rain Forest. They can both be enlarged by the click.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

weather in the middle or not

106°F. Humid. The long gray road looks rubbery in the heat. Burnished, pliant metal; two portions rolled out elastically and equidistantly from St. Louis and Kansas City. They meet in marital tolerance beneath the firey haze of Columbia. Brown, dormant grass along the shoulder gives way to scrubby trees, more grass, and perhaps another road.

Downtown was mostly devoid of pedestrain activity. The few people that did brave the heat seemed to be choreographed: slowly, but rhythmically pacing from one spot of shade to the next. As little loitering as possible.

The diner was a real diner. A very small, low profile but bulging building perched on the very edge of a very large parking lot, isolated; across the street and across the parking lot, larger buildings loomed against the orange heat. Michael and I each had two eggs, hashbrowns, sausage, and one biscuit with gravy (I had coffee as well). We argued over breakfast for sport. Mike is hard to argue with because he oozes persuasion from every pore. I never quite know how he has convinced me, but I am typically convinced. We talked about the usual upbeat stuff, you know, human population growth, the impending crash? how? when? ebola? asian bird flu? nothing new? under the sun?


Everyone at the diner was very nice.

Beatrice was a skinny, tiny, wirey, 65 year old, white haired woman who got very excited about things and laughed a lot. She had a warm, melodic, wide ranging, crackly southern voice and beautiful wrinkly, milk chocolate colored skin. Beatrice was the janitor in the Biology Department at one of the local colleges who whistled a lot. She drove a giant 1978 Dodge Ram. Beatrice was a very bad driver. It was a good thing she worked nights when the lot was mostly empty: Beatrice took up two, sometimes three parking spaces.

She would often pop into the lab to "get the trash", which really meant, "talk to you for 20 minutes when you should be working." But Beatrice was a very cool lady. She had learned enough about science to have a good sense for how knowledge is produced. Beatrice would say things like, "What's your null hypothesis? Are you shooting for a tier 1 journal? Data analysis is the worst!" She wanted to be a scientist very badly, but Beatrice had a learning disability which made reading hard for her. Beatrice still took physics and biology classes now and then, just for fun: "Wheeeel, it is free, so I like to take advantage of that, you know."

She was also very fond of robots. She never married, had no kids, one sister in the next town, but her house was filled with robots. For a while she made robots that were like remote control cars but were robots instead. They actually moved around and what not. For the last couple years, however, she just made robots because they look cool. She had a couple displayed at the library in an exhibit called "Science and Art: Bridging Boundaries: the In Between: Space".

They are mosaics of discarded scientific accoutrement, these robots. Orbital shaker base, 10 empty petri plates, bits of autoclave tape as well. She asked me for two 1ml pipette tips so I gave her four and a couple 100μl tips for good measure. She said they would look very "coooool" on her new robot.

Beatrice lived in a trailer in a bad part of town where there was, for some reason, a lot of sand in the road. Her trailer was not air conditioned. Beatrice died while we ate our biscuits and gravy at the diner.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

LIVE FROM BLOOMINGTON...M.B. Pell weighs in on a beer

D. Carnegie & Co. Stark-Porter, Argang 2004

As dark as the African continent in the 18th century. Voluminous head a surprisingly light color. Sweet Sassy Molasses in the nose. Big nose. Big flavor. Camp fire cooked marshmallow, sweet but burnt.

Perfect for pumpkin pie or autumn time dessert.

"This is a damned good beer."

It's so rich for 5.5% abv.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

the heat, the horse, the hat, the hot

It's 11:45pm and 86°F. I'm swimming in humidity.

Somewhat miraculously, the FDIBS budget worked out today. Never co-organize a conference. It's a lot of work. Although I am getting reimbursed for the six stakes. We bought the secretaries flowers.

And in other Indiana HPS news, Prof. Bill Newman makes the NY Times today in an article about a conference on alchemy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. Pretty cool. Cesare Pastorino gave a talk at the same conference, but is not mentioned in the article. Also, I met a historian from the Chemical Heritage Foundation at FDIBS. He is from Newfoundland. He was a very nice guy.