Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Chicago. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Chicago. Sort by date Show all posts

November 14, 2009

A Snowy Day for Fidgets


Downtown Montreal from Mount Royal's belvedere.

It's snowing here in the Wet Mountains, a wet, soaking snow that is melting in. This would be a good "desk day," especially as I am only partway through sorting out everything on my desk--the ten days' worth of mail, the receipts and notes, etc. from the conference, the new books for reading and/or review.

One review must be completed today, or I will hate myself.

But I am fidgety.  M. and I spent parts of six days on trains, four days in Montreal, one day in Chicago, an afternoon in Albany, and an evening in Schenectady. It was wearing.

(Note: we rode six different Amtrak trains, and all were on time. Someone is doing something right. If you have a layover at Schenectady, refuel at Katie O'Byrne's, hang out on Jay Street.)

On the Adirondack, traveling through upstate New York along Lake Champlain, I would see some little dirt road winding off into the swampy woods, and I wanted to be off the train and walking along it with one of the dogs.

The birds are in hiding too. All that I have seen this morning are one robin and one Steller's jay--a pity, since it is Day 1 of one of our Project Feeder Watch counts. (We are not the only ones happy that PFW has started up again.) Yesterday we saw nine American goldfinches at once.

Other miscellaneous travel observations from the big world:

Traveling east from Colorado, I notice black.

A century ago, two factors favored black clothing in the city:
  •     Lots of coal soot in the air
  •     A lack of washing machines

Now it is just about attitude.  I am refined and/or serious, don't mess with me. Not asceticism.  Urban grime might be an issue, but it cannot be the issue.

In Montreal, where sports team-themed clothing was not as common downtown as in Chicago (although it exists), black seemed almost mandatory.

I probably stood out for wearing one of about four khaki trench coats that I spotted.

Downtown Chicago is noisier than Montreal. For one thing, it has the elevated trains. For another, there always seems to be large construction projects underway, whereas I saw none in Montreal, just street repairs.

People walk faster in Chicago too. But my candidate for a fast-walking city, believe it or not, is Dublin, based on earlier visits there.

October 19, 2018

That Steampunk T-Rex named Sue

It was big news in paleontology circles in the 1990s when private fossil hunters in western South Dakota unearthed an outstanding Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton that was given the name of Sue, after  discoverer Sue Hendrikson.

A lengthy custody battle ensued (hah), with an FBI raid and a state-private-tribal-federal kerfuffle, since the site where Sue was found was managed by the Department of the Interior in trust for the Sioux nation. Ultimately, the private fossil hunters lost, and the skeleton was auctioned by Sotheby's and bought by the Field Museum in Chicago for $7.6 million.

"Sue" by John Lopez.
So Sue is in Chicago and now quite famous, but in Faith, South Dakota, the little town nearest the site, she is also created in a very fine and sort of steampunk-ish sculpture by South Dakota sculptor John Lopez (here is his studio website with other examples).
Built to last. Note the heavy drive chain.



May 15, 2014

Keeping the Southwest Chief in Southern Colorado, We Hope

Union Depot, Pueblo, Colorado. It's just offices now.
A small crowd gathered at Pueblo's Union Depot (which currently sees only freight trains pass by) on Wednesday, May 14th, to watch Gov. John Hickenlooper sign a bill that represented one step toward keeping Amtrak's Southwest Chief train running through western Kansas, southern Colorado, and northern New Mexico on its way between Chicago and Los Angeles.

First, Pueblo's favorite roots-music band, the Haunted Windchimes, played all the train songs in their repertoire as people gathered.

The Haunted Windchimes playing at the depot.
There were political operatives in tie-less blue button-down shirts and blue blazers, old rail-fan guys wearing train-themed caps, actual Amtrak employees, elected officials from the local, county, and state levels, and various people who unite in one idea, namely that train travel is local, comfortable, does not involve being probed by federal agents with blue gloves, and is environmentally sound.

In other words, when it comes to passengers moved per mile per gallon of fuel burned, trains beat everything else.

Why all the fuss? In essence, the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) is not keeping up the tracks to the standard required for passenger trains. If they are not improved, Amtrak has threatened to reroute the Chief from Wichita-Amarillo-Albuquerque, cutting off western Kansas, southern Colorado, and northern New Mexico — areas that have poor air service and poor bus service.

Kansas has partnered with Amtrak and BNSF Railroad to help fund a portion of the track improvements required along the Southwest Chief route. If the track is not upgraded, Amtrak has warned that it may move its daily Chicago-to-Los Angeles passenger service to a more southern route.
Gov. Hickenlooper says a few words.

On the other hand, southern Colorado officials are more and more seeing an Amtrak route through Pueblo - Walsenburg - Trinidad, as compared to today's route from La Junta to Trinidad, which cuts off the I-25 corridor completely, as good for economic development and tourism.

Either way, M. and I want to keep the train running through southern Colorado, which is why we were there today, applauding with the crowd.

Airlines are increasingly abandoning mid-sized airports. Pueblo keeps a minimal level of commercial air service going only through a municipal subsidy, while Colorado Springs has seen service and passenger numbers decline, even with a new terminal building.

What is going to fill the gap? Trains, I would argue, are the best choice.

November 12, 2009

The Turkey in Union Station

Walking toward our eastbound train at Chicago's Union Station one evening last week, I saw people pointing at something on the train tracks, below the platform.

I looked. It was a wild turkey, very dead. And very out of place in downtown Chicago.

Then I put some things together.

M. and I had arrived on the Southwest Chief, on that set of tracks, about four hours earlier.

We had seen wild turkeys from the window several times in Kansas and Missouri.

One of them must have flown too late, like the turkeys back home that Shelby the collie chased, not taking to the air until her nose was practically touching their tail feathers.

It was gone today, of course. Someone probably tossed it in the trash.

But when your train enters the long underground train shed, you pass through a dim and sooty passage where I always expect to see rats the size of spaniels scurrying along, not to mention hypothetical asphalt-adapted coyotes.

I imagine one of the above, squinting against the bright lights closer to the station, scurrying out of the shadows to snatch up this unexpected bounty, larger than the usual city pigeons.

But most of my thinking about roadkill is about how casual we are about creating environments that kill animals.

Some people at least eat what they (or others) kill. I have done that too. It makes the equation feel a little more balanced, but only for you yourself.

October 29, 2008

A Trip, an Award, and a List of Good Bloggers

M. and I are packing. Later today, the dogs go to the kennel, and we go to La Junta to catch the train for an academic conference that I attend every year. I will have two copies of my conference paper, plus one on a flash drive!

Meanwhile, Steve Bodio has awarded me the Super Scribbler award. (I was a high school journalist too, of the very "underground" sort.) I am to nominate five other bloggers.

So, quickly, here goes:

¶ Women are becoming hunters (or huntresses, as Holly Heyser calls them) in larger numbers, and she is blogging her own experiences afield at NorCal Cazadora. Like me, she is an ex-newsie.

¶ Galen Geer has been blogging at The Thinking Hunter for a little over a month. But I have known him for 30 years, and in that time he has written hundreds of columns and articles, plus a few pithy books, most recently a collection of stories set in southern Africa, Last Supper in Paradise. So blogging will come easily to him.

¶ I have been messing around with a scout camera, but I go to Chris Wemmer's Camera Trap Codger to see how it's really done.

¶ Tamara K. at View from the Porch is the sultana of snark, the prom queen of the gunnie blogosphere, well-read, knowledgeable, and a daily read. She needs this award like a moose needs a hat rack.

¶ Mike at Sometimes Far Afield gets into similar country to mine, and he brings along the best sort of dog. Go, Chessie bloggers!

Our destination today is Chicago. You would not think that "Southern Rockies Nature Blog" would touch on Chicago much, but actually, I have done so a few times.

June 23, 2008

The Blackbirds that Bombed Chicago

Red-winged blackbirds are attacking Chicagoans:

"Something just came down, pecked me in the head, took my hair and started flying away," she said. "It's so bizarre. It's this little bird."

I noticed this story mainly because it reminded me of an exchange overheard as M. and I walked through Grant Park in downtown Chicago last Thursday.

We had noticed some crows scrounging along the lawns when we heard this:

Young Urban Woman #1: "What are those black things?"

Young Urban Woman #2: "Birds."

April 27, 2019

Trendy Chefs, Libertarians Discover Roadkill Cuisine

A presentation of raccoon meat resembling the scene of roadkill created by the late Moto executive chef Homaro Cantu and Chris Jones, chef de cuisine, at their now-closed restaurant at Fulton Market on the west side of Chicago, Illinois. (Alex Garcia/MCT/Newscom, published in Reason magazine.)
Once when I was working at an outdoor magazine, the executive editor and I daydreamed a whole series of events for a sort of Redneck Olympics.

One of them was the "roadkill pickup," inspired by the time when, while following him along US 50 in Cañon City, I had seen another car smack into a cock pheasant near Colon Orchards, and I had stopped, hopped out, grabbed it, and driven on as though someone were standing behind me with a timer.

His wife cooked it that evening. It was fine.

At Hit & Run, the blog of Reason magazine, food lawyer Baylen Linnekin applauds laws (including Colorado's) that liberalize the collection of road kill.
Bizarrely, though, many states prohibit the practice. In fact, as I detail in my recent book, Biting the Hands that Feed Us: How Fewer, Smarter Laws Would Make Our Food System More Sustainable, nearly half of U.S. states prohibit harvesting roadkill. Nevada, for example, conflates roadkill harvesters with poachers. Last year, a Louisiana man faced a fine of up to $750 and up to a month in jail for harvesting a dead fawn.
But help is on the way. Oregon's roadkill law, which I discussed in an earlier column, was adopted in 2017 and took effect this January. Subject to certain conditions, the law allows anyone who obtains a permit to harvest a deer or elk, which a person can eat, share, or give away. (Sorry, no skunk meat; though it's fine to harvest stink steaks in Idaho.)
Then there are the "concern trolls":
"Our concern really is where people might intentionally hit animals for trophy or food," says John Griffin, senior director of urban wildlife programs with the Humane Society of the United States. "Like an elk or something large. It's incredibly dangerous. For both species."
Does John Griffin know what hitting an elk does to your car, and maybe you?  How many people would sacrifice a minivan or SUV for a free meal? He just does not want anyone eating wild game under any circumstances, that much is obvious.

July 03, 2016

I Miss Goth Coyote, But Her Urban Cousins Are Fine

Coyote in Douglas fir and oak brush.
This coyote turned up on a scout camera last week, which vindicated what I was thinking — that although I had not heard one for a couple years, I thought that I had seem some scat along the Forest Service road.

Their howls used to provide the soundtrack of pre-bedtime dog walk. At one time, a few years ago, there was an individual whom I named Goth Coyote, because his/her howls had extra wavers and quavers that spoke of torn lace, high-heeled boots, and heavy eye makeup.

Then it all stopped. Did someone trap them? Someone was doing some trapping, because there was the time I found four skinned carcassses in the gully on the national forest that functions as "Boneyard Gulch."

I wondered if the resent absence of coyote howling connected, alternatively, to the arrival of a couple of families in the neighborhood who embraced the whole neo-chicken-raising lifestyle, which includes the precept that Predators Must Die — also, neighbor dogs who encroach upon the Precious Fowl, even when said precious fowl are walking around on the margins of the county road.

But that is just my little area. Across North America, coyotes are expanding their territory. As Dan Flores writes in his new book Coyote America: A Natural and Supernatural History,
they have successfully urbanized: "In the Chicago metropolitan area, a whopping 61 percent of coyote pups survive to adulthood." But contrary to popular perception, they don't survive by eating Fluffy and Fido. (Of course, if opportunity presents itself, they will.) Golf course and city park geese and eggs are a favorite choice, along with urban deer and human trash.

His chapter "Bright Lights, Big City" collects a lot of research on urban populations, and some parts will surprise you. The best course, he suggests, is "to learn everything possible about living with the animals, then kick back, be cool, and enjoy them."

Meanwhile, some friends a couple of miles away have joined the chicken cult. M. and I stopped by a couple of days ago, and the husband was pouring concrete around the shed that he has converted to a chicken coop. He has built a stout wire enclosure with a concrete footing, and the top will be covered for both shade and protection from hawks. And I don't think that he is particular trigger-happy.

Our friends the wildlife rehabilitators, whose fawn enclosure would be a snack bar for coyotes and other predators, surround it with an eight-foot chain-link fence. But mountain lions and some coyotes and climb (bears prefer to smash their way in), so on top of that are three strands of barbed wire and one of electric wire. So far, so good over there.

That's what you have to do before you can "kick back, be cool, and enjoy them."

March 11, 2016

Don't Panic!, Mountain Biking Mecca, and Other Shorts


Outdoor Survival - Chapter 4 - Controlling Panic from Colorado Parks & Wildlife on Vimeo.

•  People outside of Fremont County, Colo., are learning that there is great mountain biking, almost year-around, on the Bureau of Land Management land north of town. Rock climbers already knew that.

• Talks are underway about extending the Rio Grande Del Norte National Monument from New Mexico into southern Colorado. (Article may be partly paywalled.) 

Site of the Rough Riders reunion
• The Southwest is dotted with former Harvey House hotels and restaurants. Fred Harvey's enterprizes crosscut much late 19th and early 20th-century history:
From the manhunt for the escaped “Billy the Kid” in 1881 (a local celebrity in Las Vegas, New Mexico, where Fred had two restaurants and two hotels, which Billy sometimes patronized), to the Oklahoma Land Rush in 1889 (which left from the Arkansas City, Kansas Harvey House and Santa Fe depot), to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 (for which Fred helped cater the biggest lunch in American history for the opening ceremonies and parade).
There’s also the Rough Riders reunion in 1899 (held at the new Fred Harvey resort hotel, La Castañeda, in Las Vegas), and the development of the Grand Canyon as an international tourist attraction (Fred’s son Ford ran all the hotels at the canyon, and was a major player in the development of the national park system).

August 27, 2014

Dodging Anatoly and Other Mushroom Thoughts

Emerging king bolete.

"Anatoly"

Baskets were stacked in the pickup's bed — big, flat-bottomed baskets with integral handles — serious mushroom-collecting baskets.

I had just parked M's Jeep at the edge of a little clear-cut, a spot close to but not too close to the place we call "the mushroom store." We were standing behind it, her looking sort of woods-ninja, all in black with binocular slung, me in the red shirt I wore so that she could keep track of me. No packs, no baskets, no bags.

That pickup came up the narrow rocky Forest Service road and stopped, "Finding any mushrooms?" asked the driver. He was  a big guy with a pronounced Eastern European or Russian accent.

"We're looking for elk,*" I answered. Sorry, Anatoly, you think I am going to tell you? Archery season was two weeks away at that point, so scouting is a reasonable thing to be doing in the boreal forest.

He and his passenger drove off and turned onto another little logging road that went right to "the store." But then we heard doors slamming, and we saw the truck coming out again as we slung our packs (each holding several string or cloth shopping bags) and walked into the woods

Hunting mushrooms is like hunting elk in this respect: You do better away from roads. The farther we walked, the more we saw. When we saw big boletes next to one of the old logging roads, I knew that "Anatoly" had not ventured that far.

Snobbery

The local Search & Rescue (SAR) group drops hints about some kind of Chicago (Polish immigrant) — Wet Mountains pipeline: unprepared flatlanders getting dropped off to hunt mushrooms and becoming lost. ("Anatoly" did not strike me as one of those.) Apparently they are out there somewhere.

I have always felt there was a sort of snobbery with SAR: the mountain climbers they pluck (dead or alive) off peaks like Crestone Needle are idiots, but heroic idiots. The lost mushroom hunters are laughable idiots, "old ladies," etc., in their re-telling. But you won't get easily lost mushroom-hunting if you know to walk uphill — the roads are on the ridges. And blown-down trees usually point northeast. (I have relied on both of those bits of knowledge at one time or another.)

Is This All There Is?

We cut and cleaned mushrooms part of two days, filling the electric dehydrator and the screens in the greenhouse. Now that they are in jars, will the season allow us another hunt? But once the storage shelf in the basement is full, I find my desire changing

It is like the old fly-fishing dictum: First you want to catch fish, then you want to catch the most fish, then you want to catch the most difficult fish.

First I want to find "good" mushrooms, then I want to find lots of mushrooms and then . . . maybe I want to learn more about all those mushrooms that I walk past, whether they are "good" or not.
________
* OK, if the Huichol Indians, while on their sacred peyote hunt, can refer to the cactus buttons as "deer," I can refer to Boletus edulis as "elk"—especially as the elk do eat them. I saw some with cervid tooth marks and only the stems remaining.

November 25, 2013

I've Had Enough . . .

 . . . of the city, in this case Baltimore, and would rather be at home, where winter has arrived and the county road-and-bridge department is saying "Don't drive if you don't have to."

But I will not be there until Thursday, after three forecast sunny days. Then regular blogging can resume.

Meanwhile, Chicago is next.

November 26, 2012

The Great Plains Tour of 2012

Cast letters on the Oliver Building, Chicago. See note below.
In the last five weeks, I have traveled (on the ground) from Colorado through eastern Wyoming, South Dakota, North Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas — from end to end four times — plus a corner of Iowa, Illinois, and some of Missouri.

The tour was in two parts, interrupted by that forest fire.

M. and I just drove in from Medicine Lodge, Kansas tonight, in fact. We've seen the Flint Hills, the Gypsum Hills, and all the khaki-colored country between Dodge City and the Colorado foothills.

Now I want to experience house as hibernaculum for a while — and to type a little.

NOTE: The Oliver Typewriter Co., one of the first successful manufacturers of such instruments, had its headquarters in the Oliver Building on Dearborn Street.

August 07, 2012

Blog Stew with Ingredients that You Don't Want to Know About

Off-topic but fascinating. Sewer-diving in Mexico City (with video). Sewer-cleaning the "fatbergs"  in London (with video). More sewer history.  The good old days of scavenging in sewers.

The Humane Society of the United States is sued for racketeering and other issues.

District judge Emmet G. Sullivan did dismiss allegations of mail and wire fraud, but he did so only because Feld didn't have standing to file this charge. His ruling all but set the stage for a class-action RICO lawsuit against HSUS for misrepresenting itself in its fundraising campaigns across the nation. This lawsuit easily could bankrupt HSUS, put it out of business and send some of its top executives to prison.
Funny, isn't it, that you have to go to a blogger to hear about this.

Ze artiste Christo has pushed back the construction of "Over the River" yet again. Tourism-industry types are dismayed, try to find silver lining.

I understand the argument that asks how pristine is a canyon with a highway(US 50) and a railroad in it already. But I do think that the Bureau of Land Management should have restricted OTR to the stretch between Texas Creek and Parkdale, because if there are highway blockages — and there will be — one could detour around on Colorado highways 96 and 69.

Upstream of Texas Creek, there are no detours, except very long, twisty, gravel roads through the mountains such as Fremont County Road 2 or an even longer highway detour up to Hartsel and Antero Junction.

It doesn't take much to close US 50 now: a little roadside fire, a car going into the river, a truck hitting a bridge abutment — I have seen all of these.

• Oh yes, and this: tracking coyotes with GPS collars in urban Chicago.

June 21, 2012

Kenyans Don't Always Want Your Old Clothes

I believe in recycling. But we kid ourselves sometimes about how effective it is.

Take those bins for recycling plastic bags that are in supermarkets nowadays. Are they really about saving plastic stock, or are they chiefly a defense against anti-plastic bag laws.

"Look, we care! We're recycling!"

Supposedly they go into plastic decking. or into more plastic bags, but if the market dropped—especially in China, which is entering its own recession—they would probably going to landfill while we keep stuffing more of them into the collection boxes.

Then there's clothes. We drop them at Goodwill or Salvation Army or ARC, knowing that people with little money to spend—or college students looking for something ironically retro—will buy them.

Or not. The fact is, there are more used garments than buyers. So they go to a different kind of recycler.
There are thousands of secondhand textile processors in the United States today, mostly small family businesses, many of them several generations old. I visited Trans- Americas Trading Co., a third- generation textile recycler in Clifton, N.J., which employs 85 people and processes close to 17 million pounds of used clothing a year. Inside Trans-Americas, there is a wall of cubed-up clothing five bales tall and more than 20 bales long. “This is liter­ally several hundred thousand pounds of textile waste, and we bring in two trailer loads of this much every day,” Trans-Americas president Eric Stubin told me. The volume they process has gone up over the years alongside our consumption of clothing.
Without textile recyclers, charities would be totally beleaguered and forced to throw away everything that couldn’t be sold. Charities might even have to turn us away. The only benefit to this doomsday scenario is that our clothes would pile up in our house or in landfills, finally forcing us to face down just how much clothing waste we cre­ate. . . . . After the prized vintage is plucked out and the outcasts are sent to the fiber and wiping rag companies, the remaining clothing is sorted, shrink-wrapped, tied up, baled, and sold to used-clothing ven­dors around the world. The secondhand clothing industry has been export-oriented almost since the introduction of mass-produced gar­ments. And by one estimate, used clothing is now the United States’ number one export by volume, with the overwhelming majority sent to ports in sub-Saharan Africa. 
But even poor Africans do not want or cannot use it all. Now when every little kid in the smallest village in the bush has a Chicago Bulls shirt, what happens to the rest?

Read the rest.

April 18, 2012

Levitating Ghost Trains of Pueblo

Sitting quietly in an old industrial area of Pueblo, Colorado, on West D Street, one of the "gee-whiz" technologies of the 1970s quietly rusts away.

Here, behind a chain-link fence and some fading signage, rest the prototype Rohr Industries Aerotrain and the Grumman TACRV (Tracked Levitated Research Vehicle).

When I visit Pueblo, I often stop at a coffeehouse about three blocks away, but had it not been for a geocache, I would never have known of their existence. Here is how they came to be there.

Nose of the Rohr Industries Aerotrain. No windshield—the "pilot" watched a video screen. Skirting kept in the compressed air under the train, while the vertical monorail kept it on the track.
Finding them was like driving to the airport by a different route and suddenly discovering a derelict zeppelin hangar. What is that

Both "tracked air-cushion vehicles" were designed to float on cushions of compressed air rather than wheels, which potentially offered speeds as high as 300 mph. In the 1970s, both underwent testing at the Transport Technology Center northeast of Pueblo.

The Rohr Aerotrain was a single, streamlined unit with a pilot compartment in front and passenger seating toward the rear. See it and other similar vehicles on this Aerotrain website.

It was a sort of monorail, to be powered by electricity from its track.
Grumman TACRV. You can see the turbine engine air intakes to the rear. The look reminds me of its contemporary, the Space Shuttle.
The Grumman vehicle, in contrast, would run in a sort of concrete trench, pulling hovercraft-style passenger cars, and propelled by gas-turbine engines.
The "pads" on the bottom and sides were where compressed air was forced out to "float" the vehicle.

Grumman TACRV testing at Pueblo (Aerotrain website).

Why did this technology die? The Aerotrain website offers several issues that could not be overcome.

1. Each train would have required a new, expensive sort of track, for which rights of way would have had to be acquired.

2. The Aerotrain's electric induction motors required their own power infrastructure and a lot of electricity.

3. The air compressors, turbines, etc., made these "hovercraft" trains incredibly loud.

4.The Aerotrain's engine built up a static electric charge that had to be grounded before anyone could get on or off.

5. The fans generating the compressed-air cushion also kicked up sand, gravel, etc., like a traveling sandstorm in arid climates. Every part of the train had to be levitated on compressed air, which mean lots of machinery to move air.

For all their City of Tomorrow flavor, they were less practical than improving conventional trains, which are still more energy-efficient on a passenger-mile basis than aircraft or buses.

My next business trip to Chicago will involve steel wheels on steel rails.

August 07, 2010

Going to the Mushroom Store

Sarcodon imbricatus (hawkswing) with pint Nalgene bottle for scale.
The weather has turned monsoonal, with heavy rain almost every day. We are experiencing a condition known as humidity, from the Proto-Indo-European root *wegw-.

Having recently visited Chicago and Vermont, I am prepared for such unusual conditions.

And they have brought on the mushrooms!

Yesterday M. and I took her visiting nephew mushroom-hunting in the Wet Mountains. We drove straight to our favorite spot, warning him that although sometimes it was like "going to the mushroom store," you can never be certain what you will find.

No worries. We parked the Jeep and filled three shopping bags with hawskwing and king bolete mushrooms in no time at all

That was far more than we could fit into the food dryer, so the rest are sliced into strips and spread on old window screens in the greenhouse.

But with all the humidity, we may have to rotate those greenhouse mushrooms through the electric dryer after the first batch has finished.

(Some nice boletes from New Mexico.)

February 06, 2010

Research Note: Bibliophagy in the Chesapeake

Sailor, J., and L. Canton. 2010. Bibliophagy in the young adult Chesapeake Bay retriever. Journal of Bird-dog Behavior. 48: 59-60.

Abstract

Subject, a 2-year-old  Chesapeake Bay retriever, spent much time in a room with floor-to-ceiling bookcases.  He was observed to withdraw one of the older volumes present (Barrington, Sir John. Sketches of his own time. 1880. Chicago: Belford, Clarke & Co.) and gnaw the spine.

We hypothesize that nineteenth-century bindings contain animal-based glues, thus attracting the bibliophage. Further research is required. Correlative counter-surfing behavior also appears to be related.

October 10, 2009

Quieter Skies in the Black Hills

Just a couple of things left to say about our trip to the Black Hills. One sneaked up on us after we had been there two or three days--the quiet skies.

Wherever you go in Colorado, you are under some air route centered on Denver International Airport. High-altitude jet noise is just part of the background--and the higher you climb, the closer the airplanes are.

I remember how quiet it right after the Sept. 21, 2001 hijackings when all air travel was shut down. I was sitting over a spring in the Sangre de Cristo range during muzzleloader season when a Learjet streaked overhead (Mr. Big coming back from the coast?) and all I could think was, "Oh shit, we're back to normal."

But Rapid City Regional Airport has far fewer flights, and about a third of them go eastward to the Twin Cities or Chicago, making for much quieter skies.

November 07, 2008

"Alternative" Gun Owners

So I was sitting in the bar at the Chicago Hilton Towers last Monday, amid the building "buzz" for the Obama victory rally, when the talk turned to his stand on the Second Amendment.

My friend who heads the Women's Studies program at a California university surprised me by telling me that she owned a handgun for protection -- which only goes to show, the typical gun owner is not always who you think s/he is.

She said that she hoped President Obama will be "educable" on the issue.

November 05, 2008

Not Knowing How to Cook, revisited

Not long after writing my "No One Knows How to Cook Anymore" post, I encountered a piece by New York Times writer Tara Parker-Pope on the lure of junk food for poor people.

She zig-zags in the lede a little bit, for she writes that " a billion people around the world live on a dollar a day" or less, but then says people in America spend more, only to zig again to an anecdote about a couple of American schoolteachers who indeed tried to live on a dollar a day.

This fall a couple in Encinitas, Calif., conducted their own experiment to find out what it was like to live for a month on just a dollar a day for food. Overnight, their diets changed significantly. The budget forced them to give up many store-bought foods and dinners out. Even bread and canned refried beans were too expensive.

As I wrote earlier, grain-and-legume based diets will keep you going, although they are boring:

Instead, the couple — Christopher Greenslate, 28, and Kerri Leonard, 29, both high school social studies teachers — bought raw beans, rice, cornmeal and oatmeal in bulk, and made their own bread and tortillas.

And they learned that making these foods takes more time than microwaving something. The slow cooker (Crock-Pot, etc.), available in many second-hand stores, is the tool you want!

Researchers say the experiment reflects many of the challenges that poor people actually face. When food stamps and income checks run low toward the end of the month, they often do scrape by on a dollar a day or less. But many people don’t know how to prepare foods from scratch, or lack the time.

I got food stamps twice in my life for short intervals, both times when I was in my twenties and unemployed or part-time employed. I don't think I ever ran out of food, but I ate a lot of split-pea soup and such.

“You have to know how to cook beans and rice, how to make tortillas, how to soak lentils,” said Adam Drewnowski, director of the Center for Public Health Nutrition at the University of Washington. “Many people don’t have the knowledge or the time if they’re working two jobs.

Exactly. You have to know. Whose fault is it that you don't? The government's? Mom's?

Last year, Dr. Drewnowski led a study, published in The Journal of the American Dietetic Association, comparing the prices of 370 foods sold at supermarkets in the Seattle area. The study showed that “energy dense” junk foods, which pack the most calories and fewest nutrients per gram, were far less expensive than nutrient-rich, lower-calorie foods like fruits and vegetables. The prices of the most healthful foods surged 19.5 percent over the two-year study period, while the junk food prices dropped 1.8 percent.

I am not sure what Parker-Pope means here by "energy-dense junk foods." Examples would help. I think of something like french fries, but a raw potato would be cheaper, so what is she talking about?

Meanwhile, after a week of restaurant and hotel and Amtrak food, M. and I are back from our Chicago trip. Tonight's supper: soup of red beans, noodles, broccoli, and herbs; home-baked bread, garlic, and olive oil; jug wine. Delicious.