Saturday, November 8, 2008


I'm well on my way to enjoying a quiet weekend, after a very long work week. Slept in until 9:30 this morning (how decadent!), and browsed the internet for a while, snacking on dried apples that mom sent me from our trees back home. Also included in the package was a lot of my warm clothing for increasingly colder nights of field work.

Right now, I'm alternating back and forth between reading random science for fun, and working on making a kick-ass lunch... For a good 5-6 hours last night, out working in the dark and avoiding man-eating holes, I had an intense craving for french fries. So the lunch menu for today:

- spiced french fries (cut strips of potatoes, coat them with a mixture of olive oil, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, thyme, salt and pepper, then bake at ~230 C for 45 min). Preferably avoid setting off the fire alarm... although it's after noon, so probably I didn't wake anyone up. In honor of an old housemate, probably I will also use such things as BBQ sauce and dressing as 'dipping sauces' as well as the traditional ketchup/catsup (I never have figured out why is it spelled two very different ways).

- tomato-cheese melt on focaccia. Pretty self explanatory. I used extra sharp cheddar, and sprinkled feta on top of the 'maters.

- cranberry sauce. from a can. with the ridges (very important). Dad makes a great fresh-cranberry, orange rind cranberry relish that's all gourmet and tasty. But, in one of my few concessions to convenience food, I really just dig canned cranberry sauce/gelatin. Shrug. And since this meal is about satisfying night time cravings, I figured, what the heck, why not?

On the science/social front, 

- I'm reading an environmental analysis of the use of rbST (a form of bovine growth hormone) to increase cows' milk production.  This article doesn't talk about human health consequences, but at least from an environmental perspective, rbST seems to be a pretty good thing, reducing the environmental footprint of producing a fixed quantity of milk in comparison to conventional methods.  Basically, it argues that for the same amount of feed, you produce more milk per cow, allowing demand to be met with fewer cows, and consequently, less waste.  I get a little skeptical though when one of the authors of the paper is an employee of Monsanto, a company with a vested interest in rbST, even though the conflict of interest is noted at the bottom of the paper.  What do you all think?  Check it out:   (Open access brought to you by PNAS.)

- closer to home for me, I perused a review in TREE on new ways to think about long distance dispersal probabilities and mechanisms of dispersal.  Also flipped (digitally) through an article on dealing with missing experimental data.

- shifting to the social side, a nice commentary on the source and consequences of anti-intellectualism in our country, especially with regards to politics.  This is something that made me really angry after the VP debate way back when (!), after which I heard a commentator reflecting negatively on Biden's performance, suggesting that he was too intellectual, and thus, less desirable as a political candidate than people like Palin and Bush, whom the average American would be comfortable having a beer with.  Duh-oh.  

- read some commentaries regarding Michael Crichton's death earlier this week.  He wrote some great books, including Jurassic Park, one of the only popular audience fiction books I know of to feature chaos theory in a pretty accurate fashion.  (I'm pretty fond of chaos theory).  Other classics include the phenomenal biological thriller "Andromeda Strain".  He made me pretty upset a few years back though, coming out against global warming as being a scientific apocalyptic approach.

Annnd just like that, my afternoon is history.  Oh well, it was really nice to just read and follow my interests; something I wish I could do more often.  Tomorrow, back to the grind stone - time to get back on track with grad school apps. 



PhizzleDizzle said...

i am jealous of your day. it sounds fabulous. especially the french fries, mmmmmmmm.

i have always been suspicious of the human effects of rbST but have never looked it up in the literature. the last time i took a biology course was in high school, so it is not my inclination to go poking around pubmed or the like to answer questions like these, though i am beginning to realize that i can, if i want. also, since i never drink milk i have no personal drive to find out if it's bad for me. i'd never thought about it from a "green" perspective though.

have you ever read this book? it's quite interesting. they discuss how semi-unnatural it is for human beings to drink so much milk.

Karina said...

I totally agree with you about eating the cranberry sauce from a can with the ridges! It's just so good!

Eugenie said...

I totally have two cans of cranberry sauce sitting in my fridge, right now. they may not be there later..