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Saturday, October 02, 2010
early light frost, Goldilocks planet, HeLa cell lines, chestnuts
Listening to:Into the Mystic
Reading:Time Traveler
Weather:34, sunny!
It was chilly in my bedroom this fine Saturday morning and I was feeling lazy, so I didn't get up to look at the thermometer on my porch until a little after 8a. It was already brightly sunny and 34. I could see frost down in the shaded part of the meadow, ending sharply everywhere the sun hit. First frost on Oct 2, pretty early. It was a very light one, though, I doubt my hanging plants on the porches even noticed, though my gardenia is probably getting pissed at me for not bringing her back in. She produced some nice fragrant blossoms for me this summer, I should return the favor.

20 light years, pretty close! Apparently there's a planet 20 light years away that is the perfect distance from it's sun, a red dwarf, and adequate atmosphere to hold liquid water. That's the ticket. We are making this rock uninhabitable at an alarming rate, so this is good news for my progeny. Well, for somebody's progeny, anyway, I suppose mine won't likely be in the socioeconomic strata that will get a seat on that spaceship. Anyhoo, the 7th planet in the Gliese 581 system is being called a Goldilocks because it's not too close to its sun, not too far, just right to support life as we know it. Frickin sweet. Well, pretty sweet. It's year is only 37 days, and it's tidally locked to it's sun, like our moon to us, so one side is perpetually in light, the other in dark. No days and nights, people. That's gonna take a little evolution to get used to. Let's get started, scoot over Lister, scoot over Rimmer, make room for Cat and let the 20 yr stasis begin!

The WVU Festival of Ideas started early this school year, the first lecture already happened. On Sept 27 Rebecca Skloot presented about her book The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Fascinating topic I had heard about and read about a little already. Henrietta was a low-income black mother of 5 in Dundalk MD who died of an extraordinarily fast-growing cervical cancer in 1951. A doctor sliced off some of the tumor's cells and passed them on to a researcher who had been unsuccessfully trying to get human cells to reproduce in the lab. Henrietta's cancer cells reproduced like mad and spawned shitzillions of cell lines that have made it all around the world and become the medium for numerous medical breakthroughs like the polio vaccine. This "immortal" cell line was named HeLa, though her name was virtually unknown to the world until the past 10 years. Whole industries have been created on this cell line, corporations have made mad profits off it. Her family, uneducated and poor, never got shit. She never consented to any of this. Do you own your genetic material? Are you dead if your cell lines live on? Are your cells being manipulated in some lab somewhere without your knowledge? Does some pharmaceutical company CEO get another Rolls Royce today because of your DNA?

I've been on a bit of a wild food knowledge binge. I seriously considered going to the Wild Food Weekend at North Bend state park last month, but it didn't work out. It all started with my jam making adventure where I pulled the black raspberries and blackberries I harvested this spring out of my freezer and canned 8 jars of deliciousness. Most of those berries I had picked from random roadside brambles. Free. Wild. It sparked my interest in free wild food harvesting. Fast forward to this week. My friend Dantheman mentioned a shitton of chestnuts on his deck, and he recently had knee surgery and can't do yard work and whatnot just yet. Win win, here comes cat to sweep away those prickly bastards and extract the sweet nuts inside.

I started trying to figure what to do with these babies, other than just roast and eat them with some salt. How about a savory chestnut pie? Candied chestnuts? I gave'em a quick roast and peeled them. But they didn't the soft consistency I was used to, so I'm thinking let's try a chestnut braise, let them absorb liquid and soften. Also not successful, still not soft and creamy. Now I'm thinking I needed to let them season in the shells for a while before roasting. I'll report my findings after the next round of chestnuts.

Rocktober, you know that means, time for Oktoberfest in Bramwell!! Next weekend, baby! Always a fabulous time, no matter what the weather.

permalink posted by cat 8:59 AM

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early light frost, Goldilocks planet, HeLa cell lines, chestnuts