Tuesday, February 26, 2008

This & That

The book meme with which Steve has tagged me seems a jolly thing, but my case has failed to produce interesting results. My genuine closest book has most of p. 123 taken up with a large picture. What to do? If I simply follow five sentences onto p. 124 I get

The transmitted sound resembled a high-pitched birdlike warble. The Russians called the novel sonar the CHIRP.

Late that first night at sea, after about six hours of steaming westward from Gelendzhik, the Aquanaut approached the place where the ancient Don River might once have flowed on its way to the Ice Age Black Sea lake.

My second nearest book had p.123 blank (chapter break). Choice three, my current read, yields
"The sun, Mr. Barrow?" said the master. "Mr. Snow, clear me those men to the foc's'le. When is the side to be dressed, bo'sun? We do not have all day."

"I suggest that hats should be ordered to be worn," said Tobias, plucking Mr. Clerk's coat to draw his attention."

Oh well, monkeys with typewriters can't produce Bartlett's every day.

The Querencia blog has had food on its mind lately (no surprise, really). In the comments here, Moro Rogers asked about eating well when one is broke, and the topic has continued. I'll try to post some reflections in the future, but I don't have all night and there's nothing like working on an organic farm to make you really think about food, economics, sustainability and affordability. (Our farmer's wife was so harried that she actually on occasion purchased canned Kroger tomatoes while our beautiful heirlooms rotted in the compost.) The affordability issue really became a serious philosophical concern for us, as we watched all our produce leave its fertile valley to be sold at greatly magnified prices in Colorado's mountain Disneylands. And the farmers still don't make money. It's also true that it can be cheaper than you think, though. But getting the good stuff cheap definitely involves barter, making lots of friends, rural networking, really living in an area. I'll stop rambling for now, but here's another good interview with Michael Pollan.

And finally, they're planning another Grand Canyon flood experiment for this year. Wish I could be on the river! The main purpose of these releases is ecological experimentation, particularly as relates to sediment redistribution (rebuilding eroded beaches), its effects on invasive plants and native fish. I have certainly seen beaches grow dramatically less and the weeds wax much worse in my two decades' experience in the canyon; it's worthwhile science. But a lot of this experimentation could be conducted much more easily, and I hereby offer the following to geomorphologists free of charge, with the stipulation that I be hired as their boatman should they secure funding for this project:

Idaho's Main Salmon River would be a much more convenient venue for sedimentation and beach building research than the Grand. The Salmon is comparable in its channel, gradient and volume to the Colorado, and most importantly it is undammed. Instead of planning occasional manmade floods amidst the minefield of agency politics, Colorado water allocation and power generation requirements that beset the Grand, researchers could avail themselves of a natural experiment in Idaho annually. The Salmon commonly has peaks from 40,000 to 120,000 cfs, again comparable to the pre-dam Colorado and boasting high volumes that Reclamation would never agree to. The specific hydrograph (swift vs slow rise and fall, multiple peaks, &c.) also varies greatly, and we commonly observe large variations in the beaches from year to year. It's a superb natural laboratory, and the Canyon folks should take advantage of it. And secure lavish funding for their boatmen.