Saturday, November 29, 2003

I forgot to add, we had homemade prosciutto, too, or I guess technically it was just cured ham. I want to try making it at home; I just need to find a good place to hang up a ham hock for a few weeks.
We had too much food for only 10 people last night.

Since my brother is a cook at the fancy shmancy No. 9 Park, he got a 20 lb free range turkey at work. I made regular (toasted ciabatta, celery, onions, dried cranberries, apples and chestnuts oh and fresh sage and thyme from my plants) stuffing and low carb (same as regular but with LC bread and a lot of mushroom-herb sausage) for it.

We had an assortment of cheeses, and then had a slew of wellfleet oysters that my brother brought from work. Half we had raw, and the other half were poached in a cream sauce.

Next we had a creamy parsnip soup.

Then came a domestic (upstate NY) foie gras. My brother got this from work, too. It's nice to be able to get shit wholesale; he only paid $29 for the entire liver. This was served with an asian pear/pomegranate marmalade and fresh chervil. Oh, and also with the requisite sauterne.

After that was everytihng else - the turkey/stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamy mashed rutabaga, cranberry sauce, cranberry relish, cranberry-raspberry sauce, wild rice, mashed sweet potatoes with marshmallows (this made my brother gag), brussels sprouts, spicy dry fried green beans, salad with walnuts, roquefort cheese and a raspberry vinaegrette, and I'm sure there was more but I'm forgetting it. We didn't have much salad, as someone put the greens next to the ooling element in the fridge and half of them were frozen. Oops.

Dessert was apple pie, maple pecan pie, and an blackberry-apple crumble that was supposed to have creme anglaise. Unfortunately somehow my brother managed to put the custard down on top of a burner that was on, boil it, and scramble the eggs. We had no heavy cream left at that point so we had to resort to fake whipped cream from a can. Ick!

Unfortunately the only leftovers I took home were some salad greens, a wedge of pecan pie, turkey, and cranberry sauce :( I ate all the rest of the LC stuff up!
First of all, in case you didn't know, I was nearly killed on the way to Pennsylvania. I was in the car with my mother driving and my sister in the back seat. Near Newark airport, we were getting in the second from right lane; the two rightmost lanes were the exit lanes. A truck driver (18 wheeler) I suppose realized he was going to miss the exit and swerved across two lanes of traffic to get into the lane we were in, only he hit us on the rear, and we got stuck on his front bumper, the car sort of diagonally angled in front of him. He pushed us for a good 200 feet, clearly didn't see us. My sister was screaming; I had the presence of mind to turn around and yell at he to shut up. Wow, I'm a good sister.
Then the car suddenly flipped so we were sideways, with his grill flat against the whole driver's side of the car. He pushed us like that for another 50 or so feet. Finally, as he realized we were there after my mom started honking the horn, he started slowing down and the car flipped around now to the truck's driver's side, facing into traffic. Luckily it was in the litle median between the exit and the highway, so there were no cars actually coming at us. Lucky, because if he had dragged us a little further we would have been crushed against the concrete divider that was about 50 feet down from where we ended up, and if it had been a little earlier that we had flipped to the trucks other side, we probably have been hit head on by a car going 65 mph. Fabulous.

The truck driver was an ass, yelling at everyone, but we have a witness who gave a statement to the police saying it was his fault. He's so fucked. The officer gave us a ride to Newark, where we rented a car and continued on our merry way. Unfortunately, the delay meant that we didn't get to where we were going (western PA) until Saturday afternoon (we spent Sat AM touring Johnstown, PA, which is where my father is from), and so we missed out on hunting for fun things like rabbits and squirrels and turkey and deer.

Instead, we went racoon hunting that night. It's not very sporting. You go out with your dogs (coonhounds are generally preferred in the north, apparently, but my uncle prefers mountain curs, which he gets from the "hillbillies" of North Carolina, beause they do not bark until the coon is treed, and so they tend to tree a lot more coons because they sneak up on them) and they find racoons, chase them up a tree, and then stay at the base of the tree and bark. At that point you walk to them (they can range very far), find the racoon in the tree, and shoot it.

My uncle has a guy who skins and streches the hides for $2 a piece, and gthen he sells them for $7-9 a piece. Usually he gets 4-5 coons a night, but the night we went out we only got one in like 4 hours.

On sunday I got to shoot a lot of guns, including a 300 savage rifle that was my grandfathers, and then belonged to my dad when he was younger; my dad's nephew (who is 5 years younger than him and they were raised together by my dad's sister as brothers) has the gun now. I did pretty well; hit the bullseye with the 22 caliber rifle, and hit a bunch of bottles and cans with the 20 guage shotgun. My little sister kicked ass with the shotgun.

Had a real good, for lack of a better word, white trash thanksgiving dinner, including a butterball turkey, stovetop stuffing, frozen hashed brown potatoes mixed with chedda cheese and sour cream in a casserole, and a broccoli cheese rice which I susect was the a dried mix with extra frozen broccoli mixed in. Also caramel apple pie, pumpkin pie and other assorted things. And of course the beer of choice was keystone light! Kick ass.

Friday, November 21, 2003

It's Friday night. I'm home making boots. That's dedication, I tell you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Friday, November 14, 2003

I am going to have a FUN and hopefully TASTY weekend in Pennsylvania. YEEEEEEEEEE HAW!

Thursday, November 13, 2003

HA. A nice fellow on the He-Man messageboard turned me into a southpark character.

Yes, it's thursday afternoon and I'm hungover. Ugh.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Friday, November 07, 2003

I got my Frye Boots last Friday. They are so comfortable, and they totally rock and I'm going to wear them every day. I had a pair in the late 70's/early 80's. So did the Grant.

Mark my words: a year or two from now EVERYONE is going to be wearing these things.

Yeah, okay, Roxy. The cartoon you were on went off the air in the 80's.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Matrix sucks. Die die die.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

I had an exciting day. Really. And you all need to be more educated about the hudson river. I would add photos, but they mostly look like mud, and mud just ain't too exciting unless you're a marine biologist. And even then, it stinks.

Assessing Biodiversity in the Hudson River Estuary

New York Harbor is under attack. Its piers, pilings and bulkheads are built largely of wood, and currently they are falling victim to, paradoxically, the dramatic improvement of water quality in the Hudson River over the past few decades. As these structures are destroyed, a vast surface, occupied by millions of marine creatures will be lost. When they are replaced, we want to know what species will recolonize them, and how quickly.
Throughout most of the past century, untreated sewage has been discharged directly into the river. Combined with other factors such as overfishing and agricultural runoff, this has had a significant negative impact on its biodiversity. Recognition of this problem and legislation such as the Clean Water Act of 1972 has led to improved water quality control and management, and the return of many organisms previously missing from the river’s subtidal communities demonstrates some measure of success.
Two organisms with a particularly conspicuous return have been the shipworm, Teredo navalis and the gribbles Limnoria lignorum and L. tripunctata; these are marine borers that are slowly destroying all wooden structures in New York Harbor. As a result, most of these structures will need to be replaced in upcoming years, and it is important to choose materials that attract marine animals and plants, which will enrich the harbor ecosystem. On the other hand, such materials have to be resistant to chemical and biological destruction.
The goal of one current study at The River Project is to assess the biodiversity and patterns of colonization of subtidal organisms in the river. Work began in the summer of 2002 with the deployment of a series of terra cotta tiles suspended just below the low tide line from the edge of the bulkhead at Pier 26; it continued this past summer on a larger scale. Additionally, tiles made from materials proposed as potential candidates in the rebuilding of the harbor – an anti-fouling polymer coated steel, concrete, and plastic – were deployed late in the summer of 2003. Photographs documenting the colonization of the tiles have been taken every week throughout their deployment. The good news is that colonization is rapid and we have found over 30 species on the plates, most arriving as planktonic larvae. Lower New York Harbor is biologically vibrant.
A number of factors have been shown to influence the colonization of subtidal substrata; the first of these is the nature of the substrate itself. Certain substrata may be more attractive to settling larvae than others. For example, preliminary data already show that concrete is more attractive to settlers than, unsurprisingly, steel that is coated with an anti-fouling polymer. The orientation of a substrate and the flow of water over it can also have an effect on colonization; larvae are largely dependent on water currents for transport and water flow over the substrate will determine if larvae successfully encounter a potential settling site. Furthermore, over the course of the study it has become apparent that flow can also significantly affect the accumulation of sediment, even on vertical surfaces. The Hudson River is very turbid, and quiet water allows the particles to settle and accumulate. Variation in sedimentation appears to affect differences in community profile; certain organisms such as the worm Polydora ligni seem to thrive in the mud while others, particularly filter feeders such as the barnacle Balanus fragilis do not fare nearly as well. Still other organisms like the solitary ascidian Molgula manhattensis do not appear to be affected either way, although the data have not yet been analyzed to determine any statistical differences.
Another factor that has been suggested to have an effect on colonization is the presence of adults of a particular organism; for example the larvae of some species may tend to settle near adults because the adults indicate a favorable environment, or because the adults themselves serve as an attractant. In the oyster Crassostrea virginica, adult oysters create a habitat with enough three-dimensional structure that vulnerable juveniles can avoid predation. The oyster, which once densely populated New York Harbor, has been absent for many years due to depleted oxygen levels caused by pollution. For the past five or so years, it appears to have been making a tentative reappearance in a few areas around the harbor, including on the pilings at The River Project. During this past summer, a total of three oysters were counted on the seventy-two terra cotta settling plates; two of the individuals were on the exposed surfaces of plates and grew to a length of about 25mm before dying. The remaining individual was in a protective crevice created between the plate and the frame holding it; future research may help elucidate what factors allow oysters to survive in the river.
Many species of fish long absent from the harbor, including those valuable to commercial and sport fishermen such as the sheepshead, Archosargus probatocephalus, are attracted to oyster beds. Oysters, and other filter feeders such as barnacles and mussels, are also capable of filtering large volumes of water; clearly, the ecology of the harbor in the future will be substantially affected by whether the materials used in its construction are conducive to settlement. Research may help in the choice and design of these materials; for example, the knowledge that larvae are attracted to concrete and have increased survivorship on surfaces with a texture that provides protection may help in the design of harbor structures that promote the development of healthy reefs.
Another interesting feature of current biodiversity in the river that the study may help clarify is the role that introduced species play in shaping subtidal communities. The lacy bryozoan Membranipora membranacea, which was first introduced to the east coast in the Gulf of Maine in 1987, and the golden star tunicate Botryllus schlosseri, which was introduced to Newfoundland from Europe, have both since spread all along the east coast of the United States, including to the pilings of Pier 26. Both of these species have been shown to have detrimental effects in other ecosystems such as the kelp beds of Nova Scotia and Monterey Bay, CA; the current research at the River Project may aid in determining what effect these non-native species will have on current and future biodiversity in the Hudson River.

Sunday, November 02, 2003

This is a photo of me on halloween that Rich took. I hope he doesn't mind that I'm stealing it from him, but it is a picture of me, after all, so I'm not going to sweat it too much. Besides, he's getting free publicity. I'm sure that he wants all the people who google "frederic van coppernolle gay" (btw, try it. I'm in a very elite set of sites, I am!) looking at his photos.

I managed to break the wooden dowel in my cobra staff in the car on the way to the train, but it's easy enough to fix, and I think I'm going to fix it with a length of threaded 1/4 inch steel. I have plenty lying around from all my research supplies, anyway. And then it won't break! Obviously I didn't finish all the details on my dress (the little leaves that were supposed to be decorating the epaulets? Yeah, I hot-glued them to me hair), and I didn't have enough time to make the dress wear-proof before going out, but it's easy enough to fix and I will before I wear it again. Unfortunately the one thing I CAN'T fix is that the gold paint is flakey as hell, particularly on the hot glue. I'm thinking maybe it needs a primer of some sort.

I got "Xena", "She-Ra" and "Gladiator chick" -ed way too many times. Nobody actually recognized Teela, although a couple of people were like "You're He-man, right?". Yes, I'm a steroid-upped freak with a blond pageboy and a big sword. Grant told me that some old man in Penn Station called me "Princessa Carolina" as we walked by. I was wearing a sweat shirt and sweat pants (yeah, like I am going to ride on the LIRR in that short little dress, boyfriend with me or not!) so all that was visible was the cobra tiara... yeah, makes a lot of sense, right?

some people are just weird.

I am procrastinating from writing a really silly one page article for the River Project's winter newsletter. I wonder if they will care that I've spent all of about an hour writing this spew for them. Of course nobody ever really told me what they wanted me to write, so it doesn't make a whole lot of sense... oh well. Back to work.

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Let's play a game called GUESS WHAT HER COSTUME IS! I didn't bother to clean up the photos at all, so I apologize that they're big and sucky. I'll deal with them later when I actually have time.