Passionate scientific imagination, fatherhood, and Google voice search

While working on a science-rich post and writing an exam, something came across Twitter that is, well, too good to just be seen only on Twitter.
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Fullsteam is the name of the plow-to-pint Southern microbrewery in Durham, NC, no-longer-in-planning-but-not-quite-done and I have written about the tweeter several times. The imagination behind brewing a beer with sweet potatoes (it’s awesome, btw) or kudzu comes from the very same mind that burped into his iPhone for the benefit of shared education with his daughters.
The result:
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I use Google voice search all the time and have been very impressed with its accuracy and utility.
But now I’m not sure who’s more clever: Sean or the Google programmers.
(P.S. – but it didn’t work for me. I also tried to sneeze in it and it returned a search for “untouched.” Is Sean just taking the piss out of me knowing that I would be inclined to post this?)

The Friday Fermentable: The Presidential Beer Summit Edition

I absolutely guarantee that the President wanted a fine, handcrafted American ale. But I am certain that the conservative press would’ve jumped this as an “elitist” choice as they did his campaign comments on arugula.
Instead, he chose Bud Light.
The President had a choice to promote the craft-brewing industry in the US – the most noble and patriotic of pursuits shared by our Founding Fathers.
Instead, craft brewers across the country – nay, perhaps the world – let forth a collective “D’oh” upon the announcement of the President’s watered-down choice.

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The Friday Fermentable: Beer Y’all: “Craft brewing, original music, and entrepreneurial righteousness”

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In this special Saturday edition of The Friday Fermentable, here’s just a quick plug for a great North Carolina documentary that is screening here this evening in the City-That-Tobacco-Built:

Beer. Rock & Roll. North Carolina.
In July 2008, seven friends assembled from across North Carolina to tour 27 microbreweries and brewpubs from the mountains to the coast in a seatless cargo van. Beer Y’all follows their nine days of hanging out with brewers, partying at rock shows, and drinking many, many beers as they celebrate friendship, music, and a Southern microbrewing explosion.
Beer Y’all shows in screenings across North Carolina, Summer 2009. Available on DVD.

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The Friday Fermentable: “Mixing Drinks With Work and Staying Sober, Too” (NYTimes)

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Figure 1. SouthernFriedScientist (@SFriedScientist) and Kevin Zelnio (Deep Sea News; @kzelnio) and their 40s preparing to leave to attend the 4th International Symposium on Chemosynthesis-Based Ecosystems – Hydrothermal Vents, Seeps and Other Reducing Habitats – in Okinawa, Japan. Yes, Dr Zelnio, those are absolutely gorgeous beards.
I don’t know if Kim Severson of the New York Times knew this when writing her thought-provoking article earlier this week, but it coincided with the annual meetings of the Research Society on Alcoholism (RSA) and the College of Problems on Drug Dependence (CPDD). (btw, this timing is annoying for researchers who work in the general area of substance abuse who would normally like to go to both meetings. DrugMonkey has pointed out that the pending merger of NIH’s NIDA and NIAAA, a logical step, has not been met with enthusiasm by RSA, further reflective of the rift in the substance abuse research community).
But I digress.
My point of bringing up Severson’s article is a question that interests me given the context of The Friday Fermentable; namely, what happens if you have a career in the alcoholic beverage industry but become an alcoholic or alcohol abuser?

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The Friday Fermentable: Triangle Tweetup 2.0

If you follow me on Twitter (@abelpharmboy) or looked at this post Thursday, you’d know that I was going to a meetup of area Twitter users. I honestly had no idea what to expect and have to say that it was a rather enriching experience. It gave me a chance to press the flesh with a crowd very different and higher energy than some (but not all) scientific gatherings.
The group was different because the people I met were more in the tech and communications biz and the higher energy might have come from that I was probably one standard deviation away from the mean age. Click through the photo booth pictures taken by Josh Hofer here to get a feel for the crowd – the brontosaurus was the mascot of the host, Bronto Software, and the bird is the icon for The Iconfactory whose Greensboro, NC-based representatives were onsite to demonstrate the new version of Twitterific for the iPhone and iPod touch.
fullsteam.jpgAs I predicted, the highlight for me was indeed drinking my first samples of beer from Fullsteam Brewery. A brewery-in-planning, Fullsteam is led by Sean Lilly Wilson (@fullsteam) who, “founded and led Pop The Cap, a lobbying organization that opened up state economic markets to North Carolina’s specialty beer industry.” With Sean was brewmaster Chris Davis (@fullsteam32). Together, they poured their “Control” beer Rocket Science India Pale Ale and their “Experimental” beer, Sweet Potato Amber.

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Triangle Tweetup tonight

I only signed up for Twitter (@abelpharmboy) on 21 January but have found it incredibly valuable for staying up to speed on blogs, MSM articles, local and national news, and science and medicine stories. I’ve already accumulated 284 “followers” which is about half of our daily blog visitors. I’d say that about 60% of those are not spammers.
Well tonight in the Bull City, there is an event called Triangle Tweetup, a meetup of local Twitter users at Bronto Nation Software (@bronto). I’m going as are a few bloggers our readers may know such as Bora Zivkovic and foodie, jewelry-maker, and artist, Lenore Ramm.
fullsteam.jpgPerhaps most relevant to me, and readers of our Friday Fermentable feature, is that Fullsteam Brewery founder, Sean Wilson, and brewmaster Chris will be there pouring samples of their offerings. Latest word has them pouring their flagship beer, Carolina Common, and one of their local-ag beers, Sweet Potato Amber. This is absolutely tremendous for me as Fullsteam is still in the brewery-in-planning period and has yet to offer beer for sale or even secure a site for their brewery and pub. (Also just saw that Lone Rider Brewing Company will be there.).
But otherwise, I have absolutely no idea what a tweetup is for. I think it is social networking in meatspace. There will be 200+ people there and I recognize very, very few from the signup list. Will we have to speak to each other in sentences that comprise 140 characters or less?
Who are you people and why are you going?

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Extreme brewing

the flip.jpgI just learned of this great post from Southern Fried Science via a tweet from Southern Fried Scientist that was retweeted from Rick MacPherson (Malaria, Bedbugs, Sea Lice, and Sunsets). I mention this because my RSS reader is so full of unread posts that Twitter is serving me far better these days by quickly pointing me in the direction of blog posts and articles that would most likely interest me.
The blog is written by Andrew and David – both Southern, both fried, and both smelling of a combination of smoked pork and spiced Low Country shrimp. The blog is characterized as, “The new look of badass marine science on the web” by Deep Sea News and by Rick MacPherson as, “If Sylvia Earle and Andrew Dice Clay produced a love child, it would be Southern Fried Scientist.”
Today, or last night actually, SFS posted on “How to brew beer in a coffee maker, using only materials commonly found on a modestly sized oceanographic research vessel.” (modestly sized oceanographic research vessel optional).

We’re six days into a 2 month expedition, and if we were lucky enough to not be on a dry ship, it’s de facto dry by now anyway. You’re eying the ethanol stores, the crew is eying each other, and all hell will break loose if we don’t get some sweet water soon. This is no time for artistry.
This is not, as a rule, a terribly good beer (though, with a good brewmaster on board, it can be). This is a beer to pass the time. I can guarantee that if you are careful, it will be at least as good as the cheapest commercial alternative.

It’s a very clever post and demonstrates how creative a scientist can be when deprived of ethanol.
When they’re back on land, I’m driving out to the coast and buying them a beer. Safe travels, mate!

Fullsteam Brewery founder and local-ag guru, Sean Wilson, to appear on WUNC-FM’s The State of Things

The local food movement is not local here in the sprawling US. Hence why am posting this note here.
fullsteam.jpgNorth Carolina beer saint and local-ag brewer, Sean Lily Wilson, will be on the radio in about an hour. We featured Sean back in January when the state’s flagship newspaper named him Tar Heel of the Week for his efforts to modify our draconian beer laws to allow high-gravity beers, especially many of our European favorites, to be sold statewide.
Sean’s a good man, a great dad, and epitomizes community on so many levels. If you’re not local, you can listen to him together with two other great local foodies at – the podcast will be available later in the day:

Sip Local – Can We Interest You in a Local Beverage? The Triangle’s robust eat-local scene with its markets, grocers and farm-to-table restaurants means thoughtful consumers can know where their food is coming from. But what about their drinks? Is it possible to “sip local” when you’re enjoying coffee, wine, tea or beer? Host Frank Stasio talks to Lex Alexander, founder of Wellspring Grocery and owner of 3Cups, about the past and future of the local-food movement in the Triangle. We’ll also meet Dorian Bolden, a young, Durham-based coffee shop entrepreneur; Margo Knight-Metzger, head of the N.C. Wine and Grape Council; and Sean Wilson, who successfully led the Pop the Cap movement to loosen state laws regulating beer. He has a new North Carolina-themed brewery in the works. (32:00)

Click here and look to the Live Stream options on the right sidebar – the show airs at 12 noon, EST (1700 GMT).
The Fullsteam boys keep a mighty fine blog/website. Sean can be followed on Twitter @fullsteam as well as his brewmaster, Chris, @fullsteam32.
Previous posts on Sean Wilson:
Sean Wilson: Pop-the-Cap leader and Fullsteam Brewery founder named Tar Heel of the Week
The Friday Fermentable: Beer Builds Community

NIAAA’s ‘Rethinking Drinking’

fulton.jpgI’m very proud today to see one of my formative professors, Dr Fulton Crews, quoted extensively in a USAToday article on a new, web-based alcohol awareness initiative, “Rethinking Drinking,” from NIH’s National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) Division of Treatment and Recovery Research.

While many associate heavy drinking with liver problems, it can also increase the risk for heart disease, sleep disorders, depression, stroke and stomach bleeding. Consumed during pregnancy, it can cause fetal brain damage, says Fulton Crews, director of the Bowles Center for Alcohol Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill School of Medicine. It’s also linked to cancer.
“We know if you’re a heavy drinker but not alcohol dependent, your risk of oral cavity cancer and also breast cancer are increased,” Crews says.

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