Local Winery Watch: Putah Creek Winery

•March 5, 2010 • 3 Comments

It’s two o’clock on a damp Saturday afternoon, and I’m in the production building of Putah Creek Winery; in one hand I have a notepad, in the other, a glass of 2009 Chardonnay, fresh from the barrel.

The lemon-lime colored wine is hazily translucent, and has a bright, tropical flavor- it’s only about 6 months old, but to me, it already tastes good.  Could it be an award winner?  I don’t know, but Gene Glaeser and Jeremy Bivins do.  And they’re not telling.

Gene and his wife Cathy are the owners of Putah Creek Winery, a South Davis based operation that sits amid 20 acres of sustainably farmed vineyards. Up the dirt road a bit, near the family’s house, are 35 additional acres of the Glaeser’s grapes.  The vineyards, originally used to produce grape vine cuttings, were planted in the late 70s, but Jeremy, Putah Creek Winery’s resident vintner, suspects many in Davis don’t know they exist. Continue reading ‘Local Winery Watch: Putah Creek Winery’


Death by Peeps?

•February 21, 2010 • 6 Comments

My favorite radio game show has contestants listen to three unbelievable news stories and figure out which one is true.  The name of the game is  “Bluff the Listener”, but separating reality from fiction is harder than it sounds.  You can’t rely on choosing the oddest story, or what seems to be the most obvious, because, more often than not, the weirdest tales are real.  (A hamster hotel for people? True.  Bed-warming humans for hire?  Also true.)

If you listen carefully, though, sometimes you can catch the give-away: the one detail that reveals a story to be a sham.

Continue reading ‘Death by Peeps?’

Do you smell that?

•November 9, 2009 • 6 Comments


I have a good nose for scents.

I think it’s something I inherited from my mother, a woman who can sniff out mysterious odors like a bloodhound.  When I was growing up it was not uncommon for her to freeze mid-conversation, tilt her head back, and ask, with voice hushed and nostrils flared, “Do you smell that?” My sister and I never could, but we liked to tiptoe behind her on the hunt.  She’d prowl from room to room, wafting air to nose silently, as if the offending odor was an animal we had to be careful not to spook.

Of the entire household, my father had the worst sense of smell.  Whereas my mother could pinpoint the precise location of an errant sliver of orange peel from two rooms away, Dad was better at detecting more distinct aromas.  He was able to determine, for instance, when the cat left a puddle on his side of the bedspread (the visual clue may have helped).

Since then, my sense of smell has matured, and I’ve noticed the gender-specific olfactory divide in my own marriage.  This difference between male and female noses seems especially apparent when it comes to food: leftovers in particular.

Continue reading ‘Do you smell that?’

Summer Salads

•October 2, 2009 • 7 Comments

summer salad

Salads scare me.

Don’t get me wrong: I love vegetables, I have a garden, I don’t eat meat; but until recently, given the choice between preparing a salad for dinner and… pretty much anything else, I would have chosen anything else.

I’m stymied by dressings, confounded by croutons, and despite my best creative efforts, always seem to rely on the same old salad staples.  Lettuce and tomatoes and carrots, oh my.

The idea of salads, however, has always been enticing: healthy, fresh, simple, inexpensive. How could a vegetarian resist?    Continue reading ‘Summer Salads’

Gardening in the Community

•June 2, 2009 • 12 Comments

It’s been a rough few weeks for blog posting- but not for lack of news!  I’ve been busy writing articles for a local newsletter, and I’m afraid I’ve fallen behind on the science front.  But, my first article was published today!  If you’re in Davis, you can pick up a hard copy at the Co-op (or, just read it here!). 

That's me!

I never intended to start a garden.

The assignment started out straight forward enough: talk to the community gardening coordinators around Davis and report back. Easy. No sweat. Although my appetite for fresh summer vegetables can be all consuming, it’s been years since I actually grew my own.

 Like many apartment-dwelling Davis residents, my gardening prospects are limited by space. Our shady front stoop is just large enough to accommodate a few potted plants; last year my ‘garden’ consisted of a single Sun Gold tomato plant (my sole hope for a summer vegetable crop). After an entire season of being watered, tended, nurtured, and loved, it bore exactly two golden-orange cherry tomatoes. They were delicious.

 I learned the hard way that whispered encouragements and adoring gazes don’t take the place of adequate sunshine and growing space. I’ve accepted the fact that my tomato-growing plans and budding green thumb will have to wait until I can stake out a sunny patch of land of my own. So in the meantime I’m saving my seeds. Continue reading ‘Gardening in the Community’

Is It Too Late To Change My Thesis Project?

•May 4, 2009 • 6 Comments

Prior to this weekend, I would have been slightly embarrassed to admit that I’m captivated by YouTube videos of dancing animals. There’s something about the combination of bubbly pop music and beat-bouncing pets that is irresistible to watch.

I always thought I was just a sucker for cute animals, but now, thanks to the people at NPR’s Science Friday, I can say it’s all in the name of science.

Continue reading ‘Is It Too Late To Change My Thesis Project?’

It’s All in Your Head: Our Brains Know More Than We Think.

•April 24, 2009 • 3 Comments

It's watching you.

What if I told you that you’re being watched?  That every decision you make is under constant observation and judgment.  That every action is catalogued, and every mistake identified… before it even occurs. Sounds creepy, right?  Like some sort of evil Orwellian plot from the future.  But we’re talking about science, not science-fiction, and the future-seeing, decision-judging voyeurs in this story are our own brains.  Lucky for us, they’re on our side.
Continue reading ‘It’s All in Your Head: Our Brains Know More Than We Think.’