Saturday Night, Mostly Alive

File-fishing the past two days,  Day 9 of the cold, but the mend-trend is clear and upward now.

Scrips-Howard News Service reported, July 3, 1994 that Australian scientists studying the genetics of flower colors have identified a blue flower gene in the petunia and are in the process of transplanting it into roses.  Our neighbor Michelle puts something copper into ground at base of her hydrangea, and turns it a luscious blue, not genetics necessary. Wonder how the rose experiment is progressing.

Huckleberry Finn on corn.: “There ain’t nothing in the world so good when it’s cooked right.” And Huck didn’t even get to taste Michigan corn, the poor lad.

From the May 22, 1995 US News & World Report: The average human sperm cell is only 0.002 inches long. In last week’s nature scientists reported that a fly named Drosophila bifurca produces sperm cells more than 2 inches long – 1,000 times longer than human sperm and 20x the length of the fly itself. Maybe it’s because bifurca’s testes amount to 11 percent of the male’s dry body weight?  Jumbo sperm, noted the scientists, seemed to confer no advantage to the fly or may any evolutionary sense.

Wall Street Journal front page, March 13, 1995. Back in my day this page had the best written feature stories anywhere. The story  was written by Marcus W. Brauchli, the  Date Line,  HONG KONG–  It’s winter, when a lot of people are getting sick, and the Yat Chau Health Restaurant is jammed.

            Today’s lunch crowd is particularly demanding. Even before he eats, a 61-year-old retired truck driver complains of indigestion and dizziness. A 30-year-old messenger gripes as he sits down that he has lost his appetite and has been having stomach trouble for a week.

            Wong Ping-kwan, the restaurant’s thoughtful host, listens sympathetically and jots things down on an order pad. But unlike your conventional maître d’,Mr. Wong doesn’t recommend dishes, he prescribes them.

            Have swollen neck glands? Try chicken ands sea horse stew. Feeling dizzy? Perhaps some fried rice with wolfberries.

            To foreigners, such preparations might sound like snake oil. But they aren’t.Snake oil, Chinese herbalists say, is for sexual potency – and for restoring general health. Says Doris Ho, the manager of Singapore’s popular Imperial Herbal Restaurant: “Each year, I get there snakes, cut them, put the bile with wine and bam! Very good for the system.”

I once drank viper blood at a roadside stand near the jungle outside Jakarta. Can’t say I enjoyed it, and knowing you have ingested deadly venom does not make the pooch perky, if you get my meaning.

And finally I ran across an E-mail from God, my long-time fishing partner. Dated 9-21-94: Joe, Have you heard about the report in “Nature” that a team of U.S. Canadian and Singapore scientists have produced transgenic salmon that gre an average of 11 times bigger than a control group? Could you imagine 200-500 pound salmon? The biggest one was 37 times bigger than usual – maybe 800-1,000 pounds. Now, if they can just develop some 10-pound alewives… G.”

And remember you have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on. English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which of course, is not a race at all. That is why, when the starts are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out they are invisible.

I think of a line by  writer B.R.Myers that “a wild landscape can bestow epic significance on the lives of its inhabitants.” And then I think of the U.P. and think, yah-sure, youbetcha. Over.