Sunday, April 27, 2008

Gone to Ground

Packing now, to spend a month at a field research station in the so-called "Tornado Alley" of Nebraska — which is a nice coincidence, as those at last Thursday's reading will attest to the presence of a strong tornadoey element in the opening of the new novel. But I'm mainly just heading out to do some writing in a bona-fide desert environment (which also figures prominently in said novel), and to hang out with a buddy who's doing research for a nonfiction book of his own. (And oddly enough, even buddies doing research for nonfiction books of their own factor into the plot of the new novel.) (Yes, it's true. This new novel is really going to suck.)

I will be at the Cedar Point Biological Station, somewhere around here:

I think I'm even supposed to give a talk or something. If your plane happens to crash in Lake Ogallala over the next month, drop on by.



Blogger Neal Asher said...

Yeah, but the nice thing is that the whole trip is tax deductible!

April 28, 2008 9:14 AM  
OpenID bec-87rb said...

Welcome to our little country south of the border!

Lincoln seemed nice as of a few years ago. I didn't even know there was desert near there. All I remember was corn fields, miles and miles and miles of agricultural land.

April 28, 2008 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cedar Point's a ways downstream - beyond the right edge of your photo. Follow the road on the south side of the river down, and it's the first clutch of buildings.

No booze allowed on the station grounds at all, as I recall, but you can sit at the white gate and drink all you want after sundown. If you restrict tourself to American beer, you'll find that you can outdrink anyone else. Don't do this very often - everyone will assume that you're an alcoholic, not a Canadian.

The station watering hole used to be the Sip'N'Sizzle, in Ogalalla. Really low-rent, but station people tended to go there in crowds, so there wasn't so much likelihood of getting your head kicked in by townies. Other than that, you're stuck - there was a place called the Sand Bar, just east of the highway on the north shore of Lake McConaghey, but that was strictly for the tourists. Incidentally, when the weather gets warmer, the north shore of the lake is a good place to see attractive women whom you have not seen before. This becomes important after a couple of weeks at the station.

John Janovy's good company, if he's still around. So's Tony Joern, although I think he's down in Kansas now. Can't think of anyone else I'd know who'd still be going out there. My old advisor, perhaps, but he's a pustule and best avoided. If Janovy offers to take you up to the headwaters of the Whitetail, take him up on it. It's bizarre, and well worth seeing. Also spend some time wandering around Arapahoe Prairie on your own. The water from the windmill in the centre is about the best I've ever tasted. The long wet grass around the base of the standpipe is a good place to look for box turtles.

Boosting errant box turtles off the highway is an act of corporal mercy you'll have numerous opportunities to perform, and it will immediately distinguish you from the asshole locals, who make a sport of running over them.

The local radio is everything you'd imagine it to be in the Heartland. Bring as much music with you as you possibly can.

Actually, now that I think about it, Dan Brooks probably told you all this.

Cheers - Lars

April 28, 2008 2:23 PM  
Blogger Keippernicus said...

If you want I will send you cookies while you're out there.

Just lemme know where and when you need them. You'll have to get your own milk though, I could never rest knowing that I sent you violently mistreated and irradiated dairy product sans refrigeration.

April 28, 2008 10:14 PM  
Blogger Mac said...

The Midwest! Yes, everything you've heard about the weather here is true.

April 29, 2008 2:28 AM  
Blogger Peter Watts said...

Hey, Neal: Actually, my expenses are all being paid up front. I just have to give a talk or two.

Lars: Who are you, who are so learned in the ways of science? And did you merely make a shrewd guess as to Dan Brooks's identity, or do you have an inside contact?

And finally, do I infer from your grim assessment of the natives that my chances of getting laid down here are negligable? (not counting Deliverance sex, of course).

keippernicus: Cookies are good. Coconut cookies are better.

Mac: Where are you, exactly? Didn't you move recently?

April 29, 2008 10:09 PM  
Blogger Mac said...

I moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Independence, MO and back again. (Now that you mention it, I'm not sure that qualifies as a "move" . . .)

April 30, 2008 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A shrewd guess? Not very shrewd - you'd mentioned that you were in his lab as a postdoc, and the connection wasn't hard to make. He goes back a long way with UNL. His Red Book was pretty popular with the more radical of the systematists there back in the 80s, boundary conditions and all. I was a grad student at UNL then, and I remember meeting him - he's hardly an obscure figure if your work involves phylogenetics in any way.

As to your chances of sex with the Keith County locals, well, your instincts are sound - if you hear banjo music, get away as quick as you can or jam a collecting bucket over your ass. As a graduate student at Cedar Point, I was of course far too busy and low-status to have a sex life. Too difficult to find any privacy on the station anyway.

Have fun. It's a nice place and the company's generally pretty good.

Cheers - Lars

April 30, 2008 8:50 PM  

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