Pantry Sniffing

With a h/t to a valuable science-Twitterer and all-round good guy/researcher, Jonathan Eisen, here’s something for the curious among us to aspire to when next you contemplate cleaning out your larder:

Kew mycologists Bryn Dentinger and Laura Martinez-Suz have discovered three species of mushrooms that are new to science in a commercial packet of dried Chinese porcini purchased from a shop in London.


Who knows what species lurks in the bowels of cupboards?

The mushroom-hunters know!

With that, I’ll announce my very scattered return from my  off-grid mountain fastness. Here’s a taste of what I’ve been looking at to the exclusion of paying attention to anything any right wing asshole has to say:

Shasta from Inspiration Point June 29 2014 edited, small

That’s Mt. Shasta from Inspiration Point in Lassen Volcanic National Park.

You won’t, alas, see much difference from my total absence to my likely near-complete silence going forward:  I’m desperate to get a big project done before the next equinox and I find if I try to organize my thoughts around the midden that is our politics right now, I lose whole days to rage.  But I’ll try to show up, and even more, to offer the occasional chewy post.  For now, though — random bits of the delightful weirdness of the world are all my style.

Happy Fourth…and open thread.

Image: Jan Flyt, Mushrooms, first half of the 17th century.


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57 replies
  1. 1
    Scout211 says:

    Ooooh, I love Lassen National Park!

    We live about 4 hours away. When the kids were young we spent a week there many summers.

    We live about the same distance from Yosemite, but always preferred Lassen.

  2. 2
    Mike E says:

    Heh, my sis named a cat Shasta…he survived distemper with yellowed teeth from the prescribed course of tetracycline, kept to the shadows until 8 years old when he literally came out of the closet. Lived out his remaining years being a fun cat.

  3. 3

    Happy 4th Dr Lev. The Lassen is a beautiful little corner of our country. Sure you enjoyed it. Spent lots of time up there as a kid and my brother worked on the Plumas and Lassen forests for about 10 years. Great memories.

  4. 4
    rikyrah says:

    Happy 16th Birthday to First Daughter Malia Ann Obama :)

  5. 5
    Tommy says:

    Those pics are just wonderful. I like to joke I’ve walked around much of this nation. I have not often seen that view. Kudos!

  6. 6
    jeffreyw says:

    Food thread! No fighting! Needz moar kittehs.

  7. 7
    srv says:

    I lose whole days to rage.

    There are shrooms that can fix that.

  8. 8
    big ole hound says:

    The Shasta area is great but the Volcanic park is just plain creepy….hope no fires spring up.

  9. 9
    opiejeanne says:

    Very nice shot of Shasta. I try to photograph it every time I see it, about 4 times a year.

    Drove through Lassen once in the fall and realized it would be better to visit in the summer, but it was beautiful.

  10. 10
    big ole hound says:

    @Tommy: The east and north side of Mt Shasta are true boonies and can be hard to get to..

  11. 11
    gene108 says:

    Joey Chestnut proposed on ESPN2 to his fiance, before the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest.

    I find competitive eating fascinating. I don’t know why.

  12. 12
    srv says:

    If you haven’t seen this yet, pretty awesome view of flying through fireworks.

    Perhaps all drones aren’t evil.

  13. 13
    The Dangerman says:

    …who knows what species lurks in the bowels of cupboards?

    We found the mustard?!!

    The Lassen picture inspires me to repeat a post from last night; if you want to see some glorious pictures of the John Muir Trail (Yosemite to Mount Whitney) and you are a Netflixer, check out “Mile … Mile and a Half”. Really well done.

  14. 14
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Scout211: @rikyrah: My parents put up a seasonal cabin on the sourthern edge of Lassen Park in the mid-1960s; I spent two months every summer there into the mid seventies. Stopped going so much after high school, and rediscovered it a decade or two later as a true paradise: no phone, land or cell, no town electricity, water from our own spring (best in the world). Our road is unplowed in the winter in a very snowy corner of the world, so the whole valley (which used to be summer grazing for a reasonably good sized cattle ranch) is only visitable four or five months a year. Keeps the place very quiet. And the park, as you folks know, is gorgeous and the least visited of California’s national parks. I took one hike last week from the Southwest entrance to the Kings Creek upper meadow — a trail from road to road. After the first 1.5 miles (to the primary attraction, a waterfall), we saw exactly one couple on the trail for the next two-three hours.

    I used not to tell people about Lassen — I liked having my own private national park. But now I know it doesn’t make any difference. People just don’t make the trip. But if anyone out there wants a really gorgeous few days of hiking…there it is. (Check the fire reports, though: two out of the last four summers we’ve had a pretty miserable time with wildfire smoke from pretty distant fires. In ordinary times, the air is bone dry and dead clean. The water’s great, and the night sky is what you just can’t see in the city or at sea level.)

  15. 15
    Jenkoe says:

    Try saying “going forward” a lot.

  16. 16
    PurpleGirl says:

    One useless man is a disgrace,
    Two useless men are a law firm,
    Three or more useless men are a Congress.
    — John Adams

    Still true.

  17. 17
    jayboat says:

    Holy crap, that is the tits!
    Thanks- made my day… we may be going to hell in a bucket, but at least someone will get it on film.

  18. 18
    PurpleGirl says:

    @jeffreyw: Is the black one a torbie and the white a seal point?

  19. 19
    Tommy says:

    @Tom Levenson: That is amazing. As a kid growing up we never went to Disney World. We went to Nation Parks. Honesty most time, bmyu father’s PhD was in civil war affairs, went from civil Wwr places. I’ve walked a lot of battle fields..

  20. 20
    gogol's wife says:

    So both DougJ and Tom Levenson are going AWOL? I haz a sad.

  21. 21
    gogol's wife says:


    I love that tongue!

  22. 22
    Scout211 says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Wow! What an amazing experience for your family.

    We usually spent a few days in the campgrounds because the Ranger-led activities and the activities for the kids were the best of all the parks we visited. And then after the kids had their fill, we went backpacking into the back country for a few days. We usually went to Widow Lake and usually had that whole awesome lake to ourselves.

    What a great park.

  23. 23
    bemused senior says:

    @Scout211: Ditto! Every summer till the kids grew up. We had a tradition that they didn’t get a t-shirt from the park store until they’d climbed the Lassen trail. My youngest did it at age 3, holding my hand and taking lots of rests. Been having dreams of doing it again this year.

  24. 24
    Morzer says:

    Those who doubted that coal-rolling was a thing, as the youngs say, bow down and weep:

    “Rolling coal” is not new. It grew out of the modifications people would do on their vehicles for truck pulls. It’s just only recently entered the online culture wars. I’d seen the memes and a couple of the trucks. But I hadn’t seen the left reply until this month, when Vocativ ran an expose of “pollution porn for dudes with pickup trucks.” Progressives reacted with disbelief to Facebook communities like “Rollin’ COAL” and (naturally) “Prius Repellent,” and to the sheer number of Instagram and Tumblr entries that recorded this stuff. They reacted with a mid-June surge of comments, sprinkled throughout these pages, all about the breeding patterns and penis sizes of the coal-rollers.

    The liberals seem a little surprised that conspicuous consumption—waste, even—could be a method of protest. They shouldn’t be. The motivation for political coal rolling is roughly the same one that gets people buying guns and ammo after mass shootings. The expectation, every time, is that liberals will capitalize on the shootings to ban guns, so it’s time to stock up.

  25. 25
  26. 26
    jeffreyw says:

    @PurpleGirl: The highlights on the black one are processing artifacts, I think he’s all black. Seal point sounds right on the other.

  27. 27
    Scout211 says:

    @bemused senior:

    Ditto right back atcha!

    That park is so awesome for kids. How many volcanic mountains have a trail that even young kids can climb? Our kids were always so proud of themselves when they climbed all the way to the top of the mountain.

  28. 28
    bemused senior says:

    @Tom Levenson: The great thing in normal rainfall years is that if you target the last week before labor day, you can take a snow saucer and almost always find big banks of snow for the kids to saucer on, even though the high country trails are clear. We’ve been there on high rainfall years when Lake Helen still had partial ice on that week. You are a lucky man.

  29. 29
    divF says:

    Big project for the next year, Berkeley roots – sabbatical (or at least summer) at UCB possibly ?

  30. 30
    kdaug says:

    Wecome back, Grizzly Tom. Missed the paintings.

  31. 31
    Mnemosyne says:

    We have no plans for today. Zero. We haven’t even decided if we’re going to have hamburgers or hot dogs for dinner.

    G had a really sucky week at work, so having a day totally to ourselves is probably the best thing.

  32. 32
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    We went to the town parade, so I’ve fulfilled my civic duty.
    Here’s the kind of liberal enclave we live in: the parade included a recycling truck pulling a trailer full of baled metal, paper and plastic. There was applause.

  33. 33

    That mushroom story is horrifying. Those things can kill.

    We used to have a tradition of eating some of the ones that uh, don’t kill you but only make you stronger on the 4th. Just a BBQ this year though.

  34. 34
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Ultraviolet Thunder: I salute you and your town. Good idea for a parade float.

    @Mnemosyne: While watching 1776 and in between the musical numbers, I’m cleaning surfaces and doing dishes, etc. Also getting laundry loads together for tomorrow.

  35. 35
    MattF says:

    Speaking of mushrooms, my local farmer’s market now has a mushroom stand. Get to try all sorts of weird-lookiing stuff. Standard advice is ‘sauté in butter.’ Also, to the horror of the radar-phobic, nuking them works well too.

  36. 36
    gogol's wife says:


    You sound like us. Plus here the weather sucks.

    ETA: Did you catch Mae West last night? We lost power in the middle of “I’m No Angel,” but got it back in time for most of “She Done Him Wrong.”

  37. 37
    Bill D. says:

    @Scout211: My first time there was as a five- or six-year-old. That was a wonderful family vacation for small kids and one of my first exposures to the high mountains. I was a bit nervous about Lassen Peak, afraid that it might erupt, and when there was a loud sonic boom I was sure that an eruption was starting! Fortunately, my other experiences on that trip were nearly all much more pleasant.

    @Tom Levenson: I think I know which valley you mean, and I have not yet made it there… one of these years. I did take my wife to Lassen a few years ago. She saw her first marmot and pika, loved the hydrothermal features at Bumpass Hell, and was amazed and thrilled by the huge August snowbank in the Lake Helen parking lot.

  38. 38
    LT says:

    As a child, I was condemned every summer to making a round trip by car from San Francisc to Salem, Oregon to visit my grandparents. This was before Route 5 was built, and it took at least 14 hours. The car was a Rambler, too.

    The one respite in the journey occurred when we’d hit the Shasta area and its timber belt. I loved the trees, and the miles of forest. Fact is, so much so that when I recently bought my first house, I intentionally sought out a timbered region in Sonoma county. Forgive the poetry when I say Mt. Shasta is a holy place, and I’m grateful its spirit seeped into my soul all those years ago.

  39. 39
    Tehanu says:


    Drove through Lassen once in the fall and realized it would be better to visit in the summer, but it was beautiful.

    It’s beautiful year-round and I actually prefer it in the early fall, when the daytime temperatures are still pleasant. I’ve never forgotten my first time there, seeing water bubbling out of a spring so clear you could see the rocks on the bottom. Haven’t been for a long time — as Tom says, it’s kind of out of the way. I’ve already told my family, when the time comes, just scatter my ashes some place where you can see both mountains at one.

  40. 40
    JGabriel says:

    Tom Levenson @ Top:

    … random bits of the delightful weirdness of the world are all my style.

    We could all use a little more delightful weirdness in our lives.

  41. 41
    JGabriel says:

    As opposed to the, you know, non-delightful kind.

  42. 42
    NotMax says:

    @gogol’ wife

    A unique talent, albeit from a very, very different time.

    Today’s fashionistas would not give her a second look, but there’s no denying (and I mean this in only a complimentary way) she was built like the proverbial, um, mortared privy.

  43. 43
    Mnemosyne says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    Nope — we went out to a screening of 1776, which had a talk by the director afterwards.I always forget how long that movie is (2 hours and 45 minutes) — by the time it was all over, we had to track down a 24-hour deli to grab something to eat, because even the bar kitchens had closed.

  44. 44
    Mnemosyne says:


    As G always says, it’s the finest musical ever made about the signing of the Declaration of Independence. ;-)

    Howard da Silva almost didn’t get to be in the movie because he was such a pain in the ass to the director during the run of the show (apparently one of the producers had told da Silva he could direct the show as well as play Ben Franklin, and he was POed that he was lied to). But he basically begged to be in the film version and promised to behave, and eventually the director relented.

  45. 45
    efgoldman says:


    If you haven’t seen this yet, pretty awesome view of flying through fireworks.

    It is awesome,but how is it legal? Airspace above big shows is usually restricted, isn’t it?

  46. 46
    efgoldman says:


    We haven’t even decided if we’re going to have hamburgers or hot dogs for dinner.

    No charred meats for us. Raining like a sumbitch, going to go on most of the night.

  47. 47
    John Revolta says:

    Mushrooms+ fireworks=ooooooooh yeah

  48. 48
    Bill D. says:

    @efgoldman: Drone use is only legal below 400 feet altitude anyway, so I doubt it was legal in any case.

  49. 49
    Kurt Montandon says:

    @Tom Levenson – I’d think it’d be a bit crowded up there over the Fourth, even at Juniper. Then again, we might have different definitions of “crowded.”

    EDIT: Also, yeah, a bit smoky.

  50. 50
    Kurt Montandon says:

    @Bill D.: We had an earthquake here (Chester) spring 2013, and I was sure for about a full minute Lassen was going up, until I could walk to a part of town where I could see that wasn’t the case.

  51. 51
    LT says:

    @Kurt Montandon: I’d say living in the shadow of an active volcano– like living in earthquake country– still beats the hell out of living in lands where twin tornadoes touch down and cows fly. Fly for a while, anyway.

  52. 52
    Bill D. says:

    @Kurt Montandon: At least you were about 20 miles away from the peak. We were around three miles away. In retrospect my fears were unwarranted since volcanoes do give warning signs beforehand, but at the time I had no idea.

  53. 53
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Bill D.:

    Bumpass Hell

    Is that what they’re calling Sarah Palin’s hairdo these days?!

  54. 54
    Steeplejack says:


    Whoa, that gave me flashbacks to when Temporarily Max McGee and I served on the B-17 Shady Lady in the big one.

  55. 55
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Kurt Montandon: Chester FTW!

    I’m sure the fourth got some more folks — but I was up at Juniper several times in the last week in June, and it was (to me) shockingly less visited than previous years. The whole park just seemed really quiet. Not complaining, mind.

  56. 56
    Matt McIrvin says:

    @Morzer: doubted it was a thing? I’ve seen those guys around, rolling coal on public streets. I wasn’t sure what they were up to initially, or if it was on purpose.

  57. 57
    J R in WV says:

    My Grandpa’s house was on the point of a ridge overlooking the small town we grew up in. There was always a big BBQ picknic at his house on the 4th of July.

    After eating and swimming and eating and swimming until we could barely stand up, we would go up to the second floor deck of his house to watch the fireworks being launched from the city park way down below us.

    The highest explosions were just below our observation point! It was a spectacular place to see fireworks from. One loyal Italian guy would take up a collection every year to do a V-J Day (Victory over Japan, the true end of WW II) fireworks celebration. I don’t know if anyone took over that civic duty – the guy who started it ran a fruit and vegetable stand – the donations did it, he couldn’t afford to do it on his own at all.

    One afternoon we got to see a pair of fighter jets fly a practice bombing mission over town, also down below our vantage point. All at least 50 years ago now.

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