October 14, 2010
Read (and watch) an excerpt from Give Me Seltzer
I just posted, for one week only, an except from the draft of my forthcoming book on seltzer. Please check it out before its gone, leave your constructive feedback, join the "fan" page, and tell your friends!
And here is the video of my life reading, which will also come down in a week as well:
October 13, 2010
Live Online Reading from the upcoming book, Give Me Seltzer
At 10 p.m. EST this evening, if the fates allow, I will be reading the draft of the opening section from my book project, Give Me Seltzer.
More information on the event, and a link to the text, here.
Below will be the live video of my reading, followed by a space to chat with others during the reading.
The video will remain posted, in archive, for one week, and will then be removed.
And if you want to watch it while participating in a live chat with other listeners, go here.
October 12, 2010
Come to my Online Book Reading from Give Me Seltzer
I recently finished a draft of the opening to my book, Give Me Seltzer, and I am excited to be sharing it, for the first time, this Thursday, at an online book reading. I will leave up the video of the reading, and the full text, for one week.
If you would like to attend, and get more information, please RSVP here. I hope you can join us and offer me your feedback.
Until then, let me tease you with the opening lines:
I think most who meet him would be inclined to agree: Eli is a myth-making machine. He greets one client, "Hi Sweetheart. How ya doing?" before explaining my presence: "This is the Daily Forward. He's doing a story about me, about my clients." He speaks with a crisp Brooklyn accent, with each word highly articulated, as if performing a radio show. "He's gonna ask you questions about me. Ya tell him I'm a living legend." To which the husband responds, with a smile, "At least in his own mind." But after 50 years delivering seltzer, door-to-door, Eli Miller has well earned the right to tell it like he sees it. He's one of perhaps a dozen active seltzer men (and a few women) in the country. In fact, at 77 years, and with two heart stints, he's most likely also the oldest. Eli still has over a hundred and fifty clients to whom he regularly delivers seventy pounds of siphon-filled wooden cases, across Brooklyn and occasionally into Manhattan. I had the good fortune of being present at the first delivery for a new client, a young mother in a fashionable sundress with white wedge heels. "I've been wanting it for a long, long time," she tells me. "I love seltzer." Eli interrupts her from behind me, maneuvering his hand-truck. "I'm the product. It's not the seltzer," he jokes. "It's all about Eli." It was her first day, but she'd already learned the routine. "It's all about Eli," she repeats, "Sorry." But then, to me, in all sincerity, "The man is renowned in Brooklyn. When I met him, I felt like an angel came." The day I met Eli was during his slow season, what he described as "the tail end of August." When Eli spins stories about his life as a seltzer man, he's speaking on behalf of an entire industry approaching its own tail end. He speaks to the work of bottlers who carbonate the water, the desires of housewives and other clients that cause it to flow, and the back-breaking labor of delivery men like himself who weave invisible webs connecting them all. When Eli talks himself up he's claiming a space in our collective consciousness for a dying profession. When he quips, "I'm an anachronism, what can I tell ya?" it feels like he's almost pleading, "Remember us, for soon we'll be gone."
October 11, 2010
A Seltzer Ocean? "It's Only a Seltzer Moon"
Science News magazine reported last week that a moon of Saturn might have an ocean, an ocean of seltzer!
Eau my! Things could be really popping inside Saturn’s moon Enceladus. A fizzy ocean, similar in carbonation to Perrier, may feed the plumes of water vapor, gas and ice that erupt from the south pole of the moon, a new model suggests.
Since 2005, when the Cassini spacecraft first observed icy plumes spewing from the south pole of Enceladus (SN: 5/6/06, p. 282), researchers have speculated that an ocean may lie buried tens of kilometers beneath the moon’s fractured, icy surface. Now, Cassini scientist Dennis Matson of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and his colleagues propose adding a bit of effervescence to the watery hypothesis. Circulating, bubbly seawater containing 1 or 2 percent dissolved carbon dioxide and other gases could supply water, gas, dust and heat to Enceladus’ polar plumes, the researchers say. It can also explain why some of the ice grains expelled by the plumes carry sodium and potassium salts.
Noncarbonated seawater circulating from the moon’s solid core to the surface would stall rather than seep though cracks in the ice because seawater is denser than the icy carapace. If the seawater were fizzy, however, gas bubbles would form in the liquid, reducing the ocean’s density. Once the seawater became less dense than the ice, the water could rise to within 10 to 15 meters of the frigid surface. That’s close enough to fill chambers in the icy crust with water that feeds the south polar plumes.
In addition, as the bubbles popped they would spray the plume chambers with tiny droplets containing dissolved salts from the seawater. Those droplets would emerge from the plumes as salty grains like those that have been observed by Cassini (SN: 8/30/08, p. 10). The bubbly water would also warm large areas of the icy south polar crust, Matson notes.
After the water transferred its heat and grew colder, the bubbles would dissolve and the water would once again become denser than the surface ice. The liquid would sink back through the cracks and rejoin the rest of the subsurface ocean.
Matson sketched the findings during a press briefing October 4 at the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences annual meeting in Pasadena and presented further details during his scientific presentation October 5.
October 08, 2010
Feedback from a relative of a subject from my book
A few weeks back I found online the great-grandchild, not a grown adult, of a figure I've spent many years researching and many months writing about. She very generously offered to read the draft of that section, and here's what she had to say:
Barry... thank you for sending me the 3rd and 4th section of the chapter on the history of seltzer as a business, which covers the life and times of my great-grandfather, William B. Keller. I just finished reading it.
Wow. I bet no one else will tell you this when they read your book: it made me cry. :) There are... so many familiar threads of personality that I see in him, this man of whom you wrote, that I see in my dad and even in myself. Uncanny. And so lovely. It's great, Barry. Really, really great. You tell a good story with all the facts mixed in... I like the way you write.
Please keep me posted! Can't wait to read more...
October 06, 2010
Free public seltzer fountain opens in Paris!
Wow! Why didn't we think of this first in NYC! Can we be the next location for a public seltzer fountain? Pretty please?
Eau la la! Parisians get free fizzy water from a park fountain
French capital gets first public fountain dispensing carbonated water in attempt to wean public off bottles
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 21 September 2010
France's addiction to bottled sparkling water is up there with its penchant for bike racing, foie gras and Johnny Hallyday. Now, authorities in Paris are attempting to fight back against the national dependence by unveiling a public water fountain that gushes with chilled bubbles.
La Pétillante – literally, she who sparkles – is the first fountain in France to inject carbon dioxide into tap water before cooling it and serving it up to passers-by. Inaugurated today in the Jardin de Reuilly in south-east Paris, it is expected to prove a user-friendly means of weaning the French off the bottle.
"Our aim is to boost the image of Paris tap water," said Philippe Burguiere of Eau de Paris, the capital's public water supplier. "We want to show that we're proud of it, that it's totally safe."
Today, locals from the 12th arrondissement queuing up to try the water greeted the fountain with enthusiasm. Speaking on television, one woman even paid La Pétillante the ultimate compliment. "I think it's pretty tasty," she said. "A bit like Perrier."
With the average person drinking 28 gallons of still or sparkling last year, France is the eighth biggest consumer of bottled water in the world, according to figures from the Earth Policy Institute. Observers warn that this habit, which has persevered in many households despite public campaigns to improve the image of l'eau de robinet, is having pernicious effects on the environment: the country is estimated to have produced more than 262,000 tonnes of plastic waste during 2009.
According to Anne Le Strat, chairman of Eau de Paris, the main thing stopping people from changing is that tap water – without the use of a soda fountain – is still. "Lots of Parisians have told me that they would consume more [tap] water if it were fizzy," she said. There are signs the French are already taking matters into their own hands: sales of household carbonation machines rocketed last year.
Free of charge and available whenever the Jardin is open – which, in high summer, is 8am until 9.30pm – La Petillante will allow thirsty passers-by to experiment with publicly supplied water.
Housed in a former garden cabin, the fountain pumps water straight from the city's supply and emerges either as still, chilled, with bubbles, or simply still water at room temperature. Authorities said it had cost €75,000 (£63,500) to install.
Already a common feature in Italy, the fountain will be watched closely to see whether the Jardin de Reuilly will be the first of many locations. "This is a first, so we're going to watch how Parisians react and whether there's an uptake. Then we might gradually install others in the busiest parks," said Burguiere.