In Telluride: Potables and Bug Camps
The Pinhead Institute’s popular annual fundraiser, The Science of Cocktails, is just around the corner and Dr. Joe Alaimo, proprietor of Ridgway’s Trail Town Still, is psyched. Two of Alaimo’s luscious libations have earned second place in previous Pinhead cocktail contests “And this year we’ll take it,” he predicted. One year, Alaimo’s creative concoction involved a salt-propelled garnish that drove itself around the drink; another year, his potent potable included an ingredient that was pH-sensitive. “The drink changed color as we made it,” he recalled fondly. “The end result was that it glowed in the dark.”
This year, Alaimo’s packing a not-so-secret weapon: his award-winning Coyote whiskey, distilled from Olathe corn and “aged for at least two hours.” The spirit won a Silver Award at the Colorado Distillery Festival. He’ll pair the whiskey with homemade ginger ale, “our signature flavor combination” at the Still. The Science of Cocktails is next Saturday, June 28 at the Oak Street Gondola Plaza. “Top-shelf” entry is at 6:30 p.m. and includes private mixology demonstrations, samples of special drinks and appetizers, and a chance to vote on Best Beverage; General Admission, at 8:30 p.m., offers gourmet desserts and dancing. There’ll be a cash bar, a silent auction and a DJ. Suggested attire is “creative cocktail.”
Sarah Holbrooke, Pinhead’s new executive director, is looking forward to the Cocktail fete – “I’ve heard from everyone that it’s a great, super-fun party” – nearly as much as she is two of Pinhead’s newest scientific programs, or “Mini Missions,” as they’re known in Pinhead-ese. Both launch Monday, June 23. Code Clubhouse is an eight-week course in which kids learn to code in the ubiquitous computer language, Java. And then there is Bug Camp, a four-day crash course in all things entomological. “I have a 12-year-old who is participating,” Holbrooke said, excitement rising in her voice, “and I am the Mom who picks up spiders in the house and moves them outdoors.” Telluride arachnids are bupkis compared to the Hemiptera Holbrooke tussled with in Brooklyn, including an enormous (and infamous) variety of cockroach. “I would grab those huge, hideous water bugs with my hands,” she exclaimed, “and feed them to the chickens!”
The Science of Bugs will cover bug biology, anatomy, and evolution; by the end of the course, students will have their own insect collection to take home. No prior computer programming experience is necessary for Mini Mission: Code Clubhouse, though kids who are familiar with Java are welcome to enroll. For more on these and other Pinhead programs, and to buy tickets for the Science of Cocktails fundraiser – all proceeds of which will support Pinhead programming – visit pinheadinstitute.org or call 970/369-5190.
Cosmos and Cosmos
Holbrooke intends to add summer stargazing to Pinhead’s programming. “The dark sky is incredible here in Telluride,” she pointed out, “And we need to take more advantage of it.” Over the next week, there’ll be numerous opportunities to take in, and learn more about, the night sky, even if you don’t own a telescope. Here is a rundown.
This Saturday evening, members of the Black Canyon Astronomy Club tote their telescopes to Ridgway State Park for the June edition of its Summer Skies series, which begins at 8:30 p.m. in the Visitor’s Center with a brief introduction, and then moves out-of-doors to see what’s in the sky that night. The weather forecast for Ridgway Saturday night is mostly clear, with a low of 47 degrees. Dress in layers and don’t forget a jacket (and even a hat and gloves if you’re so inclined – you’ll be standing around a lot).
If you’d rather spend Saturday evening stargazing indoors, you can do that too. Physics researcher and retired University of Arizona optical sciences professor Richard Powell has served as a member of the board of directors of the Large Binocular Telescope Corporation and has a serious interest in astrophotography. He worked in Tucson, and is a longtime summer resident of Lake City – dark skies in both places – and will be in Montrose this weekend to present Pictures of an Evolving Universe, images he has taken with his digital camera through an 8-inch telescope. The presentation will include “diffuse nebulae, in which new stars are being created, supernovas and planetary nebulae, produced by the death of stars, galaxies, and galactic collisions” that demonstrate “the origin and the makeup of the universe.” The 7:30 p.m. presentation takes place at First Presbyterian Church (1840 East Niagara Road). It is free of charge, and as Powell points out, there’s no scientific background required “to understand and enjoy the beautiful pictures.”
Next Wednesday through Saturday, June 25-June 28, brings the Black Canyon Astronomy Festival at Black Canyon National Park. What an ideal place for a local astronomy festival; there aren’t too many places around here where you can look back in time in two ways: down into a canyon, and out into space.
There will be a special presentation at the Astronomy Festival each evening on such topics as The Hubbub About Hubble, Photographing the Night Sky, and spectacular space objects you can see with your own two eyes – all followed by night sky viewing through telescopes. By day, there’ll be Learn the Sky workshops (how to use a planisphere, or star map; practice viewing celestial objects and constellations in advance of the evening’s viewing). You can view the Sun from 1:30-3 p.m. each afternoon. There’ll be “Astro-kids Activities” each day, too. Bring water, sunscreen and a hat for day programs, and binoculars, warm clothing and a flashlight with a red filter for evening. For more information, call BCNP between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at 970/641-2337.
Finally, happy news for fans of Neil deGrasse Tyson, head of the Hayden Planetarium at New York’s Museum of Natural History, host of the recent TV series Cosmos and frequent guest on The Daily Show and Colbert Report: he’s coming to town, The Big Town, meaning Denver. Tyson recently announced he’ll be giving a speaking tour and multimedia presentation shortly after the first of the New Year, and Denver is one of just six cities on his list. He’ll be there Friday, January 30; tickets just went on sale at NeildeGrasseTysonlive.com. The booking agency that is handling Tyson’s appearances also represents Anthony Bourdain and David Sedaris (in addition to everything else you admired about him for, add one more thing: Tyson has good taste in publicists). He also has the grand vision. “You’ll never find scientists leading armies into battle. You just won’t,” he once said. “Especially not astrophysicists – we see the biggest picture there is. We understand how small we are in the cosmos. We understand how fragile and temporary our existence is here on Earth.”