I have never been a good fisherman. The few times that I have gone fishing I really caught nothing worthwhile. I could not take the few tiny fish that I did manage to hook off the hook. The sensation of them writhing and wriggling with their slimy bodies was too much for me to handle. I did once catch a large crab with a line and hook!

Well, knowing that my fishing skill for marine or other aquatic type fish is weak, I am going to go fishing in a more colloquial fashion. The concept of fishing to me is great. You bait a hook, cast it into water where you can't see it and then wait to see if anything bites. If and when it does, you have no idea of what actually took the bait as relates to size, species or desire. You need to fight it and remove it so you can tangibly observe the catch.

Well, here goes -- I am baiting the hook!

Since July 1997, I have published close to 30,000 words of editorial in this magazine. The content has obviously been related to drying as a unit operation and has included topics on specifying dryers, improving performance and drying principles as well as the recent series on dryer types.

Drying, as you know, is a very expansive topic. Not only are there many different types of drying systems, there is an almost infinite number of evolutions and custom systems. The materials to be dried are diverse and can have tremendous variations in feed and handling characteristics. There are numerous heat sources, control schemes and pollution control systems. The combinations and permutations of these process and equipment variables are vast. But mostly, each real-world application is unique. As such, I have always questioned the value of specificity to a wide audience. Would Joe, who is drying 5 kg of high-grade pharmaceuticals, have any interest in reading about Greg's 100 ton per hour mineral concentrate drying, Fred's cereal processing requirements or Steven's hazardous waste drying requirements?

How technical are you? Would a column explaining a drying cycle on a psychrometric chart be of interest, not only to you but your colleagues as well? What about a molecular explanation of the drying phenomena? Would you like to know what types of test instruments to purchase and how to gather meaningful data from your process with them?

You see, I want to cover topics that will be of interest to you. I am baiting the hook with your fancy.

And Now Let Me Cast Out

As professionals who are involved in the process of drying day in and day out, and specifically from an operational standpoint, you must be curious about certain aspects of your operation. Perhaps you have justified an operating occurrence in a way to satisfy your curiosity but are not certain of your explanation. Isn't there something that you have always wondered about? No, I wasn't referring to the pyramids or if we actually did land on the moon, but rather as it relates to drying.

Let me know. I will gladly accept any e-mail this column will generate and sort them out by groups of interest.

Speaking of casting out, the knots that you tie the sinkers to the line are kind of important! What I mean is they need to be good knots that will not release the sinker as a flying projectile accelerated to great distances by the flex of the rod. Like I said, I am not a particularly good fisherman. Actually, "bad" would be more accurate. I cast one such projectile in Saint Lucia, an estuary on the southeastern side of South Africa. The line went limp and sound ceased to exist only long enough to allow the sinker to fly half-way across the river, where it impacted a boat with a huge clunk. To date, I still have not seen four grown occupants rise from their seats with such haste. I innocently stood there pretending I had a good tension on the line while it blew in the wind. I am ashamed to say that I didn't do any further fishing to find out what damage I had caused.