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"Science says the first word on everything, and the last word on nothing" - Victor Hugo

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After the Rain

It is still January, but the plants here don’t seem to know it. The evergreen pear trees along my street burst into flurries of cloud-colored blossoms last weekend. Along my neighbor’s garage, the hedgehog aloe shows off its orange flowers. Elsewhere, there are fingerprints of the recent storms’ destruction: beaches scoured of sand, roads crumbling...

Ratcheded Down

I was having an email exchange with a longtime friend a few months ago, and we got to talking about our long-ago youth—specifically, the workplace where we met, when we were both in our teens. As is often the case in these late-evening conversations, the discussion turned to the subject of who else among us has survived from that ancient era: 1974 to...

January Is Not Our Friend

January is such a bitch. I have personal reasons to feel this and so do most of the people I talk to: bad things are happening or anniversaries of bad things have come around again. People are losing their jobs; they’re having non-trivial surgical procedures; kids are having urgent psychiatric problems; relatives are seriously sick; people’s mental...

Overflow

I saw a bucket of yeast at the brewery last week and I thought it looked like joy. Not because beer is delicious (though it is), but because it could not be contained. As the beer fermented in a giant tank, the yeast dribbled from a pipe into the five-gallon bucket, bubbled and pulsed like a heart, rose to the brim, and—in frothy streams that...

Happy 10th Birthday Finkbeiner Test!

Yesterday I was interviewed about the Finkbeiner Test for the Change Artist Podcast (episode will go live at a later date). While gathering up some links to share, I realized that it was exactly ten years ago — January 17, 2013 — that Ann wrote the LWON post that would become the world-renowned Finkbeiner Test.  Time flies. And yet, the Finkbeiner...

Fear of Mountain Lions

My wife pieced together a kill in our driveway, sending me pictures of deer tracks posed in a casual walk followed by a sprawl, deer fur in the snow, and faint signs of melt, a couple hours old at most. The next picture was of cat tracks the size of an adult human palm, a good sized mountain lion dragging the deer. A path like that of a saucer sled...

where ideas come from (wrong answers only)

Definitely an idea. (In my mind, ideas look like the Ghostwriter.) First: what is an idea? Its physical manifestation must be some clump of brain cells activating in some very specific pattern, but the result feels like something more. In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert describes ideas as beings that travel from person to person, bestowing their...

Hope for the Alarmed: An Interview with Madeline Ostrander

Madeline Ostrander is a passionate and talented science journalist and a good friend. Her must-read book At Home on an Unruly Planet: Finding Refuge on a Changed Earth is on shelves now. KATE: What initially sparked this project for you? MADELINE: Like most people who’ve been writing about climate change for a long time, I’ve dealt with...

I Hate This Canyon. But I Love That Other One. Why?

Browns Canyon, very close to, but different from, Bighorn Sheep Canyon on U.S. 50. Two canyons loom large in my life right now, and have for the past year and a half. This is not a metaphor for something, although maybe it could be. One canyon I visit on purpose, for joyful hikes with my baby, my older daughter, and sometimes a friend or two....

Roaring Lion Uncaged

On the eve of 1942, Winston Churchill was in Ottawa on a Zelenskyy-style rally-the-allies speech in the Canadian parliament before the next “invasion season” of WWII was to arrive, having come straight from doing the same in America (you can watch the speech here, known best by its closing line, ‘some chicken, some neck’). He still had his speaking...

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