A Few Good Maps

I’ve probably said this before, but I really like maps. In college, I bought a huge collection of used maps at a geography department sale to use as wrapping paper. When we lived in Oregon, we got a gigantic one of the state to put on the living room wall. (We also got an even […]

Holiday Redux: Funny How the Knight Moves

  LWON is celebrating the holidays by re-running some of our favorite posts. This post originally appeared in May 2014, but sadly, the fickle inhabitants of this household have moved on to blackjack and Michigan rummy. * The jokers in the house are starting to learn the game of kings.  The set they play with […]

Rainbow Connection

The other day, as our kids played around a big, messy tree–one with patchy bark and drooping sickle-shaped leaves–a friend told me she was going to show me a picture of a eucalyptus she knew I would love. A eucalyptus? Not one of these troublesome trees, I thought. But then she held up her phone. I peered in […]

Window Seat

At 3 a.m., a quiet settles like fog around the neighborhood, freckled by a few bursts of sound. Sometimes there’s the whistle of an incoming train. An acoustical trick might carry sea lion barks from distant buoys, the deep buzz of fishing boats, even a wave pummeling the rocks. Occasionally, a single too-loud bird call […]

The Last Word

September 8 – 12, 2014 The week began with a greatest hit from Cameron, a 2011 post that proved to be one of LWON’s most-visited—an ode to an astronomy professor who changed her mother’s life, Then came a new and no less viral post from Erik questioning the professional ethics of another academic, Henry Walton Jones, Jr., a professor of […]

Redux: Auditing Astronomy Class

This was first published in Dec 6, 2011 — it was originally a guest post, Cameron wasn’t yet an LWONer — and was honorable-mentioned for the American Institute of Physics’ 2012 science writing prize in the New Media category. Her mom sounds like a doll. I’m not sure exactly where this story begins, but maybe it’s […]

Things that Smell

My nose has been extra-sensitive lately. I can catch dog food at a hundred paces, both the kitchen and my still-diaper-wearing kids’ bedroom feel like odor minefields, and I have to walk along the lineup of barbecues at the nearby park with my shirt over my face. It’s a good thing I’m not an astronaut.

In Warm Water

Right now the ocean is glorious. In the evenings, even if the day hasn’t been too hot, you can throw yourself into the saltwater and float between the waves for a while without your teeth chattering. This is not normal.