An Arctic Encounter

Traveling in the north country, the open-skied Arctic of North America, you can’t help thinking of the first people and their journey across the Bering Land Bridge to this side of the world. They would have arrived in what is now Alaska and the adjoining Yukon Territory. The landscape has not changed much in the […]

Guest Post: The Year of the Flood

Until last Sunday, the Colorado River ended in Yuma, Arizona, backed up against an unremarkable span of concrete called the Morelos Dam on the Mexican border. Every drop of water above the dam was already spoken for -– supplying water to Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Denver as well as irrigating farm fields in […]

A Bookseller And His Well

In the May issue of the Rotarian Magazine next month – for those of you who can find it – you will be able to read the full version of a story I did last year on toxic mine runoff in highland Bolivia. It’s a nice story of a tiny valley high in the mountains […]

On Tap, Special Reserve

If you were a kid in the eighties in California, you might have done things like this: Save the bathwater and flush the toilets with it. Turn off the shower when you soaped up. Let it mellow. You might have even had a Rube Goldberg-like contraption like the one my dad made to use water […]

Much As I Loved It, I’m Not Going Back

Behind science news stories, which are facts or predictions of facts, is a reality which gives them their context and sometimes their meaning. Science magazine, January 23, 2014: “A new analysis . . . indicates that modern-day rumblings in the New Madrid Seismic Zone are not echoes of the 1811 to 1812 quakes, however. Instead, […]

24 Reasons to Ignore Best Places Lists

The latest issue of Sunset Magazine arrived in my mail last week, and the cover story immediately caught my eye — “24 Best Places to Live and Work 2014.” “Looking for the perfect place to launch a career? Start a family? Just relax? We’ve found the ideal city, town, or neighborhood for you.” For instance, […]

What Luis Alvarez Did

Ben:  OK, everyone. Forget Tesla. It’s time to start obsessing about Luis Alvarez. [That's Luis Alvarez in the photo, standing in front of the Great Artiste. This post began, as so much in life does, with a Twitter conversation.  Ben Lillie, a physicist and writer, began it; other people added to it.  One of those […]

Too hot for moose

Over the last few weeks, stories of moose die-offs have made the news. The New York Times reported that one moose population in Minnesota has all but vanished and another has fallen by more than half. Similar declines have happened in New Hampshire and British Columbia. While scientists aren’t sure of the cause, they suspect […]