“The Martian” and Ice Age Astronauts

Two nights ago I sat in a theater watching the film “The Martian.” I loved seeing a viable spacecraft making gravitational slingshots around planets while a stranded, potato-growing astronaut claimed himself the first colonist on Mars. What’s there not to love? Meanwhile, in my coat pocket I carried an object from an entirely different age […]

Life on Another Planet, The Atacama in Bloom

Rain has been falling on the driest non-polar desert in the world, famous for parts of it not seeing a drop of rain for centuries. The Atacama Desert in South America is caught in the rain shadow of the Andes on one side, and cold dry air washing in from an Antarctica ocean current on the […]

Guest Post: the Grandmother Hypothesis

Recently I’ve started seeing examples of those much-mocked New York Times trend stories that are not about Millennials, the way the trendiest trend stories usually are. In the articles I’ve been noticing, the trend-setters are Baby Boomers — who are, according to the Times, relocating to New York City to help raise the grandkids. Now […]

Seeing Through Time

In the bespangled Pioneer Saloon in Paisley, Oregon, hangs a picture on a wall of a fit, gray mustached archaeologist out in the field. Written in pen, the name at the bottom of the photo is Dr. Poop. Dennis Jenkins is his actual name, a senior archaeologist at the University of Oregon. Jenkins leads paleo digs in […]

Boobies Behaving Badly

In my last post I made the case for why we are not, in fact, slaves to nature and our genes. Today allow me to do the opposite. First let me set the stage. You are on a tiny island – maybe the size of a few city blocks – looking out to sea. You could […]

Animals in their Seasons

Bowhunting season in Western Colorado opened yesterday, which means the rut is underway, the next season coming into view. By the time you see this, I will be sitting in the quiet of the woods with my 12 year old boy listening for bugling elk, their haunting, whale-like calls rising through dusk aspens and sea-green […]

Snark Week: The Wrath of the Sloth

If there’s a landmass that has them, get off of it now. As you’ll learn in this blog post, the last thing you want to do is find yourself trapped in a confined space with sloths, and I consider a continent a confined space. For starters, the sloth is the only animal listed as one […]

The Urge to Go

I couldn’t have been any more than 7 or 8 years old when I told my mom I was running away. Her response was, “Take me with you.” I grew up with her, just the two of us. She was a wanderer, not happy unless she was going somewhere. Her restlessness had us moving once […]