Embroidered Learning

I had to learn two very different skill sets as a girl: needlepoint and geography. Who would have thought that at one time, girls were expected to learn the two together? What an unexpected interdisciplinary education! Among the women in my family, right up to my generation in the 1970s, needlework and yarn work were…

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Stone Cold Facts

Switzerland just experienced its coldest winter in thirty years; back in October, several meteorologists predicted this winter would be Europe’s coldest in a century. From my vantage point on the Franco-Swiss border, where temperatures didn’t get above freezing and were further chilled by a strong northerly wind, I can testify that January was desperately cold…

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Rendering Unseen Stories

I was recently alerted to this lovely collection of maps on Canva – a collection that isn’t meant to provide physical directions but to provide inspiration for design. Map-making has almost always been a way of telling stories at least as much as it has been a way to find places.   This particular collection, which…

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Finding Patterns

It’s a fact in the Western world that we have, for a very long time, operated on the assumption that we humans have consciousness cornered. Whether we adhere to a religion or no, we have mostly acted as Genesis 1:28 commands: “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over…

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Adding It Up

Not so very long ago, processing large amounts of data was a tedious business, riddled with human error, machine failings and limited reach. These days, information availability can feel like a tsunami. There’s so much of it, all the time, all around. It’s become easier than ever to share information and images, sometimes involuntarily. The…

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Flavor Assumptions

I walked out of the house this bright morning and found a small blossom on the rosemary bush near our entrance, the first one of spring. We moved in almost twenty years ago, and the plant was massive and gnarled, even back then. According to the neighbors at the farm next door, the rosemary bush…

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Oxbows and Meanders

I found this tangled map, created in 1944, over on the ever-fruitful NASA web site for the Earth Observatory. It shows historical changes along a stretch of the Mississippi River. I stumbled upon it while looking at a small collection of river surveys from 1865, and comparing them to modern Google maps. There was this…

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A Little Perspective

It’s been a rough start to 2015, so I thought I’d step back and look at a bigger picture. NASA released an image of a section of one of our nearest neighbors, galactically-speaking: the Andromeda galaxy, also known as M31. The image itself contains 1.5 billion pixels and represents the largest image ever released by…

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Subterranean Lines

The bulk of the fracking boom currently underway in the United States is not only in one of the least populated and remote states, North Dakota (population 724,000 – and it’s only that large because of the fracking boom and all the new workers there), but it also takes place mostly underground. Sure, there are…

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Invisible Flow Dynamics

By now, most people have heard about the vast amount of plastic that ends up in the world’s oceans, and how, once there, plastic bags, wrapping, toys, really all the stuff we make and use in this Age of Plastic, gets ground and beaten into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic until it is no…

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