Cartography of Extremes

Maybe it’s the instinctual part of humans that makes us obsessed with the biggest, the strongest, the highest, the illustrious measurements that dazzle. Whether it’s the highest mountain, the broadest lake, the longest river, we look for inspiration in extremes. Whether it’s justified or not, we do the same in societies. The biggest economies, the…

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All Abuzz

A friend challenged me to take nature photos for a week, and it resulted in several very nice shots of our garden, if I do say so myself. But one of the most enjoyable aspects of the exercise took place when I went to take pictures of the two lavender bushes in front of our…

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Heating Up, Cooling Off

It’s a paradox of life that what gives us pleasure in moderation often gets us into trouble when we get greedy. I’m not talking about food, alcohol, cigarettes, chocolate, or any of the other things that might come to mind. Because the second-highest heat index ever recorded in a city was marked today in Bandar…

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Abundance of Sun

June 21 marks the longest day of this year in the northern hemisphere, and thus, it’s officially summer. Happy Summer Solstice! At least here in south-eastern France, the dog days have already begun – hot and sunny and cloudless and dry. We’re in the midst of the year’s first proper heat wave, with the temperatures…

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Six of One

I have an affinity for hybrids of technology and nature, whether in art or engineering. There was the Coniferous Clock made of cedar, fresh and green in spring, brown and withered in winter, that told a simple tale of a year’s passing. Here’s a new take on using plants in a sleek design: The CityTree,…

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Running Evensong

The bad news today was that I spent most of it trying – with the assistance of an electrician and a building contractor – to figure out why the electricity in our house kept going off for no apparent reason. One of those unnerving household events that I’d almost rather attribute to a poltergeist than…

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Feeling the Spin

When I was a kid, I used to lie on my back in Golden Gate Park, or on Ocean Beach in San Francisco, or in the meadows of the Marin Headlands, and feel the Earth turn. I remember the feeling, spinning backwards (always backwards) through space. We hadn’t yet seen the images of the Earth…

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Waste Not

Many years ago, I was on vacation on a small Caribbean island. The hotel was new, and a man from one of the neighboring rooms found out just how new when he turned on the bathroom faucet, only to have the water run from the sink straight on to his feet. The drainpipe hadn’t been…

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Felling Heritage

People used to intimately know places like the¬†Bialowieza Forest, the last primeval forest in Europe, the wild places that made us what we are. Now these place are relegated to small corners. They mainly inhabit our stories, little bits of baggage we carry with our culture through the millennia. Spanning the border between Poland and…

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Enduring Collection

The image below, of bottles and some kind of a collection, immediately made me think of marine life. Maybe it’s the small, irregular pieces carefully arrayed beneath each bottle. Maybe it’s the size of the bottles and their tidy alignment, paired against the sandy randomness of their spilled contents.   I thought it might be…

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