Built To Last

When the house I live in was built, Leonardo da Vinci was a young man with the Mona Lisa still in his future, and Michelangelo was a toddler. The first part of our house, a small fortified tower in rural France, was built in 1478. When the stones were laid for the tower, Christopher Columbus hadn’t…

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Built to Last

A few days ago, I came upon a technique for preparing chicken. It was a fairly simple thing, butterflying chicken filets, and I hadn’t even been looking up how to do that (I don’t know what I had in my search term anymore, but it definitely contained the word ‘butterfly’). There were a few images.…

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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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Fewer Footprints

When we were out on the Pacific Coast in California a couple of weeks ago, two things in particular caught my attention: One was the lack of shorebirds, the skittering types that chase waves and scurry in tight huddles. Maybe it was just the wrong season. There were signs posted indicating that snowy plovers were…

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Making Choices

I was doing some early morning grocery shopping this morning, and I was buying avocados. Above the avocado bin were two types of produce bags: a roll of the thin plastic bags, and a stack of bags made of recycled paper. This might seem like a tangential story to begin a post about World Pangolin…

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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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Accidental Questions

Some of the best experiments are the ones that are accidental. Viewed from the right perspective, they can offer unanticipated insight into questions we didn’t even know needed to be asked. Discovering what happens when we release large amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere in a (geologically-speaking) relatively short amount of time is one…

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Plant Plastics

An Australian company named Zeoform has been in the news recently for its patented technology of producing a new kind of plastic that uses neither fossil fuels nor toxic chemicals in its production or materials. The input materials are water, and anything from landfill fiber-based material such as old newspapers or used clothing. The end…

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Renewable Spring

In the spirit of eternal renewal, on this first day of spring I thought I’d talk about plastics. Infinitely adaptable, modern plastics are integral to modern life more than almost any other material. Plastics are the very stuff of modernity. Take away the excessive packaging, the unnecessary plastic bags, the plastic drink bottles and even…

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