This is a Post About Porcupines

Not every juicy morsel works in every recipe. As a writer, I often come across something meaty, think, HUH! and then drag the link to a rarely visited desktop folder because, you know, I’m not writing a piece about using a dildo in zero gravity. (This time.) (Note to self: Pitch story on space-appropriate sex […] …

This is a Post About Porcupines

Beetles, Time Travelers

This post originally appeared March 10, 2017. Enjoy! In the summer of 2011, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History was in the process of doing some bug relocation. Specifically, they were moving some of their beetles from the museum building downtown out to a storage facility in the suburbs—specifically, the non-plant-eating scarabs. It was […] …

Beetles, Time Travelers

Color Theories

Summer is coming. In a few months the foothills surrounding my home will turn blonde, then grey. Streams will dwindle, then peter out. After fire season begins, everything will be covered in ash. That’s the reality of summer in the Sierra Nevada foothills these days. But right now it’s spring, and what a spring. The […] …

Color Theories

The First Problematic Robot

Sophia the Robot has been getting a lot of hackles up for raising the spectre of female humanoids that have more rights than female humans; for the creepy child version that’s supposed to teach little girls to love science, tech, engineering and mathematics; and for the generally weird way her handlers conflate robot rights and […] …

The First Problematic Robot

Trip Schooling

I pulled my 6th grader out of school for a week to hit the road. I adore his public school teachers. They work their hearts out. But an oversized shoebox of a classroom is not enough to contain the curiosity or educational needs of kids who know there’s a real world out there that you […] …

Trip Schooling

Sour Grass

You’ve probably heard that California is in the middle of a gorgeous super bloom. News stories have been reporting both on the flowers and the flower-lovers who’ve flocked to them–causing traffic jams and, in some cases, stomping on the very blooms they came to see. (Some people even landed a helicopter in an Antelope Valley […] …

Sour Grass

The Calendar Made of Earth

This post originally published May 12, 2015 With a calendar and Google Earth on my computer, you’d think I wouldn’t need the horizon any more, but I find I need it more than ever. After 15 years living in the same house tucked into the West Elk Mountains of western Colorado, I moved this winter […] …

The Calendar Made of Earth

Redux: Every decision my kids made me make in one day

Note: This is the most popular post I ever wrote on this site and it was basically written by my kids! Decision fatigue is real. Decision fatigue is the mental exhaustion and reduced willpower that comes from making many, many micro-calls every day. My modern American lifestyle, with its endless variety of choices, from a […] …

Redux: Every decision my kids made me make in one day

Less Harm

I grew up with guns. Who didn’t? We had Han Solo blasters and rifles that shot little copper pellets ducks would eat and die from. My dad kept an assortment of firearms, defense weapons, hunting rifles, a couple shotguns for when we went out for rabbit or quail. He never made a big deal out […] …

Less Harm

Thinking About Water At The Waterway

The other day I thought a ghost was flushing the toilet in my house. I was standing in the kitchen when I heard a slight moan, followed by a metallic-sounding whang and a rush of water. But I was the only one home. I was nervous for about two seconds, until I remembered the sump […] …

Thinking About Water At The Waterway

Strawberries in the blast zone

“When one is alone and lonely, the body gladly lingers in the wind or the rain, or splashes into the cold river, or pushes through the ice-crusted snow. Anything that touches.” –Mary Oliver, “Leaves and blossoms along the way: A poem” It was 95 degrees out on the day I drove towards the wildfire. I […] …

Strawberries in the blast zone

Update: Fear of Sleep

Earlier this month, the International RBD Study Group published its findings that a certain class of sleep disorder is strongly linked to the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease later in life. As the group’s name implies, the disorder is known as RBD – REM sleep behaviour disorder, which causes you act out your dreams to […] …

Update: Fear of Sleep

Redux: Water in Yomibato

In 2016, I went to the Peruvian Amazon on assignment for National Geographic. I focused on a group of indigenous people, the Matsiguenka, living inside Manu National Park. One of my sources was Alejo Machipango, a hunter, farmer, and member of the water committee for the village of Yomibato. Alejo is about 34, but I […] …

Redux: Water in Yomibato