NASA has reassured me that there’s no reason to freak out a week from today. That’s when an asteroid 150 feet in diameter, or half the length of an American football field, will pass closer to Earth than any other asteroid that we’ve seen coming our way. The flyby distance is 17,200 miles, or one-tenth [..
Located in Portland
Last update: April 13th, 2016 at 12:11 am
18 post clicks in the past 90 days
what passes as light
A few years ago I had the privilege of working on a project with the namesake of Bryan Potter Design. Every year since I’ve received from Bryan a card commemorating the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. It arrives in the mail a a few days before the MLK Day holiday. The cards are always [...]
I entered the room of a dying woman, my father’s widow, living her final days under hospice care. Her eyes searched through the dim light, settling on my face for a moment then fixing on something, what I couldn’t tell. The proverbial distant shore drawing closer? Or the landscape of a drug-induced waking dream?
Can you feel nostalgic about something you don’t remember? There’s surely a clever word for the feeling, but I can’t find it. I’m pondering this, precisely 62 years and 68 minutes after my birth, because I stumbled upon the address of my first home. Thanks to Google Street View, I’ve can see th
The growing call for arming teachers is getting louder than gunfire. Forget that the tactic would protect students as well as holding dynamite over a chemistry class Bunsen burner. What about the cost in these fiscally fraught times? Here are quick back-of-a-napkin estimates: 7.2 million teachers nationwide multiplied by $5
Someone said it’s harder to get a driver’s license than buy a semi-automatic rifle like the one used in the massacre in Connecticut. Needing to renew my license, I decided to test the claim today. After the Oregon DMV in North Portland was so efficient — or my timing so good, I wondered why bother with t
I’m trying, unsuccessfully, to imagine my teachers of yesteryear packing heat at school to protect me from crazy people armed with assault rifles. Not that shootings at schools happened in my youth, a comparatively quaint time of many fewer guns and people who killed with them. Now gun zealots of many stripes want to
How can I pick up our seven year old, Atticus, at school in a few hours without imagining the slaughter today at a Connecticut elementary school? Will I scan the surroundings for danger, perhaps a sniper on the bridges overlooking his school? Should I scrutinize every adult I encounter on campus to see if they’re [...
If only I could remember the first time a song created a scene so vivid that I suddenly found myself in an unknown place populated with unknown people. “Norwegian Wood” may hold the honor. The song debuted in December 1965 with the release of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album. I turned 15 that month and [...]
When my wife, Suzame Tong, told me that she has a new colleague at Jive Software who has my last name, I asked if the young woman has ancestral roots in Indiana. My roots run deep in the state, especially on my father’s side. So when the colleague said yes, I set out to learn if [...]
Maybe the day will return when milk is delivered to the front door and the doctor makes house calls. I’m old enough to remember when both happened, though my children would doubt such a world ever existed. Oddly, the more distinct memory is milk. The chiming rattle of bottles in the milk man’s crate, the [...]
This memory never fades: the sound of the cook’s spatula clanging on the spacious griddle, his occasional cry of “Seaboard!” (code for to-go orders), and the smell of sizzling onions. I watched him from a swivel stool at the counter of the Royal Castle burger joint in Maitland, Florida in 1967. I was 16.
It’s been a long time since a work of art has lodged in my thoughts as firmly as this sculpture carved from a tree born in the time and place of Napoleon. And I’ve only seen photographs of Guiseppe Penone‘s Cedro di Versailles, or Versailles Cedar. Owned by a private collector, the sculpture is no [...]
I like to grow things. I like practical solutions. And I like mischief with a purpose. Thus my immediate attraction to two stories about innovative ways to grow fruit. The first: nurseries developing what they call fruit salad trees—trees grafted to bear several different fruits from the same trunk. It’s perfect
Via the Hubble Space Telescope, we now know that some starlight in the night sky has taken 13.2 billion years to reach Earth. That distance to newly discovered galaxies is so vast that the mind can’t visualize it. (In one year alone, light travels nearly 6 trillion miles.) Unfortunately, it’s not hard to visuali
The increasingly bitter dispute between China and Japan over islands most Americans have never heard off is hard to understand from our distant shores. Why so much frothing rage, especially on the streets of Chinese cities? Yes, some of it is fanned by the government as part of a propaganda war. But step back and [...]
In need of inspiration this late summer day? What always works for me is reading about someone’s simple act of defiance. So thanks to Jerry Peterson, a physics professor at the University of Colorado in Boulder. After the state Board of Regents voted to allow people with permits to carry concealed guns at most places
Read this list of so-called crutch words and your mind will start monitoring everything you say with all the vigor of spy agencies checking our emails and phone calls. It will also listen for these words in the speech of others, an enlightening—and at times irritating—distraction. My seven-year-old son’s f
Reading someone’s facial expressions is usually a fool’s errand. Mine have been misread many times, often to my detriment. Much has been written about President George W. Bush’s face at the moment he learned of the first 9/11 attack, when terrorists crashed a jetliner into the north tower of the World Trad
I keep thinking about her. I don’t know her name, and we’ve never met. All I have is two seconds of video showing her working, likely in the 1950s. The attraction is neither lust nor love but nagging curiosity. Maybe it’s because she’s the only woman whose face is visible among a sea of men [...]
When people learn I grew up in Florida, they invariably ask about hurricanes and alligators. They’re skeptical when I say alligators were scarce in the late 1950s and through most of the 1960s, when I was a kid. We lived on Lake Sybelia in Maitland, now part of the blob-like sprawl of Orlando. I practically [...]
Paul Ryan proves I’m poorly versed in the dark arts of selecting prospective vice presidents. My simple mind predicted Mitt Romney would never choose a running mate whose chief policy proposal focuses a laser light on the would-be president’s chief liability: questions about how he made a fortune and taxes he p
On Sunday night I watched the live video feed from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab as Curiosity approached the surface of Mars. The tension and then joy that I felt were mere glimmers of what the scientists and engineers experienced, judging from scenes at Mission Control. When their celebration subsided, my first thought w
Numbers don’t lie, according to the well-worn truism. “Juiced by Climate Change: Extreme Weather on Steroids” quantifies the dire changes befalling us. This on a day when Big Oil and King Coal’s puppets-on-a-string Republican senators take part in another Senate hearing to deny the undeniable. ItR
Last month I vacationed for 14 glorious days in the Bahamas, dividing my time between the islands of Exuma and Eleuthera. During my week on Exuma, the Bahamians voted in national elections, held every five years. Their fervor was inspiring. Nearly every car was festooned with flags of one of the four main parties, like [...
Many people fret about Mitt Romney’s treatment of his family dog nearly thirty years ago than about his weather-vane political convictions. I ignored the story until recently. Sure the facts troubled me. Inhumane is a mild way of describing Seamus’ 12-hour vacation trip in a crate atop the family station wagon. But I
Walking among the graves of strangers on a sunny spring afternoon made me neither sad nor worried about mortality. It did have another effect: the sparse information on tombstones left me imagining the lives of people from other times and other places. They came to life again, however briefly, as I pictured the families the
When my late father retired, he began an emotional quest: to learn as much as he could about the father he never knew. His father walked out never to return when Dad wasn’t yet a month old. The year was 1928. My grandmother, twenty-one at the time, was a newspaper reporter as was the husband [...]
If only I could take back the mouse clicks. The ones that showed how much had changed in the once out-of-way neighborhood in Nashua, New Hampshire, home of my early childhood. I haven’t been back since moving to Florida in 1959. It was spring. I was in the third grade. Then this week while researching [...]
What’s in a last name? Nothing really if you think of it as a mere collection of letters. Just the opposite though if you consider the effect of hearing it aloud. Upon hearing my name an image comes to mind: an anchor thrown from a fast-drifting boat snagging the bottom. It claims and holds my [...]