The weather outside is frightful

Back in the day they used to call it global warming – or even the greenhouse effect, a handy metaphor to explain how the earth’s atmosphere could be warming up. “They” back then meant Sen. Al Gore. In the 1980s I had the opportunity to hear Gore speak at environmental conferences and congressional hearings while I worked for the Ecological Society of America in Washington … Continue reading The weather outside is frightful

Bird sex and bar stools

Long ago and far away I was a field assistant studying bobolinks for one of my Cornell professors, Tom Gavin, as an undergraduate intern. I went out each morning into dew-drenched meadows at Cornell’s Biological Field Station at Shackelton Point on Oneida Lake, and watched tiny birds that had migrated thousands of miles from their winter home in South America to nest in upstate New … Continue reading Bird sex and bar stools

The illogic of Rudolph: Revisited

Back by popular demand (ok, mine), here’s my seasonal rant against Rudolph, first posted in 2011. No, this isn’t an environmental screed.  Rudolph and Santa actually seem to live a pretty low impact life in the North Pole, in that small self-contained community powered mostly by reindeer and elves.  And I accept the bad biology inherent in Christmas fantasies:  talking flying reindeer with electric noses … Continue reading The illogic of Rudolph: Revisited

Up on the roof

I took a bath the other day.  That’s not remarkable, but baths for me usually mean one thing:  I need to escape.  Retreat.  Hide from the world.  Nothing terrible had happened.  Giving in to the lure of the bathtub simply means I’ve been overexposed – too many people for too long with too little downtime.   In the tub, the outside world still exists, my obligations … Continue reading Up on the roof

Acknowledging the amazing

Speaking of bird brains, how’s this for train of thought:  last week’s story in the New York Times about bird migration made me think of a quote from a local pastor, which made me think of comedian Lewis C.K.  Trust me, it makes sense.  Really. The Times story reported how researchers at Baylor College of Medicine have identified specific neurons in pigeons’ brains that fire … Continue reading Acknowledging the amazing