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Vermont Braces For Hyperstorms

I think I am too much a coward ever to study climatology, because there are so very many ways for the world to become suddenly and dangerously inhospitable, in a very short stretch of time. For several weeks I had been distracted by the possibility that the great Atlantic conveyor might be about to halt ( as it has done …


Thirsty Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney came to town, today, to give a reading of his poetry at Mead Chapel. I am usually a sluggard about attending events like these, but today I went and did not regret it. It was a wonderful reading - Seamus Heaney turns out to be a gentle man, full of warmth and humor, and his poems are very, very good. Before reading each one, he would give an unobtrusive little explanation o…



We went today up to Burlington to get a whole bunch of shots for our impending trip to China. I got two shots in each arm, one each for flu, typhoid, and hepatitis, while tetanus and diptheria shared a syringe like gentlemen. Fifteen minutes in the doctor's office cost me $72, and the same for the better half, although we were in there together. All together, the shots came to half the …



Sometimes I think every profession has its own special niche for the milquetoast authoritarian; those colorless and highly annoying people who thrive on being right about matters most arcane. Everyone has encountered the obsessive trivia hound, movie geek, or sports nut at work or in school, but it turns out there are whole little niche professions for the insufferable know-it-all; profession…


Corner Case, Edge Case

I got a message in my mailbox the other day entitled 'highschool fun', and it's only by some small miracle I didn't delete it before noticing it actually came from one of my former high school classmates. Isn't that sad, somehow?

One of the nice things about Apple's OS X mail client is that you can configure it to not download images, so that the ten daily 'high school barnyard fun' ema…


Church Supper

The most amazing crystal blue day, with a crazy patchwork of fall colors scattered all across the mountains. The fall has been taking its sweet time with us, doing all kinds of ochre and subdued yellow things since the middle of August, unusually early, and suddenly we are in the middle of the real leaf season. The most magical thing about fall in Vermont is how different each year is from t…



I was picking someone up at the Burlington airport the other day, and a minor flight delay gave me the opportunity to discover their handy observation tower. It's just a little room, with an upstairs viewing area that looks like a control tower in miniature - wraparound tilting glass walls, and some tall stools set along the parapet, so you can sit and rest your elbows as you watch the plane…



What a bunch of craven, craven people in the U.S. Senate. Sometimes I feel like I'm living in Bizarro World, where everything is inverted; I can't think of any other way that Bush could be making a weak, disjointed argument for attacking another country, and everybody votes for it.

A few weeks ago I was watching one of those crossfire-type argument shows on television ( in hotels I am a…



I've now had a chance to watch the newly-minted Transportation Security Administration in action at airports in Burlington, Cleveland, Chicago, Newark, Seattle, Harrisburg, and Charlottesville, and I think I have figured out President Bush's master plan for saving the economy while protecting us from terrorism, all at the same time.

First, we hire boatloads of very large people, put them…


Going Proustian

I landed in Chicago Friday to a terrific wind - the clouds were practically shooting across the sky. Anyone and everyone here will indignantly explain to you that Chicago is only the eleventh-windiest city in the country ( the Twin Cities are number one ), and that the place is called the 'Windy City' in deference to the verbosity of local politicians, but on Friday it hardly seemed to matter.…


High School Reunion

Ladies and gentlemen, your time is up, so please put down your pencils and make your way into the cocktail lounge. We're going to be having a little high school reunion. Who got fat? Who lost hair? Whose skin turned blue from drinking colloidal silver?

Tomorrow I find out what ten years has done to my classmates, a…



A lovely gem from the Staunton Spectator, a Virginia newspaper, in its April 1864 issue:

"A rage for marrying black people has lately taken possession of the Republican party."

Now, how likely do you think it is we'll see that sentence in print again?…

Greatest Hits

The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel
The story of America's most awesome infrastructure project.

Argentina on Two Steaks A Day
Eating the happiest cows in the world

Scott and Scurvy
Why did 19th century explorers forget the simple cure for scurvy?

No Evidence of Disease
A cancer story with an unfortunate complication.

Controlled Tango Into Terrain
Trying to learn how to dance in Argentina

Dabblers and Blowhards
Calling out Paul Graham for a silly essay about painting

Attacked By Thugs
Warsaw police hijinks

Dating Without Kundera
Practical alternatives to the Slavic Dave Matthews

A Rocket To Nowhere
A Space Shuttle rant

Best Practices For Time Travelers
The story of John Titor, visitor from the future

100 Years Of Turbulence
The Wright Brothers and the harmful effects of patent law

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Every Damn Thing

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