Michael

On My Own

October 16, 2012

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 was Saturday, […]

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Inner Child

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October 9, 2012

It’s been a long time since a work of art has lodged in my thoughts as securely 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, a daunting carving that reveals the sapling the tree […]

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Fruitful News

September 29, 2012

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 for our small urban […]

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Spank Me, Teacher

September 26, 2012

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 visualize another […]

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Unburdened by Hate

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September 18, 2012

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, the government is fanning some of it as part of a propaganda war. But step back and consider how […]

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Simple Act of Defiance

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September 17, 2012

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 on […]

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Mark My Words

September 13, 2012

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 frequent use of actually was endearing […]

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In a Look

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September 11, 2012

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 Trade Center eleven years […]

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My Mystery Woman

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August 29, 2012

I keep thinking about her. I don’t know her name, and we’ve never met. All I have are 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 […]

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Ignorance Is Profit

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August 26, 2012

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 […]

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Tax Cuts and Baby Bans

August 14, 2012

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 paid on the money. The […]

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Curiosity of Time

August 10, 2012

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 was that these […]

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Denying the Darkness

August 1, 2012

Numbers don’t lie, according to the well-worn truism. Case in point is this scorecard: “Juiced by Climate Change: Extreme Weather on Steroids,” which quantifies the dire changes befalling us. The numbers arrive 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. It’s easy […]

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