Librarian’s Librarian

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The Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden, believes in citizens’ right to access information. “It should feel very special because it is very special,” she said, of the Library. “But it should be very familiar.” ILLUSTRATION BY BEN KIRCHNER; PHOTOGRAPH BY LEXEY SWALL / THE NEW YORK TIMES / REDUX

It has been too long since our last shout out, among dozens starting in 2011, to libraries and librarians, so we are thankful for this opportunity with a brief excerpt from the middle of this post on the New Yorker website:

THE LIBRARIAN OF CONGRESS AND THE GREATNESS OF HUMILITY

The values of Dr. Carla Hayden, the first woman and the first person of color in the position, can be seen in every aspect of the institution she runs.

…Mention her name to a New York Public Library staffer, and there’s a frisson of excitement; at her raucous and bustling sendoff in Baltimore, a high-school librarian, quoted in the Washington Post, called her a “rock star.”…

Design Worth Reading About

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INGO MECKMANN/PIAGGIO FAST FORWARD

Sometimes it makes more sense to look at a design rather than read about it. This story is in itself interesting (thanks to Wired) and that is because of the combination of the history of Piaggio and the character at the center of the design story:

IN THE SUMMER months of 2015, Jeffrey Schnapp and a few of his colleagues started collecting rideables. The hoverboard craze was in full swing, and OneWheels and Boosteds were showing up on roads and sidewalks. Schnapp and his co-founders rode, drove, and crashed everything they could find. For Schnapp, a Harvard professor and longtime technologist with a shaved head, pointy goatee, and a distinct Ben Kingsley vibe, this was market research. Continue reading

Jaguar & Other Surprises At Chan Chich Lodge

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I was just starting to think how surprisingly awesome broccoli is, when a guest at Chan Chich Lodge showed me the photo he took about an hour ago. It was taken using his phone, through the scope that our guide Luis had while they were on the morning Gallon Jug tour. That complements well, to say the least, the photo the guest took with just his phone last night. Continue reading

Broccoli & Other Suprises

JASHScover.jpgToday I finally listened to an episode of the Surprisingly Awesome podcast, a series we have linked to more than once, that had exactly the intended effect. I now care deeply about a vegetable that I did not care deeply about before.

The image to the left is from the publications page of Cornell Professor Thomas Björkman, who is featured in the podcast. He is the perfect straight man explainer to complement the podcast’s creatively curious hosts.

As we move our farm to table program forward at Chan Chich Lodge, this is a podcast I am sharing with Chef Ram, and you might enjoy it too so click the soundcloud banner below:

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Composting As Big Business

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Charles Vigliotti at his compost facility in Yaphank, N.Y. CreditGrant Cornett for The New York Times

The photo above looks almost surreal, but this is not fake news:

Fossils, In Technicolor, Can Get You Thinking

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Evidence of marine life that was thriving about 1.3 million years after the largest mass extinction on Earth has been found in what is now Paris Canyon in Idaho. Credit Jorge Gonzalez

The moment I saw this illustration above I was taken back to the books of my childhood–the ones my parents knew I liked the best, and a favored gift on birthdays, with fantastic illustrations of prehistoric creatures. These books also taught me the value of a public library, where I could triple my inventory for weeks at a time, and they kept my flashlight in use after lights out.  Thanks to illustrator Jorge Gonzaelez for this memory, and for providing another reason to appreciate the importance of the work of Nicholas St. Fleur and his contemporaries, the new generation of science writers who bring natural history to life:

After Earth’s Worst Mass Extinction, Life Rebounded Rapidly, Fossils Suggest

By Nicholas St. Fleur

One day when L. J. Krumenacker was a teenager, he left his home to hunt for fossils. He drove about an hour and a half to Paris Canyon in Bear Lake County in southeastern Idaho and stopped at a foothill covered in sagebrush. Mr. Krumenacker got out of his car, picked up the first large rock he saw and smashed it with a hammer, uncovering seven or eight fossilized shark teeth. Continue reading

Bee Mogul Is A Thing

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Bret Adee’s family operation provides more than two billion bees to farmers who need to pollinate their crops. Before the hives are moved to the California almond groves where they are used in January and February, they are kept on a cattle ranch at a safe distance from pesticide and herbicide sprays. Credit Kendrick Brinson for The New York Times

We already knew a fair amount about the business of bees, but had not yet heard the term bee mogul, which sounds like it may have been an excellent thing once upon a time, but now, maybe not so much:

KERN COUNTY, Calif. — A soft light was just beginning to outline the Tejon Hills as Bret Adee counted rows of wizened almond trees under his breath.

He placed a small white flag at the end of every 16th row to show his employees where they should place his beehives. Every so often, he fingered the buds on the trees. “It won’t be long,” he said.

Mr. Adee (pronounced Ay-Dee) is America’s largest beekeeper, and this is his busy season. Some 92,000 hives had to be deployed before those buds burst into blossom so that his bees could get to the crucial work of pollination. Continue reading

Recommended By Guests At Chan Chich Lodge

bird-tales-kitWhen guests of Chan Chich Lodge told me last evening about their local Audubon Center in Connecticut (USA), my first thought was a memory of the Audubon Center in my hometown, also in Connecticut, and how essential it was to the decisions I made to do what I do today.

Then they mentioned Bird Tales, and I had never heard of anything like this before, but it made so much sense to me I thought I should excerpt the description here and point it out to the many bird-centric visitors to our platform here (click the image to the left to go to the website of the Center that created the program):

…Initially working with four facilities operated by Transcon Corporation, our Audubon Center Bent of the River Education Program Manager, Ken Elkins, incorporated Audubon at Home environmental principles into the goals of these facilities to improve the quality of life for their residents. Continue reading

Photography, Underwater, Best In Show

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© Gabriel Barathieu / UPY 2017

Thanks to the Atlantic for bringing our attention to The 2017 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest, and especially the top photo according to the judges:

Underwater Photographer of the Year, 2017 – Dancing Octopus. In the lagoon of Mayotte, during spring low tides, there is very little water on the flats. Only 30 cm in fact. That’s when I took this picture. I had to get as close as possible to the dome to create this effect. The 14 mm is an ultra wide angle lens with very good close focus which gives this effect of great size. The octopus appears larger, and the height of water also. Photographed off Mayotte Island on May 7, 2016. Continue reading

Chef Ram At Chan Chich Lodge

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Chef Ram and I have multiple chef colleagues and foodie friends in common, but this is the first chance that he and I have had to work together. I have been looking forward to this opportunity for quite some time.

He will be expanding and strengthening the farm to table program that Chan Chich Lodge started nearly three decades ago. He will work primarily with Amie, whose success with food programming (and places where that food is enjoyed, which has also been widely appreciated) in India since 2010 made sure that the projects got attention. You will see those ideas here, so stay tuned. Continue reading

Appreciating Earth’s Amenities

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Ancient pottery, like this jar from Iron Age Judea, can record our planet’s magnetic ebb and flow. COURTESY ODED LIPSCHITS

Funny, as we just started carrying a new line of amenities at Chan Chich Lodge (what we had was already earth-friendly, but the new line is even more so), to be reminded of an amenity we never thought of as an amenity:

EARTH’S MYSTERIOUS MAGNETIC FIELD, STORED IN A JAR

Of all the environmental amenities that this hospitable planet provides, the magnetic field is perhaps the strangest and least appreciated. It has existed for more than three and a half billion years but fluctuates daily. It emanates from Earth’s deep interior but extends far out into space. It is intangible and mostly invisible—except when it lights up in ostentatious greens and reds during the auroras—but essential to life. The magnetic field is our protective bubble; it deflects not only the rapacious solar wind, which could otherwise strip away Earth’s atmosphere over time, but also cosmic rays, which dart in from deep space with enough energy to damage living cells. Continue reading

Pythons, Everglades & Unintended Consequences

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Thanks to Anthropocene for providing a summary of recent science on a topic of concern in these pages from time to time in the last few years:

Invading pythons and the weird, uncertain future of the Florida Everglades

Heatless Habanero!

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New York City’s Blue Hill restaurant is the biggest buyer of “Habanadas,” a habanero bred to be heatless, so the focus is on its melon-like flavor. Courtesy of Blue Hill

A few reasons to read this include Dan Barber and his Blue Hill being mentioned in the opening sentence; plus the arrival of our new chef at Chan Chich Lodge, hinted at last month; plus the fact that many of our guests cannot tolerate the heat of habaneros; plus our plan to expand the variety of salsas produced at Gallon Jug Farm; plus the fact that the plant breeder responsible for this innovation is in one of our favorite places for agricultural innovation:

For Dan Barber, the celebrated chef of the New York City restaurant Blue Hill, each course of a meal is an opportunity to tell a story. One of these stories is about a pepper — an aromatic, orange habanero without any heat. Continue reading

Model Mad, Music

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In the face of Trump, many artists report feelings of paralysis. Should they carry on as before, nobly defying the ruination of public discourse? Or seize on a new mission, abandoning the illusion of aesthetic autonomy? PHOTOGRAPH BY ERICH AUERBACH/HULTON ARCHIVE/GETTY

Alex Ross asks the right question, in our view of the importance of finding a new model of behavior to reflect mad, with his opening question and the whole first paragraph prepares you for a worthy read:

MAKING ART IN A TIME OF RAGE

What is the point of making beautiful things, or of cherishing the beauty of the past, when ugliness runs rampant? Those who work in the realm of the arts have been asking themselves that question in recent weeks. Continue reading

Food, Its Contents & Its Discontents

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We appreciate that an immigrant restaurant owner has the courage to state the unpopular but important facts underpinning one of the popular memes of our time (thanks as always to the salt over at National Public Radio in the USA):

Cheap Eats, Cheap Labor: The Hidden Human Costs Of Those Lists

by Diep Tran

Everyone loves a cheap eats list. A treasure map to $1 tacos! $4 banh mi! $6 pad Thai! More often than not, the Xs that mark the cheap spots are in the city’s immigrant enclaves. Indeed, food media is never so diverse as when it runs these lists, its pages fill with names of restaurateurs and chefs of color.

These lists infuriate me.

Continue reading