Archive for November, 2011


The winter blues have never been a problem in my life, as they have for many friends who speak often about their generalized or indistinct feelings of depression at this time of year. They swear it’s not family-related and I believe them. I went to a college-preparatory boarding school for four years, located in northern […]

Right-Hand, Left-Hand: Guest Blog by Nick Rhodehamel

Why are most people right-handed and so few left-handed? The short answer is that nobody knows. But left-handers are present in all cultures, and there are always significantly fewer of them than right-handers. In western cultures, 10 to 13% of the population is left-handed; in some archaic people (the Eipo in West Papua, New Guinea, […]

Starship Helianthus

I’ll never forget learning about sunflowers. During a few days in 1987 spent with the genius raconteur, plant breeder and seed impresario, Cees Sahin, I traveled through space and time (especially the latter) on the Starship Helianthus. Cees told me the little-known fact that the epicenter of sunflower cultivation was not the US Midwest—no, no!—but […]

Soils 101: Guest Blog by Nick Rhodehamel

Don’t tell a soil scientist about the “dirt” in your garden, and don’t call the dust of Mars “soil”, as NASA press briefings generally do. The soil scientist’s outrage may be feigned, but the point will be that soil is much more than something you sweep from your kitchen floor or wash from your hands, […]