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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Outhouse by Seth AndersonThe other day, my sister started talking about “those European and Japanese hotels that have the sinks over the toilets to save water.”  I had never heard of such a thing, but it’s an idea that’s been around for a long time.  It makes a lot of sense–there’s no reason the greywater from handwashing can’t be used to help flush a toilet, and the construction of the combination toilet-and-sink also saves a lot of space.

This is the kind of virtually obvious solution to environmental problems that really pleases me.  I have a hard time understanding why these kinds of measures aren’t already simply standard.  Better yet, I started to think, why not just a composting toilet?  (One factor may be the price–they can start at $1,000 and rocket about $10k.)  And thinking about composting toilets made me remember my experiences with one about five years ago in a cabin in the woods of New Hampshire. (more…)

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Fireflies

Last year my students and I read one text that we returned to again and again in conversation: William Cronon’s fabulous essay on “The Trouble With Wilderness”.  I’ve written about the essay before and I’m sure I will again.  Its ideas and themes have transformed my work and that of my students.  The essay argues against the  environmental movement’s focus on wilderness areas, because it divides the natural world into small sanctuaries worth saving on the one hand, and everything else, which we feel free to pollute or demolish, on the other. (more…)

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Snails congregating on a garden path in Menlo Park, June 2013

Snails congregating on a garden path in Menlo Park, June 2013

Things have been quiet here because I was in away in California for a week visiting my best friend from college.  I’m still recovering from the trip, somehow—it’s been hard to write or really to do much of anything since I got back.  Maybe it’s because of the constant rain in Washington—rain always makes me slow and sleepy—or maybe the time difference threw me off.  I’ve been dragging, which is too bad, because there are a lot of things I want to write about, including the things I saw on my trip. (more…)

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John Everett Millais’s “Ophelia,” c. 1851, at the Tate Gallery

I had lunch with an old friend the other day and I told him about this non-blog that I have going so far.  He asked the name, and when I told him, his response was a blank look.

“I know, it’s a really bad name,” I said nervously.  “You think it’s a really bad name.”

“No, no,” he said.  “I’m just looking confused because I assume it’s a literary reference I don’t get.” (more…)

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