I’ve always been intrigued with contrasts, with opposites, the yin-yang, the duality of so many phenomena that propel the universe. And language. Growing up, Pop made admission to nightly television a writing exercise. He would hand out notepads and pencils to us kids assembled in front of the set. For each show we watched, we had to summarize the story in our own words. I found it rather rote, so I quickly began to improvise alternate endings, new characters, and dialogue.
No, this didn’t charge me with some deep appreciation for writing, or composition, or the beauty of the language, or the majesty of metaphor or irony, as much as the value of ripping off Hollywood writers’ plotlines.
Sometime around then, I was sent home early from school for the act presenting an essay which apparently resounded sufficiently among my classmates and teacher that the principal was summoned. Again, I read aloud, from what I don’t remember, other than the subject was ‘responsibility’. The principal wrote a note to my parents and sent me packing with my composition. My first half-day off. With pay(!)
At home, I got to read the same piece again to the singular audience of my mother, at the conclusion of which she hugged me, broke a small glass piggy bank and handed me the proceeds, and followed all with a fat, fresh slice of double-chocolate layer cake from the fridge and a glass of milk. I should have held out for a smartphone. I watched the joy in her face as I ate my reward, counting my coins on the table-top, not at all inspired by the power of the proper arrangement of the written word on fellow human beings as much as the importance of North American Serial Rights, a lesson that would serve me years later as I mined the very lucrative resale market for stuff that I wrote.
I’ve written for Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, and Better Homes & Garden; I was a Contributing Editor for Cahners Publishing. All that stuff was from my ‘how to’ days; more recently, I’ve been interested in ‘how come’.
Here’s some of that:
Bill Gates said recently that the Control Alt Delete keystroke combination for login on Windows computers was a mistake. It should have been just one button to login. This was not the only instance of an ill-fated use of a keyboard sequence. The Greek historian Herodotus recorded that ancient Egyptians…read more
The Ice Cream Headache, a.k.a. ‘cold-stimulus headache’ or ‘brain freeze’, is a sudden cranial pain caused by the all-too-quick consumption of frozen desserts. We’ve all had them, and it’s endured as a small price to pay for the bliss of by a bowl of gelato, frozen yogurt, sorbet or Creamsicle®…read more
Dinosaurs dug flowers. Probably by the ton. How do we know this? We don’t. But recent revelations that flowering plants existed a hundred million years before previously thought, demands contemplation. Dinosaurs were clever, adaptive, cunning and resourceful. Anything that survives and thrives for hundreds of millions of years has to…read more
An employee motivational meeting was held recently in the lunchroom of a national home improvement supplies retailer. Here’s part of the store manager’s address, secretly recorded on one employee’s phone: Manager: “I’ve had some feedback from corporate about our customer service levels.” (Murmuring from the group.) Manager: “There such a…read more
The Da Vinci Code. Hit book and movie series. But there’s also a little-known repository of the master’s documents that have eluded public scrutiny. Until now. And it took the recent discovery of an anatomical oddity in the insect world to bring this to light. A mechanism on the hind…read more
There is nothing about being a Perch that I regret. It’s wonderful at times, most of the time, here in this lake we call home near Stockholm. And I am just one of the many fish on drugs here. Some of us have taken names. This just another episode of…read more
The Paleo Diet is the hottest thing since sliced bread. No thanks to a cliché as old as prehistory itself, which has brutish cave dwellers gnawing on hunks of unrecognizable quivering, bloody meats, in the glow of their fires. Not until the Flintstones was the caveman’s diet dignified, with ‘Bronto…read more
The Big Bang Theory. Both scientific theory and hit TV show. If life came from space, this is where space came from. The Big Bang Theory. As scientific theories go, this one is pretty inelegantly named. Especially since it represents a fairly enormous event. One explanation for its popularity is…read more
Bake A Bone, the countertop appliance that bakes homemade, all-natural dog treats at home, as seen on TV. Recipes for these treats are organic and gluten free, and include such runaway hit flavors as Cheesy, Bacon, Bare Bones, Snickerdoodle, Banana, Breath Mint, Thanksgiving, and Peanut Butter. Inspired by a waffle…read more
ISON, party on. Since time began, mankind has sought to explain the events of the cosmos. Comets were feared at first as evidence of an evil animus, then gained acceptance as one of the more benign interventions of extraterrestrial bodies as humans stitched these phenomena into their own mythology. We…read more
In Renovation Raiders, HGTV’s newest show, a crew of high-power remodelers does over a room from top to bottom in the time that the homeowners are out to dinner. How-to television producers know all to well that construction is, well, dull. Like the cooking shows already know, nothing perks up…read more
New theories are pouring in lately: Earth’s life began on Mars, life here came from a nearby collision of two comets, the building blocks of life were in the debris of a meteor that just struck California. What we knos is that Earth is a kind of cosmic catcher’s mitt,…read more
‘It could be said that the Drowning Book is a path for others to enter your world, rejoice and stay awhile; then leave with a good feeling of what could be. Well done old friend’
Self driving cars are coming. Or going. Depends. Google’s working on it. Toyota and Mercedes. Some Ford cars already park themselves. We’ve been motoring without drivers on Mars for years, and that’s 140 million miles away. First, there was self-rising flour. Now this. The self-driving, or ‘driverless’ car. True automobiles….read more
The Space Shuttle’s Main Fuel Tank, the “External Tank”, came to our town. It had been floated here on a barge from Cape Canaveral, to continue by land to a permanent home 30 miles inland. At the moment, it is parked unceremoniously on a weedy weathered concrete apron of a…read more
The French fry in Heaven. Let’s hope they have some waiting for us on the Other Side. If not, why go? Imagine for a moment that an exam was required for admission; a virtuous life was no longer enough. And that Alex Trebek was in charge of the testing. Here’s…read more
The TV Producer gets it done. Without them, TV shows would not get, well, produced. They are talented, versatile, the true multi-taskers of the small screen. They turn on the lights in the morning, after having picked up the dry cleaning on the way in, run out for Chinese for…read more
The Chinese takeout box. If it’s a scene in the movies or an episode of CSI in which actors are eating, these charming, multi-purpose containers, a.k.a. “oyster pails”, are in prominent view. They dominate the landscape of many a table-shot, and it’s easy to see why. They are landscape. They…read more
Climate change will challenge traditional wine making, while new areas of the world will be able to grow competitive vintages, even North Korea. Here are some new wines we can expect to please our palates in a warming word: Clos du Sole-A Cellars – Montreal is the improbable adopted home…read more
JFK Saves the World with an Etch A Sketch That could easily have been the headline in October of 1962. When the drawing toy first arrived in the US, there’d never anything like it. In an age of fingerpainting and Play Doh, and woven summer-school ‘Scooby-Do’ boondoggles, it was precise, instant…read more
Bonzo the Chimp is retired. Government research Chimps are being offered an exit from the workforce, and Bonzo took advantage, too. But this former child star is not ready for ‘Chimp Haven’. One would be hard pressed to find a comparable feel-good story in the news today. Yet there’s a…read more
Me, You, and the GMO Is it in your food? Are Genetically Modified Organisms safe? For breakfast? To share a basketball court with? What’s really in their DNA? Did life really come from space? Music by Paul Simon. GMO’s could be quite safe, after all, and offer some real benefits…read more
A ‘Real Life Carbon Footprint Calculator’. Take our test. We factor more than just carbon impact, using some calculations that just aren’t that common. Here’s why you should: no sooner did the ink dry on the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty designed to limit greenhouse gas emissions, did online calculators…read more
Bazooka Joe unemployed. He joins a growing list of legacy personalities recently forsaken. What’s next for him and The Gang? FROM A RECENT INTERVIEW WITH BAZOOKA JOE: DB: We’re here with Bazooka Joe, for generations the legend of the comic strip that bore his name, and now, regretfully, unemployed. Joe,…read more
Cars on Mars. Traffic jams. Off-Road Rage. Fender Benders. Pileups on the Interquad. Chop Shops! Were we asleep at the wheel of these driverless buggies? How, and when, did it get to this? Seems like it was just yesterday you could rove the Northern Lowlands for days without even seeing…read more
Gluten is getting a bad rap. And we know of other food ingredients that you may not know about but which have their own unique hazards. Consider: Gluten is a natural protein in wheat and other grains that gives dough its elasticity, allowing it to keep its shape during the…read more
A history of texting. A brand-new technology that’s over 170 years old. “What hath God wrought?” was the first message Samuel Morse sent on his spanking new invention, the telegraph. Less is made of the reply he got, which was really just a repeat of his own words, though the…read more
The New CSI. They’re much, much more than mere Crime Scene Investigators. They’re scientists, commandos, psychologists, stunt drivers, lawyers, hostage negotiators, and fantastic parents. In a lab coat one scene, at the head of a swat team in the next, busting down a suspected perp’s door. Hand off the crime…read more
Wildlife has a ways to go to keep their survival skills sharp. Here in Florida, all outdoor animals wake up running. It’s a hard life for most species. Every critter is someone else’s lunch, and they act like it. But with just a step or two more up the evolutionary…read more
There’s new GPS technology available. We know that self-driving cars are coming, but you’ll still need help with the destination, regardless of who’s driving. Want to find the perfect party? The right spot to park your RV? Want to leave a comment on Facebook that won’t come back to haunt…read more
And, the Bio: I’ve written for Popular Science, Popular Mechanics, Better Homes & Gardens, and Rodale Press. Most recently, the University of Houston’s ‘Dark Matter Journal’. I live near Jacksonville, Florida with my wife Karla.