My daughter Lydia is about to start kindergarten and is not really reading yet, only recognizing about 10 words. That's fine. When I was her age, I was reading on about a fourth-grade level, and that was fine, too--except that I got bored with the books in my classroom. My father mentioned to a co-worker … Continue reading Trixie Belden and the Little Fires Within You [book reviews]
Like last year, this was a year in which The Earthling's Handbook drew more readers to the articles that have been here a long time (and therefore have been linked to more often, on other sites as well as in my own articles) than to new articles. The list of overall most-popular articles is so … Continue reading Top 18 Articles of 2018
Three weeks ago, a man drove into my neighborhood, stormed into a synagogue, murdered eleven people, and shot and wounded several others. Well, that's old news. Why I am I still talking about it now, after there's already been a mass shooting of twelve people elsewhere in America? Because NONE OF THIS IS NORMAL, none … Continue reading The Tree of Life in the City of Steel
"Wildlife" sounds like something that lives out in the wild, right? We picture wildlife in the jungle, in the desert, or at least deep enough into the forest that it can't hear motors. But wild animals live in almost every acre of Earth's surface. Squirrels are wildlife. Ladybugs, ants, and even pigeons are wildlife. Leopards … Continue reading A Certified Wildlife Habitat in an Urban Churchyard
Well, it's happened with the second child: That moment when a total stranger interrupts my reading aloud to voice the opinion that the child is too young to understand what I'm reading. Here's how I described this phenomenon when my first child was 4 years old: I must say, I got far less flak from … Continue reading Our kids understand books because we read them books!
Lydia and I were riding in the back seat of our car, along the highway at the beginning of our family's Memorial Day vacation. Lydia was looking out the window at the passing cars and suddenly turned to me. LYDIA: Mama, do you know about a tater-totter? That's a car but with two wheels in … Continue reading Tater-Totter: A 4-year-old’s Traffic Safety Invention
Tonight I attended a meeting at my son's school (grades K-8) about the decision to hire a full-time security guard and get a metal detector. I meant to do some research before the meeting on the extent to which schools with metal detectors have experienced shooting rampages, compared to schools without. I ended up not … Continue reading Do metal detectors prevent school shootings?
My church planned a Lenten book study, and then our books came in late, so I've spent the Easter season reading Waking Up White in parallel with the fiction that looked interesting at the library, which coincidentally was all by Asian authors. Sometimes I make an effort to seek out diverse authors/characters in my reading, … Continue reading 3 novels by Asian authors + Waking Up White
One of the most effective things you can do to reduce your environmental impact is to drive less. Every gallon of gasoline burned puts 24 pounds of pollution into our air! Of course we should work toward powering more cars with cleanly generated electricity or other alternative fuels, but we also need to move away … Continue reading Go Green in 2018: Get Out of the Car!
On the way home from preschool on Monday, after we got off the bus in our neighborhood, Lydia stopped to examine a pine tree in the tiny yard of an apartment building. I took this opportunity to get some photos of her looking cute in her winter gear (she'd insisted on wearing two hooded cardigans … Continue reading The Urban Nature Experience All Children Deserve
I've been on this Earth-friendly journey for a long time, and some parts of it have gotten a lot easier. Twenty years ago, you couldn't buy plant-based cleaners or chlorine-free toilet paper at target.com and have them show up on your porch two days later! I saw a tiny ad for Seventh Generation brand products … Continue reading How the East End Food Co-op Keeps Me Fit and Happy
This isn’t really a blog. It’s a constantly expanding reference book. Most years, the most popular articles are more than a year old--they've had more time for other sites to link to them. I've made two Top 17 lists here: The articles written in 2017 that were most popular, and the articles that were overall … Continue reading Top 17 Articles of 2017
A few years ago, some people from Alumni Relations invited me out to lunch so they could ask for my perspective (about 20 years after graduation) on what my Carnegie Mellon education has meant to me. I was flattered, and it was such an interesting question to consider that I've thought about it many times … Continue reading What I Really Learned in College
My brother got me two books about cities for my birthday--one fiction and one nonfiction, both great books with great covers! Here they are, along with reviews of the other books I've read recently. Walkable City by Jeff Speck I love living in a walkable urban neighborhood! This book by a city planner told me a … Continue reading Walkable City, Visible City, and 4 more book reviews
I'm nervous posting this because of the freakout when Lenore Skenazy let her 9-year-old ride public transit alone. I don't want to be the next "America's Worst Mom"! But I think it's important to talk about how to approach children's independence safely and gradually so that they learn the skills they'll need as adults. Nicholas is … Continue reading Why My 12-year-old Is Riding Public Transit Alone
Years ago, Daniel and I made friends with this guy named Vinnie who lived in one of the apartments over the garages behind the cluster of rowhouses where we were living at the time. His apartment was small and shabby, but he'd chosen it because it had a large yard, and he loved gardening. In … Continue reading That Time I Bought Ladybugs by Mail
I'm writing a 3-part series on composting over at Kitchen Stewardship; here's how to get started with my composting system using 3 ordinary flowerpots, and I also mention two FREE composting systems my family members have used. Here, I'm explaining my general approach to the garden I nourish with my compost. The idea and the … Continue reading Darwinian Gardening
It's getting harder and harder for me to believe that the majority of Americans who work outside the home commute by car. I understand that many small towns and suburban and rural areas have no public transit at all, and that many cities have inadequate public transit providing infrequent service to just a few neighborhoods. … Continue reading Public Transit and Convenient Commuting
This is a story I've been wanting to tell since it happened, but it almost doesn't sound real. This really did happen, though, and it was an important encouragement just when I needed one, and now I'm at a point where I really need encouragement again. I'm kind of writing this for myself to read, … Continue reading EVERYTHING WILL BE ALL RIGHT.
I worked with crime data for 17 years, and occasionally someone would say, "Gosh, that must make you so worried about your safety!" No. It didn't. It had exactly the opposite effect. There are four patterns I saw, over and over again, that made me feel safer: Crime rates in Pittsburgh and in the United … Continue reading America is SAFER now than it used to be.