Songs That Make Me Swoon

I am a bit of an iPod junkie, and I mostly just listen to it on the shuffle setting all day.

Right now, as I was in the middle of editing an article on obesity, Lenny Kravitz’s “Again” came on. Immediately, I became flustered and lost all sense of what I was editing. This song will always have that effect on me (and the memories of the terrific music video for this song. Go Lenny!)

There are probably about two dozen songs that make me literally swoon (whatever that means!). “Jesus, Etc.” by Wilco makes me pine for a live Wilco concert, where Jeff Tweedy is all hoarse and yearning and earnest, and “Cowboy Take Me Away” by the Dixie Chicks makes me miss roadtrips and the long, dry highways of Texas. “When the Stars Go Blue” by Ryan Adams makes me want to country waltz with my huzzband.

But my all-time favorite swoon-inducing song is “Wild Horses” by the Rolling Stones. It just makes me think dizz-am.

Know what I mean?

Another Thing We Take for Granted: Honeybees

From time to time I read an article, and learn something not only new, but surprising and completely fascinating. Today it’s a New York Times article on the mysterious loss of honeybees.

I didn’t realize this, although I should have, but honeybees are used to pollinate massive agricultural crops across the U.S. Beekeepers transport them to each crop, and this business has outstripped the other demand for bees — honey production. As the article states, “Beekeepers are the nomads of the agriculture world, working in obscurity in their white protective suits and frequently trekking around the country with their insects packed into 18-wheelers, looking for pollination work.”

But, for unknown reasons, the bees are disappearing and our crops are threatened. Bees have always been vulnerable to things like mites and pesticides, but this is the largest disappearance on record. Who knew? I took this whole process for granted, expecting my fruit and nuts to automatically appear the grocery store, on demand, with nary a problem.

Martha Goes to Paris

My Aunt Martha recently went on a business trip to Paris. After looking at her photos, I’ve decided that, while gloomy, Paris does seem to be a city that is holding onto its historic feel (i.e., no Wal-Marts — yet, and no glaring billboards obscuring the views).

I think most travelers learn that their best photos are not those of historic landmarks, or snapshots of their traveling companions, but the random bits of whimsy they encounter, such as this one of Martha’s:

Loopy Paris

She said it was a building wrapped in plastic, in preparation for renovation. I’ve stared at it a lot, and I still can’t quite figure out what’s going on. It’s trippy.

Beaver in Da Bronx

While I could go on and on with more blog posts about my trip to Mexico, I won’t (for now). Let’s just say I can’t wait to go back, as always.

Now, returning to my journalism roots for a second, it’s been an interesting week in environmental news. First: Now that scientists have nailed down what’s been killing the world’s frogs at an alarming rate — a weird fungus — they are asking organizations to build their own Noah’s Ark style of live frog collections to weather the fungal storm and save our planet’s amphibians.

And a bit of fun, on-the-bright-side news: A beaver has been spotted in the Bronx River, making him the first beaver to live in NYC for hundreds of years. He’s been named Jose! And he has his own beaver lodge made of mud and tree limbs.

Should we tell Jose how much rent that lodge would go for if he was human?

The Bling Bling of Mother Nature

turquoise beach

During our stay in Mexico, we went deep into the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, a protected natural reserve on the Caribbean Sea that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It means “origin of the sky” in Mayan, and I believe it. During our two trips there, we were almost blinded by endless shades of green and blue, and we saw a saltwater crocodile, a sea turtle, dolphins and numerous birds. Take a tour with me…. Continue reading

Eating Our Way Through Mexico

I like to label myself a vegetarian, but technically, I’m not really. I’m more of a fish-i-tarian, meaning I’ll eat fish and shellfish, although I try to limit how much seafood I eat. I seem unable to give it up entirely, perhaps because I grew up on the Gulf Coast. My favorite food in the world has always been, and remains, Mexican seafood.

So, I was very pleased by the availability of fresh seafood in Mexico City. Our friends Jeremy and Nancy prepared us a divine mustard-encrusted salmon dinner, and we twice ate at an outdoor seafood restaurant in Coyoacan, the little historic and hip neighborhood where our friends live.

But we also had some tasty vegetarian food (beer counts!).

Continue reading

I Visited the World’s Third Largest Pyramid


During my travels through Mexico, I’ve been fortunate to visit at least six ancient ruin sites, mostly of Mayan origins. The prettiest? Tulum. The most mystical? Coba. The most stunning architecture? Labna.

But my recent visit to Teotihuacan blew me away. It’s about 20 miles north of Mexico City and one of the largest architectural ruin sites in the Western world (and also suspected to once be the largest city as well).

The thing is, no one knows exactly who lived there. It predates the Aztecs and the Mayans, and other groups like the Olmecs and Toltecs. It’s a big, beautiful mystery.

Perhaps most impressive is its sheer size: It’s at least two miles long, and archaeologists think it might be quite bigger. In several places, you can see “layers” of ruins, where the city had actually been built atop an even older city.

All in all, it’s a thrilling day trip from Mexico City, but also exhausting: You walk for miles in blanching heat, and climb many, many stairs as you progress down the city’s main road, the Avenue of the Dead. Climbing the Pyramid of the Sun, the world’s third largest pyramid, is, as the NYT recently put it, “a pre-Columbian stair master.”

The one drawback: The government has allowed the site to be infilitrated with men and women hawking trinkets, and they aggressively approach you every few minutes. The only escape is to head up a pyramid. I have never experienced this before at a Mexico ruin site, and I think it should be banned.

The Pyramid of the Sun:


The layered cities:

Layered City

Happy Shrieks: On Vacation

Blog is going dark while I jaunt down to Mexico for a week. Adios!


“Mexico,” by James Taylor


Way down here, you need a reason to move
Feel a fool, running your stateside games
Lose your load, leave your mind behind, baby James

Oh, Mexico
It sounds so simple, I just got to go
The sun’s so hot, I forgot to go home
Guess I’ll have to go now

Americano got the sleepy eye
But his body’s still shaking like a live wire
Sleepy senorita with the eyes on fire

Oh, Mexico
It sounds so sweet, with the sun sinking low
Moon’s so bright, like to light up the night
Make everything all right