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The I Ching, or Book of Changes

The Blue Cliff Record

Moleskine Ruled Notebook

Vintage Cleveland Indians cap

Pilot G-2 extra fine point gel pen


That Castle

The Buonconsiglio Castle in Trento was built in the 13th century. It was enlarged twice, and the structure has been used as a fort, a residence, a military barracks, a prison, and, most recently, a national museum. Was my first time to visit a castle. "Massive" and "solid" are the two adjectives that first come to mind. "Opulent", would be a third. I remember fantasizing about giving a talk in the meeting room shown below. How would you get the audience to stop looking at the ceiling?


Turning Off the Pump

Interesting piece in yesterday's New York Times about the link between deforestation and drought. Especially tropical deforestation. A mature tree in Amazonian rainforest transpires about 1,000 liters of water a day; the entire Amazonian Basin sends up about 20 billion tons of water a day into the atmostphere. The atmosphere over Amazonia carries more water than the Amazon River – which itself contains about one fifth of all the freshwater on the planet.

According to the article:

"One way forests may move water is known as biotic pumping. As water transpires into the atmosphere above the forest, the theory holds, it creates a low-pressure system that sucks in air surrounding it, eventually and continually pumping moisture inland from the ocean.Cutting down forests degrades these low-pressure systems, essentially turning off the pump. Large-scale deforestation is thus believed to be a major contributor to the extreme drought in Brazil".


"Forest represent a kind of ecological infrastructure that helps maintain comfortable living conditions on the plante, whether by taking up and holding carbon dioxide, cleaning water through their roots, preventing floods by stabilizing soil – or, in this case, regulating climate". 

Lots of reasons to stop cutting down tropical forests. And, really, how many soybeans and hamburger patties do we need?  


Sigh Of Relief


I have spent the last eight weeks, in Italy and New York, writing a book of stories about my thirty years of working with communities around the world to manage tropical forests. And now I'm finished. Fifteen chapters and two hundred and twenty five pages. A lot of stories and wonderful memories.  [NOTE: Glad to see that my little bark paper journal from Oaxaca (upper left) made it into the photo].  


MUSE–Museo delle Scienze

Computer tracing of me taking pictures in the fantastic MUSE science museum in Trento, Italy. One of the most beautiful, well-designed, and creative natural history musuems I have ever visited. Biology, evolution, geology, ecology, sustainability, and wonderful creatures hanging in three-dimensional space (see below) above your head as you explore the four floors. Oh, and solar powered, too. Go here for a wonderful short video (in Italian) of how the museum was created. Three days in Trento was definitely not enough. And that castle...


Venetian Still Life


I tood a lot of pictures of gondolas and canals and skinny back streets, but this was the image that struck me as the most representative still life of Venice. Beautiful old walls, elegant decay, and rising water levels. And fewer and fewer people actually live in Venice, anymore. I never saw a place to buy groceries, a hardware store, or a laundromat. I worry about the impact of climate change here.



Still going through my images from Italy. The coloful houses, and healthy flowers, on the island of Burano in the Venetian lagoon are shown above. Ready to go back.


Palms and Plane-trees

Image from the Villa Carlotta Botanical Garden in Tremezzo on Lake Como. Pretty easy to grow the plane-trees (Platanus orientalis L.) in northern Italy, I guess, but the palms? And they were all healthy and happy – and drip irrigated. Amazing feat of horticultural prowess. What a beautiful garden.


Epic of Gilgamesh

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the magnificent Sumerian poem dating back to 2100 BCE, is now 20 lines longer. A clay tablet dating back to the neo-Bablylonian period (2000-1500 BCE) has recently been discovered in the Kurdistan region of Iraq. The tablet adds new verses to the story of how Gilgamesh and Enkidu slew the forest demigod Humbaba. This is huge. Read the original paper describing the find, which includes the entire text of the tablet both transliterated and translated into English, here. The Epic of Gilgamesh is often regarded as the first great work of literature.


Duomo de Milano

The Duomo di Milano, or Milan Cathedral, is really, really big. It's the fifth biggest church in the world and the second largest in Italy (after St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican); the central approach to the main altar, i.e. the nave, is 45 meters tall. And not only is it big, it's real old, too. Construction was started in 1386, several hundred years before St. Peter's.  Breathtaking, awe-inspiring, humbling. Exactly as it was designed to be, I would imagine.  



Just so you know, this is what God was thought to look like in the 16th century. Sculpture by Battista da Corbatta (1554) of gilded and painted wood, from the exquisite Milan Cathedral. I stopped in front of this statue for quite a while, reflecting on God and religious iconography and large churches. I assume the sphere in God's left hand is the Earth.