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    Watts in the Water

    Our oceans contain enough energy to power the planet — if we could just get our hands on it. from HAKAI MAGAZINE, June 28, 2017 Edinburgh isn’t known as a hotbed of industrial espionage. But one cool and quiet spring night in the Scottish city, a high-stakes burglary was underway. Down at the old port […]

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    The Ed and Earl Show: a Tortoise-and-Hare Tale for our time

    from THE GLOBE AND MAIL, May 6, 2017 Ed Whitlock, a quiet gentleman of wry British wit, an iron will and a body seemingly purpose-built to run marathons, held 36 age-group world records. He was the oldest person ever to run a marathon in under four hours, and the only person aged 70 or over […]

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    One Memorable Day, Once a Month

    From PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, Jan. 2017  For a lot of us, a typical day is so full of compromises, distractions, and interruptions that it ends up being neither productive (if it’s a work day) nor relaxing (if it’s a play day). We’re half-on/half-off much of the time, checking emails and running errands, chasing little stuff as […]

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    How Could You?

    From THE WALRUS, Dec. 2016   Colette Anderson and her five-year-old son were approaching the checkout line at a Save-On-Foods in North Vancouver when she realized they’d left her shopping list at the sushi place in the mall. A hundred metres away, just out of sight. “Would you mind going and grabbing it while I pay […]

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    Have Dog, Will Travel

    from WESTERN LIVING, July/August 2016 photos by Jennifer Williams   1. Sooke dreams As the Mazda eases through the highway curves near Cassidy, B.C. — not ten minutes into the trip — a curdly tang fills the air. “Oh gross – Penny just barfed!” Madeline hollers from the back seat. “Lila’s cleaning it up! She’s the […]

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    Flashes of insight can be personally transformative, creatively inspiring, or even spiritually transcendent. Is there a way to manufacture an “aha” moment,” or at least improve the odds of having one? From PSYCHOLOGY TODAY (cover story), March 2015 Simon Lovell was 31 and a professional con man who had spun the gambling tricks he’d learned […]

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    Behind the Cover Story: Bruce Grierson on Ellen Langer

    from the NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE Bruce Grierson wrote this week’s cover story about Ellen Langer, a Harvard psychologist who has conducted experiments that involve manipulating environments to turn back subjects’ perceptions of their own age. Grierson’s last article for the magazine was about Olga Kotelko, a 91-year-old track star, which became the basis for […]

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    What If Age is Nothing But a Mind-Set?

    from the NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, OCT. 22, 2014 One day in the fall of 1981, eight men in their 70s stepped out of a van in front of a converted monastery in New Hampshire. They shuffled forward, a few of them arthritically stooped, a couple with canes. Then they passed through the door and […]

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    Chicken Suit for the Soul

    from READER’S DIGEST, June 2014 It promised to be the best job so far that summer—which wasn’t saying much. I’d been scanning the “casual labour” postings at the local employment office, vowing every visit to take something, anything. Already I had unpacked shipments of underpants, been pulled through an active sewer on a rolling sled […]

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    Aging is an art. Meet three modern masters

    From READER’S DIGEST, January 2015 Dr. Ephraim Engleman is often asked for his advice. The American rheumatologist, who sees patients when he’s not at the prestigious research centre he heads up at the University of California San Francisco, will turn 104 in the spring. A common query: “What’s the best way to stay as cheerfully, […]

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    Keeping Up With Your Joneses

    From PACIFIC STANDARD MAGAZINE, Jan/Feb 2014 TO A CERTAIN kind of sports fan – the sort with a Ph.D in physiology – Olga Kotelko is just about the most interesting athlete in the world. A track and field amateur from Vancouver, Canada, Kotelko has no peer when it comes to the javelin, the long jump, […]

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    What a 94-Year-Old Track Star Can Teach Us About Aging

    From THE GLOBE AND MAIL, JAN 11, 2014 Not long ago, I came across a little list I’d scribbled in a notebook.“Here is what 47 feels like on a bad day”: • You prepare a little milk, with a dash of vanilla, in a mug, which you go to heat up in the microwave. There […]

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    From the archives: Fishing for Madeline

    From READER’S DIGEST, Dec. 2010 – Quinton Gordon photograph Today was a big day, I’d reminded my daughter. Right after kindergarten we had a date. “Rick’s taking us fishing. He’ll teach us about fish.” Madeline, who is five, looked unmoved. “I already know everything about fish,” she said. “You do?” “Yup.” “What do you know […]

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    The Incredible Flying Nonagenarian

    From THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Nov. 28, 2010 On the third floor of the Montreal Chest Institute, at McGill University, Olga Kotelko stood before a treadmill in the center of a stuffy room that was filling up with people who had come just for her. They were there to run physical tests, or to […]

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    From the archives: To Snip or Not to Snip

    The complicated questions a vasectomy can pose FROM TODAY’S PARENT, October 2009 Not long after our second daughter was born, my wife, Jen, began leaving vasectomy pamphlets around. This is the way parents sometimes introduce important conversations to teenagers, whose notorious sensitivity prevents things from being discussed more openly. And I can’t claim it was […]

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    From the archives: This Won’t Hurt a Bit

    From the archives: East Meets West in the Dentist’s Chair From SATURDAY NIGHT magazine, 2002 For whatever reason—and there’s endless scope to speculate – pain is a hot topic these days. “That’s gotta hurt!” we say of the extreme snowboarder who lands face-first while jumping a Volkswagon, or of our friend’s kid who flashes her tongue […]

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    The Library of Flesh and Blood

    From THE RESPONSIBILITY PROJECT, by Liberty Mutual The sign just inside the doors of Surrey City Centre Library was small enough, or strange enough, that most of the patrons who’d been waiting outside filed right past it without even noticing. Human Library—Open Today Surrey City Library, in a bedroom community of Vancouver, British Columbia, is […]

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    The Great Fossil Feud

    from DISCOVER MAGAZINE, Dec. 7, 2011 The first shot across the bow came in 2002, when Oxford paleontologist Martin Brasier challenged the authenticity of what were then widely regarded as the fossil remains of some of Earth’s first life-forms. In the bargain he took on one of paleobiology’s great lions, J. W. “Bill” Schopf of […]

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    Congrats, you’re a Dad. Time to dial back the risk-taking?

    From THE RESPONSIBILITY PROJECT by LIBERTY MUTUAL, June 29, 2011 Not long ago, a French-Canadian skydiver named Pascal Coudé, who hopes to break a world record by freefalling for 6 to 7 minutes from an altitude of 30,000 feet, was telling me about his preparation. He plans to make the jump in a baggy costume […]

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    What does the future hold for the Twins Who Share a Brain?

    from VANCOUVER MAGAZINE, Sept. 1, 2011 The moment they were born, on October 25, 2006, in Vancouver, this much was known about Krista and Tatiana Hogan. The girls were conjoined—what used to be called “Siamese”—twins. Their skulls were fused such that their tiny bodies together made the shape of an open hinge, the girls facing […]

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    A bomb is ticking in your genome. Do you want to know about it?

    from PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, May 3, 2011 Paula Wishart, a career counselor from Ann Arbor, Michigan, learned in her 40s a sinister family secret: Lynch syndrome runs through their genes. Lynch syndrome is caused by a collection of genetic mutations that vastly predispose a person to an early and aggressive form of colon cancer. (In women it’s linked, […]

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    Dam it All

    From EIGHTEEN BRIDGES, September 2010 Castor sisyphus canadensis. It wasn’t quite what Jean Thie was looking for—he had been scanning satellite images of melting wetlands permafrost for signs of global warming—but the Canadian ecologist quickly recognized what he saw on Google Earth that October day in 2007. The crescent-shaped blob hiding in the southeast corner of […]

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    Environmental Visionaries: The Diaper Farmer

    from POPULAR SCIENCE, July, 2010 When asked to imagine the Earth in 2040, many scientists describe a grim scenario, a landscape so bare and dry, it’s almost uninhabitable. But that’s not what Willem van Cotthem sees. “It will be a green world,” says van Cotthem, a Belgian scientist turned social entrepreneur. “Tropical fruit can grow […]

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    The Western/Eastern Mind Divide

    UBC cultural psychologist Steven Heine discovered profound differences between Western and Eastern minds. A recipe for prejudice, or just the opposite? from VANCOUVER MAGAZINE, April, 2010 It would be overstating things to claim it made Steven Heine famous—because nobody in his emerging field of cultural psychology is famous—but a study led by the young UBC […]

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    The Atheist at the Breakfast Table

    The new face of faithlessness from PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, June 2012 On a recent Sunday, Ross Harvey sat in the back pew of the North Shore Unitarian Church in North Vancouver, BC. A visiting gospel choir from Oakland filled the vaulted ceiling with soaring harmonies, and Harvey, whose flash of white T-shirt beneath a black dress […]

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    Why Do I Get So Lost?

    From EXPLORE MAGAZINE, March 2010 Let me tell you a few things about my relationship with the points of the compass, and then we’ll jump to the meat of this thing. At shopping malls, my eldest daughter has to frequently tell me where we parked. She is five. Once, while visiting Paris, I went out […]

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    Kids Gone Wild

    There’s a new movement out there to get children into nature from EXPLORE MAGAZINE, August 2009 A huge—and I mean huge—black bear walked right past the car as I was loading my infant daughter into the back seat. It was in no particular hurry. It had emerged from the forest and was cutting through our […]

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    Made you look!

    The familiar becomes invisible. And that’s a problem. from VANCOUVER MAGAZINE, July 2009 “Choice architecture” is suddenly a sexy idea, thanks largely to a recent book called Nudge. A nudge, as authors Richard Thaler (an economist) and Cass Sunstein (a legal scholar) explain, is a little intervention in our daily lives from the unseen hand […]

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    The Break of Don

    One man decides, in early midlife, to pursue a crazy dream long deferred. And discovers he has bitten off more than he imagined From Explore Magazine, Apr. 2009   “Here’s the dream,” said Don Montgomery, “Monty” to his friends. “You’re lying in a hammock, looking out past the palms. Your muscles are sore from the […]

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    Epic Fail

    Failure destroys some people. Others rise from the ashes. from PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, May 2009 In September of 2008, Philip Schultz, a humble and plainspoken fellow, crossed the hardwood floor and slid in behind a temporary lectern in the Center for Well-Being at The Ross School in East Hampton. It was commencement day for the eighth-grade […]

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    Power From the People

    Wind, solar, tidal—all are battling for the renewable-energy crown. But what about the six billion highly efficient short-stroke engines in our midst? What about us? From POPULAR SCIENCE, March 2009 Cave Junction, Oregon, was once, long ago, the center of a gold rush boom that, like so many booms, ultimately consumed its host. Prospectors mined […]

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    U-Turn Book

    Every day, in almost every field, someone experiences what can only really be described as a wake-up call. They have gotten things terribly wrong. Somehow, they have ended up on the wrong side. The “second brain” in their gut—that ten-billion-nerve knot—tells them that life can’t go on this way. It just can’t. And so, on […]

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    The Time Machine

    It’s been called the biggest scientific project ever. And Vancouver scientists are poised to help understand the origins of the universe from VANCOUVER MAGAZINE, December 2008 Given Canada’s key role in the experiment, it would have been a little embarrassing if this business at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva had destroyed the universe. In […]

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    Mirror, Mirror On the Wall (I Feel Your Pain, After All)

    Mirror neurons may hold the key to understanding how human beings respond to one another’s plight from IN CHARACTER, April 2008 Simon Lovell is a British-born stage magician whose long-running Broadway show Strange and Unusual Hobbies exploits his dexterity with playing cards. But for most of his adult life, Lovell turned a less reputable dime. […]

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    Father Abraham

    From VANCOUVER MAGAZINE, July 1, 2008 At the tiny hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant around the corner from his Point Grey house, Abraham Rogatnick needs no introduction. He is a regular, with his table, his chair. On a sunny afternoon not long ago the owner looked up as he came through the door. She smiled sweetly with […]

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    An Atheist in the Pulpit

    Public identity and private faith are never more at odds than when a preacher loses his faith from PSYCHOLOGY TODAY, January 2008 James McAllister, a 56-year-old Lutheran minister in the midwest, was working on his sunday sermon one Thursday afternoon last summer. It wasn’t going well. The reverend wasn’t suffering from writer’s block—in fact, he […]

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    Getting to ‘Yes’

    7 Habits of Highly Persuasive Toddlers From TODAY’S PARENT, Sept 2007 Young soldiers, listen up. Your parents are busy. They really don’t have much time. Which means you have only seconds, not minutes, to grab their attention and get your message heard. The good news is, that’s all you’re going to need, because you’re parents […]

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    The Age of U-Turns

    from TIME MAGAZINE (US edition) April 5, 2007 It’s easy to get the sense these days that you’ve stumbled into a party where the punch is spiked with some powerful drug that dramatically alters identity. The faces are familiar, but the words coming out of them aren’t. Something has happened to a lot of people […]

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    “Chasquis! Take This Message!”

    For The Stress Fractures, a team of highly amateur runners assembled for a single day’s heroic shenanigans, trouble came — for the first time — 40 kilometres outside of Jasper, Alberta. It was 1:30 pm and crowding 27 degrees C. One hundred and sixty two competitors, strung out along the shoulder of Highway 93, were […]

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    An Examined (and Exhibited) Life

    On January 1, 1999, Jeff Harris held his Olympus Stylus camera out in front of him and snapped his own picture in Times Square. His face poked out of a parka hood. He wore a tourist’s expression of goofball self-consciousness. It was cliché placed carefully on top of a billion others, noticed by no one […]

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    The Book of Bob

    It’s been said my grandfather helped build modern-day Korea. He left a subtler legacy for me From THE WALRUS, June 2004 There was a man in the land of Han whose name was Bob; and that man was imperfect, and often wrong, though he feared God, and avoided evil. And there were born unto him […]

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    My rocket is going to get you to LEO!

    And other rallying cries from the fringes of the final frontier from POPULAR SCIENCE, May 2004 UC Berkeley space scientist Greg Delory devoured Carl Sagan’s books as a kid; now he hunts for extraterrestrial water—and life—in the solar system. Jeff Greason learned to pick locks at Caltech, from none other than Richard Feynman; now he […]

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    Forty is the new Sixty

    Think pulling an all-nighter would damn near kill you? Welcome to Middle Age From TORO, March 2004 There was a moment a year or two ago when the world suddenly belonged to forty-year-olds. Forty-year-old actors—Hanks, Cruise, Cage—commanded the Hollywood A-List. Forty-year-old writers—Michael Chabon, Yann Martel—were bagging the big book prizes; Billy Collins wrote his first […]

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    A Bad Trip Down Memory Lane

    From THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, July 27, 2003 It is not considered good judgment to wade into the issue of recovered memories without skin as thick as permafrost and caller ID on the phone. Rare is the academic field in which colleagues on opposite sides of a debate — people with international reputations — […]

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    What Your Genes Want You To Eat

    from THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, May 4, 2003 A trip to the diet doc, circa 2013. You prick your finger, draw a little blood and send it, along with a $100 fee, to a consumer genomics lab in California. There, it’s passed through a mass spectrometer, where its proteins are analyzed. It is cross-referenced […]

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    The Hound of the Data Points

    Geographic profiling pioneer Kim Rossmo has been likened to Sherlock Holmes; his Watson in the hunt for serial killers is a digital sidekick — an algorithm he calls Rigel. from POPULAR SCIENCE, March 2003 Until he was called in on the Beltway Sniper investigation, Detective Kim Rossmo’s most confounding case was the South Side Rapist. […]

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    Jump! Jump!

    Two angles on the world’s most dangerous high-altitude stunt from POPULAR SCIENCE, January 2003 In the middle of the plate-flat Canadian prairie, not far from where writer Raymond Carver hunted geese, a flurry of activity broke out last September around a small, rural airfield. Here was ground zero for French skydiver Michel Fournier’s audacious attempt […]

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    From THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Sept. 1, 2002 Every September, the office of the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Cincinnati issues a crisp new edition of ”Paideia,” a comic-size booklet that lists thousands of obscure words that will appear in spelling bees across the country over the coming year — words that any […]

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    Sam Spade Stepped Here

    Dashiell Hammett created an idiom as American as jazz. If Edgar Allen Poe invented the detective story, then Hammett hard-boiled it (and an indebted Raymond Chandler gave it an ornamental deviling). Hammett “helped get murder out of the Vicar’s rose garden,” said Chandler, “and back to the people who are really good at it.” Gunsels, […]

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    Court Jester

    Can squash have an enfant terrible? Oh yeah. Meet Jonathon Power From SATURDAY NIGHT, October 1998 In November of 1993, at the world team squash championships in Karachi, Pakistan, Canada drew Scotland in the first playoff round. But when the team bus arrived at the courts, Jonathon Power, the nineteen-year-old prodigy from Toronto, wasn’t on […]