Delusion, the far-right, and online brainwashing.

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Photo by Wolfgang Hasselmann on Unsplash

Morgellons disease is one of those things that you generally don’t hear about unless you know somebody who has it or suffer from it yourself. That, or if you continuously receive packages of lint and bodily excretions from people who want you to identify the parasites they are convinced inhabit their body.

This last part is something only entomologists, parasitologists, and a smattering of other science-y types get the pleasure of experiencing. Though I’ve left their ranks behind, the stories of neatly ordered vials of fecal matter and Ziploc bags of carpet fuzz left…


Measuring insect biodiversity on invasive Eucalyptus in California.

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Photo by David Clode on Unsplash

For those of us who have spent much time in the Bay Area, trees of the Eucalyptus genus are familiar and often dear to our hearts. Many are grown ornamentally, due to their beauty and fragrance. One species, however, has successfully escaped cultivation and become a serious environmental issue. Eucalyptus globulus is an Australian tree introduced to California in around 1865 (US Forest Service 2013) and has become naturalized along the entire coast. The tree is notorious for displacing native flora and for being a potential fire hazard due to the large…


There is a hidden bounty waiting for those who are willing to pick it.

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For those who have a keen eye, free food is everywhere. Probably the first food I foraged for myself was plums. Not wild plums, nor those grown for food. Those lovely purple-leafed plum trees (Prunus cerasifera) that dot city streets and suburban communities, as long as they are not a non-fruiting cultivar, can produce a large crop of small purple and edible fruits. Most of the time, however, these end up as a nuisance on the ground and nobody consumes them. What a waste.

For those…


It’s weird and sometimes involves hitch hiking.

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The world of parasites is stranger than most can even imagine, especially given how we tend to avoid thinking about them wherever possible. One question most people don’t think about is what happens when the host of a parasite dies, a matter that will not elicit the sympathy of many. One might think death of the host condemns the parasite to death, but some organisms have evolved clever ways to deal with an event as devastating as the death of the host.

The Mallophaga, also known as chewing lice, are well known for…


Herbicide drift is no joke.

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Photo by Aviana Dimanche on Unsplash

Buying land and starting an organic farm, homestead, or permaculture paradise is a seriously exciting undertaking. Perhaps the most important part is finding the land upon which to grow, as this will shape all your future adventures. It comes with its own set of pitfalls, though, which can often remain hidden throughout the land buying process. One of the most frustrating is the possibility of herbicide drift, an issue when purchasing land near conventional farms.

Imagine tending to a crop of heirloom tomatoes, lovingly strung up on trellises, taking hours of labor, relying on the…


Spaced-repetition software can help you remember anything.

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For those of you who may not know, the liverworts are a group of primitive plants that are overlooked by, well, practically everyone. Despite this, at the feet of almost every hiker in the forest (and sometimes elsewhere) lies a vast mosaic of bryophytes (mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and sometimes the lichens). This rich layer of life, despite being ignored by most humans, holds fantastic diversity for those patient enough to look and in wildlife-barren Taiwan I found that the great variety of bryophytes to be a relief. …


Why we are so attracted to plants we can’t grow outside.

The botanically-inclined are prone to a special form of covetous behavior. We want the exotic, the new, and thus spend large amounts of money to import interesting plants that do not perform well in our native environments. As an example, when I was in high school I repeatedly tried to grow orchids from the South American cloud forest in a Mediterranean environment. I put up lights for them, set up an aquarium with a thermometer and pots to house them, and showered them with mist every day. …


The things we worry about are often the things we shouldn’t.

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Photo by Alexandru Acea on Unsplash

Sudden death is not something we tend to enjoy thinking about. Perhaps the nagging fear of death, always present in the back of our minds, reminds us that we could be next. Strolling through the grocery store isles, enjoying a cup of tea in the backyard, or sleeping peacefully when a sudden jolt of pain signals our impending doom. Many people spend an amount of time worrying about exotic causes of death, sudden or otherwise, that is far out of proportion with the actual risk.

Morbid and needless, sure…


How to deal with Armillaria in the garden.

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Photo by Lia Stepanova on Unsplash

As somebody who lives and gardens in the Pacific Northwest I have long noticed the large clusters of amber-colored mushrooms that pop up, well, everywhere. I didn’t really pay them much attention, however, until a large willow in my yard fell during a storm quite suddenly, destroying a fence and causing hundreds of dollars of damage in the process. Most curiously, massive conglomerations of these same orange mushrooms began popping up all across my backyard right after, both on the willow stump and the areas around it.

These mushrooms are the fruiting…


I’m almost 30 and still afraid of the dark.

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Photo by Todd Cravens on Unsplash

Have you ever been on an evening stroll on a clear summer night, only to feel a small unexplained drop of moisture land on your face? Maybe brushed against some foliage? I’m sure you have and I imagine you thought nothing of it.

For a very small subset of people, though, this would be cause for many hours of panic and anxiety. The reason? As funny as it might sound, rabies.

I’m pathologically terrified of rabies, in the sense that I have called the CDC in multiple states to ask about rabies scares and avoided going out at night because…

Jimmy Candou

A writer living in the PNW who just wants to tend to his garden.

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