March/April 2011

Ursula came home from school this week and told me I needed to see a video on my computer. At first I resisted, thinking she wanted to show me something silly, but she explained that she’d seen the video in science class. “You have to see it,” she told me. “It’s amazing.” This is how…

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Over spring break, Ursula helped our friends Bruce and Gretchen install beehives in their backyard. Anna, the oldest of their three daughters, started beekeeping last year. We were delighted to receive some of Anna’s homemade honey, and also to learn more about bees. We hadn’t realized, for example, that the honey we eat is actually…

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Sometimes you find big innovation in the lowliest places. Like the top of your shoes. It is there that you duly ignore the humble shoelace when it does its job and stays tied. Only when your shoelace fails does it earn your attention—and it’s not usually positive thoughts. Now you can spare untied shoelaces your…

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Most trekking poles weigh about 8 ounces each (roughly a pound per pair). Lightweight versions dip down into the 5-6 ounce range. But did you know that styles are available weighing less than 3 ounces? I’m a big fan of trekking poles and use them regularly to reduce knee compression and pain on downhill descents,…

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The Michelin Man has unveiled his latest creation: the Michelin Michelin Protek Max. It’s a tube for your bike tire with some unusual qualities. First, it’s square in cross-section. Second, it’s dimpled with raised circles on three sides. Third, these features combine to give it the ability to self-seal in the event of a puncture,…

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Earth Day occurs on Friday, April 22, this year. The first Earth Day, held on the same date in 1970, is widely credited with launching the modern environmental movement, and with helping pass the landmark environmental laws that followed: the Clean Air Act in 1970, the Clean Water Act in 1972, the Endangered Species Act…

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If you’ve shopped for outdoor gear, you’ve seen the zillions of labels identifying what type of synthetic insulation is in that coveted sleeping bag or jacket. Primaloft, Polarguard, Thinsulate, Climashield… the list goes on and on. But do you know which of these are short staple and which are continuous filament? And why it matters?…

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I’ve asked the authors of several new AMC guidebooks to share their suggestions for first-of-the-year family hikes. We started with spring hikes in the White Mountains and around Boston and Cape Cod. In this third post, we travel to New York. Our guide is Peter Kick, author of AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the Catskills…

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It’s the time of year when aspiring thru-hikers have descended en masse on the Appalachian Trail. How many will make it the entire way? Based on statistics from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC), would-be thru-hikers heading northbound from the southern terminus in Georgia have a better than 90 percent chance of completing the first 30…

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I’ve asked the authors of several new AMC guidebooks to share their suggestions for first-of-the-year family hikes. Robert Buchsbaum began by recommending a few hikes in the southern White Mountains. With this post, we head south, to eastern Massachusetts. Our guides are Michael Tougias and John Burk, co-authors of AMC’s Best Day Hikes near Boston,…

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