The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

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The middle of summer is when the surprises in publishing turn up. I'm talking about those quietly commanding books that publishers tend to put out now, because fall and winter are focused on big books by established authors. Which brings us to The Dream Life of Astronauts, by Patrick Ryan, a very funny and touching collection of nine short stories that take place in the 1960s and '70s around Cape Canaveral, Fla.

When the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union last month, the seaside town of Port Talbot in Wales eagerly went along with the move. Brexit was approved by some 57 percent of the town's residents.

Now some of them are wondering if they made the wrong decision.

The June 23 Brexit vote has raised questions about the fate of the troubled Port Talbot Works, Britain's largest surviving steel plant — a huge, steam-belching facility that has long been the town's biggest employer.

Solar Impulse 2 has landed in Cairo, completing the penultimate leg of its attempt to circumnavigate the globe using only the power of the sun.

The trip over the Mediterranean included a breathtaking flyover of the Pyramids. Check it out:

President Obama is challenging Americans to have an honest and open-hearted conversation about race and law enforcement. But even as he sits down at the White House with police and civil rights activists, Obama is mindful of the limits of that approach.

"I've seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change," the president said Tuesday at a memorial service for five law officers killed last week in Dallas. "I've seen how inadequate my own words have been."

Mice watching Orson Welles movies may help scientists explain human consciousness.

At least that's one premise of the Allen Brain Observatory, which launched Wednesday and lets anyone with an Internet connection study a mouse brain as it responds to visual information.

The FBI says it is giving up on the D.B. Cooper investigation, 45 years after the mysterious hijacker parachuted into the night with $200,000 in a briefcase, becoming an instant folk figure.

"Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history," the FBI's Ayn Dietrich-Williams said in a statement, "the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities."

This is the first in a series of essays concerning our collective future. The goal is to bring forth some of the main issues humanity faces today, as we move forward to uncertain times. In an effort to be as thorough as possible, we will consider two kinds of threats: those due to natural disasters and those that are man-made. The idea is to expose some of the dangers and possible mechanisms that have been proposed to deal with these issues. My intention is not to offer a detailed analysis for each threat — but to invite reflection and, hopefully, action.


Startup Wants To Redefine How Local Foods Get To Your Door

Mar 7, 2013
Originally published on March 7, 2013 2:13 pm

Rising consumer demand for local foods has changed the job description for ranchers like Doniga Markegard.

Markegard, co-owner of Markegard Family Grass-Fed in San Gregorio, Calif., loves working with cattle, but she's not fond of the hours of phone calls and emails it can take to sell directly to a customer.

"What I want to be doing is the part I love — working with the animals and raising my kids on the ranch," says Markegard. "But I also need to be marketing our product, going to markets and talking with customers. There are a lot of administrative aspects to running a small family ranch, and they are time-consuming."

Now a San Francisco startup is looking to act as the middleman, handling the logistics of gathering and delivering local goods to consumers' doorsteps so small farmers like Markegard don't have to.

Good Eggs began a year ago as a place where local food producers could sell their foods directly to consumers online, says CEO Rob Spiro. But producers needed more.

"We kept hearing the same thing from the producers," Spiro tells The Salt. " 'This is great,' they told us, 'but as I become more successful, I'm becoming a full-time distributor.' "

So Spiro and his business partners decided to step in. "What we need is a last-mile delivery system for our producers," says Spiro.

The problem is that whether you live in San Francisco or Des Moines, Dallas or Wichita, the modern food system is based on economies of scale: To keep food inexpensive and delivered predictably, regardless of the season, you need mass production and the mass movement of goods from large-scale farm to national distributor to superstore.

But similar networks for moving locally produced foods to market are sorely lacking, according to a 2010 report from the USDA's Economic Research Service.

To that end, Good Eggs acquired three trucks and a warehouse and, as of last Thursday, it will now deliver fresh local fruits, vegetables, meats, seafood and prepared foods right to consumers' doors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. It plans to create a similar food hub in Brooklyn this spring.

The Good Eggs system works like this: Consumers order from a wide variety of locally made, artisanal products online — from baby food to cheese, oranges to muffins. Items are then baked or harvested fresh to order and sent to the Good Eggs' warehouse, where each individual order is put together manually.

The idea is to keep costs down by using an Amazon warehouse model of efficient distribution — except nothing is stored there. The warehouse is used instead for aggregating goods on delivery days. By bringing all the products together in one location and distributing them together, Good Eggs hopes to relieve producers of the logistical headache of direct sales, while earning them higher profit margins than they get from grocery stores.

And while the price of jam on the Good Eggs site is far higher than a jar of Smuckers at Safeway, the cost of most goods is comparable to those at boutique markets like Whole Foods.

Yes, other companies have tried, with some success, to deliver groceries to homes and offices. Giant grocers like Safeway now offer home delivery. Fresh Direct makes home deliveries in the New York area, and Spud will drop off items to your front door in cities across the U.S. and Canada. But all of these companies function as full-scale grocers, and keep fully stocked warehouses full of nonlocal and nonfood items.

More similar is Farmigo, with a mission to also deliver only local produce and meats directly to consumers in New York and California. But Farmigo only delivers to offices and other group drop-off points. Home delivery, the company found, was too costly to make it work.

Good Eggs is looking to get around that problem by charging $3.99 for home deliveries. Depending on whether a customer orders from the Good Eggs site or from a producer's own website, the company also takes a percentage cut from each sale.

An impressive team of investors and advisers are working with Good Eggs, including Alice Waters of Chez Panisse, Michael Dearing of Stanford and Damon Horowitz of Google.

Even so, the challenges of reconstructing a 21st century local food delivery system are formidable. How the company will deal with the logistical complexity of coordinating 120-plus producers and potentially hundreds of drop-off points, and how consumers will react to limited drop-off days and times, remains to be seen. (Some also question how far a food can travel while still being "local.")

"Creating new distribution channels between farmers and consumers is no easy feat," says Melanie Cheng of Berkeley, Calif., author of Building Regional Produce Supply Chains and founder of FarmsReach, a community-driven platform for improving business operations on the farm.

Picky shoppers, low profit margins and complex distribution logistics are inherent challenges in the system. "Good Eggs," she says, "have their work cut out for them."

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