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Three years ago, I posted a short piece on Thorium. At the time, I’d come across an article in Wired magazine that suggested this radioactive chemical element could replace uranium as a cleaner, safer fuel in nuclear power generation.

[Thorium] is abundant — the US has at least 175,000 tons of the stuff — and doesn’t require costly processing. It is also extraordinarily efficient as a nuclear fuel… You could use [it] in an entirely new kind of reactor, one that would have zero risk of meltdown.

Amazing, right? I thought so.

And yet, the silence surrounding the element persisted. Even after the horrific chain of events in Fukushima, Japan—the hideous side of uranium-based nuclear power laid bare once more—the only response to the status quo was to abandon nuclear power altogether.

Three years on, Erika Eichelberger writes in Mother Jones there may yet be hope for Thorium to breathe new life into the faltering nuclear industry. And who do we have to thank? The Chinese, of course.

As has been already been observed by others, the 21st century may well belong to China. So, too, may it belong to Thorium.

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2011 was definitely one for the history books, wasn’t it?

I find it hard to believe 2012 can top it, but, then again, who would’ve thought, at the beginning of 2011, three iron-clad regimes would collapse, Japan would be dealt an incomprehensible trifecta from Hell, Europe would teeter on the edge of dissolution, they’d find Bin Laden (let alone kill him), ordinary Americans would actually rise up against the elites (and their civilian police forces would stand not with them, but against them).

Yeah, it’s as if the only thing that could top 2011 would be, well, Armageddon — not that we’re doing much to prevent it.

Inasmuch as 2011 was one for the ages, it was also quite an interesting one for your faithful scribe.

I started 2011 still wet behind the ears culinarily and spent the better part of it cooking and cutting, chopping and slicing, braising, baking, roasting, toasting, sautéing and sweating, and, most of all, learning — be it at school or on the job.

With a year’s worth of work behind me, I can say, with confidence, I’ve come quite a long way — and have a much greater appreciation for how much farther I have to go.

A year ago, when looking back on 2010, I summarized my year with a single word: travel. (It was a decidedly different year!) How best, then, to summarize my 2011?

Kitchens.

So much of my year has been spent in kitchens — cooking in them, learning in them, laughing in them, sweating in them.

Yes, if 2010 was spent outside, traversing continents, 2011 was spent inside, in kitchens. And I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Kitchens are beginning to feel like my home, the place I’m meant to be, where I’m happiest and most comfortable; familiar with the tools, the implements, the methods, the madness.

2011: the year of the kitchen.

What word will come to define the year ahead? Onward — and let’s find out.

A good friend of mine chastised me recently for my shoddy blogging record.

I confess: I’ve neglected my blog of late; however, frankly, with all that is happening in the world right now — serious, unspeakable things — I’ve been reluctant to say anything at all.

My life seems so utterly unimportant when one considers the remarkable revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, the unrest in Yemen and Bahrain, the unfolding civi war in Libya, and, worst of all, the horrific tragedy in Japan.

In times like these, I suppose all we can do is keep calm and carry on.