Saturday, November 07, 2009

my feet

Check it out, my feet went to the Grand Canyon and made friends with a raven:

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

like old times

I'm blogging. Alloo. Someone just posted a spam comment on the post before this one, so I had to remember how to log in and delete it. I like my new blog, but I kinda miss this one, where I could write about anything. (The new one is worky.)

Yeah, that's all I've got right now, I think.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

work blog, launched

Hey! In case I didn't catch you, dear reader, on my mass e-mail, my work blog has now launched. The URL is, except instead of "myfirstname" it says my first name. If you do not know my first name...ok, I'm fairly certain I don't have any readers who don't know my first name. But if you are the one and only, leave a comment with your e-mail (you can delete it after you post it, I'll still see the comment) and I'll send it to you.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

everybody else's girl

I think this blog is now about iTunes.

I'm listening on shuffle and just got to "Girl" by Tori Amos. It's on Little Earthquakes, so it's part of the soundtrack of my freshman year of college. I haven't listened to this song since late 2006 (says iTunes, and I believe iTunes, because I don't listen to CDs anymore) and I was singing along, loud and tunefully, getting all of the slightly random twists and turns of the melody right.

So I learned this song more than 15 years ago, I haven't heard it in two years, and I still know exactly how it goes. Memory is something, huh? If only I had that kind of memory for numbers or facts. Perhaps I need to set my stories to music so I could actually remember what they're about. (I wrote this thing about how [topic] is good for you. Or it's not. Shoot, I forgot. Let me get back to you.)

Friday, February 06, 2009

we're coming down to the ground

I'm trying to make my apartment livable by clearing up some of the disastrous mess - turns out when you bring all your office stuff home, then get a new desk, then buy a new computer, printer, phone, and camera, then start planning a trip to a very cold place that requires a lot of special equipment, things can get a bit cluttered.

To help me clean, I'm listening to my five-star-rated songs in iTunes. I define five stars as a song that, at some point in my life, I've been able to listen to on repeat without getting sick of it.

The Peter Gabriel song from Wall*E, "Down to Earth," just came on. I found that song, all cheerful and full of hope, very helpful in gearing up for work on days last fall when I was feeling particularly miserable. When it started, I thought, oh gosh - I haven't heard this in a while! I checked the stats and the last time I listened to it was ten and a half hours before I got laid off. Cool. It's a new era!

Monday, February 02, 2009

blog blog blog blog

Oh god, it's happened - I've become one of the intermittent bloggers. Sorry, all 10 or so readers. In exciting blog-related news, however, Tall L came up with a domain name for me on Friday ( points to an adult personals site - sigh) and yesterday Miss S started sketching design ideas for my website. There will be an awesome new slightly-more-work-related blog there that I hope you'll come read.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

inauguration pics

We stood right in front of the Washington Monument. It's a good spot - it's on a hill, so you can see the Capitol.

Our view while waiting for the festivities to get underway:
(The Capitol is the building in the middle, a mile away. Those trees are blocking the dome.) Our view at 12:05 p.m.:

So many tacky t-shirts, so little cash:

inauguration report

I went to the inauguration. It was way fun. After months of dire warnings, let me share Alsho's and my experience:

7:45 a.m. Arrived at the metro. Spent about three minutes in line. Got on a half-empty car on the first train that arrived.

8:35 a.m. Ok, it took about twice as long as usual to get to the stop we were planning to walk from. But we were sitting down, and we were warm, so who cares?

9:15 a.m. Got to the grounds of the Washington Monument, found a spot, stood there. It was cold but layers pretty much worked, and sometimes the sun came out.

12:05 p.m. Watched Obama get sworn in on the jumbotron.

1:00 p.m. Started walking away from the Mall. Decided it would be a good idea to use the, er, restroom. Walked up to a port-a-potty, didn't wait in line, walked right in.

2:00 p.m. Got on the metro. The car we got on had exactly one person besides us. (When we got on, which was before downtown - it filled up a bit more, but not much.)

2:30 p.m. Sitting on the couch watching TV and drinking hot toddies.

So, basically: It went pretty darn smoothly from my point of view. I love big public events. Also, a new love: the sound of millions of mittens clapping. It sounds like thunder.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

things facebook has done for me lately

1. A few weeks ago, a friend had the status line "[name] is bored in Heathrow." She was on the way home from Egypt, with her Blackberry. So I sent her a message on Facebook and said, you know, if you're *really* bored, you could stop in a bookshop and pick up the last Harry Potter book in the UK paperback children's edition. A few days later, it was in my hands.

2. This evening after I got back from the big inaugural concert at the Lincoln Memorial, I was bummed that She Gre wasn't around, so I couldn't go watch the rebroadcast on her cable. Then I learned from someone else's status line that the rebroadcast was streaming on the HBO website, so I watched it right then.

3. A few days ago my status update said I needed a better way to organize my knitting needles...and now J.Po is sewing me a knitting needle organizer thingy! And I'm knitting her an accessory of my choosing! Yay!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

up to the minute...or not

Whoa. I just went 10 days without blogging. This may be the beginning of the end for this blog. But now I will point out something stupid that bugs me. Maybe that will revive the blogging juices.

I've mentioned that I like those google ads that appear across the top of the gmail screen. Sometimes you can find fun stuff. But then every now and then you get a sponsored link like this:
Cruise Ship Sinks - Cruise Ship Sinks Off Antarctica. Get Up to the Minute News Now!
Remember that cruise ship that sank off Antarctica? More than a year ago? That's what the link goes to. A news story dated November 24, 2007. Uhhhh...great work, Way to be up-to-the-minute.

Monday, January 05, 2009

oysters and stuff

This morning I asked my Facebook friends what blogs they read, and I'm getting all sorts of stuff to check out.

Here's one I like: The Oyster's Garter is written (so the blog tells me) by a marine biologist and a journalist. It's got reasonably shortish entries, and they're funny. (Two things I greatly value.) It's about...well, science. Ok, there's an emphasis on marine science, but that's still broad - lots marine invertebrates but also some physical oceanography. I love marine invertebrates. There's some musing about science journalism and, yep, a bunch more marine invertebrates. Including fabric marine invertebrates.

The musing about science journalism makes me think I really don't want to get involved in debates about science journalism. (I followed a chain of links to a variation on "science journalists are stupid and only scientists should be allowed to talk about science" vs "scientists don't know how to speak English and you don't understand journalism, you jerk.") I prefer, you know, doing stuff to yelling about it.

looking around the blogosphere

So as I figure out what kind of blog I want, I'm going to poke around and look at what other people are doing.

Here's one approach to this whole reporter-blog thing: posting notes as you work on a story. That's a blog post at the Center for Environmental Journalism. Some dude is working on a story about climate change and here he writes about an interview with a scientist. It's moderately interesting and well-written. I don't see anything that makes me want to follow it and read more, though. There's no shortage of places to read about global warming.

Olivia Judson blogs on the New York Times website about evolution. She has a nice writing style, but I get really impatient waiting for her to get to a dang point. I don't love her writing enough to keep going. Maybe in a book, but really, I have a short attention span online. (I admit, I didn't read the above post all the way through, either.) I'd be happy if she posted shorter pieces more than once a week, rather than 1,800 words weekly. Other people appear to be fans - she gets tons of comments.

So, the conclusion thus far: I apparently can't pay attention for long enough to give an intelligent critique of these blogs. Lesson: Short is good.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

SSA blog

Ooh, I really like Kumquat's idea about starting a blog now about my Spring Science Adventure. It could be about preparing for the trip, reading up on the science ahead of time, and my burning questions about the accommodations, such as "Will there be a place to plug in my ipod charger?" and "What happens if I run out of tissues?" Normally when I'm packing to go somewhere, I figure, yknow, if I run out of something, I'll just buy it. Not an option this time.

(The place I'm going isn't a secret in real life, by the way - if you're mystified, leave a comment and I'll e-mail you.)

Saturday, January 03, 2009

rice pudding recipe

Last weekend I went to G.Dog's mom's annual Christmas regifting and caroling party. G.Dog's calculations on food quantity were wayyyy off, so there ended up being about twice as much rice as was needed. I brought some home. The last time I made rice pudding from leftover rice, it wasn't really that great, so I hereby record for posterity this excellent recipe. I used 2% milk ('cause that's what I had) and threw in some ground cloves and a cinnamon stick at the end. If I did it again, I might drop the cloves.

Friday, January 02, 2009

what is this blogging the kids are doing today

I'm starting off the new year, professional-wise, by ignoring my many deadlines in the next two weeks and trying to figure out this whole "blogging" thing. This seems ridiculous, as I have been blogging nonstop since June 2005, when I first claimed not to be interested in blogging. (Actually, July is even funnier - read from the bottom, as I transition from explaining why I'm not blogging to writing obsessively.)

But now I'm considering actual professional blogging. A blog about my book topic, for one; a blog about science and being a science writer, maybe; a blog about knitting...probably not. These blogs would be under my real name (I know! shocking!). I'm thinking WordPress, because people seem to be happy with that. And I hope that it would find readers.

Very few people have actual pre-built interest in my book topic, but as soon as I tell them about it, they're like, whooaa, cool! So the hope is that my blog would attract people with the "whooaa, cool!" response and get them to keep reading and eventually, oh, buy copies of the book for themselves and everyone they know. I guess I know more or less where I'm headed with that blog. I'm just waiting to hear from, um, the guy whose family it is about to see where he stands on this whole "book" issue.

So, what about this science/science writing blog I might want to start? I actually don't read any science blogs, mainly because I don't like any of them enough to go back regularly. Do you read any? Which should I read? I'm going to start surveying them and seeing which ones I should read, who I could learn from, just how mean and awful the commenters are, and why I dislike so many of the blogs. (I suspect a lot of my problem is that I have a really short attention span when I'm reading on the computer, which means a post as long as this one is pretty much not going to work for me.)

I suppose it could all be the same blog, with BookTopic posts tagged as such and other posts tagged as something else.

Help? Anyone? Insight?

Wednesday, December 31, 2008


Look, it's my new office! It's not totally finished - it's probably going to get kind of a wall-like thing on the left side (maybe going up as high as the big shelf that is there) with some more shelves on it. Also, I'm getting a laptop, so the computer situation will change. Also, I will put stuff on the shelves. Oh, and the desk making the "L" is just my old desk - it's going to be a new one that matches the other new one and may also be on wheels, so I can get it out of the way when people come over. Anyway, isn't my dad awesome?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I know, clicking links is annoying, but you must look at the boots I have to get for my Spring Science Adventure. They're Xtratuf! Just like this kitten!

welcome marshall

Check it out, Tall L got a dog. And if the pictures do not lie, he is way cute. And she's blogging about him! Woo!!

you'll wind up in some factory

Yesterday I had lunch with J.Chu in a town immortalized in an R.E.M. song. After lunch we wandered over to the public library, which took us past the new temporary ice skating rink she'd mentioned.

I was watching people clump around on it and thought, there's something wrong with that ice.

See that plastic with the crenellated edge? That's the ice. So, it's not so much "ice" as it is "plastic." People were skating on it with real skates and everything. Totally weird. I think this supports the arguments for not going back to Rockville, at least not if you're interested in skating on ice.

hit by an office tsunami

Here's a "during" picture of my home office corner:

Wait, that picture makes it look way too orderly. Let's go stand behind the desk and check out the rest of the room:

Ok, that's more like it.

Monday, December 29, 2008

testing again

This time, with an attachment!

This is a good "before" picture of my desk corner.

UPDATE: Hey! It totally worked! That's good to know.


This expedition I'm going on (which doesn't start til April) will
involve no web access. Shocking, I know!! But I will be able to send
text e-mails. So I'm trying out the thing where Blogger lets you
e-mail web posts. Does it work? Would it work better if I knew a
little basic html? Probably! Let me try a link...<a

Of course, since I won't have web access, I also won't be able to look
up links to include in text-only blog, this is going to be
a whole different world.

UPDATE and either I'm really, really bad at html, or that little experiment failed. I coded it right, didn't I? I think it just doesn't work. Well, just as well I'll only be sending text.

flip & tumble

Perhaps my coolest Christmas present: a bag made by these people. My mom gave it to me. It's a reusable bag that squishes up really small in a stretchy pouchy thing. It's a cute bag (mine is lime/sky) and so far seems to be very good at carrying things. It's carried shelf brackets and tea towels from IKEA, clementines, and a ceramic cookie jar (not all at the same time).

because it's a dog?

Weirdest search to get someone to my blog in the last month:
"Why my 2.5 month chihuahua doesn't like to put clothe on"

Sunday, December 28, 2008


Sorry, I know that after a great burst of blog productivity I kind of stopped for a while there, but I realized there's just no way I'm going to make my quota and I kind of gave up. This year, there will not be 366 chunks o' towwas. It was just a rough year, you know? I mean, it's ending really well, but for a lot of the year I was pretty actively unhappy. There was a long stretch there where I slept on the couch most nights because I didn't want to go lie in bed and think about my day. I am more interested in blogging when I'm in a good mood.

I'm in a TOTALLY good mood now. Today I was at T.Hand's house and she asked, in a concerned voice, if I am really ok with being out of work. I am so ok. For example: no more stress-related digestive problems.

I was thinking the other day (as I painted polyurethane on a piece of my new home office) how darn lucky I am. I'm embarking on a really cool and exciting new phase of my career. I happen to be going into it in a very good financial position, in an apartment I love, with many excellent friends, relatives, and professional contacts on my side. Things are pretty darn good! I know freelancing will come with a whole new pile of stress, from new and interesting sources, and I know I'm feeling great right now 'cause I haven't really done any work in the last six weeks. But I'm optimistic about this new direction.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

possum carolers

Look, possum carolers. That reminds me of the Christmas show performances at the zoo. Ver-r-r-r-ry energetic and maybe just a dab crazy.

I have a thing against forced audience participation. (A strong thing. A big thing. Perhaps, one might say, a hatred. Or at least a vehement objection.) I'm not really a participator myself, beyond singing, and having someone try to make you participate when you don't want to is just yucky. It's embarrassing at best, and at worst, it can feel like being the object of a power trip. (I find the glare/eye-roll approach works at fending off this kind of thing.)

In the Christmas show, we invite audience members to participate, and if someone isn't feeling it, that's cool, we love them anyway. But in smaller shows, I think we have to be really careful not to edge toward coercion. Like I said, *I* felt silly doing 12 Days of Christmas in a gift shop, and I was in costume and was thus licensed to be silly. I get how a random passerby wouldn't want to do it. In fact, I was impressed by the few who did try to follow along with the movements.

A lot of people who weren't doing the movements were singing along, or at least moving their mouths. And, hey, some people just enjoyed/tolerated us as background music while they chatted, and that's cool, too. It wasn't like they'd paid to sit in an auditorium and party with us - they were trying to buy souvenirs/eat french fries. And they weren't actively throwing things at us, either. So it's all good.

status updates

Through Facebook, I have discovered a fascinating new skill: writing status updates. If you are not on Facebook [coughGRRBEARcough] you may not be familiar with this art form. The Facebook status update is a sentence, starting with your name, with a limit of...I don't know, but it's not all that long. You hafta be pithy.

It turns out people really like my status updates. I mean, maybe everybody hears this, but it's happened several times recently: I run into someone I'm friends with on Facebook but don't know all that well, who never leaves comments or anything, and at some point in the conversation they'll tell me how much they enjoy reading my status updates. It's happened enough that I'm starting to believe them.

Two hours ago I posted:
[towwas] temporarily knows three verses of Silent Night, Joy to the World, and Deck the Hall. Should I use these skills for good...or eeeevillll?

It has 11 comments now. And they're funny.

On Tuesday:
[towwas] can't keep Guinea and Guinea-Bissau straight in her head.

That one has a hilarious mix of joke comments (other things with "Guinea," like "Guinea pig") and explanations of the relationship between Guinea and Guinea-Bissau that might actually help me remember the difference in the future.

This has to be a marketable skill, right? I mean, the obvious choice is a non-anonymous blog, but I would want it to be a blog read by 426 very funny people I know personally, and I'm not sure that the google ads would add up to a living. Any other ideas?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Fleas Navidog!

This story from tomorrow's Post combines two things I really like: dogs and community. Oh, and sincerity. And bad puns. And Christmas. I LOVE Christmas.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


So, the night before I was told I was getting laid off, I got an e-mail about this awesome adventure thing - someone was looking for a science writer to go along on a research trip. I forwarded it to Miss Shirley and wrote this: "omg. how much do I want to go do this? a lot." I was like, man, why do I have this stupid job so I can't drop everything and go away on six-week adventures?

Eleven hours later, I found out I didn't have the stupid job to worry about anymore.

And tonight, I found out I got the gig. Woooo!!!!!!


I point you to this article, which is mildly amusing because it's about a guy who claims adding Viagra to the water perks up his Christmas tree (Racine? medical/botanical basis?). But this is the best part - a quote from his wife: "I’d had enough. I told Ray we should get a fake tree instead. But Ray wasn’t keen. He skulked off to the pub to meet his mate for a moan...."

I love that somewhere in the world is an actual human who talks like that. Meets his mate for a moan. Ha.