Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Books

I read 128 books in 2009. Dude, that is a lot of books. I think that is my highest number since I started keeping track. I think it is explained by two things: 1) I have started reading before bed at night and 2) I read a lot of YA novels, which go pretty quickly for me.

Here are the ones I rated 5 stars on Goodreads. For 2010, I want to get back to posting my books here, we'll see how I do with that.

* The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
* Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy (Bloody Jack, Book 1)
* Curse of the Blue Tattoo: Being an Account of the Misadventures of Jacky Faber, Midshipman and Fine Lady (Bloody Jack, Book 2)
* In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber (Bloody Jack, Book 4) by L.A. Meyer
* What Was Lost by Catherin O'Flynn
* The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
* Peeps (Peeps, #1) by Scott Westerfeld
* The Hunger Games (Hunger Games, #1) by Suzanne Collins
* Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
* The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
* How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing by Paul Silvia
* In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
* Dreamhunter (The Dreamhunter Duet, Book 1)
* Dreamquake (The Dreamhunter Duet, Book 2) by Elizabeth Knox
* Winkie by Clifford Chase
* The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
* Watchmen by Alan Moore
* The Riverbones: Stumbling After Eden in the Jungles of Suriname by Andrew Westoll
* Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb
* The Known World by Edward P. Jones
* The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia by Laura Miller

2009 Movies

Here are movies I saw in 2009 that I remember especially liking:
John Adams HBO miniseries
Lars and the Real Girl
Air Guitar Nation
Double Indemnity
Man on Wire

I remember this from last year, I seem to be less likely to give high ratings to movies than to books. But there you go. I highly recommend all of the above.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Blinding you with science

I am not sure I have shared here how I never planned on being a scientist. In fact, it is still kind of shocking to me that I am indeed one. Here is my deep dark secret: I only liked biology in high school and in college the only science I took was intro psych and one semester of ecology and evolution. Yet here I am, an actual scientist with a science-y dissertation and attendance at science-y conferences. Aw yeah.

I have been thinking about this lately, as I am teaching science to non-science majors right now. Many of them are scared of science, and math. I have been thinking I should share my circuitous journey to science with them, so they can know that you can start out not liking science, and totally change. Also, I am still scared of math.

I have been struggling with some new to me statistics that I need for my dissertation. I was having trouble figuring out how to best look at some data, and one of my committee members came up with some ideas which are great, but which mean I need to teach myself some stats fast. I am not comfortable with math, and stats has always been the hardest part of science for me, but I am persevering and it is making me feel really smart and good. It has been quite awhile since I really had to learn something totally new and unfamiliar, and I am proud of myself for doing so. Here is a picture of the books I have been reading, so you can be impressed with my smart, science-y self.

Monday, December 14, 2009


After an embarrassingly long hiatus due to the fact that I haven't had a full-time job (aside from student, which does not come with good benefits) since 2000, I have re-entered the world of regular dental care. My new job does come with dental insurance, so I set off for the dentist a few weeks ago. My dentist is awesome and I told them how embarrassed I was about the long gap in my dental care and they were so understanding and not naggy and kind. I got x-rays taken and was shown alarming pictures of my wisdom teeth. My wisdom teeth are alarming, as there is room for them, but apparently not enough room to brush them super well, so they are getting yanked. But other than the wisdom teeth, I did not have a single cavity in the rest of my mouth. Right on, genetics! Thanks, Mom and Dad! I went back for a real cleaning today and am enjoying the very clean teeth. And I am going to the oral surgeon Friday, where I will be knocked out and have the offending wisdom teeth pulled while I sleep. R thinks my wisdom might go with them, but I am sure I have absorbed all the wisdom they have to offer by now.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Writing Well Challenge: Character

As I am more and more convinced that more writing=better writing, and while most of the writing I do is comparatively dry as it is academic, there is no reason for it to be crappy. To that end, and because I like programs and systems and because I keep forgetting to blog, I am doing the Writing Well Challenge. Here is week 1, which is about character.

As I approached the coffee shop I was worried, it was finals week, and cold out, and there might not be spare seats. I did find one, although it was right by the door. As I struggled through the old, discarded library book (bought cheap from!) on learning and instinct in animals, I kept looking at a woman right in front of me. I couldn't help it, she was in my staring-off-into-space line of sight. She was all in black, with dark curly long hair and a bubble gum pink pashmina. Somehow, in the dim coffee shop and her black clothes the pashmina glowed, drawing everyone's attention. She was working hard on her computer, drinking cups of coffee, ordering soup after she determined it was dairy free. She seemed like a normal grad student, typing a paper, like all the rest of us there that day. Later, though, I realized she was entering numbers from tiny slips of paper into a spread sheet. Number after number, from many tiny sometimes crumpled pieces of paper. A mathematician? A spy breaking a code? Just doing her taxes? Finally she left, wrapping the bright pink more closely around her as she went out into the gray and rainy day.

Here are some others who have completed this same challenge: