Wednesday, July 28, 2010


I'm supposed to be finishing a manuscript right now. Yesterday, I somehow hit the magic formula for a productive writing day. For me, a good writing day is an act of voodoo. I think it was a combination of the following:
- coffeehouse lighting (almost dim enough to ignore my neighbors)
- coffeehouse music (detectable but forgettable)
- coffeehouse traffic (low)
- chair (metal and fairly uncomfortable)
- table height
- diet
- duration and quality of preceding night's sleep
- type of writing I had to get done (all prose, no data)
- motivation
- getting everything done before the guy with terrible B.O. sat beside me

Today has not been so productive. Today was Results day and I have had too much coffee. I think my 7 hours of focused writing yesterday exhausted my attention span, which was not reset by 5 hours of sleep. I have judgment calls to make regarding sample size, a part of science I am terrible at. I have also chosen the wrong coffeehouse.

I think when I get restless, it may help to do something unstructured that allows my mind to wander for a few minutes. Unfortunately, all I can think of is reading blogs or playing Text Twist. Any suggestions?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review 3 to Publish 1?

I recently got a departmental e-mail soliciting feedback on an interesting issue: privatizing the peer-review system. In the April 2010 issue of the Bulletin of the Ecological Society of America, J. Fox and O.L. Petchey published a contribution entitled "Pubcreds: Fixing the Peer Review Process by “Privatizing” the Reviewer Commons".

They explain something we are all, at some level, aware of: that everyone wants to publish, but few (if any) really want to review. This leads to what they call the "tragedy of the commons," or that the people willing to review manuscripts are few and being taken advantage of because there is no incentive to review, only to publish. If this is an issue that affects you (it probably does), I strongly encourage you to give the original article a read. It's not something I think much about, but it brought up several point I had not previously considered, and brings into question how much of a "community" you really think scientists belong to.

They discuss several possible solutions to this "tragedy of the research commons" and ultimately propose to set up an online "PubCred Bank". All journals would ideally use this system, in which you earn 1 PubCred for each manuscript you review, and must pay 3 PubCreds for each manuscript you submit. The authors believe that one should review three times as many manuscripts as you submit; hence, the difference between credit and debit. Note that this is not something I am endorsing or agreeing with, but certainly find interesting... and possibly a whole lot of messy.

First of all, what defines a "submission"? Does each re-submission of the same manuscript count as a submission? Certainly one is not expected to review three papers every time you have to revise and re-submit. Or am I the only one that doesn't get accepted the first time? *shifty eyes*

What about when your manuscript is not properly formatted and you have to re-submit? (Again, not that THIS has ever happened to me. Erm.) In any case in which a manuscript is rejected without being reviewed, their suggestion is that you are refunded most of your payment, only paying 0.5 out of 3 PubCreds. As it proposes that editors are paid 0.5 PubCreds for each manuscript handled, this fee basically goes to the editor. I guess we can consider that the other 2.5 PubCreds go into the account out of which he pays his reviewers.

When there are multiple authors (when are there not?), who uses their PubCreds? The article states:

"Any author on multiauthored manuscripts should be permitted to pay part or all of the submission fee, so long as the authors collectively pay the entire fee. All that matters is that, collectively, the author(s) of each submission do enough reviewing to cover the cost that they, as a group, create in the reviewer commons.

This sounds like trouble to me. Maybe this will be the ultimate decider of all first author/last author fights between collaborating PIs... I'll give you first author if you'll pay the PubCreds!

If the field is in a slow season (I don't know if these exist, but it sounds reasonable), and you don't get many opportunities for reviews, should your own publication record be penalized for that? And if your lab is in an extremely prolific season, churning out data left and right, should you be penalized for not being able to review papers to keep up with your burst of publication needs?

Will we run into issues of editor favoritism, where only his or her BFFs get reviews, so only those people get to publish science? The article addresses a similar issue, that of reviewers that have been historically poor and have been "blacklisted" by editors. The suggested solution is to choose co-authors whose PubCreds you can use. That. Does Not. I don't think- What? This seems like 7 kinds of bad idea. (Technically, it says "...blacklisted individuals would have to rely on PubCreds earned by co-authors." Potato Potahto.)

Will this lead to harried, crappy reviews that people pump out just so they can get their own publications out? There are already plenty of bad reviewers out there... I don't think the system needs any more incentive to decrease quality, even if it is in favor of quantity. Unfortunately, a devil of the system is that if an incompetent reviewer is also a slow reviewer, the editor feels obligated to get a response back to the authors quickly (instead of possibly soliciting a better reviewer), which I think leads to good papers being rejected for want of better reviews. The article addresses this by saying:

Reviewers providing late, superficial, sloppy, or inappropriate reviews should receive no PubCreds for doing so. The handling editor would decide whether a review was too late, superficial, or sloppy to be useful, and therefore to earn a PubCred. We believe that most handling editors are sufficiently frustrated by the frequent provision of extremely brief, cursory reviews that they would have no hesitation in refusing credit for such reviews.

That is, if they make it to the review stage in the first place, which it seems many good papers do not; editor overload is a main issue the PubCred system seeks to address. But again, the power of the editor in the previous excerpt makes me leery.

They also discuss the proposition of re-using reviews when you've been rejected from a journal, and are submitting to a second journal. This would keep "costs" down, as you would not have to "pay" to get the same manuscript reviewed a second time. How practical is it for journals to share reviews? I see two potential problems with this: 1) Do you want journals knowing that your article was already rejected by another journal? Do you want them to know which journal it was, especially if it was a lower-tier journal? Or that their journal was not your first pick? How is this going to influence editors when making final decisions? and 2) Some reviews are written in light of the journal's specific audience, or the type of papers it has historically accepted. I'm not sure how helpful a journal-specific review would be to a different journal, possibly with a very different audience and expectations. In that same vein, who submits exactly the same manuscript to two different journals without at least trying to give it an angle more palatable to the second journal?

Is it practical to expect all journals, from Nature to Copeia, to subscribe to the same system?

As was made painfully clear to me by my commenters on The Scoop and the re-posting at DrugMonkey, science is competitive. It seems like the drive to conceive science, do science, write science, and publish science should feel more like one long push for each project than four little ones. Is it unfair to put a roadblock in between the writing and publishing stages? How does it affect our use of publication record as a metric of academic success if reviewing other people's work (three times as much) is a prerequisite? Because reviewing is a vital contribution to the field, should this even be a problem?

Most importantly, do PubCreds also work at PUBS? Oh I hope so.

The authors have openly solicited feedback, so feel free to contact them if you are so inclined. If you are interested, the authors have also set up an online petition. I find both the problems and solutions worthy of our time, and I'm sure there is no perfect solution. But is there a better one than this? 

Updated 07/26/2010 to include a couple of links I forgot the first time.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef

This is one of those super-cool things that made me want to start writing about science-y things in the first place. I can't believe I neglected it for so long!

The Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef is a world-wide collaboration that combines aesthetics, environmentalism, and mathematics. It is exactly what it sounds like: a coral reef made out of crochet. And it is awesome. It is one of those ideas you will wish you had.
The Reef consists mostly of corals and anemones crocheted out of multi-colored yarn of various textures, but has also grown to incorporate a variety of elements, including sea slugs, jellyfish, bits of garbage, and bleached corals of delicate lace. It is owned by the Institute for Figuring, but is contributed to by crocheters from all over and travels to museums and universities across the globe to spread awareness of our dying reefs.

The website for the Institute for Figuring attributes the crochet pattern to Daina Taimina, an adjunct associate professor of mathematics at Cornell University and oft professor of various geometries that sound terribly impressive. The story goes that in 1997, while on a camping trip with her husband, she was pondering how to model hyperbolic space (as one does). During this ponderance, she recalled the paper models created by the topologist and Fields Medalist William Thurston. (According to Wikipedia, Dr. Thurston is quite the topological superstar.) For whatever reason, it occurred to her that she could mimic these models, and possibly expand on them, using crochet. Which she did.

I'm not sure how this discovery ended up in New Scientist, but it did, and the sisters at the Institute for Figuring ran with it. I love this project because it seems like a fresh, truly unique way of bringing science education to the public without being preachy or obnoxious. It allows non-science people and scientists alike to contribute. There's a likeness in form such that you know what you're looking at, but no one's entry is going to be rejected because a coral expert says it's inaccurate. 

With the barrage of mainstream nature documentaries that have been released the past few years (Planet Earth, Life), it is obvious that there is a market for these kinds of creations. And of course, as a scientist and generally responsible human, I am thankful for these efforts. I don't want species to go extinct, I don't want rain forests to be destroyed, I want evolution to be universally accepted, etc. Not to mention that some of the footage in these documentaries is unbelievably striking and total science porn. However, after seeing Dolphins and Whales at the IMAX this weekend, I'm starting to grow a bit annoyed. And I imagine the public is as well.

I don't think it's unreasonable or counterproductive or ignorant to ask the environmentalism angle to be toned down. If I had a nickel for every time Daryl Hannah told me a species was decreasing in numbers and we can save them if we really want to, I'd have ELEVENTY NICKELS. Sometimes I just want to watch the damn dolphins make clicky noises, okay? I get that animals are dying. I get that a lot of it is our fault. I GET IT. Maybe "toned down" isn't the right request. Re-directed? Re-phrased? Is all the enviro-preaching during animal documentaries doing any good? Should it be more about practical measures we can take as individuals instead of the elusive "if we don't do something soon" warning? Should they pass out Pocket Guides that tell you which fish are ethically raised so you don't contribute to overfishing? I don't know. I just know that about two-thirds of the way through Dolphins and Whales, I turned to my husband and whispered, "What does she know? She's a mermaid!"

Man, legs are so awesome.

As beautiful as some of Discovery Channel's productions are, and as honorable as their cause is, I would like to see more projects like the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef. Another example of science education that is cool, entertaining, and doesn't make me roll my eyes and groan is Isabella Rossellini's Green Porno series that she did with the Sundance Channel. Love.

A Tale of Adoption and Woe

Adoptions are difficult. Things that make adoptions difficult: the possibility of birth parents getting their act together, ex-spouses that are angry, not speaking English very well, being deemed unsuitable, being poor.
I generally consider that we are in the last category, but a quick look at poverty statistics and last year's 1040 says otherwise. So I do not think we are any of those things. And YET. Here we are.
The easiest kind of adoption is an uncontested step-parent adoption, based on my current knowledge, which is somewhere between the knowledge of a hobo on the street and a family law attorney that specializes in adoptions. There are no angry ex-spouses, the child has resided with the adopter for some time, the step-parent and birth parent have been married for a few years, no one does crack or tries to kill each other... and yet.
My husband has always intended on adopting my our daughter. Her biological father died before she was born and, due to an extremely tempestuous relationship with both him and his family at the time, was never even on the birth certificate. My husband and I have been married for 4 out of her 5 years and she has never known a life without him. She currently has my maiden name, which we wanted to get changed before she started public school. Four years ago, it seemed like we had plenty of time to get the money together, plenty of time to deal with the paperwork... and now it's 2010 and she's starting school in a month. 
But, come on, how hard can it be? It seems like this should be pretty straightforward and possibly the simplest adoption EVER. So I found my initial forms online (Petition for Termination and Adoption, Affidavit and Interstate Compact), filled them out, got them notarized, and went to the Family Law office in our local courthouse on Friday. So far so good. Based on several adoption forums, I expected to pay $150-200 to do this. It was $273. My wallet's empty, but at least I was finally getting it done. Person #1, a nice lady who helped me file the papers, said I should go downstairs to the law library, get a copy of the Order for Termination and Adoption and fill it out. It was pretty self-explanatory, but there was a reference attorney there who could help me for free if I needed it. I should get a copy of the death certificate from Vital Statistics just in case, and show up at Family Law court at 1:30 with Order, Certificate of Adoption (which I had already printed and filled out), and death certificate in hand, and I could have my kid adopted by the end of the day. YES! Wildest dreams come true. Amazing.
So I went to the law library. Person #2, the lovely law librarian, helped me make copies of the Order (all 30 pages of it). She informed me that I should go through it with a pen and fill in the appropriate blanks and scratch out the remarks that did not apply to my situation. Then she would e-mail a copy to me and I could transcribe my changes, then print it out. This seemed a little more difficult than Person #1 had suggested, but surely I could manage. Then we discovered that there were no options for having one biological parent alive on the Order. And that there was no "Termination" with my Adoption, so maybe I paid $273 to file the wrong petition? And, by the way, the reference attorney doesn't do child adoptions, so he can't help you. At this point, Person #2 turns to Person #3, an attorney looking up something on a computer in the law library, and asks if she's ever heard of a case like mine. She looks puzzled and shakes her head. Awesome. Person #2 hands me a flier for Lawyer Referral Services and suggests I ask for "Limited Scope Representation" (i.e., I don't need an attorney to represent me, I just need some advice). She informs me they don't require a retainer (which I eventually figured out was a non-refundable deposit. I know grown-up words!). And that just "showing up at court" with my papers didn't sound quite right to her. Clearly, this was not a one-day event.
So I called Lawyer Referral Services. Great news, Person #4 tells me, the first 20 minutes is only $20! And it's $200/hour after that, which.. we might.. be able to handle.. and they all require a $2000 retainer. So much for that. But Person #4 says maybe I can get some help at the free legal aid clinics held around town twice a week. 
At this point, I'm in tears, so I call my husband and barrage him with the usual (emotions and garbled jargon). He reminds me that my school offers free Legal Services for Students! I check their website and they don't offer representation for Family Law! EXTREMELY SURPRISING. But I schedule an appointment online anyway, explaining that I don't want representation, I want advice. So this morning I went to my appointment with Person #5. He was a very nice attorney, but a very nice attorney that doesn't do Family Law. He does inform me, though, that I may consider filing an amended Petition that doesn't mention Termination, or even the birth father, at all. He mentions this is probably free. I decide that "free" is the dumbest word ever invented, EVER. "Free" is the spoken incarnation of a relaxing vacation with your kids, or making your own donuts. It will not be as good as you are imagining. He also suggests that I should not even mention that I filed the wrong Petition if the judge looks particularly sleepy. This inspires great confidence in the integrity of the legal system. Person #5 also is not sure which Order it would be safer to file, as an Adoption Order is more correct, but would not match my Petition, unless I amend it, in which case it might just get confusing and the judge would say FAIL on account of being obnoxious. Person #5 also gives me a phone number and name for an attorney that may not require a retainer, but he's waiting to hear back from him as to whether or not he does adoptions. Outlook is not good.
When I get back to work, I have a message waiting from Domestic Relations. They have received my petition and would like to speak with me about the next step. Person #6 says he will be e-mailing me a list of social workers that can perform my Home Study. Their fees vary, from around, oh $500-800. This is when my brain shorts out and Person #6 wonders what that BZZT noise was. I ask him my questions regarding the amended petition (apparently it is not free to file an amendment, SURPRISINGLY, but does not cost much) and the possible petition-order mismatch. He sees the latter as a potential problem and informs me that I can schedule a "pre-trial" with the judge, in which I get to ask questions before my real court date, and I should call the District Clerk to set this up. I learn new meanings for words like "docket" and "calling" and stare at my schedule, hoping a pre-trial on a Tuesday at 1:30 will work for me because THAT IS THE ONLY TIME THEY MEET. As an aside, Person #6, person of vast adoption and family court knowledge, mentions that he went through an adoption and HE got an attorney because pro se (without an attorney) was such a pain. He said this as sympathetically as possible, and not douchey at all, but OMGZ why is this so HARD?
I decide my next best step, while my husband and I are listing our organs on Craigslist, is to schedule the pre-trial. I call the District Clerk (not the right office), whose secretary (Person #7) transfers me to the Civil Court Administrative Office, whose automaton voice prompts me for my Case #, which I have of course left at home. I quit for the day. 
I do not think this is happening before the kid starts school. I ask my husband if he can just stick a flag in her head and claim her.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Oh, Books...

I love books.

Until fairly recently, when the subject of books and reading came up in conversation, I felt a need to impress upon the other person my true and pure love affair with books. Most of my friends do read, and even enjoy reading, but in our discussions about books and reading, I rarely felt that they understood or shared the intensity of my infatuation. I suppose I felt compelled to disambiguate the mere enjoyment of books from my personal relationship with them in the hope that I would find someone who understood. And, as elitist as it may seem, I don't want people who "like to read" to think they have what I have (although I acknowledge the possibility they are feeling the same way about me as I am about them). I don't like to read. I love books. In all my searching, I have found two comrades, and I married one of them.

I have books that are best friends, books that are enemies, books for winter, books for summer, books for rainy days, books for each mood, books for when I'm busy, and books for when I'm bored. Authors have invented characters that are closer to me than any of my friends, and it is not because I have disloyal or uninteresting friends. Sometimes these characters come from "classics", but I don't discriminate. I read what speaks to me, and when I was a child, that certainly wasn't Tolstoy or Dickens, and I have no misgivings about admitting that. Lois Lowry and Ann M. Martin were powerful figures in my adolescence. I can return to those childhood friends like opening a box of forgotten treasures, stowed away in a closet and remaining exactly the same as I left them. I know these people.

I mourn the fall of the written word. As much as technology and global communication has to offer, the tactile sensation of holding a hard-back book in my hands cannot be replicated. I am conditioned to associate that feeling with comfort and the intimacy with the friends I find. The sound of pages scraping as I turn them, the weight of the book, the smell of paper closed up and rediscovered... one of my top five smells is the basement of the public library in the town where I grew up, where the children's wing was. The musty smell of a book can bring me to tears.

For many years now, I have imagined myself growing old on in the country, with a chicken coop, a vegetable garden, and some goats... opening a used bookstore in a small town and selling coffee and homemade pastries in the mornings. I want to be there for another little girl who is searching for someone that understands, who will also cry with joy over the pages of a book because oh, I understand. I know there have always been people like me, and my husband. Books have changed the world. Books have killed people, saved others. I hope with all my heart that books will still be around in 30 years, that there will still be enough of us to keep my dream alive.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Big Bang Big Boom

This is completely amazing. A group called Blu has made 9 minutes and 30 seconds worth of stop-motion street art describing the Evolution of Life and it's utterly brilliant. I'm not commenting at all on the science, religion, or politics of it (the artists themselves describe Big Bang Big Boom as "an unscientific point of view on the beginning and evolution of life ... and how it could probably end"). From a conceptual and aesthetic standpoint, it's simply unbelievable. 

(Reposted from Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Saturday, July 10, 2010


We bought our daughter's first violin today, a 1/4 size. She has been asking for lessons for several months now, which I think was instigated by a friend of hers at daycare, who also supposedly has a violin she is supposedly taking lessons for (this is all 5-year-old hearsay; I have confirmed the existence of the girl and the violin, at least). I grew up playing piano and French horn, probably because I am Asian and dorky, respectively, so as soon as she mentioned the violin, my Asian half went OKAY I BUY YOU VIOLIN NOW! YOU PRACTICE 5 HOURS, YES? My sensible husband convinced me to give it a few months and see if her desire persisted. Somewhat surprisingly, it did, so I went a-Craigslisting and found a decent 1/4 size for $100.
We got it home today at 4:00 and by the time we got her in bed at 9:30, she had taken it out to play it no less than 4 times. This kid has enthusiasm. I am psyched.
I also know nothing about the violin. I believe there is something made of horse-hair in the case and there may be rosin involved.
That being said, I have no idea what to look for in a teacher. I began playing piano when I was 6 and continued taking lessons until I moved from my hometown at 14. My parents, like most parents, weren't sure how serious I would take it, so they bought an electric piano and enrolled me in group lessons with a lady that was good with kids. Unfortunately, the only thing that changed over the next 7 years was I got a larger, better electric piano. Meaning I still did not have a real instrument, individual lessons, or a serious teacher. I had exhausted my teacher's sheet music collection as well as expertise, and I spent my time sight-reading crappy pop song arrangements and not progressing at all. When I was 13, I decided to find a hard-core teacher. A friend of mine, whose parents felt the same way about music as my parents did education (i.e., EXTREME), took lessons from a tiny, terrifying Korean woman who taught the piano majors at the local university and made my friend practice 3 hours a day, minimum (which she did, on either the upright piano they had at home or their baby grand. Ahem.). Clearly, this was the teacher for me. What could go wrong?
On my very first day of lessons (nay, my audition to even take lessons from her), one thing became apparent: my technique and theory were severely lacking. I had learned how to "play" the piano, but I was not a piano player. "In the key of blah blah blah" meant exactly that to me, and the difficulty level of piece I was capable of learning never seemed to progress. We frustrated each other for a few months, then I quit lessons for good. I learned a lot in those few months, but I am largely the same player I was before her. Old habits die hard, retraining hands takes a long time. 
Herein lies the dilemma. My parents started me off with a "nice" teacher at the beginning; maybe they thought if I got serious, they'd find me a more serious teacher... I got serious, but the new teacher happened way too late. Or maybe, due at least in part to a lack in any musical training on their part, they just didn't realize I was developing very bad habits and not progressing past "The Wind Beneath My Wings". So I don't want to make the same mistake. You know those ballet movies where the little girls have their hair scraped back and their teacher is a stern Russian woman that constantly corrects their posture and possibly hits them with a meter stick? A small part of me (okay, half of me. Maybe the Asian half.) wants her violin teacher to be JUST LIKE THAT. No mercy. It just seems like a waste of time to build a bad foundation, realize you're serious, then have to scrap that foundation and build a good one. Unfortunately, a good foundation costs $40/hour and SOMEONE'S husband isn't sure a 5-year-old's violin lessons are worth that.
We'll see what happens. According to our daughter, she doesn't even need lessons. I showed her a video of Yanni and she said "Oh. Yeah, that's what I was doing."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Scientifically Insecure

I've been asked to give a talk at a conference I'm attending next month! I had originally intended to present a poster, and I was feeling pretty good about it because this is a small meeting, organized by graduate students and mostly for graduate students (as opposed to a large conference where the leaders in my field will be conducting day-long symposia or something). In fact, this low intimidation factor was one of the main reasons I jumped on this meeting in the first place... well, that, and... it's in Switzerland. w00t!!!!
So a few days after submitting my abstract, I got an email from one of the organizers asking "Your particular field is rather under-represented, would you mind very much giving an oral presentation instead?" To which I initially reflex-vomited, then asked my adviser if he thought I was capable of such things. He said yes, I emailed back yes, and here we are.
I'm feeling unusually confident about the whole thing, but I'm sure that will fade quickly when I actually start putting a talk together and imagining myself standing there, with people assuming I'm some sort of expert on ANYTHING EVER. And here lies one of This Scientist's most common problems: insecurity. I'm starting my sixth year in graduate school (and my last, God willing) and I still hesitate to call myself a molecular biologist, an endocrinologist, a neuroscientist, any of the things I'm supposed to be at this point... when people ask what I do, I say "I'm in graduate school". At what point do I go from being student to scientist?
Confidence is a funny thing. It seems like I have two modes when it comes to being "a scientist", when people ask me science-y questions: 1) total spaz that babbles incoherently and answers with as little commitment as possible, or 2) calm, collected grown-up with enough maturity to stand still for ten seconds in silence while I think it over. I've only recently began to blossom from #1 to #2 and, more often than not, #1 takes over and I end up totally embarrassing myself. The first time I gave a talk (my alma mater invited me back to speak about my current graduate school adventures) I gave the most absurd answer to a question I have ever given in my life, so absurd I will not repeat it... because I was afraid of silence, afraid if I didn't say SOMETHING they would assume I knew NOTHING.
People say "It's okay to say you don't know", but what they really mean is "Learn how to say you don't know without sounding like an idiot". I'm still terrible at the latter, but quite good at the former! 
All that to say that I'm excited, and honored. Yes, I know it's just a student-organized conference, and they only asked me because my field is under-represented, and the fact that my boss is one of the invited speakers probably gives me some credit-by-proxy even if I turn out a total sham... but MY take on it is that if I was truly a complete moron, a quick Google of my name would shout out DON'T ASK HER TO SPEAK! SHE WILL HAVE SLIDES OF RAINBOWS AND CALL THEM DATA! SHE WILL SHOW UP IN A TUTU AND IT WILL BE AWKWARD! But that didn't happen! So maybe I'm not a complete moron, because they DID ask me!
Hopefully because I'm one of the few from my particular field, I actually will know more about what I'm doing than anyone else. When I'm attending a talk, I generally give the speaker the benefit of the doubt that he or she knows way more about their talk than I do. The idea that the audience will assume the same about me is nerve-wracking, but I know I have to get over it. Screw your balls on and go for it, right? Prepare as much as possible, hope it's enough, stay calm and carry on. Here we go.

That's what she said.

My favorite quote being "When the mantle of the squid was opened ... we witnessed an unusual event."

(Reposted from Pharyngula)

Monday, July 5, 2010


It is possible that no one reads this blog. I accept that possibility. However, I think you are not alone, reader of mine.
A blog meme has been going around science blogs (and maybe non-science blogs, but I have no idea about those) requesting lurkers to temporarily de-lurk and say something about who they are in the Comments. The responses have been surprising and encouraging (to read more, see Ed Yong and DrugMonkey's blogs) and I'm hopping on the bandwagon. We bloggers don't get a lot of feedback; we publish posts into the void, and once in awhile something comes back.

So tell me about yourself (but only as much as you want to tell). How did you find this blog? Why do you keep coming back? What would you like to see more or less of? Does this make me look fat? How many Peeps can you fit in your mouth at once?