Monday, June 29, 2009

Life Update

First: Kayaking. When I first started kayaking on the river last summer, it terrified me. I was so scared going through rapids that I had a hard time remembering to paddle! Even after doing about 15 river runs last fall, I still had The Fear. I stopped paddling around Halloween last fall, which limited my kayak time to the Wednesday night Open Pool sessions at Eastern. Over the course of the winter, I perfected my roll, got a pretty solid off-sides roll, and even learned a couple tricks. I was still very nervous to get back on the river the first time this spring, but it has turned out to be great! Somewhere between October and June I developed some serious river confidence—I have no idea where it came from! Gordon doesn’t have to drag me out on the river anymore; I am always excited to go. I can read and run rapids on my own now instead of following Gordon through everything. It’s been a very fun spring! So far I have just been paddling the Upper Spokane—a Class II river—but it sounds like I will be trying out some Class III stuff and maybe even a IV or two before summer’s end. Seriously, you guys have to try this sport!

School: I finished my first quarter of grad school earlier this month. It was a lot of work, but I really enjoyed myself. I took two classes, Public Administration Research Methods and Public Policy Cycles. Both classes were amazing—I had a great professor and met some really fun folks. There was a ton of reading to do each week and several major presentations and papers, but I got through without too much stress. Actually, considering the fact that I missed a week and a half of class while traveling in Europe, I guess I should feel pretty good. I am really looking forward to starting up again in the fall. I will be taking Concepts and Values of Public Service, Personal Assessment, and Public Personnel Management. I have heard great things about the professors I will have.

Work: Only 2.5 days left and I am off for the summer!!! It still feels a bit crazy; I haven’t had a summer off in a long time. I wonder what I will do with myself. Hopefully, I will get a lot of reading and kayaking done. I have had this job for 10 months now and I really love it. I work with a great team of people and the atmosphere is very warm and friendly. I am sure that I will be itching to get back to work long before I am due back in September.

Which brings us to…
Vacations: I have three planned so far. This week I leave for a girls’ weekend on the Washington Coast. My sisters, a few friends, and I will spend the 4th at a beach house in Ocean Park. I am looking forward to sitting in the sand, reading some great summer books, and watching fireworks on the beach! Two weeks later, I am heading to Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho. I’ve always wanted to go. We will go camping, see all the cool geographic sites, and explore the lave tube caves!! It’s a long drive to get there, but I am sure it will be worth it. Finally, at the end of July, Captain Awesome and I are planning to head to Ross Lake again for our second annual backcountry canoe trip. We had such a wonderful time there last year; we are really excited to go back!

Well there you have it: my life has been updated. : )

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Science Scouts!!

I am waaay into science. Love reading about it, anyway—-never been very good at actually doing it. So here’s the club for me and all you other science geeks: The Order of the Science Scouts of Exemplary Repute and Above Average Physique. It’s just like Boy Scouts but with way more interesting badges! Here are a few you can earn:

The “quantum mechanics… I soooo get it” badge.
And not afraid to make fun of those who don't!

The “I’m a marine biologist and, to be honest, I kind of f***ing hate dolphins” badge.
A more common sentiment than you would think.

The “broken heart for science” badge.
In which the recipient's passion for science has led to their significant other leaving.

The “I’ve eaten what I study” badge.
Recipients have prepared their object of study as a cuisine item for eating. Hopefully, the minority of MD’s are ineligible for this one.

The “somewhat confused as to what scientific field I actually belong to” badge.
Also known as the transdiscplinary, interdiscplinary, multidisciplinary, or intradisciplinary badge.

The “I work with way too much radioactivity, and yet still no discernable superpowers yet” badge.
…Although not for lack of trying…

The “destroyer of quackery” badge.
In which the recipient never ever backs down from an argument that pits sound science over quackery.

The “totally digs highly exothermic reactions” badge.
Might be best to keep an eye on such recipients.

The “sexing up science” badge.
In which the recipient has had experience with things such as selective breeding, crossing, mate selection, prokaryotic conjugation, fertility studies, STD related microbiology, and/or any other acceptable interpretation of the badge.

And my personal favorite:

The “I blog about science” badge.
In which the recipient maintains a blog where at least a quarter of the material is about science. Suffice to say, this does not include scientology.

More hilarious badges are here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dancing is Contagious

It's not just illness and laughter that is contagious. Humans are social beings and sometimes we just can't help ourselves : ). This just in from The Frontal Cortex:
This reminds me of the classic Milgram study on social conformity. In this study, Milgram had "confederates" stop on a busy city street and look upwards at the sky. He demonstrated that when one person was looking up, 40 percent of passerby also looked up, just in case something interesting was happening. (There was nothing to look at, just sky and buildings.) When two people were looking up, 60 of passerby looked up. When there were three people, the percentage jumped to 65 percent, and when there were four people nearly 80 of strangers stopped and stared upwards.

This dance worked the same way. At a certain point, the group of awkward dancers becomes undeniable - they can no longer be ignored. And that is when the contagion begins. Once we start to wonder whether the dance is fun - or what that cluster of people is looking at - then it's only a matter of time before we too start to dance. Jane Jacobs, in other words, was right: "Life attracts life".

Here's the video--watch til the end:

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Gaslight Anthem

If you are not already in love with Gaslight Anthem, you will be after watching this:

Seriously, if Brian Fallon flashes that amazing half-smile one more time, I'm going to pass out. : )

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Improv Everywhere

Some of you may have already heard about Improv Everywhere—it’s a cultural phenomenon (though not one that’s touched the NW much). Here’s how it works: Word gets around on the internet and through word of mouth that there is going to be an improv event. Regular folks show up at the appointed time—with the appropriate props, if necessary—to participate, usually not knowing what to expect. Once there, they are given instructions, which they carry out and then continue on their way. The most well-known event is the Central Station Freeze event in which over 200 people walking through New York’s Central Station froze simultaneously for five minutes, then walked away. It’s random for sure, but therein lies the fun!

A more recent event had over 3000 participants. Folks were instructed to show up at a NYC park wearing a specific color of tee-shirt. Before heading to the park, they were supposed to download an MP3 file to their MP3 players (but not listen to it). Once in the park, at exactly the appointed time, everyone hit “play”. They then played silly games of Simon Says, but silently. To any onlookers, it looked as though they were randomly acting in unison.

Here’s a video of the Central Station event, my personal favorite:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009