Off to Science Online 2009

January 15, 2009

Just in case you weren’t sure that I had enough geek cred, I am off to North Carolina for the Science Online 2009 conference. My official mission is to find ways to use online networking to increase diversity at SIO, and my unofficial mission is to schmooze & booze with my ocean (and terrestrial) blogging buddies.*

If you’re going, don’t forget that Kevin Z, Karen James, the Southern Fried Scientist and I will leading a sea shanty singalong Friday night! You don’t need to know any shanties or be able to sing – we’ll teach you and it’s all about the volume anyway. Plus, don’t you want to know where me noggy noggy shirt is? Or all the things to do with a drunken sailor early in the morning?

*Note that my favorite piezophilic trio, Deep Sea News, has left Discovery Networks and gone indie. Check out their snazzy new digs!

In which we become a one-woman show

January 11, 2009

You might have noticed that Eric doesn’t post here very much anymore. Since he’s a professional writer, blogging for him isn’t the delightful procrastinatory sweet goodness that it is for me. So he’s officially departing the Oyster’s Garter. (Don’t worry – he’s still stuck with me in real life.)

Eric will probably reappear for guest posts as the fancy strikes him. You can also read him every week over at Science Not Fiction, Last Blog on Earth, and San Diego CityBeat.

I’m getting published on real paper!

January 5, 2009

My Dear Oyster’s Garter column on shape-changing plankton, “How a coccolithophore without its plates is like a grin without a cat,” will be included in Open Laboratory 2008: The Best Science Writing on Blogs! Open Laboratory is a compendium of the year’s best science blogging, and my entry was one of the 50 selected from 518 nominations.

You’ll be able to get all 50 essays (plus a poem and cartoon) on caressable, lovable bound paper later in the month. Special thanks to Karen James for nominating the winning post, to editor Jennifer Rohn, and to the coordinators and judges – reading all 518 must have been quite the labor of love.

In which I cave on the meme thing

December 5, 2008

Apparently I’ve been tagged by Eric AND Jim on the Five Things meme. I have muttered and ranted about memes in the past, but I must admit that I’ve enjoyed reading about the strange pasts and dreams of my fellow bloggers. And is it not better to be an exhibitionist than a mere voyeur?

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago:

  • Being angsty & pseudo-goth, fighting with my parents about getting my nose pierced, and riding about on the backs  of motorcycles
  • Applying to small liberal arts colleges in order to major in English
  • Dissecting a cat and a fetal pig in Anatomy & Physiology class and realizing that I really liked biology (I wasn’t a feline minion at the time – not sure I could dissect a cat with such glee now.)
  • Teaching swimming lessons at the local YMCA
  • Finishing my very last season of marching band. I played tenor sax and wore a silly hat.

5 Things On My To-Do List Today:

  • Work on fellowship applications in hopes of getting paid next year
  • Enter data & make sure it actually corresponds to my frozen samples
  • Adjust brakes on bike in order to reduce horrible screeching sound while careening down the hill above school
  • Attend SIO Holiday Party…
  • And then drive up to Santa Barbara to visit JEByrnes!

5 Snacks I Love:

  • Whitefish salad on a fresh New York bagel
  • Zabar’s cinnamon rugelach
  • Banana bread
  • Guayaba paste with romano cheese
  • Olives

5 Things I’d do if I was a Millionaire:

5 Places I’ve Lived:

  • In a hut on the shoulder of Mt. Washington
  • Manchester, NH
  • Providence, RI
  • Somerville, MA
  • Brooklyn, NY

5 Jobs I’ve Had:

  • Backcountry naturalist
  • Taxidermy salesperson
  • Construction project manager – with hardhat!
  • Research analyst at an environmental consulting company
  • Research minion scanning lots and lots of slides

I tag Sam, JEByrnes, DN Lee, Kate, and Gila.

Science fiction in science

November 19, 2008

Consider my nerd quotient dialed to 11. I will be attending the Science Online 2009 conference this January, and one of the perks will be the panel on using science fiction as a tool for science communication. The moderators asked for input and to “start an online conversation between science fiction writers and science bloggers.”

Well, I want to talk to science fiction writers! And since so many TOG readers are nerdy nerd nerds (and frequently educators of various kinds) I figured you all might want to weigh in, too. Here are my answers to the “Questions for Science Bloggers.”

What is your relationship to science fiction? Do you read it? Watch it? What/who do you like and why?

I love science fiction, though I think probably most of what I read falls more into the fantasy camp. I suppose I’m kind of sterotypically girly in that I care a lot about character development and less about speculative technology, though I do love me some space fights. Though I read all kinds of tripe in my callow youth, I now no longer enjoy books without decent female characters. (Though I don’t mind if they’re sexbots as long as they have a personality and actual humanoid motivations – I thought Charles Stross’ Saturn’s Children was tons of fun.)

My favorite scifi author is Ray Bradbury. I’m going to count China Mieville in there too, since he kind of writes about speculative (albeit dystopian) biotechnology. I listen to several scifi podcasts, mainly Escape Pod. My favorite scifi show is Battlestar Galactica, particularly the first and second seasons, with their optimal combination of space fights, daring rescues, and interesting, flawed characters. (Please, gentle readers, DO NOT spoil the fourth season. I watch it on DVD so I haven’t seen it yet!) I still pine for Firefly. I found Heroes tedious and derivative, and could never bear any of the Stargate series.

What do you see as science fiction’s role in promoting science, if any? Can it do more than make people excited about science? Can it harm the cause of science?

Right now, I don’t see scifi as having much to do with real science. Most of the science in science fiction is so bad that it is either neutral (not associated with real science at all) or harmful to science. I stopped watching Farscape over some nonsense about Aeryn Sun being cold-blooded and how that meant she couldn’t get hot. Hadn’t anyone in LA been to the desert and seen all the lizards scuttling around?

Besides, the science portrayed is so far away from what is possible now. For example, somebody who became a computer programmer to be like Hiro Protagonist in Snow Crash would be sadly disappointed.

Have you used science fiction as a starting point to talk about science? Is it easier to talk about people doing it right or getting it wrong?

I really haven’t. This is probably because I’m a marine ecologist and not too much science fiction is about that type of thing. (Except for the horrible abundance of “dolphins with mystical knowledge” books. I would never use these book as examples because a) people do not need to be encouraged to harass poor cetaceans for Mystical Truths; and b) they are BAD books.)

Are there any specific science or science fiction blogs you would recommend to interested readers or writers?

The science blogs I read are listed in my blog roll. I don’t regularly read any scifi blogs, but if I did, I’d read Io9 and Discovery Magazine’s Science Not Fiction. (Full disclosure: Co-blogger and cohabitator Eric blogs for Science Not Fiction, but that’s only 47% of the reason I’m promoting it.)

Happy birthday to us!

August 27, 2008

The Oyster’s Garter is one year old today!

This is really the only possible celebratory song:

The chronicles of our hike

August 27, 2008

Day 1: Oooh, Devil’s Postpile! Amazing columnar basalt formations! Interpretive signs! Nerd heaven! *GACK* ALTITUDE! Please allow me to quietly perish.

Day 2: Still not dead. Swimming in Shadow and Garnet Lakes revive me briefly. 10,000 feet hurts. Acclimated hiking buddies dash cheerfully ahead. We hates them, yes we does, precious.

Day 3: I’M ALLLLIVE! YAAAAY! And I love the rocky bleak alpine zone and I saw a marmot and they look like chubby puppy-rodents and we are camping underneath pink glaciers! Oh. Where did the skin on my heels go?

Day 4: Hobbit Day, in which we sleep late, eat five meals, and take all day to wander out of a flat flat canyon. Would hobbits roast marshmallows in as farewell to hiking buddies? Probably.

Day 5: GRRR CLIMBING CATHEDRAL PASS MAKE MIRIAM STRONG. Thirteen miles is nothing to STRONG MIRIAM. I give the Colombia Finger the finger! We collapse at 4 PM. Bubo the Blister is born on Eric’s left big toe (and it covers ALL of his left big toe), soon to be joined by Bubette on his right big toe.

Day 6: Second Skin (so many thanks to taod) temporarily keeps Bubo and Bubette at bay. We ditch our packs and frolic up Half Dome, chortling as we pass endless lines of day hikers. We clamber up the cables and (as Jives put it) play Jenga with our lives. We frolic back down. Where are our packs? SHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIT. We find the packs scattered across a hillside, side pockets clawed up and bear barrels tossed about. No losses except minor pack damage. We marvel at incredible bear boldness, realize that Yosemite bears truly are in a class of their own. Hike down to Little Yosemite campsite, more frolicking in gorgeous clear Merced River.

Day 7: Second Skin stretched to limit. I think I see bone through heel, Eric thinks he sees alien baby in Bubo. We hike out to Happy Isles, past thousands and thousands of day hikers going the other way. Nevada and Vernal Falls very pretty, tourists very confused by our packs and general stench, we are glad people are engaging with nature but wonder why they all have to do it in the very same place.

We’re ba-ack!

August 25, 2008

We’re back! Many many thanks to Jives for his excellent guest blogging – mmmmm, chocolate right whale. Our hike was awesome and featured a minor bear attack, a blister so large that it was named Bubo, and an extremely fetching marmot. Regularly scheduled blogging shall resume when we’re a bit more dug out from stacks of accumulated work. In the meantime, here’s tiny Eric and tiny Miriam atop Half Dome.


August 15, 2008
Devils Postpile, where we are entering the trail

Devil's Postpile, at the start of our hike

Eric and I are heading off the grid for a week, bravely going where lolcats fear to tread. If you happen to be somewhere in the middle of the Ansel Adams Wilderness next week, you will be able to find us by listening for the kvetching and the naughty sea shanties.

But we leave the Oyster’s Garter with 200% more awesomeness!  Two excellent guest bloggers have stepped up to bring you the finest in marine science and geekery:

Jives resides over at the New Blue, where he is Editor and Web Coordinator for the Communications and Marketing Department at the New England Aquarium. Normally a purveyor of the finest in adorable vertebrata, Jives is going to be giving the northwest Atlantic some love, blogging about shark research, the Bay of Fundy, and “something sexy.”

Hao is a fellow graduate student at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. By day, he uses his 133t math skillz to make fish population predictions actually resemble reality. By night, he is a master of geekery from Lucas to Whedon. He’s going to be applying his scientific powers to the Force (or using the Force to apply his scientific powers).

Enjoy! See you all a week from Monday!

Because I happened to have a giant isopod in my office…

August 14, 2008
Follow-up to this and this post – I finally have put the giant isopod tshirt in its proper context.
Do you feel pretty? Do you, punk?

Do you feel pretty? Do you, punk?


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