I Was Shamed Into It, Now So Are You

Analiese Miller, by Ben Zvan

Analiese Miller, by Ben Zvan

I was, I admit. But there are worse things to be shamed into getting off my ass and posting about.

Ben Zvan is an excellent photographer, and Analiese Miller is a lovely subject. She’s also part of the Quiche Moraine crew.

Ana needs your assistance. She’s trying to get a walk-on part on the TV show Mad Men, and you need to go vote for her (once a day).

Do it. Do it now. Otherwise, I’ll call you a dirty accommodationist.

From whence came the art:

That image of Analiese Miller was taken by Ben Zvan, who begs you to go vote for her! (And also took the great head-shot of me that adorns the right sidebar of this blog, by the way.)

Boss Lady

To wit:

Chew On It, by Lou FCD @ Flickr

Chew On It, by Lou FCD @ Flickr

Jane had to help open a new store up in Mt. Olive, NC the other day, and since she was to be there late that evening, the company paid for a hotel room for the night. She was kind enough to indulge my photographic nagging.

More photos of Jane from the hotel room below the fold.

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Clutching Pearls

Woman Clutching Her Pearls. 5th Ave - MDPNY20090617, by mdpNY @ Flickr

Woman Clutching Her Pearls. 5th Ave - MDPNY20090617, by mdpNY @ Flickr

I recently received a bit of a hat tip from a teacher of 18 years who is just dipping her feet into the blogosphere. I always appreciate a mention and a link when someone finds something here at Crowded Head that they like or find informative. Peggy apparently did, and said so. I sort of got conflated a bit with Brian Switek who led the discussion in the conference session about which I blogged, but there are certainly worse people with whom to be confused, from my point of view. (I’ll let Brian speak for himself on his end.)

In any event, Peggy found some interesting points that she thought might be useful to her as a teacher and pointed them out as part of an assignment for her ITED 511 class.

One of her commenters though, not so much.

This is a comment about the first blog entry – “Teaching College Science: Blogs and Beyond”

How do I say…what I am about to say…and be politically correct? There is too much sex referenced on the web page. It distracted me from the blog. It also gave me credibility issues. In one sentence the blogger talks about his excitement with teaching high school students, while several sex-related ads run in the margins.

Or am I misunderstanding the sex part? Please come to my rescue here.

I hope I’m wrong.

I presume that Linda meant that my blog gave me credibility issues, but I’d argue her statement is more accurate as it stands.

I of course was a bit bewildered, thinking perhaps my blog had been hacked or something and immediately checked, looking for “several sex-related ads run in the margins”.

Um.. yeah.

There is exactly one ad and it’s for a charity calendar, unless you count the link to Sex in the Public Square where I am a contributing editor (though calling that an “ad” when SitPS doesn’t sell anything is a bit of a stretch of the vernacular). No racy pictures or nuthin’. (What’s with that, anyway? I really have to spice up the blog sidebars at some point.) A purple banner linking to the 2010 NYC Sex Bloggers Calendar (have you ordered yours yet? Get on that!!) gets poor Linda clutching her pearls. Not exactly what I would characterize as “several sex-related ads run[ning] in the margins”.

Anyway, more interesting than Linda’s apoplexy is the underlying assumption that high school teachers should be asexual, or perhaps at least publicly so. It’s not an uncommon attitude in our society, but exactly where did this supremely bizarre notion come from? Does anyone actually know any high school teachers that are not at all sexual? Is that even possible?

Honestly, I’ve considered writing less about sex here from time to time in light of the medieval attitudes about the subject. I am aware that here in North Carolina school boards and the general public are all about waving their Bibles around and clucking their tongues about other people’s sex lives. (And let me point out here as an aside that the Bible is probably not the best anthology of fairy tales on which to base one’s prudery – have you ever read that thing? It’s not even well written porn, mostly.) Yes, even tangentially discussing human sexuality decimates my hirability here in Jesusland, but that’s exactly the kind of problem I work to correct with what I write. It would be rather hypocritical of me to bow to that kind of pressure when I’m preaching on the other corner about standing up to sexual repression.

I just can’t bring myself to do that.

So for the foreseeable future expect to see posts here on sex and sexuality right alongside posts about my Biology and English classes. You’ll find sexy photos of my wife, and you’ll find write ups of Science Conferences I attend. If a school board I’m considering working for later has their panties in such a wad that they can’t hire me because I’m unashamedly human, then that’s their loss and unfortunately, their students’ loss.

Hell, just for spite I might even let JanieBelle make the occasional guest appearance.

From whence came the art:

That image is titled Woman Clutching her Pearls. 5th Ave – MDPNY20090617, by mdpNY, and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial No Derivative Works license.

Carnival of the Liberals, Number 91 – Eine kleine Nachtlesung

Carnival of the Liberals, Thinking Liberally

Carnival of the Liberals, Thinking Liberally

Following Quiche Moraine is a monumental and intimidating task. The collaboration of writers they have over there is a top notch, first rate bunch of folks. I’ll do the best I can to fill their shoes, rather than wind up the mess on the bottom.

Let’s start with a little humor, move through some more serious stuff, and see if I can send you off to your bed with a liberal dose of sex that will have the NeoCons pulling out their hair, and you pulling out… something more interesting.

Pointing out the bizarre nature of Republican logic is often an excursion into the ridiculous, but it’s rarely been as toe tappingly funny as The “We Did Nothing Wrong & Nancy Should Have Stopped Us” song. Now you see why Kane is quite Mad.

And Kilroy_60 seems to have discovered an important clue as to why. Send in the Clowns? They’re Already Here. Boy, does that explain a lot.

Johnny Pez has uncovered the Secret Hope In Time that the Republicans have been waiting for. Turns out they have an ace in the hole. Inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation books, they’re going to get direction from their glorious past, and all they have to do is wait Inside the Time Vault.

(The rest of this edition of CotL lies below the fold.)

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Summer Update

Turkey Vulture in the Clouds

Turkey Vulture in the Clouds

So the semester is over and summer is officially here for me, solstice be damned. I’ll probably be able to blog a bit more, and vent some of the accumulated thoughts jumbled up in my brain.

For now, a few bits of updates.

I’ll be reading and reviewing The Unlikely Disciple, by Kevin Roose, for Carnal Nation. I’ll post a link for you when it’s up.

I’ll be hosting the next Carnival of the Liberals here on May 20th. I’ve been receiving submissions and should be getting to those by tomorrow. To this point, they’ve been shunted into a folder in my mailbox just because they started coming in during the lead up to finals week.

Speaking of finals, I think our team project for English 113 (our final was a presentation on one of Hamlet’s soliloquys) went OK, and I expect an A on that and in the class.

I bumped into my Bio 112 prof in a store here in town a few hours after the Bio final. He stopped to say hello and told me I got an A on the final, and complimented my answer regarding The Tragedy of the Commons. I don’t think I did well on the previous exam, so I’m thinking I’m in A/B borderland. Hopefully the final will pull me above the line.

I’ve been doing a lot of photography, uploading pics to my Facebook albums and to Twitpic. Kay is prepping to graduate high school next month, and since the ceremony will be in the football stadium, we needed a decent camera. I had been scrounging to find some cash for summer tuition, but we diverted those funds (and then a little) into getting a Canon EOS Rebel xs a few days ago since I won’t be going to school this summer anyway, and I’ve been using the heck out of it and trying to figure out all those knobs and buttons.

And that’s a bit of a story, too. UNCW Center for Marine Science gives two paid internships per year to Coastal Biology students, and I was nominated by the department for one of them. That was awesome and I was very excited. But then Dub emailed The Chair to tell her that the economy tanked those two internships. That was not awesome and I was bummed. Then Dub emailed The Chair again, and offered one internship on a volunteer basis, and I was offered that. So I guess now I’m quasi-excited. I said from the beginning that I would have done it for free, and in fact assumed it was volunteer at first and was happy to do it, but then I found out I was going to be paid, and now that I’m not going to be paid… well, y’know. I’m excited, but feel a bit like a kid teased with a lolipop. Oh well, I’m looking forward to it. Dub is where I intend to finish my bachelors degree and they have a ton of interesting research projects going, so it’s still a great opportunity. I’m really proud of being nominated for that one slot.

Easy Cool

Easy Cool

And JP. James tried pole vaulting this year for the first time. It’s interesting in that he had no idea that my Pop was a pole vaulter in high school. He seems to love it, finished fifth in the conference, and even went to Regionals. He lettered, and he’s got three more years of vaulting ahead of him. How freaking cool is that?

Oh, and he’s fifteen today. Happy Birthday, son.

From whence came the art:

I took both of those images with my new Canon EOS Rebel xs, and they are each licensed by me under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- Share Alike 3.0 License.

Name that Flu

Vote early, vote often! Or write in your own answer!

Teaching College Science: Blogs and Beyond

Brian Switek, of Laelaps

Brian Switek, of Laelaps

One the sessions I attended at this weekend’s Science Online ’09 conference was Teaching College Science: Blogs and Beyond. Being an aspiring high school Biology teacher, I figured this would be both interesting and relevant. It was hard to choose sometimes between the simultaneous sessions, but this one was a ‘can’t miss’. I was not disappointed.

The session was hosted by Brian Switek of Laelaps and Andrea Novicki of the Center for Instructional Technology at Duke University.  “Official” group notes for the session can be found here. (Thanks to Andrea and Brian for the shout out.)

The session was productive, with the room split into several groups for discussion before we shared our thoughts with each other to produce the notes found there at the wiki. The actual discussion prompt was “How can you use blogs in teaching and learning science?”

I had the distinct pleasure of being in a group of four consisting of Cathy the Chemistry Teacher, Daniel the Biology Instructor, and the larger than life Blake Stacey. It was a bit difficult keeping JanieBelle seated (not on Blake’s lap) and properly focused (not on Blake) of course, but we all managed. (Ok, a gag and handcuffs may have been involved.)

One of the ideas that came up was motivating students to keep blogs, and I want to focus a bit on that. Though we all agreed that this would be helpful to students (it was for me, certainly), there are several hurdles that need to be lept. I encountered some of these myself as a student last semester, trying to Blog my Biology Class. The re-writing of notes when not under the gun of trying to keep up was extremely helpful to me to grasp concepts I didn’t quite get a handle on during the lecture. It was also helpful even when I fell behind on the blog a bit, to rehash mistakes I made on exams and quizzes and see why I missed particular questions.

(Continue reading, below the fold)

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Science Online Notes

So the conference has been great, a lot of fun and informative stuff. I have a ton of notes from the talks I’ve attended, and there are some really neat conversations I want to tell you all (all both of you) about. Right now though, we’re hanging out, some of us are blogging, lots of chit chat, and waiting for dinner.

I’ve set in on talks and discussions about Science Fiction in Science, Teaching Science in College: Blogs and Beyond, Race in Science, Anonymity and Pseudonymity, and Getting Published as a Science Writer. Good stuff.

I’ve met and chatted with Steph and Ben Zvan, Blake Stacey, Greg Laden, Bob O’Hara, PalMD, GrrlScientist (who’s sitting right next to me blogging and chatting as we speak), Kevin Zelnio, and a bunch of other really cool people. I’ve listened to a bunch more, a lot of whom are Sciblings. Mucho coolio.

5:56

Ok, so I’ve been tagged over the course of the semester with a few memes, and though I know there were a few of them, I’m only finding this one at the moment.

Steph tagged me and so did Bob with the 5:56 meme back in early December. I apologize for the delay, but finals were coming, and quite honestly I’ve been enjoying the break by being mostly lazy about writing. A little rest for the wicked, as it were. Ok, so the deal is I pick ten books, at least five fiction, and give the fifth sentence on page 56. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to guess the books.

– You can pick and choose the books to find the most interesting sentences.
– At least five of the books should be fiction.
– Try not to use books that are so obscure no one could guess what they are.
– You can give hints, if you so desire.
– Tag some other bloggers to pass the meme along.

(I imagine that due to my tardiness there aren’t any bloggers left to tag, so just be tagged if you want to be.)

The meme resides below the fold.

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Crunch Time

It’s finals week. Just so y’know.

Biology final tomorrow morning.

Final test in Biology lab tomorrow afternoon.

PreCalc final tomorrow night.

Final paper in English due Wednesday morning.

Spanish final Thursday morning.

P.S. The new WP dashboard sucks worse than the last one did when they first released that one. Just about the time it became usable and almost likable, they of course destroyed it for this horrid piece of crap.

hateit.

The End of The Last Road

Rystefn has died.

Goodbye, friend.

8 Seconds

Essay Number 3

Essay Number 3

I got my third essay back in English 111 today.

The prompt was a personal narrative, using illustration.

In grammar school, I was taught to write out numbers smaller than twenty, and round numbers like thirty, forty, one hundred, and so on, and to use numerals for other numbers. Mr. Beverage, after having read the first draft, suggested I run with numerals all the way through in this instance, for the effect.

I took that advice, and I have to say that I do like the running undercurrent of the recurring digits.

As you can see in the image to the right, he asked if he could use the essay as a model for future classes for this assignment. I was, of course, happy to oblige him and not a little flattered and tickled. I just made the corrections he requested and emailed a copy to him.

The essay, in its corrected form this time, lies below the fold.

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Evolved and Rational has Tangled Bank 115

Tangled BankThe latest edition of Tangled Bank is up over at Evolved and Rational.

Good stuff, including one of my Blogging My Biology Class posts. Check it out.

For those of you not familiar, the Tangled Bank is a bi-weekly blog carnival. Every couple of weeks, bloggers submit posts about the life sciences to the carnival, and one blogger puts them all in one place round-robin style. The carnival was named after Charles Darwin’s eloquent description of life around us, and how it came to be the way it is.

It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life and from use and disuse: a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms.

—Charles Darwin

Blogging My Biology Class 20080915 Lab

Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reece, et al.

Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reece, et al.

My notes and thoughts from Biology 111 Lab, for Monday, September 15, 2008. The entire series can be found here.

In this lab, we learned to use reagents to test for the presence of proteins, starch, and sugars, using distilled water as a negative control.

Since distilled water should be straight H2O and nothing else, each time we did a test, we could see what the reagent did in solution without the presence of whatever it was we were testing for.

We worked in groups, and our group consisted of four students.

A. In the first experiment, we tested for the presence of proteins with Biuret reagent, a highly corrosive blue/purply substance. Our Lab Manual and Doc each warned us about its potential hazards, safety precautions, and what to do if we got it on our skin.

We marked four test tubes at the 1 cm level.

1) Test tube 1 we filled to the mark with distilled water. We then added about 5 drops of Biuret reagent. The water turned light blue. This was our negative control to which we could compare the other tubes when the Biuret reagent was added.

Lab continues, below the fold.

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Pin-up Bloggers!

2009 Sex Bloggers Calendar

2009 Sexbloggers Calendar

A dozen of your favorite New York City sex bloggers and sex educators are joining together to support Sex Work Awareness, a non-profit whose mission statement says it all:

We believe that all sex workers have a right to self-determination; to choose how we make a living and what we do with our bodies.

We aim to empower our diverse community by building the capacity of sex worker-serving and sex worker member-based institutions as well as the skills and resources of sex workers themselves.

We also conduct research about sex workers and the sex industry in order to better understand it, develop public education initiatives, and advocate for the rights of sex workers.

The theme is burlesque. The poses will be sexy. And who will be posing? Take a look, below the fold!

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White House Witch Hunters Watch While We Wank

My Grade on my second English 111 essay

My Grade on my second English 111 essay

I got my second essay back this morning in English Class. I missed one comma, but managed an A+. I’m pretty happy about that as I was concerned about length as well as flow. I didn’t think it flowed as well as it could have.

Mr. Beverage disagreed, apparently.

When I showed him the title, he got a great big grin, and gave me specific permission to break the “No Slang” rule.

The prompt was a definition using illustration.

The essay, in its uncorrected form, lies below the fold.

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Blogging My Biology Class 20080908 Lab

Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reece, et al.

Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reece, et al.

My notes and thoughts from Biology 111 Lab, for Monday, September 8, 2008. The entire series can be found here.

In this lab we mostly talked about metric system measurements, then went about taking measurements of various things. Honestly, it was pretty mundane stuff for the most part, and I didn’t enjoy this lab nearly as much as the first two, though I understand the necessity of it.

We used rulers, calipers, and a scale to take measurements of wooden blocks, then calculated their volume and surface area.

We measured the room temperature and the temperature of cold tap water and ice water, and water on a boiling plate, as well as skin temperature.

Then, in the most interesting part of the lab, we measured each other’s tibias, and then each other’s heights (as well as a real dead guy’s tibia). We recorded the tibia length and height of everyone in the lab, and for homework we created scatter plots and trend lines with those numbers.

It was pretty straightforward stuff, really, and well… kinda boring except for the dead guy’s bone that Squicky Britches refused to touch. That was a source of mild humor.

From whence came the art:

The first image is of our textbook, Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reese et al.

Other images by me and are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial- Share Alike 3.0 License.

Blogging My Biology Class 20080908

Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reece, et al.

Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reece, et al.

My notes and thoughts from Biology 111, for Monday, September 8, 2008. The entire series can be found here.

We left off on Friday discussing the second important emergent property of water, the property of temperature moderation.

On Friday, we began with the third emergent property of water that is critical to biology.

3. Solid form of water is less dense than the liquid form

In other words, ice floats. First we took a quick look at what generally defines each state of matter at room temperatures (we didn’t delve into plasmas etc)

States of Matter
Solid Liquid Gas
Constant Shape, Constant Volume Constant Volume, Changing Shape Changing Volume, Changing Shape

So we can say that generally speaking, the state of matter is dependent on its density and the fixity of its bonding. Ordinarily, the solid state of matter is more dense than the liquid state, and this unusual property of water has a very important consequence for life.

(More of this lecture, below the fold)

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Blogging My Biology Class 20080905

Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reece, et al.

Biology, Eighth Edition, by Campbell & Reece, et al.

My notes and thoughts from Biology 111, for Friday, September 5, 2008. The entire series can be found here.

On this day, Tropical Storm Hannah was expected to hit, so the college closed at 1 PM. Although that was well after the end of our scheduled lecture, Doc (if I recall correctly) cut the class a bit short to give folks headed home a little extra time.

So in the previous lecture, we had left off discussing Cohesion and Adhesion, the first of the emergent properties of water on the table for discussion. With this lecture, we picked up with the next emergent property on the list.

2. Moderation of Temperature

Water has a relatively high specific heat, which means that water can absorb and release large amounts of heat with little change in temperature.

To discuss this topic, it helps to first have an understanding of the difference between heat and temperature.

(Lecture Continues Below the Fold)

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My Country Bleeds for Thee

My Grade on my First English 111 essay

My Grade on my First English 111 essay

This morning I got back my first English essay, which was turned in on Monday. It was a five paragraph illustration essay on a topic of our choice. English is the last class for which I haven’t gotten something akin to a formal grade letting me know how I’m doing. I did alright, making a few punctuation errors. I have a nasty habit of placing punctuation outside a closing quote mark. I know that’s wrong, I learned it in grade school, but somewhere along the line my brain just decided that’s not the way it’s supposed to go.

There were a couple other places where I inserted or failed to insert a comma where I should not or should have, and I didn’t capitalize “Founding Fathers.” I know exactly what that issue is about. It’s an overreaction to the habit I picked up in German class (back in 1984/85) of capitalizing all nouns. I really have to pay attention to commas and capitalization.

I used the faux-words “Endarkenment” (contrasting with the Enlightenment) and “ignorati” in the essay, and I was a little nervous about whether they would fly. Although Endarkenment survived without comment, Mr. Beverage (his name used with his prior consent) commented next to ignorati: “Nice! I like the contrast to Illuminati!” I breathed a sigh of relief when I read that.

His comment and grade at the end of the paper, as depicted in the image, really made me feel vindicated about my choice of topics and my writing style. His going out of his way to speak to me after class to reiterate his appreciation for my writing reinforced my confidence exponentially.

I’m doing well, and damn it, I belong there.

The essay is below the fold in its uncorrected form.

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