Summer is officially over, the kids are back in school, I've been traveling for work, and visiting family have gotten us out and about in the Triangle. Here are some highlights.
Let's be scientific
I went up to Washingon, D.C. last week to attend the Sackler Colloquium on the Science of Science Communication, held in the magnificent National Academies of Science building. I'd never been inside that building, although I had genuflected at the Einstein statue out front when I'd visited the capital with my father in 1987. This time, I went to D.C. by car with Russ Campbell, my SCONC friend and longtime supporter of ScienceOnline. We had two great discussions on the way to and from the conference, and I'm thankful for the distraction-less time to get to know Russ better.
The Sackler meeting was too academic for me at first, but it evened out to include some really good talks and discussions about social networks, social media and political attacks on good evidence (see this storify of the keynote by Kathleen Hall Jamieson). I sat up in the corner of the spacious, space-age auditorium. At one point, a speaker mentioned an urgent need for a way for scientists and science communicators to connect, so, naturally, I tweeted an answer:
Scattered throughout the auditorium were Liz and Lauren and Miriam and Lou and Brian and Russ and others who have been connected through our ScienceOnline events and satellite meetups and continuous online networking (follow the #sciox hashtag). It was satisfying to know that we've been at this for more than 10 years, but also sobering to know that we have a lot of work to do to spread the ScienceOnline name and mission. All are welcome.
At Sackler, I met a former Miami journalist who went to work for the National Audubon Society and helped promoted the Everglades National Park. I was glad to tell him about ScienceOnline Oceans, our next event, which will take place in Miami in just 12 days.
Bluegrass and salamander in the hand
My uncle, John Zuiker, drove down from Virginia to attend the Wide Open Bluegrass festival in Raleigh this weekend. John is a diehard bluegrass fan, and a most generous uncle. My earliest memories of him are of him singing around the Ravens Roost campfire and plugging quarters into the Wagon Wheel jukebox to make Children Go play again and again while my cousins and I sang along.
Erin and the children and I accompanied Uncle John Saturday afternoon to the bluegrass street festival in downtown Raleigh. For a while, we sat in the middle of Fayetteville Street, listening to Grasstowne pickin' and strummin'.
I looked over John's shoulder to see my daughter Anna mesmerized by the fiddle player (she's learning to play the violin), and I glanced up the street.
This morning, we went for a hike on a Duke Forest trail near my house, and Uncle John taught the kids to roll decaying logs to look for bugs. Under the first log he rolled over was a salamander. Very cool!
Further along the trail, these ghost plants were bathed in a spotlight of sun.
Tacos and Tequila
After the day in Raleigh, I turned right around to go back to the city to a party thrown by Dean McCord to celebrate his 50th birthday. There was fabulous food (warm corn tortillas and flavorful pulled pork and searing habanero salsa) catered by the on-fire Chef Ashley Christensen, and beer from Fullsteam - I sat and talked with Fullsteam owner Sean Lilly Wilson. Quite a treat all around. Dean had invited me to his previous parties over the last few years, but I've never been able to make it. So glad I did this year. Dean is a gourmand, food blogger, dedicated father and a really authentic individual.
Here's Sean talking about his potato ricer:
New music, new writing tools, new kitchen projects
A new Peter Gabriel album came out last week. This one features other artists covering his songs. It's a companion album to his Scratch My Back project on which he covered other artists' songs. Justin Vernon of Bon Iver covered Come Talk to Me, one of my favorite songs (Us is in My island jukebox).
I've been tracking host of new writing, blogging and web publishing tools over the last year. See this post on my mistersugar blog. Last week I started with Ghost. It has a lot of promise, provides a writing experience similar to Medium, and may be a good alternative for me. Note, though, that I'm writing this post in Fargo, which has enlightened me: when I write in Fargo, it feels like I'm writing from the inside out, building the essay with blocks that I can maneuver into position before the essay is unveiled. It reminds me of the peonies that bloomed in the front garden earlier this year, the buds growing rounder and rounder until their flowers burst in color.
In the kitchen, I've made quite a few batches of DIY slivovitz (found the right plums first at Harris Teeter in Durham, and now at Whole Foods in Chapel Hill) and a jar of Thai red curry paste using some of the bounty of peppers from the backyard garden boxes. I've started DIY hot sauce with a bag of cayenne peppers I bough at the Carrboro Farmers Market.
Life is full of spice. I'm very lucky.