Science News and Other Geeky Stuff

First off, Hello! I hope you all are having a great start to summer. Here, in Portland, we have been having beautiful weather, which is odd for this time of year. Normally we have what the hubs and I like to call June-uary, very cold and wet. Instead, there are people sporting sunburns! Unfortunately, it was the warmest year on record for May, and it looks like June will follow that trend. Look into solar! And recycling, and anything else we can so we don’t sink into the oceans ala Atlantis.

I found a few great science articles over the past few weeks. As usual, I kept myself a little too busy and didn’t have as much free time as I would like for blog perusal. So, I apologize for the slim pickings, I promise, they are all worth the read.  If you are interested, take a click below!

I have taken on a freelance project this summer with Opus Events Agency, and it has been really fun so far. Plus, it fits in with what I’m already doing work-wise. It feels like a win all around. With permission, I might post some of the projects I’m working on in my Project Gallery. I’m working on some fun stuff!

I’m in the process of cleaning up my social media and interwebs presence, this blog will stay, but I have some other old ones floating out there that I would like to consolidate. You should probably expect some older posts. It’s always fun to look back on things. And I have to update all my LinkedIn/twitter/etc… It’s a good time to clean up. I mean, it’s not like I have anything else going on.

As always, thanks for reading!

ScienceSeeker Editor

Hey all! I have some awesome, if a little old, news. I am one of the new editors for ScienceSeeker, which is a great site for finding all sorts of different science blogs. They list themselves as Science News from Science Newsmakers. Naturally, I was ecstatic to join the team. Each week I get to read awesome blogs, something I do anyway, and pick the ones that I find the most interesting. I thought you all might think it’s neat too.

My favorite picks of the week are listed below. You can also check out the Editor’s Picks page for our awesome team of editor’s picks of the week. Hopefully, working with ScienceSeeker will get me to start blogging more. I do love to share cool science. Have a lovely holiday weekend, and…

Happy Reading!

Mummified Fetus Found in Tiny Ancient Egyptian Sarcophagus (History):

The Inexorable Melt: new evidence that glaciers in West Antarctica are past the point of no return (Goodnight Earth): by jptrinastic

Two New Huge Dinosaurs Discovered (Dinosaurs):

Bones in Submerged Cave May Be Earliest Native American (History):

Marine Reptile’s Weird Body Armor a Sign of Life’s Great Recovery (Laelaps): by Brian Switek

New Thermoelectric Material May Boost Green Tech (The Daily Fusion): by The Daily Fusion

About Nanotyrannus (Paleopix): by Penny Higgins

Autisim Awareness

Herbert*Note: This is a post from almost two years ago, July 2012,  from my personal blog. I wanted to write some thing for Autism Awareness day, but I missed it. Instead, I am reflecting on my awesome kid. Even though we might have hard days (keep reading), I wouldn’t trade him or his diagnosis for anything. Thank you for reading.

One of the hardest things about the Little Man is his resistance to transitions of any kind. He is fine once  the change has happened, but getting there can be like pulling teeth. We have managed to get the, “It’s morning, we go to school.” routine down pretty well. There is a lot of, “No go to school!” and “Maybe later.” but we almost always make it on time to the bus. I am thankful for that. On the other hand, trying to get him to the library (something he loves to do) on a ‘home’ day, can be near impossible.

A trip to the library is what we are working on right now. I have some books on hold that I would love to start reading. I went on a science reading kick the other day and found a new author, Frank Ryan, and a biopunk book that sounds really interesting. I just finished reading a cheesy CIA vampire assassin series, The Jaz Parks series, so I am ready for some non-fiction. Something to read that will actually stimulate my brain instead of providing it a comfort read. Mainly, I want to get out of the house and go pick up these damn books.

There are a number of tricks we use to get the LM ready for things like this, including: telling him at the beginning of the day, and reminding him throughout the day of  the plan, talking about our route (we get to walk past some chickens and he thinks that’s neat), snuggling while we talk about our plans, reminding him of the thing that he gets to do when we are done (going to the playground), counting, racing, and giving him the choice to pick out what clothes he will wear. None of this is working today.

Right now I am at the point where I am trying to decide if I am just going to give up for today and pick them up tomorrow, we will already be in transit, so stopping at the library is so much easier. Or if I am going to make one last push for the library. It is almost two, and we are meeting friends at three thirty so we might not even have time to make it up to the library and back. I know we will get out today because we are meeting friends at the park and he really wants to do that, but, but . . . I just wish it wasn’t so hard sometimes.

The other option is to force the LM to put on pants and carry him down the stairs to the sidewalk. Once he is outside he is usually fine, but I hate doing that kind of thing. Not giving him a choice in the matter feels so wrong and coercive. It is why we plan things the way we do. We make sure we can accomodate the LM and his quirky nature.

Mainly, I am writing all of this out because I want to document it for the future, I want people to understand how the LM works, and I needed to vent a bit so I wouldn’t feel so frustrated and cranky with the LM (that really makes the whole situation worse). Especially since he is at the point where he is throwing things at me and is ‘crying’ because I sent him to his room for a time out. Awesome. If you have made it this far, thank you for reading and helping me process this regularly annoying event. I feel better.

I mean, look at the kid. You would never assume that he was that much trouble. He is kind of amazing. And honestly, not wanting to leave the house isn’t the worst thing that can happen. It is just the thing that is bugging me the most right now.

It is later in the afternoon, and we are now at the point where going out just won’t work. So, I plan to salvage the day by putting on some Pogues and vacuuming the house. It’s not like I don’t have enough to read around the house. Maybe I’ll make pancakes, or cinnamon toast. Heck, I might even clean the bathroom. And I know that we will have fun at the playground, so the day isn’t a complete loss.

Autism spectrum, you have won today. Tomorrow will be another story.

Catchup Post One

I have been so busy with my day job, that I haven’t felt like I’ve had the time to work on this blog. The spoons from my drawer are almost always in the dishwasher. I started at Intel in June, and continued to Freelance. I found myself going from a 16-24 hour a week job, to full time plus. And I was trying to be a good parent,  partner, and friend too. (I may have failed in some of the non-work areas.) Most of my Freelance work is finished, except for the occasional job, and I have a bit more time to spend on myself and my family.

Of course, as soon as I got more time, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo for the second year in a row. I started writing with the premise of the second book in the post-apocalyptic series I started last year, and I just couldn’t get into it. After working at it for three or four days, I decided to give up and start with an idea that has been rolling about my head for a long time now.

I have a mostly “Invisible” set of illnesses/disability*, and I wanted to write a book where my main character has a more visible disability. I wanted the frustrations I have with my body, and with the way people treat me to have a more visible and active voice. My main character uses crutches on occasion, but mostly gets around in a wheelchair. There have been times in the past where I thought I would end up in a wheelchair, so I have thought a lot about accessibly and the pain in the ass that comes with our mostly non-assessable world. I also wanted to write a fun story where I could talk about cool old buildings, house restoration, drag-queens, and the friendships that come about through weird situations.

One of the things that I want to do with my writing is have people start to see groups that are marginalized and considered fringe, or abnormal, as normal. (Not that we need to be “normal” per-say, but it would be nice to been seen as a valid and functional human, so I guess that is my version of normal.) This means that my characters are queer, people of color (POC), disabled, or have mental illness. I am not writing these characters to get a rise out of people, or be sensational, I am writing about their (our) lives because they (we) are the people that I identify with. Not being a normalized person makes sense to me.

So, that is what I am doing this month. I am working my tail off at a job that I love, a job that I finally get to use my schooling for, and a job that I think I am getting pretty good at;  I am also in the process of writing my fifth book. So bear with me a little longer, and hopefully, I’ll have more time for this blog as the winter continues. I miss writing here, and I miss interacting with you — yes you, my awesome readers.

As always, I thank you for reading.

*I have a social/general anxiety disorder, Fibromyalgia, Meniere’s disease, Gilbert’s disease, suffer from migraines, and I’m allergic to most of the world. If anyone was interested.

All Work and No Play

It has been a bit since I have posted last. I apologize for that. I have been very busy. Work at Intel is going great. I feel like I’m finally getting into the groove, though, I still have a ton to learn. I really enjoy my coworkers, and the work I’m doing is fun. It would be hard to ask for a better job.

I’ve also been working a lot with the Copywriter Conclave of Portland, or CC:PDX. We got our LLC and opened up our very own business account. We had a photo shoot down by the river a few weeks ago that turned out great. And we’re moving right along. I’m looking forward to the Peter Bowerman event on August 6th. I would love to see you there. If you want to purchase a ticket, go HERE!


My professional head shot. It turned out great.

I’m still editing for the ILAR Journal, and have three documents due in the next week. I’m feeling a bit busy, but so far, it’s been do-able. Get back to me at the end of the week and see how I feel. It might be a different story.

There is another possible project in the works too. I don’t know if my rates will make the person back out. I have to send out an email today. It could be a fun project, so I might drop my normal rate a little bit.

Camp NaNo starts today, and I have a goal of 1,000 words per day on a fiction project. I can eat lunch at my computer, right? I think I might be a little crazy.

Soooo… There is a lot happening. And it’s all good. I will try to post more often, but it could take me a little while to get back into the swing of things. Thanks for sticking with me.

As always, thanks for reading, please share. 



Greek Feast Friday

This Weekly Wrap-up is on the small side. It has been a very busy week. I tried to get ALL THE THINGS! done, and I did reasonably well. I even managed to stay (moderately) sane. The boy and I hung out with friends, went on hikes, snuggled a lot, and enjoyed our last week home together. It will be odd to only spend full days with him on the weekend, but I’m sure we will both get used to it.

This weekend will also be busy: ’cause I’m buying a car. Crazy! The last time I owned a car was ten years ago. It will take some time for me to be fully comfortable being a driver again. I have to thank my wonderful mother for coming down and helping out, and everyone else who has put up with me for the past week. Super kudos to my long suffering husband, Mr. Portmandia.

Tonight, I have another meeting with a co-Copywriter Conclave member, and we have lots of good stuff to talk about. I have been working on getting our August event for Peter Bowerman up and running. In addition to an Intel employee, I am also the Treasurer for the Conclave. Life is certainly keeping me busy.

Because everything has been so frantic lately, I decided to treat myself and have friends over for a tasty dinner tonight. There will be Greek delights: tabouli, olives, pita, hummus, dolmas, and my Sweet Summer Salad. My lovely friends will be bringing beer and dessert! Just the thing to get the weekend started.

On to the links!

  • An interesting paper about empathy and cradling bias in Autistic children.
  • island_fox_sleeping.jpg.492x0_q85_crop-smartDwarf foxes have been brought back from the brink of extinction, and are doing really well. Plus, they are very cute. Look at that little guy sleeping in the sun. I have envy.
  • Here is a really neat map from Growing Blue, showing the world’s water stress levels (water shortage). It is definitely worth a look.
  • A great post from Scientific American about the rise of energy efficiency firms, and how they are schooling traditional utilities.
  • And, lastly, for the ten-year-old in all of us, an article about poop transplants. It may be gross, but the process can be amazingly helpful for people with ongoing stomach issues.

I’ll be back on Monday with some writing or grammar advice, and an update on the new job.

As always, thanks for reading, please share. 


Working With Others

Most of you have heard/read the news that I have been hired on to Intel’s Mobile Communications Group (MCG), if not, tada! Needless to say, this means big changes for me, my freelancing career, and all the other little things that I have gotten used to. Like sleeping in, and hanging out with my kid all week.

I still plan on taking freelance gigs as they come up, especially the smaller ones that don’t take all that much time. Any longer gigs, I can pass on to one of my amazing Copywriter Conclave members. In addition to great monthly meetings, and an awesome network, the Conclave is putting on an Author Event later this summer. We have invited freelance guru, Peter Bowerman, the author of the Well-Fed Writer books, to come to Portland for a talk. I have read all of his books, and can honestly say they are incredibly helpful. If you want to be put on the list for information and an invite to the event, email me at: We would love to have you.

One of the things I look forward to working at Intel, is being on a team again. I really enjoy working with people, it is one of the things I like about freelancing. You really get to know someone through the course of a project. Sometimes personalities clash, but there is always room for growth and understanding. This is another aspect of the Conclave that I am grateful for, we often bounce ideas off each other, much like any other work team.

An image has been going around the Internet lately that really exemplifies this working, especially freelancing, process.

Image credit to Grace Dobush.

Image credit to Grace Dobush, from her blog post Getting Work and Keeping Work.

I try to make sure I adhere to all three, but if I had to choose two categories as Neil Gaiman suggests most people fall into; I do good work and I’m nice. I tend to get lost a lot, so being on time is something that I slip up on. This concept comes from Neil Gaiman’s University of Arts commencement speech, which if you haven’t seen it, you should click the link and take a gander.

Mr. Gaiman says, “You get work however you get work. People keep working in a freelance world — and more and more of today’s world is freelance — because their work is good, and because they are easy to get along with, and because they deliver the work on time. And you don’t even need all three. Two out of three is fine. People will tolerate how unpleasant you are if your work is good and you deliver it on time. They’ll forgive the lateness of the work if it’s good, and if they like you. And you don’t have to be as good as the others if you’re on time and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you.” This is amazing advice to anyone in the freelance world, or looking to break into freelance.

It will be this bit advice that I will take to heart as I start my new job next Monday. Another bit of advice from Neil Gaiman that I love, “Go out and make good art.” Believe it or not, Technical Writing is an art form (at least I think so). That is just what I plan to do. Make good art, be nice, and be as on time as I can be.

As always, thanks for reading, please share. 

The Weekend is Here!

And what a wonderful weekend it is. I have very exciting news! I have been hired on to Intel’s MCG (mobile communication group), and I’ll start on June 10th. This means that I have a ton of stuff to do between now and then, including . . . buying a car, eep!

I have decided to keep this blog up, and to keep working on side projects. If you, or anyone you know needs a writer, or an editor, please contact me. Even if I can’t work on your project, I have a whole group of talented writers/editors that I can put you in touch with.

Now for the links!

  • Human news first, a lovely article by National Geographic on Empathy and Alzheimers. 
  • A young boy was woken from a vegetative state using stem cells from his preserved cord blood. This treatment has very interesting potential.
  • A Maine doctor decides to ditch insurance and charge his patients much less. Affordable health care? What an idea.
  • From Sci-News, genetic scientist have eliminated schizophrenia-like symptoms in lab mice. This could be great news, as schizophrenia is notoriously hard to treat with drugs or therapy.
  • In the plant world, we have managed to “reawaken” ancient plants. These plants were under glaciers for centuries, and have started growing after exposure. Pretty neat.
  • 32314184_705013c48b_oIt seems that some plants can sweat when they get overheated, and the pictures are beautiful.
  • In some (maybe?) bad science, or at least poor reporting, a mammoth has been found amazingly persevered. The specimen is said to have still flowing blood, and fresh looking meat. Which makes me wonder what mammoth barbecue would tase like.
  • A 160-million year old avian skeletion is causing controversy. Even if the specimen isn’t the earlest bird, it is still an important discovery.
  • Rio hosted a pterosaur symposium in May, 2013. I would have loved to be able to go hang out in Rio and talk about pterosaurs, maybe next year. Either way, the link has a lot of great information about pterosaurs.
  • Undated handout photo of Megaleledone selebos, one of the four new species of octopuses that researchers have discovered in Antarctica that come replete with anti-freeze venomAnd, finally, Antarctic octopi have been found with cold resistant venom! How cool is that. And the little guys are super cute! For new species have been found, and scientists are wondering what kind of medical applications the cold resistant venom could have.

There you have it, the Weekly Wrap-up.

As always, thanks for reading, please share. 

Writing Preferences

Today’s post is about writing preferences. I asked my lovely Facebook Friends if they had anything they wanted to know about me, and one did. M. Cedar has provided writing inspiration before, and I am happy to answer any questions.

The question in question (I have to at least once a post), is “What are your favorite things to write and why? Dialogue? Action? Descriptions? & etc.” I will do my best to answer it. I also have to admit, this question gave me a whole bunch of ideas on what I want to write next. I am feeling inspired and ready to work on things!

Idea by Daniele Marlenek, via Flickr

Idea by Daniele Marlenek, via Flickr

Like many things in life, this question is multifaceted. I tend to like all parts of writing, so it is hard for me to have a favorite. In some situations, I love to write descriptions, or backgrounds for my characters. I find writing a background tremendously helpful. I rarely put these backgrounds into the story, they usually don’t fit, but they really help me figure out who the character is and why they are doing what they’re doing.

I also love dialogue. Especially when I don’t quite know what I’m doing, or I want to take up some space on a page. Writers can be lazy. Word count matters, but sometimes you just need five more pages, and dialogue can be a way to get there quick.

Dialogue can also be a great way to show the character’s personality without going into tell mode. Show not tell, right? Here is a bit of dialogue in the current book I’m writing, it makes me laugh:

“You should have what I’m having.” Sabina said. “It’s a Sex Bomb.”

I giggled, and blushed. “Thanks, Sabina. I think I’ll stick to wine. I don’t do so well with hard liquor.”

“More’s the pity. Liquor is quicker you know.” She arched her brow, wrapped her tongue around her straw, and took a sip of her drink. 

“Sabina! Really. Ruby is a guest and you should be nice. Save it for someone who needs charming. We want Ruby on our side, not running away as fast as she can.” Carrie patted my arm.

“Poor little rabbit.” Sabina said. “I’ll give up the chase.” She looked at Carrie. “You better have someone fun for me at the party.” Her lips turned down into a perfect pout and she looked up at the two of us from under her eyelashes. 

I was in trouble. 

I hope that you all can see the range of characters involved. I wanted the scene to be a little silly, flirty, and potentially embarrassing for my protagonist. Let me know if it worked.

So, M. Cedar, I guess I should say dialogue is my favorite to write, with a number of other things coming in a close second, third, and so on.

What is your favorite thing to write? Answer in the comments and let’s discuss.

As always, thanks for reading, please share. 

Earl Grey, Hot

We have made it to the weekend! The combo of vacation allergens and the return of the Portland spring/winter have kicked my butt. I’m sucking down tea, and sleeping a ton, in the hopes that I can stave off getting even more sick. At least I have fun things to read.


The two dino nerds, photo credit Dylan Benito.

I’m thankful that I managed to get a few things done before I started feeling poorly. Mainly, I got to go see Brian Switek read at Powell’s! Then I took him out for beer. It was the Portland thing to do. I have been following Brian’s blog, Laelaps, for a number of years, and we recently started talking on Twitter. I was very excited to hear that he had written a second book, My Beloved Brontosaurus, and was coming to Portland on a book tour. The book is great. It is engaging, has a ton of scientific facts, and manages to be fun, and funny. It is a must have for the dinosaur enthusiast.

Thank you for coming to Portland, Brian, and letting me take a goofy photo of the two of us.

I managed to find some great links this week too. As always, there is a ton of great science in the news.

  • Per the title of this post, from, 3D food printers in space! Of course, the first thing printed will be pizza. My StarTrek dreams are that much closer to being realized.
  • Do you have blue eyes? I do, and it seems that we share a blue-eyed common ancestor. Science Daily reports the blue eyed mutation is found at the same spot for everyone, on the OCA2 gene.
  • I have two great pieces to share that Carl Zimmer wrote: the first The Girl Who Turned to Bone, a story of fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva.
  • The second, and your autism article for the week: the genetic cause of autism may be found on the MET gene. MET is a gene found in both humans and dogs, and may be part of serotonin transfer. MET could be a good place to research cause and effect.
  • Since we are on a Dinosaur kick, how about an article about Dino poop?
  • Straight from Wil Wheaton’s mantra, “Don’t be a dick.” Scientists have found a way to train people not to be jerks. I like this idea.

That’s what I’ve got for the week, now I’ll be going back to bed. I hope you all have a fantastic, health-filled weekend. I’ll be back on Monday with the grammar lesson for the week. Any suggestions?

As always, thanks for reading, please share.