Archive for the ‘cool stuff’ Category

I’m a Real Author!

And by “real”, I mean paid!
My first ever paid article was published in the current edition of Canoeroots magazine. It’s a short description of what can be seen in the night sky in the late summer/early fall, geared toward younger children. 

Fig. 1: The actual article in an actual magazine!

I’m very proud, and I hope this is the start of many similar projects!

Why the Blogosphere is Awesome

A couple weeks ago, I was lamenting about my lack of pregnancy wardrobe. That’s when GMP, from Academic Jungle, came to the rescue and offered to send me some of her maternity clothes.
Not being one to turn down an amazing offer, I gladly accepted, and now have a much wider variety of clothing to choose from that can hopefully get me to the end of the pregnancy.
And this is one of the reasons why the blogging community is awesome! GMP and I can hardly say we “know” each other – I didn’t even know her name – but she was willing to help me out anyway.
Thanks, GMP!!!

Am I an artist now?

The second local Awesome Foundation project to get funded was Caring Between the Lines. The idea is that people can submit a photo, about 20 would be chosen to be printed in large format in high-contrast black and white, and then put on display for others to color with crayons. After being on display for a week, the pieces would be auctioned off, and the money would go toward a charity of the photographer’s choice.
I thought this was literally an awesome idea, so to show my support I submitted a photo.

 Fig. 1: My submitted photograph, titled “Mmm…candy apples”, taken at a local chocolate shop.
Well, mine was chosen to be part of the exhibit! I’m pretty excited, and we’re definitely going to take part in the coloring in early May, and the subsequent auction. Wouldn’t it be cool to have a giant, crayon-colored version of my own photograph?

Link Round-Up

I am really starting to like the idea of doing a weekly round-up of some of the more interesting things I come across. There are so many things I’d like to share, but don’t want to do an individual post for each thing (I do on Facebook/Twitter, but not all my wonderful readers are on them). Not sure if this will be a regular thing, but we’ll see.
Here is what caught my eye this week:
On Thursday, I went to a psychology lecture at the local library, and it was all about how our brains develop in relation to our experiences and environment. The speaker was asked a question about those “brain workouts” we see advertised on TV, and he highly suggested reading up on Adrian Owen’s work on the subject, which was published in Nature last year. (Short answer: no, they don’t work.)
 
How do you feel about a Somoa airline charging passengers by weight? Though this seems like a “logical” thing to do (this is what’s done for mission to space, for example), the idea clearly has some downfalls.

If you’ve been following what’s going on with government-funded scientists here in Canada, you’ll be interested to know that there will be a formal probe into the muzzling of government scientists. Let’s hope this pours some light on the subject!

Here’s a great post about how to put together a better conference talk by Emily Lakdawalla. It helped me have an epiphany this week: if I feel stupid during your talk (and I have a relatively decent background in the topic), it’s not because of my lack of knowledge, it’s because of your lack of explanation.
 

PBS’s NOVA did a great special about the recent meteor strike in Russia. Two researchers from my university are interviewed throughout the piece. Beware of some sensationalism though (like “Death rocks from space!!!”). Those outside the USA might not be able to view the above video, so here it is on YouTube.

Finally, a really cool DYI project for your kids!

What are your “must reads” of the week?

Community Involvement

Over the past couple of years, I’ve had a yearning to become more involved in our community. Until recently, it’s been more at the cerebral level, where I keep up with our community newsletter, and get excited when I hear about cool stuff going on in our city. But, a couple months ago I attended a conference that opened my eyes to just how much awesome stuff is going on in our city, and how many amazing people are making them happen.
That’s when I heard about Awesome London, and I decided right then and there to be a part of it. There are four teams of 10 trustees, and half our team met for the first time yesterday. I felt a bit humbled when I found out I was in a room with a city councillor, the executive director of a local museum, a business analyst, and a business consultant/coach/facilitator. With all the experience in the room – and many of them knowing each other – it was hard not to feel like maybe I shouldn’t be there. But, then again, I have to start somewhere, and maybe that will be me in the future 🙂
Awesome London has given away one $1000 grant, and tomorrow the second team will decide on the second winner. But, what’s cool, is it seems it doesn’t just end at the award night. The three presenters on the first night have all been in contact, seeing how they can help each other. Word gets out, and one of the other presenters received financial backing from private donors. 
The connections made are invaluable, and it’s quite possible being involved in Awesome London can change lives….very cool and awesome stuff, indeed.

Awesome Foundation

One of my goals this year is to do more planned charitable giving, and one of the ways I’ll be achieving this goal is by taking part in the local chapter of the Awesome Foundation.
If you’ve never heard of this, the basic premiss is a group of people get together, put their own money into a pot, and give it away to someone who has a really cool idea…no strings attached. 
Our group first heard about it at a cross-sector community workshop a few months ago. A woman in the Awesome Toronto group spoke about what they did and the really cool projects they funded – like making a giant connect the dots using Toronto landmarks and Google satellite maps. 
A bunch of us immediately loved the idea, and now we have 40 trustees in our local group, split into 4 groups of 10. This means each trustee takes part in 3 rounds a year, so it’s not an insane amount of money to invest. Each month there will be a call for proposals. Then, one of the groups of 10 trustees will choose their top three, hear those pitches live, and make their top choice. That person will walk away with $1000 that night to do something awesome!
Our first “call for proposals” was at the beginning of this month, and we received 41! There are a lot of really cool/amazing/touching ideas. The first award night is on Jan. 28th, and all 40 trustees are invited to attend (though only the 10 for the month can vote).
I fell in love with this idea because I think it’s “awesome” for someone to get $1000, no strings, to do something really cool and interesting – things that probably would have a difficult time getting more formal funding. I also like that I’ll be able to meet and work with the other trustees, who I probably would never meet otherwise.
Check out if there is an Awesome Foundation chapter in your area – if not, consider starting one up! It’s a low cost way to do something truly awesome for your community.

Mars Curiosity Landing

Back in November, the newest Mars rover was launched from the surface of Earth. Now, right on schedule, it will (finger’s crossed) be landing on the surface of Mars inside Gale crater on August 6th at 1:31am.
Here’s a great video explaining why it’s so cool*

NASA will be showing a live feed of the event on NASA-TV starting at 12am (Eastern) – tune in to witness history in the making!

*Sorry for the video not showing up in the post. For some reason it just won’t embed!

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