So Many Bugs on My Window

Today was a big day for bugs on my window. It’s been warm and sunny for several days in a row, and I guess today is the day the bugs all came out to play (or today is the day I noticed them).

silhouette of a phasmid of some sortI’m going to call this something in the praying mantis group, the order Mantodea. It was the second one I saw on the window today – the first, at lunchtime, flew off before I could get my camera. That first appearance was on the other side of a screen anyway and would have been hard to get a picture of. Each was half an inch long.

hymenopteran on a windowThis is a member of Hymenoptera, the order that includes ants, bees, and wasps. This photo caught it in the middle of wiping its front legs across its antennae. Could be an ant or a wasp.

I also saw a couple of tiny flies…and who knows what else has landed and flown away again while I’ve been sitting here writing this?

Photos: me



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Some Health Writing

Since starting a job at a contractor last July, I’ve gotten to do lots of different kinds of writing, mostly in the area of health and medicine. Here are three of my stories for the publication NIH News in Health, which is a real live print publication that is handed out for free, I hear, although I’ve never spotted one in the wild.

Preventing Type 2 Diabetes

Osteoporosis in Aging

When Your Back Hurts

I enjoyed writing all of these–the people at NIH’s Office of the Director, which publishes NIH News in Health, are lovely to work with, and it’s always nice to interview researchers.

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Catching Up

I’m very behind on posting Last Word on Nothing links, so here are the last couple I’ve written:

We had a snow day. Well, I mean, I had to work. But it snowed. I love snow.

I wrote about some psychology research suggesting that having extraordinary experiences can end up making people feel left out.

A Snow Day

Extraordinary Experiences Don’t Necessarily Make You Popular

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Watching Plants

milkweed podI’ve written before about how much I love my new commute. Most days, I walk 35 minutes to work. Because the end of daylight savings time brought darkness in the evenings, I take the metro home.

I feel like a sort of old-fashioned naturalist, looking at the same plants every morning and seeing them change through the seasons. The leaves are nearly gone from the trees now; the other day, it even snowed. For two and a half months before that I’d been watching the same milkweed plant every morning, and I wrote about that plant for The Last Word on Nothing.

Two and a Half Months of Milkweed

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Happy Thanksgiving!

This year for Thanksgiving the People of LWON decided to offer our thanks in a slightly different format: by hand. Read our thanks (if you can read our handwriting).

In addition to the thanks I mentioned there, I’m also thankful that some of my friends told me about spatchcocking. My turkey cooked fast and it was delicious.

The Thankers of LWON

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The End of Summer Time

I think I might be late to this party: I’ve only recently started really hating the whole thing where we change the time twice a year.

I used to at least appreciate the extra hour of sleep in fall. I suppose it’s a combination of things that led to this change of heart: all those times I forgot to reset my camera clock, so all the timestamps were off; getting old and being more susceptible to jet lag; realizing that I will never, ever know what time it is in Melbourne.

These things have led to this conclusion: Daylight Savings is stupid. We should pick one time and stick with it. I wrote a mildly coherent rant about time zones, daylight savings, and my grumpiness for The Last Word on Nothing.

Dear Time: Would You Please Stop Being So Stupid?

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Blog Post at New Job

I’ve been working since July at Palladian Partners, a company in Silver Spring, Md. I’m so happy with it–the people are nice, the work is interesting and varied, and the commute is wonderful. Recently I wrote a blog post for our parent company Altarum‘s website about diabetes–specifically, some of the ways that Palladian has been communicating information about diabetes.

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Bird Poop Keeps Falling On My Head

that one missed meI seem to get pooped on by birds a lot. Bird poop just finds me.

It didn’t actually occur to me until this week that this happens to me more than to most people. But I checked with my Facebook friends and can confirm that I get pooped on more than most people I know.

I wrote about it, of course, for The Last Word on Nothing. Read it and learn some fun facts about bird behinds!

On a Decade of Getting Pooped On By Birds

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My New Commute

peeling tree barkSince July, I’ve been working full time for a contractor. I’ve traded in the glamorous freelance life for a steady paycheck and a commute.

It’s going great. The work is interesting and the people are lovely. And I can still do a bit of freelance writing.

A few weeks ago for The Last Word on Nothing I wrote about that commute. Most days I walk to work in the morning, and some days I walk home, too. I see interesting things and it’s a lovely break in my day, plus yay for exercise.

Walking With Open Eyes

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So Many Fish

Ann Patchett has written several delightful novels. A few months ago I read Run. One character is a college student who is very serious about fish and works at the Harvard Natural History Museum. He takes a small relative down to the fish collection to help him put jars away. She is alarmed at the idea that people were still discovering new species. They discuss it, briefly. Then there’s this nice thing, in the narrator’s voice.

It unnerved her, the thought that things weren’t settled, that life itself hadn’t been completely pinned down to a corkboard and labeled. It made her feel cold, like anything could happen still. Why hadn’t someone taken the time to name all the fish, and how many more fish were there room for? The shelves were already burdened. This place was like a submarine, dark and gray with dozens of different sized pipes running back and forth over the ceiling. Where were they going to put that many more fish? It would be one thing if he was talking about a dozen or two dozen, but if the number just kept expanding year after year, decade after decade, it was only a matter of time before the fish would have to go upstairs and take over part of the space that belonged to the birds. Then Kenya had a thought that seemed more terrible still: What if they hadn’t found all the birds?


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