#DragonCon 2015

#DragonCon 2015

This time next week I will be at the nerd festival that is Dragon*Con. Please feel encouraged to join me and some of my closest friends (and about 60,000 strangers) for 4 days of science, science fiction, and fantasy. There are only 4 real rules: each day you need 3 hours of sleep, 2 meals, and 1 shower (and to wait in a lot of lines, including lines to exit and enter buildings). Prologue of Random This is a weird year for me. Since 2008, every time I’ve gone to Dragon*Con I’ve been responsible for some sort of a booth. This year, given budget cuts, I’m going to Dragon*Con without a project team, and there will be no table. This is… odd. It also means that for a first in many years, I’ll be free to go to things and hangout, and I...

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There and Back Again: RPGing Life

There and Back Again: RPGing Life

On 29 July 2015 I flew away for what felt like a year and day, even though it was for only 3 weeks. I flew away from St Louis to Los Angeles and on to Honolulu, and each bit of this trip seemed a bit more surreal than the previous (and that says a lot, given that it felt like make believe from the very moment I left my house.) The day I left was one of those days when Twitter reflects some dystopian fiction made way too real. Looking at my Twitter feed, I saw folks struggling in St Louis, trying to figure out how to keep summer food programs going in the face of threats of violence. Looking at my Twitter feed, I saw Trump rising in popularity in a political field filled with prejudice. Looking at my Twitter feed, I saw trolls dancing merrily on the Hugos, and...

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Setting up a quick and dirty EC2 LAMP stack

Setting up a quick and dirty EC2 LAMP stack

Ok, sometimes you just need a tiny computer to sit there and do something undisturbed where no one is going to turn it off. The problem I have at the moment is I’m traveling so my laptop is on again off again, so it can’t be trusted to have nice things processes. While I could ssh into my work computer, the building I work on is under-construction, so the power is not to be trusted. My home computer can not be gotten to from here… so, there is an app EC2 node for that. I just launched a happy little EC2 micro instance using the default Ubuntu AMI. I’m about to turn it into a LAMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) and then use it to do so very slow data mining of twitter. Amazon has some pretty good documentation to get you started. Once I...

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Doing more with #scicomm

Doing more with #scicomm

Sometimes a confluence of events puts you in a position to think through how you can make what you do more meaningful. For me that confluence of events came last week when I sat down to prepare my presentation for the MAVEN New Media Workshop. I was slated to discuss “Doing Science Out Loud,” and as I opened Keynote in a window wedged beside a Twitter feed that twisted with far too many shame spirals toward hate, I realized that in articulating “Doing Science Out Loud” I needed to stress the importance of acknowledging the humans behind science. It isn’t enough to talk facts and figures. We need to talk jobs, dreams, and sometimes tears. My audience at that talk was filled with awesome humans, but it was a small gathering, and in...

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“What you don’t know would make a great book.”

“What you don’t know would make a great book.”

Over the past few weeks, several stories have hit the news that the average, mainstream/majority person has often struggled to fully understand and to discuss with sensitivity. Topics range from the mishandled coverage of Caitlyn Jenner’s eloquent coming out in Vogue, to bungled discussions of Rachel Dolezal’s behavior that horrifically convolve (among other things) acts of racism, white privilege, and injection of a not officially defined trans-racial mental illness.  Over and over in the social media discussions on these topics I’ve seen a consistent plea, “Go find someone in these communities and talk to them.” Yes, do this. But also, remember (especially relevant for introverts) the words of 18th century humorist Sydney Smith,...

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