I love my zoo membership. I love being able to just decide to drive north, not pay exorbitant amounts of money for parking, and wander the zoo for an hour or two before I decide that's enough outside time for the day and run away. It's awesome.

This time, I finally had a chance to check out the new Heart of Africa exhibit - I hadn't been to it last year before it closed for winter, but it's pretty great, now that it's open again.

image

It's an open savannah area with a bunch of different animals all in the same space, which leads to fun interactions on occasion. Plus, some of the areas are connected to various enclosures, so animals that couldn't be in the same area at the same time still get to wander around and smell each other's presence. Pretty sure the cheetahs love being in there right after the warthog or ostrich :-)

Columbus Zoo June 2015  Cheetahs

I was also mostly in time for the cheetah run demo, which was really interesting. Apparently all the cheetahs are trained as animal ambassadors, so the keepers can be in the enclosure with them without it turning gruesome immediately :-P



The lions weren't having it with the showing off though. It was hot. They're cats. They slept.

Columbus Zoo June 2015  Lion

The giraffes were very interested though. Including during the cheetah demo. Apparently they get a kick out of all the commotion as well. Or maybe they're just looking for food.

image

And then I got to end the day with a baby moose. One month old. So adorable.

Columbus Zoo June 2015  Baby Moose
The awesome thing about a zoo membership is that you can go to the zoo for like an hour, and then run away as soon as people become overwhelming without having "wasted money" on the admission ticket. I like it :-)

It's WildLights season, which is great for holiday spirit, not that great for animal watching. I did get to see some macaws though, and the wolves were rather active (I think it was close to feeding time.)

Columbus Zoo

Though I could have lived without the bison getting feisty. That was a little freaky. Even if it was funny to watch them scare the crap out of the pronghorns in the enclosure.

But really, it was all about the lights. Which were pretty as usual. I like how they sort of color-coded each area with appropriate light colors - North America in blue and white, Asia in reds and oranges. Plus, lakeside light show to Disney tunes (and a hip hop version of "My Favorite Things" - no really).

Wildlights 2014 (2) Wildlights 2014 (4) Wildlights 2014 (3) Wildlights 2014 Wildlights 2014 (10) Wildlights 2014 (7) Wildlights 2014 (12) Wildlights 2014 (15)
I feel like it took a week to recover from that experience... between work stuff and not really getting a weekend off, I've been ridiculously tired. Three more weeks... then at least the work stress should hold off.

But I did still have a blast at the Science Writers conference. I mean, it helped that I didn't have to travel for it, just drive 10 minutes downtown, and then hang out in a nice hotel with good food (although the mid-morning snack was severely lacking in cookies) and with people who are all as excited about science and writing as I am.

Saturday was all about "the craft of writing," with sessions on innovation, how to blog for your organization (yeah, I doubt that's happening any time soon, but I like the idea), and just generally how to cover science in a way that makes sense for both your job and your readers. It was also admittedly a bit strange to meet some of the people I've been following on Twitter for ages - like, Seth Mnookin walked past me multiple times. It was weird realizing he's a real person :-)

But I also got to meet a bunch of new people, which was a nice change of pace from the usual "well yes, you're a science journalist, I'm 'just' a science PR writer." These were science PR writers who are totally ok with that, and who still think there's room for journalism and reporting skills in those jobs. And the cool thing was, aside from the awards night (everything goes to journalists), we really all were on equal footing.

And one girl asked to follow me on Twitter, as an actual professional contact. A, yes, Twitter. It's how we science writers network, apparently. And B, me, a professional contact? Honey, I hope you enjoy the fangirling that usually happens on my Twitter account. It may be time to get a separate "professional" account. Then again, why? It's not like I don't fangirl in person too :-)

The rest of the conference was more about science than writing, but I enjoyed stretching my brain beyond the types of things I do at work (which are already pretty varied). As always with researchers, some people know how to talk about their projects, others would work well as a natural sleep aid. In this case, the bad ones were REALLY terrible, and the good ones were REALLY good. Like the guy who studies coyotes in Chicago, and showed us footage from collar cameras of coyotes crossing busy streets. Like, Lake Shore Drive. And yes, they look both ways first.

All in all, I had a great time, and would definitely do this again. Maybe not every year - I hear that every other year makes sense, and that way I get to skip Boston next year (sorry MIT, but I hate Boston). The one after that is... San Antonio? I have no clue. But I have time, both to find out, and to save up some travel money. While work paid for my registration this year, I'm not sure airfare and hotel and meals are in the budget.

https://storify.com/akasha111182/sci-wri-2014-in-tweets
One of the organizations I give to via the university charity drive is the Columbus chapter of Stonewall. Apparently, this year I gave them enough money to get a free dog tag to get into the Columbus Pride festival, so it seemed like as good a year as any to check it out :-)

Pride Weekend ended up being crazy for me (thanks, GM), so I only went to the parade, and only for about an hour or so. But I still quite enjoyed it - it was lovely to see that many people all wanting to get along with each other. I'm sure there were protesters around somewhere, but quite obviously, they were not out in force.

Pride Parade 2014 Pride Parade 2014 Pride Parade 2014

If you're in Columbus, Out of the Closet is an excellent thrift store. You should go.

Pride Parade 2014

This is where a lot of people got choked up early on...

Pride Parade 2014

... and this was one of my favorite parts.

Pride Parade 2014

All of the sports teams showed up.

Pride Parade 2014 Pride Parade 2014

And of course: George Takei.

Pride Parade 2014 Pride Parade 2014

Because everything is better with George Takei. Happy Pride!

The Masque

May. 17th, 2014 04:48 pm
A year and a half ago, a Ravelry friend offered me a free ticket to see a concert of original music inspired by the works of Edgar Allan Poe at a local theater. I may have gushed about it back then :-) The theater group, Shadowbox Live, was looking for a ballet company to create choreography to go with the music, and a performance was held last year, with Verb Ballets in Cleveland. This week, they finally had a show in Columbus.

Ann, the friend who had initially introduced me to Shadowbox (via just this concert), couldn't go, so I took myself out on a date :-)

IMG_0937

I love the Palace. It's such a pretty theater, especially for cool shows like this. And I had an amazing seat, just about 15 rows from the stage.

IMG_0938 IMG_0939

And what a show it was. Pretty, beautifully done, and a great first ballet to go to (unless I've been to a ballet before and don't remember, which is sort of possible). (Photos shamelessly stolen from Shadowbox.)





In case you're wondering, the Shadowbox link above has a music sample, and the whole album is available on iTunes. You should check it out. My favorite is probably "The System of Dr. Tarr & Professor Fether," but "Annabel Lee" is also just gorgeous.

Now I can't wait to see Eddie Izzard... next week? Goodness. The seat for that is going to be even more amazing. I think I may be in Row D or something equally ridiculously close.
Hey look, we're already in October! I swear I'll catch up eventually :-)

No, I did not run a marathon. That would be silly. But a friend of mine, a while ago, asked if she could stay with me if she signed up for the Columbus Half-Marathon, and of course I said she could. I also told her I would pick up her race packet at the convention center so she wouldn't have to worry about it, which was a whole different experience too, but incredibly well-organized once you got into the right line and started moving through the system. It was pretty impressive.

We had a lovely dinner at North Star Cafe with a mutual friend the day before the event - I'd only been there once before, and in a different location, so it was nice to see another food option in Columbus. Not that I haven't seen enough already - there's so much good food here! Anyways.

Columbus Marathon 2013

Apparently, when a marathon starts at 7am, you get up at 5am to get ready, drive downtown, and find parking. Damn, was it cold - it got better once the sun came up, but that actually didn't happen until after the start. I have to say though, the whole thing was, again, impressively organized.

Columbus Marathon 2013

Columbus Marathon 2013

I guess you have to do that when you have thousands of people travel in to run a race, but having been at many events that seemed to be surprised by how many people showed up, this was a really nice experience for the people supporting runners (apparently we're called sherpas, in runner terms).

Columbus Marathon 2013

You know who wasn't prepared? The surrounding businesses. I went into a Starbucks at one point to get some coffee, and the line literally went through the entire store, wrapped around in the back by the bathrooms, and came back almost to the front door again. Needless to say, there was no coffee for me that morning. But it did turn out to be a beautiful day.

Columbus Marathon 2013

L did amazingly well, and never looked out of breath when I saw her go by. Considering I'd look like I was dying after about a mile... yeah. I was impressed.

Columbus Marathon 2013

And then we went and ate ice cream at Jeni's. And Chipotle. Lots of Chipotle. Because I was freezing, and she was tired, and we both needed the energy :-)
Origins: when thousands of gamers descend on Columbus to hide out in a conference center and play games. Lots of games. All kinds of games. Board games, roleplaying games, miniature games, video games... you name it, they probably have it. And, well, I like board games, and it's 10 minutes from my house, so I thought I should go :-) (Last year, Wil Wheaton and Felicia Day came to hang out. This year it was Kevin Sorbo and Ioan Gruffudd. I obviously suck at timing.)

I really just wandered the dealer's room for hours, watching demos, playing demos, drooling over games, and wishing I had about $500 to spend right there and then.

Game I desperately need to buy: Tomorrow, from Conquistador Games (local company, even). The planet is overpopulated, and unless we all want to die, sacrifices will have to be made. You play one of six superpowers and try to kill off two thirds of the population, mostly with biological weaponry (much of it named by Kickstarter supporters), or with a little nuke or two. It sounds like it would be a lot of fun to play, and... well... perfect for my group of friends.

Tomorrow

Game I bought instead: Gloom. If you die happy, you lose. And it came with a Tabletop expansion pack :-)

Gloom

Game I think Laura and Bennett may be getting for Christmas: Castle Panic, Wizard's Tower expansion. Because I will always support more Castle Panic.

Castle Panic

Games I really want to try out:

Zombie Dice. Like yahtzee, but with brains.

Zombie Dice

Building an Elder God. Like dominoes, but with tentacles.

Building an Elder God

Tsuro. Because dragon.

Tsuro

Takenoko. Because it comes with an adorable panda figurine.

Takenoko

Nanobots. Because why wouldn't you make a kids' game that seems to include a robot tardigrade.

Nanobots

Game I should be able to deduct from my taxes: CO2. Because why not turn climate change into a strategy game. At least that way some people may start thinking about it.

CO2
I know, long time no see. In my defense, I had the cold from hell earlier this week, and my head still isn't entirely unstuffed again.

In a brief flash of genius, I realized that I could easily combine my planned "go for a walk today" with "check out the State Fair" today if I took the bus and walked from campus over to the fairgrounds :-) It even almost worked out - apparently 15th and the fairgrounds are separated by train tracks, but I could get to 17th from where I was (even though I probably should never take that particular route after, say, 4pm), and 17th goes straight into the fairgrounds. Where there were loads of animals (hovertext included with images, because I can).

IMG_0120 IMG_0131 IMG_0132 IMG_0134 IMG_0135 IMG_0136 IMG_0138 IMG_0139 IMG_0140 IMG_0148 IMG_0150 IMG_0152 IMG_0153 IMG_0154 IMG_0155

I also checked out the crafting entries, but took no pictures of the knitting because it was behind glass. There were some really nice pieces, however, if I was allowed to enter, I do think I'd have a fair chance at a place ribbon at least. (Did I mention I'm not allowed to prepare a State Fair entry because I might win money? I love my visa.)

I did take pictures of an awesome quilt though. See how it's all basic and tie-dye, but not looking that complicated at first?

IMG_0143

This is one of those squares up close.

IMG_0144

Yeah. Amazing.

If you're wondering why there are no horse pictures... I couldn't find a single horse. Anywhere. I found the barn, and there were shavings and horse manure, but no horses. I'm kind of assuming they come in next week or something.
With a name like that, how could we not go check it out? :-)

Apparently Columbus is really getting into food trucks lately - they had about 40 of them at the Columbus Commons downtown (it's a park/grassy area where there used to be a giant mall - which is still on Google Street View, in fact). Food trucks, music... and because this is Ohio, cornhole.

Columbus Commons 1

Columbus Commons 2

Columbus Commons 3

We had Korean food, apparently called dukbokki, which was this delicious doughy rice pasta thing with spicy sauce.

Dukbokki - Ajumama

And ribs, which were indeed award-winningly yummy.

Buckeye Back Ribs 1

Buckeye Back Ribs 2

And crepes for dessert :-D

Crepe - Leslie's Creperie

I also met the cutest puppy ever - pitbull/French bulldog mix, and incredibly friendly. So adorable.

Puppy

And apparently I can't ever escape work :-) That guy is wearing a shirt from the lab I've spent quite a bit of time advertising these past couple of months.

SL Shirt

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