Oh yes, you read that right. (My job is so weird sometimes.)

We were asked to work on a video project related to tagging Lake Erie fish, so co-worker and I packed up all the camera equipment we could scrounge up and took a road trip to Cleveland.

Seriously. This was our view for the entire morning. It was beautiful.


The fish were basically caught in a net, pulled up into a water tank on the boat, tagged, measured, and thrown back into the lake. All in all, a seriously efficient operation, with pretty minimal handling, considering.


However, it's basically spawning season. And, well, when you grab a male fish and hold him tight enough to accurately insert a tracker... there's squirting. We may have had some "there's semen on the camera lens" incidents.

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Ah, science. Never change.
We had some interesting guests in the office last week, to help us raise interest at a student activities thing. Obviously, nothing else got done that day...


Penny is an Eastern Fox Snake, and tends to come to most outreach events, because she's actually quite chill and relaxed. Despite the fact that she spent some time trying to find a way to escape her terrarium at first.


She and Andy, our resident milk snake and lover of hoodie pockets and sleeve openings, eventually settled down though.

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It may have had something to do with how cold it was in the office that day. They ended up cuddling for warmth (not particularly effective when you're a reptile).


At least until we got them a heater. That, they approved of.

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.

I love the Dublin Irish Festival. It's so cliche, and so authentic at the same time, and really just a fun party. It takes over Coffman Park, and most of the rest of Dublin, and you can pretty much spend three days listening to music, eating food, and drinking. There's always a special trip for fish & chips (my favorite is from Old Bag of Nails Pub, which is local, but that would be cheating), and Guinness, and Killians, and Schmidt's cream puffs, and fried gator tail (I don't know)... just so much food. And people who are all having a blast. In large part because the music selection? Is awesome.

This year, we got to see Enter the Haggis (awesome), Young Dubliners (also awesome), and Gaelic Storm (most hyped, and quite nice, but not actually as good as the other two, frankly).

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The crowds were huge, and also very friendly, and generally fun to be around. Seriously, this is probably one of my favorite Columbus events. It's always the first weekend of August - you should come. We can eat fish & chips, and drink lemonade and beer, and dance until we fall over.



January 2017



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