Lest you think I’ve been sitting on my lazy butt instead of blogging, here’s what I’ve been up to in the past few months.

Mexico City
I ventured to Mexico City which is neither as dirty nor as insane as I was led to believe. In fact, in a Lima vs. Distrito Federal smackdown, D.F. would win by a knockout. There’s just so much more life and vibrancy there. AND I didn’t feel like I had to watch my back every second. I was hoping I wouldn’t stick out as a tourist too much, but alas, I could not pass as Mexican. I took a Spanish class leading up to this trip and it was great to have a refresher — especially since it meant I could speak to more people at the conference with confidence. The International AIDS Conference is one of my favorites to attend. It has such a positive and fun vibe compared to the academic conferences I attend over the course of the year for work.

Here’s a photo from the excellent Museo Nacional de Antropologia, which I managed to see in some free time
Death God
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Wilmington, North Carolina
Shortly after returning from Mexico, I waited in the airport for far too long to get to my brother’s wedding in Wilmington, North Carolina. Note to self — it would have taken about the same amount of time to drive. DRIVE NEXT TIME! Herb and I stayed at a fantastic B&B suggested by my folks called the C.W. Worth House. The food and company was good at breakfast-time. Perhaps the most amusing was the young Italian couple that came to Wilmington because the husband was a huge Dawson’s Creek fan and wanted to see if he liked the real place as much as the fictional one. Unfortunate wedding moments: melted cupcake frosting, thinking TJ might throw something REALLY embarrassing into the slideshow, Grammy apologizing for “ruining the wedding” by tearing up before the ceremony began, me doing man-arms on the way back down the aisle. Great wedding moments: the iPod music went off without a hitch, excellent entrance and exit music, my baby cousin breakdancing, my brother donning a rubber glove to take off the garter.


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Burning Man
I went to Burning Man with the best people in the whole wide world. Camp BloodyMaryLand rules! I agree with Bort when he says that if we wanted to, the people of our camp could rule the world — hell, we even had a nurse and doctor on hand! The dust on Day 1 was awful, so awful it made the news. Fortunately no one decided to quit camp and we made it through the rest of the week in good spirits. Things to remember: Building a bike trailer isn’t that hard; building a good hitch is. Chili is awesome desert food. Freeze-dried puffed fruit and truffle salt should be added to our pantry. There are sneaky ways to pee on the playa, but taking the contraption off can be painful. If you haul a ladder out into the middle of the desert, it’s OK to be ‘mean’ and use it for yourself. Showers are good. Getting to and staying on the playa is HARD, and you wouldn’t have the same caliber of people in your midst if it were easy. You’ve seen one boob, you’ve seen them all. SQUISHY BASS. Keep your eyes open and explore more. That is not a camp-marking flag, it is the official flag of Alistan!

When the absurd becomes ordinary, you know you are at Burning Man


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Salt Lake City, Utah
I just got back from travels to Salt Lake City for the SACNAS conference (Chicano and Native American Scientists). Salt Lake is a pretty, quiet town, surrounded by mountains that takes its pedestrian safety VERY SERIOURSLY. Do not jaywalk. You will get stared at, admonished, and stopped by bored police. No joke. At crosswalks not at a light or intersection, you will find neon orange flags to carry across with you to make you more visible to oncoming traffic. You are to deposit it in the receptacle on the other side when you are done. It is very odd. If you ever travel there, I recommend getting your exercise by walking up to the statehouse and taking in the views. It is quiet and peaceful there.


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I’m planning my own wedding (April 18 2009), just got back from New Hampshire for my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s shower, and am going to a wedding in Massachusetts for my aunt Carol this weekend. Dress shopping for me coming up for me in the form of a weekend getaway to New York with Mindy. Whee!

Also, spent last weekend in Lonaconing sewing with Mindy. Funny dolls look pretty much like my sketches did. Amazing I was able to pull that off.

Monsterland dolls

Oh yeah, and somewhere in there we wished Herb’s Grandma a Happy 97th!

Grandma McNew

And I’m forgetting that BEFORE THAT, I was in San Diego for a convention and saw my good friend Marcela and her family. The Padres game was great fun and Encinitas where Marcela lives is a charming city.

I have found an advantage to posting to my blog only every few months. It naturally causes me to write only about the things that have made it into my long-term memory, which, I reason, must be the more important stuff. Right? Right?

So here’s my recap of what I’ve been up to since my last real blog post, which was OCTOBER of last year.

  • Thanksgiving — At which we made vegan mashed potatoes, vegan stuffing, a turkey, cranberry sauce, and other goodies. We bought a folding table to fit everyone! Cooking without meat, milk, butter or eggs is a bit of a challenge, but everything turned out yummy.
  • Anthropomorphizing Chimpanzees — At work, we put a Santa hat on a chimpanzee using Photoshop. Hilarity did not ensue. I have the letter from the International Primatological Society to Science outlining how damaging this was to the image of chimpanzees and conservation efforts somewhere if you want to see it.
  • chicken dance elmoChristmas — Hosted at our house in Virginia. We sported our new Team Santa pajamas and puzzled over Herb’s Chicken Dance Elmo present. Thanks for the Flying Spaghetti Monster T-shirt mom and dad!
  • Don’t Plan an Event At Brasserie Beck — Tried to get 15+ people into this restaurant that has a really awesome selection of Belgian beer and really nice bartenders for Herb’s 30th birthday. Unfortunately, they overbooked and gave me the runaround for over an hour past my reservation time. We walked out, and over to RFD’s where they served us promptly. Take that!
  • Playing Tourist In DC — My friend Abby came to visit with her husband and baby. Got to see the Anne Leibowitz and Ansel Adams exhibits. My sympathies to historians trying to find jobs. There is too many of you and not enough work!
  • AAAS Annual Meeting — I set up a Twitter account and manage to get people together for a party through Facebook. Go AAAS! Also around the time of this meeting, we mint, market, and make money off of a shirt featuring human chromosome 1. I thank the blogosphere for their love of our geektastic genome garb.

  • I Can Now Officially Plan a Wedding — After many moons, Herb and I are engaged. We have been looking around at places to get married, and at the very bottom of the pile is La Fontaine Bleu in Glen Burnie. Herb said first that it smelled like a funeral parlor, then like cigarette smoke and broken dreams.
  • NTEN Conference — I am sucked into the vortex created by constantly checking Twitter, eat chargrilled oysters and good African food, learn some stuff, and lament not staying an extra day in New Orleans. Should have known that as soon as the flight was delayed the first time that I would be spending the entire evening in the airport. 5:00 pm to 3:00 am in transit. Yay!
  • Ah, Nashua — Facebook also has a great group “You know you’re from Nashua when…” Emmon!
  • Boston, Part Deux — At NSTA in Boston, we were evacuated from a lovely dinner at Anthony’s Pier 4. The lobster bisque and steamers were halfway gone when the alarm sounded. We were evacuated while waiting to pay the check. We were nice and dug some cash out. I went to Taranta’s with my buddy Ed and pals and had brunch at Katie’s.

So, searched the WP help boards and they indicated that I had to upgrade, for mysterious unknown reasons. Appears to have worked. Time to check out my plugins and make sure they are still functioning. Also, Fitz berated me for not posting in forever-and-a-day. New post to come.

Herb updated the server, and now all my posts are in reverse order. WTF?

TISo today I was talking about how I have the PacMan app for Facebook, and how PacMan is a far inferior game to the TI knockoff, Munch-Man. PacMan may have been prettier, but Munch-Man was so much more fun to play. Out of curiosity I searched to see if there was a TI emulator. “BEHOLD — ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE!” said the god Google. Download the TI 99 Emulator for your PC. Now I have Munch-Man and Parsec and a bunch of other games. Oh, the hours I will waste!

Sadly, the emulator did NOT include my other favorite games for the TI, the Scott Adams Adventure series. Apparently, these are still copyrighted to him, but fear not, you can download them for free — though not for play on the emulator.

Thank you, Internet, for allowing me to relive my childhood.

  • Playing too much with Facebook, with the excuse that I’m using it for work.
  • Soccer, as always
  • Tutoring English to an incredible lady that’s moving to Texas in December. Boo!
  • Working on the blog for BloodyMaryLand in preparation for Burning Man 2008.
  • Work. October is e-marketing month.
  • My cousin TJ’s wedding, at which my dad, mom, aunts and uncles got fake tattoos
  • A trip to Puerto Rico, where I had to give a welcoming speech in Spanish, with little warning. Upside: I had two half days to spend on the beach in the Caribbean.

Simple, straightforward instructions. Thanks, The CommonCraft Show!

So, these baby? birds have been hanging out on our front steps. I scared one into flying into a tree. The other one is relying on its camouflage to keep the predators away. I’m not so sure that’s the best defense in a neighborhood full of kitty cats…

doves       Up close

So, Boing Boing just picked up on a story at National Geographic that they are building a new salt hotel in the Salar de Uyuni.

It’s by far one of the most spectacular natural sights you’ll ever see. I hope with all my heart that they try to conserve the area and keep it beautiful. So much of the rest of Bolivia was littered with garbage when I was there in 2002.

Here are some more pics of that area from my trip. Click on a photo to see it enlarged.

1)Yes, this is what it really looks like on a salt flat just after it has rained. No photoshopping.
2) Bagging salt after it has been dried.
3) Outside the old hotel
4) Inside the old hotel (taken through a window)

Salar de Uyuni making salt outside salt hotel Inside salt hotel

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