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People keep asking me, “So what do you DO at your new job?”
I send email. LOTS of it. There are about 70,000 members that receive our enewsletters (3 of them), letters, and announcements. Then there are a whole bunch of people who we would like to become members who have signed up for free access to the magazine site. In exchange, they gave us their email addresses and told us we could mail them. So we do.

The big thing I was working on last week was promoting the Breakthrough of the Year issue and online coverage, which included a video and podcast. It is available for free at: http:www.sciencemag.org/sciext/btoy2005/

I sent out the email announcement to members and non-members (Hey, who doesn’t want free content? Especially when it’s relevant to you.)

I also created banner ads that are running on the websites of the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, San Jose Mercury News and Yahoo! News. I made one that blinks, just to annoy Herb.

Spanish language post

At Slashdot


Originally uploaded by Alisonchilla.

Collapsing on a bench sounded like a good idea to me too. Three days of Christmas is fun, but a lot of present-opening.
For Christmas I got:

  • An iPod Nano – whee! Photos and songs in the smallest thing ever. I am pleased. I have also found the They Might Be Giants podcast, and am enjoying.
  • Work clothes. Because now I have “blue jeans days” given to me as a privilege, not a right.
  • The Maxx comic books – was missing a few from my collection. Er, more than I thought, actually
  • A Russian babushka knicknack. Mom, what WERE you thinking?
  • Strunk and White, Elements of Style – the illustrated version
  • Candy, books, jewelry, and a CD or two


Originally uploaded by Alisonchilla.

When I went home for Christmas, my first-grade cousin Chad showed off his newly decorated room. Go Sox! Had to have been a ton of work for my uncle, who sketched the whole thing out on graph paper, then did the paint job himself. The lights glow in the dark, and the scoreboard is done in chalkboard paint so you can keep score with the game. One of the windows is adorned with the numbers of retired players, the other with the pennant years (velcroed on so they can make room for future wins, of course).

Munchkin in Beer

Originally uploaded by Alisonchilla.

Thanksgiving 2005 – Herb and I started our turkey-eating a week earlier when we had some friends over for a pre-thanksgiving Thanksgiving. I’m just about done with the bird meat for now.

Highlights of my pilgrimage to NH included getting up at the crack of dawn with my mom to be with the other black-Friday shopping idiots, hanging out with my pal Marcela, and going to the Nashua Holiday Stroll with my mom, dad, brother, and his girlfriend.

The sillier moments involve alcohol. Marcela’s friend managed to puke out a nose ring after several rounds of drinks. My mom had ONE glass of wine and then decided a donut hole needed to go for a swim. I can now attest that munchkins do not get soggy in beer. They must have some magical coating.

Alison’s New Job at AAAS: Day 2
(American Academy for the Advancement of Science or “triple a, s“)

The commute – hasn’t gotten to me yet. Waiting for that day when the Metro breaks down and I curse public transportation. But for the moment it’s kinda nice to be able to sit and read for half an hour before work. Though I do find myself thinking that everyone on the subway in DC is far too civilized. Everyone quiet, politely ignoring you while they read the morning newspaper, bury their nose in a novel, or sleep. I’m tempted to play mind games with them. Do some sort of social experiment. Is there something wrong with me for thinking that these people need their lives shaken up a bit?

The people – all seem nice enough so far. My cubemate is 60ish woman who works on graphics for the Marketing department. Haven’t heard much out of MaryEllen yet. There is an Allison who lives next door to me – I think she dislikes that I’m causing name confusion. Waiting to see what kind of nickname they decide to give me at work.

The job – it’s going to be a lot of meetings, a lot of trade shows, some mindless sending of e-mails and some writing.

The dork factor – surprisingly low. You’d expect these people to all be science nuts. Not in the marketing department, it seems – though I may be sorely underestimating these guys. To raise the bar I’ve got a quote from Bill Nye the Science Guy and a copy of the periodic table of elements that I’m gonna tack to my wall.

Bill Nye quote (I think this was from Wired – I clipped it, so I’m not sure anymore)

Q: Science and comedy seem like strange bedfellows. How do you make serious science funny?
A: How can you not make it funny? Humor is everywhere, in that there’s irony in just about anything a human does. There’s all this PB&J: passion, beauty and joy. But there’s also the futility of the whole thing. We’re just humans on this dying planet, and it doesn’t much matter what we do. We’re always setting up expectations, whether scientific or otherwise, and failing to meet them. That creates comedic tension. The more you find out about the world, the more opportunities there are to laugh about it.

The journal Science
The main goal of my department is to get people to be members of AAAS, the major benefit to scientists being a subscription to the weekly journal Science. It contains light science reading such as “Structures of the Bacterial Ribosome at 3.5 Angstrom Resolution”, and “Retrograde Signaling by Syt 4 Induces Presynaptic Release and Synapse-Specific Growth”. In trying to read the publication that I’m trying to promote, I find myself mentally substituting the word “blah” for any scientific term over 7 letters. This about doubles my reading speed, without much loss of comprehension. Win-win, I say.

Alas, I don’t think this apathy towards words I do not know will be long-lived. The stupid magazine has already taunted me into re-familiarizing myself with what a mole is (“The amount of a substance that contains as many atoms, molecules, ions, or other elementary units as the number of atoms in 0.012 kilogram of carbon 12. The number is 6.0225 × 1023, or Avogadro’s number. Also called gram molecule.” It can be used in making calculations about gasses.) , and I’m sure that I’ll be digging back to my high school physics and chemistry lessons to try to make sense of more of what I’m reading.

Book Review
Eats Shoots & Leaves by Lynne Truss.
This may be hard to believe, but Truss manages to make reading about grammar fun – highbrow, but fun. Really. I swear. How can you not like this example of how an added comma can change the meaning of a sentence?

With comma: “Now I must go and get on, my lover”
Without comma: “Now I must go and get on my lover”

A fellow Terp has a cartoon on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim.
Aaron McGruder was writing for the Diamondback while I was at UMCP.
See his strip-turned-toon on TV:

Trying to get back in touch with my artsy side, I guess. More than one great writer has suggested that to write a novel, you have to simply make a habit of writing every day. With this in mind, I’m determined to be more prolific in my writing and art. Seems silly, but maybe one of these days I’ll accidentally churn out a great work. Don’t worry, I won’t bore you with all of my doodles and musings, but when I come up with something halfway decent, I’ll share it here.

Fishie         3 birdlike things

Alison and Herb do it up as Jay and Silent Bob. Not bad for a last-minute change of plans.

Halloween 2005

For comparison, a production still from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.


What is your greatest weakness? Why do you want to work HERE? Tell me about a problem you had to solve or an obstacle that you had to overcome. If I were to call your former boss right now, what would he say about you? Why are you looking to change jobs?

Ah yes, the joys of job interviewing. Carefully wording your answers without sounding like you are carefully wording them. Mastering the art of bullshit.

Glad it’s over. The experience was good, though my answers could use some work. I mean, the interviewers are just looking to see that you can put together a coherent answer, that you have enough social graces to get by in a work environment. But I’d like to be able to answer with more conviction.

Yes. I’m jumping on the bandwagon. I kinda blocked this whole blog thing out – was tired of hearing the media scream about blogs all the time and rebelled by not having one. BUT it’s high time that I make use of the domain name I pay for, so here I am.