San Francisco
In February I was in San Francisco for the AAAS Annual Meeting, the highlight of which was being able to see all of my west-coast pals again. Working long hours while your boyfriend is vacationing is much more tolerable when your friends come to entertain you at lunch time. This time around I got to see where everyone lived, played Wii tennis (whee! totally addictive), and enjoyed the beach in the middle of winter. Not quite warm enough for a dip, but much more pleasant than snow.
Warm weather sunset More photos.

I had high hopes for Larry Page’s speech at AAAS, but he’s not a dynamic speaker and I left early to go to my meeting with the Linguistics section. I’m told that the Q&A section wasn’t exactly riveting either, but that there were a couple of embarrasingly odd people in the audience, one of whom asked Larry to help end global warming by turning off his heat and wearing a down jacket all winter. If you’re interested, the speech is posted at YouTube. I can’t sit through it long enough for the whole 68 minutes to load to get to the Q&A I missed.

MarketingSherpa E-mail Marketing Summit

Last week I was on the road again, this time to Miami, for some professional development. Traveling to warm-weather locations in February is really spoiling me — now I know why retirees travel to warmer climes in the winter. Came back with some great ideas for the office — I’d recommend this conference to all marketing professionals who have an online component. Email can work well as a sales and marketing channel, but only if done right. Done poorly, and you can hurt your company more than you help it. Working on my own notes, but for now here is a conference wrapup from MarketingSherpa>>

Sleeping with Gorillas Will Give You Crabs
For the most part, the journal Science, which I work for, has a somewhat stuffy academic tone. So it amuses me when in contrast the news writers get a bit feisty. I shared a recent story from ScienceNOW, titled “Gorillas Gave Us the Itch,” with my friends and elicited responses such as: “So, you’re saying our ancestors had beer goggles?” and “Maybe I shouldn’t have slept with that really hairy chick.” Even the experts couldn’t keep from speculating, as the story notes that Vincent Smith, a cybertaxonomist at the Natural History Museum in London, says the study “raises some interesting questions about what gorillas and our hominid ancestors were doing in such close proximity to share each other’s lice.”

World Religion
Just today, one of my friends pointed me to a survey on world religions found at the beginning of this story.
The Gospel of Prothero
A Boston University professor argues that Americans, though ‘spiritual,’ are woefully ignorant about religion.

I believe that most of the world’s problems are rooted in misunderstanding, not evil, which is one reason I commend Stephen Prothero‘s quest to enlighten his students with a world view on religion. The more we understand other cultures and religions, the more it becomes apparent that at our core human beings are more alike than different, and the easier it is to bridge any divides that hinder communication, collaboration, and ultimately peace.

Coincidentally, Thursday I had picked up the most recent issue of Time magazine from the grocery store, which contains the article “Behind the Sunni-Shi’ite Divide.” I was curious to learn more after one of my friends told me that Sunnis have a saying “Trust a Jew before you trust a Shi’ite”. The statement is totally offensive, all around, but I like it because it illustrates succinctly how screwed up and complex the conflict in the Middle East is. I believe that peace in the Middle East has to come from within, but if Americans even want to attempt to help, they can’t have failing grades on their knowledge of world religion.

Related interesting stuff
On PBS “To Live and Die in Gwinnett County,” about a controversy over the construction of a muslim burial ground.
New Hampshire Public Radio “Cremation Nation” — Windows Media Player file that starts with a fascinating overview of the cremation process, COMPLETE WITH CREEPY CREMATORIUM SOUND EFFECTS, and includes an interview with Stephen Prothero. Did you know that the cremation rate in New Hampshire is twice the national average? Or that the bones get ground up after cremation to make the “ash”?

Losing your teeth in a dream
Apparently, this dream is as common as the dream where you are naked in class or stuck unable to run. For me, though, my first tooth-falling-out dream happened this week. Vaguely recalling that there was all kinds of theories on the symbolism of losing your teeth in a dream, I googled “losing teeth dream interpretation” out of curiosity and found this site. Fear of getting old seemed to be the most common interpretation, though I rather like the idea that it may mean I’m about to come into a lot of money.