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A sore belly button is probably my strangest ache-and-pain.


I’ve had the odd thought lately that I will miss my little fetus, thrashing around in my guts, when she’s born. This time when she’s all mine.


If I read one more opinion on baby changing pads, I will freak out and kill someone.

(another) first day of school

Fifteen years ago this week we woke up in Carothers dormitory and toddled off to our very first college classes. Today Bryan headed back to UT to teach a computer science course as an adjunct professor. So proud of that one.

class of 2018

(Under the same “things that make us feel old” heading, file the fact that today’s entering freshmen will be the class of 2018. 2018! And no flying cars at all.)

good thinking, good writing

I found a new writing mentor. It’s exciting when it happens. I hope one day to be as wise and funny and put it all in writing as well as this random internet advice columnist. Or maybe I could do it right now if someone would give me a column… Okay, world, I invite you to send me a description of your problems, and I will tell you what to think and do. Go.

my husband is FAMOUS

(See his pretty face at 2:27.)

here and now

I enjoyed this article on travel writing in the NYTimes a few days ago. “If I am skillful enough to capture and hold this moment now, someone reading my words at some distant time and place will feel the same here-and-now-ness that I did back then and there.” In workshops he asks his students to write as much as they can for 5 minutes, beginning with the prompt, “Here and now I am…”

I tried it on the bus home:

Here and now I am on the Metro Rapid bus, headed home. Here and now I am yawning, yawning. Here and now I am a little bit hungry because all I’ve eaten today is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as I walked across campus between one of my seven hours of meetings and another. Here and now I am wondering what I have the energy to do tonight. Here and now I am quiet, and happy to be quiet. Here and now I am thinking this deodorant that I put on this morning is better than the other kind I’ve been using. Here and now I am wanting a beer. Here and now I see palm trees, and a condo complex going up. Here and now I sway back and forth with the brakes of the bus. Here and now I glance surreptitiously at my fellow passengers, as we maintain the fiction of public privacy. Here and now a gnat crawls across my screen. Here and now my neck hurts, and I regret not going to yoga class two days ago. Here and now I see a tall thundercloud in the distance. Here and now a stop is requested. Here and now I think of my unanswered emails. I wonder about the castle that’s been constructed on Congress—some gaming place? It looks like someone drove a car through the front of one of my favorite gift stores. I must put my computer away and get off the bus.

speaking of data visualization

How about this weekend project? I knew I was saving all those bottle caps for a reason. Turned out it was to answer the very important question: what colors cap the beers we drink?

bottle cap histogram
(Canvas –> prototype –> execution. This is the side of our tool shed facing the backyard. Now just a little bit weirder.)

A: mostly red and gold

jazz data viz

One of the things I love about my job is the opportunity it affords to dabble in a lotta things I like doing. I’m no graphic designer nor statistical wizard, but I do love some good data visualization. So when we wrapped up our fabulous jazz MOOC this spring and no one asked me for any sort of outcomes or overview, I made up my own.*

Conventional in-the-media wisdom pegs MOOC completion rates at 5% and calls the enterprise frivolous. Of course the story is more complicated and interesting. This graphic was my attempt to answer the “what was your completion rate?” question in a way that was still clear but more nuanced. As so many of my plans do, it began with markers.

data viz sketch jazz

Jazz Appreciation edX summary results (1)

*Using a highly sophisticated graphic design program called “PowerPoint.” And then spamming it out to every one of my current colleagues.

Memorial Day

Seven Memorial Day weekends ago, we were getting married in the wooded hills of Berkeley, California. This year, we were doing some light pig butchery in Tool, Texas. Somehow it was a perfect celebration.

pig behind screen

I was unable to tell my camera-phone to focus on the action outside instead of the window screen, but I’m actually fond of the result. It’s like an instant-nostalgia lens, that captures the essence while blurring the details of the pig insides. The whole weekend had the feel of one we’ll remember.