Tag Archives: experiment

Daily blogging like daily exercise

31 May

So, it’s day 31, and I made it! I’ve decided that daily blogging is  like daily exercise– it’s much easier to keep going when you’re supported by a group of other people with the same goals and mission. So, I’m grateful for the support of my fellow bloggers and the new friends I’ve made along the way.

It took me a long time to start blogging, in part because I thought I needed a plan mapped out before I started. I was also worried about time– keeping up with my other work while I also maintained my blog. But I underestimated myself.

  1. Blogging has kept me focused. Having that daily deadline along with my other assignments was stressful, but it also forced me to be as productive as possible.
  2. I’m playing more with language. Over the last few days, I’ve been reflecting on a blog post that I wrote in the middle of the month about creativity, science and blogging. This structured sense of play, on a schedule, has forced me to put words on a page. Some of my favorite posts have come out of not having a plan, out of taking a topic and letting myself run with it. It’s a good reminder that I have to throw words around first before I’ll know where they fit and what they mean.
  3. Blogging has improved my other writing. That’s the corollary to having a creative outlet. I’m finding ways to infuse the ideas and creative flow that has been moving here into the words that I write in other places. I don’t know why I didn’t expect that synergy.

I still have a lot to learn about the interactive piece of blogging. I want to spend more time reading and commenting on other blogs and trading ideas. That process will take more time.

I still feel conflicted about trying to blog about scientific topics because it’s so easy to unintentionally smudge factual accuracy. I do my best to present careful, correct information, but it’s a huge challenge to be literate, accurate and engaging in a short time and space.

Thanks to all of you who’ve been reading me this month! I’d love to hear your feedback about the May experiment. Do you like the Molecule of the Week? Any favorite posts?

I’ve had fun, but I’m also glad to be able to step off the treadmill of daily posting. It’s been a fantastic jumpstart, and I’ll be figuring out a regular (though not daily) posting schedule. Like finding time for a walk, a jog or a yoga class, blogging provides a healthy writing workout.

Connecting science and life: a guest post by Jennifer L.W. Fink

28 May

Before I was a writer, before I was a mom of four boys – before I was the mother of one boy – I was a nurse.

Guess I’ve always been interested in science.  In high school, I loved biology and advanced biology.  In college, I studied anatomy, physiology, pathophysiology, microbiology, chemistry, biochemistry, nutrition and pharmacology (not to mention psychology and sociology).  To this day, I love watching the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, and I get as excited as my boys do when they make an interesting scientific discovery.  (The latest turned out to be an immature raccoon skull.)

But what truly intrigues me, endlessly, is the meeting of science and life.

As a nurse, all of that science mattered only because it helped me understand what was going on with the patient.  I needed that knowledge to visualize what as going on inside the body, to predict what might come next and to understand how and why certain interventions were helpful or harmful.  I needed that knowledge to help patients understand what was going on inside their bodies, what might come next and what might be helpful or harmful.

As a writer, I do the same thing.  The first national article I published was about labor induction.  I wrote that article because I wanted women to make informed choices.  There’s a science to labor and birth, and each intervention sets off a scientific cascade that affects the rest of labor.  How can women make informed choices about labor and birth if they’re unaware of the science?

As a mother, I quickly realized that there’s a huge difference between my sons and I, and that difference isn’t merely chronological or anatomical.  It’s a difference in how we think, how we act and how we perceive the world.  As I told my husband, “I’ve never felt the need to climb on the couch and jump off of if, just because.”

So I began digging into the science.  What I found intrigued me:

  • Boys’ hearing is less acute than girls’ from day one
  • Boys have more M cells than P cells in their retinas, meaning that their eyes are primed to detect motion
  • Boys have more dopamine in their bloodstreams
  • Boys (males in general, actually) have fewer connections between the hemispheres of the brain
  • The areas of the brain that handle language mature, on average, six years later in boys than in girls

Once again, I’m trying to connect science and life.  I’m learning about the very real, brain-based differences between males and females and trying to understand how boys learn.  I’m sharing my knowledge with others.  (Come visit me at Blogging ‘Bout Boys.)  And I’m experimenting, always experimenting.

Luckily, I have four “lab rats” of my own.

The pull of the urban garden

24 May

Although I now consider myself a urban gal and not necessarily a green thumb, my agrarian roots continue to tug on me. Last summer, I gave in to the gardening urge and our front porch erupted in  a jungle of herbs and tomatoes– tasty grape ones and some marginal Early Girls– they worked for gazpacho, but not much else.

one of my 2008 tomatoes "the butt"

one of my 2008 tomatoes "the butt"

I don’t think there are gardening genes per se, but if they did exist, I’d have them, even if they didn’t come accompanied by any particular skill. My mother’s sister still lives on the land in Virginia that my grandfather farmed for decades and raises most of her own vegetables in a large garden plot. The other side of my family has a strong streak of cattle farming.

Summer 2009 garden, first plants

Summer 2009 garden, first plants

Eating locally and raising one’s own food has become popular again, in part for environmental reasons, for health reasons, and, in some cases, it’s even economically more practical. I can’t fairly trace my own urges to grand principles such as saving the planet or avoiding pesticides, though those are nice perks. Honestly, it’s just satisfying deep down to watch plants grow and feel that tangible goal– the sweetness of a tomato as it bursts in my mouth or the added zest that my herbs added to a dish I just cooked.

Now that it’s Memorial Day weekend, I’m starting round 2 of my urban gardening experiments– the grape tomatoes are back along with Ramapos– the Jersey tomato. Now, if I can just manage to wait until July to see how it all turns out. . . .

2009 Ramapo tomato plants

2009 Ramapo tomato plants