General updates 2011: May/Jun

Herewith my latest news and recommendations.

My birthday’s coming up on June 12, and I’ll be having a party on Saturday June 11. The plan is to eat pizza and play a game. Obviously I have to prioritise getting the house in order, so I intend to cut down my online time for the rest of this week. (Attention Internet: do not publish or link to any interesting articles that require my full attention to read.)

I will let you know how the party goes.


My friend Elsha has recently set up her own Zazzle store, inspired by a gift voucher I sent her as a birthday present. Check it out.

Meanwhile, I bought a couple of my own products. Later in the year I’ll be going to Germany for a wedding, so I bought two each of the products that feature photographs my parents bought when they were there last year. The Christmas tree ornament is beautiful, but I was disappointed with the coffee mug, so I’ve withdrawn it from sale.

Other shopping:

I bought two new shirts last month, figuring correctly that the winter stock would be in by now. Last summer I had to replace several worn-out shirts, but the range was so boring, all stripes and checkers. So I figured I’d look again when the season turned, and now I have.

Also bought recently is a fold-up foam mattress, which has been on my wishlist for a while. It fits under my desk folded up, and gives me the power to lie down comfortably in any room of the house (in the office, say, listening to a podcast through my computer’s speakers). It also frees up some options with respect to lounge chairs, because the chairs I currently have are made up of disassemblable components and can serve some of the same functions as a mattress (albeit not as well), but with the mattress separate I can consider replacing the chairs with a different style.

Testing the new mattress by lying on it in front of the TV and watching a DVD, I accidently crushed my glasses (with my forearm, in the dark, after putting them down and getting up to do something). The optometrist bent them back into serviceable shape for now, but I had my eyes retested (not much change) and will be getting a new pair of glasses soon. Expect photographs.

3QD Prize:

The folks at Three Quarks Daily are currently running the third annual competition for the best science related blog post of the year. The list of candidates is here, and your vote is needed (quick, before the poll closes). Final winners are decided by a blend of both public votes and judges’ selections, as explained on the site.

Normally I try to vote for something I haven’t previously read, but my network is good enough these days that a lot of the best science blogging comes under my radar, and I didn’t find anything in the candidates new to me that I liked as much as the best candidates I’d already seen.

I narrowed it down to four favourites, and voted for the one I thought least likely to get votes from others. Three of these favourites have been linked to from this blog before, and the fourth hasn’t only because it’s so new. They are:

  • Jesse Bering on masturbation [candidate #7]. This one makes you think, and it’s the article I nominated for the prize, some of my other favourites having already been nominated. (BTW, I’d consider writing a blog post on this topic if any of my regular readers requested it.)
  • Puff the Mutant Dragon on the Bubonic Plague [candidate #57]. This is quite new, and for that reason alone has never before been linked to from this blog. Ed Yong called it “possibly the most promising first post I have ever seen“, yet in the 3QD poll it currently has only one vote.
  • Carl Zimmer on ‘the human lake’ [candidate #76]. One of the classic blog posts of the year, and right on the borderline of being too long for the 3QD competition (it’s either slightly more or slightly less than 4000 words depending on which words you count). Worth the read.
  • Jason Goldman on infant cognition and the ‘A-Not-B’ error [candidate #84]. I voted for this (for the reason explained above), and so far I’m the only person who has. Very interesting topic, well presented. [Update: I see there’ve been a few more votes for this now.]

Perhaps, while the poll is still open, you might consider adding your vote to one of the above.

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