I know some of you don't like lists, or are tired of year-end summaries, but I love both of those things and thought I'd make a list of my own.
Here are some of my favorite blogs of the year, in alphabetical order, since there's not really a unifying theme. I'm an omnivorous liberal artist type, so my favorites range from science and technology to knitting, with some lit-crit writing in between.
The sites, with a brief description from each site:
3 Quarks Daily: On this website, my fellow editors and guest authors and I hope to present interesting items from around the web on a daily basis, in the areas of science, design, literature, current affairs, art, and anything else we deem inherently fascinating.
Brain Pickings is the brain child of Maria Popova, an interestingness hunter-gatherer and curious mind at large, who also writes for Wired UK andThe Atlantic, among others, and is an MIT Futures of Entertainment Fellow. She gets occasional help from a handful of guest contributors. Brain Pickings is a human-powered discovery engine for interestingness, culling and curating cross-disciplinary curiosity-quenchers, and separating the signal from the noise to bring you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.
The Everywhereist: (My friend, Geraldine. One of the top 3 funniest people I know.) The story behind the blog. My husband’s job requires him to travel. A lot. For years, I sat behind a desk while he wandered around the world without me. It sucked for both of us, but probably more for me. Then, one day, I was laid off. It might have been one of the best things that ever happened to me. Since then, I’ve been following him around the world. This blog is mostly for him. So he can remember the places we’ve visited, the things we saw. So he can know a little bit about what I see when he’s off giving presentations and having meetings. Yes, it’s a travel blog. But at its core, it’s a love letter to my husband. A big, long, cuss-filled love letter. The kind he’d appreciate. The only kind I’m able to write.
Feld Thoughts: (My husband.) Brad is one of the managing directors at Foundry Group, a venture capital firm that invests in early stage software / Internet companies throughout the United States. He is also the co-founder of TechStars, a mentor-driven accelerator, author of several books and blogs, and a marathon runner.
It's Okay to Be Smart: This is a blog about science. But it’s probably not about science the way you’re used to it. I’m a biology Ph.D. student by day, and I curate and publish everything you see here. We live in the future, and that future is one in which science impacts every part of our lives. But too many people aren’t taking part in that future. Too many aren’t taking part in science. We must teach science as more than facts. It’s a creative process, it’s an instant injection of wonderment, it’s the excitement we feel at the edge of knowledge. It’s for everyone.
The Paris Review. Founded in Paris by Harold L. Humes, Peter Matthiessen, and George Plimpton in 1953, The Paris Review began with a simple editorial mission: “Dear reader,” William Styron wrote in a letter in the inaugural issue, “The Paris Review hopes to emphasize creative work—fiction and poetry—not to the exclusion of criticism, but with the aim in mind of merely removing criticism from the dominating place it holds in most literary magazines and putting it pretty much where it belongs, i.e., somewhere near the back of the book. I think The Paris Review should welcome these people into its pages: the good writers and good poets, the non-drumbeaters and non-axe-grinders. So long as they're good.” Decade after decade, the Review has introduced the important writers of the day.
Singularity Hub: Science, Technology, The Future of Mankind. Singularity Hub is a blog and news network covering the latest in robots, genetics, longevity, artificial intelligence, aging, stem cells, and more. The singularity is the point in mankind’s future when we will transcend current intellectual and biological limitations and initiate an intelligence and information explosion beyond imagining.
Slow Love Life: I want to write about moving at a gentler, more loving pace in everything I do, learning to appreciate the beauty of everyday moments, the wisdom of thinking things over. I was forced to slow down when I lost my job--and the journey of grieving and recovery is what my book is about. Slow living led me to falling in love with the world, experiencing what I think of as slow love.
Yarn Harlot: Stephanie Pearl-McPhee goes on (and on) about knitting
Zen Habits is about finding simplicity in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.
Our beloved golden retriever, Kenai, died unexpectedly Wednesday morning. Brad wrote an eloquent blog post eulogizing our good dog here.
As the incredibly nice woman at Boulder Veterinary Hospital said to me, it's a "painful blessing" that he died so unexpectedly, and I'm glad I was at home and able to be with him at the end. He was 12, which is a good long life for a big dog. He had ACL surgery a couple of years ago and his legs were a little shaky, but he was full of life and energy and doggie happiness just the day before he died.
His last morning he didn't want to come downstairs for his breakfast for the first time ever. I brought his food to him and he ate it all. I canceled yoga and a morning meeting to stay with him and took this photo of him not feeling very perky, which turned out to be his last portrait. A couple of hours later he was gone -
We are obviously devastated, but Brooks and I are keeping each other company, as we will do without Kenai for the next years.
"Good dogs are with us for a little while to teach us how to love like it's our job -- because it is."
Or, here are some of the big things in 2009 I meant to blog about, but didn't. Good intentions pave the road to somewhere?!?
All the way back in May I went to Tanzania and Kenya for two weeks with The Nature Conservancy, which was my second trip to Africa, but won't be my last. I am grateful for the opportunity to be involved with such an excellent organization and provide some capacity building support to their partners there.
Also in May, my Mom moved to Colorado into a retirement community near me, her grandchildren Morgan and Drew, and my sister Martha. Sister Wendy moved back to Anchorage, Alaska in June after 10 years in Colorado, so we're holding steady on the family headcount here. I'm looking forward to having Mom as my date for all kinds of cultural events in the years to come. Brad can avoid ballet, museums, and symphony henceforth.
I retreated for almost an entire summer of writing at Keystone, which was wonderfully productive and peaceful. I did manage to blog about that.
I have continued knitting like a fiend this fall. I made a baby blanket for the adorable Rollie Cohen in blue:
I was very happy with how this project turned out, and was delighted to make a gift for Kelli worthy of her generous spirit and hard work.
A person new in my life in 2009 that I'm extra grateful for is Colette from Room to Room who has been working with me to organize my life. It has been amazing to open the last boxes of college papers and throw away anything I don't want anymore. I'm learning that just because something is useful, that doesn't mean it's useful to me. I look forward to removing more clutter from my physical world and implementing systems that allow me to focus my time on what I really care about. Thanks, Colette.
We funded four internships in Africa during the summer and will do so again in 2010, and many years to come, with the interns presenting their experiential learning results at the Tanner Conferencein the fall.
Here is a photo of 3 of the 4 Anchor Point Interns and me in the spring of 2009:
And a different set of 3 of the 4 interns and me in November 2009, along with Salwa Muhammad ('06), Assistant Director of Internships & Service Learning at the Center for Work and Service:
We each ordered the gorgeous lobster at our celebratory dinner at Blue Ginger Restaurant:
I am deeply honored to have been elected to the board of trustees at Wellesley College and look forward to learning how to be an effective trustee and serving the College during my tenure.
In 2010 I'm thinking of reviving some other dormant skills since the knitting has been so satisfying. My viola gathers dust in its case and I think I'm going to try to find a way to bring viola back into my life.
We'll be going to Alaska for the month of July, and we love company. If you're considering a trip to Alaska, come stay with us in Homer.
I'm not making any specific New Year's Resolutions, but I will continue to try to do more blogging. I have enjoyed tweeting on Twitter, but I think I do have some thoughts that take more than 140 characters to express. I'll post them here.
After a three month hiatus from blogging, I thought I could continue thematically where I left off: complaining about the weather and showing you the visual representation of what I'm interested in --
And for the complaining about the weather part I offer the current weather conditions in Boston:
I've been in New England for the past week and the weather has been mostly glorious, and the fall foliage a wondrous thing. Foliage is one of the few things I miss about living in Boston, and it has been lovely to see.
I'll try to get back into the blogging habit. I find that Twitter is so fast and easy and automatically posts updates to my blog and to my Facebook page that it creates a barrier to blogging. If you want to know what I'm doing, Twitter is perfect. If you want to know what I'm thinking, 140 characters isn't really enough room. And here I am, beginning to blog again.
Last night when we were getting ready for bed, I asked Brad if he'd think it was funny if I woke him up this morning by yelling, "Fire, fire, the house is on fire!"
He said no.
And since he wakes up at 5:00 and I wake up at 6:00 it wasn't really feasible anyway -- but I thought it was a great idea for April Fool's Day -- much more amusing than the French tradition of le poisson d'Avril.
I am truthfully packing for being on the road for the next week, to Dallas for a Wellesley art trip, and then to New York for more art and food.
It's a glorious day here in Keystone, with about 3 inches of fluffy new snow and sunny skies -- but I'm heading back to Boulder and won't be back up here probably until May. And what this really means is that for the second winter in a row I didn't ski a single day during the entire ski season. My friends who come to stay with us and actually ski think I'm quite strange. I agree with that, but think that what really happens is that I'd rather read than ski, which is what I do a lot of up here, and I'd rather spend the days with Brad, who doesn't even pretend to ski like I do. I guess we have a mountain house as opposed to a ski house. Maybe next winter I'll break in my "new" boots.
Today for the first time in over two weeks I had a fully healthy and energetic day, which feels extra wonderful after having a nasty cold for so long. I went for a long walk with Brooks, did some yoga, and even flossed my neglected teeth. I'm usually a radiantly healthy person, often avoiding having even a single cold in a winter season, so being sick is like visiting a foreign land where I observe all the minutiae of my energy levels and mucus production. When I'm healthy I don't really notice these things at all unless I'm doing yoga or sitting meditation. But I'm newly grateful for being wholly healthy, and am glad to be well since I begin my April with a week on the road in Dallas and New York.
I'm catching up on a small fraction of the piles of magazines littering my office and had the strange experience of seeing the same new word in both the New Yorker and the New York Times -- umami. In the March 10th New Yorker it's in a book review of Perfumes: The Guide, which is more about the language of describing scents, especially in wine tasting. In the NY Times it's in a March 5th article about MSG which is currently the second most popular article to email. And what is umami? According to dictionary.com, it is:
A taste that is characteristic of monosodium glutamate and is
associated with meats and other high-protein foods. It is sometimes
considered to be a fifth basic taste along with sweet, sour, salty, and
a taste sensation that is meaty or savory and is produced by several amino acids
and nucleotides (as aspartate, inosinate, and glutamate)
It's strange to see the same unfamiliar word twice in one day. Lattice of coincidence.