Sunday, February 24, 2013

At last night's farewell party, we lit off sky lanterns

This past week, I spent four days in Texas at a line writing research event.  In teams, we devised line items that made a test taker question and think critically about a passage.  These kind of questions are the most challenging to create and consequently, the testing company receives less of this type than any other.  In two days, working with one passage, our small team crafted ten line items and eight were of the most challenging variety.  The team included the passage writer who had in depth understanding of the passage, an experienced line writer and a person from the testing company who recorded and helped phrase our questions.  I was helpful cranking out ideas for line items.  With the help of the team, we turned some of them into questions rather quickly.  Adding these kinds of questions will make the test harder and longer to complete, so I'm not sure how they will compensate for that.

Two weeks ago, I spiced up the "about me" section of this blog by including some old slides and a couple of report cards from the past.  In the future, I'll be adding links to interviews. 

I'm happy to report that we finally have a new camera!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   

Saturday, February 16, 2013

AAAS Boston

Notepad on a string and 2 gigabyte flash drive from the European Union
The blue square wrapper at the bottom is all that is left of Belgian chocolate.  Bliss 

This morning I scurried out the door at 4:50 am enroute to the AAAS conference in Boston.  The drive was not much fun with snow pummeling my windshield most of the way.  At times, my speed dropped to 40 mph.  I thought the subway stop "Hynes Convention Center" would take me right into the building.  Wrong!   I also had a bit of an issue registering because my confirmation was deleted when I canceled my hotel reservation.  It didn't help that my license was in the glove compartment of the car, a 45-minute trip by subway.  Oops.  Thankfully, a business card saved the day.

In this press hall, I met science writer Kathryn Hulick. 

  Press had access to a room filled with computers, an interview room, and another room filled with research papers and press releases.  Research papers were organized by session date, time, and then alphabetical by scientist's last name.

I was in my glory in this room
Stories hot off the press
Most of my day I was holed up listening to scientists talk about their work.  Some of it was really captivating stuff that I plan to write about. 

In the exhibit hall, various science organizations and universities had booths (PNAS, NSF, AAAS....).   Grad students were passionate about their research.  If you stopped to read their poster, it was a lot like opening a musical card at the gift shop.  They immediately started up with an explanation of their work. 
Grad students stood lined up by their posters.
I listened at length to one researcher.  Maybe I'll write about her work.   I stayed too long looking at posters and got to my session late.  The scientist I was interested in hearing was listed last, so I thought she was speaking last.  Wrong!   I walked in and she was at the podium.  Oops. 

I went to the AAAS conference to soak up science and that is exactly what I did.  I was intent on maximizing my time there.  A couple of times I regretted my decisions about being one place over another.  Aside from that, I thought the conference was an exciting intellectual experience.  It gave me new story ideas (not that I needed any!).  I left fired up to get to work.  I would definitely go again if it was nearby.
I'm sure that periodic table tee is selling like hot cakes

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Breaking trail snowshoeing is exhausting when you're sinking knee-deep in the snow
February is turning out to be an über-busy month.  There is so much I want to accomplish, plus an AAAS conference, a trip to Texas and two parties that I'm planning (one has already happened and it was a grand success!).  Currently, I'm writing and doing research.

Julia burrowed a long tunnel through the snow

I booked two nights in Boston for the AAAS conference, but last week I canceled the reservations.  An unexpected writing related trip to Texas popped up that I couldn't refuse.  From Boston to Austin in the blink of an eye seemed a bit much.  Now I'm getting up early and traveling to the AAAS conference for one day.  I was disappointed not to make the evening social event at the Prudential Tower, not so much for the people, but more so because I would miss seeing the lights of Boston.  I came up with a fine solution, I'll truck up that tower before I get on the subway and head home. 
The blizzard of 2013 dumped 27-31" of snow