29 December 2014

My Favorite Things, December 2014

Although I do have a tiny new roommate occupying quite a bit of my time nowadays, I did have a whole two weeks in the first half of the month in which I twiddled my thumbs, waiting to go into labor and surfing the internet. And now I have lots of time to kill on my iPhone at, say, 3AM, when I’m up feeding Baby P. So yes, I did come up with a collection of things loved in December! Things besides this guy, at least.

Let’s finish up this year of my favorite things with...

Things about science

Let’s have a moment like that scene in Restaurant at the End of the Universe (right? I can’t be bothered to fact-check) in which we realize just how tiny we are in the universe.

I know scientists can get a bit jargon-y at times, but it’s a precise discipline, and we need precise definitions for our terms. It makes us twitch when they’re not used properly. (#6 is a particular sticking point for me, as I’ve had to break far too many undergrads of that habit.)

This gif of human embryonic development is mesmerizing. And all the more fascinating because it just happened inside me! (Major props to creator for citing the Gilbert Developmental Biology book, too.) Click over for the spectacular full-size.

And finally, let’s be real: I’m a little surprised this sort of overly-honest citation doesn’t happen more often. Drafting a collaborative manuscript is hard... and scientists are brutal.

Things you can learn

The public library director in Ferguson, MO did an AMA on Reddit that had me cheering. Remember when I said the situation was far more complicated than any pundit made it out to be? He says the same. He also provides tangible ways you can help, which is almost certainly more useful than sharing another essay about Ferguson on facebook!

This lie-spotting quiz was fascinating to me. Some are easy (like the fake smile question) but others are things I’d never considered, or found totally counterintuitive. I got 14/18, maybe you can do better?

Finally, if you never listened to the patent troll stories featured on This American Life, go here and here to be outraged. But! Then come back here and read this story about how patent trolls are losing ground! Yay!

Things mapped

All the map/geography links this month are courtesy of Mr. P, because the man knows I always enjoy a good map!

I’m a little late on this one since it technically came out for Thanksgiving, but here’s a map of distinctive gratefulness – that is, what each state is disproportionately thankful for. (YouTube, Virginia? YouTube?)

Here’s a whole bunch of maps based on surveys of American’s perceptions of other states. The southern states get ranked highly for nicest, “potentially because the rest of the country doesn’t understand that ‘Bless your heart’ is facetious.”

There’s a companion one for Europe, as well!

Speaking of folks across the pond, here’s the poor attempts of Brits to label the 50 United States. Hey, I can’t judge... I could only halfway label countries in Europe, let alone counties in the UK.

And while not exactly a map per se, there is this incredible site, Diane Goes For You. See something interesting on google maps that you’d like to know more about? Diane goes for you, quite literally, and reports back. Holy moly!

Things about design and DIY

Baby P’s nursery is done (I’ll show you the very last project soon!) but this neutral nursery has me swooning. I’m envious of the relative sparseness too, but the guest bed in Baby P’s room has already come in handy, so I won’t complain!

Centsational Girl’s weekend reading posts always have something that strikes my fancy, but this Paris apartment tour in particular is just lovely. Who cares if I can’t translate the text? Beautiful design is language enough!

I’m not as avid a Pinterest user as some, though I do appreciate a good scroll-through to kill a few minutes. But those “Related Pins” cluttering up my feed were KILLING ME. Worst of all: no easy switch to turn them off, ugh. If related pins suck all the joy out of Pinterest for you, too, then here’s how to get rid of them!

And if you have some spare crafting time this holiday, here’s a list from Buzzfeed of some super-easy DIYs to fill your time. Many are silly (a nail polish donut bangle? wha?), but the clothespin headphone cord keeper is something I could use!

Things for the holidays

Yes, Christmas Day is past, but we are still enjoying the twelve days of Christmas, and anyway, we can prep for next year, right? I mean, your decorations are probably still up... let’s stay in the spirit a bit longer!

I saw a ton of ornament DIYs this month, and I suppose they’re great if you have kids (well, kids that have gross motor control), but I just wasn’t into them... EXCEPT THIS ONE. Beautiful DIY mercury glass ornaments! Yes please.

The holiday dinners may officially be over, but this etiquette guide (from Thanksgiving) is timeless. I’ll need a refresher next year.

Tis the spirit of the season, and by that I mean an unexpectedly ridiculous amount of money donated to charity. We should all be so generous.

Slate has a ranked list of fifty Christmas presents exchanged throughout the Harry Potter series. Though I take issue that they all represent true Christmas presents (the wreath of flowers Hermione places on the Potters’ graves?), it’s fun to read and reminisce nonetheless.

And baby, it’s cold outside, and it’s going to be for awhile. Even though party season is over, we can still enjoy these wintry cocktails (bourbon citrus sangria, y’all!)... or cuddle up with these hot chocolate recipes (because Bailey’s is finally back on my menu!).

Things that are Amazon Prime

Related to the holidays, let’s chat about how I did all my Christmas shopping this year.

Every one of those packages arrived at my home thanks to Amazon Prime. You guys, I am now the biggest convert to Amazon Prime, which is why it gets its own whole section here.

Backstory: I used Prime before as a free trial a few years back, just to get Christmas presents shipped in time as I’d procrastinated too long. But I forgot to cancel, and was charged $79 in the end to ship practically nothing after Christmas. Kinda left a bad taste in my mouth, even though the whole business was my own dang fault.

But now here I am, the better part of a decade later, and I have an infant who requires diapers and creams and other paraphernalia... and I am somewhat homebound. Amazon’s changed, too: it has streaming video to entertain me during nighttime feedings, 20% subscription discounts on diapers and other household items (which actually makes them cheaper than going to the store), unlimited cloud storage for baby photos, and generally a better selection all-around. And best of all? I work at an academic institution, so I get it all half-price (yup, a .edu email address is really all you need).

I swear this isn’t a sponsored post or even a referral link up there. I am just a sleep-deprived new mom who is absolutely relieved that I can deal with that “oh hey we need wipes” realization immediately and get them without leaving my house! We just got it in November and I swear it has already paid for itself.

Things you can watch

Now that we have Amazon Prime with streaming video – and because we already had Netflix, and a new TV – Mr. P requested a Roku 3 for Christmas. There’s lots of similar streaming devices for your TV, but he picked this one because you can plug headphones into the remote. How cool is that?! Perfect for a bedroom TV, considering all three members of Team P are currently sleeping in there. And it’s cheaper than renting the (required) cable box for a year from the local cable overlords, too. Mr. P’s parents were generous enough to get it for him, and in the few minutes I’ve had to watch it (life with a newborn, amirite?) I’m loving it.

And what streaming video have I been watching? The Wire, or at least its first season.

I’d heard how great it was for years, but never bothered to watch until recently. So yes, this is exactly like when I recommended Breaking Bad, in that I’m endorsing an already-known-to-be-great television program long after it ended. But still! The Wire is good stuff, and actually feels super-relevant right now – its setting is the same time and place as the events in the Serial podcast, and it covers events like a white policeman facing a grand jury indictment for brutality against a black teenager. Yup. It’s being rebroadcast on HBO now, so do what everyone else has said for years and check it out!

More good stuff on TV? How about Colbert? Specifically, a video mashup of the times he’s broken character and laughed at his own jokes during all his years on the Colbert Report. (Sorry for the autoplay! I would’ve turned it off if I knew how.)

There’s also an obituary for the character, and of course, the final episode of Colbert Report, if you missed it (you’re gonna want this guide afterward). I may have teared up a bit... though I may also have surging postpartum hormones, but whatever. I’ll miss that character, but geez, I’m excited about his new gig!

Though I’ve loved The Sing Off in past seasons, I skipped this year’s sad little “Christmas special” because 1) one episode? psshhh and 2) no Ben Folds so why even bother. But I ended up having to go back and watch it on DVR because (spoiler alert) the winners hail from Mr. P’s and my alma mater! And their performances really are the best – the first showcases all the strong voices they have, and the second is just nonstop goosebump-inducing powerhouse. Go Dores!

I found this analysis of what makes a TV comedy nowadays quite interesting, if a little inside-baseball. Though I wonder, how exactly does one count jokes?

Finally, because these posts can always use more Serial, here’s a clip from SNL in which they parody the podcast and absolutely knock it out of the park.

“So my producer Dana and I built a sleigh.” OMG yes!

Things that made me smile

And to wrap things up – as if the above videos weren’t enough to brighten your late-December day – here’re some funnies for you.

Movie titles with one letter removed, illustrated. Practically all are gold, though I’m most partial to “O Bother, Where Art Thou?”

Here are photos of the 25 cutest parenting moments in the animal kingdom. Just try not to awwww.

Then there’s this baby bat sleepover.

Pastries and puns. (Radiobread!!)

And finally, cat whackamole.

That’s all for this month... and this year! Enjoy what’s left of your holiday, dear readers!


Tina said...

Love these posts!!! Takes me days to get through them... and then couple days to go back and enjoy things all over again. Kitty whackamole!!!