London broke my eggs.

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Sometimes, I don’t understand London. It’s not one thing in particular, it’s just that I’ll go out and come home feeling exhausted and frustrated. Most of the time I chalk it up to being American. I just don’t understand what to expect in some situations.

Like today, for example. Nothing big went wrong, yet I came home with wet socks, holding a raw egg in my hand, and wondering why I couldn’t manage a simple day’s itinerary. If you understand this city, please leave tips in the comment section. If London bewilders you, too, perhaps you’ll relate to this sequence of events: Continue reading

Say what you mean. Mean what you write.

I love words. Words impart the power to express yourself with nuance and clarity, but only if you use them correctly. Some words, as we know, sound similar to others but mean very different things. You might slip by in conversation, but if you write the wrong one, your ignorance glares out at the reader, possibly obscuring the meaning of a sentence and definitely causing the reader to pause and consider your writing ability, thinking:

Whenever I realize that I’ve been using words imprecisely, I take note, happy that I’ve discovered the error and a bit chagrined that I’ve likely made it several times. Below are four pairs of words I haven’t been using quite right, perhaps my confession will help you avoid the same mistake. Continue reading

An easy way to visualize the wind chill-frostbite relationship

Below is a table shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that visualizes how higher winds increase the danger of frostbite.

Frostbite table - CDC

For me, the table reinforces the importance of monitoring wind just as much as temperature during cold months. Add a little wind to 0ºF and your risk of frostbite goes from low to happening within 30 minutes. Add a little wind to -10ºF, and you’re in the 10-minutes-til-frostbite range.

Even after this polar vortex passes, be careful out there and stay warm.

Find more information from the CDC here: Outdoor Winter Safety

Read a little more about cold weather safety in this article I wrote for Travelers Today: How to Weather the Polar Vortex Without Losing a Body Part

Getting out of Dubrovnik

If you’re traveling from north to south in Croatia, your last stop might be Dubrovnik. Mine was. And after two weeks of crystalline Adriatic seawater and minimal cruise crowds, Dubrovnik shocked me. Yes, the walls are beautifully preserved. Yes, it has a historic and aesthetic Old Town. DubrovnikBut the place is crammed with tourists. If you’re looking for clean beaches, reasonable accommodation, or even elbow room while walking around, Dubrovnik might disappoint you.

However, I am not writing this to tell you not to go. I am here to tell you where to go when you’re there. Because it is hard to not go, even people who don’t plan to go back would find it difficult discouraging you to visit at least once. And when you run, sweaty and panicky, away from the Old Town crowds there are some amazing day trips to take. Here are the two I recommend, one to a gorgeous and haunting beach and one to a wonder-filled arboretum. Continue reading

Soil in the Headlines

A recurring post on this blog, Soil in the Headlines, collects a few of the ways soil is featuring in our lives and in our news.

Figure from this PLOS ONE article (#2 on the headline list!). Researcher's caption: "Variation in B. mycoides colony morphology due to the presence of 5 mm glass beads during incubation on PCA: with bead still in place (top); with bead removed (below)." doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081549.g005

Figure from this PLOS ONE article (#2 on the headline list!). Researcher’s caption: “Variation in B. mycoides colony morphology due to the presence of 5 mm glass beads during incubation on PCA: with bead still in place (top); with bead removed (below).”
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081549.g005

Japan tries to contain 133,000 tons of Fukushima’s radioactive soil

According to Japanese Daily Press, the Japanese government earmarked $970 million to store soil contaminated by Fukushima’s nuclear energy plant disaster. With the soil collected and money set aside to store it, the next question is, who wants to have a radioactive soil containment facility in their backyard? So far, no one is volunteering.

Soil microbe displays intriguing and potentially useful growth patterns

A recently published article in PLOS ONE describes a soil bacteria’s response to physical change in its surroundings. The bactieria, Bacillus mycoides, reorganized themselves into growth patterned around physical obstructions in their environment. Beyond the, “ooo, neat!” factor, this new knowledge of the bacteria may be useful for Continue reading

All the world’s a stage, and all the people tweeters.

twitter-bird-blue-on-whiteI came to Twitter skeptically. The first day of my journalism master’s program a professor required us to sign up, so I did. As I claimed @emilyeggleston, I wondered if my future self would wistfully mark that moment as the start of an exponential rise in the amount of time I spent staring at my phone. If you’d handed me this New York Time’s op-ed, My case against Twitter, I probably would’ve yanked my fingers from the keyboard and remained account-less, class requirement or no.

But two years later, the only thing I regret about signing up is not choosing a shorter handle. Here’s why. Continue reading

The Cardamom Building

London simultaneously steeps you in cosmopolitan bustle and historical intrigue. At the end of June, I spent a week reveling in both worlds. My apartment was along Shad Thames, a street formerly host to wharf commerce, that trails southeast away from Tower Bridge along the Thames River.

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I was across the street from Butlers Wharf, an old warehouse district that housed incoming goods, notably spices, from the Thames. The wharf opened in 1872, closed in 1973, and sold for redevelopment a decade later.

I could look down from my bedroom to see tourists stop and stare at the iconic iron bridges suspended between buildings, once avenues for trade, now home to flower pots and patio chairs. The bridges that used to guide spices into London are now inspiration for passersby to wonder: who is lucky enough to live here?

Continue reading