Do I have a healthy vegan diet?

A year or so ago, I read Something Deeply Hidden by Sean Carroll. It talked about the wonders of the quantum number generator. I really don’t want to write anything today, but if I am (because I have to for my group meeting), I figured why not make it fun. I could write a research update (1), or about a book I need to review (2), or try to review a paper (3), or why not chat about the upcoming Biden Presidency (4). Or I could just pick the one I most want to do and be done with it (5). All I have to do, is ask the quantum RNG.

Position of the American Dietetic Association (ADA): Vegetarian Diets [and vegan]

I want to talk about what it means to be healthy as a vegetarian or vegan. As with anything, the key to a healthy diet is diversity of foods. This is hardly a full review of the science; I’m discussing a report by the American Dietetic Association from 2009. Nevertheless, the paper is a systematic review of the existing literature, and this blog will be a broad review of the key nutrients vegans need to pay attention to with a discussion of my own approach in what I eat. I won’t get too deep into my eating patterns outside of these main nutrients. There is plenty left to talk about.

Generally speaking, vegans and vegetarians may be considered healthier than meat eaters. This may be true when it comes to heart disease, cholesterol, cancer, hypertension and so on. However, I want to be especially careful with my claims her because correlation is not causation. Attributing these traits to veganism is like attributing diabetes to sugar. One does not produce the other, but one may beget a pattern of eating that does. That is why it is so important to ask whether my own diet really reflects the ideal way of eating. Either way, I still have to make a point to be healthy.

Vegetarians and vegans often have a lower body mass index, consume less saturated fats and more fruits, veggies, grains, nuts, and soy products. This basic fact already disagrees with my own diet. I consume a great deal of saturated fats. Don’t get me a wrong, I try to ensure I buy oils that are very low in sat fats, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is a major part of my week to week diet. I do eat a decent among of fruits, soy, and veggies, but I could use more nuts I think. They key take away is that the ADA says there is a clear benefit to a nutritionally adequate vegan or vegetarian diet.

A vegetarian is a person who doesn’t eat meat or fish. Vegans excludes egg, dairy and other animal products, but variation does exist among vegans. The authors suspect the abundance of key phytochemicals (fiber, potassium, vitamins C and E, etc.) combined with lower sat fat and cholesterol is likely a big reason for this. I suspect I am benefiting from many of these benefits, but there are clear risks I face being officially obese with a moderately high fat intake. That said, the lower risk of heart disease persists even after removing the effect of BMI. I think something I would benefit from is a consistent tracking of my sat fat intake over several months to get a realistic look at my fat intake.

The paper goes on to break down various nutrients that are often a point of concern for meatless diets. First and foremost is protein. The do a deep dive into the various forms of protein in a veggie diet, but the key take away is that protein is easily found in a veggie diet, and the boy processes it just as effectively as with meat. What’s more, meat, especially red meat, is where a lot of saturated fats are consumed. Even my diet, I doubt, compares to that someone who often eats beef.

Fatty acids are an area where vegans may be somewhat low, and these are important for cardiovascular, brain and eye health. However, I make a point to consume a great deal of soy, vegan butter, canola oil, and various forms of plant based milks fortified in these. Canola oil is a great example of a way I try to limit my sat fat intake because it is one of the lowest sources of sat fat among oils, replaced by key fatty acids. It is worth noting that the body does not consume these plant based fatty acids as effectively. However, the ADA seem to think it need not be a major point of concern. I don’t think this is something I need to change, but I wouldn’t mind a check on my fatty acid levels to be safe.

Iron is similar to fatty acids in that plant based sources are hard to consume, and it is recommended that plant based eaters consume nearly twice the amount of iron. This is not a point of concern. I eat a great deal of cocoa, beans, etc.

Zinc isn’t something I’ve thought much of. It doesn’t seem to be a major problem, but the ADA notes that the intake varies significantly. I am not prepared to say weather I consume the right amount of this, but I definitely get some based on the sources they list.

The most surprising fact to me, when I first read this, was how difficult it is to get iodine as a vegan. I learned a while back to use iodized salt, and I try to make a point to use it fairly regularly. As with all this, I suppose I could stand a test of my iodine levels.

Calcium is another nutrient that is specifically under recommended levels for vegans (on average). It leads to vegans being more likely to suffer bone fractures due to weaker bones. This isn’t something I think much about, but that is because I consume fortified plant milks which has the same bioavailability as regular milk (at least soy). I also consume greens (broccoli and kale) and tofu which are good sources as well.

Vitamin D is something I assumed I was fine with, but rereading this has me rethinking it. I have not had much sunlight, especially this last year, and the sources of vitamin D seem to be exclusive to some plant based milks. I need to rethink my vitamin D intakes and consider whether supplements are necessary (something I am very hesitant with).

B12 was the first major nutrient I made a point to consume. This is a major underrepresented nutrient for vegans, and we have to consume fortified foods with this. I get a good deal from my plant based milk, but I remember reading (not in this paper) that its bioavability isn’t as high as in regular milk. I may be remembering that wrong. In either case, I make a point to consume fortified nutritional yeast. Although, I did just learn not all nutritional yeast products are fortified in B12, so that is definitely something I must continually check. One point of concern is that I don’t consume nutritional yeast consistently. I usually make vegan cheese that will last a couple months. Then I may go a month or two without it. From what I’ve read, it takes time to become depleted, so hopefully I stay within range, especially with my fortified milks. Nevertheless, I really need to discuss this with a doctor (which I have yet to do).

Overall, non meat diets are just as effective as meat ones. Vegans may have the hardest time, but a balanced diet is still possible. What’s more, you don’t have to take supplements if you’re willing to put in the work. Of course, a healthy diet takes work regardless of if you’re vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or a meat eating monster (that’s a joke). There is a great deal to understand health wise, and they do a much deeper dive into the health benefits later in the paper. I may discuss that at another time.

2020 Reading Review

I started writing about what I was reading in 2019. It started with a post where I talk about what I am reading. In the summer of that year, I started reading more, and my reading post turned into ongoing individual review posts. A few months later, I learned about Booktube which triggered an even larger jump what I read and my activity on my blog. My reading was flourishing, and I loved talking about it. This took a good deal of my time. I liked the idea of getting a Booktube channel, but I didn’t see how I could possibly have the time. In January, I was single again and had a lot more time, so I figured it was now or never.

I wasn’t sure if I could sustain the channel, but I decided to give it a shot. I think it was going well early in the year. Then the pandemic happened, and working from home really reshaped my life, paving the way for my channel to solidify itself. Now, reading is one of the many things I obsess over. Naturally, this obsession comes with an obsessive study of what I’m reading. I do enjoy this process, and Booktube has proven to be the perfect outlet for that passion. It also helps motivate me (and justify) the making of detailed statistics like this. It works out well because these reviews are also important to ensure I’m getting the most out of what I’m reading and that I am reading a good diverse set of books.

This last year I read about 212 books (I say about because I may be missing a comic or something) equating to about 72,500 pages. There is a lot to be understood by breaking this down by month. January was when I started my channel, and it was also when I was pushing myself to read as much as possible using the techniques I had ascertained from booktuber. While there is a dip in February (perhaps from classes or a reading slump), things increase as the pandemic starts. April is the month I really hit my max potential where I read a lot, but this was also when I started watching more TV. In fact, I watched Westworld and listened to several podcasts, so it is interesting how I was still able to reach such heights.

Number of Books Read per month

However, in May several things change. First, online classes began. Second, I made a goal to try to read less because I had obsessed so much over it that I let it stress me out. That goal doesn’t last as I start to creep back up in the summer, especially in August. Although, on the whole I do tend to read less. Even still, it was in October I began considering a new goal of limiting my TBR strictly to ~15 books or 1550 books. It seems to had made an impact. In December I read the least I had all year, yet I stayed home with two weeks off for the holiday’s.

Books by page length

There is less to learn from the range of book lengths, ratings, and publication dates of what I read. I see these more as goal oriented stats. My average book length is 342 pages plus or minus 150 pages (standard deviation) with a median of 329 pages. Standard deviation is a measure of the amount of variation; think of it as the boundary where most of the books are. The median just tells us there are plenty of shorter books despite a few longer ones making my average length a nearly 350 pages. The goal here is longer books. I have no other reason other than the satisfaction of finishing a long book.

Books by Rating

My average rating is too high at 4.08 stars with a median of 4.00. I feel like this is similar to course grades. You want the average to be in the middle. Like may be a 3, but I struggle to really give low ratings. This really doesn’t matter, but it feels akin to oversaturating the market with gold. It loses its value. What’s more, the purpose is to illustrate the range of quality I experience, and I fear I am limiting myself.

Books by Publication date

The average year published was 2005 with a median of 2017 and a standard deviation of ~30 years. The oldest was 1818 and the newest was this year (2020). I’d like my median to be more extreme especially since average doesn’t mean nearly as much as the median does here. I think it is easy to get distracted by flashy new things, and in doing so, I ignore a range of quality content that has more than flash by surviving the test of time. Perhaps that is a little extreme, but I think you get my point.

Pie chart splitting books read by genre, color coded into nonfiction (orange/yellow), general fiction (green), Horror/thriller (red /pink), and fantasy (purple) and science fiction (blue)

My favorite stat is the range of genres. Note, I choose one but most have multiple. A lot of scifi-fantasys overlap into the over genre. Classics are basically any older work. Historical can be fantasy. Usually, I will mark what I consider to be the dominate genre or a genre I am trying to get more of. I am very happy with this. It shows my love for scifi, fantasy, and horror as well as for history, politics and memoirs. I want to read more general fiction, but I think this year was a pretty good listing as is. I am blown away that nearly a third of what I read was nonfiction.

Now I want to look into the diversity of what I am reading with a focus on queer representation and authors of color.

Books by gender, with a special distinction for trans and non-binary authors

One of my biggest shortcomings has been my lack of non cis authors. At the very least I can read one a month, but I’d like to read more. To be clear, this isn’t just a quota. By allowing groups to go underrepresented, I am doing myself a disservice. Some of the best books I read this year were by non-binary (NB) authors. My goal in 2021 is to ensure at least 1 NB or trans author each month to ensure I continue to consider this when choosing what I want to read. Granted, part of this was a matter of looking for authors and buying books that will allow me to achieve this. 2020 was good for that, so I am very hopeful for a better year this year.

Books by ethnicity (note, Asian refers to east-asian)

Reading by a diverse range of authors by race has been a difficult thing to track and work towards. Race and ethnicity are not the same, and trying track this is not always straightforward. As with NB and trans authors, these people are not just quotas to be met, and I have to be aware of that while also trying to ensure I am not letting my bias drive what I choose to read. On the whole, ~1/3rd people of color (POC) is not a bad way to end the year. I don’t have a hard number that I am aiming for. Instead, my goal is to continue to improve. If I am at 1/3, I can push to a 1/2. While I read a large fraction of black authors, I ended up breaking what I read down to ensure other groups didn’t go underrepresented. I strive to ensure I seek out a range of voices, and this helps me think about that. That is especially true on a quarterly basis as I can look back and be aware of my on going tendencies. In this, I can be more cognizant and avoid just boiling this down to a monthly quota.

Books by queer representation (queer author or protagonist)

As a queer person, I am very disappointed with my queer representation in my books. As with everything, the goal is to improve; first I can strive for 1/3 and then a 1/2. Again, these are stories that I can both learn and connect to. My queer identity is an ongoing part of me that I am still learning about, and books are one of the many ways I learn to think about it while also empathizing with others.

POC authors of queer representation

In this year end review, I decided to consider a new data point. That is, I wanted to consider intersectionality within the queer books I am reading. It is a decent amount, but as with everything else, there is room for improvement. I should also add, I am still toying with how and what to consider for intersectionality. I would love recommendations for those who think there are other areas worth studying. I went with this analysis in part because I am partly limited by the data I have, but can gather some new data moving forward.

Where I am getting my books from

Lastly, I want to consider where I am getting my books from. To be clear, I listen to almost all the books I read, but I like to consider if it is a book I don’t own physically (which the goal is to own it first). If I don’t own it or it isn’t on my to be read (TBR) shelf, then why isn’t it? This is usually for book clubs and advanced reader copies as well as rereads. I try to keep book clubs of books I don’t own to a minimum. My level of rereading is more than 2 a month which I am perfectly happy with because there is so much to be had from rereading. I would like to read and review more ARCs, but that’s because I request so many. Naturally, I should request less. Lastly, I want to consider my TBR shelf.

My TBR shelf has grown significantly in the last couple years because as I read more I bought more. Technically, 3/4s of what I read is on my shelf, but a big portion of those are new books, so the question arises, am I reading my older (longer owned books). If I am, can and will I read my newer books? To answer this question, I began tracking how long a book is on my TBR shelf. That is, I track how long I’ve owned a physical copy of a book. Using this, I can see just how well I am addressing my older books.

A normalized view of how many books I read in 2020 (red) and is on my physical TBR (blue) by how long I owned them before reading them. The normalized values are just to make the two comparable.

This graph says a lot. First, I bought a lot of books in the last year and a half, and I have a lot of books preordered (less than zero). As a result, a lot of what I read are books I’ve owned for a short period. The goal is to read older books on my TBR, but if I own more newer books, naturally I will read more newer books. What this figure shows is that the books I read roughly reflect what I own. I may only read a few books that have been on my TBR shelf for 3-6 years, but the total number of books on my shelf that I have owned that long is also much lower.

In 2021 I have a book buying ban, or I have a ban on ordering new books to add to my TBR. I will still allow myself to buy books I review via ARC or that I have read but don’t own physically. I am still restricting how many books I will let myself read that are not on my shelf (outside of ARCs), so I think this should be fine. That said, I kind of gamed the system by preordering a lot of books in 2021.

All in all, 2020 was a great reading year, and I am looking forward to 2021.

Camelot’s End by Jon Ward ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thank you to NetGalley and Twelve Books for an e-arc of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Check out my live election vlog where I read this and talk all about it!
Camelot's End: Kennedy vs. Carter and the Fight that Broke the Democratic  Party: Jon Ward: 9781549149702: Books

I heard about this book on an NPR show and was intrigued by the premise. The story follows President Carter in his reelection campaign for president as he is challenged, as an incumbent president, by Ted Kennedy. This was news to me. Nobody challenges a sitting president. Except, this time, someone did. This comes before my time, but it’s recent enough to feel modern. That was why I asked for a copy to review. It ended up being even more relevant than I realized.

Camelot's End review: throwing shade on saint Jimmy Carter

Ted was a Kennedy, raised like royalty with the privilege of his family, and this is in stark contrast to Carter came from a much smaller background. His father was a peanut farmer, but he left the farm for the Navy where he got a Bachelor of Science. After his father’s death, he left the Navy to return home. There was little money to be had from his father’s death, so we essentially a lowly farmer. He began having political aspirations that would drive him into the Georgia Senate and eventually governor. He ran on a platform of antisegregation, but it was still a very problematic one. He never really lied, but he worked really hard to mislead southern whites to make them think he was your traditional southern democrats. This was the first indication of his political mindset. He was not afraid to put on the fact that was needed.

Is there a peanut farmer from Plains in the field of 2020 Democrats?

I have to say, this was all mind boggling to me. I have had such an elevated view of Carter, but this turns him into a bit of a…well politician. I don’t hate the act of politicing, but I can’t help but question his authenticity. Did he believe what he said? He definitely fought for it, eventually, but was that because he wanted that or because he saw a path to victory with it? I don’t know the answer, but I need to learn more about him. This book really motivated me to do that.

On the flipside, Kennedy’s background was, as I said, like a Kennedy. He was designed for public office, and he was driven by much of the entitlement that came with being a Kennedy. It’s really interesting because he was arguably more progressive than Carter. That would end up being part of the platform he used against Carter. Although, I can’t help to ask how much was true convection versus entitlement.

I’m not as interested in delving into Kennedy’s background. I believe he joined the senate before he would challenge Carter (I read this a month ago now), but he was always seen as a potential contender. The only reason he didn’t challenge Carter in his first go was due to his history of major politic scandals. The biggest one being his, likely drunk, driving a car off a bridge into a lake. He escaped, but the same can’t be said for his girlfriend (or someone he had on the side, because he was a major womanizer). The real kicker here, is Kennedy just left the scene. If had a called for help, she would have a survived. Evidence suggest that she survived for, I believe, up to an hour after. Somehow, this did not end his career. He would go on to serve in the senate until his death. It is mindboggling but also too easy to believe given his race, gender, and class.

Ted Kennedy Killed Pregnant Mary Jo Kopechne In Car Crash

I left this book with a much lower opinion of both of them. Not that Kennedy was very memorable. They both had their problems, and this book spends maybe a third of its time talking about just this. I absolutely applaud it for that. I think it was necessary for Ward to give us sufficient context for everything that led to this challenge. Of course, a big player was also the many failures of Carter who was universally hated even by his own party, but understand, the feud between Kennedy and Carter was still fairly personal.

It was a tight campaign, but Carter managed to eventually pull though. I am less interested with the final details than the comparisons to today. Carter would go on to lose reelection to Ronald Regan. A racist celebrity with zero experience. I can’t help but see the contrast with a more recent campaign. Not long ago, a democrat ran for office. She was not an incumbent, but it was pretty well understood she’d win reelection. I am not critiquing her opponent for running. Primaries are a part of the process. However, this ideolog ran on a sense of purity, like Carter. He demonized and ostracized his opponent. Even as it was clear (more clear than even with Carter) that he would not win. Even after losing, he failed to really support his candidate. The result was we got a Regan-esk politician with not actual understanding of how to run.

Reagan and Carter in 1980 Presidential Debate - HISTORY

Of course, Trump is arguably worse than Regan. What’s more, Clinton was a woman, and it’s interesting to see how Bernie has played with Biden, likely in part because of the damage he sees he caused. To be clear, neither Carter nor Clinton were perfect, but we can’t ignore the role they played in this process. Clinton was far more prepared for office than Carter. I can’t help but question whether Carter was even prepared. Sure, he had a background in science, but he was still very new to politics. His identity as an outsider is part of what helped get him elected. Although, I can’t help but compare him to Pete Buttigeg, a sweet talking politician who easily loved but lacks much experience. I want to learn more about Carter’s time in office, and I intend to. Nevertheless, his time in office seems to be accept as a bit of a debacle.

This Week' Transcript: Hillary Clinton, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump  - ABC News

All in all, I loved this book. It gave me everything I wanted and more. I felt engaged and eager to discuss what I was learning. What’s more, I felt the strong urge to continue learning even about Kennedy who I still don’t care much about. Lastly, this book shattered my opinion of Carter, and forces me to reckon with my own tendency to idealize politicians.

Dead Presidents — I'm always happy to add more in-depth Presidential...


Research Updates | November 2020

November Calendar (October/December)
This is an ongoing post of research updates during the month. Updates are provided every few days, and you can easily reach the update by clicking the link in the calendar.
11/4/20 – Plans for the month and election update

I have quite a few things to accomplish for the month. Lets break it down.

  1. With my first draft finished, I need to move forward with the Pluto results. I think, I would like to have this mapped by our next meeting (11/18/20) and have the depth profiles by the end of the month (12/2/20). Then we can set up a meeting with collaborator in December to decide how to move forward.
  2. Catherine and I have a meeting 11/13/20 with McGill. I need to prepare for that. That will include reviewing notes from last time and prepare for updates from the team. What I hope to bring is 1) my own results and plans to move forward and 2) a proposal for an experiment idea we discussed before. That is, an experimental apparatus to model an organic freezing in water to test the SF2 model.
  3. On that note, I need to think about how to move forward. That means adapt the SF2 model to work with an alternative chemistry, ideally an amino acid that is denser than water. The first steps mean reviewing the material we have on how it acts in water like with HCN. At the same time, I would like to update my results for my paper while it is being edited by me and my coauthors. I have the SF2 results; I need to process them to get a new set of fits (extrapolation) and thermal model. I think I can do this in the amount of time edits will take. However, I would like feedback on if this is necessary. If yes, lets aim for final results by end of the month. Similarly, I would like to have my initial research for an alternative chemistry by the end of the month. That paves the way for implementation in December.
  4. In the same vain, I need to put together a presentation for my lab on some topics discussed in my PhD comps. This is related to chemistry and the water-organic relationship, so I think the two goals go hand in hand. The goal is to present these results in December.
  5. Lastly, I need to make a poster of my results. I think I will just apply my presentation. I am not sure what the timeline is for AGU, and I’ll decide on this later in the month.

In other news, one of the worst scenarios is playing out in the election. That is, Biden’s path to victory is a slow one dependent on absentee ballots. Trump has already screamed fraud and called for them not to be counted. If this isn’t a crime I don’t know what is.

An image of the already marked tweet made by Trump. Note, the first version of this tweet misspelled the word “polls” as “poles”.
11/18/20 grading and editing and last minute modeling

Earlier this month we had the Dragonfly meeting. That was a long yet fascinating experience. I look forward to following future meetings. I’m in a bit of a unique position to join titan research at the end of a long mission (Cassini), and now I get to watch the making of one. It was at times a little technical for me, but I still enjoyed the experience. Naturally, I wish it had been in person. Not only for the lovely trip to Baltimore (or wherever it would have been), but because it’s difficult to stay focused behind a screen with no one around to see you distracted.

I’ve also been working on the second draft of my HCN paper. Catherine had some great advice (naturally) on how to improve the paper and the results which involved a few more model runs. Luckily, I had already been running more models since I was finalizing the paper, so I was in a position to update my results right away. Unfortunately, things did not go as planned.

When I was finalizing my first draft, I tabulated my variables and constants in my model. Naturally, I validated all the sources I had listed for my values in my code. It was then that I noticed I had one of my values off or my source had changed. I updated it, but it didn’t seem like a major update so I didn’t expect it to change much. However, after looking at the new data I had ran while I edited my first draft, I realized it was a fairly significant offset. Que full system check.

I did several things. One, I reran all my codes for new results. What I found was that updating my values had streamlined the code. It ran faster, and worked at more extremes that it struggled with before. This means, if correct, I may not have to extrapolate. Then second, I needed to make sure the change was because I updated my values and not a major mistake in the code I made. This meant I tried to recreate my old code with the old results. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t say I tried everything, but I felt like I could only afford so much time for this. Alternatively, I downloaded Jacobs fresh code and input the values as my current sources documented them. It reproduced my most recent results. This means, while I may not be able to recreate my original results (which concerns me), I can at least test assured that the change isn’t a mistake I made in the main code in some other area. All I can say is, my parameter values are accurate, and I can reproduce these results from scratch.

Example results with original data and new data. New data is on the right, with the added overlap at the top right starting from scratch with Jacob’s code. Notice the artifact on the left red line that no longer exists. This is comforting because it did not make sense, and was a big reason why I couldn’t use higher concentrations because it seemingly wasn’t stable enough.

I have some ideas on what was the key change that caused the results to change. However, without investing more time on troubleshooting I chat say for sure. One thing I have failed to do, largely because of confusion, is install GitHub which I believe saves various versions of your code for reference. This would have made troubleshooting a much easier process.

For now, I have been reproducing all my results, and more. To the point that, I think I won’t need to use extrapolation. However, I am pushing my luck when it comes to finalizing this second draft by Friday. I very well may be able to finalize my SF2 model results today and begin the heat transfer model. Although, I have doubts. It seems very likely this is going to take a few more days. If I don’t get this buy Friday (I have lab Thursday too), I think next Wednesday is achievable.

Fall Meeting 2020: Scientific program now online - AGU Newsroom
The yearly AGU conference is online where I will be presenting a poster.

I have not even mentioned that my AGU poster is due Friday. That will be done today, perhaps tomorrow, so I have time for feedback from Catherine.

PS: my power was out when I woke up this morning which meant I one, woke up late despite planning to write this, and two, had to write this in my phone.

Research Updates | October 2020

October Calendar (September/November)

October is, objectively, the most wonderful month of the year, and it felt like it came and went faster than any other month. October began in a rush to submit my DPS presentation. I was not that concerned. I had just presented my research in July (which felt more recent than it was), and the virtual platform opened up how we give the presentation.

The final stretch leading up to the 9th (the submission of my presentation) was to produce some final results for my project. this required sacrifices. That is to say, I had to settle for simplifications rather than continually strive for perfect results. Catherine made it clear, at some point, I have to settle for what I have and move forward. This means I used the results of the SF2 model for lower concentration and extrapolated for the higher concentrations since getting a full profile at higher concentrations was a big hurdle. I think this was a good fit because the minimal data I got for 50 and 75 ppt matched up well with the fit. The next step was the 2D thermal model. This was mostly effective. I had to download an updated version and modify it for Titan, and in the process, I struggled to get the model to take the higher order fit of the HCN-water phase diagram. That is to say, I had to use a lower order fit that is less precise. Lastly, I struggled with the time steps being output because the results I presented had a thin liquid level, but it is effectively frozen. It should be entirely frozen. What’s more, the time scales are half the length, if not more, of what other predictions have for models of this size. These are all things I need to improve moving forward.

A look at the program with a view of my presentation format.

In terms of the presentation, I was frustrated with the DPS set up (going in, and after). However, I intended to make use of the prerecorded method they used. I regularly film and edit YouTube videos. This is has not only prepared me for easy editing techniques, but it trained to be fairly comfortable talking to a camera. I debated trying to record all at once or breaking it down to each slide. Each slide, I could perfect the conversation, but I risk sounding rehearsed. The entire presentation, I risk making mistakes or going over in time. I opted to go be slide. This was not effective. I got burnt out very quickly, and I found I would never be satisfied with what I said. So I stopped, and recorded all the way through. I did that one time, and it was fairly good. It was too long and had several mistakes. Rather than rerecord, I decided to give it the YouTube treatment and piece together a concise and continuous conversation with abrupt cuts throughout. This is a common occurrence on BookTube. I remove mistakes often, and I often have a bad stutter. I also do it when I want to trim down excess conversation. I had to make sacrifices to trim this down, and I did so fairly easily. It is a tedious process but one I am fairly fluent at. I am curious to hear peoples thoughts on that approach, especially as it fits into a professional setting. For the slides, I exported them as images and input them into my video editor. In retrospect, I could have had higher resolution slides by recording my screen of the presentation because I could not control the output of the slides. I am sad that I have a poster for AGU because I would have liked to do this again, with this knowledge, at least rather than a poster.

The current iteration of the paper on the HCN project.

As we shifted to the actual conference, I also began to write up the results of my work for the manuscript I started earlier this year. I finished that on time, and it wasn’t that hard to actually write. The tough part was sitting down and writing. Once started, I find putting my thoughts to paper fairly easy. I had adapted my PhD proposal into the paper at large earlier in the semester to the point that I only needed my results. I also needed to finalize a couple tables, but that was easy enough.

Check out my November research update (hopefully an ongoing report) for my plans moving forward!

In the meantime, enjoy some October bike ride photos.

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Filmed review.

Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life was written by Ruth Franklin. Franklin is an American literary critic who spent six years researching Shirley Jackson’s work and life to write this book. Once published, she was awarded several accolades for her efforts. Among those, the Bram Stoker Award for Best Nonfiction, the Edgar Award for Best Critical/Biographical, and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Biography. And after reading this myself, I can unequivocally say that she absolutely deserves the praise.

I am by no means a Shirley Jackson super-fan. Rather, I wasn’t, but that may have changed after reading this fantastic biography. I’ve read some of Jackson’s biggest works, the Haunting of Hill House, the Lottery short story collection, as well as both of her personal memoirs, Life Among Savages and Raising Demons. Of course, there are many other works I haven’t read, perhaps the biggest being We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Any hesitation I had about reading her other works has vanished. Franklin has inspired me to read Jackson’s entire list of work, and reread this biography when I’m done to fully appreciate the depth and significance of Jackson’s work.

I originally sought out this biography after reading Life Among Savages, Jackson’s first memoir, in October of 2019. I had hoped to get a look into Jackson’s psyche because I knew how significant her work (e.g. the Haunting of Hill House) is in the horror genre. Imagine my disappointment when I came to find out that it is less a memoir and more of an outtake of what it’s like to be a housewife in the 50s (or what you’re expected to be). There’s nothing really discussing her personal life outside of her kids; never is there a mention of her life as a writer. There is the hint of what might be satirical commentary on her life and society, but overall, the book comes across as somewhat antiquated. I couldn’t decide if the book is Jackson being cleverly critical or just doing exactly as it seems, trying to paint herself as the “perfect” housewife. I ended up thinking it must be somewhere in between. Franklin goes deep into what Jackson was trying to get at with these memoirs and what motivated her to write them, and it seems I was mostly right about it being a mix of critic and showcasing. My point here is that the memoir left me wanting. I realized it was never meant to be an honest peak into Jackson’s life.

I approached this biography hoping for a deeper dive into her personal life as well as into her mind. Thankfully, that is exactly what I got. This biography excels because it is more than just an outline of her life; it’s a detailed look at how her life fed into her work and vice versa. Franklin’s expertise as a literary critic really shines through in this aspect. This is as much a critical analysis of Shirley Jackson’s literary works as it is of her life. As someone who has come to enjoy reading memoirs and biographies of celebrities and other significant people in history, I must say this is one of the best that I’ve ever read. Sure, I am biased as a fan of Jackson, especially after learning more about her, but objectively speaking, there is so much here to love.

It is at times almost academic in its detail, but never is a dull. The hardest part is adjusting to just how dense the story is, but it quickly morphs into a compelling story of Jackson’s life. This book is very long—over 600 pages, but never was I bored. I found myself lying in bed at night listening to the audiobook eager to find out what happened next. Needless to say, this book is a masterpiece. I absolutely loved it.

That said, there are caveats. Because this is a literally analysis, Franklin walks us through every single significant work that Jackson wrote. That means spoiling the big reveals and walking us through the arc of Jackson’s books and stories. That includes how the story originates and how it eventually morphs into what we read today. Of course, if you haven’t read all of Jackson’s work and intend to, you absolutely should read those first. I’m not the kind of person who is bothered by spoilers. Plus, I’m often very forgetful, so hopefully it won’t affect my enjoyment when I get around to reading Jackson’s other works.

While I highly recommend you read Jackson’s works before this biography, the exception to that would be Jackson’s memoirs. I mentioned before how the memoirs felt very calculated and almost disingenuous. It’s interesting to hear Franklin discussion of these, and given the somewhat dated nature of these memoirs, I think that they would work better if read with Franklin’s analysis as a frame of reference. Sure you could read the memoirs, then the biography, and reread the memoirs for a complete experience. Except, I don’t think her memoirs are worth the added effort of rereading. The most fascinating side of it comes from Franklin’s analysis. Quite frankly, if you aren’t a Jackson fan working your way through all of her works, I don’t think they’re worth reading in the first place, but that’s your decision to make.

Memory and Delusion | The New Yorker

As a person, Jackson doesn’t come across as the most likable. There are aspects of her life that a very pitiful; she has “a rather haunted life” indeed. She suffered in a mediocre marriage with a husband who was not good to her. She had a mother who was insufferable and unfair, and that doesn’t even consider the everyday struggles of being a woman in a patriarchal society. As a result, she suffered with addiction to alcohol and drugs that were prescribed to her. She also struggled with her weight. All of this would lead to her untimely death before the age of 50.

There are other details that were interesting to learn about. One thing that really stood out for me was her friendship with Ralph Ellison. I never knew how close they were, and Franklin seems to suggest that the two’s friendship may have fed into their work. It makes me want to reread his book, Invisible Man (not to be confused with HG Wells the Invisible Man). Another thing worth noting is that there were moments in Jackson’s life where she expressed some homophobic ideas. Franklin says she is a product of her time, but it is disappointing nonetheless. I also find it hard to sympathize with someone who comes from wealth. At the same time, Jackson’s story is humanizing because it shows how even people of a higher class have their own struggles. Besides, Jackson wasn’t rich her entire life even if her parents were well off. They still struggled, and that was very much apparent throughout Jackson’s life.

No one is perfect, and that is especially true for Jackson. Nevertheless, I’m still left mesmerized by Jackson as a person and as a writer. This was a fantastic book as I’ve made abundantly clear. There are plenty of biographies I have loved reading, but few add as much to the conversation as Franklin’s work. What’s more, rarely does the person being discussed feel quite as significant as Jackson does. Part of that is Jackson herself, but it’s also a biproduct of Franklin’s hard work. 5/5 stars

The Halloween Movie Tag where I talk briefly about Jackson’s adaptions, among others.
Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery full short film adaption (1969)
Trailer for the largely praised, the Haunting, based on the Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.
The trailer for the 2018 TV adaption (loosely adapted).

The Shadows by Alex North ⭐️⭐️

I was granted an audiobook arc of this by NetGalley for a fair and honest review.
Alex North on the True Crime That Inspired The Shadows
I really didn’t like this book. The writing was fine and even ominous at times, but I never cared what happened to our characters. What’s more, the threat never felt real. When you try and walk this line between the natural and supernatural it can come off as tacky (in my opinion). Examples of this done well would be The Haunting of Hill House, the Yellow Wallpaper, or even a Head Full of Ghosts. When it is done poorly, it all just feels like the threat we are supposed to believe in has no weight. That coupled with the characters I had not interest in made a for a very boring story.

Many people compare this to Stephen King. I can see that in some of the style. However, it fails in one key area. King’s books can be overly long and difficult to get through. Personally, I still love the process because it is always character focused. King makes you care for the people in the story. Whether it’s love or hate, he makes your feel for them, and when his stories start to drift to no one, it almost doesn’t even matter because you’re doing it with these characters you love reading about.

That is the key failure with this in my opinion. Well, that and the threat which never felt real enough or satisfying.

It also doesn’t help that I didn’t like the narrators for this. The male narrator is worse than the female. Part of it is the lack of variety for voices, but it is bigger than that. While they have the necessary inflections in tense moments, it still never pulled me in. Normally, even a bad story can be fun with a good narrator. For me, this didn’t have either of those things. 2/5 stars

Luster by Raven Leilani ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to the Publisher and to NetGalley for an advanced readers ebook of this novel for a fair and honest review.

Hear all my thoughts in my August 28, 2020 Friday Reads video.

Sometimes I wonder why I use NetGalley because it feels like most of what I get approved for are mediocre stories desperate for attention. I was pleasantly surprised when I read this because it was one of the exceptions. I was hooked almost immediately. Do you know that feeling of when you start a book and you realize this is exactly what you wanted? That’s what this was for me. Not only is the writing fun and easy to read, the story is fascinating.

It follows the sexual exploits of a young black woman and her involvement with a married man in an open relationship. It deals with the issues that can arise in this kind of situation as well as the sexism and racism and women have to deal with.

No one in this book is perfect, least of all our main character. She is a women who thinks she knows what she wants and unabashedly goes for it. Some of what happens is cringy, but that is life. I loved the story and the complexity of the relationship.

It reminded me of Queenie, but I enjoyed this a lot more.

If the premise sounds intriguing, I highly recommend. Fantastic book and I can’t wait until Leilani comes out with her next book! 5/5 stars

Why Raven Leilani's 'Luster' Is This Summer's Must-Read | HuffPost Canada  Life

The Hidden Life of Ice by Marco Tedesco ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Hear all my thoughts in my August 28, 2020 Friday Reads video.

I requested this book because I am planetary scientist who studies icy worlds. That means I am familiar with the topic, if not an expert. I spent a brief period in my undergrad studying Greenland Glaciers, but I am hardly a climate or glacier scientist. Nevertheless, I think it gives me a unique take on this book.

I was not all that thrilled by the concept of this book: another book about the perils of climate change. But it is so much more than that. This is short book that focuses on Earth’s ice reservoirs that tells a narrative that interweaves stories from Tedesco’s own expedition to the ice, to stories about the indigenous communities of various icy regions and their mythologies, and to personal accounts as a father and immigrant. Those feel like a very broad range of topics to cover, but I think it is what makes this book worth reading.

What’s more, it is told in a clear and enjoyable way (not always a given with scientists). While I may be a scientist myself, I do think he did a good job explaining various pieces of information in a clear way for the lay reader.

Traditionally, I read more science heavy books, so I am glad this one worked so well being more than about the science. 4/5 stars

The Hidden Life of Ice: Dispatches from a Disappearing World: Tedesco, Marco,  Flores d'Arcais, Alberto, Muir, Denise, Kolbert, Elizabeth: 9781615196999: Books

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for an e-ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Hear all my thoughts in my August wrap up video.

I struggled with this one. At first, I thought we were following three independent narratives all relating to one central “monster”. Once I realize they all tie together as friends, I stopped ~1/3 into the book to start it over. I am glad I did because there were details I missed the first go around.

In the end, I really enjoyed it. Jones’ style is the epitome of horror. He never goes wrong there. The difficult comes in his unique way of story telling. Nevertheless, he never fails to give us those vibes of classic horror slashers, or at least here he does it well.

This is a book that I think could stand for a reread. It was a fun ride that only gets better the closer you dig into it. It was also a fascinating exploration of indigenous people. 4/5 stars

The Only Good Indians,' by Stephen Graham Jones book review - The  Washington Post

Over the Woodward Wall by A. Deborah Baker ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½

Thank you to NetGalley and special thanks to TOR for granting me an e-arc for a fair and honest review.

Check out my reading vlog!
This vlog discusses Middlegame’s plot and all the plot of Over the Woodward Wall *as it appears in Middlegame*. I never divulge new material in the new book, but a lot of it is in Middlegame already. That said, I highly recommend reading it because it really changes how you read Middlegame with a new level of appreciation for the references.

I love this book. But I don’t know what to say. I knew this might be the first of the series. What I did not know was that the story would stop right at the climax.

It feels like it’s a little incomplete and I’m not sure if that’s a criticism or just the kind of series it is. It isn’t like the Wayward Children series; those series those stories are concise with clear endings. It feels more like the Lord of the Rings with a story that clearly isn’t over.

The story is clearly meant to continue, so the question then becomes is this book sufficient as the first in this series. I think so.

I didn’t expect it to end like this. However I can see there was a clear evolution in our characters and in the plot. Essentially leading us to a new stage in the story with new characters (figuratively speaking) new goals and potentially a new ending.

Of course, I love Middlegame, so I’m desperate to find reasons like this book. Luckily he isn’t that hard.

4.5/5 stars bc the conclusion still didn’t feel entirely natural but I’m rounding it up because it was written by the Queen of Stories (aka Seanan McGuire).