of interest this week: 13 March 2016

Milky Way over Lake Mary, Flagstaff - AZ - Perseids Meteor Shower

I’m still on the mend, slowly but surely. Some days are better than others. The good news is that even while I’ve been sick, there’s been plenty of good, meaty stuff online.

  • What it’s like to be that fat person sitting next to you on the plane.
    By Your Fat Friend

    I practice how I will sit on the plane, pushing my body against the cabin wall, one arm holding the other firmly over my chest, so that I will make no physical contact with the person sitting next to me. I bring mints, so I won’t need anything to drink, so that the flight attendant won’t have to reach across the row for the fat person. I research whether the airports I’ll pass through have a history of confiscating seat belt extenders. If I bring my own, I’ll be spared the white hot spotlight of asking the flight attendant for one.

    This is just heart-breaking and something that so very few people ever stop to consider. I’m not physically heavy, but I am the person who gets sick on a plane—not all the time, but it does happen. I’ve only twice had to use an air-sickness bag, but it’s the first thing I check for in the seat pocket when I board a plane. I’m always worried that this will be the flight when I start vomiting again, or when something even worse goes wrong. I’m also the person who has to get up multiple times to use the lavatory during the flight, and I’m not always able to get an aisle seat. But I don’t experience the eye-rolling and the sighing and the not-so-surreptitious comments merely at the sight of me, and after reading this piece I catch myself wondering if (or how many times) I’ve behaved so shamefully toward another passenger.

  • 100-Foot-Wide Asteroid TX68 Safely Flies By Earth

    We can all breathe a sigh of relief. A 100-foot wide asteroid whizzed by the Earth on Monday night and (obviously) avoided a collision with our fair planet.

    You knew this was happening, right? A lot of people didn’t. We weren’t in any danger from this particular asteroid, but sometimes it’s good to remember that there’s much more going on close to home than who wins the Republican or Democratic nomination.

  • Habit Graduation: How to Increase Your “Average Speed”
    By James Clear

    The important thing isn’t to judge yourself or feel guilty about having a lower average speed than you would like. The important thing is to be aware of what’s actually going on, realize that it’s within your control, and then embrace the fact that a small, but consistent change in your daily habits can lead to a remarkable increase in your average speed.

    Do you have a habit you’d like to improve or a goal you’d like to meet? This straightforward and encouraging how-to article might be for you.

  • Confessions of a Failed Self-Help Guru
    By Michelle Goodman

    Publicly I was the poster child for the well-balanced, successful freelancer. Privately I was unraveling. Writing a book about creating a self-styled career you love had led me straight to a job I hated. I was supposed to be this emissary of work-life balance, the queen of controlling one’s career destiny. Yet Sunday evenings now gave me the same fetal-position dread my book claimed to help readers avoid.

    I’ve met Michelle Goodman, and she’s a lovely person and a talented writer. I do recommended her books—The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube and My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire—though I also completely understand where she’s coming from. For about two decades now, my tried and true adage has been: We’re best at giving the advice we ourselves most need to take.

  • $50 million ‘Smart City Challenge’ finalists announced at SXSW
    by Tim Stevens

    The competition was specifically open to midsize cities, populations between 250,000 and 850,000. Entries came from as far west as Anchorage, Alaska, and as far east as Providence, Rhode Island, each proposing exactly what they would do with the $50 million award, funding that would do things like add wireless transmitters for vehicle-to-infrastructure communications. Finalists were selected based on how well their proposals match the DOT’s goals — and how likely they look to succeed.

    Portland is a finalist! I literally did a dance, while sitting in bed, when I first read the news.

  • Read Up On SF’s Best New Authors In The 2016 Campbell-Eligible Anthology
    By Andrew Liptak

    Looking to read some of the authors who are likely going to be the next big thing in science fiction and fantasy publishing? Are you looking for a massive tome of short fiction? Up and Coming: Stories By The 2016 Campbell-Eligible Authorsis a book you should check out.

    A free download (through 31 March 2016) of scoff stories from emerging writers—you know, in case you were looking for something to read.

  • Botanists Just Answered One of the Biggest Questions About Farming on Mars
    By Ria Misra

    Researchers have successfully grown a crop of tomatoes, peas, and radishes harvested in Martian soil—and with those comes an answer to one of the big questions we have about how to farm in space.

    Big and interesting news here, and not just because I’m looking forward to a locally sourced chop salad during my yet-unplanned visit to the Red Planet. Agriculture will be a vital part of any human colony or extended visit to worlds beyond our own.

Creative Commons photo: Milky Way over Lake Mary, Flagstaff – AZ – Perseids Meteor Shower by Logan Brumm.

Posted in thoughts from the spiral.

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