Thursday, August 04, 2005

Today is My One Year Blogiversary

One year ago today, I began writing this blog at the suggestion of a friend on Craigslist (sadly, this friend, who is one of the most fascinating people I know, no longer maintains her own blog I was wrong! I linked her blog here, even though she writes it very seldom right now).

It has been an interesting year, one that I had never imagined could have happened to me. As with all bloggers, I suppose, I started out quite shy, somewhat insecure and I wrote in complete obscurity. Now, one year later, my readers range from kids in Singapore and Iraq, journalists in France and England, and Wall Street types in downtown Manhattan, to graduate students, teachers, lawyers, medical doctors and fellow scientists working in universities, governmental institutions and private corporations around the world and even to people who work for the US Senate and the State Department of Justice.

It seems like only yesterday when I discovered one morning that someone had linked to me, placing my blog in his sideboard under the heading "People I Wish I Knew" (he now lists me under a new category, "I Could Quit Anytime I Want" -- I like to believe that he means that he is hopelessly under my spell -- a very kind thing to say to this blogger). Shortly afterwards, another person linked to me, and then another (this linked blog is his third incarnation, by the way). I have no idea how these people found my blog in the millions of blogs that are out there, but I take great pride in knowing that they thought my writing was good enough to come back for, again and again. Now, I enjoy many reciprocal links as you can see on my sideboard to the left. I am proud to say that almost all of these linked blogs are written by people whom I consider to be my friends, people who I met throught the power of written words, people I would never have had the pleasure to meet otherwise.

I well remember that day when I stumbled across the Tangled Bank (TB), a "blog carnival" highlighting the best of science and medical blog writing. I had no idea what a blog carnival was, but I did realize that they linked to essays that had been published on blogs, so I wondered if I might be able to contribute something, too. Worried that it might not be "scientific enough", I eventually gathered up my courage and sent them the link to this investigative story. I later learned that I was the first person in the blogosphere to make the connection between shrimp factory farms, loss of mangrove forests and the incredible destructiveness of the Indonesian tsunami. It was a piece that I worked very hard on and I am still proud of to this day. I was so overjoyed to discover that this story had been accepted and listed in the 19th issue of TB that I announced this news to all my friends. Incidentally, this story led a friend and colleague of mine to write a book chapter about this very topic, a piece that earned her $2000. Shortly afterwards, an opinion piece that I wrote was accepted by the next issue of TB and I was on my way. Some of my other TB-linked pieces included my temporarily interrupted series of essays about avian influenza which were and still are widely read and referenced (I plan to continue this series in the coming months). These essays were also linked by another blog carnival, Medical Grand Rounds. Some of my pieces were sought out specifically for particular blog carnivals, such as this essay, which talks about a swindler who finds his victims from on-line job seekers' resumes. This essay was listed in the 2nd issue of the Skeptic's Circle. Interestingly, several other pieces of mine were discovered and republished in the print media, such as my living will and as essay inspired by my first teaching position, Beauty is in the Details.

If anyone had told me that I would not only host a blog carnival, but that I would host two of them, and that they would be the TB and Medical Grand Rounds, I would have told them they were crazy. But I hosted the 23rd issue of TB, the issue that was published on PZ Myers' birthday (PZ started TB and writes his own high-traffic science blog, Pharyngula). I later wrote a story about my hosting experience that was also linked by the Panda's Thumb as well as by a later edition of TB and several other blog carnivals. I somehow managed to host the XXX issue of the Medical Grand Rounds even though I was quite ill at the time, and while I was also teaching anatomy and physiology as a part-time adjunct. Amusingly, thanks to the Medical Grand Rounds carnival, one of the most popular search terms that brings people to my blog is "XXX bird girl" or some permutation thereof. As of today, my essays have appeared in five different topical blog carnivals (listed in the left sideboard).

During this past year, I have written some essays that I am proud of (in addition to the ones linked above) that you might have missed. Because this already-published essay reveals a little of what I do as a scientist, I put it in my blog under its original title and publication date (2003). In this silly little essay, I describe the reasons I started blogging. I am also proud of my weekly feature, Birds in The News, that I started so you might grow to appreciate the importance of birds to people, and perhaps you might love them, too. This feature is so popular now that many of you, dear readers, have started sending me news story links and some of you send pictures that I can use for the special section in Birds in the News; "Reader Photoblog of the Week". (I am always looking for your pictures and stories, so send them in!).

I have had fun with my blog, too. I have participated in some memes, such as the "100 things about me" meme, the "Fahrenheit 451 Book Meme" (if I answered that particular meme today, my answers would be different answers from those that you see there) and the "Ten Things I've Never Done" meme. I also published one of my most popular essays with my under-50 readers (its popularity is solely due to subject matter); Hogwarts Overdose.

Of course, I would be disingenuous if I did not admit that this blog has been the site of plenty of job search angst, describing how frustrated, angry and devastated I was to be unemployed, describing my interview failures, and wondering whether I should pursue science as a career at all. I attempted to lighten my moods by writing several essays about my offbeat job ideas.

Of course, I'll never forget how you, dear readers, were there for me when I experienced terrible sadness. But I also used this blog as a place to share great joy with you, such as the publication of a book I contributed to, and the astonishing rediscovery of the ivory-billed woodpecker, an event that moved me to tears. A colleague generously forwarded behind-the-scenes email to me regarding the IBWO, which was followed by more such emails, all of which I shared with you here. As a result of this flurry of "secret emails" appearing on my blog, Houghton-Mifflin publishers noticed my blog and asked me if I'd like to interview Tim Gallagher, one of the IBWO search party members and author of the book detailing the search for this bird. I really enjoyed that interview, and I hope that Tim did, also. I now am looking to use this blog to publish more interviews with scientists and other "birdy" people on a variety of topics, including one big and coming surprise that I have the "scoop" on, so do check back.

I was not always writing about serious issues and topics, though. I did have fun with this blog, and you, dear readers, obviously enjoyed it, and do still. I am surprised to find that this linked essay, where I take a variety of online Harry Potter quizzes, is another one of my most popular blog entries.

Even though it has "only been one year", it has been a long journey. I went from being a happy and fully-employed scientist to being completely unemployed, and finally to part-time temporary employment as an adjunct professor. I've met many interesting people and learned a lot of fun and interesting things from you, and made a lot of friends I wouldn't have known otherwise. I hope that you can say the same thing about me. Thank you all, dear readers, for reading my blog. I appreciate you so very much.



© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

17 Peer Reviews:

Anonymous shannon said...

I have seen you transform from a hardworking graduate student who I met at the Big Time Brewery in Seattle to a hardworking real-life scientist and excellent writer who has influenced many people. I'm very proud of you -- and the work you do! Even though your friends from Seattle don't get to hang out at the East End and drink Baghwan's with you anymore, we are thinking about you. Blog on, sistah!

7:11 PM  
Anonymous C. Corax said...

I'm happy to congratulate you on your anniversary!

It's a great blog, and we all look forward to the day you post that you've found the job of your dreams.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Alon Levy said...

Keep on writing, Hedwig - yours is a splendid blog. When I first starting reading it I already had some idea that a professor's life was not all sunshine and roses - except possibly if the professor is a botanist - but I never had any idea how hard it was. Apparently I still subscribe to the "It won't happen to me" hypothesis because I still want to get a Ph.D. and become a professor myself, but at least now thanks to you, BotanicalGirl, and Ms. Ph.D., I'm at least aware of some of the challenges ahead.

So keep at it, Hedwig, and keep looking for that tenure-track job. And if you really despair, I know I may come off as nagging here, but I urge you to consider again the idea of writing a novel based on your own experiences. It's a novel that needs to be written, and books depicting poverty and hardship can and do sell.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous demonica24 said...

Great blog hedwig! Keep up the good work! :-)

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Cathy said...

I, too, have a link to your blog because I think it is very important. Whatever happened to the lory email list, though?

Cathy and Red (in spirit) from Oregon

5:57 PM  
Blogger Mama_Da_Cow said...

Congrats! It's nice to see how active it is. Definitely something to be proud of. :)

7:04 PM  
Blogger : Joseph j7uy5 said...

Living the Scientific Life always has been a great blog.

Your weekly "Birds" posts are excellent. It seems that someone ought to be eager to syndicate them. Really. National Geographic comes to mind, Or The Nature Conservancy, although I am sure that there are more appropriate venues.

9:52 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Shannon; it's good to see you here. Considering that you are one of the best poets alive, your kind words mean a LOT to me. Ah, I do miss Seattle and all my friends, too. Those were such nice times.

Corax; thanks for reading and for your comments throughout this past year. I can hardly wait to let you all know that I finally have achieved this one dream of mine.

Alon; Thanks for reading and for your vote of confidence. I think I have several books in me, screaming to get out. I am thrashing out ideas here, but one day, I hope, the books will be published.

demonica24; ah, another "craigslister" makes the leap! It's good to see you here, I hope you return soon.

Cathy; the lories email list "died" when the university began using a new email list distribution system. I tried to save the list, but they refused to allow that because I am no longer a student there. I guess I should be happy for the extra three years, huh? One day, I hope to gather us all together again.

Mama da Cow; hey, there you are! I am so glad to see you here. Without you, grrl, this blog would not exist. Funny how these things happen, isn't it?

Joseph; thanks for your kind words. I am so glad that people are starting to enjoy Birds in the News. I had never thought to syndicate it, though. Hrm.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

And I remember finding your blog through some happy accident, and realizing I wasn't the only person out there using Blogger to write long essays instead of short posts. "Beauty is in the Details" was a wonderful post, as are some of your magnificent reflections on the glories of New York. (I hope you'll get a chance to do some more bridge-walking when it cools down.) Happy blogiversary.

4:25 PM  
Blogger jamie said...

Happy bloggyversary! I think I found your blog via random Google searches while researching where my education should go. After this and many others, I've decided against an academic career, which means Vet School, it seems. Anyhoo, Hedwig, you helped renew my interest in birds and concomitantly, in plants and flowers, and I've been spending a lot of valuable time in the backyard lately looking at things more closely than a non-biology nerd would. Thanks!

12:02 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Joe; funny how you should mention bridge-walking .. my goal was to walk across every bridge that connects manhattan to the rest of the world and to write about it. Other things prevented me from pursuing this, but perhaps I will continue it soon (after the intense heat and humidity subside .. September would be a glorious month for this, wouldn't it?). My walk across the Brooklyn Bridge was so fascinating, especially with all the historical plaques and whatnot that gave me a sense of the history of the structure. I should do it again soon.

Jamie; odd that you should mention vet school because I started the application process myself to go to vet school. I planned to go to vet school overseas, and I am still thinking about it, actually. Anyway, I learned that veterinarians don't earn much money either, although I don't think they have the same sort of employability challenges that scientists have. Anyway, I am also contemplating going to law school if things don't improve in my professional life.

I am glad to know that I helped you to see birds and other creatures once more. That is my goal. I know that not everyone can be a scientist (or wants to be) but that doesn't mean that we all can't love our little corner of the world and the creatures that share it with us.


12:37 PM  
Blogger James said...

I have no clue how I missed this when you originally posted it, I must have been in lala land or something. Anyway ...

I'm very glad you're here in the blogosphere and that things are going your way. I can't at all recall how it is that I came upon your blog and decided I wanted to make a point of coming back, but I know it had something to do with the quality of the writing and the things you were writing about. In addition to that I've made a friend along the way, so how much better can it get.

Happy anniversary, and keep the blogging alive!

8:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every now and again I write something and wonder if anyone else would want to read it (I sent you one of these essays...). Then I remember how I felt about my college yearbook. I went to a small, private liberal arts college for women (sadly, it is now co-ed). We each had a 1/2 page for the photo and anything else we wanted to say. Like others, I had the angst of trying to find or write something deep and soulful. Then I realized that I most likely couldn't come up with anything I would want to read, or have others read, in 25 years. That's why I don't blog. Besides the time commitment, it takes courage to run the risk of being judged - now or 25 years from now. So bravo to you! I'm glad I've been able to help out in some small way.


8:50 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

James; ah, it's good to see you here, too. It's nice to know that you still have time to talk to me with a baby on the way. And yes, I am eagerly awaiting the next series of baby pictures that you post!

Ellen; I think you are much more articulate and interesting than you give yourself credit for. In fact, I know you are. But I understand what you are saying; in fact, I thought that my blog would never interest anyone, afterall, who cares about birds?? Or science?? Or scientists (especially unemployed scientists)?? But my blog taught me differently. I still find that, unless I work really hard on each essay, I worry all night after I've posted something, thinking it's awful and I should delete it before anyone reads it and lowers their opinion of me, but then, the next morning, I arrive in front of a computer, breathless, and find .. comments -- all positive! My essay, "Beauty is in the Details" is one of those "unprepared" essays, but there are plenty of others like that on here, too.


5:33 PM  
Blogger Black Rat said...

Your blog is a valuable addition to the firmament, one of the more intelligent and informative reads out there. I love your passion, the way youo write, and the manner in which you bring to life a subject that many would otherwise be ignorant of. I missed your one year blogiversary and I apologise for that, but I'll make sure I'm timely for the second one! Long may you continue to write. x

9:26 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Black Rat; heyyyyy, it's great to see you comment here! Your compliments about my writing are sweet to read, especially coming from you since you, my friend, are living your own magical life as a professional writer.


3:16 PM  
Blogger coturnix said...

Happy blogiversary. Your blog is only a couple of weeks older than mine, but we had a similar trajectory and often met on carnival. Let's blog on, for many many years to come!

3:02 AM  

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