Email is an Untamable Beast

It’s not my imagination. Even gmail is telling me that my email is out of control, threatening that if I don’t dump some of my tens of thousands of emails (or pay them money) I will be “unable to send or receive emails.” That’s starting to sound appealing. I’ve caught myself fantasizing about creating an auto reply: […]

Birthdays are Arbitrary and Awesome

Over the past six weeks, my sister and two of my dearest friends have celebrated landmark birthdays (the kind with a zero at the end). These festivities have left me thinking about birthdays. Why do we celebrate them? A birthday represents a lap around the sun — 365 Earth days, or 8,760 hours. But let’s […]

Like Groundhog Day: the Mammogram Story That Won’t Die

Before I begin, a disclaimer: I’m sick of writing about mammography. It feels like groundhog day — I’ve been writing the same damn story, over and over and over again, for nearly 15 years. This is at least the fifth time I’ve written a LWON post about mammograms. (See also: Breast cancer’s false narrative, The […]

Redux: The Compulsion to Count

  Back in 2012, I wrote about my compulsive counting habit. I’m revisiting it now, in hopes of collecting stories from other counters. If you count too, I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment. For as long as I can remember, I have counted. If I’m on a train I might count the […]

A Singular Data Point Is A Datum, You Idiots!

There’s a moment when you realize that you’ve become the person you hate. For me, it happened at the dinner table. I was telling (ok, ranting to) my husband about how my employer, FiveThirtyEight, has chosen to adopt as its house style the usage of the word data as a singular noun. “So you’ve become […]

Redux: Journalists Should Act More Like Scientists

It’s REDUX WEEK! Taking a break from writing, we’re choosing our favorite LWON posts from days of yore. My pick is from Christie and it regards the nature of bending and straightening the truth in journalism. The question of what to write in, what to leave out, and when to apply gentle literary pressure is […]

Stupid Things My Dog Has Done, Part 2. (How to De-Skunk A Dog)

Note: Read part 1 here. Last week, my dog Molly invited me to try a chemistry experiment. That’s right, she stuck her nose in a skunk’s butt. You can guess what happened next. “To fire, the skunk extrudes a pair of nozzles from its rear.” (Caution: this video is graphic. You cannot unsee it. Consider yourself warned.)

Go Occupy Those Forlorn Chairs

It’s summer, and I’ve been thinking of what poet Billy Collins called those, “forlorn chairs/though at one time it must have seemed/a good place to stop and do nothing for a while.” Even situated, as they usually are, to take in the view, it’s hard for those chairs to compete with the attention-grabbing distractions found […]