Archive for the ‘Self-Promotion’ Category

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Job saga update: a happy ending

May 24, 2017

Having previously spread my sad job-search tale across the Internet, it seems appropriate to update that tale with a happy ending.

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Recent videos

December 5, 2016

As long as I’m using this blog to support family causes such as my parents’ anti-fluoridation work, I should also throw in a plug for my sister’s company’s new video, which nicely showcases their customizable dresses and headbands for girls 3-7 and their dolls. Great fun for those who enjoy spontaneous, open-ended accessorizing!

Other recent videos of possible interest: my song Cranial Nerve Functions, performed by Do Peterson; my song Kidney Wonderland, performed by me at the UW Nephrology holiday party.

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My interview of John L. Parker, Jr.

July 15, 2015

In May, Fleet Feet’s Seattle store hosted John L. Parker, Jr. for a visit celebrating the imminent release of his Once a Runner prequel, Racing the Rain. After the visit, I interviewed him for the Fleet Feet Seattle blog.

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Greatest hits?

February 15, 2014

For what it’s worth, I just added a “Favorite posts” page to this blog.

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A great book for a nonexistent audience

August 30, 2013

The world of children’s music suffers from a constant influx of “regular” musicians who have kids and then decide to do a children’s album — or so laments a friend, anyway. Since these Johnny-come-latelies haven’t made a study of other children’s music, they go for low-hanging fruit (writing songs about all of the usual topics: dinosaurs, brushing teeth, sharing, naps) and make rookie mistakes (like using irony and humor in ways that kids won’t understand).

Not being a professional musician, I’m not guilty of that particular sin. Instead I’ve taken the equally cliched path of fancying myself a children’s book author despite being largely oblivious to the standards of this genre.

My latest work, Leila Z and the Terrible Triplets (the sequel to Cakes by Leila Z!), is an interesting case in point. It’s essentially an adaptation of a math seminar I attended as a freshman at Williams College in the fall of 1991.

Leila Z cover

As a science-for-the-masses guy, I’m proud of this book. It presents the math in a fun, relatively accessible manner without being preachy. And yet, even now that the book is done, I still can’t really define its target audience. The story is too simplistic for anyone over the age of 10, and the math is too hard for anyone younger than that.

For now, I’m billing it as a “mini math mystery for the whole family.”

preference diagram

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Crowther as Bateman

July 24, 2012

Joe Creighton has posted his interview of me on the Seattle Running Club blog.

The interview included a photo shoot, which gave me the chance to impersonate Jason Bateman in one of his “bealeaguered straight man” roles.

Me with raised eyebrows

Bateman with raised eyebrows

Me looking skyward

Bateman looking skyward

(1st and 3rd photos by Terry Creighton; 2nd photo from bateman-daily.livejournal.com; 4th photo from 117-hudson.com.)

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#SciFund Challenge

May 7, 2012

I hate to ask people for money, but I’m asking anyway. It’s for science!

My proposal to improve SingAboutScience.org is part of Round 2 of the SciFund Challenge, a crowdfunding platform for supporting science projects with modest budgets (a few thousand dollars or less).

The SciFund Challenge is led by two ecologists, Drs. Jai Ranganathan and Jarrett Byrnes, and unsurprisingly includes a lot of ecology projects (and has drawn commentary from eco-blogger Jeremy Fox). But topics a bit nearer and dearer to my heart are represented as well: tropical parasites (Projet Crevette: Save Children From Disease), high school biology education (Recipe For Scientists), chemical engineering (Renewable Fatty Alcohols From Biodiesel), etc. One might go so far as to say that there’s something for everyone!

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Born to revise

March 5, 2012

I don’t know why Bruce Springsteen keeps popping up on my blog (here and here and here and here), but he’s on my mind again. In particular, I keep coming back to a fantastic Slate article by Louis Masur on how Springsteen labored endlessly over the song “Born To Run.”

It took him six months during the spring and summer of 1974 to record the title track [of the album Born To Run]. [Guitarist Steve] Van Zandt now laughs at the thought of it. “Anytime you spend six months on a song, there’s something not exactly going right,” he says. “A song should take about three hours.” But Bruce was working with classic-rock motifs and images, searching for the right balance musically and lyrically. Born To Run marked a change in Springsteen’s writing style. Whereas previously it seemed as if he had a rhyming dictionary open beside him, now his lyrics became simultaneously more compact and explosive. What mattered to him was to sound spontaneous, not to be spontaneous. “Spontaneity,” he said, in 1981, “is not made by fastness. Elvis, I believe, did like 30 takes of ‘Hound Dog,’ and you put that thing on,” and it just explodes.

That’s what the writing process is like for me as well: a whole lot of fumbling around in search of a version that sounds crisp, forceful, and honest.

I don’t have many “Born To Run”-esque examples in my portfolio, but “Sing A Song Of Mom” is one composition that comes to mind. I remember struggling with the tune for an entire afternoon, then thinking, “What if I made it sound more like ‘Brown-Eyed Girl’?” And I tried that, and it worked, and I was on my way to a breezy song that sounded as though it had been written in half an hour. Perfect.

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End-of-year notes

December 30, 2011

1. I’ll be singing at UW’s Mini-Medical School on February 7!

2. Of all the things I meant to blog about this year, one of the most glaring omissions was my non-coverage of the United States men’s first-ever team gold medals at the IAU 100K World Championship in September. The American women took home silver. Belated congrats to all.

3. Below: the year in (selected) tweets.

@grmeyer Yes, it’s true – I am the preeminent science songs scholar among @williamscollege alums. Do they give Bicentennial Medals for that? [Feb. 9]

I’m not in the habit of following hashtags, but #sciencemusicals (Broadway shows retitled to be science-centric) was a lot of fun this week. [Mar. 25]

Saturday Night Hyperthermia #sciencemusicals [Mar. 25]

The Little Ichthyoid-Human Chimera #sciencemusicals [Mar. 25]

Annie Get Your Grant #sciencemusicals [Mar. 27]

Bring Down ‘Da Noise, Bring Up ‘Da Signal #sciencemusicals [Mar. 27]

101 Citations #sciencemusicals [Mar. 27]

Side-splittingly funny video from today’s @nwabr student #bioexpo: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcpWJhKTQN4 [May 24]

Had to leave a 5-5 #Mariners game in the 8th inning because my 4.5-year-old son was bored. Apparently the bottom of the 8th was exciting. [June 5]

Cool t-shirt worn by Sonrisa customer at U. Village: “Avoid cliches like the plague.” [June 25]

@brianglanz Do people tell you you resemble Anderson Cooper but with much less gray/white hair? Am in Phoenix airport surrounded by CNN… [Aug. 31]

I’m now being followed by a scientist whose handle is “sh*tmyratsays.” LOL! [Oct. 10]

Today I met Stan Wentzel (@WilliamsCollege Class of ’74), who wrote the “Sleep Country USA” jingle — 20 years ago! [Nov. 12]

This AM my son hid my keys just as I was leaving. I hope my calm rxn gave him so little satisfaction that he’ll NEVER EVER DO THAT AGAIN. [Nov. 30]

My son just referred to jumping high with a “poke-poke stick.” Took me a second to realize he was talking about a pogo stick. [Dec. 6]

Now working on a song about HIV transmission — loosely based on Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” It’s more tasteful than it sounds. #Heathers [Dec. 18]

You know you’re a dad when you’re at a fantastically close basketball game (#Virginia 83, #Redhawks 77)…
…and all you can think about is how much the announcer reminds you of the guy who voices Skipper in “The Penguins of Madagascar.” [Dec. 21]

Just went kayaking in a SC lagoon populated with alligators. Probably good that my 5-year-old wasn’t with me. [Dec. 24]

Just met a guy who took accordion lessons from Gordon Lightfoot at a camp in upstate NY in the early ’60s. Yes, THE Gordon Lightfoot. [Dec. 26]

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My first Commencement, 20 years later

November 10, 2011

As I continue to sort through old books and files, I just came across the speech I gave at my high school graduation in 1991. It’s neither great nor terrible — just an interesting snapshot of how I thought and expressed myself at the age of 18.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Honored guests, parents, friends, and classmates:

To begin with, I want to thank my parents, my teachers, my coaches, and the Rutland High students themselves for everything you have done for me over the years. Without your guidance and support, I wouldn’t be standing up here.

I have agonized for many hours about what I should say tonight, and I was thinking that, to begin with, I could wish my classmates “Good luck.” I assumed that no one would protest such a simple and uncontroversial message. But then why is it that in last year’s Rutland High School yearbook, senior class president Zach Kron wrote, “I wish you all success, profit, and above all happiness… but not luck. Luck is for rabbits.” And Ralph Waldo Emerson — an even greater philosophical authority — once said, “Shallow men believe in luck.” Apparently, luck has a somewhat tarnished reputation. But I believe it’s a reputation it doesn’t deserve.

To understand why we should dare to utter the words “Good luck,” it is important to first consider what luck is. A standard dictionary definition would say this: “Good fortune coming by chance.” This definition seems pretty reasonable on the surface. Still, it does not quite correspond with many people’s understanding of the word.

Students usually talk about luck in situations like these: someone takes many guesses on an English test, gets a good grade, and says, “Oh, I must have just gotten lucky.” Or a basketball team wins a game when one of its players sinks a desperation shot at the buzzer. But is luck entirely responsible for these people’s successes? Most likely, the studying done by the student helped him or her to guess correctly, and the basketball player’s hours of shooting practice were partly responsible for him or her making the shot.

These examples suggest that what we call luck does not occur totally at random, even though a strict dictionary definition might not agree. Instead, luck often benefits those who have worked hard and have earned it. In general, we create our own good luck by putting ourselves in a position to take advantage of unexpected circumstances. The major league catcher Tim McCarver said of Hall of Famer Bob Gibson, “Gibson’s the luckiest pitcher I’ve ever seen. Because he always picks the night to pitch when the other team doesn’t score any runs.” McCarver was kidding, of course, but his point definitely applies here. What we attribute to fate or chance may actually be a direct or indirect result of our own talent, determination, or other favorable qualities.

Therefore, it is necessary that, as a class, we don’t go into adulthood passively, hoping that luck will make us a success. In school, we have motivated ourselves to accomplish much academically, athletically, and artistically. Our test scores, victories, and musical performances have all, at times, been made possible by luck, but if we hadn’t put time and energy into these pursuits, all the luck in the world wouldn’t have done us any good. In the future, we must continue to be self-reliant and ready to prosper on our own. Then, most likely, we will get a few lucky breaks that will help us to achieve our goals.

Thus, against the advice of Kron and Emerson, I will say to you, my classmates, I hope that you will profit from good luck — because if you do, you most likely will have done something to deserve it.