Archive for the ‘Self-Promotion’ Category


Other recommended blogs

June 26, 2011

As a small counterweight to the egotism and self-promotion that creep into my blogging, I’m giving the Crowther stamp of approval to some blogs other than this one.

Runner’s World Daily. This blog is written mostly by Mark Remy, who is the funniest running writer I’ve encountered on the web. Here’s a recent example of his work: When Racehorses Read ‘Born to Run.’

Oikos. This is an ecology journal with a new blog to which my friend Jeremy Fox is a primary contributor. Many of his posts are fairly ecology-specific, but some are remarks applicable to science in general.

Sing About Science & Math. Oops, here’s that self-promotion creeping in again; the SAS&M blog is written by me. After a year of doing it, though, I think it’s starting to get pretty good. Check out my series of interviews with science songsters, for example.


Yet another non-entry

February 16, 2011

Since I’ve been injured for several months, the request for a running-related interview came as a surprise. But it was for real, and I was happy to oblige:

Runner’s Story: My Track Record

Thanks to Heart Rate Monitors USA for taking an interest in this broken old man.


Someday I’ll have time to write a real blog entry…

February 9, 2011

… but in the meantime you’re stuck with this.


My new rap video: "Money 4 Drugz"

January 31, 2011

This was my entry into this year’s UW Pocketmedia Film Festival. You can vote for it (or any other entry) at the People’s Choice Gallery page.


My beautiful cyberchild

December 13, 2010

Among my various achievements and creations over the years, MASSIVE is among those of which I am proudest. My Sing About Science blog and MASSIVE’s What’s New? page note recent improvements, with additional upgrades planned for the coming months.


Shameless self-promotion

September 23, 2010

Here are a couple of things I recently posted at other sites:
Why do people run ultramarathons?
Saving Kids With Science

To follow the first link, you’ll have to create login at “Big Games” website. I recommend this site, which is run by Williams College philosophy professor Will Dudley, but if you don’t want to register there, you can instead read my essay below.

* * * * *


This post is sort of an add-on to Chris Kirwan’s post about participating in a 24-mile swimming relay, or, to be even more specific, to Will Dudley’s comment on that post, in which he asked, “What is the appeal of events that push the limits of endurance to such extremes?”

Maybe I can help answer that question. I’ve been hanging out with ultramarathoners for about a decade, and I’ve been an ultrarunner myself for the last six years. (Ultramarathons, or “ultras,” are generally defined as races longer than the marathon distance of 26 miles, 385 yards.)

In figuring out how to frame my ideas, I thought back to something Will said at a gathering of Williams College alumni several years ago. One possible benefit of sports, he argued, is that they provide a fun, frivolous escape from the many serious issues confronting us in everyday life. In other words, “they’re important because they’re not important.”

In that playful and paradoxical spirit, I offer the following reasons why people choose to run ultramarathons. (The ones that apply best to me are 1A, 2A, 5A, and 5B.)

1A: Ultras are hard. Some people just want a challenge beyond that of marathons. That may sound ridiculous to nonrunners, but it’s true.
1B: Ultras are not hard. This viewpoint is more difficult to justify, but in the United States, most ultramarathons are held on trails, and trail running is considered easier on the body than pounding the pavement.

2A: Ultras offer unique competitive opportunities. Virtually nobody makes a living as a professional ultrarunner — the winner of a prestigious race may be awarded a few hundred dollars, or perhaps a free pair of shoes or a shiny trophy — so the playing field is relatively level in that sense. It’s also level in the sense that older runners can compete successfully against young ones, since endurance fades more slowly with age than raw speed does.
2B: Competing against others is downplayed in ultras. Reason 2A notwithstanding, the competition at ultras is arguably less cutthroat than at shorter races. When you share the roads or trails with fellow athletes for several hours or more, you tend to develop a sense of common purpose and mutual respect. Ultrarunners generally want each other to succeed.

3A: Ultras provide a strong social network. Marathons often include thousands of runners, whereas most ultras have fewer than 100. This, along with factors mentioned in Reason 2B, results in the ultra community being relatively small and tight-knit. This is appealing to many of its members.
3B: Ultras provide a retreat from society into nature. There’s something about spending an entire day moving through the natural world under your own power that makes you feel extra-connected to it.

4A: Ultras don’t attract mainstream attention. As hinted at in Reason 2A, ultramarathoning is not a huge industry dominated by corporate sponsors and race management companies. This has both plusses and minuses, but the “grassroots” values of the sport have plenty of advocates.
4B: Ultras are a good way of attracting attention. If you want to raise money for and awareness of a particular cause, simply running a marathon may not draw much interest. If you run all the way across the United States, media coverage is more likely.

5A: Ultras offer more variety than other races. You may encounter rugged single-track trails full of rocks and roots, mountainous climbs above elevations of 10,000 feet, night running, snow, river crossings, desert heat, an absence of clear directional markings…. The sheer variety of these challenges not only makes ultras hard (Reason 1A) but also makes them interesting!
5B: Ultras reward consistency and single-minded perseverance. Running an ultra can be much more complicated than running a marathon, as Reason 5A suggests. Because of this, many people require several attempts to get the hang of it. While this is undoubtedly discouraging to some, it keeps others coming back for more, determined to nail their next ultra, or perhaps the one after that.

I like this list, and yet its usefulness seems limited. Will it convince outsiders that ultras are good use of time and energy? Probably not. Does it explain how the enticing aspects of ultras are distinct from those of other sports? Only somewhat. Does it represent a genuine consensus among ultramarathoners? Not necessarily….

I guess we have yet to arrive at a unified theory of ultras.


Another blog

May 31, 2010

As some of you know, I’ve been interested in educational science songs for many years. When Wendy Silk asked me to participate in her new pilot project on Undergraduate Biology Education — Songs for Teaching (UBEST), I was happy to say yes.

A major goal of the project is to build a network of teachers, students, musicians, and others who believe that music can be used to engage people who might otherwise be intimidated or bored by scientific content. In her quiet way, Wendy is a natural networker and has already talked to many people about this project. I have been slow to follow suit thus far, but I’d like to mention that we have a new blog devoted to science songs: If you share my interest in this topic, or if you just can’t get enough of my blogosphere blather, please check it out.


GJC and JFK: the interview

December 9, 2009

Sarah Gist writes an online column on running and fitness in Seattle. Her latest piece is: Greg Crowther wins JFK 50 Mile race.

Thanks to Sarah for the coverage . . . and to Glenn Tachiyama for the use of yet another one of his marvelous photos.

Also, in other news, fellow Seattlite Uli Steidl was quick to upstage my JFK win with an even bigger win at The North Face’s Endurance Challenge 50. Congrats, Uli!


UW Pocketmedia Film Festival

May 13, 2009

The University of Washington is soliciting entries for a “short film festival limited to the new media of pocket video cameras, cell phones, and mobile appliances.”

The festival’s theme is, “What do U do at the UW?” Since my job mostly entails malaria-related research, I made a 55-second film about that — sort of.

Thanks to my friend Do Peterson and his friend Alex Stemm-Wolf for lending me their music, and thanks to several colleagues for lending me their children.


A transparent life

July 21, 2008

I wonder if it’s common for researchers to flip through collections of old slides in the way that normal people might flip through albums of old photographs. I found myself doing this last Friday while moving boxes from one lab to another, except that many of my “slides” were overhead transparencies from my grad school days. How carefully I had designed them! How much of my life was represented in them! It was quite a trip down memory lane.

Here’s the title transparency from my first rotation talk as a grad student. I was studying the effects of nitric oxide (NO) on muscle contraction.

NO effect

I’ve never been much of an artist, but I still think this drawing is sort of brilliant. The pressure I felt as a new student…. My self-consciousness at having a skinny, unimpressive “runner’s body”…. My aversion to lifting weights…. It’s all in there.

Another whimsical overhead comes from a presentation I gave at a departmental retreat. Since we had transported Nobel Laureate Bert Sakmann all the way from Germany to give us a special guest lecture about ion channels (which allow ions to pass through membranes), I devised the following mock talk.

Bert Sakmann, transported

Eventually I started using PowerPoint like everybody else, illustrating slides with bad clip art rather than drawings. Anyone recognize runner #111 in the 1999 slide below? He was one of about ten free sports-related images that came with Microsoft software at the time. I don’t know where I found the snake picture, but my options must have been pretty limited because it’s not of a rattlesnake.

ACSM talk

By the time I finally defended my dissertation in 2002, we had all gotten more sophisticated in our ability to find and manipulate images. Since my doctoral research concerned NMR spectroscopy, I “photoshopped” the phosphocreatine peak of a 31P spectrum into an outline of the Space Needle.

Seattle spectroscopy

After I graduated, my next research project focused on bacteria that can subsist on methanol (a one-carbon alcohol) as their sole source of carbon and energy. At parties I’d often say that I studied bacteria that “consume nothing but alcohol,” which sometimes drew the response, “Yeah, I used to have a roommate like that….”

methylo intro

I have many more slides, of course, but this is probably getting really boring for you. No? Well, maybe just one more, then?

jelly electrophoresis