December 30, 2014

Webster "Superman" Brown: We Hardly Knew Ye

We adopted kittens Webster and Lucinda (not biological siblings, but fostered together) in August: he was about 4 months old and she was a month older. They were darling kittens and really got along well together.

Sadly, Webster developed Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), which is what his brother Darnarian died of back in May. It's a horrible disease which affects many internal organs and is always fatal, usually quite quickly. We were fortunate that Webster lived with his diagnosis for almost two months; his initial prediction was 20-30 days.

Lucinda (tuxedo) & Webster (tabby)
His primary nickname was Superman because when he jumped off a table or the bed he would spread all four legs wide and sail off into the wild - and if he'd had a cape, it would have flown out behind him.

Webster was a regular newspaper eater: he liked to sit on the kitchen table with me and chew on the paper as I read it. And he was a crafty kitteh: Webster liked to sit in the middle of my photography work and provide assistance.
A little newspaper nomming
Helping with crafts

His favorite song might have been John Fogerty's Centerfield. When he was well, and very kitteny, he would sing to me: "Put me in coach! I'm ready to play! I'm ready to play today!" He'd add ... "I don't know what I'm going to play, but I'm ready! I'm ready to play!"

Webster preferred to chase his food than eat it out of a bowl. More than once, he left a full bowl of crunchies in order to chase kibbles I'd thrown to keep his sister Lucinda running & in shape. Webster ran down the hall to chase crunchies, returning to his bowl only when the game was over.

He was a very affectionate, social cat. His purr motor was almost constantly on; in fact, two veterinarians had trouble hearing his heart due to his purring. He liked to be with his people and his sister Lucinda, right up until the end. He is survived by his adopted sisters Lucinda (now 9 months) and Emma (a very healthy 15 years).

Webby, webby, webby, webby, Webster. Rest in peace, little guy.

Thanks to ... 
For More Information about FIP
For Helpful, Knowledgeable Support
  • the FIP Fighters Group on Facebook is full of knowledgeable, caring humans who have dealt with FIP in one (or more) cats.

July 24, 2014

Text Visualization / Content Analysis with @VoyantTools

Many of my research colleagues do content analysis on newspapers, and there's a new tool which may provide useful to them. Let's explore Voyant Tools, a "web-based reading and analysis environment" which provides lots of high-level insight into text.

 I did a quick LexisNexis search on articles written in college newspapers about sexual assault and pasted a few of them into You can see the word cloud above as well as the text on the right.

If you click on any of the words in the cloud or in the text itself you'll also see where in the document the term appears, and you can see a list of Keywords in Context.

Click on the plus-sign next to the phrase, and you see more of the context.

I was able to export a URL for this Keywords in Context chart, so you can see it in all its glory.

There are myriad other export features in the tool, including a list of words by count, comma- and tab-separated options, and more.

It seems like a good option for exploring text on a very broad level. And it's a quick way to provide graphics for publications or presentations on your text analysis.

There is a stop-word list so you can exclude common words; you can edit this list as well (I excluded lots of common LexisNexis terminology like "u-wire" and "document;" should I have excluded "said" as well?). It is possible to upload multiple documents, so that you can compare coverage of a topic in one newspaper against coverage in another paper.

Some of the limitations for newspaper research include:
  • It's not possible to analyze pdfs, for relatively obvious reasons; but this eliminates the ability to search many historic newspapers which are available online only as pdfs.
  • If you export multiple stories from LexisNexis or America's News, they are exported as one document, which makes it impossible to compare documents against each other in Voyant-Tools. To do this kind of analysis, you'd need to export the documents one at a time, which would quickly get tiresome.
Here's a screen shot of an analysis I did of eight individually downloaded articles from LexisNexis -- that process was a bit cumbersome, but the data is interesting:

The chart at right shows the number of times the word "women" appears in each of the eight artcles. You can see a quick analysis of all the words in the eight articles under the Word cloud (or here).

This has great potential in the newspaper content analysis toolbox.

July 01, 2014

Photo Apps @FolkSchool ... Phun with iPhone Photos

I truly enjoyed Catherine Anderson's Seeing with Quiet Eyes class at the John C. Campbell Folk School last week. I learned a lot and took some great photos. I bought an Easy-Macro iPhone (and other phone cameras) macro lens ... which I used to take this photo of a lily sticking through leaves at UNC's Arboretum.

We spent an afternoon playing with photo apps for the iPhone and iPad. Catherine mentioned 8-10 ... most of which are ad-supported / free with ad-free versions available. The ones I tried are:

A general photo editing program (from Google). There are multiple editing options in Snapseed, and most of them can be made by finger-swiping. Editing is easy for newbies - you don't have to know about healing or contrast or white balance ... just click on an option and swipe.
  • Before & After in Snapseed - as easy as clicking the landscape button on the top right of the screen: 

  • My final Snapseed image:
This lets you put multiple photos on one image. In addition, you can tweak image borders - change from square to rounded, and change the colors.
border and color options in Photopath
Final Photopath image ... of the Folk School

Phonto lets you put text on images -- and offers a great many fonts, layout options, and even symbols.

Repix lets you draw on your photos. It's not something I'd do all that often, but the sparkly effects sure are fun on this lily. I also used Repix' filter options - which you can apply and tweak to increase or decrease the effect.

Catherine also mentioned Waterlogue, which turns images into watercolor paintings. I didn't download it, but the demo in class was very pretty.

For online image editing, Catherine suggests; I'd already started using PicMonkey (at @samkatben's recommendation) -- so check them both out.

Catherine suggested Costco (Costco Photo Center) as a great option for ordering photos. I just ordered some and am very impressed with the ordering options. These include:
  • Turning off their auto-correct - useful if you've spent time correcting color or removing blemishes.
  • Customizing text printed on the back of photos (I have set the default to include the date).
  • Set the crop for individual photos. Tell them where you want a 8x10 cropped, which is different from where a 4x6 image would be cropped. 
  • Inexpensive -- for me, 8x10 photos are $1.49 and 11x14 photos are $2.99. I even printed one at 8x8 (for $1.49).
  • Catherine likes ordering larger images from Costco because larger photos don't get rolled.
For more great ideas from Catherine, check out her 2011 book the Creative Photographer.

June 18, 2014

Photo Camp! ... at the @FolkSchool

I will be learning to see with quiet eyes next week at the John Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC.

I can't wait to spend a whole week immersed in photography -- all day, every day. I hope to learn new skills, and yes, to improve how I see the world in a photographic sense.

Here's info. about the class: Seeing with Quiet Eyes Class at the Folk School, and here's a post the instructor, Catherine Anderson, wrote about a similar workshop she gave called Seeing with Quiet Eyes: Photography as Meditation Retreat.

Hopefully the weather will cooperate, and be alternately sunny, rainy, foggy ... and not too hot. It'll be just past the summer solstice out in the N.C. mountains, so the light will last a long time.

June 15, 2014

Late Spring Cooking

I made two delicious dishes this weekend:

Mark Bittman's Beet Roesti with Rosemary (from How to Cook Everything)

Bittman blogged this recipe in the New York Times back in 2008: Beet Rosti With Rosemary

The beets were fabulous, as they always are from Pine Knot Farms. The rosemary was from my kitchen garden.

The photo doesn't do the beets justice - they were terrific.


Tonight I made Singapore (Street) Noodles (from the July / August 2014 issue of Cook's Illustrated). The magazine calls them Singapore Noodles (tho' they're from Hong Kong, not from Singapore), but I know them as Singapore Street Noodles, so that's what I call them.

I made the recipe for 4-6, but the recipe for 2 is online through August: Singapore Noodles for Two Recipe.

Just about everything was from NC., except for the noodles and the spices.

The shrimp were from Core Sound Seafood, a local community supported fishery (CSF) that also sells to our local food coop. Scrumptious!

The red peppers were from Vollmer Farms (whose berries are out of this world) and the eggs were from Roberson Creek Farm.

I want to finish the whole batch!

May 17, 2014

Darnarian "Potamus" Brown, RIP

We adopted Darnarian from the MSPCA back in December, 2006 (see his welcome post). He had a wonderful life with us, but he recently developed Feline Infectious Peritonitis, or FIP, or as I call it, "Fatal Kitty Disease."

Darnarian was a wonderful kitty, and he died today, largely because of FIP, but more directly due to "anemia of chronic illness."

He was fond of squirrel watching, and he never met a ball he didn't like. Other hobbies included sleeping (he was an excellent sleeper!), eating dust out of corners, and lying in the middle of the kitchen while we were preparing dinner. The garage was one of his special spots -- he loved to roll around in his pop's wood shavings. He loved any bathroom, especially toilets, sinks, and bathtubs; he was particularly fond of curling up in any sink just about his size. Of course, he was a box-dweller too: he hopped into any box around.

When we had a house with stairs, he loved to run up three or four flights at a time; once he slid off the banister when he got to the top floor, resulting in a bloody nose.

He was a magnet for funny names - Darnarian itself is fun to say and never boring, but we also called him Potamus, and sometimes, the Mayor of Potamus-town. Early on, we called him the "weenie wiggler" and more recently, we called him "head butter 5" in honor of his fondness for head-butting and as a riff on UNC basketball player Kendall Marshall's "Kbutter5" Twitter name.

Darnarian lived in two states (that we know of): Massachusetts and North Carolina, and he's always been a trouper. Even on that 14-hour trip from MA to NC, he didn't make a peep.

Darnarian's current favorite toy is "fleece-on-a-stick," also known as the Cat Charmer. Here he is with his sister Emma on a recent Sunday morning.

Darnarian is survived by his non-biological sister Emma (who is now 15) and his two humans. All of us are grateful to his smart, kind, and caring veterinarians (Drs. Kipp and Heinz at Piedmont Veterinary Clinic, and Dr. Flood at Triangle Veterinary Referral Hospital).

FIP is a pretty horrible disease. For information from a few reputable sources, check out

February 24, 2014

#scioTradLit at #scio14

I'm excited to be leading a discussion at this week's ScienceOnline conference in Raleigh called “How Traditional Research Literature Should Change to Improve Access to Scientific Knowledge.”

Many of us at ScienceOnline read primary research literature, but even here, the audience of readers is quite diverse. We range from high school students to professors of PhD students; we include journalists and public relations experts; some of us are science fans with no scientific training.

Here are some of the questions we'll ponder together:
  • Is there a way for teachers and/or journalists to teach readers not only how to read the scholarly literature, but also how to be skeptical of science? 
  • How can scientists help non-experts understand their work?
  • How do we access the primary literature? 
  • How can we encourage publishers and authors to participate in more open access publishing, and is that realistic? 
  • What are other ways that students, faculty, journalists, and the general public can access the primary literature?
 If you'll be at the conference, join me Thursday Feb. 27 from 4:00pm - 5:00pm in Room 6 (McKimmon Center).

If you're following from afar, join in the discussion & follow the thread at the ScienceOnline Forum site.

January 07, 2014

Stephanie's Vision

One of my goals for 2014 is to take more photos. To help with that goal, one of my 2013 vacation goals was to create a website for my photos. The second goal has been achieved!

Check out my zenfolio portfolio at, and if you have Flash enabled, you can check out a slideshow of my recent photowalk at the Eno River State Park:

(if you don't have Flash enabled, here's a link to the collection)

Happy new year!

January 05, 2014

Honey Oat Quick Bread

Honey oat quick bread. It's what's for lunch. 

The flavor was quite good, but it was a bit dense (like a good quick bread should be) and not quite right for peanut butter. Still, it's a good solution for a no-yeast bread.

Recipe from Eating Well.

January 04, 2014

Cheerful Winter Soup: Tom Yum!

I made a delicious Thai recipe from EatingWell in Season: The Farmers' Market Cookbook tonight: Tom Yum Soup. I'd never had it in a restaurant, but it looked tasty: shrimp, pineapples, red peppers, and tomatoes ... (I omitted the mushrooms). I went to a big healthy food store to get lemongrass and lime leaves, and I'm glad I made the effort.

It's in the winter section of the Farmers' Market cookbook, but none of the ingredients are in season around here ... still, it is a nice cheerful winter soup.

Next time, I'd add more ginger (in addition to the dried galangal) and also some red pepper paste.

Aromatics creating the broth: jalapeƱos, galangal, lemongrass, and lime leaves
Stirring the soup

Eating the soup (I added rice noodles)