My Birthday

So, rather than trying to write a single, coherent PhPh post today, I’ve got a bunch of stuff rattling around in my brain and figured I’d share it in a series of shorts, in no particular order.

1. It’s my birthday today. I’m 34 29. Yesterday, I had an appointment with the eye doctor for an annual checkup (I wear contacts). Word to the wise: never schedule an appointment with a healthcare professional the week of your birthday (unless you’re pregnant and are hoping to go into labor, which is what I was doing on my birthday last year). Why? Because healthcare professionals have a nasty habit of telling you things that translate to you’re getting older. Which unless you’re under 21, isn’t what you want to hear. For instance, yesterday I got to hear you have presbyopia, which is optometrist-speak for you need {an expensive pair of really cute} glasses on top of your contact lenses so you can see when you read and use the computer. Ok, in fairness, he didn’t say the “expensive and cute” part, but that’s what I chose to hear. That was my aging-eyes consolation prize. I got to pick out my expensive-and-cute frames while W had an I’m-almost-one-going-on-terrible-two tantrum in the frame store. Whadaya think…how’d I do?

2. On a related note, I offered W to a woman at the frame shop. I had finally stopped the tantruming by letting W push her stroller around the store (yes, I have become the annoying mom with the child that pushes her stroller around the store, about whom childless people think things like why can’t she control her kid and Jeezus, just leave her at home next time. I was that childless person. It’s karma that I’ve become the annoying mom. Oh, and to the childless people, I AM controlling my kid. There are two options here — because…leave her at home? With WHOM? — and they are a) let her push the stroller around the store, or b) let her scream. I’ve gone with the option that I assume you prefer, but if you’d rather hear her scream, lemme know. Happy to oblige.) Anyway, so while she was pushing her stroller around, a woman who had not been present for the tantruming commented that she was really, really cute. I said, like I was flattered, Oh, you think? She reaffirmed. I said, You want her? And then I laughed, to convince myself that to show her that I was kidding. Anyway, one of the things I’ve learned about motherhood is that it means loving someone more than anything, but occasionally being willing to sell them to gypsies for the right price.

3. Husband baked me a birthday cake last night so that it could cool and set while we slept. It’s chocolate. Yum. Anyway, I was in bed already (because W holds me hostage every night likes me to lie next to her after she goes to sleep), and when he came to bed, he smelled like chocolate. Best. Birthday. Gift. Ever.

4. I’m starting to wonder whether this blog needs to split into two separate ones. The sciency posts are becoming more sciency and less personal/philosophical than they used to be, while the PhPh posts are becoming more personal and less sciency. I’d love some feedback. Should PhPh stay on SquintMom to “soften” it up, or should SquintMom become strictly resources for evidence-based parenting, while I take my snarky, wish-I-could-swear-in-posts-but-don’t-want-to-on-a-semi-professional-blog self off to another URL dedicated to my random thoughts and observations?

5. Happy birthday to me. Looking forward to a big glass of wine, maybe even two, with dinner. Hooray for being not-pregnant!



11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Adrian J. Ebsary
    Feb 02, 2012 @ 18:37:10

    I agree with @BoraZ on Twitter – do not split your personalities. When blogging, I think people appreciate the random additions that reflect the person as a whole, and relate to ‘personal brands’ that are multi-faceted (like themselves).

    Also, splitting your blogs dilutes your social capital and the size of the networks you build. If ability to remain consistent is in question, concentrating your content is a good way to go.


    • SquintMom
      Feb 02, 2012 @ 18:55:43

      Thanks for the input. Apologies for my ignorance, but what do you mean by “concentrating your content”?


      • Adrian J. Ebsary
        Feb 02, 2012 @ 20:27:33

        Not at all, it wasn’t accurate choice of diction on my part.

        I think two key determiners of whether you can gain a substantive audience (not that I have managed such a feat myself, but as an active and interested observer) are good content and consistency. While the first goes without saying, Ed Yong ( made a good point a long time ago when he tweeted the graph of his blog’s readership and it showed a general trend of increase over time. My understanding of his observation was that (beyond creating amazing content), you need to keep blogging consistently, at regular intervals, over an extended period of time in order to gain readership. I think someone at the time mentioned something about, “readers need to get to know,” which would be a pretty good way to put it IMO.

        If you post in multiple places you force your audience to work harder to follow you, and you decrease the frequency/consistency of posts on those individual networks, relative to what you could be posting if all your content was centralized on a single, ‘personal’ blog.

        The other argument is that your audience could feel spammed if they only want some of your content, but not the rest. That depends on your content strategy and your audience, but I would bet that the most engaged members of your audience are going to be the ones that also occasionally care to hear a little about you personally, or enjoy when you inject yourself into your stories.

        This is sort of part of an overarching opinion of mine that scientists need to begin self-marketing more effectively, and dilution of your personal brand across too many spaces with similar styles of content presentation seems likely to confuse audiences, rather than help them follow you more accessibly. Also, from the standpoint of using social media metrics to track your reach and influence on the web, it becomes more difficult to track your social reach if you create multiple accounts.

      • SquintMom
        Feb 02, 2012 @ 20:42:06

        You make great points. I interpreted your comment about helping to avoid making readers feel “spammed” to mean that it’s a good idea to make the site easily navigable, so that readers know exactly where they’re headed and what they’re getting before they go there. I don’t know if you have the time or inclination, but if you want to take a look at my front page, I just changed it a bit. I have “science” clearly separated from “ramblings,” such that those who come to the page looking for nothing but the facts can find them. I also (and have always done) make it very clear whether an article is my opinion or is based upon scientific fact. Interested in knowing what you think of the new format.

  2. Ashley @ C is for Cockerham
    Feb 02, 2012 @ 21:00:41

    Happy birthday!! I didn’t know ours were so close. I just turned 29 (again) a few days ago. I would die if J came to bed smelling like chocolate. That is a seriously awesome bday present.

    The glasses are super cute! So is your braid!

    I do like the idea of keeping “both sides” of you in one place. It’s who you are! But I know how it feels a little limiting to want to share personal stuff when this is supposed to be a semi-professional blog. I say do what feels right and don’t worry about what anyone thinks. This is your space, your blog, your place to feel comfortable.


    • SquintMom
      Feb 02, 2012 @ 21:05:56

      Thanks for the birthday wishes, and the advice. You know, blogs are kind of funny…it’s hard to know whether I’m supposed to wear my “teaching persona” (which is a kind of persona-costume) and be professional, or let myself be…myself. When I go back through and look at the posts that have gotten the most traffic, though, I realize that while the science posts might bring in new readers, it’s the personal posts that keep the readers I have.

      I guess I’m just realizing that SM is evolving. I started off all OMG, I have to be super careful to never offend anyone, and I’ve since realized that it’s impossible to avoid offending ANYONE; someone will always get pissed at something I’ve said. And it’s not like this blog is making me money or anything, so it might as well provide me with some free therapy and/or a place to ramble as long as I’m pouring hours and hours of work into it!


    • SquintMom
      Feb 02, 2012 @ 21:06:23

      Oh, and happy birthday to you too! Isn’t 29 fun?


  3. Adrian J. Ebsary
    Feb 02, 2012 @ 21:02:03

    Yes! I like your blog homepage design, it looks like it encapsulates a real person to me, and that’s what attracts me to a blog. When I say ‘spam,’ I’m thinking of Twitter, Google+ or RSS-spam – filling someone’s attention stream with unwanted content. However, with a blog, segmenting it into content blocks like you have helps people navigate different stuff – this seems like a more natural resolution than creating another blog. Maybe you simply need to create two different RSS feeds for your “ramblings” and “science”? Maybe you’ve done that already?


    • SquintMom
      Feb 02, 2012 @ 21:08:47

      I haven’t done that. That’s an interesting idea. I suspect, however, that there are two distinct types of readers on SM: those who come for the science (but likely don’t subscribe to the feed), and those who stick around as readers (and subscribe). I suspect the former wouldn’t be enticed to subscribe EVEN IF I split my feed, while the latter would rather have both “sides” of me, and might not think to subscribe to both feeds. I worry that splitting the feed would actually “dilute” my contact with readers. But I’ll think on it. Thanks for all your advice!


  4. Ariane
    Feb 06, 2012 @ 23:51:34

    Long live PhPh 🙂


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