The Supreme Court should rule on the health care law before this month is over, so we made a handy decision tree to help explain what the court is considering and how it could affect people.

This is a good example of how we sometimes make graphics completely differently for print and online. Both versions started with this:

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green pens are the best

My colleague and reluctant mentor keeps a pretty cool Tumblr with all the artsy and sophisticated things that happen when you explore datasets with R. My graphic about the first three years of Kickstarter projects, on the other hand, started on a tiny sticky note. (If you’ve never heard of Kickstarter, read the story or check out the site itself.)

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If you happened to read the print edition of The New York Times this past Sunday, maybe you read a really disheartening front-page story about how people getting cut off welfare in the bad economy have to make really awful choices. And maybe you also saw a little chart on the front page that was made by me.

(In my original text, I had tried to avoid the phrase “has risen” since it was published Easter Sunday. Food stamps has risen, they has risen indeed!)

One other time I had a little graphic on the front, but it was very tiny and not Sunday, and I didn’t really make it on my own at all. So this was exciting enough to give me nightmares all weekend.

My mom was not impressed. At this point, if it isn’t getting me closer to health insurance it is not that exciting.

My roommate asked me to take a few demo shots she can submit to see about becoming a hand model. (She is currently a journalist.) We get really nice window light in our living room.

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A jury duty questionnaire was waiting for me when I returned from my most recent trip back west. I guess the state of New York realized I’m not actually only living here a year and then leaving like I always said.

Years ago, in my pre-Evergreen college days, I lived in Honors Hall for a year and a half. There were five of us in a fourth-floor suite, where my room had a charming slanted ceiling and a view of Thompson Hall. One of my suitemates was a fan of the show “Smallville” and decided one day to print out and tape to our common room wall a life-size poster of the guy who stars in the show.

The rest of us thought it was kind of weird. But you get used to a lot of weird things in the dorms. So we turned him into Harry Potter.

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I’m not a very good trend- or recipe-follower. Last month I went ahead and did both, enthusiastically, in the same Sunday afternoon. I don’t know how to explain it!

This is what happened:

It was my brother’s 21st birthday, so I sent him a cake-in-a-jar. I sent a teeny little fork along with it, tied to the jar with yellow ribbon. I sent one to my sister, too. I custom reconstructed boxes to fit perfectly (bespoke boxes, could that be a thing?), but didn’t have any packing materials. I had one mostly popped piece of bubble wrap, which got put into my brother’s on account of him being the birthday boy. Pretty fancy.

A man got on the 3 train at 72nd yesterday morning and happened to see a friend there. He’d had a strange dream that needed telling, and he told it:

He was out on the sidewalk, near the Fairway on the UWS, when a black woman stopped him to ask for directions. As he was trying to explain the route – he couldn’t remember where to – a cellphone rang in the woman’s pocket and she reached for it. It kept ringing as she held it out to him. “It’s for you,” she said.

He answered, and another woman’s voice said, “Is this [his name]?” And he said yes, although it was the formal name he doesn’t typically use. And she said she was calling to confirm that he was alive, because their records indicated he was dead.

“This is me, I’m alive,” he said.

“Okay,” she said, “We needed to check, because all the records indicate that you are dead.”

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I’m still just working at the Times, which is fun and humbling pretty much every day. But today is a extra special, because there is evidence.

If you watch the TimesCast video closely, you’ll spot me in the background sitting in front of a computer during Derek Willis’ segment about “super PAC” donors. At around 0:36 I’m sitting down with my green coat on. At 1:11 I’m gone getting a Kleenex, and at 1:29 I’m back sans coat.

That’s my desk for now, and it’s nice by all the windows. I’ve been sort of a desk nomad, so I know the pros and cons of nearly every seat in the graphics department. I was once compared to Whack-A-Mole, because you never knew where I was going to pop up if someone called my name.

Today is the NYC Marathon again. I spent most of last week helping with a project about how city demographics have changed along the course since the marathon first went through all five boroughs in 1976.

I didn’t make any of the cool visual stuff, but by the end of the week I could sure rattle off a lot of facts about the marathon and New York demographics. A lot of the data just reinforced some of New York’s favorite clichés – Harlem has more white people? No way! – but numbers are always more interesting than stereotypes. And there were some interesting little changes when we got all that way down to the census tract level.

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I'm Lisa Waananen, a journalist and recent graduate of Washington State University, where I majored in communication and political science while not busy writing or editing for The Daily Evergreen. Now I write, experiment with photography and graphics, and worry alternately about not having a job and getting a job I don't like.

For a less out-of-date description, check out my portfolio or resume.

Past posts


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