Guest Gleaner Alyssa Wodtke

So Chrisina splits the country…could her sister be the next best thing? You make the call. Alyssa sits […]

So Chrisina splits the country…could her sister be the next best thing? You make the call. Alyssa sits in the Gleanings Chair for this episode, which I’m again serving up from vacation in Rochester, New York (where the most notable user experience is a trip to Wegmans, the Bellagio Las Vegas of grocery stores). Email her at with your fan mail. — Noel


I’m Alyssa, Christina’s sister and one of the people she asked to do a gleanings while she’s gone. Christina and I share an apartment, at least until her hubby makes it through the INS process. It’s kind of nice to rattle around here alone, though it gets a little creepy sometimes. I try not to hear footsteps in the attic or imagine noises at the back door. Mostly I sit at C’s computer for hours at a time, mentally blocking out the dishes and laundry that need to be done.

Since she left I’ve spent much of my free time dismantling the smoke alarms. One of them started beeping and there are so many damned smoke alarms in this long apartment and the sound is so weird in here, I haven’t been able to figure out which one is beeping. Admittedly, it took me about 4 or 5 days to bother to drag the ladder out to deal with the problem. Every time I think I’ve gotten the right smoke detector, I hear another beep. I’ve dismantled every smoke detector in the house and still I hear beeping. I’m beginning to wonder if it’s some strange form of tinnitus.

I suppose C asked me to write one of these because I do spend a lot of time surfing, mostly while doing twelve other things at work. Multi-tasking is my middle name. No, really, Alyssa Multi-tasking Wodtke–my parents were ahead of their time. Don’t let anyone tell you kids don’t live up to their names.

Anyway, here’s some cool stuff I’ve seen lately:


“New observations with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Paranal in northern Chile give weight to current computer models of the early universe: it is “spongy”, with galaxies forming along filaments, like droplets along the strands of a spider’s web.” Although I love the thought of the universe as spongy (it reminds me of Pinky from Animaniacs saying he liked the word obsequious because it sounded “squishy”), even better is the fact that astronomers got together and couldn’t think of a better name than “Very Large Telescope (VLT).”


I was not really a science fan in school. Now I devour every story I find. I never knew space was so entertaining…

May 16 – In a feat that has scientists baffled, a hungry young star more than 2,000 light years away, appears to be belching perfectly spherical bubbles of gas and dust.”

How cool is this–“May 30 – The recipient of the first successful larynx transplant three years ago now speaks – and sings – with a perfectly normal voice. His surgeon says he is ready to perform the operation again.” I learned something new–the larynx affects taste and smell. The body is a weird thing.


I love this site. I’m not sure why. It’s not big on design, not high tech, but I think it’s creative and fun. It makes me want to draw my food.



I know I shouldn’t be plugging a superpower’s website, but I visited the Sony Metreon’s website for the first time today and thought it was nicely done. But what do I know, I’m just a movie junkie…


I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t throw in a shoe site. Anyone who knows me knows my deep affection bordering on dangerous obsession with Kenneth Cole’s shoes. And I also think his site is really nice. It uses restrained colors and has a very laid back, respectable look. It’s got a lot of movement, there’s plenty of visual interest, and it’s super easy to navigate. I’m no architect like sis but this site works for me.


And for another shoe site at the opposite end of the spectrum–Bruno Magli’s site is an exercise in glorious excess. The rich colors, the disinterested models, and the unusual “curtain” design complement the designer’s shoes perfectly. It’s not as easy to use as Ken’s site, but it’s pretty to look at.


If you liked any of this, or if you’re curious about me (I’m comfortable being a curiosity), you can check out my site at: <> I’m not a professional but I have a lot to say. Thanks.