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What We’re Reading: Shoveling cicadas off the sidewalk

Adrienne Gibbs
The Medium Blog
Published in
4 min readFeb 12, 2024


Hi everyone,

North America has a number of unique things that set it apart from other continents but one, concerning insects, is of particular interest in 2024: The arrival of the cicadas.

The United States is home to “periodical cicadas.” Unlike annual cicadas, these insect broods hatch every couple of years. This spring, the (extremely, ultra loud) every-17-years-cicadas are waiting for the ground temperatures to attain 64 degrees before digging out. They will be joined by their brethren, the (plain old, ultra loud) every-13-years-cicadas.

This emergence of these red-eyed bugs — the loudest in the world — is always food for thought and for writing.

  • “In the Year of Our Lord 2024, the planets, or calendars, have aligned to bring two groups of them, numbering in the billions, back from the grave at the same time,” declares Betsy Denson in an amusing piece published in MuddyUm.
  • “If their pseudo-alien looks are not enough, visitors from U.S. cicada-free zones might mistake the loud, raucous sound of their mating calls (males only) for an alien spaceship,” writes Climate Conscious writer Debbie R. King, whose description of cicada sound is spot on.

I live in the state of Illinois (located in the central part of the U.S.), and the last time these cicadas appeared, we shoveled them off the sidewalks and stairs. That’s my swarming insect memory. What’s yours? If you decide to write about spring insects, lazy honey bees or red-eyed cicadas, I’d love to see what you’ve got cooking.

Thanks for reading and writing.
Adrienne Gibbs, Director of Content @ Medium

What We’re Reading

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Let’s get into the Grammy Awards 2024, where plenty of upsets — and accolades — appeared.

Whitney Alese breaks down the public uproar over Beyoncé being awarded a ton of Grammys, but never snagging the top spot in “The Last Time A Black Woman Won Album of the Year was 25 Years Ago. What Does That Say?” Her hubby Jay-Z also delivered a speech that viewers either loved or hated.

Obeawords celebrates a masterful singer in “Celine Dion Makes a Surprise Appearance at the Grammys 2024 Despite Battling Stiff Person Syndrome.”

And this week’s Final Word goes to Nike data scientist Sejal Dua’s fun data analysis of a common Super Bowl party game. (Dua also created a linear programming tool you too can use to make your own game.)

“Here is my take: despite that Super Bowl squares is a very randomized game based on pure luck or chance, it can feel more unfair than Bingo because of the nature of football scores and their respective probabilities of happening.

How do we fix this? Well, for starters, it would be nice if we could optimize the board such that we minimize the square assignments for a given player across each row and column. This will help us ensure that each players’ squares are as evenly dispersed across the game board as possible.

To achieve this proposed optimized state, we will leverage a technique called linear programming! Fun fact: the methodology that I will walk through below can be leveraged for solving sudoku puzzles and was largely inspired by a sudoku solver that I worked on previously….”

Read Dua’s entire story here.

Share any new stories that you’ve written or read recently in the responses!



Adrienne Gibbs
The Medium Blog

Director of Content @Medium. Award-winning journalist. Featured in a Beyoncé reel. Before now? EBONY, Netflix, Sun-Times, Miami Herald, Boston Globe.