Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today, I moved slowly on the trail fighting a wall of wind, maybe it was the weight of Xmas or fleece. The wind threw parched leaves across the trail and one paused over my eye. For a moment, I was a pirate. About 100 yards in front of me a branch came crashing down. What if I had been in that spot? One moment you are here. One moment you are not. I learned that heartbreaking lesson when I was 5. I heard it over and over - enjoy life because you never know. So I take opportunities when I find them, seek out adventure, and work hard to pursue those things that matter. Here's to 2009, I'm raring to go!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Today I was up at the Rhode Island School of Design Museum (RISD) in Providence R.I. for the first time. They had a David Macaulay exhibit that I found very interesting. His architectural artwork was meticulous. Every brick was detailed. I could have spent more time pouring over those drawings. On the wall were pages from Black and White. I remember taking that out at the library when my kids were smaller. It was so unique, a book with four stories going at one time. That book made an impression on me because it was so different from the many other books I used to read my kids.

Outside the museum, a number of blocks away, I noticed the crosswalks didn't look like your average crosswalk instead they were fancy (Providence?) reminding me of the artwork I had just viewed. It was a good use of a dreary rainy day.

Friday, December 26, 2008

I was hesitant to crack the spine of a book I'm reading for adults. I was afraid that the outline I would find inside would be better then the one I came up with. Oh why didn't I think of that, kind of thing. I finally opened it and found tons of chapters - way more then I could ever use. The titles in the table of contents didn't really give me any great clues about the organization. Initially, I was going to do a first-person story like this book, but I dismissed that idea weeks ago. What's good enough for this author isn't good enough for me. I'm happy with my outline and I'm doing it my way.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Last night, when I should have been cleaning (maybe if I dim the lights....), I listened to a webcast. This morning, it occurred to me that I'm not done with the outline. I really need to add another category with more information about what I saw in the webcast. Meanwhile, I've GOT to focus on Xmas Eve.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Boy, when I get going, I'm consumed by my work. I was again up at 3AM with the light up pen. It seems to be a great time to come up with titles and outline sub headers. Yesterday, my mother asked me what was on the menu for Xmas Eve. Really, I haven't a clue. At her house, she sets the table 3 weeks before a dinner. So I spent 1/6 of an hour (i.e all of about 10 minutes) browsing for recipes and thinking about it and the rest of the day was spent on my outline. So it's a GOOD thing the outline is done! But I do want to read two more books before I sign off on it........

Saturday, December 20, 2008

I was mighty pleased to read that Obama appointed heads for science and technology and that there will be a new respect for scientific research. Hallelujah!

Once again I was up at 3AM working. What the heck is wrong with me, can't I keep normal hours? Anyhow, at this ungodly hour I marched downstairs and fired up the computer. My outline was becoming cluttered with details. I created another copy and stripped off those details to expose the skeleton. I think I nailed it! It was like brushing away the sand to find a gemstone. When it's passed to an editor, that's when I hear the ripping sounds and realize that maybe I didn't exactly nail it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Writing this outline is like trying to find the best way to hop across the rocks in a stream. Sometimes you can't make it from one rock to another because they're too far apart. It's also not wise to take a long roundabout route. Two nights ago, at 3AM, I got out my light up pen and started working on the outline. Wow, was I ever productive when I should have been sleeping. I came up with a new beginning that packs some power. I like that.

I've been hunting for that book I wanted. It's not in any library in my home state so I called 2 bookstores. Rather then shuttle down and order it, I ordered it from home. I'm sure I picked the "mailman can walk it here" option of shipping. It came the next day! I also mailed a request for an important pamphlet. So far, it's been a productive December. Only a fraction of the Xmas ornaments are on the tree and no one seems to mind (so why bother putting up the rest?).

Monday, December 15, 2008

I finally finished the book I was reading that was written by a scientist. Now, I'm pondering an outline. How to pack an overnight bag when you have 3 closets worth of clothes. Knowin' what to throw away knowin' what to keep. Today, in one hours time, I found some more recent material - a book so new I may have a hard time obtaining it AND a freshly written research paper. Yes!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Yesterday, I received my catalog of Excursions in Learning children's classes (K-8) at Manchester Community College. If I were a kid, I'd have a hard time choosing. It looks like a great line up of exciting classes!

On Saturday, February 14th, I'm teaching "The Wolves are Back! (pg 5) " for K-2. The following Saturday (2/21), I'll be teaching "Jellyfish Aglow Glow(pg 7)" for grades 1-3.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Last night I was at a Xmas party for the Air Management Systems of UTC (think A/C in aircraft). Anyhow, I was introduced to about 10 people out of about 250. After one woman inquired about what I do, I mentioned my tidbits about my latest article. Then she told me something even more amazing, a remarkable coincidence. A few weeks ago she went to her high school class reunion in NJ (the party was in CT) and talked to her old high school chemistry partner, none other then the Nobel Prize winning chemist, Dr. Roger Tsien. She told me she emailed him recently. We were both pretty astounded to hear each others stories. She called him brilliant and said you'd never know he won such a prestigious honor. He was very low-key.

Then I was introduced to another woman who was a writer too. She has her own column (can't believe I found this!) in a newspaper where she interviews people with a story to tell. Some were very sad, but she wrote about them to let readers know how these unfortunate folks had overcome obstacles. She talked about her DVR. She uses one for in-person interviews. My interviews are email/phone, so our needs are different, but I've been mulling it over for a few weeks now.

Who knew that in a roomful of A/C folks I'd find such a connection? And to top it all off we went home with a raffled soup basket.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Now this is cool! I found my first science article in Highlights featured as the story of the week. It was published in December 2006.


I just knew these changes to the Endangered Species Act would get rammed down everyone's throat whether they liked it or not.

"The Department of Interior is ignoring the vast majority of the over 200,000 comments they got on this rule change-by moving forward. They are basically saying public be damned," said Andrew Wetzler, Director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's Endangered Species program.

The NRDC maintains that "absent court action, undoing this ruling could take months ... despite today's feel-good statements, we remain convinced that these changes are illegal."

The National Wildlife Federation, also voicing strong opposition, said that "in the eleventh hour of his presidency, President Bush has rammed through a sweeping overhaul of the Endangered Species Act. This action eviscerates key protections that have helped safeguard and recover endangered fish, wildlife and plants for the past 35 years.'

WHY ASK FOR COMMENTS IF NO ONE READS THEM? I wouldn't call this a democracy.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Last night I had every intention of reading further into that academic book I've been reading. I got sidetracked looking at websites on BEA, AASL, NELA, IRA, ALA, and CLA when I should have been looking up ADD. After that I listened to 3 Nobel lectures (about 1.5 hours worth). There were 4 things that pleased me:
1) Dr. Shimomura mentioned the work of Dr. Douglas Prasher. This I didn't expect since his work came before Prashers.
2) Dr. Chalfie gave credit to Dr. Prasher and mentioned that science is a sequential thing.
3) Dr. Tsien gave more credit to Dr. Prasher and singled him out of the audience.
4) Somehow Dr. Prasher got a well-deserved seat in that room!
I thought it was very cool when they dimmed the lights and Shimomura brought out his glowing tube.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'm now well into reading a chunky book written by a scientist. It's not exactly action packed reading. The book is derived from 30 years of research. Its pages are full of collected data, charts, and analysis of this data. What amazes me most is that even one person could dispute the work of a scientist who has painstakingly recorded all this information. How could anyone even think of eliminating the input of scientists that work with endangered species under the ESA. These guys (and women) are out there in the field and know more about these creatures then anyone sitting at a desk. It's pretty obvious that the non-believers in science don't read these kinds of books. Hm. Wonder why.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Due to the holidays and the colder weather in December, I'm restructuring my day. I'm taking my two hours of research/writing time right off the top, bright and early in the morning (that means 7:30). If I'm headed to the trail, I'll do that later when the temp is warmer.

Day 1 of my new plan: It's 7:35AM. The phone rings after I've read all of ONE paragraph of this academic book written by a scientist. I decide not to answer it. Then the voice of my friend comes over the line. EEEK. She called yesterday and I forgot to call her back, I HAVE to pick it up. Anyhow, those 2 hours now start at 8, so I'm off this computer RIGHT NOW!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

If you've got some time on your hands and you're looking for helpful websites about writing for children, I just added 11 websites to the "LINKS - science and writing" section of this website. Happy reading!
I've had it with this treadmill. I need to move forward. Time for plan B1, B2, and J. Charge!

I just noticed that NESCBWI redesigned their website. It looks great! I think the credit goes to Greg Fishbone, but I'm not positive about that.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The road race was great fun! It was my second fastest run in about 10 years of running that race. It wasn't easy given the record number of runners - over 11,500. Many of these runners line up in the 35-40 minute area and are walking after 1 mile (not that that bothers me at all having to go around them). I regret that I didn't start further up in the pack.

What does this have to do with writing? Maybe the record crowds. It's VERY difficult to lead the pack when there are so many people in the game. And everyone is a writer. In high school, when running was the most important thing to me, I was a decent runner. But like writing, I have had to work very hard to get where I am. And there are still miles to go......

A few quick tips:
To avoid getting your picture taken - pin your number to your back (te he)
Get revenge on the sneaks that give you blisters by donating them for playground equipment.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Today is a busy day. I'm running a road race and cooking a turkey. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I don't know what made me go hunting for my article, but I found it online in this months issue of ChemMatters magazine! This particular article was a lot of work, but I think it's important to get the information out there.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I was wondering what was up with the proposed changes to the ESA and found the following ridiculous statement in an online article. The whole thought of having a cramming session to read 300,000 comments is downright stupid. Why ask for them if you aren't going to evaluate them in a worthwhile manner. To know that my comments will be read by some field office employee with unknown expertise in this matter is almost belittling.

"So intent on making the changes quickly, the Interior Department called to Washington a group of employees from field offices to read through 300,000 public comments in less than a week, an extraordinary effort given the usual plodding pace of bureaucracy."

Here's another article....and another pathetic report of how much they value input from the public:
"The Associated Press has reported that the Interior Department received 300,000 public comments on the Bush-backed changes. In order to issue the final rule as quickly as possible, the department brought in 15 staffers to review all of them in a mere 32 hours. The review process usually takes months."

Sunday, I started reading an academic book written by a scientist and published by a university press. At 2:30PM on Sunday, I was asleep with the open book on top of me, if that tells you anything. I've taken this book out twice before and never got through it. Once the University Library it came from called it back early (thanks for your help). With a due date of 12/28, I WILL READ THIS BABY.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Thursday, November 20, 2008

Despite receiving over 250,000 comments, the Bush administration may still change the Endangered Species Act to eliminate independent scientific reviews. When I submitted my 3 pages of comments to the governments comment processing system, page 3 disappeared. It took a week and half (11 days) for those comments to make it from CT to VA. I resent page 3. I can't help but wonder what happens to these comments after they are in the system. We've all heard of the black hole. Hm. It doesn't appear that anyone reads them. If they do read them, they don't seem to be considered. We are talking about over 250,000 comments. Does it matter who they are from - oil companies? Wildlife organizations? Me? Apparently it does. Disturbing to say the least.
This post goes along with my last one....... Last night I had a dream I was waking up slowly from a fog, looking around the room bewildered. The shapes of high tech equipment became clearer. Where was I? How did I get here? Well, I hate to say it, but I was in an insane asylum. And this wasn't one of those places where the people have "issues." This was a home for the totally out of touch wacked out cuckoo kind. Welcome to the world of writing! It can make you crazy.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I used to think of myself as normal, but I've stepped so far into science writing, that I'm really beginning to wonder. My accomplishments this past weekend are a little odd. First off, I glued poppy seeds to paper in a circle. Sounds impressive doesn't it? Then I had more fun. I created a 154 inch long piece of expandable portable DNA. Now that's something everyone can use. The DNA came out fantastic! It's colorful, professional and long enough to stretch across a room. What more could I ask for? Surely this is the kind of stuff other people do, but no one else admits. Yes, that's it.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

This morning I did a google search that led me to fluorescent fishing items. So I drove over to Cabela's, a relatively new store in the area. It was a goldmine of fluorescence! I found a package of 300 little flourescent green balls called bait sac floaters (yesterday I knew not what they were). The clerk was so nice. I asked him if they glowed under a blacklight. He thought for a moment then led me to a different section and opened up a box containing a $50 blacklight that "sometimes they use to go fishing at night." He plugged it into this generator thing (something else he had to take out of a box) and voila - glowing cells! It took me a while to figure this activity out. I wanted kids to be able to add and subtract glowing cells inside a mouse and they had to be fluorescent. For the mouse, I considered many different materials - pinecones, plastic Easter eggs, dust masks, paper mache, styrofoam ovals.....This morning I was in our windowless bathroom with my blacklight testing different material. I settled on a flat mouse made from folding heart shaped interfacing in half and sealing it partway. The kids will insert the glowing cells in between the folds. I envision it to look something like this mouse.

Monday, November 10, 2008

More on the book fair.......Dressed as Strega, I shook Jerry Pinkney's hand and he let out a hearty laugh. Maybe my chin was falling off. At one point, a coop worker whispered that to me. At the end of the evening a woman was needling me about who I was. Are you an author? Do you work for the bookstore? Who are you? As Strega I was not supposed to talk, but finally, I admitted I was a writer and that I write science articles. Her husband had self published a book and had no idea how to get it into bookstores. Don't look at me, I haven't a clue (but I could find out if I needed the information). Anyhow, I mentioned SCBWI, NESCBWI, and google searches. Based on that conversation, I don't think I'd ever suggest to anyone that they self-publish. I feel I've learned so much over the years that if I'd have done that right off the bat, the book would likely be ok at best.

Today I combed through a hardware store and a party store in search of ways to do that last activity for my jellyfish class. I can't just do the paper/paper plate stuff that everyone else does. Oh no, that's too normal. When my daughter played soccer, all the other moms brought grapes and sliced oranges. If it tells you anything, I was the one who brought the fruit kebabs.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Volunteering at the book fair turned out to be a good time. If I'm free and I remember, I'll volunteer again next year. I handed out programs and counted people as they entered. When two guys said they didn't want a program because they were "doing something in the back of the room," I knew I tried to pawn off a program on a couple of authors. Oops. Little did I realize I'd get recruited to parade around as Strega Nona (the portly one on the right). Real attractive, let me tell ya. The job consisted of waving, shaking hands, and hugging kids. Not too tough.
Later in the event, the room emptied, so I sought out the arts and crafts table. I found that surprising a kid by tapping him on the shoulder doesn't work. The kid started crying. Oops. Some kids recognized my character and gave me big hugs while others sought refuge behind their parent's legs. When the clock struck 5:00, Strega turned back into Linda. This was not an easy transformation. The helpers were gone and I was alone with this hot costume and a myriad of hooks and snaps on my back that I couldn't reach - trapped as Strega! Finally, I got some help and went in the "makeshift changing area." I purposely waited for a guy in the hall to clear out of the way before quickly changing. Sure enough, he walks by just as I finished. Phew!

As for nonfiction books - I was dismayed to find very few being offered. I tried to find out why that was, but didn't really get a good answer. As far as science offerings, I don't believe I saw any books.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I holed up in my bedroom for an hour this evening and spent the time thinking. It was time well spent. I came up with two ideas for my jellyfish class. The first is a matching game where the kids will become molecular biologists. They'll find a certain glowing gene in a jellyfish's DNA, then they'll insert it into a mouse's DNA. Sounds complex, but really it isn't. The second idea will give them the capability to bring disease to a mouse, then cure it. Still thinking about how best to do this one - as in what materials to use.............

Tomorrow I'm volunteering at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair for a few hours. I took my kids there once and it was mobbed. I'll be the door greeter and working at the arts and crafts table. I'm actually looking forward to being among similar minded beings. After reading about the participants, I was disappointed to see there doesn't appear to be a single nonfiction author attending. I will have to find out why that is.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Yay, the phone is fixed!

If that's not enough excitement, I found three fluorescent markers and 2 containers of fluorescent paint in my cellar! I've already determined that on white paper, the markings don't look much different in normal versus blacklight. But on dark paper the paint really glows. So dark paper it is.
Dear editors,

My phone is misbehaving. The phone fixers are looking into it. If you need to get a hold of me, please email me and I'll email my cell#. Ever since my kids left for college it has been freed from the glove compartment. Sorry for the inconvenience.

I'm currently working on a jellyfish class that needs a few more activities to fill a 3 hour time span. I was absolutely delighted to find a spotlight with a blacklight in it in my cellar. I can use it for this class. A while ago, I was planning to spray paint grapevines with fluorescent paint and shine the blacklight on them Halloween night. I borrowed the idea from a huge pumpkin carving event in Massachusetts. It was probably the same year we hacked the grapevines down because the birds beat us to the fruit every year.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My neighbor had cancer surgery last Friday. Today I delivered some soup and bread. Tucked inside the bag, I stuffed my three page article on glowing proteins. It will be published in December. The proof wasn't perfect, but that's ok. If it gives them some hope that researchers are making great strides, then it was worth the small effort.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Often, I write about wildlife. Today, I'm writing about my own wildlife - my cat. When she wants to go outside, she rings the chimes hanging off the back door or she'll ring the grizzly bear bell hanging off the front door. She's technology literate (see photo). And now I know she reads the calendar. She had a vet appointment today at 3:40PM. She pulled an all-nighter and was gone all day too. At 2:40PM, I called animal control to make sure they hadn't found her in the road. Then I canceled the appointment since I had no cat to bring. At 4:40PM she shows up at the back door.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sometimes I feel like I'm in a strange city without a map. There are so many different routes to take, it is often difficult to pick the best one. This past weekend I was working on something that made me think of my own past and how I got where I am. Aside from school, some of the first research and writing I did was to fend off development at planning and zoning meetings. I spoke out in support of my distraught mother and the "behemoth" that was destined to be built across the street from her house. There was a lot of satisfaction knowing that my research and my words made a difference. Throughout my years of writing I've sided with those that I felt were unfairly treated or unable to speak on their own behalf - namely endangered species. This doesn't help me settle on a route, but it does make me aware that I stand behind my writing and fight for what I believe in. Yeah!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Found this video today. Three cheers for Dr. Chalfie! (for the Nobel Prize)

Monday, October 13, 2008

I couldn't resist adding another comment about proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. I never addressed the impact of global warming on wildlife. Since the comment period ends tomorrow, I had to put my 2 cents worth in. I'll be watching to assure that the comment has been added to the system.

The distractions are finally easing up. The 13 miler is done and my mother moved back to her home after staying here for a week. The effects of Ramsay Hunt Syndrome (a painful triple punch to the optical, auditory, and balance systems) still linger from earlier in the year.

Friday, I got the green light on 2 class proposals for elementary age kids. The classes will be held at a local college. One class will be about wolves, the other about jellyfish.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Before the race, I was amused at the song playing that applied to both writing and running "And even when your hope is gone, move along move along just to make it through."

In ideal conditions, I finished my first half-marathon in 2:17. Given the 2.5 months of prep time, I don't think I could have run it any faster. During the last three tough miles I learned some things that also apply to writing .
1) Don't make assumptions. It is very disheartening to think you only have 2 miles left when you really have 3.
2) Run your own race. This I did.
3) Get the facts. I'd hear "only 1 mile left." Then I'd run a little further and the water station would shout out "1.5 miles left." Then there was the man at the corner shouting "only a 1/4 of a mile." I'd run a bit further and the water station would yell "just a 1/4 of a mile."
4) Do your best
5) Believe you can do it. I made a tyvek sign and posted it on my back. It read "You can do it!" it was as much for me as it was for those behind me and I was hoping there was at least 1 person!
5) Don't drink gatoraid WHILE you are running. Cough Cough sputter (just want to see if you're paying attention).

Along the way I passed a young guy with one leg doing the race on crutches. He was sweating profusely. "You are incredible," was all I had to say.

I doubt I will do another one. In the future, I'm saving my joints for the mountains I love and spending my time on those things that matter most.

Friday, October 10, 2008

I found this article that exactly describes what I am thinking the day before the half marathon in Hartford. Bulls eye.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I was ABSOLUTELY THRILLED to read about the recipients of the 2008 Nobel Prize in Chemistry! It was given to a well deserving group of scientists whose research spanned many years and is now giving hope to so many people. I couldn't be happier for them. EXCELLENT JOB! What an honor.
In a sick kind of way, I'm excited about the half marathon this Saturday. I had three good runs this week - one long, one hilly, and one fast (for me). I was chased by a large dog running at top speed. I ran like a frisbee.

Today, on the trail, I thought about perseverance. It's necessary in running and necessary in writing. Did running track in high school teach me perseverance or was I born that way? I couldn't come up with any good example of perseverance before my running days so I tend to believe that distance running fostered my perseverance. I still remember the first 2 mile race I was in. My elbows swung out too far and according to those watching, I was tripped. I got up dazed, with blood dripping down my knee. I was dismayed to see all the other runners halfway around the track. I made a fast decision, got moving and finished the race. I did the best I could do given the circumstances. And so it goes with writing.

I know I've worked my "tenacity" off to get here. At the end of the race you can find me either on a stretcher or in the bear garden (no, that's not black bear).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Found this on www.factcheck.org. It's about a study I wrote about in the December 2006 issue of Highlights. I contacted Katherine Kendall in order to write the article. It does not mention that it's a great opportunity to teach kids about DNA!

Paternity Tests for Bears

The ad goes on to criticize an earmark that provided “$3 million to study the DNA of bears in Montana.” This is not the first time McCain has poked fun at the bear project. He first mentioned it on the Senate floor, while discussing the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill that included funding for the project:
McCain (Senate floor, Feb. 13, 2003): Because these appropriations are never discussed with nonmembers of the Appropriations Committee, one can only imagine and conjure up an idea as to how this might be used. Approach a bear: That bear cub over there claims you are his father, and we need to take your DNA. Approach another bear: Two hikers had their food stolen by a bear, and we think it is you. We have to get the DNA. The DNA doesn't fit, you got to acquit, if I might.
Good laugh lines, maybe, but the United States Geological Service’s Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project didn’t study DNA for paternity tests or forensics. Rather, it explored a means of estimating Montana’s grizzly bear population by analyzing bear fur snagged on barbed wire. The project was funded partly by federal appropriations – about $1 million per year in add-ons to USGS in 2003 through 2005, $400,000 in 2006 and $300,000 in 2007, plus a $1.1 million earmark through the Forest Service in 2004, according to the study’s principal researcher, Katherine C. Kendall. Part of that funding was doled out as part of the omnibus appropriations bill McCain discussed in February 2003.

Despite the fun McCain had ridiculing the bear project on the Senate floor, he didn’t actually try to remove it from the bill. He did introduce several amendments, including three to reduce funding for projects he considered wasteful or harmful, but none removing the grizzly bear project appropriations. And despite his criticisms, he voted in favor of the final bill.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Due to an 11 mile run yesterday, I called in sick today. I've got a bad case of the potato virus. I'm sure this doesn't make sense to anyone, but it certainly amuses me plenty.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Here's an email I received today from Senator Dodd:

October 2, 2008

Dear Ms. Zajac:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Bush Administration's proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act (ESA). I appreciate hearing from you on this important issue.

I strongly support the Animal Welfare Act and similar measures that strengthen regulations relating to the care, handling, and treatment of animals. I believe that animals should not be forced to experience needless pain and suffering and have worked to advance legislation to protect animals throughout my career in public service. I have also long supported efforts to protect some of the world's most vulnerable species from extinction.

Like you, I am very concerned about the proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act recently announced by Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne. These draft regulations would seriously undermine the protections of the ESA by eliminating the independent scientific reviews currently required to determine whether federal construction and energy exploration projects are harmful to endangered species. The proposed changes are inconsistent with the letter and spirit of the law and are contradicted by judicial precedent. On August 25, 2008, I joined with several of my colleagues in writing to Secretary Kempthorne requesting that he either rescind this proposal or increase the comment period on these regulatory changes from thirty days to six months. While Secretary Kempthorne recently announced that he would extend the comment period on these regulations to sixty days, I believe this is an insufficient length of time to fully review the scope of the proposed regulations and I remain concerned about the possible impacts they could have on our nation's wildlife. Please be assured that I will continue to support policies that protect all living creatures.

Thank you again for contacting me. If you would like to stay in touch with me on this and other issues of importance, please visit my website at http://dodd.senate.gov and subscribe to receive my regular e-mail issue alerts. Please do not hesitate to contact me again if I can be of assistance to you in any way.



United States Senator

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Today, Youtube has made more changes to refine the "embedded player" origin of view counts to let me know that 84% of views came from Live search. So I wondered what you have to enter to get the video to come up. Here it is! (4th one down on the rightmost column)

Now it's back to work.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Last night, I noticed the viewcount for my seals/glacier video had gone up by about 50%. So naturally, I had to figure out why. First I looked at where the viewers were from - all over the US (with a concentration in Calif), Brazil, Oman, Portugal, Morocco and Pakistan. Interesting, but why? While hunting up the reason (or chewing up time) I found a new feature of Google called Live Search. You can search on a topic and view 20 videos at one time. If this were to explain the increase in viewcount, I would expect the viewcounts of all 4 videos to go up. They didn't. So the mystery remains, but Live Search was still worth mentioning.

I also received an email with a very encouraging comment from a scientist "This is a very cool article! It is fantastic that you are educating high school students and perhaps inducing them to go into science and make new discoveries."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Here's a day worth noting - National Public Lands Day. I was delighted to be at a National Historic site at the right time to take advantage of the free admission. Next year it will be on September 26, 2009.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I am currently revamping the school visits portion of this website. Please check back at a later date for some exciting changes.

With visions of vitamin water dancing in my head I cut myself some slack and did 10 this morning instead of 11. Yep, you won't catch me signing up for one of these again. No sirree.

Monday, September 22, 2008

This evening, I received a couple of emails from the National Wildlife Federation asking for support against proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. They didn't have to ask. I noticed they caught wind of the "we don't accept email" sentence that I've been harping about. Since they had a preprinted form, I shipped off my email to Congress. Before I did, I tacked on a few sentences about my own experiences of chewing up 1/3 (11 days) of the allotted public comment period of 30 days by mailing the document from CT to VA and losing 1/3 (1 pg out of 3) of the document when it went into the government's system.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

This morning, my brother mentioned he cleaned up a torn garbage bag between his house and his elderly neighbor's house. The neighbor came out to explain that at 11PM a black bear had dragged her garbage can all the way around the house. He also offered me some bear "scat" (yeah that's the word he used) for my class. Sorry to pass up such a find (he reported a "large find"), but my class is about grizzly bears. Such a shame, really it is.

Here's where the latest viewers of my videos reside:
Seals - Germany, Dall Sheep - Italy, Sea Lions - Australia, Grizzly Bears - Australia.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Yesterday, I found some helpful information online. It energized me enough to dig up a project I spent considerable time on in the Spring of 2007. I'd buried it in the cellar in disgust. Now, with renewed hope, I will revise it, make it stronger, and ship it back out.

On the running front, 2 days ago I ran 11 without incident!!!!!! I can't help but wonder why I signed up for this? What was I thinking?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Here's an update on the study I wrote about for a December 2006 Highlights article.
I tested out a few new hands-on activities for the class I'm proposing. On the upside, my helper spent a good hour on my food chain idea - and she's not one to sit still. It was a HUGE success. I allocated only 20 minutes for this activity, so I will up that. I played with plaster and playdough. I love the fact that I can make my own playdough and it's easy to get out of these awesome molds I picked up. But my efforts to air dry and slowly bake the playdough to harden it didn't work. I ended up with a hard casing that softened and cracked in the humidity. NO GOOD. So I'm off the library to get a book called Mudworks by Bright Ring Publishing, in hopes it will have some kind of clay that will permanently keep its shape. Good luck to me.

Friday, September 12, 2008

My comments were mailed at a post office on 8/25 and 2/3 of those comments were posted 9/5. It took ELEVEN days for them to get from CT to VA. I think I could have ran and got them there faster. I noticed this award winning system only tracks the date the comment was posted NOT the date the comment was received. How long do they sit around before someone puts a portion of them in the system? NOT FAIR!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Found those comments on this link.

Today I cut and pasted all of the missing page (#3) as a comment (Add comments) to this award winning system. The comment doesn't show up anywhere on this award winning system so I have no idea if it worked. Prior to my letter getting into this award winning system I did a search on "Linda Zajac" and came up with 23 hits. The two that I reviewed did not have "Linda Zajac" in them anywhere.

I also found out my 10 mile run was really more like 11 miles!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Today, I went on the award winning website, http://www.regulations.gov/ to find my letter (click views) about the Endangered Species Act. But I mailed in THREE pages, not two!
I have now committed to running a half marathon in mid October. Like writing, it's another long journey that seems to be plagued with challenges. I've been hobbled (by three blisters crowded on my pinky toe), stung (by two hornets), and sickened. Yesterday after ten miles (yippee!) the glass of tropical carrot juice didn't sit well. As I looked in the mirror at Casper I said to myself I am NOT running this half-marathon. I'm done. Then I went online and found out that after a long run you need to keep walking around afterward or you can get sick. As long as I can keep identifying the problems and fixing them, things may work out. I bought new sneaks, so the blister is gone. I was relieved the hornet's nest has been completely removed. I suspect the person that played pinata with the nest was the first to complain the hornet's were a problem. Could they have gone to science as this article makes mention of?

The Hartford Marathon is making waves with it's focus on the environment. Much of the proceeds are donated to various charities.

Friday, September 5, 2008

I have an article for high schoolers coming out in ChemMatters in December. I thought it might be an eye-opening topic for a class for elementary kids, but the content was too advanced. So I decided to create a class based on another article for younger kids.

Yesterday, I spoke to my neighbor about some of the amazing research that I read about for the ChemMatters article. Believe me, he can use a ray of hope. It has rekindled the challenge of taking an advanced topic and presenting it to younger kids in a way they can understand. Hm. This will require some thought.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Todays encounter with nature was not a pleasant one. I was out running on the trail and got stung twice by hornets. When they came after me, I screamed. My left hand now looks like a boxing glove. The knuckles and veins have been replaced by a hot itchy swollen mass. Last week, I noticed this hornet's nest hanging from a small tree like a tether ball. Today it was cracked in half. BUT I DIDN'T DO IT.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I was up at the University of Connecticut pulling 2 research papers today. One paper is not only interesting, but the most visually appealling paper that I will probably ever read. I ended up printing page 3 and 4 in color - and the colors on page 4 are just beautiful!
Ok, here's the entire slideshow of my comments about changes to the Endangered Species Act redone. I scanned the pages in with higher resolution, but I was still unable to add it to the blog even though I reduced the size. Hm.

After reviewing it without the aid of an electron microscope (oh no reason), I can clearly see that you can't read it. Stellar. An exercise in wasting time. Yes, but I learned something didn't I?

I tried it again and found that by clicking on the slideshow page it BLOWS it up. Then you can adjust the slideshow to go fast or slow. SUCCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Two days ago I shipped off a 3 page letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service about proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. I tried to get the slideshow embedded in this post, but it didn't work so here's the link where it can be viewed. It was more of a test of this slideshow feature with music then anything else. I added some photographs of endangered species. Unfortunately, the text is not terribly clear and zips by pretty fast even if it was clear. So there are some glitches I have to work on. Here's the last line "A large volume of species in danger (or paperwork) signals a larger problem that is not being addressed."

This weekend we're off to another college. When the dust settles the fog is moving in.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Say goodbye these days are gone." .........Sigh.
(lyrics from These Hard Times, Matchbox Twenty)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Busy. Busy. Busy week - niece slept over, mother in hospital (out now!), daughter off to college(will she ever stop packing?), son needs parking practice (FOUR times). Last night while in the midst of backing in and out of spaces at a church parking lot, we were surrounded by cops. Is parking a crime? It was amusing that they kept their distance like we were really dangerous. He radioed in my license number. Meanwhile the second guy stood behind the drivers side keeping an eye on my son. Must have been a slow day at the precinct. Thank goodness I used the weekend to make good headway on some revisions.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I still can't believe I finished 8 miles on the trail today. I'm pondering whether I should run a half marathon. Running and writing both require perseverance and mental toughness. Fellow runners and writers are very supportive. My friend once told me she thought I was the most persevering person she ever met. If that was the case I'd be willingly signing up for a marathon versus being talked into a half.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The document has changed, but the link to the proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act is the same. Now, it's pages 1 and 6 that are not clear. "You may submit your comments and materials concerning this proposed rule by one of the methods listed" (email or mail). Followed by "We will not consider comments sent by e-mail." Do they accept email or don't they? By listing email first it seems to me the document is inviting email, then later invalidating it. Was this a mistake (repeated twice mind you) by someone who needs to be precise? It would be interesting to find out what happens when you send an email?

I am currently on an editorial treasure hunt to find ear bones. Oh never mind.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Yesterday, the public had 60 days to send their comments about proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act. Today,we are given only 30 days for public comment Why not keep changing the rules so it's harder for the opposition to make a case? Well, guess what? If I was given only 5 days, I'd find the time and I hope you do too! Here's another really flattering article.

With a little digging, I found the document. Pg 2 and again on pg 23 it says submit comments/materials about proposed rule either be email or mail. But if you look closely at #2 it says we will NOT accept email. Yet email is listed first. Deceptive to the max.
(1) Through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov Follow instructions on website for submitting comments.
(2) By U.S. mail or hand-delivery to Public Comment Processing, Attention:1018-AT50, Division of Policy and Directives Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203.
We will not accept e-mail or faxes.

Monday, August 11, 2008

November can't get here fast enough. Read this and weep.
My 7-year-old niece was over here most of the day. I put her to work testing a snack for the class I'm proposing. Amazing that what seemed so simple resulted in these changes:

1. use large pretzels not small ones
2. don't bother with gumdrops, use m+m's instead
3. break the pretzel a certain way
4. use blond brownies instead of gingerbread
5. tube frosting might be better. Test this out.

It was 20 minutes well spent. She ate one and the other she'll deliver tomorrow to cheer up her grandmother. I'm pretty confident that with a little time and a little bit of thought, I can turn any article I write into a good time for kids.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I've read about climate change causing changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and I must say this summer there has been more violent thunderstorms here in CT then I can ever remember. Driving home Friday night through busy intersections, I encountered four lights in a row that were knocked out from a recent thunderstorm. As I crested a hill, I saw fragments of a rainbow. It was enough.

Monday, August 4, 2008

After a 3AM phone call Monday morning, the midnight ride of Linda Zajac, the 911 call, and the broken hip (no, not mine), I could REALLY stand to have a dull moment or three. Despite the commotion, I managed to scrutinize a few pages worth of exciting story line.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

While ice skating tonight, I ran into my neighbor and her daughter. They were both at my presentation at First Congregational Church earlier this year. My neighbor politely said to her 9 year old daughter, "you remember Mrs. Zajac don't you?" The little girl looked puzzled and shook her head. I looked at her and said "grizzly bears?" Her cute little freckled face lit up into a huge somewhat toothless grin "oh yeah," she said with a great deal of enthusiasm. That made me feel good.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I did a little test of this Insight feature on Youtube yesterday. I ran my seal/glacier video 3 times just to see what it records. Sure enough, today looking at 7/21 shows CT as viewing the video. It gives me a little hope that it is somewhat accurate and that my videos were indeed viewed all over the world.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I found a new toy on Youtube that I've been entertaining myself with. It's called Insight. It gives you geographical information about your videos. I checked all of my videos for a one year period. Here's what I found out (not a comprehensive list mind you):

The dall sheep video has been played in Alaska, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Brazil
The sea lion video has been played in India, Spain, Ireland, and Saudi Arabia
The glacier/seal video has been played in Germany, Greece and the U.K.
The grizzly bear video has been played in China, Japan, Malaysia, Morocco, Germany, Turkey and Argentina


Friday, July 18, 2008

Todays excuse why I can't do any work - The cat is sleeping on my research and I don't want to wake her. Do I have to admit that not long ago I was in the same spot, asleep.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

It's 3:45 A.M., I made a few blog settings changes to allow viewing more than a handful of old entries. That's when I became alarmed at all my middle of the night blog entries. Don't I ever sleep? After a quick check, I discovered the time was in Pacific time - 3 hours off. OOPS!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

I found this baby leatherback turtle video today. Aren't they cute? But they grow to be enormous!
Last night I had a dream I was in the kitchen. From the window I could see a really good band playing outside. It was exciting. I was itching to get out there - my own backyard. But I didn't have a ticket.

As a writer of nonfiction, I know it brings the words to life when you do first hand research. You can see, smell and hear the action. More often then not, this is easier said then done.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Last night at dusk, I was swimming with my head out of the water. Straight out of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, bats were swooping low over the water plucking mosquitoes out of the air - way too close. What if one of those mosquitoes landed on my head, would I have been bitten by a bat? I was not stickin' around to find out!

Recently, I've been digging through newspaper archives of newspapers from the Philadelphia area. I'm working on another animal/technology project (what else is new?). For 6 days of excitement, I found NINETEEN newspaper articles! Then I found a couple more from another newspaper. Apparently, this was big news back then. Hopefully, one of them will give me the details I am seeking.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

I found the Connecticut DEP website very exciting. About a month or two ago, I sent the list of bear sightings to my brother who moved to a town with a lot of bears. At that time, there wasn't even one sighting in Vernon (nor had there been any in past years). Recently, I had heard there were several spotted and again found none on the list. Yesterday I was looking through the state parks and found the list updated. Of course now my brother is accusing me of calling in the same imaginary bear 3 times.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Found this interesting statement in the listing for wolves on the IUCN list of endangered species:

"The grey wolf is protected in various national parks and reserves in Canada and the United States. Extensive legal protection in many European countries; however, enforcement is variable and often non-existent. "

Thursday, July 3, 2008

In legends and folklore, wolves have a bad reputation. For years they have been shot by park rangers. I received a comment on my June 28, 2008 blog entry from Mike Wagner, founder and director of Heart of the Wolf Organization . In his comment he mentions the existence of other methods to deter wolves from livestock that don't involve killing wolves. I have reprinted some of his comments here.....

"livestock issues can successfully be prevented through the use of livestock protection dogs, fladry, cattle rotation, and well constructed fences. The reality is most government agencies, a la the USFWS and state agencies like the Fish and Games, rarely use them and promote them. This is despite constant proof of their success."

Why aren't government agencies promoting these methods to deter wolves?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

I just noticed that Highlights magazine has added an interactive version of my July 2008 article on wolves on their website, www.highlightskids.com. It's a related article about a study of wolves and moose on Isle Royal in Michigan.

Also, after two days of feeling like I wasn't accomplishing much, I actually did accomplish a lot. I came up with 6 fun activities for a class I am proposing about the wolf article. The class isn't until next winter. Although it is for K-2 it will be held at a local college. I am eager to test out these ideas to iron out any kinks. My 7 year old niece will be a big help here.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

In my quest to develop another class from a recent Highlights article on wolves and the food chain, I found a BBC website for elementary-age kids. The activities are in science, English and math. There are also lesson plans for teachers. I added it to the LINKS section on this website.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Here's the article by Elizabeth O. Dulemba that I used to create this website. It was in the SCBWI Bulletin. My website is listed after the article. Now I'll have to check out the other websites that Elizabeth referenced. Thanks again Elizabeth!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I just happened to be poking around on EBSCO through my town library's website and noticed that my July 2008 article in Highlights, "What Good Is The Big Bad Wolf?" has been published. What a great photograph of a wolf!!! They did a nice job.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Here's a website that will tell you how your senators voted on global warming legislation. I found this list of what we can do to make a difference.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Thursday was a joyous day. I hate to put another post here and let the photograph slip out of view. It's too much like reality. Sigh. But I have good news to share. I received a call from my editor at Highlights. He's buying my article about the fossa in Madagascar! The article is about the work of Dr. Luke Dollar.

Thursday, June 12, 2008


It's graduation day for Melanie and Dan!!!!!

Granted this isn't the most professional thing I've ever posted, but it's my blog and I'll do what I want.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Never in my lifetime, all 22 years (yeah right), do I remember school closing early on account of extreme heat, as it is today here in CT.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Today I received some nice mail from the Florida Freelance Writers Association. I opened up the large envelope and was pleased to find a certificate for 2nd honorable mention in the Children's Literature category. That category encompasses everything from poetry to short stories, novel chapters and nonfiction. A really nice touch was the sticky note that had the words "interesting info, well-researched and well-told. Congrats!" Thanks!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I'm researching a new subject now - another endangered animal. The descriptions in some of the papers I've found are really graphic. A few pictures I've come across are just ghastly. It's really sad to see the suffering. There is certainly no shortage of material on the topic, so that's a good thing.

I look forward to my daily emails from the Bermuda Biological Station. There is excitement in those emails (I think it's all the "!"). The website contains photographs and journal entries for each day of the adventure. I have read about the discovery of brittle stars, sea squirts, and a Portugese man-of-war. Great trip and a great way to instill a love of science.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Right now, my daughter Julia is on a plane headed to the Bermuda Biological Station. It's a fantastic opportunity for her and her classmates to stay at a real research station that is off limits to the public. The 8th graders and a handful of high school seniors spend a week studying marine animals and the geography of Bermuda. One of the nice things this group does is that each kid brings down a book to donate to the library there. They are also planting cedar. From what I've heard, cedar products used to be common in the stores, but now it sounds like they've over done it.
Anyhow, to those on the plane.......best wishes for a great time!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Happy Endangered Species Day!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Wed., the polar bear was finally put on the endangered species list due to its shrinking habitat. "Global climate change posses a substantial threat to the habitat of polar bears." Posses should be poses, but someone was probably in a hurry to get it down in case the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service changed it's mind about listing the polar bear. After all, it took three years to get it on the endangered species list. I have browsed the endangered species list many times, but I've never seen so much written about any one animal.

Monday, May 12, 2008

The rainforest in Indonesia is being hacked up for palm oil. Another casualty of this destruction is the orangutans. In this National Geographic video you'll see them in diapers (how cute). If the destruction continues, The Center for Orangutan Protection estimates they could be extinct in THREE years. It seems to me some worldwide organization needs to be in charge of patrolling rainforests instead of the governments of countries. The Indonesian government is opening up land for palm oil plantations. 1.1 million acres of protected land is at stake.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Here's an email I received from Unilever on May 8th. On April 21st I posted a link to a video of suppliers chopping down the Indonesian rainforest to obtain palm oil. I emailed Unilever, a major company that uses palm oil in their products. They responded with this letter. In it they wrote that on May 1st 2008, we "announced our support for an immediate moratorium on any further deforestation in Indonesia for palm oil cultivation." Unilever posted a video on their website. In the video they claim the Indonesian Government must help monitor the rainforests. I totally agree. It seems to me if google maps viewed via satellite or google earth can zoom in on houses then why can't we monitor rain forests this way? Is there such a thing as a satellite that stays put and does not orbit? Why not put a motor on a satellite so it goes in the opposite direction and at the same speed as its orbit? Just a thought.

Friday, May 9, 2008

On Wed. May 7, Connecticut became the fifth state in the nation to enact tough new global warming legislation. Bill 5600 was passed by Governor Rell. I'm so glad I live in a state that values the voices of educated scientists that devote their lives to their studies. Now if all states enacted similar legislation.....think of the power.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Slowly, I'm adding new links to this website. Today I added a link to I.N.K., a site for nonfiction writers.

Monday, May 5, 2008

I added my blog to the verveearth website after checking it out. It's a geographical map of the world that allows you to zoom in on a location and find blogs in that area. And believe me, there are no shortage of blogs. You can also look for blogs by category (travel, art, photography, politics, music, writing....). Unfortunately, I didn't see a category for science. Enough time spent on that, now it's back to some exciting research!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Here are some nice comments that were made about my grizzly bear presentation.

"Thank you so much for the great grizzly bear program you provided for our mother/child banquet. The children were all interested and involved, you had so many activities that they could get their "hands on". I was impressed that you could accommodate such a wide age range. Thanks again, I've had lots of positive feedback."

Thanks for having me!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The third annual National Endangered Species Day is May 16th, 2008. Here's another website about the event. Zoos and aquariums have special programs. I'd like to see google spruce up their logo for the day.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A new species of sponge was discovered in a deep canyon off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea. The name of the new sponge means "heart" in Unungan (Alaska natives).

Monday, April 21, 2008

Here is a video depicting the destruction of rainforests in Indonesia. The rainforest is being destroyed to obtain palm oil used by big business. Hearing about it is one thing, but seeing pictures of a smoking forest, trees falling, chainssaws roaring, and people fishing makes it very real. In some ways the Indonesian people remind me of the endangered animals I like to write about. They both need some outside help before it's too late.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Today I met a woman who grew up in Puerto Rico. Since I've been working on an article about bioluminescent jellyfish, I knew about the dinoflagellites in a bay in Vieques Puerto Rico. When these tiny organisms are disturbed they glow in the dark. She lit up when she talked of this Bay and traveling through it by charter boat. She told me they're so small you can't see them in your hand. Then she described scooping up a pail of water and pouring it out. In darkness, the water sparkles with tiny stars of light. How cool! I thought it would be so much fun to swim at night having every movement create glowing light. Then she mentioned the barracuda's in the water!

I found a website where you can actually buy dinoflagellites. I've never bought them so I have no clue how difficult it is to keep them or if the site is reputable, although it looks that way.

The same chemical reaction that causes a firefly to make light happens in a dinoflagellite. Scientists found out that crystal jellyfish make light differently then fireflies. It took years and years of studying these jellyfish, but now research labs all around the world are using what was discovered. It is an amazing story that will be published in December of 2008 in ChemMatters.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Hello to everyone from First Congregational Church! Welcome to my website. Thanks to all those who helped hand out supplies. I really appreciated it. Sometimes kids get impatient having to wait.

You folks were a captive audience with lots of good answers to my questions. Someone suggested counting people in a park by using a helicopter. I forgot to mention that scientists actually do that. In fact, I wrote a story about wolves and elk (Highlights 7/08) where scientists counted elk by climbing aboard helicopters and taking aerial counts.

Someone asked about ingredients in the clay - whether it has latex. I called the 1-800 number on the package. The clay comes from Mexico and contains paraffin and less than 1% sulphur. That's it. No gluten. No wheat. And no latex!

If you don't have time for anything else, check out the grizzly bear video that I made after visiting Alaska last June (under wildlife/science videos). There are bear cubs in that video and it talks about the grizzly bear study in Montana.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

On Sunday, I saw a coyote hobbling on three legs through the woods in the backyard. So, yesterday when the cat zipped across the deck I thought she was running from a predator. I watched her run low to the ground across the grass. It hardly looked like the place to go to escape. She crouched down and within seconds lunged into the pine needles under two hemlock trees. She turned toward the house with something gray in her mouth. Then she raced back to the deck and dropped her trophy by the door - a little mole. Thankfully, she knew better then to try and bring it inside. NO THANK YOU!

Growing up with cats, I always saw the catch, but never watched the hunt. This time, it was swift and precise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I was absolutely delighted to find a little surprise in my mailbox today. Out of over 100 entries, I received a letter of merit in the 2007 SCBWI magazine merit competition! The article was a true story about beavers and appeared in the December 2007 issue of Spider. SCBWI has not yet posted winners, but I'm interested to find out if the article I read while staying at the AMC hut at the base of Mt. Washington is one of the winners. It was a captivating article in Cricket about research on Komodo dragons.

Also, although its been quite a struggle, things are now moving along quickly on my article about research on crystal jellyfish. This article is for high school students and will appear in ChemMatters in December.
Information has now been posted about my upcoming program at a mother/child banquet at First Congregational Church in Vernon on March 26th. It's under church events.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I wish I thought of this earlier......

Welcome Kymoni (sorry if I spelled it wrong), Niko, Sarah, Drew, Loren, and Nicholas. You guys were great! Loren, thanks for the big help opening those doors. To help you quickly find some of the things I talked about, I am including this list.

sugar cookie recipe - activities
grizzly bear video with the cubs fighting - wildlife/science videos
The DNA song - video links
Actually, there are some other really good videos under video links that I didn't mention if you have the time.

Have fun!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I posted the recipe for the sugar cookies that I have kids decorate using grizzly bear track stencils. You can find it listed under Activities.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

A friend sent me this link to a black bear article in Yankee magazine. The picture with the three little bear cubs is adorable.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

I will be hosting "Busy Grizzly Night" at First Congregational Church in Vernon CT on Wed. March 26th at 6:45PM. The night will be jam-packed with all kinds of exciting grizzly bear activities.
Here's something I haven't shared with very many people. In 2003, after writing for only a year, I earned a letter of merit for a manuscript about the food pyramid. Since I was familiar with the issue, when the USDA was looking for input from the general public, I sent a letter which I drafted in about 10 minutes. Here are select pieces of that letter - click on it for a larger view. My efforts to find out which letters influenced the final design and slogan were to no avail.

Now, take a look at the finished pyramid and slogan.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I just returned from the butcher. Apparently, this is the week for weird requests. The woman behind the counter mentioned this past week a man came in asking for a pancreas. She asked what he needed it for. He told her his vet said if his dog didn't eat one, it would die. She was laughing and didn't believe that story and thought he might have been a teacher. Anyhow, upon finding clean machines in the back, the butcher was nice enough to slice open a prime rib and collect the blood for me. Thankfully, there was only one elderly gentleman in the store who now thinks I am a very weird.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

If life is a word document, then I'd like to backspace and delete the last 1.5 weeks. If cooking is any indicator, yesterday I made macaroni and cheese and forgot the cheese. What a dork. I added tuna so I could squeeze out the fish oil (ok it was tuna in water) so a bunch of preschoolers can enjoy the fresh aroma of a scent used by scientists to attract grizzly bears. Tomorrow I am going to the butcher and asking for a 1/2 pound of blood. I suppose I'll have to buy something so it doesn't look like that's the only reason I'm in there (even though it is).

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

An editor once asked me why I write about animals. I found this photograph in a National Geographic photo contest that says it all.

Monday, January 7, 2008


1. 97.1% of ALL climate research papers that take a position on the cause of climate change point to anthropogenic causes.  Only a wee fraction of those that take a position on the cause of climate change believe it is NOT anthropogenic.  As expected many climate papers discuss the results of some study and don't say one way or the other because that is not the subject of the paper.   Only 32.6% of all the research papers reviewed take a position.   Graph of climate and Earth scientist's opinions   NASA consensus 

2.  The counter climate movement was started by the same folks that had us believing that tobacco was not bad for our health
PBS Frontline
"Tactics developed and tested in the tobacco industry first, are now being applied to climate change."

 "Many of the anti-science operatives who defended cigarettes are currently deploying their tobacco-inspired playbook internationally to evade accountability for the fossil fuel industry's role in driving climate disruption."
Climate skeptic organizations - learn more

3. Avoid getting your information from any of the sources listed in this database.  Many are NOT climate experts. 

  4. We CAN reduce CO2 emissions!  

Join the growing stop global warming movementTop 50 things you can do to prevent climate change.

Calculate your carbon footprint (how much CO2 your vehicle uses/year)

Climate change youtube video - spectacular photography. 1.5 hours long

Blackle - Energy saving google search

Sunday, January 6, 2008


GRIZZLY TRACK COOKIE RECIPE (soft sugar cookies)
author unknown. Makes a lot.
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 cups plus 4 heaping teaspoons of flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Cream sugar, butter and oil
3. Add eggs and vanilla
4. Add dry ingredients and mix
5. Refrigerate until firm
6. Roll into balls. Flatten with fork on ungreased cookie sheets
7. Sprinkle with granulated sugar (skip this step if frosting then decorating)
8. Bake for 10 minutes
9. Frost and decorate if desired

NOTE: I sprinkle colored sugar through stencils cut from plastic milk cartons

In a closed ziploc bag, shake 1 cup granulated sugar with 6 drops food coloring

an individual activity
2 black pipe cleaners
pony beads in 4 colors - (A, C, T, or G)
1 Assign each color to a letter (G=green, C=Red...)
2. Bend the bottom of one pipe cleaner into a hook so the beads don't fall off. String beads on one pipe cleaner in any order
3. Carefully twist one end of pipe cleaners together
4. String second pipe cleaner so that A is paired with T on the opposite strand and C is paired with G.
5. Twist other ends of pipe cleaners together
6. Twist DNA into a double helix

DNA Pairing and Cell Division (DNA Replication)
A group activity suitable for a classroom
Before a cell divides, it must copy its DNA.
Index cards - with one letter on each (A, C, T, or G)
Rope - 2 long pieces
1. Put the two strands of rope in a straight line on the floor parallel with each other about 2 feet apart.
2. Arrange kids in a circle. Hand the kids an index card with a letter.
3. Kids form A-T and C-G pairs and line up in pairs between the ropes. Those on the left take the left rope in left hand. Those on the right pick up the right rope in right hand.
4. Now DNA has formed and it's time to divide. The group on the left marches leftward. The group on the right veers to the right separating the strand like a zipper.


Youtube for kids education
One place where kids can view endless quantities of short educational Youtube type videos. Both teachers and students could use it. Preferably the site would categorize the videos - by grade and subject. The site would be free of profanity, violence, and inappropriate content. A person or persons would be responsible for assuring the accuracy and educational content of the videos.

DNA beads
A large bag of beads in 4 colors with the first letter of a DNA base written on each (ACTG). This is merely a packaging issue. These colored beads currently exist, but are packaged as alphabet beads.

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators
New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators
Children's Book Council

Queries, proposals and cover letters - Gulf Coast Writers Association
The Writing for Children Resource Site - Queries, synopsis, and outlines
How to write a short author's biography
The Purple Crayon - Harold Underdown
Ellen Jackson - links for writers fiction/nonfiction are on right side (tips, characters, setting....)
Smart Writers - Roxyanne Young
Verla Kay's Website for Children's Writers and Illustrators
Writing contests
Book Promotion
The Emotion Thesaurus - On the right sidebar emotions are equated to body language.
Publishing Information - Guide to getting published
Kidlit.con - Andrea Brown Agent Mary Cole - resources and advice on writing, publishing...
How to design a picture book -  Tara Lazar

Interesting Nonfiction for Kids (I.N.K.) - a helpful website for writers of nonfiction. Many authors contribute to the ongoing blog.
Reviews of nonfiction books for children - the Looking Glass
Nonfiction Matters - School Library Journal blog by Marc Aronson
Fiona Bayrock - lots of articles about writing nonfiction for children
Library of Congress - for research
Print and photographs reading room - for photo research

Creating a website
How to build an easy website - Elizabeth O. Dulemba. (The directions I used to create this site)
Free blog counter (basic=FREE)
Another free blog counter

Market information
Publisher's Weekly Children's Bookshelf - updates on what's happening in children's publishing
Magazine theme lists - Liana Mahoney
Kid Magazine Writers - Jan Fields website
Educational Markets - by Evelyn Christensen
Editor names and what they're looking for - Ellen Jackson
Resources for Writers - by Rachelle Burk

Windows Movie Maker - Making videos and book trailers. (Save often, like after every change)
School Visits - Alexis O'Neill

VIDEO LINKS - science, animals

Mr. Splashy Pants hydrophones used to study whales.  Greenpeace
Whales in Antarctica (amazing video) and some of the things scientists do to study them. Greenpeace
BEARS - EXCELLENT clip of all different types of bears. BEARTREK Motorcycle journey through Mongolia, Canada, Peru, and India for bear conservation
Grizzly bears emerging from their den (1st time caught on film). Darling little cubs in tow.
DNA song for kids - The song is very cute and very amusing
DNA video for kids
- similar video as above, but without the song. More in depth.
Destruction of the rainforest in Indonesia