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