Sunday, February 28, 2010

I thought I'd post an amusing photograph of Marbles reaching up to ring the bell. No she doesn't salivate when she rings the bell, but she does want to go outside and this is how she tells us. Darn cute if you ask me.

Amidst a host of obstacles, I've been reading a key resource to learn about the chemistry of my current subject in greater depth. It's quite interesting material. I'm amazed that so much information can come out of something seemingly mundane.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The boys are back and there's gonna be trouble. (Hey la hey la the boys are back).

Look at the way one of the opossums is clutching the rail for dear life. I suspect when I came outside with the camera it nearly wet its pants, but did it exit? Heck no. And Walt thinks he's feeding the birds.

I started an article outline last night and it's looking pretty good. I have to add resources to it and polish it up, but the bones are there. Hey la hey la the bones are there.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Back in 2005 when I was working on "The Beavers that Struck it Rich", I noticed an error in Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. In January of this year, I happened to come across a Grzimek's booth at the Boston ALA Convention. It jarred my memory and I mentioned it. Afterward, I followed up by emailing two pages of the encyclopedia to someone at Thomson/Gale.

This morning I received this email:
"Just wanted to let you know that we're going to be processing some corrections to the text in Grzimek's this week, and our beloved North American and Eurasian Beavers are going to be included. Finally, they'll get their due."

Does finding an error make the whole encyclopedia a bunch of rubbish? I don't think so. Then it follows that a couple of errors in climate data should not at all diminish the work of many dedicated scientists in many countries as some folks are trying to get everyone to believe.

Today, among the crowds at the university, I found 7 research papers. Unfortunately, some research papers were unavailable because the subscription had been canceled.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I was out snowshoeing yesterday morning at Case Mountain in Manchester (elevation=petite) to get some exercise. I brought a small pad and pen and wrote a few things while I was out. On the way back, I swung by the library and picked up what looks like a fantastic resource, a plump first-person account written for adults. I plan to check out the bibliography to see if there are any other papers of interest. The other two ILL books I requested are already in transit! Unfortunately, my day was so chopped up with a late opening of school that I did not make it up to the university. But Friday I plan to get there.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Today, I was in a research frenzy reading online material, digging up research papers and ordering ILL books at the library. I need to hit the university library some time soon. I am real happy to see that one really key book is checked in and another is already in transit! Woohoo!

This evening, my niece was over the house. I handed her the autographed copy of "Upon Secrecy" that has her name on the inside page. She was so thrilled to see her name. Her jaw dropped and her eyes widened when I mentioned the book was about spies. "Cool!" What she doesn't realize is that I have a bunch more books for her, but she's only getting one at a time so she'll appreciate them.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Today, I'm posting my last two photographs from Magic Wings, a butterfly conservatory in Deerfield MA. I thought the long weeping fuzzy tassels of the chenille plant were unusual. In the top photograph, several Rice Paper butterflies were fluttering over the shell of this tortoise.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I still have more photographs from Magic Wings, so bear with me (hope I got that right!). The bottom photograph is an Australian Walking Stick. It surprised me to learn they're common insects for pets. I don't know a sole that owns one. The top photograph is a blue poison dart frog that has been fed fruit flies. I find it fascinating that the ""poison" dart frogs at Magic Wings are not poisonous. It is the toxin from the ants and termites they eat in the rainforest that makes them poisonous.

I've been busy doing research for my next ChemMatters article. I am so enthused about the topic that I've decided to write a parallel outline for a larger project based on the same subject. This is so up my alley it isn't funny.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Even though I hate to put a new post up here because I love that hibiscus photograph, I'm going to do it. I have more photographs to share from Magic Wings. The top photograph is of Zebra Longwing butterflies. The bottom is a whole board of live chyrsalis'. Looking at them, I was reminded of one I saw banging in the wind against the bark of a tree in Pennsylvania back in 2005. It was hanging by the tiniest thread. I wondered what kind of super strong glue held it in place. It must have been one wild amusement park ride for that caterpillar while it got its wings. Here's a short video I found of a butterfly emerging from a chrysalis. (Note: The video could have ended after 1 minute and it might have been nicer if it was set to music versus chattering)

Yesterday, I finished editing an article about honeybees. It will be published in April or May of this year. I love the ending of that article.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Hibiscus and blue morpho butterfly

I thought I'd post some more cheery photographs taken at Magic Wings. The first photograph is an absolutely gorgeous hibiscus. The beautiful butterfly with the yellow abdomen is a Cairns Birdwing. The last butterfly is a Blue Morpho with metallic looking wings. The blue butterfly is very hard to photograph because it closes up when it lands and the outside of its wings are an unattractive dusty brown. But notice the v-shaped notch in the wing. I suspect this butterfly has a problem.

Today an editor sent me a really nice email, "I'm very impressed with your article." That was nice to read.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I spent the day up at Magic Wings in Deerfield Massachusetts. It's a breath of summer in the midst of winter, an uplifting cheerful place filled with butterflies, plants and flowers. It's a place you never tire of going to. Using the butterfly identification card ($1), my 9-year old niece Abigail helped me to identify the butterflies I took photographs of. The first photograph is of Rice Paper butterflies. According to the employee I spoke with, there are some chemicals in soaps and lotion that butterflies are attracted to and this guy must have had that chemical on his skin. Both his hands were covered with butterflies. The middle photograph is an Indian Leaf butterfly that landed on me without me even knowing it (sneaky little devil). The bottom photograph is of a Glass Wing butterfly, named for it's clear wings.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Soapstone Mountain, Somers T

With Walt and my brother, I hiked up Soapstone Mountain today. We left late and hiked briskly uphill through about 2 inches of snow. Exhausted after three miles or so, we finally reached the lookout tower at the top. On this windy cold day, Mt Monadnock in New Hampshire was visible in the distance. By the time we got back, the three of us were frozen and starved so we had an apres hike party. Once again, I couldn't resist the stunning sunset right out the bay window.

I've received the ChemMatters theme list for articles for 2010 and spent some time reviewing those. I have a vague idea for a story about one of the topics. It's in line with another proposal I've been working on. There's also another webinar in the upcoming weeks.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I had a great day of accomplishment today and since it is now close to 11, it's probably time for me to close up shop. I spent the day revising and improving an outline and working on chapter transitions which required quite a bit of thought. It has renewed my excitement for this project because I think it's an action packed captivating story. But then again, who doesn't think that about their stuff?

Monday, February 1, 2010

After reading a book called Super Stars by David Aguilar, I showed it to Walt. His telescope has been locked in a cabinet unused for years, but my interest and the book inspired him to pull out the scope this evening. In the frigid night air we saw Mars and the Orion Nebula. Apparently Mars is very close to earth right now. Who knew? My line of questioning went something like this: Is it better to view the stars in the winter or the summer? Followed quickly by how cold is it out here? My down slippers felt like sandals. Now I'd really like to go to the Copernican Observatory and Planetarium at Central Connecticut State College in New Britain--where it's warm!

Another book I read recently was Upon Secrecy by Selene Castrovilla. I really liked the voice in that book and I thought the topic, the Culper Spy Ring, was interesting. Short sentences conveyed the immediacy of the story.

I made revisions to another proposal and now I'm at the point where I no longer like it. Ut oh. Must move quickly because I need to send it out soon.