Saturday, April 30, 2011

With about 25% of this article written, I'm trying very hard to stay on track. If there is one thing I've learned (the hard way) it is to write about the specific topic the editor wants me to write about and zero in on that. I'm still trying to make this a story by zeroing in on one scientist.

Here are photographs of two very different left hands. The top is an orangutan hand taken through a filthy window (at the National Zoo). The bottom is my hand holding a green tobacco hornworm at the National Museum of Natural History. This website details the difference between the tomato and the tobacco horn worm.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cherry tree and tulips

I'm off and running in one direction on this article, whether it's the right one remains to be seen. It all depends on the concept they want to convey. I've got a pretty decent first couple of paragraphs that I think can withstand any change in focus of the article. The new printer is here and very much in use printing research papers and everything I need to critique (done!). Twinky has made nine blank copies, but she doesn't seem interested in reading them.

They say the climate is changing and spring is arriving two weeks earlier than it used to. During April vacation, it was beautiful to experience an early bloom by traveling to D.C. Mass plantings of tulips were everywhere. The bottom photograph, "the citrus collection," was taken while passing the beautiful grounds of the Marriott enroute to the National Zoo. The Cherry Blossom Festival had passed and there was one lonely tree by the Tidal Basin that must have been sleeping during the festivities. It's great to come home to a second bloom that is just starting here in CT.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

This rather boring looking boxy device is a mass spectrometer/gas chromatograph. I couldn't help but take a picture of the thing because it's such a useful tool in chemical analysis. One way a mass spectrometer is used is to compute a radiocarbon date by counting carbon-12 and carbon-14. A gas chromatograph can separate out and analyze the components of a compound. One way scientists use it is to analyze the atmosphere of the past.

Since today is the email date for my crit group and I'm not anywhere near done with my article, I took some time and revised some vintage material from 2008. Oh, what an improvement! I changed the whole thing from past tense to present tense and that made it more immediate. I also grouped the action into two sections and didn't disrupt it with explanation. I've learned a lot in two years. Now, I'm interested to hear what they have to say.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

While in D.C., I thought I would finally get to meet the editor that I've worked with for the past three years. Enroute to the National Zoo, we strolled up to the building which was across the street from National Geographic. I figured I'd go in, introduce myself and drop off my new business card. I figured wrong. The security guard at the front desk told me, "we don't operate like that. You have to have an appointment." I decided it was not in my best interest to sneak by him (not that I would do such a thing). I wasn't exactly dressed in business attire either, so it probably was a good thing.

Needless to say, all this college visit stuff and Easter has made me feel like I've accomplished nothing this week (which is pretty accurate). This coming week, I've got to pour on the steam to make up for lost time. Currently, I'm researching printers because we need a replacement soon.

Friday, April 22, 2011

While looking at colleges in the Washington D.C. area this past week, we had some time to see a few things. I was hoping to catch the Supreme Court in session on Tuesday, but they were only in session about an hour and I heard the line was really long. Since I live in Connecticut, I was particularly interested in a climate-change-related case on the agenda, Connecticut, et al. versus American Electric Power Company.

Happy Earth Day to all!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Seven Sisters, Massachusetts - part 3

While at the library last week I happened to find an oversized book on the topic I'm writing about. This thing is a great resource. The photographs are exceptional and the essays are all interesting and written by top researchers in the field. I was delighted that some of the researchers I plan to write about had written essays for this book.

I've been looking into some different ideas on where to give presentations. One website suggested Toastmasters (check), clubs and speakers bureaus. Since the program is for elementary aged kids, the Lions and Rotary Clubs are really not appropriate. However, if they were interested I'd be happy to present. I looked up environmental clubs in CT and noted that these clubs exist at the high school level, but there does not appear to be much going on at the elementary age level (that has a web presence at least). I was happy to find a whole list of speakers on one website, but I wondered how much traffic that site gets. Thus my first thought is local and small. If my kids were still in elementary school I think it would be easy work to convince a teacher since I used to volunteer in their classrooms all the time.

Here are a couple more photographs of the Seven Sisters. I regret that Walt and I did not pretend to hang on like we were falling off a cliff (grin). Actually, the rock sloped downward and was a perfect set up for the camera to take the photo without a human holding it. We noticed a couple of these boxes with log books in them.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Seven Sisters, Massachusetts - part 2

Since I have quite a few posts and photographs about different hiking spots, I thought this blog/website might be a good resource for others. Two days ago, I painstakingly went through 515 blog posts since 5/28/07 and added labels to many of them. Now, down the right hand column of the site, entries can be viewed by category (museum, aquarium, hiking, wildlife photos...). One thing I realized was that I spent a lot more time preparing for and writing about presenting than actually presenting. This is something I really need to work on. I couldn't help but categorize two short posts under the title "asylum."

Here are three more photographs of the Seven Sisters. I find it entertaining to encounter trail markers that lead a hiker through a vernal pool. Nice try, but not goin' that way! In the second photograph, note the rope hanging from the cliff. Two guys went down that way. The bottom photograph is where they climbed to. The horse caves are under the overhang.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Seven Sisters, Massachusetts - part 1

I changed my mind. That package of stuff that I was going to mail early next month is going out in today's mail. No sense holding it up for one or two line items that may or may not happen. It's better to get it out of here and checked off the list. I decided to redo the entire online application because it looked unformatted and messy after I hit enter. Maybe when they print it out it will look beautiful, but why take the chance? I also went with color clips this time.

My goal is to secure a location for this presentation by month's end. I have a couple of ideas.

I've been digging deeper into research on my article. Quite by luck I found a handsome oversized book when Julia and I were at the library on Saturday. Great photographs!

Speaking of photographs, these were taken at Seven Sisters in Massachusetts. Here is the trail map for the Metacomet-Monadnock Trail which took us up Long Mountain (fitting name), then Rattlesnake Knob, then up Mt. Norwottuck then back again. The top photograph is the view from the tallest peak, Mt. Norwottuck. The bottom photograph is a view from Long Mountain looking out at Mt Norwottuck, a long hike away.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

I submitted an online application today and early next month I'll mail the rest of the stuff that goes with it. I was getting a little anxious because I haven't received my clip for a February article, but thankfully I found a work around. At the end of February, after a webinar, the editor sent an email with THIRTY attachments. My article in the February issue was included as an example in that email, so I was able to gather all the clips I needed. Phew! I'm holding off on this mailing hoping that my resume will need modification by month's end. If not, so be it. Fingers crossed!

The other day, I couldn't help but marvel at the Naples yellow golden sun that lit up the distant hills and the tops of the trees in the backyard. It put a warm glow in a stormy sky.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Last night, I had a dream about an opportunity that I was waiting for. It never came. So, today I went looking for another opportunity. I am absolutely delighted that I found one. I've noticed this one before, but the requirements got a whole lot easier. They no longer involve letters of recommendation which editors don't have the time for. I don't have to rely on anyone else. YIPPEE!

Today, I separated the writing resources from the science resources on this website. It was a bit of a challenge trying to remember how to edit the list on the right (about me, writing, videos....), but I figured it out. It's so much more straight forward and you no longer have to scroll down past science stuff to get to the writing links.


ALA great websites for kids
BBC science - All kinds of stuff for ages 4-11 (Note: Learning zone broadband is composed of short video clips, but unfortunately, came up with a "not available in your area" message). This site also has English and math activities and teacher lesson plans. It looks like it could be lots of fun.
Websites for kids - All kinds of choices (animals, the arts...) by American Library Association
Science for kids - American Association for the Advancement of science - latest research results
Science news for kids
DNA matching game on the Nobel Prize website
Interactive science videos with great sound effects (lightning, crack of a baseball bat) that show the best temps to grow snowflakes, the arc of a baseball, making rainbows, tornado damage, lightning.
Fish that glow in the dark. They're only $5.00. The fish have been transformed with green fluorescent protein. At night, under a black light, they glow in the dark. Who needs a night light?
Cool Science - Howard Hughes Medical Center. Ask a scientist. Science activities.
Childrens Vascular Health Activity Book - ages 5-12. A free activity book for kids!
Ask a Naturalist - Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History

FREE books about cells and genetics The books are really nice! EXCELLENT pictures.
FREE CD for high school and college faculty - about green fluorescent protein (GFP) that originated from bioluminescent crystal jellyfish. I haven't looked it over, but I read Marc Zimmer's book (Glowing Genes). GFP is an amazing scientific tool.
Utah Genetics - Undestanding DNA, addiction, stem cells.....
Cool Science - Howard Hughes Medical Center - teacher resources

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It's now 7PM and I haven't accomplished much all day, but I think I finally found the answer! How to knit a bunch of scientists together to make a story? A wave of relief has washed over me. Now I need the editor to buy into this (good luck with that!).

When one door closes another one opens. I didn't expect it to open this fast. I may be doing a presentation in November. It seems like every time I mention any details the whole idea falls apart so I think I will keep a lid on this for a bit.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

It's been challenging trying to expand an article on one scientist to include many scientists and find some thread to weave through it to make it a story. I don't know that I'm there yet although I've done a lot of rifling through online research papers, websites, and searching for (and not finding!) adult books on this topic.

Apparently, there was some misunderstanding about the location I was looking into for a presentation. Paying to rent to give a free presentation is simply out of the question. Thus, I'm once again searching for a start.

Although I hear them quite often, mourning doves don't often stop to eat seed by the deck. The other day this pair pulled in for a landing. It's getting much trickier to take photographs, especially when Twinky (cat) decides to play with the camera strap while I'm focusing.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mansfield Hollow State Park, Mansfield

By changing the settings that I mentioned in the last blog post, I inadvertently fixed a problem I spent too much time trying to figure out. I had been using Google Reader to read a few blogs of interest. In Google Reader, I subscribed to my own blog to see if it would show up on blog stats. I was quite dismayed that I couldn't see my whole post.  All I saw was the first 3-5 sentences, no photographs. Try as I might, I couldn't figure out how to see the rest of my blog posts. One of the settings that I changed a couple of days ago fixed this problem! BTW, reading a blog in Google Reader appears to be invisible to sitemeter because it didn't increase the number of times the blog had been viewed.

Over the years, I've built a small campfire that has weathered the howling wind and stormy skies. Lately, it seems no matter how hard I try or what direction I go in, I end up circling that fire, round and round. Poking it with a stick isn't much help either, so I'm trying to find a way to stoke it. I suspect by the time I get to Chautauqua I will be a sorry sight, like the lost and starving hiker wearing tattered clothes.

Currently, I'm trying to rework this outline to incorporate more scientists and still maintain a story line. Although I'm not quite sure why more is better when one by itself is quite exciting. I'm starting to wonder about a few things and I think maybe they aren't quite as certain as I thought they were. Time will tell.

These photographs were taken at Mansfield Hollow State Park. On a bitter cold day, Walt and I hiked around the upper portion of the lake then out to the levee. The wind was fierce by the dam.  It used all its might to force us back.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Blogger has a nifty new feature where it can display a collection of blog photographs all at once.
Here's a look at the snapshot option which I really like:!/

On the upper right portion of the screen there is a drop-down button where you can choose other display options like mosaic, flipcard, sidebar, and timeslide. Check it out!

To enable my blog to be displayed in these formats, I had to change a few settings:

  • The blog feed had to be fully enabled. In the Settings | Site feed tab, enable either Full or Jump Break for the Post Feed.
  • I had to enable dynamic views. In the Setting | Formatting tab, the option for Enable Dynamic Views is set to Yes.

  • This feature only works for public blogs where the reader doesn't need to sign in.

    Aside from those unexpected finagling with settings this morning, I've been working on a chemistry article. It's coming along well, but needs to be at least five times bigger than it is.

    I'm still waiting on a number of things--a clip, an opportunity, and approval. It would be nice if all three came through.

    A fox trotted through our front yard this morning. The only thing I saw were the tracks.