Category Archives: Linda Zajac

Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
October 19, 2012 at 11:36AM

I’ve been watching the presidential and vice presidential debates with interest.  Granted, I’m not an expert on many of the topics they discussed, but I do know quite a bit about science and climate change.  The focus seems to be on the cost of energy when, by far, the more important issue is what are we going to do about carbon dioxide levels that impact atmospheric temperature and the health of our oceans.  This has yet to be discussed.

Here is a link to a description of a couple of kid’s classes I’ll be running in early November.  There will be plenty of interacting and I have lots of fun activities planned.  I hope to see you there!

Speaking of classes, I took one myself.  It was fascinating stuff that I stumbled upon while doing research for one project I’m working on.  The professor and grad students used shrinky dinks (how fun!) to explain how they are doing their work.  We poured goop called PVMS (I think that stands for polyvinylmethylsiloxane) on our designs.  After shrinking, the design was raised slightly because the ink gets denser when it shrinks.   When the plastic hardened, they cut out plastic cubes.  (top photo: butterfly shrinky dink covered in hardened plastic with a square cut out of it) After drilling holes they injected dye into the tiny channels of these reverse images.  (bottom photo: reverse image glued to glass slide with dye injected into holes)   It was a really interesting way to understand the work they are doing.     


Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
October 12, 2012 at 05:09PM

This past week I spoke to an editor.  Some of the things I mentioned got misinterpreted.  Perhaps I did not explain my thoughts well enough or maybe these conclusions were a stretch?  For example, I may be disappointed when an editor moves out of editing science books, but that doesn’t mean I’m pessimistic about the direction of the industry.  Au contraire.  This line of thinking brought me to the subject of climate change.

Often the words of scientists, writers and speakers on this controversial subject are challenged, misinterpreted and distorted.   I like challenges, so maybe that’s why I’m drawn to the topic.  There is also no shortage of research papers.  It gives me great pleasure to find the facts,  wrestle with the words and write it so it can be understood.  So far so good, but perhaps some day I will have to deal with those who are staunchly against getting the word out.

These photographs were taken at Woods Hole Mass.  One speaker discussed how eel grass was vanishing in the estuaries on the Cape.  David, my partner-in-crime, was studying an old piece of cedar found on a Cape Cod beach.    

Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
October 04, 2012 at 09:10PM

In September, I worked very hard writing eight test passages that utilized new common core standards.  Since I’m not a terribly fast writer, my initial thought was that I would use research from published material to save myself some time.  No.  No.  No.  They didn’t want material that the test taker may have read.  So, in a short amount of time, I did a LOT of research for a little bit of writing (less than 250 words) and I learned a tremendous amount.  The majority of my passages involved some aspect of climate change.  This pleased me immensely.

I was disappointed to learn that my ChemMatters article that was originally supposed to be published long ago, has once again been pushed off until February or April of 2013.  It will be a “clipless” year.

Today, I took a watercolor class at the new Vernon Community Arts Center.   I LOVE LOVE LOVE the place!  Yesterday, I spoke at length to the person in charge.  We nailed down some dates for the hands-on children’s science classes I’ll be teaching.  We decided to offer them at various dates and times to see which would draw the most participants.  These reasonably priced classes will run in November as follows:
Saturday  11/3     1-3pm        Jellyfish
Thursday 11/15   6 -7:30pm   Grizzly bears 
Saturday  11/17  10-12pm     Grizzly bears

I have ideas for a class for adults and I also mentioned a hands-on presentation that I would be quite happy to give, all were met with enthusiasm!

 It was feeding time in one of the labs at Woods Hole.  We got to see these miniscule anemones eating sea monkeys via the scientist’s high powered microscope. 

Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
September 30, 2012 at 06:54PM

This past week I attended two writing related events.  The first was a marketing seminar called “Crafting a public identity.”  The audience was made of writers, dancers, photographers, artists and actors.  They mentioned putting the basics in place first, things like a website, email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.  Check. (and no I’m not interested in Twitter).  I left pondering how to diversify, educate and collaborate.

Yesterday, I went to a writer’s luncheon where they discussed smartest moves and struggles.  Most of those in attendance wrote nonfiction.

I am dismayed at the changes in publishing.  It seems that at this time, when science is getting a bad rap, it’s more important than ever to get the information out there yet there seems to be a dwindling pile of science editors on the trade side of publishing.    

The top photograph was taken on the Panorama Trail in Yosemite.  It was a beautiful trail that started with switchbacks down a steep mountainside.  The first couple of miles had almost constant views of the glacier carved valley.  We started too late to hike it all the way down from Glacier Point then ride the shuttle back.  Instead, we hiked to the top of Nevada Falls then back, uphill all the way.

I think the second photo is Vernal Falls.  That is my size 8.5 foot next to a gigantic sequoia pine cone.  Yowzy!  We were at the park within the  Hanta virus timeframe and received an email from Yosemite, but we camped far enough away from the Valley of the Mice for it not to be a concern.

Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
September 24, 2012 at 09:43PM

I am finally at a lull and can spare some time to post.  I am quite grateful to the folks at Woods Hole for giving me the opportunity to hear scientists, learn about research and view labs and technology.  I came back all charged up to write some fresh stories.    

These photographs were taken at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute.  When the land was given to WHOI, there was a stipulation in the agreement that WHOI had to take care of the pet cemetery.  My goodness they had a lot of pets.  I spotted the osprey nest on the premises, but apparently the birds don’t like peeping Toms.  I was told the nest was currently unoccupied.   Afterward, I found the osprey cam website.

  One day we visited the site of some research projects such as this marsh study.  Another day, I went with another fellow to interview a scientist and wound up in the wrong building.  OMG, I haven’t laughed so hard since before my mother died last year.  It was great to feel like myself again.      

Linda Zajac: Zion National Park

From: Linda Zajac
September 08, 2012 at 02:46PM

I’m working on some stuff that is due October 1st.  I’ll tell you more about that near month’s end (when I find out if I’m doing this right!).

Tomorrow morning, I’m off to Woods Hole!  I put a lanyard on the camera to hang it around my neck so it is not in my hands, but easily accessible.  If it gets too heavy, it’s going in the backpack.   

These are photos of wildlife at Zion National Park.  The flower is a Sacred Datura which has many names such as moon lily and jimson weed.  It’s not the only thing that wilts in the mid-day heat.  “This is a poisonous, narcotic plant that can lead to death if eaten.”  It is HIGHLY toxic and I think back on how close I was to touching it when I photographed it (this is the kind of stuff that would freak out my mother when she’d read my blog!).

There are quite a few lizards in Zion.  This little guy was glued to a woman’s baseball cap.  She said her friend put him on her cap and he stayed there.  Realistically, while she is walking, where is he going to go?   The mule deer didn’t budge when half a dozen or more people stood there taking photographs.  


Linda Zajac: Zion National Park – The Narrows

From: Linda Zajac
September 01, 2012 at 04:35PM

I expect to be quite busy churning out pages in September, so I’m not sure how often I’ll be posting here.     After a long break, next week I’m meeting my writing friends to review material.

These photographs are from hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park.  It was an exciting and fascinating hike in a slot canyon.  We rented water socks, special shoes and a pole from Zion Adventure just outside the park.  With temperatures at 105 degrees, the cool interior of this canyon was the only place to beat the heat.  We hiked in and out of water that at times was up to our waists.  Fun fun fun!  I LOVED this hike and sloshing through the water!  It’s rated as a difficult hike, but for me, it was more adventure than anything else.  At one point I thought I heard the boom of thunder.  Slot canyons are dangerous in thunderstorms because of flash flooding and no place to escape.  Thankfully, it turned out to be kids doing cannonballs off a big boulder.  Phew!  Next time, I’ll post about the wildlife I spotted in Zion.

Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
August 24, 2012 at 07:49AM

Here are a few wildlife photographs from Bryce National Park.  I could have watched these ravens for a long time.  Their antics and the scenery behind them were captivating.  I was a bit fearful one of the birds would peck my hand when I moved in for this close shot of its talons.  Thankfully, they were preoccupied.   At the time, I thought they were feeding each other.  According to this blurb about ravens on the park’s website, they are “especially romantic during the breeding season.”  After reading that, I now think I witnessed an “eskimo kiss.”‘  How cute.

The bottom photograph is a pronghorn that didn’t stand still long enough for Walt to focus.  No wonder, it’s the fastest land animal in North America!  During the summer they molt to a thinner coat. 

Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
August 17, 2012 at 11:10AM

Wednesday, I boarded the Department of Environmental and Energy Protection’s climate monitoring boat with other members of the CT Climate Change Education Group.  What a great day we had out at sea and I thank them for allowing us to view their important work monitoring the health of Long Island Sound.  I learned quite a bit and I’m contemplating how to spin a story out of it. 

This bird was so still drying its wings that initially I thought it was fake.  On the way back to the harbor we passed a capsized sailboat.    At low tide, there’s a tombolo that connects the beach to Charles Island and that’s probably what caused it to run aground.    

Linda Zajac: Bryce National Park

From: Linda Zajac
August 08, 2012 at 01:44PM

Yesterday, I found another opportunity in my inbox.  You have absolutely no idea what a pleasant change of pace it is to have these things come to me.  I will dish on those when and if they come to fruition.

On 7/15/12, I posted about the not so definite link between extreme weather and climate change.  Since then, James Hansen has published a paper where he concludes that a couple of extreme heat waves (one in 2011) are linked to global warming.  I also thought recent news that at one time Antarctica was covered with palm trees, baobab and macadamia was fascinating.

The colors in Bryce National Park were stunning, terra cotta hoodoos and deep pines against a cerulean sky.  When the morning and evening light hit those formations, they glowed a brilliant orange.  We hiked the Queens Garden/Navajo Loop.  It was one of the best hikes I’ve ever done.  Midway through that hike we came to a section adorned with tiny cairns.  They were everywhere.  They were piled on the ground, on logs, on tree branches.  It was the cutest thing and surely something that rangers do to occupy little ones.  What an adorable idea!  Next time, I’ll post about the wildlife I saw.

Linda Zajac: Arches National Park

From: Linda Zajac
August 01, 2012 at 08:27AM

This past week I listened to audio and video from a research trip.  The video that Walt took was an excellent record of the visit.  From the video I learned that camping the night before on site research wasn’t such a good thing.  Did I brush my hair?   It cracked me up when Walt asked numerical type questions and zoomed in on some math angles on a notebook.  The whole time, I was constantly juggling a notebook, pen, DVR, and camera.   

Overall, the video is the best record, but I think for a solo visit, putting my eye through a camcorder might get in the way of absorbing the material or it might appear that I’m not paying attention.  It would be nice to have a writer’s toolbelt, similar to what construction workers wear.  I think I will hunt for a strap so the camera can dangle from my neck where it’s easily accessible, but frees me from carrying it..      

 I’ve been working hard, maybe too hard.  Two items are getting very close to mailbox ready.   

I’ve been to Arches twice in the summer and although it is quite beautiful, the scorching sun beats down and there aren’t many trees for shade.  We spotted this gnarly tree on the path to Landscape Arch.  We also encountered a long-nosed leopard lizard with interesting coloring.   After a bit of research, I’ve come to the conclusion this is a female because of the bright orange spots that occur during breeding.  I’m still marveling that we were there at the right time to see the unusual spots.  See, summer isn’t such a bad time for a visit after all!

Linda Zajac: Rocky Mountain Nat’l Park – 3

From: Linda Zajac
July 26, 2012 at 09:45AM

There’s nothing quite like meandering through the Midnight Garden, picking words and making new arrangements. ~ Linda Zajac

Last night between 1 and 2 am, I got a lot of inspiration from the Midnight Garden.  Lines with grace and elegance came to me with ease.  If only I could harness that creativity and move it to normal hours.   Sigh.  I’m currently fact checking and I’ve got to start reading and doing research too.

Here are more photographs from Rocky Mountain National Park.  The top one was taken on the hike to Flattop Mountain.  We saw a lot of elk while we were there.  On our last day in the park, we were fortunate to get a tip from a park ranger that led us to the breeding ground of bighorn sheep!

Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
July 20, 2012 at 12:26PM

The big news is that I’m honored and grateful to be a jolly good fellow–a Woods Hole Fellow!   It’s coming up fast, so I’m trying to write up everything from my trip out west before I’m deluged with details for more story ideas.  On the road trip, I stopped at two research facilities.  So far, I’ve completed an article and picture book for one place.  I still want to do two more for the second research stop.  

While in Rocky Mountain National Park, we hiked 4.4 miles to the top of Flattop Mountain (elevation 12,324′).  I’ve never hiked a mountain so high.  I only threw up once–thankfully it was a half mile from the finish.  At the top, the howling wind was incredible.  It wore us right out.

  Tyndall Glacier is visible from the tundra at the top.  While trekking to the summit, we passed a noisy ptarmigan, a beefy yellow-bellied marmot and a whole lot of wildflowers like this blue columbine.    

Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
July 15, 2012 at 10:13AM

Now that we are down one car, I’m pretty much stuck here during the day.  Although it’s cramping my style, it’s boosting my productivity (Hallelujah chorus breaks into song).

This past week, I shifted gears again and turned that article that was a picture book back into an article and I’m good with that.  I also wrote a lovely picture book on the same topic.  At 237 words, this is indeed a picture book with little words to spare.  I’ll be adding backmatter this coming week. 

Last post, I mentioned seeing signs of climate change while out west.  In Utah and Nevada, I noted dramatic drops in lake water levels.  The first two photographs are of Lake Mead, a huge source of water for the southwest.

While crossing through Colorado, I drove toward a plume of smoke.  It wasn’t the only raging forest fire at the time.  Temperatures were exceptionally high (although scientists are careful not to say there is a direct link between extreme temperatures and climate change).  It was 111 degrees in Kansas and 105 at the Hoover Dam.  This article is about fire, drought, and water levels in the Southwest.

Linda Zajac:

From: Linda Zajac
July 09, 2012 at 10:40PM

We came up with three ways to get a car out to our daughter in California:

1. Spend a vacation in CA shopping for a car
2. Ship the car (over $1,000)
3. Drive a car out West and make a vacation out of it

Although I’m not proud of chewing through so much gas, it seemed that driving was the best choice.  Along the way we hiked in five national parks, visited two research facilities and spotted evidence of climate change.  We passed forest, mountain, desert, ocean and prairie.  When it was possible, I checked email and got news that was deeply disappointing.  Later more news came, but this time it was highly exciting.

On one trail in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, I showed my photographs to a park ranger.  She verified they were moose scat and moose tracks, but I saw no sign of the moose.

  Later that day I finally spotted my mammal!

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