Writing Science… progress report

Field trip to Bandelier National Monument.
Field trip to Bandelier National Monument outside of Santa Fe.

My last post was written in Santa Fe on the eve of attending the Santa Fe Science Writer’s workshop. I shared “I have a great passion to help people not only understand but to be a part of the scientific process, to share in the discovery of new places or celebrate the innovative spirit of scientists trying to understand the world we live in.”

My brain is fatigued and I have typer’s cramp. A week of the workshop attending lectures at 6500 ft above sea level, dealing with dry sinuses and constant dry throat, revising a story about four times, when I thought it was”done” before I went to Santa Fe, left me questioning my life’s passion.  Moving paragraphs around or deleting one or two sentences that just didn’t fit, felt like I was juggling elephants with one arm…  Why is it so hard to mold a piece of writing into something – tangible, understandable, logical and interesting?

I persevered. Writing is hard. If it wasn’t then everyone would be doing it. So forward I went. With each rewrite the story sounded better and better.

Today – the story is finally posted on the website of my employer. I have a second story in the hopper that I hope will be posted by next week.

The more I write, the less intimidating the process, the more fun it is to see the results. Revisions are becoming my friends. Now when I begin a piece I yearn for the moment I get to revise it because I know it will always be better than the first draft.

 

Up yours!

Glacier
Blue ice of a glacier.

I was in Alaska last week. The 49th state of our union, the last frontier, a state twice the size of Texas, where glaciers still exist, where you can still find wild animals roaming their ancestral habitat. My goal while there, besides attending a conference, was to capture a moose. With a camera of course, and not just any camera, my highly prized and well utilized point and shoot HTC evo camera. Yes, it is one of those cameras with a phone, you got me, I am one of those people who like multi-purpose techie gadgets, so sue me…

I have been less and less inclined to bring my real point and shoot, something by Canon, anytime I travel. Why? I find lugging extra pieces of gear during a trip as a major downer. Consider: There I was hiking, along Potter Marsh just outside of Anchorage and I see something in the distance, a horse? No a moose! “I need to capture it.” I thought to myself. What is in easy access, my camera, right there in the pocket of my purse that was made exclusively for it. Flip off Velcro strap with one hand, keeping my eyes on my target, slowly I take out the HTC, making sure that the camera app is on, figure out where to press, a little zoom zoom, and click. I captured my moose!

Moose captured
Moose captured with my HTC camera.

Now how many bags are out there have pockets for a huge SLR? None! That’s right. My purse, which is one of those cross shoulder, ergonomic bags, has an external pocket where my HTC camera fits perfectly, and with a flip of the Velcro strap, voila I have camera access. Now if I had my little point and shoot Canon, I would have had to open the main flap of my purse, dig around, taking my eyes off of the target and by the time I hit the “on” button, choose the auto selection, using both hands… Presto, the moose would’ve been gone!

The other thing I caught in Alaska, is one of those pesky summer colds. You know the one that starts out with a scratchy throat, that you think is because of the dry airplane air. So you drink more beer at Sleeping Lady Brewery while watching the sunset at 11pm. By the time you realize the headache you have the next morning isn’t because of the beer you drank, it is too late for any of that Zinc preventative medicine to really work. Yup, that is sort of what happened to me. I was trapped at a hotel and conference center that was on the outskirts of Anchorage. The only way to get to a drug store was to skip out on the conference, wait for a hotel shuttle, which may or may not take you there or take a taxi. With my increasingly foggy state of mind, I decided I would let the cold fester, “it won’t be that bad” I thought to myself.

Well the cold wasn’t that bad, I did catch that moose now didn’t I?! What is bad is the post cold mucus circus happening in my sinuses. Now that I am back home, I have more options on ways to attack the symptoms this pesky virus has inflicted upon my body. Keeping in line with the Alaska theme, I thought of something that reminded me of the creature I had not seen in Alaska, or the Pacific NW for that matter, the infamous Yeti AKA Sasquatch AKA Bigfoot. What do Yeti’s and sinus mucus circuses have in common? Absolutely nothing, but Yeti rhymes with Neti and a Neti pot is what I sought to combat the mucus circus partying in my sinuses.

Author resting after short hike on Flattop Peak.
Author resting after short hike on Flattop Peak.

A little Neti pot 101 – it is a small teapot looking thing. It’s snout is thin so you can stick up your nostril, but before doing that, you put a simple saline solution – salt and warm water – in it which is the secret to breaking up that party in your sinuses. The trick is having the right balance of ingredients, one time I had too much salt and it burned my sinuses so bad that I had to put a fire extinguisher up my nose… I’m kidding, but it did hurt.

So, this morning, over the bathroom sink, I rinsed my sinuses. It was a joyful experience. The tsunami of water flowing through my sinuses captured the mucus and pushed it out, meeting its demise as it washed down the drain. I thought the party was over. I took a nice warm shower, I was feeling almost normal, but then as I was telling my honey something, a nice wad of mucus AKA lougie rolled around the back of my throat.” Quick!”, I thought, “Don’t swallow it!” So I ran to the bathroom and hawked it up. Phew! What a relief. I can breathe and speak much better now.

I know “Eew Gross!” You may decide this isn’t for you, that this is some hippie dippie thing to do. But it works. So up yours!