Sunday, October 29, 2006

back from the east

i just got in a bit ago from vermont and the society of environmental journalists (SEJ) conference. it snowed on the field trip day to camel's hump (a mountain with two humps...) and it was so neat. the field excursion was on acid rain, which you never hear about in the media but apparently it is still a problem though more nitric acids than sulfuric acids. and i asked why do we not have this in houston, where we have lots of air pollution? the answer is that our soils are limestone and basic so they neutralize the acidic rain. the question i still would like to answer is whether the rain itself is more acidic because of pollutants, whether or not it causes death of trees etc. it seems it could lend itself to a quick and easy analysis with some ph paper if one had some historic data, or looked at different regions like up or downwind of some of the plants (need knowledge of how the winds go).

anyway just some food for thought. i asked the guy leading one of the talks if it was ok for me to eat the snow, because after all, you can't go see snow and not eat it (as long as it is not yellow). :) and he said yes, his kids eat the icicles all the time, but if you were to test the snow it would probably show elevated mercury levels. mmm, just a little madness with your snow, no worries. so i ate some snow. then i asked him, would you get mad if i pegged you with a snowball? lol. and he said no, so i did. that made the trip. my kids are jealous... they told me before i left i had to bring them some snow back. i was like, how exactly do you expect me to do that?!

anyway, my highlight was hearing ben cohen talk, the founder of ben & jerry's ice cream ( and it was very interesting indeed. he discussed how our government is spending their money using plastic oreo cookies... he runs a nonprofit group 'true majority' which i was unaware of before. he also told about the company history, and some of the interesting concepts about running a business in a way that helps rather than detracts from the community and the environment, and how he made positive change in vermont and in business due to this. i had no idea!

i also really enjoyed the blog session by amy gahran and adam glenn ( i'm going to try some of their techniques and see how it goes... one of the things mentioned was to comment on other people's blogs which i rarely do because of time constraints -- too busy. but i'm going to see how it goes, and try to. i also enjoyed catching up with many friends and got to give a 60-second pitch to a panel of 6 editors - from smithsonian, audubon, sierra, national geographic, scientific american and orion. i was so nervous (which i normally am not when giving a talk, but as one editor rightly said it was like the christians in the coloseum with the lions! lol). fortunately they were all very respectful and kind in their feedback to all. i got one editor who told me right away there to send it in (the query) so that was great. lots and lots of writers came up to me and told me I did really well and they liked my pitch, and more than anything that made me feel good about that session.

A creek at Camel's Hump, Vermont

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sus here!

As a child living in Indiana one of my fav parts of winter was snapping off a huge icicle and sucking on 20 deg. weather!