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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Think I know how he felt...................article from NYT

I had a check this week from my publisher. It was for the royalties on my book, $8.............
I was thrilled! When my book was published, a couple of years ago, I sold over a hundred at two or three signing sessions...............all to friends and colleagues.............
Getting the check this past week, my second, means that a few other people bought it!! WOW!!
With that in mind, this article in todays NYT made me smile......
November 29
RIDGEWOOD, N.J. — THANKSGIVING weekend in 1990, I spent two hours at the loneliest place in the world for an obscure novelist — the book-signing table at a Waldenbooks in a suburban New Jersey mall.
I sat at the table smiling like a game show host. Store patrons scurried past me, doing all they could to avoid eye contact. I kept smiling. I straightened out my pile of free bookmarks for the umpteenth time, though so far none had been taken. I played with my pen. Authors at signings like this get good at playing with their pens. I pushed it to and fro. I curled my upper lip around the pen and made it into a makeshift mustache. I clipped it to my lower lip, pinching said lip in an almost masochistic way, and was able to click the pen open by moving my jaw and pressing it against my nose. You can’t teach that skill, by the way. Practice. At one point, I took out a second pen, rolled up a spitball, and then let the two pens play hockey against each other. The Rollerball beat the Sharpie in overtime.
During the first hour of my signing, a grand total of four people approached me. Two asked me where the bathroom was. The third explained his conspiracy theory linking the J.F.K. assassination with the decision by General Mills to add Crunch Berries to Cap’n Crunch breakfast cereal. The fourth asked me if we had a copy of the new Stephen King.
I kept smiling. Four copies of my brand-spanking-new first novel — Waldenbooks knew not to order too many — stood limply on the shelf behind me. I missed the Barcalounger in my den. I longed for home and hearth, for stuffing my face with leftover turkey, for half-watching football games in which I had no rooting interest. Instead I slow-baked under the fluorescent Waldenbooks lights, the Early Hipster booksellers glaring at me as though I was some kind of pedantic squatter. I had become the literary equivalent of a poster child — “you could buy his book or you could turn the page ...”
Time didn’t just pass slowly. It seemed to be moonwalking backward.
Then, with maybe 15 minutes left before I could scrape up the scraps of my dignity and head home, an old man shuffled toward me. He wiped his nose with what I hoped was a beige hankie. His eyes were runny. Odds were this was going to be a where’s-the-bathroom question, but this guy had all the makings of another conspiracy theorist.
The old man’s gaze drifted over my shoulder. “What’s that like?”
“Excuse me?”
“That’s your novel, right?”
He gestured at the four books on the shelf behind me.
“Right,” I said.
He shook his head in awe. “That’s my dream, man. Seeing my book on a shelf in a bookstore.” He lowered his gaze and met my eye. “So what’s that like?”
I paused, letting the question sink in, but before I could reply, the old man lifted his eyes back to the bookshelf, smiled, and shook his head again. “Lucky,” he said, before turning and walking away.
He didn’t buy a book. He didn’t have to.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

NYT - Yes, YES, YES!!!!!!!!!!!

To the Editor:
To Help Language Skills of Children, a Study Finds, Text Their Parents With Tips” (news article, Nov. 15) highlights a great way to spread the word about the importance of reading and talking with your children. But many underserved families and communities need more intensive services than texting to bridge the preparation gap, including proven home visiting, quality infant and toddler care, and support for working parents. We need to be sure we don’t lose sight of that.
We need a network of services that address the diverse needs of parents and children: families that don’t have any books in their homes, parents who don’t speak English, parents who have very limited literacy skills, and parents who are working multiple jobs to support their families and rarely get to spend time with their children.
We know that the language gap develops long before children enter pre-K and that the best way to prevent it is to work with families before their children ever enter a classroom. We also know that many children who arrive in school unprepared lack not just exposure to language but also lag in their social-emotional development, making it difficult for them to succeed in a classroom.
So if we’re serious about eradicating the gaps and ensuring that all children are ready to succeed in school, let’s make sure we have a comprehensive approach that addresses these different needs early on.
Chief Exec., Parent-Child Home Program
Garden City, N.Y., Nov. 17, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

THANKSGIVING DAY science...........

As Thanksgiving Day is fast approaching, I thought you would like to do some Thanksgiving Day science. What do you think? Are you up for it?    I bet you are………, here goes:



I collect chicken and turkey wishbones. 

Why? Well, because I can break them with someone and we can both make a wish……..

But, as exciting for me, I collect them because there’s a great deal of scientific interest in chicken and turkey wishbones.
Did you know that?

The V shaped bone that we call the wishbone is named the FURCULA bone by the scientists who dig for dinosaur fossils. It turns out that bird-like dinosaurs (called theropods) had the same shape bone, and is, thus, a major link to the modern bird!!

Can you imagine that? Chickens and turkeys - and all birds, in fact - are descendants of dinosaurs? Amazing, isn’t it?

After enjoying the traditional Thanksgiving Day roasted chicken, I remove and clean the wish bone and dip it in a small saucer of  hydrogen peroxide. When it's bleached a shiny white, I take it out of the saucer, dry it and put it into a pocket museum!!

A chicken and a turkey wishbone
My pocket museum tin lid

Why don’t you do it? :)

OK, that’s it, your Thanksgiving Day science.......:)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Something to do on a really cold day......

WOW!!! It's freezing today..........
JUST the RIGHT day to catch up with this and that and the other - especially making pocket museums for all the bits and bobs I've collected recently. I'm getting a bit short on display space, though, so I'm not sure where I'll display more tins..........oh, well, we'll see.

Good - found a few empty tins.....

How to make a pocket museum
         for your special finds…..

You need a tin, a piece of felt, scissors, glue, and a rock or fossil or shell or........ .

  1. Cut the felt to size.
  2. Glue the felt inside the tin.
  3. Glue rocks/minerals/crystals, and,
  4. hey, you have your pocket museum! Just add the date when and where you found the specimens, and somewhere to display it - forever! 

Sunday, November 9, 2014


As I swept my deck this morning, I noticed something on the floor that made my pulse beat really, really fast! Was it what I thought it was?

I picked it up, and, really was............AN OWL PELLET!!

The Great Horned owl that often sits at the top of out tallest fir tree, left it for me.........


Normally I carefully take out the bones from a pellet, bleach them in hydrogen peroxide,  and mount them in a pocket museum:

But not this time.

This pellet, because it was left FOR me, will be kept intact and put into an OXO tin pocket museum........all on its own...........
'cos it's SO special!!!!!

And I'll show it to all the kids I work with.....they'll LOVE it!!

PLEASE come again, you beautiful bird,  and leave me another!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

The 4 * Mousie Hotel

All my bird seed is stacked high in the garage. If I leave the door open, I know the deer and the magpies come and help themselves. Sometimes the little mice that live contentedly in the garage get inside and feast and feast and feast.

Bertie and Fiona, of course,  check out the garage every evening, hoping to catch and play with a mouse eating its dinner. They're so naughty!

Yesterday morning, the sun came out from behind the dark clouds, lighting up the frost on the grass and bushes, a perfect time, I thought, for a drive and a walk in the countryside. I put on my thick cords, my warmest jumper and my woolly hat, then went to the garage to find my winter furry boots.

When I eventually found lying in a corner, I sat down, undid the right boot laces, and put my hand inside the right boot. My fingers touched something furry..........uhu, I thought............someone, some little fella, perhaps, has been inside my boot! I put my fingers around the fur and gently pulled out .........this:

A fabulous little bed for a mousie, made from fur and bird seed.......

Take a look at the silver quarter next to the bedding - gives an idea of the size of the mouse bed.
WOW!! That was exciting! Full of anticipation, I checked my other boot..........and, hey, there was another mousie bed!!

This one hadn't been made so well, though........must have been a little fella mousie, I suppose...

So, I thought, my fur boots are THE ideal hotel for the little guys who live in my garage! That's so GREAT!

Because I want to share this story with my young scientists this week, I put the Mousie Hotel beds in a pocket museum........

BUT, on Friday, after my school/classroom sessions when I'll show the pocket museum and its contents, I'm going to put the beds in a safe and warm Mousie Hotel spot in the garage and hope that the little furry guys find their beds (and a snack) over the is getting colder, after all!!

I'll have a word with Bertie and Fiona, of course, to be kind to our guests............

Bertie, behave yourself!!
Fiona. make sure he does!!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

The best laid plans of mice, men, retirees and praying mantises!

It was carefully planned. A free Tuesday, no school visits, just a quick trip to have my car tyre pressure corrected, and then off to the library where I'd sit and think and write....

So, I packed my charged laptop in my shoulder bag, pushed a couple of sweets in my pocket, and set out.

Tyre pressure corrected kindly at a nearby tyre store, I parked at the library and went inside. My favorite table, the one that overlooks the base of a big tree, was empty....yeah! I unpacked my laptop, pushed the on button, and unwrapped the two sweets. As I began to chew and enjoy the taste of strawberry, I checked my email.

The first letter I read was from Jeannine..............

Hey---your citizen scientists are very excited this morning.  I love when their sentences begin with....."We are curious...."
So, read below what they discovered this morning.

Dear a scientist Mr.Paul, 
We all love your citizen science group.  We were so excited when we found that egg sack on the rock.  We did some research on it and found out is was a praying mantis egg sack.  We are going to try and hatch it.  Ms.West was telling us that you had a perfect habitat to hatch the eggs in.  We were wondering if you could bring in the gas tank?? 

Last week, when out with a small group of 5th grader Citizen Scientists, looking for spiders, we found a rock with this peculiar shape stuck to its underside:

This morning, the 5th grade Citizen Scientists had carried out some research and discovered it was a praying mantis egg sac! WOW! So much for my plans for a quiet couple of hours in the library......:)

I had to go and see it.

I packed my computer and, stopping first at the nearby Starbucks for a couple of coffees (one for me and a grande non-fat wet cappucino (sp?) for Jeannine), and made my way to her school.

The group of young Citizen Scientists were ecstatic!!
"Mr. Paull, Mr. Paull, that blob on the rock - it's an egg sac, egg sac of a praying mantis!"

I went home to fetch a big glass jar so that the kids could make a home for the praying mantis eggs. The egg sac, one Citizen Scientist said, could hold up to 200 eggs. 200 baby praying mantises!!!!

Can't wait to hear this evening from Jeannine what transpired during the rest of the day.