Friday Five

1. Today is Take Your Dog to Work Day. Did any of you bring your dog to the office? It would be nearly impossible for me, commuting by subway and all. And even if my company did allow it, I don’t know that Reggie would enjoy it. But I could see the benefits of it in a small workplace with a handful of employees, if your dog has the right temperament. A recent survey shows that about 20% of US companies have pet-friendly policies. Here’s a USA Today article about it.

2. A few months ago, I edited a novel for a former work colleague. She’d been plugging away at it for a while  and felt she was at an impasse. Something just wasn’t gelling, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. She asked me to read it. I did. I wrote up my comments and gave them to her. In grad school I sat through enough workshops to develop a thick skin. I’m never offended or bothered if a writer doesn’t incorporate my suggestions. It’s her work and only she can know if it fits with the story she is trying to tell. She wrote to let me know that after mulling over my comments, she could now see how to proceed in the revisions. She said that I was a gifted editor. I’m blushing over here. I think with a little more tweaking on that manuscript I’ll be seeing her name on bookstore shelves someday soon. So right back at ya, BB!

3. Luckily the only thing that erupted while we were in Iceland were some geysers. The main tourist spot of Geysir (after which all geysers around the world are named). The way the springs are bubbling and boiling from underground with steam rising gives the place a strange horror movie vibe.

While there were several bus loads of tourists and an active gift shop, at no time did the area feel crowded or cheesy (and there was no entrance fee!). Check out my video here and watch for the big BLOOOP before she blows.

4. Man, I wish I’d read this before packing for vacation. Have I mentioned how much I hate packing? Chris Guillbeau has it down to a science. In my humble defense, packing is a bit easier for a man than a woman. (Am I being terribly sexist?) One thing I disagree with is the taking a lot of cash suggestion. Maybe it’s necessary if you’re going to very remote places, but worry of theft and my own negligence would make me too nervous to do that.

5. One last note on Iceland. One of the favorite things we did, despite its agonizingly remote location, was visit the Latrabjarg Bird Cliffs. There we witnessed an amazing sight I won’t soon forget – thousands of puffins, arctic terns, guillemots and razorbills nesting on ledges of the cliffs. We got so close in fact that we had to kneel (sometimes even lay down) to avoid being blown into the churning waters about 600 meters below. The puffins nest closest to the top of the cliffs, so we were able to get within a few feet of them. They are comical with their clown-like beaks and tiny wings for otherwise oversized bodies.

Puffins are a big success story. There’s so much to be bummed about with the state of the environment and wildlife, that I’m happy to write about a positive outcome. In 1973, puffins were nearly extinct in North America and their numbers had been drastically reduced in the northern Atlantic basin. Quite literally all of the puffin eggs in Maine were into 2 baskets. With the National Audobon Society and some dedicated researchers and volunteers, Project Puffin has helped to restore the colonies in Maine. In 2006, there were 336 mating pairs! Their efforts have led to new methods for seabird restoration from Japan to the Galapagos. In fact researchers in Iceland are calling upon their expertise. It seems that despite the additon of puffin to many menus around the country, their numbers have been drastically reduced as it’s been found that they haven’t been producing chicks in several years, it is thought due to a lack of their favorite food, a fish called the sandlance.


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