Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: James Cameron and Enric Sala Named National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence

Welcome to Wonderful Waterful Wednesday, a weekly post at Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog that explores everything fabulous and fascinating about the oceans and waterways that cover our Blue Planet.

Filmmaker and alternative-energy proponent James Cameron and marine ecologist  Enric Sala have been chosen as the National Geographic Society’s newest Explorers-in-Residence. This select group includes some of the world’s preeminent explorers and scientists and represents a broad range of science and exploration.

A Titanic Passion for the Abyss

James Cameron working on a underwater shot. Photo courtesy James Cameron.

James Cameron has brought together two of his passions — filmmaking and scuba diving — in his work on movies such as “The Abyss” and “Titanic.” The latter took him on 12 manned-submersible dives to the famed shipwreck in the North Atlantic.

Since then he has investigated the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck; organized expeditions to deep hydrothermal vent sites along the mid-Atlantic Ridge, the East Pacific Rise and the Guaymas Basin in the Sea of Cortez; and led seven deep-ocean expeditions with a combined total of seventy-two submersible dives!

Cameron is currently leading a team building a unique manned sub capable of diving to the ocean’s greatest depths. Next year he plans to pilot the sub to the deepest point in the ocean, the Pacific’s Mariana Trench. It will be the first in a series of dives to some of the  world’s deepest places, including the Mariana, Kermadec and Tonga trenches.

Avatar Inspires a New Passion

James Cameron on board a helicopter
Filmmaker James Cameron tests a 3-D camera while on a helicopter. Photo courtesy James Cameron

Work on “Avatar” inspired a new mission for Cameron — illuminating the plight of indigenous peoples, especially those involved in struggles over energy issues. Since the film’s release, Cameron has spent  18 months in energy battlegrounds — in the Alberta, Canada tar sands and the Amazon — meeting with indigenous peoples whose environments and way of life are threatened.

Cameron has also organized a task force of deep-ocean experts to address offshore oil production and ocean engineering issues raised by the 2010 Gulf oil spill. He continues to work in the arena of alternative energy.

Marine Ecologist Enric Sala

Witnessing the harm people do to the ocean led marine ecologist  Enric Sala to dedicate his career to working to conserve marine life. Sala is one of a rare breed of scientist who combines research with effective communication to inspire people to protect the ocean.

Enric Sala diving with a green turtle
Enric Sala diving with a green turtle off Cocos Island, Costa Rica. Photo by Octavio Aburto

One of his goals is to help protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide, using scientific expeditions, the media, partnerships with local conservation organizations and high-level discussions with leaders in countries around the world.

Sala fell in love with the sea while growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. After obtaining a Ph.D. in ecology in 1996 from the University of Aix-Marseille, France, he worked in California for 10 years as a professor at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

In 2006 he moved back to Spain to take the first position in marine conservation ecology at Spain’s National Council for Scientific Research, and in 2008 he became a Fellow at the National Geographic Society, where he leads the Pristine Seas project.

Pristine Seas Successes

The Pristine Seas team recently worked with Oceana-Chile and the Chilean government to establish the 15,000-square-kilometer Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park around Salas y Gómez, a small, uninhabited Chilean island in the Pacific Ocean.

Working with local and international non-governmental organizations, Sala’s Pristine Seas project also inspired the Costa Rican government to create the new 10,000-square-kilometer Seamounts Marine Managed Area around Cocos Island.

Cameron and Sala join 13 other National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence: oceanographer Robert Ballard, anthropologist/ethnobotanist Wade Davis, geographer Jared Diamond, marine biologist Sylvia Earle, conservationist J. Michael Fay, archaeologist Zahi Hawass, filmmakers/conservationists Dereck and Beverly Joubert, paleontologists Meave and Louise Leakey, anthropologist Johan Reinhard, paleontologist Paul Sereno and geneticist Spencer Wells.

For more information on the Explorer-in-Residence program and other fabulous National Geographic projects, including the ever-exciting monthly magazine, visit www.nationalgeographic.com.

Round of Words in 80 Days

Rond two of the #ROW80 challenge. I petered out on the first one because I gave myself too many goals and stopped checking in regularly. Round two went well, as I was writng A LOT, but then forgot to post my successes!  this time I’m going to try to be more deliberate about both goal-setting and checking-in.

Round three started this weekend and goes until September 22. I’m not sure I want a wordcount goal – I think that contributed to my demise in Round One.  Instead, I have two completion goals.

Writing goals: finish AND submit two short stories, one this month and the second by the end of August.

Blogging goals: Twice weekly – “Wonderful Waterful Wednesday” and “I’m Diggin’ Friday.” I keep threatening to add another day, and keep psyching myself out, so I’m NOT going to put that down.  We’ll see if I end up doing it anyway…

Social Media Goals (I got this from a fellow WANA alum): leave at least a half-dozen comments a week on other folks’ blogs.  It’s great to RT something (and I do, often), but nothing makes a blogger feel warm and fuzzy like comments (hint, hint!)

BONUS: July Poster Giveaway

This month’s special giveaway is this fabulous out-of-print NOAA poster, Marine Mammals of the Western Hemisphere. Everyone who leaves a comment between now and the middle of July gets one entry in the drawing. Link to this site on your blog and get two entries. Get your comments in now!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

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Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: Living on the Edge

…all things are one thing and that one thing is all things—plankton, a shimmering phosphorescence on the sea and the spinning planets and an expanding universe, all bound together by the elastic string of time. It is advisable to look from the tide pool to the stars and then back to the tide pool again.

John Steinbeck (The Log from the Sea of Cortez)

Sea grass and kelp at Bodega Bay, CA
Bright green sea grass and shiny kelp at California's Bodega Head. Photo: David Liittschwager/National Geographic

I love tidepools, those bits of ocean left behind when the moon lures the water away for a while. They’re microcosms of the sea, featuring much of the diversity and spectacle that makes the ocean so extraordinary, in a tiny and accessible place. I wrote a blog post on these “sometimes oceans” a few weeks ago, which you can find here.

This week National Geographic has given me a wonderful opportunity to return to these incredible places. (All photos are from the June 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, on newsstands May 31).

Photo: Brandon Cole/National Geographic

In “Brimming Pools,” author Mel White and photographer David Liittschwager explore the pools of the Pacific Northwest. The unique climate and geology of this region gives it the most diverse and spectacular tide pools in the world. The cold upwelling waters off the West Coast bring abundant nutrients to the shore. Frequent fogs protects exposed sea creatures from the sun and the absence of hard freezes mean the rocks are not scraped free of life in the winters.

Among the creatures described in the article is a species of Pisaster – a sea star. These creatures are remarkably strong and patient. A sea star will crawl along the tidepool floor looking for bivalves like mussels or clams.

When it finds one, it grabs onto the two halves of the shell and pulls, using its tiny suckers for leverage. When it’s pried the shell open far enough, it everts its stomachs into the shell and digests its meal. I kid you not.

Sea stars are far from the most bizarre creatures found in tidepools. Here’s a great composite of some of the creatures found in the pools of the Pacific Northwest.

The rocks and pools of the intertidal zone are home to an array of creatures fancifully named for their shapes and colors. Photo credit: David Liittschwager/National Geographic

For those so inclined, here are the names of these critters:

From top First row: red abalone, Cockerell’s dorid, ringed nudibranch, variegate amphissa, grainyhand hermit crab, ochre sea star, cabezon

Second row: red octopus, opalescent nudibranch, mermaid’s cup, smooth iridescent seaweed, San Diego lamellaria, purple sea urchin, hammerhead doto, leather star

Third row: red rock crab, calico sculpin, colorful dendronotus, stubby frond nudibranch, rough limpet, calico sculpin

Fourth row: red sponge nudibranch, chink snail, woody chiton, nereid worm, syllid polychaete, peanut worm, brown turban snail, red sea fern

Fifth row: shield limpet, sea clown nudibranch, red sea fan, monkeyface prickleback, bat star, green rope, red rock crab, flat porcelain crab

Sixth row: splendid iridescent seaweed, Farlow’s soft seaweed, blood star, six-armed star, Pacific sea comb, glycerid worm, sea palm, red gunnel, tinted wentletrap, surf grass, red sea cucumber

National Geographic June 2011 coverThis article and more can be found in the June issue of National Geographic.  Check out the article featured on the cover about how stone pillars in Turkey are inspiring anthropologists to re-examine their assumptions about when and why religion began. Enjoy!

Blogging and Writing and Blocks – Oh My!

Writing is going well. Checking in during the Round of Words in 80 Days? Not so much. I’ve come to the conclusion that Sunday blog posts are just not going to work for me. Sunday is for family and it’s really difficult to get time in front of the computer. When I do, I prefer to work on my fiction. So I’m dropping the Sunday update and focusing on Wednesday instead.

Overall, blogging has been a bit erratic lately. I’ve started a new writing project with a serious deadline – getting it up and running took up a lot of attention. I kept to at least one post a week but I prefer to do more than that.

I’ve committed to at least twice a week (“Wonderful Waterful Wednesdays” and “I’m Diggin’ Fridays”) and I’m thinking about adding a mash-up post on Mondays. An odd day for a summary, I know, but it’s the only one that fits into my schedule.

The fiction is going well. For the first time I’ve written out a synopsis before starting to write. It’s functioning as an outline, which is totally odd for me but working.

I hit a serious block about 4500 words into it. (It’s a short – I’m aiming for 10,000 to 15,000 words). What I’d written was awful. Not the first draft kind of crap – I mean totally flat. There wasn’t a single line that I liked. Not a good sign.

I took a step back and thought about the problem and realized that I just didn’t like my main characters. I didn’t get them and couldn’t write them. After some brainstorming with my husband (he’s great at it) I figured out what I needed to do; how I needed to change them.

It worked. In the last two days I’ve written 2500 words with very little effort. Whew!

And You?

Ever played in a tidepool? Touched a live a sea star? (Never gonna look at them the same way, eh?) Found your way over, under, around or through writer’s block? Let us know in the comments below! And remember to check back on Friday to see how my garden is growing – and tell me all about yours.

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: Ocean Heroes and Stylish Bloggers

This weekend the Blue Frontier Campaign and its partners will convene the Blue Vision Summit. Hundreds of ocean activists from all over the country will descend on Washington, DC to learn about ocean issues, experience ocean-inspired music and art and lobby Congress for better ocean policy. Among the speakers and guests will be some of the best known and passionate ocean advocates in the world. This week’s wonderful waterful post is dedicated to a half-dozen ocean heroes and the wonderful work they do.

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A Stylish Blogger

I’ve been given a Stylish Blogger Award! Yes, Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog has been recognized for it’s substance and style (well, it’s style at least) with this prestigious accolade.

So, what makes me a stylish blogger?  No, it’s not the bare feet. I’ve been nominated for the award by my fellow blogging buddy and writing group member (writing groupie?), Patrick Ross. I first encountered Patrick’s creativity through his tweets about creativity (Conveniently enough, he tweets as @on_creativity), and have since become a big fan of his blog, The Artist’s Road.

There are three obligations that come with the award: as I recipient I have to post seven random things about myself, nominate five other blogs, and link back to the wonderful person who nominated me. As a bonus, I get to display the Stylist Blogger Badge on my blog! (Check it out at right).

Seven random things:

  1. At the age of 6 or 7 (?) I proposed and debuted the role of Toto in a summer camp production of the Wizard of Oz.
  2. I have a naturally deep, scratchy voice, which prompted double- takes and comments from strangers when I was young: “Where did you get that voice?” (Occasionally, I told them I stole it).
  3. On a family trip to Senegal when I was ten, I was chased by a baboon wielding a dead parrot. My father had to scare him away.
  4. I pursued majors in bio and French in college and one of my professors tried to convince me to pursue a PhD in French lit. I can no longer read the papers I wrote back then.
  5. I shook hands with Nelson Mandela and attended a private speech he gave to the Independent World Commission on the Oceans in Capetown, South Africa.
  6. While recovering from a break-up in grad school (you know who you are!), I learned to knit, spent a month brooding and completed a sweater. In the process, I developed a wool allergy and have never been able to wear it.
  7. Before my first pregnancy, I couldn’t stomach the smell or taste of tomatoes or olives. Now I love both.

My five Stylist Blog Award nominees:

  1. Eat The Damn Cake. Kate is an author and blogger who writes about beauty, body image, women and dessert.  She does an “unroast” with each post, highlighting something she likes about herself. @EatTheDamnCake
  2. Three New Leaves. Blogger Matt Madeiro turned over three new leaves in his life: he lost weight, started to travel and embraced a minimalist lifestyle. In addition to blogging about it, he wrote two great e-books: Simpler and Roots. @MattMadeiro
  3. Jen Greyson, Author – Survival. Mama’s Point of View. Author Jen Greyson writes about disaster planning and survival in mama-sized chunks. Because survival is about getting what you want. @JenGreyson
  4. Shellie Sakai – Something Wicked This Way Comes. Author Shellie Sakai and her creepy crawly spider friend blog about wicked spooky things like demons and zombies. @shelliesakai
  5. Damian Trasler’s Secret Blog – Do Not Read! Playwright Damian Trasler posts top secret information about life, plays and…shhhhh…Canada. You should read it – but he may have to kill you afterward. @dtraslerwriting

I met Jen, Shellie and Damian through a wonderful online blogging course given by social media maven Kristen Lamb, who’s pretty stylish as well.

Round of Words in 80 Days: Wednesday Check-in

Writing is going well.  I’ve done my morning pages everyday except, gulp, today! (Will get to those as soon as I finish this post!). I sent a synopsis to my agent friend on Saturday. It’s for an erotic short story.
While waiting for her feedback, I started revising an older piece story that I think would also make a good erotic short story and I’m pleased with how it’s going.

This AM comments came back from the agent, however, so I’m putting the older piece aside. This week I’ll revise the synopsis to make it editor-ready (I’d sent her a rough draft to get feedback on the story) and enxt week I’ll start writing the story itself. I’ve agreed to get it to her in a month. Wish me luck!

I’ve met my blogging goals so far this week: Sunday and Wednesday posts and ROW80 check-ins. I’ve put aside the learning goals because I have so much writing to do. Of course, I’m learning while I’m learning “on the job”  this way, so it’s all good!

For a description of the Round of Words challenge and my ever-shifting goals, check out this post. To follow everyone else’s progress go here.

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

It’s Alright By Me

Darius Rucker AlrightShort check-in today because I was up until midnight last night finishing my synopsis and plan to spend tonight away from the computer. Writing is going well – I came up with a new story, pitched it and submitted a two-page synopsis.  Waiting for feedback and then I have a month to write it. My story includes an engineer who designs stock cars, so I’ve been learning about NASCAR from the web and a host of wonderful Twitter folks! I’m hoping to get to Old Dominion Speedway sometime in the next few weeks to check out a race myself.  I’ve been advised to bring earplugs.

Haven’t done much on the learning front – either Holly Lisle’s fab course How to Think Sideways or the Artist’s Way. I think I’ll put those goals aside for now and fit them in the next round. I have been doing my morning pages, regularly and before noon. They’re a wonderful tool for exploring ideas about a story in progress – and unloading all the BS like insecurity, self-doubt, and perfectionism that get in the way of writing.

Recently a writer friend noted that I always seemed so happy and wondered if I was at all discontent. I replied with a litany of things I wish I could have: more time to write and greater productivity when I do. The money, time and energy to pursue all those interesting pastimes I explored but abandoned in the past like rock climbing and martial arts. The opportunity to travel more and a more flexible job for my husband so we could spend 6 months living in Paris, Scotland, or India. (I’m a consultant so my time is pretty flexible. Besides, time in India would probably help advance my project).

You know what was funny about this exercise?  Rather than making me depressed or more discontent, it was cathartic. I felt lighter after putting my dreams out there. I realized none of them were do or die. I’m pretty happy right where I am.

I also realized that few of my wants are unattainable. I mentioned my list to my husband and he started thinking about what he could do to make more travel possible for us. We’re still a long way from 6 months in Paris, but now we’re planning 2 weeks in the fall. Not a bad start!

This afternoon I heard a Darius Rucker song that captured just how I’m feeling: Alright. It’s such a wonderful feeling and a fantastic song. Check it out here. Afterwards, give yourself a treat and head on over to YouTube to check out more of Darius’ music – you won’t be disappointed! (If you think the voice sounds familiar, you’re right. He’s the lead singer from Hootie and the Blowfish, all grown up and singing country).

You check out the other wonderful folks participating in the 2nd Round of Words in 80 Days. They’re all right here.

How about you? Are you content? Confused? Are there things you’d rather be doing with your life? Can you think of ways to make them happen? Try writing them down and sharing them with others – in the comments section!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, marine science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: the Language of Clouds

Today’s waterful blog post celebrates not the water in oceans or streams, but that which hangs out in the sky: clouds. Yes, of course you knew that clouds were masses of water droplets (or ice crystals) suspended in the air – after all, without clouds you can’t have rain.  But doesn’t it amaze you still? Hundreds of millions of gallons of water – hardly light stuff – suspended from meters to miles above our heads.

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Of course, not all clouds are alike. And with a little practice you can even learn to read them.  No, I don’t mean finding the one that looks like a bunny or a train. (My son comes up with really elaborate images, like a one-winged dragon eating an eagle that’s holding a fish in it’s claws – and winking). I’m referring to one of the oldest ways to forecast the weather. Because different cloud shapes say different things about what you can expect.

Clouds are classified on their shape and their elevation in the sky. Some common cloud terms are:

Shape:

Cirrus means ‘curl of hair’; stratus = layer; cumulus = heap; nimbus = rain. So cumulonimbus, the tall anvil-shape that signals a huge thunderstorm means “heap of rain” – ’cause that’s what’s coming!

Elevation:

Stratus clouds are found below 6,000 feet; alto from 6,000 – 20,000 feet. (Just to confuse things, stratus means sheet and can be used to describe the shape of a cloud OR it’s elevation, since stratus clouds are usually found in the lower part of the sky. Go figure).

[UPDATE: My original list was way too complicated. I’ve simplified it below].

Clouds that portend rain, snow or a change in the weather

Thin cirrus clouds are found high, high up.  These wisps usually portend a change in the weather within the next 24 hours.

Cirrostratus clouds are also high up. These are sheet-like; thin enough to see the sun or moon through. When the sky is covered by these, expect snow or rain in 12-24 hours.

Altostratus clouds create a mid-level layer that covers the entire sky with a sheet of gray. These clouds form ahead of storms of continuous rain or snow.

Altocumulus clouds are large gray puffy masses, that look like God is communicating with smoke signals. The message on a warm, humid morning is: be prepared for thunderstorms in the late afternoon.

Stratus clouds are the low thick masses that cover the sky, and make you feel like your walking under a low gray ceiling. Light mist or drizzle might fall from these, but not necessarily – they could be fair weather clouds as well.

Nimbostratus form a dark gray wet cloudy layer low in the sky. They are associated with continuous light or moderate rain or snow.

Cumulonimus clouds defy characterization by elevation because these anvil-shaped monsters can stretch from close to the ground to 50,000 feet. These proclaim “run for cover” as loudly as a thunderclap.

Clear Skies Ahead

Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. No so with clouds and rain…

Cirrocumulus clouds are small rounded puffs that appear in long rows  high in the sky (beneath or round your airplane). In temperate regions, these clouds mean that you can expect cold but fair weather.

Stratocumulus are low puffy and gray. They make you want to bring an umbrella just in case, but rain is rarely associated with these clouds.  However, they can turn into their foul weather cousins, nimbostratus (above).

And last but not least:

Cumulus are the white puffy cottonball clouds that children put in their drawings – usually next to a  big bright sun. That’s appropriate because these clouds herald fair weather.

So, the next time you’re walking outside, look up and see if you can read the next day’s weather in the language of the clouds.

What’s the weather like in your neighborhood? Is the sun shining or the rain falling? What’s the craziest cloud shape you ever saw? Share in the comments below!

Writing update: A Round of Words in 80 Days

Holy smokes have I been busy! Didn’t do a blog post or ROW80 check-in on Sunday, but I have been writing. An agent friend challenged me to come up with an erotic short story. The deal was that I would send her a two-sentence summary and two paragraphs of “backcover copy” within a few days, a two-page synopsis the following week, and the completed story within a month. She doesn’t usually rep erotica (and I don’t usually write it!), but if it’s good, she’ll try to sell it for me. I needed a new challenge, something to write that would take my mind off the revisions, so there it is.

I’ve completed the first part of the challenge and the synopsis is due this weekend. So far so good – wish me luck!

Other goals? Hmm – writing is going well, both this story and the morning pages.  I’ve put aside revising for now to focus on this story, which is good because revising was making me nuts. The learning goal has stalled for a bit, but I’m eager to do some more Artist’s Way lessons and an artist’s date. Tune in on Sunday for more! In the meantime, check out everyone else’s progress here.

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: Carnival of the Blue & Round of Words Check-in

Who doesn’t love a carnival? The sights, the excitement, the sounds. This week I’m honored and excited to host The Carnival of the Blue, a monthly round-up of ocean-related posts from around the web.

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Carnival of the Blue # 48

Seafood at risk: Dispersed oil poses a long-term threat —  Allie Wilkinson

This April marks a year since the Deepwater Horizon spilled more than 200 million gallons of oil in the Gulf of Mexico and almost 2 million gallons of the dispersant Corexit were dumped to “clean” it up. In a guest blog at Scientific American, Allie Wilkinson asks: “With all federal waters currently reopened, the question still remains— is the government responding appropriately to ensure not only that the present levels of oil and dispersants are not toxic, but also that those levels won’t build up over time through the accumulation of toxins in the tissues of seafood, contaminating Gulf seafood for generations to come?” Great question – and the answers are far from reassuring. Check out the post here.

Marking the Oil Spill Anniversary In Washington DC — The Beacon: Oceana’s Blog

Oceana marked the one-year anniversary of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill with an event in Washington, DC featuring actress and supporter Kate Walsh (“Private Practice” and “Grey’s Anatomy”) and Aaron Peirsol (gold medal-winning swimmer). Also attending was Patty Whitney, a Louisiana resident-turned-activist whose home was affected by last year’s disaster. Couldn’t make it to my backyard to attend? You can watch a video of the event here.

Awesome Orcas All Around — Amanda Banks

Author Amanda Banks describes an exciting encounter with a pod of orcas offshore of Monterey Bay, CA. I’ve only seen orcas close up once (further north of where she was, but also with a group of whale researchers) and it’s an experience I’ll never forget. Check out her play-by-play of the amazing behavior and victorious hunt of these incredible animals here.

The Ways of Whales —  Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog: http://daniellemeitiv.com

As a complement to Amanda’s orca post, I’m including one of my own about the evolution of whales, some of their unique characteristics and the threats they face today. Check out the fabulous photos – and a link to a life-sized encounter with a blue whale, the largest creature to ever live on Earth – here.

Hiding the doomsday device: camouflage and venom in stonefish — Zen Faulkes, Neuro Dojo

Zen Faulkes writes about the stonefish one of the most venomous creatures in the sea. Interestingly, the stonefish don’t appear to use their awesome powers for anything – good or evil. They’re ambush predators, so their venom isn’t used to capture prey, but neither is it used to ward of predators. As Faulkes notes, it sounds like a good subject for a dissertation! Check it out here.

Squid Have Mirror Eyeballs — Danna Staaf, Squid A Day

Many sea creatures use camouflage to hide themselves from predators – but their eyes remain a dead giveaway. Squid use smoke and mirrors – ok, maybe just the mirrors – to hide in the open ocean. Their eyes reflect ambient light like a special kind of mirror called a ‘dielectric.’ When the light hits them a certain way, their eyes don’t appear to be there at all! Don’t take my word for it, check out Daana’s post here.

Ping-pong paddle worm — Susannah, Wanderin’ Weeta (With Waterfowl and Weeds)

Wanderin’ Weeta brings us a video of a tiny paddleworm that hitch-hiked a ride to her home in an empty thatched acorn barnacle shell. I love the music! Who knew that invert biology could be so entertaining. Watch how this critter wriggles to the music. Ok, maybe the wriggling came first, but it’s still fun to watch here.

The fun continues  – just head on over the the blogs listed above and see what these ocean authors have in store for you for May!

What are your favorite ocean topics? Let us know below!

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Round of Words Mid-Week Check-in

My progress has been somewhat inconsistent this week, but still pretty good so I’m pleased.

  1. Writing/revising: my good friend, the talented literary agent Louise Fury, convinced me to take on a cool new writing project (complete with deadlines!) so I’m psyched about that. I’m still revising my WIP and received incredibly supportive and valuable feedback from my new writers’ group. I have yet to do my ‘Morning Pages’ today – and it’s after 9pm. Sigh.
  2. Learning: Working through Holly Lisle’s How to Revise Your Novel (while I do just that), but haven’t done much on The Artist’s Way. Hope to go on an artist’s date tomorrow – Friday at the latest.  Perhaps a hike?
  3. Blogging: I’m here, aren’t I? 😉 I’m pretty happy with my new Sunday feature – a mash-up called ‘Beachcombing.” That brings me to twice weekly. I’m hoping to add a third on Fridays, but I’m not committing just yet…

Check out everyone else’s progress here.

How are your goals coming along?  Steaming along, dragging your feet?  It’s all good. Let us know so we can cheer you on – below!

Marine Mammal Poster Giveaway

I’ll announce the winner of last month’s drawing soon, I promise!  just haven’t compiled the names yet.

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Sunday Beachcombing Booty: the Environment, Health, Writing and More

My son Rafi and I examine our beachcombing booty.

Beachcombing is one my all-time favorite activities. And why not? It happens outdoors, by the ocean and it’s best done barefoot! There’s a certain mystery about it: I can never anticipate what I’ll find and I’m sure never to find the same thing twice. (This is also why I love shopping at secondhand stores).

Beachcombing takes patience, curiosity, and a love of discovery. One time you may happen upon the perfect snail shell; a smooth piece of glass the next. Look carefully and you’ll find a dozen treasures to take home, things you want to remember and show to your friends.

Surfing the web is a lot like this (minus the sandy toes). A lot of stuff gets tossed onto the shores of the Internet – it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume. But if you look carefully, there will some clear gems, people and ideas you want to remember and share with your friends. Here are a few of the special bits and pieces I came across this week.

Oceans & the Environment – Much of my personal and professional passion is dedicated to learning and writing about the environment and working to protect it for the future. Here are just two of the dozens of wonderful resources I turn to on a regular basis.

Speak Up For the Blue features the best of the ocean blogoshere, brought to you by Ocean Leaders from around the world. is the brainchild and passion of Andrew Lewin, a marine scientist dedicating his time to encouraging people to speak up for our endangered seas. I am honored to be included as one of Andrew’s Ocean Leaders, alongside such great advocates and personal heroes as Sylvia Earle and the Cousteau family.

Lake Titicaca Frog
The Lake Titicaca Frog: one of the cool and bizarre critters waiting for you at Arkive.org.

Arkive: With my two-and-a-half year old daughter poking her head under my arm as I try to avoid typos write this post, I have to toss in one of our favorite nature sites. Arkive is a collaborative collection of images and information about endangered animals and plants from all over the globe. With photos and videos of everything from elephants to octopus, frogs to eagles, my daughter and I are entertained for hours.

Gardening & Health – Gardening is something else I like to do barefoot. OK, not the serious digging, but I’m often out there shoeless, picking weeds and harvesting greens – or just admiring what’s come up. Being outside toes in the grass is good for you, as are all the yummy things I plant, so I’ll toss some health stuff in here, too.

When I was getting started with my new veggie garden, Kenny Point’s Veggie Gardening Tips was the first gardening blog I read and still one of my all-time favorites. Kenny introduced me to the joys and ease of growing garlic and fall and winter veggie gardening, which is A LOT easier than you think. This year he’s inspired me to plant goji berries – I’ll keep you posted on how they do!  Subscribe to his blog for a free intro to veggie gardening.

rows of garlic - March 2011
The main garlic patch, mid-March. Now the greens are twice as big.

Two very different posts from Mark’s Daily Apple will illustrate why I love this blog. In 6 Common Herbs and Why You Should Eat Them (Hint: They Don’t Just Taste Good) primal eating and fitness guru Mark Sisson describes the health and cooking benefits of six herbs you’ve eaten, and could easily grow yourself. The Mysterious World of Smell examine the power of our most ‘primitive’ sense.

Mark’s Daily Apple is one of the web’s best intros to the ‘paleo’ or ‘primal’ type diet. After 27 years as a vegetarian, and 3 years as a reluctant meat eater, I’ve recently become convinced of the superiority of eating those foods that our bodies evolved to consume: meat, veggies and healthy fats – and eliminating those that are products of recent agricultural history: all grains and grain products.

The result: I feel better than ever, and although I was not overweight to begin with, I’ve lost 5 lbs in two weeks with only minimal exercise (so it wasn’t just ‘water weight’). Check it out. Another good intro to the primal lifestyle is Whole9Life.

Writing & Creativity

Time Management for Writers – Getting More Done in Less Time, by author and blogger Kristen Lamb. As a fellow ENFP, I can relate to her struggle to learn the organizational skills that come naturally to her more detail-oriented husband (mine is the same), and REALLY appreciate the insights and suggestions she shares. I’ve learned a whole lot about writing, online media from Kristen’s blog and even more from her online classes, so don’t be surprised if she shows up on my list in the future. You can find her on Twitter as @KristenLambTX

Writing is an art and the well that all artists draw from is called creativity. Patrick Ross, creativity explorer extraordinaire and the blogger behind The Artist’s Road, tweets as @on_creativity and sends out some really great stuff.  If you’ve missed his gems, you can catch his weekly round up: Creativity Tweets of the Week.

Round of Words: Week Four Check-in

I’ve set three types of goals for this 80-day challenge. You can read the details about them here. Some of those goals are right on track:

  • Blogging: Twice weekly check-ins (Sunday & Wednesday) as part of a weekly Wednesday post, and now a regular Sunday mash-up.
  • Writing:
    • Morning pages (an exercise from the Artist’s Way): and EVERYday, so far. Nnot always first thing, but more often than not in the morning, so that’s something,
    • Daily/Weekly words: Over the past four weeks my writing goals have flip-flopped from revising to writing and back again. After attending a weekend retreat called “In the Company of Writers,” I’ve come back to my original goal of revising the current WIP (work-in-progress): the first draft of a fantasy novel focused on the sea. Since I’m back in revisions I’m going to drop the daily wordcount, and instead give myself a target of doing some revising everyday. I may make that more specific as I get further along – or not.
  • Learning: I didn’t even look at the Artist’s Way last week and skipped the artist’s date as well. Will jump back in at Lesson/Week Four in the upcoming week. Since I’m not creating but revising, my coursework will shift from Holly’s How to Think Sideways course to How to Revise Your Novel. But the goal to do some revising via Holly’s method everyday.

Check out all the other wonderful writers taking the 80-day challenge here.

And you?

How are your writing, revising, blogging or other goals coming along?  How does your garden grow? I’m always looking for new resources and new online friends, so stop by and say hi below!

Danielle Meitiv is a writer, science geek, gardener, and mother who goes barefoot whenever possible. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Danielle Meitiv’s Barefoot Blog, and Danielle Meitiv.

Taking My Muse on a Date: Round of Words Weekly Check-in

Week Two of a Round of Words in 80 Days, or #ROW80 for those of us who spend waaay too much time on Twitter. It’s been a good week.

Among my goals for ROW80 is to work through Julia Cameron’s creativity rediscovery program as detailed in the The Artist’s Way. Each week there are specific assignments as well as tools that carry over from week to week.

One such tool is the artist’s date. I think of it as taking my Muse on a date. Like all relationships, it’s important to spend time one-on-one with your creative self. What you do is up to you but there are two ‘rules’: take around 2 hours and go alone.

Last week, I took a trip to the local art supply store. I’d passed it regularly for three plus years but this was the first time I’d ventured in.  Whoa, was that an education! I discovered some very deeply-held beliefs about my own lack of artist ability and remembered childhood attractions to certain art materials (including cray pas and colored pencils).

I bought some things that caught my fancy and put them, along with some materials I’d been squirreling away, into one of my dad’s old art supply boxes. (Yes, my father is an artist. Yes, it occurred to me that that has something to do with my insecurity). That stuff will come in handy during a future artist’s date.

This week I took my Muse for a walk. On Friday morning, I had a doctor’s appointment around two miles from my home. I took the bus there and walked home through Sligo Creek Park, one of the many streams that feed into the Anacostia-Potomac river system.

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The walk was about 2.5 miles, and took an hour and a half. It was a gorgeous day: high fifties, sunny with a slight breeze. I stopped whenever the mood struck and took pictures (in the slideshow above). Along the way I helped the park by pulling up any garlic mustard I saw. It’s a terribly invasive plant – bad for the park but yummy when sautéed for my lunch.

So that was one goal achieved this week. And the others?

Writing:

(1) Submitted my application for the writer’s workshop – Woo Hoo! While on a roll, I also sent in page one of my manuscript to “American Author” a first-page live critique done by agents and editors at the Washington Romance Writer’s retreat (coming up at the end of the month). Not for the faint of heart – thank God its anonymous!

Now that that is done, the 3000 words/week goal kicks in.

(2) Morning pages – not always morning, but more often than not, and everyday. I’m working on a new program to get more restful sleep, and wake earlier. That should help me get up before the kids, and get them done before chaos is unleashed (usually between 6:30 and 7:00am in our house).

(3) & (4) Blogging twice a week: doing by my regular post on Wednesdays (including the mid-week check-in), and adding the Sunday check-in. Next month I’ll add another blog day, if I can work it in with my 3000 words. Those are words of fiction – the blog doesn’t count.

(5) The Artist’s Way. I’m starting week three, so that’s going well.  I haven’t completed all the exercises from last week but that because some require a bit more thought. Overall, it’s going well.

(6) How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers: I’ve re-read the first two lessons, and I’m working through the assignments. I love it! I have an idea for a flash fiction contest, and I’m hoping that doing HTTS will inspire me.

There are dozens of folks participating in a Round of Words in 80 Days. Among them are these two fabulous women: Kerry Meacham, who is Desperately Seeking Sanity, and Robin McCormack, who counts the many ways she is fortunate starting with My Two Blessings. All the other amazing writers who are on this 80-day journey can be found here.

Marine Mammals Poster Giveaway

This month’s giveaway is an out-of-print NOAA poster of Marine Mammals of the Western Hemisphere. Every comment left in the month of May equals one entry. Every link or reference to this blog on your site equals two entries. The drawing will be held on the 1st of May, so start your entries now!

Danielle Meitiv is an oceanographer by training, an advocate for all things marine and a writer of science fiction and non-fiction. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Brave Blue Words, and Danielle Meitiv.

Wonderful Waterful Wednesday: Preserving the Blue Frontier

“The cure for anything is saltwater: sweat, tears or the sea.”

–Isak Dineson

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Life evolved in the sea and never really left it. We just took it with us onto land – in our blood, our tears and the amniotic fluid where our days begin. Ocean rhythms flow through every living thing, from the first fish that crawled on land to the first critter that swam through the water and the first bits of matter and energy that came together to make something that would recognize as being alive.

Our lives still depend on the seas. Oceans produce the air we breath and the food we eat. Even the winds that sweep over the globe are fueled by the heat stored in ocean waters.

Isn’t it time we gave something back? That’s what the Blue Frontier Campaign (BFC) is all about.

The Blue Frontier Campaign was founded in 2003 by author and ocean advocate David Helvarg. I encountered Helvarg’s work through his first ocean book: Blue Frontier: Saving America’s Living Seas. Since then he’s written four other books about oceans and the environment: The War Against the Greens, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean, Rescue Warriors and Saved by the Sea.

With the Blue Frontier Campaign, Helvarg’s put his time and energy where his words are. BFC emphasizes bottom-up organizing to bring the voice of citizen-activists into decision-making that affects the world oceans.

50 Ways to Save the Ocean

David Helvarg’s new book, 50 Ways to Save the Ocean focuses on practical, easily-implemented actions everyone can take to protect and conserve this vital resource. Here are a few:

1. Go to the Beach
2. Visit an Aquarium
3. Eat organic and vegetarian foods whenever possible
4. If you chose to eat seafood make sure it’s sustainable
5. Grow a natural yard and garden
6. Maintain an earth (and ocean) friendly Driveway. Try a Green Roof.
7. Reduce Toxic Household Pollutants
8. Drive a fuel-efficient car, car pool, or use public transit
9. Don’t use your Storm Drain as a toilet
10. Support Marine Education in our schools

Check it out the rest on the Blue Frontier website, or watch it as a Flickr slideshow here.

Blue Vision Summit: May 20-23, 2011, Washington, DC

BFC’s 2011 Blue Vision Summit will bring together hundreds of “seaweed” (grassroots) activists in Washington, DC learn about the state of the world’s oceans and what citizens can do at the local, state, national, and global levels to protect them.

The first two days will focus on education and planning – Day Three is for action! Seaweed activists will wash over Capitol Hill, flooding their Congressional offices with demands to preserve the oceans today and for future generations.  Don’t worry if you have no experience with that sort of thing – experienced advocates will walk you through the whole lobbying process.

Thanks to my total lack of personal modesty (around other women writers, that is), I have the privilege of being one of the sponsors of the 2011 Blue Vision Summit. (Yes, there’s a story there…) You can find more information and register for the summit here.

Marine Mammals Poster Giveaway

This month’s giveaway is an out-of-print NOAA poster of Marine Mammals of the Western Hemisphere. Every comment left in the month of May equals one entry. Every link or reference to this blog on your site equals two entries. The drawing will be held on the 1st of May, so start your entries now!

A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80): Week Two

My goals for this 80-day writing challenge, which started last week, are described here. My progress during Week Two:

  • Morning pages are going well.  So far I’ve done them every day, and only once in the evening.  This AM I even came up with a story that i;m thinking about entering into a flash fiction contest!
  • Still revising my workshop submission, so the 3000 words a week will have to wait. I’m pretty psyched about the submission piece and plan to enter it into a few contests.
  • I’m blogging on the oceans on Wednesdays and doing ROW updates twice a week, so that’s going well.  I’ll add the Friday post at the beginning of May. Stay tuned!
  • Weekly reading of the Artist’s Way is going strong. Tomorrow is my second artist’s date – I’m very excited!
  • I’m working through Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways Course from the beginning, and re-read Lesson One today. Great stuff!

Tune in on Sunday for another update.  In the meantime, check out everyone else’s progress here.

Baring All for the Sea

You KNEW I wouldn’t leave you hanging, right? At a recent party for women writers, I participated in the 2nd Annual “Skinny Dip for Charity.” Each one of us who took the plunge – five in all – raised $1000 for the charity of her choice. Other worthy causes included the Wounded Warriors Project and a local animal shelter.

Danielle Meitiv is an oceanographer by training, an advocate for all things marine and a writer of science fiction and non-fiction. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate for Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Brave Blue Words, and Danielle Meitiv.

A Round of Words in 80 Days: Swinging Through Week One

Swing dancers

It’s the end of week one of a Round of Words in 80 Days and the beginning of a three-month long journey to turn writing goals into long-term habits. I discussed my goals for this round in this post. So how did I do?

1. Writing.

  • 3000 words did not happen this week, unless you count all the rewrites and revisions I did on the piece I’m submitting as an application for a writers workshop. I didn’t expect it to – but as soon as this piece goes out (tomorrow!) that goal moves to the front burner.  I’m going to put my current WIP aside to breathe, and work on something new. Looking forward to it – and a bit nervous too.
  • Morning pages.  They happened everyday, I’m happy to say – but not always in the morning, unless you’re referring to somewhere over the Pacific just this side of the international date line. Things got better later in the week, when I realized how easy it was to let them slip. It’ best to do them as soon as I get up – both for the subconscious and to get them done. However, on the days when I get up with the kids and I don’t beat them out of bed (no, I don’t mean it THAT way!) I’ll get to them as soon as the house clears, which is around 9am. Not ideal, but not too bad.

2. Blogging

  • I did my Sunday and Wednesday posts, but decided to put off launching a regular Friday piece until May. I have a bunch of other projects going on right now and want to be sure that the new blog feature gets the attention it’s due.  So look for it on the 1st Friday of next month.
  • Check-ins.  Here’s the end of week one and my second check-in. So far, so good!

3. Learning

  • I had to return the library’s copy of the Artist’s Way, but luckily mine arrived on the same day.  I’ve worked through week one and I’m reading the material for week two. I even got in an artist’s date, although not as much of one as I’d hoped. Next week’s is already on the calendar – I’m taking myself to one of the Smithsonian art museums.  I’m so excited!
  • After put this workshop submission to bed, I’m going to start working through Holly’s Course, How to Think Sideways. So that moves to the front burner along with my 3000 words, starting this coming week.

I’d love to write more, but in celebration of finishing our taxes early and meeting most of my writing goals, and the facts that we’ve discovered swing dancing at our favorite local pub AND we have childcare, my husband and I are going dancing as soon as the kids are in bed!

See you on Wednesday.

Danielle Meitiv is an oceanographer by training, an advocate for all things marine and a writer of science fiction and non-fiction. Danielle is also a huge fan and sales affiliate of Holly Lisle’s online courses: How to Think Sideways: Career Survival School for Writers, and How to Revise Your Novel. Follow @Danielle_Meitiv on Twitter, and on Facebook: Brave Blue Words, and Danielle Meitiv.