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Pauline Lerner

Sweet (shutter) release

December 14, 2005 at 8:57 AM

Aaaah. Sweet release. I finally finished my term paper. It wasn’t really a term paper. It just felt like one. When I read v.com blogs by people studying for exams, writing papers, or doing projects for school, I always say, “I’m so glad I’ve finished school.” Now I’m writing to earn money, and that’s quite a motivator. I got a short gig as a science writer with a company which has a contract with NIH (National Institutes of Health). A year or two ago, Congress passed a law to foster research and development of drugs for children, and they charged NIH with implementing the law. NIH put together several small groups of experts in the field. They communicated with each other by conference calls during the past year, and last week they came to meet face-to-face, have workshops, set goals, and make recommendations. The groups are preparing documents, but NIH also wants a written record of the discussions to show how the groups reached their conclusions. I worked for the Taste and Flavor Group, attending their breakout sessions, taping the discussions, and writing a detailed (term) paper summarizing the discussions. The taste of pediatric drugs is very important. If kids don’t like the way a drug tastes, they’ll just spit it out. Even the greatest drug won’t accomplish anything if the kids won’t take it. The discussions were fairly technical, and that is why they hired scientists like me to write about them. The discussions I heard were also very interesting. The staff at the hotel where the workshops took place taped the sessions, but, just to be safe, I bought a very cheap, crummy tape recorder to use as a backup. I’m very glad I did, because the hotel screwed up on the taping. When it was time to write my term paper, I did some world class procrastinating. I finally got around to doing the writing, and then I did some extensive editing for style. That’s the boring part. I was given a style guide with lots of picky little rules about formatting and word usage. If I write for this company again, it will be a whole lot easier next time. I stayed up late last night, finished the paper, and emailed it to the contract company. Then something great happened. I slept a whole lot. Now I feel so much better.

One of the things that slowed me down was studying for something entirely different on the Internet. I love doing photography, especially nature photography. I’ve been using a Nikon digital camera, and I’ve been frustrated with its shortcomings for a long time. The cheapest reputable camera company is Cameta, and they sell on ebay. For years, my dream camera has been a digital SLR, but they were way too expensive (thousands of dollars). This time I decided to buy Nikon’s top-of-the-line digital camera. I could buy one which had been a factory demo for considerably less than a brand new one. Fortunately for me, Cameta was out of stock on this. I gathered my courage and looked at Nikon’s entry level digital SLR camera, the D50. It wasn’t much more expensive than the digital one I had originally tried to buy. I have three lenses for my old film camera, and I can use them on the digital SLR I’m getting. I’m so excited! I got out my film camera, which I haven’t used in a few years, and it felt good just to hold it in my hands. I’m really eager for my new camera to arrive. Be prepared to see some great photos from me.

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