About Me...

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Cincinnati, OH, United States
I'm a scientist , yogi, book worm, scifi junk, and I'm a little obsessed with my pup. My life is full of discovery both in the lab and out of the lab. This blog is my place to share my experiences as a person trying to stay happy and healthy in this crazy world.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Finally finished the Dark Tower series...

For nearly the past two years I've been slowly reading through the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.  The first book, the Gunslinger, had a more slow progression of a story line, but it left me wanting to know more about Roland and his quest for the dark tower.  In true Stephen King fashion I felt as though I was in the middle of Roland's story, so I needed to keep reading to figure it all out.

I've heard mixed responses to the end of  the Dark Tower from other readers.  I was satisfied with the ending and I feel like the I can happily leave the series.  Many times at the end of a book series I think about the characters and miss them shortly after I've completed the books.  However, with this series I know the characters are in their proper places, even though the journey to the end was a very emotional one for the reader.

I'm starting Under the Dome, a whopper of a book.  Hope it's a paper turner.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What is creativity...

Are you creative?  Am I creative?  What defines creativity and an artist? Do I need to draw, paint, sing, write, or sculpt well?

I've been mulling over these questions lately.  So, do I need to have a fine product that I can sell to be qualified as a creative person?  I don't think so...  and here's why...

Creativity is within everyone one of us. It's how we dress, how we work, and how we live.  Here's an example of creativity in how we work... I'm a scientist and research is a creative endeavor.  You have to approach a novel, significant question and answer it in a way that will examine every possibility.  Most of the time an experiment won't work exactly as you expect and you have to optimize the system and change small things to figure it out.

On another spectrum is artistic creativity in how we live, such as journaling, drawing, and even blogging.  I keep a personal journal that most of the time has incomplete sentences and random drawings.  I usually will use it to process whatever I'm going through in life and will sometimes use it to vent.

Anyway, I think everyone is creative in some form or another.  Do something creative today! What did I do today....I'm wearing a fun outfit at work!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Another food adventure...

I'm happy to be home in my own apartment after all the traveling, so I decided to make some good food and relax on Monday.  My relaxing included making some food that I've never made before.  

I decided to try my hand at making my own granola, which was almost a disaster since I got distracted and almost burned it.  This granola is relatively simple: Oats, wheat germ, sliced almonds, crushed macadamia nuts, assorted dried fruit, honey, and a little olive oil.  It's another great recipe out of my better homes and gardens cookbook.  It took only about 35-40 minutes including baking time to make quite a large amount of granola!
My next adventure was very reminiscent of my childhood.  As a kid we would have pizza night and we would make our own pizza, any way we liked it.  So I wanted to try a grown-up version of this: Organic goat cheese, mushroom, olive pizza.  I didn't make the dough fresh, it came frozen from the organic food section.  Before putting the mushrooms on top I sauteed them briefly in a pan with a little olive oil.  

Both adventures yesterday were successes!  It was very nice to have my mobile vacuum cleaning up after me as I cooked....Phil-dog also known as Phil-vac was worn out yesterday from boarding/daycare but was able to be up long enough to take care of anything I dropped while cooking.  :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Amsterdam adventure...

This past week I was in Amsterdam (after we had a 5 hour layover in Washington DC due to a mechanical problem with our plane) for a conference and I was able to do a little adventuring and take some fun pics.  I didn't get to do all the typical touristy stuff, but I loved walking around the city and seeing all the history and wonderful architecture.  

The only pic I could take when I got close to the red light district.  One of the oldest churches in Amsterdam.  It also had beautiful sculptures in front.  

Of course I had to get a pic with a wooden shoe.

We went on several canal boat tours and went by this building already for the World Cup sporting the Orange for the Holland soccer team!
More old detailing on the buildings.

Nemo science center. It's in the shape of a ship and it's by the shipping museum

On the right is the Anne Frank house, and on the left is a pic of the sun rise on one of the canals during one of my morning runs.  

I loved Amsterdam and how everyone was walking or biking to work, and there were very few fast food restaurants.  How can you not love a place that is so enthusiastic about chocolate/hazelnut spread on toast!  

What a great adventure and I can't wait to go back to Europe and to experience more.  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

You win some you lose some...

I've been experimenting with cooking lately.  Not everything has gone exactly as planned.  For instance, I'm totally obsessed with mochi so I thought i could make some.  I got the kind you just cut up and bake from whole foods.....it was an epic failure.  My mochi did not taste anything like the kind you get at trader joe's or yagoot.  I also failed miserably at making iced green tea sweetened with brown rice syrup.  Although there have been many failures there have also been some super yummy successes....
1. Organic brown rice crispies
2. Drop biscuits (pictured on the left)
3. mini Cinn-cran-almond drop biscuits (pictured on right)
I think I'm the most proud of the biscuits.  I have to admit that I never in a million years thought I could make good biscuits.  I used the recipe out of Better Homes and Gardens cookbook, but instead of butter I used smart balance (for 3/4 of the suggested amount) and light sour cream or the rest of the butter amount.  I also used skim milk instead of whole milk or buttermilk.  I was terrified that they would turn out dry and and fall apart as soon as I ate them.  I was pleasantly surprised when they turned out perfect.  Jonah and phil-dog also liked them!  Yay for cooking adventures!  I'm determined to be able to provide good homemade food for myself and my future family.  Luckily, I'm able to get carry out easily for experimental meals that are inedible.

Marathon training update:
This week was a bit better than last week, since my cold was mostly gone.  I made it through my long run (10 miles).  I'm also working on running without over striding so that I don't stress my knees and back!  It's an ongoing challenge.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I can see clearly now the rain is gone...

It's been rainy for most of the week here in Cincinnati, but today the clouds have broken and it's semi-sunny and super warm.  So around lunch time I trekked down to the street to one of my favorite places in all of Cincinnati....the Cincinnati Zoo.  I think getting a zoo membership was by far one of the best investments I've made.  One of my main motivations for visiting the zoo today is that there is now a baby Aardvark, who's name is Padmae!  I got to the nursery and she was sleeping, which is typical for the
aardvarks.  Most of the time I'm there they are sleeping.  But she was adorable!

It was refreshing to spend a short time at the zoo.  There were hundreds of kids there for field trips today and they were running around everywhere, and stations were set up for bird watching since it's bird migratory days.  It was a great pick-me-up for the day!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Lessons my dog has reinforced...

I spend most of my evenings with a furry friend.  He's a small nearly 30 pound bundle of joy and annoyances all in one.  Little Phil dog has taught me some patience and has helped reinforce some of the lessons that I learned growing up.  He's small but he has a huge personality! So, here are the top ten...

1. Stop and smell the flowers, grass, and everything around you
2. Trust your instincts
3. Cuddle on the couch
4. Stretch often
5. Don't be afraid to request what you want
6. Run and play everyday
7. Napping is good
8. Notice everything around you and be curious
9. Every new acquaintance is a potential friend
10. Be genuinely excited to see the ones you love and let it show

He has has also reinforced a not so great lesson.....
if you make a really cute face you can usually get what you want.

Monday, May 10, 2010

First week of training for chicago on the books...

This past week was the first week of my long training schedule for the Chicago Marathon (10.10.10).  I'm doing a longer training schedule this year to prevent injury like when I ran the Columbus Marathon in 2008 (I neglected to recognize that I need to cross-train and stretch my back problem).  I'm so excited and nervous about running the Chicago Marathon, but this year I get to run with Mo and we are planning on having a great time!  She is raising money and running for Team Salute.  Please consider donating to help the cause.

So I wanted to share my week in review with everyone...

On top of usual Cincinnati allergies I also had a head cold/congestion making running/breathing challenging, but I got in all of my training runs.  Luckily, the long run this week was only 8 miles.  I was worried that I wouldn't get in the long run for this week since we had the Midwest Society for Developmental Biology meeting this week, but I managed to squeeze it in on the one sunny weekend day!

To help with training I've set several goals for the race this year:

  • Stay healthy
    • Doing training runs, cross-training 2 times a week at least, Yoga 2-3 times per week
  • Stay motivated
    • I've been listening to several podcasts that will help with this
      • Two Gomers Run a Marathon: These guys are beginner runners and they are hilarious as they deal with training mishaps and life.  
      • Marathon training academy: This podcast gives important information and strategies to consider while training.
      • Put together new playlists for my IPOD (which I will share the top playlists on here)  
  • Run Chicago faster than I ran Columbus!  
Most of the long runs this year will be during the blistering  hot and humid days of July and August!  

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Is multitasking good or bad? ...

Many days my brain is in a tizzy with all the tasks to complete that day, and I'm trying to do as much at one time as possible.  This may sound like I'm trying to utilize my time wisely and multitask, however, it seems like when I try to optimize my time small details are looked over and many things need to be redone.  So, is this multitasking really saving me time?

I've been pondering this for several weeks.  So, as a scientist I decided to try an experiment on myself.  I decided to calmly do one thing at a time and accomplish that task before moving onto the next.  My goal was to apply this to my research and my home life.  So far my results have been mixed...(maybe I need more trials to increase my statistical significance....jk)

When in the lab I find my mind racing and I can't concentrate on the project I'm working on, but, I didn't completely stop my multitasking.  Some procedures and protocols have lengthy incubation times, so during this time I work on something else.  For the most part, focusing my attention on the one task I have before me has been a way to incorporate this into my lab work.  I'm not perfect, and I find my mind racing and thinking of the next several steps I need to complete.  Slowly, I'm starting to remind myself in those moments to calm my mind and refocus.  Similarly, at home I have the tendency to start small projects all over the apartment and not finish them.  I may start putting away laundry, then start cleaning off my desk, then doing a few dishes.  Before I know it then evening is almost over and I haven't completed anything I set out to do.  This is another situation where I have to follow through and concentrate/focus and not try to multitask so much.

In an effort to understand what is going on with my crazy mind I ran across an article on MSNbc that gave some insight.   Apparently, our brains can handle two tasks at the same time pretty well, however, when a third task is added there is much more difficulty doing each task correctly.

So multitasking is not a foe, however, I believe it should be used sparingly.  It's alright if I don't finish everything on my to-do list as long as the things I do finish are done well, and I can say I tried my best.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Guilty pleasures...

Sometimes a week can seem to pass so slowly.  Monday and Tuesday seem to drag by as I'm getting used to the  rhythm of the weekdays after a relaxing weekend.  Then, Wednesday comes along!  Usually there is nothing extraordinary about the majority of the day.  Wednesday is just like others....I go into the lab and do research....most wednesdays Philip goes to doggie daycare....but what is so sublime about Wednesday is my guilty pleasure on Wednesday evening that keeps me going through the day.  

What is this guilty pleasure?  (It's alright if you laugh, because I would laugh at myself!) It's America's Next Top Model (ANTM).  I'm completely hooked on the show.  I watch as the hopeful models as they compete with each other in challenges and then have extreme makeup applied for their themed photo shoot every week.  Then, they must meet with the judging panel for elimination.  I wait anxiously to see if my favorite person gets her picture pulled by Tyra Banks so she can move onto the next round.  The bottom two girls wait for their fate while Tyra tells them what put them in the bottom.  Slowly with many pauses the girl moving onto the next round is revealed.  The tension and suspense is felt by everyone watching.  

In the larger scheme of things, reality TV shows don't contribute much.  However, what I enjoy so much about ANTM is that I can relax and mentally disconnect for an hour and watch TV.  What is comes down to is some "me time." As a side note: One of my favorite contestants, Fo, was on the cover of April/May 2010 Natural Health magazine which I purchased instead of just flipping through it on the news stand since she was on it.  (She's also in numerous Nike advertisements.)   

Guilty pleasures are great to indulge in at times since it lets you pamper yourself.  You can do something you enjoy and then return to the stresses of the real world.  A little escape to refresh myself is just what I need to keep me going through the week!