Thursday, June 6, 2013

Resolution Success and Failure

If you remember my blog posting on New Year's Day, I posted several resolutions. Since I have achieved one of the goals I set out for myself.  So, here is an update:

1. Spend one month as a vegetarian: Well, I haven't started my month yet, but I have been working up to this, eating a lot more tofu and vegetables and really limiting the meat that I have been eating.  I have gone several days where the only animal products that I have had is the Dashi (Ground dry fish) that is in the miso I like to drink.  It's not that I wan't to be a vegetarian, I don't (I really do enjoy eating meat).  It's just that I want to live a healthier lifestyle, and this is a way to ease into it.

2. Log at least 200 miles of exercise (walking and jogging) on my pedometer: DONE!!!  Since January 1, 2013, I have logged 204.3 miles (see below), and  I'm also happy to say that I have put on a lot of those miles jogging instead of just walking.

3. Loose the other 30lbs that I'm trying to take off:  Oh extra pounds, why do you want to stay on me so much.  I think we really need to separate, I don't want you around anymore.  So, I dropped about 15 lbs so far, but I haven't lost an ounce in the last 8 weeks or so, despite my best efforts.  It is starting to get really difficult to stay motivated, but my BMI is still higher than 30 (obese) so I still have a long way to go.

4. Make at least one new friend:  The intention of this was to make a new friend outside of the internet, since I make friends easily on-line, but I am pretty shy in person.  I still have 6 months to go.

5. Jog 5K without stopping:  I was able to do 3.1 miles (5K) once, but I haven't been able to repeat it (so I don't consider this one accomplished yet).  I try to jog at least 6 miles a week (over 3 days), but I normally tucker out at around 2.2 miles (3.5 km) and need to stop.  If I could make progress with #3 (above) this might be easier.

6. Post a blog post at least every two weeks:  I have totally failed at this.  but I can try to be better.

I've also added another goal for the year.

7. I want to be able to do the front splits again:  I have been stretching every day, and doing Yoga, so I'm hoping I can achieve this by the end of the year.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Super Science Girls

So, my two heroes for this week is Sara Volz of Cheyenne Mountain High School in Colorado and Sylvia Todd of Auburn California.

Sara Volz just won the Intel Science Talent Search and pocketed $100K for her project entitled Nitrogen Stress and Artifical Selection as Methods to Induce Lipid Synthesis.

For those of you who don't speak "Science Nerd", what this means is that this clever girl was able to selectively breed alge to increase their production of oil (Lipids).  The way she did this was to use nitrogen (In the form of the weed killer sethoxydim) to stress her alge cultures, which forced a sort of artifical "Survival of the Fittest" type of evolution in the alge.  Kind of like the way an antibiotic kills bacteria cells.  Then she was basically trying to breed alge that was resistant to the weed killer in much the same way bacteria becoming resistant to antibiotics. The alge cells that were able to survive the Nitrogen stress, also produced more oil.  So basically she bred alge that is designed specifically to produce oil for biofuels.

So, she designed an build the bioreactor when she was in 9th grade (OMG like wow!).

Sylva Todd is the host of the YouTube channel Sylvia's Super Awesome Maker Show.  In this show she uses everything from Chemistry to Electronics to  make really cool stuff. Oh, and did I mention she is only 11 years old.

She uses the plethora of stuff that is available these days to make really amazing stuff, like the Arduino board that I talked about several months back.  She makes things like Silly Putty, Digital Clocks, and even her own printed Circuit boards

She likes to build robots and recently won a silver medal at the international robotics competition, which also included a trip to the White house to show off her robot that paints pictures.

Keep up the great work ladies.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

zebra nails?

I totally love having fun with my nails.  I put this mani together using a base coat of Play the Peoneese (By OPI) and the stripes using Licorice (By essie).

I was kind going for zebra stripes By I think they look a little bit more like cow spots.  Nevertheless it is still a fun mani.

Art History Through Literature

I think that Tracy Chevalier has created a wonderful way to learn art history.  More specifically the art of Johannes Vermier.  You might remember him from such works as "The Milkmaid", "The Music Lesson" and most famously, "The Girl with a Pearl Earring".

In the novel by Ms. Chevalier, that shares a name with this famous painting, she creates a work of historical fiction that chronicles an intense emotional affair between the famous painter, and his beautiful new housekeeper Griet.   She is a 17 year old girl who has been forced to provide for her family since her father lost his sight in a workplace accident.  She begins as a simple maid with the unique task of cleaning the studio of her master Johannes Vermeer.  He takes a liking to her and soon she is mixing paint and working as an apprentice to the famous painter in secret.  In a fun way, the novel comes to life because many of Vermeer's paintings depict characters in the novel.  For example the Milkmaid depicts the head housekeeper Tanneke from the novel, and as you might expect, the face in the title painting is meant to be the young housekeeper Griet. Even though most of the characters in the novel are fictional creations and have very little correlation with the actual people pictured in Vermeers painting, the images still breath life into the novel. Additionally many of the images depicted in Vermeer's paintings are set in the corner of his studio and are lit from a window in that corner.  This allows the reader to visualize a small part of the world depicted in the novel. 

Overall I really enjoyed this novel, and I also enjoyed the film adaptation starring Scarlet Johansson, which basically followed the book with very little deviation.  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Diet and Exercise Part 2

If you remember my last diet and exercise post  back in October, I was bragging about how my pedometer had just passed 50 miles.  Well I am happy to say that I have stuck with my exercise routine, and my pedometer just broke 150 miles (yay. me!!!)

I know I mentioned in my last post how much I loved the Ultimate Pedometer GPS+ app for my IPhone. It has worked wonders for keeping me on-track with my exercise (and I'm down another 15lbs.  Size 10 here I come).  The best part is that, while I started just walking, I have moved up to jogging 2-3 days a week (and walking on the others).  I can almost jog 2 miles without needing to stop.

In addition to the walking/jogging that I have been doing, I have also gotten much better about stretching every day.  I miss being flexible and I am determined to be able to do the splits again.  I have also dabbled a little with Pilates to strengthen my core, but I must confess I have not been nearly as good about that.

Until next time, TTFN.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Cloud Atlas

So finally I got a chance to see the "Cloud Atlas" movie this past weekend, so I can offer up my complete review of the book and the film.

I read the book Cloud Atlas, by David Michell, in November during a business trip to Korea.

The book tells 6 different stories that are set in time periods ranging from the early 19th century to the distant future.  All of the stories are linked in such a way that one of the characters in next story (chronologically) is able discover a record of the previous story.  Additionally, the stories are intertwined in a nested fashion.  That is, the earliest story, written as a journal set in the early 1800s which ends abruptly. The main character in the next story (set around 1920) finds the journal, but he tells that his reading reading cut off abruptly (just like us) and he is missing the second half of the Journal. In a similar way, each story leads to the next until we find ourselves in the far distant post apocalyptic future.  This final story, chronologically, is in the middle of the book, which creates a weird effect in that the overall story ends halfway through reading the novel.  At  the end of the story set in the far distant future, the main character recounts the ending of the  previous story, this continues until the novel ends by revealing the second half of the lost journal from the early 1800s.  

I think that the author's motivation behind nesting the stories the way he does is to give the reader a sense that our lives our connected to both the past and the future.  In doing so, he has written a novel that gives the reader a  real sense of the magnitude and scope of human society in a way that a novel set in a single time period does not.  I found myself particularly immersed in the story set in a future Korea since I was reading it while on a business trip there.  Overall, David Mitchell has written what I (and many others) consider to be a classic of modern literature where he explores some very important themes that reflect our place in the whole of human society.

In 2012, a film adaptation of Cloud Atlas was released starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. 

In truth, the film version should really be thought of as a supplement to the novel, since it would be utterly indecipherable had I not read the book.  Judging by the number of people who left the theater before the 3 hours of film had completed, I don't think this is an unreasonable assessment.  Nevertheless, having read the book before seeing the movie, I found the film to be quite enjoyable.  There were a few significant deviations from the novel, but most of the main themes where there, and rather than nesting the stories, the director chose to periodically switch between the various time periods.  I also felt that the film had a substantially more optimistic ending than the book. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year.

I'd like to wish everyone a delightful New Year, filled with Joy and Happiness!

I thought I'd start the new year off with a few resolutions.  I'm usually pretty good about keeping them so here goes.

1. Spend one month as a vegetarian, just to see what it is like, and if it really does make me healthier.
2. Log at least 200 miles of exercise (walking and jogging) on my pedometer.
3. Loose the other 30lbs that I'm trying to take off.
4. Make at least one new friend.
5. Jog 5K without stopping (so I can enter a 5K zombie run).
6. Post a blog post at least every two weeks.

See everybody in 2013