The squirrels–photography challenge day 28

Well the feeder was almost empty again today, though I filled it yesterday mid-morning. That was after going outside to try to find where the charming little neighborhood critters had taken it. For the most part, when the squirrels are in a feisty mood, they just figure out how to knock it off its clip to where it falls to the ground. They might try to drag it a little, but usually its somewhere close to the arbor.

The raccoons on the other hand, usually try to make off with the feeder. I’ve found it up against the fence line, and yesterday it was under the wisteria bush behind the power line. Luckily it wasn’t totally empty (there was a little bird seed left).

One of the main reasons why I have to fill the feeder

Today filled the feeder again (early afternoon), and shortly there after the squirrels started coming through to help themselves to their mid-afternoon snack (or meal). I just find it amazing that these animals can hang upside down for a good five minutes or longer at times eating (though they do climb back on top of the arbor every so often to “catch their breathe”).

I’d say that when spring comes they’ll leave the feeder alone, but I know that isn’t true–they see it as an easy, convenient meal that is there almost every day. Squirrels are fascinating creatures, to where you can move things so they can’t get to them, but after awhile they figure out a way to get to that item. I’m sure that if I moved the feeder, they’d leave it alone for say two or three days, before figuring out a way to get to the seed. This way at least I know who is eating the seeds.

No Comments naturePhotography

The bugs are starting to come out……Photography challenge day 27

Well I managed to find the connection cord for my camera–it was still in my duffle bag from when I went to London back in October last year (I unpacked everything but the front pocket, which is where that cord and the iPod charger were located).

So now I’m happy–I’m returning the other package that I bought, thinking it was the connection cord–it wasn’t (it was a set of spare lithium batteries with their charger)–I have to learn to read more closely on certain packages.

So back to today’s post (sorry for the rambling). Today’s picture is brought to you by the flying (and probably stinging) insect that landed on the underside of the outside umbrella the other day. So our temperatures have been bouncing around since we’ve gotten out of the last really cold spell–we’ve been going from the upper thirties to the lower/mid sixties. This guy(gal) stopped by to say hello the other day, while we were sitting outside enjoying the mild January weather.

Is it a wasp or a hornet?

Now I don’t have anything against most flying insects, unless they are actively trying to either sting me or keep buzzing me due to my sweat or whatever is going on in their tiny neurological synapses. This little one only hung around basically long enough for me to point it out to my parents and grab the picture. I wonder that if we’re seeing them this early in the year–what is the normal spring/summer going to look like?

No Comments PhotographyScience

Double Friday: Photography Challenge and Motivation

So today’s photography challenge is another snapshot of a motivational saying I found somewhere on the internet and then repackaged it for myself.

One of the things I’ve realized over the last few months, is that I can’t attach my progress to whether or not other people notice it. I know they’ll notice if I point it out, or if its obvious (say sticking with a workout regime and eating better–the weight and inches will slowly start coming off).

So I’ve been setting small goals and keeping track of them in my bullet/normal journal. I’ve decided that there are a few areas that I do need to try to think long term on (namely what type of industry position do I want to start going for), but for other things–short term is better, as it is easier to define and know that “I want to accomplish [X] by this day” and be able to check those days off a calendar.

A little motivation as we go into the weekend

My latest goal so far has been to stick with beachbody workouts, and I’ve managed that for the past two weeks. I’m not sticking with any one program, but making my own little hybrid calendar and going off of that. But its been two weeks straight of workouts, and I’ve started to increase the weights on the barbells (we’ll see how I feel in the morning).

So, while I will share my goals–I may or may not share the time frame for them. That way, while I will have the accountability of announcing them, there won’t be the “extra” strain or stress of wondering if I don’t meet the time frame what will others think.


No Comments Personal DevelopmentPhotography

Science as art……Photography Challenge Day 25

Well today’s picture is brought to you by an unknown entomology student.  The main part of the department is in a different building and next door to the entomology and plant pathology department. At least one of the entomology classes has an art project as part of the overall semester grade. Their wing wonderful to walk through as there are different drawings, paintings, and sculptures–over the next few months, I’ll take some pictures to share with you.

Found someone’s art project in our tree this afternoon.

Lately their art projects have slowly found their way into the biochemistry & molecular biology wing (mainly because there are numerous plants in the area leading to the entomology and plant pathology wings. They moved a large paper-mâché caterpillar into the wing a little over a year ago.

This spider is part of the latest additions to the crowd. There are also a couple of ants crawling around on some hibiscus plants, and then there is a praying mantis hidden within the leaves and branches of another small “tree”. Its the one thing I love seeing is how art and science can be combined–there are several fields where it is easy to do so (entomology is just one of the them).

I’m slowly trying to figure out ways of doing more art/crafts with my field of study–biochemistry and molecular biology, that are also within the crafts that I know how to do (or decide to learn). Maybe the next afghan will have more scientific symbols on it????

No Comments CraftsPhotographyScience

Starting again with the 52 week challenge

The 52 week challenge is based off of the book by Brett Blumenthal: 52 small changes: One year to a happier, healthier you. I had started this challenge back in August of last year when I had finished the book, and had tried to post almost daily on how I was doing with the different challenges, and then I slowly stopped doing it.

So I’m going to take the challenge back up (the book never stated when you had to start—just that it may take longer than a year to get each challenge in). So in addition to the photography challenge, I’m going to (hopefully) post a recap for each week to share how I’ve done with that particular challenge.

The first challenge is the water challenge. This is a topic that everyone has an opinion—some agree that you should just drink the 8 to 10 glasses of 8oz (which will have you roughly somewhere between 64 and 80 oz of water a day), while others suggest that you try to drink half your body weight in water a day. Me—I’m in the first camp—I usually try to aim for at least 70oz of water a day (weekends are a particular challenging time for me in the regard). The main reason why I go with at least 70oz of water a day, I’ve tried to drink half my body weight in water a day, and usually fell short by 5 or more ounces (so its easier for me to say–get to at least 70 and you can stop for the day).

While I’m at work, I have a 20oz mug that I will fill up as close to the top as I can from the water fountain and drink from that (and I don’t refill until the mug is totally empty). I try to ensure that I drink at least three mugs (four if I can swing it) before heading home. Then when I’m at home I try to drink another 16 oz or so before, during, and after my workouts.

Like I said the weekends at times are the hardest for me in this regards because I sleep in (therefore am already at least an hour behind on the water), and I’m usually not on my feet as much, so therefore I’m at times not as thirsty. Though I have figured out that if I take the water bottles (when we have them) back to my room, that is motivation for me to try to drink them all before bed.

I also have tea (twice a day—caffeinated in the morning, and herbal at night), plus I put almond milk in my shakes—but I don’t really count those towards my daily hydration.

So I think I’m going strong with my water intake (plus I have it on my weekly habit tracker, that I try to drink at least 70oz a day, and if I fall short I make a note of how much I drank that day). So while I keep up with the water, I’m going to start trying to plan for the second challenge: which is making sure that you get enough sleep.

How do you make sure that you get enough water?

No Comments HealthPersonal Development Challenges

Photography challenge–Day 24: Squirrels like bird feeders too.

Well the week is half way over, its hump day, and also chore day. One of those chores was filling up all three bird feeders again (I do at times try to do it daily, since the gold finches really like the back feeders and they are usually empty by the early afternoon the next day). So while I was filling one of the feeders, I look down to the other one and what do I see?

Well–guess who I caught eating the seeds?

I see one of the many neighborhood squirrels hanging upside down from the grape arbor trying to eat the last of the sunflower seeds from the feeder. Now these guys have been so crafty, that I’ve actually had to try to tape the clasps for the top down so that they couldn’t open it.

Usually we can have one of the dogs chase the squirrels off, but then they usually just sit in the crab apple tree (or up on the wire) and wait for the dogs to go back into the house.

I’m just glad that the critters (either squirrels or the occasional raccoon and family) didn’t knock it down and try to run off with it. There was one time when I found it a good thirty or so feet away from where it was suppose to be hanging.

No Comments naturePhotography

Photo challenge day 23

Well today’s picture is brought to you by yet another sticker.

I’ve realized that as I’m working on both my various personal and professional development projects throughout the year, I can’t let the little slip-ups hamper my progress. Some days I know I’m going to be on my game in regards to getting everything checked off in the planner and that my nutrition is going to be on point.

Other days, I’m barely going to check anything off and I’m going to go off and get a large caramel high rise latte and a chocolate chip cookie because of my mood. Everyday is different, and we react each day differently as well.

Good Idea to remember daily

We just have to remember that no one is perfect (and that perfection is a myth anyway [what one person might think of as perfect someone else may not agree with]), and all we can do is try to be a little bit better than we were yesterday. I can say that I was a little bit better today than I was yesterday–today I only bought one chocolate chip cookie, whereas yesterday I bought two.

No Comments Personal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentQuotes

Motivation Monday–Day 22 of photography challenge

It was one of those days, where I felt like I was running like a hamster in the exercise wheel. It was cooler than yesterday (which is fine, this is winter), but there really wasn’t any sun out. I think that without the sun at times, I feel more run down (even though I do take a vitamin D supplement in the morning), and prone to giving into the sweet tooth a little more than I should.

This week’s motivation quote

It was nice to come home and find that one of the packages that I had ordered had come in–within it was some more stickers for my journal/planner. I like trying to put a good motivational sticker at the start of each week; that way when I look to see how I’m doing with various habits I can glance at the sticker.

This one in particular resonated with me today for two reason: (1) I’m trying to get back into shape and into some type of fitness and nutrition routine, and it is something that you have to keep working at day after day; and (2) I’m also trying to really start working on my job hunting for the next science position, since my current one is up around Thanksgiving (I really don’t want to be on unemployment again if I can help it).

I’ve been reading different books, and its funny how they can differ so much when it comes to the idea of habits, and will power. They both agree that will power is a finite source, and then they differ on whether you should be trying to make new habits or just “letting go” of ones that don’t work for you (which to me means–making new habits). Habits don’t just disappear, they’re “written over” with new ones; and if you don’t keep up with the new habits, they can “disappear” and the old ones “reappear”.


No Comments Personal DevelopmentPhotographyQuotes

Book Review: Black Hole Focus by Isaiah Hankel

Black Hole Focus is a book that helps give a wake up call if you’re feel like you are stuck in a life that you no longer want, or are somehow distracted and bouncing around trying to figure out what it is you want to do.

I’ve had this book for a couple of years (bought it during my first “go” at reading personal and professional development books). It was bought at a time, when I thought that I might still want to do academic research, or at least try to find some type of lab manager position that would let me do the research but not have to deal with all the headaches of finding the funding to run the lab. I’ve also realized that I bought it at the right time, and I read it at the right time as well. Because to be honest, when I bought the book–I didn’t want to put in the amount of effort that it demands in trying tp figure out what my real purpose in life is (I might complain about it now, but I’ve acknowledge that I’m not happy where I’m currently at, and that is one of the first steps to finding your purpose).

This is a book that you can continually go back to for refreshers, so much information is covered that it’s hard to say I’ve got it all under control after reading it the first time. The book is broken up into three parts, where the first part is basically telling you that everyone needs a purpose in life, and why its important.

Black Hole Focus by Isaiah Hankel. Image (c)

The second and third parts of the book are where (as far as I’m concerned) the meat of the book is located. These are the sections that should resonant with you, and have you coming back every so often going “Did I manage to accomplish everything the chapter talked about?”

The middle part of the book talks about how one should go about trying to find their purpose (though from the first part, you should already have a little idea of what your purpose is). Though I’ve finished the book—I can honestly say that I’m still working on the second part, trying to find my purpose.

Trying to find one’s purpose in today’s society is difficult when so much of society has turned its back on science. Being a scientist is really the only thing I ever wanted to be when I was younger (not counting the really outlandish thoughts of a five-year old [I had stated at one point I was either going to be a baby elephant or a small race car when I grew up]). But now, its hard to find the drive and energy to follow the staircase in the academia world.

Is my purpose still in science? I think so, I hope so—but what area of science I don’t know. That is where I’m currently at—trying to name both my future position and determine my current core priorities and then define the new core priorities that will get me to my future position.

The final part of the book covers the subject of how one should go about in fulfilling their purpose. Remember—you can’t fulfill it until you’ve found and defined it. I have ideas (some of which have come from this book) on how to fulfill that purpose, but at the same time I’m not one hundred percent certain on what that purpose is yet.

One thing I’ve realized though from both this book and others is that I’m going to have to work at getting out of my comfort zone in terms of talking with new people. I can converse with people after getting to know them, but striking up the initial conversations are difficult, and is something that I’m slowly working on (one conversation at a time).

Highly recommended book not just for those wanting to leave academic research, but for anyone who is questioning what they are doing with their lives.

No Comments Book ReviewsPersonal Developmentprofessional development

Doing double duty—Jaws the Algae eater (photography challenge days 20 and 21)

Well I might be having to invest into that new camera soon rather than later (unless I can figure out where I put the charge cord that plugs into the computer). I thought I’d set aside the correct cord (I have two that are of similar lengths but for two different things), but I didn’t pick the correct one–so I either need to remember where I put them (its always that safe spot that you can never remember when you need to); or I need to figure out if I can afford a nicer camera and buy it (though I’m waiting to hear if the cord I saw on amazon will fit my particular camera [it wasn’t listed in the large group]).

So, the double picture for yesterday and today is of Jaws, my algae eater.  Right now he is the only fish in the aquarium because I haven’t spotted any fish at any stores that I like to buy to give him some company.

Jaws the algae eater

Right now Jaws is somewhere between 10 and 13 inches long. How do I know this–I wait until he is cleaning the front of the aquarium and I measure with a tape measure (not the best way–but it does give a somewhat accurate measurement).

Pancakes loves watching all three algae eaters (we have one in each aquarium, where the other two aquariums also have either a goldfish or a koi in it as well), and she taps the aquarium every so often to say “hello”. She also has a liking for the fish food, so if any is dropped, she cleans it up (if algae pellets are dropped, its usually Chewi cleaning those up).

I’m trying to figure out how large of a “fish TV” I’m going to have to get her when we move (either this fall or next spring). I know that there will be an algae eater in it, and then possibly one or two goldfish. I’ve given up on trying to keep a salt water aquarium going (too much water changing, and the fish are extremely expensive).

No Comments PetsPhotography