Tag: outdoors

Updates and additional bird photography page is live

Canvasbacks on Boomer Lake

So, I’m trying to get back into the habit of both creating new content and ‘increasing’ the different sections of the blog (i.e. adding more photography pages, travel pages/ideas, and soon small and large articles). Though currently the two sections that are going to be ‘increased’ first are the photography and travel sections.

The reason(s): 1) I have numerous pictures on different birds (and/or other creatures/natural sites), and places I’ve visited that I’d like to share, and 2) the amount of ‘research’, writing, and editing needed for each ‘page’ is in the ballpark of only a few hours (per page).

I will be adding to the other ‘landing’ pages throughout the year, in addition to having constantly occurring blog series—but these will be the posts (especially the larger ‘portfolio’ pieces) that will take longer—because of 1) the amount of research I will be needing to do; 2) determining the best starting/stopping points for each blog series; and 3) finding/creating the graphics needed for each of them.

Therefore, if you head over to the birding/photography section, you will notice a new page under the ducks, swans, and geese section: the canvasback.

As I mentioned on the canvasback’s page–this is a winter visitor to Oklahoma, and can be spotted on various lakes throughout the state.

I’m lucky enough to live within walking distance to Boomer Lake, and have managed to spot these guys a couple of times this winter–though these are the best pictures for being able to correctly ‘identify’ them as canvasbacks and not redheads.

Male canvasbacks

Did you know that out of the ducks, swans, and geese family there are 28 members that can be spotted within Oklahoma at some point (migration, winter, breeding, year-round), with an additional 14 members that are ‘accidental’ residents?

Out of the 28 members, I’ve currently spotted seven throughout the years in Oklahoma (I’ve spotted others elsewhere in the US or abroad).

An additional goal (besides the two or three I listed on the canvasback page) is to try to get pictures of at least another seven to eight members of the family (which may mean going to other area lakes, such as Sanborn).

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Updating the personal/professional development plan: reflections on the bounce zone

It has been roughly a year since I drew my first comfort/stretch/risk/die diagram.

Original comfort diagram that I drew mid-Feb 2021

It was an ‘assignment’ that I was given when after talking with a coach–it became obvious that I was floundering on trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life (since I’d decided to take time to actually try to answer that question)…

I decided that the diagram was going to encompass both personal and professional goals, thoughts, and ideas–mainly because I knew if I didn’t have some more ‘creative’ ideas down, I would spend way too much time wallowing in the analytical side of my brain.

The above diagram had roughly seventy-seven items within the four zones: 13 items in the comfort zone, 35 within the stretch zone, 17 within the risk zone and 12 within the die zone.

Over the past year, I also added in the ‘bounce’ zone–as I haven’t/hadn’t developed the ‘confidence’ to state that there were more activities that I felt ‘comfortable’ doing on a day-to-day (or even week-to-week or month-to-month) basis. I was starting to enjoy the activities, but still hadn’t/haven’t figured out the best ‘schedule’ for them to become ‘comfortable’ tasks.

Over the past week or so, I drew another one to see how far I’d come over the past year:

Latest Comfort diagram–Feb 2022

The comfort zone has slightly increased, the bounce zone is present, the stretch zone has ‘shrunk’, and the risk and die zones are holding steady.

While some things have ‘changed’–I also realized that I’ve also become slightly ‘stagnant’ as well. What became ‘stagnant’ is the fact that I wasn’t trying to push the boundaries of teh comfort, bounce, or stretch zones the past few months.

Therefore, I’m working on a plan to change that, with the ultimate goal of expanding the comfort and bounce zones.

How am I going to do that? Well, I decided it would be a combination of picking things from the comfort, bounce, stretch and risk zones and also incorporating things from my personal/professional development board game, and came up with the following list:

  1. Work several different ‘comfort’ tasks into the daily/weekly schedule (so that they don’t fall back into the ‘stretch’ zone), and they include: cross-stitching, meditation, reading (also work on expanding the genera), cooking, gardening, photography, and being outdoors.
  2. I decided to roll the dice last week (for the first time in awhile) for my my personal/professional development board game and came up with the following items:
    1. Start learning python coding
    2. Review genomics (though I’m going to include transcriptomes, proteomes, and metabolomes)–should have called the square ‘review -omics’
    3. Review statistics
    4. Landscape design (funny that I rolled this, as I’d already picked it out of the ‘bounce’ zone as something to work on this spring)
    5. Business development
    6. Public health
    7. ‘Rock Art of the American Southwest’
    8. Ancient India
    9. Ancient China
    10. Reading; while I rolled a ‘list’ of books to read–I will probably just go with whatever catches my attention
  3. Work on content development in the following areas:
    1. copywriting
    2. Blogging (science/medical education/communication; health/wellness; personal/professional development; hobbies/crafts, and travel)
    3. Science writing (‘short’ blog posts [~500-1000 words], ‘longer’ articles [~1000-2500 words], and ‘reviews’ [~2500-5000+ words])
    4. Creative writing (short stories, poetry, and so forth)
  4. Spirituality and Oracle cards
  5. Doodling and drawing
  6. Personal/professional brand development/management
  7. Refresh a foreign language
  8. Project management

Obviously I can’t do all of this at the same time—well I could, but I like sleeping too much…The end goals include: stretching my comfort zone, overcoming the writers block, transitioning into that first remote writing/data analysis position, and rediscovering who I am and what I really want to be doing with my life.

Content development and project management can be tied in with all the other items on the list–and actually that has been one of the ‘bigger bottlenecks’ lately–writing. I’ve started at the screen more times than I want to admit, and I’ve stared at various science news emails more times that I want to admit over the past month or so–and have barely written a word. I haven’t shared an news article for probably two week (prior to today), and that wasn’t because I didn’t want to–but because the words didn’t wan to come…not hte greatest feeling when one is thinking of pivoting into a writing (and deadline) intensive direction…

I created a ‘brain-dump’ (or brainstorming list) of ideas for the three different niches I’m thinking of writing within:

‘Brain-dump’ or brainstorming list of topics to write/blog about

You might notice that the ‘list’ is longer within the science/medical subsection–and that is because that is my background. I have my PhD in biochemistry and molecular biology, and have spent basically two decades working within higher education research, and have at least an understanding of various fields.

The other two areas aren’t as ‘filled-out’, but as I continue to brainstorm ideas, or even look within one or two of the selections–I’m pretty certain I’ll be able to come up with more ideas to write about.

One of the fundamental questions that one is suppose to answer when thinking of blogging, copywriting, or even writing–is who is your audience? What question(s)/problem(s) are you wanting to help answer/solve?

I think that for me one of those answers is trying to improve science communication between the general public and the scientific community, and also trying to improve science education as well. None of the topics are inherently difficult–but can be considered difficult if they’re not explained properly and limiting the amount of scientific jargon one uses.

As Albert Einstein said: “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it enough”.

Therefore, I’m going to be ‘diving’ into research for numerous topics, as I have a ‘basic’ understanding, but I also know that I don’t know certain areas well enough to explain them in simple terms.

I’m aiming to start having monthly (then working up to biweekly) blog posts on different science subjects, adding in a new bird photography page (biweekly, if not weekly) with an accompany blog post, and also a monthly ‘throwback travel’ page with its accompany blog post–this will be in addition to the different goals setting posts that I do monthly and any book reviews that I post as well. My aim–is to expand the comfort zone to include writing, blogging, and copywriting by the end of the summer.

What is something you could work on to move it from your stretch zone to your comfort zone?

No Comments careerfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesnatureoracle cardsoutdoorsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsSciencespiritualitytarot cardstravelUpdates

Two more duck photography pages are live, and other news

So there are two more duck pages live under the bird photography tab (specifically under the ‘water birds’ and then the ducks, swan, and geese family).

So, as I mentioned in several posts—I’m slowly trying to update/add to the site to account for wanting to move a little more into the three niches that I’d picked out for concentrating on for writing (personal/professional development, health/wellness, and science/medical writing/communications). One of the things I’ve been trying to do is ensure that there is a single line of tabs at the top of the page—and that if there is a drop down menu, all items are still visible on the screen.

The one section that will probably be ‘changing’ slightly as I work on this aspect is the combo birding/photography tab—mainly because of how many bird pages I have currently up.

With that said—the two new duck pages that have been added are for the Northern Shoveler and the Blue-winged Teal.

Both of these birds are migratory and/or winter residents within Oklahoma.

I’ve only managed to spot the blue-winged teal as it makes its way north in the spring (I have yet managed to make it up to Boomer in the late summer to catch them as they are one of the first ducks to migrate south in the late summer/early fall).

Blue-winged teals swimming in Boomer Lake

The northern shovelers will both migrate through the state, and a few of them will even winter around Boomer Lake—so I’ve managed to spot these guys several times in both the winter and early spring.

Northern Shovelers swimming in Boomer Lake

While the peak of fall migration has passed, there are still birds migrating south—hopefully I’ll be able to spot a few other species over the next few weeks (especially if I can manage to get up to the lake just as the sun is coming up).

What is your favorite fall migratory bird to spot?

No Comments bird watchingcareernatureoutdoorsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentUpdates

Two bird pages are live: Great-crested grebe & Great Cormorant

So there are another two bird pages live under the bird tab. These two birds, I had photographed a couple of years ago when I had gone to London for a brief networking/mental health break. While I was looking through the London photos trying to find the pictures of the ‘street pigeons’, I realized I had forgotten to ‘confirm’ my identification of all the other birds I’d taken pictures of. One of the birds I had originally misidentified and I realized that I never fully identified the second one.

Great cormorants and gulls spotted in London, UK

The first one, is the one I originally misidentified is the great cormorant, which I had originally thought was the double-crested cormorant in its winter colors (since that is really the only cormorant I’d seen to this point). Well, I was wrong and it turned out to be the great cormorant (it is one of two members of the family found in the UK, with the other being the common shag).

I had managed to get pictures of a group of them sitting within the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens on my first day in London.

The second bird that I totally forgot to try to originally identify turns out to be an immature great-crested grebe, again spotted within the Round Pond in Kensington Gardens.

Immature great-crested grebe spotted swimming in London, UK

Unlike the great cormorant that can be seen along the coastlines of the eastern United States and Canada, the great-crested grebe is only found within the ‘Old World’.

Now I do have a ‘birding goal’ for whenever I manage to travel back to the UK (or even Europe in general)–try to spot an adult great-crested grebe.

While I will be starting to research the ducks, swans, and geese group next, there will also be several other additional pages added to other groups as I continue to go through my bird pictures and identify the various species of birds that I have managed to photograph.

Question–have you spotted a young grebe in the wild? If so–where and what species?

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

Hiking and Kayaking within the Buffalo National River area

Another #throwbackthursdaytravel page is live under the travel tab. This week was highlighting our first trip to Arkansas, when we spent a few days in the Buffalo National River area.

Looking at the Buffalo River and the cliffs

My dad decided he wanted to do something a little different for our mini-vacation that year–and that was to paddle down a portion of the Buffalo River.

Showcasing what approximately ten miles of river looks like.

We managed to spend a couple of days exploring the area (hiking along various trails that followed the river), before we worked up the courage to actually put our kayaks in the water and head down the river.

As shown on the above map, we put our kayaks in the river at the Ponca site, and paddled/floated down the river for about 10 minutes until we got ‘out’ at Kyle’s Landing (luckily we had someone drive our van down there so we could get back to the cabin).

It was an interesting trip, and I learned quite a bit–such as inflatable kayaks probably weren’t the smartest choice of kayaks to use, class II rapids aren’t ‘baby rapids’, and I shouldn’t freak out when I flip the kayak.

One of the main rapids seen on the river

I would love to go back and visit the area again (and perhaps spend a little more time in the area), possibly spend more time hiking than floating down the river, but I am able to say that I did something that month that I’d never done before: kayaking over class I and II rapids in an inflatable kayak.

Wildflowers seen in the woods around the Buffalo River

Curious to know if you’ve been to the Buffalo River? If you’ve visited the area, did you just hike or did you kayak/canoe/float down the river and how far?

No Comments fitnessHealthnatureoutdoorsPhotographytravel

Photography Winner: Turkey Vultures are back in the sky

So spring is here (more or less), and how can I tell?

Turkey Vulture in flight

The turkey vultures are back and soaring through the skies over Boomer Lake and the surrounding neighborhoods.

Turkey vulture soaring over Boomer Lake

Turkey vultures are unique birds in Oklahoma–they are a year-round resident in the eastern half of the state, but are a migratory/summer bird for the central and western parts of the state.

I managed to get these pictures of one soaring over Boomer Lake earlier this month, but have also noticed them in the afternoon soaring over the neighborhood when I’m out in the backyard (and of course my camera is inside). Since they’re scavengers, they end up spending a lot of time looking/smelling for their next meal. I’m hoping that once the weather gets nice (and stays nice) I will be able to do weekly walks up at Boomer Lake, and maybe spot one sitting atop a dead tree again. Plus maybe be able to spot a young turkey vulture soaring in the sky as well (since they don’t really make nests, and they prefer to roost away from humans I doubt that I’d be able to get a picture of a young vulture near the home turf).

No Comments bird watchingnatureoutdoorsPhotography

Photography Challenge day 129: Waterfall Wednesday Edition

So today’s photography winner is a small waterfall that I spotted on a hike in Devil’s Den State Park in Arkansas.

Mini Waterfall in the park

We had gone to Devil’s Den State Park a couple of years ago for a mini vacation. I actually managed to hike probably a quarter of the paths within the park. This waterfall was spotted on the Devil’s Den trail, which also had a lot of neat rock formations as well.

Openings in the rocks.

I remember looking at the openings and wishing that I was a rock climber (and that it was allowed in this part of the park). I think it would have been cool to get closer to the openings and get some interior pictures.

It’s been recently shown that spending at least two hours a week outdoors and in nature is a good way of getting a good emotional reset. While I do spend time outdoors–it’s mainly on the weekend. I now realize that I need to find the time to get outdoors (and not just walking to the bus stop or sitting in the backyard at the end of the day) each day so that I can get back on an even keel in terms of how I deal with each day.

I would like to get back to Devil’s Den and hike the trails that I didn’t have time to hike the first time around (fossil flats, finish yellow rock–only did about a quarter of it before turning around, and hike part of a horse trail). I would also like to possibly camp out at Devil’s Den (we stayed in one of the cabins), though it would have to be at a time when all the insects were at an all time low (mosquitoes and ticks in particular).

No Comments naturePhotographyState ParkstravelWaterfalls

Turtle Tuesday: Photography Challenge Day 23 (short post)

Turtles sunning themselves at the lake.

Today’s photograph is of a group of freshwater turtles that I spotted sunning themselves two weeks ago up at Boomer Lake. I know that there are a good number of freshwater turtles at the lake, it is just a matter of timing (making sure that I’m out when both the sun is out and the air temperature is fairly nice) and knowing where to look for them.

They like to collect on the limbs and fallen trees that allow them to crawl out of the water to warm themselves in the sun–but also allows them a fast getaway if they feel threatened. Though I think at times they notice people taking their pictures and they slid back into the water until the photographers have moved on. I’m hoping to see these guys a little more often, especially if I do my walks at Boomer a little later in the morning.

No Comments naturePhotographyScience