Tag: photography

Reviewing my first attempt at a 12-week year

So I realized that I haven’t posted much this week and that is due in part to it being the end of the second quarter and I’m deep in the reflection zone–looking back at what I had hoped to get accomplished over the past three months and then what I had actually managed to get accomplished.

With today marking the last day of June, the second quarter, and the first half of 2021–I decided that I would reflect on my first actual attempt of a ’12-week year’. If you’ve never heard of a ’12-week year’, I highly recommend reading the book: ‘The 12 Week Year: Get more done in 12 weeks than others do in 12 months’ by Brain P. Moran and Michael Lennington.

I actually read ‘The 12 Week Year’, last year prior to the world going into lock down due to the pandemic (click on the link and it will take you to my mini-review and reflection post from last year). Over the past year and a half, I’ve tried to plan a ’12-week year’ but have always fallen short of the goal. My problem: putting too many items on the calendar or plate, and not having a good breakdown of weekly or monthly goals.

Therefore, this year I decided to merge that idea with an suggestion from another book. The other book is ‘The Renaissance Soul: How to make your passions your life–a creative and practical guide’ by Margaret Lobenstine, and her suggestion was creating focal points to focus on for whatever set period of time you wanted.

I then created a ‘central’ focal point of crafting a ‘new career’ that would be focused on freelance/remote/contract/online/consulting/blogging work allowing me to have flexibility in creating my own schedule and would also be semi-location independent.

From there I created four other focal points that would help me start ‘crafting’ that career and they were/are:

Professional Development (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Continuous Learning
  2. Networking
  3. Brand Development and Management
  4. Digital Marketing
  5. Graphic Design
  6. Writing

Personal Development (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Continuous Learning
  2. Physical space (developing my own definition/style of minimalism)
  3. Financial health (savings, budgeting, investing, retirement, multiple streams of income)

Health (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Mental health (focusing on emotional and spiritual health)
  2. Physical health (getting into the best shape of my life)

Hobbies (with specific sub-items/topics):

  1. Photography
  2. Reading
  3. Writing
  4. Crafts
    • Knitting
    • Cross-stitching
    • Jewelry design/creation
    • Painting
    • Crochet

So while these focal points all seem a little ‘weird’ and you may be wondering how they work together–they’re the four points I’d decided on earlier when I was figuring out what I needed to focus on to work my way out of my ‘burnout’ hole/pit/slump. I realized that I couldn’t just focus on personal/professional development without also focusing on my health and hobbies. They all need to be listed as a reminder, not to hyper-focus in one direction (when I do that–everything else tends to suffer).

It is suggested within ‘Renaissance Soul’ that you only have four to five focal points, and then no more than four or five goals for each focal point. I’m still working on the ‘makers’ for the central focal point, but for the other four I drafted four to five goals for each that I had hoped to get accomplished during the second quarter.

Those goals included:

Within professional development:

  1. Finishing the CSA courses: Medical Writers Organization and Clinical Research Coalition
  2. Starting to learn python programming
  3. Continuing to read and share science news articles on LinkedIn and Twitter
  4. Continuing to add value and network on LinkedIn
  5. Starting (and hopefully finishing) another CSA advance course

Within personal development:

  1. Continue refreshing my Spanish with the Mondly app
  2. Read two non-fiction books a month
  3. Work through various personal finance courses
  4. Develop my vision of ‘minimalism’
  5. Start looking into second income stream ideas

Within health:

  1. Finish the following programs: CIZE, 21-Day Fix Live, 21-Day Fix Extreme Live and then start third round of LIIFT4
  2. Daily meditation
  3. Oracle card drawings (weekly, but hopefully daily)
  4. Cook Monday & Tuesday dinners–new recipes hopefully monthly

Within hobbies:

  1. At least one walk a week at Boomer Lake with my camera (photography)
  2. Read two fiction books a month
  3. Design at least one bracelet/necklace set
  4. Doodle a cross-stitch design

So how did I do with each area?

Professional development goals:

  1. I completed the Clinical Research Coalition program, along with the Intellectual Property Pack program. These are two of the many advanced professional development programs offered by the Cheeky Scientist Association.
  2. I’m still working through the writing and editing assignments for the Medical Writers Organization program. I’m hoping to have those finished sometime during the third quarter of the year.
  3. There may have been a couple of days scattered throughout the quarter that I didn’t share articles on LinkedIn or Twitter–but I try to share at least one article a week (preferably an article a day). I’ve been doing better at this, since I created a separate tracking sheet for this goal.
  4. I’ve been slow in networking lately, as I’m trying to semi-narrow my broad ‘career’ area. Therefore I may only send a connection request once a week, and may also only accept an connection request every few days. I have been also trying to be better at commenting on other people’s posts as well.
  5. I haven’t started learning python, even though I’ve bought several e-courses on the subject. I even have a ‘new’ laptop set aside for this very task–I just need to download python (and possibly one or two other apps), and set aside at least 30 minutes a day to ‘learning’ the program and language.

I would say that I managed to accomplish three and a half out of the five goals–giving me a score of roughly seventy percent.

In terms of personal development:

  1. I haven’t been keeping up with refreshing my Spanish, even though I had been doing a decent job of it at the beginning of the year.
  2. I have been reading non-fiction books, and it probably averages out to one and a half to two books a month, and the books read were:
    • ‘The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living’ by Meik Wiking
    • ‘Permission to Screw Up: How I learned to lead by doing (almost) everything wrong’ by Kristen Hadeed
    • ’25 ways to work from home’ by Jen Ruiz
    • ‘Write to Speak’ by Mike Acker
    • ‘The Financial Diet’ by Chelsea Fagan
  3. I’m still slowly developing my ‘vision’ of minimalism. I know some of the area that I wan to minimize: clothing, DVDs/Cds, and knick-knacks. I also know that since I’m a learner at heart and a bookworm–I’m always going to have a large number of books around me. Since I’m also a crafter–I’m also going to have a good number of craft supplies around me as well. As long as I can balance things out-to where I won’t feel like I’m living in an overly cluttered hole, I’ll be happy. By limiting the items around em, and trying to keep things organized and ‘clean’–I’m also finding it helps alleviate my anxiety and depression as well.
  4. I haven’t worked through any of the personal finance courses that I’ve bought over the years yet.
  5. In terms of looking into the second income stream idea–I think I should have ‘rewritten’ it as looking into both first and second income ideas. I know that there are numerous ways of earning extra cash, and I had been doing a few of them: filling out surveys and selling used DVDs–I just haven’t done either of them lately (due in part to the pandemic).

I would say that I managed to hit about a fifty-five percent on personal development goals. Two were close to zero, but other three had at least some ‘footwork’ done on each of them.

For the health goals:

  1. I did finish my first round of CIZE, but only made it through a week of 21-Day fix live before deciding to concentrate more on intentional movements before starting up my third round of LIIFT4. While I’ve done 21-Day Fix and 21-Day Fix extreme before, this would have been the first time doing the ‘live’ versions. While I like the program–the reason why I called it ‘quits’ before finishing is that I’m trying to improve my relationship with food, and quit the whole diet/counting calories/macros/restricting food mindset. That type of nutritional advice is given a lot through both programs. So until I’m on a better footing with my relationship to food, I’m going to avoid workout programs that also focus heavily on the diet mindset.
  2. I have managed to do evening meditations for the most part. I may only be focus on my breathing for a minute or two–but those two minutes are essential for being able to have a good night sleep.
  3. I’ve been doing evening oracle card drawings, even if I haven’t been sharing them on social media or even writing about them in the journal. That is something I’m aiming at changing–both starting to share more (maybe an 100-day challenge), and journaling about them (possibly weekly blog posts?).
  4. In terms of cooking dinner twice a week–I’ve been doing this, though there may be a night or two where it was decided we’d have leftovers, or grill (which I don’t do), or whatever. But for the most part, I have found several new recipes that are now in the rotation for Monday and Tuesday night suppers. I’m also going to be looking for more ‘summer’ dinner recipes as well–different salads, and so forth.

I would say that I met seventy-five to eighty percent of my health goals for the second quarter. Each one was met at least partially(since there were a few days that I may have missed my meditation time or oracle card drawings).

In terms of my hobbies:

  1. I think I only made it maybe once or twice a month up to Boomer Lake with my camera. The weather was partially to blame–it has either been rainy and/or overcast, or the temperatures and heat index have been a little too high for my liking for walks. I also haven’t been getting up as early in the mornings as I use to in order to be able to get to the lake to watch the sun rise.
  2. I have managed to read quite a few fiction books over the past three months and they include the following:
    • My One Night (On My Own #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan
    • State of Affairs (First Family #1) by Marie Force
    • Tempted by Love: Jack “Jock” Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #1) by Melissa Foster
    • My True Love: Jules Steele (The Steeles at Silver Island #2) by Melissa Foster
    • Love Under Two Warriors (Lusty, Texas #42) by Cara Covington
    • Ride Out the Storm (SSI #6.5) by Monette Michaels
    • Wild and Loving (Slick Rock #33) by Becca Van
    • My Rebound (On My Own #2) by Carrie Ann Ryan
    • How Much I Love (Miami Nights #3) by Marie Force
    • As We Are (The Baker’s Creek Billionaire Brothers #5) by Claudia Burgoa
  3. While I have several ideas for necklace/bracelet sets, I haven’t actually gotten around to creating any of them.
  4. I have semi-doodle or drawn a cross-stitch pattern. I’m also thinking that my first ‘real practice’ piece is going to be seeing how many geometrical shapes I can fit on it, and if I can use every single color of thread at least once.

I would say that I managed to to meet about half my goals in terms of hobbies, the only one that I totally didn’t get close to was the jewelry design/creation. I managed to get at least a monthly walk in at Boomer, slowly attempting to teach myself cross-stitch, and reading (at least fiction) has never been a problem.

So I ranged from about fifty to seventy-five/eighty percent on my goals for the second quarter, and if I added them all u–over all I probably averaged about sixty percent.

Not great, but not bad for my first ‘official’ trial at a 12-week year. I know the areas that I need to focus more on (mainly the computer intensive goals). These will simply require setting aside actual time in the day dedicated to those specific tasks. I won’t try to do each one daily, but will aim for at least two-to-three times a week for each and slowly work up to daily work on each of them.

I knew that my first trial wasn’t going to be perfect–but that wasn’t my goal: my goal was progress, seeing if I could stretch my comfort zone a little more each month and branch out in different areas.

I managed to do that in terms of professional development, learning some of the basics of both clinical research and intellectual property. I think it would be interesting doing data analysis for clinical research (but I wouldn’t want to be the person overseeing numerous clinical sites), and I will be looking in to different aspects of intellectual property (mainly copyrights and trademarks), as I don’t see myself trying to climb the ladder on the patent side of things.

While reading has never been a problem–it is more of ensuring that I’m in the ‘proper’ mindset for reading non-fiction, as it tends not be quite the ‘story’ that fiction books are, and I at times lose interest fast.

I’m developing my own sense of health/fitness and will be deciding soon if keeping my Beachbody on demand subscription is worth it or not. I’ve decided that it is time to honor my body and what it is actually capable of doing–that means substituting in exercises for the different lunges, working on trying to do a normal pushup (and forgetting about tricep pushups), and just shaking my head and sitting out the tricep dips.

Moving into the third quarter of the year, the goals for the four focal points will be semi-similar to the goals set for the second quarter.

Third quarter goals will include:

Professional Development:

  1. Finish up the following CSA programs: Medical Writers Organization and then either Government Careers Union or Regulatory Affairs Council
  2. Finish the following short courses on Udemy:
    • 15 errors in scientific writing and how to fix them
    • How to become a freelance editor
    • Kickstart a freelance editor and proofreader career on Upwork
    • How to be a journalist
  3. Start learning python coding by working through the following courses:
    • Data Science for beignners: Hand on Python (on Udemy)
    • Complete Python course (on StackSkills)
  4. Continue reading and sharing science news on LinkedIn and Twitter
  5. Continue adding value and networking on Linkedin

Bonus Professional Development activities:

  1. Write and publish: ‘Trouble-shooting tips for Molecular Cloning’
  2. Write and publish: ‘Polymerases: why the native ‘reverse transcriptase’ isn’t a problem for the SARS-CoV2 mRNA vaccine’ (Title may change)
  3. Work through the copywriting e-course: Write Your Way to Freedom

Personal Development Goals:

  1. Set aside 30-45 minutes (two to three days a week) for refreshing Spanish
  2. Read one to two non-fiction books a month
  3. Work through the following e-courses:
    • The complete personal finance course (on Udemy)
    • Reinvent your career (on Udemy)
    • How to work for yourself (on Udemy)
    • Freelance writing 101: build a successful writing career (on SkillShare)
    • Content marketing: blogging for growth (on SkillShare)
    • Writing and blogging with passion: create a flexible editorial plan and calendar (on SkillShare)
  4. Continue developing my vision of ‘minimalism’
  5. Start trying to ‘draft’ first/second and possibly third stream of income ideas (more tied to professional)

Health goals:

  1. Finish LIIFT4 (basically around the 23rd) and then start Morning Meltdown 100 (will go from 7/26/21 to 11/2/21)
  2. Daily meditation and oracle card reading/drawings
  3. Work through the following courses:
    • Mindfulness for Anxiety (on Udemy)
    • Learn Tarot in a Day (on Udemy)
    • Explicit Tarot: Learn Tarot Card Reading through Story Telling (on Udemy)
  4. Start a daily gratitude entry in the journal
  5. New recipes at least once a week/month

Hobby Goals:

  1. At least one walk a month at Boomer Lake, and maybe start trying food photography as well
  2. Work through the following courses:
    • Food Photography (on StackSkills)
    • How to create an engaging food post (on SkillShare)
    • How to start a creative business through blogging for beginners (on SkillShare)
  3. Read at least two to three fiction books a month
  4. Continue to doodle/draw/sketch cross-stitch patterns and create the geometric/multi-colored ‘trial’ piece
  5. Design/create necklace and/or bracelets–individually or as sets.

You might have noticed that I have quite a few e-courses down for the third quarter compared to second. We’re entering the ‘dog days of summer’–where it will either be too hot, too humid, or both in terms of being outdoors for extended periods of time. Therefore, I’m planning those days now–instead of wondering what to do when I reach them.

I still need to break these goals down into monthly and then weekly goals (in addition to other goals I’ll have for each week). My main goal for the third quarter is to meet at least seventy-five to eighty percent of each set of goals, with an overall percentage foal of eighty percent (meaning by the end of September I’ve accomplished at least four out of the five goals).

Have you done a 12-week year before? If you have–how long have you been doing them? And what is your running average of goal completion?

No Comments BookscareerCraftsfinancesfitnessHealthLifestyle Challengesmoney saving challengesno spend challengesoracle cardsPersonal DevelopmentPhotographyprofessional developmentReflectionsspiritualityUpdates

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

Starting a new photography challenge: Day 1: Bald Eagle

So I’ve decided that I’m going to start a fresh photography 365-day photography challenge. I will hopefully be sharing a ‘new’ photography daily for the next year. I’m going to clarify the ‘new’—as in hopefully sharing 365 different photographs. Some may be similar to past photography challenges (I mean we are in the middle of a pandemic and I haven’t been traveling), but I’m hoping not to repeat the photograph subject (at least for the first 100 days or so).

Bald Eagle soaring over Boomer Lake, Stillwater OK

In addition, I will probably be linking in a photography page to the current photograph—as a way of increasing views to those pages as well. Again, this is going to be an evolving project, an way for me to 1) increase my photography skills; 2) work on a project during the day that isn’t 100% related to job transition; 3) find beauty in the day; and 4) just have fun.

So the winner for day one is the Bald Eagle. The bald eagle, is the national symbol for the US, and is native to all of North America where it’s range stretches from Alaska down to the northern parts of Mexico. Depending on where you live, you may or may not see them in the wild—but if you’ve been to a zoo, you’ve probably seen one there.

Bald Eagle sitting in a pine tree, Lake Vermilion MN

I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve been able to see these majestic birds in the wild—both where I currently live (I’m probably about half a mile away from the city ‘lake’) soaring above Boomer Lake every so often; and then up at Lake Vermilion in northern MN. I remember being about 12 or so, when my father and I took a kayak out to look at the nest of one of the bald eagle pairs on Vermilion Lake—it was huge.

These majestic birds have managed to climb back from the edge of extinction and while they aren’t protected under the Endangered Species Act, they are currently under the protection of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act.

I’m hoping that soon I can get back to my weekly walks around Boomer Lake and hopefully be able to spot one of these majestic birds soaring overhead looking for lunch to steal or catch.

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

The small, but loud Carolina wren: photography challenge day 69 (slightly late)

So this was suppose to be the picture that was posted last night, but there were issues with the WiFi and internet connection–so it’s a day late. I’m still calling it day 69, as I did try to post last night.

Carolina wren in front of the wood holder.

The Carolina wren is a small wren species that is common in most of the eastern parts of the United States. These wrens like to make their nests in hanging plants, empty flowerpots that have been forgotten and left in a corner, or they may make use of nesting boxes. We’ve had them make nests in hanging plants, and various other things hanging on the house (including gardening equipment). Lately they’ve been around the brush piles that we have on the other side of the fence.

The wren deciding to check out under the wood.

Both sexes look similar—having an reddish-brown back, with a orange chest. They also have a long eyebrow stripe, and white chin and throat.

Carolina wren deciding to check out the top of the wood.

If you’ve heard a Carolina wren sing—you know that they have a very good set of lungs for being such a small bird. Though—it’s only the male (usually) that sings that loud song.

Carolina wrens mate for life, once the pair bond is formed they will stay in their territory year round, and forage together as well. These bird feed primarily on insects (such as caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, and true bugs [to name a few]) and spiders. They can also be found on suet feeders grabbing nuts (especially in the winter months), and eating berries as well.

Carolina wren debating on whether or not to go back into the wood pile.

They usually have two broods per year (usually five to six eggs), with the female incubating the eggs. The male may bring the female food during this time (incubation usually ranges about two weeks). The young (which are then fed by both parents) usually leave the nest about two weeks after hatching.

References:
https://www.audubon.org/field-guide/bird/carolina-wren
https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Carolina_Wren/id

No Comments bird watchingnaturePhotography

Triple the entries: Day 2 of the photography challenge; all fish in one space.

Not often they’re all on the same side of the aquarium at the same time.

So with the fact that a minor winter storm blew in this afternoon, and I really didn’t feel like going outside–the winners for today’s photography challenge are the three fish in the large aquarium.

So we originally bought this 55 gallon aquarium when the koi fish was getting to big for the smaller aquarium in the family room and we didn’t want to donate it to the local botanical garden for their koi pond. Needless to say that fish passed a couple of years ago (we’ve gone through a couple of shubunkins since then). The algae eater adapted to the aquarium quite nicely (though we learned that they don’t like to be caught with the fish nets when they’re adults).

The larger algae eater in the back was the one I had in the aquarium in my room. But alas, the pump went out on the aquarium (and they no longer make the pump), so I moved it over to the aquarium in the other bedroom.

The cats enjoy going in there every so often to watch “fish tv” for a couple of hours–especially when the algae eaters are cleaning the front of the aquarium.

I’ve realized that once Pancakes and I move, I will have to set up an aquarium for her so that she has her fish tv to watch, since I’m not sure there will be many birds around for her to watch.


No Comments PetsPhotography

Month in Review: January 2019

So we’re off and running into 2019. January has come and gone. The weather has been interesting this month—within the first four days there was a snow/ice storm (did get out of work a little early, and then the next day started a little later)—so can’t wait to see how the weather is going to behave for the rest of the year.

So I decided that to start the year, I was going to start a little slower in terms of goals (not have quite as many as I’d been having) to see if I could get at least 80% on each of them. So what did my goals for January include?

They were:

At least 434,000 steps (this will be breaking down to the minimum of 14K/day), so that I can be on track for reaching 5 million steps again by New Year’s Eve.

Starting to interact more on Linkedin.

Restarting the photography challenge (may or may not be same picture on the blog and other social pages).

Working through different e-courses and on the transition plan (making notes and posting updates on the blog).

Working on different science posts for the blog.

Reading (or finishing) at least 3 non-fiction books (aiming to read at least 10% of a book a day—lovely thing with the kindle as it tells you the % of the book you’ve read; would make it approximately 3 new books a month).

Workout daily (either restart a beachbody program or start a hybrid program), alternating resistance training with cardio (and hopefully a walk on the weekend along with yoga).

Figure out how to ensure that I’m having my shakeology daily.

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. Step goal of 434,000: I managed to surpass the step goal this month. I got in 477,549 steps (and this was with four days being below average; three of which were below 5K). A little closer to reaching 500K in a month, but still a little short. But I’m on track for both the yearly goal (of 5 million) and my 1001-day goal (of either 14,014,000 or 19,124,000 steps).
  • Interacting more on Linkedin: This one is a little slow going. I’m liking posts, and sharing posts every so often, but I have yet to write an post or leave a detailed comment on someone’s post.
  • Restarting the photography challenge: This one has been difficult, mainly due to my cell phone acting up (during the week, that is usually how I take my pictures). So the challenge got restarted again on the 7th (though I did post on the 1st, and then several pictures over the weekend of the 5th & 6th to try to make up for not having a daily picture posted from the 2nd to the 4th).

I restarted the challenge again this week (starting on the 28th), and did a double post on 30th (since I had trouble trying to load any of the pages on the blog on the 29th). So we shall see how long I make it this year.

  • Working through the different e-courses and on the transition plan: I’ve managed to work through one e-course (which was more of a refresher on job searching), and did one or two little linkedin “courses”. In terms of my transition plan, I’ve come up with several things that I’d like to avoid doing, slowly figuring out my “professional lifestyle” and I have an idea about which biotech hubs I’d be willing to move to for a job.
  • Working on different science posts: I’m slowly working on this, as I’ve realized what my two major hang-ups are: 1) trying to draw what I want to relate (structures of DNA & RNA for example), and then 2) making sure that I’m not using a huge amount of scientific jargon. I want to write scientific posts that can be understood by someone who doesn’t have the scientific background.
  • Reading (or finishing) at least 3 non-fiction books: So I managed to finish reading the following books, and have also decided to color code them differently in my master list to differentiate between the books that I finished last year (in red) and the ones I will have finished this year (in green); though I also have one in purple (this is more of a reference book):

Move Your Æ Ash: Know, Grow, & Show Your Career Value by Paul Carney

Anti Goals: Find Success by Knowing what to avoid by Kevin Wagonfoot

Power Up Your Self Talk: 6 Simple Habits to Stop Beating Yourself Up and Reclaim Your Life by Michal Stawicki

Anti-Debt: A guide to personal finance, getting out debt and building a money plan for our life by Kevin Wagonfoot

Though I’ve only written one book review so far: Anti-Goals: Find Success by Knowing What to Avoid by Kevin Wagonfoot

  • Daily workout: I’ve managed to at least get my steps in 27 out of 31 days (which means that my fitbit registered at least 25 minutes of walking). I’ve also done numerous workouts—it may not have been daily though. So this is still something I’m going to be working on (see my other post on trying to finish at least 250 different Beachbody workouts).
  • Trying to figure out the best way to have my shakeology daily. This has been a total washout—I haven’t had shakeology at all this month. I’m considering cancelling my supplements for shakeology (as I have about 2 months worth to still go through). Mornings right now are too chilly for having a shake before leaving the house, and I’ve gotten spoiled having it mixed with almond milk instead of water and blended (instead shaken in a cup). So yeah—I’m still trying to figure out the best way of having my daily dose of shakeology.

So I think I’m off to a good start this year (at least in terms of certain things). There are always going to be bumps or roadblocks in the road, and I just need to go over them or figure out a way around them. So now it’s time to try to set some goals for the next twenty-eight days in February.

February goals will include:

At least 392,000 steps (again this breaks down to at least 14K/day; and will keep me on track for my other step goals).

Continue trying to interact more on linkedin.

Read at least one article on fiercepharma or fiercebiotech each day (maybe make notes for a small weekly recap blog post).

Continue with the photography challenge

Continue working through various e-courses/groups and the transition plan (pick specific cities, and have an idea of what my superpower trifecta is).

Continue trying to workout daily.

Aim for a week of no spend days (start money log)

Read (or finish) at least three non-fiction books

Start really trying to work on science posts for the blog (and potentially on linkedin as well).

Figure out the best way (still) of trying to have my shakeology daily.

Image of Goofy running: http://clipart-library.com/clipart/pc787erqi.htm

No Comments Month in ReviewPersonal Developmentprofessional development

Photography Challenge Day 4: Mississippi Kites

Today’s winner of the photography challenge is the pair of Mississippi kites that I saw on my morning walk at Boomer Lake. Truthfully, I almost missed seeing them—I’d turned at just the right time to see a bird swoop into a tree, and when I went to get a closer look, I realized that it was a pair of Mississippi kites.

                           Mississippi Kites

I’ve seen the kites all summer—but usually when they’re just swooping around in the sky foraging for flying insects and they’re usually a good block or so away and I can never get a good picture. Today I managed to get several good pictures of them.

       Swooping Mississippi Kite

The Mississippi kite (Ictinia mississippiensis) is a bird of prey that spends its summers in both the southeastern and southwestern parts of the United States (it winters down in central South America). Unlike larger birds of prey, the Mississippi kite feeds primarily on insects though will also forage on small reptiles, amphibians, smaller birds, small mammals and bats.

These graceful birds can be seen throughout the day flying and soaring though the sky as they hunt for their meals. Since these are social birds, usually they can be seen in groups as small as just a pair, upwards to a dozen or more (depending on how main breeding pairs and yearlings are in the area).

                  One Mississippi Kite

As much as I’d like to get a picture of the youngsters—I’m going to need a better lens that zooms as the pairs are fiercely territorial and will dive bomb anything that gets to close to the nest. Obviously this morning, either the tree where they were perched didn’t contain the nest, or the youngsters are old enough that the parents don’t dive bomb any more, or I was still far enough away that they didn’t see me as a threat.

             Two Mississippi Kites

And here are a couple of more unusual facts about these graceful birds:

They may build their nests near (or incorporate) a wasp nest to help protect their eggs and chicks from climbing predators (because who wants to mess with a colony of wasps?).

They allow certain smaller birds to nest near them (namely mockingbirds, blue jays, and house sparrows).

Facts and trivia were found at: www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mississippi_Kite/overview

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Goldfinch looking for spring….Photography challenge day 14

Well I thought we were going to be settling into spring temperatures this weekend, but no…..Mother nature has decided to play with us, like a cat does with a mouse. The weather was beautiful on Thursday, rainy and chilly on Friday, and then plain cold on Saturday. The forecast claimed today was suppose to be warmer than yesterday (and in a way it was—just at 5PM and not earlier in the day).

Finch in the bush

So today’s photograph is brought to you by an rather irritated goldfinch that I accidentally disturbed at the feeder when I went out to top off all the bird feeders. I guess with cooler weather, we’ll be getting a lot of birds in the yard. I swear this weekend we probably had somewhere in the total of fifty to sixty grackles around two of the feeders (and they wiped out a small suet twice this weekend).

Its also nice to see that the cold snap hasn’t totally killed of the flowers and leaves that budded out already this year (though it will be probably fifty-fifty on whether or not we have a peach crop this year). As much as I don’t care for most insects, I want spring temperatures to come–I’m tired of wearing my winter jacket in the mornings and then having to carry it home in the afternoon because the temperatures rose by a good thirty to forty degrees.

This is one of my favorite times of the year to bird watch (I did see a bluebird the other day, I just didn’t have my camera on me [which has a better zoom than my phone]). I’m thinking that I need to make time to walk around Boomer Lake and bird watch to see what species are out on the water and flying around.

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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?

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Day four of photo challenge

I’m thinking that for awhile most of the pictures for this photo challenge are going to be either of the family pets (we do have seven–four dogs and three cats), birds in the yard (since we have numerous feeders), or throw-back photos that I already have on my computer. Right now its really cold out (though not as cold as the northeast is right now), and if I can find an excuse not to go out in the winter weather–I will find one and I’ll use it no matter how lame of an excuse it is.

The nose that wanted its picture taken

Today’s installment for the photo challenge is an closeup of our collie mix’s nose. I’d been playing with my phone one morning and she came to see what I was doing, and I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to see what type of close-up picture she’d allow. Well you can see her nose, and if you look really close–you can even see an eyeball through the fur.

I like taking pictures of the animals, mainly because each picture is showing a little different aspect of their unique personalities, even if the pictures are taken within minutes of each other.  Boozer is our youngest dog, and one of the most stubborn ones we’ve had as well–she is sweet, though she gets into trouble daily acting like she is the top dog, when in fact she is at the bottom of the dog pecking order.

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