Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New Site

Oops, forgot to mention, the Shark Tank is being retired. I've started a new blog over at Wordpress, called Motion-Based Life Form. Hope to see ya there!:-)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Shark Week

This week has been Shark Week on the Discovery Channel, always a big deal for me. I can't get enough of shark documentaries, I find them fascinating. There's just something about these animals that are so graceful, powerful, and beautiful, animals that have been around since long before the dinosaurs roamed the earth (they've been around for 400 million years) that puts me in awe. There are about 400 different species, that range in size from about a foot long for the pygmy shark, to 60 feet long for the whale shark. The two largest fish in the ocean, the whale shark and 40 foot basking shark, eat some of the smallest fish in the ocean, krill. Great White sharks have been known to launch themselves out of the water in sometimes acrobatic displays, hunting seals around one particular island off of South Africa. This is the only place in the world where they do this, influenced largely by the underwater topography around the island. There are sharks that live in the deep ocean, at depths that would crush many submarines, and sharks that can live for years in fresh water. They have not five senses, but six; they can sense the electric currents given off by other living things, boats, etc, and use them to hunt. People who've worked closely with them have noticed different individuals exhibiting distinct personalities. This is just scratching the surface of what I've learned about them over the years, and there's still so much we don't know.

Of course, this fascination with sharks in particular is just an extension of my interest in marine biology as a whole. Since I was a kid, growing up on a lake, I've been intrigued by the water, mostly the ocean, and its flora and fauna, and even topography. I think it's largely because it's a world that's so alien to us, that we can only visit for any length using modern technology, and the deeper you want to go, and the longer we want to stay, the more advanced the technology required. A world that is still so largely unexplored; for all they've learned, scientists have still only barely scratched the surface.

Some people may look at fish as "just fish", but I see animals that can survive in an environment that I can only visit, animals in wide varieties of incredibly beautiful colors and shapes to rival anything on land, that are often wierder than any alien in the best sci-fi movies; animals that often exhibit surprising intelligence, that live in conditions more hostile than anything we can imagine. Take the hot vent ecosystems in the deep abyssal plains, where hot water is vented into the ocean from the earth at temperatures of 800 degrees. Celcius. Yes, there is life around these vents, in ecosystems which are based not around sunlight and photosythesis as the chief energy source, like those on land and in shallower areas of the oceans, but chemosynthesis, in which hydrogen sulfide is broken down into sugars. This occurs at depths that would crush the human body. This is an environment that is so alien to us, it may as well be on another planet. But it's here, on Earth, and it's teeming with life.

A friend once told me they didn't understand the attraction of keeping a fish tank. I'm sure the answers to that question would vary widely from person to person, but for me, when I was a kid and we had fish tanks, it was about having a piece of nature right there in our home, like we had this little ecosystem in our livingroom. If I were ever to get a fish tank, that's what it would be again, along with the pride of nurturing that ecosystem. Not to mention, well designed tanks are just really, really cool. Often very beautiful. When I was in college, a roommates boyfriend had a beautiful saltwater tank, that was designed to look like a mini reef. It had colorful anemonies, shrimp, and a variety of colorful fish. It was as beautiful, if not more so, than many paintings I've seen. I would keep a tank like that in a heartbeat, if it weren't so expensive.

Photo of the Day

North Bar Lake, at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. This is a springfed lake, which used to also be an inlet of Lake Michigan. Now it is connected via a small stream through the sand bar that now separates them. It's much warmer than Lake Michigan, very nice for swimming. So nice, I decided to swim across!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Oh yeah, almost forgot...

Happy Fourth of July!:-)
Once again, it has been a while since I last posted. This is becoming a bad habit, not posting regularly. I'll try to get better. "Try" being the operative word here.

So, onto the obligatory "what I've been up to lately". After having issues with both feet, which forced me to stop training for the Dexter-Ann Arbor half marathon, I took some time off from running to let them heal. After a couple of months, I started going for hikes in Nichols Arboretum (a.k.a. "the Arb"), which caused some soreness at first, but the soreness gradually got less and less, and finally went away. Physical therapy through hiking on uneven ground, gotta love it! I then progressed to running at the Arb. Again, a little soreness at first, but it gradually went away. Now, I am once again in training for a half marathon, this time for the Detroit Free Press Half Marathon. Hopefully this time, things will go better.

This time around, I'm trying to play it smarter, starting earlier and joining a training group, the Running Fit 501 marathon and half marathon training group. Group runs/workouts twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, informational seminars, and other good stuff. So far, it's a lot of fun! I have had some soreness in the foot, but it tends not to last too long. I've also discovered the benefits of the ice bath, or in my case just cold water bath, which seems to help.

After a particularly tough workout, I run a bath with the water as cold as I can get from my tap, deep enough to submerge my legs, and sit in it for about 20 minutes. Last night I even added a couple of trays of ice cubes, not enough to make it a true "ice bath", but enough to drop the temperature a little more. So far, doing this seems to help my muscles, and my foot as well. Hopefully that will continue as the runs get longer. Fritz did something similar after his second marathon, and said it helped a lot, so that's a good sign that it will. I highly recommend it for other activities as well, including particularly tough hiking, biking, or climbing workouts.

I've also started a new job, which is, well, meh. Not liking it a whole lot, it's clerical, which is not my favorite thing in the world to do. I basically took it to stay within my company so I wouldn't lose my seniority. As soon as my six months are up, I can start looking for other positions within the company, and will definitely be keeping my eye out for positions within the fitness division for which I was previously working. I'm still doing personal training for them, which helps me keep my skills up and keep me happier, but business has gotten slow with the onset of summer. Most of my clients were either college students who are now gone for the summer, or faculty/staff of the university, who are now taking vacations and such. Things should pick up in the fall though.

One thing I do like about the clerical job, it's a five minute walk from the Arb, which is incredibly convenient. There's also a nice courtyard where I can eat lunch every day. And most of the people are nice. Other than that, it's rather dull, and so by-the-book, letter-of-the-law that it's quite stifling.

I also headed back to fencing practice this past weekend, after a six-month hiatus. It was SO much fun, and I wasn't nearly as rusty as I expected to be. In fact, mentally I felt much better, much more agressive, more confident. I actually got a few good-natured complaints that taking so much time off hadn't made me any easier to beat. That felt good, but I did still feel rusty in a lot of ways. But I intend to go more regularly from now on, and that should ease as I get more practice in.

That about concludes my update on my life the last couple of months. In case anyone's interested, I've added a badge that shows the books I'm currently reading, and will try to keep that updated as well.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Photo of the Day

Fiery Vapor Trails
Originally uploaded by tina_inara.
One of the last photos I took of sunsets through the window at the fitness center where I used to work. Friday was our last day, beginning yesterday, Ford was going to have an hourly person from the plant floor keeping an eye on things. I sure hope they have a CPR certification! Also taking bets on how long it will take for the lighter dumbells and plates to walk away...

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Oh my, it really has been a while since I've posted anything here. Oops. Well, a lot has happened since then. A week after my last post, I found out that I will be losing my job at a "Fords" (as many of their employees inexplicably call it, which drives me nuts) corporate fitness center due to cutbacks. My last day there will be a week from yesterday. Luckily, I was a contractor, and I'm being put into Reduction in Force status at my direct employer, the University of Michigan, which should give me preference in the hiring process while I look for another job within the U. I'll likely have to settle for a lower-paying, non-fitness-related position (as there are no fitness positions available at the moment), but the benefits literally cannot be beat, at least not in this state, so I'm going to try to stay with the university.

I've had some interviews already, and have another scheduled this week, so hopefully something will pan out soon. I really don't want to deal with the hassle of collecting unemployment for very long. I'm also going to be picking up some temporary part-time hours at another U of M fitness center, so that will give me some additional income, and something to do for 15 hours per week. I'll also still be able to do the personal training I've been doing for the last year and a half.

In other news, I started a half-marathon training program a few weeks ago, to prepare for the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run in June, the day after my birthday. Unfortunately, my left foot is now hurting, showing the same symptoms that I had in the right one a few weeks back, so I took this week off from training, and may take next week off as well, to see if it improves. I hope it does, I've really been getting excited about doing the half, and consider it a stepping stone to doing the Detroit Free Press Marathon in October.

Otherwise, nothing much new. Finally saw An Inconvenient Truth today, which I highly recommend if you haven't already seen it. It's a very powerful film, and does a great job of debunking a lot of the misconceptions about the "controversy" surrounding global warming. Definitely a must-see film!

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

So, I said on Monday that I'd wait another week or two to try running, if my sanity held out. It didn't. Monday evening I tried running on the treadmill at work. (Yeah, I know, I didn't even make it an entire day before I caved; I'm a paragon of restraint.) It felt great, my foot didn't hurt at all. And since then, the tension headaches I was getting almost every day at work haven't come back. Maybe that was part of the problem, I wasn't getting the stress relief I needed. I've been exercising on the stationary bike and elliptical trainer, but that's just not the same as running. They don't give me the peace of mind that running does. Yesterday I did the bike, not wanting to push things too hard too quickly, but tonight I ran again. My endurance doesn't seem to have suffered *too* much, so hopefully in a week or two, I'll be able to start my half-marathon training program.

I'd like to do the Bayshore half-marathon in Traverse City, Memorial Day weekend. One possible obstacle I can foresee is that it's on a Saturday morning. If I can't get Friday off from work to drive up north, I'll have to leave after work at 9 pm, which would have me getting to my parents' place after 1 am. The race starts at 7 am, and my parents live about 45 minutes from Traverse City. In short, I'd get very little sleep. So, my back-up plan is the Dexter-Ann Arbor Run half-marathon, the following weekend. Hopefully, all will go well, and there will be no setbacks or obstacles; I'd really love to run along Grand Traverse Bay for my first half-marathon!


Photo of the Day

Ice Storm 142
Originally uploaded by tina_inara.
Another pic from the ice storm last month.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Ice Storm 148
Originally uploaded by tina_inara.
I finally got around to uploading the photos I took of January's ice storm to Flickr.

It's been quite a while since I've posted here, and I'm still feeling a bit on the lazy side blogging-wise. So, I'm going to borrow a trick from my friend Shawn, and post a list of what I've been up to.

-Reading: Fluke by Christopher Moore, Kiln People by David Brin, and Chi Running by Danny Dreyer, I've also finished all but one of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse series.

-Listening to: NPR and Phedippidations podcasts, audiobooks

-Watching: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Firefly on DVD, Lost, BSG, Dresden Files

-Running: not at all, sadly. Thought I had a stress fracture, but the bone scan turned out negative, thankfully. I'm sticking with bike and elliptical for another week or two if my sanity will handle it, then will ease back into running. Still hoping to do a half-marathon this summer, and a marathon in the fall, all going well.

-Organizing: Cleaned out old records and financial statements, shredding everything, over the weekend. (Catching up on podcasts is a GREAT way to make this process go by more quickly!) Felt good to purge old stuff. Still need to go through old clothes, shoes, books, etc, and take to Goodwill.