Success!

May. 20th, 2009 07:59 am
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I did it! I completed my first 5K without stopping! I just checked the website this morning and am thrilled to learn my time was 32:12. That's actually incredible because someone asked before the race what my time goal was, and I said 35 minutes! It wasn't about time for me, obviously, but about finishing without stopping. And I did it! And you know, it wasn't even as bad as I thought. There was never a moment during the race where I actually thought I might not finish. It wasn't easy, but it was totally manageable. The greatest moment for me was actually that first mile marker, because when it came up I couldn't believe how good I still felt. Last year I slowed to a walk just a little way past that first mile marker, and picked up again later in the race. And once I passed the second mile marker, stopping was not an option. I was not going to quit that late in the game!

Yesterday I told myself that as long as I completed this race, I never *have* to run again. :b But now that I know I can do it, and without too much struggling, it would be silly to stop. I'm not saying I'm going to be a marathon runner. But it would be nice to run a 5K with a goal of how fast I can do it, rather than if I can do it at all.
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Today was a long, fun, exciting day at the zoo. I gave my second tour, to a group of Cuban diplomats and their kids. The sheeps and alpacas at the Children's Zoo were sheared (I asked if I could have some of the wool, but they save it all for the other animals to play with). I witnessed a violent nature documentary-style standoff between the snow monkeys and the black-necked swans (not sure who won, but the swans totally started it). Oh and Ricky Gervais was there again, and pointed out to one of the other guides that one of the monkeys had apparently gotten hold of a Sharpie. Yeah...I don't know either. I took a few pictures. )
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I'm running in the American Heart Association Wall Street Run & Heart Walk again this year, and I'm still looking for sponsors. I hate soliciting for donations, but I have a very modest goal, so anything you could give would be great. The website unfortunately doesn't let you donate less than $25, but if you want to donate less, you can donate offline.

The link to my personal page is here.

Last year I did the run for the first time, with very little training, and though I didn't run the entire course (I did about a third - but that was without music!) I felt exhilarated upon finishing. This time I have been training more, and have even done 5K on the treadmill a few times. I don't know if I'll be able to run the entire 5K this year, but I'm sure as hell gonna try!


Click Here to Donate

Tree

Apr. 22nd, 2009 09:48 am
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My tree is budding! Yay!

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ALL of them.


Contrary to what was known, all octopuses are venomous, a new study finds.

Researchers knew that the blue-ringed octopus packed venom. Now they say all octopuses and cuttlefish, and some squid are venomous. In fact they all share a common, ancient venomous ancestor, the study indicates, and the work suggests new avenues for drug discovery...

The origin of these genes also sheds light on the fundamentals of evolution, presenting a prime example of convergent evolution where species independently develop similar traits.


http://www.livescience.com/animals/090415-octopus-venom.html
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http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/09/humpback-whale-spotted-in-new-york-harbor/

I wish I could run down there and get a glimpse of it. I really hope this whale makes for the ocean and turns out okay, unlike most instances of whales and dolphins in this area. Almost always, they're here because they're sick and lost.
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I hadn't really been giving it much thought, but I guess I should say something about tonight being the final episode of ER. I think I am one of the only people, certainly the only person I know, who has watched the show consistently for all 15 years. Even when it was hard to watch, even when the episodes would pile up on my DVR and I would dread watching them, because they could be very upsetting, I watched them.

The reason I initially started watching ER is because my mother told me that my cousin, or more specifically, her first cousin's stepson, was on it. I remember telling my friend Diane that my cousin played someone named Dr. Carter I think, and she flipped. I ended up getting her an autographed photo of Noah Wyle, which is funny because I never got one for myself and to this day I have not met the guy.

I think it was my sophomore year of college that my ER obsession peaked. I remember how no one could call me when the show was on. I don't even remember what was going on in the show at that time but it must have been the show's hayday, with all the original actors, including George Clooney, who was not new to me because I remembered him as Sela Ward's murdered boyfriend Falconer on Sisters. What I loved about ER then was that you really never knew what was going to come next. You could see a character once and never again, or they could be back next week. If someone came into the ER with a headache, they really might just have a headache, or it could be an aneurysm; you just never knew. That's one of the things that the show really lost as it went on. In the later years, the foreshadowing was like an anvil. And the characters, the poor main characters. Some of them went through so much horror you wonder how an actual person could go on after dealing with it. Drug addictions, murders, cancer, loss of children and spouses, horrific accidents, and every possible love triangle in the book. It's about time the show ended so that these poor people can finally get some rest!

The show has changed so much since it started in 1994. Heck, my life has changed so much! 15 years later, Diane is an ER doctor herself. And Noah Wyle has been the most consistently present character on the show, with the most episodes of any of the ER actors. I wonder what he'll go on to do. I wonder if I'll ever get to meet him! I'm sure he's happy to move on. It is about time. But thank you ER, you were, overall, a pretty great show.

*Added after watching: Nothing particularly sad happened at the end, but I still cried. Even if it was time for this show to be over. It's been on for almost half my life.
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My Yahoo horoscope today: Take a travel fantasy and start turning it into reality today. Do some research.

Ha ha, this is what most of my life is spent doing. The past few years, anyway!

Speaking of years...today is my 6th LJ anniversary. A lot has changed since then, and a lot hasn't. I certainly don't post as much as I used to, mostly because now I have a job where I'm not bored out of my mind 7 hours a day.

I mean to post more today, but can't right now -- a fact check about cancer treatment-induced bone loss awaits!
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New lamb! Half Jacob sheep, half impatient* baby doll sheep. It's one week old. It's the size of a cat. I just want to pick it up!



Yay spring!



*The male baby doll is mature enough to mate; the female isn't yet.
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Yeah, I look like an a-hole but I don't care. I'm in the spirit! It's a nice day here, sunny and mild, and spring is on the way. Gotta celebrate!

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I'm back, jet-lagged and exhausted. I think it's good, though, to return to work after a vacation on a Friday. That way you only have to work one day and then you get a whole weekend to rest up. I could write a lengthy post about my thoughts on this trip, but as I don't have time right now and want to post something, here it is:

- The Monterey Bay Aquarium and its surroundings are more wonderful than I ever imagined. An example of how humans and animals can live peacefully side by side, it is a truly amazing, inspiring, and for me a very spiritual place. I'm still trying to figure out what it all means in terms of what I should be doing with my life, but I am leaning more and more to possibly teaching biology, ecology, and conservation. I've never wanted to be a teacher because I always viewed it as something people do for the people they're teaching. But if I choose to do it, it will be because I am so passionate about the subject matter that I want to share it with others. Because if I can inspire someone else to become the researcher/scientist I didn't, it would be the next best contribution I could make to science. I had a little "a-ha" moment at the end of my last day in Monterey when I was buying a book at the gift shop. The woman at the register asked if I was an educator, because they give a discount if you are. I said "No, not really, just volunteer." And without saying a word, she gave me the discount. And I realized, hey, I *am* a teacher. An educator. Maybe not in a professional sense, but I already am in a position to teach and inspire others about nature and conservation.

There is so much to be appreciative of in the ocean that people don't even think about. For instance, I have come to the conclusion that everyone should see the animal in person if they're going to eat it. Not the actual animal they're eating, of course; what I mean is that people need to appreciate the dignity of this animal that has been reduced into a can. Very few people realize what a grand animal a tuna is. The big yellowfin tunas were my favorite animals in the aquarium (followed close behind by the bat rays, which at the MBA you can touch!). I'd include a photo here, but the things are too damn fast for my camera. The big message of the MBA these days is eating healthful seafood that is fished sustainably and low in toxins. A tuna is a top predator, a wild animal, and an awesome powerful creature. Having respect for these wild animals, I think, is of utmost importance. My job as a volunteer docent at the CPZ is a great start and I want to throw more of myself into that. The volunteers at MBA, most of them retirees, just like at CPZ, were so gregarious and passionate. It was very inspiring.

- I am seriously considering getting the MBA logo as a tattoo. I'm not going to rush into that or anything of course. I'm not even sure where on my person I would want it. I'm thinking maybe I will set it as a reward for myself once I've made some inroads as to figuring out what I'm doing with my life and how I will let my experience at MBA drive me.


Some pics, more to follow. )
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So yesterday Green Tortoise called to inform me that my Yosemite tour has been cancelled. I was disappointed to hear that, of course. It also sucks because my trip was kind of planned around it. They told me to call this other tour company called the Yosemite Bug Bus, which I did. Their tour sounds decent (though it doesn't involve camping, which I would have enjoyed, but it might be too cold for camping anyway); the only thing is they must have at least 2 people to run the tour and so far I'm the only one signed up. I can't help but wonder if I was also the only one signed up for the Green Tortoise trip! The woman I spoke to said they get most of their business from people staying at the USA Hostel who decide to go at the last minute. So there's a chance this tour could be cancelled when I'm already in San Francisco. I know that my worst-case scenario, 4 days in San Francisco, would hardly be a tragedy. I've only spent one day there in my life so there's plenty I could do and see. I just will be disappointed to not see Yosemite and the giant sequoias. It also went through my mind though that maybe if I can't go to Yosemite I can fly to Monterey earlier.

Then I heard about this turbopop commuter plane crash in Buffalo. It always seems like these smaller planes crash more often. And I'm supposed to be flying on one to and from Monterey, because it seemed like the best way for me at the time. But now I won't need camping gear, will have less luggage, and probably could have taken a tour bus to Monterey. This is silly, I know, commuter flights happen all the time, buses probably crash more often, and my bags would still probably be too big to "sneak" onto a tour bus. The plane is probably still my best option. I shouldn't even be thinking about this. :b

I am trying to roll with the changes. Now that I know about this USA Hostel I will probably be staying there; it seems like a nice place, and they have lots of information about tours and things to do in SF on their website. My trip may end up being a different kind of trip than I expected. But maybe that's not a bad thing.
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My birthday was nice, but today I am wiped out. After work yesterday I went out for drinks with a few friends, which was lovely, and then at about 8:30 met my family at Blue Ribbon for my birthday dinner. It took an hour and a half to get a table, which was not surprising to me, since BR doesn't do reservations for groups less than 5 (too bad I didn't think of it last year when Nathan was here). I had only had a martini, but was in "rare form" as my mom would say. While we waited for our table I had a beer and some oysters, which were quite nice. When we were seated I immediately ordered what I had come to BR for -- the beef marrow with oxtail marmalade. It was delicious, but it was intensely rich. They also gave us a complimentary dish of escargots cooked in a very rich dark sauce (which they made the mistake of plonking down in front of my mother, who just about had a fit because she won't eat snails :p). Both dishes were delicious and had a complex combination of flavors. I think maybe though it was too late in the evening to be eating that way, or maybe I had just eaten so decadently all day long (donuts, cupcakes, etc) that there was just no room left. When my main course came out (catfish with mashed potatoes and collards) I could hardly touch it. The collards were more butter than vegetable. Delicious but too much! I had it wrapped up. There was no way I could manage dessert. My mother wanted it though (all she had was a salad and some chicken wings from the pu pu platter -- she's a very picky eater) so we had to watch her eat ice cream with berries while I was just sitting there trying not to barf. They must have overheard us talking about it being my birthday because they brought out a scoop of lemon sorbet for me with a candle in it. That was nice because it gave my family the opportunity to sing happy birthday to me, and I managed a couple spoonfuls, but that was it. I did not feel at all well leaving the restaurant, which I feel bad about since I know the food there is great and for whatever the reason, late hour, pre-dinner cocktails, I was not able to fully appreciate it. In the end I went to sleep and did not yak, which is good, but oy, I feel like I need to fast or at least take a break from solid foods today! Then maybe, just maybe tonight I can attempt to eat my leftovers from last night. :b I also have several cupcakes left from the batch of Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes I brought to work yesterday. They came out amazingly good. Maybe if I avoid food today I can have one later! Ha ha.

I know I didn't post here yesterday but thanks to everyone who conveyed birthday wishes via Facebook or e-mail (or otherwise). :)
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I just wanted to record for posterity that I made the most yummy thing this week, and it ended up being enough for 2 meals. For lunch I had picked up these vegan Thai dumplings they sell in health food stores and delis around the city, but ended up not eating them, so I took them home for dinner. I was craving some real Thai food and wanted to make the dumplings more interesting so here's what I did:

- Chopped and sauteed 1 small shallot (more like one big clove of shallot)
- Added one chopped red bell pepper
- Added one chopped head of bok choy
- Then mixed together a cup of chicken broth (I used Penzey's soup base) and about a 1/3 can of coconut milk (I could only find the full-fat kind. Oh DARN.) with a 1/4 tsp of Chinese chili paste and added that to the party
- Then I added in the dumplings and 1/2 cup of frozen corn and simmered till everything was warm and happy

Not only was it yummy but it was pretty too with all the different colors. Good stuff. Can easily be made vegan too, if you're into that sort of thing.

The day before that I made curry salmon croquettes that were really good too. Go me!
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Joe the Peeler Man died. This is sad for me, because I will always associate the Peeler Man with Nathan. Even though he's been selling peelers around New York City for decades, I had never seen him in action (or noticed) until a couple of years ago. On one of his trips to New York, on a day when I had to work, Nathan encountered the Peeler Man as he wandered the streets near my office. He was impressed by his entertaining shpiel and by the fact that one of his own countrymen was selling vegetable peelers on a street corner. And not just any peelers, these were of course THE GREATEST peelers you will ever find, the one peeler you will ever need, made in Switzerland, and of course you know that means it's a quality product because they don't make anything crap in Switzerland. :) Nathan bought one for his mom and one for me at $5 a pop. Joe the Peeler Man was a natural born salesman. You didn't buy his peelers because you needed a peeler, you bought one because this guy put on a show, sitting on a bucket, peeling vegetables, wearing a suit, and speaking with a British accent. Add to that that he was in his 70s and you have quite a character. Shortly after Nathan proudly presented me with my own super-duper vegetable peeler, I started to notice Joe doing his routine (once in Union Square, once near my office), and not long after that his quirky story made the news. As it turns out, Joe made quite a living peeling carrots on a corner. He lived on Park Avenue! Even if I rarely use that peeler, I am proud to have it as it is a piece of American legend. I don't know what he died of, but the Peeler Man will be missed.
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I spent this beautiful sunny day on the beach. Okay, so it was below freezing temperatures. It was lovely. I went on an excursion with a hiking group to see seals in the "wild" (ie, not the zoo). We went to a beach in Westhampton and heard a lecture by a professor who is studying the seals. He is the president of an organization called CRESLI, Coastal Research and Education Society of Long Island. His is the kind of job that wish I could do. I have never wanted to be a teacher, but you know, if I could be the kind of teacher that shows their kids amazing stuff like this, maybe I could do it. I still mean to track down my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Nieves, and thank her for taking us beach camping. It takes a pretty awesome lady to take a bunch of 11-year-olds camping.

Speaking of topics that make me quiver with an internal "I am supposed to be doing *this*" feeling, CRESLI also runs an annual overnight whale watching cruise in the summer, which I would be all over if not for the fact that it's during the week! Argh! Argh for having no more vacation days because I'm using them all to go to Australia. I want ALL THE CAKE DAMMIT. So.awesome!!! Oh well, I will be going whale watching in California, and that will just have to be good enough.

Anyway, the beach was beautiful. I wasn't even that cold. Patagonia thermals + legwarmers = rock.

Photobucket

Yes, this is about as close as we were able to get. I had binoculars, but not a telephoto lens.

More pics )
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After 2 shows and a trip to Scotland, I have finally come around to Frightened Rabbit. It often happens with me that no matter how much I'm told that a band is good, I will only come around to them when I am ready. Which is usually fairly late in the game. I'd say after seeing them twice (once last week) and hearing 2 people say it's *the* band to listen to while traveling through Scotland, it's pretty late. My feelings about the Bowery show were that it was just okay, and the only songs I enjoyed were the more upbeat ones that I remembered hearing on shuffle on my mp3 player ("Old Old Fashioned" and "Keep Yourself Warm"). Then, after the show, I decided to give it another listen. Without even really meaning for it to be, the album's been on repeat ever since. Then, listening to it today while at work (yes, at work, on a Saturday), I finally really *heard* the words of "Backwards Walk," and upon feeling my stomach emotionally implode with empathy, felt the need to announce that yes, Frightened Rabbit is pretty feckin' awesome. And even though I wasn't listening to it while traveling through the Highlands, when I hear "Floating in the Forth," I can see the mountains and the frost-covered trees, and the signs pointing to the Forth Road Bridge. Better late than never.
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Today was a really lovely day. It was my zoo day, but very unlike a usual zoo day in that it is the last day we will be seeing Jane as our volunteer coordinator. To send her off we had a bagel breakfast and spent most of the morning in often raucous conversation in the break room. It was snowy and cold outside and there weren't that many visitors, so no one seemed to mind that we were really shirking our duties as volunteers. After awhile we tried to go out and be good volunteers for awhile. That was when Catherine, one of our day captains, approached me about taking her place as co-captain for our shift. It's something I have thought about doing, but figured I'd do it next year or something. But I said yes! So now I'm actually one of the volunteers in charge of my Saturday shift. :) I took a walk over to the children's zoo, where I haven't been in months, and looked at the cutey patooty hognosed turtle (I never really have before), stuck my face up close to the glass to watch the pacu (they're BIG fish!), and fed the sheep and alpacas (who were woefully lacking attention and food pellets due to the lack of visitors). In the afternoon, Emily, Brian, and Rose came and watched me do the 2 pm sea lion feeding talk and the 2:30 penguin feeding. Then we went to see the bats, which were much appreciated by Brian. The plan was to kill time until dinner and then have fondue, but they were so hungry we ended up getting pizza. Lots of pizza. Then Emily and Rose and I went for massages at a nail salon, which was really nice (I should really do that more often, they're really good and cheap). Went to a couple of stores, and ended the evening with red wine and chocolate/dulce de leche fondue.

Tomorrow I have to go to work. Which is kind of annoying, but I can't be too annoyed as I didn't have to stay late Friday or come in at all today. I hope it won't take long as I have cooking to do, and presents to wrap. Oy, presents. I feel like what I have for my family isn't really enough. :/ Luckily there are several days left to Hanukkah and hopefully I'll think of something else.

*An aye aye is a type of prosimian, which is sort of a primitive precursor to monkeys. Lemurs are another type of prosimian. The new lemur exhibit at the zoo will be up within a few weeks. Another type of prosimian is a tarsier, which is the funkiest looking little cross between a monkey and a space alien. Look them up, seriously.
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