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That didn't last

eating
Well, that whole diet cleanse thing I was trying didn't last very long.

For one full week I cut out all sugar, dairy, flour, alcohol, and processed foods from my diet. I cooked healthy meals full of vegetables and whole grains. In conjunction with that I started getting back into running after at least six months of not exercising. I felt extremely deprived and often not satisfied after eating. After one week I lost no weight and felt only marginally better (maybe 5% better, if at all). So I decided the deprivation wasn't worth it, and I am stopping the cleanse.

What that exercise did do, however, was get me back into cooking more and eating healthier in general. In that respect it was successful. And I can still eat well so long as I turn that "no" list into "in moderation", which I am doing.

I'm looking forward to going to the Farmer's Market again on Saturday to see what tasty stuff they have there then.

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...And from out of the blue, a post!

INTERNET!
Let's see, what's going on with life right now? Well, I'm two weeks away from the end of the semester, but it's usually these last few weeks that just *drag* by. After the 23rd I'm free for three whole months!

I currently hAVE A CAT CRawling on my shoulders (and the keyboard, as you can tell there!), so that's cute. Henry (crawler) and Kella (his sister) turned three at the beginning of the month. We're starting to train Henry to walk on a leash! The harness doesn't seem to faze him, but he's scared of being outdoors.

We only have one dive trip planned for this summer, the first trip since going to Bonaire last summer. That will be just two trips total in almost two years, and neither of them were/will be "serious" dive trips. That may be fine for other people but the dive trips I enjoy the most are intensive. I'm still diving at Cal Academy, and that at least scratches some of the diving itch that I get. Once I'm out of school I'm going to need something hardcore to make up for lost time!

A couple weeks ago I flew to Florida for a day so I could see my favourite band (Rush) play, but my fanaticism is probably a subject for a post on its own ;)

This past Monday I decided to do a diet "cleanse" for the balance of the month. I've cut out all dairy, sugar, flour, alcohol, and processed food. The idea is to do a sort of "hard reset" on my body, and get out of bad eating habits I've been living with these past six or twelve months. It's really hard! Whenever I'm not hungry I'm busy cooking or washing dishes from whatever it was I just cooked. Then I'm hungry again. But I'm going to try and make it to the end of the month.

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Howdy

INTERNET!
It seems to be 2013 already. Not only that, it's now February, ack! Where does the time go?

School started this past Monday. Now that we're all moved in I'm back to a mostly-full schedule. (I'm taking fewer than the standard four classes/full-time because, well, I'm no longer 20 years old and I like having some free time in my schedule.) Even as a senior with about a thousand credits I'm still having trouble getting into classes I need, but at least this semester I'm taking some classes I like.

My current schedule includes:
Color & Design (an elective, but a class I wanted to take regardless),
Our Endangered Planet (a Biology class for non-Bio majors, but it sounds like an interesting conservation biology class and it satisfies another elective),
and Biometry (Biostatistics, which is not exciting but is required for Bio majors).

There are a couple classes in particular which I not only need to take but am really looking forward to--Animal Physiology and Animal Behaviour. They're not offered every semester so I do hope I can get into them during Fall. If all goes well I should be done with school in 2014 ... the big question will be: WHICH PART of 2014?! Stay tuned to find out :)

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Stress hangover

thinking
Well, the move is done and we're now in the new house! Things went pretty smoothly, and the storm that was supposed to come through on moving day was kind enough to delay itself for 24 hours, which was a huge relief.

Now that everything is (mostly*) over I can tell my stress level has gone way down. Each day I feel a bit more relaxed, and I don't think I'm clenching my jaws at night anymore. One odd thing though--yesterday I think I had what can best be described as a "stress hangover". In the aftermath of everything I had a period where I didn't want to deal with the world and just went to bed for a couple hours in the middle of the afternoon. It felt a bit different from previous times when I've been in a funk; I just wanted to retreat from the world for awhile and hide under the covers. I think I may be better today but we'll see.

* Although we've officially moved we still have a bunch of stuff over at the old house that needs to be brought here, mostly fragile things we didn't trust the movers to handle. Then the place needs to be cleaned and have some little things done to it (paint touch-ups, hardwood floor refinished) before we can sell it. But we have some friends that are very interested in buying the place so if that works out it'll be great!

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Moving on

thinking
Boy, things are getting (even more) stressful around here! We're at the final stages of our (extremely long and frustrating) renovation, and are packing to move new week.

Moving itself is stressful, but in this situation--where construction has been going on for years and we've been all but overwhelmed with dealing with our end of it during this time--I find it's really getting to me. Add in the fact that we just have SO MUCH stuff that needs to be packed and moved, not enough boxes, the contractors are still on-site at the new house, will they be done in time, how will the cats deal with the move, I hope the cats don't try to run away, will we have room to fit all our crap, did we make the right decisions, how are we going to pack all this crap, then we have to clean and sell the old house, don't forget I have my Physics final on Tuesday, etc. Oh yeah, and the holidays are upon us.

At least I can mostly ignore the holidays. Ours are low-key as we don't travel and don't exchange presents within my family, and with all this moving we're not doing any decorating or entertaining, so that much is good.

Once this is all over my stress levels should plummet and I can take my life back into control. In the meantime I'll just do what I can do.

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Why hello there

blah blah blah
My dear Livejournal,

I'm sorry that I've been seeing that nasty Facebook behind your back. I never meant it to turn into something, especially since FB is so temperamental and has poor functionality, but, you know, everyone else is doing it so I wanted to as well. I never meant to hurt you.

To be honest I haven't been spending all my time with FB. I'm back in school now, trying to finish my degree, but it's going slowly. I've just been taking one or two classes these past semesters because we are also doing a lot of work as our mega-house-remodel comes to a close. Yes, unless something goes terribly wrong we will finally be in our new house by the end of the year! But more on that after it actually happens. I've got two or three weeks left of school and I need to keep my grades up. Right now I'm taking the second semester of General Physics and, surprisingly, I'm liking it. Physics 2 is a lot easier than Physics 1 for me; maybe it's because topics covered (electricity, magnetism, mirrors, lenses, relativity) make more sense or are more intuitive? (Wait, did I just use "relativity" and "intuitive" in the same sentence?) Next week I register for Spring semester.

I'm continuing to dive at the California Academy of Sciences and I generally do two to three dives on the mornings when I'm there. Well, technically my first "dive" is snorkeling in the lagoon with the sharks and rays, doing cleaning and maintenance and, if I'm really lucky, finding the occasional shark tooth. I usually do the Wednesday morning Philippines Coral Reef dive show and recently did my 100th presentation.

I have also been listening to a lot of music, although not much of it is new. I saw three different Rush concerts as they hit the West Coast on their more recent tour and that wasn't enough! I wanted to go to more but between bad timing and not planning ahead (read: buying good tickets would have been expen$$$ive) so instead I will plan on seeing lots of shows the next time they tour here.

Shortly I will be heading out to play D&D. I've been playing with this group for some months now and we've recently started a campaign using the Pathfinder rules. Our group has guns and we travel around on a boat that is also capable of spaceflight. It's a lot like Firefly.

I promise I will keep in touch.

-Gina

Weather or not

thinking
Wow, the weather has a profound effect on my moods. I do experience a degree of Seasonal Affective Disorder when I go too long without seeing the sun, and it so happens I live in a neighborhood of San Francisco that is not particularly sunny. And while SF usually gets its best weather in September and October these past two years things have been thrown off, presumably because of climate change. This year, in our neighborhood, we had three and a half days of summer (where "summer" means "multiple days with temperatures high enough to wear a t-shirt outside, and no fog around"). THREE AND A HALF DAYS, and that is not an exaggeration. The weather here is depressing and cold.

Having this grey, damp gloom about makes me not want to do anything. I'm doing a minimum of schoolwork, housework, etc. I'll go to bed early and read instead of staying up in hopes the morning will come faster and bring sunshine with it. And I eat way too much crap in an attempt to console myself (but we all know that's the fast lane on the downward spiral).

Blah.

Tell me again, why do I live in this depressing city?

Why, hello there.

uw photo
I know, I rarely update LJ anymore. I do read it regularly but there is less than one post per day here and I don't know how many people are still out there. I often have post floating about in my head that never make it into print, I suppose due to laziness.

Life in general is good, albeit interspersed with bits of stress and/or boredom. It's currently the middle of summer and in our neighborhood that means it's fog season. I hate the f&$@*^# fog; I haven't seen the sun here all weekend and sometimes I don't see it for a week or more. It's depressing and negatively affects my mood and energy levels. Harumph.

Things that have been making me happy: music, diving, kitties, and husband. Yay for them!

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Year-end wrap-up thingie.

theeyeshaveit
Well, I've completed another trip around the sun. For the second year in a row this trip was fairly average. Sure, there were highs and lows but I'm not left with a strong feeling one way or the other.

Looking back:
A year ago I wrote, "I want to continue on my current path and get healthier and stronger. I am enjoying the cooking that I am doing and I need to keep it up, even when life gets busy. I miss the knowledge and mental stimulation that comes with learning, so I will be returning to school in January to (finally) finish my degree. These things combined will help me with my goal To Take Care Of Myself."

I am happy to say I have accomplished that goal! I've been exercising regularly by running three times a week, and have increased my speed and distance over the course of the year. I've been generally cooking a lot and eating healthier, but that has somewhat fallen by the wayside this holiday season. As a result of improved diet and regular exercise I've lost a bit of the extra weight I've been carrying around, but now I find some of it creeping back. I need to watch this.

I've completed a few more classes required for graduation, including the two most difficult classes I've taken so far: Calculus and Physics. It turns out I find Calculus somewhat interesting which is something that caught me by surprise!

In general I've taken good care of myself, and my relationship, although I did that in part by being somewhat of a recluse (by which I mean Frederick and I being reclusive together). I needed to withdraw and spend a lot of time by myself, at home, to heal from the emotional pain I had to deal with the previous year.

Looking forward:
I want this coming year to find me continuing down my healthy path. I want my studies to be smooth, productive, and fun. When I started writing this I thought about whether or not I wanted to come out of my semi-reclusive state but I honestly like it here. I do want to nurture my friendships, even if I cannot do so in person for whatever reason.

Highlights:
We had many good diving trips this year, and I visited one new-to-me country: Indonesia, where I was chased by a wild Komodo dragon! (Although it wasn't as dangerous as I made it sound, it was a highlight of that trip.) I only did 72 ocean dives, plus spent 15-20 hours snorkeling with more whale sharks than I could count--it wasn't diving but I was in the water with incredible creatures! In addition, I also did 43 dives in the Steinhart Aquarium, and all but four of those were dive show presentations.

Were there other highlights of my year that did not relate to diving? Hrm, I'm sure there were, although I cannot think of them now. Although I suppose coming out of 2011 in better condition than I went into it is an accomplishment :)

And now for something completely different

oh my!
I have been running regularly for about a year now, and I enjoy it. But running would cause various aches and pains, and the longest distance I have ever been able to run was 2.25 miles, after which I felt nauseous. I didn't help that I am iron-deficient so running more than a half-mile or a mile would have me gasping for breath because I couldn't get enough oxygen.

So I changed a couple of things.

Somewhere recently I had heard about barefoot running. I liked the idea, especially because I love the whole "back to nature" concept, and humans have run barefoot (or with foot coverings that were not much different from barefoot) for thousands of years. So I decided to give it a try in hopes it would correct my stride and alleviate some of the pain I was feeling. As it turns out, I love barefoot running! I can go further with less effort and no pain, and it has given me a new level of enjoyment without the negative effects I had been experiencing.

Running barefoot requires you use a different stride than the "heel-strike" stride people typically use when wearing running shoes. Instead, you land on the ball of your foot, almost flat-footed, and this results in less impact than a heel-strike stride. Yes, despite all that padding and engineering in a modern running shoe, running barefoot is less impactful than running with expensive shoes.

One thing that I believe has helped a lot is increasing the amount of iron supplements I am taking. I had been taking a pill a day, per the box directions, but didn't notice any difference in the way I was feeling, and my blood tests still showed me as borderline anemic. So after talking with a pharmacist I upped my dosage to three pills a day and wow! Suddenly I can run without gasping for breath! I used to hit my maximum heart rate of about 180 bpm after running just 0.25-0.5 miles, but now I can run two full miles and only be at about 155 bpm. It's amazing what the body can do when it has oxygen ;)

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Contrast

lookingoutwindow
I've been doing much better these past few days than I was last week. The acute stress I had been feeling is gone, and I'm sure that's a result of my friend's passing. When death is imminent waiting for it to happen can be even more difficult than dealing with death itself.

I can't help but compare J.D.'s death with that of my friend Howard, who died 3.5 years ago. They were both younger than me, they each had cancer and knew in advance they were going to go. The difference was Howard didn't tell anyone he was ill; he dealt with it on his own, in silence, and his death came as a sudden and awful surprise to his friends. I can certainly understand why he did such a thing - he didn't want people to feel sorry for him, he didn't want to be an emotional burden on anyone, and, private person that he was, he probably didn't want to deal with people expressing intense feelings towards him.

In contrast, J.D. handled his situation the opposite way. He publicly announced and explained his illness and his prognosis, and his friends knew when the end was drawing near. It was amazing seeing the outpouring of love and memories being posted in places such as Facebook. That must have made things easier for him, knowing he had the support of so many people. I can only hope Howard knew just how many people loved and appreciated him, and that we still remember him fondly years later.

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Goodbye.

lookingoutwindow
My friend passed away last night. He was at home, with his wife, and he went in his sleep. I suppose if one has to die those are the ideal circumstances. But, he was still in his 30s, and last January he was feeling fine. This past summer he and his wife were planning a trip to Hawaii once his treatment was over. And last weekend he was hoping for visitors at home. Then, poof, he was gone. Life is too fragile, and too short.

I have observed my brain detaching from my emotions as it processes all of this. Even though we were not close, he was a close friend of many of our mutual friends, and all week there has been palpable tension and sadness within my community of friends because of this. I can't help but feel something as a result; it's like holding an electric wire.

I've never had to sit and wait for someone to die before. And oh my, it's difficult. I can't even imagine how hard it must have been for those closest to him. You don't want your loved one to leave, but you don't want them to suffer, either. Where's the balance?

*Heavy sigh.*

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Make it stop.

lookingoutwindow
Ugh, things are getting tough. Death. Imminent death. A close friend suffering through their own personal crisis. The City of SF rejected our appeal about increased property taxes so we are having to pay even more taxes despite declining home values. I thought I had a handle on my Physics and Calculus classes but now they've both gone up a level in difficulty. I have two trips scheduled over Winter break but I don't really want to leave home, but neither do I want to stay and deal with things. I pulled a calf muscle when running this morning and don't know how long it will keep me from running, but I don't want to stop. I tend to eat more when under stress and now my pants are getting tight. And I haven't even gotten into just how broken this country is.

How much more of this can I take?

edit: People always think of me as being strong, and in some ways I am. But right now I am not strong and there's no one for me to lean on. I don't even understand my *$&#% homework.

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Take a moment to appreciate your life

lookingoutwindow
Times are strange right now, I think we can all see that. I feel like the world as we know it is on the verge of upheaval ... I just hope it works out for the best.

My personal world is certainly in a state of upheaval, and sadly there is too much that is not good. One friend is recuperating from emergency brain surgery, another from an appendectomy. Other friends are having their cat put to sleep. And another friend is dying and will most likely be gone by the end of the year, if not the end of the month.

I've been trying to sort out my thoughts and feelings about the dying friend, and it's a lot more difficult than I would have expected. First and foremost, it is an extremely sad, unfortunate situation. I cannot even begin to comprehend how difficult it must be to *know* you only have a short time to live - How do you plan the remainder of your time? What do you say to people? How does it not drive you batshit insane in the meantime?

This person is someone I was friends with about ten years ago, but have only seen a handful of times in the intervening years and now I just consider them an acquaintance. I don't feel it would be honest of me to boldly interject myself into their life right now, but neither do I have a reason to avoid them. I'm trying to figure out how to visit them one last time (because, hey, why not) but then what do we talk about? Certainly nothing along the "Hey, how ya doing?" lines, but do you bother ignoring the elephant in the room when his trunk is in your lap? I've been lucky in that I've had very few friends die before, and I've never had to watch someone slip away like this.

I find it interesting to watch what my brain wants to do, and it wants to pull away from the situation. My brain figures if it can make this person distant enough then their death will have less of an impact on me. It's all about protection of the self, I suppose. But the part of me that tries so hard to overcome my social awkwardness knows that's not the "right" thing to do. Even if this person doesn't need me through all of this, our mutual friends will need to lean upon one another for support. And I want to be a good friend, just like I hope others will be when I eventually need them.

*Sigh.*

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Why I'm a recluse right now

what's wrong:other people
This past year I've been somewhat of a recluse. I haven't been avoiding social contact, but my "social-ness" has certainly been limited. This is best for me right now as I feel like I need quite a bit of time alone (although "alone" can mean either by myself or alone with Frederick).

For most of my life I've been shy and introverted. There was a period of several years from the early/mid 90s to the early 00s where, for whatever reason, I was extraordinarily (for me) extroverted, and the people I met during that time have a hard time believing that I'm not really that way. And as I get older I find myself settling comfortably into my cozy introvert nook, sometimes literally.

My recent increased reclusion is in direct response to a couple events last year that had serious negative effects on my wanting to spend time around other people. The first was when two acquaintances/friends decided to "gang up" on me and verbally attack me (ironically as a criticism of my own communication skills). The second was when a long-time, very close and very trusted friend began treating me quite poorly over a period of many months. In later conversations this person explained that they had changed in the past few years and needed to communicate with me in a different way, but instead of actually communicating this *to* me, they decided to attack me in criticism of my communication skills (which, I might add, had not changed; they had changed). Sure, there seems to be a pattern here, and it's true that I am by no means perfect, but it really is just a horrible coincidence that two unrelated groups/people began treating me so badly rather than simply having a conversation with me.

Setting all "blame" aside the end result is that I suffered an incredible amount of hurt and loss of trust. If my closest friend, someone who had told me multiple times that they loved me and valued my friendship, could treat me so poorly and make me feel so badly why should I expect a more casual friend to treat me any better? My response to this is to be extremely cautious in regards to my social interactions and be very wary of who I allow close to me. What's tough about this is that I do like my friends and enjoy spending time with them, so I somehow have to balance the closeness of friendships with my fear of being hurt. The way I've been doing this is by participating in group events, or by going out as couples.

Will I ever return to my extroverted self? I doubt it. I'm really not an extrovert and I am very shy and uncomfortable in groups where I don't know many people. Right now my life is centered around taking care of *me*, mentally and physically. I'm trying my best to eat well, exercise regularly, nurturing my relationship with Frederick, and finishing school. Perhaps once I'm done with school then I can think about expanding my social life. But until then I will just enjoy my limited interactions.

Om nom nom

eating
How do I start off a post about food? Not the food you get from any particular restaurant, but just the glory of food in general. I suppose you could start awkwardly, like this :)

Lately I've been so in love with food! I'm here in California at the end of summer and there is a veritable cornicopia of produce available, most all of it grown somewhat locally. All of my shopping is done either at the farmers' market or the local grocery co-op, and I purchase almost exclusively organic products (locally-grown whenever possible), so the food is fresh, nutritious, and flavourful. The only way that could get better is if I were to be growing my own food, but for various reasons that won't be happening, at least not anytime soon.

I also love to cook and cook most of my own meals. Sure, sometimes cooking can be a hassle, but when I'm excited about turning this pile of produce into a tasty meal then it becomes especially fun! Lately Smitten Kitchen has been my "go-to" site when I'm looking for a new way to prepare things, and I highly recommend her site; I've loved every recipe of hers I've tried.

I suppose the whole point of this post was basically to say: I love food! And right now I am especially loving being a vegetarian because there is so much good produce out there, and I'm able to prepare it in so many delicious ways! And with that said I shall now go into the kitchen and cook up some breakfast :)

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Hello there.

blah blah blah
I keep meaning to post here more often, really, I do. But then I'll either have something else more urgent to attend to, or, as has been the case lately, I keep telling myself that I'll make some more substantial posts after I process some photos or write a travelogue about a recent trip. And it just so happens I'm behind in photo processing and writing about my recent travels...

This past January I went back to school with the intention of actually finishing my degree this time. Because of my school schedule, our travels this year have (mostly) been limited to summer--a few days after Spring semester finished we headed to Roatan, Honduras, with a few friends; a month after that we spent two weeks diving in Indonesia with some other friends; and a month after that we were in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, snorkeling with hundreds of whale sharks; then I returned to school two days after getting home.

Now I've been back in school for 2.5 weeks (hrm, it seems like longer) and I'm surviving so far. My big challenge this semester is Calculus so please wish me luck. I'm also taking a Physics lecture and a Physics lab course; although I had signed up for the Lab with one teacher the schedule had apparently changed and my Lab ended up being with a teacher I did not like (I had him for a class last semester and found him very confusing) but I was lucky enough to be able to switch to a different section so I think my schedule is all settled now.

Because classes are my current priority I've had to cut way back on my volunteering hours. Currently my only volunteer gig is as a diver at the California Academy of Sciences. We've got new Diving Safety Officer there who has changed some things around, and as a result I may have a chance to get certified as a Scientific Diver, which I think would be pretty darned cool.

I suppose I should go back to processing those photos...

Please help save our sharks (and our oceans!)

shark!
This is a bit long, but I hope you will have a few minutes to read it and take action.

For those of you who are not yet aware, the State of California is on the verge of making an incredible difference in the conservation of endangered species and the preservation of our oceans. A landmark bill, AB376, which would ban the possession, sale, and trade of shark fins in California, has been approved by the governor and the State Assembly, and goes to the State Senate for a final vote on Tuesday, June 28th.

This bill is so important because many sharks are on the verge of extinction. Populations of large sharks have plummeted 95-99% worldwide in the last two decades. Currently, of the 300+ shark species, 50 species are listed as being at high risk of extinction (either Critically Endangered, Endangered, or Vulnerable), and another 63 shark species are approaching threatened status (either Conservation Dependent or Near Threatened).

One of the reasons sharks are so in danger is because of shark finning, the wasteful and barbaric practice of slicing the fins off an often still-living shark, then tossing the animal back into the ocean for it to slowly die. It is estimated that at least 73 million sharks are killed for their fins every year (about 100 sharks will die as you read this email message). The fins are used as a tasteless thickening ingredient for shark fin soup, an ingredient that could easily be replaced with a much more sustainable substitute. It is thought that serving and eating shark fin soup bestows good fortune and virility, but ironically sharks (as well as other marine apex predators) have such high levels of mercury, PCBs, and other toxins that eating them is dangerous to one's health.

Since California is such a large consumer of shark fins, and since ~85% of fin imports come through our state, this ban would have a huge impact on the number of sharks killed. Hawaii, Washington, and Oregon, as well as other countries, already have similar bans in place, but the opposition to the California ban is strong (certain importers stand to lose money, and are therefore pressuring lawmakers). We can help push our ban through by contacting the California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water before June 28 and telling them you support AB376, the Shark Fin Ban.

California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water:
Fran Pavley, Chair Agoura Hills, District 23 (916) 651-4023
Doug LaMalfa, Vice Chair Richvale, District 4 (916) 651-4004
Alex Padilla Pacoima-LA County, District 20 (916) 651-4020
Christine Kehoe San Diego, District 39 (916) 651-4039
Lois Wolk Davis, District 5 (916) 651-4005
Noreen Evans Santa Rosa, District 2 (916) 651-4002
Joe Simitian Palo Alto, District 11 (916) 651-4011
Anthony Cannella Ceres, District 12 (916) 651-4012
Jean Fuller Bakersfield, District 18 (916) 651-4018

For more information, and to see the arguments for supporting the ban, please go to: http://sharksavers.org/en/blogs/760-update-california-assembly-bill-ab-376.html

THANK YOU! And please feel free to spread this around.

... let's go diving!

scubaface
As soon as my summer vacation began we took off to CoCo View Resort on the island of Roatan, Honduras, in the Caribbean. We would be meeting four other friends there for a week of warm water diving. This was our fifth trip to CoCo View in as many years, and we keep going back because the diving is good (by Caribbean standards) and easy with short boat rides to scores of different sights.

We boarded a TACA red-eye flight out of SFO and arrived at the resort in time for lunch the next day. Although the timing of the flight was not ideal, it gave us plenty of time to do two dives that afternoon, and thoroughly get into "vacation mode." I did a total of 26 dives that week and carried my camera with me on most of them in an effort to get in some good photography practice.

no parking tiny teeth dinnertime

In addition to the standard Caribbean critters (puffers, eels, damselfish, angelfish, etc.) I saw a small school of squid, a jawfish holding eggs in his mouth, way too many invasive lionfish, and a large nurse shark. Out of the 70 dives I've done around Roatan, this was the first shark I have seen there (with the exception of the time we went on a shark feeding dives). Contrast that to Cocos Island, where we saw multiple sharks - often scores - on every single dive. Sadly, the lack of sharks and other large fish is typical for the Caribbean, where they have been all but fished out.

caribbean reef squid you've got something on your lip lionfish head-on

All in all it was a good week with good diving spent with good people.

Photography notes: I took my 15mm fisheye lens down on a few dives, and then shot macro for the balance of the trip. I used a Canon 100mm macro lens which I really enjoy. I worked a lot on exposure and lighting, and now that I've had a chance to really study the photos I took during that trip I have identified some things I want to work on in the future. The next step I want to take is probably the most difficult: trying to go from taking "nice" pictures to taking stunning, eye-catching photos. Wish me luck!

(See the entire photo set on Flickr.)

Math is hard ...

schoolwork
I finished my Spring Semester classes at the end of May and received my grades a few days ago. I did not do nearly as well as I wanted to, although that didn't really come as a surprise.

The Trigonometry class was tough - although I worked and worked at it, I think I am coming up against the limitations of my brain, that being the fact that I am not particularly inclined towards mathematics. The Physics class, on the other hand, shouldn't have been that hard. It was just an introductory class but the teacher was not good and did not explain things well at all. In fact, with one topic in particular, I never really "got it" until we covered the same thing in Trig class with a good teacher. I have high standards for myself and I really tried to do well, but when all was said and done I was not satisfied with my grades. Yes, I passed, but I blew my 4.0 GPA.

Two days after my last final I took off for a warm sunny vacation, where I could drown my sorrows in colorful fishies and umbrella drinks, but more on that in my next post.

Next semester, well, that's going to be a doozy. I plan on taking Calculus and (real) Physics. Judging by my previous brief experience with Calculus I don't think I will understand it well at all; some people just don't think that way. I plan on getting a tutor and doing as best I can.

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