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Return to the Island of the Sharks

In March I went back to Cocos Island National Park, Costa Rica. Cocos is well-known in the scuba diving community for sharks, sharks, and more sharks, and it really is a special place. Yes, most of the diving is deep (~100 ft) and can be challenging, but in return you are rewarded with thousands of schooling fish of all sizes. While Cocos possesses the closest I've seen to an unspoiled underwater environment, sadly it is not, and year to year dive operators notice fewer large predatory fish, more fishing boats outside the national park boundaries, and more illegal fishing within the park.

This marked the second year in a row I went to Cocos on expedition with PRETOMA of Costa Rica and the Sea Turtle Restoration Network of the US, and this time we were also accompanied by CIMAD of Columbia. These three NGOs work cooperatively, along with researchers from Ecuador, towards conserving sharks and sea turtles in Central and northern South American waters.

While on expedition we help the biologists catch sea turtles which are then measured, tagged, and released; tag sharks; and retrieve and replace data receivers. The receivers collect information telling researchers which tagged animals have passed within 500 meters of that particular station. On this trip we caught/tagged approximately eight turtles and thirteen sharks.

Expeditions are usually run twice per year, and are open to experienced scuba divers. The next trip is September 2011, and space is available in case you happen to be interested in going. I highly recommend it!

schooling hammerheads hammerhead in blue todd and his turtle


Photography notes: So far I've done exclusively wide-angle photography at Cocos, shooting entirely in manual using a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens on a full-frame DSLR. Since most diving is deep, there's not a lot of light down there. While strobes are very useful, all the particulate matter in the water causes a lot of backscatter so I often shot just with ambient light. I really should have used my strobes more, extending them all the way to the sides. A slightly longer focal length would have improved my photos as well; the 16-35 lens on a cropped sensor camera would probably be perfect.

Exercise geekery

I upped the intensity of my workout again this morning, and guess what? I didn't die! I ran four 0.5 mile intervals, with the first 0.25 at 5.3mph, and the second at 6mph, as well as reducing my walking intervals from 0.25 mile to 0.15-0.2. Oh, and since I started this, all my runs have been on a 0.5% incline. It's not much, but it's better than flat!

At the end of my last interval I checked my heartrate and it hadn't reached maximum; two minutes later it had dropped 40bpm which is pretty darned great!

After talking with my trainer this week I have decided to keep my workout distances relatively short (2+ miles), and instead work on speed and intensity. This works better with my specific type of muscle, and has the added benefit of not extending workout time.

Oh! With all of my eating well and exercising I have dropped close to 30 pounds since December! For the past five weeks I've been hovering at about -28 to -29 pounds as my body comes to equilibrium with the changes. I feel great, and I've been able to "go shopping" in my closet and wear clothes I haven't been able to fit into for awhile. Yay!

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Run run run!

I had another good workout this morning. Somewhere around the beginning of the year I started the Couch to 5k running program, which takes you from being a couch potato to running 5k/3 miles at a stretch. I was doing great up until the sixth week; I had just run 2.25 miles straight (possibly the longest distance I have ever run in my life as I have never had the stamina for extended exertion) and felt physically ill, and I couldn't face up to Week Seven's three 2.5-mile runs.



All of my running is done on a treadmill, as running on pavement is too hard on my legs. As a result, it is easy for me to know my speed and timing. When I started the program I was running at 5.0 mph, a slow jog that allowed me to run the distances I wanted. After hitting that 2.25 mile barrier, I decided to go back and increase my pace by running shorter intervals at higher speeds.



Now about a month into my speed increases, I am running at 5.3 mph plus doing the last two minutes/0.2 miles at 6 mph. Today I even ran two quarter-miles at 6 mph which is great; when I started the C25K program I could barely run a quarter at 5.0 mph, and when I started increasing my speed I could only do 1 minute/0.1 miles at 6.0 before getting out of breath.



The best part of all this? It's watching my cardiovascular health improve! Whereas when I began, my heart rate would shoot up to its max of ~178 after a jog of just a few minutes. Now it rarely gets that high, and when it does, it's after running much longer distances at higher speeds. Yay!

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Life is good. A lot has changed in my life in the past year, and while it hasn't all been pleasant, the end result is. Just this afternoon Frederick commented that I seem a lot happier and less worried than I had been in months past, and that is wonderful.

I'm back in school and attempting to settle in for the long haul (i.e. until I'm done). I've got a relatively easy courseload this semester to ease my reentry; next semester will probably be a killer. But all in all I like learning, and I am especially glad to be exercising those neural pathways as that can ward off memory issues that typically come with age. (Not that I'm elderly yet, but it is an eventual goal ;) )

Back in December I made good on my promise to take care of myself, and that's coming along swimmingly. I am fulfilling the exercise facet of that by doing the Couch to 5K running program which takes you from being a couch potato to running 5K straight. I am nearing the end of week six, and while the longer runs are challenging (I've never run significantly more than 2 miles before in my life) it's also extremely satisfying to reach those distances. I am finding that I really like running, and plan to keep doing so once I'm done with this program.

I've also been continuing to eat extremely well, doing most of my own cooking. Previously we had gotten into the habit of eating out or ordering delivery several times a week, or sometimes even a couple of times per day, and that's just not healthy. Sure, not all of my meals are fancy, but at least they're good for me.

Believe or not, I have not yet been diving (in the ocean) this year! That will change in the not-too-distant future and hopefully I will come home with some nice photographs.

In the meantime, a nap sounds good...

Help save sharks from extinction!

Support Bill AB376 Banning the Sale of Shark Fins in California

(From the Wild Aid press release February 14, 2011:)
California Assembly Members Paul Fong and Jared Huffman today introduced a bill to prohibit the sale of shark fins in California to the State Assembly. California is one of the largest sources of demand for shark fin outside Asia and this bill would represent a major step towards reducing pressure on shark populations. Furthermore the bill complements the ban introduced in both Hawaii and the Commonwealth of North Mariana Islands (CNMI) as well as restrictions established by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).

Every year fins from up to 73 million sharks are used for shark fin soup, which is contributing to the decimation of shark populations worldwide so that now one third of shark species are threatened with extinction. As sharks play a vital role in the oceans, their depletion could cause irreparable damage to marine ecosystems.
Unfortunately, California Senator Leland Yee opposes the bill. He has chosen to interpret the bill as racism and an attack on Asian culture, which it most certainly is not. Senator Yee has declared his intent to run for mayor of San Francisco, and he is hoping that by keeping the sale of shark fins legal he can then garner the (significant) Chinese-American vote during the election.

I would like to ask Californians to take a few minutes to write to Senator Yee, as well as the Assembly Members in their district, state Senators Boxer and Feinstein, and Governor Jerry Brown to ask them to support this bill.

Also, it is extremely important for Senator Yee to know that there are Asians who support the ban on shark fin sales. If you are of Asian descent and support this ban, please include this information in your letter!

Contact information for our California legislators is below, as are sample letters that you can either cut & paste, or use as a basis for your own letter.

Thank you, and let's get this bill passed!



Senator Leland Yee: It is best to send an actual letter to his office as there is a 200 character limit on web submittals, and it does not appear that he receives emails sent to the address listed on his website.
See sample letter tailored to Senator Yee here (includes his address; opens in a new window) -- Contact info on Sen. Yee's website.


See sample letter for other legislators here (opens in a new window).

Governor Jerry Brown: You can send email via his webform.

Senator Barbara Boxer: You can send email via her webform.

Senator Dianne Feinstein: You can send email via her webform.

Assembly Members: Here is a list of all state assembly members. If you do not know your representative, click on the "Find my District" link in the left column. Web comments may be limited to 200 characters, so it might be preferable to send a snail mail letter.

Fish oil supplements, con't

I've been wanting to write a follow-up to my last post about fish oil supplements, but whew, I've had a busy week.

The following is my understanding of how all this omega-3 stuff applies to humans:

There are several types of omega-3 fatty acids, but three in particular are considered beneficial to our health. These essential fatty acids (called such because our bodies cannot synthesize them, so it is essential we get them in our diet) are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Our bodies can, however, create DHA and EPA from ALA, but are not very efficient at doing so.

In nature, both DHA and EPA are produced by a type of microalgae. They work their way up the food chain, and are available to humans in the form of fish or fish oil. Small amounts of DHA is present in eggs, but EPA is not present in any type of vegetarian foods. Vegetarian foods rich in other omega-3s (such as flax seed/oil) do not include EPA or DHA, however, they do include their precursor, ALA.

One hypothesis as to why humans evolved to require a nutrient that is only available from marine sources when humans did not evolve near the ocean is that our modern diets have failed us. Normally our bodies can create EPA and DHA from readily available ALA, but research indicates that the modern Western diet includes too much of the omega-6 fatty acids, and this excess throws off our bodies ability to synthesize DHA and EPA, thus requiring us to supplement our diets.

As a result of an earlier discussion, friends have sent me some interesting links regarding this stuff:

Dietary intake and status of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in a population of fish-eating and non-fish-eating meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans and the precursor-product ratio of alpha-linolenic acid to long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: results from the EPIC-Norfolk cohort. - Difference in omega-3 levels between people with various diets were smaller than expected.

Do vegetarians have to eat fish for optimal cardiovascular protection? - Unfortunately, the evidence is unclear.

DHA status of vegetarians. - "There is no evidence of adverse effects on health or cognitive function with lower DHA intake in vegetarians."

Bioavailability of alpha-linolenic acid from flaxseed diets as a function of the age of the subject. - Eating flaxseed seems to increase the level of EPA in the blood.

And finally, this British company sells a vegan DHA/EPA supplement derived directly from algae: Omega-3 algae oil. I have not seen anything like this for sale in the US, so maybe this is worth trying once it is back in stock.
A recent conversation about fish brought up the topic of fish oil supplements. Since I am, shall we say, opposed to the fishing industry in general, I started thinking about why fish oil is supposed to be healthy, and whether or not there were any alternatives.

Here's a little background info about why fish oil is considered healthy: It is a source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly the polyunsaturated fats eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These compounds are essential to health, but they cannot be synthesized by the human body, so we must ingest foods with the appropriate omega-3s or their precursors. Like most necessary vitamins and minerals, our bodies are much more efficient at using omega-3s when they come from a food source, rather than an synthetic source.

Since the oil from certain types of fish (salmon and sardines, in particular) is a concentrated source of omega-3s, eating fish and taking fish oil supplements came to be thought of as a healthy habit. But nowadays eating fish and fish products is controversial. Often the bodies of fish and other marine animals have built up various toxins, including mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are transferred to whatever creature that eats the affected animal. Most major fish stocks worldwide are in serious decline, with many being overfished and various species becoming endangered. Between 25 and 40% of the animals caught by fishing boats are considered "bycatch" - basically non-target species which are unused and discarded after being pulled aboard ship and allowed to die. Those non-target species include not only other fish, but hundreds of thousands of sea birds, turtles, dolphins, etc. per year.

So if eating fish is supposed to be good for you, but the fish themselves are either toxic or going extinct, then what to do? This is my big question, and now I am wondering how humans could have evolved to require marine fish for proper health when humans did not evolve next to the ocean? Clearly there must other foods, possibly even of vegetarian origin, that fill this same niche. And here's where I get stuck.

The aforementioned omega-3s are closely related to omega-6 fatty acids, the latter which are also healthy in moderation but detrimental in excess. There is overlap between omega-3s, omega-6s, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA, which I believe, can be considered a precursor to both the 3s and the 6s). But all the information I can find points to EPA being the most critical essential fatty acid because it is found in so few places in nature, and our bodies have the most difficulty converting it from precursors. Online searches show many non-fish sources of omega-3s, but I am not convinced that any of them contain EPA.

All of that is really just background for my basic questions: Does anyone know of a quality, non-fish, preferably vegetarian, source of EPA omega-3 fatty acid? If someone were to come to me asking how they could get enough EPA without eating fish, what would I tell them? And if it is not possible to get sufficient EPA without eating fish, how in the heck did we evolve that way?
A year or so ago there was discussion on one of my mailing lists about going shampoo-free. This intrigued me because I like to use as few chemicals as possible* in my life, but I wasn't sure that it was right for me because of my hair type, and the fact that I use hair color. But as a result of that discussion I discovered a new type of shampoo that uses only saponified oils--soap--and no unpronounceable chemicals.

I started using that shampoo and I was fairly happy with it, although it did seem to leave behind a slight residue. But the residue wasn't a big deal since I always put some sort of hair product in after washing, anyhow. Fast-forward to last November, when we were on a long scuba diving vacation. We would spend several hours in the water each day, where the saltwater washed any dirt and oil (and haircolor) out of my hair. When I'd get back on the boat I rinsed off with fresh water, and that was that. During the sixteen days we were on the boat I did not wash my hair once, yet it was cleaner than it had been any other time in my life. This was especially pronounced once I returned home and used my new-ish shampoo and had to deal with that residue. Yuck. But how to get my hair so clean without spending hours each day immersed in salt water?

That when I remembered the old "no shampoo" email thread. I started cleaning my hair with baking soda, and then rinsing it with diluted apple cider vinegar**. OH. EM. GEE. My hair is now so clean and soft, and free of weird coatings, residues, and chemicals.

Think about it - regular shampoos and conditioners remove dirt, but they leave behind a coating on the hair shaft. This can leave straight, fine hair (like mine) flat and lifeless, so then you add styling products to your hair to give it texture and body. That stuff weighs down your hair and attracts dirt, so you wash it more often and the cycle repeats. With the no shampoo routine, I'm washing my hair maybe twice a week, and it doesn't look dirty between washings. The best part about this? It's cheap. I'm now spending about $10 a year on hair cleaning products, versus the $100-200 per year I was spending before.

This has been a public service announcement from someone who is thrilled with her hair :)

* Some might argue that if I really wanted to remove chemicals from my life then I would stop coloring my hair. Well, I'm much too young to live with grey hair, so I will use as few chemicals as possible while still retaining a standard of living with which I am happy.

** To clean your hair, take a handful of moistened baking soda (it does not dissolve) and rub it into your scalp. Rinse thoroughly with warm water. Soak your hair with 1/2 cup or so apple cider vinegar solution (1 part vinegar diluted in approx. 10 parts water), and again rinse thoroughly with warm water. That's it.

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Grandma

I've been thinking about my paternal grandmother quite a bit lately. She died in 1995, so I obviously haven't seen her for quite some time, but for some reason she has been appearing in my thoughts these last couple weeks. (She was the only grandparent I knew as the others died before I was born.)

I've been missing her lately. I do hope she knew how much I loved her. I want her to know my life is good now, and I am lucky enough to follow through on many of my dreams, although I haven't yet been to Africa (she knew how much I loved animals and always hoped I'd have the chance to go on safari in Africa. It's still on my list!). I would have loved for Frederick to meet her.

Grandma was a wonderful cook and she made especially good Italian food. Some of my early (failed) cooking attempts happened at her house, such as the time I mixed flour and water and she baked it for me without ever lecturing me on just how bad that would taste. (I quickly discovered that much for myself.) I'd like to think that at least part of my interest in cooking is due to her influence.

The last few years of her life she was suffering from Alzheimer's and wasn't all there mentally. But occasionally the cloud of confusion would lift and she would have times of clarity. This happened the last time I visited with her: she suddenly stopped speaking jibberish, looked right at me, and addressed me by name--it was like she had just woken up.

I bet she'd love to hear about my diving trips! :)

Nose, meet Grindstone

Well, I did it. I told myself I was going to go back to school, and this morning I was sitting in a classroom. This time I actually want to finish my degree.

I am back at City College for a couple semesters while I crank through the math and physics classes I need. I figured if I get the most difficult classes out of the way now, then my time at SF State will be full of happy fun biology classes that I am actually interested in.

It feels good to be learning again, and I am really glad I'm starting to move forward again with my life. These last few months it felt like I had been stagnating, and I can't take that for very long.

The worst part of being back at school? It's definitely having to limit when I can take my vacations!

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Om nom nom

For the past five weeks I have been cooking most of my meals at home and eating very healthily. It feels wonderful! I have more energy and am losing weight, but the exciting thing is it has renewed my love of food.

I've recently started shopping at the fabulous Ferry Building Farmer's Market. I have no idea why I never shopped there before. Most of the vendors sell organic and/or artisanal food, and since it's a farmer's market it's all local. These things are very important to me, especially now that I'm trying to eat as "real" as possible. Shopping there means I buy food that is in season which helps reduce the number of miles the food travels, and all the overhead connected with that. It also means I can find new veggies and interesting varieties that don't make it to my regular grocery store.

One tenet of my lifestyle is that I want to make as little of an impact on the earth as possible without giving up so much that life is no longer fun. Luckily I love to cook and making tons of food and meals from scratch fits right in with the way I want to live. I've started making my own cheese and downstairs I've got a wheel of cheddar drying before I wax and then age it. (I'll let you know how it turned out in 3+ months.) Soft cheeses like chevre, ricotta, and the like don't require aging so they can be eaten as soon as they're done, and I've been making those for parties, lasagnas, etc. I occasionally make bread but am still on the lookout for a good, crusty, sourdough french bread recipe.

I've been continuing with the dinner parties I mentioned some months back. We've resurrected the dinner party as a way to spend time with friends without always having to go out to a bar or restaurant and it's been great. Plus, it gives me an excuse to cook for a bunch of people. Speaking of, I need to start scheduling those again now that the holidays are over.

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Postscript

Hmm, reading back over my answers to that last meme, I sure have a lot of responses along the lines of "people suck." Which I can't really argue against, being that I am a bit of a misanthrope. However, I do like and think highly of my friends so there is that dichotomy going on.

Regardless, I don't think I'm quite as bad as those answers may make me out to be. I'm certainly a lot better now than I used to be!

10 Days, 10 Prompts

10 Days, 10 Prompts
Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you'd never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Day Ten:
1) I don't really like most people, yet in some ways they fascinate me. Let me state first off that I like my friends as well as certain other individuals who I don't know but I do admire. But the 6.9 billion other humans? I don't like them because some people are so stupid, with no common sense, and so ignorant that they refuse to learn. They don't *want* to learn more and are adamant in their ignorance.

Why do they also fascinate me? Maybe it's a little like watching a car accident where you can't tear your eyes away. I'm also fascinated by the fact that so much of what we do is exactly the behaviour of other animals--we are just another animal on earth, of course. The only difference about us is that we are aware of our ignorance.

10 Days, 10 Prompts

10 Days, 10 Prompts
Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you'd never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Day Nine:
1) An image of me sitting in front of the computer in my workout clothes. I've just come from my workout (which I've started doing right after I wake up, so that way I can't make excuses and not do it), and my morning routine is to sit and read email and web stuff while drinking a Diet Coke.
2) Me in the kitchen, cooking, with friends sitting around chatting while drinking a glass of wine. I've been doing a lot of cooking lately, as well as having various people over to eat, and I love having friends hang out while I'm preparing a meal for them.

10 Days, 10 Prompts

Day Eight - addendum:
4) Good spelling and grammar.

10 Days, 10 Prompts

10 Days, 10 Prompts
Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you'd never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Day Eight:
1) Being genuinely kind and interested in me as a person.
2) Cooking for me, specifically, food I like.
3) Nice eyes are always good.

10 Days, 10 Prompts

10 Days, 10 Prompts
Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you'd never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Day Seven:
1) Ignorance and the refusal to learn more and possibly even change your viewpoint (*gasp*) based on the available evidence.
2) Unkindness, meanness, not being nice - whatever label you want to put on this sort of behaviour.
3) Manipulation.
4) Arrogance, conceit.

10 Days, 10 Prompts

10 Days, 10 Prompts
Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you'd never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Day Six:
1) Frederick.
2) My Mom.
3) My Dad.
4) My Friends.
5) The people who have guided and shaped me over the years, helping to turn me into the person I am today.

10 Days, 10 Prompts

10 Days, 10 Prompts
Day One: Ten things you want to say to ten different people right now.
Day Two: Nine things about yourself.
Day Three: Eight ways to win your heart.
Day Four: Seven things that cross your mind a lot.
Day Five: Six things you wish you'd never done.
Day Six: Five people who mean a lot (in no order whatsoever).
Day Seven: Four turn offs.
Day Eight: Three turn ons.
Day Nine: Two images that describe your life right now, and why.
Day Ten: One confession.

Day Five:
1) Dated that one particular person (I could multiply this by six and be done here.)
2) Said those mean things that time (and that other time, and that other time).
3) Decided to not go to college after leaving high school.
4) Allowed myself to be manipulated.
5) Loaned money to that (now ex-) friend.
6) Hmm, this question is tough. There are plenty of little things I wish I hadn't done, like eat too much and give myself a tummyache, but that's not the right caliber for a list like this. In general, I'm pretty much okay with the things I have done, but I would have had a longer list of Things I Wish I *Had* done.

Year-end wrap-up thingie.

Well, it's the end of 2010, so I guess it's time for some sort of year-end wrap-up thingie. I suppose 2010 was very much an average year with good points and bad points, so I'll take the lessons I learned and try to make 2011 a great year.

Looking back:
Last year I wrote the following as a goal for 2010 - "Saving the world is nice and fine, but it doesn't do me any good unless I'm also happy and healthy. My new goal for this year is To Take Care Of Myself. The main components of this are eating healthy and exercising, but it stretches further than that. In order to eat healthy I also need to cook my meals (no more takeout when I'm feeling lazy), and in order to feel happy I have to pay attention to my mental state."

Well, technically I did accomplish that goal, although it didn't happen until December. For the past 3.5 weeks I have been cooking and eating extremely healthy (and tasty!) meals, I've started to exercise regularly again, and my mental state is as good as it's been in recent memory. So I have done something right, even if I haven't been doing it for long.

Looking forward:
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.

Highlights:
Clearly, diving is a big part of my life. I did 99 (ocean) scuba dives last year, which was my "diving-est" year to date! It is also a number I'd like to surpass in future years, but that will be tough considering I'll have to travel around my school schedule. I dove in four countries (plus snorkelled with whales in a fifth) which included travelling to two new-to-me countries (Bahamas and Maldives). I had multiple days where I was surrounded by more sharks and/or manta rays than I could count! It was a good diving year for me :)

2010 was also the year I began doing the underwater coral reef presentations at the California Academy of Sciences; I did 37 dives there this year (in addition to my ocean dives), and 28 of those I did as the presenter (including one dressed as "Scuba Santa"!). We adopted two adorable feral kittens into our home and fell in love with them. And we also began hosting and attending dinner parties with a variety of friends new and old.

I am looking forward to 2011!

ho ho ho!