Thursday, May 30, 2013

7-Minute Workout ain't no joke!

So I just completed 2 full circuit repetitions of the scientifically proven 7-minute workout which I posted about last week. That was no joke! I tried to go with full intensity, as the study recommends. Let me tell you, I am feeling sweaty, something that rarely happens when I do my 30 minute run around the local park. I feel good! I used this very helpful video to help me keep on pace and put on some dance music.

If I can do this workout every day or two, I will be kickin' butt soon...that's a proven fact! But here are a few lessons I learned:
  • This is super easy to do at home and I love that I don't need weights or equipment!
  • I need a sturdier chair for the step-ups and tricep dips!
  • 30 seconds of push ups doesn't sound hard, but it really burns when your only 15 seconds in at a high intensity level
  • I love the simplicity and difficulty of a wall sit
  • Push ups with rotation aren't hard. But when your muscles are a little shaky already, these can really put you off balance. Good thing no one was watching!
  • I look stupid doing jumping jacks in-front of a mirror
Any one else give this a try yet? What did you think?

American Forest Kit

Wow, I want one of these American Forest Kits designed by Kevin DeBoer!!

I don't know if it's on sale yet, but the design is stunning and effective. It's gorgeous! The popup part brings out the kid in me, there is interestingly presented information on the cards and in the pamphlet, and you get to plant the seeds for these trees!! I'm bursting with excitement! When and where can I get one?

As most of you know, my Treehugger Tour 2010 was sponsored by the non-profit, American Forests. Sadly, I don't think there is a connection between the organization and this beautifully designed information and seed packet for American trees. I sent them a message to recommend that they invest in this guy and the design. How cool would it be if you donated some money to American Forests to plant trees for our future and as a gift you got this?? 

Friday, May 24, 2013

How are corks made? (A wine inspired post)

Was there a real cork in that bottle of wine you had last night? Corks come from the bark of the cork oak tree (Quercus suber). Take a look at the fascinating story of cork making and the new discovery that has made the extraction more efficient.

And the Top 10 new species of 2013?

A South American cockroach (Lucihormetica luckae) which can glow at night

While researching for the last post about the Top 10 New Species of 2012, I came across some conflicting news about what the list is composed of. Interestingly, the LA Times has a beautiful slide show of the Top 10 species newly identified in 2012, as does the Guardian, and Time, and National Geographic. These are supposedly based on the same ASU International Institute for Species Exploration where I found the 2012 list (which is based on species found in 2011). On the official ASU website there is no news of a new list. So where did this list come from? Is this the newest list that has not yet been published on their website?

It's pretty exciting though...did you know that there are cockroaches which are laced with bioluminescent bacteria (see above picture)?? Holy moly!! And they're almost kind of cute, like jawas from Star Wars.

Top 10 New Species of 2012 - including the popular Walking Leg Sausage

Every year, Arizona State University's International Station for Species Exploration makes a list of the 10 most interesting new species found that year. This year, we've got some interesting ones:

  1. A yellow poppy (Meconopsis autumnalis) that grows at elevations between 10,827ft and 13,780ft in the Himalayan mountains (photo above)
  2. The first ever discovered Night-blooming Orchid (Bulbophyllum nocturnum) from Papua New Guinea
  3. A mushroom which smells fruity and looks like a sponge which scientists aptly named Spongebob Squarepants Mushroom (Spongiforma squarepantsii). Haha, WHAT? The name which was originally rejected by taxonomists, but was reluctantly accepted because it attracted attention and awareness to this new species) from Malaysia
  4. A snubnosed monkey from Myanmar called the Sneezing Monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) because it sneezes when it rains - how cute!
  5. The Bonaire Banded Box Jelly (Tamoya ohboya) found in the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire, was named this way because a high school biology teacher imagined that "Oh Boy!!" must be the first reaction to it and it's venomous sting. (read more to see the picture)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Stuffing Muffins

I made this recipe for Pancetta Sage Stuffing Muffins from A Cozy Kitchen last night with the leftovers in the fridge (celery, bread, and onions). I modified it a bit, because of course I didn't have sage or pancetta (which could easily be replaced with BACON!). Instead, I used some fresh thyme and rosemary from my surprisingly successful herb garden. Stuffing is one of my favorite comfort foods (it always reminds me of Thanksgiving with my adopted Grandma and Grandpa in the US), but in miniature form. They were a big hit!

7-Minute Workout (proven by SCIENCE) - A pipe dream come true!

An illustration from the New York Times based on the recommended exercises

Yup, that's it! A new study published in the Health and Fitness Journal of the American College of Sports says that this workout circuit is equivalent to going for a long run and going to the weight room all at once. Crazy!! I was always told that you must alternate days of aerobic training (e.g. running, biking, swimming) with days of resistance training (e.g. weight training, resistance bands). The above shown exercises have been chosen and must be completed in this order to maximize the results. They were chosen specifically to alternate between opposing muscle groups (upper body vs. lower body) in order to allow a brief resting period for the muscle groups. Each exercise should be repeated 15-20 times (or for approximately 30 seconds). Any more than that and you will probably be executing the exercise with less intensity and a lower heart rate and therefore reducing the effectiveness. Also, you should rest for no longer than 15 seconds between exercises to maintain that intensity and heart rate. The whole circuit can be completed in only 7 minutes!! Smart and great for lazy exercisers like me!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

European Environmental Agency

Recently, I was searching for a comparison of the number of plant species in the UK vs. Switzerland vs. Florida. Yes, nerdy, I know. But as a botanist, this is important information. Not only is it important to understand the biodiversity of your region (these are the main regions where I have studied botany), but it helps to know just how many species you must learn to have a good grasp of the local vegetation.

While searching for this information I happened upon the EEA. Read more to find out what the EEA is.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cut Off, Cold Turkey

I've been cut off. Unfortunately, I'm not talking about a steady stream of allowance from my parents or a trust fund. No, I'm talking about access to scientific journals. Students typically have access to peer-reviewed scientific journals through their universities (and great resources such as the Web of Knowledge and ScienceDirect). These are the basis of our academic lives. It is where we hope that one day our studies and hard work will be published. To show the world what we've been specializing in and also to have a record of our research to share with the global scientific community. Or at least theoretically. But scientific journal access is EXPENSIVE!!

Nature and Science are the two highest rated multidisciplinary scientific journals in the world by impact factor ratings (Thomson Reuters) and SJR ranking (SCImago Journal & Country Rank). If you want to get access to the full articles published in such journals, you need to buy individual articles for about $30 a pop OR be a student with access rights. Students receive access to scholarly journals because part of their tuition fees pay the very very costly price of institutional subscriptions. This article also moans about these high prices which can be over $20,000 per year PER journal. Can you imagine? Now that I have my masters degree, I am no longer paying tuition and I've been given a swift kick in the butt on the way out the door to the real world again. During my quick departure, they ripped off the band-aid of academia and left me without access to my coveted journals. As a certified scientist, I feel naked without my journals. How am I supposed to continue without them? Do they assume that since I am going into industry and not staying in academia that I am no longer an academic? How does scientific knowledge even reach the public if it is locked in the high towers of university access?