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Archive for January, 2010


Ooooo! Nice frontal lobes!

Posted by: Claudette | Comments (0)

Food for thought

Iron!  Now it’s good for your brain.

Not the iron in your diet.
I’m talking about iron you push around the gym.
It’s not just for skeletal muscle anymore.

I’m grinning like crazy over research published today in the Archives of Internal Medicine:  “Resistance Training and Executive Functions”.

Cut to the chase: Lift weights when you’re older and your brain will work better.

You won’t just “feel” better, or look better.
Your brain will work better.

How cool is that?!

155 women, aged 65 – 75 years, were involved in a 12-month research project looking at weight resistance  training and its effect on executive cognitive functions….. some did balance and toning exercises while others pushed iron around using dumbbells and weight machines.   All completed series of tests throughout the 12 months and here’s the wrap up:

“Conclusion: Twelve months of once-weekly or twice-weekly resistance training benefited the executive cognitive function of selective attention and conflict resolution among senior women.”

Better Conflict Resolution through consistent weight lifting!
Improved ability to pay attention and solve problems.
What’s not to love?

I love lifting weights.  Always have.  All my life.
I do it for fitness, for strength in my sports, and for the fun of it.
I move a bunch of iron against gravity and then put it back.

Nothing could be simpler.   And I feel great.
Now it’s good for my brain.

See you at the gym!


Here’s the Abstract.

Resistance Training and Executive Functions

A 12-Month Randomized Controlled Trial

Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PhD, PT; Lindsay S. Nagamatsu, MA; Peter Graf, PhD; B. Lynn Beattie, MD; Maureen C. Ashe, PhD, PT; Todd C. Handy, PhD

Arch Intern Med. 2010;170(2):170-178.

Categories : Life, oh life.
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Any port in a storm? Nooooo…..

Posted by: Claudette | Comments (0)

I did not go to Catalina Island today… and I’ll sleep fine.

Weather’s been awful in SoCal for the past 6 days straight: rain, wind, tornados, high surf on top of huge high tides… it’s been a mess of flailing trees, flooded streets, and flumoxed scuba divers wondering when we could get back under the sea.

Months ago I’d booked a weekend trip to Avalon on Catalina Island with some good friends.   We were to have departed for the island today.

Then 6 days ago the storms began, shutting down all the boats running to the island.   The storm was predicted to pass by Friday (yesterday), so we’d optimistically hoped to still get to enjoy the weekend at the Casino Point Dive Park.

Then it rained even harder on Thursday and the wind howled and the surf increased again.  At the tail end of 6 days of storms, the boats finally made their first horribly rough crossings and it was decision time.
Four of the group of 7 friends decided to go, despite the 9 to 12-foot swells and the near certainty of very poor diving conditions.  “If the boat’s going, I’ll be on it!”, said one.   “I’m all packed, so I might as well go,” said another. That’s all good.  Pursuit of happiness and all that.

I made the decision.
“Have a great trip, catch you next time.”

I love diving but I realize, (1400 dives into this miraculous passion of Breathing-Underwater,) that what I really treasure is good diving.  Not “gee-at-least-we-got-wet” diving.  Not “we-were-tough-enough-to-dive-horrid-conditions” diving.  Not “I-proved-myself-in-the-eyes-of-my-friends” diving.  Not “well-we-can-always-go-to-a-bar-and-talk-about-diving” diving.

I love diving for the fantastic experience of good diving itself.  If the diving will be bad, (and I know the park well, these were guaranteed mediocre conditions,) I don’t need it.  I have nothing to prove.

Any port in a storm isn’t good enough.

I can say no to mediocre diving, and I sleep fine.
This is a good place to be.

Today was a great day.  Pumping gym workout.  Great coffee.  Fantastic music. Laugh-out-loud conversation with smart and funny friend. Incredible sunny ocean vistas of 15-foot walls of foaming water smashing into the  SoCal coast.

I’m counting the minutes until my next dive.

My next  good dive.


Categories : Diving, Life, oh life.
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Finding is better than searching

Posted by: Claudette | Comments (0)

I live humbly on the technology food chain.

5 years ago a good friend spun my simple world around with a relentless avalanche of new technology: Text messaging, instant messaging, iPod, iTunes, GPS, HID dive lights, multiple email accounts, wifi… it was one new thing after another and he laughed as this luddite stepped up and up and up.

It was glorious.  It was not always smooth.

Step forward half a decade and the laptop I bought for grad school is no longer the marvel it was.  Problems had accumulated faster than I could knock them down until I found myself cornered by a nasty gang: I could no longer send emails after two software updates, the CD-drive broke, and memory issues abounded.

What I know about computer systems would fit in a TB syringe with room to spare.

I do know a new computer is not in this year’s budget.

I was stuck, having burned hours of fruitless effort, denied at every turn.  Eyes glazed and patience exhausted by ineffective antipodal tech support,  I couldn’t even figure out how much memory my computer had or what I needed.

Then my friend said, “Try asking Google.  Type in “How much memory does my computer have.” I laughed.

Was he pulling my leg?  Suggesting I use my computer like a Magic-8 Ball? “Result hazy. Ask again later.”

Grad school had beaten plain-word searches out of me, insisting on boolean searches and hierarchical keywords… none of which had helped me solve my laptop issues.

So I laughed and tried it.  “How much memory…..”   (…this is so stupid….) and I hit SEARCH.

32 minutes later I had:

  • identified the exact memory DDR SDRAM units in my laptop (I hadn’t even known what these were 20 minutes earlier),
  • ordered the exact ones I needed from some memory ranch in Stockton (“add the max, in matched pairs”),

    "Watch closely as I...."

  • located an 8-min instructional video for replacing them,
  • ordered a refurbished CD-Drive (warrantied and cheap) from Texas,
  • and identified the replacement (bigger) hard drive I’ll be ordering next.

Now this is my kind of Magic-8 Ball!

I’d been trapped by trying to search correctly.
What I needed was to Search effectively.

What I really needed was to Find.

Finding beats the snot out of searching any day.

Of course I still can’t send emails.


Categories : Life, oh life.
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I’d arrived in Monterey right after Christmas, 6 hours north of home, eager to dive back into this remarkable underwater world.  December weather was rolling westward across the Pacific and swell predictions were rising.

Arriving at the Cannery Point cliff top to view conditions, Doc Wong was capturing video of explosive white water at the exposed rocks.

“Wow!!! Did you guys see THAT? That was enormous!!!!”

And these guys are OK with this?

Fortunately the sets were only 5 feet, the cove was mostly protected, and the deeper water beyond the rocks truly was blueish.  As long as we weren’t on the surface outside of Whaler’s Cove, we should be fine.

The Cove had significant surge, but we could pick the lulls and manage the boat ramp  slip&slide out to Doc’s buoy with all the scooters and extra bottles.

OK, Time to dive!

I was joining Doc and Warren L for a few days of MoCal diving.

Our small world got even more fun as 2/3 of Team Bunny rolled in. Steve and Kenn were all smiles… and all “Oh man, you should been here last weekend….it was gorgeous”. By now the sun was shining as a steady stream of sightseers were enjoying  the sleeping sea otters, herons, and harbor seals right next to the rocky shore. This place oozes beauty!

Click-Click-Whiiiir-Scooter time!

Dive #1: To MonoLobo Wall!
90 feet  max depth, 52 feet avg depth, 1hr 45min, 11.5C (drysuits Rule!), visibility was 20-25 feet once we got out of the shallows of Whaler’s Cove.
Doc led a happy run over to Granite Point Wall, and then around the corner into the Granite Point pinnacles.

This is only the second time I’ve been ‘Round the Bend’ in this direction, and it’s just silly with pinnacles, and crazy with crevices that demand to be scootered through at full-speed. The rock walls are home to dozens of nudibranchs to be examined quickly before we swing towards the next destination.

This area was pretty well protected from the swell, but the surge was a thrill ride on the big sets. The crevices accelerate the water velocity anyway, and then Doc powered his mighty Gavin scooter up and over a stone saddle at exactly the right time, catching a jet-thrust that shot him forward like he was on wires in a martial arts movie!!! It was just alarming to see my buddy ripping away into the misty distance, especially as I was right behind him and sure I would make it over too.

Not so much.

My zippy Sierra scooter clawed the water for a moment and then I got hauled backwards so fast it felt like horizontal bungie jumping! I’ve never seen a rock wall pass by so fast.. backwards!  Warren was watching and called it at least a 20 foot back surge and was wondering which rock I was about to make a chica-sized hole in. We had several more fun and fast luge runs but nothing again like THAT one. Doc said he was laughing all the way… and then hoping he’d be able to turn around and still have buddies! We were hot on his tail in a few moments.

We crossed the next sand channel (Moss cove) and entered more mini-rock canyons.

We arrived at a stunning vertical wall of rock.. with more nudibranchs of course!…. and a noticeable increase in turbulence in the water. Doc called this a great place to turn around and repeat the fun on the homeward leg.

Wrapping around Granite Point Wall, I did a double take as I saw two HID lights to my left when I knew both buddies were to my right!
It’s a darned big cove but there was Team Bunny, Steve and Kenn all smiles and lovely balanced hovering against the huge rock face.

A monstah Sheephead fish roamed around us on the return across middle reef, but I only had eyes for the tennis ball sized Odhner’s dorids I found mating on a pink-encrusted boulder. Beautiful, looking like pure white sea lemon nudibranchs with a huge gill-ring of egret feathers stuck on its rear end. Nudibranchs are just hilarious.. I love them more every day.

Viz went to nuthin’ as we approached the boat ramp, until we surfaced to a brilliant day in the cove. A mother sea otter was grooming a baby held on her stomach just 40 feet away from us, and then they swam right over to Warren and looked at him before they zipped underwater and away.

Dive #2: Betos to Sisters to Short Cut Reef.
115 feet max depth, 61 feet avg depth, 1 hour 27 minutes, 11.5C, vis was a mysterious 30 feet most of the dive, but it kept getting better as we got deeper.
The swell was letting up and I’d rewarmed enough to enjoy another dive.

The cool thing about this dive was getting under the turbulence to enjoy the majestic beauty of these deeper structures. I don’t tech dive, so Short Cut Reef is the outside edge of my play envelope here at Lobos. Doc and Warren were great buddies and generous in foregoing the deeper waters so I could play along.

I’ve dived this section of Point Lobos before, but with clearer water when I could see the HUGE rocks like the Third Sister coming from a long way off. As we approached they slowly became the size of skyscrapers.

With today’s limited viz, the huge structures visually exploded into my field of view, already monstrously gigantic. I felt like a ping pong ball bouncing into the Sears Tower.

Look, misty blue water…

Towering Bunch o’ Massive Rock!!!

It was fun and beautiful.
Thousands of nudibranchs.
Acres of small purple and pink hydrocoral, like icicles growing on ridges and spines, with small elephant ear sponges glowing in the distance.

We returned up the sand channel and climbed the boat ramp under a silver half moon in a twilight blue sky. We finished packing the gear in near darkness.

I love this place.

It was great to dive with Warren who flew in on vacation from the Canadian hinterlands and gave us a date for diving Monterey.
We were both appreciative of  Doc Wong for cheerfully leading the way and enjoying every moment of these dives in his own back yard.

All this and I had two more days of diving to look forward to.


P.S. 3 hours and 12 minutes of diving on one DeepSeaSupply Super Sierra Li-Ion battery charge. This is so glorious.

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Who moved my Pops?!?!?!

Posted by: Claudette | Comments (0)


I’m no Nostalgia Nancy but, man, I hate it when stuff I love goes away.

Hershey’s gave us the most perfect mint in the world: Liquid Ice Cool Mint Ice Breakers.

Translucent blue pearls I could pop onto my tongue and wait for the real POP! when the outer gelatin bubble released a breath-taking burst of MINT!!!  The whole world got minty and we all smiled.

Sometimes they popped right away, other times they bounced around my teeth for a while before finally giving up the goodness.  But it was always fun.

My bestest dive partner introduced them to me years ago and we took them every where, sharing them with friends who gasped and giggled.. and asked for more.   Captains and deckhands on dive boats knew us as those crazy divers with tons of gear… and Pops!

And then they were no more.

My monthly order from Amazon was replaced by a harsh email: “This product has been discontinued by the manufacturer.  May we suggest….

Argh!!!  No.  You may NOT suggest anything from the entire rest of the mint world that Does. Not. POP.


Last week we dived with a friend we hadn’t seen in a while.  Chatting on the boat deck as we motored home she asked, “Do you guys have those crazy little round minty ball-bearing thingies?

Dammit, I hate it when stuff I love disappears.

A fine mint :) ...that does not pop. :-(

Out team has drafted a new Breathe-Friendly product —->

Alas, the pop is gone… except for the last three packs my buddy doesn’t know about.


Categories : Diving, Life, oh life.
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