Ski trip – a story of perseverance

I had one of the best weekends of my life, where I went on a ski trip with my friend Anna, her parents Deb and Jay, her friends Britt, Abhishek, Jen, Dan, Rachel, and Robb, and my coworkers Sondra and Palemon. We left Friday night and got reached the town of Indian Lake in the Adirondacks pretty late. The drive was exquisitely beautiful – pitch darkness and pristine snow. The clear skies made the stars look magical. And the cabin…boy, the cabin was amazing. It is newly built with all modern amenities, but looks gorgeous and really old school.

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During the drive found out that Anna’s dad is a huge Lord of the Rings fan, just like myself, and Anna actually named her son Rohan because of the region in LOTR. Something new I learned about her about knowing her over 2 years! Her parents are two of the sweetest people I have met. Her mom is the extroverted life of the party, while her dad reminded me of myself. He was quiet, but around people, and doing little things to make everyone’s life easier. He was doing all the cleanings, helping around the house, walking up to us in the outdoors with extra snow shoes in case we need them. He would warm up mugs before we could pour in coffee. Just countless tiny little gestures to make our lives easier and happier. He is a giving person, and I saw so much of myself in him that I became a huge fan! And he is a sports fanatic like myself.

We reached hungry on Friday night, so I made some scrambled eggs for folks. Saturday was supposed to be ski day, but everyone decided to ski on Sunday when it was snowing. I solved this puzzle that I hadn’t played since childhood!

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We went snowshoeing in the woods behind their property to hunt an abandoned old car. Walking on top of 5-7 feet of snow was amazing. Sometimes our feet would drop nearly two feet into the snow, for those of us without snow shoes. I hiked with and without them. Some photos from the hike.

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And we also found the buried car!

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Rest of the afternoon was spent walking over a frozen lake near their cabin.

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We went to the town to get milkshakes, and dinner was a beautiful family affair. The dining table was made from wood from the 19th century. Rest of the evening was spent watching tv, playing games, playing pool, chatting in small groups. Anna’s friends are awesome people, and I had one-on-one conversations with nearly all of them. During pool gave me a chance to learn more about the pharma industry from Anna’s friends, as well as getting to know her mom. It also allowed me to bond closer with my coworkers Sondra and Pale.

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On Sunday we drove to Gore Mountain for our hike. The drive was…you can guess…magical!

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Anna, Dan, Jen, and Sondra went on actual skiing while me and Palemon took lessons as we were beginners. It was a 1.5 hour lesson without using any ski poles. Just trying to get our balance right and how to stop and turn. After 1.5 hours I didn’t think I had learned something. We were supposed to drive back to New Jersey then, but Palemon decided to cancel his soccer game so we could ski more. That was how much fun we were having in this trip that a soccer fanatic decided to miss his game!

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After lunch I went back on the practice slope, but a far longer one. I had to hold a J-bar to go up. First two times I fell off within a few feet. Third time I went up maybe 20 feet. Fourth time maybe 300 feet before I fell off. How, I don’t know! Fifth time I reached the top, but fell twice while coming back down. Sixth time I only fell once! Seventh time fell off the J-bar again near the top. Eighth time lost my balance, but didn’t land on my butt! This is how it look, the J-bar on the right, and had to ski till the first cabin on the left.

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On the 9th try…I made it to the top without falling, and came back down without falling or losing balance! Success!

By the time I went up for the 10th time, all barriers till the very end were removed because the workers were shutting down for the day.

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And this was my final run…the 10th run. From top…all the way down to the far cabin straight ahead. I turned, I braked, managed my speed, and skied all the way down!

You fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, fail, succeed, and then win it! If there is one trait I am proud of myself, its my perseverance. Growing up, I didn’t really go out of my comfort zone. My parents said no to doing anything, going anywhere. In the last few years, I decided to experience what life has to offer. Try things I didn’t like. Go to places I wasn’t interested in. I have done hiking, rafting, and now skiing. Older me might have stayed in the cabin. 3 yrs back I did stay in the cabin. Yesterday I went out. I made a fool of myself. I fell repeatedly. I have soreness all over. I fell and fell and fell. But I got back up. I didn’t care if I was the only person, child or adult, who kept falling off the J-bar. I kept going back up.

Aragorn said, “there is always hope”. So I never lose hope. A tennis player had a quote tattooed – “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” It was great to meet new people, going on a trip I barely knew anyone. Great to try a new thing. Great to persist at it. I went with no expectations and I come back with pure happiness, and soreness. So thankful to Anna, her parents, friends, and my coworkers for making this trip worth it. And to make it even better, Anna allowed me to drive her car back to New Jersey. A house of 12 adults, one baby, two dogs, and a cat…it felt like family.

Here’s my goodbye from this winter wonderland trip.

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Put the Sci in your Fi—Enhance your Image Enhancement

Rachel M Brick

Hello everyone! Welcome to the first Put the Sci in your Fi post of 2019! This is a particularly special entry because it’s the first guest article for this blog topic! So, without further ado, I’m super stoked to introduce illustrator and graphic designer Alex Ferri Land (check out her website for some adorable art). With a decade of experience in the gaming industry, her post will highlight common misconceptions about image analysis as well as discuss the limitations of technology and what alternative options exist.

Enhance your Image Enhancement

The usual offense:

Our Detective / Cop / Space Captain has their game changing surveillance footage / photo / screen Display up. Somewhere in that image is some crucial bit of information. But it’s so small! If only they could see that tiny piece of the picture more clearly…

They zoom into the spot and see a blurry close-up of…

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The end of 2018: A year in review

Rachel M Brick

Wow, I can’t believe this is the third “Year in Review” post I’m writing on my blog! To continue this little tradition, which was inspired by my friend’s blog post, I wanted to take a little time and space to reflect on 2018 and emphasize to myself how much (or little) I accomplished this year. I started doing this to force myself not to obsess over things I didn’t do, but to think of the milestones I’ve hit and my achievements this year.

New year 2018 change to 2019 concept

Of everything in 2018, I’d like to highlight the following:

  • Launching my new thread of blog posts, “Put the Sci in your Fi“, and posting seven entries in that series over the past year. Seven might not seem like a large number, but for the amount of time required to research each topic and fact check everything, I’m happy with what I’ve put out so far…

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Put the Sci in your Fi — Kill the Character, Cure the Disease…Or Don’t

Why I love this author’s writing and mind – she questions, learns about the topic, and explains in a scientifically accurate manner. Her stories and blogs bear a greater semblance to scientific reality. And that in my opinion enhances the story. And these blog posts help everyone who wants to write sci-fi. Sherlock Holmes told John Watson – you see, but do not observe. This author is the antithesis of that statement, and everyone must follow her writing adventures!

Rachel M Brick

Hello everyone, and welcome to another installment of Put the Sci in your Fi! I’m sure any sci-fi enthusiast has come across this trope, whether it’s in video games or books or TV show/movies, and that is: If you have a disease, plus an immune (usually human) character, that person will be sacrificed by the end to provide a cure and save the rest of humanity from the dastardly plague.

As a writer and reader, of course I understand why this approach is often taken. It’s dramatic, it creates tension and an ethical dilemma, and if a beloved character is sacrificed for “the greater good,” it pulls the reader’s heartstrings. But the scientist in me always whines that this isn’t scientifically sound, that it’s a huge waste of a valuable and limited resource, that there are other, more creative (and perhaps less obvious) ways where you can save the character and

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Put the Sci in your Fi — Getting Personal: The Realities of Life in STEM

Hows life for a typical scientist in the STEM field, especially in the life sciences? Read the experiences of a real scientist who did her PhD in the stem (pun intended) cell field.

Rachel M Brick

Hello everyone, welcome to another entry of “Put the Sci in your Fi”!

For this month’s post, instead of talking about superpowered animals or lab equipment, I thought I’d talk about the people who do the work with that equipment—the scientists. Recently, I came across this question on Quora: “What are the harsh realities about getting a PhD?”

water help This might be a little on the nose. It’s also an actual picture from my actual lab, so…

And the more I thought about it, the more I felt it might make a good “Put the Sci in your Fi” post. Not because it offers information on lesser known scientific research or gives an inside view to how a lab is typically set up, but because perhaps it can help an author create a more authentic fictional character dealing with the every day grind in the STEM field (that’s science, technology…

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Put the Sci in your Fi – Real Life Superpowers—The Naked Mole Rat

Check out the amazing ‘superpowers’ of the naked mole role. Was a very informative read for me!

Rachel M Brick

NMoleRat72-2 The Naked Mole Rat – image courtesy of Alex Ferri Land

Hi everyone, welcome to another “Put the Sci in your Fi” post! Today, we’ll be continuing the discussion of real life superpowers with the naked mole rat.

If you’re new to this line of posts, the previous topic discussed the tardigrade and what superpowers it had that could be useful to the sci-fi world. But, what on earth is so great about the naked mole rat? It looks like a sausage with giant buck teeth, after all. It lives strictly underground in East Africa, and can’t even go outside without being baked to death in the desert sun. Where does its superpower come in?

Well, a little digging reveals that the naked mole rat might just be the tardigrades of the rodent world—they boast a cornucopia of survival mechanisms, including pain resistance, aging resistance, hypoxia resistance, and cancer resistance. 

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Put the Sci in your Fi – #4 – Real Life Superpowers—Tardigrades: Just Add Water

Read this amazing post about the superpowers of tardigrades, or water bears!

Rachel M Brick

Science fiction and superhero stories are filled with people who have extraordinary abilities. People who can heal, who can walk through walls, survive vacuums, see perfectly in the dark. It’s quite a glamorous affair, especially when the characters jump off the page and onto the silver screen.

There are real animals on Earth, though, that do possess superpower-like qualities, many of which are specialized traits that have evolved as survival mechanisms. This post will delve into just one such creature: the tardigrade.

Tardigrade-Clear Hello! My name is Tardigrade! (Image courtesy of Alex Ferri Land)

The tardigrade is a microscopic aquatic invertebrate with four pairs of stubby legs. First discovered in 1773 by German zoologist Goeze, over 900 species have since been discovered around the world, and it seems only recently have researchers begun to decipher the molecular mechanisms that allow for this “extremophile” to survive the harshest of environments.

Now…

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Put the Sci in your Fi – #3 – Beakers, Bunsen Burners and Budget Cuts (Part 2)

Rachel M Brick

Welcome to another post of “Put the Sci in your Fi!” Today we’ll be continuing with the previous discussion on how to make science more affordable for your science fiction character if they aren’t swimming in money. As much as we would all love to get those million dollar grants or inherit truckloads of $100 bills from our parents, it simply may not be realistic for everyone’s sci-fi characters to be abundantly wealthy.

Given the high costs of science, doing research may present financial challenges to your character—but some corners can be cut, and this post aims to continue showing you just what actual scientists have done with every day items.

Duct tape

Starting off simple, this is probably an obvious, but often overlooked, item. It’s used for: Everything. Sincerely, anything and everything that might need to be fixed or kept together. Holding tubes in place, keeping lids on desiccators…

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