Archive for June, 2009

Research Post #6

June 30, 2009

Early Morning Rituals & Aerobic Spinning

This week’s research focuses on aerobic spinning and early morning risers.  I’ll start with what I found about waking up early.  This site was at one point updated quite frequently, but has not been since 2007.  I wonder what these early risers are doing now instead of blogging.  How to wake up early refers to David Allen’s book Get Things Done by creating a morning ritual.  It is a way of training yourself to be productive in the morning and by following a sequence of steps to eventually become a daily routine.  

If you have the ambition to participate in a morning activity like joining an aerobic spinning class, there are systematic methods to achieve your goals.     

Jennifer “Fun Hog” Sage is a Master Spinning Instructor.  Her blog provides information about her, training advice, coaching tips and information about events in which she participates. 

One particular blog entry discusses the contradicted efforts on YouTube about spinning.  Jennifer is very disturbed about this and cautions students that these instructors in the videos are not certified and are creating flashy moves to impress their students.  

Some interesting notes about a spin class – Indoor cyclist can burn 300 to 500 calories in just 45 minutes.  Regardless of personal ability, individuals of all levels can participate in the same session.  Each individual can work at their own level of intensity despite the tempo of the class.  

Unlike what Jennifer found in the YouTube videos, most spin classes are a high-energy, low impact cardio session.  There are classes that focus on intervals, hills, climbing or other personal needs.  Depending on your instructor’s style, the class may be taught differently – but be sure to choose a certified instructor.  

In a typical spin class, you aren’t going anywhere so the scenery stays the same, but John Hinrichsen’s Image Cycling concept brings new scenery to your stationary workout.  Once a month, the Vanderbilt Planetarium and Image Cycling offer spin classes where large images are projected on the walls with special effects and captivating music.     

Personally, I prefer to enjoy the outdoor scenery, sense of freedom and fresh air when riding a bicycle, but Hinrichsen’s planetarium spin class sure sounds like it would be fun to try.

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Reaction Post #6 – Two Talking Apes

June 30, 2009

I found Jon Hamilton’s A Voluble Visit with Two Talking Apes article and Language: What Lies Beneath interactive multimedia to be very thought provoking.  I feel as humans we take language and communication for granted.  However, Hamilton packages the interactive portion as if there is another dimension to the presentation than just a video or words.  I actually watched the interactive portions more than once because they are done so well.  

I really liked the interactive portion’s introduction statement, “researchers say words are just the tip of the iceberg” with an interactive graphic of an iceberg and five different sections to click on.  Two of the sections utilize text and a video to convey a clear message, the other three utilize text and a slideshow with audio to capture the essence of the material being presented.   

Separate from the interactive portion is an article providing great analysis of what Sue Savage-Rumbaugh, head scientist at the Great Ape Trust near Des Moines, Iowa, has stumbled upon with two chimpanzees being able to understand our language.  After reading the story and then watching the one chimpanzee, Kanzi, in the “Social Connection” interactive part brings both worlds together.  However, after watching the video, I would be very reluctant to eat the sandwich that Kanzi prepared. 

I feel Hamilton did an impressive job of showing informative videos and slideshows in the interactive section.  It was important to see the robot perform in the “Reality Check” video just like Kanzi had in a video.  Hamilton also used appropriate pictures and graphics in the slideshows as well as the voice of the person featured.  

I actually enjoyed learning about language in this format.

Reporting Post #6 – Kelly

June 30, 2009

While You Were Sleeping…A Mother Is Staying In Shape. 

Kelly Brown is a mother of two young girls who only has time to exercise early in the morning prior to work while her husband and kids remain asleep.  Fortunately, she has always been an early riser and is typically out of bed by 4:30 a.m.  She is generally asleep by 9 p.m. to keep up with her strenuous daily schedule.  To keep her mornings from becoming monotonous she varies her methods of exercise and the locations at which she does it.  

Mondays and Wednesdays, she drives to Central York High School to swim laps in the pool.  Her swimming workout is typically 80 laps (one mile) and takes approximately 35 minutes followed by a quick shower and then changing in to her running outfit for a two mile jog on the indoor track.  She arrives back at her house at approximately 7 a.m. in time to shower again prior to waking the girls, dressing them and preparing breakfast before leaving for work at 8:30 a.m.  

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Brown goes to Gold’s Gym to lift weights.  She arrives at 5:00 a.m. to lift weights for a minimum of one hour.  To vary her routine, she works on her legs and arms on Tuesdays and works on her chest, shoulders and back on Thursdays.  When her weight lifting is completed, she uses the remainder of the time on the Stairmaster for a cardiovascular workout.  “On Tuesdays, I only do 30 minutes because I usually stop by the grocery store before going home. On Thursdays, I can stay on the Stairmaster a little longer,” Brown clarifies.     

On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, she runs on a treadmill at her home. She gets up at 5 a.m. to run for an hour or so. “I usually do around five miles.  I make sure I am done by 7 a.m. on the weekends as well,” says Brown.   “We usually have activities planned on Saturday and attend church on Sunday.” 

Inspired by her father, Brown has been working out periodically since she was a teenager but didn’t get serious about it until she was nearly 30-years-old. “He was always working out at home when I was growing up and encouraged me to lift weights and run as well.  At 65, he still works out regularly,” she said.  

She prefers to work out by herself in the morning and doesn’t prefer to participate in the group aerobic classes.  She likes to keep things moving, restraining from conversation especially the days while lifting weights.  While she is at the pool, she does prefer to have other swimmers to help pace her.  She will often gauge whether she can beat them or catch up with them.  

Brown knows what is required for her to live healthy and to feel good about herself. She says, “I know I have to take advantage of the early morning hours because the opportunity to work out later in the day may not happen.  Usually it does not with two kids and my husband’s work schedule.  Besides, I feel much better when I start my day with a workout.”   

Reaction Post #5 – What have I learned from the readings

June 25, 2009

I selected Tips for Writing for the Web as my online reaction post and chapter four from Mike Ward’s book Journalism Online since I am trying to improve my Web writing skills with this class.  

Once again, I am the one writing and updating our corporate Website and intranet.  Part of my job is to also try and have other associates understand that the way they are to write on the Web is different than a Word document report.  

I currently try to implement the Tips for Writing for the Web when I am writing on the Web, but I feel after reading the article that I need to use even shorter paragraphs, better headings, omit unnecessary words and use more active verbs.  

I also need to improve on when to hyperlink and what needs links.  In other words, I guess I’m guilty of what I just accused others of – writing for a Word document instead of the Web.   

One more area I can improve upon is thinking differently regarding how to tell a story.  I can no longer just accept writing a story and throwing a picture with it.  I need to look at what other options can be captured with a story (i.e. audio, video, slideshow, etc.).  

From Mike Ward’s Journalism Online chapter four writing section, he instills the importance of core writing skills.  I found it interesting that after all these years the two best sources of core writing skills for newspaper journalist are the same two sources for online journalist (Essential English for Journalist, Editors and Writers and The Elements of Style).  

It was also a good refresher in this section to be reminded that every word you use should have a good reason to be there. Good rules of thumb:

–          don’t use more words than you need
–          use short  words instead of long ones
–          use words with simple meanings
–          use words with concrete meanings
–          be specific
–          use correct meaning of words

Another section I found valuable was identifying the elements of a story that will satisfy your reader’s greatest interest.  When writing, it is about your reader’s needs, not your own needs, so you have to write to what they want.  Next, you need to put thought into the best way to structure your story and then present it in a way to capture your reader’s attention.  

I agree with Ward on writing good intros is not easy.  I struggle with this myself and I like how the book talks about thinking how someone will be searching for select words and incorporating that into your intros.

Research Post #5

June 25, 2009

This week the Google alerts and some extra searching turned up a few new items regarding “morning people.” 

Science Daily’s article,  Morning people and night owls show different brain function and The Vancover Sun’s Brains of early birds, night owls work differently, reveals scientist found major differences in brain function based on what type of person you are. 

Using MRI scans, the scientists studied nine people who were extreme night owls — those who stayed up until 3 a.m. and did their best work at night — with nine morning people who were awake at 5 a.m. and eager to dive into work a few minutes later. 

The study found that morning people’s brains were more excitable at 9 a.m. and decreased slowly throughout the day.  On the other hand, night owl’s brains were more excitable at 9 p.m. 

I don’t know if I agree with the study findings on evening people becoming physically stronger throughout the day, when morning people’s strength remains a constant especially since the sample size was small.  

The next research I found was a blog on Oprah.com. A woman new to Oprah.com community asked everyone “what gets you ready in the morning.”  This woman wrote that she is a morning person is that she loves to work out in the morning before work to get her mind ready for the day and helps her to relax.  

One woman wrote that she is not really a morning person, but she makes herself get up at 5:30 a.m., by setting three alarm clocks, so that she can get to the gym before work.  This woman feels that getting one workout completed in the morning sets her mind for the rest of the day.  She feels empowered! 

Another woman loves the mornings.  She normally rises between 3 a.m. and 4 a.m. without an alarm clock (but goes on to say that daylight savings time screws up her biorhythms).  Three to four of those mornings, she and her husband take the dog for a walk and the other days she’ll dive right into working.  That’s pretty early to start working.  

One more interesting blogger wrote that she is usually up by 3:15 a.m., drinks coffee, listens to Marianne Williamson (whoever that is) and heads to the gym.  She enjoys this time with no interruptions and claims it brings her energy and peace of mind to continue on with her day.   

I’m very surprised to find people awake at 3 a.m. and I’m even pretty close to being a morning person.  I’m also a late night person as well.  I find I normally go to bed around 11 p.m. and rise about 5:15 a.m. during the work week.  

This leads to the Google alert I found on night owls trying to be morning people while traveling.  These people wrote that they thought 7 a.m. was the crack of dawn when they needed to get up early for an excursion trip to Stonehenge.  

I found this week’s research more in line with my project.

Reporting Post #5 – Marge

June 25, 2009

While You Were Sleeping…A Woman Is Throwing Hay

Marge Morgan rises between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. every morning to take care of her horses, dogs and cats.  She throws on her old clothes and heads out to the barn to feed the horses and clean the stalls.  Next, she puts hay out in the field. Then, she comes back inside to change into her running shoes and goes for a three mile jog.

Once back home she said she is still not done.  “I take the dogs out, finish cleaning the stalls and let the horses out in the pasture for the day,” Marge explained.  She is still not finished the chores. Finally, she prepares next days feed, sweeps the isles and dumps manure. Then, she if ready to come in, shower and is at work by 8:30 a.m.  

Marge explains, “I have three Tennessee walking horses, one is 30 years old who I rescued several years ago, four dogs (three are Boston Terriers and one is a Cairn Terrier) and two barn cats.”  

She has been doing this morning routine for the last 11 years. There have been variations in the number of horses she has had stabled at her barn. For a few winters there were five horses.  Exhausted thinking about it, Marge said, “It is a huge amount of work taking care of three horses, four dogs and two cats.” 

I asked her how much feed the horses consume in a week.  She claims, “The spring and summer is not as bad as they graze in the pasture, but with three horses it’s about 50 pounds of grain, a bale of hay, supplements and pasture grass each week.” 

However, the winter is another story.  “Since there is no pasture grass, you have to supplement with hay,” Marge explains.  She usually buys about 250 bales at one time (June-July) right out of the field. That is the cheapest way to order and that usually lasts all year. I go through about 100 pounds of grain and five bales of hay a week. 

This seemed to me to be a very expensive hobby, so I asked her how much it costs her to have the horses.  She spends about $1,000 on hay, $3,500 on grain, $300 on supplements per month.  There are also doctor bills.  She’ll end up spending $500 a year on shots and the dentist pays a visit once a year and charges $125 per horse.  Marge goes on to include, “and horses need new shoes every six weeks at $135 per horse.”  Of course there can also be unexpected emergency costs that could vary depending on the circumstances. 

When asked how she became interested in horses, she explained, “You are born with the love of horses in your blood.”  Horses run in her family.   Her mother showed horses and Marge was about seven years old when she did her first show in North Carolina.

Marge explains, “There was a long lag time after those younger years and I began riding again in my late thirties. I show for the fun of it and to be with my best horse buddies!” 

Who is her favorite horse? She says she loves each one of them like a mom and she doesn’t really have any favorites. If she had to choose, “it would be my old guy.” 

How did she get hooked on owning horses?  She grew up around horses when she lived in North Carolina as a child.  She had chores that had to be done before school like sweeping the barn isles, cleaning tack, etc., so it wasn’t hard to get back into that morning routine.  

When asked about a tough morning, she recalled one morning when she went out to feed one of the horses, he let all the others out.  “They made a giant mess of everything!  Lucky for me the barn doors were closed so they didn’t have a chance to run through my neighbor’s tomato garden, again!” 

I asked her what events she attends to stay current on owning horses.  She attends the Maryland Horse Expo for the interesting seminars on hay management, general horse health issues and clinics on how to train horses in different disciplines.

Reporting Post #4 – Gina

June 18, 2009

While You Were Sleeping…Gina Is Teaching Spin Class.

Gina Steigerwalt is a Gold’s Gym spin instructor.  She teaches Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 5:30 a.m. to 6:30 a.m.  She has been working out at Gold’s for about seven years and instructing for one and half years.  Gina is a very early riser.  She is up at 4:30 a.m. as she likes to arrive at the gym at 5 a.m. so that she can lift weights prior to teaching.   

So how did Gina become interesting in teaching a spin class?  She says she originally accepted teaching a morning step aerobics class.  Unfortunately, she injured her back shortly after accepting, but had to put things on hold.  The doctors recommended cycling as her cardio workout as opposed to running and high impact aerobics. Fortunately for her that was the same time spinning was being introduced at Gold’s Gym and they offered her that position instead.  “Originally, I wasn’t too into cycling, but I love it now and it is a great workout,” Gina said.

Gina said she has always wanted to teach some type of aerobics ever since she was in middle school.  She used to tape a show on ESPN called Fitness Pros and do their 30 minute aerobic routine after her sports practice.  After joining a gym, I was very involved in the aerobic classes and Lori Fry, the coordinator for Group X (Gold’s aerobic classes), knew of my interest to teach and offered me a position.  “I jumped on the opportunity,” exclaimed Gina. 

I asked Gina if she has always been morning person and she explained how she prefers working out in the mornings.  She was a swimmer in high school and she had to practice before school.  “This set the stage and I continued to work out in the mornings in college before class.  With working 10-12 hour days at my job, I am too exhausted to go after work.  If I do not make it to the gym in the morning, the odds of seeing me after work are slim to none,” said Gina.  

I next asked her if she would rather be sleeping instead of working out in the morning before work.  She explained that she actually feels more awake and energized for work when she works out before work.  On the days she skips her early morning workouts, she is exhausted at work.  She has a pretty physical job as a physical therapist, so she needs to have high energy all day.  

Gina is not alone at 5:30 a.m.  Approximately 10 people ranging in age from 20-years-old to 60-years-old participate each session.  “That is the great thing about cycling, it is great for all ages because you can make it your own ride.  They can adjust the resistance however they would like and no one will know,” said Gina.  In a step or kickboxing class, everyone knows when you are not doing what the instructor tells you.  Fortunately, most of the class members have been with her since the class started, so they usually can handle the routines.  She says how she and the class have become good friends and we go out together for breakfast on a weekend every other month. 

I was curious about how much time she spends preparing for her classes.  She said when she first started instructing, it took her about an hour to put music and a routine together for the next day.  Now that she has been teaching this long, she has over 70 music play lists with different routines so it doesn’t take much time to prepare anymore.  Once a week, she tries to create a new play list with new music to keep it fresh.  That takes about 30 minutes. 

She uses a variety of music to accommodate all the age groups.  Most of her music is the current Top 40s.  She does take requests and she does special days such as “80s day” and “Class Choice.”  People also bring in CDs and have her download the songs they want to hear. 

Gina does use note cards because she says you can do many different things to the same song.  With 70 different play lists, she does rotate the songs so the class does not get bored.  She has also started a combo spin/circuit class on Wednesdays to keep the class’s interest.  They do about 30 minutes on the bike and then do approximately nine stations of alternating strength and cardio for a minute each.  In between each set they do some plyometrics to get the heart rate up.  “It is a great calorie burn and they love it,” Gina proclaims.

Research Post #4 – Gourds

June 18, 2009

With our first text module due on Tuesday, I wanted to research current blogs and articles on people making art out of gourds to accompany my first text module.  I will be writing about two of my completed interviews: Cindy Suter and her gourd art and Linda Householder with her knitting.  I do have research on knitting, so I need research on gourds for the first module.  

Sharon King wrote on her June 16, blog “How to grow gourds a few different ways for crafts and other uses” about how to grow gourds for using them for works of art.  I love Sharon’s passion about embracing the entire gourd growing process from seeds to harvesting them and then creating beautiful art work.  I don’t know if I have the patience she has especially when she starts off with the things need to get started with growing gourds includes wire, treated lumber, chain link fence, cement, galvanized nails, tiller, plow and shovel.  

Her instructions for a gourd garden have 22 steps.  It just seems like an awful lot of work to grow gourds when I could just buy them and pick out the ones I like.  However, if I was going to grow gourds, Sharon is very thorough in explaining every step of the process and also gives good information on where to find certain supplies and how much you would expect to pay.  She is very precise with her measurements on how far down to dig and she also explains why you need to cut the wood to certain lengths.  I will definitely pass this blog onto Cindy for the day when she is ready to start growing her own gourds.  

I found it difficult to find more articles or blog posts that were published within the last two weeks that deals with gourds.  I did find a blog and a picture of a sompoton, a musical instrument made from a dried gourd with eight bamboo pipes.  

The other blogs and articles I found were outside of the time frame required or they were not relevant to my topic.  However, the 13th Annual Gourd Art Festival is being held June 27 and June 28 at the Welburn Gourd Farm in Fallbrook, Ca., if anyone is interested.

Reaction Post #4

June 18, 2009

I found Ira Glass and his 4-part series on storytelling to be a very honest and somewhat relieving look at capturing a story.  

Part 1 focuses on the basics of broadcast writing.  Ira stresses the use of anecdotes and moment of reflection as the two main build blocks of broadcast stories.  He claims if you use anecdotes, you can turn the most boring stories into something wonderful with the use of building upon events and creating suspense.  He emphasized to constantly raise questions and keep answering them to keep your audience’s attention.  Ira says you also need to add a moment of reflection (which is a sequence of actions) to support the anecdote to show that here is the point of the story. If you don’t have both of these, your story will not be compelling and won’t hold your audience’s attention.  I think about stories I read or watch online and if I don’t feel part of the story or if it is boring, I won’t read any further.  I will go and search the next item.  

Part 2 focuses on finding great stories.  I like how Ira is honest in admitting that people new to writing for broadcasting will fail, that failure is a big part of success.  I really needed to hear this because I can relate to that comment!  Taking this class enforces the fact that I’m having difficulty in finding great blogs. So, I guess it’s ok that I haven’t found my great research for this project yet.  As Ira states, you need to keep searching and be ruthless in trying to find that great angle or story and that searching for the right stories can take longer than the amount of time it takes to produce the story.  I have been getting frustrated that I have not found great blogs or articles on my morning people, but I will now continue to keep searching.  

Ira talks about good taste in Part 3.  He says that when you start out in broadcasting, you think your stuff is good, but it really isn’t and that everyone goes through this phase.  I remember when I was first hired at FOX43 and had to write and produce my own promos every week. In reflection, I would say I had room for improvement.  My boss would pick things out and then I’d have to redo my work until it was perfect.  I did get better over the years and then when we hired new people and I was the one training them and having them redo their work.  I never gave up and I’m now I’m very picky when it comes to my work – I’m never happy because something could always be improved.  

Part 4 talks about the two common pitfalls in broadcasting.  One pitfall is trying to be someone other than yourself when you get on camera.  You need to just be yourself not trying to imitate someone else.  The second pitfall is that you should not talk about yourself.  If you are interviewing someone, you need to ask them questions and not just talk about your own accomplishments.  Not sure if anyone remembers when Chevy Chase tried his hand as a late night talk show host, but his pitfall was that he was not a good interviewer.  He wanted to talk about himself and his accomplishments and the guest really didn’t get the attention they deserved.  Needless to say, the Chevy Chase show did not last very long.  

I really liked how straightforward Ira is about the reality of breaking into broadcasting.  Everyone wants to think that it is easy, but if you don’t follow his advice, you can really create a headache for yourself.  I also found it relieving in that I might not get it right on my first attempt and that that is just the way it is.

Research Post #3

June 11, 2009

Early Morning Risers 

It is proving difficult to find recent news about morning people.  Maybe they are so busy doing what they do at that hour, that they aren’t blogging about it.  I do see a lot of blogs about people who are not morning people.  

So, can everyone be a morning person like the people in my interviews?  Anne Hart’s article, “How food regulates your inner clocks,” discusses how everyone’s internal clock can be adjusted to accommodate these early morning activities.  

The article goes on in long detail about internal clocks and biorhythms.  Anne provides what types of food are best for your body as well as when to eat these foods to keep your body working mentally and physically at its best. 

What are biorhythms and internal clocks?  Biorhythms measure the physical, emotional and intellectual cycles and internal clocks measure mood, memory and body temperature during a 24 hour cycle. 

The article links morning people’s higher body temperatures with high energy levels in the morning as compared to afternoon and evening people not having this quality.    

So maybe there is hope for people who have a hard time getting up in the morning to reset their internal clock and become a morning person.  

However, Kathryn Flynn, a features editor for Annapolis’s The Capital, writes in “Overheard: Sunrise, sunset” that she can’t remember the last time she saw the sun rise.  She is definitely not a morning person.  She is fine with morning people being healthy, wealthy and wise and states that, “I’ll take being sickly, poor and slightly stupid if it means I can stay under the covers for a few more hours.” 

Kathryn claims that she used to be a morning person when she was a kid, but once she got to college, sunrises and early mornings lost their appeal.