It has been several months since my last post. Things have been fairly quiet, as hubby and I are still adjusting to life in the the new place. In early November, the drought (more an indication of low rainfall due to winter) broke, the associated storms causing power outages and some flooding. The trees are now covered in new growth, which nectar-eaters and insects love. The heavy rainfall has also led to a bunch of new critters being more active, such as birds (many of which are nesting young now or trying to attract mates) and insects that have left a dormant state.
One such creature is the Yellow-Bellied Sunbird (also known as the Olive-Backed Sunbird) [check out this article as well: Yellow-bellied Sunbird @Thala Beach Nature Reserve], a typically diurnal nectar-eater living in Asia and certain parts of Australia. As hubby and I were going to bed last night, we saw one eating bugs outside one of our kitchen windows. According to a wiki article on the adorable little avians, the habit is associated with nursing babies. The article did not mention nocturnal habits nor did it mention that those suckers can hover for short periods of time. I find these little guys fascinating for obvious reasons. They have a small yet familiar chirp and are around the size of a finch, but hovers like a hummingbird. Their beaks are slightly curved and long, a lovely yellow belly and olive back. The little guy that we saw last night was lovely, one of several that like to hang out on the poinciana trees juxtaposing the main road in town and the river behind our house. I highly recommend that folks check out both links and also do a search for these pretty little birds.
We also saw the little furry critter again about a month ago. It appears to have an elongated snout, making it resemble a bilby rather than a quoll (the species also has a slightly elongated snout, but I haven’t found any with a grey-tan fur), a possum (flatter face, move differently and much quicker) or a rabbit (a rabbit has a flatter face and moves differently). It is still a mystery, but I am sure that hubby and I will find more clues over time. As a sidenote, I haven’t not seen a cat since moving here.
READING & WRITING
Not much on the reading and writing front. I didn’t participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but hope to next year. Congratulations to those that participated though, regardless of whether you hit your desired wordcount. You made a decision to write something, but don’t forget that the writing doesn’t finish there. If you didn’t finish, either make an effort to do so or use elements from whatever you have completed in other works. Feel free to let me know what you end up doing.
Though I haven’t done a lot of study over the past few months, I did manage to finish three courses on EdX this past week. These are:
- The Business of Mining by Curtain University: a four-module introductory course dealing with the lifespan, issues and economics of mining. It was a short yet solid overview of mining, that also covered to some degree how to read geo-models. Each module has numerous activities, videos and several assessment on a separate website that hooks into EdX once you get your last course badge. My only criticism is that there was effectively an unlimited number of shots at the assessments. 50% minimum for a pass. Rating: 7/10 (The material was solid, but I am slightly more interested in other subjects)
- Pet Birds 101 by University of Tennesee: an introductory course covering the physiology and care of birds that are commonly kept as birds. There are three major sections, each broken up into separately assessed multiple choice assessment that follow at least one video. The material is mature, though you will likely learn more about bird poop than you will likely want to. My only criticism is that you are given unlimited shots at the assessment questions which downplays the challenge. 70% minimum for a pass. Rating: 9/10 (I love birds and this gave me solid insight into various species. I highly recommend it for people that are fascinated by birds and/or biology)
- Introduction to Linux by Linux Foundation: an introductory course dealing with the history of Linux, Linux distros, installation, some common command lines, etc… The material is broken up into 18 modules with a final for which your course score is derived. The videos are short, with most of the learning being from text that is infrequently confusing. This might require a few extra passes in preparation for the final exam. Given the steep learning curve to move to a Linux distro, I will likely give the O/S a pass. Rating: 6/10 (The material is complicated and periodically confusing. This might be a product of being a Windows fan though)
I am somewhat inclined to primarily enroll in self-paced courses from now on, with EdX being the clear winner over Coursera given that self-paced materials at Coursera have certain limitations, such as a lack of a free audit certificate for passing and limit on study time. The more time that I spend at EdX though, the more that I like the platform. There is a different focus, with EdX being non-profit yet still focused on providing high quality learning materials. Compare this with the profit and corporate focus of Coursera. This is not to say that Coursera is in any way evil, but sometimes money gets in the way of learning.
I am now back to playing RIFT, but started playing ArcheAge yesterday. I tried to play ArcheAge back before I formatted my computer, resulting in some huge issues such as not being able to get past the character creation section. This time around, I still have some mild issues but I am loving what I’ve played of my Firran Vitalist so far. Folks that have played Guild Wars 2 will find some of the elements similar, but it feels a bit similar to how Black Desert Online appears to be but without the action combat. [BTW, I played GW2 for about a week in there, but got a bit bored after hubby stopped playing. It is quite lovely as well, but there are some limitations for f2p peeps that are annoying, such as being locked into a single server, which can only be changed to another using a premium token. The freedom to move around different servers is something that I love about RIFT actually.] ArcheAge has a more coherent and immersive storyline so far compared to RIFT, but I will see if that holds up over time as I progress through the game with Meownow. Yes, that is the name that I chose for my character – don’t judge me! 😀
Hubby also pre-ordered us both a Conqueror’s Pack for Black Desert Online which gets us into the upcoming beta test automatically. Folks interested in giving the game a run should apply for the beta, but realise that the western realise is buy-to-play like Guild Wars and The Secret World is. If you do end up playing, let me know about your own experiences in-game.
I might give Devilian a run after it goes out of beta, but also have other action RPGs such as Marvel Heroes and Diablo 3. I am hoping that Lost Ark has a western release as it looks gorgeous, but it isn’t guaranteed.
DIET & EXERCISE
Hubby and I got a LifeSpan Rise treadmill recently and I try to do around 10km on it each day, along with some situps and pushups. Adding situps has led to some abdominal soreness though, leading to a few days off while I recover enough to be able to roll over in bed without excessive pain. Oddly enough, no real issue doing the pushups though apart from odd pains in one of my wrists one of the days. I want to get fit and healthy, but have to be realistic in that it will take some time due to how much extra weight that I am carrying. I will have to be patient and stick with it, keeping an eye on my diet. I keep eating unhealthy food though, which doesn’t help. I am slowly getting there though.