A Local Walk and a Bite to Eat

I had a walk around my local area Saturday morning after arriving home from work. I'm looky that a five minute walk sees me into the  countryside in the photographs. A walk through the local country park and I'm into some nice woodland walks. I'm not a fan of walking in woods on their own, I like views, but a mixed walk is nice for me.

The Gazebo is located in a really nice spot over looking fields with the edge of the Peak District in the distance. I cooked up a bit of something to eat while in the Gazebo and then headed off around the woods.

A fantastically pleasant morning, there was a chill in the air, but was great walking weather for me, cold and sunny........great.

It's worth taking the time to see what your local area has to offer.

Our Attwood Arena Withstood the Storm Perfectly!

Thanks Attwood Equestrian Services for our wonderful arena, which held up perfectly through the storm. The only damage was a broken mirror at the end of the ring, but that is easily replaced. Here's a photo of Stately having a school this morning, after we had about half a foot of rain.


Edwin from Attwood sent us an email on how to prepare the arena before the storm - its amazing how they're always looking after us! He suggested that we roll the arena so the water would just roll off, and it worked great. Edwin is the best!

Thanks for everything!

-Boyd and Silva

Thesis Update

My contract with the university ends at the beginning of September 2013. And no contract means no salary means Big Trouble. To avoid Big Trouble, I will finish my PhD before my contract ends. Yes, it's that easy.

Well, maybe not. Maybe finishing a PhD takes a little more than just the fear of Big Trouble. Maybe it requires pushing through really hard to make sure I can finally go and live in the same place as my husband. Maybe it takes a little anger and a spoonful of frustration.

With 10 months on the countdown, things do look quite good here, and I thought it's time for an update on my thesis.

I'd like to go chapter by chapter, to illustrate what I still want to do.

Chapter 1: Introduction: Finished and got feedback from co-promotor and promotor. I do want to go over it once I have all chapters finished to see if the description still covers the contents.

Chapter 2: Literature Review: Finished and got feedback from co-promotor and promotor. I want to go over it once more and put more emphasis on the theory I ended up using for my theoretical work.

Chapter 3: Experimental Results: Finished and got feedback from co-promotor. I think it's done done done, unless my promotor has comments.

Chapter 4: Parameter Analysis: Finished and got feedback from co-promotor. Not sure if my promotor agrees with the way I structured the chapter....

Chapter 5: Modified Bond Model: Aka my theoretical chapter. It's in progress, and I really hope to finish it next week - unless other work is going to get in the way again.

Chapter 6: Probabilistic Assessment: I still need to implement to comparison between the Modified Bond Model and my experimental results in there, but the bulk of the chapter is finished. I sent it off to prospective committee member because he's an expert in structural reliability.

Chapter 7: Application to slab bridges: I need to add one paragraph on skewed bridges, but other than that it is finished, but still needs to be discussed with my supervisors.

Chapter 8: Conclusions: Work to be done!

As you can see, I have quite some material ready there. In fact, my goal is to finish the first draft before the December holidays. Afterwards, I can't defend it right away. In Delft, it takes time for the promotor to approve it, then compile the committee, then send it out, then make changes and then print the whole thing. I'm still hoping for printing and defending before September 2013 though.


Na última sexta-feira, 26 de outubro de 2012, na Câmara Municipal de Vereadores de Panambi, aconteceu a etapa final do Concurso de Poesia Gaúcha promovido pelo Rotaract, com o apoio da Secretaria Municipal de Educação e Cultura de Panambi. Na ocasião, seis finalistas declamaram sua poesia, sendo que, DIONES DA ROSA VERGÜTZ, aluno da 8º série, deficiente visual, da ESCOLA MUNICIPAL DE ENSINO FUNDAMENTAL PRESIDENTE COSTA E SILVA, foi o vitorioso ficando em 1º LUGAR e emocionando a todos os presentes com sua garra, força e superação. “A FAMÍLIA COSTA E SILVA FICA FELIZ E HONRADA E QUER HOMENAGEAR ESTA PESSOA ESPECIAL QUE É VOCÊ DIONES. PARABÉNS, SUCESSO E CONTINUE MOSTRANDO E CONTAGIANDO AS PESSOAS QUE O CERCAM COM O TEU POTENCIAL...”

Dia do Professor e Semana da Criança

De 08 a 11 de outubro os alunos das turmas de Educação infantil até os 5°s anos, da Escola Costa e Silva comemoraram a Semana da Criança. Foram realizadas atividades tais como: interséries, musical, cama elástica, pintura de rosto, circuito de brinquedos, entre outras.
Ainda no dia 11 de outubro a Escola ofereceu uma homenagem e um almoço em comemoração ao dia do Professor e Funcionário Público.
A semana foi um sucesso!

Nova espécie de lagarto é descoberta por cientistas da Austrália

Réptil foi encontrado em área próxima à cidade de Perth.
'Ctenotus ora' já corre risco de desaparecer devido à expansão urbana.

Do Globo Natureza, em São Paulo

Uma equipe de cientistas da Universidade Nacional da Austrália (ANU, na sigla em inglês) anunciou nesta segunda-feira (29) a descoberta de uma nova espécie de lagarto entre as dunas de areia da costa Ocidental da Austrália.

O réptil Ctenotus ora tem cerca de seis centímetros de comprimento e foi descrito pela primeira vez na revista científica “Zootaxa”. Entretanto, os cientistas que o encontraram já temem pelo seu desaparecimento devido à expansão urbana.
BRAD MARYAN / AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL UNIVERSITY / AFP (Foto: Brad Maryan/Universidade Nacional da Austrália/AFP)A espécie Ctenotus ora mede cerca de seis centímetros e foi encontrada próximo à cidade de Perth (Foto: Brad Maryan/Universidade Nacional da Austrália/AFP)
O lagarto foi encontrado nas proximidades da cidade de Perth, enquanto os pesquisadores investigavam detalhes sobre a diversidade biológica do país.

Segundo Geoffrey Kay, ecologista da ANU, a descoberta de uma nova espécie nas proximidades de uma das maiores cidades australianas é algo importante e demonstra o quanto a ciência tem que trabalhar para detectar mais espécies.

Para ler mais notícias do Globo Natureza, clique em g1.globo.com/natureza. Siga também o Globo Natureza no Twitter.
Apesar de ter sido recentemente descoberto, de acordo com os cientistas a espécie já está ameaçada de extinção (Foto: Brad Maryan/Universidade Nacional da Austrália/AFP)Apesar de ter sido recentemente descoberto, de acordo com os cientistas a espécie já está ameaçada de extinção (Foto: Brad Maryan/Universidade Nacional da Austrália/AFP)

Juno W At Her New Home

Baby Juno
 Boyd and I are always so happy to see the horses we sell, especially our home breds, go to good homes and also to hear great news about how they are doing.
Juno is one of the fillies that we bred in Australia and imported to the USA. She has the biggest personality and a lot of talent. I meet Doug and Sasha Walsh about a year ago and Doug asked me at one of the Blue Goose shows if I would be able to help his wife Sasha with her big horse, Chancellor .
I started teaching Sasha and also Doug on one of his horses. Sasha is a very talented and ambitious dressage rider and it is fun to see her improve .Sasha was looking for a talented young horse to bring up the levels so I told Doug and Sasha about Juno and that I thought that Juno would be a great match for Sasha.
Silva and Juno
 They fell in love with Juno and bought her a few months ago. Juno has a lot of quality but she is still very young and a little spooky. Doug and Sasha work with a natural horseman at their farm in Nothingham, PA . They decided to spent a few months getting Juno used to everything before we start with the dressage training together, and I thought that was a very good idea since Juno is so young .

Juno on stool without saddle
A few weeks ago Sasha send me the above picture; I think it's so funny, and amazing at the same time. I think it is so great how much time Doug and Sasha have spend with Juno to get to know her and for Juno to trust them as much as she does now.

Sasha and Juno
Last week I received another picture from Sasha of her on Juno. The text with the picture said : "We are ready for the dressage saddle now!"

I could not be happier with Juno's new home and owners . I think Sasha and Juno are going to have a great future in the dressage ring together! We will see her out showing in the spring!

Vrouwennetwerk 2.0

This post is in Dutch - in short: I'm heading to Universiteit Utrecht to give a workshop on (micro)blogging for PhDs and Post-Docs on November 8th.

Het Vrouwennetwerk van de Universiteit Utrecht organiseert op 8 november aanstaande haar tweejaarlijkse netwerkdag. Alle medewerkers van de Universiteit Utrecht zijn uitgenodigd om kostenloos deel te name, mits inschrijving (plaatsen zijn beperkt). Het belooft een ontzettend interessante dag te worden, dus als je in Utrecht zit, kom zeker langs!

Het programma
9.00u - 10.00u: Inloop, inschrijving, kennismaken, netwerken, koffie en thee
10.00u -10.30u: Introductie door het Vrouwennetwerk. Probeer een laptop mee te brengen
10.30u - 12.00u: Interactieve Lezing + discussie
12.00u -12.15u: Digitaal intermezzo
12.15u - 13.45u: Lunch, infoplaza, uitwisselen en netwerken
14u – 15.30u: Zes workshops, waaruit je kunt kiezen
15.30u – 16.00u: Thee/koffie
16.00u – 18.00u: “2.0 doen”, gelegenheid tot netwerken, borrelen, dat alles met een gezellige
muzikale omlijsting door salonduo 'La bohème'

Workshop: "(Micro)Bloggen voor PhDs en Post-docs."
Waarom is het interessant om als wetenschapper te bloggen en tweeten? In deze workshop kijken we naar een aantal verschillende aspecten: hoe je(micro)bloggen kan gebruiken om je (online)(inter)nationaal netwerk uit te bouwen, hoe je jezelf en je onderzoek zichtbaar kan maken, maar ook over wat je kan weerhouden om een blog te starten.
Via een korte tutorial kijken we ook naar het praktische aspect. Het doel is om tot een omlijnd idee te komen over welke onderwerpen en waar je aan de slag kan met (micro)bloggen.
Door ir. Eva Lantsoght, PhD student TUDelft. Blogt op phdtalk.blogspot.com over haar onderzoek, over promoveren en de niet-wetenschappelijke vaardigheden die daarbij aan bod komen, en overige onderwerpen zoals reizen en kunst. Twitter: @evalantsoght

Thank You Purina & Oxford Feed and Lumber!

The Crew at Oxford Feed & Lumber!
This past Tuesday, Purina and Oxford Feed and Lumber, hosted a fun evening at the Stone Barn, with Boyd and Silva!  The whole family at Oxford Feed and Lumber did a knock out job getting ready for the evening, setting up the room with great decorations, some yummy food, and of course their full line of Purina products!

The room was packed with local supporters, and a lot of new faces.  It's so enjoyable to see a different crowd of people come out to support Boyd, Silva and their sponsors!  We even had a good show from the younger generation, with plenty of adoring little girls hanging on Boyd's every word during his speech!  We've got our next set of up & coming eventers on hand.

Photo Credits Jennie Brown!
Boyd did an ace job talking about he and Silva's arrival in the US and the history of their business.  He also spoke about his Olympic experience and how the US could benefit from breeding and producing higher level horses here in the states.  After his talk the audience was encouraged to ask questions, and their was no shortage of an exchange between Boyd and the audience.   It was a lively evening!

We'd like to thank Purina and Oxford Feed and Lumber for a fun filled evening.  They are wonderful sponsors and instrumental in the success of Boyd and Silva's business and training program.  Their full line of feed and supplements help keep all the horses in top form, and we look forward to helping promote their new line of products (which is to be revealed shortly).  Stay tuned!!

They also did a wonderful job with their photos.  Enjoy!
Photo Credits Oxford Feed & Lumber

Silva Featured on Dressage-News.com

Thanks to Dressage-News.com for the article about Silva's remarkably successful year since the tragedies of 2011. Please click here to read the article or follow this URL: http://www.dressage-news.com/?p=18196. Great photos, too!

Autumn Colour Change

I went for a walk around Langsett and along the Porter of Little Don River last weekend and was surprised by firstly, the colour change that had happened since my last visit.

The other surprise was how low the river was, making for an easy crossing as I followed the river up the valley.

I'm really looking forward to the next few months. A local walk this weekend should be nice, looking at the weather forecast......fingers crossed.

Towards better concentration in five steps

Recently, I was asked in the comments of my post on motivation for my input on concentration. I've quickly given an answer in the comments, but I'd like to expand on the topic in a full post.

Concentration is not my natural strength. With a concentration span of about 20 minutes and my generally super-scattered brain, I've needed to work hard when I started university and couldn't simply study 20 minutes before an exam anymore.

My first years at university were not a big success (or at least, my grades were not as good as I would have wanted them to be), mostly because I didn't put my concentration where I had to.

Bit by bit, I started to learn how to focus (still working on it though!), and at the end of my studies, I was back to studying very few hours per day during exams, but with more concentration and dedication - which also resulted in significantly higher grades.

Therefore, I've gained some experience in observing my own habits and how to improve your concentration. I've already given my 10 tips for a better concentration, but here you can find 5 easy steps to implement and work towards a better concentration:

1. Know your tools

Identify the length of your concentration span: during a few work days, note down precisely how long you stay at one task. You can as well use a software tool, like ManicTime, to tag your time slots (but then, make sure you consistently tag whenever you leave your thesis document and go browse online or run off to the coffee machine).

Knowing how your brain works regularly is absolutely important to improve your concentration. Only once you know what you can work with, you can also work towards expanding your concentration span.

Action: map your concentration span!

2. Clear goals

This example should give you a sense for setting clear goals: compare "write thesis from 8am to 6pm" on your to do list to "write 400 words on paragraph 5.3.4 in thesis between 10am and noon". Setting clear goals, and knowing what precisely you need to do in which time slot, allows for less drifting off in thoughts.

Action: take your planning tool and schedule clear goals.

3. Frequent breaks

If you want to have several hours of deep concentration in a work day, then it is absolutely important to unwind every now and then. In the Pomodoro technique, 25 minute sets of concentration are alternated with 5 minute breaks, and a longer break after 4 Pomodoros. If you try to force yourself to sit on your chair for hours and hours, your mind will start to wander and you'll make slower progress. The key is to take short, but frequent breaks such that you can stay at a decent level of concentration throughout the day.

Action: build some air into your schedule and try a timing technique.

4. Take care of your body

You can't concentrated when you're tired, sick or generally unwell. Therefore, it's important to find time to prepare wholesome food, work out, relax and get your hours of sleep. Sleep deprivation is one of the most common reasons for poor concentration.

Action: Take that planning tool again, and schedule time to take care of your health (gym, cooking a healthy meal,...) or skip some commitments to safeguard your 8 hours of sleep.

5. Meditate

If you want to improve your focus over a longer period of time, there is no better way than to work out your brains. Meditation is indeed nothing more than a good workout for your brain (plus all the benefits that are associated with meditation!). As a researcher, you're "paid to think", and therefore taking good care of your brain and optimizing its performance is very important.

Action: Look at your schedule. At what point during the day can you guarantee 5 minutes for meditation?

Partyboy Sold: New Career as a Showjumper!

After a very, very successful eventing career with us, it was sad to see Partyboy sold today. Curtis, as he was known in the barn, is an extremely athletic, scopey, jumping machine that has all the wonderful ingredients of a top class horse. His one chink in the armor was his lack of love for the dressage phase. Both Silva and I gave our absolute best to train Curtis on the flat, but he was just one of those horses that found it very tough to be soft, supple, and obedient for the judges. It was absolutely worth the amount of effort we threw towards him because he was so brilliant in the cross-country and show jumping phases.

After a disastrous dressage test and a phenomenal cross-country and show jumping round at the Plantation CIC 1*, we decided that Curtis needed a new career. Local show jumping guru Michael Walton placed him with one of his show jumping clients here in Pennsylvania.

I would like to thank Partyboy's previous owners, Fernanda Kellogg and Nick Myers, for allowing me to train and compete this horse over the last two years. They have been a joy to ride for and have been very patient and understanding as we came to this tough decision. We are all looking forward to following Curtis' new career.


Fifty Shades of Concrete

My TEDx Delft Salon talk is online! 

Great Finish at the BLM Championships on Sunday!

 I have to say, we are on a roll! We had a great day on Sunday at the CBLM Championships in Lexington, VA and I could not be happier with how my horses and my students finished!
Rosa Cha
Rosa was first on at 8am, Sunday morning. She was much more relaxed than on Saturday. - she is always better on the second day. After winning the warm-up class on Saturday she went on to win the fourth level championship on Sunday. She really was amazing and I am so proud of her.
Duvent was in the fourth level championship as well. He did a great test and I am so happy with him staying focused even though the championship classes were in the big coliseum . He kept it together and finished just behind Rosa as reserve champion!
I rode Zoran and Likely Story in the first level championship in the afternoon. That was a huge class of over 40 riders. Story was awesome: she tried so hard for me and scored 70%, which had her finish eighth in the class.
Zoran went at the very end of the class and he just smoked it! He did an awesome test and we won with 74.8% . He is a very powerful horse and he showed everything he had!
Kymmy, Sheelagh and Paul
Kymmy and Markie showed in the fourth level A Championships and did a great test to become reserve Champion with 66%.

Gracia and Dia
Gracia and Dia showed in the Junior first level championship and had a great result, finishing 
Amy and Cece
Amy and Cece had such a great weekend: they won for the very first time on Friday and finished third on Saturday in a very big class. On Sunday they showed in the training level championships in the indoor. Amy was very nervous because she is very competitive and wanted so badly to do well. 
They had a great warm up, but then unfortunately Cece was a little spooky in the indoor, which Amy did not expect. They had a few mistakes and did not place this time. Cece is only six years old and Amy has come such a long way with her riding. They are going to be great next year!! I am very proud of both of them!

Benny and Hayden: A job well done!

The active bird catches the worm

Over the past 10 years, I've been a student, and thus living as a student in shared houses. In total, I've had 36 housemates so far (if I didn't forget to count anyone), and I have lived with different characters. But most of all, I think you can subdivide people in the go-getters and the sedentary folks.

When I started studying, I was already juggling a lot of activities: my studies, my band, my music classes and an active student life. Nowadays, I am juggling a PhD, lots of transatlantic trips to see my husband, almost daily workouts, taking care of my cat, actively playing music, blogging here and there, reviewing CDs, daily meditation, daily journaling and a tadload of other activities. You might get tired at the very idea of buzzing around all the time, but it mostly boils down to having the right mindset. Admittedly, I might come across as 10.000 Volts kind of person, but moving around and doing different things is exactly what fuels me up and what sparks my creativity.

Here's how you too can make the switch and become a go-getter:

1. Different activity, different location

For me, moving to different places and having appointments here and there is key to finish one task (for example my research day), and then get to the next place (for, say, a workout).
When I plan to work from home, eat at home, and do some yoga at home - my day becomes too blurred and I might not get much out of it. When I take the energy level up and move from the office to the gym to home and maybe some store on the way,  I actually feel fueled up.

2. Good planning

Vague ideas on the different activities you'd like to add to your schedule won't actually get you there. Know the dates and times and plan accordingly. Also, a good planning will help you to get more hours out of your day - we all know that, but really, having a schedule can prevent you from sinking in the TV/internet/... black hole.
Having a fixed day or gym class will help you consider it as an appointment. Not only will you be more productive during the day because you have something to look forward to, but you will also notice that additional activities energize you.

3. Be active, everywhere

What I observed over time is that the go-getters are the people who work hard, play hard, and, while they're somewhere, see what needs to get done, roll up their sleeves and get it over with. You won't easily catch me staring in the blue while I wait for my food to cook. I typically will start putting dishes aside, cleaning up part of the kitchen (very much inspired by Zen Habits cleaning as you go) and prepare lunch for the next day.

4. Put your heart and mind to it

Being active is easier when you put your heart and mind to what you do. When you're fully dedicated and passionate about your activities, it's easy to keep the flame alive.
In the end, it's about knowing what you can do, and simply doing it.

5. Really enjoy relaxation time

The fact that I like to be jumping around and going here and there doesn't mean I don't value downtime. It only means that I more consciously enjoy my downtime: relaxing in the sauna after the gym, drinking a cup of wine in the evening, watching something online - I experience downtime as much more rewarding when I have been active for the entire day. It's similar to the idea of celebrating your successes in research.