Monday, August 29, 2016


The Mud Titan 6 held on Saturday, August 27, was my 3rd Mud Titan Obstacle Course Run.

I believe the first one I ran was Mud Titan 2, and the 2nd time was Mud Titan 4.

On my first experience with Mud Titan, a few years ago, my daughter Emma and I were flabbergasted to have to pay for our run T-shirts, since a "free T" is tradition in OCR. Also I remember their wash station was a tank of water with some hoses and mostly empty after my wave.

I still came back though. Raymie and I showed up for Mud Titan 4 and there were free T's and better obstacles.

I skipped Mud Titan 5 due to a conflict with another run.

At Mud Titan 6 this past Saturday, we ran a course in serious need of repair and inspiration... but mostly repair.

The obstacles were mostly the same as Mud Titan 4, but many of these showed serious wear and tear. 

Some examples:

  • The sloped monkey bar obstacle should have had 3 working lanes, but a Mud Titan volunteer stood blocking two of those lanes because the structure was falling apart. One lane was open with the resulting bottleneck of runners. 
  • A pretty simple balance beam obstacle had crumbling rotted wood at the end of the beam where a runner would be expected to step before hopping off.
  • An obstacle that challenged your grip strength as you hung from a narrow ledge had loose spacer boards that moved and almost fell out as I moved along the board.
  • At one water station, a poor volunteer was dipping cups of water out of a cooler with his hands ... his fingers submerged in every cup he served.
  • The platform where a runner would stand to start the rings/cargo net obstacle had rotted and collapsed into a swaybacked shadow of its former self. This sagging platform made just reaching the rings a challenge.
  • At the finish, while their were cheerful volunteers handing out the traditional neck medalions, the water station was a garbage heap and unmanned.

There were other things that were not safety issues, but just seemed like "getting by".  The slide was narrow, barely wet, and pretty much a single seater, so that caused a runner bottleneck, as did the tire wall. We probably stood for 10-15 minutes waiting to climb that.

This is not to say that it wasn't fun, just that it had a rundown feel to it. 

On the positive side, the check-in was smooth, the price not exorbitant, and the volunteers all pleasant.

I'm not sure I will be back, but either way, I hope Mud Titan uses the time between races to address their sagging obstacle safety issues and rejuvenate the course.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

SHY CANNIBALS ... THE PONDHAWK ... and then a bit of DNA awestruckiness

Cannibalism. while not popular in our species, is easier when you are a dragonfly who perceives anything that moves as either a meal or a threat.

 For a powerfully built pondhawk ... (Eastern Pondhawk...I think), even other dragonflies provide a large and useful meal.
This pondhawk decapitated another dragonfly and was quietly consuming it on a sabal palm frond when my son in law Rob spotted it. 
It's best not to be too obvious with your prize if you're a dragonfly with prey and this pondhawk was holding everything still except his mandibles.
They were working.
Hey!  I'm eatin' here!

 Another pondhawk was flitting about and diving in towards the dining pondhawk, so he changed location and assumed a better position for protecting the prize while keeping an eye on the skies. 

 Anyone who admires, rather than fears insects has to be blown away by their architecture.


All of it coded for by DNA, the shape, the location, and the function of every bitty bit (that science talk for really small parts) due to a sequential arrangement of 4 different bases.

I love teaching the DNA portion of my high school Biology course. We delve into molecular biology far deeper than we used to do.
The rate of new DNA discovery keeps a teacher on their toes too ... there's something new almost daily.
Ya gotta keep up Teach.

I always hope that some of my sense of wonder at this amazing chemical comes through during these lessons.

Sometimes you just need to get up close to some multifaceted organism like a blue crab (careful on the closeness), a passionflower blossom, or ... a dragonfly... and observe and ponder ... heck count if you want to ... all the different structures and how they interact to make that organism function.
And I'm only brushing the surface here ... obviously the inside of this dragonfly is loaded with special jiggly bits that allow it to dragonfly around my yard like it does.
ALL of it coded for by DNA.

AND ... we haven't even mentioned the DNA switches that turn on and off to change the aquatic nymph form of this creature to the flashy, flying, death dealing P-51 fighter of the insect world.
Also, since this is an instinctive animal ... not a thinker like you, ALL of it's basic behavior is pre-programmed by ... wait, what was that chemical ?

Oh yeah, Deoxyribonucleic Acid.
If these guys didn't exist, you could never make one up.
It's like something from IKEA ... so many different parts !   Lucky for us, DNA (and the proteins it codes for) does all the assembly.