Monday, December 22, 2008


Yay! I'm back in DC and Christmas is just around the corner :) Lot's of eating of delicious food and happy family times! So, I haven't been blogging, but here is a cool cartoon my friend sent me from xkcd.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Muppets and Martinis

The sky has opened up!! There is a sheet of continuous rain out side my window... I was just about to go to the gym, but by the time I get there, I'll be soaked. Hmm. I don't mind getting soaked after my work out, but before I work out it's a little uncomfortable. I guess I'll just wait until it lets up a little.

In the meantime, I have four papers to write this weekend and forty papers to grade for Monday. So... I guess I'll get started on that.

Enjoy this awesome video my dad sent: it's all interesting, but I like it best around min 4 when you get to see the inside structure of the hill.

Oh, I almost forgot the most interesting part! I went to have Martinis last night with my friends and then we watched a Muppet family Christmas :) Here's a picture of us at martinis--does my face look strangely gigantic?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


Well, I'm done. It's not great, but I'm done. I didn't get a wink of sleep and I don't have a lot to show for it, but it will have to do. This was a weird experience. I never felt like I wasn't working on this paper, I didn't feel like I was procrastinating. I worked and worked and worked but it was like pulling teeth. How do you write something that just isn't there? Somehow, I don't think my professor will see it that way...

Well, off to school for a presentation that I hope my brain will hold out for. I need to stay coherent for just a week more. Hang on brain!

Haha-I just printed two copies of it (17 pages each--not double spaced) and realized I don't have my name on it anywhere!

Red Bull

Is red bull supposed to make your teeth feel like they are disintegrating? I think by the end of the evening, I may have no teeth left. Also, it kind of feels like my stomach lining is melting...

It was brought to my attention that the book I was thinking of was "cloudy with a chance of meatballs"--I actually had an epiphany on the bus this morning when I remembered that but wasn't able to get to my blog in time to correct I just ended up looking silly.

It's going to be a long night. Paper due and another presentation tomorrow...when it's over I will immediately need to start studying for my final on Friday. I will get through! I know I will! It may not be my best work...but it will be done.

This paper I'm writing is about whale-fall specialists; specifically Osedax, the bone eating worms. They are no longer eating whales, they are eating my brain.

I really like this little animated video of an interview with John Lennon they had on Boing Boing today. What a cool thing to have been 14 years old with a pass to interview John Lennon in bed with Yoko Ono. Although, if it were me, I wouldn't have said anything bad about George--I always liked George.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I am working on my paper again at Starbucks and all of the sudden, something triggered my memory of a book where it's raining meatballs. I think that may even be the title of the book--it's raining meatballs. I wonder what reminded me of that... I wish I could read that book right now...there is a man in here with a big red beard and when I looked at him, I thought of that book. Weird. I think my brain is starting to turn into a green blob of undulating goo.

Sunday, December 7, 2008


Yesterday I went to the swap-meet by the stadium where they sell lots of cool Hawaiian chatchkes. Here are some pics. It's now Sunday night and I don't know where the weekend went....

Friday, December 5, 2008


Remember how I said I pinched a nerve in my finger? I still can't feel it. It feels like when you have a chunky band-aid on your finger tip...

I had a presentation in my benthic biological oceanography class today and it was terrible. I slept about a half an hour last night and I think that it did not help. I had one of those moments where I was looking at everyone and I realized I was talking and then I couldn't get out of my head and then I didn't know what I was saying--it was excruciating. I don't think I made any sense at all. Ugh. Then I apologized for being scatterbrained and not making any sense--a rookie mistake! Never admit defeat, maybe they won't notice... But they did. Poooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooop. I had trouble recovering afterwords and felt as if maybe it didn't happen--maybe I had an out of body experience. Unfortunately I didn't. It happened.

I just made an amazing white pizza and I am very impressed with myself. I think my friends are at a movie. I was going to go, but my phone died, so I didn't hear what time it started. So now, I am going to go to sleep at 8pm on a Friday. Today is a good day for feeling sorry for myself.

Ahhhhhhh! Will I make it through the next two weeks?! Stay tuned...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Swim Test

Yay! I passed. Whew. And with 17 seconds to spare! We had to swim 400m in 10 minutes and I made it in 9:43. It's a good thing too because last year a girl failed because she came in at 10 mins and 10 seconds! What a sh*tty situation for her. Anyway, I am so relieved. The 25m underwater was no problem, nor was treading water or the dive skills :) Somehow I pinched a nerve in my left pointer finger though and now have no feeling in the tip--it makes typing a bit difficult. Oh well, now that the swim test is over, I can get on with the other important things I need to do--like this bloody paper.

I'm at Starbucks and feeling a bit like I'm in a fishbowl in Waikiki. I'm sitting by the window and I've already had two sets of high school boys come up to the window knocking, laughing, and then running away. Oh well, it's better than being in my apartment, where I get no work done. Why am I having so much trouble with this?

Today I went in to talk with one of my professors because I got an 87 on a test and I was bummed out because I wanted an A. He said I can still get an A in the course, but I need to do better on the next exam. Anyway, he was asking me what I want to be when I grow up--I'm not kidding, that's what he asked me. I kind of smiled because I am beginning to discover that this is a common question in grad school. Somehow I thought when I decided I was going to get my PhD, those questions would stop. But apparently, I still need to figure it out. I was hoping I would have some time (like the next five to seven years) to get it all straight, but I guess I am supposed to know now... The choices are: academia or government. Those are the two paths you get with a PhD in Zoology. But I don't want choice is TV. I want a TV show. But how do you tell people that? I want to get a PhD and then travel around the world on the Discovery Channel's dime telling people about amazing, unappreciated animals and raising awareness about conservation. Somehow, people in academia don't take you seriously if that is what you say... so I said government. We'll see. Why do I have to decide now? I thought a PhD was supposed to buy me some time...

Here is a dress for me:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hawaiian Name

I just looked up my name in Hawaiian. It is Hekele. It sounds suspiciously similar to a bad word in Finnish. Hmm... Click here to find out your name in Hawaiian!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Rabbit Rabbit Bunny Bunny

Ahh! It is December already! Must get to work--but can't...get...motivated.

Here is the species I'm going to do my dissertation on. That's what I should be doing work on right now. I thought graduate school was for research--what's with all these classes?

Yay! I get to open the first window on my advents calendar today :)

Also, my Dad sent me this awesome video I meant to put up here a while ago--here it is. The little octopods are not quite anatomically correct: they have two siphons and six arms...but they are cute.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Belated Thanksgiving Celebration

Tonight, my friends and I celebrated Thanksgiving with a feast fit for kings. We had turkey, stuffing (delicious cornbread stuffing), spiced-to-perfection yams, garlicky garlic garrrrrlic mashed potatoes, a fresh Asian salad, homemade cranberry sauce, taro bread, gravy, corn and pies. Two pies--one chocolate rum pie (yum!) and one pumpkin pie. And margaritas. And wine. And whipped cream. It was an extravagant and indulgent evening :) We also watched Love/Actually with dessert and made it into a perfect girls' night. Here are some photos and a video. There is a picture of all of us with my head cut off--but I kind of like it.

Today I also went to the campus pool to practice for my Scientific Diving Swim Test I have on Wednesday. It requires a 400m swim in under ten minutes, a 25m underwater swim with no push off, ten minutes of treading water, the last two with no arms, and all the dive skills. I realized that while I love to swim and I can swim all day if need be, I am not a graceful swimmer... I can't breathe right, I sputter and zig zag, I flail around--more like a mollusc than a fish. But hopefully they won't take points off for lack of elegance in the water...

I didn't get much work done today and my weekend is almost over! But I was recovering from a vicious cold (which I suspect may have been the flu) that I am not fully cured of. And I was also enjoying myself (which is necessary every once and a while to maintain some semblance of sanity). Tomorrow I am going to hunker down and do my paper. Ahh! So much to do in so little time! Two weeks, two 20 page reports, two 20 page finals, two presentations, a swim test, four labs to teach, 40 papers to grade--how will it all get done?! Whew--deep breath. Somehow, I will make it to Christmas.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Yay! I have a holiday finally. This is the first one that I have actually been able to get off this semester. I will be spending it doing work, but at least I don't have to go to campus :) I have a meeting with a personal trainer on Thursday too, so that will be a nice addition to my thanksgiving.

So even though I'm not doing anything the day of thanksgiving, I will be doing something on Saturday with a few of my lovely lady friends. I'm going to make a pie, which always makes me happy. I think I've finally gotten over being alone on thanksgiving--it's just a day like any other. Maybe I will treat myself to some sushi.

I'm getting a cold. Or should I say, I have a cold. I started getting a sore throat after muddy ultimate frisbee and it has just gotten worse.... I'm eating a lot of soup and sleeping a lot, but I think this is going to be a bad one. I think it's exponentially worse getting a cold in a tropical environment--at least in the winter a cold almost feels normal.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's so hot

The air is stagnant and sticky. I feel like I'm in Body Heat, except William Hurt is no where to be found and I didn't kill anyone. There is a storm coming. Apparently there are flash flood warnings for today and tomorrow. In the meantime, the air is heavy and stale, leaving a film on everything it touches. It's oppressive.

I nearly peed myself when I saw this video. I don't know why I find it so funny--but it is two chickens acting as mediators in a rabbit fight.

Ugh. I just watched a documentary about Jim Jones and now I am depressed...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sand Dollar

My dad sent me this great video of sand dollar or sea biscuit development. You can see the progress from fertilization to larval stages to settlement. You don't see it at it's adult stage except briefly at the beginning, but it is cool to see what the joining of gametes leads to! This is a particularly beautiful demonstration of echinoderm development.

A Sea Biscuit's Life from Bruno Vellutini on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


Yesterday I went to Makapu'u tide pools with my friend's oceanography class that she teaches. It was quite an adventure and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The trip to the tide pools involves a deceptively easy walk along a man-made trail and then a treacherous climb/slide down a seep cliff--yet another instance of channeling my inner mountain goat! We all made it without any serious injuries, and what was waiting for us made the trip well worth it. The pools were teeming with creatures both spineless (my fav) and bony. They were deep enough to snorkel in and explore. We clearly invaded a few couples who were trying to have a romantic moment in the tide pools. Our giant group of undergraduate students chased them off though and we had the place mostly to ourselves. There were two blow hole areas where the water would jet up through the rocks on occasion. I took some pictures to illustrate the steepness of the cliff and beauty of the surroundings:

Then, last night, I went out with some of my friends and saw a side of Waikiki I haven't seen yet. Apparently, my friend and I chose to go to the main bar frequented by aggressive, horny, marines. Thankfully, we were able to fend for ourselves until our male friend arrived and was able to deter and further unwanted attention. The evening ended with a walk to the beach and a lovely, refreshing swim. Then we topped it all off with a trip to Denny's, which reminded me of nights in Costa Rica. Here are some pictures that were taken during a frenetic ten minute period when we remembered I had my camera.

I'm currently reading through some rough drafts of papers my students had to turn in last week. It is excruciating! I don't understand what passes as the English language these days. I have one paper that is a strange amalgamation of words placed haphazardly next to each other with no regard for meaning. This student juxtaposed opposing ideas and vocabulary in such a way that makes it almost impossible to derive sense from it. I wouldn't even characterize it as "fluff" or "padding" either because it is mostly bizarre word usage--usually sesquipedalian terms that she clearly has no understanding of. But she I give her credit for that. I'm a pushover.

I'm just frustrated that I've spent a lot of time recently doing things for everyone else and not the work I need to do for myself. I have been xeroxing books and entering data and grading papers and setting up labs--all things that need to be done, but things that keep me from progressing on my own research. We had our weekly Friday meeting with faculty and they kept reminding us that we need to start research now, publish now, distinguish ourselves now, and I'm feeling like I need to run to catch up! It's hard to have direction when I don't have someone telling me where I need to be right now. I am good at self motivating, but I need to know what my goals should be, where I should be realistically at this point in my grad career. I'm grateful to have such a laid back advisor, but it would be nice to have a bit more direction. Now I feel like I've fallen behind so much I'm not sure how I'll ever catch up within the next month, especially given the demands and requirements of classes, labs and professors.

Well, back to work! I want to get it all done, but I also want it all to be perfect--two things that don't necessarily work together in the most efficient way...

Oh, somehow, my drawing that I did on my iPod Touch finally downloaded on my computer--so here it is. This is a bus buddy whom I saw a while ago. She was a small, leathery, Asian woman with giant red glasses. I'm actually pretty proud that I was able to draw anything at all on my Touch--maybe I will get better...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Top Chef

Yay! Top Chef has started again! I love Top Chef--it makes me want to cook. Also, there is a Finn on the show! Unfortunately, he has already made enemies...I hope he doesn't make Finns look bad.

Tomorrow I teach lab again. Yay dissection!

Sorry this is not a very exciting post...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

No Holiday

Well, today was a holiday for all but me...woe is me. Haha, no, it wasn't so bad. I did complain about it a lot, but this is what I did today: slept in, watched a movie, taught four students about spiny dogfish anatomy, went to the mall with my friends, watched house and ate a microwave s'more (there was lot's more eating today, but not as interesting). So, for a work day, there's not too much to complain about. I even enjoyed teaching about anatomy.

Since it is a holiday, my students had the option of coming in for extra credit. I had four female students that came in that actually needed extra credit, so I was happy to have them there. It is so much nicer having a small, intimate class. I felt like they learned the material so much better and we all had a fun time dissecting. They all did very well on their quiz too. So, even though I was resentful this morning that I had to go in and teach when everyone else got the day off, I actually had a great time.

Also, I haven't posted a bus buddy in a long time, so I thought I would. I found this drawing from a while ago, but I vividly remember this guy. He was a sweet old man with a white pig-skin hat and a rainbow plaid shirt. He had the whitest beard I've ever seen that looked like a cloud growing from his face, but at the very end, he had tied a string around the tip and made a little curly-cue.

Monday, November 10, 2008


Thursday night was my friends birthday and we went out to a delicious Thai restaurant. Here are some pics.

Yesterday, two of my friends and I decided to go camping. We found a secluded beach on the north shore and drove across the island to get there. It was a beautiful drive with picturesque views the whole way. When we go there, we did some exploring and swimming and relaxing. Before the sunset, we set up our hammocks (where two of us were going to sleep) and a tent for my other friend. We then made ourselves a rum cocktail and watched to sunset. Then, while making a fire for dinner, a friendly patrolman came to rain on our parade. He told us there was no camping or fire-making allowed on the premises. By law, in Hawaii, all beaches are public. However, this only applies to the high water mark area and apparently we were above it. He told us we could sleep on the sand but he didn't recommend it for three young ladies such as ourselves. Sometimes it's frustrating not being a man--people assume you can't take care of yourself. Anyway, as we were packing up our stuff, a local who was fishing there told us where we could go to camp. We decided that for last night, we wouldn't take the risk in case the patrol man found us again and got angry. But next time, we know where to go. It was still a lovely experience and educational :) The local people are so friendly! Everyone is so helpful.

Apparently the beach we went to is haunted too. There are these spirits called "night marchers" that take away lost souls. They only target locals though, so we are safe. But the fisherman told us that the patrol man was unlikely to come back because he was scared.

After we left the beach, we went to a little town close by and had a lovely dinner with a view of the beach. We discussed the frustrations and vulnerabilities of traveling as a woman. I wish it were easier. We like to think that women have come such a long way from the times where they had to be chaperoned to go out, and it's true that no one would blink an eye if a woman were seen unchaperoned now a days, but it still makes life easier if you travel with a man. When I was in Zanzibar, there was one male student in our group of 9 students--ONE! If the eight of us went out without him, we were all harassed, but as soon as he would join us, there was no trouble. I hate that I need a man to make me feel safe. Even tonight, I was sitting in Starbucks trying to get some studying done, and a man started talking to me and making rude comments. I don't understand it. I don't feel like I look like I want someone to talk to me--on the contrary, I wear huge headphones and focus on my work, but no matter where I am, people start talking to me. When I'm doing laundry, on the bus, in the coffee shop--and it's never someone I want to talk to! I don't know, maybe I'm being mean, but just once, it would be nice to be approached by someone less than fifty, without a lecherous look in their wandering eyes. Or even if I could go somewhere without feeling like I need pepper spray (which I actually purchased recently...). But maybe this is the product of living in a city. I am in the heart of downtown Honolulu, in the middle of the prostitution ring, where the bums spend their evenings, so I guess some strange encounters are to be expected. I've always suspected that I am not a city girl, and I think I am learning that more clearly now.

It was brought to my attention that Captain Nemo is not the best role model. As I have been reading, this has become clear. But I was only saying that I like his view of the sea--or rather the author's view of the sea and the way he describes it. The only similarities Captain Nemo and I share are our affections for the sea--at least I hope we don't share any other similarities...

Alright, I need to get back to work. I have to present tomorrow on deep-sea coral ecosystems and how they are doomed to extinction. Marine biology can be pretty depressing these days--but perhaps I'm being a bit fatalistic...or realistic?

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I've been so happy today. I think I am still riding the wave of elation from the elections. A bird pooped on me today, and even that couldn't bring me down! But also, things are starting to settle down in terms of my schedule here. I am getting a grasp on my responsibilities and obligations. Also, I was applying for a grant that I have decided against now, which frees up some time. I sent a draft to a scientist I worked with and he ripped it apart. I was upset at first, but then realized that he was right and I don't want to send in sub-par work. Also, I had a long skype conversation with him and felt much better about grad school. He believes in me and it felt good. I'm really starting to feel comfortable. We'll see how long it lasts, but for now, I'm happy.

I'm still going to the gym. I have not seen an Adonis like there was at my previous gym, but there are many roided out monstrosities. Thankfully I have not had anyone talk to me. I never understand how people meet people in the gym. I look terrible when I'm working out! My face is the color of a cooked beet, my hair matted to my forehead, I'm sweaty and dehydrated, super attractive.

I've started reading 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. I can't believe I never read it before! I think I saw the movie when I was much younger, I am getting flashes of it as I read the book. I feel like this is a prerequisite read for every marine biologist--I've just been pretending to be a marine biologist until now! Here is an excerpt where Captain Nemo is talking about the sea:

"The sea is everything. It covers seven-tenths of the globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert where a man is never alone, for he can feel life quivering all about him. The sea is only a receptacle for all the prodigious, supernatural things that exist inside it; it is only movement and love; it is the living infinite...The sea is a vast reservoir of nature. The world, so to speak, began with the sea and who knows but that it will also end in the sea! There lies supreme tranquility. The sea does not belong to tyrants. On it's surface, they can still exercise their iniquitous rights, fighting, destroying one another and indulging in their other earthly horrors. But thirty feet below its surface their power ceases, their influence dies out and their domination disappears! Ah, Monsieur, one must live--live within the ocean! Only there can one be independent! Only there do I have no master! There I am free!"

This is what makes me love the sea. It is "quivering with life" yet it is "supreme tranquility". I feel an enormous sense of calm when I'm in the ocean. The sea is my escape. It is my sanity.

I can't remember if I posted a picture of the bobtail squid that I am studying right now in my animal behavior class. If not, here is a pic :)

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Tonight I went to the gym close to my house that just opened. As I was working out, I was thinking about what it would look like to an outsider. All these people bouncing, jerking, grunting, sweating on giant machines, hoping against hope that if we do this enough, some day we'll feel good about ourselves. But I guess that is kind of cynical. Working out does have benefits other than losing weight. I forgot how much I like working out. Yay! I have a 30 day free pass to this gym and my goal is to lose 10 pounds so that when I go home for Christmas I can eat whatever I want and gain it all back.

I died my hair yesterday. I decided it was getting too blond. I'm not sure how clear it is that is it much more red in this picture, but here's a photo. Also, there's another Pippi photo.

Also, last night, I was the only person on the bus. There is something sad about being on the last person on the bus.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Waikiki is overrun with drunk, under dressed, undergrads screaming and falling and vomiting everywhere. Well, this is what you get for living in downtown Honolulu. It seems like they are having fun though :) Getting here on the bus was a nightmare. So many people!

We were going to go to the haunted Dole plantation but when we got there, it was an hour and a half wait, so we went to dinner instead. It was great---delicious food and good company.

Pretty low key evening for Halloween, but still fun. Although, the evening ended with an intense controversial discussion that I am still reeling from. It made me look at my friends a little differently. So, I am curling up with some tea and a t.v. show.

Friday, October 31, 2008

All Hallow's Eve

Halloween used to be my favorite holiday. Now there is so much pressure to come up with a clever costume that it is hard to enjoy it. Actually, that's not true. Halloween is fun once the costume has been decided--it is the time of deciding that is stressful. I thought I would be Pippi Longstocking, and I still might be...but I'm starting to feel self conscious about wearing a little dress. I'm not feeling so great about my body right now. I'm now leaning towards wearing pajamas, messing up my hair, carrying around a tooth brush and teddy bear. That is minimal skin exposure, and minimal stress. But, we'll see.

I also always think of ideas right before Halloween! I wish I had decided I wanted to be She-Ra, or Daryl Hannah from Blade Runner, or Magenta, or the radiator lady from Eraserhead (that's a definite for next year!) before the eleventh hour. Well, I suppose I've had more important things on my mind.

Look forward to some photos either way.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The vog

It was another grey day today in Honolulu. Apparently there is something called "the vog" which is from the volcano on the Big Island. It makes the air thick with a mineral smell and the air feels heavy in my lungs. I'm not the only one that it makes feel sick. Many other people get sick during the vog.

I was looking through my photos and found these of my dad wrapped in paper. He has been trying to get me to do a saran wrapping too--maybe this Christmas. Also, I realized I never posted the video from Diamond Head a few months ago. So here it is!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bugsy Malone

I love it! I just watched Bugsy Malone again for the first time in at least 10 years. Amazing! Recently, I've been wanting to just sit around and watch old movies or kids movies. Somehow my mind needs to turn off at the end of the day.

Yesterday I decided I wanted to make this really easy lemon pie that is just with sweetened condensed milk, lemons, and whipped cream. It stared because I saw these mini graham cracker shells that were on sale. So, I bought the lemons (which I discovered in the check out lane were 5 dollars!! for three lemons!!! don't they have lemon trees in Hawaii?!) some sweetened condensed milk and NO whipped cream. I went to three stores and couldn't find any anywhere. So tonight I found some. This recipe is easy unless you have to hand whip the cream...then it takes forever and you are hot and sweaty and not very hungry anymore... But, my little pies are in the refrigerator now, solidifying, I hope. Half way through pouring the pie into the crusts, I realized that I needed more crusts! So I ran to the store and now I have 10 mini pies. What am I going to do with 10 mini pies?! I only wanted one! I have now learned a lesson about making desserts when living alone---BAD IDEA!! I was trying to think whom I could give them to, but all of them require transportation and I'm not so sure 20 minutes on the bus will agree with my little pies... So I will just have to eat them all...oh bother. And I have been so good recently! Oh well, the gym by my house opens soon--I'll just have to burn it off this weekend.

Alright, off to do laundry and read articles. The exciting life of a grad student...

Monday, October 27, 2008

100th post!

I just realized this is my 100th post. I am still such a newbie in the blogging community. I wouldn't actually consider myself part of the bogging community at all, really...

Anyway, I took my test on Friday. It did not go as well as I had hoped. I studied so hard, I knew everything by heart, I understood the theory behind all of the physical and biological models of benthic biological oceanography. Unfortunately, there was a question on the test that had nothing to do with everything I had studied. It was a terrible, pit in the stomach, wind knocked out of me, want to vomit moment. So, not so good. We'll see.

It's been a very rainy weekend. Which is kind of unprecedented in Hawaii. Yes, it rains here, but usually in spurts, and then the sky clears up. This was a grey, dreary, incessant rain that reminded me more of a Massachusetts rain than Honolulu rain. Not to say I don't love Massachusetts rain--I do.

Last night I had a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant with some friends of mine. We decided that we needed to treat ourselves and have a nice, sit-down dinner with wine and waitresses. It was lovely. Afterwords, we went to a bar to get an after dinner drink. As we were sitting at one of the only two tables in the place, this drunken guy in an indecipherable bright yellow costume of some sort decided to come over and give me a hug and kiss me on the cheek. I was unfazed. My friend however, was scandalized. He was so flabbergasted that men would do that. I feel like it happens all the time, you just move on and continue your conversation. My other friend agreed with me because the same thing happens to her as well. You just have to analyze the situation--is he drunk and aggressive? drunk and harmless? sober and awkward? I deemed this particular character as drunk and harmless. I saw him coming in for a hug, tried to dissuade him with my eyes, was unsuccessful, and moved on. If however, he was not harmless, there is an entirely different protocol that involves knees and elbows flying towards sensitive fleshy areas. Anyway, I was surprised my friend was so alarmed with this behavior. He's a man too, but he says he would never do anything like that. I tired to explain to him that as a woman, you could be in a room with 50 men who would never do something like that, but there's always one who would, and there only needs to be one. You just learn from experience how to deal with that one--and that is why women (or maybe it's just me) don't always have the best opinion of the opposite sex.

Well, enough for tonight. I have a busy week ahead that ends with Halloween! Preparations need to be made... I bought my students Halloween candy though, I will buy their love!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Chicken pot pie

On my way home I had a craving for chicken pot pie. I think it is a sort of stress = comfort food type syndrome. Instead of making it from scratch (which would take forever) I bought a frozen one and was very excited until I saw that it takes 60 minutes in the toaster oven!!! What? Since when do frozen foods take an hour to heat? And now it is almost 9 and I haven't eaten yet. I hope it's worth it.

Yesterday I lost my student ID with my $100 bus pass sticker on it. I was really sad and frustrated. But then today, I was instantly elated when I discovered that some kind-hearted person had taken the time to hand it in to the ID making office! I was not ready to pay another $100 to ride the bus for only two more months in the semester.

I am studying for my midterm and discovering how little I know. It's one of those things where I've realized I should have started studying earlier. Ugh! Well, I better get back to it.

Also, I voted yesterday--yay! I'm sure my vote in Hawaii will make all the difference...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

bobtail again

It has been brought to my attention that it has been a while since I wrote anything on my blog. Busy busy busy!

On Saturday night, I went looking for bobtail squid again, and this time was much more successful. I saw a giant moray eel, a night octopus, several bobtail squid, a puffer fish, a trumpet fish, and more. I love going to the beach at night. It's so peaceful, and there are so many amazing things to see if you know where to look. We also caught some crabs that we cooked and ate--they weren't too bad.

This week I have another midterm, which is why I haven't been writing, and might not write for a while...unless I need some procrastination time, which I'm sure I will.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I'm there

I'm at that place where I've been writing for so long that even though I know it is pretty terrible, I don't want to write anymore or even spend time fixing it. That's where I am. It's never a good thing...I know if I could just spend a little more time on this, I might get a good grade. But since I am tired and have to wake up early...I might be done.


Ahh! Trichotillomania, you are killing me... Poo. There is hair all over the library. I need to figure out another nervous habit that doesn't disfigure me--otherwise I will be bald before I am halfway through grad school.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I just gave myself bangs. I think I like them. But I haven't decided yet. They make my face look fat, but then again, that might not be the bangs fault--I'm almost positive I've gained weight here, but I don't have a scale to tell for sure. Anyway, here is a photo :)


This weekend I have had a take-home midterm for my animal behavior class. It is three essay questions, six pages each. I'm having trouble getting motivated to get it done. Ugh. It is taking so much time away from the reading I need to do for research! I want to get my NSF proposal done by Wednesday, but that is the day I need to hand in my midterm, and I have another paper due for my oceanography class on Friday. This is going to be a crazy week. Time has been moving so fast recently. Every week I feel like I go to class on Monday and then all of the sudden it's Friday and I haven't gotten anything done.

Last night I was waiting for the bus, reading an article at the bus stop. I had a highlighter in my hand. I saw a guy walking towards me...a bum actually. I'm not even surprised anymore. He walked up to me with a piece of chicken in his hand and tried to rub his arm on my highlighter. After this encounter, I just went back to reading my article. It doesn't even faze me anymore. Here he is:

Also, I decided to draw my oceanography professor. He is so nerdy! He always wears shorts and white socks and a Hawaiian shirt tucked into his belt. He makes terrible puns and I think I am getting a little crush on him...not really, but he's cool.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The neighbors had a baby

So, they are not really my neighbors, they live across from me, but they spend all their time on their lanai which I can see outside my window. They had a baby last week and it cries a lot. And they have a squeaky toy that they squeeze at it all day. When I first heard the squeaky toy, I thought I had a mouse in my apartment and I was crawling around all over trying to find it...until I looked out the window. I might have to start closing my window. It's surprising how much noise it blocks when it is closed--but then my apartment get's hot....

I need to figure out an analogous summer outfit to my favorite body-masking sweatpants and old-man sweater. I wore sweatpants and old-man sweater the other day, and it works when you are sitting in a freezing cold Starbucks, but when you are trying to teach a lab in a classroom in Hawaiian heat, it is not as comfortable. Maybe I will invest in a muumuu. Grad school and living alone is not great for my waist line--another reason I should do that triathlon in April.

I went to the commissary today and have tons of toilet paper! Yay! I spent way too much money on food, but hopefully that means I won't have to go shopping again any time soon. Also, I got a pomegranate as a treat to myself :)

My dad sent me this. Maybe I can claim that I am a "scholar" so I can get an invite to this library. This is the coolest library I've ever seen.

Also he sent me this video. I want to be a part of this team of scientists traveling around the world taking a record of ocean species... Maybe someday. Until then, I will just work on my octopus species.

New Species on Australian Reefs from NTDTV on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A new low

I stole toilet paper from campus today. This is a new low in my graduate school career. I am going shopping tomorrow at the commissary, where everything is cheaper, so I'm trying to hold out!!

I found out yesterday that the oceanography department here was just ranked second--above SCRIPPS in the academic analytic list!!! And the marine sciences program is ranked 4th, which is still pretty good. So that made me feel nice.

I drew a picture of someone on the bus on my iPod touch, but I can't figure out how to get it on my computer...poo.

Midterms are coming up this month. When I realized this, I freaked out a little. I've been so focused on trying to figure out what I am going to study and teaching that I forgot I am supposed to be learning things in these classes. UGH! I'm not feeling good about this...

Also, this is hilarious. I guess it was just lucky there were so many photographers there to immortalize this moment in Japanese history...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Video Procrastination

I was playing with my iMovie and made a little video from some artwork I did a while ago. Enjoy.


Today someone was giving away free avocados. I got three, fresh, ripe avocados, for free! I made some guacamole when I got home-mmm delicious.

Not much happened today...I have been spacing out on the bus recently, so no new drawings. But I'll keep a look out for some characters tomorrow.

I feel like I was going to write something, but now I can't remember. Hmm... Here is a picture of the crazy helmet urchins they have here. These are what I was walking all over last night while trying to avoid being washed out to sea.

I am exhausted today. My thighs are burning from all the rock climbing yesterday. When I try to sit down, they give out and I just plop down with a thud. I need to work out more. My friends want me to join them in a triathlon in April--I'm thinking about doing it :) I'm going to need to develop some energy before that happens though...and I may have to get a bicycle.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Rock Tako!!!

Tonight I went to go look for the "rock tako" or Octopus oliveri an intertidal octopus species that no one really knows anything about. The guy who has started to do some research on it took me out to the rocks in Kewalo to see if we could find some. We found six! But it was not easy...

First, I got there and he said--do you have your bathing suit on? I said yes (thank goodness I did). Apparently the pants I was wearing were not good for the water, so he made me take them off. So, that's how it started. Also, one of the professors (his boss) came along with us--I might end up working with him too. We'll see. Anyway, then we climbed down the rocks (easier said than done) towards the water. The rocks are giant and slippery and steep and the waves come about every three minutes and crash against me and the rocks. Not super safe... And tonight was pretty mild apparently. So, I had to channel my inner mountain goat and climb along the rocks, stepping on the urchins and cowries (giant cowries!!!) and avoid the occasional tsunami. There were a couple of times when I was hit hard out of the blue and the guys asked if I was ok. I felt kind of silly. I was trying to keep up, but I was moving pretty slowly and my bathing suit was falling off. I'm hoping that I can get better at this... I felt like I was being watched to see if I could pass the test of studying this species. I'm not sure that I did. But, we found six of them--actually I should say, they found six. I managed not to die, which I suppose was an accomplishment of some sort. At the end of the night, Chris (that is the guy's name who is studying them at the moment) drove me home and talked about some possible studies. So that was promising. I'm really excited though. I think that this could be fun. I just need to get it all figured out. But I'm excited to have some ideas at least :) Yay!

On Friday I went with my oceanography class to Paiko Bay to do take some sediment samples again. Here are some photos.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


Today my students talked about their report topics and critiqued each other. They are doing so well! I always have a kind of high after teaching. It is so much fun when they are into what they are talking about.

Tomorrow I have a presentation on a proposal to work on bobtail squid for my animal behavior class. My professor has made us all use overheads instead of Power Point. It is a huge hassle! But, I drew a picture of a bobtail squid and my partner drew a chromatophore (extremely detailed, I was impressed). I hope it goes ok. It's strange to have to do these things again. Academia is strange...

I have made plans to go hunting for the octopus species I am going to study on Sunday. I'm really excited! There is a guy who is going to take me to the best place to find them. Apparently they are pretty aggressive and the area they live in is a bit dangerous because of the rocky substrate. But I'm sure it will be fine. I like the adventure :)

This is a guy I see almost every day on the bus. He likes to go to the library on campus and read the newspapers and sleep. He always wears the same leather jacket (in this heat) and has long stringy hair. I tried to make him not look so creepy--but I can't help it. I think that is just my style. I am starting to see every one on the bus as a Ralph Steadman caricature (but again, that would be giving my art too much credit).

Monday, September 29, 2008


Yesterday I went to the mangroves with my oceanography class to take some sediment samples. Other than waking up at 6am, it was a fun trip. We went to the other side of the island to a current mangrove site and a former mangrove site (they were removed). All the mangroves in Hawaii are invasives, so people here really don't like them. I was surprised because in Zanzibar the mangroves were an important habitat that served as nurseries to many of the species there. Here they just seem to be a haven for more invasives while taking away habitat for endemic species. Here are some pictures of us taking samples.

I took the bus to get to campus to go to the mangroves yesterday. And the sight that I was fortunate to witness at 6:30 in the morning was a large gentleman fondling his breast absentmindedly in the seat across from me. He inspired me to start a series of drawings that I am going to call "Bus Buddies." Please don't expect any groundbreaking artwork--it's just some doodles in the fashion of R.Crumb's restaurant series (but mine are much more juvenile and far less detailed). Here is my first:

This is another in the series. This was actually a woman I met on my very first bus ride to campus. Her name is Candy. I'd say she was about sixty and very sweet, but she was wearing the brightest make-up I've ever seen on an older woman and it seemed to be bleeding into the skin all around her face. (Maybe I'm being cruel...) Here she is:

Today I saw a video of hagfish devouring a huge yellowfin tuna that was dumped into the ocean for observation on scavenger behavior in benthic habitats. It was fascinating but horrifying at the same time. The body was writhing with these long black snake-looking fish, sucking off its flesh. But the really amazing thing was seeing the fish burrow under the skin through the gills and causing the skin to undulate around the body, creating the illusion that the tuna was still alive. Our professor hypothesized that this is where the idea of Medusa came from--they probably pulled the body of a woman up from the ocean floor with hagfish writhing out from her eyes and scalp (seriously, he said this, not me). Anyway, it was pretty incredible. Another cool thing I learned in my benthic biology class was that all the sand and silt and small substrate in the world that is in the sediment record has passed through the gut of a deposit feeder at least once. Awesome! The turnover rate is overwhelming! The invertebrates that inhabit this earth are more and more magnificent to me every day. More evidence of how nerdy I am...

I do not own measuring cups. But I may have to invest in them. I think I overestimated the amount of rice in a cup. I tried to make two cups of rice and ended up making about six. I know it expands, but not this much! I have enough food to feed myself for a very long time. But on the bright side, the chicken curry I made is amazing! It tastes just like my Mom makes--which is always the ultimate goal!

Now I need to prepare for my lab tomorrow. Some of my students wrote Ms.Ylitalo-Ward on their homework assignments--as if I were a legitimate teacher! It made me feel a little weird. But I love them :) They all had a test today in the lecture part of the class and it was interesting to look around the room and see some people look totally comfortable and some people with faces of intense anguish...My students looked perfectly relaxed and they all did great. One of the students in the other Teacher Assistant's lab section got a 14! Out of 50! So...I'm glad that one wasn't my fault (but I'm sure it wasn't the other TA's fault either).

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Today I went to Diamond Head and went snorkeling. There wasn't too much to see, but there were some cool fish. The reefs are pretty barren. I'm not sure if that is a product of the environment, or overfishing. The colors were muted. Based on the amount of sea urchins, it is safe to say that these reefs are unhealthy. But I've heard they are trying to change that. And the water is a lot rougher here than I am used to. Also, while snorkeling, I realized how lucky I was to spend so much time in Zanzibar where the colors are vibrant and everywhere you look was something new and exciting. But this substrate here is perfect for cephalopods, so that is exciting!

After Diamond Head, I came home and tried to do work, but I have been seriously unproductive. I did laundry though, so that's good I guess. I'm not sure why I have so much trouble getting anything done on the weekends. Or during the week either for that matter. I need to just get it together. It's a rollercoaster. I was so happy after talking to Les. But today I got an e-mail that someone on Coconut Island has already done all the work that I had planned to do. Ugh. It was so liberating to have a plan--a goal to pursue through grad school, and now I feel lost again. I wonder if it gets easier. I wonder if after a certain point anything ever feels right. You just have to make a decision and go with it, whether it feels right or not. And you can't look back. You have to move on if you ever want to have any hope of being happy. Oh, I'm getting philosophical... I'm tired. I thought this existential crisis thing was over--it's been going on for two years already.

Tomorrow I am going to the mangroves with my oceanography class--they stole my Sunday. We're leaving at 7:30 which means I have to leave here at 6:30 so I should go to bed soon.

I forgot to say that Coconut Island was the original Gilligan's Island. In the opening of the show they have a picture of the Island--of course the show wasn't filmed there, but it's still cool that they intended the Island to be representative of Gilligan's Island.

Friday, September 26, 2008

First Paper

So believe it or not, I have not had to write anything substantial since I got here until now. (But it is grad school, they should just let me do research already!). Now I have a paper due tomorrow on benthic biological oceanography and I am having flash-backs of my undergraduate career of intense and unyielding procrastination; relentlessly checking and rechecking my mail, blogging, eating, doing anything but my paper--it is rearing its ugly head once again. While I have a (thankfully) natural ability to read and absorb countless scientific journal articles, having to spew out the appropriate scientific nomenclature is not my forte. Ugh.

And Grey's Anatomy is on tonight at the same time as the Office! What am I to do? Well, if I don't get cracking on this paper, I won't be able to see either one.

On another note, I had my lab on genetics today. I love my Thursday lab. It is a smaller group. I know I shouldn't pick favorites, but they are so much more attentive and curious. They all have great questions are really seem to want to learn the science behind it. I love it! It is so rewarding when I can get them interested (especially because they are all non-majors and will probably not end up taking any other science classes). We took blood today and tested whether we were color blind and other genetic excitements. They got really into it (although I did have to prick most of their fingers for them...they were a little squeamish, but they did it and that is what counts).

My dad sent me this picture. It is a picture of me!

Also, I'm developing the semi-obligatory graduate student addiction to coffee... I'll have to detox at Christmas--is it sad I'm already thinking about Christmas?

UPDATE: I just beasted out my paper and realized that it is only supposed to be two pages DOUBLE-SPACED!! What? Am I in grad school? Once I double spaced it, it was close to five pages. So..I need to make it shorter. But, I understand. Now that I'm a teacher, I know how much fun it is to read papers. There was a homework assignment due this week and my students had to talk about osmoregulation--one student gave me a paper about plants. Now, plants do osmoregulate, but we are in a zoology class, not botany!! If she had written a paper that made sense it would have been fine, but these words were literally just random groups of nouns and verbs that made no sense together. One of the sentences was "Plants are often found close to their environments." Well...yes, I guess that is true, but WHAT? Ok, I need to be nice. I'm being mean. At least she tried. I gave her a 7, even though it basically made no sense at all. I'm a pushover...