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.