Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Weekend!

Something new for the weekend - lets see if this works. Gentoo penguins from my last cruise in August. These were on King George Island. 

And another one, of the penguins swimming. 

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Tonight I had a pumpkin carving party at Grodnick, a small crowd (for a small house!) of Alison, Jenna, Christine and Paul, all from the Watling Complex, yay! 

Our one pumpkin - I'd picked one up from Safeway this morning thinking I would pick another one up on the way home, and thinking that others would bring their own. By midday all of Manoa was out of pumpkins (and apparently far beyond too!), so the five of us had just one pumpkin to share, but it was still a lot of fun! We made it into a four faced pumpkin, everyone carving out their own face, except Alison, she supervised! 

Jenna working on her pumpkin face. Jenna also did the hard work of pulling out all the 'guts' and sorting through the schmoo to get to the seeds. Anyone know a good recipe for seeds? 

So the hope is tomorrow that we might get some trick-or-treaters coming up the long and windy stairs, we'll see. Tonight it is pouring it down, really nasty weather, if it's like this tomorrow I don't think our chances are high. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


I had my first pottery class today and loved it! I made 2 bowls and a vase, getting much better towards the end. I haven't done pottery since I was in junior school (about 12 years old), and then only briefly, but it's amazing how much I picked up and it all came flowing back. Gives me something to really look forward to next week! 

Yesterday's aerobics class was fun too, not the most intense work out of my life, but every little helps, and maybe it'll build up somewhere along the way. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

My new crop of lettuce. I'm still tucking into my old crop which is now all in the fridge. Lettuce doesn't grow so well here, too hot my garden guru tells me.....

A bonus in the hedge behind grodnick.....Surinam Cherries. These turn bright red when ripe. I haven't tasted one yet, kinda hoping they don't taste like cherries....they're very pretty whatever the case......

The peas are growing tall.....

As are the papaya trees......going to have to spread them out, they're crowding one another! 

Tomatoes, ready for repotting into larger pots, cucumber in the background too, they're doing really well! 

Thai Watermelon.....I can't tell you how excited i'll be if these take off.....seeds from a melon from the farmers market....woo hoo! 

Don't speak for me Sarah Palin

Sorry for all the political posts, but as someone who can't vote, I feel I can make fun of the candidates without any compunction. 

My friend Ellen just sent me this U-Tube, and in the musical theme i've been going for, here it is. It is hysterical, and not only because it has a piano playing moose. 

Monday, October 27, 2008


So i've been tagged by Da Kiahas, which means I get to tell you 7 things you probably didn't know about me. This is a hard one, most people already know a lot about me. So here it goes (and following K's own list here a little)- 
  1. I've lived in 3 countries, each for more than 5 years, and each on a different continent
  2. I'm the second of four children, and the wild child
  3. Though I study corals, I can't scuba dive (yet!), and have only ever dived to the seafloor (without getting wet) in a submersible
  4. I've been on 18 research cruises since 2003, spending the grand total of ~70 weeks at sea and going to all the oceans except the Indian
  5. I've been to five of the six continents, and in December i'll step on my last one
  6. I really don't like moths. So much so I trap them under glasses and wait for Kate to come over to get rid of them, even if it was a month before I saw her. Kate I need you to come to Hawaii soon! 
  7. I like to sleep with 3 pillows surrounding me, which Stian thinks is silly, but I think is cozy...:0)
So now onto 7 others - I tag - K-Way, Dahlia A., Kathy, Bookyg, NEA, Mollie and Lance W. So get your 7 facts either up in my comments or on your own blogs! 

Going in with the Big Guns.....

Okay thousand little anties snaking across my ceiling.......lets see if this Terro power i've heard all about works.........

Les Misbarak

Yes it's lunchtime and i'm doodling my lunchtime away keeping up with all the blogs I love to read. One such blog (Whole Life Gardening by my friend CL) had this U-Tube video linked.....

Enjoy musical lovers! 

Goals - week 6

Well, last week was a bit of a bust really when it comes down to it, but it was a fun bust none-the-less. It is a bit disappointing to get on the scales this morning and see i've actually gained 2lbs though. Poop. But I do actually still feel fitter from all the swimming and walking etc, so maybe thats okay, can't do these things by weight alone. 

This week is exciting too. Tuesday and Thursday I have an aerobics class at the campus leisure center, that should be fun I hope. Then Wednesday I have a pottery class, which i'm really excited about. So i'm going to keep up the walking to work 2 days a week (has to be Monday and Friday, so hopefully will work out) and the swimming 2 days a week and hope this will help kick my butt in gear. I have a trip to New Zealand coming up and then Christmas (in Hawaii) so have to get ready for some not-so-good-but-oh-so-delicious eating........not to mention another calorie loaded cruise in Feb......

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ben and Jerry's

Back at home, and tucked up in bed by 8.15pm. Hoping to last out until at least 9pm so I don't wake up at 3am.....we'll see. Uneventful journey home, stayed with Kristen K last night in Boston, which was sooooooo much fun, and Jenny was a superstar and came and picked me up from the airport this evening with my horrendously heavy luggage............histology supplies and fish gonads.....need I say more?

So just in case you thought there couldn't possibly be another reason to totally adore Ben and Jerry's ice-cream (I mean aside from their scrummy flavours and good business attitude), I had a frozen coffee slushy at Dallas airport and they now all come in cups made from corn, so can be composted. Pretty cool huh. Catch up Starbucks..... 

On the way home

Sat at Boston airport, ready for the long flight home. It's been at
hectic week so sorry for the limited updates. I've stayed with a
handful of my favorite people (watch out other handful, you're next!)
and seen most of those I wanted to, but definitely not for long
enough. I'm not sure what I was thinking coming for just a week, esp
with the meeting being in that week. Meeting was good if a little
bizarre, still not sure where this document we've been writing is
going to, but it was a good catch up with colleagues and competitors.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Songs on U-Tube

Yes, I am a nerd, and many of you reading this won't get it. But K-Way and DDd will, and I think it's hysterical.......found by accident this evening and I sit in Falmouth with a cat on my shins at Kathy's house. Another busy day, meeting starts tomorrow. 

For all those with pipette hand - It's called epMotion

And there are way more out there linked from these two too.......

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tuckered out....

Both me and Riley (though he collapsed on my clothes on the bed and hasn't moved since dinner...). Busy day, but great to catch up with everyone. I saw just about everyone I planned to see and a few others. I also got to go to Emma and Callie's swim lesson and watch them do Butterfly, which was awesome, those guys are fish in the water! Tomorrow onto work....! 

Sunday, October 19, 2008


"did you bring me any food Rhian.....??"......

Riley and Callie...........such cuties!

Kate, CL, Emma and Me......yay for friends!

Saturday, October 18, 2008


Half-way there, and it's cold here.......doesn't bode well for Boston

Hi Bella, hi Finn, I miss you guys!

On my way....

It's amazing how much my feet now feel constricted by socks and shoes,
feel like I just want to rip them off right now..........shame it's
only 60f in Woods Hole right now.........

Friday, October 17, 2008

My Lab...

Remember the before photos??

Well, here is the now, well and truly up and running, serious science happening every day, my first lab, and still a wonderful 60's orange......

The histology and dissection bench on the right and computer bench at the back. All cubbies are now overflowing with my and students material being worked on.

The molecular and microscopy bench. Oven and microscope kindly "found" around the university....I love people who have the attitude "if I'm not using it and you will, take it". The amount of equipment in here that has been donated is astounding, all fully functional and some (like the oven and microtome) are pretty close to brand spanking new. Thats the kind of scientist I want to continue to be, not a hoarder, but a giver. 

Complete with students. Admittedly Daniel was posing (and insisted on the lab coat and goggles), but Liz in the back was actually working.......please note my awesome -80C freezer in the back right most expensive equipment purchase yet.........and pretty amusing trying to get it through the door.....:0)

Less than 3 days into getting the oven, samples already cooking away in wax.....

Creatures from the deep. My major project for the week, cataloguing, changing chemicals and sorting. Almost everything in this picture is from my cruises this year, samples just waiting to be processed and discoveries just waiting to happen....i love it! 

It almost feels like i'm busting out of the space already! 

Happy Weekend!

Well it's been a bad bank week (for me and the rest of the world I guess), that just makes me frustrated and so ready to crawl out of my hole of student debt that it feels like i'm going to sit under for the rest of my life. Feeling somewhat punished for being a low credit rating person (an alien as homeland security likes to call me), and frustrated at my seeming inability to climb out of it. Lessons learned the hard way every time and unsure why i'm just so dumb at the financial stuff, when I can be so smart at others. 

And I don't want to talk about that anymore, so am focusing on the good things. 

The big one being that tomorrow I am flying to Boston, being picked up by my lovely friends Kathy and Rod, picking up some items from REI, driving down to Woods Hole........and.........wait for it....seeing Riley! Oh how i've missed Riley, he would have made the last few days more bearable (and again, that makes me wish for the permanent position where I could actually settle and get a dog (insert really big sigh right here). It has been almost a full year since I've seen Riley, and all my Woods Holians too, so i'm looking forward to this trip. A three day workshop that conveniently is both right up my alley (deep-water corals) and in a place I love with friends I love. Yay! And sunday involves a typical Fornari dinner, with all those i've missed the most around. Insert big smile here. 

So focus, focus, focus. Riley! 

Banks still suck......

...I really hate how the first thing they say to you at the call centers is "How is your day?". I've taken to saying "not good", as come on, generally if your calling the call center your not having a good day, generally your bank has f***ed up.......

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Banks suck....

.....just so you know.....

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A day at the Gecko race

A full day. A day that reminds me how to be a good scientist, all be it by seeing those that are not. Thats probably not fair. They may be good, or even great, scientists, but if they can't play well with others what's the point? If you're doing science for personal glory, you're really in the wrong business (who wants to be Bob Ballard anyway?), and you'll have so much more fun doing science with others. It's so easy to trust people and get burnt. 

Enough on that subject. 

And on to others. I keep meaning to take a photo of my lab to show it all up and running. Must remember to do that tomorrow. It's been a good day mostly, got some more samples into wax for processing, even sliced a few slides. Finally finished sorting, cataloging and putting away all the samples from the last three cruises, that was a bear - they were all in formalin and had to be transfered to alcohol. I actually don't mind it, I love looking through sample jars and deciding what to work on next and I just love looking at all the weird and wonderful creatures that come from the deep ocean. I'm starting to think about the next cruise already (Feb '09), putting in proposals to get me $$ to stay and looking for jobs all at the same time. 

Some good phone calls today - my long lost pal Kristen K called and we might even bump into one another next week which would be awesome! And Stian just gave me a surprise phone call - yay! So nice to hear his voice again, he's super busy getting the equipment built for the project, and off to snow school for 2 nights tomorrow, that sounds like a lot of fun, but I guess is the serious business of staying alive on the ice. I had a two minute conversation with him last night for the first time since he left, so it was an amazing surprise to get a long phone call in tonight. Made a fantastic end to the day!

AND - I went for a 30 minute run tonight. The first run i've done in well over a year (I would say closer to 2). My spirit feels great for it, my body is aching (particularly my butt, which I guess means it needed it!). 

So I guess I really should have called this post "random collections from RGW's brain", but instead it's named after both my 'rat race' type day, and that one of my geckos is doing laps around Grodnick's ceiling this evening. And here he/she/it is. 

Goals, Week 4

Not wanting to upstage Kate's birthday, I held off a little on this post. That and the fact my goals kind of went out the window last week with Annette being here. This week they're not going so fast either, and next week i'm in Woods Hole so they're pretty much going to be completely out. 

So last week I did manage to get some good exercise (believe it or not surfing is actually hard work!), but my food intake was not so hot (burgers and shave ice), and i've stuck with only loosing 2lbs total. $$ wise I also spent more on Annette being here, but it was fun and totally worth it. I walked in once, but did manage to swim twice. 

So this week i've signed and paid for the pottery class on wednesdays - classes start next week so i'll miss the first one, but will jump in when I get back. I also noticed an aerobics class, so signed myself up for that one too, they run tuesday and thursday, so will be doing that when I get back too. Stepping up the workout another notch - with only 2lbs lost in 4 weeks, I need to! 

The only issue I see for this is that that leaves me with just monday and friday to walk into work - it's getting darker earlier here (we're pretty much dark by 6pm), and though I did walk home in the dark last week, it wasn't much fun (they're no so hot on street lights on the back path) and there have been quite a few robberies here in the last month around that area, so don't think i'm going to risk that. Sad that that stops me. So I'll just have to plan it so I don't need to go anywhere on Monday or Friday so I can walk in. Hopefully it'll work out. 

Monday, October 13, 2008

Ode to Kate Buckman

Though a friend for just 7 years
Hearing your name is like music to my ears
Oh I miss my favorite companion
How we used to play and shenanigan

How we loved to drive Dan mad
But come on really, were the rabbits that bad?

We’ve done some amazing things together
Through thick and thin and forceful weather

There’s no-one I’d rather share a sinking ship
We’d paddle to the sunset, toodly pip

Working hard, that is our goal
Not to mention some rocking and roll

30 years flies by fast
Lets make the memories and the next 30 last

Though I am sad I have moved away
I think about you everyday
So I wrote this little ode to say
Happy Birthday Kate Buckman, I’ll always be this way

So lets play again soon, okay?

Saturday, October 11, 2008


This little fellow arrived from Cornwall cute! Just a few hand cranks and he lights right up, no batteries, no waste - perfect for finding my way to the washing machine at night...:0) Thanks!

Adventures in Home Soap Making - Melt and Pour

So a few weekends ago I decided to purchase a few items to try out home soap making. The cost (both $$ and ecologically) of cosmetic products has been scaring me recently, so it's been on my mind to try this for a while. The ultimate goal would be trying to make soap from scratch (using fats and lye), but as that is somewhat involved and requires more equipment, I decided to try the easier Melt and Pour to begin and at least get to grips with the basics and also what smells and additives I like. 

So I bought my melt and pour bases from a local store here in Honolulu, so were somewhat more expensive than most online stores - not too bad, but you can do better if you live on the mainland. I bought only SLS and SLES free glycerin  bases of a few different varieties to try - white gylcerin, clear glycerin, honey, organic goats milk and shea butter. These averaged at $8 for 2lbs. I also bought some molds - 3 sheets (with 3 bars in each sheet) for $3 each, as I liked the look of a more professional bar, but you can use anything that will hold liquid and you can push it out of, there are lots of suggestions online. For additives I used what I had around - essential oils, baking soda (good for deodorant soap bars (good for boys!)), aloe, vitamin E. I also bought a non-spreading gel colour pack for $4, which are fun (and non-toxic, non-dirty dozen), but think I will move to natural colours from things like paprika etc after I run out (except maybe purple, I like that one....:0)

So all in all, you can make some pretty good for you soap bars, and it's a fun activity too. I sat this evening and worked an excel sheet on my ingredients and surprised myself with how much they cost. If you don't count the cost of the molds and the new pyrex jug I bought specifically for soap making, they come out pretty good. For my ingredients and a 4oz bar, I averaged at ~$1.75. I also worked out from an online store and you can get down to ~$1 per bar. Considering you can pay up to $5 a bar for a good eco-friendly soap, thats not a bad investment. If I move to lye I can get that even cheaper.

So here is what I did....

Cut up the base into small cubes

Melt in a double boiler (or jug in pan of water) - do not let boil, stir gently when you get down to the last few lumps - stir too vigorously and it gets bubbles. When it had fully melted I generally left it in the hot water for a minute, then pulled it out to add additives. 

Things I had around the house - baking soda, vitamin E, aloe vera - add less than 10% of these to your soap so it still firms up, the essential oils I played by nose, and not more than 10 drops per bar to make sure you don't get a sensitivity.  

Once you've added everything you want (this bar has poppy seeds in it for scrubbing!) and it's well mixed, pour the mix into a mold and allow to cool for a few hours (i left overnight). After you take them out you need to either use or wrap them up and put them in an airtight container. For Hawaii this seems essential because it's so humid - the high glycerin content makes them sweat in the humidity. I wrapped mine in wax paper rather than plastic wrap, and it worked great. 

One of them I made up some coloured bars, then chopped them into pieces and placed them back in the mold. Then covered them in melted clear base. They looked pretty cool when they came out! I think you would get more breakage with doing this though than a solid bar. 

And improvised mold for a little left - an old cookie cutter with a foil base. This is good for making a small bar to try out the mixes before giving away the larger bars, just in case they're not so good! One blog I read the woman kept all bad bars and left over bits in an old tin, and when full, re-melted it all down and poured into ice cube molds. She then used these soap pieces by the kitchen sink for handwashing, as they still work as soap, just aren't too fancy! So i've started collecting all my waste pieces to do just that! 

Some of the finished products - clockwise from top - lavender shea butter; goats milk and honey with a touch of peppermint; and unscented goats milk with lavender bubbles hidden. 

Friday, October 10, 2008

Happy Weekend!

Happy Weekend everyone! This weekend, it's just a montage of photos from the last two days. I've actually managed to experience some of the Hawaii that most people here think of when they think of the islands. Thank you Annette for visiting me! 

Being delivered to our surf lesson on Waikiki, we had a great teacher, and this school had a camera man on the beach, so we got some photos of the experience! 

Yes Annette, you do look awesome! 

Whereas I just look like i'm concentrating too hard on not falling over.....

But the surf princess did go down..... did I.......maybe the photographer was not such a good idea......

After our surf lesson we went on a hot and sticky 2 hr hike around the Makiki hills. It was beautiful, if a little sweaty under the canopy....

Today Daniel (from UH, PhD student who came to Antarctica with me to work on the corals) took Annette diving on the North Shore.

So me and another friend from WHOI, Dreux, went snorkeling and hung around the beach. This beach was pretty awesome (the word of the day), as there were tens of sea turtles all around (I saw three so close when I snorkeled), and I caught this picture of a little lady on the beach just hanging out. 

Cute isn't she. 

Annette and Dreux talking turtle....

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


What a fun day! Today I took the day off to spend with Annette and we played Touristas! 

It was fantastic. The day started with an early morning hike up Diamond Head Volcano - hot, up, but beautiful at the top. We then had lunch at Dukes on Waikiki, followed by some swimming, some bodyboarding, some being literally "launched" out of the ocean onto the beach by some overly large waves we decided to tackle (this lead to both of us in hysterics on the beach quite literally covered head to toe in sand and lucky not to have lost our bathing suits and heads for that matter) and then a walk up to Makapuu lighthouse. The end of the day saw dinner at home, a Mai Tai or two and a movie. A fantastically relaxing day! 

From the top of Diamond Head volcano. This is an interesting hike, touted as "strenuous" by the books, yet really not. It was hot even that early in the morning, and there are a lot of stairs, but it was pretty easy, steady going, lots of stopping vistas and we were up there in ~30 minutes. So if you go, don't be put off by the books, this is a great hike for all, just bring water, hat and sunscreen. We saw a few groups of young kids hiking up there! 

Annette enjoying a virgin Volcano at Dukes. We had a prime table, right on the beach front! 

When we got to the top of the Makapuu trail we watched these paragliders for a long while, they looked so serene and calm up there, so much fun. Must look and see if they do double jumps out there, would love to try it sometime. All those out (5 we saw) were just singles, and we even had a few waves as they went overhead. 

Us at the top. Though you can't tell, at this point I had half a gallon of sand still in my ears, and a good gallon in my undies! Exfoliating....:0)

On our tourista day today we saw Ladder 5 out and about. I love that they are yellow. But most of all I love that they have a surf board on the side. Brings visions of firemen fully kitted out in firefighting gear running onto the beach with their surf boards.......