Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Michael Palin for President

I don't know how to upload You Tube Video's on here (i'll try and investigate later) - so you'll have to click the link below. If I could vote, I know where my vote would be......

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chondromalacia patella

My phrase for the day. Well last week when I walked in to work I started to have trouble in my "good" knee on the downhills again. So with more than a little trepidation I went to see an orthopedic today, still with fresh visions of my "bad" knee surgery 2 years ago that just took forever to right itself from. X-rays done and prepared to ignore what the surgeon said, I was delighted and highly relieved to have the above phrase spouted at me. 

It basically means my kneecap is not tracking properly, and she (my very nice orthopedic!) nailed it from my x-rays - it's only off by under a centimeter, but apparently enough to make downhill and crouching a real problem. Interestingly it's also in my "bad" knee, but not nearly as bad as my "good" knee (confused yet). The really excellent thing that made me smile was hearing that it's fixed by a few physio sessions to learn some specific exercises to build up my inner quads (to pull the kneecap back into position) and it should clear up almost immediately. Huge sigh of relief and big smile. 

Some interesting things i've learnt from the handout they gave me - 
- More common in women
- Seen more often in those that walk, stair and hill climb more often
- Onset can occur with prolonged periods of sitting (think airplane seats too many times this year), excessive bending and kneeling (think 3 cruises in a row with lots of kneeling on hard decks). 

Hmmmmm..........and it all makes sense as to why this came up this year.......just wish it hadn't been in time for Italy.....:0(

Goals, Week 2

Green Good, Red Bad, Purple Middle

Walked to work - 2
Walked around the neighborhood - 0
Swimming - 2
Yoga/Gym - 0
Packed Lunches - 4
Diet Sodas - 2 - green, I think this is as good as it's going to get with it being so hot here! 
Iced Tea - 1 litre......before I broke my ice tea jar! 
Alternative found - not really, i've been drinking more coffee which is not good
Eating Well - Up until the McDonalds and chocolate covered raisins on saturday yes.....:0(
Pottery - Yes - Start on the 18th! 

Weight Lost - 1.9 lbs.........guess that McDonalds and chocolate really did it.......still, i'll take 1.9 lbs........8 more to go......

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Life Less Plastic

Check out this blog - Life Less Plastic - I just discovered it, but it's going on my reading list. 

My thoughts on plastic are mixed - yes there is just too much plastic discarded around this earth, and do we really need all the plastic toys and trinkets, but in some ways maybe it's a necessary evil. I'm a big devotee of not using disposable plastic bags (shopping, ziploc etc etc), and reducing my use of other plastic items, but i'm also not about to give up my computer, my phone, my car, medical things and all those plastic items vital to me. I also have much of my foodstuffs in plastic containers to keep out bugs and keep things fresh, the same with sandwiches and other lunch things (I absolutely won't use ziplocs for lunch). But I don't throw these away often - some of my foodstuff plastics have been with me since I lived in Southampton 6 years ago - and they have a long way to go. I look to buy glass storage jars regularly, but often they are either expensive, or shoddily made, and a glass jar thats not going to last a month (or the seal isn't going to keep things fresh) to me is less environmentally friendly that a plastic jar that lasts a decade (think recycling glass isn't carbon free either) and stops me throwing away food as often. But thats my thoughts. 

So plastic, i'll live with it, but i'll cut down on what I buy, be picky about the plastic I do buy and make it last as long as possible. 


I have two baby geckos living under my orange crocs on my back porch. I've called them Croc and Doodle. Trying to get a photo, but they keep going under the slats before I can click. 

My little back deck, with chair, cooler, BBQ and my orange "gardening" crocs that Lala (aka NEA) gave me. I love this little back deck, but don't get to use it much, as it faces the rain direction so is almost always wet out there. Les, Alison and I are trying to come up with an  awning scheme for it so I can use it to sit out on more often. 

Leaning over the railing there you can see my little garden (on a concrete patio the previous owners had an old hot tub on). At the moment I have 3 papaya trees, mint, basil, hoards of bitter (old) lettuce. The cucumber, tomatoes, sugar snap peas and peppers are all starting to sprout. I love that it's nearly october and i'm just sprouting.....:0)

This weekend has been relaxing, got lots of little chores done, though have loads more to do around the house. It was Stian's birthday on saturday and I missed not seeing him for it (though I have never actually seen him for his birthday (nor he for mine) because of cruise schedules). I dipped into my first experiment with natural soap making, but more on that in another blog. I spent a ton in walmart (yes I know, the axis of evil...) for lab things. Did manage to to swimming, though have fallen off the wagon a little with the healthy eating (those Trader Joes chocolate covered raisins started screaming at me for not eating them yet), so i'm not looking forward to my weigh in tomorrow AM (as of yesterday i'd lost just under 3 pounds). We'll see at the Goal Post #2. 

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Wrapsack

Anyone who has either received a gift from me, or follows this blog regularly, knows how much i love WrapSacks - reusable cloth gift bags. So why do I love wrapsacks?

- They are reusable (or precycled!), even better than recyclable! 

More interesting than home made these have a free website attached - you put in the code of the bag and you can follow the bags journey being passed from person to person. The website is free to use, you just have to sign up (and you don't get spam from them which is nice) and off you go! The website does sometimes mess up the order of the tracks though, but I wrote in recently and am told they are working on it. They have been really responsive to questions too, which is nice. 

If I had a sewing machine (and room to put one) I would make gift bags as well, but I would still buy some of these too, to give to people I know love this stuff and know would pass them on. I do love seeing my bags travel - i'm actually number 15 on the highest mileage wrapsters! 

They come in some really cool patterns and a whole variety of sizes! 

So lets talk prices - 
mini - $3.99 Small - $4.99 Medium/wine - $5.99
Large - $8.49 X Large - $9.99

So not cheap at all, which is why making would be good (though as said, I would still buy some, as I like the tracking option for uniqueness). BUT, there are ways to get them cheaper - Bulk buying in their value packs gets you $10+ savings, and looking on their "flavour of the month" is their older designs - you save $1+ (~$4 on the large sizes) on each bag. Pretty much all of my bags come from these options, unless there is a design that is 'so' someone I know. I buy once or twice a year, as the postage is a flat $5.60 no matter how much or where (which is great for Hawaii!), and everytime i've bought from them, i've been given a bag or two free, and even had some of the cards (which are not as hot) and zip bags free too! I like small companies! 

I also include the price of the sack in the gift I am giving, as I figure it really is a part of the gift and can either be used by the recipient as a baggy, or used as gift wrap saving them some $$. I'm pretty strict on myself on this, so it works. The only time I really don't is when i'm filling them for Stian to take to sea with "at-sea goodies", but after the initial outlay, we've been using the same 4 bags for 2 years now.....so I figure we're good on that....:0)

So wrapsacks, i love them! 

Happy Weekend!

It's that time again - happy weekend everyone! This morning as I sat eating my cereal with my front door open (think airflow) a wonderful scent wafted in, just like Lei's, and it is these fragrant flowers blooming just outside Grodnick. Wonderful! 

So today has been another mixed day. I gained a much nicer and newer microtome today, barely used and makes wonderful sections. I made my first slides in my lab today, from material that has been waiting 3 years to be done. I talked to an enthusiastic student who has some amazing results and is ready to get going on her paper(s). 

But I also found out today that the graduate student community knows me as the "faculty who looks like she's 18". Kind of funny and kind of not. I'm just frustrated. And i've tried to look my age (I just want to look 30). I don't go to work in t-shirts and jeans, I don't wear sneakers to work, I wear accessories, I cut my hair, I do up my hair, I stop short of make-up (marine biologists just don't do makeup). What more can I do???

But I felt more up when I got home, three parcels were waiting for me, and I love parcels. I even love parcels that I know are things i've bought for other people. And today I knew what two of my parcels were, and have been waiting for them for a week! 

My annual WrapSack purchase! One of my favorite things to open! 

My Wrap-N-Mat.......as I use i'll let you know how it goes....

And my surprise 3rd parcel....from my mum! An interesting array of socks, smellies and my favorite, photos of family! New pictures of Jack and Ruby for my kiddy fridge. Thanks Mum!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mixed Day

It's been a busy week, and it's only wednesday! And today has been my biggy. Today I was interviewed to be on the "graduate faculty", that is to go up a step (in nothing major like pay, or permanence) so I could be on graduate student committees and be an advisor. I was told it was a "formality", yet I was grilled. There are two levels to being on the graduate faculty here - one is Associate and one Full (the difference being in associate you have to request each time you want to advise a grad student, both you can be on committees regardless) - and the department chair advised me to go for full. Well the faculty pulled the 'too young' card and grilled me for 30 minutes on my lack of advising experience. 

So the good thing is I am now an "associate graduate faculty" and according to the chair it would be no issue for me to get my own grad students to advise, so thats a yay. But I didn't get on the full, so thats kind of a poop. "Junior faculty" and my position is soft money (money you have to raise yourself through grants - so isn't certain or steady) is the reasoning. Which I can kind of see, so shouldn't be too bummed as I did still go up a step. But I also can't help being bummed, I hate having the "you're too young" card being pulled at me, really pisses me off. Doesn't seem to matter that i've brought in more grant money or written more papers than many of the faculty on tenure track around here. Or that I advised two masters students when I was doing my own PhD thesis. Or that I already have 2 PhD students here basically working in my lab. Nope, just too young. 

And when I got home I managed to drop the toilet roll holder (the springy bit in the middle sprung away from me) in the toilet........the only time my "if it's yellow let it mellow" rule really wasn't a good thing.........so it just feels like things are against me today. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The mosquitos they are a biting.....

There was I thinking the heat had killed them off. There was I not sleeping with the bug net closed. There was I waking up this morning with over a dozen bites all over. There was I saying "ug". 

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sponsor Mollie

Mollie is 4 years old and was diagnosed with Leukemia in June this year. On the 4th of October she and her family are taking part in a "Light the Night" march by the Leukemia and Lymphoma society, which has helped her family along their journey. Now I have never met Mollie, or her family, she is in fact a friend of NEA (Stian's sister), and has become a "blog friend" (well, her mom has) - something I didn't expect when I started a blog was that I would meet people through it, but have in fact "met" a number of people I now check in with regularly on their blogs. Many I will probably never actually meet, but all have been fun, interesting and sometimes inspiring (like Mollie) interactions. 

But I know a number of people who check in on this blog have been affected by cancer and leukemia in the past in one way or another, so might like to support Mollie and her family too. If you want to sponsor Mollie on her walk, just click here. 

Goals - week 1

Goals - Week 1 - 
Green good, Red bad, Purple in the middle

- Walked to work - 2
- Walked around neighborhood - 1
- Packed lunches - 4
- Swimming - 2
- Gym/Yoga - 0  :0(
- Diet Sodas - 4
- Ice Tea - one half jug (~2l)......so iced tea is just not as refreshing as diet soda....searching for an alternative
- Eating well - Yes! 
- Signed up for pottery - Yes! (but doesn't start until October 18th)

Nice Hawaii

So i've posted so much on how much Hawaii bugs me, I realised I hadn't blogged on my last few days which have been really superb. Actually since I got back i've felt more relaxed and happy than i've been since I got here, I guess without the worry of running away so soon to another cruise, I can finally relax and BE in Hawaii.....

- My -80C freezer arrived. Now I can have all of my samples in my lab - woo hoo! 

- The super TEM/SEM ladies. I just love working in that lab, they are so nice. On friday they gave me an old microscope (still totally functional and perfect for looking at wet histology slides under) and a stir plate. They have previously given me a microtome. This accounts for around $20K+ of stuff they have given me should I have had to buy new. They love it because I collect old equipment thats been sitting around taking up space. I love it because the more equipment I have, the more work I can do in my lab rather than in other peoples....

- Just getting some work done. This week I ordered some equipment, got supplies ready for a histology push next week and even processed into blocks a whole bunch of TEM samples. I love doing lab work, just wish I had more time to do more. 

- Just stopping in the corridor to catch up with people and say hello. That has been SOOOOOO nice....

- Pedicure with Jenny, that was so much fun! 

- Having a great day with Alison - which involved going to the farmers market, eating tofu burgers, buying and planting herbs and papaya trees (!), going swimming, have a sausage cook-out! 

More on nasty chems in cosmetics...

NEA sent this link to a webpage on chemicals in cosmetics - Cosmetics Database - just checked it out and looks really useful....

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Italy.....the final installment!

The final leg - from Cortina we went to Verona for a night and day, then to Bologna for me to work, then on our last day we did a day trip from Bologna to Ravenna. 

Vernona, the capital of Veneto. We did a touristy bus tour around, which was okay, but a little expensive for what it actually covered. We did get this great view of the city. We also learnt that Romeo and Juliet was not a Shakespeare original, but an ancient italian story retold many times, and most famously by our British bard - despite which Verona totally embraces his telling of the story. We also learnt that Panettone comes from Vernona. Learnt a lot really....

Two romans catching a quick cigarette outside the Arena

A very cute little piazza outside the Arena.
And inside the Arena itself. This was probably my favourite ruin/museum we went to. It's one of the largest remaining roman arena's in Italy, and is still used for opera's, theatre and concerts. I really wished we were staying longer to go to one of the events, it was so beautiful and full of history to me. As we sat on the stone seating I could just imagine being there amongst the many togas watching gladiators........sounds cheesy, but I really could.....

Weighed down by god anyone? One of Verona's churches fonts. 

Inside the Castelvecchio - one of the great "castles" around Vernona that was actually built to protect a paranoid lord Scala from his neighbours. It now houses a museum and was about the point both of us became over-museumed.....

A real Italiano dinner with my colleague Marco (second from left) and Barbara in Bologna with some of their friends. After a packed day of sampling corals for me, was a really fun evening, that ended in watching Wallace and Gromit....!

The Bologna library, very cool inside and out. 

The Piazza Neptuno in Bologna, with good old Neptune standing in a fountain that also had many mermaids with water pouring out of their boobs.

Better than Platform 9 3/4......Bologna train station had Binari (Platform) 0.2......

Ravenna....inside one of the many beautiful churches...

This was signature Ravenna.........inside the Basillica de San Vitale. All these scenes in gold are actually mosaics...

Really impressive....
We rented (free) bikes from the tourist office and went on a cycle tour of Ravenna (we tried to find the ocean but failed.....not good for two marine biologists). Our final stop was Theodoric's mausoleum, which while pretty on the outside was full of pigeons on the inside. 

The next morning we woke up early and headed to the airport for the long ride home. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Happy Weekend!

Happy Weekend everyone! I started mine by going for my first ever pedicure with Jenny! It was fun, though with super ticklish feet it wasn't the totally relaxing experience, but my feet do feel really nice and I love the nail colour! 

Hope you all have a good one! 

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The "Dirty Dozen"

A few months ago I picked up a copy of National Geographic Green Guide at an airport, looking for something quick and easy to read. It had an article in there that I liked, and tonight I remembered to look it up (the magazine stayed on the ship for more souls to read while being tossed around in bad seas) - the "dirty dozen of chemicals in cosmetics". I'd been buying more natural shampoo, body soap and conditioner for a few years while in Woods Hole, but the move to Hawaii as tightened my budget quite a bit, so decided recently to buy a considerably cheaper brand to save money. I'd been buying the natural figuring it's better for me and the drain it went down, but never did any major research into it and figured regular shampoo was okay - hey, i'd used it for most of my life. 

Well, it was literally a few weeks after my "regular shampoo" purchase I came across this article. So i'm switching back to natural brands. Luckily there is now a Whole Foods here, which has it's own brand of goodies, much cheaper than many others, and from what i've tried so far, is pretty good. 

It's weird how things that go down the drain concern me more than what I put on my skin.....I guess what goes down the drain goes to the ocean, and thats where my heart lies.........

So the Dirty Dozen - 

- Antibacterials - not a good idea in any form. 
- Coal Tar - carcinogen (in some dandruff shampoos)
- Diethanolamine - hormone disruptor
- 1,4-Dioxane (and Sodium laureth sulfate) - carcinogen
- Formaldehyde - hey, I pickle my animals in this, so it can't be good! 
- Fragrance - probably phthalates - obesity, reproductive harm
- Lead and Mercury - neurotoxic
- Nanoparticles - damage brain cells
- Parabens - banned in the EU....
- Petroleum Distillates - carcinogens
- p-Phenylenediamine - nervous system - found in hair dye
- Hydroquinone - neurotoxic

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Oh so simple....

Wrap-n-mat - no more disposable sandwich wrappings........at this point I wish I had (and had room for) a sewing machine....these would be so easy to make....!

Yup....my "buy less stuff" has gone off the rails..... 

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Don't you just hate it when.....

...you realise you've been kidding yourself and that 5lbs you needed to loose is more like 10lbs (+).......ug, wish I hadn't rediscovered my scales........

So far this week - I've done pretty well and walked in today (it's a 45 min walk, downhill in the AM, and uphill in the PM), tomorrow I have to drive to go to the city in the afternoon, so i'll try and get a swim in, hope it's not raining.....

Follow me!

So blogger just started (or I just noticed, which is probably truer) they have a "following" button. I've put it on my list on the right just below my 'friends blogs' list. So if you follow this blog regularly, log on as a 'follower'......maybe there will be some 'mysterios' i didn't know about out there.......!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Playing around

Like the new template? Hate the new template? Let me know.

I felt like a change. A new start for what feels like my first real time in Hawaii. So after my sucky lecture and catching up at work with emails and mail, I took myself off to the new Hawaii Whole Foods. Oh how I love Whole Foods. I didn't buy much, as I didn't need much, but wandered through, got eggs, milk, bread and bananas, and took general note of what is there. It doesn't seem too bad price wise. If I find my receipt i'll post some prices for some basics see how it compares to the mainland. 

Then I headed home (this is 4pm at this point...so I left work pretty early) and started the unpack and tidy cycle. First stop the new bathroom (which is now finished - woo hoo!) which needed a really good clean, building dust everywhere. Now as I sit in bed typing, the bathroom is unpacked (with just organising of drawers to happen at some point), 90% of my things from travel are unpacked and I even did a quick vacuum to get the major dust out of the way (major vacuum to happen once everything is unpacked). 

So I feel pretty proud of myself.........and have rewarded myself by playing with blogger for the last half an hour......

Back and Phew!

So I'm back (and i'm still not up to date with posting Italy photos!), arrived back in Honolulu yesterday and was picked up by Jenny and whisked away to a yummy diner lunch.....mmmmm for big greasy burgers (though admittedly not helping with my health food kick). 

Yesterday I literally dumped my bags then headed right to work - this morning at 9.30am I had to do my first ever graduate student lecture, and I was not in the least bit prepared. And now, though relieved that I am on the other side of it, I have to say it sucked and I feel bad for them. I guess I was hoping it would be a talkative group that we could just have a discussion instead of my lecturing (after all it is one of my more favourite topics of invertebrate sex), but alas, they were stone cold silent throughout and I bungled along hoping for just one interested question.....but alas no. I did do good handouts though, so at the least, they have those notes.........and hopefully I didn't confuse them completely........

Better luck next time.....and at least my next lectures are on coral reefs.....everyone loves coral reefs right??

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Cortina and the Dolomites

After Venice we jumped on a train and headed towards the Dolomites......

San Vito - just outside Cortina. Good postcard type photo huh.......was just as beautiful in person.....

After two nights in Cortina we headed up the Tofane massif to do some hiking. We caught this cable car up one afternoon to Lagazuoi Rifugio to start. For some reason this cable car freaked me out, had a hard time looking out the window, which doesn't usually happen to me on cable cars......it was pretty steep....

Rifugio Lagazuoi in the clouds.....

That afternoon (we stayed in the rifugio that night) we went around the open air world war I museum up there. There are all these tunnels that were made by the Austrians and the Italians during WWI and they have opened a bunch of them so you can go through (with helmet and headlamp). It amazed both of us that anyone could fight a war up in the mountains, but they did, this area was pretty populated during that time. 

Stian poking out of one of the many openings to the tunnels. 

We also went for a short hike to look at a Via Ferrata (Iron Walkway). My knee unfortunately (esp unfortunately as it was my good knee) crapped out on a steep downhill, and played up all the time we were up there, which was really frustrating. I gave up on the way and Stian went on and tried it out. Can you spot him in this photo? 

Here he is. It wasn't the Via Ferrata (that was around the corner), but this is pretty indicative of many of the paths in the Dolomites....pretty cool huh.....

The next day we headed on a hike to the Rifugio Dobina. It was a beautiful day......though I was pretty annoyed at this point by my knee being a pain....

A Via Ferrata we did attempt on the way to Rifugio Dibona. I've not done much climbing or anything, but the times I have height has not been a problem. For some reason on this trip it became a problem for me. Stian was fantastic and really helped me up this not very scary wall, but I was pretty dissapointed in myself. I was fine once we got to the ladders, those were not a problem, it was the scaling with just the wire that seemed to freak me out for no apparent reason. 

So we went up a WW1 tunnel, then I waited at the top as Stian went further up the peak. He didn't have time to go all the way, but he did get to do a little. As I was waiting for him it began to rain, and then began to hail, so was getting pretty worried when he finally reapeared. We hoofed it down the tunnel through an ensuing water fall and got to the bottom where we had left our bags.  

Yup, those black dots are our bags, placed nicely in the middle of what was now a river. Everything was soaked.....really soaked....

The calm after the storm, this is the view from Rifugio Dibona. Pretty spectacular. 

This is the Tofane plateau, where we were when we got really wet! 

The next day was the down day, which really bugged my knee. Here is a Via Ferrata that Stian did most of, but I being a total pain in the butt at this point, bugged out of. So he went across and back, then we both walked down and around. 

And catching the chair lift back down to the bottom. No height issues on this one, only double chin issues....

A quick snooze in the park as we waiting for the store to open so we could return our via ferrata gear....
And a wonderful sunset on the train towards Verona....

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Getting Back Goals

Breaking this all up a bit, but getting back and (finally) getting into a, more healthy, Hawaii routine is on my mind tonight (and the last few nights) so here it is....

- Go to the (free) swimming pool (at least) twice a week, do 20 laps, or more, per time
- Go to the (free) gym at UH twice a week for at least 45 minutes or sign up for twice weekly yoga classes
- Walk to work twice a week
- Walk around the neighborhood in the evening on days I don't walk to work
- Reduce my diet soda intake, drink more (homemade) ice tea - drink more in general, I never drink enough
- Take packed lunches into work everyday!
- Cook more real meals, rather than the quick frozen/canned dinner route
- Eat on a meal plan, cut down on snacks
- Don't use any plastic bags at all stores (not just supermarkets) - this means remembering to carry my envirosacs everywhere!
- Reduce my "stuff" again........it's a constant battle....
- Buy less "stuff" in the first place....
- Take a pottery class
- Take my kayak out most weekends

Bologna to Venice

We arrived in Bologna at midday and stayed one night there, then the next morning early headed to Venice by train. There were so many great photos from each place i've decided to split the trip up - sorry for so many holiday snaps, but we had fun....:0)

The view from our hotel window - fabulous! When i've gone to Venice before i've always had a view of a brick wall, so it was great to have a real view. We had delivery and garbage barges go by in the mornings and gondolas with tourists in the afternoons. 

Couldn't resist the swan towel origami in our "anything but fancy" hotel room! We stayed at the Hotel Caneva - totally recommend it - really central, cheap (for Venice - ~$115 a night for a double with shared bathroom), clean and breakfast in the mornings. You could even come in by 'water entrance" if you wanted a water taxi ride....:0) 

The gondolas on the Grand Canal.

San Marco's Basilica

Stian and the Grand canal - taken from a gondola....well a traghetto (cheap gondola taxi across the canals) - but still cool - my first gondola ride! 

Gondola crossing......spotting a theme here....

Venice traffic jam....

We went out to the Lido for an afternoon the day we arrived (we scored two free water bus tickets from two australians leaving, so we spent that day touring on the water buses). I'd never been, much quieter than central and a cool beach.

Enjoying a frozen, florescent slurpy on the Lido

Finishing off the day with a giant calzone.......mmmmmmm