Thursday, April 30, 2009

Baby Hickey!

Time to catch up with another special wee one to me - Baby Hickey. Baby Hickey comes all the way from the Antarctic, went through some adverse moments, yet not only survives, but thrives. I had the opportunity the other day to quickly take some higher resolution photos down the microscope and here they are. I'm a little nervous about doing this too often, as I don't want to disturb the little fella, but wow, he really is fantastic to look at! 

He is not only building his little skeleton to his hearts content, but he also started feeding last week. I've been feeding him every other day from some plankton (collected from the Antarctic) that was frozen while at sea and shipped back to Hawaii. I defrost a little, take some up in a pipette, then gently squirt it out towards his tentacles. It's really a learning experience for me too - how much to give him, how often, how quickly to take the food out of there so it doesn't ruin the water - and the big question - how long is it going to take for him to form a full circle o skeleton? 

I still have another 27 larvae alive in the fridge right now, but none are doing as well as Hickey. None in fact are attached, none are as well developed, and to be a little brutal, i'm sure they're all going to pop off slowly over the next few weeks. So my hope is all on Hickey - keep going little guy! 

My friend Steffi also wrote a blog about Baby Hickey - check it out

Hope you all have a great weekend! 

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Help me bring up the rear......

If you haven't met her already from the links at the side, meet Mollie, isn't she cute! Mollie (and her mom) are blogging friends, and on June 17th this little 5 year old will have been living with Leukemia for a year. Now the Hibiscus Half Marathon that I am participating in (on the 14th June) is all about fundraising for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, so on the suggestions of friends, I have also started an online sponsor form as well as having my entrance fee go to LLS. 

As you know, for me the 13.1 miles is about getting fitter and getting out there, and so why not also try and raise a little more for a good cause at the same time. LLS have been a great source of support for Mollie and family, and her blog has been a big inspiration to me. So i've put on the side a link that goes to my sponsor form, if you'd like to donate a little cash to this good cause and give me an even better reason to keep on training, I will try very hard not to be the very last one crossing the line. 

Thank you for sponsoring me if you can, and thank you even if you can't, just for reading this post and checking out Mollie's blog. 

How to Brew Beer in a Coffee Pot

This is awesome. Specifically not for use onboard dry research vessels.....:0)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

(Not so) Happy Feet.....

My tired feet after running today. So the scoop on the shoes was I ended up buying a pair of $50 Adidas running shoes. The store was actually good, and I knew it was time to start phasing out my trail runners (which are not really cushioned enough for road running). They checked my gait and said that I pronate (roll inwards) slightly (not by much). I learnt a lot about running shoes actually, like buying a 1/2 size larger than you usually get to let your feet swell, and the different kinds of stability. 

So with this "on foot" I went on my run yesterday. I didn't manage to get to the pool (caught up at work), so decided on a 4 mile run to make up for it. I felt great. I did a circuit around the valley and actually managed to run close to all of it (I only walked up the killer hill, which is maybe 500m or so). I really did feel good and the shoes were soooo comfy! 

Then today. Today was my 6 mile run. Not such a good experience. Really tight calves, had to stop to stretch way too many times. Then at mile 2, my right food went to sleep. Stopped, stretched, walked a while, started to run, one more mile and back to sleep it went. This went on once more too, then finally, after walking for ten minutes, I ran on and it didn't bother me again, but I am a little worried. My lower back is also killing me, but I have also been lugging around heavy bags of soil today (planted my container garden this morning - yay!), so that may be it.

So is it the new shoes or is it just me being out of shape (which I very much am!)? Can shoes really make that much of a difference, or was this coming no matter what? Tomorrow is a rest and stretch day, so at least I have a day to recover and hopefully stretch it out, but i'm wondering about going back to my old shoes on tuesday. Ug. 

I am definitely not a runner, but I do have to say, I have for the most part enjoyed this training so far, I can see me keeping up with it. Even today, with me wondering if my foot was going to fall off at any moment, I loved the view up the valley, it was a beautiful Hawaii day today. 


One of my geckos just came out of hiding, gobbled up a cockroach that i've been trying to catch all night, and wandered away. Maybe I can deal with the gecko poop after all.....:0)

Saturday, April 25, 2009

6 Weeks to go.....

Gulp. 6 weeks till the half marathon. Time flew. Not to mention my "training" went out the window. I actually put on 4lbs while in the UK. 4lbs. In 2 weeks. I was hoping the scales lied, but alas no. I've also only done one short run since I got back on monday. That is NOT good.....

So i'm back at it, taking it way more seriously and need to get cracking. I found a good training program online, the only issue is it's for a 12 week training program, so i'm having to skip a few weeks. Ug. Hope my pre-UK training will kick in. So here's my schedule for next week, written down forever on the internet so I can't skimp out on it. 

Saturday (today) - 40 min swim, 2 mile run
Sunday - 6 mile run
Monday - rest and stretch
Tuesday - 4 mile run
Wednesday - 2 mile run
Thursday - 4 mile run
Friday - rest day (or easy run)

I'm not sure what the friday one really means. I don't find any running easy. Is there really such a thing as an easy run?? This actually fits in with me wanting to walk to work 3 times a week (yeah, I want to pick that one back up), as i'll do it Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the "easy days". 

And as for running being a free sport, don't kid yourselves. Today i'm going to go and buy a pair of shorts to run in. I've been running in long joggers, and it's just getting too hot, so it's time. I also want to look at running shoes, but know those will cost a pretty penny, so am hoping to hold out in my trail-runners. I'm just worried they're not doing good things for my feet or shins. There's supposed to be a store here that is really good (Running Room) and will assess your shoes and running gait for free. A few people have told me they're good enough that if there is nothing wrong with the shoes your in, they'll send you away. So thats what i'm hoping. That said if they could sell me a pair of shoes that would actually make me be able to run for 13 miles maybe it'd be worth it.....:0)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Felted Friday!

I came home last night to a parcel (and we all know how much I love parcels!) and look what was inside - felted coasters made from an old sweater by NEA! Awesome, I love them, thank you so much! I think they go perfectly with my recycled wine bottle glasses and a good Gin and Tonic.....:0) 

Happy Weekend everyone! 

ps.......instructions on how to make your own wine bottle glasses here!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

Today is Earth Day. It feels weird to title this post "Happy Earth Day", as Earth in general is anything but "Happy" right now, but i'm 'Happy' to fall on the bandwagon a little and use today as a reminder of all the things we should be doing everyday to help protect our future on this planet. 

At the moment there are around 6.8 billion people on this planet and we are rapidly using up all our non-renewable resources, as well as polluting and poisoning many areas of the globe. Global warming has seen our atmosphere warm on average 1C in the last century, with some areas seeing as much as a 2C change in just the last 50 years. CO2 in our atmosphere has increased by ~40% since the industrial revolution, to levels not seen on this planet for over 650,000 years, and more importantly, are increasing at a rate that has never before been seen on this planet. Though the models and science often conflict on the exact numbers and damage that might occur and when it might occur, there is one overarching theme and message that the majority of scientists have to offer - though climate changes are natural, humans are increasing climate change at an unsustainable rate, and unless we do something about it now, we will be in trouble in the future. But WE CAN do something about it, thats the good news. 

This is why "Earth Day = Every Day". 

Figuring out what is better than what is often not easy - is it better to buy organic bananas that were grown in Fiji rather than non-organic local? Is it better to buy a new car that has better mileage than keep onto an old car to save it from a landfill? I'm not sure. What I do like is that people are actually THINKING about these possibilities, and that these seem to be the questions of the day rather than "should I buy a second car" or shopping blindly. My views on those - I would buy local (and bulk buy that has less packaging) over organic in most things and I would buy a better mileage car and make sure my old one was resold to continue to be used or go to a scrap yard to be recycled - are they the right way around, i'm not sure, but I know either way, they are better than not thinking at all.....

So what am I going to do today? Nothing special really, i'm going to walk to work, take in my lunch in my reusable containers (including spork, napkin and drink bottle), look around the "Sustainability Festival" going on at UH and if I shop use my reusable bags, maybe even take in one of the lectures going on. At the end of the day i'll turn off my computer and printer, turn out the lights and walk home. 

My tips for "Earth Day = Every Day" - do what you can, don't be overwhelmed, even a little does count and often sets the trend to do more!  

- Recycle whatever is possible for your area, don't be tempted to throw away that plastic bottle just because you're not at home - take it home with you! 
- Always take reusable bags everywhere! Not just the supermarket either, they're good for mall shops too!
- Take a packed lunch, include reusable utensils and napkin too! 
- Leave a mug at work or in the car so you don't have to use a disposable one for that Starbucks
- If you can, walk
- Replace bulbs with energy saving ones and turn them off when not needed
- Turn off anything electrical at the end of the day - but if you're using something like a computer multiple times a day, it's actually more energy efficient to leave it on (on powersave standby - but turn off the monitor!) than to turn it on and off all day causing power surges (it's better for your computer too!). 
- Actively look for things with less packaging - supermarket or mall 
- Look for recycled items to buy as alternatives - paper and plastics
- Use less chemicals - on your skin, on the counter, in the garden - there are many great green alternatives out there, some in stores if you like brand names or the ease of buying ready made, and some as simple as baking soda and vinegar - try it, your skin, house, plants and planet will love you for it.....
- 4 minute showers or less! Timers are easy to come by, and it can be fun to beat the timer! 
- Buy Less! It'll help the wallet (saved for those few-time treats or travel), clear out your house from junk and help the planet too! 
- Plant a garden - more food home grown means less conundrums as to whether to buy organic or local - you can have both! 

There are many more out there too......

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Back and Bummed.....

Well i'm back in Hawaii and back at work this morning. Got in at 9pm last night and headed straight to bed. Was so pooped actually managed to sleep pretty well too (one hour up around midnight, then woke up at 5.30am), so i'm hoping I last out to the ceramics class this evening, I hope so. 

One thing with coming back is you have to face work again. This trip was good in that I kept up with emails and did a bunch of work things while at home, but the one thing I can't keep up with is voice-mails. So I got in this morning and walked right into a voicemail from Fairbanks (Alaska) and I did not get the job there. The message was only from friday, so at least it hasn't been sitting around for long I guess. It was also a nice personal message from the search chair - she said the committee did not reach a consensus on the hire, that she had been rooting for me, and that she hoped we could work together in the future. It actually could not have been a nicer rejection call, so thats something. 

Onwards and upwards I guess, though my enthusiasm for the day has waned, and it's only 11am......

Monday, April 20, 2009

While flying over the Grand Canyon

I love Photoshop, such a neat tool, and i've taken part of my long flights home to play with it some more and experiment with settings i've never touched before. Here are some of the results. 

The even cooler thing is that on my left, out of the window is the Grand Canyon right now, this second. I'm uploading this to Blogger while flying over Arizona. The plane I am on has in-flight wireless, so I signed up and am taking advantage, writing emails, doing work, updating Facebook and playing with photoshop (using the online help). Pretty cool huh. I still remember the days of smoking flights and the big screen a the front of the plane, amazing how fast it's progressed to having internet onboard......

Sunday, April 19, 2009

One more....sorry......

She is just such a happy baby this morning.....

The UK today....

It's been interesting coming back to the UK at this time of recession, coming from the US where panic is amok, yet how the rest of the world is coping is hard to hear about. Without hearing much about the UK, I had assumed it was doing better than the US, but in reality i'm not so sure. Big British institutions like Woolworths, Adams and MFI have fallen down in the recession. Woolworths is particularly sad for me, as I worked there for 2 years on weekends and holidays through high school and still knew some people who worked in the local one. These are just a few big ones too, many many smaller local companies have disappeared from the high streets i've visited on this trip and many stores are low on stock and high on unemployment. I've also noticed in the last few years bigger supermarkets seem to be creeping in - giant Asda and Tesco stores seem to be in every town now. Basic food prices are down, many houses are for Let or sale, redundancies are rife, in short the recession here is right in your face. I guess I expected to see little difference on the surface. Worries me more than a little. 

There are some good things I've noticed though, maybe stimulated by the recession, maybe stimulated by increased awareness of the environment and health, but either way, I think it's pretty cool British TV would go the step to put these kinds of ads on TV -  

Get a Bag Habit - Adverts on TV reminding people to bring reusable bags to the shops - awesome! I've actually noticed too that supermarkets and such are no longer putting out plastic bags at the checkouts and ask if you want a bag instead. I think this is brilliant, as not only is i expected that you will bring your own, it also reduces the amount you use, as if you ask for a bag, they'll only give you a couple at a time. Awesome! 

Change 4 Life - Adverts aimed at children to encourage healthy eating (not eating too much - "me size portions from mum, not adult size portions") and more activity. Run by the National Health Service. 

The Optimum Population Trust - Trust with the message "Environmentally Sustainable Populations" and has a "Stop at Two" campaign to encourage people to just have one or two children and help reverse population growth in the UK. 

Traffic Light Nutritional Labels - Not an advert but something else i've noticed I like. On most foods sold in the UK there are now colour coded nutritional labels - green for low, yellow for medium and red for high - makes it easier to see what you are really buying. 

So now it's time to go back to Hawaii.......

Lucy is obviously so sad to see me go....

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Heading home......

Today I head out to Heathrow and the long 3 flights home. Adam and Jack left yesterday, it was so nice to be able to spend some time with them on this visit. On friday we went around the Aquarium in Southsea and then spent the afternoon with mum and Auntie Pam at Grants house. I'm sad to go, but it's time to get back to work too, papers and proposals to write, lab work to know how it goes.....

So here are some more gratuitous pictures of cute babies and children.....

Yup, you can guess who gave her this outfit....

It took some work, but we finally got a Lucy grin on camera. She's learning how to giggle right now, hasn't quite got the sounds yet, but the facial expressions are there. I've been lucky enough to get a multitude of Lucy grins....:0)

Jack introducing his cousin to Dr Suess...

In Southsea outside the D-Day museum, trying out the tanks...

Baby seahorses inside the aquarium....

Jack and his dad (Adam) colouring in the colouring room.....
On the pier at Southsea with Adam and Jack while we were waiting for Lucy to finish up at her weigh in appointment (11lbs and 11 weeks!) 

Adam, Grant and Mum

Mum and her grandchildren...

Lego, a toy for all. At one point there was Jack, Adam and Grant all playing with the Lego box...

Chilled out baby and daddy...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Family Friday

This week has been full of family, but today is really going to be a family friday - I'm back at Grant and Claire's and we have our little brother Adam and his son Jack around until tomorrow, mum is coming for the day as is our Auntie Pam, so a full day ahead (and i'm still in my sleeping bag)! Adam and Jack arrived last night and we all had a wonderfully yummy take out curry....mmmmmm

Happy weekend everyone! 

A very relaxed baby in daddy's arms......

Jack helps his cousin to see the toys on her bouncy chair. 

Very cute! Jack can be a little rough (to put it mildly!), but it was so sweet, wherever Lucy was, whether in her chair or on a lap, he kept leaning over to give her kisses throughout the night, so sweet. Yet was very shy to give her one on camera!

Uncle Adam meets his little niece...

Auntie Claire helps Jack out on the computer....

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Snuggly Lucy

Auntie Rhian gets a lesson in slinging. Little Lucy slept like this for nearly two hours, so cute and I got my snuggle time for the day! 

She loves that thumb! 

Images of Devon, UK

Exeter Cathedral
Tractor rollers in the fields behind mum's house.

Looking over the river Taw

So many pheasants around this time of year, here's a male guarding his females..

West Buckland School, where i went to school for five years after returning from Saudi Arabia

Male pheasant in a hedgerow
Little Meg, she's 18 this year, and surprisingly spry!

And a MRSA plate. Yup, from a family of biologists I get to see some pretty cool things, this is at the microbiology lab where mum works. This green bug is the scurge of many hospitals these days, and is the reason we should all be careful with antibiotic usage - whether it's a needed course from the doctor, or that tube of Neosporin, please use with care....

And a good dye sink.....when mine in my lab looks like this, i'll  be a happy histologist....:0)

More of Cornwall, UK

Hannafore Beach, Looe, Cornwall

Happy Sid
Happy Pod
And a Happy Dylan

Streets of Polperro

The riverway in Polperro

Polperro harbor, one of the most beautiful places in the world, if you ask me. 

The shell house in Polperro

The crooked tree in the garden at Polventon. This tree has been struck by lightening many times and always looks like it will fall down, yet has outlasted many of the stronger trees in the garden. 

A Cornish Rose

Friday, April 10, 2009

Fresh Friday!

And you can't get much fresher than this. Straight from the chickens bum (well not really, but pretty damn close), bantam eggs from Polventon for this Good Friday breakfast. We also had some yummy bacon and sausages too, also "home-grown" .....mmmmmmmmmmm

Happy Easter Weekend everyone! 

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Around Lanreath, Cornwall, UK

Bad traffic on the main road....

Geese on the pond at Polventon Cottage...

Sidiki, up to no good as usual....

Pat the second watching his flock and making sure we have some yummy fresh eggs for breakfast......

Landy! What a sorry site. One day girl I'll be able to give you the TLC you deserve. Landy (1962, Series IIa, 88", ex-military desert rat) was my first car, bought by me before I even had my driving test. She served me well through my undergrad and graduate school and I love her dearly. 

...and now she spends her day as a watching post for the cats....

So I officially love my new camera. Can you see the horse-fly in there? So many daffodils here, spring has sprung! 

Cows in the field behind us.

Out for a walk down to the village of Lanreath. Led on by Sid, Pod and Dylan (Left to Right).

The local - the Punchbowl Inn, excellently situated right next to the church....

Old marker on one of the back roads, showing the way to Liskeard, Looe and Lostwithiel. 

Lanreath village.