Tuesday, June 30, 2009

American Red Cross

I did my final training tonight to be a "Hotline Operator" for the Oahu chapter of the American Red Cross. What does this mean? Well, the Red Cross primarily deal with local emergencies, such as house fires, flooding etc. They go to the scene and help anyone who needs help - providing food, shelter, monetary help and counseling services too. Basically helping people get back onto their feet after a disaster and being there when needed. I would eventually like to get onto one of these teams that go into the field, but there are quite a few courses you have to take to get on one and i'd really like to get some experience in what kinds of calls the Red Cross respond to. 

Here in Hawaii one of the most needed volunteers are Hotline Operators. This means you're the one who takes the call from the emergency services and passes on the message to the relevant team to respond. So you're basically the point person. Here in Hawaii, where numbers of calls are relatively low, this means you're on call either day or night (not both) for a week at a time. The nice thing about this and my crazy schedule is that it fits around really well - I can say when i'm here in Hawaii and when i'm not, and I can be "on call" in the evenings, so around my work schedule. Here in Hawaii the average is 3 calls a week, so really not a big time sink. 

The Red Cross are always looking for volunteers, are in every community and have a variety of things you can do that can fit every schedule (from once a year to once a week!). Take a look at your local chapter to see what's going on in your area, you'll be helping people in your community as well as doing something very worth while. 

Monday, June 29, 2009

Results are in

They just posted the official results. Definitely no speed records here, but i'm happy I finished and it gives me a goal for my future half marathons. Looking through the results the winner finished an hour before me, and the last person came in an hour after me. Almost exactly. Suits me......:0)

And as for the fundraising - we raised $230 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society - thanks so much to all who sponsored me! 

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Hope you've all had a good saturday! Had a good one here. Started with pottery class, which I always love, got to pick up some more fired pieces too - yay! Then I came home and played with the doggies for a little while, and then out to a volunteer meeting for Project Visitation. This is a project i've just started to become involved in (i've been assigned my first family this week) and they are having a "camp out" in a couple of weeks which I am helping with. It's a great group of people and should be a fun camping weekend. 

Then back home, play with the doggies and now i've just got back in from a 2.5 mile run. I've not managed to get much running in since the half marathon. Mainly because i'm still sore from that event! I've managed to give myself shin splints (with my super tight calves I guess it was inevitable), luckily they seem to have calmed down with 2 weeks of rest so I tried out a little jog today.  I've been swiming instead of running this last 2 weeks, try and keep up momentum. Amazingly (and I NEVER thought this would happen), i've actually missed running.......

Here are a few of my crafty things over the last week. Hope you're having a great weekend! 

My latest pottery. These were really trial pieces - i'm trying to get the hang of mugs (harder than it looks!) and a bowl and plate that are misshapen. The cool thing about these trial pieces are the brown glaze - that's actually mud all the way from Antarctica that I mixed with a transparent glaze and painted on there. So when I finally get some non-misshapen pieces to glaze I now know how that mud is going to react and the colours it's going to give me.  

My first crochet clothing! My crochet has pretty much been limited to blankets and toys up until now, this was my first clothing pattern, and man it was a stinker! This sweater for Hannah and her trip to the East coast actually started life as a cardigan.......

Two little bear buttons on the neck of the sweater...

Friday, June 26, 2009


Friday already? Phew! It's been a busy week. This week has been 'coral spawning' week for one Hawaiian species, Montipora. This species spawns at the new moon at 9pm for 4 nights in a row. One of my students works on the reproduction of this species and I've been wanting to trial some of my Antarctic experiments on a local coral, so it's been a busy week of late nights and finally finished up last night. 

The corals we were working on were over on Coconut Island (which was once used as the backdrop for Gilligan's Island!), so i've been going back and forth across the island since sunday to work at the laboratory and aquariums over there. It's fun though, you get to take a boat to work! 

Jackie has been working on these corals for a few years now and usually collects the eggs and sperm from colonies living in the bay (so night snorkeling), but this year she decided to bring up some colonies into tanks and work with them from there. This worked great! Was much easier (okay, so not as cool, but easier!) and meant we didn't have to get into the cold, windy, sharky water!

Cawa, Fabio and Lindsey, three of the fabulous volunteers who came out to help for one night. As the corals all spawn at once at 9pm for around 15 minutes, it's a scrabble to collect, document and get experiments started. So these volunteers have been fabulous and vital, helping to collect and document, while we can run off and start our experiments. As light effects the corals reproduction, everyone was outfitted with red headlamps. 

So I'm looking forward to the weekend. Even more so because I am dogsitting for my favorite Hawaiian pups - Barkley and Goofy. Jenny and Doug have gone on a "tour" of the USA, visiting family and friends and showing off the cute little Hannah. I'll miss them for the next few weeks, but am already enjoying some dog time! 

Monday, June 22, 2009

Divorce on a TV show....

Really people? How about stopping the show while that goes on? The Jon and Kate plus 8 saga continues......

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Going BPA free

Well, i've finally done it, I have started the road to replacing my BPA laden Nalgene bottles. Yes I know i'm about a year behind the rest of the world, but to be honest i've been resisting. I've ben resisting for 2 main reasons really, these are alongside the scientific 'discussions' going on to whether BPA is as harmful to adults as it is to children, and the fact that i've been using Nalgene bottles on a daily basis for much of my adult life, is one more year really going to make a difference? 

My 2 reasons - 1) The waste involved in getting rid of the many (many) Nalgene bottles I own; and 2) I use so many of them all the time, replacing them is going to be costly. 

So to put this in context, I own probably ~8 1L bottles, and 2 500ml bottles. Not sure exactly until I round them all up. When you go to the Antarctic you were (are no longer) given a 1L Nalgene bottle to use on the cruise/fieldwork - a good plan to keep people healthy and hydrated - but you obviously don't return these as part of the other kit you borrow, so over the years I have built up quite a collection of Nalgene bottles, many with stickers and sentiments on them that remind me of specific cruises or excursions. At the moment, if you were to open my fridge, you would see 4 full 1L Nalgene bottles and a full 500ml Nalgene bottle, as well as the Sigg bottle (a bday present to myself), also full. If you were to open my freezer you would see 2 further bottles with water frozen in them. 

Living in Hawaii, hydration is so important, and something I really space on. Having 1L bottles full of things like gatorade and juice on hand in the fridge, and to take to work, helps keep me on track. I always keep 2 bottles in the freezer too - when going to the beach or on a hike, throw one in the back of the car and it's still cold when you get back for some refreshment. Running has meant this has gone into overload, as well as using them to contain milk (from powder) and nutrition shakes (easily digestible calories pre-run), I always have a couple on hand with gatorade to grab after a run. I always take a nalgene backpacking too - not only is it easier to fill from a stream than a platypus (which I also take), but I also have a coffee maker for it and use it as a hot water bottle in my sleeping bag at night. So many uses that an aluminum bottle (as much as I love my Sigg for other uses) just won't fill. 

So today I bought a 1L and a 500ml bottle. Obviously I will still be using my other bottles, but I'll start using the BPA free ones the most and just occasionally use the others. Eventually I guess I will buy more and they will get phased out, i've never had one break (even after dropping off a cliff onto sharp lava!), so i'm not suspecting any will anytime soon.....

We don't recycle #7 plastic here - so what can I do with my old bottles? I don't want to (in fact won't) throw them away. I don't want to give them away as that just keeps people drinking out of BPA plastics. 

I found this website with some ideas - I like the waterproof first aid kit idea for kayak trips, maybe one will become my button box and I like the idea of a kid and car friendly crayon holder and love the solar cap. Any other ideas out there? 

If anyone needs any Nalgenes for art projects by the way, I know where you might be able to get some.....

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sorry I can only afford the same Father's Day gift I gave you when I was seven

Happy Father's day to all dad's out there! 

Congrats to Grant, Adam S. and Doug on their first father's day too! 

Friday, June 19, 2009

Free Up Friday!

Nothing better than a little friday decluttering! Okay, so this wasn't today, this was last friday, but wow, it made me feel so much better when I did it! 

My desk, post-proposals. Yes there are 3 computers and yes, I use all 3. And in case you can't see there were 8 coffee cups and 2 soda cups on there - 

Ta da! A couple of hours of tidying makes such a difference. I even tidied my shelves and books and threw and recycled so much stuff! 

Pacific Garbage Patch

Good article on plastics floating in our oceans - 

Thursday, June 18, 2009

For the love of purple....

Why do we have favourite colours? Why are there colours that we naturally lean to and others we stay away from? Why do certain colours just make you happy? 

I don't know the answers, but I do know my colour. Purple. I'm not sure when I discovered purple, I know when I was little my colour was red (we're talking pre-school years) and I know when I was an undergrad my colour was definitely purple, but I can't actually remember when it became my colour. 

The biggest thing I love about purple, is it's a colour people tend to be passionate about. We're purple people and have a certain solidarity. Quite a few of my friends are purple people too. It's a weird thing, but there really is something about the love of purple. 

My happy feet! After two failed attempts Jenny and I managed to get our pedicures today! It was Hannah's first time in the spa too, she was a champ! Jenny's colour - pink, me - purple! A new purple too, I usually go for shinier and sparkly, but this pastel I think is calming for my now calm feet. After taking so much abuse over the last few months, my little feet loved the pampering! 

In a way it's nice that Hawaii's post is so slow, means my birthday presents get spread out and my birthday lasts even longer! I had a few fabulous purple items in the post this week - an ice cream maker (yum!) and a knife from another purple person Laura, and a lovely drawing from Lala! 

I could take photos of most of my house and show purple things I love. This is a special one to me, Marcy B. made me this nearly seven years ago (has it really been that long!), a little lap quilt, and my favorite snuggle in front of the TV blanket. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Little Lucy

My brother just sent me some photos of my niece - isn't she a cutey! Recovered from her allergy scare (turns out she's allergic to formula) and even emigrating to the crib for nap times......

Added - my brother just sent me this one today. A little present from her Auntie, she seem to like it! 

Monday, June 15, 2009

Calculate your Greendex

Survey by National Geographic on how 'green' people are in different countries. USA and the UK have a long way to go - 

My "Greendex" is 57 - so above average for the UK or USA, but still more that can be done....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Perfect Sunday

This morning started early with the 1/2 marathon, followed by a day of relaxing, snoozing and catching up with some movies, then dinner at the Kona Brew Pub with friends. Just got back and after 2 beers, i'm ready to crash. What a great sunday! 

I was given the two lei's above to celebrate my birthday, they're so beautiful, I love the way lei's smell too, they make my whole apartment fragrant (which counteracts the running shorts smell!). Lei's are traditional Hawaiian garlands, given to say Aloha (welcome) to visitors and to people returning home, but also in celebrations of birthdays, weddings, graduations and many other occasions. Far from being an item just for tourists, lei's are a large part of Hawaiian culture and are very artistic too. 

Among others, Jenny, Doug and Hannah came to the pub for dinner and I got some snuggle time. I was telling her all about the 1/2 marathon, but my pace was obviously too slow for her. 

And although not here, Adam and Melissa sent me this photo of Elise on Cape Cod today - isn't she a sweety! Wearing one of my tie-dye creations.

Still Alive!

I finished! 

 - 2hrs and 44 minutes, 633rd of 919 1/2 marathon runners!

No world records here, but I'm proud of that for my first ever race, and the fact I only started running 2 months ago. And it gives me something to beat next year.....:0) The only goal I did not complete was running the last 2 miles. I ran the last mile, but that mile going up Diamondhead did me, and I walked up to the peak and then ran the downhill and across to Kapiolani park and the finish line. I crossed the line running and it was a great feeling. It was hot too 89F to finish there (someone running too fast for the heat was being carted off as I got in), good thing it started at 6am! I walked maybe a mile to a mile and a half in total, so i'm really happy with that. 

The first five miles were excellent, after that I had a stitch and cramps the whole way in (it kept changing sides) which was really a pest and I think caused by me being so nervous this morning more than anything else (my stomach was doing turns at 4am!). Miles 6-8 seemed the longest, mile 9 is where it really got tough. Having people around me helped me to pace, and I was really careful to start at the back of the pack so I wasn't tempted to go too fast too soon. It was tempting in the beginning I was being passed, about mile 2 though, I started passing so that was a boost. Mile 10 I started overtaking some of the people doing the 15K leg, now that made me feel good.....:0)

I also met an awesome lady at mile 8 who spurred me on. 65 years old, started running when she was 45 and has done 18 marathons and lost count of the 1/2 marathons. She's one of the trainers for Team in Training. We came in together in the end, but were back and forthing for a while. At mile 8 we chatted as we ran - which amazed me as I didn't think I could talk at that point! She was awesome and it picked me up talking to her, she was amazed I was doing a half marathon after only 2 months of training (or at least pretended to be to spur me on!). 

Now, i'm going to take a nap having had my legs on ice and a nice shower. Later my birthday celebrations happen in earnest, with a nice dinner at the Kona Brew Pub with friends! 

I don't have any photos, but here are a few taken before and after - 

Purple is of course my running colour. Self portrait (slightly skewed) at 4am, figured I'd better get one of me in my running kit. 

The nicest site! 

Looking back up the last leg. 

Here I go.....

There's only one reason anyone could be awake at 4am on a sunday.....it's 1/2 marathon time! Trying to swallow some food and drink and i'm out of here and down to the park. We have to pick up our timing chips at 5am and the race starts at 6am........yawn! 

Nervous, but excited at the same time. Amazing how back in January when I laid out I wanted to do this, it felt like a very far away goal. Yet here it is, just half-way through the year and today i'm hoping to complete my toughest goal on that list. Here I go.....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Well, it's really happening. Picked up my race packet today and have my number - 650 (at least with a number like that there is no pretense I might be near the front!). So I thought it is good time to put out my goals for my first race.

1 - To finish
2 - To come in around 3hrs
3 - To run more than I walk
4 - To run the last 2 miles and cross the finish line running
5 - To have fun, to feel fit and to feel accomplishment
6 - To finish still wanting to do a half marathon each year

There we are. As a reminder I am doing this to get myself more motivated to stay fit and to stay healthy. As part of this training I have now lost 10lbs, I still have a few more to go before I feel like I will be at my best (as well as some toning!), but I can get back to weight loss after this race is over. I feel fitter, I feel healthier than before I started this training, and I think I have finally come to an understanding with running - am I totally hooked? No, but I like the results I have had and will keep up with it to continue to see those results. I now feel like I "can" run, and don't feel like so much of a fool when out for a jog (and it took way less time to get to that point than I thought!). 

I am also doing this to raise a little cash for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on behalf of Mollie King. My little friend Mollie has spent almost a year receiving treatment for pre-B cell lymphoblastic leukemia and no 5 yr old should ever have to go through the things she has been going through. Mollie's strength and courage throughout her treatment is an inspiration to all, as are her amazing parents Sarah and Matt. This race is being organized by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and so all profits from race entry fees will be headed in that direction. On top of this I also have a sponsorship page -  thanks to all who have sponsored me for this race (listed on the page), your encouragement is greatly appreciated.

If you haven't donated this year, think about donating to the LLS either by sponsoring someone at an event, and/or by donating blood regularly if you are able. 

Birthday wishes

Many thanks to all for the wonderful birthday wishes, I have had a great day! I actually spent all morning in the lab - now I know that might sound boring to some, but to me it was bliss (not as much bliss as still being in Haleakala, but bliss none the less!). No proposal writing, no dealing with stuff, just pure, unadulterated SEM time! 

Today (and the last few days) have been punctuated by kind emails and cards, special skype calls, personalized photo emails (from Lucy and Elise), facebook messages, and some wonderful gifts. I have no favorites, i've enjoyed all these birthday things, thank you to everyone for making a fun and special day! 

And I just heard that tomorrow is a Hawaii holiday - King Kamehameha day!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A weekend in Maui

Back from my Maui weekend and had a great time. Some amazing scenery, fun friends, awesome hikes and a great beach hotel find. Couldn't have asked for more. Here are the photos:-

Haleakala National Park. The cabin we stayed in (Kapalaoa) was a 5.8 mile hike down the Sliding Sands trail. This is taken from the top of the Sliding Sands Trail (at 9,740ft). The cabin is down at 7250ft and is behind that last 'hill' on the right hand side. Quite the hike down (and up!).

The girls - Alison, Jenna and I as we head down the dusty Sliding Sands Trail on Saturday afternoon. 

Our cabin. Can you spot it? 

Kapalaoa Cabin. Very cool place to stay - all you need bring is a sleeping bag, clothes and food. 12 padded beds inside (3-bed bunkbeds), long table and benches and even a kitchen with gas cooking stove and a wood stove for heat. Yes heat. Even though this is Hawaii, at 7000ft, it gets pretty chilly at night! 

The view from the cabin across the scrubland. Our cabin came with it's own set of Nene geese - the Hawaiian state bird and rare (only ~250 in the park itself). We even saw them fly!

Sunday - went for a short morning hike with Alison to see the Kaupo gap - that's it under the cloud of mist. There is another cabin and campsite in there somewhere! 

During another hike on the Halemauu Trail we saw lots of Silver Swords. These plants are only found in Haleakala crater living amongst the cinder cones, are very very rare and are actually in the Sunflower family. They're covered in tiny silver hairs to reflect the heat and survive in this very arid environment. 

I feel very lucky to have seen this - a Silver Sword in bloom. These plants take 50 years to mature, bloom just once and then die. We saw lots that were finished blooming and dying, lots too young for flowers, but just this one in flower. Amazing. 

On the Halemauu Trail. I found this trail amazing - in just 2 miles the terrain changes from green scrubland, to colourful cinder cones (above), to old lava flows (below) to completely spartan landscapes that looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. so diverse and beautiful, like nothing I have ever seen before. 

An old lava flow on the Halemauu trail. 

Sunday night, watching the sunset over the crater rim from in front of our cabin. Pondering Mondays climb back up the Sliding Sands trail and a little sad to leave the calm, quiet and beauty of the crater floor. 

Monday night - isn't this what everyone thinks of when they think of Hawaii? The sunset from the Kaanapali Beach Hotel (which comes with my highest recommendation for both price and atmosphere) while enjoying a "lava flow" cocktail and a hula show. A great way to end three days of hiking through the most amazing scenery. 

Today, after a morning of delicious breakfast, wandering and a whale museum in Kaanapali, we went over to Lahina for lunch and a little exploring around the town. I'm not sure of the story behind this ship, or how long it has been there, but it was right in the center of Lahina. 

A sad sight in Lahina, this 'sculpture' is made from a black coral skeleton. A paper came out recently from a similar species dating a large colony as over 4000 years old. 4000 years on the seafloor to be ripped up and become a dolphin statue. A fitting end to a long life? 

But certainly not enough to put a shadow on a fantastic long weekend. Thank you Alison and Jenna for joining me, i'd hike with you guys again any day! 

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Off to Maui!

About to head off to Maui for 3 days of low key hiking with Alison and Jenna - woo hoo! It's going to be so much fun! 

Unfortunately my earache hit and i've taken the first of my migraine pills this morning about 15 minutes ago, so far no effect, hopefully it'll kick in soon. It'll be a while before we get out to Maui and up Haleakala anyway, so it has time to die down, they never seem to last more than a few hours, but what timing huh......

Have a fun weekend! 

Friday, June 5, 2009


What a week - but it's friday and it's over! So here's the sum up - 
On Monday I had/thought - 
- 2 proposals to go in by friday
- only had salary until January
- been offered 2 months salary to teach undergrads but was potentially taken away
- to meet with the Dean to talk about my future

As of Today - 
- 2 proposals in (one at 4pm today!)
- had a great meeting with the dean who said "we'll figure this situation out" repeatedly
- have salary through Sept 2010 if I come down to 75% pay (which I am probably going to do, sucks, but if it's a way to get the work visa extended and a job, then I guess it's the way to go for a while)
- have a new (2nd hand serviced) microtome, a 20th century one that plugs in! 
- Still not sure on the teaching $$s, that should be resolved by next week - but now they've calculated my salary and been a little creative to get it to Sept, i'm not feeling the urgent need to teach undergrads so much - it would be fun, but now I don't feel I need it quite as badly as I did. 

Today was a great day! Submitted the final proposal, started writing a paper, had a hair cut, G&T and pizza with Jenny and Doug and even had little hannah fall asleep on my shoulder. Back home in time to pack for tomorrow and maybe even an early night! Even if it started more than a little stressed out, what a great day! 

Happy Weekend! 

Love it......

Just filling out the forms for a background check to become an official Red Cross volunteer, and this made me laugh. Apparently, if you are a resident of California, possession of cannabis doesn't count as a previous conviction, unless you were caught on school grounds. The differences in laws between states always amazes me, this one made me chuckle.....

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

This weeks training

Monday - rest
Tuesday - 5 miles
Wednesday - 3 miles
Thursday - 5 miles
Friday - rest
Saturday - head to Maui - hiking!
Sunday - Hiking!

Just got in from my 3 miles - in the rain! I'm glad it's cooled down a little, but rain, really?!? So, just ten days until 1/2 marathon! This week is manic too, I can't believe it's thursday tomorrow, that means these two proposals i've been working on have to be in in 2 days! Gulp! They're actually in pretty good shape, so i'm confident it'll work out. 

This week has been a stressful one salary wise too. I may have spoken too soon on the undergraduate teaching - "someone" complained that I was being offered salary to teach when a more senior person (who happens to be his wife) didn't get offered the teaching. Not that she either needs or wants it, but sometimes people just like to complain I guess. But it means that is up in the air, I was supposed to hear about it today, but have not. Yesterday I went and met with the Dean to talk about my future. As all Hawaii state employees are taking a pay hit to the tune of 14% (that includes the university), I wasn't hopeful that conversation would go well. Surprisingly it went way better than expected, no promises of anything and no definitive answers, but he was positive and said on several occasions he was confident we could work something out. So that was good, i'd feel better with something definite under my belt, but in this climate I guess that is the best I can get right now. My deadline to find salary to get my work visa renewed is September, so there is still some time, but it is weighing on me. 

And this weekend - it's off to Maui. I'm excited, it's going to be beautiful! I leave saturday morning, and come back tuesday evening. Three days of hiking and one night on the beach - yay! Just what the doctor ordered after proposal hell-week!