Saturday, January 31, 2009

On the road again....

I'm off to southern Chile and the Antarctic after a nice visit with Stian and family. I wish I knew where I packed my download cord, as I know I have some nice photos of Lala and Finn, but alas I think it's in my checked bags. Such is the way. So I'm sat in LAX, luckily in a nice first class lounge (which I now apparently get access to as I have accumulated so many miles!) which I have to say is not that much more fancy than the regular lounges, just more food and booze. Ah well, I say with a swig of my lunchtime G&T.....:0)

Thanks again guys for the quick stop! Next stop - Santiago then Punta Arenas for some hiking in Torres del Paine followed by a bloody long cruise.....

Thursday, January 29, 2009

California Academy of Sciences

Stian and I went to the California Academy of Sciences building in San Francisco today. They just opened the new building in September 2008 and raves to be possibly the greenest museum on the planet, so of course I was naturally intrigued to go there. It was a fun day and the museum was excellent, though it wasn't that big, there was lots to keep us occupied for the whole day and the displays were excellently done. 

The green roof over the CAS building, skylights peeping through. 

Inside there was a dome with a rainforest habitat in (along with birds and butterflies), surrounded by a coral reef tank that went down to the basement. 

From the basement looking up into the Rainforest habitat through the freshwater pool. 

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lucy Waller

Welcome to the world little Lucy Waller, 7lbs, 8oz born on the 27th January by c-section. 

Looking forward to being your crazy Aunt!

Okay - i'm off to the airport - first stop San Francisco - second stop Chile - third stop Antarctica and a lot of work and mud! 

From this:-

To this :-

Amazing! Thanks for the pictures Grant! 

Just in the nick.....

Baby Waller arrived in the night by c-section, baby and mamma are doing well and no name as yet. Yay! 

Monday, January 26, 2009

Free Shipping

Well, i'm not an auntie again yet (as far as I know) but I did get something nice in the mail today. One thing I have learned living here is to take advantage of free shipping where you can. Shipping charges can be horrendous here, so when I had to order some books for work and ordered through Amazon, I ordered a few extra items to fit in with the free shipping. 

One thing i've been looking forward to is these jugs - 2 Gelo jugs from Bormioli. I've been looking for a replacement ice-tea container since I broke my old one ~6 months ago, and rather than buy the same jar I had before I wanted something a little smaller, something more suitable for just me and a little tougher. So I found these online a while ago and had been looking everywhere for a set here, so when I found them on Amazon jumped at the chance to get them on free shipping. 

Nothing too special about them, just small (1L), compact, inexpensive, thick glass, and to be honest, I just really like the shape of them. So even though i'm not going to be able to use them for a while, it'll make me smile knowing they're here for me when I get back.....:0)

Hawaii.....

I made that all time mistake of trying to do something quickly again. Admittedly I did try and start it 3 weeks ago, but stupid me for thinking I could set up a bank to bank transfer with Bank of Hawaii in 3 weeks..........stupid me........it's always wonderful too when you get completely different answers on how to set up this "so hard you can't possibly set it up in less than 6 months" procedure by different employees, different managers even........

...BUT.....I could very well be an auntie again by the end of the day........!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Year of the Ox

Happy Chinese New Year! 

Here it's a big deal, lots of celebrations going on and I wouldn't be surprised if the sky turns into a repeat of New Years with all the fireworks again tonight. So I went searching to see what "Year of the Ox" really means. Year of the Ox is all about prosperity and fortitude, but gained by hard work, it's supposed to be a good year for farmers (especially cattle) and those who work hard will see the fruits of their labor. Babies born in the year of the Ox make great leaders, and are dependable, calm and modest, and can endure hardship without complaint. 

I was born in the Year of the Horse. Here is my description, does it ring true?

"The horse personality is often willing to give as well as expect a lot of liberty. These people are extremely independent and confident. The horse persona is very quick-witted, inquisitive and determined. They are very good at recognising patterns: she or he is on to the thought in your mind before you've expressed it. In general these people are gifted. They adore being the center of everyone's attention, but they prefer to be recognised for their skills and are easily flattered. On the other hand these people have an honesty and genuine warmth which attracts lots of people and helps them make new friends. People as a rule confide in a horse person because he/she is sincerely interested in their thoughts and feelings and is able to help with both wise words and action, but there is a small problem about it - the horse person is so excited by new discoveries that it is difficult for them to keep a secret. This is not something that arises out of malice or revenge - sometimes they just cannot help themselves."

"It is easy to inspire such a person by new ideas and he/she tends to act on them without delay, carried away by the excitement of the moment. But it is also important to remember that there is a danger for a horse person to be too impulsive and it may cause some problems in the future. And if they do not see the result of their efforts it is rather natural for them to turn their attention to a new project and head off once again, brimming with new ideas. The horse person is always ready to offer good advice and can be very persuasive, but his/her confident and carefree approach hides inner doubts. Those who know such a person will recognise this and offer the support and reassurance he/she needs."  

I am also an "Earth Horse", which gives me the qualities of "patience, practicality, thoughtfulness, hard work, stability, ambition, stubbornness and responsibility. The earth element is also nurturing and seeks to bring things together with itself in order to bring harmony, rootedness and stability." 

I am always a little surprised at how true some of these things can be, I guess I have a willingness to think there are some magic things out there that we can't always explain..... 

All info - Wikipedia Chinese Zodiacs

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A little bit of what you fancy.....

Homemade chunky chips (fries - fried in a mix of sunflower and sesame oil) with cranberry and cheese salad. Mmmmmmmm. I love chips and salad, balancing and yummy. Especially on a homemade plate, seems to make it taste even better! 

I'm still waiting......

......baby Waller is 1 week late now.......

Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Weekend!

Woo hoo! I was able to go down to the docks today and pick up my tubes, they are ALL intact, and they are actually the right ones (and are nowhere near 40lbs, so why they told me that I don't know). Phew (said with a long exasperated sigh). What is more, thanks to the aid of my trusty super student, they are all now labelled ready for the experiments onboard (thats 570 tubes labelled in under 2hrs, not bad!), AND (and this is the big 'and')..........I am actually packed science wise for this cruise, everything tucked away in their boxes, bubble-wrapped and hopefully to get to Antarctica in one piece. 

Woo Hoo, and a happy weekend to all!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

One of "those" days....

...oh yes indeed, I say with another sip of my beer. 

I discovered that my car talks to me today. It said "please top up my tires". It's a very clever car. The only problem is to say that the check engine light comes on and it sounds three very loud beeps when you start the car, scaring the bejesus out of you at 8 in the morning. But at least it was something simple. But the day really just went downhill from there. The usual stuff. And my special tubes I need for an experiment i'm running at sea are still not in my hands. 

Apparently they are on the island, but they don't want to deliver them until Tuesday, when i've already gone. Nice. Living on a 30 mile island you would have thought getting something once it actually reaches here would be easy. So after probably more than 2hrs on the phone to VWR and to UPS, they've agreed to try and unload that crate tomorrow, call me when it's unloaded and I can drive my cute little car down to the docks and pick it up. Little do they know whether they phone me or not, me and my cute little car are going down there to stand in their office until it's unpacked. Irritating, annoying little Brit scientist? In the words of Palin "You betcha!". 

Guess all that rush shipping was worth it, 3 weeks ago when I ordered them......better yet i'm told the package weighs 40lbs, which is interesting, since what I ordered should weigh about half that. So i'm hoping it's just packaged "really" well, and they didn't throw the wrong thing in the box, like they did last order I made with them....... 

Right Baby Waller......

......you are now 5 days late.......and i'm sure driving your mummy crazy.........any chance of making an appearance anytime soon? Preferably by the time I head south. If you could fit your birth in with your Aunts schedule, it would be most convenient. 

My brother sent me this, sure he won't mind me posting it. It's from a while back, but still cute. There she is! 

video

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Rhian is....

....wishing she hadn't signed up for Facebook after all, as it's proving addictive. Damn you Stian. 

Rhian is happy however that Raytheon travel finally got their shit together and she has flights to fly to Punta Arenas next tuesday, going via SFO. 

Rhian is disturbed however that she's leaving tuesday and doesn't have the major component of the big experiment she's running down on the ship. She has been assured that it will arrive here tomorrow at the latest. Otherwise, there is little point in Rhian going on the cruise. 

Rhian is realising she's talking more and more about herself in the third person, and entirely blames Facebook. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Bye Bye Bush.....

And hello Obama!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Diamondhead Volcano State Park

The hike, the view.....

...the people (Alison, Laura & me)

A better saturday could not be had. 

Geicko....


Fifteen minutes could see your desk covered in gecko poo.....

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Soft butter straight out the fridge........

I love real butter, but more often than not buy margarine (usually the olive oil kind) because there is nothing I hate more than hard lumps of butter on toasty warm bread. Well I bought some of that "spread from the fridge butter" a while back and while waiting for my bread to toast one day decided to read the ingredients. Butter and Canola Oil (my particular safeway bought one). So over the last few months i've been perfecting my own recipe....

1 cup of butter slightly melted in the microwave (until soft, not runny - though it's not a disaster if it's runny) and 8 tablespoons of olive oil (or any oil i'm betting but I like olive), mix in really well (slowly to stop air bubbles) and pour into butter container (i'm making myself a pottery crock for the purpose, but until then, the old butter container will do!). Leave to solidify in the fridge before using. 

Just perfect for a breakfast of homemade whole-wheat toast and silly (poached) eggs..... 

Now this works for Hawaii where it's a bit warmer, so melts quicker on exiting the fridge, so i'm guessing if it's cooler in your kitchen you might want more oil in there. Experiment, it all tastes good on toast (even if the first batch is a little hard!), and no need to buy the expensive stuff! 

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Diane........he he he........old lady......:0)

Friday, January 16, 2009

What sucks....

Well, amongst many things this week, one of the larger crappy things is that Stian is no longer going on this next cruise that i'm on, which just bites on so many levels. My feelings aside, the biggest deal is it sucks for him. He found out by accident that a raytheon f-up has left him with just one cruise between now and April, rather than the 2 he thought he had, and as he's paid per cruise, it's a big deal. Raytheon sucks just so you all know, this isn't the first time they've screwed him around, and (unfortunately) probably will not be the last. I think he should phone them up and swear down the phone. He is, of course, far more civil about it. He's great at his job, and it always bites when someone great gets screwed over so often, just feel like shaking them and telling them to fix it. He's also just about the only one I trust to keep everyone safe out there, so that sucks. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Weather day!

An email just went around work - everyone has been told to stay home tomorrow because of a high wind advisory - woo hoo weather day! Feels like being back in school again! 

Apparently we're in for 60-70 mile an hour gusts until tomorrow 6pm. It's a little blowy here but hasn't hit yet. Guess I should probably pull out that stock of candles and my camp stove again.....

No school tomorrow = a little something tonight, and a chance to test out my new goblets!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Shapes

If I had to choose one thing that has fascinated me most with pottery, it's exploring shapes of the most mundane of objects. Take bowls for instance. Even those bowls you use everyday can be a whole variety of shapes and sizes. I've been playing with the shapes and sizes of bowls, trying to find my own style, while getting a good amount of practice at throwing at the same time. The above is my collection of bowls, all beautiful to me, but all slightly different, and i'm trying to decide what my "signature" might be. 

A bulbous bowl on a small foot, with ridges on the side, versus a more conical bowl on a small foot, with an outward facing lip at the top. One large enough for a bowl of cereal in the morning, one small enough for a not too calorie loaded amount of desert. 

One bulbous and ridged, with an outward facing foot versus a triangular bowl with a straight lip. These are about the same size and can hold a lunch size amount of rice or noodles.

A "first piece thrown" wobbly bowl, small and triangular with an uneven top, and a large bulbous, low set bowl on a thick base with ridges at the bottom. One just perfect for two scoops of ice cream and sits nicely in the hands, the other thick set enough for cereal or chips ready for dipping. 

Which is your favourite? 

Mine, well I love them all, but especially my small purple wobbly bowl, the first piece I ever made and I use that the most. My signature bowl? Maybe the outward facing foot, but put on the nice outward lip of the first right, need to try that style next......

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Pile o' crap....

Just about sums up my day. On many accounts. I'm back in Hawaii, got back last night all in one piece. Needless to say Fairbanks today is a balmy 7F (-14C). Typical. 

Here is the one not sucky thing today. My pottery got fired while I was away. Well, this and getting to catch up with DDd


Sunday, January 11, 2009

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mushing!

Well, I both wiped out and rocked it! 

After an interesting start (I fell off and face planted in the snow in the first 5 minutes), it all went great after that point, I had so much fun! The day started with being hauled on my own sled behind my instructors and we rode for 5 miles around a field, then followed by having my own dog team of 5 and doing it by myself! It was beautiful, the long drawn-out sunset in the background, ten miles through forest and over a pond, truly a dream come true. 

Thats me and my team, led in the front by Fish (white) and Barfa (brown)

Excited pups ready for the off! 

Friday, January 9, 2009

At -45C......

At -45C - 
  • The shiny leather on your "smart" shoes cracks and peals off
  • The laminate on your fancy ultralight waterproof jacket cracks and delaminates
  • When you throw boiling water into the air it freezes before it hits the ground
  • Your lungs hurt when you take that first breath walking outside
  • You can't leave any electronics in the car or the battery will be ruined
  • The "smog" from cars freezes instantly on leaving the tailpipe, leaving something called "ice fog" sitting over the town (as there is no wind here, it doesn't go anywhere)
  • You can't leave your shampoo in the car for fear of explosion
  • Your iPod really doesn't like it
It's been a interesting few days of learning how to deal with the cold. The interview I think went okay, but i'm really not sure. To be honest i've never been sure when i've come out of an interview so that doesn't really mean anything. I've had fun though, and i've met some really nice people and have potentially met some collaborators for the future, and that's always a great thing. I'm also going mushing tomorrow........:0)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Fairbanks

Flying by Denali National Park and Mount Mckinley.......beautiful......

A moose bedding down in someones backyard.........

And the stunningly crisp and clear moon over the snowcapped trees. It's really pretty here, and really cold. Busy day yesterday and an even busier one today, have my talk this afternoon.......gulp......

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Tell me how.....

.....as I sit here in the airport someone with 2 skateboards just went
by.....how can you bring skateboards onboard but not crochet hooks?!?!?!

I'm off.....

It's warmed up to a positively balmy -30F (-34C) today, so wish me luck in Fairbanks! Don't forget to vote on my dog mushing experience before saturday! 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

2009 - Baby Steps

So what can I (and we) do in 2009 to improve both ourselves and the planet we live on? Many things in fact, and they don't have to be large giant leaps that you could potentially fail either. Small changes do make a difference, and so are worth the effort, you don't have to go "whole hog", and there's nothing that drives me more crazy than the attitude "all or nothing". If you do nothing, nothing will change.

"If every American home changed just one lightbulb to an EnergyStar qualified bulb, we would save enough energy to light 3 million homes, save $600 million and prevent the equivalent of 800,000 cars worth of greenhouse gas emissions" Just one bulb per house. 
US Environmental Protection Agency

If you can't afford to buy all local or all organic, even a few items do count, if you don't have the time to make 5 days worth of packed lunches a week, even 1 day does make a difference, and for your health a 30 minute walk is better than no walk, you don't have to try and run marathons right away.

So some of these things I have been starting and doing, but i'm going to continue and improve on in 2009, so i'm putting them out there again. Here are my baby steps for a better me and a better environment in 2009 - 

- Packed Lunches 
As many days as possible

It's new and gets good miles, but this little thing has been missing this last year, and i'll fix that this year. 

- No more buying soap (other than bulk buy Bronner's for travel/camping)
Making all my own this year - less packaging, less plastic, less bad ingredients. For the bulk buy I have a jug I take in to fill, so no extra packaging there. 

- No more buying shampoo
Making my own shampoo bars and giving that a try - less packaging, less plastic, less bad ingredients. I am using up what I already have, which may take a while to go down, but this gives me a chance to perfect my recipes. 

- Only buy biodegradeable and natural house cleaners
I mostly do this already, but need a good bleach alternative for those few times I need a small amount to de-mould tile grout - suggestions? I've never found a good natural cleaner for this, trying out a Seventh Generation shower cleaner now.  

- Spend less on gifts - make more gifts
I love giving gifts, at any time of year, just little things I often see and pick up that I think will make a certain person smile. Makes me smile when I see people open things. I don't want to give this up but I want (and need) to save some $$, so am going to try making more "things" rather than buying.

- Get more exercise
I've been doing well, with so much foreseen change this next year, I hope I can keep this up. My goal this year is to run a half marathon by the end of 2009. I'm not a runner, but I do see the health benefits of doing so, and unlike the gym or classes, it's free exercise, so i'm hoping this goal will help me come to an "understanding" with running. I have less ship time this year too, which I hope will help with this goal. 

- Buy less
I live in a tiny house, I don't need much and with a potential move on the horizon, I don't need to get any more "stuff" right now. This goes to food as well as things, make more at home spend less on groceries. Hawaii food prices are killing me right now. 

The Weather

I finished up my talk for the interview, so thats good, just need to practice it and potentially move a few things around. Gathering my gear for both the interview and for the dog mushing, having a problem finding "outer gloves", I only have "outer mittens" and apparently you need several layers of gloves instead. Needless to say Hawaii doesn't seem to have such things around, so it may be my first Alaska purchase. 

And now, as Kermit would say, here is the weather report for today.....

Honolulu, Hawaii  -   High 27C; Low 21C
Woods Hole, Massachusetts  -  High 1C; Low -1C
Berkeley, California  -   High 11C; Low 3C
London, Britain  -   High 3C; Low 2C
Punta Arenas, Chile  -   High 14C; Low 7C
Fairbanks, Alaska  -   High -41C; Low -44C

Yes folks, those minuses are in the right place......right at this moment it is -42C or thats -44F......apparently Fairbanks lives in that realm where Celcius and Fahrenheit converge......


Saturday, January 3, 2009

More procrastination.....

As I was lying in bed this morning contemplating my toasty cup of tea going cold, I decided to give making a mug cozy for my favourite mugs a try. The mugs (below) are beautiful handmade mugs from the Cape, lovely and round and large, and hold just the perfect amount of morning tea, yet I haven't made a cozy for them as they are a little more awkwardly shaped. Or so I thought. It took me 30 minutes to whip out the below and it fits perfectly! 


And I now have a mug cozy to match my new hat...so we can be seen in public together.....:0)

Now what am I procrastinating about this time I hear you ask? Well I'm headed to Fairbanks on tuesday for a job interview, at the University up there. It's a great sounding job and an excellent university, but it's 99% certain the job is for an internal candidate, so it's probably a bust. That said i'm still excited and stressed about the interview. I'm trying to make my talk and try and get ready to interview again, it's been 2 years since my last one (Hawaii), so i'm a little out of practice. I'm also trying not to get too attached to this job, either way it's good practice and I get to see a little of Alaska briefly, and I get to take a dog mushing lesson, which i'm totally excited about! 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Kaena Point Hike

What a fun way to spend a New Years day, a 5 mile roundtrip hike with the Watlings out to Kaena point - the westernmost point of Oahu. It was fun, and we got to see some breaching humpback whales and nesting albatross, as well as get very muddy! 

The trail - we started from the Haleiwa side, though this point can be got to either from the South or the North shore, on two different trails. 

Looking around the point to the South shore. 

Stopping for some snacks on the point in some shade. It wasn't too hot, but it did get muggy after a while. 

And one of the reasons to go, a nesting albatross up close. Beautiful. 

Happy New Year!

Well, we're in 2009, no going back now. My celebrations were low key, I had a lovely afternoon with Adam and Melissa at Ala Moana, having tea, chatting, wandering. Came back home, had a G&T or two, dinner, watched Shrek 2 on TV while doing some crochet, then the power went out at 9pm and didn't come back on until just after midnight (this time just our area rather than the whole island). 

It was really nice being at home, watched all the fireworks down the valley. Though I went to bed shortly after the power went out, you couldn't sleep through midnight here if you wanted too, just too many fireworks. There were so many at midnight there was a blanket of smoke all in the valley that even the rain couldn't compete with. Woken up to a very wet evening. 

It made me wonder, with so many fireworks going on on a small island, can you see all the fireworks from space, lighting up Hawaii like a Christmas tree on new years eve? They literally started at 8pm and didn't stop until well after 2am.......

The last sunset of 2008 down the valley. The rain held off and it was a beautiful one. 

As the power went out and the rain subsided more and more, the fireworks started

And this mornings damp and foggy sunrise.....but here it's quite plain to see....the end of the rainbow is Waikiki.....