Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Holy Crap!

Not too many posts i'll start with those words, but since those words were the first thing that came out of my mouth when I had an email come in this afternoon, it's probably a good place to start.

I just took on my first Ph.D. student.....from scratch!

Now i've advised many graduate students over the years, helped many in the lab, given advice on projects and jobs, even helped a few graduate, but this will be the first one i've hired from the very beginning on one of my projects. We've be chatting over the last few weeks, and she had offers from other schools, so to be honest I didn't really think she'd choose to come, and I wasn't really trying very hard to encourage her either - for no other reason than this particular project doesn't start until later in the year, so it's not urgent for me to take someone. But I just got an email saying she's declined her other offers and really wants to come.

And at that very moment I felt both excited and scared at the same time. I'm now responsible for this person for the next 5-6 years. Her salary, her education, her future in science. It's hard enough to predict my future in science at this point in time, let alone take on a student, but to be honest, this is the next step for me, and I can't put it off any longer. It'll either work out or it won't.....

Either way....holy crap......i'm an adult!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Happy Birthday little H!

Wowsers, is it really one year already? Hard to believe a year ago today I got the call from your Aunty Mary that you were being born. Such a big and busy girl you are now! Happy 1st Birthday little Hannah, though it makes me miss seeing my little niece and nephew, I feel so lucky i've got to see you grow this last year! You have such wonderful parents, so a big congratulations to Jenny and Doug too on their first year as a family of 3!

Your big toothy grin!

Your climbing abilities that seem to start from just a few weeks old!

Your sense of adventure, always something to discover!

No moving sand can get in your way.

Your new found snugginess, even if not too impressed by your mommy and me making you swim...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Earth Hour

What did you do for Earth Hour today? Quiet one here, just some candlelight crochet and relaxation.
I love this Candlestick, from a small pottery in St Neots in Cornwall, UK. I bought this the year before I started my undergraduate in Aberystwyth, brings back memories of a get-away to Cornwall with some Bath and South African friends.

My candle gathering, plenty of light for some crochet.

I love candles.

The aftermath. This candlestick holder is one I made myself.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Turn off your lights - Saturday 8.30pm Local Time!

On Earth Hour hundreds of millions of people around the world will come together to call for action on climate change by doing something quite simple—turning off their lights for one hour. The movement symbolizes that by working together, each of us can make a positive impact in this fight, protecting our future and that of future generations.

This year's Earth Hour is on Saturday at 8.30pm.

To find out more about Earth Hour - click here

To see a video of Earth Hour - click here

In 2009, hundreds of millions of people in 4100 cities in 80 countries across the globe took part in Earth Hour. Last year, 80 million Americans and 318 U.S. cities officially voted for action with their light switch, joining iconic landmarks from around the world that went dark for Earth Hour, including:

Empire State Building
Brooklyn Bridge
Broadway Theater Marquees
Las Vegas Strip
United Nations Headquarters
Golden Gate Bridge
Seattle’s Space Needle
Church of Latter-Day Saints Temple
Gateway Arch in St. Louis
Great Pyramids of Giza
Acropolis and Parthenon in Athens
Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro
St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City
Big Ben and Houses of Parliament in London
Elysee Palace and Eiffel Tower in Paris
Beijing’s Birds Nest and Water Cube
Symphony of Lights in Hong Kong
Sydney’s Opera House

This little 300sq foot apartment will be using no electricity for an hour tomorrow evening, will your abode?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A trip around the island.

Today was a fun day, I took my first real furlough day (officially we're furloughed all week, though you wouldn't know it by looking in my building!) and took my friends Cheryl (who is staying with me) and Liz (who is sitting with the SEA boat in port) around the island!

First stop, the Pali overlook. Known as the windiest place on the island, and with good cause. Cheryl looks pretty under control, I had to hold down my t-shirt!

Black rocks, a very windy day all around the island, very choppy waves today.

Just past Sandys beach we saw an (endangered) monk seal!

Liz and I with the Monk seal in the background.

Eating Macadamia nuts from trees on the beach.

Stopping at a shrimp shack for lunch.......yum! Fresh caught this morning!

The carnage!

Stopping at Shark's cove for a wade.

Rainbows over the pineapple plantation......

And.....well......we had fun......:0)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day

There's a good chance you may not have heard of this day, but today is Ada Lovelace Day. This day is an "international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in science and technology".

Ada Lovelace was one of the first computer programmers (not just the first women, one of the first). While everyone else planned to use the (never built at that time) "analytical engines" for basic maths, Ada wrote an algorithm to use the machine to calculate bernoulli numbers, making her the first computer programmer, though way before her time.

So what to write for this day, it's a hard one, because looking back there were really no women scientists who directly affected my past - in Aberystwyth where I did my undergrad there were no female scientists teaching the Marine and Freshwater biology program, and in Southampton i'm having trouble putting my finger on any who I worked with or even around. The European consortium I did my PhD under just had a handful of female sediment biologists. I guess it's not really something i've thought or dwelled much on, i'm not a fan of this talk of sexism in science, not that I think it doesn't exist and haven't experienced it myself (one particular Antarctic cruise will go nameless), I just feel that much more than half of the time it's brought up as an excuse for someone not doing well rather than something in reality, so it makes it hard to tease out. It's an attitude i've unfortunately met often with some women in science, and one that I don't think has done those particular people any favors. Certainly the women I see around me who have done well in the careers (and lives) are not the ones to sit back and blame sexism for this that and the other. I also know far more men who haven't made it past their PhD or postdocs in marine science than I do women.

But getting off that subject, this day is to celebrate those women in science and technology. Women like Caroline Mikkelsen, the first woman to the Antarctic in 1935; Christine Muller-Swartz, the first woman to do science in the Antarctic in 1969; Ruth Turner, the first woman to use Alvin; Cindy Van Dover, the first (and only) woman Alvin pilot and Slyvia Earl, a National Geographic Explorer in residence and someone who has brought the marine world into peoples homes for many tens of years. There are many women back in history who have turned the tides of marine science, particularly marine biology. Do I think women are overlooked, sometimes, but mainly I think we just don't like to shout about our science as much as the boys do, and that personally works for me.....:0)

This page here is a wonderful compilation of women in marine science.

Instead of naming the colleagues I have now, i'll just say this post is dedicated to the, thankfully large, handful of women who I work with, and thoroughly enjoy doing so!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Daily Mile

You might have noticed some new additions to my sidebar. I've just joined this site called the Daily Mile. It's basically a site that I can upload my workouts and interact with friends also doing workouts and trying to get to a fitness goal, be it walking around the block to running a marathon. I like it so far, it's keeping me motivated to go out and do so I can post up on there.

The three widgets i've uploaded have - how many total miles i've moved (since getting my Nike +, which was in Aug last year), what races i'm signed up to do, and how many donuts i've earned in the last month (I particularly like that last one....:0).

Some other stats this great website gives me - since using my Nike +, I have......

Run, swum and cycled 301.12 miles
Spent 61.14 hours training
Burnt 9 lbs of fat
Travelled 0.01% around the world
Powered 27.4 TVs
Burnt 174.40 donuts

Pretty cool huh.....:0)


"Running is cheaper than therapy"

....I kind of like that one. Only get the irony in this. Reason #11 I might be getting more migraines......exercise induced. Now that would really be a bummer if that one is a real reason.....

A friend from Antarctica is stopping over on her way back to the East Coast tomorrow for 3 days, so the exercise may well drop off this week. Oh well, might be time to eat some of those donuts I've earned.....

Monday, March 22, 2010

World Water Day

Funny World Water Day would fall on the first day since i've been back that it didn't rain in Manoa overnight and I might well have to go and water my plants.

Today is World Water Day with this years motto of "Clean Water for a Healthy World". One in six people do not have access to clean water, sanitation or adequate water sources - just 20-50 litres per day is all that is needed for someone to stay healthy. To put that into perspective the average American can use 400 litres per day.

I watched the movie Blue Gold a while back, and it was a very informative look at water and how though it should be, it isn't, a basic human right in even some first world countries.

So what can you do to help the supply of clean water? Here are some things from the World Water Day website...

- Sweep, don't hose driveways, sidewalks, gutters and patios
- Direct rainwater to gardens and lawns or into rainwater collectors
- Pick up after your pet
- Dispose of household chemicals correctly at waste disposal plants, not down the drain
- Check cars for fluid leaks
- Don't flush garbage down the toilet
- Don't litter
- Avoid using fertilizers and pesticides on plants and lawns
- Compost

Every year 2 million tons of sewage, industrial and agricultural waste is dumped into the worlds water supplies. Infectious diseases from water are the number one killer of Children under five years old, and more people die from unsafe water annually than from all forms of violence and war. Clean water should be a basic human right, help is needed on both a local and global scale to help provide clean water to all.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Don't you just love Sundays when....

It's a beautifully sunny day so you go to the beach.....

The water is cold, but a beautiful colour.......

You spend time with good friends and get some (sandy) kiddy snuggles.......

You go out to your Papaya tree and discover......

Your first papaya fruit!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy Friday!

Certainly for this wee turtle, what a great story for the start of a weekend. Message from the Research Vessel Atlantis working in the Pacific on the Galapagos Spreading Center -

Atlantis on station , position 02-36'N, 094-52'W, in the EEZ of
galapagos for Atlantis cruise 15-63 (Sinton) Alvin dive #4593 in

Captain walking on deck sees something floating in the distance. Color
is yellow @ 1000 meters away, asks Alvin "top lab" in communication with
the submersible, for permission to investigate.

Object turns out to be an illegal fishing longline. Tangled in the mess
is a sea turtle.

Deck crew frees turtle,
turtle swims off.

photos by Rod Catanach.

Best regards,
AD (Captain)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

10 reasons I may get migraines...

1) I'm female
2) I'm over 30
3) I eat too much cheese
4) I eat too much chocolate (though i'll argue there is no such thing as too much)
5) stress
6) Changes in air pressure (of which there have been many the last few weeks)
7) Not drinking enough water
8) I drink too much coffee
9) I don't get enough sleep
10) I had lost my reading glasses (and just got a new pair)

There are probably a dozen more reasons that could be contributing too. Which one is the reason lately i'm not sure. Stress is certainly meant to play a part, but to be honest, it hasn't corresponded well, and i'm not as stressed as I have been before. I still find it weird it being an earache rather than a headache, but everything else I get certainly seems to fall into place. I did read about something similar - so migraines are caused by blood vessels enlarging, usually the temporal artery which causes a headache - but mine might be the carotid enlarging, causing ear and neck ache.

So what the reasons are I have no idea, but this month has not been fun - the last 3 days i've had 4 - or as a friend put it, maybe it's just one long one that is relieved for a while then comes back full force. But compared to this time last year, I am way happier with things, because this time last year they were getting worse, i'd seen 8 doctors, no one knew what they were and everyone seemed to blow me off. So i'm happy to know it's migraines, and i'm happy there are things I can do to make them better, even if it's going to take a while to find the right things!

ps.....the picture is a coral mucus cell...nothing to do with a migraine. I just was looking through these pictures today and reminded how much fun I have when I do microscopy!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I might not be a doormat anymore, but boy, can I have a redo on this week?

The story - i've been working on an exciting SEA project with a friend - trying to organize a program for UH students to go out on the boat for a month to experience something they would never have the opportunity to do otherwise. The issue has always been that I need salary to be able to do it, and i've been given the royal run around by a friend of mine, that has been more than a little stressful. I was very up front about needing salary (6 months ago - when this all began), yet totally out of the blue, she put me in a really bad position several months ago, announcing one day (as I was working on the project) that they money she wanted wasn't coming in and I would have to "work for free". Not asking, mind you, just announcing, almost as an afterthought.

This left me stumped. As 100% research funded i'm used to being bled dry, people are always trying it on, I just didn't expect it from this avenue. So I was firm, and she kept saying she was trying, but it was becoming clear that salary was not forthcoming. While I was in Canada I finally nailed it down, and she said she wasn't pursing funding for me anymore, so I said I wasn't involved anymore - no hard feelings, that's just how it goes, you win some, you loose some, it's just important to cut bait before it becomes too much and you invest too much time in it.

But when I got back the pressure was back on for me to work on this, I was asked again last week to be a part of it (when all the student applications came in), yet again, though there was the hope of salary, there was no commitment being made. I swear i've lost years off my life in stress alone in this, as whenever i brought it up, a big deal would be made of it, blowing it out of proportion and myself made to feel guilty or like I was pushing for something the other (tenured - ie - funded) faculty weren't getting. I hate talking about needing money, it was so hard to bring it up 6 months ago when we started putting this project together, but I did, because I knew I couldn't do it without. We're talking about a 6 week project, with all the run up too that would be needed. I don't have 6 wks of salary period, let alone 6wks spare to use on an unfunded project!

Yesterday we had a meeting of the faculty involved and it became clear both from that meeting and from emails that it would be a while until we knew if I would have salary. But I can't wait for an answer - unfortunately I have an interview in Maine, a work visa renewal and an important conference all in the same time period that I should deal with if I am not going on this cruise, and so travel plans need to be made for those now (as in last week!). As much as I would love to do it, I can't keep that time period open just in case.

So finally today, I got a firm answer - she was not prepared to definitely allot salary to me at this time point. As sad as I am not to do it, I am relieved, I got to the point last night where I didn't care what the answer was, I just didn't want to be run around anymore. I think what got me was a comment one of the other faculty made yesterday that made me think that my friend had said to them before that she would make me do it for free. So i'm not sure where I went wrong, where did I give off this impression that I would be able to do this without salary?

So that's what i've been dealing with this last few weeks. I think what has really upset me is the avenue it came from. This is a friend (and still is) who i've lamented with often over other people doing just this to me, someone who has been very pro me standing up for myself against those people, someone who knows my financial and work position, so I just don't get it...?? I guess the lesson here is you have to be careful with everyone, even your friends, which just makes me sad, and even more determined than ever to be careful how I treat people. I feel good because I stood by what I needed to, I just don't feel good because it dragged on, makes me feel guilty and was just way more stressful than it ever should be (admittedly not from my own doing, but regardless...). I'm hoping we're still friends, I really can't harbor hard feelings, I just know where i stand with work things now.

So reasons I want a redo on this week -

1) the above
2) my -80C freezer (with many $K of samples in) went down this morning. Luckily all samples saved and squirreled away in various freezers around the building, but I won't know until tomorrow if the $10K freezer is toast. Ug.
3) Three migraines in 2 days! So not happy, but I have discovered ice helps, which is something positive.

I thought 32 was supposed to be my "lucky year" when is that going to start?? Hope you're all having a better one.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


My motto for the week. "I am not a doormat". Breath and repeat. Thank you to my great friend Dave for reminding me of this and making me face the fact that i let myself be one all too often. A wonderful day all around (from swimming with Jenny and Hannah, to a roam around the north shore with Dave), ready to face the, what I know will be, harsh week ahead.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Thank goodness it's the weekend. And today I have done no work. I was debating just starting, but I think i'll watch an episode of "Dead Like Me" on netflix instead and fall asleep. Tomorrow will probably involve work, but that's okay, i'm swimming with Jenny in the AM and in the afternoon i'm showing a friend who just got off a research boat around Hawaii - I think i'll take him up to see the turtles in Haleiwa.

So today I have had a wonderful day. This morning I met Laura at the university gym and spent an hour and a half there, that was nice. We then went and had lunch and had a wander around the outlet mall (I didn't get anything) and a general catch up. Then headed home and actually had a snooze on the couch for nearly an hour! Got up, had some dinner and then wandered down to the gym i've been trying out and did another hour on the treadmill. I've actually really been enjoying this gym more than I thought I would. I still think it's a pain in the butt to get to and am not impressed at having to pay for parking, but i'm always amazed at just how much better I feel, mentally and physically, when i've taken the time to work out. This week has been a bear for various reasons, but being able to work out the frustrations has really helped. I have come to an understanding with running, but it's been really nice to use the weights machines, the rowing machines, the bikes etc., more to keep me interested. So we'll see.

My plan is to use the uni gym in the evenings next week for comparison and make a decision. I'm not rushing into it. But this week has really reminded me that I need to invest in my health, makes it easier to cope with life's ups and downs.

And the photo? I've not had my camera out today, so this is a dredge from the archives - this is 2000m down on the New England Seamounts - in the middle of the North Atlantic. Lots of deep-water corals down there, like something out of Dr Seuss sometimes.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Busy Busy

Time is just flying by. I was looking forward to this morning as I had literally nothing on until 1pm, so was planning to catch up with writing papers. However I then realised it's just 3 weeks until I start teaching again (graduate level benthic biology - a new course to me) so I decided to start my first lecture. It was only a few months ago, but wow i'd forgotten how long it takes to write lectures, I didn't even get half way through my first one!

It's hard to believe it's friday already. This week i've interviewed two undergrads, one lab technician and three graduate students. All seems to have to happen in one week. One undergrad is now volunteering in the lab, the lab tech i'll take on one day a week for a while and see how she gets on. The grad students were all nice, but will have to wait and see, I don't have any funds, so it's a little hard to contemplate taking a student on right now.

On top of all that, this week i've been trying out a gym, one of the 24hr fitness places. They had a free 7 day pass, so I signed up and had my orientation on Monday. I think unless they do me a really good deal, I won't sign up at the end of it. The time works well for me, i've been going at 8pm for an hour or so and that's been super nice not having to try and fit it in before work. It's really the fact it's not on my doorstep, I have to pay for parking and is just super large and a little overwhelming that will stop me signing up. I also just saw our (free) university gym is now open until 10.30pm, so maybe i'll just try going there in the evenings and see how that is - the place is usually (too) busy, so i'm interested to see how it is in the evenings. The price is certainly right!

Monday, March 8, 2010


Exhausted! I feel like I need another 24hrs in this day just to get everything done. It's 10.43pm and i'm not finished with a document I need to send off tonight. I'm taking a toast and honey (homemade honey from Cornwall!) break and will then get back at it, hopefully just word tidying to go!

The day just whipped past me, I had an 8am meeting with a grad student to show her round some histology, then i had a catch up lunch with a colleague, then it was a faculty meeting, then I sat at my computer for an hour, then it was 6pm already and I had an appointment with a gym for an orientation! Now, i'm exhausted! Luckily tomorrow a lie in as I have to hit the postoffice and bank on the way in and they don't open until 8.30am. I've always been a morning person, but even I find it depressing that sleeping in until 7am is a lie in these days......:0)

When I got back from Thunder Bay I have to say I thought the weather would be overwhelming. But it's been quite the opposite, windy, wet and cool (I'm not going to say cold). I'm sat in socks, sweat pants and a sweater, and i've been sleeping under my duvet (which hasn't appeared since I left Cape Cod 2 years ago!). I'm ready for it to warm up, even if I had had the weekend to play with, it really hasn't been beach weather at all. Lots of good rainbows though, I need to remember to take my camera in the car, the one above is from my phone.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Bye bye ABE

Bye bye ABE. What a sad day. I just got an email from some friends out on the Melville, doing science off the coast of Chile, looking for hydrothermal vents on the seafloor. They were using ABE - the Autonomous Benthic Explorer. ABE is an AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) - meaning it's a very very clever robot, that you put over the side without a tether and it goes off and runs a program underwater, like mapping an area at a certain depth above the bottom for Xhrs, or taking photos or measurements, and when it's done it sends a signal and comes up to the surface for you to pick it up again. It was really the first of it's kind, developed in Woods Hole by dear friends, and something i've used now and then.

I just got an email saying that ABE was lost at sea yesterday. It had just started its survey at 3000m when everything went dead. They're not sure what happened, and probably never will be, but the best guess at the moment is one of it's glass flotation spheres (contained in the red floats) imploded at depth (at the great pressures that are down in the deep-sea), setting off the other spheres to also implode. Without any floatation it could never come back to the surface to be collected. They lost signal with it too, meaning when it happened, it likely took out all the electronics. A glass sphere imploding would be something like a few sticks of dynamite going off, so alas ABE is probably in many pieces at 3000m on the seafloor.

Loosing science equipment at sea is something that happens occasionally - if you throw something over the side into the bumpy ocean, especially without a rope, you have to expect to be lucky to get it back. It's certainly something that's happened to me before. But ABE was really like an old friend, though he was replaced last year by SENTRY at Woods Hole, he was dusted off for this cruise as there is so much demand for this technology right now, and there are so few of these AUVs in the world. And now ABE sits, at the bottom of the ocean by Chile. Here is part of an email I got today.

By Al Bradley, inventor of ABE

The Autonomous Benthic Explorer

Under the wide and restless sea,
Lies my grave, now let me be;
Glad did I work and now I rest,
Now by deadlines no longer stressed.
And I lay me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me;
"Here lies ABE where it longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home to the sea,
Here it rests, now let it be."

(Thanks to Robert Louis Stevenson)

Two weeks already?

I've not been so good at updating the blog recently, I will try harder. I've been back 2 weeks now and it's certainly been an interesting couple of weeks (what with the tsunami and all). Not too much exciting has happened though, just the usual work stuff. I've also had 6 (knockout) migraines since I got back which I am totally unimpressed with (I only had 1 while in Canada, and a relatively minor one). I did go and see my nice migraine doctor on thursday though and have another handful of drugs to try (Imitrex works ~50% of the time, which i'm pretty happy with, but there are others to try too). I've also lost my reading glasses, which has been a real pest. It does tell me just how much I need them these days though, so that's rather depressing. So combined with the migraines, my laptop has probably had more of a break than it's had in a while!

Early this morning though I did do a 10K with my friend (and landlady!) Alison. 6.2 miles around Diamondhead. She did the Aloha run (8 miles!) while I was away, so wants to keep it up, and it's about time I get my butt back into gear! It was really fun, 2000 women all out there, from the really fit to walkers and strollers and everything inbetween. We did great - 1.5hrs! A good start to the day, the rest of my sunday is cleaning the house, laundry and errands, but my friend Laura is coming back this evening from Antarctica, i'm excited about that!

The before.....!
The after.....!
Instead of medals they gave us roses as we crossed the finish line - I can't remember the last time I was given a rose!