Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lab Productivity

This week one of the grad students and postdocs who works in my lab is going histology crazy trying to get her stuff finished, and one of the undergrads who works with me is helping them out, so it's been a busy time in the lab this week, and next week. But I love it, it's great to see some lab productivity happening! I'd like to point out my fancy microtome by the way (the machine they're working on), sweated blood for that one....

The meaning of life....well, the meaning of my lab anyway.....coral gonads! Basically in my lab we look at how animals reproduce, these are shallow water corals, but primarily we work with deep sea animals. We take pieces of reproductive tissue, mount them in wax blocks then slice them really thinly (5 microns!) and mount them up on slides. We can then use lots of fancy stains to bring out different types of tissues - we use purple (of course), red and green to bring out the reproductive tissues. Through this we can see when, how and how much they are reproducing. And as reproduction is a good sign on a healthy population, we can use that to see how corals under stress are doing. So the above is just a small subset of the thousands of slides my lab produces every month.

The team, covered in wax and a little delirious I think.....

I'm going to miss my labbies when I leave, Jackie (right) has been there since the beginning and will graduate with her PhD in the spring, so I have to come back to Hawaii to do her exam, good excuse to come back to the sunshine. Laeticia is a postdoc who has been doing some histology here and there, she just landed a fabulous job in France, well done Laeticia! 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It's one of those weeks i'm barely having time to sleep, so it may be a while before anything meaning goes up here. I have two proposals to finish up before I go. Scrap that, I have one proposal to finish up, and one to start and finish up before I go. Add in the normal mix of papers to review, students to help, meetings, dive course to finish sunday and everything else that goes along with "doing science" and I'm pooped. My brain didn't turn off enough to sleep until 1am last night, and then woke right back up again at 5am. But the 19th August is creeping up, and that is when i'm out of here, off to Alaska and going kayaking for 7 days before doing some really fun projects for 3 weeks, so if I only sleep every other day to get it done before I go, i'm not going to complain, it'll be worth it.

Stand back, i'm going to DO science!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Never too young to learn to drive

Little Hannah takes a spin in Beach Belle. Looks like a manual is going to be no problem for this wee one.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Advanced Open Water

Today I took part 1 of my advanced open water diving course that I need to go to Alaska with. Was really fun, no problem at all and all signed off on. Part 2, the final part, next sunday, so tomorrow is a day in the office for me, blah. Nina, my instructor, had a camera, and actually took photos which was awesome!
An afternoon of diving means I don't have to go to the office....yay! 
Lots and lots of fish! 
Terracota Warrior went to Hawaii for holiday.
Saying hi to the Budda
Nudibranchs....otherwise known as Sea Slugs. So pretty! 
And Budda, with strategically placed urchin...

Friday, July 23, 2010

Going on a Fashion Diet

Love this article - long live shrinking wardrobes!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Back to Hawaii....for a few weeks...

I'm back in Hawaii, for a little longer this time, 5 weeks. Then it's off to Alaska. Yikes, better start thinking about that trip sometime soon! The meetings were buys but hopefully fruitful, only the next few weeks will tell. It was good to meet the NSF program managers, these are the folks that help decide the fate of my proposals, so it was good to chat and get their recommendations, and I caught up with some familiar faces who just so happened to be there too.

On the last afternoon (yesterday) my friend Kathy and I worked on a paper for a few hours after the meeting, then headed for the whirlwind tour of downtown DC. It was hot hot hot, but it was awesome to see just about everything I wanted to see, even a quick stop in the Natural History Museum.

The White House, which actually was white..
Loved this. This is the White House Kitchen Garden, looks like they've got quite a good bounty this year!
The Lincoln Memorial. We did a good walking tour of many of the monuments and memorials, everything is pretty close together in DC which was nice as we had really limited time in the afternoon.
The Washington Monument as seen from the reflecting pool at Abe Lincoln's feet.
The Washington Monument on a beautifully sunny afternoon.
Cosmopolitans and oysters with Kathy, does it get much better, and much more DC, than that?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

In Washington DC

Well, i'm in the Nations Capital, Washington DC. A day early than planned. Interesting story that includes me not checking my ticket that I thought had me flying out friday, until tuesday, and discovering I actually was booked for Thursday. Good thing I checked. But luckily my friend Diane was still willing to put up with me a day longer than planned and took me in for a friday of pretty much R&R&REI. Well, you know how much I love an outdoor store....:0)

I'm here for meetings next week then fly back next thursday, so it's really a fleeting visit, but planned to stop by the Adams family to catch up and meet the very cute kiddos Dahlia and Davin for the weekend. Today we had a fantastic day, we went past the Capitol Building, went into the botanical gardens, had lunch on the Mall and even stopped by the Air and Space museum and saw an awesome exhibition on planet pictures.  It's super hot and humid out, but today was the perfect mix of inside and out. This week some of us at the meeting have plans to see some of the sites by night, when it's a little cooler and all lit up. There is so much to see here as i'm just discovering, unfortunately I had no time to do research on DC before I left and I really wish I had.

Some pics from today -  

The Capitol Building. As this foreigner had to be told, this is where the US "parliament", otherwise known as the House of Representatives and the Senate, happens. Very grand.  Diane also told me that no building in DC can be taller than the lady of freedom on top of the dome. One thing I had noticed flying into DC is the lack of giant wads of skyscrapers, it makes the city quite beautiful without them. 

The Washington Monument at the end of the National Mall, always see this in movies.....:0) Despite this picture it wasn't a gray day, it was quite bright and beautiful, must have been the haze on top of the hill. 

The Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Was a lot of fun! 

And a hot dog picnic on the Mall. Yum! 

Thursday, July 15, 2010

You grew up as an expat in the middle east if....

Found this on the internet, thought it was fun....and surprisingly accurate on most accounts, particularly #1, for those who have ever had that conversation with me.....:0)

  • You can't answer the question, "Where are you from?" (And when you do, you get into an elaborate conversation that gets everyone confused)
  • You flew before you could walk.
  • You have a passport, but no driver's license.
  • You think California is cold.
  • You watch National Geographic specials and recognize someone.
  • You run into someone you know at every airport.
  • Conversations with friends take place at 6:00 in the morning or 10:00 at night.
  • Your life story uses the phrase "Then we went to..." five times.
  • You can speak with authority about the quality of various international airlines.
  • You feel self conscious around white people.
  • You get offended when someone turns down an offer for food.
  • You treasure pork and root beer as highly-valued commodities.
  • You have ever had to wait for prayer call to be over to finish shopping.
  • You are fascinated by any wildlife bigger than a gecko.
  • You know that it truly is a small world.
  • You have ever gone to the "hammam" or endured a "shamal."
  • You get all the jokes in Aladdin.
  • Rain is still one of the most wonderful sounds in the world.
  • You haggle with the checkout clerk for a lower price.
  • Your wardrobe can only handle two seasons: hot and warm.
  • Your school memories include duck-and-cover drills.
  • You are used to being stared at.
  • You think VISA is a document stamped in your passport, and not a plastic card you carry in your wallet.
  • You call a chicken burrito a "shwarma."
  • Your dorm room/apartment/living room looks a little like a museum with all the "exotic" things you have around.
  • You've heard of "hubbly bubbly."
  • You have sat in a "men's" or "women's" section in an airport, hospital, or restaurant.
  • You know the geography of the rest of the world, but you don't know the geography of your own country.
  • Your best friends are from 5 different countries.
  • You have never spent a summer with your friends from high school because you all go back to your home town/state/country June - August
  • Camping involves duning, getting stuck, and counting how many camels you saw.
  • A sports tournament involves flying to another country in the Middle East.
  • You remember when the first McDonalds in your country had its grand opening.
  • You got days off school for Christian and Muslim holidays.
  • Not being able to eat in public during the day during the holy month of Ramadan.
  • Traveling home required buying candy, CDs, and Abercrombie and Fitch clothing for your friends back overseas.
  • You are used to giving directions according to landmarks, not street names.
  • It's normal to wake up and have four or more Pakistani men fixing your AC.
  • You are used to seeing Arabic commercials dubbed in British English about Lux soap, Carnation condensed milk and Dove shampoo.
  • Seeing police drive on the shoulder of the road and cut people is not unusual.
  • You know someone is referring to Pepsi when they say "Bebzi".
  • Having a walled in, cement house is standard.
  • Ford Explorer sized cars seem small compared to Toyota Land Cruisers and Nissan Patrols

Monday, July 12, 2010

A slight whinge....

Okay, so one of the things I will NOT miss about Hawaii. How darn expensive it is here. In everything. I just went to get some prescription inhalers, and bam, i'm down $60. For 2 inhalers. It's the first time i've tried to get them here in Hawaii (I usually try for the UK as they're cheaper there, but I have got them before in MA and they were ~$40 for the same). Turns out they don't do generics of either of my inhalers at the major pharmacy in Hawaii. Ish! Its 9pm and I have no idea where the next different pharmacy is around here and to be honest just do not have the time to search right now so I bit it this time, but man, it's going to be a big search before I get that refill, $60 no way! Even if I have to not breathe between now and Maine. Well okay, that's a little far, but you get how pissed off I am at this right now. 

So that's my whinge over. On the other side you do get some great oddities here, though admittedly this might be all around the US. Check out some of the great store items i've found in the last couple of days.  

For the child who wants to work in a abattoir....

...and those who want to learn to eat healthy. The best bit about this one is that it's advertised as environmentally friendly wooden toys. Can't toys be environmentally and health friendly at the same time? Is this really where the BPA crisis has lead us......wooden donuts??

And for all those purple people like myself, rest assured you are calming, relaxing and focused. Not to mention Superliminal.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Super Sunday

What a great way to end a weekend, it's an afternoon like today that I will sorely miss when I move from Hawaii. At 5pm I went on my long run of the week - 7 miles - around Diamond Head volcano and Kapiolani Park. Doug is away in San Diego this week, so Jenny and little Hannah came down to meet me at the end of the run for a swim and picnic on the beach. It was perfect. The water was warm, Hannah had a blast, the sunset beautiful, and the healthy picnic fantastic. It really was perfect. Thanks so much Jenny and Hannah! I hope we fit in a whole lot more of these days before I go. 

I LOVE how this photo came out. It really captures the glee Hannah had in running in and out of the surf with mamma. She is really enjoying the water these days, and just loves running in and out up to her knees.

She found a stick on the beach so set about digging up some holes, while I got to cool off after my run.

The beach is so much fun!

And the picnic was just perfect.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Evolution of My Running

In shoes!!!! Well, I am a girl after all....:0) To the right, my first ever running shoes, in which I ran my first ever half marathon. Though I didn't really like that they were pink, thy did me well. Up until shin splints that is. In the middle are the pair I did my first marathon in. Still going well, though showing the signs of wear. And on the left, my brand new running shoes. Same type as the middle (Nike Structure Triax+), I love them and no shin splints since doing the swop, so i'm sold. These are the shoes I will do my second marathon in.

Yup, I signed up for round two, one of the last things I will do in Hawaii is run the Honolulu marathon, again. The shoes are a little early, but they were half price, so snuck in while I could, and I know my old ones won't stand up to a second marathon, so will need to get them sometime. I would say I hope for a better time, but with my away time coming up, alongside moving and teaching this fall, i'm not so hopeful. If I could sneak a little more convincingly under 6 hours I would be happy.

So let the training begin.....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The finish line.

Reaching that finish line can be hard, in many things and not just marathons. A friend of mine just wrote a blog post about unfinished projects and it hit a chord. How many things do I have unfinished right now? I think this particularly hits me because I have a certain paper i'm writing that is driving me crazy. I NEED to finish it, it NEEDS to go, but can I sit down and finish it. Nada. Sigh. Tomorrow I have several pre 5am conference calls (Hawaii time can be hard you know) and the university campus is going to be inundated by crazy people, so i've decided to stay at home to work on this paper. I've brought home the books, and i'm hoping i've brought home the motivation. This NEEDS to happen.....

At any one time I probably have a dozen projects going on at once. I joke it's my ADD side breaking through, but in reality it probably is just that. I've always had trouble focusing on one thing at once, whether it be a craft project, work, sport or new skill, I tend to have a zillion things going, and probably finish 50-75% of them. It's a pretty high number though, so usually I get away with it, and often i'll come back to a craft after a "break", so it all feels new again when I restart. Crafty things like crochet and pottery work with me because each time you can make new forms, new stitches, new uses for the outcome, so it keeps me interested. Tonight I started yet another crochet project, alongside the other 5 I have going right now. All with deadlines, and somehow, I know they will all work out, I just got the idea and got motivated to start this other baby blanket tonight........and so it goes. I often post about my crafty outcomes, but rarely about the other projects sat around that have been that way for many months. Maybe I should start posting about them then I might feel the guilt needed to finish them.....

I think i'm lucky i've ended up doing what I do, because to keep yourself afloat in research, especially 100% soft money research, you need to be doing a million things at once - writing papers, writing proposals, doing lab work, advising students, collecting in the field, going to meetings, collaborating with colleagues - all at the same time. You also have to face the fact that some things work out and some don't, and that just kind of works for me and my attention span. Besides if everything worked out, there wouldn't be enough hours in the day to do it all! With this though comes balance and the need to finish things. Certain things just sit and sit until the deadline looms and it finally gets out the door. It's all about balance, a balance i'm finding a little hard to find right now. I write proposals like crazy as I need to to keep in salary, but that often wipes out my "writing brain" to the point where writing papers is torture. Not that i'm doing badly, but I seriously have 3 papers that I have all the data for that should really get written here someday....

I'm hoping this move to Maine is going to help me with that balance. Having all the facilities I need right there for me to get the data to write the papers, i'm hoping, is going to make a big difference. The station i'm hoping will be a little less crazy than the University of Hawaii too, a little quieter for working and less distractions. I'm hoping.

Until then, please just let me finish "draft 2" of this paper tomorrow to send to me colleagues....

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy July 4th!

Watched the fireworks tonight from Paul and Tara's backyard, after a nice swim in their pool and a yummy BBQ. Feeling very full of smores and G&Ts right now, good thing I got a run in earlier! Hope you all had a good one too, yay for tomorrow being a holiday!

Friday, July 2, 2010


Went diving today with a student who works in my lab - Daniel - he needed to collect some black corals for his work, and I need to wrack up dives, so it worked out well! He took me to a place called China Walls, renowned for an "interesting" entrance and exit. Basically a jump off a platform and then having to climb back up a wall to get out. The conditions were great today, so no problem at all, and was probably the best dive i've had so far. We saw TONS of fish, LOTS of coral and quite a few turtles! Two turtles were even at a "cleaning station" - where they float in the water and let reef fish pick off any goodies growing on their shells and skin. Was fantastic. And Daniel got a bunch of corals, so mission more than accomplished. A good way to start the weekend!