About Me

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I like running and science and I have no idea what I'm doing with my life. So I'm writing a blog or something.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

A recent history of my life in photos

Boston has a lot of US History.  There are a lot of statues of Paul Revere.  I even saw his grave.

I found the nearest ship... 

...also the nearest penguins.
The Williams-Mystic reunion started out on a boat, so you know it was an awesome weekend.

Here is Jim Carlton auctioning a narwhal puppet.

Back to California, here we are in Golden Gate Park watching The Head and the Heart at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass.

And then The Head an the Heart were at Sophia's in Davis.

Then I went to Colorado to visit Grant, Colin, and Lauren, and apparently some penguins at the Denver zoo.
We went on the Coors tour.  Golden was lovely.

We toured SLAC in Palo Alto and got a crash course in particle physics.

The Baylands Preserve was nearby and pretty.

The Giants won the Wold Series and San Francisco went crazy.  I was there and very happy.

Amy and I were both historical figures (in a way) for Halloween.  We also made a devil-chicken scarecrow.

Our pumpkins! Can you guess which two are mine?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

President William Jefferson Clinton

Bill Clinton is the most famous person I have come into contact with, literally.  Today I shook his hand after a rally at UC Davis supporting four democratic candidates for Congress (Garamendi, McNerney, Hernandez, and Bera).  It was pretty exciting.  I almost wish I lived in Congressional District 10 so I could vote for a real, live astronaut to represent me.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

It's time for another Williams-Mystic Reunion Weekend!

Today I head to Boston where I'll visit some Carleton friends before heading to Mystic for my 5 year Williams-Mystic reunion!

I wonder if the current class will be as welcoming as we were?

More when I return from the East Coast!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Everything came from rocks

I have a lot of, well, stuff.  In an ongoing quest to not have so much of this stuff, a few weeks ago I went through the 8 boxes of pretty much everything I did ever in school, from kindergarten all the way though college, and recycled a large mass of papers.  For some reason, at one point in time, I felt it necessary to hold onto the following things:

  • AP Chemistry tests.  These are tests from a class I was failing and dropped out of in high school.  Needless to say, most of these tests read something to the effect of 43/80 or D+ at the top; why I had wanted to ever be reminded of this class is beyond me.
  • Mostly illegible french notes, as if one day I'd want to relearn french from some smeary, scribbled pages ripped from a notebook.
  • Acceptance/rejection letters from colleges I didn't go to.
  • Pretty much every worksheet I ever filled out in elementary school.  I mean, I enjoy seeing some of my original art projects, but I don't think I need to keep proof I could do basic addition or connect-the-dots in grade school.

I also kept a myriad of notes and handouts from various classes, vocab workbooks, spelling tests, scrap paper I drew smiley faces all over, and this list I entitled "Rocks" and wrote on May 27 of an unknown year (I left in my spelling errors):

  • Everything came from rocks
  • 3,000 (a little over) minirals 14,000 names
  • 9 classafacations witch minirals are grouped in
  • 3 groups: Igneous, Sedimentary, and Metamorphic
  • 9 common Elements: O, Si, Al, Fe, CA, NA, K, Mg, Ti
  • 250 named rocks
  • Eat rocks for breakfeast, lunch, and dinner
  • Glass comes from quarts
  • pencil lead = carbon
  • kitty litter is made of a rock called Vesicular Tuff because it was absurbant.

As far as I can tell in the context where I found this list, it wasn't actually for a class.  I guess there was a little geologist in me as a kid and Geo in the Field wasn't my first introduction to the subject.  Also, I like that eating rocks for every meal made it on my list.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Kitchen Epiphanies

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen these days and it was there I discovered an exception to my general rule that everything tastes better when made from scratch.

Food better when homemade:

pizza, carrot cake, banana bread, ice cream, any type of pie, waffles, salads, quiche, french fries, stir-fry, and basically everything I cook/bake ever

Why? Taste, quality of ingredients, saves money, ratios, etc...

Food not better when homemade: 


Why? It takes like a year and a day to make (ok, I may be exaggerating a bit) and it tastes exactly the same as the pre-cooked blocks you find in the stores.  Plus, most of the flavor you enjoy from eating the polenta is from the sauce you douse it in (which of course tastes better when you make it yourself; I'd recommend yellow squash, eggplant, sauteed onions, peppers, tomatoes, spices and an assortment of grated cheese).

Conclusion to this post: unless you like grits, just buy the pre-cooked polenta.

You have to stir constantly for way longer than it's worth

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Penguins again

On top of the many, many pictures I took of the penguins, I also took a couple of videos.  I was so close to them!  I wanted to just scoop one up and take it home.

And here's a link to another video I took: http://youtu.be/HqUgFLgoGeM

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


It seems crazy that I've already been out at sea for three and a half weeks! Time is really flying by, probably because I'm always busy and getting lots of sleep. Apart from nights with lots of stern slaps (i.e. when a big wave hits the back of the ship and shakes it up and down), I sleep a good 8 or 9 hours a night. Though we're getting into rougher weather as we near the roaring 40s, and already some people have been feeling sea sick with the increased roll, pitch, and heave of the ship with the wind and waves. Luckily, I haven't gotten sea sick at all. I did get sick, which was strange since it was over a week in and no one else on board was sick, but luckily I was able to sleep for 24 hours and get back to work the following day.

Every day is more or less the same: dredging, surveying, data processing, or dealing with the rocks. Sawing rocks is getting interesting- you really have to saw with the motion of the ship. Another thing interesting to do with the rocking of the ship is working out. I do some yoga and stretching before I go to bed and the whole balancing aspect of yoga can be a challenge. Also, when doing crunches or push ups, half of the time they're really easy and the other half it feels like gravity just increased a lot.

I'm still enjoying almost everything about being at sea. Everyone seems to be getting along great. And I will never get tired of watching the ocean. Depending on the weather, the ocean is a different blue everyday. I have yet to see a whale or dolphin, but there are lots of seabirds around. I'll end with a picture of the sun setting over the ocean.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Life at Sea

Life is pretty routine now that we're over a week in. We travel from seamount to seamount, survey and name them, and then dredge promising looking places. Every dredge has come up differently so far: we've lost one, gotten one tangled, got pelagic ooze, only sediments, only manganese nodules, pillow basalts, or some combination of those and other rocks. We've also pulled up some corals and even a starfish. I believe we've dredged 13 times now. We have been naming the seamounts after characters in Moby-Dick or other whale-inspired names since Walvis means whale in Dutch (we're studying the Walvis Ridge if I haven't mentioned that).

If you click on one of the links in my last post before I left, you can see some deck cameras, and the one of the rear hanger with the A-frame is where we deploy and pull up the dredge. The dredging itself is not too exciting, we sit and watch the tension of the wire, bottom depth, how much wire is out and other data (on screens inside) as we travel over the dredge tract and then pull up the dredge and hope there are some good rocks. For a couple of dredges I was allowed to control the winch, which was kind of cool, though not really as exciting as it sounds.

One of my favorite jobs so far is throwing the rejected rock samples overboard. That may sound silly, but it allows me to get outside and just throw rocks into the gorgeous water. Another favorite on the ship is in the food department: the Elvis Cake one of the cooks made yesterday. It's basically banana cake with chocolate chips and peanut butter frosting. It was amazing, but also means that all of the bananas have basically gone bad. But that's ok because we still have other fresh fruit which I will continue to eat copious amounts of since by the end of the cruise, the food will not be based so much off of fresh produce.

I know this is kind of a random post, but I thought I'd email something in to document what's going on out here in the south Atlantic (I can't actually access my blog out here- I basically can only access email).

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


We got to our first seamount yesterday! This means we first surveyed it and then deployed a dredge. The first dredge seemed to be going well until the end when it got stuck on something (presumably rocks) and after a long time trying to free it, the chain broke and we lost the dredge. The second dredge wasn't much more successful: we came up with a dredge, but only a few sad little rocks. The seamount (more technically, a guyot) we called Ishmael, and it looks like we may be naming our seamounts after Moby-Dick characters.

Otherwise, this is basically what my life has been looking like during the day:

Monday, February 13, 2012

I'm on a boat!

As you read this, I am somewhere in the South Atlantic Ocean heading west. We departed Cape Town on Saturday at 16:00. The students in the science party (of which I am a part of) are divided into 3 eight hour watches. I'm on the 09:00-17:00 (so think 9-5), which is awesome. So far all we've had to do is watch screens and log data, but once we reach Walvis Ridge we'll get to dredge rocks and they'll be lots to do!
Other things of note:
I have my own room and own bathroom/shower (most people have to at least share a bathroom).
There is a hot tub. Today I sat in a hot tub overlooking a deep blue ocean. It was amazing.
I won a game of hearts today.
The food is great, though I have a feeling the fresh fruit won't last too long.
I sleep really well with the rocking of the boat.
It's still kind of mind boggling to me that I'm actually on a big ship in the ocean of the coast of Africa, no less.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I was going to post a picture, but the cord I brought for my camera only lets me download all pictures at once and I don't have enough battery left in my computer as the power converter I brought does not work so I can't charge up my computer until the ship.

Anyway, today I got to see penguins! Lots and lots of African penguins.  I even swam near them and sat on the same rock as them.  It was amazing.  They are super adorable and they waddle and are really fast swimmers.  The penguin colony was in Simonstown, an adorable coastal city about an hour's train ride away from Cape Town.  I could have watched the penguins forever!

We just finished dinner at a nice Ethiopian restaurant that served us food in a traditional way (a bunch of dishes on a platter which you eat by scooping it up with a special bread thing made from a specific flour.  It was all really tasty.

Tomorrow we're taking a Gondola up to Table Mountain to hike.  I'm pretty tired from all the walking and swimming and sun and food today, so good night!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Made it to Cape Town!

2 hour flight to Portland + 9 hour flight to Amsterdam + 11 hour flight to Cape Town and I'm here!  With free, very spotty wi-fi in our hostel, so I'm going to quickly write something and then get it posted.  The back to back flights were actually not that bad, though I was exhausted when we got here.  I watched something like 7 movies and 5 TV episodes to pass the time.

Anyway, today we (5 students from OSU, one of their friends, and me) basically did a LOT of walking: exploring some parks and squares and the waterfront (which basically felt like Pier 39 in San Francisco). It's pretty hot and somewhat humid and I think I gained a few freckles.

A couple of observations:

  • Pigeons are very abundant and content (i.e. fat) here.
  • It doesn't really feel like a foreign country- everyone I have to interact with speaks english, fashion seems similar enough, and I could easily be in some American big city.
  • Except that there aren't lots of obese people, meaning it couldn't really be America.
  • The exchange rate makes it such that everything sounds expensive (30 rand for a small sandwich, for example) and I haven't quite wrapped my head around the conversion (somewhere around 8:1 rand:US$- I think) so I'm never completely sure if I'm paying a lot or a little for food (since food's the only thing I've bought so far).

We're going to Simon's Town tomorrow meaning penguins!! I'm super excited for that, of course.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

5 Things

Five things I will miss while in the South Atlantic:

1. Facebook. Because let's be honest, I spend a LOT of time on the Internet (ie partaking in social media).

2. Pub quiz. Monday nights (of all nights) is my most social night of the week and I enjoy my trivia and of course my teammates' company.

3. Beer. Also wine and any liquor, really. The ship is dry, and while that makes sense and I don't actually need alcohol, I do enjoy me a glass of it (or two) on the weekends or during pub quiz.

4. Running. Because 279 ft is not quite the distance a former marathon runner can be satisfied with when it comes to exercise.

5. My family. My friends too- I live with my parents and at the touch of ten buttons I can be in contact with any of my friends, but 3G does not exactly cover the entire Atlantic ocean.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Leaving on a jet plane (or 3)

Saturday morning, I will be boarding a plane to fly from Sacramento to Portland, where I will board a different plane to Amsterdam, where I will then board a third plane to my final air destination: Cape Town.  I have three full days in Cape Town before having to be at the docks on the 9th (though we don't depart for the open ocean until the 11th).  As of now, my plan is to see the penguins and write postcards.  As long as I can do that, I'll be satisfied.

49 days at sea later, I'll be flying back to the states with a 24 hour layover in Amsterdam!

I'm told I'll have some internet access on the ship, so you can contact me via email while I'm offshore.  I will also try to update this blog as much as possible.

This will be the cruise's website (not currently up- if you go to the site right now it has information about a different research cruise): http://earthref.org/ERESE/projects/MV1203/  It will probably be more focused on the scientific aspect of the cruise.  There's also a page about the ship I'll be on (http://shipsked.ucsd.edu/Ships/Melville/ which has a link to a map with the ship's current location.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Call me Kimmael

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people's hats off - then, I account it high time to get to the sea as soon as I can.
-Herman Melville, Moby-Dick chapter 1

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Art, Science, and the fusion thereof, Part II

I realize that my last post on this topic was not some of my best writing.  I probably should have edited it a bit before posting.  So here is a summary of what I think was the point I was trying to make (in oh, so many poorly written words):

There is a place for art inspired by science.  In fact, that art is usually some of my favorite.  But there is an important difference between science art and art/science fusion.  Macro pictures, realistic sculptures, paintings inspired by DNA sequencing are all science art.  Judit(the artist from the talk)'s installment of calcite heart and lungs disintegrating in increasingly acidic water is art/science fusion because there is a a science-y message behind it.  Her talk, however, was more a historical fiction that mentioned science.

In other words, art and science can both be great in their own right, or together, but I like it better when there's a point.

And in conclusion, here's a picture of rum and coke viewed under a microscope (thanks FSU chemistry):

Monday, January 23, 2012

In which my high school French came in handy for something other than crosswords

Tonight at de Vere's Irish Pub Pub Quiz, my team placed 7th and actually won a prize for the first time:
Yes that is a single packing peanut in our shot glass.
Yes, we won one shot glass for five people and it was decided I should keep it and bring it to South Africa with me as a reminder of the 9 pub quizzes I will sadly miss.  But I will be on a ship on the ocean doing geology, so I think I'll be ok.  And there was a geology question tonight, albeit an easy one (what is the name of the super continent during the paleozoic? a super continent that apparently has a myspace?).  Anyway, pub quiz was a good time as always, but that much sweeter since we won something!

Friday, January 20, 2012


Only two weeks left in the states!  I'm mostly excited, but a little overwhelmed about what I want to get done before I go.

In other news, the sunsets sure have been pretty lately.

My room is definitely a room with a view!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Art, Science, and the fusion thereof

My mom and I went to a talk sponsored by the UC Davis Art/Science Fusion program as part of their "the Consilience of art and science speaker series."  The talk was entitled "Pages from the Book of the Unknown Explorer" by a self-described "process-based visual artist," Judit Hersko.  It was more a story and slideshow than a talk, really.  The overall story was one of using art and the humanities to investigate antarctic ecology.  I don't think I can remotely do the presentation justice by trying to summarize it here, so I'm not going to try.  After this story, Judit went on to talk about her efforts in bringing science, in the form of art projects, to students who were otherwise difficult or just plain didn't want to learn about science.

The audience was clearly moved and enamored of her presentation and ideas.  And to some degree I agree with all of the feedback from the audience.  By using a multi-disciplinary approach to education, I think kids, as well as adults, can get a lot more out of the subjects they're learning.  The real world doesn't separate subjects in neat little boxes; everything is connected.

An example of art/science fusion in the oak grove in the UCD arboretum- I made the bird!

Ok, so now I'm going to ramble tangentally on and on about art, science, and ocean acidification, so continue after the jump and read at your own risk.

Monday, January 16, 2012

To Kindle or not to Kindle

Reading Technology <-- fitting comic to come out today.

As I prepare to go offshore for two months, I'm wondering if I should get a Kindle.


  • Access to millions of books, magazines, newspapers, etc on a small, light-weight object
  • Since I want to pack light, having a Kindle means less space and weight taken up by books
  • Maybe in the future I can get my grad school textbooks cheaper on the Kindle?
  • Monetary commitment (in addition to buying the Kindle itself, I'd probably buy a case to protect it and then all the books/media to put on it costs money as well)
  • I've always been against the whole concept of a Kindle;  I really like reading real, physical books
  • The comic I linked to at the beginning of this post expresses my feelings exactly
And if I do decide to get one, there are five different Kindles to choose from...

UPDATE 1/17/11 14:58: does anyone have anything bad to say about the Kindle?  I'm still not 100% sure I'll get one, but the scales sure do seem to be tipping.

UPDATE 1/20/11 12:23: NOT GETTING ONE.  I just don't want one. Too bad I wasted all that time researching them, but when I tried one out in Office Max, it was not remotely compelling.