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I am Done baby!

I would like to announce that at 10:48pm my paper presentation and everything else was DONE!!! WhooHoo!

I spent the last 3 nights working until 3am! It was great. Research is cool. Analysis is cool. Significant results are even cooler – but no luck this time. I have faith though! I still have confidence that theres something about those S10’s. I like em. They’re high pitched and squeaky, and kind of sounds like a balloon being squeaked or rubbed together. But I like it.

I can’t wait to start another project… or even continue with parts of this one.

I can definately see why some scientists let thier data sit for a while instea ofgoing at it all at once. I mean I personally wouldnt have the patience to let mine sit and wait for too long, but taking it all in two weeks like this… too hectic. I feel like I need to go through it all again slowly, so I can really focus and really do a thourough job. I think I did well with this one, but I could have done it better and really fine tuned it.

My methodology was a mess and my PDA needed that milling button. Screw simpicity. That was advice I should have never taken. I knew what I needed and it turns out I was right. I’m not bitter, because I made enough mistakes on my own that it’s moot.

My goals have been solidified though. I’m content with who I am and who I’m ging to be. I can’t wait to get on with this next step! I’m hopefully meeting with Dr. Ford at UBC either n the 30th, 31st, or maybe 1st.

My parents got in tonight, and we went out for dinner. I had a chocolate martini, and dad and I split a seafood dish and a steak. YUM!!! Oh my god, I had missed food. I mean the food here was good, but there is more to life than zucchini and starches, and I love it! I cannot wait to get home and cook in MY kitchen. with my utensils and my pots and pans and my Gas stove – not to mention all my favorite ingredients!!!
Anyways, mum and dad brought me my fabulous fuschia dress and black heels!! I’m not a dress girl except for the occasional day, but it is Soooo nice to be in something other than Jeans!

It is the little things! like getting to curl up with my kitten next friday when I get home. And being able to call friends who have cell phones other than Verizon during the week and at decent hours.

I’ll miss the whales though. and the blankets of green moss. and the mist.

and speaking of blankets… I’m presenting in 9 hrs!! EEp! bedtime 🙂

night all!


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The final stretch…

So, my time here with Beam Reach is almost over.
I’ve begun analyzing data, and I’m not gonna lie – I’m excited.
The boat… has been the boat, and it’s definately not an ideal research platform, but we’ve been able to have several good enocunters with the whales regardless.

Dalls porpoises are in love with our boat… they’ve come to bowride several times and once even tried to coerce us into regaining propulsion and so they could bowride. Sadly, it didn’t work, but they gave it a good 15 minute try! We’ve seen a Stellar sea lion (endangered) and eagles, and all sorts of other nifty wildlife.

We got to go ashore for a bit on Stuart island – and it was very nice. A cute little island with some good hiking and curious deer, and a fascinating little schoolhouse.

I’m totally distracted, so I’m gonna keep this short, but overall I’m still enjoying myself, getting along with people, and loving the research element of it – despite the myriad of technical difficulties. I’m excited about that, it means I’m in the right place. My new computer is supposed to be arriving today and hopefully that’ll make data analyzation fastier and easier – well, maybe not easier, but more efficient. I’m looking forward to editing my paper and starting to put together my powerpoint presentation.

My last and final thought is I’m going stir crazy for 5 simple reasons: I miss my cat, I miss my friends, I miss being a carnivore, I miss spinning, and good god do I miss my high heels.

– but still having a totally great time!! just getting antsy.

Ok, that’s all for now. Lata Alligatas!


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but I *Like* complexity! (and the Holy Grail)

I didn’t shake during my presentation today! or speak at riddiculously high speeds! Or stumble over every other word! And!… I LOOKED at the Audience!!



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Growth and never ending wonder…

It’s been an experience, being out here. Really getting started on what I know I’m made to do. I’ve changed, in big ways, and surprisingly, the changes have come softly, and with a quiet sublte persistance. I’ve wanted, for a long time, to have the focus and drive I needed to really propel myself. And I hoped for it, and made resolutions on new years and Rosh Hashanna, and new semesters and as I purchased my textbooks. And I never backed myself with anything more than good intentions, and I always fell short, and continued milling in my endless supply of distractions.

I can make endless excuses. Back home there was always someone leaning over my shoulders, pressing on the top edge of the blades and bending me with questions and pressure. I let them bend me to the point where I couldn’t function. And I let stress make me lazy and I put things aside for “a time when I could breathe again”. I allowed opprotunity to pass half appeased. In the end, though, it comes down to me, and I let myself down again and again.

Coming out here I wrote “I know I must exceed my highest expectations”. Those expectations were what I’d been hoping to become for years. And I had minimal faith that I’d finally break through into that person I knew I could be. And I’m not there yet, but I am working steadily.

These days I work at My pace, and it works for me. I divide my time as I see fit and stress and pressure no longer more than the bare necessity role needed for deadlines. These days I pay mind to distraction, but not in excess. I’ve reached the point where I read research papers and journals over and over because I can question them, and weave them into what I plan to answer. I see spectrograms in the cirrus clouds and hear whales in birdsongs and rainfall and wonder how else to interpret them.

I’ve been told more than once that I’m chasing “the holy grail” in regard to what I want to research. And that only makes me want it more. And this time, I’m more than hoping; I’m proving to myself that I can achieve it.

And ironically enough (though 2 days late)… Happy Rosh Hashanna. L’Shanna Tova.


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So, before I launch into an update about the last week, and all of our marvelous adventures, I’m going to talk about this evening.

This evening I was supposed to go into dinner, grab a quick bite to eat at Downriggers (my favorite restruant on the island – try the Angels on Horseback, they’re fantastic) and then meet the rest of the girls at the movies to go see “little miss sunshine” at 6:45. Well, I didnt get my card and the rest of the check back until 6:46, and decided upon exiting the establishment, that there was no point in running up the hill to be a little late for a movie that I hadn’t heard of til I got to the island, and knew nothing about. So, instead, I decided to walk back to the labs while it was still light out, and enjoy the island as I went.

I got as far as the community theater.

I stopped by initially because it was the last weekend for the local playwrights festival and I decided to see what was going on there this weekend, since we have it off. As it turned out, I hadn’t missed that evenings performance, and in fact, I was right on time. Half an hour before the show started, and at a student discount, my ticket was $5 for four short plays. I went into the entry area and wandered through a local (islands) art exhibit – ceramics was the media, and there had been all sorts of awards divied out to the entrants. It was nice, and some of the peices were quite impressive. I purchased a glass of San Juan Vinyards red wine and took my seat as I waited for the show to begin. When it did, I was pleasantly surprised. It’s difficult to find a cast of people who can carry a show, but these were all strongly carried by 1, 1, 2, and 4, people. All very well acted, and very well done shows.The fourth was my favorite, surprisingly with the most cast. A young, 11yr old girl, and an older woman who played her grandmother, stole the show. It was a strong, solid play. As I walked home I passed the school where a football game was winding down, the next third of my trip was full of cheers from the game – even as I turned onto University Road. Friday Harbor is a good little community.

It’s funny, how you can surprise yourself sometimes with the spontaneous descisions you make. Initially, when I went inside to ask about the weekends events, and heard about the festival, I thought, oh, well i can come back and see it tomorrow. But I never would have done it. I realized that and said, you know what? Who cares if it’s dark when I walk home? What do I have planned for the rest of the evening? And I bought my ticket.

Walking home was intimidating. As a rule, I dont like walking outside in the dark (unless I’m somewhere well lit), particularly if I’m in the woods. Growing up in the forest, that might be surprising, but it’s true. I hated it, and couldnt do it. I did that tonight. I walked over a mile in the dark, and about half a mile in the dark where the only light was from my cell phone. I didn’t call anyone for company, and I was able to stay calm, and walk at a quick, but comfortable, pace. it may seem silly, and it may seem small, but this was a big acomplishment for me. It was the first step towards proving to myself that I could make it on my own. In the middle of nowhere. Alone, but doing what I love. I’m really proud of tonight. Tonight was a truely fantastic evening.

And now it is definately time for bed! goodnight all!

ps – in case you hadn’t noticed, lots of pics have been posted in the first two entries. and more are soon to follow! 🙂


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First orcas!

I saw my first Orcas this past Thursday!!! They were transients, and over a mile off, but still visible w/o binocs. So Amazing – saw two spyhops… the first 1/3rd of the whales was the size of the NOAA research inflatable that was right next to it! And that little boat held 4 people! damn… I love it. I can’t wait to get closer and see some more whales. The residents are a tease!! They got in Friday afternoon and then totally bailed and went back out to whereever they’ve been that evening… so no chance to do any research or test any data sheets yet. I’m a little anxious, but what else is new? haha. Anyways, Whales are awesome. Harbor seals are adorable. Porpoises are nifty little torpedos and I haven’t showered in a week! (noone ever said research was glamourous!) Luckily, we’re on land for the majority of today, so we’ll be able to shower, do laundry, etc.

My friends from Spirit are reading this and thinking – Shower? After one week? talk about Spoiled! (Not to mention the coolest most baddass whales in the world.) Seriously though guys, I’m going nuts. Our captain doesnt like to coil and hang lines on this ship! that means there are messy. uncoiled. lines. ON THE DECK! EEp! I can hear Mr Mosely yelling at me from across the country. haha. On a cool note our relief captain Mike Dawson came aboard yesterday and he’s sailed Spirit, and Westward! So it’s good to have a tall shipper on board. And he knows Mr (now Captain) Mosely & Captain Flansburg, but doesn’t yell as much :).

Thats all for now! Wish me whales! haha muah


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Sail away…

Getting on the boat in a couple hours, after a crazy, nonstop week! Talk about exhilarating and exhausting! Tons of experts – David Baine, Robin Baird, Jeff Nystuen, Lynne Barre, etc etc etc etc! Phew! Great week overall and feeling pretty excited about my project. This update is rushed and lame, so I’ll end it here and wait till I have more important stuff to chatter about – like seeing my first orca!!!

Awooooo phftttbbb!

Send me your addy people. I’ll write you dorky postcards with inane whale stories 🙂


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I’d forgotten a couple other fun things:

When we first hung out at Val’s house, (week 1) Fred Felleman dropped by and gave a really interesting talk on the politics of whale research and legislation. Definately someone to keep in touch with, as legislation has always been on great interest to me, despite it’s frustrations and heartbreak.

Also, Sunday evening, we had ourselves a movie night in G-cottage! We snagged the projector from Donna and watched Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (TB version!) Johnny Depp, is brilliant, but sometimes creepy. Very fun evening had by all, and a very welcome end to a long day of finishing the rough draft of my research proposal!

This morning I got my first 6:45am phone call! It was from Cynthia, who’d just gotten home from Portugal! She didn’t realize I was out here and there was a 3hr difference.. hehe. Luckily, shes one of my best buddies, so I’ll forgive her :).
I also got mail from Allie!! That made the day even better – and Allie, if you read this – your card certainly did serve it’s porpoise! Thank you!!!

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I would like to start this entry by stating that I would like to give Ken Balcomb a hug and say *Thank You* for your 30 years of legwork, figuring out all these little details about the whales so that I get to ask a more interesting question for my Beam Reach project (as well as for the rest of what will become my lifelong research).
But before I get too far ahead of myself…
Yesterday, was Packed! Classes involving math, caused a brain shut down in the AM – been a while since that happened. It’s the management math I had to do for wildlife bio, so I know I can do it, it’s just a matter working slowly and practice. Anywhoo, guest that afternoon was Bob Francis. Interesting lecture about Sustainability. Sustainability is one of those fascinating and immensely frustrating topics that get my jaded self all pissed off and disgusted at the egocentricity of Humanity.
Dinner was lovely, we all cooked – Val and Leslie brought salad, Donna made zucchini lasanga, I made garlic bread (cheesy and regular) and Erin made Apple crisp! The chatter round the table fun interesting and thought provoking. It was nice, and made me miss folks…

Today we went to the Center for Whale Research, and that was pretty darn nifty. They have an absolutely superb system for doing thier photo ID on the computers… I need to really start working on learning these whales… Ken Balcomb gave us a bit of the history of it all,and that was really nice, because he filled in the gaps I had in the USA side of my knowledge (since I’ve always focused on the Northern residents). I’d love to sit down and really chat with him at some point, so hopefully we’ll get another chance to hang out over there.

okie dokie, well that’s about it. Night all! pics soon!

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So ok, this is the only update *actually* from 8/27. Updates abound!,br>

So ok, I *did* see my first orcas at Lime Kiln! Unfortunately the were so far off that they were tiny in my binocs, and it doesnt feel real. So until I can get a recognizable picture, I dont think I’m going to officially count the experience :). Despite the fact that the whales were far off, I saw a couple really cute ducks, two GBHerons, few harbor seals among the kelp (which is quite nifty) and eating fish, as well as a couple harbor porpoises and possibly some Dall’s porpoises! The Dalls I’m also waiting to make official though, haha.
So lets see… this program is intense! We’re in class by 8:30 am, and doneish around 5pm – and even with the couple hours of breaks in between, I’m exhausted and ready to pass out by 10:30pm! The first drfat of our research proposal is due Monday (yes, tomorrow) and I’m feeling good about mine. I’ve already started jotting down some ideas for how I want to collect data and my experimental design and whatnot. multiple hypothesis, null hyp… etc. Whoohoo! <3!
We’ve been meeting some “real live scientist folk” and of course, that’s been cool. Val’s got some pretty cool stuff going on, with his hydrophones and vocalization anylization programs and such – and they’re about to bring Raven into the mix, which will be nice since I’m a little familiar with it.
One of the absolute highlights so far though has really been the evening with John Stern at the temp home of the Center for Whale Research! John was giving his talk on Mikes and he’s really an authority on the topic. I should start by prefacing with the fact that this evening was in a house up and part of the way back down a mountain. But it looked down into the waters of Haro Strait on the west side and across to Vancouver Island… so it was worth the drive. So, the evening was set in this very quirky eclectic house, full of weathered and renoun scientists like Ken Balcombthis alone made my night. I felt like I’d walked into one of Alexandra Mortons stories about the scientist’s frequent gatherings where they all sat down and discussed their work. John is quite eccentric, and it was wonderful watching his presentation. He got very excited about Random walks and Levy’s in the foraging pattern of Mikes, and I have to admit, despite the mathi-ness, it was quite cool. Before we left I got a great DVD/CD with pics, video, id charts and Vocalizations of the S. Res. I can’t wait to start memorizing and becoming familiar with it all. I really hope we have more evenings like this!
Lets see. other news. We’ve started preping meals for each other, and I had the first night. I made Chichen, broccoli, mushroom, fettucini alfredo, and it was very yummy. One of the best I’ve made in a while. (note to self – buy some basil flavored olive oil when you get home). Friday night Emily and Rena made a veggie stir fry with rice and that was delicious too.
Friday we had our rowing orientation and our swim test – we got to dive into nice wram 54 degree water! It was cold, but luckily not as bad as we’d all ramped it up to be, although you wont find me diving back in anytime soon unless I’m in my 5mil suit. There was a harbor seal actually swiming around about 30yards away, and I was kinda hoping he’d come over, but that’s because I’m too foolish to know better.
Friday night was also a really great time – we went to see a free production of Shakespeares’ Merchant of Venice. Apparently, his most controvercial play due to the antisemtic aspects that resound through it. The troupe decided to act it, in a statement of the current state of the world, and the hate that is so rampant (against all religions, races etc). It was very well acted and I enjoyed it thouroughly, probably moreso than I would have it I had read it prior, because then I would not have likely interpreted it the way I did with their preface.
Lastly, yesterday I spent in town. Donna, Rena and I went food shopping, but first we stopped at a farmers market where I had a absolutely delicious Lavender Limeade. After food shopping Rena and I went to the whale musesum (where I bough more orca vocalizations cds, but this time of the N. res) and then went our seperate ways around town. I think I covered most of it, and I found some really neat stores and some lovely galleries which I’ll have to bring my parents to when they come at the end of the program. I had lunch at a great restraunt called Downriggers, shrimp scampi with cheesy garlic bread and a glass of local white zinfandel. Very good, although the wine was a little strong for my taste – but hey, I’m new to white wine. Bought some stunning yarn after than and walked home soon after – picking blackberries along the way. The island is COVERED with blackberries. I picked at least a pound of them and they were wicked good. it’s only about a 20min walk to the labs, which is very nice. I got home and knit up the skein of yarn I bought – it was brilliant, looked like it had litterally been sheared, spun and dyed it was a great mix of very yarn wooly yarn and soft silky locks… it also required size 35needles, but that let me get two squares out of ~34yrds – and then started working on my proposal. I’ve got to finish that up today and then I supose that’ll get posted on the beam reach page… haha.

Ok, hopefully this will be the last riddiculously long (and random) entry :). Bye all!

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