zolac_no_miko: (Default)
WOW HI DREAMWIDTH/LIVEJOURNAL!

It's been approximately 50 years since I made an LJ post that wasn't a fic post. A lot of stuff has gone on. Still working very slowly on thesis, so that hasn't changed. Kinda over it at this point. An entire awesome job came and went, and a new awesome job has begun. I meant to post a lot of pics from previous job and just... didn't. Maybe I will.

And of course there's been all this kerfluffle about LJ. The way I see it, there's two ways to respond to the kerfluffle: a defiant Fuck You, LJ by leaving the site entirely, or a defiant Fuck You, LJ by refusing to leave until they goddamn make me. I have gone for option two. Even as what few LJ friends I have left jump ship one by one, my emotional attachment to the site keeps me tied to it.

I'm not an idiot, though. If it a) goes under, or b) my journal(s) get deleted due to lack of activity or nefarious content, I don't want to lose everything. So I've backed up my main journal, my old RP journals, even one of my RP communities (and I'll do the others at some point) to Dreamwidth. I'll be crossposting journal entries from Dreamwidth to Livejournal from now on. (I'd do it the other way around if there was an option, but there isn't... guess that's one argument in favor of DW.)

This is my first crosspost entry... hope it works. LJ friends who are also on DW/have mostly moved there, feel free to add/friend/follow/whatever-the-heck-they-call-it-here.

...So anyway... my new job is I'm an Interpretive Guide for a Hawai‘i Island ecotourism company called Hawai‘i Forest & Trail. It's super fun... I get to be outside in beautiful places, talk story with interesting people, share my love and enthusiasm and knowledge of the cultural and natural history of Hawai‘i Nei, and learn tons of stuff that I hadn't known before, which for me, a greedy glutton for knowledge, is the BEST PART. ...Also tips, tips are the other best part.

I've learned a lot of new stuff about Hawai‘i Island geology and history and the places where the two intersect, lotsa new detail meshing with broader stuff I vaguely knew growing up, and it's made me very excited and like... I feel like I have a Story to tell, a Story the internet would probably enjoy, so. I'm going to try to make more frequent DW/LJ posts and tell y'all the Story. Look for the first installment very soon. Assuming this crossposting thing works.

Peace out folks, and aloha to all.
zolac_no_miko: (Omen fanboy / urban camouflage mode)
So, I failed out of mini-wrimo pretty quickly. When I signed up in October, I didn't know I was about to jump back into RPing, and my new game started on the same day and... yeah, I've basically had no interest in anything else. And technically it's writing, I'm writing so much every day in the game, but... RPing is not what I need help with. Mini-wrimo is supposed to help me with my prose fiction projects, and it's not doing that for me this year. I can't even bring myself to care, because oh my god this game is too much fun, why do anything else, ANYTHING. ELSE.

In RL stuff, beginning of the month was also my second anniversary with Forrest. We did a nice little day trip to Makalawena, which is a GORGEOUS but hard to get to beach in Kona. The following weekend we had a little getaway to a cabin in Kalopa State Park.

Last weekend was crazy busy with dancing, climaxing with THE Glenn Miller Orchestra and all of us Hep Cats showing up in force to teach and perform and be awesome on the dance floor. I got all dolled up in my new red dress and did my hairs and make-up all period and wore my cute vintage-style dance shoes and felt SO FABULOUS. Look! (I'm on the left.) And look again!

Again, mostly my energies have been wrapped up in Snowblind. I am having hella fun, these people are my people, by which I mean TERRIBLE PEOPLE, I've never felt so warmly welcomed so quickly in a game, and I'm constantly crying laughing in the Snowblind plurks, everything is shame boners and severed toes and how many snowbos can we cram into the shower at once, and also how can I murder my character today?

Today what had me crying laughing was this plurk thread; I've filed all the serial numbers off and done some minor editing and I hope they don't mind me reposting this without permission, but.

Honestly, this needs to be saved for posterity. )

So anyway, that's my life lately. What up, nerds?
zolac_no_miko: (after twenty months at sea)
Today I got paid $16/hour and free dinner to drive a bunch of NYU students around in a van. And like, see the Gemini North telescope control room, and go up to Mauna Kea summit, which are things I would do for free.

And it was just. Perfect. To slowly climb the switchbacks while the sunlight turns golden high on the cinder cones, with the whole earth and a sea of clouds dropping away beneath us and Mauna Loa growing larger and impossibly larger to the south, and the peak of Hualalai erupting into view, then Haleakalā—"Look, there's Maui!" "Whaaaaaaat, no way!"—and pulling over at the top with the swollen, luminous full moon rising just above the limb of the summit cone in the east, and the observatories gleaming like jewels in the glory of the sun to the west, and the kids gasping at the view and laughing at the way the thin air makes their heads spin, and the sky going red and indigo, and Venus, then Jupiter, then Regulus igniting above the horizon, and driving down in the dark with the full moon too bright to look at, casting shadows and illuminating objects in color vision, the sea of clouds glowing nearly as bright, the sky black and starry and the hulk of Mauna Loa even blacker, and the smudge of glowing orange cast by Kīlauea's lava against the clouds. And parking at 9000 feet with the moon too too bright but still with so much hanging above us in the sky, the Big Dipper and Polaris, Scorpius about to devour Saturn, and taking them to see the silverswords gleaming ghostly alien in the moonlight, tall flowering stalks standing silent shadowed sentinels. All the kids lying on their backs, shouting in astonishment as meteor after meteor slash across the sky, Timo asking, "Well, it's getting late, should we go?" And one girl yelling, "Noooooooo, I'm going to live here, I want to stay on this mountain forever!!"

Yeah, girl. I know exactly how you feel.
zolac_no_miko: (after twenty months at sea)
This weekend, we had an Adventure. It was not the adventure we had meticulously planned, but it was indeed so very, very adventurous.

By "we" I mean myself, Forrest, eight of our closest friends, and another group of...I think seven or so hooligans?

The adventure we planned was this: we wanted to kayak to either Honoke‘a or Honopue Valley, camp out for two nights, and enjoy ourselves fishing and lobster diving and hunting and surfing and exploring sea caves and standing in waterfalls and swimming and gathering coconuts/liliko‘i/‘ulu/bananas/mangoes/avocados/citrus/heart of palm and making big fires and drinking and stuffing ourselves with food. Our first group of ten would launch Friday morning; the second group would follow 24 hours later. We planned to launch from Keokea Beach Park, the closest sheltered launch site, and paddle down the coast, passing Pololu, Honokane Nui, and Honokane Iki Valleys to Honoke‘a or Honopue, which none of us had been in, as they are practically unreachable by land. We organized the distribution of kayaks, dry bags, water, food, fishing/diving/hunting gear, and communal supplies. We scouted the launch site and kayak route on Google Earth. Knowing that Hamakua is a famously treacherous coast, we scrutinized the wind and wave forecasts; we expected Friday to be the roughest day, but not too rough, with conditions calming down to a 5 knot wind and 1 foot swell on Saturday and Sunday as the area settled into a weak low pressure system. We decided Group One would leave Hilo at 3 a.m. on Friday, arriving at Keokea by 6 a.m. and launching in the pre-sunrise twilight to take advantage of the calmest part of the day; we'd have an easier time on the return trip, with calmer seas and the wind at our backs. If we arrived at Keokea and it was too rough to launch, Plan B was to drive to the Kona side of the island and kayak-camp to a beach on that coast, which would be much calmer.

This is the adventure we actually had: )
zolac_no_miko: (Darwin Valentine)
Hmmm, apparently I haven't posted since January, and I haven't done a real non-meme, hey-this-is-what's-up-with-my-life journal entry since, um...November. WOW.

So here's what's up with my life.

Mostly what's up with my life, and the reason I'm so scarce, is grad school. I'm taking three more credits than last semester, and I'm enjoying my classes lots but DAMN there's a lot of work to do. I'm busy all the time just trying to keep up.

I have squeezed in some fun times, sometimes probably more than I should, like, I was SUCH a slacker over Christmas break. But I had an AWESOME camping trip with Forrest on a lonely, remote beach, I had a BRILLIANT family Christmas visit on O‘ahu with dancing and hiking and beaching and Hobbiting and archaeology and being silly with relatives and SO MUCH FOOD. And my darling Melissa came to visit me for New Year's and we watched movies and read Hawkeye comics and went on adventures with Forrest, lava adventures, kayak adventures, hiking-in-a-rainy-valley-and-being-menaced-by-flash-floods adventures. So I didn't get a lot of work done, but vacation was AWESOME.

My darling Maile got married to Fred a couple of weeks ago in Kona, so my darlings Chris and Kate and Garrett came from the mainland and we had more shenanigans. It was a Friday morning beach wedding followed by an awesome fancy brunch, and Maile was GORGEOUS and she and Fred were both sick so Fred had to keep drinking water and they were both sassy at each other and it was all very cute and lovely. I like Fred a lot. Chris and Kate and Forrest and I harassed some sea life and Forrest and I disgusted Chris by eating sea weed off of the rocks when there was AN AWESOME BRUNCH RIGHT OVER THERE, OH MY GOD YOU TWO DESERVE EACH OTHER, etc. We lounged around by the pool and on the beach, and then all of Maile's Whitman Friends Plus Significant Others and all of Maile's La Pietra/O'ahu Friends Plus Significant Others went to Kona Brew Pub together to have amazing food and amazing beer and get to know each other (I had an amazing beer made with lemongrass and ginger, and then an awesome Hefeweizen). Forrest and I gave up our Saturday to hang out with Chris and Kate, and we did the Farmer's Market and a beachside picnic and poked around Lili‘uokalani Gardens and Coconut Island and got smoothies at What's Shakin' and saw Rainbow Falls and ‘Akaka Falls, and then Chris and Kate and I went swing dancing, and it was good. Then I gave them my car and let them have their own shenanigans while I studied my ass off, although we did get together for dinner at Forrest's and a showing of my high school Beowulf movie project, which is always a hilarious time.

Speaking of Forrest, in case you were wondering, yes, that's going well. Extremely well. I'm kind of...um...madly in love? Which is a new and strange thing for me? He's gorgeous and kind and fun and smart and he treats me well and we're massively compatible and have more and more in common all the time, so...that's nice. (Also he lurked around this journal and found and read some of my fanfic and he REALLY LIKED THAT ONE DEPRESSING BATMAN ONE, I feel so fucking validated.) I've solved the constant-struggle-over-who-gets-to-pay-for-things problem by introducing a rock-paper-scissors system, which is hilarious and is working out well. (Incidentally and hilariously, the first time we tried it we tied 5 or 6 times in a row before I figured out how to break the pattern and beat him. Because again, WE ARE ACTUALLY THE SAME PERSON A LOT OF THE TIME.) On Valentine's Day I went all old-school with paper, glue, pens, and scissors and made him a badass card version of my Darwin "I select you, naturally" icon with photos of Darwin and natural selection in action. (There were pigeon skulls. He loved it.) We had dinner and cocktails at the Rim Restaurant on the edge of the volcano, then camped overnight at Kulanaokuaiki Campground and had a lazy campground brunch with eggs and bacon and fruit and POG mimosas. It was awesome. (Can we talk about how this is the first Valentine's Day in my ENTIRE LIFE where I've had a significant other? I missed it by like TWO DAYS last time. ...So that was weird, but nice.)

So that's mostly what's been going on with me. Aaaaaaand I'd better get back to it. Sigh.
zolac_no_miko: (Rorschach's friends to the animals)
The evidence suggests that life must be ~SWELL~, because I'm feeling very chatty lately. Let's make this one a list to keep things organized.

Cut for giant blocks of text re: I conquered the 10k from hell and Captain America saved Bucky from Nazi geese, I am the most awesome vintage genderbent superhero you know, Thor got really excited about my athletic achievements, the Rainbow State's about to live up to its name, and I have a social life again but it's mostly this one really awesome guy. )

...So, life's been pretty excellent! :D
zolac_no_miko: (TEEEEAAAAAMMM)
I figured I was probably past due for a life update, because scrolling back through my posts I see that I haven't made a post that wasn't a) a Croatia trip picspam (and yes, more of those to follow at some point), b) fanfiction, or c) a meme since March. SEVEN MONTHS AGO. So, for those of you not playing along on Twitter, here's what the hell is up with my life!

When last we spoke, I was flailing about the fellowship I'd earned for my graduate studies. I am now, holy shit, halfway through my first semester, and things are WONDERFUL~! The work is keeping me very busy, and I spend a lot of time reading papers that remind me that WE'RE ALL GONNA DIE, but the work is interesting and I get to spend a lot of time with like-minded people, which is fab. There's thirteen of us in my cohort, and this semester is devoted to the core classes, so we spend a LOT of time together, which is great, because everyone is super cool, as are other students in the program whom I'm starting to get to know better. More on cool grad students later.

I'm keeping pretty busy outside of school. I'm now a regular instructor with the Hilo Hep Cats, teaching beginning and beginning-plus level classes in six- and eight-count Lindy. I'm also occasionally teaching privates. The work pays; it pays very little, but I can totally call myself a professional swing dance instructor. So that's cool. I'm sort of tangentially involved in environmental management consultation for a friend's agricultural property that my dad is a partner in, and to a somewhat larger extent in natural resource management and restoration on the maternal family's property on O‘ahu, and I've managed to get myself named Vice-President of the university's Swing Club and Treasurer for my graduate program's student club. Yeah. I'm all mad responsible and shit, check me out. Aside from all that I've got all my usual dance workshops/entertaining visiting instructors/having illicit lava adventures/seeing movies and plays/going to concerts etc., along with the recent additions of training for the 10k Run For the Dry Forest later this month and constructing my freaking excellent 1940s gender-bent Captain America costume to be worn at Halloween/the Cap 2 premiere/San Diego Comic Con 2014.

There have been marked improvements to my social life recently. None of my really good friends live on this island anymore, so, you know, THANK ZOLAC FOR TWITTER, but it makes it hard to find someone to go to the beach/go camping/go drinking/marathon movies with you. I was doing okay with just my eternal bro Eric,, but he went and got himself employed in Thailand for the next three years, leaving me ALONE AND FRIENDLESS AND FULL OF WOE. I was able to fill his vacancy with Sonia, a totally awesome member of the USGS Hakalau bird banding crew, but I knew the appointment was temporary, as her work visa was set to expire at the end of the summer, sending her back to Australia. My clever plan for Acquiring New Friends depended very heavily on people I had yet to meet in my cohort/graduate program... so far it's working out BRILLIANTLY.

My new bff is a guy named Forrest, who is possibly the coolest person in the world. He was born and raised on a small sailing boat, and he's spent his whole life sailing around the tropics with his brother and parents, spending most of his formative years on uninhabited atolls and places like the Marshall Islands. He's got a very adventurous/hunter-gatherer/general handy-man attitude; last weekend we hiked to a beach and he pulled out a bowie knife he made himself from a leaf spring he scavenged from a derelict vehicle, climbed a 50 foot coconut tree in about 20 seconds with no ropes, cut down a bunch of green coconuts, and expertly lopped them open so we could drink coconut milk. This is about as succinct a summary of who Forrest is as I can come up with. From Day 1, at orientation, I had him picked out, like, THIS IS THE GUY, THIS IS THE FRIEND I'VE BEEN LOOKING FOR. He seems to feel the same way. That first lab trip where we got bored and both ended up at the top of a tree chatting about forest foods pretty much clinched it; we have tons in common and we're increasingly attached at the hip. I HAVE SUCH A FANGIRL CRUSH ON THIS GUY IT'S NOT EVEN FUNNY.

Bff Candidate #2 is Christy, who I sort of vaguely already knew from dance things. Earlier this week I walked into the grad lounge and she was wearing a "Rogers-Stark 2012" campaign t-shirt; this rapidly devolved into an hour of us yelling, "COMIC BOOKS! SUPERHEROES! COSTUMING! CULT FILMS! WELCOME TO NIGHT VALE! OH MY GOD I LOVE YOU LET'S BE FRIENDS FOREVER!!" at each other and exchanging numbers.

So that's what's going on in my life. I'll leave it at that; I've got to meet the head of my graduate program to deposit a shit-ton of last spring's fundraiser money and then meet up with other students for our group lab project and then buy more costuming stuff and then teach a private dance lesson and maybe do homework in there somewhere.

STAY CLASSY, INTERNET.
zolac_no_miko: (Pele says hello)
So, I need to be awake in *squint* five hours, but I wanted to tell y'all about my illicit volcano adventure I had on Friday night when [livejournal.com profile] look_alive was visiting.

So, in Halema'uma'u Crater within the summit caldera of Kilauea, our actively erupting volcano, there's an open vent with a lava lake in it that's been steaming away since 2008. Before 2008 you used to be able to drive down into the bottom of the caldera and drive right up to Halema'uma'u and walk to the edge and look in, but since the vent opened up the entire bottom of the caldera has been closed to the public because of Danger. You can stand on the edge of the caldera and see the steam coming out of the vent and at night it makes a gorgeous glow, but you can't actually see the lava lake.

So we decided we wanted to see the lava lake.

I've actually done this before, about six months ago, but I don't think I talked about it anywhere other than Twitter, and I'm not sure I posted any photos. That time, we crossed the caldera at night without flashlights (to avoid detection) on one of the old hiking trails, and let me tell you, even with a half moon it is a pain in the ass to follow a trail over black lava rock marked out by black lava rock cairns in the dark without flashlights. But we got there and back and I feel pretty badass about my navigation skills, actually.

This time we walked down the road, which is a MUCH SMARTER WAY TO GO.

Anyway, I can't... I can't properly describe to you what it's like. I've been getting up close and personal with molten lava my whole life, but where watching lava trickle into the ocean is fucking amazing, standing on the edge of a cliff and looking down the throat of the volcano into the molten lifeblood of the Earth is FUCKING AMAZING. It's this whole other level of astonishing. It's the closest thing to a religious experience I've ever had. It reduces you to idiotic babbling.

The lava lake was even more exciting than the last time I saw it, too. It was much closer to the edge of the vent, and much more active. Louder, a constant low rumble, and constantly bubbling, and at one end a spatter fountain kept flinging lava into the air and onto the surface of the lake with audible splashes.

Pictures don't do it justice, but here's one anyway. I took video also (still doesn't do it justice) but I haven't had time to upload and knowing me I NEVER WILL so here's one of [livejournal.com profile] look_alive's.

I'd like to thank Pele again for being gracious and hospitable and allowing us to admire her in all of her fiery magnificence and walk safely away again. Mahalo nui loa, seriously.

...Anyway, off to Hakalau again tomorrow. For the past three weeks, and for the foreseeable future, I'm spending three days a week up on the refuge harassing birds for science. I spend all day in the beautiful forest, and then drink a lot of beer and eat amazing food. I fucking love my life, you guys.
zolac_no_miko: (‘I‘iwi)
So I had an awesome time in Lupea. This place, I can't even express, to a person like me it's like Candyland. See, it's extremely remote, and on private property, only accessible by passing through several other large parcels of private property, so it's not really a place very many people get to see. And the more I travel in Hawaiian wilderness, the more I appreciate that there's no such thing as just rainforest or just mesic forest or just dryland forest, every corner of these islands has its own unique community with its own unique mix of species, so everywhere I go I'm seeing something new. And we travelled through some amazing stuff on the way to Lupea. A highlight was the old-growth rainforest of immensely tall, broad-trunked, ancient 'ohi'as, wrapped in lush tangles of 'ie'ie vines.

And then we get to Lupea, in the saddle between Hualalai and Mauna Loa, and it's this fabulous forest of old-growth koa-sandalwood-mamane-naio forest, some big 'ohi'as and kōleas on the 'a'a flows, and just–these sandalwoods, I can't even. They were tall, like, properly tall, 60-70 feet tall (?), and many broad enough I couldn't put my arms around them. And so many of them, thousands of trees.

...Some context. Back in the monarchy days, the Chinese found out about our 'iliahi sandalwoods and sparked a wildfire of logging. Hawaiians were cutting down every 'iliahi they could find and loading them on ships to China. Sandalwood very nearly went extinct in Hawai'i. Even today sandalwood is a rare and valuable wood, sandalwood oil is going for $1000-$1500 per kilo these days. Most Hawaiian sandalwood I've seen is really a glorified shrub, maybe 15 feet tall and 30 years old at best; I've really only seen two or three specimens in the whole state that could properly be called a tree. So Lupea? BLEW MY MIND.

Really beautiful area. In the mornings, when it's clear, the views of Hualalai, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea are magnificent. The forest is, again, exceptionally stunning, even though the ground has been completely denuded by feral sheep, so the forest is sorely lacking in understory species and young trees. There were, indeed, quite a lot of sheep, especially on the other side of the fence. There are also feral dogs, which was a bit scary; we heard them howling in the early morning. Another unpleasant sound was the sound of chainsaws from the property next door, continuing to cut down ancient hardwoods (Lupea, thankfully, belongs to Kamehameha Schools, which has sworn not to earn a cent from cutting live native trees).

I had some singular experiences up there. I've now tasted the sandalwood nut, and wow, I can see why the rats love them so much. Something between raw coconut and raw macadamia nut. And then there was that fallen sandalwood log that was blocking the road, so Andrew picked it up and took it back to camp. And the last evening was dry and clear, and he chainsawed the log into pieces and we set it on fire. Let me tell you, there is something opulently extravagant in the highest degree to burn sandalwood. We felt like we should be sitting on polar bear rugs, eating endangered species caviar and drinking the kind of vodka that has gold flakes in it, I mean, that was seriously some Donald Trump shit right there, propping our wet hiking boots up next to the hibachi full of burning sandalwood, wafting the perfumed smoke over us. Just, fantastic. That could happen nowhere else, not in these islands anyway.

...So yeah, it was a fun camping trip, even if I want to punch every last feral sheep in the face.

I have already embarked on my next adventure. I'm sitting at the gate in Los Angeles at ass o'clock in the morning, waiting for my flight to Baltimore, enroute (eventually) to Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Bulgaria. Got about 45 minutes yet until I board... time for more fanfic, I guess! :D

Catch y'all on the flipside!
zolac_no_miko: (Pele says hello)
Well, here you go, guys, you've been waiting for this one long enough. I'll make another post at some point with a picspam of Everything Else I've been doing since, like, February, but here's the bird stuff at least.

First off, I should summarize the Nauhi Experience, since I've never really gone and done that. )

PICTURES )

Not that anyone would notice if I didn't tell you, but my ‘okina and kahakō are ALL OVER THE PLACE in this; can't be arsed to worry about it overly much, too exhausted. @_@
zolac_no_miko: (Pele says hello)
So, this is it. Within minutes (in theory) I'll be leaving for the deep woods. OH MY GOD YOU GUYS I AM SO EXCITED. TT_TT

So I forgot to talk about last week! Last week at work was a lot of fun, actually. Well, Monday we spent all day cleaning out the garage storage closet, so that was... amusing, at least, but dunno that I'd say fun. But we spent the rest of the week doing field trips to cool places!

Tuesday Dennis took us to Cooper's Forest to train us on pig sign/mosquito habitat transects. This forest is really close by, just outside of the National Park... it's full of stawberry guava and faya and kahili and pigs and mosquitoes, but otherwise is a really pretty forest, and as you go deeper in you find some pretty cool plants. Also, as I was hiking along I felt an itch on the side of my face and reached for it reflexively and got my fingers on a bug-type thing, and I grab it and look at my fingers and it's a happy face spider. THERE WAS A HAPPY FACE SPIDER. CRAWLING DOWN THE SIDE OF MY FACE. (For context, this is an endemic spider with a distinctive happy face pattern on its abdomen; they are found nowhere else in the world, and they are tiny and hard to find. AND THIS ONE CRAWLED DOWN MY FACE. ...Do a Google image search, guys, even arachnophobes think this spider is cute.) I was afraid I'd crushed her, but she was fine. And she seemed to develop Stockholm syndrome because I had great difficulty getting her to leave me and go back on some bushes. ...SO COOL.

Wednesday we accompanied Carter to Malama Ki in lower Puna, to set up poles for mist-netting. This one area has a population of malaria-tolerant amakihi and apapane; generally, below a certain elevation you just don't find honeycreepers at all, but there they were, lots of them, at sea level. It was surreal and super exciting. Had fun botanizing down there, too, and we found Jackie's GeoCache, "Groom A Wookie", and it was hot and sunny and beautiful and Carter bought us Slurpees after. ^_^

Thursday we went to Ainahou (a dry forest section of the National Park with a historic ranch house and a nene breeding ground) to collect old poles, check up on the mamane bloom, and look for mosquitoes. This took a couple of hours, and then we headed down toward Hilo and the Wailuku River so Dennis could give us stream margin-dipping/puddle critter identification training. But first we took a detour to Jackie's house to see her Pez collection, and to Dennis' house to let his dogs out, and we stopped at Ace Hardware in Kea‘au to buy supplies, and basically it didn't at all feel like we were working. XD; And it was gorgeous in Hilo, and we got to poke around in puddles and look at bugs which is, like, how I spent my childhood, so that didn't feel like work either. And afterwards Dennis took the very very scenic route through Pu‘ueo (in the wrong direction) and took a winding, leisurely route through town before getting back on the highway, and, yeah, the whole day was hilarious and lazy and like a vacation.

...I missed some fun this weekend, though. Like ten of the interns went camping in Pololu Valley, which I really would've liked to join them for if I wasn't doing archaeology on O'ahu. STILL WANT THAT TIME TURNER. ...I feel like a lame human being, I've lived here my whole life and never even seen Pololu, and Matt's only been here a year and he's been, like, three times.

Speaking of housemate Matt, he left us this morning. ;_; But at least we scored his food and coffee and beer. :D His replacement came in this morning as well... I have already forgotten her name. WHAT, I'VE BEEN BUSY. She seems nice, though. ^_^

Aaaaaaand that's all the time I have, need to go back to the office, now. Hopefully Carter's ready to go, so we can go to Hakalau already.

BYE GUYS I LOVE YOU I'LL SEE YOU ALL IN JUNE IF I DONT' DIE. :DDDDDD
zolac_no_miko: (authentic Hawaiian coconut tree)
Walp, I was hoping to make a status post/picspam for my life/job so far this spring before vanishing into the wilderness until June, but it's not looking like I'm going to have time for that, although I have started sorting through my pictures. But I think I can manage a quick post about my archaeology weekend!

My two days with the dig were a lot of fun! I learned a lot about/actively participated in the materials and methods of a proper archaeological dig. I mostly did a lot of digging, although on Saturday afternoon I helped Pat (Dr. Kirch) with his surveying, and I did a bit of dry sieving at the end. The surveying was interesting... it involves a glorified yardstick (telescoping, extends to... very very high above my head, enough that it catches wind and starts being very difficult to hold upright) and a fancy scope on a plane on a tripod. There's a level on the plane so you can set it up flat, and a built-in compass so you know which way you're pointed. My job was to wander around the site and hold the 'yardstick' still and vertical; by sighting the stick through the crosshairs of his scope, Pat can determine the distance and ground height relative to the scope. In this way he can determine the precise 3-D location of every single stone, and draw a detailed map of the site, including contour lines. It's a really cool tool, but they don't make them anymore; his is from the Forties.

The digging was tough; the soil up there is dense, hard-packed clay, in places almost as hard as rock. We only made it fifteen or twenty centimeters in Units 1 and 2 in a day and a half of digging (each Unit is a meter squared). We've already found some interesting stuff, though: a piece of seashell with a hole drilled through it, a chunk of coral (bear in mind, the site is at almost 2000 ft), and lots of little pieces of charcoal. At Unit 2, the unit I was digging, we've determined that the wall of the pā doesn't extend further down than what's visible on the surface; no sign of paving, either, at least not in that spot. On the one hand, vaguely disappointing; on the other hand, this means the charcoal we've already found can probably be used to date the pā! :DD

Our ranger, community liaison, cultural adviser, and friend, Thomas Anuheali‘i has been on-hand throughout the dig to keep an eye on the spiritual aspect of things, as well as to help with the digging. We are so lucky to have a friend and ally in Anu; he is so knowledgeable and does so much for us. Before we started digging on Friday, he and his wife Maka and his kumu (teacher and mentor) Auntie Kehau blessed the site, and then blessed us, with water from Pālehua and Mauna Kea. He blessed us again yesterday, and each day at pau hana (finished work), and provides shorter blessings every time anyone leaves or enters the site (i.e. to eat lunch up at the house). He chants occasionally during the dig, when he feels the need, although most of the time he's helping out with the hard labor. By his instruction, we were also under a sugar kapu during work hours: no man-made sugars from eight in the morning to pau hana; this is a Lent type thing, a sacrifice, and a way to keep our minds focused on the seriousness of the work.

I am really really happy that we have Anu to help us observe the culturally correct and respectful way of doing things. It feels... pono. It makes the dig not about taking data from the site, and more of a community partnership, a cultural conversation, an equivalent exchange of mana. And I'm happy and proud to be a part of a family that had no interest in doing things any other way.

...Anyway, pictures from the dig will have to wait until I come back in June, along with my old pictures and my new pictures from the Lower Hakalau Vigilante Bushwhack Expedition and the bog in the middle of nowhere that will be my home for ten days. By then the dig will be over; hopefully when I get back I'll have exciting (or at least interesting) news about the results from Uncle Tim!

Oh god how is it this late in the day already, okay, BUYING/PACKING ALL OF THE THINGS NOW. T_T
zolac_no_miko: (CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!)
Yeah, so I really really don't have time to see Avengers again this weekend, BUT I AM GOING TO SEE IT TONIGHT ANYWAY. WITH MY ETERNAL BRO ERIC. AGAIN. LIKE A BOSS.

Oh gaaaaawwwdd you guys I am so exhausted and I still have so much shopping and packing to do, aaauuuuuugghh! @_@

To do list for the rest of the evening:
-Shower
-Laundry
-Coffee
-Attempt to eat as many things in my fridge as possible that might go bad over the next two weeks
-Inventory food supply
-Write up packing/shopping lists
-Start packing?
-9:15 drive to Hilo
-10:30 AVENGERS
-Sleep (maybe)
-?????
-PROFIT

Tomorrow: Meet with Dad, sign insurance papers! Buy flowers for Mom! Party with Peace Corps friends recently returned from Mali!

Sunday: Brunch with Mom and visiting friends! BUY ALL OF THE THINGS! PACK ALL OF THE THINGS! And do all of the other things I urgently need to do. T_T

Monday: INTO THE JUNGLE FOREVER SERIOUSLY IT WAS NICE KNOWING YOU GUYS~!
zolac_no_miko: (WHEEEEEE~!!)
Let's make a list again, I like lists.

-It's a beautiful day in Volcano. ^_^

-OMG YOU GUYS COUNTING THE HOURS UNTIL I CAN SEE AVENGERS A;SKGHSLKGJASFFSDS I MIGHT ACTUALLY DIE.

-First I have to, you know, make a contribution to my community or something silly like that. Told my Dad I'd help out with timekeeping etc. at the Big Island Interscholastic Federation Track and Field Championships at Kea‘au High School. ...Kinda looking forward to it, actually. Them high school varsity track days, thems were good days. I expect a lot of nostalgia. ...Just so y'all know, we're cheering for Waiākea High School; after all these years, I still bleed blue and white. GO WARRIORS GO!! :DD

-OMG YOU GUYS LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT MY JOB AS;ALGHSKFJALS;FSFS. So, it's getting to that time, the time where we make our expeditions down to lower Hakalau. So, next week we're not going up to Nauhi (the cabin at mid-elevation Hakalau); we're running a bunch of errands and doing office stuff and prepping for our trip. Then, on the 14th, a bunch of us drive up to the UH Field Station up at Hakalau Forest NWR. Early the next morning, we take backpacks and machetes and bushwhack our way down to the site, and we clear a landing site if necessary. The next day (weather permitting), a helicopter drops our gear and the rest of our crew off at the site. Then, on the 26th, the helicopter comes and picks us all back up and flies us out. That's TWELVE DAYS IN THE FIELD, HOLY CRAP, and all tent-camping except for that first night in the super-plush UH Field Station. A;LSGHKFASJFAKLHSGLSKJF SO EXCITED!! You guys, I am a badass outdoorswoman, but this is going to be my longest uninterrupted stay in the backcountry, and my longest stay in a tent by a lot, and it's in an area that very few people on the planet have ever been to or ever will and it's going to be very very wet and if the weather is bad we will probably all drown and it's going to be the coolest thing ever and oh my god HAVE I MENTIONED I HAVE THE BEST JOB, BY THE WAY, I HAVE THE BEST JOB. TT_TT

-As awesome as this is I am super bummed by the timing; I'd been hoping to make it over to O‘ahu and help out with my family's archaeological excavation of the pā at Pālehua; I was going to be Pat Kirch's surveying assistant! (This guy, he's like the top expert of Polynesian archaeology IN THE WORLD, I was really looking forward to meeting him!) I've been looking forward to it for months and months! But my trip to lower Hakalau pretty much exactly coincides with the dig, b'aaaaawwww. *heartbroken* WHY NOT A TIME-TURNER, I COULD BE IN TWO PLACES AT ONCE, IT WOULD BE SO AWESOME. TT_TT

-Otherwise, things at work are going pretty well. Week before last was, as I expected, EXCEEDINGLY AWKWARD. But we caught an akepa! :DDDD This is a big deal; akepa are very very endangered. They are also tiny and adorable and day-glo orange. This was the first akepa for all three of us, so we were super excited and happy. (I was the one who found it; oh for a recording of me flipping out on the radio when I called Jackie to come extract it. XD;)

-Now that I'm done with Pō Pouli, I hope to have time very soon for a super über mega picture dump of my various adventures these past few months, including my work up at Nauhi. IT WILL BE AWESOME. It's not gonna happen today though, haha. Probably not tomorrow either. Maybe next week before I leave to die in the woods on my trip?

-Speaking of Pō Pouli, I have just been in this glow of happiness all week. Now that the exhaustion has worn off and I am able to think properly... I think... I think it might be my best work to date? T_T I'm really really happy with it. And everyone has been leaving such lovely feedback, and I've even made a few awesome new friends. HI NEW FRIENDS, HI~!! :DD *waves*

TL,DR; my life is awesome and I am happy. Expect a lot of incoherent flailing in capslock re: Avengers later tonight. (Omgomgomg~!!)

WHOO~!!

Feb. 21st, 2012 08:17 am
zolac_no_miko: (Hawaii's favorite meat product)
Alright, let's see if I can squeeze this in before I lose signal.

Kapa'a was super awesome fun. It was an excellently laid-back way to spend the weekend. I had to get over my angst about feral cats and keawe trees (GIANT. THORNS. EVERYWHERE. ALL OVER THE GROUND.), but aside from that the campsite is really lovely, wild and remote, rocky coastline and blue, blue ocean as far as the eye can see. My little one-person tent was snug and cozy and delightful, and our potluck meals were tasty, and we spent the days sitting and chatting and staring out to sea and watching the whales swim by.

AND THERE WERE SO MANY WHALES. All day, every day, whales. More whales than I could possibly count, spouting and breaching and slapping. One whale would breach several times in succession, then roll over on his back and slap the water multiple times with his flipper, then go back to breaching, and so on, rinse and repeat, all the way up the coast. This went on so long, people got tired of watching him. Another whale worked his way up the coast in intervals of five to seven tail-slaps with short breaks in between. Among other quite excellent whale activities (members of the party claimed to hear singing on the second night). And a dolphin. And a monk seal that I missed seeing.

The first night was a bit stormy, high winds and surf and a spattering of rain and lightning off-shore, but my tent didn't let me down. Wetter parts of the island apparently received torrential downpours, and both peaks got massive snowfalls. The second night had some lightning but luckily was dry, so our dancing plans didn't get ruined.

The Olliephonics was great fun as usual, and we were delighted to find a couple of other lindy-hoppers on our floor, Pat and Maria from Seattle.

...So that was all very fun, and we stopped at the Big Island Brewhaus yesterday and OH MY GOD. Truly excellent Mexican food, and I'm usually pretty ambivalent about Mexican, so that's saying a lot. And they make their own sodas and yesterday's soda was liliko'i creme (that's passionfruit to the rest of you, and OH MY GOD. BEST EVER. SO DELICIOUS. I'm going to need to go back and try their ginger bier and, like, all of their brews. For serious, if you're ever in Waimea, check it out.

Okay so I'm headed up to Hakalau for the next two days, it is raining SO HARD which is going to SUCK... SO HARD, the end I love you all kbye.
zolac_no_miko: (WHEEEEEE~!!)
Okay, so in case anyone hadn't already figured it out, my internet presence is going to be somewhat diminished for the next several months. I will only have the possibility of internet when I'm not in the field, which, as I go further into my internship, will not be a lot of the time; when I'm not in the field I will only really have internet when I make the time and effort to go seek it out (only one of the volunteer houses has wireless, and it's not mine), or when I come down to Hilo for a bit. I will have internet on my Droid when I'm not in the field, so emails and LJ comment alerts will still get to me on weekends and office days, and who knows, I may even have time to respond. :P

I am going to give up all attempts at actually keeping up with my Friends list. I'll check in occasionally but I'm realistically only going to catch like 10% of what goes on there. I'll make posts when I can to keep you guys abreast (haha I said breast) of what I'm up to, and I'll really make an effort to post pictures occasionally, so you guys can see my beautiful forest and gorgeous adorable birdies.

...So yeah, anyway, this is me just squeezing in a quick update while I devour some breakfast. First week of the internship is going great. The other intern is this guy named Sean from North Carolina; he's quiet and somewhat shy and totally pleasant and amiable and we're getting along great. We live with Matt from Ohio who does insect stuff, and he's cool and friendly and we like him and I think we're all going to be great housemates. I think there's supposed to be a couple of Eban's bird demography volunteers moving in with us this weekend, but there's this whole big drama right now with Eban's crew and who's going to live where and whether or not his techs will get housing even though it's against the rules and blah blah blah, so I don't really know what the situation will be like when I get back on Monday.

Matt and Sean and I usually all start work at the same time in the morning, except for when Sean and I are going into the field and therefore have to wake up at ass o'clock (we have to be at the office at six a.m. on Tuesday. SIX A.M.), so most mornings we walk to work together. Guys, this is fantastic; I've gone from a 45-minutes-by-car one-way commute, to a 15-minutes-by-foot one-way commute. And also it's the nicest commute ever, a pleasant stroll on a path through the rainforest with the birds waking up all around us. T_T It's a great way to start the morning.

We spent a few days doing office stuff, thrilling work like disentangling mist nets and checking them for holes, and disinfecting mist nets and bird bags, and aliquoting lysis buffer into tiny vials, and getting First Aid/CPR/AED certified. We did go up to Hakalau on Wednesday to check out Nauhi Cabin, which is where we'll be staying when we're in the field for the next... a lot of time, and set up a bunch of poles and played tour guide for a visiting malaria expert from Penn State, a dude named Andrew with an awesome New Zealand accent.

Life at housing is neat. Thursday was pizza night, so we all went over to where Caitlin and Keola are living and contributed pizza ingredients. We had a vegetarian pizza with white sauce (spinach and mushrooms and garlic and onions), and a pepperoni, spaghetti squash, garlic, onions, and basil pizza with red sauce (I contributed the spaghetti squash and the Italian-style stewed tomatoes for the sauce), and I brought tortilla chips and Matt brought salsa and Caitlin busted out the SCARY INTENSE hot sauce Laurèen sent from Réunion and Brent brought cheesy bread (AMAZING) and Keola made some intensely delicious shoyu chicken and Caitilin busted out the kim chee and someone brought wine and Matt brought spiced rum and there was a lot of beer floating around. It was super fun. And I had a lot of stuff to take care of that evening, but I had a beer and some wine and a swig of the rum and then I took a hot shower and all of a sudden my head was REALLY HEAVY, so I went to sleep at like 9 and woke up early to do stuff instead. XD;

I am at home in Hilo at the moment, and for at least like another couple of hours, and then Don and Mom and I are headed up to Kapa‘a, which is a beach campground in Kohala, a little ways north of Kawaihae. We're getting together with a bunch of friends for the weekend and there will be music and singing and whale-watching and soooooo much potluck food and I had planned to invite Alex but he broke up with me so he doesn't get to come, nyahh~. And it's a three-day weekend in this great nation, so Sunday night we're sneaking away and going to the Blue Dragon and the Olliephonics are playing and like at least fifteen Hepcats are showing up and we're basically going to take over the whole place and dance dance dance.

And then on Tuesday it's out to the field for a couple of days, catching birdies whee~!

So yeah. I'll, uh. Be in touch when I can.

I LOVE YOU ALL!! ♥♥♥
zolac_no_miko: (communist party)
So this is really ill-advised, because I am SO TIRED OMG and I need to make a good impression tomorrow. But.

Okay so first of all work last Thursday was super fun, they set us interns loose in an area I've never been before, some patches of dry forest on the Hōlei Pali, where we scrambled around on sharp, precarious ‘a‘a flows (redundant) on a very steep slope, collecting tissue from a rare plant for a genetics project and seed-collecting. It was a really cool area with a really neat plant community and FANTASTIC views of the coastal plains. If I ever have time to, like, take two breaths I will maybe post pictures.

Friday morning I went to Maui Party, and. I just. Oh my god. SOME OF THE BEST FUN I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. )

...Anyway, I need to be ASLEEP, I've gotta be up in... less than five hours, now, because I am going up to Hakalau for a couple days after all, to learn how to put up mist nets and handle tiny birdies and take their blood. And then Thursday will be my last day with NPS, and then I somehow got roped into teaching the Blues mini-lesson at the Lounge, and Thomas and Joaquin from Maui Party are expected to show up which is AWESOME because Thomas was one of my very favorite dance partners and vice-versa; both of them, really, are amazing leads, and. Friday night is Jazz Mele at the Hilo Town Tavern, and Saturday night is Island Swing Orchestra at the Elk's Lodge, and my new internship starts on Monday and I really can't think about the rest of the month yet, it's just too exhausting OH GOD WHAT IS MY LIFE.

IT'S WONDERFUL, THAT'S WHAT.
zolac_no_miko: (communist party)
I really don't have time for this, but if not now, NEVER. So, a super-quick drive-by update, just in case any of you have been wondering where the hell I've been for the last week or so.

-Thursday and Friday I went camping for work at Pepeiao Cabin with my boss Mark and my Canadian volunteer comrade-in-arms Caitlin. We tromped around in the Ka‘u Desert for a couple of days through what used to be native shrubland but is now largely alien grassland, checking up on outplants that were put in after a fire some years ago. It was fun! Mark and Caitlin are both great company, and Mark's a fantastic cook, and Caitlin brought a bottle of Jack, and I got to see some cool endemics that I'd never seen/heard of before, and the stars were pretty at night, and it was awesome.

-DANCING A LOT! DANCING A LOT SOME MORE! NEW JOB! )

-Here watch a cute video about seal cuddles:

Seal meets girl. Seal falls in love with girl. The end. from Bob Dobalina on Vimeo.



-THIS WAS NOT AS QUICK AS I INTENDED IT TO BE.

-♥!
zolac_no_miko: (TARDIS)
So, in all of the (enjoyable) mass chaos of this month, I think I forgot to mention that just before New Year's we got a new car? Out with the '91 Previa, in with the brand new Honda Fit Sport! I took one look at the thing and promptly named it TARDIS, because it's TARDIS blue, it's bigger on the inside (no seriously this little car is so freaking spacious, it really should not be possible), and it will take us on adventures through Time and Space! :DDD

LOOK AT IT!! :DD )

...Mom hasn't let me drive her yet. D:

So anyway, last week Sunday (yes, I know, a week ago, shut up I've been busy) a bunch of us drove over to Kawaihae to eat dinner at The Blue Dragon and dance to The Olliephonic Horns, one of our favorite swing bands. Coming down the hill from Waimea out past Pu‘ukoholā Heiau there were MORE WHALES, about three of them, BREACHING AGAIN AND AGAIN AND HAVING A BIG OLD PARTY, which was lovely, and I thought very appropriate since Pu‘ukoholā means "Hill of the Whale".

The Olliephonics were a blast, as usual, and we had a surprise treat: their guest vocalist was Pauline Wilson! She's the Big Island's only Grammy winner (and she won it back in the day before there were a million categories), and she's FABULOUS and we love her. So that was excellent.

Oh, and [livejournal.com profile] shichahn, in case you thought I was joking or something... )

Not technically champagne; it was a sparkling wine from Italy, I believe. And delicious. ALMOST AS DELICIOUS AS BUNNY.

...So this weekend has been a lot of snorkeling and dancing and good times. (And yardwork.) The weather's been absolutely gorgeous... warm and sunny and crystal clear to the tops of both peaks, patches of snow on Mauna Kea, just... stunning.

I love my life. AND I LOVE ALL OF YOU. ♥ ♥ ♥
zolac_no_miko: (authentic Hawaiian coconut tree)
Yesterday Alex and I went to Makalawena Beach, which is a gorgeous white sand beach in Kekaha Kai State Park on the Kona side, that can only be accessed by either a) walking a long way in the hot hot sun over sharp, rough ‘a‘a rock, or b) taking your life in your hands and a 4x4 vehicle that you don't like very much down the access "road". Alex has a Nissan XTerra and is the best kind of lunatic, so we went with option b. (No seriously, I can't even tell you how fucked up this 4x4 track is, I mean, I've driven in some pretty effing gnarly places for my various internships, but jesus, that road gave us a thrashing! :DD)

Anyway, skipping past all of the very excellent things about Makalawena and going straight to the WHALES, OMG SO MANY WHALES, HOLY SHIT WHALES~!!! It's humpback season in Hawai‘i, and I've been looking and looking and hadn't seen any until yesterday just before sunset, when HOLY SHIT SO MANY WHALES showed up. I can't even, I've lived in Hawai‘i my whole life and I've traveled to Alaska and I've had some pretty freaking excellent whale sightings, but in terms of the combination of sheer number of whales, proximity to the whales, and whale activity, this was THE BEST I'VE EVER SEEN. There had to have been a dozen of them, at least, maybe more, hard to tell, they're under the water and they move around, so. There were definitely one or two babies. The closest whales, a group of I think three, including a baby, was FOR SERIOUS ONLY A HUNDRED METERS OFF SHORE. We could have swum out to them easily if that wasn't a) illegal, and b) dangerous. There was a lot of spouting and we had a couple nice views of tails, and then there were the two whales further out that just WOULD NOT STOP BREACHING, they were having a freaking BREACHING PARTY, oh my god, just flinging themselves bodily out of the water OVER AND OVER AGAIN.

BEST. WHALES. EVER.

...Okay [livejournal.com profile] platoapproved, it's safe now.

So anyway, this beach. Not too crowded due to the effort it takes to get there, and it's beautiful and there are fun sea creatures and the waves are nice for bodyboarding or surfing, and there were moa (those Polynesian chickens) wandering around entertaining us by boldly stealing food from people's unwatched bags. And surrounding the beach there are a series of rare anchialine ponds and ʻŌpaeʻula Pond, a wetland area that's a National Natural Landmark and is one of the only remaining breeding and nesting areas for rare Hawaiian wetland birds such as the āeʻo (Hawaiian Stilt), the ʻalae keʻokeʻo (Hawaiian Coot), and the ʻaukuʻu (Black-crowned Night Heron). There were SO MANY STILTS, which was super exciting, you almost never see those, and I've never seen so many at once, oh my gaaaaaawd I really wished I'd brought binoculars, and oh my god this place is totally going on my list of Awesome Birding Places to take [livejournal.com profile] shichahn to when she finally comes to visit me.

Also, check out how cute this bird is, seriously. )

...And the vog wasn't bad and the sunset was FUCKING BEAUTIFUL and asghsla;hfklsahgkfs it was a Perfect. Freaking. Day. TT_TT

Also tomorrow is a holiday so tonight a bunch of us are driving up to Kawaihae for dinner at the Blue Dragon and SO MUCH DANCING to the very excellent Olliephonics, OMG YAY I AM EXCITE.

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