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: (*shrug*)
Well, holy shit, I haven't posted here since July.

Things have been happening. I went to Colorado for a family reunion and Rocky Mountain hiking in July, Iowa for a friend's wedding in September, presented at and attended the Hawaii Conservation Conference in August, and presented my thesis proposal to my thesis committee in September.

Yesterday I had a lovely day's outing with Forrest and ten of our friends to Pololū Valley; we got thoroughly muddy, sweaty, and mosquito-bitten hiking through a jungle for several hours, but then we got to swim under a waterfall and pick ‘ulu from the trees to cook in a fire and stuff our faces with. On the hike back we swung like Tarzan across a small gully using the viney aerial roots of a banyan tree and snacked on sprouted coconut. Later we visited Forrest's favorite coconut tree and he cut us down some fat young coconuts, and I drank the largest, sweetest coconut ever before eating the spoon-meat. It was an AWESOME day.

On the way back, the rear window of the car I was in abruptly shattered, showering me with tempered glass, but that's neither here nor there. (No one was hurt.)

So those are the highlights. Mostly I've been very bored. I don't have classes anymore, and I do poorly with large stretches of unstructured time. Boredom, depression, loss of efficiency, loss of energy, loss of creativity. Part of why I haven't had much to say here. Been feeling a little lonely, too. Miss the strong feeling of community I've had online in the past.

I'm working on addressing these things. I'm trying to make an effort to reach out to friends, start conversations, hang out as best we can when we're thousands of miles apart. And in a blast to the past, I'm planning to apply to an online fandom RP called Snowblind. RP has been a good source of community and creativity for me in the past; it's also been a distraction, but honestly I'm at peak inefficiency already so I can only go up from here. My other source of community historically was LJ comms, but all my comms have pretty much shriveled up and died. Anybody know any good ones that might be in line with my interests?

I am looking forward to [livejournal.com profile] mini_wrimo. It didn't make me any friends last year, but it was great for my writing. Y'all should join us! All the accomplishment feels of NaNoWriMo for the low, low price of a 100 word daily minimum. Look, a banner!

mini_wrimo on LiveJournal      ||    mini_wrimo on Dreamwidth

I'm also job searching, uggggggggggghhh. (Very few things are more distasteful to me than the entire process of searching for jobs, applying, interviewing—if you get that far—waiting around to hear stuff, etc. Someone just give me work, plzkthx.) Looking for part-time work so I can have the moneys and a change of pace while also working on my thesis. I am making about $55-$70 a week teaching dance, which is not bad for a hobby, but I'll need a bit more if I don't want to drain my accounts. Wish me luck.

Those of you who post, I do see your posts; I'm still an unstoppable lurker. To all of you and to those of you I haven't heard from in a while—I think of you, and hope you are well.

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)
I don't post a lot of real journal-y type posts anymore, but this evening was just a really nice one. It was a blazer of a hot day, and once Forrest was done with work and fiddling with his truck and fiddling with his friend's truck, he came to get me and we raced the setting sun to King's Landing. It beat us, but we found a good spot to sit on the rocks and drink Dos Equis and watch the waves roll in and throw froth and spray in the air while the light slowly changed colors and faded over Mauna Kea. It looked kinda like this. (As you can see, I've stopped even trying to pretend I'm not smug on Twitter.) Venus was high in the sky to the west and Forrest gave me a nudge with his elbow, and the moon was rising fat and yellow through the trees behind us. And then when the tide came to get us we left and drove back in the deepening dark with nostalgic 90's alt-rock on the radio and the full moon glaring like a spotlight, Jupiter hanging next to it, and when we got back Forrest blackened some tuna and we drank more beer and laughed over dinner with friends and it was all just very nice, you know?
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: (Starbuck smile)
Last one! I'mma incorporate the last 24 hours. And also the future. Because I DO WHAT I WANT.

THING ONE! Yesterday was Forrest's birthday, so I met him and a bunch of his friends at Hilo Burger Joint for beers and burgers for lunch. Later in the afternoon I picked up a bunch of food to-go from his favorite restaurant, Tina's Garden Gourmet Cafe (it's only open for dinner on weekends), and then later we went and had a brief Thai fusion evening picnic at Onomea Bay. And we had a successful dance class and then we went to his place and ate leftover mango sticky rice and did our homework, and he opened his presents from me and Mom and he liked them. :)

THING TWO! The visiting Cornell Ph.D that my lab is hosting had his talk yesterday afternoon. I got there a bit late because my order at Tina's took longer to fill than I was expecting, but the bit I did see was super fascinating, and there was a loooooong period of question-asking afterwards, and when I asked my question he perked up and was like, "Aha, yes, I was hoping someone would ask that!!" and I practically wiggled in academic joy. And he's super intelligent and knowledgeable and enthusiastic and I don't think he's ever been to Hawai‘i, and I'm taking him on a couple of field trips tomorrow and Friday, so that will be fun.

THING THREE! This weekend I'm taking a bit of a break and only going up to Hakalau for the day on Friday. Saturday afternoon Forrest and I are driving over to Waikoloa for an America concert, and we're staying in a fancy hotel, and spending Sunday doing relaxing beach stuff on the Kona side of the island. I'm so excited to kick back a little, I've been working so hard. @_@

And that is all the positivity you're getting out of me. You know me, I'm so negative. :P
zolac_no_miko: (authentic Hawaiian coconut tree)
Oh look I'm actually doing this two days in a row, I'M SO AWESOME, YEEEEAAAHHH~!!

THING ONE! Talked my darling dear friend Chris on the phone today, which I don't do nearly often enough. (She was one of my closest friends at college practically from day one.) It was her birthday on Saturday, which prompted a wee bit of phone tag, and we finally caught each other at a good time tonight. So that was nice.

THING TWO! There's this thing in Hawai‘i where we have chickens just sort of wandering around, wild, don't belong to anyone. Mostly they're moa, or Red Junglefowl, that the Hawaiians brought with them, but all kinda interbred with other domestic chicken breeds. Since we a) don't have a dog or a cat anymore, and b) we throw papaya skins around under our trees to encourage chickens to dig coqui frogs out of the leaf litter and eat them, hens and chickies like to come and hang out in our yard and forage where it's friendly and safe. ANYWAY, there's this one black silkie chicken that's been wandering around the last couple years or so, and she's got her second clutch of little half-silkie chicks, TINY BLACK PEEPING RIDICULOUS FLOOFBALLS AAAAAAAAAAAHHH they make me so happy. T__T

THING THREE! Forrest wanted to have a "found foods" dinner, so I'm sitting on a lawn chair in the dark, drinking a beer while he pokes at the grill. I brought a breadfruit, and he's got some oysters from his job at the aquaculture research facility and lobsters from his lobster dive and heart of palm that he brought back from his kayak camping trip up on the north coast last weekend and it's gonna be awesome, basically.
zolac_no_miko: (furrowed brow even now)
I continue to be terrible about this consecutive days thing but eh, this is still a pretty impressive posting schedule for me. ...TMI warning, it's day one of what I like to call my Time of Power, and my uterus is trying to escape, so it's harder than usual to be positive, but I am committed to this meme, so I'm going to be positive WHETHER MY UTERUS LIKES IT OR NOT.

THING ONE! I had breakfast in bed with my boyfriend, then I went to class with my boyfriend, then I had lunch with my boyfriend, then I went shopping for a birthday present for my boyfriend. (His birthday is on Monday.) ...I like my boyfriend. :)

THING TWO! Had to lead a discussion with my fellow grad students about our assigned reading, and I felt good about it! Filled the allotted time, encouraged discussion, underlined the important points, didn't feel nervous. Yay! :D

THING THREE! In deference to my fragile state and to the amount of things I've gotten done already today, I'm giving myself the rest of the evening lying flat on my back on my comfy couch with a bottle of Angry Orchard and episode three of The Roosevelts.
zolac_no_miko: (‘I‘iwi)
As already discussed, my long weekend at Hakalau sort of messed up the consecutive thing. I've decided to pick three things from the whole weekend and call that my Day 2.

THING ONE! Yesterday morning I had the most INCREDIBLE encounter with an ‘Io, or Hawaiian Hawk. These hawks are listed as endangered, but they're quite common on my island, and you see them flying above Hilo all the time. Hakalau, however, is the environment they evolved for, a dense forest full of their prey, Hawaiian forest birds. I see several hawks a day up there, on the hunt, quiet and intense as they glide swiftly between the trees. ...ANYWAY, I was setting up a mist net for our day of bird banding when out of the corner of my eye I saw a branch shake. I looked up to see what bird had landed, and in a low ‘ohi‘a branch about 35 feet above my head was a gorgeous light phase hawk! (‘Io come in a range of colors, categorized into "light phase," or a white chest and face, or "dark phase," mostly dark brown.) The hawk sat there for quite some time, alternately peering at me and into a tangle of ferns on the hillside, while I gaped up at it, wishing I had my camera on me. After a few minutes, it flew off, demonstrating its skill as a forest hunter by passing through a gap between two tree trunks that couldn't have been more than 6 inches wide.

THING TWO! This morning, for what I believe is the first time ever in my life, I laid eyes on the planet Mercury. I woke at 5:15 a.m. and at 6500 feet the pre-dawn sky was glorious, a dome of dark, dark blue still set with bright stars overhead, and a ring of brilliant, flaming scarlet at the horizon. The clouds were below us, and set just above them, in the middle of the fiery band of red, the small, pale face of a planet too small to be Venus. ...I wish my phone had been up to the challenge of photographing the scene, but the stars and planets were too small and unfortunately there was just no capturing that gorgeous red.

THING THREE! Just now, tiny baby gecko on my wall. :)
zolac_no_miko: (GUITAR SOLO!)
[livejournal.com profile] mithen tagged me to do this meme, and even though I'm still in the middle of another meme I figure no time like the present. My LiveJournal has been much less journal-y lately so this is a good excuse to get back to that. Plus, positivity, yay!

Rules are: for five consecutive days post three positive things that have happened, plus tag three other people to do the same, so the positivity keeps growing.

I'm going to be in Hakalau for the next three days with no internet, so I'll be ruining the consecutive thing right off the bat. I'll either make one post to cover all three days, or just skip a couple days and have Sunday be my Day 2.

Tagging [livejournal.com profile] cattraine, [livejournal.com profile] burned_phoenix, and [livejournal.com profile] hardboiledbaby. Like Mithen, I figure if five consecutive days is tough for you, I'd rather get five non-consecutive good things than nothing at all, so go for it!

THING ONE. Well this was last night but it's within 24 hours so screw it, also I DO WHAT I WANT. Had date night with the boy, yes that boy, still the same boy since A YEAR AGO this is so weird for me, anyway we had dinner and went to see Jersey Boys, which was a nice enough date in and of itself, but then we went to Honoli‘i (the local surf spot) and made a driftwood fire on the black sand beach and sat on a towel and drank red wine from champagne flutes and watched the light of the waning moon glitter on the waves and shared stories about our youth and it was loooooooverly.

THING TWO. I really enjoyed class today! I mean, I enjoy class every day, I picked this landscape ecology class entirely because I adore the professor, JP, who is always entertaining. And the subject material has been interesting, but this is the first time it's approached the OMG COOL levels I routinely felt in JP's biodiversity class last semester. I feel like I'm really learning stuff, in a personal discovery, "Wow that's so amazing, THIS PLANET IS SO AMAZING~!" kind of way. Also, the boy is taking this class with me, and he hasn't had JP before, and he commented afterward how much he's enjoying the prof and the class, and I just kind of felt delighted that I was able to share this with him, like, YAY NOW YOU CAN BE IN ACADEMIC LOVE WITH JP ALSO, YAAAAAAY~!

THING THREE. After class I went to the lunch shop that I am in a romantic relationship with, Sweet Cane Café. I got fresh-pressed cane juice with ginger and their roasted veggie sandwich, both of which are SO DELICIOUS and also fresh and good for you and I just wanted to curl around my order and cuddle it my GOSH it was tasty. ♥_♥

So that's three things for today. :)
zolac_no_miko: (CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!)
Tomorrow: Spring Break! Two night backpacking/camping trip with the boy to remote beach in the national park! Swimming! Snorkeling! Reading! Writing! Relaxing!

Yesterday and today: Homework! Go to the bank! Fold and put away laundry! Pay bills! Take out compost! Pick and distribute fruit! Go to class! Put in time on advisor's project! Pack! DO ALL OF THE THINGS!!
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: (you're gonna come with us)
In a plot twist surprising absolutely NO ONE, least of all me, and certainly not my mother, Forrest and I are now dating. ...Seriously, we've been spending SO MUCH TIME TOGETHER, and for weeks it's been like, "Is this a date? I'M NOT SURE," and we'd go do whatever and then I'd come home and I'd be like, "...I'M STILL NOT SURE." Like, he'd insist on picking me up and buying my dinner and buying my movie ticket, but then no moves would be made. It was HIGHLY CONFUSING but also highly enjoyable. I call it Captain America Dating. You know, dating the way Captain America would date you. Extremely politely and with no indecency of any sort.

Beneath the cut: Halloween! I won at beer pong, I lost at beer pong, Thor put the hammer down, I understood that reference, and vibranium cat taco dance party. Also, dating. )
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.

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: (authentic Hawaiian coconut tree)
Gearing up for four-day trip to Lupea next week. Lupea being a remote, montane, dry forest area in Kona that I've been hearing about, that I've never been to and not a lot of people get to visit. I'll be doing some vegetation monitoring stuff with Three Mountain Alliance. I am excite!

Despite living in a constant state of baffled confusion due to a lack of organization on the part of my immediate superior, I am LOVING THIS JOB SO HARD ALREADY. ♥
zolac_no_miko: (WHEEEEEE~!!)
Quick drive-by update, since it's been a while. Since I wrapped up my USGS Avian Disease Project job my life has been brief flurries of adventuring all over the island in between bouts of being too sick to move. For serious, I have had this horrible cold off and on for weeks. Finally got my energy back (for the second time) in time to hike down to the bottom of Pololū Valley (FINALLY) and go dancing to The Olliephonics at the Blue Dragon in Kawaihae and eat piles and piles of delicious food (omg the lambchops with the fig-pomegranate sauce and the fern shoots and the goat cheese mashed potatoes and the jaboticaba sorbet a;lhsdlgha;ksjgkahsldfk). Had great fun dancing with a guy who just moved to the island from Eugene; he's in Kona but he swears he'll come to Hilo often so he can dance with us. All I can say is, HE'D BETTER, god, young, awesome dancers really need to move here more often.

So that was Sunday, and we got back late Sunday night, and I had just enough time to get my shit together Monday morning before taking off again into the field for the first couple of days of my new job. Up to Hakalau with grad student Josh and an intern who will be leaving shortly, taking a side trip to the summit of Mauna Kea just for fun, spending an enjoyable evening eating teriyaki and char siu axis deer and talking about Science, and waking up early to spend the day in the forest looking for birds. So many excellent sightings of ‘akepa and Hawai‘i creeper, among other things.

In theory I am now full-time employed, although I haven't actually seen my boss' face since February, and I haven't heard from him where or when I'm needed tomorrow or what I'll be doing. *SIGH* Pat is an excellent scientist and a super nice guy and I owe him a lot and I will owe him even more over the next few years, but... he is not terribly well organized. OH WELL.

The big big news is that in ten days I'm taking off on a massive trip with my mother that will involve a day of poking around in Baltimore/Washington D.C., a day of poking around London, many days hiking, biking, kayaking, etc. through Croatia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, and a few days exploring Bulgaria during which time I will FINALLY meet my dear friend [livejournal.com profile] sirona_gs and maybe I will meet up with my friend Toni as well? GUYS THIS IS GOING TO BE SO AWESOME OMG I AM SO EXCITED.

Which brings me to the question, WHO WANTS A POSTCARD??? If I don't already have your contact info you can give me your address (send me a PM if you're leery of leaving it in a comment, or email me if you have my email, or whatever); if you have a preference for where you'd like your postcard from (Baltimore, Washington D.C., London, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, or Bulgaria) let me know, and I shall do my best to comply. I'll be spending the most time in Croatia and Bulgaria, so I can pretty much guarantee satisfaction for those two locations, at least.
zolac_no_miko: (WHEEEEEE~!!)
Soooo there are things happening in my life, but as usual I have no time to talk about it. The next few days in a nutshell: job ending! Moving my life thirty miles! Officially applying for new job! Voting! Beach camping birthday party in Waipi‘o! Favorite person arriving! Sort of temporarily moving in with her! New job starting! And appointments and shopping and stuff.

Well that was fun, let's do a meme! Stolen from EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE.

Pick any passage of 500 words or fewer from any piece of fanfiction I’ve written, and comment to this post with that selection. I'll then give you the equivalent of a DVD commentary on that snippet: what I was thinking when I wrote it, why I wrote it in the first place, what’s going on in the characters' heads, why I chose certain words, what this moment means in the greater context of the story, and anything else that you’d expect from a commentary track.

For reference, complete collection of fanfiction I've written in the last four and a half years is here on my LiveJournal or here on my AO3. We don't need to talk about anything I've written before that.


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