zolac_no_miko: (To save the WORLD of course.)
So, about a month ago I mentioned in a very offhand manner that I got into grad school. Yay me! It is exciting that I was accepted, but I used up my excitement over a year ago when I spoke to Dr. Hart and he agreed to be my advisor, because basically that's 95% of getting into the program right there, the rest was obnoxious paperwork. So I was like, "YAY I kinda already knew this was happening, but thanks!"

The exciting thing is this: I just got the email that I've been accepted to the fellowship I applied to! The fellowship was offered by my program "for students dedicated to careers in conservation biology and environmental science in the state of Hawai`i" (that's me), with a "preference for applicants who graduated from a high school in Hawai`i" (also me) "for applicants with a track record of supporting Hawai`i’s environment (e.g., internships, volunteer opportunities, etc.) and demonstrated commitment to pursuing and attaining a long term career in conservation biology and environmental science in Hawai`i" (holy shit it's like they are talking about me). ...Okay so I knew I was an excellent candidate and also I wrote a really fucking excellent application essay if I do say so myself, but the program only offers three of these fellowships per year and I didn't really know what my competition was like (still don't), so I've kind of been chewing my nails off waiting to hear.

But I got it, yay! I mean, REALLY, REALLY YAY, because the fellowship waives my tuition, pays me a salary of $18,000/year, and gives me an extra $5,000 for books, fees, travel to conferences, and supplies. That's right. I'm going to graduate school for free, and getting paid to do it.

FUCKING YES OH MY GOD. *happy dance* *oh, it is the happiest*

So... this is really happening. I'm going to get my Master of Science in Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science. And then I'm going to save the world. (Well, some of it.)

I want to dedicate this win to my grandfather and granduncle, because they inspired me and helped make me into the person I am, and also I name-dropped the hell out of them in my essay so they almost definitely helped me get this fellowship in a more direct fashion. I know they're dead and all (so it goes) and I'm not religious, but I hope they're proud of me anyway. I've always been proud of them.
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: (authentic Hawaiian coconut tree)
We had visitors at the banding station today! A couple of cute local guys, recent Park Service hires on the Fire Crew. They were down in 'Ainahou, weed-whacking roadsides and parking spaces (tall, dry grass and the hot underbellies of cars, not a happy combination). They hung out for a bit and watched us extract birds from the net and do our whole banding and bleeding routine, the two of them all wide-eyed and impressed and asking questions. THEY WERE COMPLETELY ENDEARING. It was fun doing a bit of impromptu outreach, giving some local kids their first up-close experience with 'amakihi and 'apapane. One guy was especially interested because he makes feather lei, and he buys his feathers from the store but he's always dreamed of catching native birds and collecting feathers, the way his ancestors did.

So it was a fun day. ♥
zolac_no_miko: (beauty and beasts)
So Tuesday-Thursday this week and next I'm volunteering back with my old job, NPS RM Veg. And 'tis the season to run transects in KW, so I'm enjoying the nostalgia. Wasser's having me do tagged shrubs, which means I work by myself while the new kids do cover, biomass, and shrub density transects. It's kind of fun, using GPS and a compass to orienteer around the kīpuka. Wish the weather was better lately, though... it's been kinda soggy. :\

Today was the All Park meeting and annual photo, which I infiltrated like a baby cuckoo. I'm in the picture and everything, haha. There was free coffee and malasadas at the meeting, too... score!

Yesterday evening I went to the 4th of July party at Mahilani, so that was fun, seeing all the old familiar faces and eating tasty food and drinking beer and wine and champagne and dancing and talking story. Had a fun moment when someone said the words "Higgs boson" and all of us science nerds in the vicinity went "HIGGS BOSON!" and raised our drinks, and everyone else just looked confused. And then me and Dad tried to explain it to them.

The weather was nice until just as it was turning dark, of course, at which point it socked in completely, hiding the view of town and Hilo Bay and the county fireworks show. We could here the distant explosions, but we couldn't see a damn thing. Tragic!

But it was fun, there was delicious cake and I talked Star Trek with Chris and Juliana is trying to fix me up with her brother, so... ahaha that should be interesting? ^_^;


Jun. 28th, 2012 10:24 am
zolac_no_miko: (Darwin Valentine)
So the good news is, the bird did not perish while in my care. Whew! The bad news is, no, there is no procedure in place for USGS Avian Disease to care for lost baby birds, or at least not non-natives; I suspect KBCC would probably take in native birds. (Oh, baby bird is probably a Japanese white-eye actually.)

So I spent the first hour of work trying to figure out WHAT TO DO WITH BABY BIRD, because, realistically, I cannot raise a baby bird to maturity right now, once Jackie and Dennis come back I could be living in the woods again at any time. So I turned to my old friend the internet and found the number for a wildlife rescue place in Kona. I could have taken birdy all the way to Kona and given it to them; the girl told me she's taking care of another baby white-eye as we speak. But she also told me that I could put birdy on a branch within a football field sized area of where it was found, and the parents would hear its voice and come take care of it. ...So that is what I did.

I think birdy will be fine. It's covered in feathers and it can almost fly, so I think it's at the right age to fledge from the nest. That's probably why it was on the road in the first place.

...In other news I think I've managed to get myself some part-time temporary employment? One of the other USGS offices is willing to pay me $9:45/hr for data entry, so I'll be doing that part-time until Jackie comes back. ...HOLY SHIT ACTUAL WAGES. I mean, that's not a lot, but... it's more than I'm being paid now! ...Sweet~.
zolac_no_miko: (self-explanatory)

...So just as I was getting ready to leave the field station, some girls with volunteer shirts come up and they're like, "Are you one of the bird people? WE FOUND THIS BABY BIRD WHAT DO WE DO?" And they're holding this tiny adorable feathery thing, and I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO, Carter and like anyone with any sort of authority has gone home already, and I have no idea what if anything our department does with stray hatchlings but GODDAMMIT YES I AM ONE OF THE BIRD PEOPLE so I took it. And I stole borrowed some Nekton and an eyedropper and the hospital box and I took it home with me.

I think it's a baby Leiothrix? It's very cute, most of its feathers have come in but it's still tiny, definitely not quite ready to fledge. I've got the hospital box set up in the bathroom with the desk lamp from the bedroom and one of the vanity lightbulbs from above the bathroom mirror (incandescent) for warmth. It's been taking Nekton and just now I tweezer-fed it some mashed up banana and a;shdglka;shjdflak BABY BIRD AAAAAAAHHHH SO CUTE.

...And I'm really hoping that when I bring the bird back in tomorrow morning it will still be alive Carter will be there and he will tell me WHY YES OF COURSE ANGELA, WE HAVE A WHOLE SYSTEM IN PLACE FOR TAKING CARE OF LOST BABY BIRDS, LET ME TAKE THAT ADORABLE THING OFF YOUR HANDS.

Oh gaaaaaaaaawwwdd another animal to take care of, WHY. (At least this has all of the cute and none of the annoying. The dogs and cats could learn a thing or two from it.)

ETA: [livejournal.com profile] apple_pathways pointed out that photo evidence was required:

zolac_no_miko: (some say his first name is The)
So a bunch of stuff happened in the last couple weeks. Had fun going to the Kamehameha Day Festival and seeing Prometheus. ...The movie was awesome, by the way... definitely very Ridley Scott, if you like Ridley Scott. Creepy Android!Michael Fassbender was, as I fully expected, my favorite. ...Now I feel like I need to marathon the Alien movies. (Tried to watch Blade Runner the other night... BORED ME TO TEARS.)

The last couple of weeks have been pretty nice at work... exploring Kahuku, mist-netting at ‘Ainahou... I like ‘Ainahou, I mean, it's pretty weedy and there's lower bird diversity and I'm pretty biased towards the rainforest (‘Ainahou's a lot drier than Nauhi), but... it's just a really nice place to hang out. It's sunny and warm and the birds come in at just the right pace... and I'm lounging in the grass under a blue sky, writing, and getting up occasionally to go for a walk under the trees and check nets, and play with birds for a few minutes before going back to lounging and writing and just... how awesome is my life?? Other people work in cubicles. (I told my mom this and she pointed out that other people get paid more than $20 a day. THANKS MOM. ...It's still the best job ever, so there. XP)

And then Friday before last Jackie and I were going to go to Na‘alehu to meet with her friend John from The Nature Conservancy and pore over maps and get his opinions on the best ways to access remote parts of the Ka‘u Forest Reserve, but he absolutely had to go into the field that day... so we went with him! We met up with him and this-younger-guy-whose-name-I-forget in Pahala and drove up to TNC's Kaiholena Preserve, which was AWESOME because I've never ever been up there before. It's way up in the Ninole Hills, which is this really awesome and interesting and (I think) kinda creepy area in Ka‘u, where a massive fault-slip and subsequent erosion created these hills that look completely out of place with the rest of the island's geology (most hills in Hawai‘i are cinder cones), and they're all green and mysterious with their heads in the clouds and I've always wanted to go up there. And the forest in Kaiholena is beautiful, really pristine and full of all my favorite plants, and we took a nice walk along the fence line marking out where the helicopter needed to drop fence-repair materials and I had a lot of trouble keeping up because I kept stopping to geek out at the botany. ^_^;; And we had lunch TNC's little pavilion at the bottom of the preserve with a gorgeous view down to the coast, and on the way down we took a side trip to one of the hills to see this plant called nuku ‘i‘iwi (‘i‘iwi bill) because I'd never seen it/heard of it before and Jackie thought I'd enjoy it, which is... really kind of sweet, actually. It's this really cool vine with beautiful flowers that, yes, do resemble ‘i‘iwi bills in color and shape, and as;hgkalhskfakjshdfls NEW PLANT. *geeks out some more* And all of the lower hills had, mixed in with the native plants, ti and kukui and one of the old Hawaiian varieties of bananas, the name of which I forget, but John told me it was one of the few varieties that women were allowed to eat, and also that it was one of the varieties of bananas that the Hawaiians brought with them in their very first voyage, which makes sense because we're so close to that very first settlement down there. Looking at those ti and kukui and bananas that were probably descendants of plants planted around the very oldest Hawaiian settlements gave me a kind of chicken-skin feeling. ...Anyway, IT WAS A COOL TRIP and it made me very happy. Fuck $20 a day, I CAN'T BELIEVE I GET PAID FOR THIS AT ALL.

On Saturdays I've been doing a bunch of chores for Mom, since her arm's in a cast and she can't do a lot. Father's Day Dad came up to Volcano, and we had a really excellent afternoon: lunch at Lava Rock Cafe, wine tasting at the Volcano Winery, a trip to Jaggar to watch the steam come out of Halema‘uma‘u, and a trip down to ‘Ainahou so I could show him my work site and the historic ranch buildings.

Last week has been more netting at ‘Ainahou mostly, although Thursday and Friday I was on-loan to Mark Kupono trying to catch ‘i‘iwi up Mauna Loa Strip Road. No ‘i‘iwi in the net, just ‘amakihi and ‘apapane and white-eyes, but one of the ‘apapane was this really pretty hatch year bird that was in between fledgling and adult plumage... mostly red with gray and tawny bits and a red racing stripe on the back of its head. SO CUTE. And it was just a really nice day up there, lounging on the rocks and reading. ...Boss Jackie is taking off for Bali for three weeks, so I expect to be doing a lot more of this, along with fun things like data entry and organizing the supply closet. :P

Another major thing is I moved into my boss Dennis' house Thursday before last. He and his family are on vacation for over a month, traveling on the Mainland and in Italy, and I'm house-sitting for them. (Thus the adventure with the can opener the other day.) It's... a bit of an adjustment for me, because they have two dogs and three cats and two bunnies and two turtles and some fish, and it's weird having dependents. And the dogs need to be walked every day, and they have to be walked really early in the morning when no one else is on the street because they get aggressive with other dogs and strange people, so this means I wake up at 6:00 even on the weekends, which is just... not like me at all, heh. But all of the animals are super sweet. It's pretty nice for my ego to come home and EVERYONE IS SO HAPPY TO SEE ME OMG. So I'm really enjoying it, even if there's dog hair EVERYWHERE and Belle is needy and loud and psychotic and has WAY TOO MUCH ENERGY and Splotch has a marked tendency to wake me up at 2:30 in the morning MEOWING LOUDLY FOR NO REASON AT ALL. Can't get too upset with them, THEY'RE ALL SO CUTE.

Oh and also I PIMPED MY RIDE. )
zolac_no_miko: (I am kind of strange.)
Sorry for the radio silence, since my last post I've pretty much done nothing outside of work but lie around and read old OMG logs and threads. This tends to happen from time to time; once I get started it's very hard to stop.

Work's been fun, and the weather's been gorgeous. So weird to be in places that are hot and sunny. Trip to Malama Ki was successful; we caught the four 'amakihi that Carter needed for his immunology study. Two of the birds were infected with the knemidokoptes mites that Boss Jackie discovered on 'amakihi for the first time a few years ago. These skin mites are HORRIBLE; they cause a "scaly-leg" mange that makes it look like the birds' legs have been tempura-fried. It's DISGUSTING. The first bird we caught had one of the most extreme cases that anyone's seen in Hawai'i; the other bird was only in the early stages. I'll post pics sometime so y'all can be disgusted with me. :P

The rest of the week was mostly setting up poles in 'Ainahou (we start netting there on Tuesday), plus driving back down to Malama Ki on Wednesday morning to let our captive birdies go. Tomorrow we go to East Kahuku to scope out mist-netting sites... SO EXCITE. I love East Kahuku, it's gorgeous. And I love Kahuku in general; spent a lot of time there on the last job, I kinda miss it.

This Saturday Shawn and I are going into Hilo for the Kamehameha Day festival, and more importantly to see Prometheus OMG SO FUCKING EXCITED. I'mma see how many other people in housing I can rustle up to come with. Should be fun!

Shawn leaves on Wednesday. Sad day! He has occasionally been aggravating, and things have sometimes been awkward and strange between us, but mostly he's a real chill guy and we get along and I like him. Who the hell else can I nerd out with? It's just nice to have someone around who understands me, you know? He likes SPN and OUaT and GoT and understands why the woodchipper card in Apples To Apples is AWESOME and why I would name my car Oliver and who the Stig is, and today we had awesome conversations about Watchmen (he's read the book!)and Spiderman comics and Batman: The Animated Series and Batman movies. WHO WILL I NERD WITH WHEN HE'S GONE?

...I hope the next to interns are cool. :3
zolac_no_miko: (pay attention to the strangeness)
So it's been a pretty weird couple of weeks.

As you all know, instead of going on my awesome expedition, I decided maybe stomach flu would be more fun. So I spent three days flat on my back. Was ready to work again on Friday, but Dennis was out most of the day at a doctor's appointment, and there wasn't any work to do anyway. So i just didn't work at all last week, really. And then it was Memorial Day weekend, so Dennis told me to report back on Tuesday and maybe he'd have some work for me, who knows. So I had a three-day weekend, and I drove into Hilo and acquired a car and mostly lay around like a bum otherwise.

Tuesday morning Dennis tells me we're retrieving the field team from lower Hakalau... they were supposed to be in the field until today, but things were apparently SO HORRIBLE they didn't want to continue. So we drove up Saddle and helped with the heli-op, which was kind of fun, and packed all of the gear into the trucks and drove down into town and treated Shawn and Jackie to a well-deserved lunch at Miyo's. Finally got the scoop on the Shawn-disappearing-for-five-hours thing... apparently once he got to 'Awehi Stream he'd been unable to find his way back. He didn't have a GPS unit on him and what he'd thought was a compass turned out to be an altimeter.

That afternoon Shawn and I took all the tents and tarps home with us, hosed off the mud, and hung them out to dry. Then I spent all evening unpacking my food and gear which had gone into the field without me. (My bagels and tortillas went moldy, wah.)

Shawn and I spent most of Wednesday unpacking gear, washing it, drying it, and repacking. This took us until about 3:00, after which we repaired birdbags until Dennis made us go home. Shawn was now on weekend time, but I still had to work out the week. I asked Dennis when I should report on Thursday; since we'd pretty much done all the work, he told me he'd call me if he needed me.

Didn't hear from Dennis at all on Thursday. Spent the day cleaning my room, reading old omg_alchemist logs and threads, and marathoning episodes of Once Upon A Time.

Today I get a call at 8:30 from Jackie, wondering where the hell I am. I explained to her about yesterday, and said I'd assumed today would be the same. Jackie wasn't pleased by my not coming to work yesterday, nor was she pleased with the state of the gear. I hustled right over there and got to work cleaning things up to her satisfaction; luckily Jackie accepted that I'd just been following orders, and didn't seem upset with me. It took me about an hour and a half to get the gear squared away, and then I really didn't have much else to do, so I spent the rest of the day repairing bird bags and helping Jackie destroy the boys' team at Friday Lunchtime Bocce. Ran out of work at 2, so I left. And now it's the weekend again! I feel like such a slacker. :P

Next week should be a lot of fun day trips... Malama Ki Monday and Wednesday, Ainahou Tuesday and probably Thursday, Kahuku Friday and probably the following Monday. So, yay!

I have noooooo idea where Shawn is... he disappeared Thursday morning and I haven't seen him since. I really hope this means he is out exploring the island.

Some sad news... I've probably missed my chance to get helicopter-dropped into lower Hakalau. There will be more expeditions, but probably not before I leave in August. I AM MAJORLY BUMMED. Even if everyone was miserable, I still wanted to go! (And it would probably be less miserable next time anyway, sans hiking and plus a couple extra pairs of hands.) ...Also my mother just called and told me she got in an accident with a car and her bike again, and she broke her elbow. DDDDDD:

ETA: Shawn just reappeared, backpack in tow. I asked him where he went.

Shawn: I went to Kona!
Me: Cool!
S: I didn't like it there.
M: Why not?
S: There's nothing to do.
M: ...What do you like to do?
S: ...Dunno, but whatever it is, Kona didn't have it.

*facepalm* This kid, I just don't even sometimes.

...But he says he likes the Hilo library, so there's that I guess. ^_^;;
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. )


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: (Dick & Jay: brotherly love)
So, I didn't get on the helicopter. When Dennis came to check on me I'd not had enough energy to do anything other than lie on the couch and watch television, and the only thing I'd eaten was one and a half soda crackers, so I decided I probably wouldn't be in any shape to get up at 4 a.m. and go camping in the cold and wet.

So, yeah, got caught up on Grey's Anatomy (*sob!*) and Supernatural and one episode of Grimm (that's 5+ hours of TV), and I ate a pocket sandwich and another half cracker and passed out for fourteen hours.

Feel a bit better today... I'm pretty weak but my appetite's coming back. Watched True Grit and ate half a pot of melon Jello and two more crackers, took a shower, watched Blood Creek (Fassbender, Cavill, and Nazi vampires lolol) and have been nibbling at ramen and chocolate pudding.

Then Dennis came in to give me the news on the expedition and I just. Oh my god you guys. It took them eleven hours to hike the four miles down to the site, which is RIDICULOUS except that it really is that hard to hack through hundreds of yards of uluhe. The bog is surrounded by a wall of uluhe, forcing them to pitch camp on the bog itself. The weather has turned and the bog is getting soggy; the pit toilet is already filling with water. Jackie's not sure there will be anywhere to put poles up with the uluhe so thick. The helicopter flew in okay, but Shawn, being Shawn, was like, "I'm gonna go for a walk" and then DISAPPEARED. When he'd been gone for three hours they called Dennis and told him they couldn't find him, they were going to go looking and if they didn't find him in three more hours they'd call back. Dennis is getting ready to tell his boss and Nick is preparing to send in County Search & Rescue (for all the good that would do); two hours later they call back and they've found him, he wasn't lost, he was just sitting by 'Awehi Stream. So he got thoroughly chewed out by everyone.

The original plan was for Carter to hike out Sunday, then back in Tuesday, and maybe I would go with him. It's not looking like anyone's going to be hiking anywhere with the uluhe that bad. Jackie's already asking about when the helicopter pilot might be available to fly them the hell out.

Basically EVERYONE IS MISERABLE and I have the stomach flu. THIS EXPEDITION IS CURSED.

I just... I just can't even. IS THIS REAL LIFE?

...I'mma eat more ramen and watch Inglourious Basterds now, yep, this sounds like a good plan.
zolac_no_miko: (MY PARENTS ARE DEAD!)
So I should be bushwhacking my way down 'Awehi Stream right now, but I'm not. Why, do you ask?

Everything was going so well last night. It was a gorgeous evening in the Refuge; Jackie was making dinner, I was enjoying what should've been my last shower until June. I stepped out of the shower, got dressed, and promptly threw up. Tried to eat dinner; only had appetite for a few bites. Got up to wash my dish, and threw up again. A lot. Went straight to bed.

Slept through my alarm; Jackie woke me half an hour before go time. My nausea had subsided during the night, but Jackie and Carter decided I shouldn't hike down. They called Dennis to let him know I would need a pick-up and left; I went back to sleep.

Having slept twelve hours I crawled out of bed, feeling weak and heavy and achey. Had no appetite to speak of; six hours later, still don't. Haven't eaten anything all day. Spent the morning curled up on the couch reading Richard Dawkins... there are worse ways to spend time. Passed out and napped for another two hours. Eventually Shawn came to pick me up.

We stopped at KTA so I could buy some juice and soda and crackers. Am currently sipping at a protein zone mango Naked juice... that's kind of like food, right?

Guuuuuuuuys, this sucks! I haven't missed the expedition yet, Shawn and the helicopter leave tomorrow morning, but... I'm really not sure I'll be in good enough shape that I'll feel okay about venturing into the cold, damp wilderness and doing physical labor. This probably won't be my last chance to do a trip like this before this job is over, but. SUCK. SUCK AND FAIL.

...I'll keep you guys posted. :\
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.

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:
-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
-Sleep (maybe)

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

zolac_no_miko: (WHEEEEEE~!!)
Let's make a list again, I like lists.

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


-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~!!)
zolac_no_miko: (Redtail facepalm)
Oh my god you guys what is my life seriously.

So, I love my dad, but he has this annoying persistent habit of only listening to half of what anyone says to him, and then inventing details as necessary to fill in the gaps, like frog DNA in Jurassic Park. And, much like Jurassic Park, the result is REALLY BAD NOT-GOOD THINGS. To whit, my dad was under the impression that I drive to-and-from my worksite everyday (a 3+ hour drive), as opposed to what I told him, which is that I spend four days every week camped out in the woods, entirely removed from modern conveniences such as cell service, internet, electricity, or running water. So when he found out that I needed to apply for a new health insurance policy this month or lose my chance until November and tried to tell me about it, and I didn't respond, he assumed I was dodging his calls and flipped out. So I come back down the mountain and find that he's left me three voicemails of increasing levels of panic and anger, and an email, cc'd to my brother, suggesting I learn how to act like a responsible adult. He apparently also called my mom, at home and at work; luckily she is on Oahu and I have been able to forewarn her of his crazy.


When I finally spoke to him on the phone things were extremely frustrating until I was able to extrapolate his erroneous worldview and properly explain to him the facts of the case. To his credit he actually apologized, and I do feel kind of bad because I know he's stressed out with work, and I know the stress makes him crazy, and even if it wasn't my fault I gave him even more stress that he didn't need. But. OH MY GOD.

...So Jackie gives us Friday mornings off, since we work long hours in the field and always come back completely exhausted. So I went to bed early and got up early in the morning and drove down to Hilo, and Dad and I went in to the HMSA office to ask questions about their insurance policies. And the nice lady informed us that the law requires me to exhaust my COBRA coverage before switching to a cheaper individual plan. So all of the aforementioned ridiculosity was COMPLETELY UNNECESSARY. But we do both feel better educated.

So I sign the COBRA papers and drive Dad back to the office, and he kindly offers to by me gas so we pull in at a Shell station and gas up. And then my truck won't start. The battery has died. So a helpful Samaritan gives us a jump and I drive Purple Truck to our favorite service station, and it's not just the battery, it's the alternator.

So I've been stranded in Hilo all afternoon. I told Jackie what's up; luckily she's super nice and totally understands. I spent a few hours with my Dad at the HELCO booth at the Earth Day fair (Happy Earth Day by the way!), and now I'm killing time at his office, ensconced in an empty cubicle.

Work's been pretty awesome this week, though. We had great weather almost the whole week, which... hasn't happened at all since we started in February, and we caught a ton of birds, and we finally caught some of those Hawaii Creepers that have been taunting us (our first endangereds! :D). So all that's good.

Stay awesome, Flist. ♥
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.

zolac_no_miko: (Kestrel!)
I'm back from the woods, IT WAS AMAZING, there were lots of adorable fluffy birdies, I will tell you more, possibly with pictures, but later when I am less exhausted oh god I am so tired. TT_TT

And I have planting all day tomorrow and then several Maui Party folks are visiting and there is dancing all weekend and then my new job starts and I'm moving to Volcano and alsghasjfksjfskshjk.

One of these days I will once again have time to sleep/sit on my ass/actually talk to my friends again. Some day. Maybe. @_@



zolac_no_miko: (Default)

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