Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Trinidad Head

In the last few weeks of summer, I took several hikes around Trinidad Head. It's about a mile long loop that's straight up and straight down, and takes about an 40-60 minutes to walk. When it's sunny, the views are gorgeous. Even when it's all fogged over you can hear (and feel) the waves crashing against the head, and can hear seals, sea lions, and birds calling from the rocks beyond the Head. Above is Trinidad pier, where I take my water samples.

This granite cross stands at the top of the Head and replaced a wooden cross erected on June 11, 1775, by Bruno de Hezeta, commandant of an expedition up the northwest coast, who marched with his men and two Franciscan fathers from the shore of the bay to the top of the Trinidad Head and took possession in the name of Charles III of Spain. The inscription reads "Carolus III Dei G. Hyspaniarum Rex, June 9, 1775. Replaced by Club Women of Humboldt Co. Sept. 9, 1913." It took a bit of searching, but now that I know the story behind it, it's a lot cooler!

The old light house. I'm not sure how you get down to it, but it must have been quite the climb to get groceries!

Monday, August 31, 2009

First Week's Lunches

This year I finally bought a Laptop Lunchbox and have been taking my lunch with me everyday. I was worried that it would be too small, but it's amazing how much food you can stuff in there!

Monday: I forgot to take a picture but I packed millet breakfast bread, black beans, steamed kale, and a plout.

Tuesday:Soba noodles with sesame sauce and local broccoli, a local pear, local bok choy, extra sesame sauce, and more millet breakfast bread.

Wednesday:Orange tofu with rice, steamed local broccoli, local Asian pears, and wild harvested local sea palm with almonds.

Veggie enchiladas made with local corn, zucchini,onion, and peppers, salad with local raw corn, zucchini and canned beans, millet breakfast bread, local plouts.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

First Week of School

Made it through the first week and I'm ready to start another tomorrow! I worked out a few kinks in my schedule and now everything should be finalized.

Geological Oceanography 10-11. I've had this teacher before and as long as you put EXACTLY what he says as an answer, you're golden.

Plant Physiology Lab 2-5. As above, I've had this teacher before and he is really great. You can tell he got into teaching because he loves to teach and is really excited about the subject matter.

Field Cruise 5-8. Continuation of last semester's and last summer's class. This semester we'll be writing the paper, submitting it to the 2010 Ocean Sciences Conference and preparing a poster and our presentation for the conference. We originally planned to submit our paper to the AGU conference, but since the deadline is in two days, we decided to be reasonable. I'm very nervous and excited about publishing a paper and presenting it at a national conference, but I'm looking forward to the networking opportunities. Also, I've heard that a lot of people come to this particular conference to look for undergrads to take on as Masters/Ph. D. students! Fingers crossed!

Plant Physiology Lecture 10-11. Same teacher as the lab instructor. I'm looking forward to this class.

Work 12-5. So glad that they were able to keep me this year with all the budget cuts!

Wednesday: Same as Monday minus field cruise.

Thursday: Same as Tuesday.

Geological Oceanography lecture 10-11.

Geological Oceanography Lab 2-5 at the Trinidad Marine Lab. Same instructor as the lecture. I'm really looking forward to this lab. Last Friday we spent our lab barefoot on the beach in the sun measuring the beach profile. There's just nothing better than that.

I'm also taking an online course called "Sound Mind-Sound Body." From the syllabus:
"This online course is designed to provide students with a broad introspective examination of health and wellness that incorporate the mind, body, and soul. The course is organized into the following three sections, which represent the Ancient Greek triad of Mind, Body, and Spirit, and embody the "Sound Mind in a Sound Body":
  1. Mind - Cognitive Health, Hostility, Mood, Social Networks and Support, Stress and Health, Time Efficiency
  2. Body - Alcohol, Caffeine, Nutrition, Physical Activity, Sleep
  3. Soul - Existential Health, Humor, Music, Passionate Living, Spirituality"
I think the class will be very interesting!

I'm also very excited because today, for the first time since moving out of my parents' house, I am doing laundry in my own home!! My mom and dad came up yesterday with a washer, dryer, and small chest freezer and got them all installed and working for me. I'm still moving the freezer around trying to find a good spot for it (I think I may have to find an 'OK' spot for it...) and then I'll fill that sucker up with casseroles and frozen fruit and tofu and hopefully have lots of meals that I can just pull out and heat up during the week so I can keep from getting take out. Thanks Mom and Dad!!!!!

For now I'm off to pick up the house and get it ready for the new week, do some class reading (why can't they make textbooks read like 'smut' books? I'd have no problem reading them then!), and folding my freshly laundered clothes. Take care everybody!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Looking forward

School starts on Monday and I don't feel ready at all. I am looking forward to having a schedule, a fixed routine to follow, but aside from that I'd really rather have a couple more weeks of vacation. Normally I enjoy school (sometimes not when I'm in the midst of a round of tests), but with the state budget cuts increasing my tuition and decreasing my financial aid, quality of classes, and hours my department can pay me to work and the 2 days a month of staff furloughs that may or may not mean classes won't meet (not even the teachers know what is happening), this year is just looking like it will be a big mess. All that on top of general class stress. But I do think I'll enjoy my classes (geological oceanography, senior project, field cruise, plant physiology, photography, and sound mind-sound body), and I'll have almost all my friends in most of the classes.

I'm trying to get all my "domestic" things done now, or within the first few weeks of school and get them out of the way. I've been doing a lot of canning, and plan on doing tomato sauce, blueberry syrup/jelly/pie filling (haven't decided yet), apple sauce and apple butter in the next few weeks. I want to freeze a bunch of blueberries, muffins, bread, casseroles, brown rice, and other similar items to have for quick meals during busy weeks. I'd also like to do at least one more batch of dried apples as well, but we'll see how it goes. So far this year I have preserved:

-1 sandwich bag of dried apples
-1/2 sandwich bag dried cantaloupe (from two melons! Wow they shrunk up a lot!)
-1 sandwich bag of dried pineapple
-4 12-oz and 10 8-oz jars of strawberry jam
-9 pint jars of dill pickles - thrown out because they were so salty you couldn't eat them!
-9 pint jars of dill pickles from a different recipe - probably going to be thrown out... :(
-18 12-oz jars of white grape jelly with grapes from my parent's vine

One thing I am excited about starting school for is my new lap top lunchbox! I've wanted one for several years now, and I finally broke down and bought one with a carrying case and an extra set of inner containers. I'm trying to lose weight before the wedding and I think the compartments will help with portion control and will keep me from buying food at school.

Did I mention wedding? Why yes, I did! David and I have decided to get married (really for real this time!) next summer after over 7 years of being together! We are shooting for June 12th, which will give us about a month after graduation (we will both walk in May, although David will have classes to finish up in the fall semester) and about two months to enjoy married life before David starts classes in August for his last semester at HSU. After that we plan on moving out of California for greener pastures and to gain residency in another state before I begin my graduate and Ph. D. work. I'm very excited, but am trying to keep a level head and focus on my school work for now.

That's all for now. I'm off to make next week's meal plan and enjoy one of my final free afternoons in the sun.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Where has the time gone?

Hmmm...anyone still there? I can't believe it's been so long since I've last written, but there were many reasons for it. Since I last wrote, I went through one of the toughest rounds of finals I've had in my college career, suffered from depression caused by the stress (happily with medication and relaxing over summer I'm feeling much better!), went on a two day oceanographic cruise collecting sediment samples, spent half my weeks processing roughly 1200 samples and sorting through them to find individual foraminifera, had a wonderful 4th of July weekend with my parents, decided to finally really for-sure this time get married next summer and started planning that and in general have been vegging out on the couch watching Doctor Who. Whew! So I'm sorry it's been so long, but hopefully you can forgive me!

For right now, that's all I have to report. I'll be writing again more frequently though, I promise! Until then, I'll leave you with a couple pictures from the oceanographic cruise.

This is the box corer we used to collect the sample. This device is solid steel and weighs a ton. It is lowered to the seabed where it buries into the mud to collect a 50cm long core. The arm M. is standing on swings down to cover the bottom of the core as it comes up so you don't lose the sample. I'm in the red shirt stabilizing M. as she primes the device (which is a bunch of fun on the high seas!)
M. and I wait for the box corer to return from 150m depth to the surface where we will "tag" it with lines at the end of an 8-foot pole and use the lines to control the corer back to the deck and make sure it doesn't swing back and forth, damaging the sample and anything in it's way. It takes two of us on each side to control it. I'm in the grey shirt.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

1 year

In all the stress and craziness that has been my life over the last several weeks, I let my one year Veganniversary and the 1st year anniversary of this blog go right on by. It doesn't seem like it's been that long at all! So what's changed over the last year in terms of my health? I don't have exact numbers but:

Weight: I started out at 236lbs, increased to nearly 245, dropped to 219 over the summer (26 lbs!), and since the holidays and all the stress, I've been hovering between 225 and 230lbs. So over the whole year I've lost a total of about 6 lbs. Not great, but at least it's a drop!

Cholesterol: Starting out this year I had an overall cholesterol of 201, with LDL at 122 and HDL at 43, which is just over the high side of normal. I don't have the exact numbers to share, but my last blood test in January came back with "normal cholesterol levels", and the doctor didn't mention anything about it, so I'm going to assume that I have dropped my overall and LDL numbers and raised my HDL levels to within healthy limits.

Blood Sugar: It's still kind of in the air if I'm pre-diabetic or not. One doctor keeps saying yes, while two others have done blood tests and said 'no'. I've tested my fasting blood sugars a couple of times with David's monitor and have generally been between 75-85, which David tells me is good.

Triglycerides: I started with triglycerides at 181 (a good number is 150), and again don't have actual numbers, but the last blood test came back in the normal range and the doctor didn't say anything about me being high.

So it seems to me that switching to an entirely vegan diet has really been great for my health! In addition to the numbers, I haven't truly been sick since going vegan (besides from the sniffles for a day or two here and there). Before, if I came down with a cold I would be incapacitated for nearly a week; having to miss school and work and often ending up with the early stages of pneumonia and a deep rattling, hacking cough that would last for months. I've also found that generally my "cycles" have been less painful (sorry guys). Before going vegan and definitely before going on birth control, I would have to miss school because the cramps were so horrible. And let's not forget that my face has cleared up and I've had much more energy throughout the day!

And how was it, switching to a vegan diet? Looking back, not that hard! For the first couple of months, I craved cheese and cheese is still my biggest temptation. There was a day when I just craved a cheese burger so bad that I went to Carl's Jr. and got a Western Bacon Cheeseburger. I have to admit, I devoured that thing and it seemed like the best thing I'd ever tasted. But I paid for it for the next week or so with an upset stomach. There has been a couple of times when I have been tired of not finding anything at a restaurant and it has just been easier to eat something with cheese or milk in it. I'll admit it hasn't been a perfect vegan year. But after eating animal products, even in small amounts, I've found myself feeling icky, sluggish, and just in general not as great as I do when I'm eating vegan.

This blog has really helped me through the last year. Although it doesn't seem like I have a lot of readers (if you're out there and haven't said 'hi' yet, please do!), I have had people stop by from nearly every U.S. State and from other countries like Canada, Russia, Spain, Finland, and the UK. Wow! Hopefully y'all found something helpful or interesting on your way through.

Over the next year I want to continue to focus on eating more raw fruits and veggies, whole grains, and in general eat with "could I eat this straight out of a garden" in mind. Now that I have access to a dehydrator and some canning skills, I want to spend my summer preserving local fruits and veggies to enjoy all year round. I've also been toying with the idea of doing a juice feast, but I'm not sure about that yet. I'll just see how things go and try to listen to my body.

I hope everyone continues to stop by over the next year. And this wouldn't be a post about anniversaries and yearly milestones without saying:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUNT JUDY AND AUNT TAMI!!!!!!!! I hope both of you have lovely days enjoying your friends and family!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

At the grindstone

Just in case you thought I fell overboard on one of my research cruises, was suffocated by the ever growing mound of homework and scientific literature, or got lost in the library never to find my way out again, I'm here for just a moment to say "I'm OK". Very busy, but OK.

Here's some of the fun things I've been up to (all taken from my friend Amanda's camera):

From Left: Me, Jason, Lerin, Matt, Amanda, and Monica during a research outing on the R/V Coral Sea. We were using a CTD (conductivity, temperature and depth (really pressure)) sensor package to create a heat budget of Humboldt Bay.
My picture of the CTD from a previous cruise. Isn't she pretty?

Discovering I've completely forgotten how to roller skate at Paula's 30th birthday party. I'm the blurry feet at the top of the picture because I was desperately trying to just stay on my feet. From Top to the right: Me, Lerin, Amanda, and Jason.

Chillin' with the Oceanography Society. I haven't been able to make all the meetings this semester, but I try. Top row: Pono, Rich, Jason. Middle Row: Me, Jeremiah. Bottom Row: Erin, Monica, Amanda. There's a lot more of us, but that's all that could make it to the last meeting of last semester.

Cleaning up trash at the Bay Street Beach in Eureka. We spent at least a half hour trying to get all this rope cut off and untangled. From Left clockwise: Lerin, Justin, Me.

After two hours, we collected six bags of trash, the lining of a truck bed, and two large rusted pieces of metal from a car. This is a much better idea of how many people are in the club, although many people couldn't make it that morning.

Amanda, Monica, Jeremiah, Lerin and I all went out to dinner Thursday night to detox after a four and a half hour class. The food was decent, fairly cheap, and we stayed for two hours and had a great time. This year has really been the first that I've had classes with other oceanography majors, and I've been really surprised with myself at how fast I'm making friends. Normally it can take me years to become friends with someone, and most of the people in the photos (with the exception of Justin), I've only met last fall. But I guess when you have the same class schedule with the same group of people that you see every day, all day you make friends pretty fast.

But don't start thinking that it's been all fun and games. I'm at school/work twice a week from 8am to 8pm, and from 8am to 5pm the other three days. I'm also driving up to Trinidad once a week to take water samples, and have had tests and papers due almost every week (in fact, I have two big papers due in the next couple of weeks, and will get a physics test back on Monday). I've also been looking for an internship in my spare time (haha!), and trying to meet with a career counselor (who thinks I'm a lazy and non-serious student because I didn't start looking for an internship when I was 13 and am just partying all my time away and not paying attention in class because I have a 3.3 GPA) to work on my resume so I can finally contact the people that another contact mentioned might have a position for me. Oh, and of course taxes, FAFSA, and scholarship applications.

The good news is that I needed to go to the doctor a couple weeks ago, and even with all the stress in my life right now (read: horrible junk food eating that's been happening), I've only gained about 12 pounds since Thanksgiving, my cholesterol's in the healthy range, and my blood pressure is excellent. I also haven't been sick at all, although I have been battling off a small cold the last week or so. Although my weight is pretty much the same since I went vegan a year ago last month, there's been a huge difference in my blood work results, my blood pressure, the amount of energy I have to do everything, and I haven't been really sick since I went vegan, just the sniffles here and there. Let's see if I can't keep it up!

Alright, I must go now and continue to write at least 10 pages of a review paper of harmful algal blooms (HABs) on the California coast, and the link with various physical conditions. It's actually pretty interesting, and is a continuation of my last semester's biological oceanography project, and a stepping stone in my senior thesis project. Hopefully I'll learn something through this project that will help me link what I find in my weekly water samples to larger environmental conditions that may help predict when a HAB will occur here in Humboldt County. I'm so glad that I am studying oceanography. It truly is something that I've always been interested in, and the more I learn, the more excited I get to learn more. I couldn't be happier, even if the course load is insane.