Wednesday, September 29, 2010

"Volcano to Ashes, Dust to Rocks" : Koko Fissure Field Trip

Here are some photographs from my Geology field trip to Koko Fissure this weekend. We were looking at the different compositions of structures left by the Koko Head eruptions many millennia ago.

It was an absolutely stunning place. I can't wait to go back.

First stop on our trip: view of Koko Head and Koko crater from afar:

A closer view of Koko head:

Towards the left (if you squint a lot) you may see the stairs that go all the way up. This is a major "hike" on O'ahu. Some people climb them every week!

This is a shot of where we spent most of the day:

All of these structures were left from the Volcanic eruption. (You can see the layers in this rock structure.)

A view from the "top":
It was absolutely gorgeous! And I learned so much about Geology, too! I would really like to go back here though and explore a little bit more out of an academic context. Maybe a picnic?

More to update soon! For now, I'm off to a written/in-class/take-home (??) exam in my Hawaiian Religion class...

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's been too long...

Unfortunately, I've let this blog slide a little, so I have to do my best to update on the last week and a half. I may just have to list the cool things I've done since last week:

1. Hiking above Manoa. After class last Thursday, I went with a new friend up a hill behind my dorm, and kept going up that hill until we were on the top of the ridge overlooking Manoa Valley. Some pictures:

(view of Manoa valley below. Campus is towards the left.)
View of Diamond Head in full-- before this hike, it was hard for me to visualize it as a crater. (Waikiki is to the right, the dorms are in front-- you can see the circular towers.)

2. Swing Dancing. Kind of nerdy, maybe, but definitely fun. A friend from Ultimate brought the whole Haverford Gang. It was a fun way to meet people, but I'm terrible at the dancing. Aubrey (from Haverford) says that it's because I am bad at following. Something about "being a woman who knows what I want"... Thanks, Aubrey. I hope to go back and get better, though! Maybe even take the parents when they come out to visit in November...

3. Hanging out with my roomates (suitemates)! It's been nice to get to know them a little better and spend more time with them. I have three in total-- Brittany from Chicago, Hannah from Minnesota, and Lei from Maui.

4. Using time after class to do things I want. Tuesdays have been wonderful because I get out of class at 2:45 and then bus down to the beach and hang out for a while before ultimate starts in a nearby park at 5:30. Also, yesterday I went to the beach with my friend Maya after class and just napped and relaxed. It's nice to work hard in school, and then be able to be outside and unwind.

5. Last night, I went to a really wonderful flea market in Chinatown with some friends from my Ultimate team. It was great hanging out with them, and I got some great finds! The flea market is held once a month, and different artists/jewlery-makers/crafters/hipsters come out and sell a lot of really interesting stuff. One woman had a stand that was just spandex shorts and pants she made by hand. I was in heaven, but had to resist... Maybe something for next month...

As a side-story that does not have to do with the cool things I've done here-- Haverford College is out of control. Last week, after going to the Hawaii 5-0 premiere, I wrote a blog post very similar to the one here for the "A Semester Almost Abroad" program website. I did this mostly because Anna Womack, the program director, asked me to, and she's incredibly nice and generous, so I couldn't say no. Somehow, the Haverford study abroad office got a hold of it, posted it on THEIR website and put it on the Haverford front page WITHOUT MY PERMISSION. I didn't even know I was up and on the site until people from Haverford pointed it out... UNCOOL, Haverford. It would have been fine, but no one asked me or even informed me that it was up...

In any case, life is still good here! I'll try to post more often, too, so these posts don't have to be so wordy. Tomorrow I'm taking a geology field trip to Koko head, so I'll be sure to post pictures!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


This is real:
That's right! That IS me with Daniel Dae Kim, STAR of "Hawaii Five-0" and "Lost" AND Haverford College class of 1990!!

Last night was the premiere of "Hawaii 5-0" on Waikiki Beach. We got there super late, mostly because there was some sort of carnival happening in the dining center that we just couldn't get away from... There was a DJ, cotton candy, break dancers, etc etc in the cafeteria and none of us could figure out why... Anyways, by the time we got moving, we JUST missed our no. 4 bus to Waikiki-- as in, we saw it come and go while we were on the other side of the busy intersection-- and had to wait for the next one.

That's when we got a wonderful call from Anna Womack, program director of the Semester ALMOST Abroad program saying she had just passed us and would we like a ride? Just another instance proving how awesome she is...

So by the time we get to the premiere, every man, woman, child and tourist on the island of Oahu is there. But I am DETERMINED to see Haverford's one Hollywood-famous alumnus, and so I hang out behind the screen, watching the premiere from there. By the end, everyone was leaving the VIP section, and I was right along the barrier of where all the stars walked out. I was just taking a picture of Jorge Garcia, (who plays Hurley on Lost), when I saw Daniel Dae Kim and shouted, "Daniel!! I'm a HAVERFORD student!! Can I please get a picture with you!" And that was that.

The show was pretty good, too. An entertaining cop show, as opposed to the "real life" cop shows that are on these days. I wouldn't watch it weekly, or anything, but it was fun to see. And thank goodness they kept the old, catchy theme song!!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Little Maya and the Big Telescope

Well, it's 3:09am Hawai'i Time, and I can proudly say GREETINGS from the KECK Telescope Headquarters! I've been up and observing for many an hour, still with apprx. 2 hours until sunrise. So, while those giant mirrors are taking spectroscopic data on Andromeda satellite galaxies, I may as well post some updates.

Here I am:

But not really. I'm actually here:

Just look at all of that fancy equipment! As it turns out, the Keck Headquarters are quite far from the actual Mauna Kea Summit. I've gathered that this is because the telescope is located at 14,000 feet above sea level, and the average scientist wouldn't be able to make it up that far without their inhalers. Just kidding, scientists! We're not all asthmatics!

I feel pretty naive that I hadn't figured that one out before getting here, and so I actually won't have a chance to see the real telescopes. This is pretty disappointing, mostly because if I had known, I could have gotten a free ride up the summit and a full tour of the telescopes. I suppose this means that I'll have to make it back here sometime in my life (sometime this semester would be great, if not a bit of a stretch) to get the full experience.

All of that aside though, it's still been awesome observing here. Those fancy shmancy computers allow for us to control the telescope remotely, and actually click the button that takes the exposures. I'm here with Erik Tollerud, (a graduate student), and he's doing research for James Bullock at UC Irvine looking at Andromeda satellite galaxies to gather their photometric properties and radial velocities to determine their percentages of dark matter!!! The work is highly related to the research I did with Beth Willman at Haverford this past summer, so I understand the reasoning behind the project, but have still been learning a lot.

The nocturnal lifestyle is pretty cool, too. When I got here Thursday night, the goal was to stay up as late as humanly possible to get used to not going to sleep before the sun was up. I made it to about 2:30 watching "The Locator" (just for you, Mom) until I passed out. I was sure that I wouldn't be able to stay up to observe, but I did all last night, and I'm doing pretty well tonight! It's been my job to realign the different "slit masks" that select which objects we observe. This happens about every hour or so, and in between, there's not much else to do while the telescope gathers the data. So, I've been mostly doing work for Beth (I'm continuing my research with her remotely in Hawai'i), and reading the blogs of other study abroaders. (Mary, Elinor, Tom, Maddie-- If you're reading this, just know that I now feel fully updated on all of your lives!)

In other, non-astronomy related news, my jellyfish wound is back with a vengeance!!! It's been a week of a weird-looking marks, but I've barely noticed it. Now, it's itching like crazy and it's strangely puffy. I read online that this happens sometimes with jelly-stings. One article even said that is could be due to hatching jellyfish larvae beginning to release their toxins! AAHH!!

Ok, I'm getting rambly. Can you blame me? It is 3:37am... Much love.

Monday, September 6, 2010

the ULTIMATE weekend

It's Monday night of labor day weekend, and I'm almost relieved that I have school tomorrow. This has been the craziest weekend of my life.

Friday night, after being out on the town in Waikiki with some friends, we decided to stop at the beach for a late-night swim. One of the greatest things about Hawai'i is that I never have any inhibitions about just jumping in the water. It's always the perfect temperature, and I've felt so peaceful in the ocean.

So, while swimming, it would be just my luck to be stung by jellyfish. I've never been stung before, and I've honestly never been in worse pain in my life. I didn't know what to do, and while trying to rinse off in the beach showers, a very friendly police officer approached us and asked if everything was alright. The sting was getting worse, and so I asked him for help. It was close to 3am, and I had been swimming in my underwear, so it was really not the classiest of situations, but I wasn't sure of what to do.

Luckily, the police station was only a few feet away, and this police officer, "Uncle Lenny," took care of me and waited with me until an ambulance came. I didn't need to go to the hospital, thank goodness, but he wanted to make sure I wasn't having an allergic reaction. My friends were taking care of me, too, and continued to for the rest of the night. Now, I just have a nasty, itchy rash on my upper leg and lower stomach, but it's getting better everyday. I really cannot express how lucky I feel to have been around people who were so generous and willing to take care of me. So the lesson is: Do NOT swim in the ocean at night-- especially a few days after the full moon. I've heard that's when the jellies are out and about more than usual.

Luckily, the rest of the weekend to follow was absolutely incredible. Both Saturday and Sunday the Haverford boys and I played in an Ultimate Tournament, called Loco Moco after this delectable Hawaiian treat:
(rice, hamburger, egg, gravy. They were making them all day on the sidelines! YUM!)

It felt SO good to play ultimate again. It was an incredible way to meet new and wonderful people, too. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming. I plan to continue to play with the same team (the ELECTROS) for the rest of the semester while I'm here. The team is more or less new to each other, so I think it will be fun to fit in to their new dynamic. Plus, everyone is SO GOOD, and also SO MUCH FUN!

Saturday night, the tournament put on the most incredbile party-- actually, the party of my dreams. It was in the gym/spa of a residential building where one of the players works, so there was a pool, sauna, hot tub, and also an aerobics studio that became the dance room. It was 80's themed (I guess to coincide with Haverford's 80's dance?), which really just made it that much better. Again, a wonderful way to meet great people and have an awesome time.

This week, I'm only in class for three days because I head to Maunu Kea on THURSDAY! I'm so excited, but really have no idea what to expect. Mostly, I'm just thrilled that I get a chance to see the Big Island. Everyone I've talked to here says it's absolutely beautiful. Speaking of absolutely beautiful, here's a picutre from the tournament:
It's a DOUBLE RAINBOW!! (That's Aubrey on the left and me on the right.) It looks like this every day here...

Sorry for the extremely wordy post with a complete lack of pictures. Although, I guess it's good that there were no photos from Friday night! Hopefully more beautiful-picture-posts to come!