Showing posts from 2012

A Dash: Lesser Birds

The Next Rachel Carson: Channeling Silent Spring

"Never get lost in the science of it all. Get lost in that moment, in the motive of the good; the greater good that fights for the majority and not the selected few."
Today my boss engaged me in that big question of life: What is it that you want to do with your degree? Obviously graduate school is next. And I stammered through proposal ideas like monitoring corporate manufacturing or residential run-off into ecological systems and how we can use this information to curb their dirty (and cheap) manufacturing practices through protection of local plant and animal species affected by toxic seepage.

And then I paused, "But I want to move away from ecology. I want to do things that will make a difference and initiate the change of human practice. Just not through ecology--I don't want to study one thing forever."

Uh oh. Move away from ecology? My desires are not a secret. I'm a conservationist at heart; an environmental protectionist, or shepherd, …

Giving Thanks

How was your holiday experience? I saw many people prepping for the food festivities yesterday morning by running, cycling, playing tennis, family games of American football, and fútbol in the parks while on my run. Lifestyle choices for some, but most were out as part of their holiday tradition. Here is a glimpse into what our Thanksgiving was like down in South Florida:

A Lifetime At Best


"I'm on my way..."

Bhi Bhiman - Guttersnipe (live) from Bhi Bhiman on Vimeo.

Toxins In, Toxins Out: "The Story of Stuff"

Guess what product percentage of total materials flow through this system is still in product or use 6 months after the date of sale in North America?

Victor Lebow said,
"Our enormously productive economoy demands that we make consumption our way of life, that we convert the buying and use of goods as rituals, that we seek our spiritual satisfaction, our ego satisfaction, in consumption..."

I wish...

This week I had the privilege of spending a little time in the serene tropical botanical gardens of Fairchild. Eighty-three vast acres of over 1000 tropical plant species with origins from all over the world. All living harmoniously together in the natural climate of Southern Florida.

The forests are sweeping, as you amble about ambiguously--on or off the path; in or out of awareness to the thousands of organic happenings around you. It was a Wednesday where not many people visit during the week. The space feels privately aroused like secrets you pride to keep. And then, right before leaving I came across this dark green passage covered in vines and strings with little, quiet wishes and reminisces of children writing dreams on paper to tie away. But these weren't just children. These were childlike men and women, families and friends that wanted better. I almost felt impolite as a read through their dreams, thinking how I wished for some of the same... well, except for tha…


... photo simplicity. Needless to say, I haven't had much time to take many photos (or finish this goddamn review) between lab meetings, journal articles, shifting to a new lab, and personal time.

Switching to a camera I have used countless times was an easy (and familiar) decision. Originally toying with the G10 model some years ago, making the switch from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G1 to the Canon PowerShot G12 was painless. Here's why:
I no longer wanted to lug around a bulky [interchangeable] lens. I am not a professional photographer at this stage of my life, though my photography is definitely something that I would like to be recognized for someday. In my line of work, I am always packing light and tight. I fly on small planes (regrettably, I've already been on 8 this year) and pack gear for several weeks at a time. I can't have something that takes up anymore space than necessary. I need a camera that shoots great quality photos and can be packed into tight …


I have been without my beloved camera since May (I have also been without my GoPro HD HERO 2, which went first). Needless to say, I've taken on a lot of art projects and been playing a lot of literary catchup.

I purchased the Panasonic Lumix G1 back in 2009 before I moved to Okayama, Japan. It was my first major upgrade into the DSLR world and with plenty of knowledgeable help, had narrowed my choices down to three. I ultimately chose the G1 because I was excited about the micro 4:3 aspect ratio. This meant the camera held a smaller sensor, allowing the camera body to also be smaller and lighter, but with the same umph as most standard DSLRs that use the 3:2 aspect ratio. And as I stated back in 2009, I thought this camera was extremely sexy--I just could not get past its beautiful blue body color.

My lack of experience at the time was over-shadowed by my excitement to make my first decision on such an important element in my life. Unfortunately, me and the Panasonic Lumix G…

In cadence with SHARK WEEK

Photo © Brian Skerry
Brian Skerry | August 13 2012
From Peter Benchley’s immortal Jaws to the 2009 thriller Deep Blue Sea, with its hyper-intelligent (but still bad) great whites, sharks' predatory aptitude has been continually sensationalized. A handful of decades ago it wasn’t quite as clear how much trouble the ocean was in, or how important all species, including sharks, were to the balance of marine ecosystems. Now that we do know however, there is no excuse. As we begin Shark Week, we're taking it upon ourselves to change the portrayal of sharks from merciless beasts out to terrorize humans, to respected cohabitants of our largely aquatic world. Brian Skerry is among the world’s most prolific ocean wildlife photographers and clearly explains why below. We're big fans of his (see video below), and couldn't agree more. -- Ed.

As first published in The Boston Globe, August 8.

Shark. The word alone evokes a primal response in humans. Peter Benchley once commented that…

Vegan In Situ


If I was ever to own a business, it would be called, In Situ. Maybe I would sell tea, fresh produce, and vegan dishes. I would have a news board for environmental advocacy and green transport events and initiatives. I would hold after-hour discussions about community interests and harmonies with good friends and good beers.

In a couple years I would expand. Buying out the space next door to be called, Quid Pro Quo. Maybe we'd have bicycles, records and book exchanges. An area to hang and space to repair; board games and meaningful exchanges with friends and strangers.

Community health and fun. We'd bring the world together; enrich its flavor. Send it home with ideas and motivation. A doggy bag of inspiration. Wouldn't it be swell.

What we live for

All of our hard work has paid off. We're in the Herald.

Magic City Farewells

A few days left in Abaco where shortly I will return home to yet another forthcoming farewell. My last nights of organized bike clamor and reckless unknowns. Such is life, it seems--as goodbyes lead to next hellos, they say.

My time back in Abaco has been elevating. Work spread out between hiking out to far away mangrove estuaries through sharp rocky terrain, mangrove mud, and waist to neck high murky waters filled with cassiopeia jellyfish, the surprise frolicking sea turtle, school masters, and nurse sharks. Sorting through cassiopeia pens, 40 exactly, set up by our PhD marine biologist, Betsy. Trap setting, and benthic sampling is our specialty. Mud mashing, and mantis shrimp squealing. Foul mouth talk and show tunes. We're going to miss this.

My main project here is with our PhD marine biologist, Lauren--grunt fish on artificial reefs set out over a year ago in front of the house. We've had many cute critters caught, handled and tagged. This week, the weather ha…

Throw it out


Abaco Island 2012

Back in the field doing what we do...

Lauren tagging white grunts Betsy & Joey

Pitho Crab
Portuguese man-of-war sting
I've only been back in Abaco a week and I've already been stung by a Portuguese man-of-war, saw a seven foot nurse shark, almost got stuck by a two foot remora, had a water spout come down 100 meters from our boat, and eaten my weight in carbs. Stay tuned for our progress.

How I love the Earth...

Much more than I love others, and I really do love and care for people an enormous amount. But I definitely do not care for all people. People like capitalist-mongers that gain from the exploitation of their clientele and nonfinitely raw materials. Where with increased population, the client has indeed become the most abundant of resource and the goal to create consumerist addictions and win-over interests (implanted by industry) is the only mission. As the consumer, we have become distracted by excessive advertising and entertainment; foods, fashion, HGtv, American sports and fountain-of-youth beauty care products have captivated us in such a way that the utopian image is no longer defined by plush green landscapes and clean air sparked by the industrial era. No. Utopia today is defined by the concept of having it all, or having it your way. But do you really, and what does that mean to you? Do you gain happiness through the pleasure of others, or is it at their expense? Hav…

Happy 42th Earth Day

Come join me this Sunday, April 22, 2012 for our 42nd annual Earth Day for a beach and dive clean-up at Commercial Beach.

Location: Beach at commercial pier and A1A… about 300 yards south of the Pier. (We will be set up right by the entrance on Datura st.)

Directions: Take the 95 to the Commercial exit, head east on Commercial blvd all the way to the beach (over the draw bridge). Turn right on El Mar; this is the very last street before the beach. You will park anywhere here, there is parking all along the road…make sure to feed the meters! Head to the beach via Datura Rd (between 2 apartment buildings) and look for the big Diver’s Direct canopy!

Objective: Clean up our beach and the reef in honor of Earth Day 2012! You will be working with Kathy, Kim and Claire

Special Information:
Bags to collect trash for (beach cleaners and divers!) will
be provided on siteWe will have a large canopy to set up under, please make sure you sign a waiver upon arrival.Make sure to bring any water, …

Changing winds

Escaping to a tropical place from an already tropical place may seem redundant only if you've never been to an island in the Western Pacific, south of the Keys, or any other warm vacation spot not including Marco Island or Cancun, MX. Tropical locations carry as much homogeneity as a mountain made of rock, or an ocean, liquid--but other than it's physical makeup the line is drawn there. The tropics are not all created equal, and they fluctuate quite dramatically--climatically, topographically, and organically. The plants, animals, terrain, temperature, surf, locals, foods, hospitality--everything is different.

This time of year in South Florida we are reaching the end of the dry season, also known as "winter" for the Northern Folk. Temperatures here in South Florida are at a moderate and breezy ~80 degrees Fahrenheit, and ocean temperatures are just beginning to warm enough for diving, paddle boarding, wind surfing, and beaching without skins. Soon the Westerly …

crass rock

Behind the scenes of Austin's SXSW with Casey Meehan, Billeh Ocean, Casey’s cousin Dustin, and these bands:

Intro to SXSW w/ Billeh Ocean and Casey Meehan
Trail of the Dead – After The Laughter
White Rabbits – Heavy Metal
Interview w/ Ian Tsan of Grapejuice Records & Rambos
Rambos – Chuck Taylors
Intro to Of Monsters of Man (With Casey’s cousin Dustin)
Of Monsters of Man – Little Talks
Casey Meehan discusses Chicago Mixtape party and talks about Chamberlin
Chamberlin – Dust
Danny Malone – Dead Girl
Billeh Ocean interviews Danny Malone
Santigold – Big Mouth
Billeh Ocean and Casey Meehan Live from the Fador Fort
Peaking Lights – Marshmellow Yellow
Nicolas Jaar – Space Is Only Noise
2 Chicago Boys Interlude
Outer Minds – Bohemian Grove
Mike Musikanto Interview w/ Billeh Ocean and Casey Meehan
Recorded at Papa Tinos (Much Love to Alan!)
Muiskanto – Byzantine
Soooooooo Gooooooood Interlude
The Last Great Fitzcarraldos – Temtation
Eddie and Casey intro to Policia
Policia …


Life requires essentials: love, friends, gear, and a whim...

mask, fins, snorkelhat2 pairs shorts, 2-3 tops, sweats, long sleeve shirtbathing suitrash guardcamel pack bladder12-pack Clif barsmicrofiber towelfive fingerspair of flip flopscashfield cameradry bagsunscreencomb, razor, deodorant, toothbrushDr. Bronnersdrawstring daypackragflashlightfirst aid

The measure

Fairness, equality, and the measure--the meaning behind the movement and the response. Are you analyzing the composition, or the individual? Do you understand the consequence of action; possess awareness of accountability. What are the margins of error? Does the machine know what it is doing without its maker, its mechanic, or its consumer? Do you "live" in the herd, or do you fight for the cause? Do you breath life? Does life breath you?

Finished with Finish Line

Revised: 11-8-13

Close to a year ago I purchased my annual pair of Mizuno running shoes. They were the Mizuno Wave Creation 12, which I wrote about back in April 2011. It was my first time taking advantage of Finish Line's 15 Day Test Run offer, which is designed to allow you to purchase a pair of qualifying shoes and run in them for up to 15 days to then decide whether you are satisfied with your 15 day trial purchase. If you are not, you would think that the policy would allow you to return the shoes for your money back, but this is not the case. Your chance taken on a 15 day test trial running shoes is now treated as an exchange. This means, if you cannot find a proper replacement at Finish Line then your money must be spent in the store on other items. My experience may have been an isolated case at this particular store and its management (Sawgrass Mills, Sunrise, FL). After my 15 day trial, the store would not grant me a store credit to use at a later time. I had to use…


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[start from the beginning here]
My physical journey began on a shinkansen ("shink"--bullet train) from Okayama, Japan on the early morning of 14 November 2008, while heading east towards Osaka. Then, onto another train to Kansai International, where I caught a plane at 1:30 in the afternoon to arrive in Detroit, Michigan on that very same day--two hours earlier at 11:30am (talk about a mindfuck). From there it was on through Miami, Florida to depart at 7:50pm, to then land in Alajuela, Costa Rica by 9:40pm (which really ended up being after 11pm on account of delays) 14 November 2008 (sound familiar?). Indeed.

I decided to move to CR while I wa…

¡Aquí vengo!

JANUARY 13, 2009
It is funny. When I first got to Costa Rica I was ever so cautious of impurities. Careful not to swallow the water as I brushed my teeth. Careful not to touch anything more than I needed to in the shower, in the bread store, on the bus. Even the grocery to me in Alajuela felt tainted, and there was no way that I was going to consider eating from an exposed mound of complimentary brown and bruised bananas and crumby white loaf bread at the hotel in San José.

Since I have been here in Caletas, all of these preconceived ideas of impurities have been diminished. We wash our dishes with sometimes foul-smelling well water. The dishes are hardly ever really clean, sitting out in the open air just like everything else at camp. Leftovers sit out uncovered, or saran wrapped in above normal temperatures for a day and we still eat them. Our hands and nails are always dirty from digging in the sand, using the "facilities," and digging up rotting turtle eggs. Often they a…


JANUARY 12, 2009
I walked into town today for probably the last time. This assuming that I can get a ride from Stephanie with my bags on the early morning of the 15th. I was able to get almost everything I wanted to get for my family, minus some coconut bars and some granola that I think tastes like Smacks cereal. Maybe others will trail into town before departure and they can get them for me. Here is a recipe I found for coconut bars (everyone's ultimate favorite thing), just in case they are not at the supermercado:
2 eggs, well beaten2 cups brown sugar1/2 tsp vanillasalt to taste2 cups shredded coconut1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Combine the ingredients in bowl, in the order given. Pour into 8" sq. pan. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Cool slightly, then cut into bars.
The ABCs of Camp Cooking is where I got this recipe. We have it in our makeshift bookshelf and refer to it occasionally, except that we can't get all of the ingredients here. …


JANUARY 11, 2009

Go home and listen to more blues.

The Beatles, Grateful Dead, Eric Calpton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bonnie Raitt, BB King, John Hiat, Buddy Guy, Susan Tedeschi...

Loquat, Citizen Cope, Wild Sweet Orange, Margot, Fountains of Wayne, Sheerwood, Jack's...

Imogen Heap, Tegan and Sara, Feist, An Horse, Brandi Carlisle, Death Cab, Thievery Corporation, MGMT

Brett Denon, Ray La Montagne... Jolene... because we all still don't know what love means. [<--Previous Day] [Next Day-->]

Sparkling light

JANUARY 9, 2009
I just had a dream about going to the salad bar with my family. Heaven. And there was amaretto pound cake. I could taste it.

I had some other interesting dreams last night. I was hanging out at a gay rights rally and it was supposedly the last night before an issue passed that wouldn't allow them to marry. So everyone that came to the rally participated in a marriage ceremony and was given a marriage license. It was wonderful. Also, with the position of the Earth that time of year, the Hubble telescope was apparently floating around in outer space in a way that allowed it to float down to Earth as if there was no atmosphere present. It felt like we were so close to the sky. I watched it bob around, spurring streamers of sparkling light that were the same colors as the parrot feather I picked up the other day--black, bright green, and indigo. The occasion disrupted the rally briefly, but once the Hubble telescope floated back up into space, the rally was d…

Sad Truth

JANUARY 8, 2009
I went over to another beach today that Margarita and Natalia discovered. They call it the Secret Beach, "La Playa Secreta" because the only way to get to it, besides over rocks at low tide, is through the tall grass and brush off the path that we take to the jungle. It was beautiful down there. Just a small patch of sand stopped by rocks on each side and backed by steep cliffs and the path that lead down. The sand was a different color, and the trees rooted out of the ground and from the sides of the cliffs like dense vines. There were ferns and cacti, too. I wanted to spend the afternoon there, quietly with my writing; quietly to myself. And such it was, until a fisherman came over around the rocky bend to fish off the other side.

We made small talk. He said he was fishing and that he knew very little English. I said that I worked with the turtles and knew little Spanish. And so, he shook my hand and said, "Amigos?" and I said, "…

Simple and Beautiful

JANUARY 6, 2009
I went into town yesterday for a break. I didn't tell anyone that I did so that I could cut my compy time, but Sarah met up with me later. I was only on for about an hour and ten, checking email, checking facebook. I keep forgetting to check one of my email accounts. My mom has hardly written, which surprises me. I think maybe she would rather talk to me on the phone. I've completely avoided getting a phone card here. I'm not opening that can of worms.

After the internet, I picked a few things to take back to Japan. There aren't many suveneirs here in this remote town, so I picked up local food items. Alec was going to bring us PRETOMA shirts from San José, but has not done so yet. I also checked on other food items I would like to get for my parents, Jeff and Heather. These include things like Guava jellies, Salsa Lizano, habanero and jalapeño sauce, coconut bars, plantain chips. Not sure what else; I am so limited with space, weight and m…

Cacahuete II

JANUARY 5, 2009

Meet Maggie's fat puppy, Cacahuete.
[<--Previous Day] [Next Day-->]

Keep coming back

JANUARY 4, 2009
Today was another one of those gratifying days where some one specific has touched my heart. He's a Tico with Indian grandparents. He lives in Chicago though and moved all around the big cities in the states to find a place. He thanked me for coming to his country and doing this. He thanked me from the bottom of his heart, wished good things for my family, and even said "arigato gozaimasu". It is the people that make a place. It doesn't have to come from the people that I am living with here, but for it to come from the people that keep coming back, it really means so much more. Thank you for this day. [<--Previous Day] [Next Day-->]


JANUARY 2, 2009
So last night was kind of nuts. It was my night off, and we had turtles that needed to go down to 32, so I walked with the S patrol. I dropped them off, and took a nest and a bucket from the patrol to carry back for them. I took some time for myself, laying on this flat piece of driftwood that I like to visit to look up at the stars and moon. I had a lot on my mind and laid there a good 30 minutes before I felt like I had gotten most of it out. Let it go. So I walked back in peace, got to camp and set the nest in the hatchery. As soon as I had finished, Miguel comes running down, "We must go! There is a Baula at 40! We have to run!" A Baula is a leatherback. That's right! So I put on my shoes and we ran to 40--about 2 km south.

She was there and she was enormous, though Miguel said she was small for her size; 146cm long is all that I recall. She kept moving up and down the beach, a total of 4 times with 4 holes that she had dug. She looke…