• 10 Days and Counting

    A major part of any dive project is making sure everybody's AAUS Science Diving qualifications are up-to-date. It was a terribly sad morning for all of us on the BIOS CORAL team, who had to take a boat out in the beautiful weather and do checkout dives at North Rock.

    Puddingwife Wrasse (Halichoeres radiatus) - These guys are notoriously curious and fearless. As usual, there were a few circling our crew during the checkouts.

    Greater Soapfish (Rypticus saponaceus) - I've never noticed this fish in Bermuda before! They often exhibit strange behavior, for example, this one was laying flat on his side in the sand. His mottled skin was good camouflage, and he looked supremely annoyed when I nudged him up to take a picture.

    Queen Parrotfish, Terminal Phase (Scarus vetula) - A prominent, vital species in Bermuda reef ecosystems, parrotfish work tirelessly to crunch up bits of algae and produce new sand.

    Spiny Lobster (Panulirus argus) - It's always fun to find a big ol' lobster sitting out on his front porch. They're mostly nocturnal, taking refuge in little caves like this during the day when predators are active.

  • Testing 1, 2, 4

    This week Eric handed me a GoPro Hero 4 and asked for footage of my experiences during the field campaigns. I guess that means I have to learn how to use it.

    Mochi squashed the competition for a starring role in the trial run.

  • 14 Days and Counting

    Two weeks from today I'll be sleeping in an American Airlines seat destined for Honolulu. (Even with two layovers, American is the only airline that can get you from Bermuda to Hawaii on the same date.) I'll arrive at 10:50pm, pick up a rental car, and start the actual madness of our Operational Readiness Test.

    The ORT is exactly what it sounds like: a test to determine if field operations are running smoothly enough to perform. All three science teams will be on the water in conjunction with flyovers by the Tempus airplane containing PRISM. The focus is to work out any kinks in methodology, but the hope is to collect accurate, usable data on the first try.

    I've been working my butt off the last few months trying to organize documentation and logistics for 15 people across North America to come together and get some gosh darn work done. So let the countdown begin!

  • Tropical Kitschen: Preserving Herbs

    One of the hardest things about tropical climates is getting your veggies to last. The heat and humidity causes them to wilt, sog, mold, and otherwise just crap out. Not to mention, many of them already have a short shelf life due to long shipping routes.

    So what am I supposed to do with all of this extra basil? I just decimated my garden in preparation for the summer crop and there's no way I can eat all of it. (I thought about drying it out, but I doubt 96% humidity allows leaves to die with such dignity.)

    Solution: freeze it! Olive oil doesn't break down, the herbs don't go to waste, and you have some ready-made cooking starters to pop in the pan. I've dedicated one ice cube tray to these little nuggets to avoid residual oil making its way into drinks.

    1. Wash the herbs.

    2. Chop the herbs.

    3. Mix them into olive oil.

    4. Pour into an ice cube tray.

    5. Set overnight.

    Voila! Delicious and tactile.

  • Vaginas. All of you.

    A lot of people need to go sit in the corner and think about the following words: Epic. Revolution. Strength. Explosive.

    These are all words I've read in the past few days through the unavoidable bombardment of media reports on Beyoncé's Lemonade. How - and when - did her pedestal get so goddamned tall?

    Life is pain. And I don't doubt that Beyoncé has had her fair share. But it's hard for me to revere someone who's boundlessly beautiful, naturally talented, and filthy rich. Human equality issues like feminism and African-American oppression are important, and it's wonderful that she's chosen to use her power for good. But I am infinitely annoyed by the amount of people describing the visual album as "epic."

    To contrast: The movie Room, showcasing Elisabeth Fritzl's years of sexual abuse, isolation, abandonment, and bittersweet social re-entry... this is epic. Rosa Parks assuming arrest for refusing to sit on the back of the bus... this is revolutionary. Malala Yousafzai being shot by the Taliban while fighting for women's education rights... this is strength.

    To compare: Audrey Hepburn cutting her hair off (and still not looking the least bit masculine) is "boss." Al Gore filming An Inconvenient Truth to raise climate change awareness (amid a plethora of political, chin-stroking selfies) is "neat." And Beyonce featuring a history of the black female struggle (none of whom seem to be larger than a size 4) is "super."

    At the heart of it, Lemonade is a scorned woman who created a public shame sensation of her chosen life partner's infidelity and then released it exclusively on said life partner's media channel. Their pockets are literally being lined with millions of $17.99 credit card payments. It's entertaining, and it certainly has the positive effect of sparking worldwide conversation. But is that enough to make it "explosive?" Didn't anybody see She's Gotta Have It?

    The modern world is increasingly centered on social media. As our attention spans get shorter, it's important to remember what words means and how we're saying them. I don't want to get rid of pop culture - I just want people to think critically about what they're chewing on.

    So please! By all means, keep your heads up Bey's vagina. (I personally like to alternate mine between Mimi's and Prince's.) But let's call it what it is: a sweet, warm vagina to rest our placid little heads. There's no scar tissue, characteristic wrinkles, or magical sex muscles up there. It's just good.

    Update: A well-written New Yorker article just came out that articulates my sentiments exactly. Ahhh, sweet validation.