goodness, humor

Alaska… maybe not

how did sledding not make the list?  HOW?!

how did sledding not make the list? HOW?!

Diminutive Friend and I have been chatting about doing a vacation together.  At first it was going to be Dublin, but Teacher Friend wants to do that with us (but hasn’t been available because she’s always travelling to amazing places.  It’s a rough life).  So we’ve decided to go somewhere else: Diminutive Friend suggested Costa Rica or Alaska.  Costa Rica would be a great reason to bone up on my Spanish, and I’ve never been.  But Alaska has its hooks in me.  The wilderness!  The wildlife!  The Northern Lights!  The indigenous cultures!  It all sounds amazing, until you Google “stuff to do in Alaska,” at which point that electric, adventurous feeling wears off, and cold, boring reality sets in.  Here’s a “Top Ten” list (written in all seriousness)  that seems to summarize everything you won’t mention to friends upon your return from the dullest vacation ever:

1. Visit the Native Heritage Center (this actually sounds great)
2. See a glacier
3. Visit the knife factory
4. Go outside
5. Visit the other museum
6. Look for wildlife (“remember to wear your bear bells”)
7. Go fishing
8. Fly around
9. Get drunk and eat a reindeer (no, really)
10. Take a train ride

This incredible list is followed by “buy a fleece jacket.”  Yikes.

So… I hear Costa Rica’s nice this time of year…

(seriously though, I still want to visit Alaska somehow)

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goodness

Educational comb

During our last inspection, Dad and I noticed a ton of capped (and uncapped) brood, but the caps were different colors.  I drew this little diagram (MS Paint, bitches!) but waited to post it until we could verify the info as correct.

this is from a few weeks ago.  it was a very educational inspection

this is from a few weeks ago. it was a very educational inspection

The past couple of days, Dad has seen groups of bees hovering around the entrance and flying around the hive, seemingly at random.  His guess is that they’re new foragers doing an orientation flight, and I think he’s right.  They haven’t swarmed, and have built a completely new strip of comb.  They were coming back with giant, white-ish pollen baskets, so they all seem to be foraging in the same area, and are clearly happy staying at the hive if they’re bringing back so much food.  All awesome!

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family, goodness

Hive inspection: Success edition!

Dad and I have been attempting to keep some bees for months now, and every time we think they’ll stay, their numbers peter out.  The first batch just took off, the second and third hung out for a while, but didn’t make much progress and were too small.  The fourth built a bunch of comb and then started leaving.  The most recent colony, however, has taken to the hive beautifully.  We did an inspection yesterday and saw loads of brood (mostly capped), two generations deep, meaning: The queen starts laying in the center of the comb and works her way out toward the edge of the comb.  On a few of the strips we saw capped brood at the edge of the comb (unhatched first generation babies), then empty comb (where some first generation babies had already hatched and left), then, in the center of the comb, more capped brood (where the queen had already laid another batch of babies: a second generation).  That’s our working theory, anyway.

note the brood right in the center, almost ready to be capped

note the brood right in the center, almost ready to be capped (and the capped honey at the very top)

Once their numbers are shored up, they’ll keep building comb and dedicating more comb-space to food storage (honey, pollen, and a combo of the two adorably called “bee bread”).  We saw a high concentration of bees on the edges of the comb, which probably means they’re already building the comb out, and in fact there’s already been a noticeable difference in the size of the existing comb leftover from the last swarm.  Some of the strips were downright heavy with the weight of the comb, full cells and bees milling around.  There wasn’t much honey, but we’re assuming that once their numbers go up, they’ll shift their focus a bit.  I’m sure they know what they’re doing.

We took a bunch of photos of each strip so we could inspect them carefully without disturbing the bees.  I lifted each strip out of the hive while Dad took some quick hi-res photos, and carefully replaced each strip so we wouldn’t crush any of them.  There were only maybe a dozen bees that were noticeably agitated (flying at our faces and such), which is a sign that either smoking bees really does make them more docile, or we have some very well-behaved ladies in the hive.  They stayed on the comb when we pulled each strip out, even when a stiff breeze came by.  We even saw a few bees waggling their abdomens up and down.  It didn’t look like a waggle dance, so we’re not sure what they were doing, lil’ weirdos 🙂

Afterward, while examining the photos (very thoroughly), I spotted the queen!  We knew she must be there, but it’s good to see her.  We didn’t find any drones, though.  Perhaps they were on a mating flight?  We also saw some really pretty pollen, all different colors, on the comb and on some bees’ legs: dark orange, dusty yellow and vivid yellow.

They seem like a strong colony.  I can’t wait to see how they do.  Dad’s going out of town for the week, so I’ll check on them in his absence, checking for pollen on their legs when they return to the hive, and peeking in through the window to see if they’re building more comb.

various colors of pollen in bright new comb

various colors of pollen in bright new comb

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family, goodness, life, manfolk, school

Hawai’i: Day eight

Finally, I’ve gotten around to writing about our last day in Hawai’i.  We were bummed to leave, but also kinda ready (the humidity makes you feel sticky all the time.  The copious amounts of sunscreen didn’t help either).

Our last day there was the day of my presentation at the conference!  I was a bit nervous, but mostly excited about meeting people, presenting my ideas, fielding questions, and hearing the other presentations in my session.  My presentation went really well; there were several questions afterward, and one of the women (who was also presenting) had also played World of Warcraft, so we had loads to talk about afterward.  Her presentation was on gender roles in TV and movies, particularly the way they are portrayed in ancient dramas (Rome, 300, Game of Thrones, etc.).  It was really interesting.  She lives in Sweden, and invited me to come speak at her university so we’re staying in touch.

SO GOOD

SO GOOD

Afterward I felt free as a bird and really excited to get some pork laulau, which I’d been craving all week.  We went to Ono Hawai’ian Foods on Kapahulu near Waikiki on uncle Bobby’s recommendation, and it turned out to be the same place I went with my cousin Leah the last time I was in town for the same conference.  Boyfriend tried poi for the first time and actually liked it (shock).  I was still riding high on being finished with my presentation (even though it was the last day of our trip), so we drove to Dave’s Ice Cream for another helping of azuki bean ice cream.  They had a dark/bright purple ice cream that was imo flavored (Japanese [Okinawan] purple sweet potato) which was bonkers.

how does this sign help?  all it does is freak people out.

found this sign at the Pali Lookout. how does this help? all it does is freak people out.

We headed back to Lanikai side to have one last ocean experience before we left the next day.  On our way, I realized that we’d been driving past the Pali Lookout but hadn’t yet gone up.  So we took a quick detour to enjoy the view and almost got blown right off the mountain.  There were loads of tourists from all over, but my favorite was a German woman feeding wild chickens that had come out of the forest right next to the parking lot while her husband smiled and told her to get in the car.

We brought Boyfriend’s nice camera to the beach, and I brought my ukulele.  He took a few photos, and we swam around a bit enjoying the water and watching people kayak around.  When we went back in, a guy had a bucket with a couple fish, and encouraged us to take a photo of them in rapid pidgin.  He said one of them was a barracuda, cool!

it stared at us with its dead, beady eye

it stared at us with its dead, beady eye

We were sad to leave Bob and Nancy (and Bella, *sniffle*), but it was so nice to spend so much time with them that it was hard to be too broken up.  Boyfriend and I woke up at 330am to drive across the island and arrive at the airport by 5 so I could be on a plane by 620am.  On the drive back, boyfriend apparently stopped and took a bunch of photos of the sunrise over the ocean near Lanikai.  I’m jealous I couldn’t see it with him, the photos are incredible.  I ended up taking a later flight anyway, and got a $400 voucher in exchange, woot!  Continental owes me that for that time they botched my trip to the east coast to visit Boyfriend a few years back (I’m still a little broken up about that, lol).

I’m so glad Boyfriend and I had this trip together.  After more than five years we’re still excited to see each other and spend time together.  I’m looking forward to spending that voucher on another fun trip with him 🙂

playing some Jamaica Farewell to the mokes on my ukulele

playing some Jamaica Farewell to the mokes on my ukulele

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family, goodness, life, manfolk

Hawai’i: Day six

I was too wiped out to write about our day last night. We got an early start at 730am. Bobby was nice enough to get up with us to show us which house we were borrowing a kayak from. We found a two-person kayak, grabbed a couple of oars, and threw everything in the back of the Kia while Bobby went back home to sleep. We drove about a block with half the kayak sticking out of the back of the car, unloaded it and carried/dragged it down a sandy path to the beach.

this kayak, but without the seats (wtf would you do with those?)

this kayak, but without the seats (wtf would you do with those?)

Boyfriend and I were super excited. I had him sit in the front even though he weighs more so he could have a beautiful view while we paddled around. I had him pull the kayak down the beach to the water to feel how bouyant it is so he would feel safe in it (and it’s fun to feel something so heavy become so light so quickly). He got in and I launched us and jumped in behind him, and we took off toward the Mokuluas.

my shot of the Mokuluas from a pillbox

my shot of the Mokuluas from a Lanikai pillbox

Our goal was to make it out to the left Moke (Moku Nui), and we made it no problem. We took a couple of breaks on our way there and back to enjoy the view, feel the water and generally relax. The morning was perfect for being out on the water. There was plenty of cloud cover, there was a little wind, the water was calm, and there was no rain. As we approached the Mokuluas, the sun broke through the clouds, Boyfriend paddled, slow and strong, and the cool emerald water dripped from his paddle onto my legs. The beauty of the moment is hard to describe. It felt like a dream.

some jerk photographer's shot of the mokes

some jerk photographer’s shot of the mokes

Once we arrived, we walked around the beach and enjoyed the view. We found a sea slug covered in sand and latched onto a rock (it was alive and healthy, so naturally we both poked it gently and laughed), and a sea urchin a couple feet from that (it was also alive, and we watched it move it’s spikes slowly whenever the waves receded and the sand settled. We were tempted to take a shell back with us, but decided to be responsible tourists and left it behind. We were both bummed that we didn’t have any way to take a photo of the gorgeous view of Oahu, and the Mokuluas up close, especially where the waves crashed against the dark black rocks on the south side of the island.

exterior tiles at the Doris Duke estate

exterior tiles at the Doris Duke estate

We paddled back in no time flat, returned the kayak, and headed back home to shower and change. We headed straight out for Waikiki to eat (more udon, yum!) before heading to the Honolulu Museum of Art (cool Japanese art collection; beautiful kimonos, wallets, netsuke and komainu) to meet up with a tour of Doris Duke’s house, Shangri-la. I’ve been there once before, and my memory of it was apparently very sharp. The house is an odd mixture of responsible art preservation and evidence of obviously wreckless looting. It’s been ten years (at least) since I first saw the house, and I didn’t have a degree in art history then, so I felt somewhat more disturbed about the acquisition of many of the pieces in the house. Regardless it’s an incredible resource, and a semi-legitimate museum in its own right.

We headed back across the island to the cottage so I could take class only to realize once we arrived and couldn’t join the classroom that I had forgotten about the 3-hour time difference. Derp. So I missed the last class of the semester. I’ll still get an A in the class (assuming my case study doesn’t suck), and I really disliked the professor, so I don’t really care.

that means you, asshole

that means you, asshole

We ordered Thai food for dinner, which Jon and I picked up and paid for.  At the restaurant, there was a fish tank with a huge, hideous looking fish, apparently named Bruno, whom only a guy named Joe is allowed to feed.  Huh.  We ate dinner in front of the TV with Bobby and Nancy (we watched another episode of The Protectors, one of the Danish cop dramas that Nancy likes, and which I have to watch from the beginning now because I’m totally hooked). We crashed hard after that, and had to get up super early this morning to make it to the conference for an 8am talk about social media in the classroom. Boyfriend said he would come with me, even though I said I’d be back home by noonish. He’s so sweet.

Bobby’s having a root canal done today, and seemed a bit on edge about it last night (naturally). He doesn’t do well with pain, so I’ll have to check on him later.

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