Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Semester has begun

Calculus has not ever been my strong suit. I'm competent, but I kind of put it in that place in the back of my head where you allow yourself to mostly purge the information that you learned. Well, that was probably a bad idea! Two of my classes this semester will be building on calculus ideas, so my extra time that isn't spent doing classwork, I'll be doing review for both Calc I and for Chem I.  I'm hoping it comes back to me with a little effort and some reading.

That being said, classes are mostly fun. I'm taking The Oceans (which is really a general oceanography, which i've already taken...however- we're going to be focusing mostly on how it relates to Monterey Bay - so I'm excited about that, and the fact that the professor seems fun), The Atmosphere, Cell & Molecular Biology, Stats for Sci Tech, and Environmental Economics and Management - in which we'll be focusing a lot on fisheries management because our professor was actually involved in this as a career for a while. Neat!

Right now, getting up to speed, worrying about financial aid and rent monies, and time management is taking up most of my time, but I'm hoping to write more about my reading/experiences once I get settled in without worrying about things!

See you later!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Getting closer...

So, the day is getting closer and closer. Only days left until I begin my Great Adventure. It really is one because I haven't been 'away from home' in over 10+ years. My boyfriend and I have been together for nearly 18 years, and it's going to be a challenge for both of us to relearn what it feels like to live alone.

That aside, I've also had the added adventure of learning that my new campus "apartment"( a room in a two level house that's been divided into two apartments with 2 rooms a piece) is unfurnished. The expenses keep adding up in a way that I didn't expect, seeing that I had been hoping for a room on campus, but because of a housing shortage, I ended up in this odd situation. I have no idea who my roommates are yet, either, but I was supposed to have received a packet about move-in -- and have not. There's a lot of little things that keep becoming important - like not seeing my CalGrant (a very good award) on my financial aid -- which is also what would be paying my rent for the year. Yikes!

Really, all I can do is keep calm (and carry on?) and let the pieces fall into place with some well-timed phone calls and nerves of steel. At this point, though, not much can stop me short of a natural disaster.

I've packed my suitcase with a lot of college-y clothing (meaning, lots of pj pants and comfy weather-appropriate clothing -- and some field work appropriate clothing as well), and have packed my 'moving bins' (cute pink plastic bins from Tarjay) with everything I can possibly think I might need, from electronics, to school supplies, to decor, to kitchen goodies. My new, adorable scandinavian-style futon is being picked up on the way there because the Move Me To School caravan includes, thankfully, my friend's truck that will be a lifesaver, otherwise we may have had to make multiple trips!

So, this is behind-the-scenes look at how a degree in marine science starts: with all the sweaty, stressful groundwork. Never fret, though, especially if you're new to college because after all of this part is over, it's over for at least two semesters (or quarters, or whatever else they call them).

Once I'm set-up and everything is in its place, i'll have to learn how to bus it using the campus shuttle and figure out how to get around in town. There's a nice little mall area about 2 miles or so from the main campus that has all the usual suspects: Target, Michaels, Kohls, etc. I'm hoping there's a real grocery store available on transit, as well, because along with the unfurnished apartment -- i'm forgoing a meal plan in favor of cooking for myself....As I'm a decent cook, I don't forsee this to be a problem other than access to a grocery store.

I'm kind of disappointed about one thing though: I had been really looking forward to being a volunteer at the Monterey Bay Aquarium this year, but because of my crazy class schedule, I won't be able to make both their informational meetings or any of the required training. Bummer.

Lastly, I am working on setting up my website for the first time in years because I want to make sure that I have somewhere to point people when they ask what I'm studying! I'm hoping to have this blog integrated with it, too, so that people can follow along with my experiences. Not that it's too exciting so far - but just you wait! Goodnight!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Okeanos Explorer 2013 Dives

Right now I'm watching NOAA's Okeanos Explorer 2013 dives live online. If you haven't yet sat down to watch some of it, you should! There are three feeds available: a main feed, another feed from a distance off of the ROV (I'm not sure if there are two ROVs in action or not.), and another that shows some of the actual screens that the professionals are looking at.) It's an amazing look at the biology and geology and other -logys of the canyons and other areas of the Northeast Atlantic off the coast of New England/New York (I believe.) -- And it's a great experience in HOW a dive happens.

Without trying, I've been learning a lot from the voices coming out of my computer and the images that they're helping to interpret. What's really great and interesting about this, though, is that there are moments where they're just as flummoxed as you are about an organism or a process - and they rely on a pool of scientists either on their conference call, or through Twitter, to help them interpret what they're seeing.  For me, what's even more inspiring are hearing the two amazingly smart, hilarious and charismatic female dive leaders, Amanda (@ademopolulos on Twitter) and Martha (I think she's the crustacean expert <3 ). The team seems to all work together so fabulously, too. The pilots of the ROVs even come up with questions sometimes that seem to have been picked right from my head. We're even lucky enough to have some other scientists along on Twitter to help us identify and who take screen snaps: two noteable ones are Dr. Chris Kellogg (@DrChrisKellogg) and Christopher Mah (@Echinoblog).

After a few weeks of following them, I've already memorized a whole bunch of new information -- the best moment for me was hearing the word "sebastes" and immediately knowing, without having to look it up, that they were talking about rock fish. I was so excited. It's like learning a new language -- and I guess it IS a new language -- and having that a-ha moment when things start making sense.

Today's dive has been in an area between Lydonia and Powell Canyons (take a peek at this cool ocean map of the area! (Lydonia canyon)) And, there's been a lot of quill worms, red crabs, squat lobsters, flytrap anemones, hakes (type of fish), zoanthids, flounders, and more. And, sadly, trash (a piece of metal).

Here's the link to the Stream 1 feed for you to check out tomorrow, since the dive for today is ending as I type this. I sincerely think it's a great way to observe and even participate. Our tax money pays for NOAA and these dives and its so, so worth every penny. My hat's off to everyone involved making this happen and allowing us to watch/participate along with you!