nycmermaid: (scubagirl)
(c/o Monterey Bay Aquarium)

The gray whales are migrating south past Monterey now, and the humpback whales are wintering in the Hawaiian islands, where I'm going in 2 weeks! I've wanted to go to Hawaii to see the whales ever since I got involved with the Sierra Club because they run service trips every February to see them. I hope to go on a whale watch while I'm there, or, even cooler, somehow encounter them while diving. I'm not holding my breath for the latter (ha ha) but even hearing a whale while I'm underwater would be too amazing for words. I still don't know if I'm going to do my advanced open water there or not...I change my mind every other day! I'll decide one way or the other by tomorrow, I don't want to put it off anymore.

I've been pretty obsessed with scuba diving lately. Last week I went to one scuba meetup (NY Sea Gypsies), where I met some divers who got me started on Scuba Board, and this week I went to a different scuba meetup, Oceanblue Divers. Oceanblue seemed to have more young people, but people were very friendly at both events. I even ran into my friend Andrea from the zoo at the one this week, as well as a guy Marsha and I hung out with this summer.

Last week I posted to SB looking for information about the NY Aquarium volunteer dive team. Not too many people knew much about it. Well, a guy who was at Sea Gypsies last week remembered me, saw my post, and then came up to me at Oceanblue and introduced me to a guy who is on the team. This guy, Avra, has been diving at the aquarium for 6 years and loves it. In fact, it seems everyone on the dive team loves it. He said it's a great way to get involved at the aquarium, practice diving, learn about marine environment issues, and meet other people passionate about marine life. They do expect you to have your own equipment, but apparently they do have extra things they can lend you until you get all your own stuff (scuba equipment is not cheap!). According to Avra, they ask you to commit 2 weekend days a month, just like at the Central Park Zoo.

Now, there are many things in the way of me just joining this dive team. One is the commute (over an hour each way by public transit); one is the cost of gear; and one is the time commitment. I'm already committed to volunteering at the zoo for another year since I got this animal handling gig. But the more I learn about the aquarium dive team, the more it feels like something I need to get involved with. Definitely something to consider for next year if not this one!

Good news!

Jan. 15th, 2010 02:17 pm
nycmermaid: (Default)
I just learned I was picked to be trained as a volunteer animal handler at the zoo! It's a new program that we had to apply for, and 2-4 volunteers per day were chosen. I wasn't sure I was going to get it because I have little hands-on experience with animals, but I did, and so did my friend Karina! This is so exciting, you will have to all come by and pet the chinchilla, and the Madagascar hissing cockroach! :D

This week has been so dull at work, I have been doing little but researching my trip to Oahu, which I can't believe is coming up in less than 4 weeks now. I went to my first SCUBA meet-up and met some fellow divers who introduced me to so now I have another website with which to occupy myself while at work :p. Right now I'm trying to decide if I want to do my advanced open water training when I'm in Oahu, or just dive for fun. I also booked a certain activity for the morning of my birthday, and I've been having dreams about it almost every night. I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...Jessie Spano. ;)
nycmermaid: (Default)
I'm back, jet-lagged and exhausted. I think it's good, though, to return to work after a vacation on a Friday. That way you only have to work one day and then you get a whole weekend to rest up. I could write a lengthy post about my thoughts on this trip, but as I don't have time right now and want to post something, here it is:

- The Monterey Bay Aquarium and its surroundings are more wonderful than I ever imagined. An example of how humans and animals can live peacefully side by side, it is a truly amazing, inspiring, and for me a very spiritual place. I'm still trying to figure out what it all means in terms of what I should be doing with my life, but I am leaning more and more to possibly teaching biology, ecology, and conservation. I've never wanted to be a teacher because I always viewed it as something people do for the people they're teaching. But if I choose to do it, it will be because I am so passionate about the subject matter that I want to share it with others. Because if I can inspire someone else to become the researcher/scientist I didn't, it would be the next best contribution I could make to science. I had a little "a-ha" moment at the end of my last day in Monterey when I was buying a book at the gift shop. The woman at the register asked if I was an educator, because they give a discount if you are. I said "No, not really, just volunteer." And without saying a word, she gave me the discount. And I realized, hey, I *am* a teacher. An educator. Maybe not in a professional sense, but I already am in a position to teach and inspire others about nature and conservation.

There is so much to be appreciative of in the ocean that people don't even think about. For instance, I have come to the conclusion that everyone should see the animal in person if they're going to eat it. Not the actual animal they're eating, of course; what I mean is that people need to appreciate the dignity of this animal that has been reduced into a can. Very few people realize what a grand animal a tuna is. The big yellowfin tunas were my favorite animals in the aquarium (followed close behind by the bat rays, which at the MBA you can touch!). I'd include a photo here, but the things are too damn fast for my camera. The big message of the MBA these days is eating healthful seafood that is fished sustainably and low in toxins. A tuna is a top predator, a wild animal, and an awesome powerful creature. Having respect for these wild animals, I think, is of utmost importance. My job as a volunteer docent at the CPZ is a great start and I want to throw more of myself into that. The volunteers at MBA, most of them retirees, just like at CPZ, were so gregarious and passionate. It was very inspiring.

- I am seriously considering getting the MBA logo as a tattoo. I'm not going to rush into that or anything of course. I'm not even sure where on my person I would want it. I'm thinking maybe I will set it as a reward for myself once I've made some inroads as to figuring out what I'm doing with my life and how I will let my experience at MBA drive me.

Some pics, more to follow. )
nycmermaid: (HK)
So yesterday Green Tortoise called to inform me that my Yosemite tour has been cancelled. I was disappointed to hear that, of course. It also sucks because my trip was kind of planned around it. They told me to call this other tour company called the Yosemite Bug Bus, which I did. Their tour sounds decent (though it doesn't involve camping, which I would have enjoyed, but it might be too cold for camping anyway); the only thing is they must have at least 2 people to run the tour and so far I'm the only one signed up. I can't help but wonder if I was also the only one signed up for the Green Tortoise trip! The woman I spoke to said they get most of their business from people staying at the USA Hostel who decide to go at the last minute. So there's a chance this tour could be cancelled when I'm already in San Francisco. I know that my worst-case scenario, 4 days in San Francisco, would hardly be a tragedy. I've only spent one day there in my life so there's plenty I could do and see. I just will be disappointed to not see Yosemite and the giant sequoias. It also went through my mind though that maybe if I can't go to Yosemite I can fly to Monterey earlier.

Then I heard about this turbopop commuter plane crash in Buffalo. It always seems like these smaller planes crash more often. And I'm supposed to be flying on one to and from Monterey, because it seemed like the best way for me at the time. But now I won't need camping gear, will have less luggage, and probably could have taken a tour bus to Monterey. This is silly, I know, commuter flights happen all the time, buses probably crash more often, and my bags would still probably be too big to "sneak" onto a tour bus. The plane is probably still my best option. I shouldn't even be thinking about this. :b

I am trying to roll with the changes. Now that I know about this USA Hostel I will probably be staying there; it seems like a nice place, and they have lots of information about tours and things to do in SF on their website. My trip may end up being a different kind of trip than I expected. But maybe that's not a bad thing.
nycmermaid: (Default)
Oh my gods, so want to go here:

Greece - Kíthira Island
Mythical characters dwell everywhere on Kíthira, just eight miles off the tip of the Peloponnesian peninsula. Here's the pool where Aphrodite bathed. Over there, you can see the cave where Helen and Paris are believed to have sought refuge. Except for the six weeks starting in mid-July, Kíthira is a sleepy place with compact medieval villages that are home to ancient grain mills, Byzantine chapels, and cheerful wooden beehives that are painted yellow, blue, or white. (Kíthira's thyme-scented honey is so coveted that the annual production sells out within weeks.) Lodging on the island consists of small hotels and inns. In the whitewashed capital of Chora, the 12-room Hotel Margarita faces the sea. An even better base for exploring is one of the villages in the center, such as Mitata, where a beekeeper has opened Aplinori, an inn where guests can learn how to make honey and cheese. One-hour Olympic Airlines flights to Kíthira depart daily from Athens.

I suppose that Yahoo doing a story of little-known island destinations is bad if it increases tourism and therefore makes them more crowded. But this just sounds so awesome. Onto the list it goes. :b

So, after a summer of not hiking at all (I haven't even put my hiking boots back on since the Inka Trail), I have signed up for a trip to hike Mt. Marcy, the tallest mountain in New York State, in 2 weeks. I'll also be camping. It should be peak foliage time in the Adirondacks (so soon, I know!). It feels a little bit crazy, but I'm excited! Now I absolutely must gym it and probably do a day hike or 2 before then.
nycmermaid: (Default)
I have hundreds of pictures from Peru, way too many to post here. They're all up on Snapfish, and I've uploaded many of them to Facebook. If you're interested in seeing them, send me your e-mail address and I'll forward you the link.

Many other people in my group also took some great photos. Here are a few: Read more... )
nycmermaid: (HK)
Things I have done in Peru so far:

-toured ancient inkan ruins of saqsaywaman
-bought a completely absurd amount of alpaca yarn (not even that cheap :b I just had to buy alpaca yarn in peru, especially after visiting the alpaca farm and seeing how they make the wool. baby alpaca is actually from the alpaca´s chest and neck and not babies)
-hiked around the terraces of Pisac (seriously amazing and gorgeous -- best part so far)
-ate many a cheap and delcious meal. everything here seems to cost me only around $4
-road (and drove a little) an ATV around the countryside. SO FUN, scary but so fun. it was all very motorcycle diaries
-walked around Cusco city. sometimes in this city i feel like i´m in europe and somtimes like i´m in mexico
-i´ve also taken a ridiculous amount of pictures

tonight i pack my bag to start on the class Inka trail to macchu picchu. i´m nervous but so excited. this country has already exceeded my expectations. i would recommend it to anyone. and the dollar goes a long way here. seriously, this place is absolutely gorgeous. dare i say that its beauty even rivals that of scotland? (not that scotland isn´t still my favorite, after all who here has such a hot accent?) and i have a feeling the best is yet to come!

nycmermaid: (HK)
I didn't take any pictures from the hike today, though in the morning it was very beautiful. It wasn't even that difficult for most of the day. After lunch we had to navigate a lot of rocks and streams and ponds, and I always get slow when it comes to tedious stuff like that. Of course everyone else confidently bounds over the boulders and slippery logs while I slowly lag further and further behind. The hike leader (Igor) told me I need to work on my confidence and learn to trust my feet more. It was truly embarrassing how far behind I got. At around 1, toward the end of the hike, the rain started coming down. The last part of the hike involved walking along a road. It was just a regular paved road and even then the 2 people who had waited for me zoomed on ahead, leaving me walking along on a sore knee, getting soaked in the rain, singing whatever songs I could think of to keep my spirits up. It's hard walking in the rain when you have no idea how much farther it is to the van, and everyone else is walking faster than you. And yeah, my right knee is sore. I really hope I just came down on it funny and that it isn't the beginning of a chronic knee problem. My left hip hurts too. That pain had mostly gone away up until a couple weeks ago. Maybe all the consecutive days on the Stairmaster weren't so good for it.

Three other girls on the hike today are also going to Machu Picchu, though apparently they are taking a different trail than I am (I was never given an option; who knows). We talked to Igor some about the trip and I asked him what he wished he had known the first time he went. He told me not to stress out this week. He said people who are stressed before the trip are more likely to get sick. Well then I guess I'm taking it easy the next 5 days.

For all the preparation I've done, I still feel like I have no idea what I'm walking into with this trip. It will be the biggest adventure I have ever undertaken. I am going to a place where I will not speak the language, where the water can make me sick, and where there is a fraction of the oxygen that I am used to breathing. And in the midst of that I'll be hiking and camping for 4 days straight. Am I crazy?
nycmermaid: (Default)
Crawling out of my ditch to post some pictures. Watch Hill at Fire Island was so beautiful. I didn't know beaches like this existed in New York. Despite the mosquitos, we had a fantastic time. Photos )

Will post more in a bit perhaps. Now I have to work. Blahworkblah!


Jul. 18th, 2006 10:09 am
nycmermaid: (HK)
It is FREEZING BUTTCRACK COLD in here. I've got my armwarmers and my hot tea but jeez people! Why must we bake or freeze? Is there no happy medium? One of my colleagues said she thinks it's so we won't dress too scantily in the office. :p

I should probably be working now but FEH I'm instead going to tell you about my new backpack. I went to Paragon with [ profile] albauk yesterday and bought one of these. I had totally not planned on buying a pack yesterday, but I've been thinking about getting one for years now, and there was a sale, and and and... It was a good deal, really. I saved over $50 from the regular price.

Question now is, am I bringing this to the festival? If I bring this bag as my main trip bag, should I also bring a smaller bag? Is it worth it to bring a big pack if I'm going to need to carry another bag anyway? Should I put the pack in my big wheely duffle bag and just wear the pack to the festival? Will they let me into the festival wearing a pack that big? Even if they don't, I guess Shosh or one of the guys can carry it back to their campsite for me. It's not SOOO very big really. I know we can't bring booze into the festival though. I wonder if that means I am going to have to get one of them to take stuff back to the campsite anyway. ARGH. But you know, it's a good argh, as arghs go.

After our pack-buying extravaganza (Shosh got one too) we went to see X-Men 3 and it was fun. I can't believe it's taken me 2 months to see it. Now I have to see Pirates of the Caribbean 2. I may be the only person I know who doesn't care about seeing Superman Returns.


Jul. 12th, 2006 10:28 am
nycmermaid: (Default)
[ profile] albauk once posted the Dalai Lama's 19 rules (or something like that). While there are many wise suggestions in there, here is one that has stuck in my mind:
16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.

I've been pretty good at following this one for the past few years. Scotland, Grand Canyon, Vermont, Northern England. When my Sierra Club trip fell through this year, I thought I might not go visit any new places. But not now.

I'm going to Prague! We're going to Prague! Nathan booked us tickets for the week after Leeds festival. I'm so excited!

To be completely honest, I don't know a whole lot about the place. I've heard very good things though. Friends who have been there tell me I would love it, that the architecture is very fairy tale-like and the beer is uber-cheap. I have to get a guide book so I can start learning specifically what I should be getting excited to see!
nycmermaid: (Default)
A teaser, these are some of the best pictures taken with my cheapy disposable cameras. They're not very good quality, but it's something.
Read more... )
nycmermaid: (boober)
Hello kids, it's Monday morning afternoon and I hate everybody! They've got me reading and re-reading the same tedious stack of business cards and stationery I was working on on Friday. I haven't even had any time to post a short meaningless update to my LJ. Every time I do, someone drops a new revision in front of me. So over it! So I'm ignoring the one that's in front of me right now and posting anyway. Well at least I got paid today.

This weekend, I ate a lot of pasta. Too much. Didn't go to the gym once. On Saturday I had tea with my mom, cousin and aunt at Takashimaya, an upscale Japanese department store on 5th Ave. I never knew the place existed but it was very cool, even if I really couldn't afford to buy anything. Their cafe/tea room is very reasonable though and I tried a sample of a devilishly creamy and decadent $70 cake. Like a mouthful of cream. Then my mother and I went to see Finding Neverland. Definitely a tearjerker, and good, but not a very memorable movie. I was distracted by Johnny Depp's obvious eyeliner. Then we went back to Queens and ate at Pasta Del Giorno. And mom gave me her substantial leftovers to take home.

I thought I'd finally finish putting my sweater together in knitting class but that didn't happen, because apparently the sleeves were not big enough for the body and my teacher had to figure out some tweaks to make them fit. Hopefully next week I will finally actually have a sweater. Seems I was still having gauge issues even though the folks at Purl told me it was fine. I knew it didn't look right! Oh well, it should be okay, if a bit big.

Sunday I lazied around watching the National Geographic channel. Then I went food shopping and made Texas Two-Bean soup. And did laundry. Watched the American Music Awards even though I hate music award shows, just because Clay was going to be on. He presented an award with Kathy Griffen, who came out in a wedding dress asking him to marry her. The nerve! He was a good boy and said no of course. Good fake husband!

And today, [ profile] cynima and I booked our cruise! We're doing the New Orleans/Cozumel one. Now we have to find a flight. And travel insurance, which I don't usually get, but Andrea has convinced me we should. The Carnival agent tried to sell us $99 travel insurance but that seems really expensive for a 5-day trip, doesn't it?
nycmermaid: (Default)
So like I've already mentioned, [ profile] cynima and I are going on a cruise the week after my birthday. We've narrowed it down to two. She likes this one, 3 days from Miami to the Bahamas, and I like this one, 4 days from New Orleans to Cozumel. Both would probably be great, I just like the 4-day one cause it's longer (for the same price) and Cozumel just sounds cool (I've been to the Bahamas before).

Have any of my friends been to any of these places, and do you have any recommendations?
nycmermaid: (Default)
This morning there are posts from two of my friends who are going to London in the next 2 months, and I am so jealous! Now I so want to be in London for New Year's. I have no plans and I get the whole week from Christmas to New Year's off, it really would be the perfect time... and now [ profile] cynima is thinking too that maybe we should scrap our Caribbean vacation in favor of London (where we'd stay with her family). I'd do it in a second right now. The fares I'm finding really aren't so bad! Can I really afford a week in London? Not really... but do I care right now?!

nycmermaid: (cleavage)
This is so exciting! I haven't been to this state since I was a little toddler! I've been in England more times! I'm in California! I wanted to say that to everyone I met when I got off the plane. But I didn't, thank goodness, reveal myself for the dork I am (yet). My hostel is in the middle of what seems to be the porn district. Don't tell my mom. ;-) But it's very cute inside. And lots of cute guys with British and Australian accents. Hopefully this bodes well for my trip. I am still stone deaf from the plane ride. I'm going to go smoke a clove in the common room. This is a big deal for me - I am not good at talking to strangers. I should go to bed soon anyway. I have a top bunk in a very small hot room but it'll do for the night. After all my clock thinks it's 3 am. Okay, that's it, possibly my last post for a week and a half (unless I come back before the trip leaves tomorrow). Love to yall.
nycmermaid: (Default)
I hauled all my bags in to work today. Early, because at 7 last night they decided they needed someone here at 9 am, and I knew it had to be me. I am crazy to have hauled my stuff in this morning, because I know I could have left it at home and then just gone back to my apartment early and taken a cab from there. But these are the crazy things I will do just to avoid changing my plans. My dad was actually going to give me a ride this morning - and then last night the car died. Yeah, I'm definitely crazy to have hauled all my stuff in to work. But according to the Green Tortoise website, they're actually going to make us carry our luggage around one city block to make sure we don't overpack. Well I just did a few city blocks, so I guess I'm good. Good n' crazy! I thought I was so good with packing. There was actually room left in my bags. But then I decided I had to get my sleeping bag in my backpack, rearranged a few things, and now there is no space left. And I still wanted to buy another camp towel at EMS. I was all about this being a low-maintanance trip, now look at me! I may have to go through my bags and eliminate a few things.


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