Dallas World Aquarium

Over spring break a few of my friends and I decided to venture downtown and visit the Dallas World Aquarium and Zoological Garden.  I had never been before and I have to say this place is absolutely amazing!  The entire exhibit is located within an old refurbished warehouse and they have a huge variety of marine life and tropical flora and fauna on display (see pictures below).  My friends and I had a blast, so if anyone reading this is planning on being in Dallas, or even Texas, anytime soon definitely check this place out!


The indoor waterfall!!

Copperband Butterflyfish

Freshwater stingrays…& turtles


Jackass Penguins…the only penguins found in Africa!

Dallas Zoo Summer Research Internship

Last Friday, which just happened to be my 25th birthday, I received some amazing news!  Over spring break I decided to apply for an advanced summer research internship at the Dallas Zoo.  I received an email Friday offering me the internship position with the Dallas Zoo…which I immediately accepted!  I have been assigned to work with Dr. Sue Booth-Binczik and will be assisting her with setting up the new elephant research program.  While I do not know the full details on the research I will be conducting, I will be sure to keep everyone updated on all my adventures over the summer.  The internship will start in May and continue into August…I am totally stoked!

I have to say the Dallas Zoo made my birthday!

Underground Tunnels and Other Such Issues…

As any Oswego resident knows a warm winter day results in melting snow and ultimately the formation of “problem” puddles.  I have to say there are a lot of problem puddles on the Oswego campus.  Case in point, the Funnelle resident parking lot…there’s quite a few potholes in that blacktop!  They are unforgiving to automobile shocks and, when filled with water, to the shoes, socks, and pant legs of unsuspecting, casually cruising students’.  Obviously, potholes happen, especially in the northeast.  So why am I blogging about puddles?

Well tonight my teammates and I made the trek from practice at the campus center over to late-night at Cooper and we came across a pathway puddle barrier.  I’m sure anyone who eats at Coop, or lives in Funnelle and Hart, has come across this puddle on a rainy or warm winter day and knows exactly what puddle I am referring too.  For those of you that are not frequent Coop customers, well the puddle covers at least a 1/3 or more of the pathway extending from the backside of Hart and Cooper (towards the campus center) on any given wet day.

From what I have seen, a few pairs of kicks have been lost to this puddle, or to the mud on the sides of the path, over the last year and a half.  So I am wondering if there is anything that can be done about it since it is such a high traffic area.  As my teammate Kendra Lemire suggested, maybe Oswego should consider investing in underground tunnels?

Despite the fact that underground tunnels would provide a respite from walks to class in Oswego’s winter weather I’m not sure starting a “Big Dig” around campus would be the ideal solution to the the Cooper pathway puddle problem.  I’m thinking a little drainage pipe should suffice.

On a side note…I don’t think the tunnel idea should be thrown out completely.   Considering the extreme snow and wind that hits our campus, especially over by the Seneca area, it might be practical to put a walking tunnel or two around campus.

I am sure engineers have fine tuned the underground tunnel-digging process since Boston!

Back in the GO.

After 36 hours of driving, including a 12 hour stop in NC for New Years, I’m officially back in Oswego.  Well I have been back on campus since the 2nd for hockey but, regardless, I now have internet access and a computer that doesn’t catch on fire when you turn it on.  Christmas in Dallas was fantastic!  It was just me and my Dad this year.  Of course watching the 24 hour A Christmas Story special on TBS was in the itinerary…can’t break tradition!  But besides Red Rider BB guns and a blockbuster movie marathon we just relaxed, turned on the fireplace, and caught up on life.

I made the drive to NC just in time to see my little brother Scott on New Years Eve and before he headed back to Colorado.  He turned 20 this September…time flies.

So I’m back.  Australia was the experience of a lifetime and while I’ve learned a lot about myself over the last 6 months (well last few years because I have been on the go for a while now) I have to admit there is a huge difference between unpacking bags and unpacking boxes and I am definitely looking forward to the latter at the moment…

New Job & Tornadoes

Its Christmas time and much of last week I dedicated my time to finding a seasonal job around the Dallas area to save up a few $ before I head back to Oswego.  Last March – May I worked  at the Dick’s down in Clay to save up/pay for all my trips this year so I figured I would try my luck at the new Dick’s that just opened a month ago in Allen (5 minutes away!).  When they first called me I was honest about only being in town for 4 weeks and they weren’t to sure temporary is what they wanted.  However, they did a little background check with the Clay store and I guess I was given a great recommendation because I was offered a job the next day.

I definitely lucked out.  A lot of the other places I looked, both small and large businesses, where not hiring seasonal this year or, at the moment, at all.  If anything, most businesses said they were rehiring the college students that had worked there in the summer.  Maybe it also had to do with the economy?  Either way the job market right now appears to be the pits so I wish the best of luck to anyone looking for a seasonal, or even more permanent, job at the moment.

If all else fails you can always go door to door with a rake and leaf blower…well at least down south.  That was my back-up plan.

On a more interesting note.  Last night I woke up to the sound of the Allen tornado sirens.  When I looked out the window I saw large hail and a nicely rotating funnel coming out of a wall cloud…I am not sure whether a tornado completely formed (touched the ground), but the first thought that came to mind was…isn’t it December??

I’ve grown up around extreme weather.  In 1988, an F4 tornado sprouted across from my house in Raleigh, NC.  It was around Thanksgiving time and it did a tremendous amount of damage to the area.  I remember looking out the window and watching the large, dark funnel in the distance which at one point seemed to be headed our way.  Thankfully it changed directions and disappeared over the lake 1/2 a mile down the road.

Hurricane Fran hit Raleigh in September 1996 and my brothers and I missed school for 3 weeks straight.  The main mall at the time, Crabtree Valley, was flooded up to the second level due to the tremendous amount of rainfall.  A friend of my mother’s house had 41 pine trees fall on it that night.  All doors where blocked in by the falling logs and in order to get out of the house they had to climb out a window.

The most memborable part of that night for me was the eye.  I remember listening to the 120+ mph gusts of wind and seeing trees bent over so far that their tips touched the ground.  But nothing was more intriguing than the silence and stillness that characterized the eye; a calm in the midst of chaos.

Today it is 40 degrees out and really windy a severe contrast to the 70 degree stillness we had yesterday…

Did that really just happen?

About 5 weeks ago I took a trip to Brisbane a few days before exams with a few friends and stayed in a hostel near the Queen Street Mall area called Chill Backpackers.  As per usual, I brought my laptop along to keep up to date with e-mail.  My laptop is an intriguing specimen.  Its a Dell 1000, weighs 10 lbs, is 5 years old, and has 5 – 6 lines running down the screen.  As well, there are about 3 of the normally many screws holding the base together and the d:/ drive is shot and won’t play DVDs.

The laptop was a hand me down, and while it wasn’t in tip top shape when I first got it much of the wear and tear can be attributed to all the plane and bus rides I’ve had to take over the past few years.  Otherwise, I’m very careful…I even invested in a snazzy protective case.  You’re probably wondering why I’ve decided to write a post about my laptop and are about ready to click on to the next post.  But the fact of the matter is that the reason I haven’t been posting lately is pertinent to my laptop and what occurred about 5 weeks ago in the hostel.

A day before “the incident”…in tip top working form.

We had just come back from a long day of shopping down on Queen Street and were famished.  Naturally, we thought to look online to find a place to eat.  At the time, my laptop was off and the charger had been unplugged from the wall all day.  I flipped on my laptop and as I went to plug the charger, via an English converter, into the wall a giant stream of flames shot out of the battery pack part of the power chord and lit my shorts on fire.  Thank goodness for all the stop, drop and roll sessions I had in kindergarten!!  Thankfully my friends where there to witness the event and where on the ball as always to chime in wittily: “Did that really just happen?”

Needless to say, my laptop, may it RIP, bit the dust 5 weeks ago (conveniently right before exams too!) and I have not been able to post since because Safari is a mystical web browser in the land of Oz and none of the computers had it nor could I download it secretly due to administrator restrictions.

For those of you who stuck with my post…thank you.  I apologize for the lack of updating the last few weeks, but I am now back in Dallas.  I have a computer with Safari.  And I have a lot of time on my hands before I head back to Oswego.  A great combination for lots of blog posting and a lot has happened in my life the past 5 weeks…


Scooting around Townsville

I have been pretty busy since my last post.  Classes are winding down and I have four weeks to go until the start of finals. Lots of papers! Fortunately, my last final is on the 22nd of November and I do not fly back unti l the 29th so I have a whole week to travel around Australia. My Aussie partner in crime, Meghan, and I are planning on taking a road-trip south to Brisbane. I have always wanted to see the Australia Zoo, which is just outside of the city. Of course, there will be plenty of beaches to stop and surf at along the way. Hopefully, I’ll still have enough time to squeeze in a dive on the GBR before I leave.

In other news, I am the proud borrowee of a snazzy 50cc scooter for the next few weeks! It has cut my travel time to work, well anywhere in Townsville for that matter, substantially. Granted I am all for reducing my carbon footprint, but in this case it is an hour walk to the rink and its not located in the best of areas. Plus, the bus system isn’t to reliable in Townsville and I’ve come to the conclusion “hail-n-ride” is a myth.

Now if I could just remember what side of the road to drive down…

One more thought before I have to head to class. The highlight of my weekend was by far catching a glimpse of Tina Fey’s SNL Palin/Couric interview skit. I had already seen the real interview, and I have to say, with all political bias put to the side, Fey’s parody is pretty amazing!

Well I am off to invertebrate…hope all is well!


Another day in Oz!

Hey everyone!

It has been a few weeks since my last post…classes are in full force and mid-terms were last week.  Our “spring break” started last Saturday and for the first part of it I went on a field trip to Orpheus Island with a few of my coral reef ecology classmates.  The trip was an absolute blast!  We were in the water for at least 5 hours of the day snorkeling around the reef flat and crest.  The course aspect of the trip was intense and a lot of hard work.  The class had to pick a process with respect to coral (i.e. recruitment, mortality) and then had to design a sampling method to measure the process.  Of course the next step was to go out and implement it!  My favorite study involved measuring coral recruits (<5cm colonies) along the reef crest with quadrats (see picture below) because each individual group had to design a sampling method and then compare results afterwards to see which design was more precise/efficient.

In other news, I am really enjoying my job as a skate coach at the ice rink and a lot of the kids are interested in playing ice hockey.  In order to start a youth program the rink needs to  register an adult team in an Australian league.  A few of us have been out recruiting and as of now we have about 15 consistent skaters every Saturday, so we are hoping to register a team very soon so we can start up the youth program.

I can’t believe I have already been here 2 months!!  The rest of break I plan on catching up on work and hiking/biking around the hills of Townsville.  I may take a trip up to Cairns to visit a few friends, but I am also planning on getting my advanced dive certification in October sometime so I might just relax.  Well I am off to lunch and then going for a run!

Hope all is well on your side of the world!


Australia…switching into student mode

I’ve been up to a lot lately down under.  There have been some unexpected costs with school so I picked up the pace on the job search earlier this week…I think I found a job at the ice rink in town!!  Of course I would be the one to track down the only rink in Townsville.  The owner and his friend also asked me to play pick up on Saturday’s and join their roller hockey team on Thursday nights!  I think I can bike to the rink in about 30 min, or I am going to try and find the closest bus drop off to that side of town.
School is going well.  It is definitely challenging me, which is a good thing!  I am taking marine invertebrate, the evolution and physiology of plants, and coral reef ecology.  I really like my Coral Reef Ecology class…today we discussed the current impact and predicted effects global warming and ocean acidification will likely have on corals reefs in the future.  If you are interested in snorkeling or diving in the Caribbean or Indo-Pacific I would strongly suggest taking a trip sometime in the near future!
On a lighter note.  Last weekend I ferried over to Magnetic Island with some comrades and stayed at a hostel for the weekend.  Not everyone was dive certified so we opted for the snorkeling route.  It was an amazing experience…the species diversity in the Indo-Pacific trumps the Caribbean!  One of the highlights of my weekend adventure was having champagne breakfast with a Barney the Koala at the Bungalow Bay Hotel on the northern side of the island.  A few of us also opted to pay a little extra to hold Barney…
Well I am off to be studious!  Hope all is well in NY!

Down under!

So I made it to Australia!  I landed in Townsville, a town located along the northeast coast of Queensland, on July 22nd and have been running rampant since!  The town itself is quite large, and fairly busy.  James Cook University is not as close to downtown as I had expected. It is a 25 minute bus ride to get to various stores and restaurants, and a 35 minute ride to get to the beach.  I am staying on campus in George Roberts Hall, a dorm that in some ways is laid out like a giant Motel 6…but fancier!  I have a single room and live in an “apartment” with two other female roommates who I share a bathroom and common room with.  Katerine is back from break and is Australian.  I have not met the other roommate, but she is supposedly from Lebanon.  There are also wallabies living outside my door. 

Besides the first two days, the weather has been gorgeous…right now it is 68 F at 10:18 PM.  Orientation week, or the Big “O”, started off with a bang Monday.  The international office hosted a “sausage sizzle” with live music….I am a big fan of grilling out.  Overall, there are a lot more Americans attending James Cook than I expected, but the 10,000 Aussie students are expected to return for the start of classes on August 4th. 

In between orientation activities I had time to bus into town and set up a bank account at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.  As well, a few of us researched mobile phones and decided to opt for a rechargeable service with Telstra.  With our “Freedom” plan we can call and text 5 set numbers with no charge for 30 days…so a bunch of us got the same plan needless to say.  Unlike in the States where we buy phone minutes, in Australia they go by dollar amount.  So if you paid $30 for a plan you may have $150 credit which you can use to text or call (a text is $.25 and calls are at a rate of $.68/minute).  Very different. 

Well enough about phones…tomorrow I am checking out the aquarium downtown and Friday a few of us are going to Billabong Sanctuary. 

Hope all is well in NY!