Showing posts from October, 2016


I am lying on my back on Surf Drive Beach. To my right, the sky is striped. Orange sky, gray clouds, yellow sky, gray clouds, blue sky, gray clouds, dark blue. To my left, warm lights from homes stretch in an arc across the horizon. A green beacon flashes every few seconds. In front of me, the sea gently licks a rock. Above me, tiny white sparkles emerge. "I lay my head onto the sand The sky resembles a backlit canopy with holes punched in it... And in this moment, I am happy, happy" - "Wish you were here" by Incubus I am lying on my back on Surf Drive Beach. I think of my friends and family far away, wishing they could see these stars. I think about how blessed I am to have such a solid family rooted in the Midwest. I think about the branches of my network across the world, running like vines on multiple continents. They form a tangled web, and I fall on them like an acrobat in a net. "We will wars undo Make the oceans blue Paint the heavens with st


There's a recurring skit on Saturday Night Live in which Kenan Thompson plays the host of a ridiculous talk show. There's not actually much talking on the show, because any time a new guest enters the stage or says something silly or really does anything at all, Kenan and his band break out into song. The music is peppy and loud, and the lyrics are simple: "Whooo-eee! What up wit dat? What up wit dat?" He has background singers who salsa behind their microphones, and Kenan dances across the stage. Anyway, the whole thing is ridiculous. And for the past week, every time I've told someone that I work at WHOI (whoo-ee!), my brain has chimed in with "What up wit dat? What up wit dat?" Ugh . Now that I've been at WHOI a couple days, I can give you my first impressions of the institute. First off, this place is huge. Two-campuses huge. Official-policies-on-everything huge. Huge. I've worked at a large institute before (the Alfred Wegener Institut

Shining sea

"O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain; For purple mountain majesties Above the fruited plain! America! America! God shed His grace on thee, And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea" - "America the Beautiful" by Katharine Lee Bates Possibly the most famous person from Falmouth is Katharine Lee Bates, author of the poem (now a common patriotic song) "America the Beautiful." There's a Katharine Lee Bates Road in downtown Falmouth, and her birthplace is just a few blocks from my house.  The last line of the first stanza, "from sea to shining sea" was converted into the name of a bike path along Cape Cod, the Shining Sea Bikeway. The Bikeway runs right along the ocean and is in my opinion the best way to get from Falmouth to Woods Hole. Check out some of the views I captured along the bike path today.

Coast to coast

"I made these wishes with you Went coast to coast And we both felt so alive. We traded safe for something That just had to be And we almost lost our minds." - "Be the young" by Yellowcard There's a theory in ecology called "parallel communities." It's not very widely accepted just because there are so many exceptions to it, but the theory goes like this: communities in similar habitats are all alike. For example, on rocky shores, you get encrusting sponges and bryozoans. You get filter-feeding mussels, predatory sea stars, and kelp below the low tide line. Maybe in the Pacific you get 5 kinds of sponges, one species of mussel, one species of sea star, etc., but in the Indian Ocean you get a different mussel, a different sea star, and 3 different sponges. Maybe you get red and brown algae instead of proper kelp. The organisms vary, but the roles those organisms play don't change. The community functions the same. Got to admit, I'm

The roadtrip: Part 8

Falmouth, Massachusetts The Manhattan skyline, seen from New Jersey I have arrived! For the last day of the cross-country drive, my parents and I set off from Maryland and headed northeast. We cut across southern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. It was beautiful, hilly country, and the closer we got to New Jersey, the less my mom could resist using her imitation  Jersey accent. Oh my goodness. So entertaining. The highlight of the day was definitely going through New York. Believe it or not, the best route to Massachusetts took us straight through New York City - the Bronx, to be exact. None of us had ever been to NYC before, so seeing the big city was very exciting. We actually got a great view of the Manhattan skyline as we approached the city from the New Jersey side of the Hudson river. Falmouth on a sign! After New York, we headed through Connecticut and Rhode Island. We crossed numerous bays and rivers in both states, enjoying lovely views along the way. The closer we g

The roadtrip: Part 7

Hagerstown, Maryland The Wild Women of Charleston wine label This is it - the final push east! I set off from Ohio earlier today with both parents in tow. They'll help me move in, and I'm extremely grateful for such a supportive family. Before I tell you about the drive, I actually have to back up. When I moved into Oregon four years ago, my mom and I stumbled upon an hilarious item in a wine store in Coos Bay. It was an Oregon-made wine labeled "The Wild Women of Charleston, OR." Charleston is actually where my lab, OIMB, was located, so we couldn't resist purchasing the bottle. The wine spent four years on my kitchen counter as a conversation piece, and then made it across the country with me to Ohio. My last night before the final push to Massachusetts, we opened the bottle of wine. And sipped it. And spit it out. After four years on my kitchen counter, the wine tasted exactly like a solution of grape juice and vinegar. Oh, but what an amazing label!

Good to be alive

"We hold on to each other All we have is all we need 'Cuz one way or another We always make it, you and me" - "Good to be alive" by Skillet Wes and I before the concert. Detroit, Michigan There's no way I could leave the Midwest without spending some time with my brother. For my final stop on the Friends and Family Tour, I hopped south to Detroit to see him. If I had to name one person who's had the most impact on my personality and my tastes in the last few years, it would be my brother, Wes. He's the reason I listen to metal. He's the reason I chose snowboarding over skiing and stuck with it when I sucked. He taught me everything I know about football, lacrosse, and body-building. He's the reason I'm not afraid of guns. Seriously, without my brother in my life, I would be a prissy little twinkle-toes. One of the many things Wes and I have in common is an affinity for the Christian rock band Skillet. Yes, they're name

The U.P.: Part 2

Marquette, Michigan Lauren and I in downtown Marquette It's a beautiful day in the U.P. I've moved over from one friend's house to another, spending time now with my friend Lauren. I shared a dorm room with Lauren my third year at NMU, and she too belongs to the Club of Kirstin's Former Roommates, Labmates, and Neighbors Who Got Married Shortly After Sharing a Small Space With Her. Lauren is a great friend. We actually knew each other from high school before rooming at NMU. She's one of the few friends I've held onto from my hometown, and we've grown and changed together over the years. On the NMU campus We went strolling through downtown Marquette and stopped at Lauren's favorite bakery. We watched movies and ate gargantuan bowls of popcorn. We spoke German to each other and drove her husband nuts. While in Marquette, I also took the opporunity to visit my alma mater, Northern Michigan University. I hadn't set foot on the campus i

The U.P.

Marquette, Michigan Do me a favor. Picture the state of Michigan. What do you see? The mitten? The Great Lakes? If you're like most people, you're picturing a mitten-shaped peninsula flanked by Lake Michigan in the west and Lake Huron in the east. But guess what - you're missing half the state. It's ok. Most Americans (even some Michiganders) regularly forget that the Upper Peninsula exists. Some people think it's part of Wisconsin; others think it's part of Canada. Most just ignore it or forget it's even there.  Amy and I made banana bread! The U.P. is isolated, but it's also a gorgeous part of the world. It's largely empty, with only small towns dotting the map and untamed forests in between. Those who live in the U.P. call themselves Yoopers, and they love to be outdoors. The U.P. was settled primarily by Finnish immigrants, so Yoopers are hearty people. Winter is their favorite season. Camping, fishing, and hunting are their go-to