First Day in Our Nation’s Capital

Sunday, December 9th, 2018

Taylor, Brytne, and I explored D.C. a little today, ahead of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting which starts tomorrow. We checked in to the registration booth today for the conference, and got a first look at the convention center (which is MAASSIIVVEEE), and tried to get a better handle on where our hotel is in relation to the conference, etc.

We checked in and got our badges, then tried to figure out what to do for lunch. Since it was still lunch time, I suggested we try the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, since I had eaten there the last time I was in D.C. Amongst locals, like my dear friend Laura, know that the American Indian museum is the place for yummy food.

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I had the mushroom stew and grits. Needless to say, this mushroom lover was in heaaaaveeeen!!!

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Taylor had bison steak, grilled fennel, and mashed cauliflower. Everything was amazingly delicious! And also very new to us, as we have never tried fennel before!

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Brytne got the Indian Taco. I’m not sure if these pictures have shown how big every serving was, but we all could’ve shared one of these plates and been sufficiently full. But we ate as much as we could because it was all so yummy!

After eating we walked around the museum. I saw a lot of similarities in the messages from Native Americans as I hear from Native Hawaiians.

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One of the most powerful comes in this simple picture. In the caption, it says, “Religions linked to the landscape still struggle to convey their principles to non-Indians.” and that couldn’t be more true in Hawaiʻi. With the continued conversations about TMT, the basic message is that respecting indigenous cultures and sacred sites is one thing foreigners donʻt understand, and donʻt take the time to understand. Instead, they view their beliefs above those of local, indigenous cultures, and this is where we run into issue.

One of the exhibits here was interactive, literally. They had a video playing with random folks describing where theyʻve seen Native American culture or images in their life. Also, they had postcards where visitors could write down their own stories. Here are two of my favorites.

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There were so many amazing interactive tables here. The one above is a touch screen table, basically you click on a square on the map and it tells you about it, gives you a 360 view of it (like Google street-view), and other interesting facts. It would be great to see stuff like this for Hawaiian ahupuaʻa and important historical sites! (Maybe it already exists and I just donʻt know about it?)

Of course we were kind of obsessed with Machu Picchu. Itʻs an engineering marvel and of course it all was because of water. Because water is everything. Duh.

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And I am going to keep this short, but I canʻt leave without posting this picture. Of course there is a lot in this museum about the Trail of Tears, and the removal of Native Americans from their home lands. This is a wall with reflections for native people on the history of their people, and how it has affected and continues to affect them. It is hard to be in this museum and not be completely frustrated with, literally, everything…

Well, the sun is down. It has been down since 5P. It feels like itʻs 9P, and I donʻt know if thatʻs because we are just tired or if it is the sun, or both? Soon it will be time for dinner, and weʻll have to brave the cold again…. which we havenʻt figured out how to do, by the way. Weʻll probably get the hang of it by the day we leave…but until then, weʻll be frozen Hawaiʻi kids.
Aloha & a hui hou,

Diamond

 

Never. Give. Up.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Today I had a great opportunity to meet students from Aotearoa and Waianae High School. Big mahalos to Dr. Kiana Frank for putting together such a cool opportunity for these kids to come together and do some mālama at Papahana Kuaola. I hope you guys had a great time and made lifelong friends – and I hope you get to visit each other one day down the road!

I felt a little weird having to talk about my journey through STEM, because I never really feel that special. Like my journey isn’t much different from other people. But then I have to stop myself and realize that maybe my journey isn’t that much different from my friends here in Hawaiʻi, but to the rest of the world it might actually be different!

It was so amazing to see those friendships being built, and the sharing of language and cultures. I got chicken skin at the end when I watched all of you doing the closing protocols. You’re all so deeply rooted in your own cultures, and carry it wherever you go, and it’s a part of everything you do every day. It’s so amazingly beautiful and refreshing to see.

I really enjoyed meeting and talking with every single one of the students. They are all trying to figure out what it is they’re passionate about – and I remember going through that. It can be suuuper frustrating trying to figure it out, especially when there is always an adult asking you what you plan on majoring in and all kinds of crazy questions about your future you just haven’t figured out yet. But even though it can be super frightening, it can also be super fun. You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll feel insecure, but everything happens for a reason, right?

I hope that after today, every single one of you feel like you are capable of going to college. You. Can. Do. It. I can’t stress it enough: if Dr. Kiana, Dr. Wela and I did it, so can you. You have so many people who care about you and want you to succeed, and with that support I KNOW that you guys can do it. We’ll be there to give you that push of motivation when you’re feeling down, we’ll be there with a helping hand to pick you up. It’s ok if you don’t want to go to college. But don’t decide you aren’t going because you don’t think you can do it…because I promise you, you can. And I hope that you’ll at least give it a try before deciding you don’t want to do it. What’s that saying? “Give it the good old college try“? It’s really not as bad as you think it is. The foods good. Classes start later. You can work and make money and finally have money!!

And for reals, let me know if you need help writing applications to college, finding scholarships, finding a mentor in a field you’re interested in, or just wanna talk more about what school is like. If you don’t wanna talk to me, that’s cool too, I can find another grad student who would be just as willing to sit down and help you with whatever you need. We need kids like you to fill the shoes that are being emptied by a generation of folks who are entirely different from us. It’s time to fill those shoes with people like you who are so deeply rooted in our culture, and who will have the knowledge to make important financial, geological, medical kinds of decisions that shape our ʻĀina and the lāhui.

I’m rooting for you. We’re all rooting for you.

Aloha,

Diamond

Rome: Day 3!!!

September 11, 2018

Yesterday was a jam-packed Roman day. We started early in the morning with some cappuccinos near the Colosseum because, hello, that’s what the Romans did. Then we had to meet up with our tour group to begin! We signed up for a tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.

The Colosseum is huuuuge. It was built in 8 years (whaaat?!) and could fit 70,000 people. I can’t believe how quickly they can build an amazing place like this back in the first century, and yet it’s gonna take about 20 years to build the Rail with all the technology we have! It was also a really hot day, the bottom is of a quick selfie I sneakily took, already getting sunburnt at 10AM!

Lots of history here with gladiators battling other gladiators and sometimes animals! The Colosseum is so intricately built, with passageways and tunnels that lead to different holding areas or outside the walls. Apparently there are 80 entrances (basically those archways you see on the outer walls) and as many staircases to allow for the 70,000 people to enter the arena. Incredible!

The first picture is of the Roman Forum taken at the Colosseum. This was the next stop on our adventure. The other picture is of an archway that Constantine made/ordered to be built, I think? I’m not quite sure, I can’t remember because I was too busy with this:

I guess it would’ve been easier to walk on a few centuries ago, but now it’s impossible to walk here without falling! And these Europeans walk fast!

These columns were buried for a really long time, I think our guide said until the early 1900s? They were buried by the sediment brought in when the Tiber River would overflow its banks. Then in the early 1900s they were excavated and now we can learn about them! The building in the back is the old Senate building, where the senators would have their meetings.

The above picture is a shrine or temple built for Julius Caesar by his nephew Augustus. The bottom picture is the area where Julius Caesar was cremated after he was murdered 😳.

This is a really old church. I don’t remember anything about it, but it’s really nice!!

I know we were in a place with so much rich history, but I was so excited to see grapes growing!! I don’t think I have ever seen a grape vine in real life before, so this was a great experience! 😂

More original streets that are difficult to walk on!

These olive trees were cool too! They were lining the walkway as we went up the Palatine Hill.

And on Palatine Hill, a bunch of rich dudes lived here and built huge mansions. There are 7 hills in Rome, and Palatine Hill is the one in the middle, so it was definitely prime real estate! These houses had a bunch of rooms for friends and family, of course, but also had huge meeting rooms for official business type stuff? And all the flooring was marble.

Views from the balcony! This green area used to be a stadium where they would have race horses, I think. And far off in the distance is another hill where rich people currently live!

After this experience, we went to a place called the Jewish Ghetto. It is no where near a Ghetto, in fact it’s really nice! But a lot of people and websites said we should have at least one meal there, so we had to try! We went to a place called Nonna Betta, where Anthony Bourdain went once. And it was amazing! A popular dish from the Jewish Ghetto is fried artichoke, and it didn’t disappoint! I don’t have any pictures from our meal, but if you want to know more about it you can find pictures on Google!

We also went searching for a gelato place in the Jewish Ghetto. We found one nearby and the gelato was to diiieeeee for. Taylor had fig and coconut, and I had strawberry and lemon! Yum! 🤤

Ok and to cross off this item from Taylors bucket list: there is a cat sanctuary at the site where Julius Caesar was killed! This is Largo di Torre Argentina, and if you look it up, this is the site where he was (probably) murdered, but now it’s overrun by cats! And there is a group here that takes care of them, neuters them, etc. They said they currently have 144 cats on site that they take care of. Also, Taylor is a cat whisperer.

For dinner we went to a place near our hotel called Archimede 80. It came highly recommended by our new Australian friends, so we knew we had to try it out. The waiter, Max, was super nice and helpful. The entire menu was in Italian, so he told us that he would be our English translation for the evening. Instead of picking our own dishes, he said he could bring out 3 popular Italian dishes for us to try in smaller portions so that we could try all of them! And it didn’t disappoint! Again, I don’t have pictures because I wanted to enjoy our late-evening, romantic dinner date, but OH MY GOD I’ve never had Italian food like that IN MY LIFE. We were giggling, it was so good! We might even try to go back again today.

So today is our last day in Rome. I’m completely exhausted and ready to come home. We might try to make one last push to see some other stuff, but it’s supposed to get up to 90 degrees here (which means it’ll feel hotter in the sun), so we might just try to have an easy day again. Our flight is early tomorrow so we can’t be too exhausted when we come back, we still have to finish packing!

A hui hou! Ciao!

Aloha,

Diamond

Sunday’s in Rome

September 10, 2018

Sunday’s in Rome are very quiet. At least, in this neighborhood we are staying in, it’s very quiet. They take their Sunday’s very seriously here! So in similar fashion, we decided to have an easy day as well. We took a stroll around the area, lounged in the room, watched movies, and just spent a day of vacation relaxing. Sometimes vacations can be more stressful than every day life, because you have to see as many things as you can and make the most of your time. But for me, when I go on vacation, I’d like to relax and not have to worry about being somewhere at a certain time.

These are the only two pictures I have from yesterday! The first one is of this AMAAZZZIINNNG restaurant we found near our hotel. I felt so bad…I think we walked in at a time when they were closing between lunch and dinner, but they were so kind and seated us anyways! They also had a limited menu since we showed up at such a weird time, but oh my gosh it was so incredible. We hope that between now and when we leave, we can go back there for normal-menu, normal-dining hour to try more of their foods!

I don’t know what these flowers are, but there was a bunch of pots at a little flower shop we walked past on our way to eat, so I took a (blurry) picture of it!

In the evening we just stayed in our room and watched movies. But of course we had to watch movies relevant to where we are! So we watched the Angels and Demons movie, as well as the Da Vinci Code movie. The Angels and Demons one includes the same main character as Da Vinci Code, but it’s based in Rome (Da Vinci Code is in France). It was cool to see all of the famous buildings we have been seeing played out as main scenes in the movie, and to hear them talk about the history of each. Of course, it also included some Illuminati stuff and random moments where Tom Hanks’ character notices how “this arrow points to that angel who’s pointing down this alley, so we must go that way” but it was still cool.

We also got hotel room service (super fancy, I know). But we were so caught up in watching those movies, and weren’t really prepared to go out to get something to eat, so we ordered in! It was Taylor’s first time getting room service, too! (Welcome to the club, Taylor!)

That’s all for now. We just did a whole bunch of stuff today, so stay tuned for tomorrow’s post!

A hui hou! Ciao!

Aloha,

Diamond

Rome: Day 1

September 9, 2018

It’s busy here! Rome is crazy busy with tourists. If you thought Hawaii’s tourist attractions were crazy, you would be very mistaken. Stay tuned for pictures of crowds with some historical sights in the background!

Yesterday we decided to catch the hotel shuttle into the city and then just walk around. The hotel has shuttles that run every half hour from 8AM until 11PM which is great!! We shared the shuttle with two Australian couples who had been here a day longer than us, and they were so kind to give us some help in figuring out what was nearby and what there was to see.

First stop was the Spanish Steps.

The first picture only shows half the crowd. There’s a fountain right in front of the steps which you could hardly see because it was just surrounded by people! The bottom is Taylor and I trying to take a selfie on the Steps but we’re both noobs and don’t normally take nice pictures so that’s what we got haha.

Next was the Trevi Fountain. It was incredibly packed, as you can see in the first picture. The second picture is what I tried to take of the water and fountain area. We also took a few selfies but the lighting was really weird where we were standing, so my facial expression is very weird! Lol

Next up, the Pantheon! We were impressed by the orderly fashioned entrance/exit area. The second picture is of a hole in the floor, purposefully drilled to help drain the water! Since there is a huge hole in the ceiling, the Pantheon floors get flooded during rain, so these holes have been drilled to assist in removing said water! Pictures do not do this place justice. The architecture is seriously so amazing. I can’t believe how old this place is, and still looking good! I hate to say it, but they don’t make things like they used to!! Also the attention to detail is just insane. I could have spent hours in there just looking at the crown molding and other small designs!

Last stop was the River Tiber. Pretty impressive, although it looked a little similar to the Ala Wai Canal. There was a guy with a super high-tech looking one-man canoe (which I’m sure has a different name here but it really looked like a sleek, fancy one-man).

Along our walk we also stopped off at a place called Fabriano. It specializes in stationary and paper goods, so they have really really nice notebooks, pens, and other office accessories! Needless to say, we were super happy in that store! We also did a little olive oil tasting and looked at really nice ceramics from the Tuscany region in Piazza Navona.

The hotel shuttle service also works if you want to go back to the hotel. All you have to do is call them and ask if there’s room on the next shuttle. Surprisingly, the Australians were on the same shuttle again! They are so incredibly nice and we chatted the whole way back to the hotel.

Once it was time for dinner, Taylor and I went down to the restaurant and found one of the Australian couples, Bruce and Jan, having some cocktails. They were so nice and invited us to have a drink with them! We talked about all kinds of stuff, and they showed us pictures of their first granddaughter who was born only six weeks ago! If we’re ever in Australia, I would love to meet up with them again! Or if they’re ever in Hawaii! And with the other couple, the Slingsby’s!

Rome is truly a different world. It’s such a culture shock coming here from Hawaii, but it’s nice to experience a culture that has been around for THOUSANDS of years. It’s incredible to think about how old many of these buildings are, and how much history those walls must’ve witnessed. Anyways, that’s all for now!

A hui hou! Ciao!

Aloha,

Diamond