Category Archives: Enviornment

Set my turtle free!

I had the chance to go on a pretty neat science cruise the week after Thanksgiving.

It all started a couple of weeks earlier when I received a call from the director of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center. It seemed they had a loggerhead sea turtle that had outgrown her tank. Because of the cool beach water temperature, they wanted to release her into the Gulf Stream and asked if we could help. I explained that we were not in a position to donate a free sea day on our research vessel. The going rate on the R/V Savannah is around $10k/day. However, in the past, we have helped other groups with similar issues when we had room on board an already-scheduled cruise going to the same area.

As luck would have it, we did have a cruise to the Gulf Stream scheduled, and the scientist who “owned” the cruise graciously allowed the Tybee turtle and her entourage to “piggy back” along. As long as we were going, we also invited the team of four interns from the UGA Aquarium here on our campus, just to give them the experience of an overnight science cruise. I got to go along to shoot video, photos and to generally coordinate with the turtle team and the aquarium interns.

We left our dock at a little after 9 am Monday morning and cruised all day, doing some real science along the way, to our launch point, 82 miles off shore, arriving around 7:30 pm. The loggerhead was lowered over the side in a shrimp basket and, once in the water, she took off without as much as a wave good-bye.

Most of us went to bed fairly early while the crew turned the boat around and headed home. The ten-hour trip got us back to our dock around 6 am.

Here is a YouTube video of the release.

The vacation’s over

It’s a Sunday afternoon and a pretty good end to a vacation week. I’m sitting on our patio, under the oak tree by our pool, just enjoying a quiet summer Sunday afternoon.

The last three days of our vacation were uneventful. The weather was not ideal, generally cloudy and windy, with a few sprinkles.

This was a typical scene from our deck.

This was a typical scene from our deck.

Mrs. Poolman and I had a very nice anniversary (37th, thank you very much) dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, The Sundae Café. I had their Cajun shrimp and grits, and Mrs. P enjoyed lobster mac & cheese with broiled sea scallops. We enjoyed it so much, we went back for lunch the next day. Decadent, but hey, we’re on vacation.

The weather cleared up some on Friday and we got back out to the beach. But even on the cloudy days, we were totally happy just sitting on our deck with books in our laps. Enforced idleness is not bad.

We started moving stuff back to our house on Friday because I needed to be out the door early on Saturday morning. I didn’t want to leave Mrs. P with more of a load to move out than her own clothes and some of the leftover food.

On Saturday, I needed to assist my boss and his wife to take two couples on a visit to Wassaw Island one of our boat-access-only barrier islands. One of the couples had “won” the trip in a silent auction  that was part of a major fund-raiser gala for the University System of Georgia Foundation. We met up with them at 9 am and drove them to the south end of our island to meet our skiff and driver. The weather was cloudy with a few drizzles, but it wasn’t too bad. At least it wasn’t broiling hot with a ton of bugs. Our guests seemed to enjoy it. We saw nest with some juvenile osprey, a good size pod of dolphins feeding and more bits of nature on the island.

Our guide, Dorothy, in the hat, explains some of the island ecosystem.

Our guide, Dorothy, in the weird hat and blue shirt, explains some of the island ecosystem.

We did have the whole beach to ourselves.

We did have the whole beach to ourselves.

I was home by 4 pm and fairly tired.

Today I got the back yard and pool cleaned up and checked on my garden. I’m really happy with the way it is growing. After two previous unsuccessful efforts at growing tomatoes over the past several years, this little 4’x4’ plot seems to be doing well. Right now, we have more than 30 tomatoes in some form or another. None have turned red yet, but we are cautiously optimistic.

Grow, plants, grow!

Grow, plants, grow!

Hopefully these little fellas will turn red.

Hopefully these little fellas will turn red.

We also have two pepper plants that seem to be doing well. I’m really excited about tasting the first batch.

Back to work tomorrow. Sigh.

A great week continues

This working out to be a very good week.

Poolboy and Girlfriend finally made it down full time on Monday afternoon. And Monday turned out to be a truly lazy day. I got up at a decent hour and then Mrs. Poolman, Writer Princess, Son-in-Law and I enjoyed a sinful late morning breakfast at a local place called, appropriately enough, The Breakfast Club. This restaurant specializes in serving enormous plates of unhealthy, but delicious, breakfast food. For example, I had a three-egg scramble with chorizo, mushrooms, jalapenos and onions served over a pile of grits. Mrs. P had a dish of grated hash brown potatoes, cooked with onions, peppers, and bacon, with a little cream cheese folded in. The serving covered the entire dinner plate. I couldn’t eat this way every day. My arteries couldn’t take it. But once in a while…on vacation…

Ran a couple of errands on the island and then took a nice afternoon nap. Sigh. It clouded up and got windy late in the afternoon. Some of our group hung out on the beach anyway.

Even a  cloudy day at the beach beats a sunny day behind a desk.

Even a cloudy day at the beach beats a sunny day behind a desk.

We had several of our friends from “down the beach” here for drinks and appetizers that evolved into a full-evening social event.

Today, SIL, Poolboy, Girlfriend and I went on a kayak eco-tour.

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Getting ready to push off on the great adventure.

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Resting up and re-hydrating on our mid-tour beach break.

It was fun, but not quite what we expected.  A lot of fairly open-water paddling with a fairly strong wind pushing us around. We did have some nice beach time and saw a few interesting sights, like osprey diving and feeding, and a small bonnet head shark feeding along the shoreline. By the end of our trip, we were pooped. I may not be able to move tomorrow.

Another afternoon nap (I could get used this.) and then we all went out to the North Beach Grill for dinner. This locally-famous restaurant is really just a beach shack with some outdoor seating on a deck.

Our group at the North Beach Grill.

Our group at the North Beach Grill.

The kitchen was slow, but the food was good. I had a jerk chicken sandwich and home-cut fries. Mrs. P and several of the rest of our group had the half-pound of shrimp, saute’d in a jerk seasoning. It was very good. I think we are going to try to duplicate it at home.

Saute'd shrimp in jerk seasoning.

Saute’d shrimp in jerk seasoning.

I think we are all pretty tired tonight. I don’t see a party night in the offing.

Early morning at the marsh

I was up and out dark and early this morning. Early rising has never been one of my strong points. My purpose was to be in place to take a salt marsh photo just after sunrise. Our graphics director had asked me for my help on a brochure she is producing. We had some heavy rain last night so I was a little concerned about the weather. But when the alarm went off at 5:00, I looked outside and saw stars in the sky, so I hoped for the best.

I was in place on the Diamond Causeway at 6:10 a.m. and waited for the sun to rise and the light to spill over into the salt marsh.  Here is the resulting picture. It isn’t art, but I’m pretty happy with it.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Chasing Ice to Jekyll Island

I took a little “blog-cation”: for a while. I was feeling down with a cold-turned-bronchitis for most of January, and didn’t really feel like doing too much.

Mrs. Poolman and I had a nice weekend. On Saturday evening, we drove down to Jekyll Island (about an hour and a half from our home) to attend the screening of an environmental film “Chasing Ice.”  It was very impressive! Several folks from work were involved in the program. Also we are considering sponsoring a screening here in Savannah later in the spring. I thought it would be a good idea to see it first. The organizers from the University of Georgia did a great job. They estimate more than 700 people showed up for the reception, film and panel discussion. I guess there isn’t much else going on in the “Golden Isles” on a Saturday night in February. The film itself was also very good. Here is a trailer.

“The Age of Miracles” — interesting read

AGE OF MIRACLESMy most recent read – “The Age of  Miracles” — by Karen Thompson Walker – is a long way from my usual read-for-fun fare. This short novel is half a “coming of age” story and half a science-fiction end-of-the-world story.

The story is told in the first person by 11-year old Julia, who lives in Southern California with her parents. The world awakes one morning to discover the Earth’s rotation is slowing down. While Julia is working her way through the perils and pitfalls of being a bright, thoughtful, but socially inept adolescent, she and the rest of the human race are dealing with a series of calamities associated with the “slowing” as they call it.

The Julia half of the story is pretty much standard young-adult material. Best friends drift away. Julia has issues with her parents. There is a boy who interests Julia, but he doesn’t know she exists. And so on.

What makes it different is the setting in the world that is changing rapidly, and not for the better. Days and nights become longer. Gravity increases, killing birds and causing “gravity sickness” in some humans. Plants die. Entire ways of living change. No one knows what the world may look like tomorrow. In this book tomorrow may be 50 hours away.

The entire book is filled with angst. Julia deals with the usual young adolescent uncertainties. At the same time, the reader watches the changes happening on Earth with impending doom. The author intersperses Julia’s narration with comments like “And that was the last pineapple we ever ate.”

The ending is not what I expected, but I won’t spoil it by telling you what it is.

“The Age of Miracles” is a different kind of story, and one I would recommend.

Paris — Day Six, Arc, Champs Elysees. Orangerie

This was a busy day. Monday is day three on our four-day museum passes. Tomorrow, we are headed to Versailles, so today was the last chance to hit some of the paid-admission attractions by using our passes.

We started the day by riding the Metro half way up the Champs Elysees and then strolling the rest of the way to the Arc de Triomphe.  We took the elevator to the top, where the view was very nice. We have been blessed with sunny weather ever since the third day here.

Back down the Champs Elysees and the Metro and a breeze-through visit to the l’Orangerie museum. This is a relatively small art museum, but is packed with Monet’s Water Lilies and a bunch of paintings from other impressionists, like Renoir, Modigliani, Cezanne and Picasso. Mrs P wasn’t so sure about this stop. But afterwards she said “That was really cool!” Chalk up one win for the Poolman!

Back on the Metro. Next stop, Ile de la Cite. We wanted to visit the archaeological crypt at Notre Dame but it was closed on Monday. Our next planned visit was to be the chuch of Sainte Chapelle. However the line was around the block and wasn’t moving.

So, lunch time!

We got some sandwiches and pastries from a walk-up lunch stand and took the food to some benches along the Seine. Lovely scene. Lovely weather. Even the begger-pigeons contributed to the ambience. Not too shabby. Pics below.

After lunch, we hiked through the Latin Quarter to the Pantheon. I was not overwhelmed, but BIL really wanted to see Foucault’s pendulum. It was pretty cool.

The best part for me was the church next door, St Etienne du Mont. The steps on the side of this church was where a key scene in one of my favorite movies, Midnight in Paris, was shot. Owen Wilson’s icharacter, Gil Pender, is reclining on those steps at midnight when a 1920s era cab picks him up and carries him back to the 1920s where he meets F Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Picasso, Hemmington, Dali and a bunch of other characters. I waited on the steps but no one came to pick me up. Of course, that was four in the afternoon, not midnight. Maybe I should go back later.

After that a stop at Monop for supplies and back to the apartment for the night.

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We have logged a lot of trips on the Metro.

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Mrs P and me on the Champs Elysees

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The view from the top

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Our merry band back on the ground

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The sisters near Musee de l'Orangerie

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Picnicing by the Seine

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The none-too-shabby view from our picnic bench.

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Back up at street level.

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Pantheon

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We be pooped.

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BIL and SIL watching the pendulum.

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St. Etienne du Mont

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Free the whales!

I’ve been off the net for a few weeks. To be honest, I haven’t been posting, nor have I been reading many of my blog friends. More catch up later.

I’m on the road this week, and taking a break between meetings to check my email. I ran across this news on Huffington Post that jolted me out of my blogish lethargy.

Flipping out over his day in court.

PETA is suing Seaworld on behalf of the Orcas, claiming they are victims of slavery. Gotta love it! And they seem to do it with a straight face.

It would then naturally follow that hunters and fishermen are murderers. And I guess I’m a cannibal for the bacon and sausage I had with breakfast this morning. (I’m not saying no one has ever called me a “pig,” but I don’t think that is what they meant.)

And what about our gang of two dogs and two cats? Should I fear a slave revolt in the Poolman family?

If orcas have rights, they must also have the same responsibilities, I suppose. I’d love to see them try to take that Seaworld orca that was involved in the death of his trainer a while back to court on charges of negligent manslaughter. That would be worth watching on Court TV!

A busy week off work

We have had an interesting week thus far. Both Mrs. Poolman and I have the entire week off work.

On Monday, Mrs. P and I drove down I-95 to meet her sister and brother-in-law and our 11-year old great-niece, Christine, for lunch. Christine returned to Savannah with us. There some problems with child care over her Christmas break from school, so we invited her to visit us for one of the weeks. We ate leftovers for dinner and watched an age-appropriate movie we had rented, “Monte Carlo.” I am happy to report that, although the movie is clearly aimed towards a younger audience, it was cute and entertaining, even for us old folks.

On Tuesday, we got a late start and ate lunch before heading out. We cruised downtown Savannah for a while. Christine enjoyed some of the antique (She called them “junk.) stores – at least for awhile. Eventually, everyone’s patience wore out and we returned home for a dinner of take-out pizza, and a viewing of “The Help.” Poolboy and Girlfriend came over to watch with us, and Christine was very excited to see someone other than Mrs. P and myself. (We don’t take it personally; we understand.)

Today’s big event was ice skating. Each year at Christmas, the Savannah Civic Center creates an indoor ice skating rink for several weeks. Christine had been very excited about the prospect — until it came time to step onto the ice. Both Mrs. P and I had brief discussions with her and advised her that a “whiny brat” act does not work well with us. Christine ventured out on to the ice, and seeing that this is Savannah, she was not the only novice out there. She stuck close to the side and only fell once, with no damage.

On a personal note, I stayed up, but it was touch-and-go all the way. When I was a young teen, I was fairly good on skates. There was a skating rink within walking distance of our house. It was the “go-to” gathering place for all our classmates on Friday nights. My brother and I had season passes and probably went ice skating two to three times a week for several years. We taught our younger sisters how to skate.

Of course, that was 45 years ago, and  I haven’t been on skates in more than 20 years.  But I thought, “Hey, it’s like riding a bike, right?” Wrong! I looked and felt like a complete novice. Eventually, I got somewhat into the rhythm, but was still “jerking” all over the place. Fortunately, for me, Christine did not want my assistance. She much preferred the side-boards. The two of us flailing around together would have been a truly ugly experience.

After the ice skating, we drove over the Savannah River Bridge to visit the Savannah Wildlife Refuge.

The Savnnah National Wildlife Refuge was formerly old rice fields.

In warmer weather, this is a great place to see alligators. No such luck today. But it was a beautiful day and the drive through the refuge was very picturesque.

Mrs. P and Christine at the Wildlife Refuge.

Lots of birds, but no reptiles.

I believe this is an American Coot, but I wouldn't swear to it.

Another movie rental for tonight, and we are ordering wings for dinner. Should be a good evening.

A great turnout for our open house

We had a very full and exhausting Saturday a week ago.

We and all of our campus partners sponsored our annual open house event. Although three other organizations are involved in the project, it falls on my shoulders to organize, coordinate, publicize and trouble-shoot the event.  I have a ton of help so I don’t want it to sound like I’m a one-man-band. But the day of the event, it is very full, busy and tiring.

We had over 2,000 visitors throughout the afternoon. Here are some sample-pictures.

For the past six years, I have wanted to do nothing more the evening of our open house, than to go home, fix a drink, turn on some football and maybe order some wings or pizza. This year, we had two invitations to parties.  We had to pass on one of Mrs. Poolman’s friend’s 50th birthday party in favor of a dinner party at Writer Princess’s and Son-in-Law’s. This was their first event since moving into their house. Fortunately, they didn’t mind me watching the UF-Auburn game, although why I bothered, I don’t know. Ugly.

We went home and “crashed” early. We spent Sunday hanging around the house, doing laundry, yard work, etc.

Such an exciting life we live.