Thursday, February 17, 2011

Storing botanical beads, revisited

Botanical beads are made from natural organic (as in plants, not necessarily "certified organic" or even "unsprayed") materials and as such are biodegradable. This will happen in most climates unless you prevent it.

That said, from my own experience, the worst experience I have had was that Job's tears stored in our storage locker were smelling a bit musty after a year. They were OK after I aired them out, and I never stored them there again.

This morning I got a phone call, a lady right here on on the Big Island made a necklace from mgambo/weleweka/velvet seeds and noticed some sand like substance. I told her to stick it in the freezer (as the freezing temperatures will kill any critters inside the beads) and my husband commented after I told him what the phone call was about "termites". Storing the beads in the freezer for a while will kill termites too. (I did not get whether she bought the beads from me or not)

Another thing I am aware of because a co-worker showed them to me (I actually have them here) is mold on weleweka seeds. I don't know how wet her earrings got, but she aired them out, here in Hilo, and that didn't prevent the mold. If you live in a humid/wet (and warm, even if only at the time, think even northern states/provinces/countries in the summer and in the southern hemisphere in what is winter here) climate and your botanical beads get wet you may want to dry them in the fridge or freezer.

Botanical beads may look like beach jewelry and if you only want to wear them while you're here/there that's fine, but they are not made to get wet. They may germinate if you get them wet enough for long enough if they're made from seeds. After all,l that's what they are.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A day off from work

Today I took a day off from work. Our vacation plan is being changed so that we can't carry over 45 days anymore (but only 10). They offer us paying out the whole difference, or taking it all, or anything in between. Taking it all off of course also includes the days we get this year and I positively don't see that, so I'm going for a split between the one and the other and today was my first day off.

I managed to pick most of the remaining ripe coffee, pulp some coffee, pull a heck of a lot of weeds, take the resulting green waste to the green waste recycling, kill a bunch of crab spiders, get my blood drawn for lab work (by my favorite phlebotomist of all times, who also gave me a copy of an article about an amazing cat, and we talked beads some too), sorted a bunch of Job's Tears, and did some grocery shopping while I was out, yeah, and get the laundry off the washing line and put away, and wash some dishes. Of course I fed the cats too. Some of these things I do every day, but some of them I don't get around to.

Some of the weeds I pulled today would have really gotten in my way as soon as it starts raining and gets a bit warmer. That is a kind of grass that can't be weed whacked.

What I didn't get to do is melt glass (it was too windy, really, it was. I already know how to make beads with cracked ends), harvest cloves, pick Job's Tears and vacuum the house.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

In memory of Walter Steiger - rest in peace

This one took me a day to even think about posting. Walter was so much more than most people realize. I know that without him a lot of us, me included (astronomers and support staff on Mauna Kea) wouldn't even be here.

Walter was my boss at some point, when I was working at the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory, and he sure was a good one. That was after he retired for the second time. Walter(who was almost a year older than my Dad is) was a very honest and humble person. He would never have given himself the credit I do. He wrote a History of Astronomy in Hawaii which you can find here.

My husband Norman knew Walter way longer than I did, he was a graduate student at UH Manoa when Walter was the chairman of the department and one of his stories still makes me chuckle. It describes both of them very well. They were basically making sure of the integrity of the other (actually, Walter was making sure of Norman's (after all, Walter was the boss) but the way that worked out it assured both of the integrity of the other).

Walter retired from UH Manoa, then headed the Bishop Museum Planetarium (and then some, as I read in the Trib), retired from there to become the site manager of the CSO (where he was one of my bosses, and a good one), retired from there to lecture at UHH, became interim director of the Imiloa and when he retired from there returned to the CSO (Caltech Submm Observatory) to do at least some of their PR/outreach work until he got killed in this traffic accident last Sunday.

Walter's eyesight wasn't very good anymore so he went around on a motor scooter. He went to the CSO office on it several days a week, he did the grocery shopping that way (I know his wife Betty gave up driving years earlier, he told me, and I saw him in the stores on occasion).

Now here are some of my own assumptions: The accident happened on Superbowl Sunday.
The Trib says Walter had picked up medications for his wife's (Betty's) arthritis. The only pharmacy open on Sundays in downtown Hilo is Longs. If he crossed Komohana Street he must have come up Kukuau Street. Just before that intersection Kukuau is rather steep. While Walter's moped may have gone on the order of 45 mph going down the Mohouli Extension (I saw him there on my way to work on occasion) it most certainly couldn't have gone up Kukuau at that speed (except for the last about 60 or so feet, but if would have had to speed up considerably), more likely about 15 mph.

Last night after work I was on my way to the downtown KTA and drove through that intersection (made me cry again) and saw the police markings. If Walter was in the middle of the intersection going about 15 mph, the SUV that hit him (I very much doubt he hit the SUV) either sped over the blind hill or could have avoided him if they had been paying attention.

What the Hawaii Tribune Herald (earlier attributed as Trib) published can be found here and here.

I will miss Walter. A lot.

And I hope they will name the new UHH science building after him.

There is a blog with contributions from many people here: