Getting back in the swing of it all

September 17, 2008

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The Tiki Home

Transition back to LA has been difficult, mostly because Delta has planes with cool monitors in the seat in front of you. But if you have a long torso, as I do, your head flops over the “headrest” and sleeping is impossible, even with a Nyquil swig. So I only had a half hour of sleep. Having taken the red-eye (never again unless in first class) I was wiped out on my return to LA and cancelled my appointments. Our new Chancellor’s expertise is in Circadian rhythms and a colleague told me that travelling from west to east is harder on the body than the opposite. [I have not confirmed that Gene Block actually said/wrote/reported this.] Boy, it is true, and add no-sleep to that equation and it’s a deadly cocktail. I was a zombie.

For the last two days, I have been back in the saddle as Chair doing all kinds of cool stuff and dealing with insane budget cuts (I assume you’ve read all about it in the papers) but making terrific new plans.

I flash back to Kauai. So beautiful and peaceful and little and VERY humid. Fabulous to visit: not ready to move there. Maybe a time-share. Hawaii, and likelly Kauai itself is one of the most dangerous places on earth according the Atlas of Hawaii, 3rd edition. Volcanoes, tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes, variation in sea levels, and millions of years from now, the collapse of the porous stuff the island is actually built upon. All that doesn’t keep us away. It is such a great and magical place.

A friend accused Kauai of becoming over-commercialized. Maybe the south part of the island, but there is still a well protected majority of the island that is raw island. After a heavy rain the other day, four amazing waterfalls came streaming down the mountain as we had fish and chips in Hanalei Center. A lovely memory.

It is such an amazing experience to fly over water, water, water, water for six hours and finally you see teeny little set of islands and you land on one. In the middle of nowhere. An amazing experience for me every time I visit.

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Mangosteen

Daniel and Mitchell went to the farmers market twice and we continually ate local fruits and vegetables. Mangos, papaya, bananas, coconut and coconut water (filter, boiled and cooled:mmm!), mangosteen, jackfruit (yuk), avocado, kalamansi, rambutan, atis, and more.. I actually lost weight. We ate out at terrific restaurants. Prices on Kauai are not that different from LA.

We swam everyday. I haven’t swam in the ocean since Hurricane Olaf knocked me around, scraping me all over rocks in Will Roger State Beach––I barely got out alive. A very cute lifeguard tended my cuts. When I emerged from the surf, I was covered with blood. It was like Carrie coming from the sea. So, I’ve had issues with swimming in the ocean for a long time.

The sun is so intense in Hawaii from 10-4 that you can really scald yourself. We fragile school teachers limited our beach activity outside that brilliant time. I have nightmares these days about being trapped in an open field, exposed to full sun with nowhere to escape. Golf is just out for me. Sunbathing, while being boring, is not even an option for me. Bicycling in full sun: no more. Both of my parents have had cancers removed from their faces. I’ve been lucky so far but am getting a few biopsies Oct.1.

Some of my colleagues chastised me for doing UCLA work on my vacation. I love my job and taking a vacation 2 weeks before school starts (when children are back in school) carries with it some putting out fires from time to time. And interrupting my vacation from time to time did not ruin it.

The stock market is crashing, but the world is still spinning ’round.

I try to keep the aloha spirit alive. I wore my boar’s tusk necklace to my Moodle class today. Yes, I’m using Moodle for my course online syllabus and resource center.

We’re planning a huge party for the beginning of term and have invited the entire faculties of all three music departments at UCLA and the staff. It’s a potluck, and most of these people are amazing chefs and bring the coolest dishes. The mix will be fab.

In my blogging pattern, I tend to write less in September as that month is often my vacation month. I read a book once that advised to NOT blog if you don’t feel like it or if it is forced. I’m sure you understand.

I am excited about the upcoming year. The vacation was a terrific battery recharger.

Mahalo Kaua’i. Mahalo!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Brad Wood September 18, 2008 at 6:19 pm

I used to avoid the sun assiduously, but fairly recently I decided that a little exposure was better than none. Even at that, the conventionally unconventional wisdom continues to shift: it used to be suggested that a fairly large air mass (low altitude sun) would be better than a small one—the filtering of the shortest wavelength ultraviolet being more effective.

Now the latest word from some is that a little (10-15 minutes or so) full-body exposure with the sun near the zenith is best, as the vitamin D production is mostly from the short wavelengths, as they are absorbed close to the surface, and the DNA damage occurs from the deeper-penetrating not-so-short wavelength UV, which presumably is the more potentially carcinogenic.

It’s worth noting that most malignant melanomas appear on parts of the body that receive little or no UV radiation.

In any event, one person’s (ABA) fear that even a single ultraviolet photon would spark a malignancy seems fairly ill-founded.

One can, in any case, supplement with oral vitamin D3. For most people (again according to recent not-too-flaky sources) its toxicity has been greatly overrated.

However, there may be other benefits to solar exposure that are not yet well-understood, beyond mere vitamin D production.

Brad Wood September 18, 2008 at 9:14 pm

…and then as if on cue, comes this news item (change out the dashes for dots, etc., as I attempt to circumvent this site’s spam filter):

H T T P colon slash slash health_yahoo.com/news/healthday/notanisasafetan_html

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