What my dogs have taught me about delighting in the Lord.

I’ve noticed this phenomenon before, but this is the first that I’ve thought about it in this context. Here’s the situation:

Anyone who knows my dogs, knows how much I love them. They are both such a blessing to me. The younger (and bigger) one, Trillian, LOVES people, but she especially loves her “mom”. Every time she hears my voice, regardless if I am looking at her or in another room, she wags her tail in delight. She is always tuned in to hear me and she is always listening, even when I’m not speaking to her. It always makes me smile to see her happiness exemplified in her cropped little tail swinging as fast as doggily possible. I wonder if this isn’t a great metaphor for how we should delight in the Lord – our tails wagging exuberantly at the sound of the Father’s voice, our ears tuned to His frequency, our eyes set towards His face. Rejoicing even when he isn’t talking to you.

To take it one step further… my other dog, Gamma (who I also love dearly) has a few problems associated with old age. Her hearing is off and she is blind in one eye. She doesn’t wag her tail as often because these things hinder her ability to receive communication. It makes me wonder what problems I have in my life that hinder me from delighting in the Father’s communication to us.

I really ought to say that this metaphor shouldn’t be taken too far. Now I can’t help but think of the other things that my dogs have taught me that have application to my spiritual life (e.g. obedience).

Continue reading

“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore” -Vincent Van Gogh

How did August fly by so fast? Looking back I can’t believe I’ve been out here a month already – everything seems a blur of seismic wiggles and multibeam pings. I’ve been really busy the last few days trying to proliferate images of the ocean. Oh buddy, do I have some cool looking images! I’m so excited to take this data back to Wyoming and show people! Yesterday was our last day of multichannel seismic acquisition (insert sad face) and we are headed towards Dutch today. It will take two and a half or more days to get back to Dutch Harbor, (yes – we are indeed that far away). There is supposedly a storm tailing us so we are making as much good time as possible. I really want to do a blog about all the sounds you hear on a ship and what the food tastes like etc… (the 5 senses blog mentioned in an earlier post) but I think with our proximity to the end of the cruise I should first write about what we did in the beginning.

I flew into Dutch Harbor on the 6th of August aboard a Saab 370. Tiny little plane, but definitely not the smallest I’ve been in (take the vomit-comet out of Laramie sometime – now that can be an adventure!). The plane ride offered some great views of Adak and Atu (Aleutian volcanoes pictured). I was already sick when I got on the plane in Anchorage and by the time I got on the Langseth the sick was in full force. I had some nasty combination of sore throat, flu, and cold. The last place you want to be sick is at sea. Thankfully, I don’t get seasick and my sea legs come along in no time otherwise I would have really been in a poor position. Being sick, I wasn’t able to make it through my first midnight to noon watch (I think I made it to 3 a.m.), but was back to adjusting my schedule the next night. Since being sick, we’ve had some yuck-weather for probably about five or six days total which means 5-meter seas and 40-50-knot winds. What that really means is very little sleep for those who are concerned about falling out of the bunk when the ship rolls around 45 degrees from center.

Back to the beginning. Once we transited to our survey sight seismic operations got underway. The first equipment to be deployed is the eight-kilometer long hydrophone array called a streamer. These sensors are like “ears” that listen for energy (aka signal) traveling from a source through the water and earth and then back through the water. There are 636 channels on the streamer and 12 hydrophones make each group or channel. The next to be deployed is the energy source called a tuned air-gun array. There are four strings holding 36 air-guns that release 6600 cubic inches of compressed air into the water every 50 meters. The bubble pulse from the guns sends waves that travel through the earth/water and come back loaded with information about what they “saw”. All this information is recorded and then we “the beakers” (otherwise known as scientists) process the data to produce images that are like cross-sections of the earth. We gathered hundreds of kilometers of multi-channel seismic data over ten days. One of my goals on this cruise is to better understand the oceanography of the Bering Sea via seismic data. In order to corroborate with the seismic images we are throwing the following overboard:  expendable bathy-thermographs (XBTs) that measure a temperature profile through the water column, expendable conductivity-temperature-depth sensors (XCTDs) that measure temperature, depth, and indirectly the salinity of the water column, and casting a CTD with a 12 bottle rosette to bring up water samples. Have I mentioned that the water at the bottom of the Bering is some of the oldest water on the planet due to the manner in which the ocean circulates? It is probably thousands of years old and I have tasted, sampled, and am taking home some of it! Pretty exciting and perhaps a topic for a future blog… All this data will take months/years to process and understand.

In all this mention of shooting and deploying equipment, I should also mention the protected-species observers (PSOs) who observe around the clock to make sure we are not harassing any marine life. Our PSOs are rockstars that brave nasty winds and cold weather on top of a tower for hours on end. They also get some cool photos (see below).

So, that pretty much sums up the data acquisition for the first half of the cruise. I’ve also included a few pictures from Dutch Harbor for your pleasure.

“One mustn’t look at the abyss, because there is at the bottom an inexpressible charm which attracts us. “ ~Gustave Flaubert

Today’s blog will hopefully give some insight to my daily “routine” on the Langseth as well as some tidbits about the vessel. To begin with, I must express that I thoroughly love being at sea. Exploration and discovery are words that entice me to spend weeks on end rolling around a giant hunk of steel.  There are so many wonderful aspects of sailing around on a quest to take a never before seen look at what lies beneath. It is ridiculously exciting to watch the data come in on the shipboard monitors and know that I am one of the first people to look at the Earth in such detail. I also find it just plain fun to be “trapped” in that giant steel drum with world-class experts in the geosciences. Learning from these people is like drinking from a fire hose and you can’t help but feel a combination of wiped out and refreshed when you walk off. I love being at sea.


So, what exactly do I do everyday on this “cruise”? First of all, it is nothing like being on a Carnival cruise. The term “cruise” for a research survey is quite the misnomer. We work 12+ hours a day for the entire week over many weeks (usually 1-2 months), and there are no days off. I’m not complaining (see the sentiments expressed above). My days on this cruise involve waking up at 11:15 p.m., grab some cereal in the mess, getting into the lab by midnight, spend four hours editing-multibeam, four hours as watchstander, four hours processing seismic data, (all the while deploying XBTs and XCTDs every couple hours) and then going to the gym and reading for a few hours before going to bed. Two meals are served while I am awake: breakfast at 7:30 and lunch at 11:30. That is the summary of what the day is supposed to look like – of course all this changes depending on what data we are collecting and when/what gear is coming in or going out. There is rarely a dull moment. On that note, here are a few pictures of our gear and the ship:


The R/V Marcus G. Langseth is the premier seismic vessel in the U.S. academic fleet. She is operated by Lomont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Columbia University) and was acquired in 2004 (put to service in 2008) replacing the previous R/V Ewing. The Langseth is 72 meters long (253 ft.), has some of the biggest air compressors at sea, and holds about 50 people. This ship tows an 8 km streamer for 2D multi-channel seismic (MCS) work and can tow four 8 km streamers for 3D surveys. We also have some sweet guns – air-guns that is. On this cruise we cast the first CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) instrument off of the Langseth – thus adding to her list of capabilities. Let me know what else you’d like to know – I plan on loading a picture tour sometime in the future.

Back at sea aboard the R/V Marcus G. Langseth

Hello again, this time from the middle of the icy Bering Sea and famous home for the hit docu-drama Deadliest Catch. I’m sorry to those of you (esp. my wiggletracer bloggies and my science pals) who’ve been expecting blogs for some time now but we’re back online and here we go. We are currently experiencing some high seas and winds at 40+ knots (46 mph) and on day 16 of 26. Life at sea is unpredictable but hopefully I’ll have a chance to fill you in about the last 16 days over the next ten.

Here is the game plan. This post will give you a science overview and the following posts will hopefully include: daily life on a ship, life on a ship as experienced by the five senses, marine seismology, the equipment we use, expansion on the topics discussed in this blog, our first few weeks at sea, and the last few weeks at sea. And now, SCIENCE!

In short…

Chief scientists Ginger Barth (USGS) and Warren Wood (NRL) are conducting this cruise primarily to help delineate the U.S. extended continental shelf (ECS) in the central Bering Sea. The seismic data collected over these weeks will help determine sediment thickness, a variable put into a formula that helps determine ECS boundaries. (For more info on the ECS: http://continentalshelf.gov/) In addition to sediment thickness, this cruise also hopes to help answer other geologic and oceanographic questions about an area which little is known.

Above: From continentalshelf.gov, an image of our study area and the surrounding bathymetry. A very flat seafloor where we are.

In addition to sediment thickness, this cruise is addressing the distribution of Velocity-AMPlitude (VAMP) structures in the central Bering. VAMPs are believed to be concentrated deposits of methane hydrate.

“New analyses by the USGS show that a single large VAMP structure involves a volume of methane equivalent to that of a large conventional gas field (approx 0.6-0.9 trillion ft3).”

These hydrate deposits create a velocity anomaly in the seismic record because the methane hydrate is in a “frozen” state where the seismic energy travels through at higher velocities than the surrounding sediment. These VAMPs image in a stacked section as mushroom-top like “bumps” that occur over rises in the basement topography. We have imaged many of these mushroom-like features on our cruise so far.

The other science happening out here that I couldn’t possibly fail to mention is seismic oceanography. Active source seismologists discovered relatively recently that small impedance contrasts created by thermohaline boundaries in the ocean can be imaged with frequencies generated by standard multi-channel seismic techniques. In the last few years unprecedented images of eddies, internal waves, and fronts have been generated using this technique. This is where I play my biggest part in this cruise. My role is to deploy expendable thermo-bathygraphs (XBTs) that measure temperature with depth and process/look at the water column portion of the multi-channel seismic data for interesting oceanographic features. The Bering is oceanographically interesting for many reasons that include a dissolved silicate layer near the seafloor and a 100 m thick cold layer from seasonal ice melt near the surface. The cold layer makes for some funky ray-path physics which I hope to blog about later.

Of course, research of this magnitude is rarely simple and there is much more to tell you than I can fit in a short blog, but you get the idea. ;o)

Now, I’m headed off to bed to try and catch a few hours of sleep before I head back to the lab. Sleep will not come easy tonight with these crazy waves and 45-degree rolls – it will be more of a quest to stay in my bunk which is situated fore and aft to the vessel. This will no doubt be a topic in a future blog. =) Good night!

“A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.” –English Proverb


One of the downfalls of no garage is inhaling the fumes from our office makeover. The smell of wood stain, polyurethane, and wall paint has taken over our apartment. No worries though, its a warmer kind of cold outside that allows us to open a few windows. Did I mention we had two days of snow this week? Our office is on the verge of complete. Over the last few weeks we have gone through all of Ike’s hobby materials and electronic bits. What a job! The type A in my AB personality is really happy. Here’s whats left:

-finish painting trees on the walls

-glue trim to my desk

-stain and finish Ike’s desk

-drill holes and assemble desk supports

-hang mason jar lighting

I can’t wait until its all finished! Hopefully this weekend. Onto another recipe – this time one of Isaac’s favorites: Bacon Mushroom Chicken.

Bacon Mushroom Chicken

A cooking for 2 recipe. The only thing I did different was use turkey bacon and lite mayo. The honey mustard sauce is absolutely delicious and the chicken was so moist! Isaac says its definitely one of the best things I’ve made over the last few months and possibly ever.

  • 2 Servings
  • Prep: 25 min. Bake: 20 min.
  • 1 serving equals 586 calories, 27 g fat (9 g saturated fat), 123 mg cholesterol, 956 mg sodium, 46 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 42 g protein.


  • 2 bacon strips, halved
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (6 ounces each)
  • 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced onion
  • 1/4 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese


  • In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove to paper towels; set aside. Flatten chicken to 1/2-in. thickness; sprinkle both sides with seasoned salt. Brown in bacon drippings. Transfer to a 1-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray.
  • In a small bowl, combine the honey, mustard, mayonnaise, corn syrup and onion; spread 1/4 cup over chicken. Top with bacon and mushrooms. Sprinkle with cheese.
  • Cover and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until chicken juices run clear. Serve with remaining honey mixture.

Some things to look forward to plus two recipes

Hello again,

We’ve been super busy here the last few weeks between projects, spring cleaning, enjoying the first warm weather of the season, shopping, and finals (for me at least). I’m looking forward to writing about two new projects we’ve been working on. One of them is a secret because its a surprise for a friend so you’ll have to stay tuned until next month. The other is the “desk project”. Isaac got a great idea from his dad to use a solid core slab door (purchasable at any home improvement store) as the top surface for a desk. We bought two glass L-shape desks from an office supply store years ago and suffice it to say that they just weren’t working well enough for our needs. Anyone want a glass desk? We have two for sale now ;o) The new desks are being stained and finished right now, so pictures will be available in a week or so…

Moving on to food! I have so many recipes to blog that I think I’ll be blogging two at a time for awhile. Today I’m blogging Tuna Salad (don’t hang up the phone yet!) and Chilled Avocado Soup.

Tuna Salad

This is NOT your mom’s tuna salad. No offense moms. I still love your tuna salad sandwiches! What I mean by “not your mom’s tuna salad” is that it is more than just mayo and a can of tuna. There is so much flavor in this recipe. I’ve had this for lunch everyday for about a week and I’m not bored – which speaks millions for this recipe. Ok. Here it is (An Our Best Bites Recipe):


  • 1 6-oz. can tuna
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • 1/2 small tart apple, chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard (or honey mustard)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. pickle relish
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 c. sliced almonds, toasted


Mix the first 4 ingredients in one bowl, the next 5 ingredients in another bowl, then combine the two bowls. Add almonds to garnish. Here’s where I got the recipe: http://www.ourbestbites.com/2009/01/tuna-salad/

They use curry powder, I use cumin and coriander. The apples taste awesome with this mix – don’t skip them! You can imagine this recipe is as adaptable as you want it to be. I was excited about the cumin and coriander. I found that it makes ~5-6 sandwiches and using light mayo this is lower in calories than the normal bologna and cheese!

Chilled Avocado Soup

A Cooking for 2 recipe. I love avocado and if I’m a connoisseur of anything its soup. I like this so much – its a great summertime treat and its a healthy fat right? =) Make sure you serve it cold!

  • 4 Servings
  • Prep: 10 min. + chilling
  • 3/4 cup equals 125 calories, 10 g fat (3 g saturated fat), 10 mg cholesterol, 371 mg sodium, 6 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4 g protein.


  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled, halved and pitted
  • 1 can (14-1/2 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • Dash pepper


Place avocado in a blender, cover and process until smooth. While processing, gradually add broth; process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients; cover and process until blended. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until chilled.

Could a soup be any easier? Don’t skip the cayenne! Try it!

Happy blending!

becoming a better cook – one recipe at a time

As some of you may know, Isaac is finally home after almost one and a half years of commuting from Wyoming to Indiana (Indianapolis on the weekdays, Laramie on the weekends)! I don’t know when he will be traveling again, but for now I’m elated to have him home. Not to mention that there is now some semblance of a normal schedule in our lives. This has been particularly helpful as we train for the Inca Trail in July – more on that later.

What I really wanted to start blogging about tonight was food! I’m not sure if I qualify as a foodie or not, but I like delicious homemade flavors and have recently been on a quest to kick out bad food habits (i.e. fast food & frozen dinners). One of my challenges with cooking is simply that I strongly dislike leftovers. I know, I know – how could I? There are some leftovers that I do like, but I happen to be very particular about them (i.e. my mother-in-law’s leftovers that always taste fresh OR my mom Debbie’s pasta salads which taste better with time). This aversion to leftovers makes it somewhat difficult to cook for two people without being wasteful. Now that Isaac is home and frozen dinners are out, I’m challenged. The solution to my leftover-issues has come mostly from online sources. My hope is that I can share some of my most favorite recipes and that I can get some feedback on what you think too! =)

There are two recipes I thought I’d share to start this blog off: Hominy Sausage Soup and Chocolate Drizzled Strawberries Cream Pie

Hominy Sausage Soup

A Cooking for 2 recipe. Isaac made this for me after my wisdom teeth came out a few weeks ago. He had to puree it, but it was awesome anyway! Hominy reminds me of my dad, and in that sense this soup is very comforting.

Be warned that it is a bit spicy, but you don’t have to use the jalapeno. Also, I used ground cumin rather than seeds.

  • 2 Servings
  • Prep: 10 min. Cook: 25 min.
  • 1-1/4 cups equals 276 calories, 18 g fat (6 g saturated fat), 47 mg cholesterol, 1,768 mg sodium, 12 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 15 g protein.


  • 1/4 pound bulk pork sausage
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup canned hominy, rinsed and drained
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped jalapeno pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro


  • Crumble sausage into a small skillet. Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. In a small saucepan, toast cumin seeds over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until browned. Stir in coriander and cayenne; cook and stir for 30 seconds.
  • Add the broth, hominy, jalapeno, pepper and sausage. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 12-15 minutes or until heated through. Stir in cilantro. Yield: 2 servings.

Chocolate-Drizzled Strawberries Cream Pie

An Our Best Bites recipe. I made this for a Fellowship of Christian Graduate Students dinner last Saturday. It was sinfully delicious. So so so so good. Its like a lighter no-bake version of cheesecake! As strawberries come into season, this recipe is a must make!  Its super fast/easy and looks like you spent hours.


  • 1 quart fresh strawberries
  • 1  8-oz. package cream cheese at room temperature (light is fine)
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
  • 1 c. heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 c. powdered sugar
  • 1  9″ graham cracker crust
  • 1-2 ounces chocolate


  • In a medium bowl, beat the softened cream cheese, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. In a separate large bowl, beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar until medium peaks form.  Add about 1 c. of the whipping cream mixture to the cream cheese mixture. Beat until smooth and well-combined. Add the remaining whipping cream mixture and mix until just combined.  Spread in the graham cracker crust and refrigerate for a few minutes while you prepare the strawberries.
  • Wash the strawberries and cut off the stems. Blot dry with a paper towel and then gently press, cut side down, into the whipped cream mixture. Set aside.
  • If using a chocolate bar, break it into equal pieces and place in a small Ziploc snack bag. Microwave for 1-1 1/2 minutes, stopping the microwave every 20 seconds to mash the bag. You want the chocolate to be melted but not hot at all. When the chocolate is melted, snip a corner off the bag and drizzle it over the strawberries. Refrigerate for at least three hours before serving. Serves 8-10.

Here is the link for pictures: http://www.ourbestbites.com/2011/04/chocolate-drizzled-strawberries-and-cream-pie/

Happy Cooking!