Epic Sunsets

So, last night yielded one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen. Add that to the fact that I recently learned what aperture and f-stop are and how to use them, and you get some pretty awesome photos:

And then I cranked up the ISO for a shot of the moon:

NOTE: It takes about an hour to load three photos due to limited bandwidth. The photos above were me seeing how long it took. Therefore, the photos will come slowly, when I have time. Don't worry, they will come :)
According to Dr. Brand, the green flash (a la Pirates 3) really does exist. It's an atmospheric phenomena that occurs in the tropics if the conditions are just right (ie cloudless). What happens is that the rotation of the earth is must longer, and more horizontal, so in addition to getting the reds, oranges, and yellows of the regular sunset, you get green too, but only at the very, very end, just as the sun is about to disappear below the horizon. Because the time period where green exists is so short, it manifests itself in a flash. Chris (short for Christine), Katie, and I are determined to see the green flash before the end of the cruise.

Today we did our normal surface water sampling procedure, plus an additional product with some reagent to account for the type of plankton. We also started using the CTD, but the small one (we won't be using the rosette for a few days yet - we're still doing coastal sampling). We also did sediment samples today, to look for the cysts of some juvenile stage of K. brevis. We had a little sediment sampler, and the big sampler that needed to hoisted with the... wench? Crane? I forget the official ship term, but it takes an operator on the upper deck. Anyway, it was cool (the guy with his back to the camera is Dr. Brand):

Dr. Brand lectured to us today about his research. It was really cool, but the main message I took from it was this:
1) Cyanobacteria (aka blue-green algae) bloom with high nutrient input, mainly in bays.
2) Some species of cyanobacteria excrete a substance known as BMA, a neurotoxin.
3) BMA has been found in the brain of people with non-genetic degenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer's and Dementia) in significant amounts, but not at all in people with genetic degenerative diseases (such as Huntington's). It is hypothesized that it is one of the major environmental factors that trigger theses diseases.
4) The Chesapeake Bay has lots of blooms of these cyanobacteria.
5) Blue crabs eat these cyanobacteria, storing it and biomagnifying it in their bodies, without adverse affects.
6) Politicians from Washington frequent seafood restaurants while in DC, where the main, prized, popular dish is blue crab.
7) Therefore, our senators are ingesting lots and lots of a degenerative neurotoxin.
8) This explains quite a bit.

We had another awesome sunset today, though not quite as spectacular as yesterdays due to the lack of cloud cover. However, this increased our chances exponentially of seeing the green flash. Unfortunately, there was just a slight bit of cloud cover off in the distance right at the horizon, preventing the flash from happening. Still pretty photos though:

Tonight, I discovered that, while a genius in the kitchen, Chef Matt's expertise doesn't extend to the baking realm. His proficiency is only as good as box mix. He was making brownies and carrot cake, and I commented that I loved to bake, and he invited me into the galley as the "Chef's Assistant."

It turned out more to be the role of an unpaid intern or grad student: you do all the work while the mentor "supervises." I didn't mind though: this was the first time I had been in a nice, big kitchen since winter break (yeah, I cooked in the apartment with Jen, but it's not the biggest kitchen). I only helped with the toppings (chocolate chips, crushed oreos, and walnuts) for the brownies, but I pretty much made the carrot cake all on my own (apart from Matt telling me where stuff was in the galley). It was really nice. The carrot cake still needs to be frosted, and whomever made the brownies did the cakey variety rather than fudgy (I like my brownies fudgy), but it all turned well.

There's a bunch of fish following the boat because of the lights, and a bunch of terns following the fish, and therefore flanking the boat on either side. It's pretty cool. We're being escorted across the water by a colony of gulls.

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