Friday, June 17, 2016

San Sebastian - 4 days in the Bosque country

The most sun we saw in San Sebastian - lasted for about 10 minutes.
This beach is called Playa de la Concha.

This week I was invited by my new employer to join the research group on a trip to San Sebastian, Spain. The aim was to have a meeting to discuss priorities and a mini-symposium with some Spanish collaborators.

Only some of us managed to make it to San Sebastian on Monday. The plane we were supposed to take to Amsterdam had engine issues, so our boss did his best to figure out a solution. He went alphabetically, so I was lucky to be in the first group out (after sitting in the Bergen airport for 6 hours). Twelve of us managed to make it to Spain by midnight on Monday (Bergen - Copenhagen - Brussels - Bilbao - San Sebastian (bus)). The rest would eventually make it by Tuesday afternoon and late Tuesday night.

Tuesday was meant to be a meeting about plans for the  new employees (3 of us in total) and discussing the upcoming surveys. However, since the others hadn't arrived, we only had a short meeting including my presentation about myself and the PhD and post-doc students presenting their work. Then we had the afternoon to explore.

Very empty meeting room when so many of us haven't arrived yet

My Brazilian friend, Thassya, and I decided to walk around as much as possible to go sight seeing, even though it was raining - the others decided to just sit in a bar. The rain came on and off quite frequently, but being from Bergen, we didn't mind. We wanted to see as much as we could. Even though the weather was not the best, Spaniards were still out swimming and surfing.

Walking through the "old town"

Panorama from a viewpoint

I have tons of pictures from the beach (Thassya on the right)
That night we had a long dinner, including lots of sea food and lots of meat. I quickly found out that Spain is not the idea place to be for a vegetarian because meat and fish are in almost every dish. I was flexible and enjoyed the food that was given, but Thassya was stuck with eating just bulgar and asparagus. Wednesday and Thursday were more of the same - lots of meat and bread....and wine.

Wednesday we were invited for a mini-symposium by the AZTI Institute in Pasaia (about 20 minutes from San Sebastian). We collaborate with them because the mackerel stock spawn in the Bay of Biscay before migrating into the Norwegian Sea for the summer feeding migration, and mackerel is an economically valuable species that is increasing its geographical distribution as a result of the warming seas. The talks were very interesting, and got me excited to work with pelagic fish again!

After the symposium, we took a boat from the institute to a small fishing village called San Juan. The lunch lasted for 3 hours, but it flew by with such good company. Only 4 hours later would we be eating dinner...SO MUCH FOOD!

ATZI Institute in Pasaia

On the boat to San Juan for lunch

Remided me of Bryggen in Bergen

This was only the first of 6 or so dishes
Ran along the beaches in San Sebastian, the main one is more for swimming, this beach was only occupied by surfers.

Thursday morning I walked around the city and in the sand one more time with Thassya and we bought some chorrizo to bring home. But wait...another massive lunch before our flight at 5PM. We took a bus to Bilbao and ate lunch at the Güggenheim Museum. We didn't have time to look at the art, but there were some neat features outside to take pictures of before the rain hit us again.

Back in Bergen late last night, but what a nice way to get to know my new colleagues in a fun, social atmosphere. Everyone is very friendly; just as I remembered them from when I worked on my masters at the IMR. One more week at the Sars Centre with the Nematostella before I officially start at my new job.

Outside the Güggenheim

Monday, June 13, 2016

Birkebeiner Race Report

June 11th I ran my second trail race in Lillehammer. The first being EcoTrail Oslo in May. This race was really fun, even though I could not have music to keep me going. Trail running makes me have to focus on my form and where I step, so the race really felt like it went by really fast since it was so refreshing running through the woods.

Marius and I drove over on Friday night, and thanks to how long the day is, we had beautiful views the whole drive. Due to a rock slide we had to take a detour that added an hour onto our drive, but it turned out to be very fun. There were lots of sheep wandering around the roads giving us a good laugh, and trying to squeeze around corners with cars coming in the opposite direction kept us awake. We got to the cabin at 2:30AM and went straight to bed.

Lambs crossing the road on our detour

Lucky for me, I didn't have to start running til 1PM on Saturday. The weather was perfect for running. Not too much sun and a nice breeze. I didn't feel too nervous because I wasn't expecting a personal record. The profile of the race included 300 m of incline, so I told Rigmor to expect me to use a good 2 hrs on this course.

I started running, and right away it was just up up up. The first 5 miles were up hill, and thanks to living in Bergen I have had plenty of training with running up and down  hill. I felt so good when I was able to run up the entire way and not stop to walk at all. I slipped by all the runners (who I joke were probably from the flat part of Oslo). The hills came easy for me and I didn't mind getting my $32 Saucony shoes dirty.

The drink stations were perfectly placed and I really felt in good form. Then in the last two kilometers a woman next to me tripped and fell pretty hard. I stopped to help her since she had blood on her forehead and was moaning. I sat with her for a minute to make sure she was ok, and then she told me to keep going. Finally when I saw some volunteers I let them know about her and tried to make up for the lost time to the finish.

The last 200 m were downhill and I flew past so many others who had passed me before when I stopped for the lady. I listened for my fans, but I thought maybe I missed them. I heard one voice holler "Good job, Justine! Well done!" was Morten! He is my age, the son of our cabin neighbors. I went through the shoot and got my recovery drink and hot dog and then walked around a little to see if I could find Marius. There they were, waiting to watch me cross the finish line, expecting me to use 2 hours. I was 6 minutes faster than I expected.

Finishers "Diploma"

We walked around the sports expo before getting ourselves icecream and driving back to the cabin. I even got an extra award called "sølvmerket". I tried to figure out what that meant, but I'm still confused. Now they got me hooked to run it again next year and get another "sølmerket". We cooked food over the fire pit and stayed up til 2AM planning the next wedding.

On Sunday we walked up a small "mountain" that we usually ski up in the winter, ate an early dinner and drove back to Bergen. The rock slide was cleared off the road so we didnt' need to take the detour. That was a relief! Beautiful views again on the way back to Bergen and clear blue sky.

The result after the cleaned up rock slide about 1 hr drive from Bergen

Beautiful panoramic views at a nice rest stop after a 25km long tunnel

Now I'm sitting at the airport with my new colleagues. We are trying to fly to San Sebastian, Spain, but our plane has engine problems so we are hoping to get on the next flight at 2PM. We'll see how it goes. So the next blog update will probably be relatively soon about how this trip goes --- if we get out of Bergen! 

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

An eventful May

It will take too long to update on everything, but here is a list of what has happened this month:

1) Marius and I had our wedding in Grand Rapids. We had a total of 75 guests, and it was too much fun!

2) After the wedding, we gave Tron, Rigmor and Knut a mini tour of the lower peninsula. We took them to Holland, Sleeping Bear Dunes, and Detroit. It really gave them a nice impression of Michigan, as opposed to what we see on TV in Norway about Detroit being really run down. The Norwegians were pleasantly surprised at how nice downtown was.

3) Marius ran an 18km race with me in Oslo that started up in the forest north of the city, and went along a river to downtown. I was sick, so it was the worst race ever for me, but he really enjoyed it. Pancho also ran the last 500 yards with us!

4) Pancho turned 1 year old today (May 24)!! The weather is really nice, so he'll get some salmon for dinner and a really nice hike.

My last day at my current job is June 24th, and then on the 27th I have my first day at the Institute of Marine Research. I'll work for a week before taking two weeks vacation with Carolyn, Mom and Dad...followed by two weeks working on the boat.

Our first dance ("More of You" - Chris Stapleton). We took waltz lessons back in October

A really neat wedding gift from the Richardsons
Pancho the birthday boy

Family Diaz-Engebrethsen crossing the finishline at the EcoTrail Oslo 2nd Edition 18km race

Saturday, April 23, 2016

It's snowing today

Yesterday we had a beautiful sunny day here in Bergen.'s snowing. I'm ready for some warmer weather! One week until Marius, Pancho and I drive over to Oslo. We'll fly out next Tuesday to Michigan, but Pancho will be staying with our breeder (including his mom, brother, and a new littler of puppies). He'll be in heaven!

Marius and I have picked up our rings and this weekend he is having his bachelor party in Oslo. So it's just me and Pancho this weekend. I'm getting a little overwhelmed with wedding planning, coordinating the half marathon relay for my work, and training students in the facility before I begin my new job in late June.

At least a daily hike with Pancho is keeping me sane.

Beautiful weather last weekend when we picked up our wedding rings.

Pancho and I took the train together a couple of weeks ago and he didn't do too bad.

Friday, March 18, 2016

I finally have an update worth blogging about

I got a new job! My dream job! (At least my dream job for now). I accepted a permanent position at the Institute of Marine Research with the Pelagic research group. I did my Master's project with the Pelagic group and had a lot of fun on two summer research cruises. I'll be going out on surveys multiple times a year getting to work with a variety of species, and probably see some whales!

Today I gave my notice to my boss. I was very nervous about it because he has been a fantastic boss. Super flexible, not overbearing and very nice to work for. So it was with a heavy heart that I went to his office today. Carol (the woman who started it all for me at the Sars Center) was also informed, and I was very grateful to both of them for giving me such an opportunity to build my resume. It will be sad, but this new job is exactly what I have been waiting for and I can't wait to put what I studied into practice.

Additional news, there are only 50 more days until Marius and I get married in Grand Rapids! It will be a great time, but it is quite surreal for me since I'm so distant from the actual event in terms of location. We're really looking forward to it. Pancho will stay with our breeder and have a little family reuinion of his own with his mom and brother.

Happy belated St. Patrick's Day and Happy Easter from Pancho (soon 10 months old)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pancho is 6 months and I'm finally published!

Work is going fine. My boss has given me some lab activities to keep me interested in my work, so I'm testing antibodies. The positive control turned out as expected, but it is such a pretty staining that I have to share the picture. This is an embryo of a starlet sea anemone (Nematostella sp.) approximately 30 hours old. The green is actin (a protein in cell walls), the blue is nuclei, and the red/pink is clusters of DNA. There are some pretty examples of cell division in this embryo!

Also, as of a couple weeks ago I'm officially a published scientist! ....well, the paper has been accepted for publication, so it will likely not be in the journal before next year. The journal is called ICES Journal of Marine Science.

Furthermore, this weekend the mountains got a nice thick layer of snow, so I took Pancho up for his first time in a proper bit  of snow (not counting the icy leftovers that were on Jutenheimen this summer). He's now 6 months old and weighs bout 34 lbs!


In Norway, it is common to give a small gift each day during Advent. Pancho is enjoying this Advent with a new toy. He gets really excited...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Marius turned 30!

[Happy birthday boy at a cool restaurant in town that had a big selection of beer]
Marius turned 30 on Friday (the 30th). In August I sent out invitations for the surprise. He only knew that his sister and our friend Knut would be joining us for dinner. But from 5:30pm, more friends started to show up, even Martin who came from Oslo. I was glad he was surprised and I was able to keep the secret so long!

Saturday morning we got up and took Pancho for a hike with Katrine in the rain, hail and wind. The hot cocoa pitstop made it way better. I had planned for us to carve pumpkins as well on Saturday, but had no luck after going to five grocery stores. We settled with watching Young Frankenstein and playing a game instead. We had candy in case of trick or treaters, but none showed (probably because we live in an apartment block). Without trick-or-treaters or pumpkins, I had to try to get a little more Halloween feeling. I found some inspiration online to have Pancho be a beanie baby.

Marius had a great birthday weekend...probably took a little edge off of turning 30

[Hot cocoa break from the rain and hail]

[Beautiful weather we're having!]

Act for Arctic