Category: Volunteering

A peek into what I have done…


The Read Aloud America RAP is once again seeking volunteers…

Just one of the messages and some of the fun, reinforcing incentives at the Fall 2008 Read Aloud Program (RAP) at Waikoloa.

The Read Aloud America Read Aloud Program (RAP) is once again seeking volunteers to be volunteer readers as well as volunteers who can substitute as readers on short notice. This news is from Hawaii247.org!

There will also probably be a need for volunteer escorts to assist in getting groups to the assigned reading rooms and back to the cafeteria. More information on the schools offering the RAP and the dates each will be presented may be found here –> Read Aloud America Read Aloud Program (RAP) as well as contacting the representative for Read Aloud America RAP at (808) 224-1727 for more information.

The Fall 2008 Read Aloud Program (RAP) at Waikoloa had an impressive turnout.

I first had the incredible Privilege to be a part of this GREAT Program in Fall 2008 at Waikoloa Elementary School as a Reader Escort! As you can see from the post that I made after the first night of the RAP sessions in August 2008, it was an awesome experience!  It only got better from there right down to the very last night that was a mix of laughter and joy as presentations were made; and an undertone of melancholy for the end of this wonderful, semi-weekly event.

It was very similar and just as FUN at the Waimea RAP during the same time frame. They staggered alternate nights and dates to make both possible as well as making it possible for me to volunteer at both! I gained an immense amount of information and ideas in addition to an understanding for what keeps the attention of the children. If it is possible for you to go and sign up, please do! They can usually put any and all volunteers to helpful tasks; and the rewards are numerous.


This Rubbish did not Soil my Dive!

Early in the week, I get a call from Dave at Blue Wilderness Dive Adventures with an invitation to join them again this year for a trashy dive…huhhmmm…

One Small Group of Dive Buddies: Dave, Lori, Joy, and Deb.  A few of the many that turned out to support the efforts.

One Small Group of Dive Buddies: Dave, Lori, Joy, and Deb. A few of the many that turned out to support the efforts.

I mean another Puako Beach Clean-up Dive on Saturday morning, September 18th 😉

Both Andy and I joined in on last year’s effort on September 12; but, “sadly”, Andy had to work on the Mountain this year on the scheduled date. This year, while he was on Mauna Kea Summit, I went shore diving bringing in rubbish of all types and taking pictures as best as I could in the murky water so near the Puako Bay shoreline.

When it is now so much a Part of the Reef that it would destroy more of the coral than would be benefited, we leave it embedded.

When it is now so much a Part of the Reef that it would destroy more of the coral than would be benefited, we leave it embedded.

We didn’t have to dive very deep to bring up a lot of rubbish such as car tires, a vehicle break cylinder, numerous drink cans (what a waste of HI-5‘s!),

Catch of the Day:  A nice sized anchor!

Catch of the Day: A nice sized anchor!

yards of abandoned fishing line with a couple of large hooks attached, some golf balls, a few “what’s its”, and a boat anchor (Lori got her workout on that one) — and that was just what was pulled out of the water.

The take for the day.

The take for the day.

The onshore team gathered up way too many cigarette butts, a rusty section of barbed wire fence with rusty posts, a dirty diaper or two, more golf balls, and a few more “what’s its”!

Off to the Waste Disposal site so near the Bay. Why this gets dumped in the Bay instead... ??? ...

Off to the Waste Disposal site so near the Bay. Why this gets dumped in the Bay instead… ??? …

The “what’s its” lead to some interesting speculation of what the former function was prior to becoming rusty litter :-O Much laughter ensued from the comments put forth!

All was not depressing, however! 🙂


Yep! I suggested it. Again!

😀 You guessed it! This year ON Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2010, we volunteered at the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station (VIS) on Mauna Kea. Again!

I guess I liked it so much last year that I actually suggested volunteering at the VIS again this year as our Valentine’s Day togetherness. As Andy says, “Once; a fluke. Twice; a coincidence. Three times is a problem.” But in this case, three times may just become a tradition?!… Have to wait for next year’s story for that determination… 😎

Andy ‘promised’ me “a nice, secluded Valentine’s Day lunch and dinner at the ‘exclusive’ Hale Pohaku Café on Mauna Kea” last year then again this year 😉 Well…actually, it was I who suggested repeating our volunteering at the VIS on Valentine’s Day this year like we did last year. :-O

Once we got to cleaning eye pieces after lunch, we were happy to find that many of the eye pieces were being cleaned more often since our last maintenance run. They were still showing signs of cold-finger drops; but not as apparent as our previous maintenance run nor as depressing.

Last year on Valentine’s Day was our first year volunteering at the VIS to do telescope maintenance for our Valentine’s Day togetherness. You can follow my link to Valentine’s Day 2009 to read about our fun during that first adventure. This year the cleanings went much faster, and there were fewer that had to be retired due to excessive wear. We also did the maintenance and cleaning in the Bookstore building this time. It was warmer and more fun because visitors were curious and asking great questions.

We only had time to clean the eyepieces and repair a couple of the wiring cables to telescope ‘go-to’ control paddles before it was time to close up for the night. I guess we will need to schedule another maintenance run to work on the many Dobsonian telescopes, and other astronomy equipment – before the end of 2010!?!?! 😛

Andy did bring home some needed repair work in the form of “A Box O’ Broken Telrads“.

IT WAS ANOTHER VALENTINE’S DAY WELL SPENT AND THOROUGHLY ENJOYED!!!!! 🙂

—>>>—>>> Pictures to follow …

—>>>—>>>—>>>—>>> EVENTUALLY … 😉


Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Ocean Count…

What an awesome way to go whale watching!!!! Okay. So…it was quite early to get up on a Saturday; but it was sooooo worth it! Just after New Year’s, Andy registered us to participate in the 2010 Santuary Ocean Count on January 30, coordinated by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Check out the many links and bushel loads of information that they provide on their site.

An optimal view for counting Humpback Whale and observing their behavior on January 30, 2010.

“Bright” and EARLY on Saturday morning, January 30, we met the group at Kawaihae harbor (about 7:00am) and consolidated some vehicles then proceeded to the site that we signed up on for the Ocean Count. The site had a GREAT 180 degree view from north to south of the Kohala coastline near Kawaihae on the Big Island of Hawai`i!

We all signed in and gathered the papers that we would need for recording the Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) data. This was to include a tally for the # of adults and the # of calves in each pod, and a tally for each time one of several behaviors were exhibited during each half-hour increment from 8:00am to 12:00pm. Followed by one final count-only period from 12:00pm to 12:15pm.

Our group looking every-which-way while counting and observing Humpback Whale along the Kohala Coast of the Island of Hawai`i.

We all got settled in our chairs. We got our paperwork with writing implements, and our binoculars close at hand…and…at 8:00am began the count. Working in pairs, one would call out location, how many in the pod, and behavior observed; and the other would rapidly mark the tallies in the correct box on the paper. There was a lot of activity during the full four hours, and the time flew by! The Humpback were numerous and active on our west coast shoreline!

We seldom had opportunity to just sit back and talk story; but we did get some casual conversation inserted into the very occasional lull. Captivating conversation at that! This made the time pass by even faster. The lowest number of whale spotted from our site in any half-hour block during the count was about 11 adults. The calves were rare early in the count and then reached a count of four in two or three of the mid-count time slots.

A pod of five (5) adult Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) traveling north along the Kohala coast.

Near the end of our count (about 11:00 or 11:30), we all became a bit unsettled to observe two vessels that appeared to be commercial operations, display actions as though they were pursuing a pod of five Humpback Whale that were moving toward the north point of the Island (it looked like they were traveling in the direction of Maui). They presented as though they were pursuing the pod of five thus making the Whales increase their speed to stay out of range of the boats.

The vessels operators could have moored their boats anywhere along the coastline in the general area and seen a much more rewarding show as well as not having made the impression of stressing the large pod as it appeared that they did, and possibly causing any calves to get dangerously left behind!

We also watched as a small speed boat that was too near the shore tear over a lone Humpback that unexpectedly surfaced in its path. The boatman made little effort to observe to see if the whale was injured by the encounter, and we watched it tentatively while we finished our day’s count to observe if it was badly injured or just jostled and disoriented. It appeared to recover and begin to play in the water again. This left us with a feeling of relief as we gathered up our belongings, and cleared the site.

Two kayaking fishermen got an up-close view of a full breach display from a large adult Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Setting aside the irksome few vessels traversing the Kohala coastline after helping to make a few notes of the boats’ actions, I focused my attentions back on the whale count.

Over all, the Ocean Count was a fantastic experience! There were several conscientious boats in the water as well. Like the kayaking fishermen who got a surprisingly good show! The numerous animals exhibiting an impressive show of behaviors were awesome! Behavior we observed included breaching, diving, fin slapping, spy hopping, numerous blows, and more… (<–this link is to a picture PDF).

It was particularly attention grabbing when a mother was teaching her calf how to do some of these behaviors! The calves appeared to try very hard and would sometimes repeat a behavior several times before changing to another. We even observed a pod of approximately 20 spinner dolphins skimming through our observation area heading in a northerly direction! They looked to be having a great time, completely undaunted by the number of Humpback in the area! 🙂

Even in Alaska, while I did see a larger number of whale once or twice, I do not believe I observed so many behavior patterns in so little time. The process of watching for specific behaviors and counting each occurrence of each behavior made me ‘see’ more of the whales and what they were doing than I had observed while simply watching the whale and madly firing my camera shutter for the pictures.

I WILL make an effort to participate in this event again! And NEXT time, I WILL remember the sun block since I seem to wear my dive skin and/or wet suit so often that I forgot to protect my sun deprived legs when I wore my shorts for the Whale count event :-O Eeeee Youch!!!!! Nope. No pictures of that part of my day. Too embarrassing to feel that much like a tourist again… 😉

Darkerview.com also posted on this volunteer opportunity! — search “Whale Count”>


The rescue and release of an unexpected hitchhiker…

For those with concerns of what became of our…errrr…Cliff’s unexpected hitchhiker, here’s the rest of the saga:

Cliff Livermore's newly refinished 24" dob in heavy use after a successful Gecko eviction & assembly completion.

Cliff Livermore’s newly refinished 24″ dob in heavy use after a successful Gecko eviction & assembly completion.

Background Information: On March 27, Cliff Livermore brought his 24″ newly refinished Dobsonian telescope to the VIS at 9200 feet to use while participating in the 2009 Messier Marathon. (Refer to the postings on A Darker View, Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station (the VIS) and my blog right here, Gadget Gypsy, for more in depth details of the whole 2009 Messier Marathon event at the VIS). Cliff is one of several of us who brought our telescopes for this marathon; but his was the only one that got so much attention and not solely because of the unexpected hitchhiker. You might understand why after examining the photo.

An unexpected hitchhiker [Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris)] on the 24" Primary of Cliff's newly refinished telescope.

An unexpected hitchhiker [Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris)] on the 24″ Primary of Cliff’s newly refinished telescope.

During assembly of the 24″ Dob, the Primary mirror is near the beginning of the checklist in the order of assembly; and when that item on the checklist was reached, the mirror box was carried over and placed in a strategic position near the chosen site to make it easier to place on the “rocker box” for the telescope after the truss tubes and secondary cage assembly have been secured in place. The mirror cover was lifted off of the box and several bystanders erupted into laughter.

Cliff had turned to pick up a necessary piece for assembly when he heard the laughter and visibly stiffened a bit. He turned quickly back to his “Primary Gecko” … ummm … I mean his Primary Mirror and joined the chorus of laughter while asking us and the hitchhiker not to move until pictures could be captured!

“Yikes! I didn’t call for First Light!,” says a Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) on Cliff’s 24″ Primary.

“Yikes! I didn’t call for First Light!,” says a Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) on Cliff’s 24″ Primary.

There was a large Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) crouched on the very shiny mirror surface! After we had taken multiple pictures and had several viewers of the Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) on the Primary mirror, it decided to attempt a run for cover. I managed to coerce the cold, confused Gecko into a plastic jar that I thought I had taken up with me to put leftover pecans in after I had opened the new bag :-O I put the jar in a warm spot in the VIS to keep it from getting too cold (or frozen as the temperatures dipped below 32 degrees F) and then took it back to Waikoloa with us.

Saturday morning, March 28: Before we headed down the mountain, however, we had breakfast at HP and talked story of the events and happenings of the long, cold and fascinating night. During this time, the Gecko was safely (al beit, a bit cold…no…make that VERY cold) in our vehicle awaiting the journey back to warmer habitat. The Gecko got cold enough that it went deep into a state of torpor and appeared to have been taxidermied with all four legs in the air – EEEEW! Although I knew of this state of ‘temporary hybernation’, I had never seen any living being actually in the state of torpor before. It worried me because I hadn’t considered what torpor would actually look like. Breathing slows soooo far that it could easily be mistaken for dead.

Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) awaiting fate.

Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris) awaiting fate.


A Challenging Messier Marathon at the VIS…

Although the evening telescope set-up began with the finding of our most unexpected hitchhiker who was probably truly regretting its choice of cover, I wasn’t fully involved with the idea of the Marathon at the beginning of the night; but as the night wore on and the visitors were readily enthusiastic, I gained momentum!

An unexpected hitchhiker [Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris)] on the 24" Primary of Cliff's newly refinished telescope.

An unexpected hitchhiker [Mourning Gecko (Lepidodactylus lugubris)] on the 24″ Primary of Cliff’s newly refinished telescope.

Andy has posted a nice write-up on the event at Darkerview.com with lots of detail on this marathon, and links that describe a Messier Marathon and its origin as well as links to his post for the 2006 All Arizona Messier Marathon that was my very first marathon (Oh…and I viewed 106 to his 104 Messier objects! This also got a plaque for my NexStar 11 GPS Computerized Telescope, GyPSy).

Andy using Primero, his handmade (by himself) 6" f/5 to compete in the 2009 Messier Marathon at the VIS.

Andy using Primero, his handmade (by himself) 6″ f/5 to compete in the 2009 Messier Marathon at the VIS.

Since 2006 was my very first marathon, I consider it to be more my coup de theatre than this year’s is for Andy who has been in…hmmm…five marathons(?). Not to mention that the air at 9200 feet was so ‘dry’ that combined with my insulating layers of fleece (AND Andy’s), the static kept making me reset and re-align GyPSy so I could not only get her back on track again; but I could also read the display. I am suspicious of Andy’s ‘sparking’ GyPSy on purpose a couple of times though… 😉 We were also not ready for the horizons changing the ‘rise’ time in the morning of M31, M32, M33 and maybe M52, M74 and M110 so I was ‘skunked’ for catching up.


Weekend Pass Times…

A slim crescent moon setting: a treat to behold while setting up for an all night Messier Marathon at the VIS at 9200 feet.

A slim crescent moon setting: a treat to behold while setting up for an all night Messier Marathon at the VIS at 9200 feet.