Swimming with Dolphins

Last week, I went on a guided swim with dolphins at Kona, Hawaii. On the boat was myself, J, a middle-aged German couple, and an elderly couple. First, a scouter boat located the pod, then we headed a little north of Kailua-Kona to the dolphin pod. The boat did a 180° turn so that we would be moving south in the same direction as the pod, but hit the pod at a slight angle so as not to threaten them.

We all hopped off the boat with snorkel and flippers. We saw dolphins approaching in the distance. They were spinner dolphins – sleek and gray, and they would quickly spin along their longitudinal axis while jumping. When we got in the water, a few dolphins were curious about us, and approached us from below. They were only a few feet away. I wanted to reach out to the dolphin, but the guide said their skin had a protective film, and touching could damage that. She said dolphins in captivity can be petted because they are loaded up on antibiotics. We were also told not to move our arms and made sure not to splash the surface of the water, since that is what dolphins do when they are annoyed. Afterwards, the group of dolphins swam away. I tried following them, but they were too fast (they can swim 30 mph!). For five minutes or so, I saw other dolphins swim by. Some would come to the surface right in front of me, and breach and spin. When the whole pod had gone by, we got back on the boat to find them again. The second time, I only got to catch a passing glimpse of a couple of dolphins. By now they were swimming fast, focused on getting to their sleeping spot. The pod zoomed past without stopping.

We got back on the boat and headed back south towards Captain Cook. By now I was feeling extremely seasick, which was unusual since I had never gotten seasick before. The boat was not very sturdy; it had a pontoon surrounding its hull, so it did not displace that much water and rocked a lot. Also, I got really dizzy snorkeling, with the waves rocking my head side-to-side, and ended up spending most of the time on a pool noodle, staring at the shore. Afterwards, we headed back, and I vomited on four separate occasions. I was trying to do it as politely as possible off the side of the boat, and was worried that I was ruining everyone’s trip. But the other couples were nice about it and offered medicine (too late though, it needs to be taken the night before). After the third bout of vomiting, I thought I’d be able to hold out, but when the boat was docked and the guide was making preparations to disembark, I threw up again.

And this is where the story ends. At the airport for the flight back, I saw a couple waving wildly towards me. I didn’t recognize them, so I thought they must have been waving at someone else. But then they pantomimed vomiting on the floor. My brain finally clicked. They were the German couple! (Their English was not too good.) It turned out that they sat in the row behind me on the plane, and they showed me all the pictures they had taken. There was a picture of all of us snorkeling, with a dolphin jumping in a perfect arc just in front of us. And so, as we went our separate ways, I knew they would always look back on the experience and remember me as the vomit girl.

The Beautiful Ruins book review

I read The Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters. The title is as much about the characters as it is about the central setting of the book. There were a few surprises, but otherwise the book was very predictable. The tone was cynical, full of dry humor. Then the novel attempts to end on a positive note (the power of love!) and takes great pains to tie up all loose ends. What happened to that minor character in the beginning that I never really cared about? What was the story of the man who painted in the ruins of Porto Vergogna? All lingering questions and more were answered, everyone got their satisfactory conclusion. I found the main characters were irresponsible to the point where they were difficult to relate to, and their irresponsible choices is what sets up the book and drives the plot forward.

Superman: Red Son book review

I read Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar. The premise is, what would happen if Superman were raised in the Soviet Union, instead of the United States? It was a riveting, plot-driven read, like most comic books. The comic even managed to fit in Wonder Woman, Batman, and the Green Lantern. I found Superman was kind of dull. Most of his battles were easily won or glossed over, as they would only distract from the plot. With few exceptions, he trounces other superheroes and whatever enemies Luthor throws at him like they are nothing. There’s not much character development, as Superman is morally upstanding, despite being a member of the Soviet Union. Rather, the comic shows how Superman’s good intentions lead to his stifling control and micromanagement of society. And even when he loses to Lex Luthor, that only serves to inspire Luthor to conquer all that ails mankind, and Luthor ends up creating a technology-driven utopia (as opposed to a utopia created by Superman’s superhuman vigilance, constant surveillance, and intervention). So all-in-all, there is no great evil. Luthor was not motivated to serve and help others as Superman was, but ultimately Luthor did more to benefit society than Superman did. One thing I didn’t like was that most of mankind is background to the central battle between Luthor and Superman. Only with those two could society be improved. For all the comic’s critique of mankind’s complacency, most people were incapable of doing anything or advancing society. It was either Superman or Luthor who provided utopia, not people working together. I had fun reading the comic. For such a predictable superhero as its focus, the comic was full of jaw-dropping plot twists, especially the final shocking reinterpretation of Superman lore.

In May

In May, the cottonwood seeds fill the air, falling thick as snow. Caught in a warm springtime blizzard, I reach out my hand to grab the fluffy snowflakes.


The Pacific Northwest does not cease to amaze me, with all its beautiful parks and views. When I walk around, I am reminded of a poem by Percy Shelley, The Recollection. Alone in the woods, the sounds of nature, the chirps and rustling boughs, only add to the peace and stillness.

Rattlesnake Ledge in the Clouds
Rattlesnake Ledge in the Clouds
Lake Union
Lake Union
Juanita Beach Park
Juanita Beach Park
Turtle Turtle Duck Duck Duckling
Turtle Turtle Duck Duck Duckling
Juanita Bay Park
Juanita Bay Park

Nice Weather

On Saturday, I biked 30+ miles in an event sponsored by a local brewery. Starting in Redmond, I biked around the north edge of Lake Washington on the Sammamish River Trail and Burke-Gilman Trail, to Fremont. There was rain forecasted, but thankfully the clouds did not break, and the weather was perfect for biking. Around the Bothell area, there was a sharp turn and I fell into the grass. My knee and elbow got caked in dirt, but I got up without a scratch. An old man stopped by the side of the road and asked if I was all right. He helped me twist my bike seat back to its proper position and I was on my way again. After 12 miles or so, the pavement got bumpier and my tailbone started to hurt. But the scenery was great and kept me motivated to see Lake Washington and all the lush trees and lake houses. Biking through Fremont was a nice change of pace too, and I exchanged greetings with a coworker who was jogging by.

At the halfway point, I got an IPA at LTD Bar and Grill. I saw the old man again. He said, “You’ve got to lean into those sharp turns, if you sit upright you will fall.” Then he repeated himself twice, with different words, and rather sternly to make sure his biking tip sunk in. I thanked him for the advice and continued biking.

Afterwards, I met up with some people at the University District street fair. Biking made me hungry, so I ate all sorts of food. We ambled around the fair for a few hours, looking at art, eating food, listening to music. The weather was too good to waste, so I wanted to go kayaking. We went to Agua Verde and kayaked to Gasworks Park and back. Afterwards we stopped by the street fair again to eat some more food. Then we went downtown and watched the new Spiderman movie. The day seemed to never end and my energy kept up. Then when I got home, exhaustion caught up to me and I nodded off to sleep.