Hope: Belief in a positive outcome relative to ones events in their life. What a simple statement for something so utterly profound. I love this picture because I think as children we start out with our hope meters on full and through life they seem to run down to empty. Not everyone is like this, but many unfortunate people are. I have people in my life who require constant reminding that life is not hopeless, it is just the opposite. In fact life is joyful, hopeful, wonderful, beautiful, and worth every single moment. In times of hopelessness you look to those who love you: family, friends, and most importantly God.

5 things that make you happy


Currently I am taking an environment ethics course. The topic that intrigued me today: what 5 things do people need mentally to be happy. We each had to make a list and I began to realize I don't really know what 5 things I need. When you are in college you forget sometimes what is mentally needed to stay on top of your life. Our class came up with a wonderful list and I felt like it was just too good not to share.

1. Connect: this is the number 1 priority. Connect in your relationships, fall in love, see your friends, hang out with your family.
2. Be active: This one is pretty self explanatory. You need to get out of your apt. or house and do things. That can be exercise, rock climbing, going for a walk.
3. Take Notice: Watch and take in the world around you. It's fall...notice the beauty of the leaves. Pay attention to the lives of the people around you and realize it's not just you.
4. Keep learning: feed your curiosity. For many of us in our twenties this is the only mental fulfillment we receive. But learn for the joy of learning whether it's learning about a new camera you like, reading the newspaper, or watching documentaries on whales. LEARN!
5. Give: In a recent psych experiment at the University of Minnesota several people were given a hundred dollars. Half of the recipients were instructed to buy something for themselves and half were instructed to buy a gift for another person. When tested on their happiness after the purchase, those who bought a gift were significantly happier. You don't have to go out and spend a hundred dollars. But buying your girlfriend flowers (boys I promise you this will make her way happier than taking her to a movie or even dinner), making your boyfriend dinner (my personal fave), or getting silly cards for your friends is more than enough.

All of these small things cost very little money, and even very little time in the grand scheme of your life. Sometimes, you just have to take a step back from your life and realize that you have to change something. Grades are important, of course, but so is your happiness. How can you find this balance between school and the 5 basic needs? I don't know! But I do know that it's important to find a way. I am a personality that thrives of the first basic need. I need social relationships and that has become my number one priority in life. So in my opinion this is the first key to accomplishing the rest. The thing about friends, boyfriends, parents, and family is that they can give you the drive and help to achieve the rest. My final words of advice: let people in and let people help you to achieve in school and happiness. The pictures above are a very small example of the 5 things I just talked about.


Paper Help!

So, obviously this paper is not even close done, but I am having some serious writers block. If anyone has any feedback (please be nice) I would really appreciate! This is what happens when you have TOO MUCH due in one week :D

The Affect of Tourism on Megaptera novaeangliae in the Tonga Archipelago

Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaeangliae, have become an increasingly popular animal to both watch, and interact with. In Tonga the whale watching industry is still new so impacts of tourism in that specific area are not yet fully understood. In the last decade major conservation efforts have arisen to study the way tourism affects these gentle giants. This paper will attempt to highlight those efforts, and discuss the affects of tourism on humpback whales, specifically in Tonga.
The Kingdom of Tonga is a small archipelago in the south pacific. Humpback whales frequent the island chain from early July to late October to mate and give birth. In the past Tonga was primarily a whaling region. The locals lived off of whale meat, and humpback whale stocks were significantly reduced leading to the cessation of the humpback fishery. In recent years swimming with whales and whale watch tours have become increasingly popular. In recent years, however, the return of legal humpback whaling has been discussed. Because each whale is worth roughly a million dollars alive Tongans
There are, however, problems with all the attention the humpbacks have been getting. According to Rochelle Constantine, an expert in marine mammal tourism, humpback mothers with calves are the most susceptible group to long-term behavioral changes due to tourism. There are 3 main forms of tourism: aircraft, ships, and in water interaction.
Aircrafts, surprisingly, can have a large impact on humpback whale nurseries. Aircrafts, especially helicopters, produce a lot of noise when they fly or groups of whales. Humpbacks usually respond by changing direction or hastily diving. This is not a popular form of whale watching in Tonga, but some sites do offer helicopters. Due to the noise interference caused by these helicopters laws have recently come out prohibiting them from approaching less that 1000ft away.
One of the most common problems with tourism and humpback whales are the boats. Boats are noisy, fast, and large. In the 1940s a drastic decrease in Humpback Whales coincided with increased abundance of human boat activity. This occurred mainly off the coast of Alaska. Currently the same thing is starting to happen in Tonga. Whales are remaining farther out at sea, and showing a learned avoidance pattern to boats. In some instances the whale would charge the boat and scream, while others would avoid. Pods containing calves show the most behavioral disturbances. Furthermore, Humpback Whale songs were altered when boats approached at less than 275m. The whales display two avoidance strategies. These include both horizontal and vertical displacement.
Boats biggest impact on whales is noise. A whales hearing is much stronger than that of ours. They can detect SONAR and motor noises. Both of these cause faint noise masking. Masking occurs when faint noises, such as distant mating calls, are covered up. In most instances this is not detrimental to the species, but it does make mating more complicated. Humpback Whales deal with underwater noise constantly, but are not used to the loud constant noise of tourist boats. These boats often approach fast and loud. The whales can become distressed and confused resulting in diving behavior for several minutes costing precious energy. ******
There are three places in the world where people are allowed to enter the water with Humpback Whales. Tonga is one of the most important.
There are, despite all the drawbacks, some pros to tourism. In 2007 the Japanese wanted to continue whale hunting on Humpback Whales. Humpbacks are considered an endangered species, but are steadily recovering. Tonga was in uproar over this decision. Most Tongans grew up eating whale meat, but most have converted to the conservationist idea.

New Projects!

So this summer, with help from some U of M employees, I have decided to start a major project. I've had this in the back of my mind for a while now. I'm going to start a charity in my mom's name. Now everything is still in the first stages so I don't have a lot of details. But the goal is to make enough money to pay for one mother's treatments for breast cancer a year. Now this is a lofty goal, and will probably take years to accomplish. Many people don't know that it can cost between 50,000 to 100,000 to pay for treatments. Coming from a not so wealthy family I have seen first hand the toll this can take. Now here's the challenge: those of you who know my mom (she does not read my blog) keep it a secret from her!! The charity is going to be in her and Ruth Stenson's honor. I feel very passionately about this, and am so excited to start! If anyone has any advice for me please email or comment! Otherwise I will be setting up a donations link of this page soon and feel free to make a donation!

Lots of love,

God's Will

Philippians 2:13: For god is working in you, giving you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him.

This past year has been a wonderful, hard, devastating, and happy year. All these things are a part of life, but sometimes it is easy for a person to get lost. I have been lost, and clawing, scraping, and using the strength of God to get myself back on his path. Sometimes lost doesn't mean depressed or broken, it just means different. I have felt as though God means different things for me, and hopefully great things, but I just haven't been listening. It's easy to get caught up in school and boys. A book that I'm reading called "Keeping God in the Small Stuff" pretty much sums it up:

"Jesus simply summed up God's will for your life when He said: "And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all yourmind, and all your strength... and love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:30-31). That's it. No secret formula. no list of "pros and cons". Just staying focused on God."

What a great way to state the will of God. It's not hard. It's just what it is. Love. Listen to it, do it, follow it. I challenge myself to do this with some prayer and the help of those who love me.


Paper on NOMA...Finally

So, this paper took a strange turn, and ended up being delayed, and I had to think about it a lot more. At first I thought, well I believe in both and think both worlds should be intertwined. How can I call myself a scientist and a christian, and not mix both worlds. Then, however I really started to change my mind, and start to seriously think about NOMA. In case you don't know NOMA stands for non-overlapping magisteria. This simply means that science and religion should be kept completely separate. This theory was introduced by Stephen J. Gould.

Views on Non-overlapping Magisteria

Stephen Jay Gould’s theory of non-overlapping magisteria is a perfect solution for someone like me. I am both a spiritual person and a scientist. In the past I have always found it difficult to separate both disciplines. With NOMA it is easier (in most instances) to find a way to keep them separated. Personally, I think it is impossible to keep religion and science completely separate. There are too many instances, such as Adam and Eve, where science and religion come together. Or, as Gould says, the two magisteria bump together. However, NOMA does offer a way to not overlap the two groups too often. From this moment on, when debating religious and scientific matters I will think more about whether the conflict is actually relevant. There, of course, will always be moments when science can help explain religion, and religion can help explain science. For example, using forensic tests (using science) to verify biblical stories. Also, using religion to add meaning to things science cannot explain.

Personally, I believe that if you are truly a Christian then religion should encompass all aspects of your life. But since I am also a scientist this may not always be a practical option for me. I like the principal of NOMA, but I do not think it is realistic to follow it exactly.

So that is a very brief version of my paper, but you get the general idea.

I hope you enjoy, and please comment whether you agree or disagree!


University of Minnesota

For those of you who visit my blog I apologize for taking so long to post. I have recently moved to Minneapolis and am now attending (again) the University of Minnesota. I have started my second day of class and already and chock full of assignments. I am loving my zoology class. I was given an assignment already to discuss creationism and evolution. For those of you close to me, you know I love this debate. I am both a strong Christian, and a scientist. I have decided to get some feedback from those of you who read this. I will start posting some of the more interesting papers that we have to write. If you would like to, please feel free to leave comments. I would love feedback. Hopefully I will have my paper up for all of you by tonight, or tomorrow.