Monday, October 8, 2012

More News from Dave and Sally Lawrence

Here is an email from Dave dated July, 2012, with news about how well their passive solar home is doing:

Well, compared to Greenville, we certainly are cool.  It is supposed to get up to a roasting 82 today, which for Maine is pretty darn warm.  Without air conditioning, this house can warm up a lot in the day.

On the other hand, the house does really, really well in the winter.  We never turned on
the heat last winter; we just warmed up the bathroom for showers, and burned less than half a cord of wood in the wood stove.  A friend gave the wood to us in exchange for baby-sitting. Our power bill last month was $8.91.  This month it went up to $9.58.
Our neighbor was so inspired by our solar system that he installed 28 photoelectric panels on his garage roof, more than twice as many as I have. 

If my rock samples are not currently getting in the way, could you save them while I
think about it?   I am going to be teaching a geology course at the local branch of the University of Maine, and may need some of my samples that are stored at ECU.
The Belfast branch of U Maine has almost no budget.

Now that Sally cut all her teaching ties to ECU and took a job at the Belfast Free Library, lots of people on the street in town recognize her.  "Hey mom, it's the library lady!"  It really is fun to be part of such a small town that you meet people you know just walking from the post office to the grocery.

This one is dated July, 2011:

Yes, we are all moved in, and the house is fun.  Despite a string of cloudy days, we generated 75% of the
electricity we used, and most of the hot water.  The soil here makes gardening a challenge, though.  You think
the soil can be clay-rich in Greenville, you ought to see this stuff.  If this were Mexico, we could build with adobe.

Time to build more raised beds.

News from Dave and Sally Lawrence

Here's an email I received from Dave Lawrence in January 2011, shortly after their move to Maine:

Our new solar home is being built by G O Logic architecture and construction.  The frame
and the big insulated panels are up, so they are close to adding the metal roof, then
starting on plumbing and electrical.  We will have solar hot water and PV cells on the roof.
The house will be very close to the requirements of the Passiv Haus organization in Germany.
The architect tried to get us to not put in the wood stove.  He said we might get too hot.
The carpenters, Eric and Morty, are phenomenal.  They keep cheerfully working in near blizzard

So next spring we get to move in April or May, just in time to plant a wind break and a garden.
The garlic beds are already in.

This region is wild for music.  Every time you turn around there are contra dances and fiddle groups.
There even is a summer fiddle camp.

Interesting: most of today it was warmer here in Maine than in Greenville.



Wednesday, May 6, 2009

A Kolt Update

After reading the latest Alumni Newsletter, I was reminded how great it was to be a part of ECU Geology. I’m sad to say that I won’t make this year’s Pig Pickin’, so will have to pass on a few updates via the interweb.

This past summer has been very busy with a host of projects, a drought, and lots of extra-curricular activities. Recent issues surrounding water allocation in Hawke’s Bay have highlighted the need for updated information on fundamental catchment hydrology. One of our projects this year has been a concurrent gauging program in the Ruataniwha Plains. This involves 36 sites on 5 river systems, all gauged for flow at the same time. Irrigation bans were also imposed to allow the catchments to equalize before gauging to ensure that natural conditions were measured – not an easy pill to swallow for farmers during a drought! We have since pushed through the hard times and the results are looking good.

Micheal Taylor gauging the Maharakeke Stream in the Ruataniwha Plains

The Mangatewai Stream at the base of the Ruahine Ranges

Work on the Tutaekuri River has also kept me busy. This is a continuation of last year’s survey on habitat-flow relationships. A lot of meticulous measurements afield have led to successful modeling back in the office. This project will end soon and the results will be fed into the flow-setting process, which will ultimately provide a sound basis for water management in this catchment.

Walking the Tutaekuri River during a habitat mapping exercise

In other news, this past summer provided some amazing underwater experiences. The Extreme Freedom divers went near and far and pulled up a few denizens from the deep. Highlights are hard to separate from the ordinary – it’s just too good here! There are a few notable things to mention – Me and Nick Williams teamed up for both the North Island and NZ National Spearfishing Championships and earned respectable 7th and 13th place finishes, respectively. I’ve also taken to hunting with a polespear – the most primitive form of spearfishing. It really tests the skills of an underwater hunter and has given me some great memories. I’m currently developing a polespear for the NZ market. Finally, I’ve been documenting my adventures and sharing them with the rest of the world through the magazines NZ Spearo and Hawaii Skin Diver. If you ever see one on the shelf, grab a copy!

23kg yellowtail kingfish by polespear

Another polespeared yellowtail kingfish on a rough day

Pink Maomao from Gisborne - see

My best wishes go out to ECU Geology and the faculty, staff, and students. I’ll have to book my flights for Pig Pickin’ 2010!

No hydrologist is complete without a fly rod...Tukutuki River rainbows agree!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Pigs and Dogs, Oysters and Music, Water and Sun ... and Friends

Steamed Oysters, barbequed pork, Richard at the helm.

This past Saturday, May 3rd, 2008, marked the annual ECU Geology Barbeque at the Ranch. If you made it to the event, I don't have to tell you how much fun it was. These things are family reunions. If you missed it ... well, I'm really sorry for you.

The Old Farts Club held several impromptu meetings.

This year the Department is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Started way back when by Dr. C.Q. Brown, and staffed by Drs. Stan Riggs, Mike O'Connor, and Jean Lowery. C.Q. was at the party on Saturday; Stan was there; and, I know that Jean was there in spirit. Jeff Brame flew in from Durango, CO. Jeff was a member of the founding class (and spoke of a recent sighting of Mike O'Connor). Scott Hartness was there, another member of the founding class. Bill Crew was there; I'm not sure if Bill was in the founding class, but if not, he only missed by a week or two. (I, on the other hand, like to remind myself whenever I'm feeling old, that when C.Q. and Stan were starting the department, and the guys mentioned above were playing "Rat Patrol" with departmental vehicles over the dunes on the NC Outer Banks, *I* was 8-years-old and riding my new "banana bike" to cub scout meetings. Heh heh ... bunch'o old farts, those guys are!)

"The Revelators"

A bazillion thanks are due to Lisa and Richard, for once again offering their place and their gracious hospitality as hosts for this event. Nearly as many thanks are due to "The Revelators" for providing live music throughout the day. But most important, without a doubt, are the faculty and current students who ARE the ECU Department of Geological Sciences. These are the folks who make it happen. These are the folks who keep it going. The are the folks who make me proud to be an East Carolina geologist, a member of the alumni.

Marshmallows and Beer

So now ... How about a little game? You may have seen me making photographs on Saturday, and I've posted a few here. I think there were quite a few "nice 'uns" in the bag; far too many to post here on this blog page. So, what I've done is to post them on a web gallery. You can get there by clicking this LINK. "So what's the game", you might ask? Glad you did. When you go to that web photo gallery, YOU get to test your recognition and departmental history skills by identifying the most people in the most photos. The winner on each photo is the one who first leaves a comment with everyone correctly identified. Remember, spelling counts. The overall winner is the one who wins on the most individual photographs. I will select what I think is the best caption suggestion, or you all can vote for those previously posted. You don't have to leave your full name in the comment - though you can - but we'll need some way to identify you if you want to be a contender.

Again, the link to the web gallery is

Have fun. And thanks again to everyone for an excellent day last Saturday!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

NZ Update

Glad to be on board! I figured that describing some of the work I've been involved in lately would be a good addition to the fish stories!

For those that don't know, I'm the Surface Water Quantity Scientist at Hawke's Bay Regional Council, in Napier, New Zealand. The Regional Councils are charged with the sustainable management of New Zealand's natural and cultural resources. I direct the science programs that deal with surface water resources in our region, which provide the necessary data for sustainable water management.

Hawke's Bay has a very similar climate to North Carolina, including it's susceptibility to very low streamflows in the the summer. Agricultural intensification and it's increasing irrigation demand is a direct stress on the Hawke's Bay rivers. Low-flows keep me busy!

The latest project I have been involved in is on the Tutaekuri River, modeling habitat availability for native and introduced fish species and invertebrates. The results of which will be used alongside economic and cultural values to set a minimum flow and allocable abstraction volume for the upper reaches of the Tutaekuri.

No good story is complete without a fish tale, so here's the latest.

My birthday was last weekend, so after my trip to the South Island for some modeling work and a workshop (tough job, I know), I was dying to go diving to try out the two new spearguns that I just finished. After a furious round of texting, I was able to put a trip together to dive Kapiti Island, north of Wellington.

The new guns performed awesomely and I was able to bring home some really nice blue moki, red goatfish, and terakihi (not pictured). The day was beautiful with relatively calm seas and just a little rain to keep things interesting. On the way back from Kapiti, I got a call from some other spearos, saying that I needed to hurry up and meet them for a bluewater trip off Mt. Taranaki, one of the more famous spots in New Zealand. I got home at 10pm, left the house at 12:30am and met up with the guys for the drive to New Plymouth. We were at the boat ramp before dawn and headed out into the open ocean. To make a long story short, we didn't get any fish, but the purple-blue water and incredible backdrop made it worth wile!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Kolt in New Zealand

Here's an email I received from Kolt along with some pics from New Zealand:

One of the most magical places in the world is located northeast of Auckland, New Zealand, off of the Coromandel Penninsula. Great Barrier Island and outer islands like the Mokohinaus are simply a diver's dream.The Hawke's Bay Freedom Divers organized a GBI trip this past weekend and it was spectacular. We "hooked" up with a local named Alfie, who we just called The Pirate. As rough as a sailor and nice as can be. He let us stay in his "new" guest house - an old caravan with added roof and bunk area. Highlights of the trip were going to The Needles and shooting a monster yellowtail kingfish and taking pictures of all kinds of sea life, then heading to the Mokohinaus and getting some beautiful, elusive, and extra tasty pink maomao, while swimming with penguins, then getting to swim with wild dolphins at Wellington Head, GBI. A trip for the record books.Kolt

Kolt Johnson, Pete Parham

Kolt Johnson (MS, 2007) is one of the more adventureous students to come along in a while. He has a strong interest in spearfishing while freediving. While here, he brought back lots of good fish from his expeditions off the North Carolina coast, and got Pete Parham involved as well. Pete was with us during the late 1980's, and is now back working on a PhD involving the NC pleistocene. Pete will be presenting some of his work to the department at a seminar on Friday.

After getting his MS, Kolt managed to land a job in New Zealand, where he is now living.

Here are a couple of pictures Kolt and Pete on some of their spearfishing expeditions off the NC coast. Kolt tells me they were spearing fish at 70 feet without SCUBA. Top pic is of Kolt among a school of Amberjack. Below, we see Pete with an African Pompano he has just landed the same way.