[Coral-List] Kaufman-Liederman Holiday Greetings (please forgive duplications)

Les Kaufman lesk at bu.edu
Fri Dec 24 21:16:58 EST 2010

2010-11 Kaufman-Liederman Holiday Message

Greetings and saluations, lucky recipients of this rare communication.  As the letter begins, Jackie and I are sitting on a veranda overlooking the town of Negril, Jamaica, and beyond that a rough sea breaking over the reef, endemic Jamaican morass royal palm bending before the wind, and the Negril Great Morass itself.  I assure you, that’s not what most tourists see from this perspective.  They see a Burger King, Juicy Patties, backed-up sewage in the so-called Negril South “river”, and the place where the magic mushroom guy hangs out.
This was a good year for us, and we hope for you.  We are fine, and son Justin is coding his heart out nearby, creating advanced and wondrous software applications for mobile apparati.   Justin now fashions himself a “mobile experience engineer”.
This was a slightly less adventurous and more relaxing year than the last, travel-wise. Jackie got a lot of work done because Les was away in the field or DC quite a bit, though less than last year (Jackie: “Not noticeably so”).   She filled summer weekends in the water with lots of pool and beach.  No extremely remote expeditions this year, (the next appointment with Kiribati is slated for 2012, but see the January 2011 National Geographic re: the 2009 adventure).  There were many pleasant trips together, though: Jamaica (March and December), Maine, the Adirondacks in New York, New Hampshire (with 70 other people), Rhode Island (Jackie on a girl’s-only caper) , Cape Cod several times), and southwest Florida.  Les made the usual milk runs to DC, California, and Vermont.  He also returned to Belize and Fiji, including a spectacular cruise through central Fiji (Lomaiviti) aboard his favorite live-aboard dive boat, the Nai’a (see http://explorers.neaq.org for his blog postings while afield and awash).  

photo by Keith Ellenbogen
While in Fiji, Les was joined by photographer Keith Ellenbogen, who helped him with some experiments utilizing special filters to photograph the natural flourescence of marine organisms, especially corals.  For example, the hot pink ring in Keith’s picture above, shows that the coral thinks the encompassed hermit is a real crab.  The coral concentrates an orangey-pink pigment wherever it is experiencing a chronic irritation.  The Christmas red of the rest of the coral is from the chlorophyll of the coral’s symbiotic algae, and the green of each coral polyp’s little mouth is from green fluorescent pigment in the coral tissue.  The blue is the camera rig taking artistic license.

photo by Les Kaufman
More Hanukah colors here.  These purple pitcher plants- red and green in fact, are old acquaintances from Morehouse Lake in the Adirondacks, where we are graciously received by good friends of ours, Ellen and David Richstone-Kwiatkowski.
The past year saw some fine guests with us as well.  It’s been a year now since our household was joined by Eli Romero, from Belize, who is also a grad student in Les’lab (and an absolute blessing to us, adds Jackie).   Joining the lab for his sabbatical was a wonderful colleague from Israel, Gideon Hulata, an aquaculture expert who is working with Les on Lake Victoria (Africa) tilapia.  The most monumental thing in the Kaufman Lab this year was the completion of a five-year Conservation International project called the Marine Management Area Science Program (See www.science2action.org), along with its 73 study sites, 23 countries, and 400 collaborators!  One Ph.D.- Burton Shank- was hatched this year, and two are waiting in the wings. Time for a quieter spell, for sure. 

photo by Les Kaufman
The objective of the 2010 work in Fiji was to link land and sea conservation as proscribed in the traditional pan-Pacific concept of the vanua. The little seedling above, carrying the entirety of the surrounding world in its life-giving leaf-tip water drop, is a vesi tree (Intsia bijuga).  This is the tree from which the kava bowl (tanoa) is carved, so it is central to Fijian culture.  Fijians have begun to put their house in order, gradually re-blanketing hillsides burned by generations of idle youth and men, with indigenous forest trees- like the vesi, bordered by the faster-growing teak for cash.  The forest ensures clean water, protects the village from torrential floods, and shields the coral reef from silt.  We feel grateful to you, our forest of friends, who have similarly shielded and nurtured us through another year. 
O-kay, that’s a bit hokey.  So now it’s Jackie’s turn!  Jackie felt happy and quite productive.  Jackie reports being blessed with a wonderful husband (just taking dictation here) and son, and great friends.  She spent a considerable amount of time in the water, beyond just the pool.  She did acupuncture to relieve 90% of her pain, most of the time- which is aamazing.  Jackie also reports surviving a harrowing canoe trip on a windy lake in upstate New York, which Les just remembers as a lovely afternoon in the Adirondacks…though he was extremely proud and impressed with Jackie’s robust forbearance in the face of a howling gale (from her perspective).  This year, Jackie has put in about 8 hours of exercise a week, while Les grew in the wrong direction.  Included in Jackie’s regimen were Tai Chi in the water, water aerobics, four hours of physical therapy a week, strolling through the woods with Les, and going to the gym. In fact, outside the pool, including lakes, bay, ocean, and bogs, we found myriad ways of being in the water (re: a bog, after Jackie fell into one). Jackie is being a trouper but she still tends to fall with alarming regularity.  Jackie has maintained her impressive weight loss of the previous year. 
Jackie (and usually Les, and sometimes Justin) has gone out to eat with her mom weekly.  Mom had a rough patch this year and the three of us came to the aid of Jackie’s mom in good ways. Les’ health has been joyfully just fine, passing the 4-year mark post-bone marrow transplant just fine except for some pain from side-effects of the transplant.. 
Among the things that Jackie remembers the most from this past year are lots of dinners/dinner dates, holiday celebrations and parties.  We thank in no particular order Ellen and David, Gail and Steve, Richard and Margaret, Marilyn and John, Lori and Charlie, Kiril and Carol, Ken and Margaret, Dennis, Gerri and John, Becca and Dennis, Sophie, Joycie, Denny, Tina and Steve, and Marcel.  We also enjoyed several Live at the Met Opera simulcasts, theatre and musical performances.  Despite all of this excitement, Jackie had her most productive year in eons.  Jackie continues to enjoy collaborating with Rich and her doctoral students Justine, Femi and former student Kerry.
Two other notable things happened: Jackie had her big 60 birthday and we had our offer accepted for purchase of a condo in Sarasota (Florida, not New York!) so that (years from now) we will avoid the worst of the winters in Boston, instead flying away to the sunshine.  The price was almost 1/3 of what it was selling for at peak and there is a gentleman living there who wants to rent from us. The place is called Pelican Cove Condos.  It has six swimming pools heated to 80 or 85 degrees, an in-house University with about 9 simultaneous courses taught and attended by fellow residents, five miles of flat walking trails, banisters at every step,  children as well as old people,  fantastic vegetation (the community lies in the midst of an embellished live oak hammock draped in Spanish moss),  canoe storage and an excellent put-in,  a weekly dance band, clubs, fabulous  mature gorgeous landscaping,  exercise classes (e.g., water aerobics) and 751 units besides ours.  We will be renting our unit out for several years before we will use it strictly during the winter.  Jackie is in seventh heaven, and Les looks forward to being that much closer to his beloved Everglades, Jamaica, and Belize.
Not bad for one year, eh?
So happy holidays, excellent heatlh, best adventures, harmonious notes and lovely letters to you all in the coming year.
Jackie and Les

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