Wednesday, May 23, 2012


HALLELUJAH TRUTH CELEBRATES THE RED DOTS OF YAYOI KUSAMA. As an artist who has delighted in the use of dots in her work, I have been so exuberant about discovering the life's body of work by Yayoi Kusama!(art by Hallelujah Truth, Georgia Visionary Artist)

Hallelujah for Yayoi Kusama! Hallelujah for fellow SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIMS who do their SOUL WORK. Long live Kusama! On her JOURNEY, she has succeeded in becoming the CENTER of her CREATIONS and in creating a “KUSAMA-WORLD.” Hallelujah Truth approves of this artist who made herself not the focus of her own ART.
YAYOI BECOMES PART OF HER WORK! How splendid is the blogging world! At the Tate Modern (2012) is an expansive life retrospective of Yayoi Kasuma's work. In mid-May, I had the opportunity to see this exhibit, including this fantastic swirling snake-like Kasuma painting from the 1990's. It was displayed with other paintings from the era of her paintings of biological or cosmological imagery. However, it wasn't until I googled Yayoi Kusama and found this photo on Amber's blog that I saw Yayoi Kusama costumed in the design from this particular painting, which the Tate exhibit didn't include.  (image from Amber's Mouthwash blog)

WE ARE ALL DOTS. Yayoi Kusama started using dots in her art work as a child.  The dots, she explains, represent all of us and infinity too.  (I was not allowed to take photos in the exhibit, so this photo and others are my photographs of the posters hanging out in the cafe at the conclusion of the exhibit. Google Yayoi Kusama--the work she has produced is vast and uncountable and so much of it is available on the web.

INFINITY. Yayoi Kusama creates environments. Here is one of her infinity environments made with mirrors and lights. I had the good fortune of being able to walk through one of these at the Tate Modern exhibit.
MORE RECENT WORK.  Starting in 2009, Yayoi Kusama has been creating a body of work by painting on a monochromatic background and then filling its surface with different symbols and patterns. I was particularly moved by the titles of these paintings and wish that I had written them down. The language was focused on human relationships to one another and to the earth. One has to wonder if this focus comes with age, since Kusama was born in 1929 and is now 83.
A ROOM FULL OF RECENT WORKS. Hallelujah adores the way Yayoi Kusama places herself in relation to her work! At the Tate Modern, one entire room was filled with these evocative pieces. (photo from The Juvenilia)
Something to GET EXCITED ABOUT...
A feature documentary, Kusama: Princess of Polka Dots, is in post production. A short excerpt from this documentary was prepared for the Tate Modern 2012 exhibition. You can find out more about this documentary at this site, and you can friend the filmmakers on Facebook right here. Meanwhile enjoy:

To experience a wee bit more of the magnificence that is Yayoi Kusama, watch this short video:

I will certainly be interested in reading a copy of Yayoi Kusama's autobiography, "Infinity Net," only recently translated from Japanese into English. I want to know more about how this SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM lived her life successfully elaborating her SOUL.

I am so thankful for having my friend Denise, who lives in London and invited me and my Chiboogamoo to spend time with her and to go to Yayoi Kusama's exhibit at the Tate Modern. I also love and appreciate my Chiboogamoo, who shares this adventurous and wondrous JOURNEY with me. Kisses to you both! I acknowledge the brochure handed out at the exhibit for providing me with excellent information and the quotation from "Infinity Net" below.
Hallelujah (right) with friend Denise taken outside the Tate exhibit  in the cafe area.

My faithful companion Chiboogamoo, a man who does both science and art!

INFINITY AND AFFINITY.  I feel a deep connection with Yayoi Kusama.  I understand something about her work at a visceral level that is too difficult to express. (art by Hallelujah Truth, watercolor pencils on paper and photoshopped)

Yayoi Kusama wrote in her autobiography, Infinity Net, the following: "For art like mine--art that does battle at the border of life and death, questioning what we are and what it means to live and die--[Japan] was too small, too servile, too feudalistic and too scornful of women. My art needed a more unlimited freedom and a wider world." 

What do you think PILGRIMS? What does your art need? Do you have unlimited freedom to create? Describe it to me? Hallelujah Truth wants to know!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012



Hallelujah for FULLNESS of BEING. We all deserve to discover what this FULLNESS OF BEING means for the SELF.  I have left the physical familiarity of my home in Decatur, Georgia, USA, and am JOURNEYING about in Scotland. Tonight as I write you, I am on the west side of the River Ness in the town of Inverness, famous for its Loch Ness Monster
The River Ness flowing fast and free! (photo by Chiboogamoo)

SUPER MOON, MAY 5, 2012. This resplendent moon that occurred before my journey to Scotland represents an interior spiritual fullness and actualization to me. Although a moon is not a planet moving about on its gravitational path around the sun, it is such a rich symbol for the psyche--isn't it? (photo by Chiboogamoo)
How does the absence of what is physically familiar impact my SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIMAGE? As Hallelujah Truth, I open my EYES so that I might entertain new images that resonate with my SOUL. I wait for some thing to "ping" in my HEART. Here in Scotland, I wait while looking. I feel the impact of the cold spring air blowing down the River Ness. This afternoon, pebbles of ice rained from the dark cloudy sky. They "pinged" my face and my ungloved hands. My Chiboogamoo and I, clothed in gortex rain jackets held hands to keep warm. We had just hopped off the No.3 bus after walking through the rooms of the ancient  Cawdor Castle and pretty green fields home of the famous battle of Culledon.  

For Hallelujah, there is no "ping" of the SOUL in the midst of this beautiful Scottish scenery bursting into yellow flower, the land's kind denizens speaking in an unfamiliar trilling rolling English, and the delicious local seafood eaten along with warm bitter ales. No SPIRITUAL resonance! What is a SPIRITUAL ART PILGRIM seeking SOUL-FULL-NESS to do? 

"Go for the familiar, " I tell myself. "Look around and 'blend' the new with the old--the familiar. Be present to what IS and put it together with images you already know." These reassuring instructions guide me as I lead Chiboogamoo back outside to the banks of River Ness after the hail has stopped and the sun has re-emerged (In Scotland, one can experience three seasons in one day.). We cross one of the pedestrian suspension bridges and sit on the river's banks. I draw in micron pens, capturing some of the cities ancient skylines across old pages of my calendar. Chiboogamoo writes in his little red notebook.
TIME STOPS WHEN I OBSERVE INNER AND OUTER SOUL. Sketching the skyline along the River Ness, Iverness, Scotland. (photo by Chiboogamoo)

Time stops with me. I observe. I become part of the infinite. I take what belongs to Inverness and make it mine. I put Hallelujah Truth into the center. I am the focus of my ART. This is my SOUL experiencing NEWNESS

When the cold May winds finally succeed in penetrating through our jackets and my hands grow too chilled to continue drawing, my cheerful and boon companion and I head into a local pub, one which has sun drenched seats by the windows. The late afternoon sun glazes over us as we consume our pints of beer. I seep into the relaxation of being far from my physical home but EVER PRESENT to my SPIRITUAL ONE. ART takes me to my CENTER bringing me into my FULL PLANETHOOD!
TRANSFORMING, TRANSITIONING, BEING. A warm beer on a cold day and time to reflect on the PILGRIMAGE. (photo by Chiboogamoo)
SPIRITUAL JOURNEY.  This image shows the layers of  my mind.  I incorporate figures from my past. The creature at the bottom remains in my heart from my visit to Australia and represents undefined ambiguity. The creature swimming above the Australian figure is a sea monster. It could be the Loch Ness Monster or it could be a cartoon figure of an ancient marine reptile. Above these figures is yours truly, Hallelujah Truth entwined with the city scape of Inverness.


That's Coffee With Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and tell me what brings you HOME to your CENTER

Sunday, May 13, 2012


FATEMA'S CAMPAIGN SIGN AGAINST SMOKING. Fatema gently and persistently asked her smoking classmates at the Georgia Tech Language Institute to think of nonsmoking students' health if they wouldn't think of their own.

Hallelujah for SOULS who care about our BODIES and how we tend to them! Hallelujah for FATEMA ALMAZROUEI!  For she took action towards reducing smoking and its impact—second smoke—in such a gently unique way at the end of the Spring Session 2 , 2012, at the Language Institute at Georgia Tech, I was compelled to interview her for my blog, COFFEE WITH HALLELUJAH.

I first became aware of Fatema’s anti-smoking campaign one day as I approached the O’Keefe Building, home of the GT Language Institute, and saw a trackway of footprints leading  smokers away from the front of the building to a smoking zone. Fatema had designated an area for smokers and nonsmokers. In doing so, she created boundaries for young internationals who were now talking openly about their rights to smoke or not smoke. And she gave a forum for those nonsmokers who wanted to discuss their rights not to be exposed to secondhand smoke.
INSTIGATING THOUGHT.  Every where one looked around the entrance of the Language Institute and in the front of the building were Fatema's signs.

Fatema also succeeded in creating an information rich environment about the hazards of smoking and secondhand smoke. Trees in front of the Language Institute had posters on them. As you approached the Language Institute, there were posters outside and inside. One wall had a blank sheet for everyone to write their opinions on. As  she waged this campaign against smoking with her fellow students, I grew fascinated with the woman who was doing this. Who was she? What made her take such specific action when many of us who feel rage at smokers never did one thing?
ARM BADGE OR PURSE TOKEN. Fatema handed out this circular anti-smoking badge to any student or teacher who inquired about her campaign.

With a background in medicine, she took a variety of actions to inform students about the hazards of smoking both first hand and second hand. She agreed to be interviewed as finals were completed and students prepared for their summer holiday.


FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: Actually, because I have a background about the effects and consequences of smoking and how it affects smokers and nonsmokers, I decided to take action to reduce the smokers in front of the Language Institute here at Georgia Tech.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Describe the actions you took.

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI:  At first, I put out signs that asked smokers not to smoke on the Language Institute stairs near the entrance. These signs said, "Smoke free area. Thank you for your cooperation."  There was another sign that stated, "Please avoid smoking near the stairs and let us smell the fascinating scent of spring."

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Didn’t you have foot steps?

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: Yeah,  they said, "Smoke free area," and they were used to define the smoke free area.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: What were your fellow students' reactions to this initial effort?

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: First, there were no reactions, but gradually the number of people smoking near the stairs was reduced. However, they were angry at my signs, and they were wondering where the places were that they could smoke.  So the next step was to decide the designated areas for smokers, where they could smoke.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Who decided that?

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: I did. I was also consulting with one of the Language Institute teachers, Dana Clark, who supported my efforts.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: So what happened next?

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: Some of the smokers agreed to go to the designated smoking areas, but others didn’t.  Eventually, the signs I had posted were removed, but I don’t know by who. I put up new signs. At the same time, I had made  seven non-smoking signs that could be worn on people’s backs. These signs said: "2nd hand smoke! If U don’t care about Ur health, at least let me care about mine."  In addition to this sign for the back, I also created a no-smoking patch to be worn on the arm.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: How did people respond to these signs that people wore?

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: It made smokers ask questions. Such as "What is second hand smoke and its consequences?"  Also, it made them more aware that a lot of people were bothered by their smoking.
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Who supported you other than Dana Clark?

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: My friends. They told me it was great. You made the action we were thinking about, but we didn’t do anything.  Please give us signs and we will support you. We are impressed by your actions. Keep going. If you need anything, just tell us.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: And I know that you took other actions. What were they?

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: Yes I did. I made an informative poster about the negative impact of smoking for both smokers and nonsmokers. I also put up large poster paper so people could express their ideas about smoking.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: What did you learn from what people wrote?

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: That there are some people who were bothered by smoking and that others supported smoking. Their excuse was the buzz that they get from smoking.  Their reasons for continuing to smoke seem irresponsible considering the serious consequences. Some people told me they would consider quitting smoking for financial reasons but not for health reasons.
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Tell me about the debate you held.

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: The debate lasted about 30 minutes.  I invited all Arabs for this debate--3 prosmokers and 3 against smoking. About six other students made up the audience.  The smokers pondered their freedom to smoke and that they are not violating the law since they were smoking outside. They were wondering why smoking is legal. Nonsmokers also spoke of their freedom. If freedom is to harm others this should not be a freedom. They gave an example of stabbing someone else and asked if this is a freedom. I hope in the future that there will be a room provided for smokers, so they cannot harm others from their smoke. Also  to increase the awareness of people about the negative effects of smoking before they start smoking.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: After having done this anti-smoking campaign here at the LI, what have you learned?

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: I was glad that some people started to quit smoking.  I want to expand this campaign and to increase the awareness of people. Most people think that they can’t quit smoking because of the addiction. I can’t stand to see somebody destroy themselves in front of me. This is my nature. Some times I feel like I am mother.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Are you aiming to reach a certain group of people.  

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: I was wearing this sign every  where. And got support from a lot of people saying yeah….

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Most people just complain. What made you take action?
FATEMA ALMAZROUEI: Because I was waiting for somebody to take action. I asked guys to talk to guys from my country, but the guys said that was like being a therapist, and they didn't want to do it. I decided to take action. Always in my family I try to encourage my brothers to talk with their friends. My brothers don’t smoke.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: You had to spend money on supplies.

FATEMA ALMAZROUEI:  Yes, I spent my own money. I am person who doesn’t like others to destroy themselves by doing something useless.  I like to  encourage them to overcome their problems not by using these things.

THANK YOU FATEMA ALMAZROUEI! I appreciate your taking action to support your beliefs! You are one of my HEROES. I will think of you now when I see someone Language Institute students smoking and how perhaps they may benefit from a gentle discussion about the harms of smoking. I will miss you!

Saturday, May 12, 2012


BIKE ICHNOLOGIST PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE. Paleontologist Barbie is not only a world-class scientist, but also an ardent environmentalist. As a result, she was delighted to know that much of her research on Jekyll Island could be done by bicycle. “Wow, this is MUCH better than using one of those hydrocarbon-burning field vehicles!” she exclaims with her characteristic enthusiasm. “Hooray for people power!” (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

HALLELUJAH for holidays spent doing ichnology along the Georgia coast and for Paleontologist Barbie, who loves talking about science and just how much fun it is. This interview took place with Paleontologist Barbie in 2011 following her Thanksgiving bike ichnology trip to Jekyll Island, Georgia, USA.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: What is bike ichnology?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: It’s my favorite type of ichnology to do whenever I visit Jekyll Island. You can either ride a bike, or like I did ride in the back of a bike and scan the beach for traces as you zoom along the shoreline. It’s kind of like “fast forward” ichnology, looking for traces rapidly instead of viewing them just one step at a time.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Why don’t you just relax on a holiday like Thanksgiving?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I like to think that Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for many good things in our lives and one of them is the awesome power of science. There is always plenty of time later for turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. I want to get out there and give thanks for all that nature has to teach us.

SENSE OF ADVENTURE ON JEKYLL ISLAND. There’s something about riding in the pannier of a bicycle on one of Jekyll Island’s beautiful beaches that really excites Paleontologist Barbie’s sense of adventure. Behind her is a dune, partially eroded by a high tide, but held in place by the roots of sea oats (species). Because Jekyll has about 1,000 permanent residents and hosts more than 400,000 visitors a year, its beaches get lots of use, leading to public education and conservation efforts there about staying off the dunes so that the sea oats can be preserved. “Save the sea oats!” she shouts as she speeds down the beach, not caring that her rallying cry will not gain the attention given to charismatic megafauna. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Do you do anything traditional for this beloved American holiday?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Of course I do, but as you have noticed I’m different from a lot of people, so my getting out and taking in the sites, sounds, and smells of Jekyll Island also means a lot to me.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Why do you choose Jekyll Island for bike ichnology?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Lots of people on Jekyll Island get around by bicycle. So when on Jekyll, do as the Jekyllians do (giggle)! But what is also nice about biking on Jekyll Island is that it is flat, has lots of bike paths, and long beaches that you can ride down, some times with the wind at your back and your hair flowing in the breeze. A girl couldn’t ask for more than a beach experience with crustaceans, molluscans, horseshoe crabs, and shore birds!

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: What fascinated you on this particular bike ichnology outing?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Well, first we (my colleague Chiboogamoo and you, Hallelujah Truth—can I call you Halla?) noticed that were many whelks buried along the beach because of certain patterns in the sand that became distinctive before our very eyes! We hadn’t seen such vast numbers of this Georgian gastropod clustered together before. Like private detectives, we began to observe the beach closely to see what clues we could find to piece together the whelks’ story. These whelks, varying in age from very young ones to very old ones, had buried themselves to avoid drying out during a low tide. Their burying activity had loosened the sand surrounding them. What we found fascinating was was that along with this clustering of generations of whelks were a lot of little clams, which had buried themselves around the whelks in the softened sand. This concentration of whelks and clams then attracted shorebirds. And the shorebirds left a dizzying array of tracks and beak pecks circling around the whelks and clams. It was like one thing lead to another—ecologically speaking. What a story!

MODERN ICHNOLOGY ON A BIKE RIDE. While traveling down the extensive beaches of Jekyll Island, Paleontologist Barbie is happy to find some tracks and beak probe marks made by a small shorebird called a sanderling (Calidris alba). These traces were made at low tide while the birds were looking for small crustaceans, clams, and other yummy treats.  “Wouldn’t it be cool to find something like this preserved in rocks from the Cretaceous Period?” she asks rhetorically. Shorebirds had already evolved by about 110 million years and their tracks are interpreted from Korea, China, and a few other places. So Paleontologist Barbie is being completely realistic about her wish.  (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

WHELKS MEET PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE. Among the top predators of the intertidal flats is the knobbed whelk (Busycon carica). This large marine snail uses its outer lip to wedge open and chip the shells of living clams, then chows down on their innards. But if stranded by a high tide on the Georgia coast, it will deploy its muscular foot to loosen the sand and pull itself in. Here, Paleontologist Barbie finds one in the process of burying itself. “Don’t give me no lip!” she says with a giggle, using one of many molluscan jokes she has in her repertoire. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

JEKYLL BEACH, DWARF SURF CLAMS, AND YOGA! Later on during this beach outing, Paleontologist Barbie makes a keen observation, which is typical for her. Small bivalves (dwarf surf clams, species Mulinia lateralis) are congregating around the whelks. Why? “Why, I think it’s caused by fluidization of the sand around the whelks as they burrow, which made it easier for the bivalves to burrow,” she concludes matter-of-factly. Here she easily adopts a yoga pose (bhujangasana, just in case you were curious) to extract the whelk from its burrow. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE LOVES MOLLUSCANS. Success! With the whelk safely plucked from its burrow, she is better able to study this living predatory snail. She looks at its shell to see whether it has a scar caused by a shell-peeling crab. Seeing no scars on this young whelk, she concludes that it has not yet been attacked. “Here on Jekyll Island, the predator becomes the prey,” she observes with a hint of darkness. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Talk to me about how your perception is changed when you are riding in a bike pannier.

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I feel like I am in a super fast motion, scanning right-left, then left-right looking for anything that sticks out on the flat beach. It is amazing how quickly you can spot something far away when there is nothing else in the way and when you are moving really fast (squeal)!  Do you know what I am talking about (Paleontologist Barbie can barely conceal her enthusiasm.)!

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: How did the ichnology change as you went from the beach to the salt marsh?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Well the animals, of course, are totally different. Beaches have whelks, clams, shorebirds, and ghost crabs all living there and leaving their traces. The marsh has oysters, mussels, fiddler crabs, and no shorebirds. Also the beach is sandy and the marsh is muddy—duh! Therefore, the traces are really, really different!

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Anything to say about the fiddler crab or the speckled crab?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I think fiddler crabs are hilarious, especially the males, who stand in front of their burrows and wave their big claws to attract mates. It reminds me of a lot of social situations I’ve been in, if you know what I mean! But these fiddler crabs are also great burrowers. So I like studying their burrows to see how these might get preserved in the fossil record.

Now, speckled crabs don’t live in the marsh but in the shallow marine environments just offshore. Once in a while you are lucky enough to see one in the surf zone on the beach. They will leave tracks and then scoot into the sand so that they blend in. I envy them because I never blend in (giggle).

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Do you eat whelk or any of these critters that you track?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: No, I don’t. I’ve heard that people who live on Sapelo Island use whelks in their diets. Of course, there is a lot of seafood out in the marshes and off the beaches. But it doesn’t seem fair for me to use my scientific knowledge to hunt down my study subjects and eat them. I love them too much.
BIKE ICHNOLOGY IN THE MARSH. Time to go to the salt marsh! One of the more enjoyable bike rides on Jekyll uou can take is on a causeway for bikers and hikers, which runs across a beautiful marsh. She stops to take in both its sights and wondrous scents. “Wow, hydrogen sulfide! Seems like a little bit of sulfate reduction is happening, facilitated by anaerobic bacteria,” she points out. Like all paleontologists, she also knows a little bit of chemistry, which helps her to understand how rocks and fossils form. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE DOING THE FIDDLER-CRAB DANCE. In the high marsh, she gets a close-up view of the rooted plants that live there, as well as the many fiddler-crab burrows, both of which have excellent fossilization potential. “Look at my claw!” she says with a deep voice while raising her arm, lampooning how male fiddler crabs wave their large appendages to impress potential mates. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

PLAYING AROUND IN NATURE. “Ebb tide – YES!” she exclaims exuberantly. Wanting to experience what it’s like to be a sedimentary particle, she back-flips into a tidal creek as it is draining out to sea, again affirming why she is the honey badger of paleontologists. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE HAS THE ICHNOLOGIST'S EYE. After floating to the shoreline of Jekyll, she continues her investigations of the sandy beaches there, and is delighted to find a partially buried marine crab, with tracks leading to its resting place, where it is covered by a thin layer of sand. “Why, that looks like a speckled crab, Arenaeus cribrarius. Cool!” Fossil crabs are common in some parts of the geologic record, so this find helps her to figure out how crabs and crab trace fossils were formed. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

INVESTIGATIVE ICHNOLOGY CAN BE DANGEROUS AS PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE KNOWS. Unfortunately for both Paleontologist Barbie and the speckled crab, she gets a little too close to one of its powerful claws. “Yeow!”, she says, not hurt but a little embarrassed at not being more respectful of this marine predator. “I guess I deserved that for making fun of your relatives earlier,” recalling her time in the salt marsh. Ever the scientist, though, she notes that the crab did not leave a mark on her arm, even though it might make scars in a whelk some day. So a lesson is learned, and Paleontologist Barbie, ecstatic about her well-spent time on Jekyll Island, plans to return some day to gain more knowledge about its wonderful natural history. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Explain to me why the ichnologist in you gets mesmerized by old wood that drifts up on the beach.

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Fossil wood that drifts out to sea can get buried offshore and become part of the fossil record. I’ve seen fossil driftwood from the Cretaceous period that shows the same kinds of borings that you see being made by clams today in driftwood. Also, living barnacles and oysters attach to wood while it’s floating. Those animals also can get preserved with the wood in the fossil record too. Examining this driftwood is a way to know how a former tree contributed to the lives of animals that live in the sea. You can also say something about the behavior of those animals from the traces they left on the wood. We ichnologists love to tell stories! TRACE PATTERN RECOGNITION. A piece of driftwood catches Paleontologist Barbie’s attention, as she realizes this is an excellent model for recognizing fossil driftwood in the geologic  record. “Hey, check out those crustacean epibionts, and traces of molluscan endobenthos!” she says. She is talking about the small barnacles that attached to the surface of the driftwood and the wood-boring clams that drilled into the wood. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

TRACE PATTERN RECOGNITION. A piece of driftwood catches Paleontologist Barbie’s attention, as she realizes this is an excellent model for recognizing fossil driftwood in the geologic  record. “Hey, check out those crustacean epibionts, and traces of molluscan endobenthos!” she says. She is talking about the small barnacles that attached to the surface of the driftwood and the wood-boring clams that drilled into the wood. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)

MODERN AND ANCIENT TRACES ARE THOUGHT PROVOKING. There’s something about this wood that fascinates Paleontologist Barbie. Like most scientists, she’s also artistically inclined, so she is drawn to the patterns made by the wood-boring clams. “Hey, if this were preserved in the geologic record, we’d call it Teredolites,” she also points out, referring to the trace fossil version of these modern traces. (photo and caption by Chiboogamoo, aka Anthony Martin)
HALLELUJAH TRUTH: I know that you talked to a pre-teen girl about a sand dollar trace. How did that feel to be out educating the young on the Georgia beaches?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: That was a fun and fulfilling experience. We ran into a family walking down the beach on Jekyll Island, and they noticed us looking and photographing the trace made by a buried sand dollar. What was exciting is that this little girl asked what we were looking at, and she was really curious! Of course, I always try to encourage curiosity. So we told her under that raised bump that had five key-hole looking slots was a living sand dollar. We had her scoop her hands under the bump, and—oh boy--was she surprised to see what we had predicted was true! She was holding a purple-brown kind of fuzzy sand dollar with wiggling spines. A smile stretched across her face. Her parents witnessed their daughter’s engagement with part of Georgia’s wildlife!

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Do you have any ideas about how to do more scientific educational outreach, so that children of Georgia and their parents can get better informed about this rich natural resource that runs along their coast?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Well Halla, don’t you think you are contributing to scientific outreach about the Georgia coast by doing this interview for your blog? That’s what we need, more people like you who are sharing the exciting sites, sounds, smells, and knowledge you can get from the Georgia coast. I wish I could do speaking engagements too, but people always want me to speak behind a podium and I’d rather be out in the field where people can experience nature with me first hand.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: After the bike is ridden, Thanksgiving dinner, eaten, and beach ichnology completed, how do you feel when traveling away from Jekyll Island with the bikes on the back of the car?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Slightly exhausted but happy because I’m really satisfied with how much I learned and how what I learned is going to be passed on to other people. To me that bike ichnology ride along Jekyll Island’s beach is more memorable than any Thanksgiving dinner because my ichnological stories and photos will keep on giving long after the turkey sandwiches are eaten and the wish bone broken.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Any future bike ichnology trips planned?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: None right now, but I can’t wait to get back to Jekyll Island on a bike to see what new traces will be there. You know nature is always changing, so I know we will see something different next time.

HALLELUJAH TRUTH: Give some advice to those who are interested in becoming bike ichnologists.

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: First of all, safety, safety, safety. You should never do bike ichnology on a city street, for instance. On the other hand, long flat beaches where you might occasionally scare a seagull, are perfect for both beginner and expert alike. You can ride along and enjoy the breeze, or in my case, the wind blowing through my hair or whatever else catches your attention. Hurray for bike ichnology! Everyone should try it!



Read Previous Hallelujah Truth Interviews with Paleontologist Barbie:

Paleontologist Barbie Willingly Sacrifices Her Winter Holiday to Deepen Emory Students' Understanding of the Concepts of Uniformitarianism on San Salvador, Bahamas at Gerace Field Station. Paleontologist Barbie gets a kick out of snorkeling in modern reefs in the morning and looking at fossil reefs in the afternoon and much much more...

Paleontologist Barbie Pursues Professional Development at 2011 Society of Vertebrate Paleontologist (SVP) Meeting in Las Vegas, Utah, USA. 
Paleontologist Barbie sees exciting tracks and a really cool dinosaur sitting trace in addition to exchanging knowledge with fellow colleague paleontologists. "Professional development is more important than Halloween parties," Paleontologist Barbie was heard saying out in the Utah desert.

Paleontologist Barbie goes to St. Catherines Island to examine reptile burrows.

Paleontologist Barbie explains her understanding of evolution by looking at the "Selections" art exhibit at Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, Georgia. Specifically, she provides her interpretation of the importance of art done by Chiboogamoo and Hallelujah Truth.

This is the first interview with Paleontologist Barbie! It is a must read!