Category Archives: places

Galapagos Day 7: El Manzanillo + Plaza Sur

We started out with a zodiac ride to Santa Cruz, then a bus ride to Rancho El Manzanillo. Which is a big plot of private land where tortoises can hang out.

The road we came in on.
Our bus had to stop a couple times to let tortoises cross the road. I imagine a road is easier to walk on than grass, even as a tortoise.

A tortoise! They make dinosaur noises if you startle them. (oops)

Red lake
There’s a lake/pond/body of water covered in a red and green water plant.

Tortoise in lake
And tortoises hang out in it.

And there’s a restaurant and some tortoise shells. Jonny is in one, for scale.

In the afternoon, a walk around Plaza Sur

Land iguana
The island had a lot of land iguanas. Like this one.

Land Iguana Spikes
They’re very colorful.

Sea lions. How do they get up there.
A sea lion. How do they get to these places?

Baby marine iguanas
And some baby marine iguanas that happened to be cuddling nearby.

Flomp! Naptime by the cliff.

The landscape
Plaza Sur’s landscape features a lot of cacti and succulents.

And we needed a Pokeflute. Sleeping mommy and baby sea lions blocked our path.

Galapagos Part 6: Bahia Gardner + Punta Suarez

Day six! All on EspaƱola Island.
We did a 7:30 kayaking session where we got pretty close to some sea lions (they seemed to be playing with some of the other kayaks in our group), a sea turtle and some swimming (from rock to rock) marine iguanas.

In theory there’s a timelapse of this kayaking outing. I haven’t put it together yet though.

Afterward, we lazed around on the beach… (Bahia Gardner)
Sandy Sea Lion
There were a bunch of sea lions. Including this one that rolled itself in sand.

A lizard that apparently grew a new tail at some point.

White sand!
A beach?

Whale Skeleton
And a whale skeleton that had been left there. And, I assume, positioned.

I snorkeled out from the beach, and there weren’t many fish, but there was a family (one big one, two small ones) of stingrays. I swam awayyyyy when they seemed to notice me. (I didn’t wear flippers. I felt slow.)

In the afternoon, we did a “long” walk around Punta Suarez.

Marine Iguanas everywhere!
As soon as we got off the zodiac, there were marine iguanas everywhere.

A bird.
And a bird. I’m not sure what kind.

Cuddling Iguanas
The iguanas cuddle! (probably for warmth… but still)

A lava lizard hanging out on a rock.

The view? Lots of rocks. Spot the sea lions.

Beef stew rocks
Here are some rocks on the beach. The texture reminds me of beef stew meat. Right when it’s almost raggedy.

A Galapagos albatross! Also known as the waved albatross.

More albatross?
Another albatross. Their heads are such a rich creamy color.

Albatross dance
And they do a hilarious mating dance. They fence, then head bob, then fence some more.

More view. On the left side, our guide, Yvonne Torres.

Galapagos Hawk
A juvenile Galapagos hawk. SO ROUND.

Galapagos Part 5: La Galapaguera + Punta Pitt


Day 5, in the morning we took a zodiac, then bus ride to La Galapaguera, a breeding center/sanctuary for the island tortoise.


Here’s a tortoise egg. Marked with an X so that the folks who run the center can tell which side of the egg was up in the nest. (If you rotate the egg, apparently it dies)

San Cristobal

The view of San Cristobal when we arrived.

Sea Lion Stairs

The rare (not at all) sea lion. They’re everywhere.

In the afternoon, we went for a “less talk, more walk” hike at Punta Pitt. There was still lots of talking, but also scenery unlike anything else we’d seen so far.

The mountains!

We seemed to be hiking around a bunch of mountains.

Goats on the ridge line

We could see goats on the ridge line. Goats are an introduced species and the park is trying to eradicate them.

Climbing up!

Parts of the hike were a little steep… But not scary.

Blue footed Booby

There were a couple nests in the middle of the trail. These birds are fearless.

Its the ocean!

A view of the ocean at the edge of the island.

I thought this hike was the most “fun” of all the hikes we did. Not the most wildlife, but pretty awesome landscapes. The rock is super, super soft though. Not at all climbable.

Galapagos Part 4: Rabida + Santa Cruz

Arnold: i can only imagine if “On the Origin of Species” had been written by you instead of Darwin

“Fig 18: Variations in cuteness of bird butts correlated with cuteness of local flora”

In the morning — a hike around Rabida, followed by some snorkeling (pictures from that to come later…)

Rabida Beach
The view of our boat from the beach.

Galapagos Hawk
A Galapagos hawk in flight — it’s tagged!

Vermillion Fly Catcher
Fat bird with a red hat (vermillion fly catcher)

In the afternoon, we took a zodiac around Eden Inlet to look for sharks and rays. They’re pretty hard to see in the water.

Sea Cucumber Fishermen
Some fishermen (maybe sea cucumber?) hanging out.

Small unpuffed pufferfish

Supposed Shark
I swear this looked more like a shark in person…

Everything Rock
One stop animal rock — pelicans, sea lions, sally crabs & marine iguanas.

Galapagos Part 3: North Seymour + Sullivan Bay

The morning in North Seymour:
We went on a leisurely walk to look at frigates, blue footed boobies, and iguanas and, as always, sea lions.

Booby showing off?
And the famous blue footed booby is on this island! Wooo.

Two lizards trying to eat each other. I’m pretty sure this isn’t a lava lizard, but I’m not sure what it is.

Hiding iguana
This land iguana started following our group as we walked down the beach, when I turned around, it flattened itself and closed its eyes. I guess it could pretend I wasn’t there?

So derp
These birds are hilarious looking.

Sea lion naps
SO CUTE. Galapagos sea lion — smaller cousins of the California sea lion.

Sitting frigate
Puff. Male frigate hanging out.

Flying frigate
Male frigate flying around.

This is what most of the island seems to look like.

I didn’t get a picture of the booby dance, but I got one of head scratches!

more landscape
And, as usual, the Galapagos isn’t a lush paradise. It’s covered in poop.

Then the afternoon in Sullivan Bay, Santiago:
We took a zodiac out to look for a penguin colony, then went on a hike across the lava flow (It’s 100-150ish years old, so fairly “recent”)

Galapagos penguin!
A Galapagos penguin!

Molting Galapagos penguin
And a funny looking one that’s molting. Looks like its wearing a fur hat…

Grumpy looking heron
Blue heron

A sally crab eating its buddy…

Lava flow
Apparently lava can look like cake batter

More lava flows
Or noodles

Bubble thing
Or… I don’t even know what this looks like.

Cinder cones
Cinder cones from a distance

Galapagos Part 2: Genovesa

Day 1! The guests were split up into two groups, and went on two different activities, then switched in the afternoon.

My morning was the exploration of Prince Philip’s Steps. The internet indicated that it the steps would be steep and hiking poles necessary… but not really. I think my mom mostly used her poles for waving.

Red Footed Booby
First up, a red-footed booby hangout in the tree right after we finished climbing up the steps to the island.

Nazca Booby & Chick
And a nazca booby and it’s chick. The chicks look so derpy. After this picture, the chick proceeded to try to attack someones walking stick, then my shoe. I guess mom wasn’t feeding it enough.

Nazca Chick
A close up of the chick, after it attacked my shoe.

Nazca Butt
Nazca booby taking off. Bird butts!

Headless redfooted booby
This would have been a cool picture if I could aim.

I don't remember what.
I forgot what this little guy is called. Oops.

The trails are all marked, so you know where you’re allowed to walk.

Sleep like you're dead
This nazca booby was still breathing. Asleep I guess?

I guess being a baby frigate bird can be depressing? So sad looking!

Lava Cacti
Lava cacti! A pioneer plant that prepares soil for future plants. These were pretty cute. (Yes, I think plants are cute)

Nazcas getting it on
Some nazca boobys getting it on. It lasted a few seconds.

Macro time
Why bring a macro if you don’t stare intently at birds?

This is what the island looks like
In case you thought the Galapagos was a lush rainforest… Nope.

Sea turtle!
And a sea turtle Jonny spotted from our room while I was taking a shower. I totally thought he was trolling me when he started yelling “turtle! turtle!” but when I finished showering, it was still there.

In the afternoon, we went to Darwin Bay.

Lava Gull
Here’s a lava gull.

Sally Lightfoot crab
And a sally crab. Our guide, Jairo, said you’re not allowed to eat them anymore, but they didn’t have much meat, so they weren’t great anyway. Darnit.

The park rules weren’t always so strict. The Ecuadorian navy used to have traditions of graffiti-ing parts of the archipelago.

A little stingray! Hanging out a couple feet from the edge of the water.

Cacti living right next to the ocean. These ones have softer spines too.

Frigate & baby
Baby frigate & a parent.

Sea lion
Sea lion faces.

Darwin's finch
A darwin finch.

Red Footed Booby
Red footed booby going bwaaaaaagh. They sound like dinosaurs.

Galapagos Part 1: Baltra

Baltra, the island that houses one of the Galapagos’ two airports

Last week, we celebrated my mom’s birthday by visiting the Galapagos with Silversea Expeditions. I didn’t bring a laptop, so here’s my attempt at catching up on notes & cleaning up my photography.

Safety Drill

Day one, we flew into Baltra (from Guyaquil, from Quito, from Miami, from San Francisco) where we took a short bus ride, then a Zodiac to our home for the next week — the Silver Galapagos. On board, we met the staff, the guides & did a life vest drill. Then ate a bunch and slept.

Grace Hopper 2014


Last week I attended the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing with a couple other women from Sift.

Index Slide

As part of this, I also gave a talk as part of the Data Sciences track about how Sift uses machine learning to fight fraud. I focused on how Sift works and many of the things we’ve learned in the three years we’ve been doing this.

GHC room

The room I presented in could seat 1080 attendees. I know because I counted. At 7:45am. (I had nothing to do until my talk which was at 10:15am… Why not count chairs so you can psyche yourself out more?!)

I don’t plan on turning this into a blog of deep thoughts, but GHC was amazing, and speaking was a blast. Though I was really nervous beforehand that I’d get questions I couldn’t answer, it turned that only one came up and my awesome co-worker saved me.

I hope I can make it next year!

Beauty’s Bagel Shop


To start with, I’m not at all a bagel connoisseur, I just like eating them, especially when lightly toasted. I also reallllly like chopped liver. So here’s a sandwich of both! I liked their chopped liver much more than the Wise & Sons — and the line is much less massive. And it’s in Oakland, another plus.

Their smoked trout salad was also quite tasty. But the bagels definitely need toasting. (But then again, isn’t that true of all bagels?)