Speaking “A-lab-skan”

Late last night, the other half of our lab group flew in. They are all here to mainly work in UAA’s lab, using fish caught in the area. Matt Wund is the lab’s postdoctoral research fellow. His work is based around studying how different populations react to the selective pressures of new environments. Anna Mazarella, a junior biology and studio art major, is here to not only help out in the lab, but to take as many pictures as possible. Jeff is a junior psychology major and joins Sophie and me as a rookie to Alaska. His first few weeks, he’ll be working in the lab with Matt and Anna, but eventually he’ll be working with Kat Shaw, a doctoral student at the University of Connecticut who graduated from Clark with her fifth-year Master’s in 2005.

The four of us had to explain a few things to our new counterparts: we have developed our own peculiar language in the two weeks we’ve been up here. Lauren calls it “A-lab-skan.” For example, the night we got back into Anchorage we had some fortune cookies with our dinner and one of the lottery numbers on the back of someone’s fortune was 4. Lauren mentioned that it was mildly amusing because 4 is an unlucky number in Japanese culture, and I remarked that I had heard that was because the word for the number 4 was very close to the pronunciation of the word for “death.” Well, this was hilarious to us at the time. Who designs a language system where you count “one, two, three, death?” And ever since we do not say “four” anymore; we say “death.” So we became a “fearsome deathsome” with “death” chairs around our kitchen table… etc. That’s right. You can never take us too seriously up here.

Also decided to label ourselves using the military phonetic alphabet due to the street names surrounding Wolf and Kings Lakes, which are all named Echo, Sierra, Tango, and so on. Lauren and I are Alpha Team — making her Alpha Leader (Alpha One) and me Alpha Two. Jana and Sophie are Bravo Team — Jana being Bravo Leader and Sophie, Bravo Two. And because the other three are not in the field, we emphasized their difference by passing over Charlie and labeling them Delta Team. Matt is Delta Leader, Anna, Delta Two, and Jeff, Delta Three. This has led to some very interesting phone conversations. Especially because we spelled people’s names out using said alphabet and thought it was hilarious that Matt became “Mike Alpha Tango Tango.” Which quickly led to us calling him Captain Tango Tango.

Maybe you all didn’t need to know that. Poor Matt.

– Rachel


Other examples of the fun things the lab gets up to – sticklecookies! Here we see many nuptial-colored males courting a gravid female.

Other examples of the fun things the lab gets up to – sticklecookies! Here we see many nuptial-colored males courting a gravid female.


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