Monday, July 31, 2006

Flying to da big 'ailan.

It was pretty cloudy but we flew straight over the crater. Always nice.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

The last weekend before the storm

I'm headed out tomorrow to start the giant trip. Big Island for a week observing, Brussels doing comets, then, finally, Michigan! I haven't been home in a really long time. It will be really nice to get home for a while and to catch up with people I haven't seen in a long time. Two weeks of work to go.....

Sean getting ready to devour.
Liz. Being Liz.
Liz. Behind a big fan. Just kidding.
Me, Sean, and Liz, (that was for you girly) hiked out to the Makapu'u lighthouse. It was pretty hazy, but I really like the lookout point. It feels like you're at the edge of something big.
Liz. Wanting to sail on a pirate ship. Or was it, expecting to see a pirate ship.
Sean, giggling as only Sean can, wondering with me about how the hell Liz's head works.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

EsPaDoNs - Goin Big 'ailan

I'm getting ready to head off to the big island from the 31st-4th. I've got 3 nights at the CFH telescope. I'll be doing circular polarization which trace magnetic fields (sun) in the atmosphere's of low-mass stars, and also some of my usual thesis stuff (linear polarization). I'm meeting some "neutrals" who will help greatly (Swiss who have done this stuff before) since I don't know much about this type of thing yet. It should be fun, but I'm not looking forward to staying up all night 5 days and then leaving for a 30 hour plane ride to Europe 6 hours after coming home...... I've been reading like mad and staying up really late the last week to try and get ready.

The telescope.

This is a frame from the instrument I'll be using - each green line is an emission from some atom. Neon signs are red from neon emission. Aurora are green from oxygen emission. That kind of thing.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Cambridge in Colour

There's some really neat photographic techniques out there, and I have to say that this website - Cambridge in Colour, was awesome about explaining lots of technical details. I had come across this one before when trying to learn about the detectors and resolution limits of digital SLR's. I didn't bother to check his gallery until now. It's amazing. The depth of field and dynamic range are great. I had tried stuff somewhat like this with the "photomatix" program, or just writing my own code, but that couldn't handle cutting and pasting to get close and far away things both sharp. Liz and I have been having a disagreement on style - I like the pictures that look a little surreal because the vivid colors and sharpness brings out what it's like in my memory and imagination. She doesn't like it because the pictures are not accurate - "That's not what it looked like." Either way, I really liked this website and style.

I suppose that I lean towards the enhancement because that's my job - astronomy is all about using special filters, techiques, whatever we can to make super vivid, shocking & exciting pictures that you would never see with your naked eye. I'm used to the idea by now.
This is a comparison (from CFHT) of a nebula in visible and infra-red wavelengths - you can barely see into it with your eye, but the IR view is pretty neat.
Or this view of Jupiter with the Gemini telescope in the IR (from APOD) - the red spot is totally obvious, as is the cloud structure.
I know liz is scrunching her face, thinking I'm ranting and possibly attacking her belief, but really, all I'm trying to point out is the art of this - changing & tweaking perception to make a point or invoke a feeling........

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Girls with Giant sunnies

So, I noticed that the "giant sunglasses" trend is everywhere. Per Anne, it's very fashionable and has something to do with hollywood (and/or chick pop singers and prostitutes). Since I've dropped off the face of the planet, and was scolded for not knowing who Biance is, I don't know much about either of those. Anne justified them as being good at totally blocking out the light so that she never has to squint (or get caught staring at people). Claire just got them last summer because they were extremely silly, just like Claire. What do you think?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Firetwirl Fun

I think this was one of the best north-shore parties so far - a bunch of people tried out the twirling, Joe & Jeff are getting pretty good, and a lot of people kept the twirling going for a long time. My hands were really tired at the end of it.

North Shore Waves

There were some really cool waves at Ke Iki - a shore break that was small but just standing up and slamming down.

North Shore Day

I really like the vibe on the north shore. Except for the giant pain of insane traffic and tourist nonsense, it's really relaxed at night. Easy to unwind up there. We spent the day hanging and hiking. I finally got to play "smash-ball". Anne and I made it to 51! Ok, cheating slightly by staying 3 feet apart, but it was hard!! I always like hanging out in the cross-legged cork tree.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Expensive Calcite

The main part for my IR spectropolarimeter arrived this week - $10K worth of calcite. It's amazing and somewhat scarry to have such a small, expensive thing in your hand. If I drop it..... (shudder) It's pretty fun to hold though - it's really clear. Now I've got to figure out how to mount the two chunks together and to keep them from breaking when they get super-cold.

June 11 Dive Trip

Lysa finally got me pictures from the scuba dive last month. It was a ton of fun. There were some neat fish and other animals, but the main thing on the North Shore is the caves, swim-through's and rock formations.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Pics Up

Singapore pics up on my website here.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Posh "Red-Carpet"

I had no idea that the first class people got treated so well. I've always been a poor, young, "second-class" citizen, but on this ride home, I was the "guest" of a million-mile-member. In Narita, Japan, there's this huge lounge with wireless, desks, and an open bar. They had big beer mugs in a freezer and beer on tap, as well as an open bar and espresso machine. Since I had a 4 hour layover and have a bunch of stuff to do, I got "to-work" and had a few beers, irish coffee and some wine. That made the red-eye to Honolulu go really well - I actually slept in coach. My neck was killing me in the morning, but at least I was somewhat consious for customs.

The Ring of Fire

I flew to Japan from Singapore along the subduction zone that connects Japan to Indonesia. There were islands out the window most of the way. They were really cool....

By the time I got to Japan, the air had turned so hazy that you could only see the mountain tops peeking through the haze. I don't know if it's pollution or just hot/wet air..... Singapore was similar - hazy and muggy, but it didn't smell like L.A.


I guess that's what they call the floor-a-lator (horizontal escalator?). I never knew it's name.....

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Last Day

So, It looks like I will be writing up the polarimetry summary paper. One more thing to add to the list. Since I'm not a city guy, Singapore is expensive, Karen buys me lots of beer at the pool, it's very hot & sticky out, and the 4th floor posh-as pool is a really nice place to hang out, I just sat by the pool basically all day getting the draft of the polarimetry paper going and reading a few papers the polarimetry people had given me. All-in-all, not too exciting.
I did however, go to that "restaurant-row" for dinner on the last night. Every one that I passed had somebody standing out side trying to shove you in to the restaurant. "Dinner sir?" "Happy-beer 1$ 1$!" "You like seafood???". I must have oozed tourist (white, with backpack, looking horribly lost?). But.... I discovered the secret to Singapore - Massive Air-con! They have these alley's that separate the buildings and every one has 10 air conditioners sticking out the back!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Macritche Sweat

I spent the morning with a dedicated group of comet-polarimetry women. Reiko, Edith, Anny-Chantel, and Ludmilla. Just the mix of accents was enough do make me feel very tired just listening. I can't imagine what non-native speakers must feel like. It looks like I'm writing a paper summarizing the DI polarimetry. It's lots more work but good to make me sort everything out.

I finally got enough food for once - I stormed the buffet and had 4 plates plus two dessert plates and some icecream. Finally, I feel full for under $40!!!

Karen and I headed up to Macritche resavoir and did a 5-6 mile jungle hike in the afternoon, maybe 5.5 miles. I think I soaked through my shirt early and Karen kept complaining that she was only 3/4 soaked through and I didn't look wet. It was very very jungle though - dragons, monkies, and air so thick it felt liquid.

The dragon (monitor lizard, but dragon sounds so much cooler) was rubbing it's head into the dirt. I don't know why. We did the "treetop-walk" which had a pretty neat view. The two automatic-rifle-armed soldiers at the entrance threw me off a bit. They were pretty nice and didn't say anything, but Singapore executes people who spit on the sidewalk and the park entrance did have some frightening signs. The usual "no-tresspassing" sign didn't say "we will prosecute", it just had a picture of a man with a giant rifle pointed at a blindfolded man's head....... "Beware, snipers will shoot you on sight if you step off the trail."