Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lenticulars and "stationary disturbances'

The winds have been steady around 45mph today, and it's damn cold outside. There were these somewhat steady lenticulars with streamers behind them moving around the summit all day. The lapses are awesome.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Windy Summit

I'm on the summit again until Saturday. The fire wasn't really visible, and I'm guessing it was rained out - bad weather is moving in. Actually, the weather station up here recorded a 70mph gust today and we've had sustained winds in the 40-50mph range. Woo hoo! Oh, and I saw a submarine on the flight out today. It looked like a whale to me at first, but then it didn't really move......

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Maui is Burning

There's a giant bush fire on the up-country slopes of Haleakala. Giant. I'll be there tomorrow...... Here's some shots from Judy.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Karate Kid Hilarity

Funny stuff - Sweep the Leg

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mokulua Kayak Part II

Liz, Jeff, and I decided to go kayak around Kailua & Waimanalo since there were hardly any waves and no wind at all. It was awesome. Jeff and I went swimming on the back side of the Mokulua Islands - a little rough but a rush for sure. The kayaking was really pleasant - we covered some ground too.


The Mokulua Islands are the two little nubs on the left. Waimanalo bay is just past the near point of land, streching to the far island in the middle (rabbit island).
Liz again!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Botanical Gardens

There's a random plot of land, in between the highway and a major 6-lane road, in the middle of town that has an old botanical garden. It's actually quite neat. Aside from the loud traffic, it's very pretty with little trails and all sorts of plants. Liz was super excited.....

Friday, January 19, 2007


I got an email this morning with the draft of a conference-proceedings paper that I helped with. In academia, there's a saying: "Publish or Perish". The beurocrats, cronies (funding agencies), and even some faculty have this notion that the more publications you put out, the better you are, and the more money you deserve. While number does mean something, there are so many papers put out that don't really have any significant conclusions.

Why rush to publish a paper on one night of data when you could wait and add a few more and make you case a little stronger or perhaps draw more general conclusions? There's good reasons why.

One is that there are many people who are perfectly capable of doing exactly what you did, who can get telescope time, just like you did, who also want to do the project you're doing, who might scoop you (publish first and get the fame & glory). In a hyper-competitive field with half-way-to-autistic scientists all working 100 hours per week to try and beat each other to publishing first, you can't wait for an extra year to look at a star/galaxy again. Someone else will do it first. Or, even worse, if you tell somebody about what you're doing before you publish it, somebody will try to steal your idea and do it before you, to get the fame & glory.

Another is that there's a social stigma that happens when you don't publish your data. The older astronomers, who control who gets to use the telescopes, won't give you more time unless you publish your results. You can try to give them a good reason for waiting, but remember, if you get scooped then your university doesn't get the good PR and you will have "wasted" telescope time.

There's another thing to notice that goes in to publishing. There's 8 authors on this paper. The first author gets most of the credit, but this one goes on all our publication records. In my opinion, if somebody helped out with a paper, they should get to be a co-author. That way, you get rewarded for the work you do. Simple enough, right? I've heard plenty of stories, especially from grad students in any field, where their advisors (old faculty) will tell them that they aren't co-authors because they were simply hired to do the data analysis, and are not part of the science. Some have even gone so far as to have a grad-student write the proposal, go do the observing, process and analyze the data, and make all the figures for a paper, to then be scratched off the author list because the guy wanted all the fame & glory for himself.

I've never fully understood the concepts of prestige, fame, glory, or ego. It doesn't make sense to me that somebody would think it better to screw over the people that helped them do a project. You burn enough bridges in a very small, tight, anti-social community (like science) and I would think that soon you wouldn't have anyone willing to help you. Also, if everybody publishes with many co-authors, then everyones records are helped. But it also doesn't make sense that some of the worst offenders are the one's with the biggest grants and sallaries. It seems that your ability to package and sell yourself counts for much more than it should. But then again, the people giving out the money to the lowly public servants are also just people who also don't have the time to read anything and make their million-dollar decisions based on 30-second sound-bytes, and half-page proposals..........

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Fall Pictures Up

I'm sure Liz will be happy that I've managed to get some more pics up on to my website. I've uploaded our X-mas trip (Maui), my observing runs, and random pictures from the last few months. I always like getting to reflect a bit by looking at pics. It makes me realize how insane life has been........

Anyways, I'm up at the telescope working the next 3 nights. Hopefully, I'll catch up on some pic processing, work, and email. As a bonus, I was backing up some hard-drives up here and found 8 nights of good data from 2004 and 2006. It seems a little strange that I forgot those nights. But, maybe I'll be forgiven since I've done 87 nights in the last few years. At least I found them right?


On the way in to Maui, I caught these glories out the plane window. Aparently, they come not just from internal reflections, but also refraction and diffraction, including surface waves (explanation here). The polarization pattern is funky too (here).

Monday, January 15, 2007


I just bought a kayak with a couple friends (Dagny, Jeff) so that Liz and I can start "paddling". Liz has a thing for boats and I thought that a tandem kayak was an awesome idea. Of course, she says she's going to be too busy to go out, but I'm going to try to talk her out of it. After buying it used from a guy in Mililani, I talked Dagny into not working on a holiday (like most obsessed astro-kids) so we could go out to the Mokulua islands on the windward side. There were a ton of people, but the waves and water were fun.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

The Pali Loop

Liz is sick, so while she slept and got needled, I went for a long ride. It's been a long time.... I really do like how much the islands change in just a few miles. Wet to desert in a half-hour bike.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

From the front lines

Anyways, so yeah, besides work I lift and grapple. That's about it. As far as work goes...wow. It's a whole lot of craziness. It's got it's ups and downs though. I have a ton of responsibility here. Right now I'm the company (120 dudes) executive officer which is in charge of well... damn near everything. An example of what I do is like yesterday I took a convoy (organized and led) to a nearby forward operating base (FOB) to get better armor installed on a couple of our HUMMV's, and turn a blown/burnt up truck in to the scrap metal yard. That was the truck from our company that got blown up and was the first 2 KIA's in the battalion. We've had 7 people killed in just over 2 months in Iraq. We've also had about 50 people wounded where about 30 will not return to duty. It's pretty scary.

Lately we've been finding a LOT of stuff which is good. We mostly find home made explosives (HME), RPGs, Mortars, AK's and other small arms and machine guns, and other IED making material. Recently we found a bunch of rockets though, which I'm glad we found them before they were fired.

I haven't been doing as many combat patrols as the rest of the guys because I'm the XO. I've done 16 combat patrols since I've been here. One of them we got hit with 2 IEDs, but neither of them were on my truck. The other exciting time we went out we had to re-occupy this Iraqi police (IP) station that the IP's abandoned. It was looted and blown up, but half of the building was still standing. The day we occupied it was the day I was first shot at (and missed), they also fired mortars at us but missed.

We were getting shot at from a house about 400m away and we leveled it with 25mm high explosive (HE) from a bradley fighting vehicle and then a hellfire missile from an apache helicopter. That was pretty cool because I was the one on the radio talking to the pilot and asking for the missile and telling him which building to hit. I have it on video, but it's like 10 megs and can't send it over this email. I'll figure out how to send it some day though.

My spirits are generally high though, considering the situation. I should be coming home for 2 weeks in March or April. Then we're supposed to be done with the deployment in september, unless we get extended, which would suck.

I'm looking forward to being back in the states and having freedom again. I hope to do more traveling and just taking advantage of not being here. Maybe we'll come to Hawaii again someday. Lemme know your plans and how long you think you'll be in Hawaii.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Flying Home

Baldwin beach has to be my new favorite. It's short, but the sand is big (so Liz likes it). There's a "kiddie pool" over on the near side where some reef breaks all the waves and makes a little channel so you can swim any season.

The Molokai reef.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

An awesome sunset

Maui, near the end

Katie is going to be doing the observing hopefully more than half the time for the coming months. I'm mostly done anyways, but she's going to make my life a helluva lot easier. I can finally spend some time at my house! Yay! Too bad I tweaked my back out in the weight room yesterday on my first day back. Of all things to have happen. I was lifing really light and had already warmed everything up. Go figure.....

Anyways, it's super cloudy here again and I doubt I'll get anything useful tonight.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

"Pillbox" Hike

From WWII, there are many little bunkers on various mountains around the island. They're called "pillboxes". They're everywhere. The Japanese flew over Kolekole pass, on the leeward side on their way to Pearl Harbor. During the war, roads and defenses were built all over the island. There are railroad lines up some of the mountains that used to haul amunition up to the gun turrets.

Liz and I were hanging out with Rahul over the weekend and did the lanikai pillbox trail. It's very short but has awesome views. It's got to be one of my favorites on that side now......

Friday, January 05, 2007

My life for the next few months

I've been on Maui since Tuesday, and most of the time I'm behind the computer staring at plots like these.....

The observing for the year is winding down, and I won't be over here anywhere near as much in the coming months. Katie will be handling a lot of the observing. I'll be sitting behind my computer writing code, making plots, and hopefully writing a couple/few papers. It's going to be a different kind of boring but at least I'll be in the weight-room and grappling again.

It looks like winter is here. The cirrus clouds have been out and only one of my 4 nights over here has been clear. The air is really cold. It makes for awesome timeapse though..... I won't be posting any until I'm back in Oahu for more than a few days. My hard-drive is choking on data right now and I've deleted basically everything, including my website. I've also been caught off-guard by the rain twice now. I'll look up at 2am and see wet windows, then run upstairs to find my cameras outside in the blowing mist. I'm amazed they haven't died yet. It's never been downpour though. I wonder if the warrenty is still valid........

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Grand Canyon = Noah's flood scar?

HOW OLD IS THE GRAND CANYON? PARK SERVICE WON’T SAY — Orders to Cater to Creationists Makes National Park Agnostic on Geology

Washington, DC — Grand Canyon National Park is not permitted to give an official estimate of the geologic age of its principal feature, due to pressure from Bush administration appointees. Despite promising a prompt review of its approval for a book claiming the Grand Canyon was created by Noah's flood rather than by geologic forces, more than three years later no review has ever been done and the book remains on sale at the park, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

“In order to avoid offending religious fundamentalists, our National Park Service is under orders to suspend its belief in geology,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “It is disconcerting that the official position of a national park as to the geologic age of the Grand Canyon is ‘no comment.’”

In a letter released today, PEER urged the new Director of the National Park Service (NPS), Mary Bomar, to end the stalling tactics, remove the book from sale at the park and allow park interpretive rangers to honestly answer questions from the public about the geologic age of the Grand Canyon. PEER is also asking Director Bomar to approve a pamphlet, suppressed since 2002 by Bush appointees, providing guidance for rangers and other interpretive staff in making distinctions between science and religion when speaking to park visitors about geologic issues.

In August 2003, Park Superintendent Joe Alston attempted to block the sale at park bookstores of Grand Canyon: A Different View by Tom Vail, a book claiming the Canyon developed on a biblical rather than an evolutionary time scale. NPS Headquarters, however, intervened and overruled Alston. To quiet the resulting furor, NPS Chief of Communications David Barna told reporters and members of Congress that there would be a high-level policy review of the issue.

According to a recent NPS response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by PEER, no such review was ever requested, let alone conducted or completed.

Park officials have defended the decision to approve the sale of Grand Canyon: A Different View, claiming that park bookstores are like libraries, where the broadest range of views are displayed. In fact, however, both law and park policies make it clear that the park bookstores are more like schoolrooms rather than libraries. As such, materials are only to reflect the highest quality science and are supposed to closely support approved interpretive themes. Moreover, unlike a library the approval process is very selective. Records released to PEER show that during 2003, Grand Canyon officials rejected 22 books and other products for bookstore placement while approving only one new sale item — the creationist book.

Ironically, in 2005, two years after the Grand Canyon creationist controversy erupted, NPS approved a new directive on “Interpretation and Education (Director’s Order #6) which reinforces the posture that materials on the “history of the Earth must be based on the best scientific evidence available, as found in scholarly sources that have stood the test of scientific peer review and criticism [and] Interpretive and educational programs must refrain from appearing to endorse religious beliefs explaining natural processes.”

“As one park geologist said, this is equivalent of Yellowstone National Park selling a book entitled Geysers of Old Faithful: Nostrils of Satan,” Ruch added, pointing to the fact that previous NPS leadership ignored strong protests from both its own scientists and leading geological societies against the agency approval of the creationist book. “We sincerely hope that the new Director of the Park Service now has the autonomy to do her job.”