Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I've been working on sky polarization this week - the sky is blue, but also highly polarized. It's got an interesting pattern on the sky - maximum polarization 90 degrees off the sun.

Here's a bunch of polarization measurements from a paper by Pomozi in 2001. Essentially he used a fish-eye camera with a polarizer on it. The dot is the sun. Left to right it goes clear color picture, polarization, direction, simple model polarization, model direction, cloudy picture, cloudy polarization, cloudy direction.

and here's a simple one - at sunset, dark=polarized.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Pod, Part Deux

I spent Sunday on the airfield and in the shop with Billy. It was nice to get the pod mounted on the glider. Aerial photography, here we come!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Koko Crater Hike Again

I got up early and hiked Kamehame ridge and then met up with Sonnett, Ryan, Mark n Kimmie to do Koko Crater again. I got an awesome panorama.....

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A Napalm Compartment......

Or maybe it's just a spy camera.

Billy got a powered glider. Very very cool. Liz and I partied with these guys on Saturday (and that's another story). Billy couldn't stop talking about his plane and our plans to mount a camera on the bottom of it. Actually it's not his fault. I couldn't stop either. Anyways, he bought the plane and started his own "company" that does aerial survey & photography. I'm helping him out by doing what I know best - optomechanics. He bought a "pod" that is meant for cargo on ultralight gliders. I hacked the pod to put in a window, and I made a solid mount for the digital SLR (~$7K!). I think this was an awesome afternoon diversion with the added bonus of lots of free flights! Yay.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Stupid Ear

I'm sure none of you really want to see this, but I think I need to write a post about why I've been a fat slacker. I haven't been able to grapple since Dec 2nd. In the tournament, second match, my ear got caught and pulled forward. It got a little "ripped up" underneath. A bunch of fluid built up, and as usual, I didn't give it enough time to heal. It got infected.

I'm on my 3rd week of anti-biotics, which seemed to be working. Last night, it "popped". I woke up when Liz tried to do her usual "pirating". You know, snuggling up and almost pushing me off the bed. I felt a bunch of crusty stuff on my ear, and it totally freaked me out. I think this might be a good thing, but I'm a little unsure yet. The clinic is closed till tomorrow. Since I'm poor and can only afford Kaiser, where they don't really spend more than 10 seconds diagnosing anything, I'm a little nervous about what could be going on. We'll see........
A day post-"pop"

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Koko Crater Hike

Kimmie and Mark invited me along to climb Koko Crater on Saturday morning. It's a brutal "hike". There's an old railway line that used to carry ammunition up to the bunkers on the top. There's old gun stations all over the island on top of various hills..... The line goes straight up the 1207 feet to the summit. It kills you because it's essentially stairs the whole way.

Kimmie was a little "out of it". She passed out on the top while Mark and I did some boxing on top of an old structure up there. Really cool.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Spitzer is cool

An awesome shot of a "dead star" from Spitzer

Monday, February 12, 2007

Paper published, finally!

I finally got back the published version of my DI paper, submitted 10 months ago. It was supposed to be all done by September or so. Emails about how rushed and frantic it was...... I don't think many people even had drafts by July. As far as publications go, that's a half-decent turnaround time. There's so much stuff being published that you absolutley have to put your "draft" online as soon as it's accepted for publication. There's been an average of 20 new papers put online in the astrophysics section every day this month.........

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Reverend J.

An awesome parable, by reverend j, who has a gift for making illuminating stories.

More than almost anything else, Fred wanted to ski. But Fred was afraid.

Fred was afraid that he might get hurt, or even killed. Fred was afraid that he wouldn't be very good. But most of all, Fred was afraid that people would laugh at his tiny little skis.

Fred would tell others, and himself, that he didn't want to ski. Fred would tell others, and himself, that skiing was cold, wet and nasty. But still Fred, and everyone else, knew that he really wanted to ski.

All alone in his cold, darkened room at the lodge, Fred would read the Good Book. When the skiers returned from the slopes, Fred would regale them with stories from the Bible.

Most of the skiers would roll their eyes and walk away. But some stayed and listened. It made Fred feel good to have people pay attention to him. It made him feel even better to be the one in the conversation who knew the most about the topic, so he continued his Bible studies.

One day Fred came across the following passage:

And he [Satan] brought him to Jerusalem, and set him on a pinnacle of the temple, and said unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down from hence: For it is written, He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee: And in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. And Jesus answering said unto him, It is said, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.

--Luke 4:9-12, KJV

Something snapped in Fred's already fragile mind that day. Skiing, he told himself, was nothing but a fancy way of leaping off of a pinnacle. The desire he felt to ski, he told himself, came from the devil. His avoidance of skiing, he told himself, was a virtue. When he refused to ski, he told himself, he was doing God's work.

Fred told himself these things again and again. When he finally convinced himself, he started telling others. Fred told them that skiing was cold, wet, nasty and dangerous. Fred told them that the desire to ski came from the devil. Fred told them that skiing was evil, and therefore skiers were evil.

But many people had been skiing, and knew that with proper precautions it was fun and safe. The non-skiers all had friends who were skiers, and knew they were no different from anyone else. So the skiers and their non-skiers friends just laughed at Fred.

Fred screamed and yelled and told the people that they had been deceived by the devil. Most just laughed. An unbalanced few joined him. In time, Fred and his followers moved away from the mountains to settle among the plainsmen.

Fred told the plainsmen that skiing was cold, wet, nasty and dangerous. Fred told them that the desire to ski came from the devil. Fred told them that skiing was against the laws of God, and therefore skiers were evil. Most of the plainsmen had never been skiing. Few had even met a skier. Knowing no better, many people accepted Fred's fantasy as reality. After all, he seemed so sincere.

Conservatives wanted to pass laws barring skiers from public office, or from jobs in teaching. Moderates said things like "Hate the skis, but love the skier!" Even liberals started saying things like "If people want to do cold, wet, nasty and dangerous things in the privacy of the mountains, that's none of our business." They never realized that skiing was a perfectly normal activity, and relatively safe if you take the proper precautions.

Every time a skier broke the law, or behaved poorly, Fred proclaimed it evidence of the moral weakness of skiers. When young men and women learned to ski while away at college, Fred proclaimed it evidence that the schools were under the control of an Atheist-Skier conspiracy. When the courts threw out anti-skier laws as unconstitutional, Fred claimed the judges to be the willing tools of Satan.

Every time a skier would get hurt or catch a cold Fred would claim it to be a punishment from God for their sins. When an avalanche struck, Fred proclaimed it to be God's judgment against skiers, heedless that many of the dead and injured were not skiers.

Fred, in his insanity, turned away from those who needed help. He encouraged his followers to turn away too. Worse, his insanity had spread to the point where liberal commentators were saying things like "But what about the babies, surely they never skied!"

A few could see where this madness would lead, but no one would listen. The day they feared came: A couple of Fred's followers decided God needed a little help. The followers found a young skier named Matt. The lured him to a desolate ski-slope, and they tortured him to death.

People were shocked and they were horrified. They held their breath. Surely, they thought, Fred would have to see that his hatred was wrong.

Fred arrived at Matt's funeral with a few of his followers. They carried signs with slogans like "God hates skiers" and "Matt burns in Hell."

Horror upon horrors! Fred was clearly insane. Surely the mainstream churches would speak against his insanity.

But few ever did.

So the clouds opened up, a bright light shone forth, and God spoke:

"Fred, you're a twisted bigoted idiot. There's nothing wrong with skiing. If I didn't want people to ski, I could easily have made it impossible."

"You Popes and Bishops and Ministers should be ashamed of yourselves for not speaking out against this man's delusion. You have been charged with spreading my word but have failed to spread the most basic element: Love!"

"You who call yourselves my children: What part of 'Love your neighbor as you would love yourself' did you not understand?"

"And you skiers, wipe that smug smile of your face. I've heard what you've been saying about snow boarders. Do the words 'do unto others' ring a bell?"

"Each and every one of you, listen up. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Go forth, and be excellent to one another. Get that right, and the rest will follow."

The last echoes of God's voice faded. The clouds came together. The great light of God faded.

Fred and his followers realized the great evil they had done. The mainstream churches realized that complacency was complicity. The skiers realized they too were not without faults. The snow boarders got some pants that fit.

Everybody forgave everybody else, and from that moment on everyone was excellent to one another.
In October of 1998 in Wyoming a pair of Christian thugs tortured to death Matthew Shepard, a young gay man. Pastor Fred Phelps and his supporters picketed Matthew's funeral with signs reading "God Hates Fags" and "Heaven Won't Take Fags-Hell Has Him Now." Some of the more liberal churches mumbled reproach. After two or three days of halfhearted attention, the media returned to discussing President Clinton's sex life.

God was notably absent from the discussions.

Friday, February 09, 2007

It's done!!

Last night was my last night observing (thesis) until next fall. I'm unbelievably thrilled. Since September, I've had 40 nights of observing, as well as probably another 40 as engineering, waiting, working, etc over on the summit. It's been great for my thesis but totally horrible for my life. It's tough being mostly alone on a summit working 10-15 hour days/nights.

Not that I get to have a normal life soon. I'm conflicted about all the traveling I'm doing. On one hand, a lot of it will be good for work and most of it will be good fun, but I liked my life on Oahu, and I'm going to miss Liz, friends and fighting. A lot of the stuff coming up soon is fun, for my sanity. The last few months has really worn me down.

Blue, Red, Orange, and Green are all travel. I'm on Oahu 25% of the time on average. But, and this is for Liz, if you count the days I'm flying her with me (since she's poor, Seattle, Zurich) and the Big Isle trip in March, that's 45% of the time I'll be "around". Not as bad. Here's the calendar.

March 1-10 (Work) Educational Program, Maui
March 18-21 (Fun) Big Island with Liz, LizFam, n Panza
April 8 - May 3 (4 Days Work & Rest Fun) Chile - Observing & Claire
May 12-20 (Fun) SanFran with Dad
May 22-June 1 (Work) Educational Program, Maui
June 2-15 (Fun) Visit Panza in Seattle with Liz
June 19-23 (Work) Observing on the Big Island
June 24-July 10 (Fun) Michigan Reunion
July 12-23 (Work) Bioastronomy Meeting, Puerto Rico
August 2-11 (Work) Adaptive Optics school, Santa Cruz, CA
August 13-Sept 9ish (Work) Modeling polarization with collaborators, Zurich

So, I think a lot of this will be fun. There's a lot of crap to get done in between, but when isn't there? Maybe I'll have enough time at home and near sea-level that I can exercise like a normal person and get rid of my squish.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A Clear Day

I tried to do some more of the stack-n-filter shots near sunset to catch the shadows on the mountain. It was a good way to waste an hour or two.

Monday, February 05, 2007

New Near-Infrared Filter

I found a NIR filter on ebay from some obscure chinese company for $40. It says it works around 900nm (red is 650nm). I thought I would see if my camera is sensitive to these wavelengths. It turns out that my camera records light in its red, green, and blue pixels. I don't really understand that one, but it's mostly red with some blue. At any rate, the haze was cut down fairly well after stacking 30 exposures, but it was nowhere near as good as the one before using no special filter. I can't tell if I needed to stack more images, or if it's a light-leak issue. The Big Island at sunset had some really cool texture either way.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Bike and a Kuliouou

The hurricane force winds (111mph peak on the T4 annomometer) killed any chances for using the telescope tues-fri so I went home. Basically worked and weight-roomed thurs, fri. I finally took a Saturday to go outside and have some fun. I biked the pali loop and tried out a new zoom lens (300mm). I decided to mapquest the route - 35.4 miles. Not too bad. The 1100ft to the pali lookout hurts the most.

After that was done, Sonnett and I hiked to the top of Kuliouou ridge (1700ft, 3.4mi). It was windy and a bunch of dirt got in my eyes and ears, but good fun anyways. Sonnett still thinks she's not photogenic for some reason.