Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Crater Sunset

The sunset in the crater last night was spectacular, and the weather held great. I was amazed that we had good weather the whole night. The project before ended early so I got an extra two hours of observing in. It was really nice to get some new data. The seeing was crap, but everything else was beautiful. I woke up "early", around 11am, to process the data and get ready for tonight. Too bad the fog is here and it doesn't look like it's leaving. At least I got one good night of data. Now I've just got a bunch more plots to make and I'll be ok.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Maui Sunsets

I'm up on the mountain again. I'll be observing for the next week. This time, I made sure to have a bunch of videos and a few bottles of wine in case I need to escape for a while. The forecast isn't so great. Maybe I'll have lots of pretty pictures. Maybe I won't.... At least the sunset tonight was great.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Median Processing?

I made a little script to do clipped-mean processing when I stack the near-infrared pictures. It came out a little weird. There was no real benefit to it in the end, but it did show these strange patterns. The median-image has sharper clouds with a neat texture to them. The difference between the median and the average looks like some kind of finger-paint.....

Friday, October 26, 2007

Flying Home

Little 9-seat planes are fun....

Moloka'i on the way out.

Sands of Mo'o Momi
O'ahu south shore

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Conference Proceedings

I took the day off and neglected coral stuff to work on a conference proceedings that is due soon. When I went to Puerto Rico and gave my presentations and posters, it came with the requirement that you write up a 4-page "proceedings" of your contribution. Each scientific conference usually produces a book of everybody's major work. I got 4 pages for my poster. Talks get 6, invited talks get 8. It was actually somewhat nice to write this one up - it's for an interdisciplinary audience so there's no jargon and it's much more narrative. Something like a 4 page summary of my last 3 years.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Coral Sampling Deux

Today was spent doing more of the same - just watching coral grow....

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Coral Sampling Day 1

The monitoring program is basically to go see how different coral species grow under different conditions on the Moloka'i south shores. The water is really muddy. The mountains get a decent amount of rain near the peaks but the mountain faces don't have much cover. They've had the vegetation mostly removed or changed over the last century (I think). The south shore is protected from big waves by the surrounding islands, and it's quite gradual. You can walk out 1000ft and still only be in water waist deep. There's a lot of mud that settles down on the coral in this environment. Algae grows there too.

They put trays of different corals out at specific depths and locations and let them grow for a year or so. They stained the coral so that you can measure how much they grow, and have a good idea on how much they're breaking or spreading. Many have pieces break off, decreasing the weight. Having the "linear extension" gives you an independent estimate of the growth. The surprising thing was that a lot of them had grown really well. I think the expected amount was about 5-20%, but they were doing more like 40% with many almost doubling in size.

This is a quick histogram of sample "C". It shows how many corals increased by a certain % weight. So, 5 samples increased by 20%, 8 samples by 30 and 40%, 6 by 50% and one or two in each bin up to 110%. A lot of them grew by a really significant length too. They also had temperature loggers that recorded the temp hourly. It was kind of cool seeing this stuff.


Hourly Temperature:

I also had the job of photographing these sediment plates - ceramic tiles that allow the mud to settle on them. Coral and algae also grow on them and help record what the environment did over the last year. Some had nothing on them, and others were covered in stuff....

While all this was going on, I was doing some timelapse of West Maui and Lanai with the NIR filter. It comes out really clearly, even when there's way too much haze.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Fly to Moloka'i

We flew on a little 9-seater over to Molokai. The day was ridiculously clear and we flew out right along Ko'olau mountains on O'ahu. It was really neat to see the view from such a small plane. We unloaded a container full of Costco food, strictly vegetarian. I'm interested to see how hungry I get by the end. There's only one place on the island with internet. I'll add stories later....

The windward side on the way out.

Southeast corner.

West Maui from our vacation rental house - "Happy House". Near infrared of course!

Sunset from the monitoring house.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Proposal again.... this time, for money!

The last week or two has been very tough. Jeff and I are writing a proposal to get NSF $$ for my next job. We need to request 3 years of my salary plust overheads (admin and computer people). Staying on after you graduate is a little unusual for the typical "standard track", but since I've got to stay in Hawaii for Liz, I'm stuck. I never wanted to be with the heard of sheep anyways! There are tons of interesting things that you learn when you try to deviate from the heard, and when you try to sell yourself. To sum it up, I spent a lot of time writing and worrying about how to justify myself. Do I really think that 3 years of my work is worth $400,000 of the taxpayers money? My salary is only $150 of that (3yrs @ 50k) and the rest is for.... well, the rest of the support "system". But still, what is that money going to buy? Some understanding? Some new technology? A hell of a lot of telescope time for sure. I think it's worth it. We'll see what the poli-tists and sci-ocrats say.

I'm heading to Moloka'i tomorrow with Liz to go work on a long-term coral monitoring project. We'll be on the south shore of Moloka'i at the Kamiloloa site, of all places, at the "Happy House"!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Thesis Part 1 is DONE!!!!!

Well, at least almost done. Since Jeff's got me writing a NSF grant proposal to support the next few years of work, I needed to get this paper out of the way as quick as possible. It feels really good to have it done. Basically, I wrote up maybe 27 pages (44 figures... apj style) about the new setup, my code improvements, calibrations and some basic comparisions of my instrument on Maui to a number of others. It's scarry how strong the telescope polarization is - it really messes with my measurements. But, there are some comparisons with other instruments that do quite well.... I still don't have it all sorted out, but at least I've got a start. Anyways, it's been submitted to PASP, just like my old paper. Basically, this one is part II of the old paper. And, decently enough, my ApJ letter on observations and Jeff's on theory came out now too. Plenty of stuff to start stapling together for a thesis!

"Spectropolarimetric observations of Herbig Ae/Be Stars I: HiVIS spectropolarimetric calibration and reduction techniques."

Whopping polarization.


Q-U Loop

Bad telescope...... should be flat zero!!

Friday, October 05, 2007

Mexicans on Maui and Airport Security

I went to Maui today to help get a grad-student from UNAM get set up and situated on Maui. She'll be working with us for a month over here. It was fun getting to hear some inside stories from Mexico. I was amazed that I got all the software she needed up and running fairly quickly on a linux system. I suck at linux, and I was using Katie's DARTH program, one I've never really tested out that much. It assumes a lot of things that have changed in the last year or so. But it was working pretty quickly.

I think the most entertaining part of the travel had to be the airport security. I had my first big screw-up in a while. I got to the airport at 6:50 for a 7:30 flight. PLENTY of time. I usually shoot for 6:55 cause the automated boarding machines close half an hour before the flight. Even then I waste 5-10 minutes waiting. I've never spent more than 10 minutes getting to the gate when I don't check a bag! This time, as I got my boarding pass from the automated, no-baggage machine, I realized that my ID was at home. Dammit!! I've got 10 minutes till boarding starts, 40 minutes to home in rush-hour traffic... No way I'm going to make it. I went to a gate agent (5min in line) and asked about changing my flight last minute. Little did I know, you don't need an ID to fly! Amazing. Fortunate. I wonder what kind of strip-searching I've got to go through..... He had to write in big red letters "No ID" across my ticket.

The dude at security had to take me aside and fill out a form about me - ticket number, destination, etc. They called out, in a funny half-military-parrrot way, "We got an L1" "L1" "L1 coming down" "L1 coming through" "L1" "L1 comign" till every agent had loudly parrotted the line. I had to chuckle. If only I'd been brown and bearded, they'd probably have called over a few more big guys. The biggest one came over after I passed through the metal detector and said "You've been randomly selected for extra screening". My ass. I don't have an ID and there's giant red "warnings" all over my ticket. You don't need to lie dude. I'm amazed I got this far. I got the full pat down and wanding. While this was going on, two others were tearing my backpack apart, rubbing the little bomb-sniffer paper things all over everything, doing maybe 10 tests, and looking inside everything possible. Good thing I was traveling for only one day and I only had a camera, laptop, and some papers. Not much to look through. I put my bag back together and speed-walked to the gate. The dude had just logged out of his machine and given my seat to a standby. He logged back in, found me a seat, and I was last on the plane with about a minute or two till the door closed. Jeezus that was close. I was amazed that I had made it through all that in under 35 minutes. Just amazing. I was the highest-risk "class" of passenger..... Though if I was brown I'd probably have not made the flight. No racial profiling? Bullshit. And statistically, it is bullshit. I made sure to leave an hour for the same process on the return....

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Website updated!

My pics website has been updated to include Kauai, Big Isle, and some other random pics.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Big Island Part Two

We had good weather in the morning and actually got a view of the Kilauea caldera. It's pretty impressive in the open, and fun to imagine it incandescent and boiling. The drizzle came back just after breakfast, and we headed to the desert to do a 7.5 mile hike. The landscapes were pretty great, and I was very thankful for the cloud cover. We drove back and down to Hilo, then went to a nearby beach park and Akaka falls. Rahul treated me to dinner in belated celebration of that whole UH top-doctoral student thing. We basically talked politics the whole time. I really liked being around an x-manhattan-lawyer-turned-gambler. Interesting stories.....

Kilauea Caldera
Halema'uma'u - the little active lava lake within the caldera.

The Ka'u trailhead. The drizzle we escaped clouding the distant pali....

A lone tree on the windswept plains.

The little beachpark in Hilo.
Akaka falls - a pretty huge waterfall, and it was gushing from the rain.....

Monday, October 01, 2007

Big Island Day One

Again, Rahul and I took advantage of the $18 airfare and went to hike around the volcano. The rain killed the views, but the area is neat anyways. We started by driving around the caldera and doing some small hikes. We were exhausted from the 330am rise to catch the 530am flight, but a nap made everything better. In the afternoon, we drove around the lower part of the park and saw the various cliffs (pali) that go to the ocean. We then drove up the Mauna Loa road up to 6500ft and hiked the first mile of the summit trail. Neat views.....

Thurston lava tube - we had the whole thing to our selves at 8am on a rainy Monday morning. By the time we passed there again around 11, the place was crawling with busses and every parking spot was taken. It was totally amazing. The tourists are like clockwork, and there's hoards of them. The lava tube was cool too.

The pali
Hilina Pali, and an escape from the rain towards the Ka'u desert
Drizzle makes plants look cool.....
A very surreal tree just after the goat-fence up the flanks of Mauna Loa.