Thursday, January 31, 2008

Thesis Fears and Sunsets

I think the last few days have been really interesting. I went flying Sat/Sun and had three more lessons Tues/Wed. I spent a lot of time sitting around working on my thesis at the airfield, but I still feel somewhat scared about it. I realized that, come next Friday, I need to get a draft to Karen. Then in the following week, it's got to go to the rest of the committee. Basically, I'm here. D-Day. And what do I do? Go take pilots lessons. Hang out with Anne. I really can't tell whether it's just dumb confidence, damn-the-man reactionism, or a simple excitement about flying & friends, but I can't seem to turn the lessons or hanging-out down.

I do feel like my draft is coming along quite nicely - it's at 247 pages and all I feel I'm missing now is an interpretive section on one theory just before the conclusions. But there's a part of me that worries - the draft I send out will be the only one that gets read by committee. This same draft will be the one used to consider my graduation - to PhD or not to PhD.... You'd think I'd be in a state of work-a-holic panic right now. I don't know what this says about me, I'm no psychoanalysit (Nick?), but the immediate thought of flying, launching a business, and having a friend visit pulls me away from it. I still put in many hours per day on it, but I feel that I must maintain balance and that a few hours here or there won't really sway the outcome.... Anyways, though I should be near panic right now, I have some awesome tidbits to share about flying and Anne.

Flying..... I suck at it. It's hard. The plane steers with the rudder, and only the rudder, on the ground but up in the air, it's the stick too. I have to remember on take-off to wait to use the stick till we're going fast enough - the twilight zone between slow and lift-off. And the response is funny - it's not like a steering wheel. Since we have a tail-dragger, before take-off the back of the plane lifts up to level before we have enough lift to go up. It feels like the plane is taking a nose-dive into the runway. Before going up, you must point the nose down to get the tail off the ground. Freaky. I did my first solo take-off Wednesday though. It felt good.

Also - Steve took me gliding on the Ko'olau range one day. Damn it's goregous. He flew the whole the thing but it was good to see what to do in turbulent, near-cloudy, rainy, windy as all hell, near-sharp-mountain-range conditions. Sooooo beautiful though. And lift, my god the lift. We had to pull the air-brakes all the time cause we were going up to quick (no engine). So green, and sacred falls is just a giant slot canyon - I had no idea we had a waterfall like that on this island... Anyways, I can't land worth crap. To my credit, it's always been 20+mph winds and gusty, but I suck at landing still. I feel super shakey and have giant pit-stains whenever my lesson is done.

Anne and I had some time watching a sunset at Ala Moana last night. The sunset itself was unspectacular, but the city in twilight was great. After a long philosophical discussion about rationalsim versus emotional decision-making, we decided that "a yardstick is a yardstick", but Liz speaks French and I speak English. Confusing, I know, but that's exactly how I feel about it.... Anne was fond of saying "but the flaw in your logic is.... you speak English and other people speak French" throughout the discussion. She's a persistent one. Funny to think that just a few days ago she was hanging out with my brother in San Fran and got to pet his "wings" too.....

Ala Moana Harbor

A fun little extension of a sub-routine. It was actually nice to do math again.

More squiggles!! And they agree!!

Sunday, January 27, 2008


The last few days have been a blur. I know I've got a thesis I should be working on, but my first flying lesson was Saturday. It was super cool. Time well spent. Very gusty winds but a good day for flying anyways. I spent the rest of the day working on the TerraPAC website as well as another one I'm working on. Billy and I basically got to the point where we thought we could "launch" it in preliminary form. Check it out - I also registered us as a business on google - we've got our own little marker now. Anyways, the next day, we had some camera stuff to do so we went flying again. Billy was nervous... stronger gusty winds.... Never fun landing. Anyways, we got what we needed and managed to survive. My next lesson is Tuesday. Woo Hoo!! I should have my pilots-license in no time, even with my sucky gimp-wrist. That hand only controlls the air-brakes and the engine rpm's anyways. Stick and rudder.... that's where it's at!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sucky Wrist Update

I got my full-arm cast taken off and replaced with a temporary restraining cast on Monday morning. My wrist was sore and I couldn't really move it fully. I still don't know whether it's healing or not... My elbow still is really stiff and hurts at full extension. 3 weeks of not moving a joint does funny things. Anyways, on Wednesday morning, I went in to a different Kaiser location and got this plastic strap-on cast made. It goes all the way to my elbow and stops my wrist from twisting (fixed in suppinated position), but I have use of my elbow. Using my arm has slowly gotten rid of the stiffness but it still hurts at full extension and contraction. The totally awesome thing is, I can exercise again!! Basically I have to wear this cast full time, but I can take it off, dry it, shower, and put on a new "sock" lining. I've gone nuts the last couple days. I ran a total of 12 miles M-W, hiked twice and went to the weight room on Thurs, and went hot-tubbing! Damn it feels good to do stuff again!! I'll be in the weight room in under an hour as well! I can't really do anything with my arms, but I can work everything else. It feels great. Anyways, I have my next appointment on Feb 8th, just before I come home. The rehab lady says it's usually 6 weeks with this kind of cast, but the doc mentioned 3 weeks. I don't know. We'll see how it goes..... At least I can do things now.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

My first hike in a while....

I got my removable cast Wed. morning and decided to celebrate. I skipped work with Jeff (Rich) and went to hike Koko Crater and Mariners Ridge. It was a somewhat rude reminder of how far I've "fallen".... I used to be able to pound up those stairs, but I was really hurting by the top. 1200ft of stairs should only take 30 minutes. Damn. The view was just great though. After a pizza break, we then hiked Mariners Ridge. Again, awesome views. I thought the day was going to to be cloudy and rainy, but there was nothing but little cotton-balls on top of the Ko'olau range. Good stuff.

The Ko'olau range (Mariners Ridge with houses on it).
Looking east towards Sandy's and Makapu'u.
Hanauma bay.
Diamond Head, the Hawaii-Kai strip, and town.
Mariners Ridge from Koko Crater.
Koko Crater from half-way up Mariners Ridge
Waimanalo Bay from the top, Lanikai & Kailua in the distance....
Looking east down the Ko'olau ridge, Waimanalo below.
Waimanalo's end, Lanikai & the Mok's, Kailua bay distant.
Olomana and the Ko'olau range.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Thesis Night

I've got a night off! I got 10 hours of sleep and I've finally got time to catch up on m thesis. The humidity is up and a system is rolling in, so it looks like I'm basically done with observing for my thesis. Woo hoo.

TerraPac Imagery

It looks like everything is going to be in place for our official "company launch" this month. I've been processing a bunch of pictures to use in our website. I'm not quite ready to launch the website yet, but the pics are fabulous. I've spent a bunch of time getting familiar with the camera properties and the kind of image quality we get under different circumstances. We've flown several 'missions' now and there are some pretty incredible shots..... Making them really pretty requires a lot of processing time, but they come out awesome.

Sharks Cove & Pupukea

Waimea Bay
Haleiwa Harbor
Here's some of the better resolution shots. I'll show a wide-field shot plus a zoom in.

Pineapple fields....
and the little machine in the uppper left.

Haleiwa Harbor....
and the beach park.

Waianae Harbor oblique....
and the boats.
Makaha Valley....
and the apartment complex.
and a house.
I'm getting excited to learn to fly, as well as having a whole bunch of cool pictures of the island...

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Another Good Night

the weather was awesome. light winds and hardly any low level moisture. you could see the big island clearly.... no clouds.

kohala and mauna kea.

a re-streching to show the kohala cliffs and cinder cones. the cliffs - for scale, it's a three day hike from the first (right) valley to the last (left), maybe 10-15 miles.
the cinder cones and kohala mtn road.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Best NIR Stack Yet

i have to share this one. the inversion layer is really strong and the mid-layer is really dry. we've been reading 2-5% humidity at aeos.... at sunset i took a hdr sequence of 190 pics with the 950nm filter on. it turned out great! mauna kea has snow on it and the inversion at 7000ft is totally obvious. great stuff. here's how the filter works.

this is a raw shot in the visible range with no processing or filters. tons o blue haze.

then, with a polarzer and some photoshopping, you can start to make out the mountain top details and the snow on the summit is clearer.

then in the nir stack, you can make out all the features: snowy cinder cones, the telescopes, and the channels. in the bottom of the image, the cinder cones on top of the old kohala volcano (~5000ft) come out. the coast line in the bottom-left is pretty clear too.

i've submitted this to apod. i'll probably get a f-o-a-d, but at least i tried. some of their shots on that site are just awful..... the astro pictures are awesome, but there are several random junk pictures that show up on that site. it makes me wonder about what different people like. subjectivity.....

here's another set zoomed out.

and final parting shots of mauna kea and mauna loa.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Surprising Weather

i've been really surprised at the weather. the first night had 50mph winds at sunset but those died down around midnight. the air has been incredibly dry so the seeing has been great. nose-bleed dry.... i've been getting some really nice data, filling in some gaps in my thesis. i've also been doing some exploring with some brighter targets and found some neat things. i know i'm a little insane with this stuff, but i think having a giant store of data is a good thing. the scope is going down for 9 months starting this summer so i need to have something to tide me over.

the near-ir hdr shots are fabulous.....

mauna kea

the big island, mauna kea on the left.

mauna loa

then, here's the difference between individual (grainy) snapshots, and a 500-image stack (co-adding).

holy whopping signal.... this is going to be a nice thesis plot.