Saturday, January 31, 2009

Koko Crater & Mariners Ridge

Heather and I spent a few hours hiking both Mariners Ridge and Koko Crater. I had a heavier pack but it beat me up pretty good... Saw some interesting buggage and insectitude along the way.

Friday, January 30, 2009


No funding yet again.

Dear Dr. Harrington:

I regret to inform you that you have not been selected for an NSF Astronomy and Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellowship award. Your proposal reviews will be made available in FastLane following the final processing of your proposal, which should occur no later than the end of March. In the meantime, I thought you might appreciate advance notification of the declination so you can consider other postdoctoral offers that you may have already received.

The review panelists made every effort to provide substantive comments on each proposal, so I hope you will find their feedback to be constructive. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about the review process, and please accept our sincere wishes for success in your future scientific research and educational endeavors.

Dana Lehr

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Mounting a polarimeter!

John and I were up on the summit till about 1am, but we got the new polarimeter and a new dekkar (with calibration mounts) installed! Excellent. It took me an hour to realize that the cover had been put on the collimator - clear plexiglass that lets you get an "image" that looks horribly wrong and makes you think the system had been inflicted with a small child type knob-turner... At any rate, we're ready for the new calcite (~$10,000) to arrive so I can finish the calibrations. Sweet!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Memorizing Regulations

In preparation for my (eventually) upcoming check-ride, I spent some time trying to learn some of the things I wasn't so good at. Basically I missed questions on regulations and perscribed procedures. I was coming at the exam as if it was a "prove you can fly your plane" exam. I'm way over prepared for that. I found out it was a 3 hour oral, mostly on procedures and regulations then less than 1 hour actually flying. Go figure. I spent a lot of time this weekend digging around online and found a surprising thing. All the books that your're "supposed to buy" are online as pdf's for free. I didn't need to buy 10 books. You can download the regulation book, information manual, and all kinds of handbooks on the FAA or other sites for free. You can go to several sites and take practice tests, complete with answers and coaching, even focused on any subsection you like, all for free. That would have been handy. It's over 1500 pages of stuff to read and thousands of practice questions, but I have no excuse save lack of time now....

It also turned out that I didn't have anything like all the necessary paperwork - Steve isn't a fan of regulations so it took a lot of digging just to find what I'm required to do and the endorsements I'm required to have. I'm the first to take a check-ride to get a license in a motor-glider down at the field so Steve didn't really know. I needed to have a 25-mile cross-country and a 50-mile cross-country solo endorsement as well as several other specific statements in my logbook, signed and dated. I was supposed to take my check-ride today but it the weather and a storm of paperwork canceled that pretty quickly. It's been a learning process for sure. I was even the first to wash the plane in months. I covered 4 rags in exhaust goo from the bottom of the plane. Next shot, Feb 8th....

Required Stuff:
Current sectional chart
Pacific chart supplement
FAR (regulations)
AIM (information manual)
Engine logbook
Maintenance logbook
Flight logbook
Registration, Airworthyness, Current inspections.

Handy stuff:
Pilot's handbook
Weight n Balance handbook
Glider flying handbook
Airplane flying handbook
Hawaii Airports & Safety Guide

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Spider Eyes

The big test for mold has come and gone. My place officialy loves the dehumidifier and smells mostly ok. Now that I'm aware of it, it smells even better than it ever has. Throwing away the couch, washing nearly everything I own and throwing away lots of inessentials has been the answer for that place. The big cane spider is back. I'm not sure if it's the same one as when I first moved in, but he lives under the bed. I can't say I've seen a roach in a while. May spidey live long and prosper.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Flying Home to Study

This is my weekend to curl up with FAA regulations manuals, aeronautical handbooks and flight logs. Supposedly I've got a check-ride coming up on Tuesday. There's a lot to study before-hand....

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spectropolarimeter Rebuilt!

And some more time was spent getting this thing up and running.... now the HiVIS spectropolarimeter will have circular polarimetry as an option! Sweet.. This was kind of fun too. Got to fix a lot of things that I haven't liked about the system for years.... Yay!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Optics Day!

I spent the in the lab playing with lots of optics. The beginning of the day was spent upgrading the spectropolarimeter (rebuilt it to add circular polarimetry). The rest was spent assembling the curvature-AO system with two giant new mirrors we got. MH4 is 12" and MH6 is 6". Sweet. This is going to be fun.....

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Flying to Maui

Off to Maui again.... Adaptive optics and a good old system-rebuild!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Differing Mold Perspectives

There are some really interesting perspectives on this whole health-issues-from-mold discussion I've been having with several people. There's two extreme perspectives. In Hawaii, the relative humidity is quite high and the rainy season gets quite wet on the windward side. Lots of locals called me a "princess" or "mainlander" for being concerned with it. Everybody living here I talked to said things like "oh, my clothes always smell that way" or "yeah, our house flooded and the carpet didn't used to be that color, but now it grows in the winter... Oh well." Everybody seemed surprised that I was surprised at mold. Most say it's a fact of life here. Then there's the mainlander perspective. "It's a neurotoxin, leave quickly!". Brian and Jesse calling me to make sure I'd wear a mask when cleaning. Lots of people saying to watch it. I did a lot of research online and the CDC and EPA didn't have a whole lot to say. There were links between molds and respatory aggrivation as well as some sporadic reports of flu-like symptoms. Both agencies recommended fixing the water problem by whatever means and then sterilizing the area. Both said there were no established guidelines to check for toxicity or the level of danger. Neither seemed horribly concerned with it, though none called me a princess for worrying. My landlord even said, at first, "oh, I don't get mold, I leave the windows open and have good flow". But when I asked specific questions and she investigated it turns out she's got mold in nearly every cupboard and kitchen drawer. At low level.

Either way, the critters still don't care. I've thrown a lot of things out and done more loads of laundry than I care to think about. Much cleaning.... The dehumidifier pulled several gallons out of the air and I have to suspect that a lot of it was from the ambient posessions of mine - the rate of water collection in the tub diminished very significantly over three days (1gal/6hrs to 1gal/24hrs). Hopefully my next several days away from the apartment will cook everything alive in there.....

Giant cane spider under my bed... It can stay cause it eats roaches.
Moldy cutting board....
Random bug.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Some Pleasant Thoughts...

As I try to deal with the frustration and agony of washing everything I own and totally redoing my apartment on short notice, here's a video of Heather getting hit by a snowball. My new SLR has a "burst" mode that takes lots of small jpg's quickly in sequence. They're fun...

Hawaii has a love-affair with spam.... I find this funny too...

Friday, January 16, 2009

Not my best weekend....

My apartment is covered in mold. Clothes, furnature, cookware, pillows, books, basically everything. And it smells. I should have known - wet winter uand a "basement" type apartment with a cold tile floor. Damn. So I've got to wash and sanitize everything I own. And I spent $300 on a dehumidifier with an air filter. I'm not exactly stoked right now....

My shoyu
The Mo'o didn't really care.
My shorts.
My pillow.

Yeah. This sucks a bit.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mid-way Through Pictures....

I've spent way more time than I care to imagine simply sorting out old pictures. I was looking through my website and noticed that 2004 was a giant disaster. There were tons of hikes, activities and all sorts of neat pictures that were buried and badly in need of some organization. In continuing that process, I've managed to redo much of my pictures website with the rest to follow shortly. It's been really fun going through old pictures and remembering... Like the story of how I was building an army on the IfA roof, got a campus police report filed on me and some fellow grads (for stick spinning) filed in the student paper and then the roof was permanently locked....

Anyways - check out my pictures site. There's lots of new stuff up and more coming.

Building an army.... or just chuckin?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Opacity Images!

I've spent a lot of time plotting but it was a ton of fun actually getting to do some theory. We're getting to the point over here of being able to quantitatively illustrate the optical pumping model on real data. There's a lot of neat things to think about, but at least the model is up and running...

Polarization projects to obscuring "rings" at any given velocity.

I liked this one....
An opacity "map". Lots of assumptions went in to this cartoon, but we're basically saying that a blob of wind material near the limb of the star can reproduce our observations... This map was actually derived using observations making this the first polarimetric reconstruction I'm aware of. Sweet! Jeff did a lot of the ground work and now we've got to put some real physics in to it.

Thursday, January 08, 2009


After having one good night's sleep on O'ahu, I headed over to Maui for several days of lab work... Good times.... I was up till 5am working Monday night then up till 2:30am Tuesday and caught a 4am ride to the airport Wednesday morning. I wasn't horribly functional for that period. I finally feel somewhat normal.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Flying Home

I caught a small fire on the way in to LA....

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Skwirril - For Carly

I spent the day working from my mom's table. She sold her house and started renting one door down in preparation for a move to Florida this year. It's mildly disturbing - the house is almost but not quite the same. They're same-floorplan duplex units so it's exactly the same layout but like a massive remodeling has been done because no cabinets or doors look the same. Odd. The porch sliding glass opens the wrong way.... Anyways, there were these two squirrels playing around in the tree just behind the deck out back. I took the opportunity to try out my K20D's anti-shake with my new teleconverter. I was working at 500mm zoom so the shots were really difficult. There isn't enough light for autofocus to work at such a high "open" fstop. I think the lens is at f/6.3 when at 250mm so doubling the zoom put's it near f/12 fully open.... I had to manually focus on the fly as this critter was running around. Tough but I got some great shots.

While watching this, I remembered driving around California with Carly and Michelle - the Ozzies. When Carly saw her first squirrel there was something of a shreek and an "Oh my gosh, a skwirril!". Something similar to pronouncing Yaws-Might like Veggie-mite (instead of Yosemite). I was cracking up taking these....

Come here tasty little snack!
Look at my toes!
Almost got it....
"&*&#@!" - He fell down trying to get to some snack...
And then stood up and got it.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Colorful Plots

Over the last several days, when not plotting the usual squiggles, I've been working on making some visualizations of the "optical pumping" model in 2-D. I'm working up to 3-D but that will take a little while.... It's been pretty fun getting away from the usual. Compile data, sort data, plot data, replot and difference data, stare at data, scratch head, plot more data, etc... This time I actually get to do math and make neat figures!

I've got some decent "images" of the relevant variables in the "near-star" environment. I think the 3D versions should be pretty cool too...

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Highschool Friends

I met up with some of the neighborhood crew - Bryan V and Nikki. They grew up a few doors down and we spent most of our childhoods together. It was really neat to get together after about a decade apart. It makes me feel somewhat old at times - Bryan has 2 kids, and one isn't so small.... Neat what time can do to a person.