Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2005

Repeat this forecast in a cheerful voice with peppy music.

On Tuesday, windy with rain, heavy at times. High 85. Winds north-northeast at 70 to 90 miles per hour. Winds could occasionally gust over 100 miles per hour.On Wednesday, with temperatures in the low 90s, windy with morning showers.
Look for a chance of rain on Thursday and Friday.
From The Weather Channel's local forecast for New Orleans. What happened to "Look for a chance of total devastation and massive flooding on Thursday, Friday, and every other day for the next several months?"

People like me are the next big thing, eh?

I spent 15 years of my life working in the Information Technology (IT) field. It started when I was in college, and decided that mainframes and the Internet were more interesting than my architecture classes. That was followed by a job as a UNIX PC operator in a pre-press department, a programming job, MIS operations in a data center, help desk, consulting, more programming, systems administration and webmastery, more programming, more systems administration, more consulting...In early 2004, I realized that there weren't a lot of "pure" IT jobs around me - let alone ones I was interested in. I still had (and still have) programming I do, but it's not of a sort tied to actually getting paid. I still had (at that point) consulting work, but it was gradually tapering off. On the other hand, there's a lot of academic and scientific research here, and I knew there were jobs where my knowledge of IT (and things in general) would come in handy. So I looked…

From the People-Cooler-than-Me Department

Something about my brain thinks of lives (including my own) as a lot less boring if they contain cool or interesting things from more than one column of the menu, so to speak. For example, some people may think being involved in astronomy is interesting, but I'd probably get bored if I didn't also get to do lava hiking, underwater photography and go to meetings as part of academic teams reporting on a wide variety of sciences.I mentioned this next bit to a few friends the other day, but... about a month ago, the Nearby Supernova Factory at Lawrence Berkeley Labs (where I know a lot of people) assimilated another person, Cecilia Aragon, who'll be working with them on (and these are her words) "research in visual analytics and information and scientific visualization with applications to supernova image data."
Yes, it's pretty much rocket science, but, well, that's not out of the ordinary over there. Nor is having a degree in math from CalTech an…

HR 6152

The observer schedule for this semester had a few "open" nights listed, and I wound up with a whole shift full of them. This means that for the next few nights, I have no idea who I'm working with. So I got to work at 6PM, which is about the earliest anyone would actually ever want to start working. Nobody was there, but I wasn't surprised, only a couple people I work with do start that early.6:30 came and went, no observer.
7:00 came and went, the sun went down, no observer. I started wondering.
7:30 came and went, no observer. By now, I had opened the dome, figured out how to use the instrument with some help from our systems engineer, and taken a picture of a random bright star, HR 6152.
7:45 came, and I discovered that the professor who was supposed to be observing tonight had delegated (as is often the case) to a grad student, who in turn had delegated to a presumably lower-on-the-totem-pole grad student, who had never even used the instrument before,…

Murphy was a high-voltage electrician.

This is a true story. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent. As more details become known, I may piece together more of what happened, and update this entry. This is the story of five telescopes (including three of the world's largest), a laser, a transformer, and the events of Friday, August 12. It was about 2:30 AM on the 12th when the laser beam at Keck II went off. Gary, the Observing Assistant (that's Keck's name for a telescope operator) called out to the laser spotters and told us it'd be about 20 minutes before they started "lasing" again, so I hopped into the vehicle I'd been using as a windbreak, and tried gamely to keep warm in my jeans, t-shirt, hooded sweatshirt, knit cap, hooded full-body "bunny suit" and 2 layers of gloves. It was a beautiful starry night near the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, but a cold and breezy one.

Twenty minutes later, my "break" was extended by another 15 minutes,…

I'm running out of things to wish for.

This is the last night of seven consecutive nights of work, and of three consecutive nights of work at high elevation, outdoors more than half of the time, in the cold.
I'm very much looking forward to morning, getting home, and sleeping. (I'll be back up later in the afternoon, but only for a little bit!) This is very tiring work, and it's hard to get a good day's sleep in between the nights.
Anyway, tonight is made a little better by the fact that tomorrow is the peak of the annual Perseid meteor shower, so after midnight there should be more shooting stars to wish upon than I can think of things to wish for.

("And furthermore, another million dollars. And... a pony!")

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do

Well, the schedule changed a bit.I had been figuring on working Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons, then having 6 days away from science.
But a colleague's elderly father went to a conference for WWII veterans in Virginia, and wound up in the hospital, paralyzed, so said colleague needs to get out there A.S.A.P. - and I'm going to cover the shift he would have worked. So our other colleagues will cover Saturday and Sunday afternoons. I'll work Friday afternoon, then Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights. Then have 4 days off.
Ah well. Can't really complain when life throws more hours at me. Hope the injured vet mends quickly!

He addressed them, and asked them to address the addresses.

Well now.Since sometime overnight, one of the backbones has not quite been getting along with my ISP when it comes to connecting me to places. I can use AIM and Skype, and I can get to certain places that are connected to the ISP by another means. (I'm posting this from one such place, which is a bit of a leap-through-hoops.) But! The ISP folks are fixing it, so I am happy. And I will soon be back by more normal means, and read all the messages that are waiting for me and so on and so forth.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog.

Ken's House of Pancakes

Ken's, also called "K-HOP" by locals, has been an institution in Hilo for over 30 years. It provides large amounts of reasonably-priced good food and friendly service, is open 24/7, and its location at 1730 Kamehameha Ave on the corner of Kanoelehua is convenient to the airport and hotels, so a lot of people eat there, often.The cuisine is what you'd get from a three-way crash involving your typical American "diner," a pancake house, and a couple Asian/Pacific Island restaurants. There are burgers and fries. There are pancakes. There are noodles. There's Loco Moco (rice, meat, eggs and gravy).

The menu is lacking in remarkably few areas. The desert selection is a little limited (but most of us don't have any room left for it anyway) and somehow, "chicken strips" or "chicken fingers," a staple at most diners, have managed to be left off. Other than that, though... page after page of choices.

In addition to the cuisine…


So I've been a customer of BigCreditCompany for a decade now. A good customer. Lately I've even been paying electronically, much to their delight. So when I was working too much around the end of June and beginning of July and flaked on the bill, they called me up in mid-July and had me do it over the phone, no worries. Good, yeah?But  then they called back this morning, when I was asleep, to let me know that they had tried to run it through and had gotten some error about being unable to find my bank, or unable to find the account, or something like that. So something appears to be broken-ish. So I get to mail them a check for July and August, then call customer service to get them to un-do the nasty charges and whatnot that they've probably applied due to the glitch. And somewhere along the way, I get to try to set the electronic stuff up all over .

Today's unpleasantness is brought to you by the letters T and B.

...and for a change, it's not the fault of my daughter, whose initials are T.B.
A friend-of-a-friend has been staying with us for a while, working outdoors and whatnot. He coughs a fair amount, but then, so do a lot of people around here, because of VOG (volcanic smog) or mold or whatever. So we don't think much of people coughing. 
But apparently his boss decided he was coughing a bit too much, and he went in for a tuberculosis skin test... which came back positive. And there was something they weren't quite sure about on his chest x-ray, too.
Now, this doesn't necessarily mean he has active, transmissible tuberculosis. It doesn't even mean this is anything recent. He's been to places like Guatemala where the rate of exposure/infection might be higher than in the totally-developed world, so he could have picked this up abroad.
Infection also doesn't necessarily mean communicable disease, because the bacteria reproduces so slowly - only something …

1. d. Explain what to do in an electrical storm.

July 25, 2005: Four Boy Scouts leaders are electrocuted at the National Boy Scout Jamboree in Virginia when the metal pole of a tent they're erecting touches power lines. Three other adults are injured.July 28, 2005: A Boy Scouts leader and a 13-year-old Boy Scout are killed when lightning strikes their tent in California. Six others are injured; one survives only due to scouts administering CPR for an entire hour.
August 3, 2005: A 15-year-old Boy Scout is killed and two others are hospitalized after lightning strikes a log shelter at a camp in Utah.
Seven in ten days... this isn't a good trend, is it? Unfortunately, the electricity merit badge deals primarily with household wiring. No mention is made of tents, and only one sub-point requires scouts to "Explain what to do in an electrical storm."