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Showing posts from March, 2006

Mayhem in Mexico

After Wednesday night's dinner, I did get to sleep - eventually. Somewhere after 3 AM, I think it was, after doing quite a lot of situps and some pushups. I was up again before 7 AM. By 8:30, the whole team had managed to eat breakfast, then we had to walk a few blocks to the National Auditorium to catch buses over to Centro Banamex.
Why catch buses? Well, there were riot police on every corner within a few kilometers of the Centro, and everything within about a half-kilometer was totally closed of. The buses took a circuitous route (I swear they got lost at least once) and wound up coming into the Centro from the back, after going past quite a lot of police and military.
After that, things went pretty well. Our office eventually got Internet access (notice how a lot of things happen eventually here?) and I was pretty much done the day's web page by around 11 PM. Then I hung around for another two hours editing and tweaking and doing more situps out of sheer boredom... got back …

Another day, another 10.5 pesos

I did, eventually, wind up going over to the conference venue with my team leader and our director this afternoon. It's big. Really, really big. (Wait... have I said this already about something else?) Today, it was in a state of frenzied construction activity, since the conference starts tomorrow.
Well... except one room. The room our team office is supposed to be in. That one was in a state of frenzied relaxation, as various people sat doing nothing, waiting for various other people (who weren't there) to show up and do other things that had to be done first. But we're all optimistic that come tomorrow morning, we'll have things like network access. And furniture. And, um, walls.
Speaking of tomorrow morning, a fellow by the name of Vincente Fox is going to be speaking. Perhaps you've heard of him. This means that every street within about a half-kilometer or more of the venue is going to be blocked off. Police are everywhere. Paramilitary-looking guys are everywhe…

Good night and good morning

I did, eventually, find the phone book. It's hidden in the closet. And why not?
After a long, hot, and much-needed shower, I lounged around for a while, then fell asleep. the beds here are nice - king-sized, with nice heavy down pillows and warm down comforters. There's a wool thing that I suppose I could put on top of the comforter if I felt cold, but I didn't. The alarm clock woke me up shortly after seven in the morning.
A bit of an aside about the alarm clock. It looks like a hand-wound kind, and has hand-turned things to adjust the time and the alarm time... but it's battery powered. It also has a couple thumbscrews on the back, which I tried to "wind" with little success before figuring this out. After that, I thought it must surely be decorative, until I realized the time was changing...
Anyway, I awoke feeling a little dried out (the relative humidity here is about 40-60 percent compared to probably 80-90 at home) but not so bad, since I'm somewhat a…


A bit of trivia: México City lies almost exactly east of the Big Island of Hawaii.
The trip got off to a slow start. At Hilo's airport, I discovered that Hawaiian Air's computers were down, and boarding passes were being written by hand. Not optimal. The agent nicely hand-wrote my frequent flyer number on mine, but I'm a little skeptical that I'll get those miles without a lot of red tape. As happens often - though not every time - security found my backpack full of cameras, laptop accessories and network gear irresistible, and had to wipe everything with those nice little round pads to make sure I hadn't used any of it around explosives. If it weren't for their efforts, my cameras would be more dusty.
The flight to Honolulu was routine enough, but with the computers down in Hilo, I'd opted to retrieve my tote bag of clothes in Honolulu and check it back in. This meant getting off the plane at the inter-island terminal, going down to baggage claim, getting my…

My daughter's notes on the solar system

Tonight, I attended an AstroTalk about asteroids and Pan-STARRS by UH-Hilo Instructor John Hamilton and Pan-STARRS Student Intern Heather Kaluna. My daughter insisted on going, and wrote throughout much of the talk, periodically whispering things like "what comes after the M in materials?" At the end, she handed Prof. Hamilton a piece of paper, and asked him if what she had written was correct... and he said it was! She'd written (a few spelling errors corrected):

"Asteroids are pieces of rock that may have broken off of large planets. Comets are small balls of gas, ice and dust with tails of the same materials of the comet. And planets are very big pieces of rock or balls of gases. Tera Gr 1 age 6 3\10\06"

As a minor technical note, possibly breaking off large planets is more characteristic of what we think of as meteoroids (some impacts on Mars have knocked pieces of rock into space which later fell to Earth), but as Hamilton pointed out in the …