Friday, December 31, 2010

Computer Repairs.

Well, although I am becoming less impressed with the durability of Hewlett Packard's products, I can't fault their customer service. I sent off my computer to them over Christmas to get the keyboard fixed, and they had it back three business days later (yesterday). And yes, I'm writing this post upon it. That was another, smaller, reason I didn't post anything recently. Hopefully having a fully functioning computer again will encourage me to post more frequently.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Eclipse Report.

First of all, a belated Mele Kalikimaka (Merry Christmas) to everyone! I've been home enjoying the time with my family, which causes the unfortunate side effect of having little time to myself to write. I intend to rectify that situation tonight, however.

To start with, I figured I'd post what few pictures I have from the total lunar eclipse on the 21st. The first is one I took before it began with my sister's zoom lens, showing some impressive detail on the full lunar surface:
Our natural satellite.
Now, true to form whenever an eager astronomer wishes to catch sight of some rare celestial spectacle, the weather took a turn for the worse. No sooner had the eclipse started than clouds began to move in from the south. They were thin enough that the Moon was still visible, but it made getting good pictures quite a bit harder. And eventually, well before the midpoint of the eclipse at 12:17 AM, they thickened to the point where even finding the Moon on the sky was a challenge. This picture below is one of the last ones I managed to get before that happened, and also (sadly) one of the best.

The reason it's less spectacular than the first one is that I had switched back to my wide-angle lens, intending to take pictures of the eclipse every few minutes from my tripod to make a time-lapse movie of the event. That, obviously, didn't pan out, so I'm stuck with some low-detail images. It's not a complete loss, though. You can still clearly see the curved edge of the Earth's thick inner shadow (the umbra) creeping across the lunar surface, covering perhaps 45% in the picture.

So, not the most exciting eclipse I've ever seen (I have seen total lunar eclipses from start to finish before so it's not such a great disappointment for me). I did make one interesting discovery though: I noticed that the standard outfit I wear up to Mauna Kea, which keeps me warm for perhaps 15 minutes or so up there, keeps out the cold for over an hour here in California. Apparently it really is colder up there!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Home again, home again.

Well, sorry for my tardiness in posting to say that I made it home safely, it's been a nice couple of days of relaxing for me here. There was quite the rainstorm in Honolulu when I flew in. Turns out O'ahu is very pretty in the rain, though it's obvious they don't get it much there. Like the Hilo airport, the Honolulu one is open to the weather, and in many places there was water pooled on the floor, and I noticed a couple strategically placed buckets catching the occasional drop. Plus my entire suitcase was thoroughly damp when I picked it up. But the view of the O'ahuan hills with the clouds collecting among the gulleys was quite beautiful.

I tried to watch the total lunar eclipse Monday night, but clouds started rolling in just as the total eclipse stage started at around 10:30. They were patchy, so the moon was still visible for about an hour, which let me see the earth's umbra covering about half the lunar face, at least. After that the clouds thickened to the point where I couldn't even tell where the moon was with certainty. Both my sister and I got some pictures, and if I find the opportunity I'll post some up here. I shipped off my computer to HP this afternoon, so it might take me a little longer working from other people's computers (though hopefully I'll have mine back in working order soon after Christmas).

Monday, December 20, 2010

Sky High over the Pacific

Well, if everything goes as planned, I should be on my way back to California when this posts.

I'm looking forward to a little R&R at home over Christmas, hopefully get my laptop's keyboard fixed, catch up on a little reading, spend some time among the eucalyptus wielding a machete, trying to catch some of my rapidly-expanding duck population, photographing the upcoming total lunar eclipse on Monday night, etc. etc.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Much-Anticipated End of Finals and...a Lizard.

Well, I finally turned in my last take-home final this afternoon. *long weary sigh of contentment*  Huh. There's this strange feeling I have, of not having to get things done...

This semester has been a bit harder for me than previous one, which is strange because I really haven't had all that difficult classes. It was, to be honest, more of a falling down of responsibility on my part. Whether this is related to the fact that this is my first semester in college (in three years) without a math class, I'm not sure, but I'll be taking another one next semester for good measure.

And now for something a little more off the wall...

Sunday when I was taking my clothes off the line, I found a little anole hanging out on one of my pairs of shorts. Quite the cute little fella’. Looked at me all funny while I took its picture.
“Whatcha lookin’ at, eh?”

Note: Although it certainly could be, ‘anole’ is not a Hawaiian word, and anoles themselves are native to the Caribbean, although they have been widely introduced to the Southereastern U.S. and Mesoamerica.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Nix et Luna. (Snow and Moon)

Well, it turns out you can't see the summit of Mauna Kea from the Vis, and there was a thick blanket of clouds hugging the slopes on the way up, so I didn't manage to get any picture of the snow-clad peaks on Saturday. I did see a bit of snow... in the beds of various pickup truck coming down, and in a cooler at the Vis.

I also managed to get some nice shots of the moon through one of the 14-inch telescopes.

The five-day-old crescent moon made a nice telescopic target, as the moon usually does when it's close to new. Note the impressive amount of detail you can see, especially near the terminator (the boundary between light and dark, in astronomer's parlance). This is because of the long shadows cast by the rising sun, making subtle features easier to spot.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pāʻina, pule, a me hula.

Or to put it another way, party, prayer, and hula. Yesterday was the end-of-the-semester party for the whole Hawaiian Language College, with each class performing something such as a hula, or a mele (song or chant). It was started off with the most beautiful choral a capella rendition of the Lord's Prayer set to music I've ever heard. In Hawaiian, of course.

E ko mākou Makua i loko o ka lani,
E hōano ‘ia kou inoa.
E hiki mai kou aupuni,
E mālama ‘ia kou makemake ma ka honua nei,
E like me ia i mālama ‘ia ma ka lani lā.
E hā‘awi mai iā mākou i kēia lā
i ‘ai mākou no nēia lā.
E kala mai ho‘i iā mākou i kā mākou lawehala ‘ana,
me mākou e kala nei i ka po‘e i lawehala i kā mākou.
Mai ho‘oku‘u ‘oe iā mākou i ka ho‘owalewale ‘ia mai;
E ho‘opakele nō na‘e iā mākou i ka ‘ino.
No ka mea, nou ke aupuni,
A me ka mana,
A me ka ho‘onani ‘ia a mau loa aku.

Our class performed our haʻiʻōlelo (speech) and hula smashingly, if the crowd reaction is any indicator. I can say that the difficulty level of our performance was pretty good for a first-year class, after watching all the other classes perform.

After the party as I was walking home, the storm that had been threatening to rain for two days finally opened up and poured. Several times I was wading through water up to my ankles on the journey home, as the drains simply couldn't keep up with the influx of water. But all that rain had a brilliant bright side, as I discovered when I got up this morning: we got snow on Mauna Kea!
View from our front yard.

I'm on the schedule to go up to the Vis tonight with the UAC, so I may have more pictures for you soon! (The snow won't be down to the level of the Vis, but I might be able to get some spectacular shots of the mountain above us.) A hui hou!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

I love Spam.

Today I learned the Hawaiian word for Spam, ka puaʻa kini. Now I can truly express my love of Spam in a culturally-appropriate manner! Aloha au i ka puaʻa kini!

The fact that I like Spam is actually rather strange, even to me, considering I'm not really big on ham in most forms. (Except for really crispy bacon liberally smothered in mustard. Mm...) Now that I think about it, out of all my strange tastes in food, that one has probably gotten me the most raised eyebrows and seen the largest number of people take a little mental timeout to process it. Even more than have been astonished by my propensity for ketchup (which is actually declining as I get older. Luckily my housemate Josh has the same propensity (for ketchup, not bacon), so we get along just fine.

Also, my apologies for the general lack of posts around here. What with the semester ending I'm starting to get busier, and I simply haven't had much inspiration lately (since I try to keep this from becoming a boring narration of my life, and write about things that I would actually be interested to read about...)