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Showing posts from September, 2009

it's a small world, astronaut

waiting for the submarine ride

well, i've done it. at the young age of 31, i took my first trip to disneyland. owen and i had a special adventure along with my dear friend & cousin, faye, and her sweet daughter, evan. from the minute we arrived in the parking structure, until the moment he passed out in the stroller at 9pm, owen was in a steady state of wonder.

we rode about 15 rides, which i understand to be quite an accomplishment for a single day at disneyland. i wish i could capture the level of excitement in owen's voice when he saw mickey mouse from the monorail, the amazement in his eyes at the people getting soaked on splash mountain, and goosebumps on his little arms when we first spotted nemo on the underwater submarine adventure. we loved the hand-dipped corn dogs and cotton candy and were blown away by the fireworks display.


Astro Orbiter

my favorite part of the day was hearing owen and evan sing their versions of "it's a small world". evan sang …

Mar and Me (and Monkeyblanket)

Today was supposed to be the day that we all went to Disneyland. However, Marcus and I are recovering from a cold, so we revised the plan: Erin and Owen would go to Disneyland, Marcus and I would recover at home.

Mar and I had a great time today, despite feeling a little under the weather. I was a bit apprehensive at the beginning of the day because I haven't spent a day alone with Marcus since he's been mobile. Man, I just realized how sad that is right as I typed it, but it's been a busy busy year for me at work.

Well, I shouldn't have worried because Mar is a great kid. It dawned on me that as a parent you of course love your child. But there's nothing to say that your kid actually has to be a cool person. Let me tell you, Marcus is a really cool little guy! Ever since he started walking earlier this month, his personality has really bloomed. He just goes about his business with a smile on his face all day long, looking for ways to make people around him laugh.

One…

Best fire time-lapse video yet

The best I've seen so far. Amazing.

http://www.brandonriza.com/Video/HTML/ZeroPercentContained.html

It almost looks like a volcano. Or a nuclear aftermath. Yuck and wow.

We can actually see the mountains now, which is a pretty big deal. Lots of dirt and charred stuff up there. The last time I saw the mountains they were dark green. Next up: The rainy season, and with it, mudslides! Wheee!

The fire is 50% contained as of this morning. Mt. Wilson is still standing. I can't help but think it has more to do with people's desire to protect all those communication towers up there, rather than their desire to save astronomy per se. But I'm okay with that. People's weird belief in their fundamental right to television was harnessed for good this time, and a valuable piece of history was preserved. Big ups to the fire fighters who risked their lives to protect the mountain top.

This Just In

Owen: Daddy!
Me: Yes Owen?
Owen: I was, um, learning to spell Ha-WEE-ee with Mommy and---A BUTTERFLY!
Me: Huh? What?
Owen: A butterfly out the window!
Me: Oh wo--
Owen: And Hawaii rhymes with Ha-WEE-ee (then runs out of the room)

To have a conversation with a 4-year-old you must always stay on your toes...

First week at work

In all of the excitement over the fires, I almost forgot to mention that Tuesday Sept 1 was my first official day at my new job. I am now an Assistant Professor of Astronomy at Caltech. When I picked up my new photo ID I was amused to see that they used the same number that I had when I was a staff member of the LIGO project back in 2000. Below is a photo from the summer research program I participated in at Caltech, about 5 months before I graduated and went back as a research assistant. I then went from there to the graduate program at UC Berkeley in the Fall of 2000.


It's hard to believe that kid on the left went from working in a lab in the basement of Downs, hoping that he would get accepted into at least one grad program somewhere, to having his own office across the street in Cahill. It's a crazy world!

Dear fire: kthxbai

Yeah, we're just about ready for the fire to stop so we can go back to breathing clean(ish) air. Fortunately, Mt. Wilson appears to have escaped serious damage. What we need now is for the temperature to drop so the fire fighters can get this thing under control.

Fire

I was going to write something about the uncontrolled forest fire visible from our house, but then I found a better write-up was already posted on Cosmic Variance. All eyes in the astrophysical community are on Mt. Wilson as the flames bear down on the historic observatory.

The photo above is the view from the Caltech Astronomy Department. The word for the day: pyrocumulous cloud.

We're doing well. Far better than the people evacuating Altadena right now. When we wake up in the morning it smells like a mixture of cigarette smoke and last night's camp fire. It's very hazy around town. Kinda like LA in the late 80's!

You can follow the fire on this handy Google Map:




Click here for the full-screen map. For reference, we're in Pasadena south of the 210 Freeway and just north of the Huntington Botanical Gardens.