Wednesday, November 18, 2009

If it looks like crap...

Smells like crap, and (while I did not taste it, I can guarantee you it) tastes like crap, it must be crap. Thank you anonymous person walking their dog without a baggie, my shoe is very grateful for the mess that now rests upon its sole.* I suppose it is just as much my fault for running well after darkness had settled in, but for the life of me, I can't figure out where along my trek I managed to squish in a pile of crap and not notice! Along the nearly 4 miles which I ran tonight, not once did I see a pile in the bit of light provided by street lamps, nor did I feel a squish! There are only a couple remote places where light from the street lamps does not reach, but when running on the road or sidewalk I can hear the padding of my feet on the ground; I'd notice a moment of silence which was simultaneously occurring with a squishy, soft landing. Ah well, the run was fantastic, dog crap included.

* A friend has mentioned to me that blog posts, in general, should be accompanied by pictures; it makes them more entertaining and just straight up better. This is not one of those posts.

UPDATE: I have decided a picture may be appropriate for this post. I feel the need to warn others about the theorized locations of a now squished pile of pooh. Each red "x" marks a theorized location which was selected based on several criteria: Amount of time spent not on a sidewalk or road, amount of leaf cover/grass, the amount of light provided from street lamps, and the allowance for making contact to the ground with my heel (location of pooh on shoe). Thus, the Highland Ave. "x" is only valid for a downhill decent at the beginning of my run, since I run on the balls of my feet going uphill. No heel contact whatsoever. So, pedestrians, beware!

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I often find myself staring absent-mindedly into the flickering of a flame. Whether it be the single dance of one lone flame atop a candle or the ballet taking place inside a roaring wood stove, I continually find myself captivated. My mind slows, my thoughts clear and this amazing feeling of relaxation takes over. While I know there is some complex science taking place in front of my eyes, I care not. I don't think I ever want to know all that is going on in front of me, some things are better left unknown in my mind, this is one of them. It's an escape, I suppose, a place of retreat where I can go whenever and just unwind, let the events of the day unravel in my mind so that I am ready to go for the next. I guess it's a place I've known about for a while, mainly around Christmas time, sitting in front of the wood stove with a pup snuggled up next to me, the tree lit and Christmas music playing softly in the background, but a place I've never put too much thought into outside of the moment. Tonight was different. I'm not sure why, but as I stared at the newly lit candle, I felt as if I were there in front of the wood stove with Sammy... relaxed. Relaxed and completely content.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


Dear Boloco,

I wanted to thank you for the yummy wrap you provided me tonight. While, yes, I did have to in turn pay your for a chance to eat it, I do enjoy your Buffalo wrap - it's just plain good. Now, while my stomach does thank you for filling it, it also would like to inform you that it may not be wanting a refill any time in the near future. Not sure what it was tonight... maybe the fact that it was 8pm and I was eating a Buffalo wrap or maybe it was the fact that I ate it in about 10 seconds... I don't know, but either way, it ain't feelin' too well right now.



P.S. ~ It could also have been the Vitamin Water, so don't feel bad.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Smell the Roses

We've all heard it and are constantly reminded to stop and smell the flowers. Ironically, the statement is normally given by some two-bit writer in New York City trying to access their philosophical side and push deeper into the crux of human emotions in order to trigger the primeval urge, present in all of us, to just slow down and take it easy and appreciate the world around us, as they stand in a crowded Starbucks howling at the Barista because they used whole fat whip instead of the organic non-fat whip while simultaneously flicking off the person next to them, simply because they can, and creating the scene for what will become headlines on the 6 o'clock news; "Mass riot unfurls after minor scuffle over whipped cream spills into the streets" which has the inevitably tragic, yet poetic, conclusion of the entire block being set aflame, vanquishing the local flower population.

I digress. Look up the next time you're outside. Maybe it's my philosophical side and my urge to slow down and appreciate the Universe (at least a riot on Earth can't destroy that!), but it's something people rarely do. We live in the age of technology, which, while infinitely good, has created a nation of robots staring down at little screens, typing senseless combinations of letters that to any normal person would seem like a toddler got a hold of their parents phone and started smashing buttons (LOL!? ROTFLMAO!?). It seems that a lack of curiosity has begun to set in amongst the younger population (namely those I've come in contact with) who care more about Kanye's recent act of idiocy further proving how ignorant and disrespectful he is; thus raising his "coolness" factor by a whopping [insert random made up number]%.

Maybe this is just the rant of a disgruntled astronomer who has seen the History Channel take Astronomy and turn it into a joke science of soothsayers predicting the death of the Earth any second now... wait for it... damn. We're all still alive, but just wait until 2012, it'll be bigger than Y2K. Remember that? Did you hoard toilet paper to prepare for the end of the world and the beginning of the age of Toilet Paper Currency? Silly? I remember seeing it on the news. Can a disaster of astronomical proportions destroy the Earth? Yes. Right now, though, I'd be more worried about a disaster of economic proportions than a GRB.

So before I completely lose track of what my initial intention was for writing this post, look up, smell the air and stare at the stars... just get out of the street before you do and avoid the riot progressing down your street from Starbucks.

Look up, imagine, and wonder... why are WE here and give pause to the miracle that is life, all that had to go right for even a single cell organism to form. I do believe Carl Sagan put it best, we are currently the only known mechanism for "the Universe to study itself".

Saturday, September 5, 2009

With Open Arms

Fall. Never has this planet seen a more polarizing season, with some arguing that it must surely be the worst season as it signals the end of the warm spring and summer seasons and beckons forth humanities mortal enemy - or at least the mortal enemy of those who deem 60 degrees "cold" - winter. I, on-the-other-hand, take more kindly to the presence of fall. To me, fall is marvellous, a season filled with a majestic beauty that rivals any on the planet.

As we begin this natural transition out of the summer months, take notice of the slight bitterness in the air, permeating the walls of your nose creating an indescribable tingling sensation leaving you feeling refreshed and satisfied with the current state of life. Yes, fall most certainly lets you know that you are alive and well and, if even for just a minute, it has the power to cause you to forget all of the stresses that life in this era brings - and to think, I haven't even mentioned the changing of the leaves!

Anyone who has never experienced the change of the green leaves to the bright oranges and reds, offset perfectly by the right amount of browns, beiges, and purples, has not experienced the true wonder of nature! I must say, it is easy to take for granted the fact that the leaves change and then slowly wander away from their creator, especially when you've lived with it your entire life, but if you slow down and just watch and listen... nothing more... you begin to gain a greater appreciation for the phenomenon. People travel across the country to watch this event... but I have the opportunity to see it every year.

Wait! Who can forget the pumpkins, apples, and apple cider!? Just to add to the wonder of fall, trees in the Northeast produce the most wonderful apples the world has ever seen and not just one or two varieties, but a plethora of succulent little spheres of goodness. And what else do we get from apples? Apple sauce and the most delicious drink ever created by man, mulled cider! The tartness of the apples mixing perfectly with the spiciness of the cinnamon, allspice and clove - there is nothing better.

Okay, so others I am sure have conveyed the wonderment of fall with a more poetic touch - but I cannot help but write about the coming of fall, for I have already had several encounters with that bitter air, just ever so slightly perking my senses and exciting my mind to the prospect of the coming months. I highly recommend taking a look around in the coming weeks in order to appreciate what is about to transpire - and maybe listen to Evergrey after you do - did I mention that Evergrey is the best band to listen to in the fall? I don't know why, but they are. So farewell and happy autumn!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Physics Question #4

Indeed, the return of the Physics Question post! So, here it is:

Starting with an ordinary cup of water, you add exactly one ice cube. Now, after you add the ice cube, you notice that the level of the water in the cup rises (I believe that everyone would agree with this scenario). After about an hour, you return to your cup of water and notice that the ice cube has melted entirely. Ignoring the evaporation of the water over time, has the water level risen, fallen, or has it remained the same? Explain.

Bon chance!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

New Dimensions

I always thought that my posts looked rather long for the lack of information that they contained, and today, I took the initiative and solved that problem. A bit of simple editing and BLAMO! No, not the company which distributes Log (BLAMMO!), but 'BLAMO!' as in, ta-da this is my blog! You didn't need me to explain that, but I just had to cover my bases that no one was stuck singing the "Log Song" while they were attempting to read this post. Feel free to leave some feedback with your feelings about the new dimensions.

Before I let you go, seeing that you can't just click the 'x' on your browser or click on your bookmark to Facebook - WAIT! Okay, good. As I was saying, before I let you go... because I know you want to as much as I do...

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The "Qual"

To most all graduate students (including all at Dartmouth), two words provoke primordial fear sending chills down the spine inducing a sweat upon the brow of even the most adept physicist; qualifying exam. Now that you have removed your hand from your mouth, recovering from a most horrifying gasp, let me try and explain just what the qualifying exam involves and some of what it doesn't. I believe it is easier to start with the latter of the two.

What doesn't the qualifying exam cover? Pixies, dragons, and large knights brandishing broadswords. All else is fair game. It turns out that explaining what it involved was easier than coming up with three (lame) examples of what it doesn't. Listing the subjects, one gets the feeling of ease, that it will be okay and it's not as daunting as people make it sound: Classical mechanics (Newtonian and Lagrangian/Hamiltonian), Relativity (Special and General), Statistical Mechanics, Electricity and Magnetism, Quantum Mechanics and Astronomy with a dabble of special topics, mainly Solid State.

Great! Only a select number of topics! Oh but wait... that's pretty much all of physics... and when they say astronomy, they mean astronomy... ALL OF IT! You could easily spend all of your time memorizing the pertinent equations and it's still entirely possible that you'd miss something important. Every time I find that I've (re)learned material, more material comes along that needs to be crammed in next to everything else; a giant orgy of physics concepts and equations in your head.

Aside from research this is my job, save the last bit of grading for the class I have to TA (introductory astronomy). Research and studying encompass most of my day, every day, and will continue to until September 17th at noon when I finish my last exam (there are two, physics short and astronomy long). It is quite possible that I know the most about physics as I ever will, a peak in my general physics/astronomy knowledge base. Or, I could learn more. I'm hoping for the latter if I retain all I am reviewing for the test.

I keep one thing in mind for the upcoming "qual": 60% is almost guaranteed pass!

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Summer Break!

Yeah, I don't get one. Not that this is any different from every other job in the world, but still, everyone wishes they could go back to the days when they got to run from the school doors screaming all the way to the big yellow boat sent to deliver you to freedom. The finals have been taken, the classes are over and the grades have been delivered. So ends the first year of graduate school. While the year truly doesn't end until after the Qualifying Exam in September, all there is to do now is research and the occasional studying for the "Qual".

There might not be a summer vacation in graduate school, but research is a far cry from the class work that weighs you down during the rest of the year. Hell, I've been able to sit outside on my balcony and read... leisurely! I may still have to read user manuals, astrophysical papers and the like during the summer, but having the chance to sit down on a Saturday and read to RELAX is wonderful. The Crows, Squirrels, Chipmunks and Nuthatches all providing a symphony with which to sit back, relax and enjoy my day with a cup of coffee and a good book.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Observing Report: May 28

The night went exactly as planned. The clouds vanished around 8:30p and a modestly clear night ensued. The data set from the night is pleasing to the eye, but may not be worth while since the night was not perfectly photometric. Still, we shall see how good it comes out when I reduce it and analyze it in the coming weeks. It was a good end to the week as I now turn and head back to Dartmouth where I will finish up with classes and then enter into the summer months with a (hopefully) good set of data, all 22GB of it! I hope to have something to report on from this data set, and if I do, I will certainly let everyone know.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Fedora 11

A few days ago I posted a countdown timer for the release of Fedora 11, the latest in a long line of solid Linux operating systems. The countdown was down to just a handful of days but was recently bumped back a handful more! I found it odd when I saw the counter today that it had gone up! Obviously something needed to be taken care of, which is good to see that the Fedora people are not afraid to push a deadline back when something needs work. They generally do not scrap included packages unless it is entirely unlikely that the package will work with the new release. Microsoft, take note. Projected release dates are not set in stone, you can move them back! So what if geeks around the world will give you hell for delaying a week or so, the common user won't care if they have to wait for the latest version of Windows... generally, they won't even care that there IS a new release of Windows.

The latest version of Fedora looks very good, at first glance. With the inclusion of OpenOffice 3.1, the release will be great for the common user who needs their computer to check email, surf the web, and type word documents (and the occasional spreadsheet). If you're up for a slight adventure and would like to install a new OS that is NOT Windows, I would highly recommend it. The comfort of not having to worry about viruses, trojans, and malware is wonderful. If you are not up for the challenge, might I suggest, then, at least installing OpenOffice 3.1? They have added support for the Office 2007 extensions (those damn .xlsx .docx .pptx) that have been driving the world insane. It may not be quite at the level of Office, yet, but it is vastly approaching.

You may find OpenOffice 3.1 HERE

Pre-Observing Report

For the night of Thursday May 28: More clouds overhead. Ominous as they may look we are not supposed to get any rain... yay! Once again I feel that it will end up being like the past couple nights where the first couple hours are a loss and then the last 7 hours of the night will be decent. This also means I will more than likely be up doing dome flats past the early morning twilight. It won't be too bad today considering this is my last night so I will have to be up in the morning anyway so that I can catch my flight back to New Hampshire at 12:45p. Looks like it will be a long 24 hours... not slated to get back until 11p EST. So as I sit here with my bowl of soup for dinner/breakfast, I am crossing my fingers hoping for some decent seeing this night!

Observing Report: May 27

The night began as predicted. Storm clouds rushed in and sat overhead for the first hour or so. Once they cleared, and the weather predictions indicated that no more fronts were approaching, it was time to open the dome. Seeing was decent throughout most of the night. It wasn't until about 2:30a that things deteriorated. Seeing became horrible. Some sneaky cirrus clouds may have moved in unnoticed, I am still not entirely sure, but even at low airmasses the seeing was around 1.8" compared to the usual 1.2"->1.5". I tended to focus on objects that were yielding good images without adjusting the focus on the telescope since that can be a time consuming process. Once again the clouds hampered any opportunity to take evening twilight sky flats so I will once again be up a bit longer taking dome flats. Although I could more than likely use flats from other nights, since the detector has been kept at a constant temperature (-120 C), it is better to be safe than sorry and have dome flats on reserve just in case the sky flats from various nights highlight different detector characteristics. Aside from the clouds, no technical problems were encountered, thankfully!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Pre-Observing Report

For the night of Wednesday May 27, 2009: we are looking at cloudy skies for the first few hours, until around 11p according to After the initial cloud cover, it is supposed to open up for the rest of the night for clear observing with good seeing. The winds look to be light, as they have been this whole trip, around 10mph, on average. It would seem that tonight will be much like last night in that the first part of the night will be spent waiting for the cloud cover to vanish, topped off with data that will be of good quality, but not the excellent quality that we are striving for.

Observing Report: May 26

Well I was finally able to open up last night around 8:30p. This didn't mean that the clouds had relented entirely. They persisted for a little longer, until around 9:00p. It turned out this wasn't too bad since I still needed to focus the telescope and get everything in order. I was able to observe 6 of my 8 objects and several of the photometric standard fields which are used to calibrate the images when it comes time to extract useful information from them. Conditions steadily improved over the course of the night and by 1:30a the seeing was down to about 1.2", allowing for some decent exposures. The data will still most likely not be of any use, though, since the conditions were not of the quality needed for scientific measurements. In the twilight of early morning, I was able to obtain sky flats in the R and I filters, or ~630nm and ~800nm pass bands. Since I was not able to obtain sky flats in the B and V filters, or ~430nm and ~540nm pass bands, I stayed up for about an hour longer in order to take dome flats in those two filters.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pre-Observing Report: Update

As fate would have a large group of dark clouds have been approaching rapidly from the East. They have just appeared on the radar and will apparently last until 11pm. Dome opening has obviously been delayed for a few hours.

Pre-Observing Report

The weather predictions look good for tonight. Once again, mostly clear skies with light and variable winds under 10mph for the first half of the night and then under 5mph for the duration. Seeing is forecast to be good, not excellent, but good, indicating seeing around 1.2"-1.5" for the night. Odds are that I will be able to get excellent photometry for all of my objects, save one. That lone star is polluted by the light reflected by Saturn. The level of pollution two nights ago was tolerable, but not so last night and I can imagine this night will be even worse. Although this would seem to be an issue, I have photometry on HIP 54639 from my run in February and thus it is not a total detriment. So, lift your mug with a choice beverage (mine is coffee!) and here's to clear skies!

Rock and Astronomy

Since I do such a great job of keeping this thing updated, I thought it necessary to inform the world that I am in Arizona atop Kitt Peak. Actually, I'm not quite at the top. Another 2 miles up the curvy and desolate road is the summit where the Kitt Peak National Observatory is located. I'm situated on a small peak below, along with the 2.4 meter Hiltner telescope, also part of MDM. I have discovered that heavy metal and astronomy go well together. While I have not found the perfect playlist to offset the weariness that comes around 2:30a (AZ time), I have found that Megadeath goes well with morning twilight sky flat fielding. It is surprising how well you feel at 5:30a with Symphony of Destruction playing as you home the telescope and close up the dome; the first rays of sunshine for that day illuminating the telescope as the dome shutter slowly makes its way down to shut the telescope off from the world after a hard nights work. The next time you are out observing the twinkling wonders of the heavens, I strongly recommend bringing a collection of rock and/or heavy metal... preferably metal - most rock these days is from bands that are some form of Nickelback... they all sound the same and suck while they're at it. For those that aren't adventurous and don't want anything too "heavy", go for Metallica.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Shuttin' Detroit Down

I count my blessing everyday; I get paid to do something I love and my "job" is pretty much locked up for the next 4 years, as long as I qualify for PhD candidacy. Others in this world aren't so lucky... many in this world aren't so lucky. I've lived a blessed life and have not had to struggle to get by; ends have always met. There is one thing, though, that I am a firm believer in, and that's hard work and dedication and I respect all those who do the jobs that make our comfortable lives possible and those who work 10 times as hard as I do just to put food on their table.

My girlfriend would be proud, I am a fan of a country song.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Solution #3

The solution to Physics Question #3 is posted, take a look, see if you're intuitions were correct!

Bessel Functions

Having just encountered Bessel Functions for the second time in my life, I must say that they did not seem any friendlier. For a non-axisymmetric galaxy gravitational potential (think of a barred spiral galaxy), the surface brightness of the galaxy may be defined using a double integral over two Bessel Functions, J0 and J1, both with different arguments. I have to say, it was gruelling and a pain in the ass, but I was finally able to get it to work out earlier today. It involved doing one integral on the computer, but the rest was a lot of calculus to get it to work. As hard as it was, it was fun, and the satisfaction of actually obtaining a result was great. Still, Bessel Functions and I are not close friends. There are relations between them and various integrals that are easier to do than others, it's just a matter of finding which form you need and how to get there. Rather annoying, but worth the time and effort put in. Maybe I'll post the solution later.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Universe Today RSS

I just wanted to bring to everyone's attention that I have added an RSS feed from which is a good website to read up on some current findings in astronomy. They also have good educational podcasts, quizzes, etc. Some of you might find it interesting and informative. If not, no harm done!

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Here is the derivation of some fairly well known (aka - know them or die) physics equations from electricity and magnetism as derived using the variational principle. I skipped a few steps here and there, mainly with the first couple lines of the variational principle, but the blanks can be filled in if necessary. I am posting this because I found this derivation so elegant and absolutely wonderful. We derived it for General Relativity in order to get familiar with some mathematical tricks; but still, it's beautiful.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Depending on how much you drink orange juice, you may or may not have noticed a new program being put on by Tropicana. The company has teamed up with a conservation group, Cool Earth, in order to protect the Rainforest in Peru. By opening an account, for free, you can enter a particular code on your orange juice container which "saves" 100 sq ft of Rainforest. I'm not entirely sure how this works in the long term. According to the Cool Earth, the funds they receive go to hiring "protection". This protection is in the form of a responsible official whose job is to patrol an area of Rainforest, every so often, in order to make sure that no illegal loggers are operating in the area. It seems that in the long term, funding from the purchase of one bottle of orange juice is not enough to sustain active patrol.

Either way, I have opened an account and whenever I purchase Tropicana I make sure to enter the code in order to "do my part". There is one caveat: the larger the bottle of orange juice you purchase, makes no difference. I didn't find this out by trying it and hoping to get more point, but a bottle double the size of the carton is only a dollar or so more! If you don't want to open and account, but purchase Tropicana, just drop me the code number and I'll enter it. Do not worry, there is no monetary award for any of this and last I checked there was no reward at all for any of it, just the comfort of thinking that you're doing something. Whether it actually is doing something is hard to say, but just in case!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Physics Question #3

Since I know everyone loves a brain teaser, I have another physics question for everyone to ponder! This is nothing new and I am sure that everyone has heard the scenario, if not the solution. It is the infamous Twin Paradox.

One result of Einstein's Special Relativity is that moving clocks run slower! I will not delve into the details of this, but if you would like to know, feel free to inquire. So here is the scenario:

Two twins, Alice and Bob, are both at rest at some point in space, at some initial time, with their clocks synced. Alice moves away from Bob and travels for 30 years, according to her watch, with uniform velocity (near c), in a straight line. After 30 years, Alice returns back to rest where she began, next to Bob, who has remained at rest. When Alice returns, though, she notices that while she is 30 years older, Bob has fared worse than she, and has aged considerably more.

It is obvious to us, the observers, that there is no paradox here, since Alice was moving, thus her clock runs slower. But now consider it from both the reference frame of Alice and Bob, separately. In Alice's frame, Bob is moving away from her at constant velocity, and it would appear that she is stationary, while on-the-other-hand, Bob sees Alice move away from him with constant velocity and he appears to be stationary! So what does this imply? It suggests that Bob would believe that Alice is younger than he is, due to her motion, but Alice would believe that Bob was the younger twin, not her! Yet, he has clearly aged more than she has. How can Bob and Alice reconcile their different views of what should have transpired?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Welcome Home

To the crew of STS-119, welcome back to Earth and congrats on a safe and successful mission. While there were several mission objective, the most highlighted of the trip was the installation of the last set of solar arrays on the ISS. It takes true endurance to make the round trip to the ISS and back and those that do it are amazing people. American society has seemingly gotten away from paying tribute to the astronauts that make these trips, but I believe that they deserve hero status.

Visit NASA's webpage to read more about the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station along with every mission sponsored by NASA.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Whizzing Past

I simply cannot believe it. Starting Monday I enter into my third term at graduate school! Did I not just begin!? While the goings on of my second term were not really reported I hope to keep the public informed about the status of this next one. Ahead of me are two classes: Galatic Dynamics and General Relativity, along with my teaching assistantship. As with last term, I will again be aiding with the laboratory work of P14, which is the second term of the University Physics at Dartmouth. Topics include: electricity and magnetism, DC/AC circuits, and special relativity. I wrapped e&m waves in with e&m, which means they also get into light and so forth (obviously)!

Before classes begin on Monday I do need to wrap up reducing my data from MDM back in February. I need to double check some aspects of what I have done thus far. That will likely be completed tomorrow before and after I set up tea and attend colloquium. This weeks tea is apparently extremely important since 17 prospective grad. students will be visiting. It will be interesting to see how many new grad. students the department takes on next year, considering the budget cuts due to our thriving economy.

Anyhow, I will lay out what I hope to accomplish in the next few days. I will hopefully tell you about: My research, my classes, and other stuff. Do keep checking in!

Also, if you have not perused the IYA '09 website, please do! This year is the international year of astronomy, 400 years since the advent of the telescope! There is a great gift/toy on the website called a Galileoscope. It is a nifty little telescope that is highly affordable. I have purchased one of my own and donated one as well! I urge you to do the same!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


I write tonight with a heavy heart. Today, around 4pm, my pup Sammy took his last breath and entered into the realm of infinite biscuits. I will never forget St. Patricks Day 2009; it will live forever inside me, as will the memory of a pup that touched the lives of everyone he met. With a simple wag of the tail he commanded a room and won the hearts of each and every person he decided should pet him. It was with great sorrow that we had to make the decision to ease him into the next world, but it was the correct one. It would have been cruel for us to keep him in this world longer than he could handle. But, I believe that is the ironic part. His body was going to hell, to be blunt. Standing up after a good nap was a difficult chore and going to the bathroom was no longer a concious decision and yet his heart was pumping as strong as ever. His doctor was amazed at how healthy and strong it was for his frail condition. Sammy loved life. He loved running circles around the yard waiting to find something to bark, and snoofing around the woodpile, searching hopelessly to find a critter to chase, and who could forget all the chores he could do to get food! Sammy loved his food... he loved everything... he was the happiest being on the planet

Sammy... you are missed dearly... I love you.
[June 15, 1994 - March 17, 2009]

Monday, March 16, 2009

Told You

See, here's the thing... I wasn't going to say it, but I feel as if I should; so I will. I told you so. I knew in the depths of my heart that keeping up with the blog would be difficult for me. I don't know what it is. I enjoy posting my thoughts and informative pieces about whatever I choose, but the whole idea of regularly doing it just doesn't bode well with me. I have plenty to say at times, but just do not feel like sitting down at the computer and typing away. Call me lazy (I sure do), but outside of that, I do not know what it is. I am going to attempt, once again to keep up with this regularly.

Things to look forward to: Recap of this past terms classes, introduction to my area of research, some details of the research, and other general astronomy stuff. Oh, and who can forget hockey. I think I'll begin with that.

If you follow sports news at all, then you should know that Martin Brodeur has tied Patrick Roy's record of 551 career wins. This is huge! As a Roy fan I am saddened to watch as the record WILL fall this year, probably this very week, but at the same time it's fantastic to see such a greater goaltender enter into the record books. I may not be the biggest Marty Brodeur fan, but his talent is undeniable. He is unquestionably one of the top 5 goaltenders (where and how you rank goalies has always been a matter of debate). I most certainly think he is the best goaltender to ever play the sport, but I'll also put up a good argument for Patrick. To all who care about hockey: hockey history is being made this week, you'd be wise to pay attention.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

America's Galaxy

Friday, February 6, 2009


It is official: I have confirmed the booking of a plane ticket to Tucson, AZ for my first observing run. This is very exciting. I have focused most of my career on the theoretical, modelling side of astrophysics, while only working with observational data during the summer of 2007 while at the University of Rochester. Even there, though, the data was taken using the Spitzer Space Telescope and sent through a series of pipelines and initial data reduction before being logged and archived on a server at Cornell.

Now, I get to take the data myself. Point the telescope, focus the lens and get my hands "dirty" taking data on the top of a lonely mountain in the Arizona desert. Whereby "dirty" I mean I will probably get orange finger tips from a bag of Cheetos as I sit at the desk and tell the computer what to do. Either way, my hands will be dirty!

This run is kind of short notice and was not actually planned until Wednesday when I got an offer to go and train for a few days before my big run in May. Since the data in May will need to be very accurate, I will need to cut down on human induced errors, aka: stupid me. So arose the prospect for a training weekend. I will still be taking data, obviously, but the need to super high accuracy may not be necessary since I still have 5 nights in May.

The telescope I will be using is the 1.3m McGraw-Hill telescope at the MDM Observatory located on Kitt Peak in Tucson, AZ. Right next door to this scope is the 2.4m telescope which another professor from Dartmouth will be working on. He will be the one training me, but he will spend most of his time on the 2.4m, taking data for another professor at another university who is apparently in Chile on an observing run.

So with only a weeks notice and little time to prepare for the upcoming run, it should be a good trip and an interesting time atop the mountain.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Satan's Lamp

Who in the world gave me access to a blog and thought that I was actually going to keep up with it? I don't know, thanks Google for having free blogs. I think if I had to pay for it I would definitely post more often. Although... if it were not free, I wouldn't be blogging! So who knows what the right solution is to get me to post SOMETHING, ANYTHING during the busy times in my life. Well, I shouldn't say that I was all too busy before Christmas, but afterwards I had the important issue of spending time with my girlfriend, who I hadn't seen in 10 weeks. Who has time for blogging when you could be spending time doing something much more entertaining and enjoying the short time you have with you girlfriend!?

Since I had to write about something and not just my pathetic blogging habits, I have decided to save this story just for the blog. And by story, well, it's not really a story. It's more of a weird coincidence that is going way too far. So each day after I spend countless hours in my office, I take the 5 minute walk from Wilder Laboratory to the parking lot which I recently learned was named "the pit". It's just a parking lot... there really isn't anything ominous about it, except the path from the side walk down to the cars is a tad bit steep.

So on this trip, one day, I noticed that the street lamp went out near the Medical School. I've seen this before dozens of times (not this particular street lamp, but in general). I'm not entirely sure why the street lamps go out and do not stay lit - possibly to conserve energy? - but either way it's never different lamps, always the same ones. So I've been tracking the habits of this street lamp each night I walk by. No matter what time of night I walk by it, it ALWAYS goes out when I approach it. There have been times where I've been alone or when other have been walking by... but invariably, whenever I walk up to the lamp, it goes out! What does this lamp have against me!? I mean seriously, once or twice, okay, kinda funny, but every single time!? It's verging on hilarity!

Even today, the lamp went out... except this time, it started flickering like mad when I got up next to it. As the light flickered on and off I was looking around, seeing where my attacker was coming from, I mean... one had to be coming, right!? Aside from the lack of suspenseful music slowly building up as I pass the lamp post, I was convinced that I was in some horror flick with the villain waiting to pounce. I'm pretty sure this lamp has it out for me. It's waiting for me to slip on a patch of ice made invisible by it's lack of photons surging forth to light my way.

Damn that lamp post... I will figure out it's malicious plot one of these days and I shall have my vengeance! Now let us just hope that it's lack of illumination doesn't due me in first!