Sunday, October 26, 2008


Here I am in Fairbanks, Alaska. I flew in on Friday afternoon (well, it took 12 hours to get here...) and flying back tonight (Sunday night). We are installing a Fabry Perot Interferometer, which measures the winds in the upper atmosphere (250 km altitude). It does this by looking at the doppler shift of the light emission at 630 nm, which is where Oxygen transitions from an excited state to the ground state.

Above is a picture of a radar that is encased in a building. They do this because the wind can push the radar around and make it so you can't point it where you want it to go. I thought it was cool because it completely blocks the sun, which only rises about 20 degrees about the horizon. The temperature here is a little low. It is Fairbanks, after all. I think that when this picture was taken, it was about 5 degrees out. Earlier, when we were leaving the house, it was about -15. That isn't overly cold, but it is shocking when you are used to 40s and 50s.

This picture shows the FPI being lifted up to the platform in the high bay room where we mounted it. The black thing that looks like it has little wings is the FPI. The wing things are there so we can do different filters (i.e., look at different wavelengths).

This is the FPI attached to the pieces of plywood that are supporting it.

From the floor you can see the jumble of wires and crap that make the FPI work. It is pretty amazing, since the thing is a relatively simple design. There is a lot of "support" pieces that go along with it, which complicate thing a bit. Heaters and lasers and sky-scanner boxes, and all sorts of other stuff.....

This is a view from inside the dome. The FPI looks out into the sky, so you have to have a clear dome. I stuck my head up an took a picture, and this is what I see.

Ok, it looks like one of the guys that I am working with fixed the problem that he was having with the software (wrong camera setting!!!), and so I have to go back to work.

I'll be back in Michigan in about 19 hours!

Before I go, here is a lovely image showing just how crazy wife is.... If you get one of these for Christmas, don't say that I didn't warn you....

Saturday, October 18, 2008

blogging when I can

Here I am at the kid's guitar lessons, stealing wireless from the next door business. Crab Girl is in with Super-Cool-Guitar-Teacher working on scales. Crab Boy is playing on my Blackberry next to me, but just asked if he can play on my computer. It is about the first free moment that I have had in a long, long time.

My class is 1/2 over! I am hopeful that it will ease up a bit in the next month. I gave the students a project to do - they have to make a 7 page powerpoint presentation on a space topic - almost any topic that they want at all, as long as it is related to space or science. Then - for extra credit - they can present it to the class! If 1/2 the class wants to present, then that would be about 45 5-10 minute presentations (or 225-550 minutes of class time). That is a lot of time, and will take 6-10 classes! Holy crap! I only have about 20 classes left! That means that I only need to come up with 10-14 more lectures! Yikes - I still have a LOT of stuff that I have to present!

Last night I bought tickets to go see Coldplay and Metallica. I am going to do more stuff that I want to do and stop feeling guilty about simple things like this. I bought two tickets to each, but don't have anyone to go with. Maybe my wife will go with me to the Coldplay concert. Who knows? I have to find someone to go to the Metallica concert with. Anyone want to come?

I played soccer on Thursday and pulled a muscle in my leg. I rode my mountain bike to work a couple of times this last week, and really worked out my quads (I think that those are the muscles....???) So, going into soccer, they were already sore. Then, at some point during the game, my right leg just started shouting in pain. Not screaming, just moaning sort of loudly. Now, two days later, my muscles still hurt a lot. Fun. I wanted to ride my bike in to work on Friday, but was afraid that it would hurt too much. I am getting old.

Crab Mamma is having a party tonight. One of her co-workers is leaving, so she decided to throw a party for him. It is strange, since she is quite anti-social and does not like being in crowds of people. Maybe, since it is pretty much her friends, it is ok. Hmmm....

I finished a proposal to NASA this last week. I interviewed a few people for a post doc positions. None of them are perfect, so I am not sure what to do. I think that I will actually hire two Post Docs, and hope that I get some more money in the next two years. I am pretty confident, but who knows. My boss is trying to pressure me to hire someone who, most likely, will not fit in. That is because she is the wife of someone he really wants to hire. It makes sense from his point of view. The problem is that she doesn't do any modeling. I am a modeler. I model. She doesn't. I have hired people who don't model into my group before. It has not worked. They don't want to model, which ends up being a small problem. Which grows into a big problem. So, then what do I do? How many times can you tell your boss to bugger-off? N or N+1? I am up to N+1000. I am constantly fighting back. So, more stress. Instead of being a complicated decision, it end up being a quagmire.

I would imagine that you have noticed that pretty much all humor has gone out of my blog. That is how I feel right now. Life pretty much s*cks *ss.

But - I was told that I get to teach this class next semester, which means that all of the prep work that I am doing right now gets to be reused again! My life will be MUCH easier next semester. Then, a year from now, I teach the same class again, which means that it will be great! So, while life is sh*t right now, it will be better shortly.

Oh - on a better note, we are all going to San Fransisco for AGU this year. So, around the middle of December, we are taking an 8-day trip to California. That should be a good time. The lead up to AGU is going to be painful. I have to do a million things. I don't really have time to do them, but I have to. Well, I am sure that it will work out, and we will have a great time. Then, once we are back home after AGU, I am spending two weeks doing nothing. Nothing at all. Glorious nothing.

Ok, that is enough of a pity party. Sorry.

Monday, October 6, 2008


What has happened in the last week? Uh...

I went to South Carolina to set up an instrument to measure the winds in the upper atmosphere. It was an interesting trip. I hate flying in small airplanes. I am a chicken sh*t. I admit it.

Oh yeah, I worked on lesson plans, too.

Speaking of lesson plans, I really need to work on some....

Sorry that this blog sucks b*tt right now. Maybe in a couple of months from now, my life, and therefore my blog, will be better.