Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Middle Age

I think I've officially reached middle age: I got my first pair of bifocals today.  (Actually, I think they're trifocals, but whatev.)  Several people had shared horror stories and warned me that I'd hate them and should go with reading glasses instead, but my problem wasn't just when I was sitting down to read a book.  It's a little odd where there are blurry patches that used to be clear, but that's completely offset by the joy of being able to read a piece of paper in my hand without having to lift up my glasses and hold the paper up to my nose - that was getting r  e  a  l  l  y tiresome.  I'm able to go down stairs without problem (a warning from the doctor) and even drove from the doctor's office to work.  So far I have no complaints.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Martian

I LOVED this book, which is really more science than science fiction.  I listened to the audio version and thoroughly enjoyed both Andy Weir's story and R. C. Bray's narration.  I also think the movie did a good job of condensing the book into movie format.

I don't agree with everything in this review - which does have SPOILERS for both the book and movie - but it does a good job of describing what makes this story so compelling, as well as superior to some of the other recent space exploration movies.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Tuesday, September 22, 2015


Some quotes from news stories I've read...

"The real dividing line is not between Christianity and Islam, Sunni and Shia, East and West. It is between people who believe in coexistence and those who don't."

This one reminds me of The West Wing episode "Isaac and Ishmael" in which Aaron Sorkin wrote:  "You want to get these people {extremists}? I mean, you really want to reach in and kill them where they live? Keep accepting more than one idea. It makes them absolutely crazy."

"The internet is an information landfill. Somewhere in it—buried under piles of opinion, speculation, and misinformation—is virtually all of human knowledge. But sorting through the trash is difficult work. Even when you have something you think is valuable, it often turns out to be a cheap knock-off."

Although this story is about an online encyclopedia, this quote also illustrates why it is imperative to have librarians, especially in academic settings, to help educate people about finding the true treasures buried in the trash.

TMT Protest
"The one thing that makes you Hawaiian is one of your ancestors came here in a canoe led by an astronomer."

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Passage of Time

Talk about making one feel old...
Star Wars - xkcd

Monday, November 24, 2014

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Hooray Philae!

They've done it!  The Philae probe landed on the comet!

I LOVE space success stories :-)

Thursday, November 06, 2014


The people who explore space via unmanned vehicles are up to their shenanigans again.  Last time, it was NASA lowering a rover to the surface of Mars via sky crane.  This time it's the European Space Agency (ESA) rendezvousing with a comet, staying with it as it orbits the sun, and next week (fingers crossed, oh please, oh please, let it work) deploying a probe to land on the comet as it spins its way along.

Those of you who think of scientists as dry and boring might want to re-evaluate your perceptions - these people are nuts!

Both agencies created videos to promote their missions - I was impressed by the NASA one explaining the Curiosity mission - and it's still good - but the ESA video for Rosetta is mind-blowing on a whole other dimension...

Monday, September 08, 2014

Hurricane Iselle, Long Version

Below is the response that I sent on August 12 to several friends who emailed me just after the storm (which hit Aug. 7).  After the original email is an update and some photos...

Original email:
While I suffered no personal property damage, many of the electrical poles and lines in my area were devastated - I do have pix which I will try to post soon.  So: no electricity.  Not even a fan - in August, in the tropics, with various storm systems blocking the trade winds when they weren't busy blowing trees down onto power lines.  Even worse for someone who has been relying on the window A/C unit in her bedroom to get a decent night's sleep.  I thought it was annoying back in April 2011 when I had to replace my fridge - and it was - but this is so much worse.  I didn't realize how bad the damage was to the electrical grid so I sat around Friday waiting for the electricity to come back on, trying to preserve the coolness in fridge and freezer - long story short: on Sat. afternoon I ended up in the ER with low potassium.  I strongly recommend you try to avoid this at all costs - potassium thru IV burns!  (Yes, I know - eat more bananas...)

Also, no electricity means no water!  Try for one day to fully concentrate every time you use water:  shower, flush the toilet, laundry, flush the toilet, dishes, flush the toilet, wash your hands, flush the toilet (sensing a theme?).

BUT, it's nowhere near as bad as it could be.  I was very fortunate to be spared any damage that I will have to pay for - other than tossed food.

I flipped the electrical main at the house, loaded the poor kitties with food and water, asked the neighbors to keep an eye on things, and basically abandoned the place (except for periodic kitty checks).  I am extremely fortunate to be staying with a co-worker friend in Hilo, so I have a fan at night, a shower in the morning, and a toilet that flushes itself.

I know I'm complaining about "first world problems" - but I live in the first world, darn it!!
End of original email.

Our electricity came back on and I returned home on Monday August 18.  I discovered that day that my hot water heater needed to be replaced and on Tuesday I discovered that my fridge wasn't working correctly and it took a few days to find and appliance repair person.  Last week I discovered that the washer and dryer aren't working either.  The reason?  On Aug. 10 the electric company tried to restore power to me and my neighbor (there's a line that comes from the street between our properties and then branches off to each house) but the workers didn't notice that the neutral line that serves our houses was damaged so our houses got a HUGE jolt of electricity. 

I'm still fortunate that I didn't end up with a tree on my house or my water catchment tank, which would have resulted in major inconvenience and expense.  Now the semester has started and I'm working Sundays again (which I enjoy) and things are almost back to normal.  {HUGE sigh of relief}

snapped power pole

trees on power lines

cones marking power lines dragging ON the road