Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Logging Surprise!

I have been finding these at the rate of about one per week since I moved back to California. The nickel is included for scale. I found this one while I was removing a tree stump.

I have been using them for an experiment in self-assembly. If I convert each one to a monolayer, how many specimens will I have to test before one of them self-assembles back to its original shape? Anyone reading this blog want to venture a guess?

Saturday, May 16, 2009

I'm Back

I'm back in California. My possessions showed up a few days ago and my car arrives back in California in a couple days. I start a new job soon and I will be looking for housing out in China Lake. It's an exciting time!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Outer Banks

I went to the Outer Banks last weekend. That was a fun trip. I have posted some photos below.

This photo shows the Hatteras Island's current location in the background while the granite stones in the foreground show it's original site. It was relocated in 1999 because of the eroding shoreline bringing the ocean nearly up to the base of the lighthouse.

Here is the Hatteras lighthouse up close. I would have liked to climb it but it was closed for the season. My tour book didn't say anything about the closure.

Welcome to Avon, where stress is forbidden.

This house could use some grooming.

I stopped by the site of the Wright Brothers' first flights. This photo shows the markers for their takeoff spot (far left), and their landing spots for their first three flights (on the right). I knew their first flight was only 120 feet, but I had never really thought about how far that really was. This photo shows that it really wasn't far at all. It was their fourth flight that really gave them the feeling of success, when they flew about 850 feet. That marker is too far off in the distance to be seen in this photo.

Here is a closer look at the first landing marker.

Here is the plaque noting their take-off spot for their flights.

Part of the reason their flights were short in distance but longer in duration was because of the strong head wind (30mph+). Their resulting ground speed was relatively low (probably making it a lot safer (a crash at less than 10mph isn't that scary, is it?). This photo shows the flag on the day I was there. The wind was blowing in the opposite direction on the day I visited, so the Wrights would have had a strong tailwind.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Celebrity Sighting Part II

I happened to fly on a plane with Abby Wambach earlier this month. She's the most famous female soccer player in the U.S., and possibly in the world. We ended up waiting together at a gate in Philadelphia.

She had her hair cut short and was wearing a hat but her face was unmistakable. I am pretty sure she wasn't expecting to be recognized because when I talked to her she turned slightly red. Her suitcase had the initials MAW so I was pretty certain it was her before I talked to her.

She broke her leg before the Beijing Olympics and wasn't able to travel with the team. The US Team ended up winning the gold medal this summer. I asked her how her leg was doing. She said it was healing nicely. I told her there were a group of us in Durham looking forward to her getting back out on the field.

She was flying coach with the rest of us grunts. Normally when I see her on TV she's surrounded by smaller players which makes her look taller. However, when I stood next to her I felt like I was a lot taller than she is.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Weekend Celebrity Sightings

Do you know who this is?

That’s right (or wrong, if you guessed incorrectly), Senator Joseph Lieberman and his wife! I was at a conference in Seattle from Tuesday through Saturday. I stayed in a hotel near the airport on Friday night, and Joe Lieberman was in the lobby with his wife while I was checking in. I didn't say anything to him, but I got independent verification from a couple other sources that it was, in fact, Joe Lieberman. There was no security entourage with him. I suppose he is simply a senator in the eyes of the secret service, but it seems like he should have had a couple people with sunglasses and radios following him around.

Yesterday morning on the return flight I had a layover in Chicago. Everclear (the band) got on my plane and rode to RDU with me (they flew economy class too). I was standing next to them at the baggage claim and could see stickers with the band's name on their stuff coming off the baggage carousel. It turns out they played a gig in Raleigh last night. The cover charge was $10, which might explain why they were flying economy class.

Monday, April 21, 2008


I went golfing this weekend. First time ever, essentially. I went once before when I was 16 or 17, using someone's right-handed clubs (I am left handed). I have used the driving range probably 6 times (the last time was in October) so I am definitely a beginner. This weekend I was able to acquire the proper left-handed clubs. If you have never been then you might not know (like me), but there is a dress code (no jeans). I was going with the fast-food rule, that is, if you have enough clothes on to eat inside a fast-food joint then you have enough to play golf. Evidently, that is wrong in the eyes of the golf course. After a return trip to change my jeans into khakis while my group used the driving range, we were all set for our 3pm tee-off.

On the first five holes, all par 4's, I shot 8,6,8,8, and 7. After that a thunderstorm set in so we gave up and went to dinner. A guy I play soccer with is a regular player and he said my swing was better than the rest of my group's. Granted, they weren't exactly professionals but it was nice to hear I have a future in corporate hobnobbing if my lab work doesn't pay off.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

cable tv

I finally got rid of my $56 per month for 70 channels cable television. I opted for a digital receiver with some rabbit ears ($13 from Wal Mart) where I can get about 15 channels including all the major networks. I think the only two I will miss from regular cable are ESPN and TNT, but I have to make up for that! Instead of relying on the TV for all my entertainment I plan on using it only when I am desperate. I'll use my reduced channel options as an excuse to do something else more productive.