Thursday, March 29, 2012

Taking down a chimney

Our synagogue, Congregation Shaare Tefillah, recently purchased a new building and is currently renovating it. We noticed on Tuesday (and had been told previously) that they were going to take down the chimney (apparently the new HVAC system doesn't need one). So, of course, I set up a time lapse:

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ringed glints, optics picture of the day

Today an old photo of mine of a ringed glint was featured as the Atmosphere Optics Photo of the day page here.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Glory photo in the travelling Atmosphere Exposed Art Gallery

My old photo of a glory seen from an airplane, previously printed in a physics journal and in the Mary Boyden art gallery (see red arrow below)


has now found a home at the NSF building in Washington DC.

Here is a cropped version of the photo itself.

And finally, the website that let all this happen which has an excellent description of how glories work. Thanks Les Cowley!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Stick blender in action

A month or so ago, Aryeh and I were stick blending something (perhaps we'll discuss it in another post) in a measuring cup, and decided to take some pictures.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

To The Edge of The Atmosphere

Last Wednesday me and some friends launched a weather balloon to approximately 70,000 ft.  On board was a video camera and a still frame camera set on time laps.  Additionally, we had a GPS enabled phone to inform us of the balloons landing location.

The balloon was a 1980's surplus weather balloon made out of latex.  Next to it is a tank of helium.

Doing a lift test.  From left to right, Phoebe, Pasha and Sergey.

Inside the foam cooler that we used as an insulated box.  Additionally, there is newspaper to hold the cameras in place and insulate more as well as hand warmers to keep things warm at high altitude.

What kind of post would this be if I didn't post a picture of me wearing a hat (not mine).

Our entire crew preparing to move the balloon from the inflation position to the launch position.  Left to right Josie, Phoebe and Sergey (one behind the other), Curtis, Mike, Max and Pasha.

Moving the balloon to launch position (the hill in front of us).  Max is holding part of the line between the box and the balloon.  He is also holding the red parachute to control the balloons decent.  Sergey is holding the box with mylar strips attached both to act as streamers to slow decent and also because they are shiny I would be easier to recover.

The balloon is probably about 5-10 thousand feet in the air at this point.  I couldn't see it through the lens or the screen on my camera, I just pointed in the right direction and shoot.  Nailed it.

Unfortunately, we never re-obtained GPS signal after we lost it on the way up at around 3600 ft.  We believe the balloon came down somewhere between Allentown, PA and Trenton, NJ.  So if you find it let me know.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Cell phone map projection fail

This is a screenshot from my old phone's fancy 'time zone' feature.

Lets look a little closer at that map, it certainly looks a lot like the mercator projection according to the shape of the continents.

Notice how the real shapes of Alaska and northern Eurasia are preserved, though their areas are exaggerated. This shows that it is a mercator projection. For an easy comparison I've included a mercator earth map from Wikipedia below. Take a closer look at the latitude grid-lines, notice how they are spaced further apart near the poles because of the map is stretched in the direction of latitude.

Now look back at the the cell phone map, we can see that the longitude/latitude grids-lines are perfect squares meaning somebody at the kyocera corporation said "we need to have gridlines" but the person implementing it did not know what type of map they were projecting.

Should I be upset?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Throwback Purim

Five years ago Stacy and I made a Purim meal. You can read about it here and here. That year we burned the soup, the fish and the lasagna eventually cooked, but were not particularly good. This year, we decided to do a Throwback Purim. We dusted off our old costumes and made nearly the same food.

This year, we didn't burn the pea soup.

We made meat lasagna that was good:

And, instead of the macadamia-crusted mahi mahi, I made a coconut-crusted tilapia with a chipotle and cilantro sauce, served with citrus salsa:

Overall, I think this was an improved meal.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In The News

Shortly after graduating I got involved with a First Robotics team from my old high school.  We did our building at a local Hackerspace called FUBAR Labs (which I am now a member of).  A few weeks ago, FUBAR expanded and we had a reporter from the Star Ledger come to try and get some good PR.  Here, judge for yourself, the article.
It really has nothing to do with FUBAR and doesn't even mention that the basketball shooter is for First Robotics.  Additionally, the print version the title is "Hackers Feel Right at Home" in large letters on the front page of the Middlesex county section.  Also, it has me and Matts names backwards.  So basically I got a good picture of me on the front page of a section of a newspaper and its not under my name, calls me a hacker, and has nothing to do with what I was actually doing.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Nested Function Meme

So I made a quickmeme:

In case you don't get this joke - there is an excellent description of it here.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Upgraded Butternut Squash?

I recently purchased a butternut squash that looked mutated:
This was one of many similarly weird choices. This was long (that's my hand and an 8" chef's knife for scale). And bent. Most butternut squashes I'm familiar with are generally around this big:
It's almost like they bred a new squash to grow all stretched out. In fact, when I cut it open, I saw that there was way more edible flesh per gourd than the "regular" ones, with way fewer seeds:
So, my theory is that this is a new, upgraded version of butternut squash.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Why do I always sit next to the weird guy

If you look carefully below, you will be able to make out an unusual form of the person who was sitting next to me on the plane.

Yes, his pudge went almost as far forwards as his legs. He is using a seat-belt extender. I couldn't lower my own tray table because his overflowing flubber was in the way. His fat was overflowing the width of the armrest both above and below it. I spent a good deal of the flight with my left arm held over my chest because there was no room for it on my side. When the cart came down the aisle I was pretty much squeezed up against the wall and I saw fat shift around in ways I thought would not be possible.

Thankfully this flight was only an hour long.

Can we have a rule:
If you can't fit inside one seat-belt, you need to buy two seats.

Finally - I know there is a relevant farside comic out there but I can't find it!

Friday, March 02, 2012

The mortgage crisis in one reciept

A few months ago, when I went to the ATM, this receipt was in the machine when I got there:
In case you can't read it, this person currently has 80 cents in their checking account, having withdrawn $100. And yet, at the bottom of the receipt is the advertisement:
If someone with 80 cents in an account can get a mortgage, I'm not sure the sub-prime crisis is over yet.