October 2004 Archives

Three Disjointed Paragraphs

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So the Red Sox overcame their curse. Or (as one banner-waver in the stands suggests), Ruth has forgiven them. Either way, cool, baseball-historically speaking. Although I wonder how long it will take Bostonians to adapt their mentality to being metaphysically victimized fans no longer.

The lunar eclipse was pretty, incidentally, but we can discuss eclipses in some other post, so as to avoid further encouraging the tired astronomy/astrology yuk-yuks.

I've got a couple of real posts drafted and almost ready to go, but since the Series ended around 6 am local time, I'm probably not going to finish any of them today. I'll be in Tel Aviv for some or all of the weekend, so hopefully we'll have more photos next week, but maybe not much posting before then. So in the meanwhile, go admire John's photos of astronomers carving pumpkins. My department at its finest. And slimiest. Too bad we don't have Halloween over here.

Knesset Panorama

As promised, I stiched together the panorama photos taken from the Knesset helipad. There's a preview below, and if you click on it, the full image will appear in another window. For reference, the construction cranes in the image are approximately due south, and the Knesset building is in that general direction as well. The Hebrew University is in the west, invisible under the setting sun.

Don't click there unless you're on a reasonably new computer, because it's gigantic. Just be glad I scaled them down first (it started out 22,000 pixels across, which was a bit hard to work with).

jeru_knesset_prepan.jpg
A panoramic sequence taken from the helipad in the park above the Knesset. The noticable change in coloration across the image is due to the fact that the sun was setting while I was taking these. 2004:10:22 17:11:10 to 17:15:15 IST

Eye of the Storm

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jeru_smoon.jpg
Moonrise over Jerusalem. 2004:10:22 16:37:41 (IST from now on)

One of my major non-work projects is now complete, but I'm not going to talk about that right now. I have some time to post here, though.

Jerusalem. It's a name that evokes any number of associations. As can be seen in numerous medieval maps, it was once regarded as the physical center of the world. The place is steeped in faith and conflict and most of all time. Contradictions abound, and time itself provides the sharpest of them. Although Jerusalem was the ancient royal capitol of a minor kingdom when Rome was founded, and merits a mention in Egyption records centuries before the fall of Troy, the city is on the whole much younger than most old cities of Europe, never mind the Middle East. Waves of civilization and warfare have crashed over this place, and conqueroring armies have razed it to the ground at least three or four times. Perhaps because so few would want to live in such an unstable place, Jerusalem was a fairly small town from Roman times until influx of Jewish settlers that arrived with the Zionist movement.

But so far, we're relying on my knowledge of history. Now I've been there, briefly. Allow me to relate.

Red Sox: Sweeeeeeeet

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As a Cubs fan and thus fellow member of the league of cursed ball clubs, chalk one up for the good guys.

It's 6 am here; I'm going to bed.

A Fable about Bugs

Once upon a time there lived a giant. As such fellows go, he was perfectly amiable, and if anyone nearby considered him a less than ideal neighbor, they could have done worse. Even though he had committed some altogether regrettable deeds as a younger and smaller giant, nobody seemed particularly inclined to hold it against him. After all, the local taverns, thanks to the size of his mug, and the local weavers, thanks to his abundant breeches, all found him a fantastic customer, and business is business.

One lazy afternoon, the giant found that he could not sleep. This annoyed him greatly, as recent times had been tiring. To begin with, he'd finally won a staring contest with another giant who used to live across the duck pond from him, which had stretched on for an interminable span. To make up for lost time, he'd gone on quite the buying spree afterward, and done some drinking worthy of a giant, as well. He now found that nothing seemed so pleasant as to lounge about and wait for his headache to subside. However, the mosquitoes just would not stop biting him.

Getting around

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True, it's been a slow week here on EGAD. I'll try to keep that sort of thing to a minimum in the future. Suffice to say that a number of projects are competing for my time, some of which may get chronicled here, whereas others are entirely unrelated; a few might even relate to my job.

As such, I've been something of a slacker about the photography recently. But as a stopgap, I still have a pile of older photos that can surely be massaged into a semi-coherent ramble of some sort.

Salinity

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From Minnesota to Texas to Israel, my absentee ballot has completed better than half of its rather substantial round trip. Now just as soon as I can establish who around here has "authority to administer oaths" I can get this thing back on its way. Of course then I need to figure out how to express the idea of "This should go quickly, and not via the Cargo Ship Express."

But that's the sort of thing department secretaries are good at. And we have those.

In fact, the inventory of things we have on campus is suprisingly long.

A Succession of Hopes

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map_sinai.gif
Map linked from the BBC, as found in this story, of Israel and the Sinai region of Egypt

Those of you who regularly follow world events are likely aware of the recent bombings in two resort towns on the Sinai Red Sea coast. In fact, seeing as I am hundreds of kilometers from the site and do not have CNN, some of you quite likely know more than I do about the event. That's okay with me, actually; I have no great need to indulge in the pornography of rubble.

The Sinai, it should be pointed out, plays a very special role in this part of the world. After the 1979 peace accords between Egypt and Israel, the desert peninsula was demilitarized and a policy instituted whereby Israelis may more or less freely visit it. Sparsely populated save for the Bedouins and small towns along the coast, the Sinai desert is altogether remote, where distance and solitude can provide a comforting buffer against the world, and in particular the claustrophobic and violent land that is Israel. Or so went the story.

Las Aguas del Buen Retiro

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El Parque del Buen Retiro, a royal retreat in the 1600s, is now somewhat analogous to Central Park. Except, of course, that it is much older, a bit smaller, and contains bits of an old palace.

Since my jaunt through the park occurred before check-in time at my hostel, I was dragging a fairly heavy suitcase around with me, and my exploration was a bit incomplete. But I'd heard about its interesting fountains, so off I jaunted.

Absurdly Futuristic

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I'm living in a bizarre cross between a Jetson's office and Homer Simpson's nuclear reactor.

homers_panel.jpg
I work in the side office off of this control room.

Now We're Getting Somewhere

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Okay, progress is being made. Having convinced my laptop to make like R2D2 and talk to the particle accelerator's computer network, watch this space for illustrated posts.

orion.jpg
A 15-second exposure in the direction of the Orion Giant Molecular Cloud. There are some recognizable stars visible. Not bad for a mid-range digital camera. 2004:10:07 18:43:33

Holding Pattern

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A number of necessary things have so far not been done, thanks to my timing. Wouldn't you know it, I've arrived in the midst of the week of Sukhot, which is apparently not altogether unlike that week between Christmas and New Year's back in the States when everyone is either on vacation or working in a restaurant feeding people on vacation.

Status

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Got into Israel yesterday afternoon, and now have lodging, an office, and some Israeli currency in my pocket, so things are coming together. Will put some effort tonight into assembling a more complete account of my journeys so far. Anyone who's expecting an email, updates should be going out shortly, now that I have a connection for which I am not paying by the half-hour.

Cheers.

Status

For those of you playing along at home, it is 4:30 am local time, and in an hour and a half I will be off to take the Madrid subway (the Metro) back to the airport. Had a lovely day here, but thanks to the jetlag I had to grab a nap in the afternoon, and havenīt slept tonight. Which is okay by me.

Later there will be pictures of Madrid architecture and the Buen Retiro, including the oldest known public monument dedicated to the Dark Lord. Sorry art buffs, but the Prado didnīt make the cut.

Signing off.

Going offline

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Today's weather: Rainy with a high of 62 F; a strong cold front will drop temperatures into the 20s-30s overnight.

Today's weather in Madrid: Fair, high of 86 F, falling to 54 F overnight.

Today's weather in Rehovot: Scattered clouds, high of 96 F, overnight low of 69 F.

Going offline in a moment, and apparently not a moment too soon. So long, suckers! Enjoy the winter.

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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