Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Greetings from Raton, NM

Sorry about the scarcity of posts recently, but I've been working my bottom off in Fort Sumner, NM. Now though ANITA has had her maiden balloon flight (I'll post some photos when I get back to Columbus), she soared up in the air to about 120,000 feet and then came crashing back down to Earth. Actually she had quite a gentle landing, most of the gondola and all of the electronics survived.

My stuff, the flight software and data acquisition, pretty much worked as advertised. There were a few things I could have done better and a fw things I should have done differently, but all in all I'm quite happy with the way it turned out.

Right now I'm at the Holiday Inn Express in Raton, New Mexico. Myself and Kim (one of the Ohio State grad students) are driving bvack to Columbus. According to Google we have 1,393 miles to go. Although we might make a little detour or two along the way, maybe starting with Capulin volcano this morning.

Ooh and I've got a nice new home when I get back to Columbus (probably on Thursday). On the first day my new house mates moved into the house, they were busy unpacking stuff downstairs in the kitchen when somebody wandered in the front door went upstairs and rifled through some drawers before making off with some money. I have a feeling it's going to be a very interesting year.

Oh well, this is all for now. I'll try and post an update along the way.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

In which coolers are crushed and chili is barely touched

This is another one of those evening after the night before kind of posts. Last night was ANITA's Ft. Sumner barbecue night. The motel in which I'm staying (the aforementioned $380,000 Billy The Kid Country Inn) has these great picnic tables and old iron barbecues. So everybody chipped in their $20 and a run was made out to Clovis to pick up supplies (except for alcohol which was purchased at Fred's — apparently the only place for 90 miles that has a Sunday liquor license). Much food, drink and merriment was had.

In my case probably a teeny, tiny little bit too much drinking was done. But hey, I had fun (at least I'm pretty sure I did, some parts of the evening are a little vague in my memory). The comical highlight of the evening was probably when I tried to sit on a Styrofoam beer cooler. Actually I managed to sit on it quite well, sadly it didn't really manage to support my weight all that well and was pretty much destroyed. In fact I have a little piece of the wreckage here on the table with me, I might keep it as a souvenir. I ended up with a wet and muddy bottom, but fortunately no damage was done to the beer inside the cooler. There is even photographic evidence of the coolers demise which I might post here if I get a chance.

As you can imagine today was not the most productive day I've had on this trip. It started off with Kim knocking on my door at 9:00 am and rousing me from my chemical induced slumber (on the plus side I was at least on my bed, where I apparently passed out with the door open last night). I didn't actually feel to bad this morning. That was probably because I was still drunk and it took until lunchtime for me to sober up. All of which meant that the bowl of green chili I ordered, proved to be a case of optimism winning out over realism, and the chili came away with me after only a slight prodding at the dinner table. Still it tasted quite nice for supper this evening, after I had taken a couple of naps and was feeling a bit more human.

Right now I'm sat alone at the picnic table watching a cute little black and white kitten chasing and eating grasshoppers. It seems to be having a whale of a time, not so sure about the grasshoppers. And yes, I also have a beer here, although it's only number two and I'm not sure if there'll be a number three.

Whilst I've been sat here the local police and sherrif have cruised past upwards of six or seven times. I'm not really sure what they're looking for, apparently not a physicist drinking a beer and typing on his laptop.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Still sat at a picnic table

It's true I'm still sat at a picnic table outside of the Billy the Kid Country Inn (which could be yours for just $380,000). It turns out that in my hotel room I don't have any wireless reception, so if I want to surf the web or type this post I've got to go outside to the picnic tables.

It is terribly addictive to sit here and watch the work that's going on up in the NSBF hangar over the webcam. Apparently the zoom feature of the webcam had to be disabled last year as somebody got upset that people were using the zoom, to magnify parts of her body that she didn't necessarily want internet perverts (such as myself) to study in such detail. Although it's possible we might get it reinstated, which I'm sure is good news for any of you who really want to look closely at the back of neck, or my left hand.

It's somewhat odd to be stuck in a tiny little town in the Middle Of Nowhere again, it almost feels like I'm back in Tower, Minnesota. Except Tower having three bars, whereas Fort Sumner has one and that one closes at 10pm. Well that and the fact that I have New Mexican summer weather (very changeable, hot and thunder stormy) as opposed to Minnesotan winter weather (very consistent, very very cold and snow stormy). The thunder is really pretty though... but the snow was kind of cute.

Still it's nice to be somewhere where I can use my British driving license as a form of ID. In Irvine, California they did not like the fact that I didn't have a Californian driving license. It was very annoying. Whenever I went to the supermarket or the liquor store there was a 50/50 chance that they would refuse to sell me alcohol. It was all very grrh worthy.

On a brigther note I should find out next week whether or not I've made the shortlist for the lectureship position at UCL. We wait with baited breath.

Where's Ryan? (Or actually where isn't Ryan right now)

For all of you wondering where I am and what I'm up, apparently you can see for yourself using a NASA webcam. This is what it looks like right now on Thursday evening. Of course right now I'm not at work, instead I'm sitting at a picnic table in the car park of the Billy the Kid Country Inn drinking beer. Oh and it's thundering and lightninging. It's very cool.

I fear more beer is calling.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

It's not possible...

"But some are concerned that it would encourage more porn on the net."

Really does anyone believe that anything would encourage more porn on the net. From what I've seen, and to be perfectly honest I've seen an awful lot (and a lot of it was awful), it woud not be possible to encourage more porn. There is really no shortage of porn out there, I can't believe there are that many would be pornographers who aren't already plying their filthy, wonderful trade already.

But then again I'm not the president.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Sun, sand and sea on my first day off in three weeks

Yesterday was our first day off for three weeks. It was lots of fun. There was alcohol, taken in an apartment so close to the beach that you could almost reach out and touch it, good food and fun and frolics in the sun. Well there were only frolics if you count playing ball with a twelve year old kid as frolics, which we will for now. I wouldn't mind but he kept on beating me... oh well.

It was definitely a much needed day of rest before flying off to New Mexico today, and starting leg two of Anita's integration. With any luck we will soon have a nice big shiny instrument that we can strap on to a balloon and send it up, up and away in Fort Sumner.

Yesterday also marked the start of the new football season at home. And yes, I was up at 4:45 in the morning so that I could watch Man Utd beat Everton. I think I may even have won a few pennies on the match. On the subject of sports I'm currently, when the hotel wireless allows me to, listening to day four of the third test. It's very exciting, England appear to be doing rather well which is something of pleasant change.

Oh well, better pack up my stuff so that I can go off to the airport. Albuquerque here I come.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Tonight has been a night of firsts for me. For the first time on this trip the ocean glowed for me. I'm really not joking either, the ocean actually glowed. Apparently there is some algae or other little critter in the ocean that likes to produce light when it gets excited. It was really rather impressive to see the waves glowing as they crashed against the shore.

It was also rather impressive that you could go down on the sand and write your name in glowing lights in the sand, just by running your foot over the surface.

The other new thing that happened tody is that I had the manager of the hotel in which I'm staying call me up in my room to complain I was making too much noise. I was a little perplexed as all I was doing was watching TV. I guess that somebody sitting here in the flight path of Orange Cunty airport, was so upset at the fact I was watching TV that they felt the need to call the mangaement and complain. I must be a terrible criminal.

Oh well never mind. Tomorrow I'm off to Hollywood and Venice Beech and then on Sunday I'm off to New Mexico. Urggh.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

...using a shoe as a pillow

I woke up this morning lying on my bedroom floor, covered with my blanket and using a shoe as a pillow. I'm not quite sure how I got there. Did I actually make it into bed and then fell out and decided the floor was pretty comfortable? Or was it just all a little bit too tricky to climb in to bed last night so I curled up in a ball and passed out on the floor? Who knows? Certainly not me. On the plus side I was using one of my shoes as a pillow and not one of my sandals. As my sandals are currently quite pestilent and should probably be burned, possibly at the stake.

Oh well, lets see where Ryan can end up tonight. There is probably even a chance that I end up in bed. Probably...

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Starts with 'C'

I see that lovely chap Galloway is up to his old tircks again. He really is a... well actually I think Liam Fox sums it up pretty well, "George Galloway is a sad and twisted but ultimately irrelevant politician".

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Tales from (almost) the midnight hour

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I'm still at work. This is not a good state of affairs. We have brackets with mirror image problems, cards that are too big to fit into computers and various other issues. On the plus side we ticked everything of our acquisition software/firmware checklist and I got to stick lots of plots on the wall.

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I've yet to have a beer. This is not a good state of affairs. In fact I would almost go as far as to say it's a bad state of affairs.

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I might have a house to go home to when I finally return to Columbus. This is a good state of affairs. I seem to have remarkable luck when it comes to being out of town when house/apartment hunting is going on, and then returning to a new home. Hopefully this luck will continue and I'll have somewhere nice to go home to.

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I'm still at work. It's days like today that are the reason why I've not been writing very many posts recently.

It's 11:30 on a Wednesday evening and I've got to stop typing and go and do more work.

Monday, August 01, 2005

The long time no post post

Yes I am still alive (and somewhat kicking) and yes at has been a while since I posted anything, but you see I've been busy. In fact here am at quarter to seven on a Sunday evening and I'm still at work. This is not the way things are meant to be. I should really be down the pub at this point in the proceedings. Alas, not to be.

Anyhow here I am in sunny Southern California... and by the look of things here I'll be for a couple of more weeks before I go off to lovely New Mexico. Should all be a giggle and a laugh. Or something.

Sadly, I don't have the time right at the moment to fully regale you all with tales of my drunken adventures in Orange County. Suffice to say it is surprisingly dfficult to get drunk near the UC Irvine campus. And in fact if I stay at work much longer I may well struggle to eat this evening.

But just a teeny tiny little bit more work to do...