Desierto norte de Chile

Monday, March 28, 2011

What a wonderful world, or just what a world?

So is it Louis Armstrong, or the Wicked Witch of the West? Tonight I was watching the O'Riley Factor and saw for the first time the tragic clip of Iman al Obeidi (alternate spelling Eman al-Obeidy), the Libyan woman who bust into the hotel in Tripoli to scream (in English, no less) to the pooled foreign reporters about being raped at a checkpoint by the Gadaffi military. What proceeded was equally tragic: her fellow Libyans turned on her, yelling at her, getting in her face (CNN says the response varied from brandishing a butter knife [one waitress], a pistol [a government "monitor"], and throwing a over her head [another hotel staff]). She was quickly pushed into a car and now evidently is in jail. The NY Times blog speculates that the hotel staff were actually government loyalist plants, "secret service"-type people charges with keeping news away from the rest of the world. Tragic, both her rape and her treatment after reporting the rape.

In other goings-on, I'm currently streaming Al Jazeera English online and hearing about financial crises in Europe- the euro zone, austerity, etc. President Obama explained in a news conference why our country is now in its third "intervention" (the new euphemism for war, I guess) in 10 years. That led me to wonder who's more correct in their perception of the world, Louis Armstrong or the Wicked Witch of the West?

Friday, March 18, 2011

The National Zoo!

On President's Day, Jose, Factor, and Casimiro and I went to visit the National Zoo in Washington. Even though the sky threatened rain all morning (and actually did sprinkle some while we were walking to the zoo), the precip held off and we had a nice visit. The National Zoo is laid out pretty well- one main path, with animal exhibits/enclosures oriented in a "spoke" pattern off the main path. You basically walk either up (or down) hill (depending on which entrance you came in), and then walk to the other side. It was cold, but not as cold as our visit to the White House, National Mall and Smithsonian back on Martin Luther King Jr holiday. Here are a few photos (before my camera died... after suffering myriad camera deaths because of crappy [i.e., weak] AA batteries, I broke down and bought nice rechargeable batteries- the first set has lasted two weeks and taken dozens of flash pictures!)

Tsunamis and other thoughts

Last Friday another huge earthquake (8.9, if you believe USGS, 9.0 if you want to go with JMA) hit around the Pacific "ring of fire". A little over a year ago an earthquake of similar power struck offshore of Chile. I thought it would be interesting to compare the predicted tsunami height/dispersion maps made by NOAA for each quake. The first image is from the Japan quake: high tsunami heights expected (and occurred) around Japan, with waves propagating radially outward toward the east and southeast. The second image is an eerie reverse of the first: high tsunami heights in southern Chile and waves propagating radially north and northwest. Also interesting is to note the fatalities: much (most?) of Japan's mortal casualties seemed to have died in the tsunami(s), but seems that most of Chile's casualties were from the earthquake itself (perhaps because the tsunami amplitude was far higher in Japan).

Hopefully the world will stop shaking for a little while (my good friends, the Reed family, had their home rocked by another >6.0 earthquake in Christchurch, NZ two weeks ago, their second in about 9 months!)

Comings and goings

I wonder what power spectra would fall out if I ran a wavelet analysis on the frequency of my blog posting? Would it be completely random, have seasonality, or some other type of variability? Who knows!

I do know that I'm in Panama City Beach now with Crusade's Big Break 2011, sharing my faith with the many thousands of undergrads who've come here to party. It's been a great week & a great experience, and I've especially enjoyed getting to know the Navy midshipmen Cru folk better (we have over 50 students here!) I've also enjoyed daily runs on the beach in the morning, watching my hair get progressively lighter as the sun bleaches it, and hearing from the other student participants the things they are learning. What an encouraging week it's been!

Here are a few photos taken by the official photographer (he has opened his 'candid' shots to Flicker); my own photos will come when I get back to Annapolis and can actually connect my camera to a computer.

Enjoy the last of Spring Break; hopefully Congress will pass another Continuing Resolution and we'll have a job to come back to!

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