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Adolescent Diary Weblogs and the Unseen Audience

Conversations in the Blogosphere: An Analysis "from the Bottom Up". Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (HICSS-38) Best Paper Nominee.

Weblogs as a bridging genre

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The Performativity of Naming: Adolescent Weblog Names as Metaphor

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New books are added but reading status is rarely accurate.

January 07, 2005

A trip to the top of Mauna Kae

I got to met my primary goal on this trip to Hawaii. I signed up with Mauna Kea Summit Adventures for a trip up to the observatories near the peak of Mauna Kea. The van picked me up in Kona and headed north, with another stop near Waikoloa resorts, then we headed inland toward the Saddle Road.
I didn't take the picture at the top of this entry. I posted it because it gives a nice overview of the campus in the snow.
Saddle Road is one of those mythical places. Anyone who has been to the Big Island and rented a car has heard how travel upon it voids your agreement. Saddle Road runs east and west through the center of the island between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa and directly through a US Army Bombing Range. It is not the greatest road on which to be riding.
Once we reached the mountain our first stop was the Onizuka Center for International Astronomy Visitor Information Station. I bought some souvenirs - patches for the kids, a pin for hubby, and a fleece jacket for myself. This picture looks south from the visitors center. You can see that we are above the treeline already. We spend 40 minutes or so at this level to allow our bodies to begin to acclimatize to the altitude.
After we acclimatized and had a warm dinner with soup, sandwiches, and drinks we headed up to the first level of observatories. The temperature at the top was 30 F with 35 mph winds...which mean that it was very very cold. The guides pointed out each of the telescopes to us, but sad to say I couldn't make notes and memory is not good at altitude. Lucky for me the University of Hawai'i has a site that allows me to identify which instruments I saw and photographed. This shot is of the Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
This shot looks up from the Caltech toward to upper level instruments. If you are also checking the University of Hawai'i site these buildings are pictured on the near left. That tiny telescope on the far right of my picture is the UH 0.6-m telescope, the first telescope built on the mountain. It is the only instrument with an actual eyepiece, all of the others are digital and allow remote viewing. We were told that the UH is also unheated so it's not the most popular of places to hang out if you are an astronomer.
This picture looks at the lower instruments and tries to catch the variety of structures present. The metallic tin can building is the Subaru Telescope. Next to the Subaru are the twin buildings of the W. M. Keck Observatory. The Keck has been in the astronomical news of late because of the amazing pictures they have been able to capture since modifying the twin instruments.
I snapped this pic to show you the ski and snowboard tracks that run down the snow slope. Sadly even with PhotoShopping, at my minimalist skill level, I can't get the tracks to show clearly. If you look closely along the lower third of the snow field you can see the edges of a few turns cut into the field.
This shot looks east out over Hilo. I am told that the shadow of the mountain stretches almost 200 miles, far out to sea.
This shot looks north and catches some lovely colors bouncing off the cloud cover below us.
This is my favorite picture. It looks up at the Gemini Telescope from our vantage point alongside the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope.
A sunset shot with United Kingdom Infrared Telescope.
Sunset colors reflected on the snow pack. The red and white banded stakes are used to gage snow removal and keep the plows on the road...cause it's a long way down.
Other cold people in our tour provided parka's. It was really cold up here. I had brought fleece cap and gloves with me from the mainland. I wore then under my issued parka and gloves. Thank goodness for them, since it meant when my hood blew off or I wanted to take pictures I was not exposing totally bare skin. Even with all of this warm covering I had windburned cheeks for a couple of days.
Sunset from the mountain. No green flash but a very beautiful end to the day.
You can't see the difference well but some of the telescopes are opening as the night sky begins to bloom after sunset.
After sunset we went back down the mountain, stopping first at the visitors center to allow access to restrooms. Then we went down Saddle Road to the entrance to the Girls Club Camp so we had a clear dark sky, and warmer temperatures, for stargazing. I tried to override my autoflash option and get a nice shot of the sky. I tried twice and couldn't make it happen...garnering a stern reprimand from our guide. When I got home I decided to PhotoShop one of the apparently black pictures just to see what might come forward. I was amazed when this beautiful star field popped out.
The star gazing part of the tour was worth the money in and of itself. We were viewing the night sky through Celestron Nexstar 8 GPS telescopes. I saw things in the sky that I have only seen in photographs. I got a great view of the Zodiacal Light with my bare eyes. I saw the rings of Saturn and it's moon Titan through the telescope.
I am not usually a "tour" kind of person. But the difficulties in gaining access to the Mauna Kea summit, the inhospitable conditions, and the fragility of the ecosystem; I think the only way tourists should try to access the mountain is with one of the several tour companies that run daily trips to the observatories. For more information on the problems with accessing the mountain yourself check here.  For pictures of the roads and what can happen on them check here.

Posted by prolurkr at January 7, 2005 11:55 PM

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