Author Archives: Thomas

Posting A Markdown Test

Is this in Markdown?

I just realized that I can use Markdown on this blog instead of the Gutenberg interface. I just really hate the Gutenberg interface. Testing

  1. List item 1
  2. List item 2
  • Bullet List 1
  • Bullet List 2

I think this might work better than what I have been doing. Oh my yes

How about a link? Something like this link to Markdown or another website of mine called Ekua.org

Yep, that’s the ticket. I remember a billion years ago I took the time to learn Textile instead of Markdown. Bet on the wrong horse there didn’t I?

I think I like this better

So here we are. Seems like I finally got Markdown to work in my browser. That’s good, as I have come to the realization that Gutenberg sucks big time.

This editor is a bit spare, but at least it is not [Gutenberg](https://wordpress.org/gutenberg/). The lousy editor is probably one reason why I post so sparingly now.

Bacon Saver

So this feature saved my bacon this morning. I was able to recover about 10 tabs from Firefox from a computer that accidentally got overwritten last night (thanks GRUB). Using this Firefox feature of Synced Tabs, I was able to open Firefox on another computer and retrieve the tabs I needed. Thanks Firefox. Once again I am happy with my decision to stick with this browser over other options (looking at you Chrome).

Roman Emperors Reimagined

Found a fascinating article on the The Verge this week; a designer created photo realistic images for the first 54 Roman emperors. From Augustus to Numerian, he took historical busts, statues, paintings and coins, fed the images into an AI called ArtBreeder repeatedly, and created realistic images of what these emperors looked like. He tweaked the results with actual photos of celebrities and fed the image back into ArtBreeder; like using Daniel Craig as a reference point for Augustus. The results are amazing. None of that creepy, not-quite-human look that so many CGI renders have. If your interested, let me throw in a plug for one of my favorite podcasts; The History of Rome. This podcast is no longer active, but it covers the history of Rome from its mythical and/or actual founding, through the Republic and Empire, to end of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD. The podcast ended eight long years ago, but I cannot recommend it enough to anyone with an interest in history or the ancient world.

COVID-19 Update

The month of August has not been great on Guam. The number of COVID cases has skyrocketed in the first half of the month, prompting a return to lockdown here on the island. The number of positive cases in the first half of August accounted for almost half the total cases on Guam since March. There are currently well over 100 active cases, with many hospitalized. Four patients are in the ICU tonight, and one of them is on a ventilator. Last week the governor announced that she was battling a mild case of COVID-19, followed by the lieutenant governor announcing he was positive mid-week. The governor announced a return to lockdown for two weeks, starting last Saturday. So businesses are closed, schools are closed, parks and beaches are closed, any public gathering is banned. It sucks, but I guess this is going to be par for the course for the remainder of this year and into 2021. And just to continue the theme, I came across this long article last week that laid out the cost of COVID-19 on health care workers across the United States. A sobering read indeed.

The Parallax View

NASA’s New Horizons probe, speeding through the Kuiper Belt, has taken a series of photos of nearby stars, including Proxima Centauri and Wolf 359. New Horizons is 46 AU away from the sun, and at that distance the parallax between New Horizons’ camera and Earth based telescopes is quite dramatic. This image shows the difference in the position of Wolf 359 and Proxima Centauri between Earth and New Horizons’ position. That’s really cool.

Happy Easter To All

Happy Easter to All. My wife has been hard at work creating a series of video art tutorials. Here is a sample that she is releasing for Easter to everyone. Enjoy!

Working From Home

Home with the kids for the next two weeks. They get an early spring break, then start online learning next week. Picked up their books from school yesterday. All meetings more than 10 people are strongly discouraged. Many restaurants are only doing take out orders, hotels are nearly empty. Yet flights from South Korea, Japan continue. Go figure. Manila is on lockdown. My employees there are all at home – some in the provinces outside Manila. Trying my best to work from home. Lots of Zoom and GoToMeetings right now. Our VPN is terribly slow – probably because so many people are on it right now. It is painfully slow just trying to connect and get some files. I was trying to use RDP yesterday, and there was about a 10 second delay in the response time.

Coronavirus Hits Guam

Yesterday, the first cases of COVID-19 were reported on Guam late in the afternoon. Three cases at GMH. About ten minutes later, my son’s soccer league was suspended. This morning school is suspended until further notice, UOG is closed, the hospitals are not letting visitors in, and GovGuam has shut down all non-essential services for two weeks. On Saturday, the governor declared a health emergency and cancelled all events with 100+ people. Today that number is down to 50. And we are making up our plan forward at work right now. I am designating critical employees and probably sending the rest home for two weeks.

Coronavirus K.O.’s Festpac, Marathon and More

Concerns about the rapidly exanding Coronavirus has prompted organizers in Hawaii to postpone the 13th Festival of the Pacific Arts, or FestPac. Guam hosted the 12th FestPac in 2016, it was an amazing opportunity. Here on Guam, news broke today that the United Airlines Guam Marathon, set for April 15, is postponed until September. Lots of speculation about the Olympics being postponed as well. I have to say that the tourist spots on Guam are a ghost town right now. Arrivals are down by 33% from what I heard.

So Long, And Thanks For All The Fish

I got some sad news today; the SETI@Home project is coming to an end on March 31. This is the message I found in my BOINC Manager software this week:
SETI@home: SETI@home hibernation
On March 31, the volunteer computing part of SETI@home will stop distributing work and will go into hibernation. We’re doing this for two reasons: 1) Scientifically, we’re at the point of diminishing returns; basically, we’ve analyzed all the data we need for now. 2) It’s a lot of work for us to manage the distributed processing of data. We need to focus on completing the back-end analysis of the results we already have, and writing this up in a scientific journal paper. However, SETI@home is not disappearing. The web site and the message boards will continue to operate. We hope that other UC Berkeley astronomers will find uses for the huge computing capabilities of SETI@home for SETI or related areas like cosmology and pulsar research. If this happens, SETI@home will start distributing work again. We’ll keep you posted about this. If you’re currently running SETI@home on your computer, we encourage you to attach to other BOINC-based projects as well. Or use Science United and sign up to do astronomy. You can stay attached to SETI@home, of course, but you won’t get any jobs until we find new applications. We’re extremely grateful to all of our volunteers for supporting us in many ways during the past 20 years. Without you there would be no SETI@home. We’re excited to finish up our original science project, and we look forward to what comes next.
Well that’s a bummer. I started participating in SETI@Home back in 1999, and I have been running the software on every computer I’ve had since. Well almost: In 2005 SETI@Home moved to a new architecture called BOINC, and I was hesitant to sign up for a few years. Instead I doubled down on another distributed computing project I joined called Folding@Home; I felt bad that I could be using my computer’s spare cycles to work on the cure for cancer instead of looking for little green men. The idea of doing all this distributed work around the world on a common goal really interested me, both intellectually and technically. I actually got a bit obsessed with my ranking amongst all the users. Seems like a lot of other people did too... Around 2008, I started reading about another distributed computing project, something called BitCoin. The idea was to distribute the ledger amongst all the participants, and reward their efforts in computing the transaction with digital BitCoins. I was really intrigued by the idea, but I didn’t want to sacrifice my standings in SETI@Home and Folding@Home rankings, especially for something that had absolutely no value at the time. Man, I am still beating myself up for that decision. I actually started up with another BOINC based project a couple months ago, Einstein@Home, but I am not as enthused about that project. Primarily because Einstein@Home really bogs down my computer. I signed up for ClimatePrediction.net as well, but they seem to be a mothballed project like SETI@Home will soon be. So I guess I will just be folding proteins now full time instead of splitting between two projects. Till then I can admire my stats page for SETI@Home and Folding@Home.

Betelgeuse Betelgeuse Betelgeuse

Zooming in on Betelgeuse
That’s a pretty cool video there. The interesting bits are at the end, with the infrared imaging of the dust clouds surrounding Betelgeuse, and then the final direct image of the red supergian star at the end. That bit at the end is actually the most recent imaging of the star, and a side by side comparison taken by the same telescope a year ago show the dramatic change in Betelgeuse’s shape:

Thank You Schoolhouse Rock

Last night my daughter was sitting at the computer doing homework. She asked me, “Dad, what’s an interjection?” and before I knew it, I blurted out “INTERJECTION!!! SHOWS EXCITEMENT! OR EMOTION! They’re generally set apart from a sentence by an exclamation point, or a comma if the feelings not too strong.”
I could go on… “So if you’re happy (HURRAY!), or sad (AWWW!), or frightened (EEEEK!), or mad (DRAT!), or excited (WOW!), or glad (Hey!), an interjection starts a sentence right.” Man, that shit is just burned into some neurons in my brain.
Keeping on that vein, this morning I looked up Schoolhouse Rock Rocks!, a tribute/cover album from the mid-90’s if I remember correctly. It’s got Blind Melon singing ‘Three is a Magic Number,’ which is about as mid-90’s as it gets. I wanted to treat the kids to more Schoolhouse Rock. Unfortunately, the album does not have ‘Interjection!’

Volcano Erupts in Philippines

TAGAYTAY, PHILIPPINES – JANUARY 12: Lightning strikes as a column of ash surrounds the crater of Taal Volcano as it erupts on January 12, 2020 as seen from Tagaytay city, Cavite province, Philippines. Local authorities have begun evacuating residents near Taal Volcano as it began spewing ash up to a kilometer high Sunday afternoon. The Philippine Institute of of Volcanology and Seismology has raised the alert level to four out of five, warning that a hazardous eruption could take place anytime. (Photo by Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
Sunday afternoon the volcano Taal just south of Manila erupted and threw ash a mile into the sky. Prevailing winds pushed the ash north onto metro Manila and led to all sorts of disturbances. Only a few people showed up in our Manila offices yesterday, and several of my employees live within 15 km of the volcano. Lots of ash fell in Cavite and Batangas. Even worse, the government is expected Taal to erupt violently at any time, spewing more ash, lava, mudslides, tsunami, etc. Mass evacuations are underway.
Taal Erupts Sunday Afternoon
Taal Sunday Afternoon
Lava Fountains Spotted Sunday Night
As it was Sunday afternoon, and Taal is a picturesque volcano near metro Manila, the area was full of tourists visiting the area. Taal is located on an island in the middle of Taal Lake. I have been there sightseeing many years ago, it is was a beautiful spot.

The Seed Jar

I caught this amazing story on Radiolab this week. It is actually a story I heard years ago now, probably 2014 or thereabouts. It is an amazing story about friends, objects, history and time. One of the main characters, Craig Childs, is an author and he blogged about the same story right here. Radiolab is one of the great ones. So many episodes are great, but one of my favorites is on YouTube – Dinopocalypse. I love the grungy jam at the end of the episode.

Hiker Dies In Fall At Talofofo Caves

At 2:00 this afternoon I was headed down to Jeff’s Pirates Cove for Mick Pexa’s memorial when I was stopped heading down the hill from Talofofo by the cops. They had traffic closed off and I could see multiple emergency vehicles at the Talofofo Caves trailhead. I knew immediately what had happened: A hiker fell down one of the caves. The largest caves in the Talofofo Caves group are enormous pit caves, and the area is completely undeveloped. It would be very easy to fall down one of those caves, and today, someone did:
A man died Saturday morning after he fell 100 feet inside a Talofofo cave, according to the Guam Fire Department.
GFD spokesman Kevin Reilly reports that it happened just before 11 a.m. A Caucasian man estimated to be 50 to 60 years old fell while climbing inside the cave.
I checked the schedule in the post below, and yes this was the regular Saturday morning Boonie Stompers whose schedule I repost quarterly. My thoughts go out to not only this poor man, but everyone involved. You know, one of the things I remember about Mick Pexa was going on these Saturday Boonie Stomps and he would occassionally attend as well. Here’s a Youtube video posted by KUAM News with the story:

Q1 2020 Boonie Stomps

And the year 2020 is upon us. Here is the list of Boonie Stomps being put on by the Guam Boonie Stompers on Saturday mornings for the 1st quarter of 2020. Hikers meet at the center court of the Chamorro Village to sign up and get directions for that day’s hike. I believe the cost is still only a couple bucks, and you get a free t-shirt if you complete 10 boonie stomps. I don’t get much opportunity to go on these hikes anymore, watching my kids play soccer is my current Saturday morning jam, but maybe I can catch a hike once soccer season is over in the late spring. It’s a shame, since many of these hikes are truly epic boonie stomps. Anao Point, La Sa Fua River, Pagat, Southern Mountains, Tarzan Falls, these are all great, iconic hikes on Guam. Many are long marches to remote mountains and waterfalls. I have many fond memories of going on these hikes, plus my only taotaomona story I can tell occurred hiking to Inarajan Falls about 20 years ago.

  • 04 Jan Talofofo Caves Medium 3 hours for 0.8 miles We explore the extensive cave system overlooking Talofofo Bay including Window Rock. Bring: flashlights, 2 liters water, hiking boots, gloves, long pants, sun screen, insect repellant, lunch, camera, and a flashlight. Special Conditions: Crawling in caves.
  • 11 Jan Anao Difficult 5 hours for 2 milesBring: 4 liters water, hiking boots, sun screen, sunglasses, insect repellent, lunch, and camera. Special Conditions: Hiking over rough rocks and a long ascent.
  • 18 Jan La Sa Fua River Medium 3 hours for 1 miles We explore the waterfalls of a southwestern Guam valley. Bring: 2 liters water, swim suit, water shoes, hiking shoes, gloves, insect repellent, sun screen, sunglasses, lunch, and camera. Special Conditions: Some steep slopes, wet rocks, and walking in water.
  • 25 Jan Tarzan Falls with Cross Island option Very Difficult 6 hours for 7 miles We journey to a series of three cooling waterfalls in central Guam, a great family hike. The more adventurous can continue on to Lower Sigua Falls and out to Turner Road. Bring: 2 quarts water, hiking shoes, gloves, swimsuit, sun screen, lunch, insect repellent, and camera. Special Conditions: muddy trail, several hills up and down, slippery rocks.
  • 01 Feb Mt. Santa Rosa (Piggy) Cave Difficult 3 hours for 0.5 miles We explore a unique cave along the volcanic/limestone geological junction. Bring: 3 liters water, hiking boots, gloves, long pants, insect repellent, lunch, camera, and flashlights. Special condition: Climbing in narrow cave passages with water.
  • 08 Feb Fadian Difficult 3 hours for 1 miles We descend to this scenic cove below the cliffs to swim and snorkel if the water is calm. Bring: 3 liters water, hiking boots, swim suit, snorkel gear, gloves, insect repellent, sun screen sunglasses, lunch, and camera. Special Conditions: A steep hill to climb and hiking over rough rocks. Possible surf.
  • 15 Feb Pagat Loop Difficult 4 hours for 2.5 miles We descend the cliff and through the limestone forest to explore the coastline with a great view north and then head to the ancient Chamorro village and cave. Bring: 3 liters water, hiking boots, swim suit, water shoes, flashlight, gloves, sun screen, sunglasses, insect repellent, lunch, and camera. Special Conditions: Stretches of steep climbing, walking in cave water, and over rough limestone rocks.
  • 22 Feb Hilaan, Lost Pond & Shark’s Hole Medium 3 hours for 2.6 miles We hike north from Tanguisson Beach and snorkel at Shark’s Hole of the water is calm, also visit the fresh water pool for a cool swim in the jungle behind the beach. Bring: 2 liters water, hiking boots, swim suit, snorkel gear, gloves, sun screen, sunglasses, insect repellent, lunch, and camera. Special Conditions: Hiking over some rough rocks and in the water.
  • 29 Feb Ague Cove Medium 3 hours for 0.4 miles We descend to a cove ideal for swimming and snorkeling if the water is calm. This will be a cleanup hike. Bring: 2 liters water, hiking boots, swim suit, snorkel gear, gloves, sun screen, sunglasses, insect repellent, lunch, and camera. Special Conditions: A steep slope to ascend and a few rough rocky trail areas.
  • 07 Mar Southern Mountains to Ija Very Difficult 7 hours for 8 miles We climb up Mt. Jumullong-Manglo to enjoy the views, descend steeply to the long open Southern Mountains trail, passing Mt. Bolanos and Ilichos to reach Atete, crossing over to Mt. Schroeder, and making the long steep downhill climb down the ridge to Ija. Bring: 4 quarts water minimum, hiking shoes, gloves, sun screen, insect repellant, hat, lunch and snacks, and camera. Special Conditions: Sword grass, little shade, a lot of climbing, and a very long hike.
  • 14 Mar Mt. Lamlam North Very Difficult 4 hours for 2.2 miles We explore the ridgeline of Guam’s tallest peak. Bring: 4 liters water, hiking boots, gloves, sun screen, sunglasses, insect repellent, and camera. Special Conditions: Swordgrass, rough rocks, and steep slopes.
  • Mar 21 Mt. Jumulong-Manglo Medium 3 hours for 2.2 miles We hike up to the large cross on top of a mountain next to Mt. Lamlam. Bring: 2 liters water, hiking boots, gloves, insect repellent, sun screen, sunglasses, lunch, and camera. Special Conditions: Swordgrass, rough rocks, and steep slopes.
  • Mar 28 Mt. Schroeder to Inalajan Very Difficult 6 hours for 4.5 miles We hike up and over Mount Schroeder from Merizo, make the steep climb up the shoulder of Mt. Ilichos, hike up to reach Atete, and make the long trek over the southern badlands, with a short side trip to the falls, to reach Inarajan. Bring: 4 quarts water minimum, hiking shoes, gloves, sun screen, insect repellant, hat, lunch and snacks, and camera. Special Conditions: Sword grass, little shade, a lot of climbing, and a very long hike.