Brookhaven National Labs

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Maya has been offered a summer internship at the prestigious Brookhaven National Labs located in Upton, NY on Long Island. She will be working for physicist Dr. Lijuan Ruan who is studying the fundamental properties of the Quark Gluon Plasma (QGP) using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC). The RHIC, one of two in the world, has accelerated gold ions to 99.995% the speed of light and achieved temperatures of 7 trillion degrees Fahrenheit when they are crashed into each other. Ryan has built a new detector to measure muons, heavier counterparts of electrons. By comparing muon-muon to electron-muon pairs, she is hoping to separate the production of different kinds of quarks (known by the whimsical names of “charm” and “beauty”) from the “shine” of this early-universe matter, known as Quark Gluon Plasma.

Maya will be assisting with analysis of the experimental data.  The trick now will be to find her a place to live over the summer within commuting distance of the lab.

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Nesting Herons

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Our local great blue herons have established a new rookery near the Old North Bridge.  I spotted about a dozen nests and it appears that at least three are active.  Unfortunately I do not think I will be able to get any closer than I did for the shot above which means image quality is not going to be optimal. Still, I will probably visit often to see if I can capture some pictures of the babies when they hatch.

My sister-in-law, Marie, and Jeanine left this afternoon for a yoga workshop in the Berkshires. Jeanine seemed very excited about the getaway until she learned that guest are encouraged not to talk during their visit.  Can’t wait to hear the report when they return on Sunday.

Chess Masters

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While the boys attended the Orchard School in Indianapolis they became totally absorbed in the game of chess and were members of the school’s nationally ranked chess team.  Many of the trophies that I photographed yesterday were from chess tournaments.  Kyle was the Indiana state champion as a third grader and Nico placed second in the nation amoung kindergardeners (he is pictured below with the ninth place trophy from Super Nationals).  Maya never developed an interest in the game but was happy to collect hardware on behalf of her brothers.

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Trophy Day

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What does one do with a lifetime accumulation of family trophies when preparing to downsize.  We could dole them out to each of the kids and I could hang on to the few I earned but where would we store all this hardware. Simply throwing them out seems criminal given that each one represent a tremendous effort and significant accomplishment (none of these are participation trophies).  I decided to photograph each and every one so that they can be shared digitally into the indefinite future with no need for packing and storage.  I then arranged the nicer ones on a table and took this “group” photo. I jumped into the final photo to lend a sense of scale. I may save one or two for each kid but will disassemble the rest and donate to a trophy recycler (yes, there is such a thing).

The Closet

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Jeanine and I tackled our walk in closet today as part of our spring cleaning week. I occupy about 1/5th of the available space. Pictured above is the top half of my area.  Jeanine stood over me as I reviewed my collection of clothing providing stern guidance as to which articles needed to go into the donation pile.  In the end, I parted with half my wardrobe and footwear.  I then consolidated all of the family camping gear into the upper shelving areas. 3 sleeping bags, 3 tents, 7 backpacks, 7 ground pads/mattresses, 3 pairs of trekking poles, 2 stoves, and a number of other camping items.

I also continued to add to my Craig’s List postings with a kayak deck bag and youth sized PFD.

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Spring Cleaning

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Today was the beginning of what will likely be an entire week of spring cleaning.  Jeanine and I are systematically going through the house and selling off or donating items which we no longer use.  When Maya leaves for college in the fall of 2017 we are planning to downsize and are giving ourselves a big head start.  Furniture and electronics get photographed for posting on Craig’s List.  Clothing and smaller items will be donated.  Ideally nothing winds up in the trash.

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Spoils of Victory

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Getting together with my teammates for a post match barbecue is always more enjoyable when we win.  Despite giving up a goal in the final minute of our game, we secured a decisive 2-1 win this morning. I have lost my starting position to our new recruits (mere 50 year olds) but still play about 45 minutes each match.  Our host this afternoon had an outdoor wood-fired pizza oven which we put to good use.

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Back Yard

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It has been 13 years since we moved to our home in Concord. While it can be seen in many photos I have taken over the years, the field which is an extension of our back yard has never been the sole subject of one of my photographs until this evening.  Jeanine and I went for a late afternoon walk during which we enjoyed all the early signs of spring.  I spent the bulk of the day doing household repairs including the replacement of our garbage disposal which finally bit the dust.

From Seat 22A

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Maya and I arrived in Boston at 1:30AM this morning.  As such I am deeming photos made during this trip eligible for posting today even though they were actually taken yesterday.

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Pigeon Point

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After another incredible breakfast, Maya and I started making our way to the airport for our return flight to Boston.  We did so by way of Highway 1 with frequent stops along the coast including the lighthouse station at Pigeon Point and the beaches of Half Moon Bay.

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Pinnacles

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Maya’s attempt to kill me today almost proved successful. First, she set a grueling 3.7mph (as measured by my very accurate GPS watch) hiking pace as we covered a total of ten miles in Pinnacles National Park this morning. For reference, I generally shoot for 2mph over such terrain.  I am convinced she is part Billy goat. Second, she picked up a huge boulder (pictured above) and tried to throw it at me.

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Our first hike was on the Old Pinnacles Trail to the Balconies Cliffs and then the Balconies Cave for just under 7 miles. Traversing the cave required some scrambling and tight maneuvering (see entrance below).

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We then made a short drive to Bear Gulch where we added 3 more miles on the Bear Gulch Cave and Rim trails which took us to and from the delightful Bear Creek Reservoir where Maya was unable to convince the local squirrels to attack me.

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With no restaurants in the park we decided to lunch in Monterey.  Maya Yelped us a great little breakfast spot where we each had 2 eggs, hash browns and toast for a grand total of $3.25 including tax.  Quite the contrast to our Palo Alto breakfast yesterday which came to $30 with tip. Realizing that Maya had never been to the Pacific Ocean we decided to tour the famous 17 Mile Drive and stopped frequently to enjoy the views, the water, and the Pebbles Beach golf course lodge and 18th hole.

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Our final stop for the day before driving to Santa Cruz for the evening was the Basilica of San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission (Carmel Mission) founded by Fr. Junipero Serra in 1770, making it the second of the 21 California missions.

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Stanford & Santa Clara

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Our college visits today included my alma mater, Stanford University, and Kyle’s, Santa Clara University.  I was amazed by the number of new buildings on campus since I attended.  It was actually hard to find my way around.  When I took Maya to see Lake Lagunita, one of my favorite places to chill out, I was disappointed to discover that it has been dry for a number of years due to environmental concerns.

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After we finished with college tours we drove to Pinnacles National Park where we arrived just in time to pitch our tent before night fall. Once reduced to a total population of 27 and near extinction, the California Condor has been successfully bred in captivity and now numbers more than 425.  We were exceptionally fortunate to view 16 of them circling in the night sky and I was able to isolate this pair with the near full moon in the background. They were very far away but with a 10 foot wingspan they are hard to miss.

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Berkeley & Davis

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An early start from our hotel near the San Francisco airport had Maya and I to U.C. Davis by early morning for our first college visit.  The campus was a ghost town.  Yesterday their was their Picnic Day with festivities continuing into the early morning.  It seemed like the entire student body was sleeping in. Our next stop was U.C. Berkeley which lays claim to discovering 16 of the elements on the Periodic Table, 21 Nobel laureates, 32 libraries, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

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We were joined for dinner at a Greek restaurant in Palo Alto by Kyle and his girlfriend Corina and longtime friends of Jeanine and I, Ann and Brian Ponty.

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New Mac

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Maya’s 2 year old Apple laptop has been behaving erratically lately.  It overheats for no apparent reason and then fails to boot up for some time.  This morning we dropped it off at the Apple store where it is being sent back to the factory for repair under the Apple Care warranty/insurance.  When it is returned we will sell it to offset the cost of a new 12″ MacBook that we picked up while in the store.  At 2 pounds, it is about half the weight of her older 13″ model and has a beautiful high resolution Retina display.

Maya and I are headed to California this evening to visit with Kyle and make college visits to Stanford, UC Berkeley, Santa Clara, and UC Davis. We will also be camping in Pinnacles National Park for two nights.   Meanwhile Jeanine left yesterday to join her sister for a long weekend in Montreal.

Meet Lisa

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Followers of this blog may recall that I was a mentor in the Gordon Leadership program at MIT.  My mentee, Nora, has gone on to a very successful career at Microsoft.  Jeanine and I attended her wedding to Simon in August of 2013 and now look what they have created. What a cutie!