Japan / Tsukuba / KEK #2


Didn’t finish posting stuff before I got back from my trip, but better late than never…

I found these little piggies at the bakery inside the Oho Kasumi Food Squared grocery store:

At the K’s in Tsukuba (near the Kasumi store), you can find a small selection of the fanciest rice cookers you can imagine (price range $300-$500):

I got a little lost driving around and accidentally found the Tsukuba Harley Davidson, but it was closed. I went back a couple days later hopeful that it would be open and was astounded to find that standard t-shirts were >10000 Yen (>$120). And they didn’t have any local customization on them (no bar and shield with “Tsukuba Harley Davidson” on the back) – just standard skulls and daggers.

What could be more delicious than a refreshing beverage from the local convenience store? Try them in peach, butterscotch or cherry flavor!

After some shenanigans trying to find an ATM that would work for my crazy foreigner’s debit/ATM card, I finally found a surprisingly good dinner from the Shakey’s Pizza at Tsukuba Center. BTW, the Tsukuba Center post office has an ATM that works with foreign ATM cards.

And right outside the Shakey’s was a fine portrait of a couple of German fellows each enjoying a glass of beer. Possibly also enjoying slightly out-of-fashion moustache styles from the ’30s:

Here are some socks from the drug store with an interesting pattern (Jain?/Nazi?):

I’m sure those last two pictures are completely unrelated and it was a complete coincidence that I took those two pictures within 90 minutes of each other.

Here’s a picture of the giant room in Fuji Hall at KEK:

And here’s the same room from the opposite angle, showing the pile of TOF modules and behind them, the clean room where I did most of my work:

Here’s what currently remains of the Belle detector in Tsukuba Hall:

And here’s the “electronics hut” which houses some of the electronics to instrument the detector:

Both the detector and the e-hut are on rails and can be moved about 10m between two positions; one to put the detector inline with the counter-rotating electron / positron beams, and another for easy access to the instrument (also so the e+/e- beams can be used for other purposes besides Belle for the ~3 years it will be offline for the upgrade).

more to come…

Japan / Tsukuba / KEK



Got to Japan a few days ago. Took the bus from Narita airport to Tsukuba Station, then the local bus to KEK.

I’ve been to a ramen place, the convenience store, the grocery store, the Indian restaurant, the Italian restaurant, and the mall by the bus station (which has a mister donut). I got an international driver’s permit before I came, so I’ve driven now a couple times (they drive on the left here). I practiced first by driving around the ring where there’s no traffic, then dropped some colleagues off at the bus station, then got a little more adventurous (read: got lost). I’ve also driven by a KFC, a McDonald’s, a Starbucks and a Denny’s. Didn’t stop in.

There’s a lot of vending machines here – several outside or in the lobby of almost every building. Cold drinks (tea, coffee, soda and juice), hot drinks (tea and coffee) and beer. Some of them have food in them that the vending machine will microwave for you before it drops out of the chute. There’s also a convenience store on the KEK campus, as well as a restaurant and a cafeteria. I haven’t been to the restaurant yet. The buildings on campus don’t have a lot of insulation and they don’t heat the open spaces in them (like lobbies and common areas). Each room has a heater/air conditioner and you’re supposed to turn it off when you’re done using the room. In my apartment, the only setting I can figure out on the microwave is to get it to heat until the food temperature is 80 Celcius (which is a neat idea, I’m just not sure it’s taking a good measurement). They’re very conscious about recycling on campus – there’s a separate can for regular trash that they can incinerate, aluminum/steel cans, polyethylene bottles and there’s one for trash that shouldn’t be incinerated.

The building where I’m working (Fuji Hall) is a building that goes 5 stories below ground (and two above) that’s in the path of the KEKb accelerator ring. It has one giant room that’s 5 stories tall that’s mostly empty now, but used to house a particle detector that would dwarf a person standing next to it. The other building that’s the same size as Fuji Hall and is on the other side of the accelerator ring (called Tsukuba Hall) is where the Belle detector is/was (which also would dwarf a person standing next to it). That is where the 10′ long scintillator bars and photomultiplier tubes that I am working with came from (part of the former inner-detector). We’re setting up a hodoscope / cosmic ray telescope so that we can calibrate TOP counters (once we start making them). It will will ensure that we can associate any signals we see on the TOP counters with known particle tracks from cosmic rays.

Here’s some pictures. Click for a larger version.

flying over Honolulu:

out over the pacific somewhere:

view of the street near Tsukuba Center:

yummy mister donuts:

the height of the big room in Tsukuba Hall:

flying over Japan


here’s what Honolulu looks like sometimes from the airport during sunrise:

here’s the airplane I rode:

here’s the closest I got to Mt. Fuji:

Here’s some mountains in Japan with snow on them:

this is the sunset as viewed from Incheon international airport (near Seoul):

this is the view from my dorm here (sunrise in Seoul):

camping sherwood forest


Spent two nights camping at Waimanalo beach park.

Here’s some pictures from/of the campsite:


And here’s a demonstration of 10x optical zoom from a Canon SX100IS: (zoomed out)

(zoomed in)

hike Haleakala


Half of these images were taken on the hike I did with my girlfriend last year and half are from hiking it with my sister and brother-in-law this year: Haleakala on panoramio

Atlanta to Honolulu


I had my bluetooth gps receiver on for most of the trip both so I could see where I was during the flight and so I could save the gps track so I could geotag the pictures I took out the window. Unfortunately, the camera’s time and the gps receiver’s time were not the same, so once I compensated for the difference in time zones between the two devices (-11 hours), it still took some trial and error with google maps to guess at the correct offset (which was about 40 seconds). I synchronized the camera’s clock to my other gps receiver’s time in March, so with a few assumptions, the clock drift on an s80 is -40 seconds over 7 months.

The software I used was called “gps-correlate-gui” and it works quite well. You give it a set of images, a gpx file with a gps track in it, the time zone offset and an optional additional offset and it tags the images that correspond to being taken during the gps track and ignores the others.

Here’s a sample of the images from my flight that were geotagged in this way:

One photo of the Mississippi river.

There’s a photo of a nuclear power plant just South of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Some of the Painted Desert in Arizona.

An interesting shape that made finding the time offset in google maps a lot easier.

Some canyon shots.

Three pix of the Colorado river. The ones of the Colorado river were taken over lake Havasu, which is where the London Bridge is now. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, and there was the bottom of the plane in the way at the time…

In California, there’s a few of Big Bear Lake, one of Marina del Ray and some of the Channel islands.

I didn’t have the gps on by the time I got to HI, so the 40 or so pix of Oahu as we were landing aren’t geotagged.

Let me just note that if I hadn’t had my gps on during the flight, I wouldn’t have known when to look out the window to take a picture of each interesting thing that went by. The plane I was on did have a map on the screen with our current location, but on a 9.5 hour flight, they showed three movies and two tv shows, so the map wasn’t on the screen very much.

Here’s the entire set of 49 geotagged pictures from the flight embedded in a map on panoramio. It only shows 8 images at a time, so you have to hit the next button (the one below those 8 images) to get to the next set of 8. You can also zoom in on the map and pan around, etc. Alternately, you can get the kml file for google earth here.

pictures of Moloka’i and Molokini


I finally went through my pictures from last month and posted them with the old blog entries. Click on these two links to view ’em: Moloka’i and Molokini.

Maui – part 1


Yesterday, we hiked inside the crater at Haleakala National Park, from the Sliding Sands trailhead down to the crater floor and back up to the Halemau’u trailhead.

We parked the rental car at an elevation of 2436m, hitchhiked up to the trailhead at 2969m and started down the Sliding Sands trail. From the top, the first part of the trail is all downhill through a variety of terrains (sand, small crumbly rocks, big non-crumbly rocks, etc). The view would change every 10 minutes after turning a corner around one of the many peaks inside the crater and the new vista would require a new set of photos. Either the small crumbly rock trail was set on a slope of hundreds of feet of small crumbly rock or the trail was level but through a rocky wasteland. Round another bend and the colors would change again completely. More photos needed.

After a few km of hiking, we got to the crater floor, we went North on a different trail to see the “bottomless pit” (which is a 22m deep vertical lava tube). From the maps and descriptions I’d read before we went, I expected the crater floor to all be at roughly the same elevation, but it was not so. Up and down hundreds of meters, just to get around the small peaks inside the crater.

After all that, it was just hiking back to the car. We passed one of several cabins in the crater that you can try to reserve many months in advance. This last part of the trail was the only one with anything besides sparse vegitation. On the way back up, it was foggy and cloudy, so half way up the steep switchback cliff, we couldn’t see the bottom, giving it a feeling that if you fell off the side, it would be an infinite drop.

All told, it was a 18.8km hike, not including the 10km hitchhiked. I took gobs of photos. It was very pretty.

2008-11-13 update: uploaded some of the images from this hike to panoramio.



Molokini is a small tuff cone island between Maui and Kaho’olawe. The ocean has eroded away the Northern half of the island, so Molokini is a crescent shape. The part above the water is a seabird sanctuary and the undersea part is a marine sanctuary. It’s a good spot to snorkel because nobody is allowed to stand on the coral here (or on the island itself) and the island is too small for streams to cloud the water with runoff.

We took a boat trip there yesterday and snorkled. The water is around 3-10 meters deep where most of the coral and fish are. I never saw such pretty coral in all shapes and colors. There were lots of different kinds of fish, including humuhumu nukunuku apua’a. The boat company fed us breakfast on the way out and lunch after we were done snorkelling. Visibility is amazing. It’s at least 30 meters, probably more.

We had a lot of fun and I think this is a better overall snorkelling experience than Hanauma Bay on O’ahu. Jess was the motivation behind doing this snorkel trip and now that I’ve been, I’m glad she made me go.

Update 2007-06-27: Added pictures.

Molokini itself:

A closeup of Molokini with snorkelers:

Water and fish from the boat:
water and fish

A dolphin we saw on the way back from Molokini:



Yesterday, we got up and went to Kalaupapa National Park. It’s the Northern peninsula on Moloka’i that is only accessible by hiking (or taking a mule ride) 600 meters down a cliff trail with 26 switchbacks. It’s been populated with people with Hansen’s disease since 1866 and still has 25 or so people who were cured in the fifties but still require medical care. It’s run mostly by the Hawai’i department of health, but will be totally uner the control of the national parks service when the last patients leave (some require more medical care than they can get on this peninsula and live on O’ahu).

We hiked it, and so did another 2 people, but 8 more came down on mules (pronounced moo-lays). Another 5 came by plane (there’s an airport, too) from Maui. The tour is on a rusted out school bus and because it’s a national park with people living in it, it’s restricted access and you must remain with the group and there’s a only a few buildings you’re allowed to go in. The tour guide told us that when ships used to come to drop off people with Hansen’s disease, they couldn’t dock since the water was too shallow near land, so they just tossed ’em in the water about 3 km out and they either swam in or drowned. Good thing there’s a cure now.

This is the view from the east side (near the oldest colony) showing the island where the ships would drop you off:
view from west side of Kalaupapa

It was beter than I thought it would be. The hike down wasn’t long. When you’re on the peninsula, it’s very pretty to look up at the green cliffs, next to the cloudless azure sky and inviting emerald sea. The hike back up was in the hot, hot sun at 1pm, but it wasn’t too bad.

sidenote: somebody wrote a program (maemo-wordpy) for the internet tablets and that’s what I’m using right now to blog this (no laptop required).

Update 2007-06-27: Added two pictures of Kalaupapa.

This is the view of the west side of the peninsula from about 600m elevation:
view of Kalaupapa