Saturday, November 23, 2013

Snowflakes and Sea Cucumber Ossicles: similar physics?

This is a snowflake.  It reminds me of a remarkable type of sea cucumber spicule, or ossicle, a "table," diagnostic of Holothuria atra, a common black sea cucumber in Micronesia.  I'm searching for a good photo of these spicules, to compare with this snowflake.  Meanwhile, John Starmer sent a pointer to a blog with a photo of tables, attributed to François Michonneau/FLMNH, licensed under the Creative Commons license. Another SEM shot from the same blog is of Stichopus sp.

The snowflake is featured is found at the site of a collection of snowflake photos.

This type of snowflake is a "Capped Column"

Draw your own conclusions.

Stichopus ossicles

Ossicles of Holothuria nigralutea, on the left, and Holothuria edulis.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Caught in the Middle: retirement regression

UP TO HERE, these posts were originally published on  For reasons I have forgotten already, I want to move back to Blogger and (finger's crossed) use this blog for general posts. 

This will take awhile to organize. 

Meanwhile, the big news of today is that the CNMI Retirement checks are now much, much smaller, due to an "agreement" that includes the agreement of the CNMI Government to make payments to the retirement fund on it's amount arrears.  Strange, since it's been several years since the court judgement requiring the CNMI Government to pay the fund hundreds of millions of dollars, that was just ignored until this new agreement.  

This is an unhappy day.  One of the reasons I elected to work for several more years for the CNMI Public Schools was to improve my retirement position.  I know I am not the only one (in fact, a letter to the editor in one of the Saipan newspapers made this point). 

In the "Anywhere Else This Would Unfold Differently" department: I could not find any article in the Marianas Variety.  I verified that the amount deposited in my account accorded with the 25% reduction. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Graphing Annual Tidal Cycles

I made a graph many years ago of one year of tide predictions for Saipan, plotted with height as a function of time of day, month by month.  Each month is represented in a distinct color.  This exercise was inspired by Roy Tsuda, my Marine Botany professor at U of Guam.  Roy made a big deal of the times of the spring low tides, in for example the life cycle of a shallow water benthic alga on coral reefs, Hydroclathrus clathratus.   .  Roy was a student of annual cycles.   I was inspired, and observed Hydroclathrus sp.  in Chuuk, and sure enough, when the tides started to expose the algae in the "spring" (there is, technically, no spring in Micronesia), this species floated away to deeper water.

I made a new graph today, which I will post.  However, Wordpress doesn't seem to allow me to upload it as a photo.  It is an svg file.  Too bad.  Back to blogger?

The point being: this graph, visualiziing the distinct tidal differences, month to month.  Particularly the spring lows.

So here is another one, for Half Moon Bay, 2013:

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Lilacs are blooming

Blooming_Lilacs---02_April_2013---IMG_5280Lilacs are a phenologically interesting species.  My plant in Oakland is flush with flowers today, 2 April 2013.

Lilac--beginning_burst----10Mar2013---IMG_5058This photo was taken March 10th in Oakland, California. Leaves had just started to break out from buds of this plant outside our door.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

San Francisco has the oldest working tide gauge in North America

From the following link:
San Francisco has the oldest continually operating tidal gauge in the Americas, which has recorded the varying sea levels since 1854. Over the past 100 years, it has tracked an 8-inch rise in water level. It will continue rising, scientists say, and could rise by 1.5 feet by 2050.

Hmmm...  A new magical mystery bucketlist item!

Google is my friend:  From this page
The nation’s oldest tide gauge, housed in a wooden shack on a pier at Fort Point in San Francisco, recorded something unusual over the past 30 years.

And here at SF Gate, is found a photo.  As well as a clarification:
A tiny, wooden white building with a red roof at the end of a pier near Crissy Field in the Presidio of San Francisco is ... the oldest continually operating tidal gauge in the Western Hemisphere. (emphasis my own.)