Saturday, September 22, 2012

Fall Equinox

I'll summarize a number of events here.

First, the Portland State Meteorite Lab held its annual fundraiser, once again featuring Brother Guy Consolmagno, astronomer for the Vatican, a sovereign nation with two disconnected properties:  at the center of Rome and Castel Gandalfo.  Then lets not forget VATT, the Mt. Graham observatory in Arizona.

During WW2, the Vatican's growing meteorite collection was preserved at Castel Gandalfo.  There was some understanding, promoted by FDR especially, that there would be no bombing of Rome or other historic sites in Italy.

Castel Gandalfo was likewise mostly spared, although an American plane did hit at least one of the buildings.

Brother Guy also talked about the tank battles of North Africa, given one of the meteor donors was also a leading Anglo surveyor of the region, and an evangelist for the idea of a new lake in the Sahara, fed by canal.  The Brits were advantaged by the surveying / mapping that had occurred as a result of this planning.

Lew was at this talk and showed me some of the pictures on his phone that he's been getting with his new telescope, which takes a camera as an attachment.  Lew has pressed ahead with researching, ordering and installing a sound system for the Friends Meetinghouse on Stark Street.  We should be testing it this week.

Lots of biking that day, including out to around 13th and Alberta, near the house where my memories of Portland begin.  I took some pictures of it.

Most of the week was devoted to getting our Portland faculty reconfigured, with a super from Illinois flying out to do some training.  We toured a bit, visiting Oaks Park.  She's a grader, like the rest of us.

Wanderers kicked off its Fall Retreat, timed with the Equinox, on Friday.  Bob and Sarah joined us.  Good seeing Alex again (he stopped by the Pauling House today and we went for lunch at Toney Bento).

Rose City Astronomers, the cosmologists' group, decided to shift their meeting to Friday and showed up just as the retreat was getting underway.  This confluence of groups resulted in some interesting cross-fertilization.  At least one cosmology buff jumped over to our group and stayed with us until Saturday.

Wanderers met for breakfast at The Roadrunner, a new cafe on Division.

Since everyone except me has been out of town, the dog has had some unsupervised time to bark up a storm.  This bothered the neighbors quite a bit.  I need to keep the windows closed when no humans are home.

Lindsey returned from her hike around the mountain, in the company of three others.  Today, the Food Not Bombs drop off was bigger than ever.

I've been plowing through Breaking Bad amidst a flurry of documentaries.

Ignite Portland 11 happened in the middle of this.  Ben, with our school, was a principal organizer.  That's appropriate given the historical roots of the Ignite franchise.