XWCL greets the new year

To be sure, the new year looks much like the old. Pandemic still raging, all activities still online, etc etc.

Still, the days are getting longer again, and we have a few new lab members to add to the People page. Nationwide vaccination campaigns are underway, and who knows? Maybe we’ll all be vaccinated in time for observing in Chile in 2021A. (Or 2021B. Or… you know what? Let’s not jinx it.)

One of the last shows I went to last year was a triple feature: The Exbats, Tacocat, and AJJ. (AJJ played a rather grim song called Normalization Blues that seems oddly prescient considering it was only released in January of that year.)

However, in a more upbeat spirit, your song of the day / week / moment is “New World” by Tacocat.

Merry MagAO-Xmas

Wow, it’s December already! As These Unprecedented Times continue, our 2020B telescope observation plans are sadly canceled. Still, how ever you celebrate the end of year holiday season, whether it’s winter (like us norteamericanos) or summer (like our colleagues in Chile), whether you observe religious traditions or merely a secular prayer to the S-I-R model this year, we wish you all the best.

Lab tradition dictates the hanging of stockings by the P.I.’s office, though after months of remote work I’ve heard doubts that he is real.

Let there be no doubt: he is real, and he knows if you’ve been bad or good.

Picture of christmas stockings hanging from the bulletin board in the hall outside Jared's office
Your name doesn’t have to start with “J” to work in this lab… but it helps! (Thanks to Logan Pearce for the photo)

As this is the only observational data in hand from MagAO-Xmas 2020B, I would like to share some observations of MagAO-Xmas 2019B. Last year, Jhen and Lauren placed the prints on Jared’s office door as ornaments for his return.

Christmas decorations on Jared's office door, including a cutout of a tree with multiple miniature framed pictures as ornaments.
(Thanks to Jhen Lumbres for the photo)

But until now these observations have been circulated internally as (Long, Lumbres, Schatz, in prep.). Finally, we can share them with a wider audience!

We present for your enjoyment some MagAO-Xmas holiday snaps from 2019B.

Vizcacha perched under the eaves of a building with a photoshopped Santa Claus hat
A festive Vizzy wishes you a merry MagAO-Xmas
Laird unveils the MagAO-X tail plate, but with a photoshopped Santa Claus hat.
A festive Laird unwraps his present
Jared surveys the rocky mountainside, looking into the distant Atacama with a photoshopped Santa Claus hat.
A festive Jared surveys the scene for vizcachas
Guanaco in profile with a photoshopped Santa Claus hat.
A festive Gary wishes you a merry MagAO-Xmas too
Olivier Guyon working on his laptop while perched awkwardly on a chair (with a photoshopped Santa Claus hat).
According to legend, Olivier Guyon can fly all the way around the globe in a single night, delivering presents to all the good engineers and scientists.
Olivier Guyon standing on the telescope platform with a knife in hand (and a photoshopped Santa Claus hat on his head).
Not the bad engineers and scientists, though.
Jared, Laird, and a Las Campanas engineer move the foil-wrapped MagAO-X instrument on a cart. They're wearing photoshopped Santa Claus hats, and the MagAO-X instrument has a photoshopped bow on it.
Santa’s little helpers delivering the best present of all.

It’s been a strange and stressful year, but maybe the true meaning of MagAO-Xmas is not telescope time or conference presentations. Maybe MagAO-Xmas is really about the friends we share it with*!

*Over Zoom or whatever. We’re responsible that way.

Your song of the day

What could be more appropriate than a band called The Decemberists singing something called “Calamity Song”?

“Calamity Song” by The Decemberists

Baby’s first Halloween – or – have we lost our minds?

What’s up my witches. It’s Rona-ween and Lauren and I introduced baby Star to costumes and dressing for success. Hold on to your hats and prepare to loose your freakin’ mind as the cutest pics you’ve ever seen are about to hit your eyes.

Star, what do your hedge eyes see?
Thinking of spells to cast in retaliation for this torture.
She forgot the hat was on her head.
Star demanded we make this one, she was jealous of Alexander’s hat. She wanted to be just like him!
Bzzz
Sweeter than honey (vomit)

She makes modeling look easy. But as always with your insta, you only share the good ones. To give you a sense of what a photoshoot with a hedgehog looks like, here are some outtakes.

Floompf
Tears fallin’ down at the party. Saddest little baby in the room.
She hide.
The tongue! Just not in focus….

And some behind-the-scenes of the craftmanship:

Beer helps the craftsmanship.

The song of the day is Oh Klahoma by Jack Stauber. If you know you know.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYYrNE_pLaE

‘Rona got you down? Try rocks!

This sure has been a year of hoo-DON’Ts, but for two XWCL members this weekend was full of hoo-DOs!

Lauren and I, plus our friend Zuzana, spent the weekend camping and hiking in the Chiricahua Mountains, about 2 hours east of Tucson near the NM border. Chiricahua is characterized by acres of tall rock pillars and spires, formed from the ash of an ancient volcanic eruption, cracked by uplift, and eroded by the forces of nature and time. It’s truly litho-tastic!

We scrammed outta Tucson just after the morning group meeting Friday with a car full of nonsense for a true glamping experience.

Three glampers only can fit in one car.

After roaring through the Arizona desert and hitting up the Visitors Center (must buy chotchkies!) we selected the Echo Canyon loop trail. It’s a 3 mile loop down into the canyon and among the rock spires, and was the perfect amount of time and strenousness to get the blood really going. I’ll let the pics speak for themselves.

We glamped in the Bonita Canyon campground, which was maybe the best quality campground I’ve seen at a national parks facility. The bathrooms have TP, running water, and lights, such luxury.

The next day we packed up, hit up a few more scenic views, then headed home. We hit up some really meh barbecue in a train dining car in Willcox AZ, then sat for an hour on the interstate due to a wreck outside Benson.

Leaving Tucson even for a day is such a treat these days. Being in nature almost makes you forget about the ‘rona. Almost.


For the song of the day I selected a classic in honor of spending some time in the sun this weekend.