I have not had a bad cold in quite a while. Wednesday last week I felt the first symptoms, a sore throat beginning. I expected it, Deb had been suffering for a couple days by then. Thursday morning it was inescapable, I called in sick to work. I hoped it would be over by the weekend, I had promised to help out with Astroday and present a lecture on behalf of Keck at the Mauna Kea VIS. This would be the second run across island to Hilo in as many weeks, after almost a year without visiting Hilo, funny how that works.
By Saturday morning things were better, but not great. So off to Hilo I went, a good dose of decongestant improving the situation. I may not have been at 100%, but I had commitments to keep.
Astroday is always fun, everyone from the astronomy community setting up tables and educational exhibits throughout the Prince Kuhio Plaza Mall in Hilo. At this point I know so many of the folks there, even the guys from Hilo I only meet a few times each year. The event is really designed for kids, with plenty of activites and a little education mixed in.
I manned the Keck table for a couple hours until David relived me. We did the Astro Haiku contest again. Not bad, but it was a repeat of last year. We really need to get some science experiment bling for our table next year. I have some ideas for that.
Leaving the Prince Kuhio Mall I headed up Saddle Road to the Mauna Kea VIS. Promised to arrive by 4:15pm. At least a dinner would be waiting at the exclusive Chateau Hale Pohaku cafeteria.
The lecture went very well. I talked about Keck behind the scenes, what it takes to keep a couple big telescopes on-sky. I used it as an opportunity to celebrate the great crew I work with on the mountain, to showcase their skill and dedication. I started by running Keck in Motion. This nicely set the scene for a talk about telescope maintenance, segment exchange, schedules and the other tasks that make an observatory function.
It is always gratifying when the audience is engaged, good questions, lots of banter back and forth. I respond to that sort of exchange by presenting an even better talk. I got a lot of feedback and thank-yous afterwards, a great payback for my efforts in putting the talk together.
Then it was back down the mountain, descending 8,000ft… decongestant losing effect despite a new dose. I am still paying for the run, with a head feeling as if it is stuffed with sponge all day Sunday. I was scheduled to go up to the summit Monday. There is stuff in AO that really needs attention, there is just no way my sinuses will permit.