Laboring on Labor Day

The labor day weekend project? Replacing a few more rotten boards in the lanai.

Replacing a few more boards in the lanai
Replacing a few more boards in the lanai

This has been an ongoing project for years, including a few more boards to replace this summer. Over the last few weeks I have replaced half a dozen boards in the lanai.

I write this as I wait for paint to dry. There are three more big gaps in the lanai waiting for new boards. Those boards have been cut to size, drilled, and are almost ready to screw into place. Deb bought me another box of decking screws last time she was in Kona, should have this done shortly.

Unfortunately the original builders scrimped a bit when building the lanai. No paint on the ends of the boards, no paint underneath, and no paint on the joists. Where the lanai is undercover that has not been a problem, where it is exposed to the weather that has resulted in a fair amount of damage.

Unlike the carpenters who did the original work, I am painting each board on all surfaces before installation. I also clean and paint the top edges of the joists underneath while they are exposed. This should slow down the damage due to exposure.

The last challenge is to get the gaps right. Much of the lanai is nicely spaced between the boards. There is a zone where the gaps are all wrong, the boards right against each other. This is also right where the drip line is from the roof and most of the damage is. The result is a lot of careful measurement and ripping the boards to get the gaps looking good again.

I have two or three more boards identified as needing replacement, but not in any great hurry. They can wait for another weekend. Just need to wait for the latest round of paint to dry and I can screw the next three boards into place.

Was the real summit of Mauna Kea destroyed to make way for a telescope?

The idea that one of the existing telescopes sits on what was the real summit of Mauna Kea is persistent.

Mauna Kea Summit Alexander 1892
Mauna Kea summit as surveyed by W. D. Alexander in 1892

and NO there is NO RECTIFYING of the DAMAGES TO MAUNA KEA!!! Damnit man they sheered OFF the summit to INSERT the Kecks into The Pu’u that was the SUMMIT. What an ignorant thing to say!!!

Susan Rosier in a Facebook comment, 4 Aug 2019

While not a common claim this idea keeps popping up. It was even repeated by Kealoha Pisciotta under oath during the contested case. In her case she claimed it was the nearby summit ridge that was shaved off, and they “just moved the summit”.

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TMT Construction Restarts

With the announcement the TMT will restart construction everything seems headed for a showdown on the mountain. The protesters are clearly preparing for action. The day is Wednesday. I was scheduled to do a training session for our crew this Wednesday, I have cancelled this. This sort of thing is common as the rest of the observatories consider how we will deal with a possible prolonged blockage of the road.

Protest Rock
The rock to build an ahu passes through Hale Pohaklu on Monday, photo by Dan Birchall, used with permission
First move was by the protesters. Alerted by a message from Dan Birchall that trucks of rock were headed up the mountain, I took a look with one of our cameras. The protesters were building an ahu (stone altar) right in the middle of the TMT access road. Women, children and guys clothed in nothing but malo hauling rock down the access road while security looked on.

Dan confirms that the rocks were rounded boulders in mixed sizes. Rounded rock, as one would find in a stream bed, is particularly desirable in the building of a proper sacred structure such as an ahu or heiau. According to legend that the rock to build the great heiau at Pu Ľu Kohala was hauled all the way from Waipio Valley by a chain of men across the island.

Obviously they are daring the construction crews to dismantle the structure, then to be able to claim desecration when that happens. Whatever happens our crews will have a first hand view from our site overlooking the TMT site.

I hope for more updates as the situation evolves. With Wednesday cancelled I still hope to go up Friday to complete a few things, whether I do attempt to go up is a bit indeterminate at the moment. Will wait and see.

A Construction Cam for TMT

Not a hard job, but someone has to do it… Hanging off the weather tower again. This time all I am doing is taking pictures!

Paul and Fred from the the TMT telescope are walking the perimeter of the TMT site with a large white pole. At a few preset points they call me on the radio and I snap a couple photos. I spend the few minutes between each location just enjoying the view, or adjusting the climbing harness to find a less uncomfortable pose. At least the weather is quite nice.

TMT Site from Keck
the TMT site as seen from the Keck Observatory roof
The idea is to locate a remote camera that can be used to monitor the construction of TMT. We need to be certain that the entire site can be clearly seen by the camera before we go through the effort to install it.

The camera will most likely be mounted on the Keck weather mast. The location offers power and communications along with a secure mounting point. What we learn is good news, from the mast there is a clear view of the complete TMT building site

What remains to be done is the paperwork. First we must seek and receive approval from the Office of Mauna Kea Management. Any changes to the outside of any of the facilities must be approved before work begins. I have done this in the past whenever I modify one of the weather instruments. Usually not a major hurdle, but one that must be done right.

I have supported the TMT in a number of small ways. It will be exciting to watch the construction, we have a ringside seat at Keck!

TMT Takes Step Towards Construction after Approval by the Board of Land and Natural Resources

Thirty Meter Telescope press release

Friday marked another important step forward for the future of astronomical discovery and economic opportunity on Hawaii Island. The Hawaiian Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) announced that it has granted a permit to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project to build and operate the next-generation observatory near the summit of Mauna Kea.

TMT Rendering
An overhead view of the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope, credit TMT Observatory Corporation
With this approval, the BLNR has recognized TMT’s goal of responsible development and environmental stewardship of Mauna Kea in close partnership with local interests. The carefully considered conditions in the permit help ensure the protection of sensitive environments in Hawaii.

“Over the last several years, the TMT project has welcomed the support it has received from all sectors of the Hawaiian community, from education to cultural to business to labor,” said Sandra Dawson, TMT’s Manager of Hawaii Community Affairs. “We look forward to beginning construction and becoming a neighbor of the outstanding observatories on Mauna Kea.”

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A Video Project

Trying to finish up a new video project for Keck Week. As one would guess, the video features the history of Keck. Looking for material has been a great excuse to dig through the Keck archives. Through the expertise of our staff librarian, Peggi Kamisato, I have pursued hundreds of photos and other material from the history of these great telescopes. Turning page after page of photos albums from the construction of the two telescopes, thumbing through observing log #1 to read the notes from those first nights of science observations. I have a new appreciation for the history of this place.

Not all of this material can make it into the video. Some of the best can, hopefully resulting in a worthwhile result. Just a teaser for today, one of the photos from construction that did not make the cut. What about the video? Come to Keck Week and see the premiere!

Keck 1 Construction 1987
Construction of the Keck 1 Telescope circa 1987, photo by Tom Wynne