Welcome to the About Me Page

Created the 19th day of April, 2009

This is the About Me page, a web page that is, oddly enough, sorta about me -- really! This page exists because others much wiser than I have recommended -- as a matter of courtesy -- that I let folks know who I am. Of course they're right, it's just that I find it a bit odd to be ringing my own bell. With that said.......GONG!!!

Because I promised to do this

To start with,

Gimme that camera!
I was born in up-state New York but have spent almost all my life here in California. I graduated high-school with a 4.0 grade point but did little to pursure anything academically until recently ( with the exception of attending college here and there along the way ). Today I currently reside in nothern California, Sonoma County, about 45 minutes north of San Francisco and still plan to be here tomorrow :0)

I still am very much active in the many aspects of computer technology; my introduction to those wonderful devices officially began in 1979-80, when I joined a computer club at a California Bay Area JC. My terminal/keyboard interface was to an IBM System/360 mainframe ( ah! the days of PL/I, FORTRAN, COBOL, Assembler, remember? ) and printing excuted with a prn to or setq (nowadays?) command to the LPR which was a very loud and obnoxious line printer with tons of perforated green and white paper. One of my first programs was written in FORTRAN, a wonderful language from which I still have nested DO loop n nightmares (never change the variable within the loop)! It was a simple program, one that printed out the different constellations in ASCII ( æ ø abm4 jpg ). Of course, that was the only serious program I ever wrote; Snoopy calenders and space games were much more fun - after debugging that is! Anyhow, just in back of my green-radioactive-fry-your-eyes-out screen was a long section of silver track where the punch cards from the class next door went whirrling by. That class, by the way, was just full of beautiful women which may explain my interest in the computer club!

Anyway, the years marched on - ok so mine ran - suddenly and without warning it was 1997 and for some strange reason I decided to hop on the cyber-band-wagon and create my own website (I also had enough of a small computer biz I had at that time -- one of those 'have-to-work-at-my-hobby like-it-or-not began-to-dislike-both-now '!). It was suppose to be a hands-down-nothing-fancy astronomy site - no dynamic pages, no java scripts, no css, just good old plain HTML, period dot. As luck would have it, my first attempt looked just like that, nothing fancy period dot!

Realizing that "anything worth doing is worth the time taken to read the instructional literature" I looked into dynamic pages, java scripts, HTML and XTHML (all versions), css - the lot. I then went out, signed up for a free web site, used the provided do-dads and voila! I created my first astronomy web site...very cool! By mid-2008 the site still looked liked it probably had when created in 1997. Having learned a thing or two I decided to revamped the whole thing from top to bottom. Now it's 2009 and I am still "revamping" my website, but at least I'm having fun and that is the important part.


My original website was written using HTML 2.0 but just barely as it looked more like a word .doc than anything else. It consisted of 12 pages, 44 images, 4 miscellaneous files, 1 downloaded, pre-written java script that displayed a different image according to the time of day; that's right, the AM / PM thing still seen here and there. The last time I ever updated the site was the last straw -- an image rotator script that I inserted never did work right. It froze the site in IE, ran once in opera and then would stop at any given image and went totally blank in version dot anything else! Trying to fix it began to look more like a Three Stooges routine then anything else so I found use for the 'Delete' key and scrapped the whole thing -- wonder if there's a market for recycling used bytes?

My remodelled website is currently written under xhtml1-strict or transitional using .css templates with certain critical pages validated for correct usage of the language more than anything else; you see, with several template exceptions, I write all my own pages in good old Windows notepad like this one right now ;0)   The site currently (as of this writing) consists of 197 pages, 924 images, 36 miscellaneous file -- some exist for AUIT 's news page, five self-written or modified java scripts, 3 essays and 5 artistic astronomy renderings (created in one version or another of PaintShopPro) posted somewhere out in cyberland, over 233 valid links to science and astronomy sites the world over, 16 "Permission for Use" on file and I'm not even finished yet! My pride and joys are the pages on Stars and Historical Bytes though some of the newer pages are looking pretty sharp, especially since they work fairly well across the board.

Some More Stuff About Me


Waka! Waka! Image
by Fozzie Bear ©1995
Me 2

Yes, it is obvious from this image that I'm a Muppets fan and as such I did some volunteer work with a local community center's after-school theater program for children in 1999. They eventually put on a nice performance of the original Muppet's movie. Children are the greatest--besides, they laugh at all my jokes, corny or not!

Me 3 Over the years I've worked mostly in the blue-collar industries - home and commercial construction, technology integration and electrical (which is my main current trade - no pun intended). I've always enjoyed (and still do) problem solving enviroments requiring hands on working ability and I've been blessed with both high cognitive and academic abilities - hands on experience and that knowledge acquired in the classroom - having had the chance in life to use both at various times. But it's mostly the fact that I love the outdoor enviroment that's kept me there. "Ok guys, I've changed my mind, I'll be the flagman instead!" The picture at right was taken several years ago when working on a very elaborate roof for a new church building. An accidental slip of the tounge within ear shot of the reverend and I was demoted to "traffic cone"! Over the years I've discovered a contined attraction towards the beauty of the night sky which has only grown. A large part of this is due to the many hiking trips to places like Desolation Wilderness, which is located along the crest of the Sierra Nevada mountain range and out into the the upper Mojave Desert where I live and worked for a number of years in a town called Palmdale, almost next door to Lockheed. Indeed, I obtained some fine images of the early space shuttle program, test flights of the B-1B, the still flown Blackbird or SR-71 and the unbelievable takeoffs of the high altitude U-2's.

Me 5Me 5 In the first image we have a really nice view of Crag Peak from Crag Lake, Desolation Wilderness and the Mojave Desert, near Las Vegas, Nevada. Both areas, along with areas north of where I currently reside, offer some great dark sky viewing. Locally, I've spent nights on my back watching the stars, staring into the galaxy just wondering...till someone shakes me awake and wants to know if I would like to start the viewing now ;0) I also discovered online educational courseware and took my first online university class some years ago, a puirsuit I still continue. The first university to offer course material online, by the way (free!) was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in 2001. Anyway, this has turned into a real boon for me as the requirement to continue working is a big responsiblilty. Plus, the technical aspects of online school has really come of age; graduate programs, with mixed or hybrid courses, officially started about two years ago and are growing; there are currently 46+ accredited institutions in the United States alone offering online science education in astronomy, from the California Institute Of Technology to Youngstown State University.

As I continue both work and academic pursuits the website continues to grow. My biggest challenges include the continued supplemental self-education across the world wide web in the field of astronomy while pursuing online school ( self-education is further ahead than is the academic at the moment ). The other is the continual battle to design the site as I like and still make it compatible across different browsers and newer screen types, a battle that I am finallly winning so nay-nay   ;0p   gee, who could I be thinking of? As for the astronomical side of things, well I love images, I love the hunt, I love drawing, I love study, I love history, I love music, I love new challenges, I don't like gardening much (even plastic plants die on me!) and as fate would have it, the computer works great for all that cool stuff though I think I killed a virtual desktop plant once! As for the telescopic end of things, well, that is still in it's infancy and restricted to a 4" Lec. and a friends 8" Dob. with illusions of grandeur -- nothing less than 25-inches of pure cosmic bliss will now do! Drafting and building would be the easy part since I have those skills and knowledge in abundance -- just waiting to win the Lotto is all :0) Well, I think that's enough for now. Here's wishing clear dark skies and happy viewing to everyone, everywhere in the whole wide world!

Ken Pinkela
Rohnert Park, California, USA
County of Sonoma
Just thirty minutes east of the Pacific and one hour stright down from space!
Gong! fin!