Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Class Notes

Dear Students,

This is college. That means you should know better than to write notes to each other during class on the exercise you're going to hand in. I don't care that Roger is sweet or that you want to buy flowers for Becky. I am curious, however, if you noticed that the spectra of air and nitrogen are almost identical. Please check your high school behavior at the door, or at the bare minimum, write these little notes on pieces of paper that aren't to be graded. Or do what the rest of your classmates are doing, and text each other.


Bemused Teacher.

Monday, September 26, 2005

No longer

Hopped on the scale this morning and saw good news. As of this morning's weigh-in, I have lost a total of 50 lbs since August 2004. Even better, this puts me in the healthy weight range for my height. I am no longer overweight. Woo!

Saturday, September 24, 2005


Today was a very pleasant and relaxing day. I slept in and then lounged around in my huge robe all morning. We went to see "Corpse Bride", which was quite a lot of fun. Me being me, however, I got the most giddy over seeing the "Harry Potter" trailer. Woo! Much good food was eaten, and with the exception of answering two student emails, I didn't do any work! Yay!!! I hope that all of you had as pleasant a Saturday.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


I seldom take any personal time off from work. Let's see...I think one time a few years ago I took a Friday off so we could to go Los Angeles for the weekend, and I took off the Friday before the Nebula Awards last year. Two days off in over five years of work - I think that's pretty good, so why do I feel so guilty about getting a substitute to cover two of my classes last night so I could go see Nine Inch Nails?

My guilt did not impede my fun, however. We had floor tickets and we got to the arena early enough to be really close to the stage. Close enough for a short person like me to see Trent up close! Two hours of glorious aggressive music. They played the three songs I've been binging on recently - "The Line Begins to Blur", "Beside You in Time", and "RIght Where It Belongs" from "With Teeth." Somehow we ended up on the edge of the mosh pit, and I have to admit I enjoyed pushing people back into the pit and supporting the other people around me. We started off closer to the stage, but Greg chivalrously extracted me when the pushing got too furious. Not before I elbowed some pushy chick in the jugular, allowing her momentum to drive me into a back strike to her face, where my diamond ring left a lovely gouge in her cheek.

I hadn't felt that good in months.

I have bruises.

Kirsten, Aaron - I'll try to behave when we see NIN in the genteel confines of the Hollywood Bowl, I promise.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Slight Change in Plans

I woke up to news that NIN's drummer had to stop the show last night in San Diego and be hospitalized with heart problems. That meant that the show tonight in Tucson, which I merrily had tickets for, was cancelled. However, the hotel was booked and good mexican food restaurants had been scouted out, so Greg and I drove to Tucson, where I now type this at a pleasant little coffeehouse with WiFi.

We hadn't been to Tucson in years - it's so much bigger now! Every chain store the average American demands populates the 'burbs. Still an ugly city, but we had sublime mexican food (Cafe Poca Cosa), and later we'll head to Bookman's and the Frog and Firkin. A very nice way to spend the day, all in all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


Just had a student in my office, crying because she has to fly home where her brother is in the hospital. Hospitalized because he was beaten up pretty badly, probably because he is gay. All I could do was give her a hug and some tissue and reassure her that I'll make certain her astronomy class won't be an additional area of stress.

Doesn't feel like enough.


Polarization isn't just good for sunglasses - the Boomerang Nebula through polarizing filters, from Hubble

Monday, September 12, 2005

Happy Thoughts

One of my students, a young single mother who wants to be an astronomer some day, is in the hospital with a blood clot in her lung. Please direct happy thoughts her way - aim toward central Arizona. Thanks in advance.

Friday, September 09, 2005


I love astronomy. It seems every day there is a discovery which says we must unlearn what we have learned.

Case in point, the first discovered asteroid has some planetary characteristics - just how many "planets" do we have? - Ceres, from Hubble

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Fun with Students

I'm in lab currently, watching my students do a kinesthetic exercise. They are the Earth, a light in the center of the room is the Sun, and they each have a Styrofoam ball representing the Moon. They are rotating and moving the ball to mimic the phases of the Moon.

They are also paranoid that, because I have my computer in the room with me, I'm webcasting their antics. Now that they've mentioned it, I think it's a great idea. Hmm...

For those of you keeping track, one student has a Tad Williams novel with him and another has a David Drake book with her.

Update: Another student is reading I, Robot by Asimov. Out of the nineteen students in lab today, at least three are reading SF in their time between classes.

Monday, September 05, 2005


There's really nothing more to say. The images leave words lacking in power, in any case. I just wanted to mention that you should check the websites of your local colleges and universities. Along with the many displaced students of the New Orleans colleges, students in your own towns have been unable to reach loved ones back home. These students will also be lacking in the emotional and financial support they need to continue in school. Local schools in your town will be working to support these students as well as accomodate ones who've lost their schools on the Gulf Coast. Do what you can where you can.