Monday, February 27, 2006

Reaching Out

I was invited by the city of Scottsdale's Parks and Recreation Dept. to give a presentation at a family stargazing night this past Saturday. Despite the partly cloudy skies, a few dozen people showed up. Had a lot of fun, met some interesting people, got to see Saturn. All in all, a good time.

Students nominated me for an award at the university where I teach part-time. I'm not eligible for the award (due to the part-time status), but I was touched to be nominated. The award would have meant participating in the Last Lecture Series, which enables the faculty member to give the lecture that they would want to give if they only had this one last chance to speak to the public. (And I'll take it on faith that students just wanted to hear what I had to say, instead of just hoping I'd give this last lecture and then shut-up forever.)

So, I've been wondering...what would I say? It is a provoking thought. Sure, I could give a decent talk full of pretty astronomy images, but freed from the educational objectives of a traditional lecture, really, what would I say? I'm not sure, but it's something I continue to think about.

What would you say if you had one last chance to sway or move or motivate an audience?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Monday, February 20, 2006


Wow, time does fly...

Over 50% of my caloric intake today was chocolate of some form. That's a good day, I say.

Today was a holiday for me. I took the morning off, but worked the rest of the day. I made chili for lunches and a decadent pasta dish for dinner. I wrote eight physics quizzes. I wrote one astronomy midterm. I wrote half of a new astronomy lab. Whew.

I had to work today because I had a glorious weekend hanging out with friends. This weekend marked the twentieth anniversary of the college science fiction club where I've made so many friends. It's also where I met Greg over sixteen years ago. Some of the new members weren't even born when the club started! It was just lovely seeing all the geeks, many of whom I hadn't seen in years. I'm very glad I let Kirsten drag me to that first meeting so many years ago.

Hmm...if I go to bed now, I might get six whole hours of sleep! Good night, all!

Monday, February 13, 2006

What to do?

I just haven't reached my classes this semester. I wonder if it's because I was sick the first week and didn't make a good impression? I don't know, but the vibe in the classroom isn't as pleasant as it usually is. With one lecture in particular, I find myself stumbling for words at places where the complete lack of reaction catches me off guard. I think of teaching now almost as performance art, and I feed a lot off of my audience. This feedback loop is an unfortunate cycle this semester, and I can't figure out how to break out of it. It's a shame in so many ways - the students are not getting me at my best, and I'm not having the fun I normally do at work. I feel like the more I try to reach them, the more distant they become.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Enough with the whining...

...let's look at some comet dust! -cometary dust particles and trails, from Stardust

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I know I only have to pay the $500 deductible (only $500 - sigh) , but the fact that some assholes inflicted $1200.03 worth of damage on my car in a random act of vandalism has upset me very much. And it isn't just the money - it's going to take about a week for the repairs. I have a rental, and it's covered by my insurance, but it isn't the same. Some worthless jerks have robbed me of time, money, and the little car that's taken me to friends and freedom and ragey music and peaceful vistas.

I don't understand meanness, but if your goal was to make me very sad, it worked.

Sunday, February 05, 2006


There are many times when I quell my baser instincts. I don't say the mean thing that pops to mind or perform the inappropriate action that would be immediately gratifying. Nope, I bite my tongue and try to do the right thing because I do believe the vast majority of people deserve no less.

So imagine how I felt this morning coming out to the car after breakfast to find two big shoeprints on the passenger side, one accompanied by a big deep dent in the door.

People are poopy.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

Stardust Mission Webcam

I've added a link to the Stardust Mission Cleanroom Webcam over in my "Favorites":

Oh, to be there!