Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Since I visited for the first time two years ago, I've dreamed of returning to Rocky Mountain National Park. I spent today there. So lovely. Green meadows, wildflowers clinging to the barren tundra, frozen lakes, waterfalls of snow runoff, rivers, glaciers, elk, snow...I wish I had more time there. So much I haven't seen yet! On the way back to the hotel, I headed to Pearl St. in Boulder. Ate dinner at the Boulder Cafe. Hung out at the Boulder Bookstore, which is a fine bookstore, if a little lacking on the science fiction. Walked past High Crimes, the mystery bookstore, but it was closed! Too early! Grabbed some candies at Belvedere Chocolates. All-in-all, a lovely day.

This is the third year in a row I've spent time in this area. Returning to Boulder now feels a little like coming home. My first trip to the Boulder area corresponded with my first long solo roadtrip. I remember being so nervous about it! I remember even hesitating to go up to RMNP by myself. Now I think nothing of jumping in the car and heading out for a few days. I'll always think of this area fondly, not just because of the natural beauty, but because it is a place where I learned more about myself.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Red Rocks

Ever since I saw the U2 concert video "Under a Blood Red Sky", I've wanted to go to a concert at Red Rocks in Morrison, CO. Check that one off life's to-do list. Tonight I went to Red Rocks - Nine Inch Nails (with TV on the Radio and Bauhaus). Gorgeous scenery, a waxing crescent moon, stars, planets, great acoustics, and my favorite band. Just what I needed. And to Trent, about what you said to the audience after "Hurt"? Right back at you, a millionfold.

(For those of you keeping track, that's one year, five NIN concerts in four states.)

Saturday, May 27, 2006


We went to see "X-Men" today. I must say that I enjoyed a movie where I could listen to the voices of Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellan, and Kelsey Grammer. If only there were a role for Christopher Plummer...

I haven't determined what superpower I'd want for myself, but I did enjoy using the motion-activated paper tower dispenser after the movie.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


I know this image came out a few weeks ago, but it's been my desktop wallpaper ever since. When I was a little girl, I had a scrapbook of all things Mount St. Helens, and I'm still fascinated. - growing rock slab in Mount St. Helens, from APOD and USGS

Friday, May 19, 2006

Sleep, precious sleep

I crawled into bed at 10 pm last night and crawled out of bed at 10 am this morning. I think I needed that.

I spent the past few days in the cooler climes of Flagstaff, hiking and snacking and soaking and watching basketball playoffs and giving into my new sudoku addiction. Now I'm back in sweltering Tempe, decidedly enjoying the A/C and still giving into my new sudoku addiction.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


I enjoyed being a judge at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair last year so much that I immediately knew I wanted to do it again. This year, it was held in Indianapolis. I dragged Carl along with me, and we were both assigned to the Space Sciences division. We arrived in Indianapolis late Monday night, and as we were checking into the hotel, I noticed a woman wearing an ISEF badge. Turns out that she was the mother of one of the students competing and she thanked us for volunteering our time. This had already been an amazing experience for her daughter, and she'd decided to become an engineer because of the competition. Nifty!

On Tuesday, after registering at the Fair, Carl and I walked about downtown Indianapolis for a little bit.

Looking down a side street:

The State Capitol is pretty:

I don't know how much more American you can get:

One of the perks of being a judge is attending a panel of Nobel Prize winners, who show up to the Fair to interact with and inspire the students. Jocelyn Bell Burnell was on the panel, although not a Nobel Prize winner. (But she should be!) Hers is a story I relate to my classes, and I was surprised at how emotionally affected I was by her. Another thing that struck me about the prize winners overall is how normal, but extremely competent and confident they were. They reminded me of astronauts. (As a side note, all of the folding chairs had "Hoosier Dome" embossed on them. Definitely in Indiana.)

Wednesday was devoted to judging. All the kids look so young, although you have to be a high schooler to compete. Many of the international students wear their national dress. Most of the projects are so far beyond what I could have done at their age. One student I interviewed had already submitted his work to a professional journal and was partway through the peer-review process. My most entertaining interaction was with a student who noted that I was the "second aggressive female astronomer" who had asked him a specific question. I smiled all friendly-like and said, "Excuse me?" To which he responded, "I meant, you're just so on top of things." Hmm...methinks he doesn't speak much to people with breasts.

All-in-all, I enjoyed judging again and found it very rewarding. Next year's fair will be in Albuquerque - all the fun, plus green chile!

Saturday, May 13, 2006


I just submitted the last of my grades. This semester, this nightmare of a semester, is finally done. Tomorrow, I shall commence my life again. Hmm..maybe I'll get a haircut, as I had to tie my bangs in a unicorn-like fashion to finish grading. Hmm...perhaps I shall go shopping for summer clothes that fit. Maybe I'll even download the pix I took in Indianapolis. The possibilities are endless!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Just plain screwy

It was halftime of the Suns-Clippers game, and it was already midnight. The Eastern Time Zone is all screwy.

I'm in Indianapolis, where I'll be a judge at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair again. The next few days will be hectic, but rewarding. Should I be grading? Oh, yes. Perhaps I should do a bit of that before turning in. Of course, the Suns game is still in the third quarter, so I'll be up awhile longer anyways.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

On Edge

The end of the semester is upon me. Too much, too soon. I've written ten exams so far this week, and I still have one to go. I haven't even had time to grade. For the first time, I think I might not be able to get grades in on time. I have aggravated my neck and haven't been going to the gym. I keep telling myself there's just one week left, but it freaks me out instead of soothing me.

On the other hand, I received a lovely note from one student and a box of chocolates from another. Walking across campus this morning, I was joined by a student who wanted to chat about the Sun. And have you seen this pic of Saturn, from Cassini?