Wednesday, February 28, 2007

I am Jack's inner teenage boy

I worked from 9 am to 10 pm today. Greg, although feeling poorly, went to several stores so that I could come home to the new NIN concert DVD that was released today. (Thanks, dude!) Of course, that meant I had to watch it before I could try to go to sleep. Not exactly sleep-inducing. And then I checked my email to find out that one of my TAs is dealing with a belligerent student. Oooohhh...sweet anger... One of these days I'll let my alter-ego start that soap business.

Crap. I have to teach soon.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The Things They Say

Some of the typical mnemonics for remembering the spectral sequence of stars are "Oh Be A Fine Girl, Kiss Me" and "Overseas Broadcast Alert Flash, Godzilla Kills Mothra." I always ask students to come up with some of their own, and this is what I got:

Oh Boy, Astronomy Fun? Geez, you're Killing Me

O Baby Aiden Forever Giving Kim Migraines

Orbiting Bodies Are Far Greater Killing Machines

Old Bush And Family, God's Killing Machines

I love my students.

Other things they say:

Your lectures don't make me want to stick needles in my eyes. - Thank you.

I like to talk to you about these things because I don't have many friends. - Awww...this was after a science vs. religion conversation with a young man who is perfectly presentable and intelligent. Made me a little sad.

That's just how I bump. - This was a response to me teasing a student about how loud his music was blaring through his headphones.

I've spent many a long night alone with my telescope. - I had to respond to that with a straight face to distract this young male student from the fact that one of the other lab groups burst into hysterics when overhearing that comment.

Gotta love 'em!

Friday, February 23, 2007


Last week marked our seventeenth anniversary. Tonight we went out for a celebratory dinner. We decided we wanted a unique Arizona experience, so we went to Lon's at the Hermosa, a restaurant set in an old hacienda. When we arrived at our table, there were a dozen long-stemmed pale pink roses waiting for me. Just lovely. We had a leisurely meal with appetizers, salads, entrees, dessert...mmm.... The restaurant itself is beautiful, the food was wonderful, the staff was competent, but not stuffy, and of course, the company was great. Just a perfect way to celebrate 17 years.

Thanks for putting up with me for so long, Greg.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Sunlight and Shadow

This has been a busy weekend, but so fun that I'm sad it's over. Philip was in from St. Paul. It had been over a year since I'd seen him, so I enjoyed sharing a few meals with him very much. Kirsten and Aaron drove in from Los Angeles. It's always great to see them! We went on a couple of day trips - to the Boyce Arboretum (and a scary bar on the way back), and also up to Flagstaff, where we went to Sunset Crater and Wupatki National Monument. I miss all you guys already!

I can't head up to Northern Arizona without a few lame attempts at capturing the natural beauty. I posted a few photos to my Flickr stream, but I thought I'd post a few here, too.

Snow and lava flows at Sunset Crater:

Wupatki Pueblo at sunset:

Sunlight and shadow in the Painted Desert:

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stress Relief

I haven't had the time to make a to-do list in three weeks. This is agonizing. I usually prepare very detailed to-do lists every week. Because I teach 1 physics lecture, 3 astronomy lectures and 4 astronomy labs, as well as supervise 3 adjunct faculty and 8 teaching assistants and their 27 combined sections at two different institutions, I have a lot to keep track of. I haven't been able to spare the time it would take on a Monday to write the damned list. For the past three weeks, I've been walking around in a panic that I've forgotten something important. It's only a matter of time. Gotta make that damned list!

But tomorrow afternoon I will forget all that. I have a three-day weekend ahead. I've worked really hard to catch up so that I can spend this weekend with the friends who will be coming into town. I shall eat too much good food in wonderful company, and I will allow myself to least til Tuesday morning.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I spent my Friday afternoon giving a talk about Pluto. The talk was for a program called New Frontiers for Lifelong Learning, which is geared towards retirees. I was so happy to be asked to present to this group. My department is very involved in public outreach, mostly geared towards elementary school students. But what better way to foster a love of learning in children than to encourage the adults in their lives to remain learners, too? I think I even managed to convince them that Pluto is not a planet! And I fielded great questions about the Hubble Space Telescope and retrograde motion and moons... gosh, I'm such a geek.

Speaking of Pluto, the New Horizons spacecraft was launched on its mission to Pluto last January. The fastest spacecraft ever built, it's passing by Jupiter this month - just 13 months later!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Important Dates

NIN - Live: Beside You in Time - DVD - February 27, 2007

NIN - Year Zero - CD - April 17, 2007

You've been warned.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Breakfast of Champions

I'm at a coffee house. I have a chocolate croissant and a 16-oz Pepsi. I think I'm ready to write the talk I'm giving on Friday. Woo!