Wednesday, January 31, 2007

2006 Review of Books

Last year, I read forty-four books. Not my best year, but not too shabby. Here are some of the standouts, in the order in which I read them:

  • Archangel - Sharon Shinn - This is the first of the Samaria books, which deal with a world in which angels are real. Despite that description, the books are definitely science fiction, and I enjoyed this book enough to seek out a great deal of Shinn's other works.
  • Spin - Robert Charles Wilson - This is a very strong book. The characters are all quite intriguing and the extrapolations dealing with the science were fascinating.
  • Memory - Lois McMaster Bujold - Thanks to SarahP, I tore through the whole Miles Vorkosigan series this summer. Although I would not recommend this book as a jumping off point for a new reader, I found the character development in this book to be the most beautiful. Bujold is soooooooo very good when it comes to creating characters to love. There is not a wasted character in this entire series.
  • A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit - Alan Lightman - This is a collection of essays, some more autobiographical than others, dealing with science as a human pursuit. As I've noticed so often in my students, the perception of science and scientists is cold, stolid, rigid, passionless - nothing could be further from the truth, and Lightman does a good job of conveying this.
  • The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party - M.T. Anderson - If you have not read this, drop what you are doing and go to a bookstore or a library NOW! Really, I'm hard-pressed to come up with a better writer right now than M.T. Anderson.

I'm looking forward to what 2007 will bring!

Saturday, January 27, 2007


I just ate a chocolate chip cookie the size of my head. Oof. Bad Lisa.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


I swear, I just found boogers on an assignment I have to grade. This is college, people! Argh!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

The first week of classes

Perhaps if you've failed my class two times, we are not meant for each other. Move along.

I'm sorry that you are a senior and desperately need an override into this class where we are already violating fire code due to crowding. Perhaps you should go back to your counselor and ask why they advised to you put this 100-level course off til your last semester.

I'm sorry math isn't your friend. Prepare to get chummy.

Your telescope's clock drive emits a frequency that attracts bats to mate with it?

Sunday, January 14, 2007


Going to the conference last week left me behind in my prep for the Spring semester, which starts on Tuesday. There have also been some events beyond my control that are affecting my prep, and it all just makes me cranky. I'm a mild control freak, and I hate hate HATE the fact that I can't clean this particular situation up on my own. Argh. Feh. Blah.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


I presented our paper at the conference today, had yummy clam chowder with Carl, and chatted with a retired physician/aspiring mystery writer on the flight home. It's good to be home, although reality will hit tomorrow with all the classroom prep for next Tuesday.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Almost there

Today was more mellow. I decided to sleep instead of attending the morning talk. My body thanked me. Then went to a session of talks about intelligent design, which was so well-attended that we hand to change rooms from one that seated about 50 people to one that seated over 300. The talks were good and the q/a period was only moderately painful.

For lunch, Carl and I walked the half hour each way to go to Salumi, where we ate bread, cheese, various salamis, and gnocchi that was being made by an old lady working at the front window. I spent an hour and a half wandering through the posters and that was followed up by two talks - one on the Stardust mission results and one on high-redshift supernovae and the accelerating universe. Both of those were excellent talks. I harassed various grad students from my university about not being at the posters (mean Dr. Lisa!) and then had dinner with Carl and Dr. Bob, which was really nice.

Tomorrow is the last day of the conference and I'll be presenting a poster. Whee!

Monday, January 08, 2007


  • Particle physics lecture
  • Judged four grad students
  • Quick hug from Robert as we both rushed to talks
  • Talks on Tunguska, Einstein, dust in galaxies
  • Planetary formation lecture
  • Piroshky Piroshky with Carl
  • Intelligent design talks
  • Hundreds of posters
  • Free cookies
  • Judged four undergrads
  • Talks on covariation in intro physics courses
  • English pub with Carl, Ravi, Seth, Karen, and Greg

Two more days to go. Whew!

Sunday, January 07, 2007


Today was the first full day of the conference. I actually made it to the morning talk; I can wake up for an astronaut - Kathryn Thorton gave us her overview of human spaceflight. I'm also an award judge and I interviewed eight undergrads today (1 male, 7 female).

Along with the AAS meeting, a wedding show was being held at the convention center. If I might be somewhat judgmental, those two demographics have very little overlap.

Who are these other people?

Oh, it's like some astrology convention or something.

My most profound judgment, though, was that the tomato soup and Flagship Grilled Cheese sandwich from Beecher's make a damned fine lunch, and Carl and Ravi agreed.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

I'm a geek

I took the Monorail to the Science Fiction Museum today. It just seemed like the right thing to do.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Oh, it's definitely winter

On the flight to Seattle, I noted the reason why the Eastern U.S. has no snow - it all fell out West. Whoa. No snow in town, but lotsa rain.

Ate crepes at the Public Market, indulged in asian fusion tapas with Carl, and got some work done. Oh, and I fell madly in love with my hotel room. It's fancy. There's even a switch which lowers darkening shades on the big wall-sized window. Good for sleeping, but I'd hate to obscure my view of Elliot Bay during the day. I don't know how I ended up in this room, but as I type in my fluffy white robe after a bubble bath in the soaking tub (separate from the glass shower stall), I'm sure enjoying it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Winter request

For those of you who think that winter never comes to Arizona, here are a few pix from our weekend in Flagstaff:

That mountain has a rock on Mars named after it:

Glittery snow:

I don't usually ask for love, but I have a cold and need to catch a flight to a conference in the morning. Please send healing vibes to my eardrums!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Lakes on Titan

Nature presents an article today outlining the best evidence yet for liquid on the surface of a solar system body other than the Earth. Here is the link to the Cassini news release.