Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Peace Challenge

I had a lovely weekend in Flagstaff. Gorgeous weather, tasty food, good hiking...could not have asked for better.

I did a mellow hike on Friday, going partway up the Oldham Trail out of Buffalo Park. This hike was all about being at peace, just strolling along with my iPod on. Here are some pics (wasn't it a lovely day?):

Saturday's hike was all about challenging myself. It's a popular hike - the Elden Lookout Trail - but it is a more strenuous hike than I've ever done all by myself. I passed up several groups who turned around without making it to the top. At a few points, I thought about turning around myself, but saw a man bounding down from the summit with a todder on his shoulders as well as a woman wearing a leg brace, so I figured I could make it to the summit. Near the summit, I even ran into a group of former students. They're all over the place! Here is an image from this hike (look at how little Flagstaff looks from up there!):

On a very much related note, I have the best massage therapist in the world. My quads are no longer screaming profane things at me.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Let the weekend begin

My day started off very early, to take my favorite writer to the airport. That was followed by running the dishwasher, doing laundry, doing some work, going to the bank, and going to the grocery store, interspersed with emails with much beloved and much harassed Philip. Later I met up with my Padawan, so that I could present him with his well-deserved lightsaber. Then he, Carl, and I went to the student union for beverages and a chocolate chip cookie so large that we split it three ways. Generous of me to share, I know.

And now I'm in Flagstaff, for a few days of cool air, hiking, and yummy food. I have chocolate awaiting me, as well as a Nine Inch Nails concert DVD, the first two seasons of Battlestar Galactica, and Fight Club. Let the weekend begin.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

No Quarantine!

Had a surreal start to the day. I received a phone call from the County Health Dept. It seems that one of the international students at the science fair last week had the measles. I had to provide proof of immunization or face the possibility of being quarantined. Strangely enough, in this mess I call home, I found documentation and faxed it in. No quarantine for me! Perhaps the oddest thing about this was how cheery the Health Dept. worker sounded on the phone. "Fax in documentation or come in for blood work or face quarantine....ha ha ha ha!" Really, a nice lady, but still...

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


Read through my course evaluations for the physics class at the university this past semester. Mostly positive. Got some of the typical "make the class easier" comments. A few really amused me in response to "What did you like LEAST about the class?":

Office hours held before class encourage doing homework at the last minute.

Critical thinking on the exams.

Having to justify my answers on the exams.

Awww...poor kids. ;)

Monday, May 21, 2007


I've spent the past few days reading. First, I read Greg's just-completed novel, which I enjoyed very much. Then I read a few chapters from a graduate student's thesis-in-progress; nothing like a little magnetohydrodynamics to get the blood flowing. ;) Ah, summer break...I do enjoy having time to read.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Red or Green? Yes

Mmmm...now this is a breakfast burrito - the egg and potato burrito, with red and green chile, from Perea's Authentic New Mexican Restaurant in Albuquerque:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Green Chile

Drove across the Southwest with Carl today. We're now in Albuquerque to be judges at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. What does one do after traversing the Southwest? You go here and order the Frontier Burrito: beef, beans, green chile inside, w/green chile stew on top & flour tortillas


Moving Along

Last Friday not only marked the end of the semester, but it marked the end of my time at my community college. I've accepted a similar position at a community college in San Diego, and we'll be moving at the end of July. This move will bring us closer to family and friends. Honestly, we never anticipated being in Arizona as long as we have. My love of my work is what kept us here. Leaving my current college is difficult; it's a great school with wonderful colleagues and tremendous students. I think I've built a strong program there and hope it will continue to thrive. My students have reacted to my departure with hugs and tears and generally just making me feel loved and appreciated. I hope that they understand that I love and appreciate them, too.

This summer will be crazy busy, with time for fun, too, I hope! Then on to a new job and a new city to explore. I'm looking forward to both!

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Done. Finally done. All the grading, all the paperwork...done.

My last duty for the semester was to attend graduation at the community college last night. Of course, it was the hottest day of the year so far (106 degrees!) and the ceremony was outside, but it was worth it to see all the happy faces. A couple of stories:

  • I had an extremely shy student this past year in astronomy. So shy she could barely make eye contact with me and very seldom spoke to other students. Good student, though, but hard to draw out. You should have seen her at graduation last night - beautiful bright smile. She looked so happy! Congrats, Heather!
  • One of the most amazing moments at graduation is when those graduates who are the first in their family to earn a post-secondary degree are asked to stand. About 50% of the students stand up, and I noticed one of my best students from this semester amongst them. During the recessional out of the ceremony, I saw his folks taking pictures of him, all so happy. Congrats, Justin!

I was too busy to get to the graduation ceremony at the university, which meant that I missed the graduation of two of my former students. A few more stories for you:

  • Eight years ago, during my year as an adjunct faculty, I had a student who was afraid of science and math. She came back the next year, though, for the second semester of astronomy, and she made it through, quite well I must add. We've kept in touch over the years, through some rough times for her, but I remember how happy she looked at her community college graduation. I can only imagine how she must have been glowing yesterday, receiving her Bachelors! Congrats, Sarah!
  • And now on to my Padawan. First he battled with the question, engineering or physics? The choice was obvious to all rational people, and he soon figured it out, too. ;) Yesterday, he graduated with a B.S. in Physics and will be starting at graduate school at Brown at the end of this month to do research in dark matter physics! The Dark Side lured him and won! I couldn't be more proud. I know he'll do great! Congrats, Carlos!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Grading levity

A student just referred to my "piercing, intimidating glare" in an email. Hee hee hee. I do so appreciate sarcasm.

Almost there!

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Ah, spell-check

A student's paper included the term "constipations" in place of "constellations." Nothing like an immature giggle-fit to wake me up while grading.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


I graded about 100 physics exams yesterday. I have graded 110 physics essays today, with more to come. If it weren't for bbq from Greg and hot chocolate, my brain would be completely mush.

I don't care that the Suns lost today...Steve Nash is the MVP. Nowitski scores EIGHT points in a game 7, whereas Nash is forced to leave a game with blood gushing from his nose after scoring over 30 pts. What a contrast!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


Are you okay? Your eyes! You look terrible!"


What's her name again...I can never remember...you know, the thin astronomer? Uh, I mean, the other thin astronomer?