November 19, 2018

Ad For a Thing That You Can't Buy or Support

Check out this slick ad for NASA.

NASA's had a big influence on my life. I grew up idolizing their work (and still do to a certain extent). But what am I supposed to do with this? Who is this for? Lawmakers? Is this one of those weird ads for things you can't buy, like Lockheed-Martin ads that air during Meet the Press because they know most people of influence watch that show?

Not sure that I can really criticize the agency though--they used to fund a huge amount of astronomy research, and whilst I was in college in the mid-2000s the federal government took all of their basic funding money away and astro had to switch to the NSF and DOE. (The DOE funds certain kinds of dark energy research because they don't appear to realize that dark energy doesn't have anything in common with the kind of energy that they're normally involved with. Please, nobody tell them.)

NASA is great, and the moon landing is *probably* the greatest single achievement of mankind. One of my proudest accomplishments was that I was a NASA Space Grant Fellow while I was getting my degree, just because of the association.

But NASA, say what this ad is telling me to do?

November 17, 2018

Wait, what?

The Boston skyline.
My final post, over five years ago, was about how readers (I use that term almost sarcastically) should never expect me to return. The previous post here was in 2010, over eight years ago. In that time, I wrote a bit on Aitch-Bar with my buddy Dave and it was pretty good, but as a team effort, it petered out. We were both finishing our PhD theses--not surprising that we didn't have time to commit to a free weblog. Despite that, I think there were some hits:

--I reviewed the 2004 smash non-hit Boa vs. Python
--Wrote a description of what it's like to go observe at Kitt Peak (there are lots of pictures!)
--Described a domeflat like an artist
--This series that we did for Adventures in Poor Taste
--And a review that I did for a play as part of my wife's (more on that later) theatre review series

But hey, if they can make a new Independence Day movie, and a new Indiana Jones, and a new Zoolander, why can't I come back to a blog that I've abandoned for almost a decade? (Those sequels were all really good, right?)

So I'm here again, on a form of media that has essentially disappeared during the intervening time. Because why not?


A lot has changed in my life. I started this when I was an undergraduate at an Ivy League school in New Hampshire that I refused to name. By the time of the last posts I wrote on here, I was getting my doctorate at a different Ivy League institution in Rhode Island, that I will also go to my grave never naming.

Well, to no one's surprise, I did the things I had lined up to do. I got a doctorate. I got married. I got a car and a job and a cat. (The cat sort of came with the wife and I love him.) 

Don't look at the part of the top photo that shows where I went to school. As proprietor of this blog I disallow it.
And that's basically the deal. I'm not a student any more, and I work for a software company that is fairly important but which no one has ever heard of. I don't have to force myself to stay up around the clock working whenever I've got a free moment and a charged brain cell, and it's a relief compared to the previous 11 years.

Oh, and I had to move to Boston (pictured at the top). It's just different enough from Providence that it bothers me, but in ways that no one else would ever notice or care about. It made it so I have to change the byline by my name. [sigh]


I'm not entirely a non-scientist these days though. I love physics and I will always think of myself as an astronomer. I worked for Sabine Hossenfelder's Talk to a Scientist service. I did (and still do) a thing where I review scripts and story ideas for people whose topics touch on astronomical topics. A couple actually appear to be for things that have a decent chance at getting made.


So that is the nutshell of my life. This blog has never been very personal, but with this timespan gap, it might as well be because, why the fuck else would there be a yawning chasm like this? So that's it. PhD, married, moved. Now that that's done I'm going to write about weird things.