Updates...

Sep. 1st, 2014 06:02 pm
beccastareyes: (Son of a Bish)
My new resolution should be to update this more than once a month. At first, nothing was happening, then EVERYTHING happened.

-- I got a year-long lectureship at California Polytechnic State University, in San Luis Obispo, California. For reference, that's almost exactly half-way between Los Angeles and San Francisco. (For those of you who have been added since the last time I taught or graded, any posts that mention students will be locked and I will keep names off. My students have a right to privacy more than I have a right to rant.)

-- I move on the 10th. Classes start the 22nd. I teach three classes: two sections of calculus-based physics, and a section of 'physics for non-scientists'. The last is at 8 AM. (No one likes 8 AM classes; I don't, and most of the students don't. The only reason I liked 8 AM classes as a student because it meant I was done early in the day, and I had no trouble doing math at ass o'clock in the morning*, even before I started drinking tea.)

-- I probably have an apartment. I mailed my deposit last week, and I was going to call them today before I remembered that it was Labor Day.

-- I am (mostly) packed. There are about five boxes of actual household stuff, and 18 boxes of books and craft supplies. (Three of those are work-related books). Also several full trash cans, 3 ebay auctions and 9 Rubbermaid totes of things to donate. Mom's current thoughts is that it will be cheaper to ship these than hire someone to move. (As I have had my license less than a year, Mom has vetoed 'rent a van, drive to California', which was Dad's suggestion; if they're still there by Christmas, I might do that anyway. After three months on California highways, I suspect the interstate will be fine.)

-- I'm driving a lot better. I still hate going downtown, and like parking far away from everyone. (I get a walk AND I don't have to deal with not hitting things.)

-- Mom and Ben are out of town (back tomorrow), so I've been using the excuse to cook all the things I'm too lazy to make normally because only I will eat them.

-- I expect my adviser will be making noise about publishing the parts of my dissertation that aren't in peer-reviewed journals. I haven't looked at my research in a week. (The good news is that my collaborators and I mostly agree, and where we disagree are the places where one person's data isn't reliable.)

* Seriously, in high school math competitions, the earlier they were, the better I did... I suspect more because everyone else was half-asleep than any ability on my part to be a morning person.

Nostalgia

Apr. 13th, 2014 09:13 pm
beccastareyes: Image of two women (Utena and Anthy) dancing with stars in the background.  Text: I have loved the stars too fondly... (stars)
Yesterday I visited UNL's observatory in Mead, Nebraska. We have a telescope on-campus as well, but this is the one that was used for a lot of the research*.

I swear, the place hasn't changed. Up to and including posters that still mention the USSR and don't mention dwarf planets** or that Pluto has all kinds of friends out there. On the car ride over, I got a overview about how the astronomy part of Physics and Astronomy has somehow managed to get worse: both the Mead telescope and the Student Observatory telescope have had problems, and we continue to have one astronomer who is close to retirement, one temporary person hired to teach Astro 103 specifically, and one who is part-time with the math department to keep his position and will probably never get tenure. They stopped offering the astronomy track for their physics major because they couldn't guarantee they could teach the courses.

About the only reason there's talk of actually changing this rather than continuing to let Nebraskan astronomy die its slow death was that the University of Nebraska at Kearney hired several astronomers and is setting itself up as the school in the state college system for astronomy, and somehow that pisses the physicists at UNL off. Even so, they'd probably have to start from practically nothing.

... If they do, I wonder if they'd hire me.

* I used the on-campus telescope for mine, partially because it's convenient (10 minute walk versus 30-40 minute drive that usually means staying at the observatory all night), partially because I could, and partially because of departmental politics. But the official reason we had the telescope on campus was for class viewing and student labs, but if no one else was using it, you could do whatever. Including letting friends in to look at Mars.

** I gave a talk, and I did mention dwarf planets in my solar system overview, even if the talk was on Jupiter and Saturn.
beccastareyes: (discourage dreams)
So, I am right now at the Division for Planetary Science annual conference, in lovely Denver. Yes, I have left the hotel... mostly to get lunch/dinner and also allergy medication/chapstick. (Dry air does not help, and I suspect the high altitude is interfering with my sleep patterns, but I generally feel far worse than I do in Ithaca, and it feels more like allergies than Con Crud.) I could do tourist stuff... but then I'd have to skip talks. And I like talks. (I did skip the morning sessions today, but after sitting through two talks and nearly falling asleep, I decided that if I was going to sleep, I should do it in my room.)

Because sharing is caring, I'm going to try to summarize some of the talks. Keep in mind, there are usually three sessions going at once, so this mostly caters to my interests.

Mercury )
beccastareyes: Image of two women (Utena and Anthy) dancing with stars in the background.  Text: I have loved the stars too fondly... (stars)
I need to blog more (she says again)...

Expect some more posts, btu now I'm going to tell you how you should be spending next Friday (19 July) afternoon.

The answer is waving as Cassini takes your photograph )
beccastareyes: Image of woman reading.  Text: hopeless bookworm (bookworm)
So, someone on Plurk linked me to a post on Tumblr on Homestuck!troll* linguistics by a biologist ([tumblr.com profile] xenobiologistforhire) who wished her fandom aliens were a bit more alien (basically 'why do semi-aquatic insect aliens handle English so well when their breathing apparatuses evolved under potentially way different conditions?'). Ended up reading the entire blog, because while all I know about Homestuck is from RP and my friendslist, I am a sucker for xenobiology. And the author did cool things with parasites, which I always like. (See also: why I love reading [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire's writing.)

A lot of the thinking paralleled some stuff I was working on in some of my writing (not the insect-y bits but how species that evolved from aquatic critters might gain vocal cords, and also why terrestrial vertebrates evolved with our food and breathing tubes attached and how that's not necessarily an obvious choice for aliens.

I really ought to write more about fictional species biology, especially if folks can comment on it.

* I'm kind of fascinated by the Homestuck fandom, despite being unable to get into the canon. Mostly because the bits I find interesting (weird imperialistic aliens who are forced to interact with humans or possibly just decided to invade) don't occur until well into the story (about kids in a world-creating/destroying video game with time shenanigans) and the story itself seems like an exercise in 'what the hell is going on now?'. And given how finicky I can be about fan shipping wank** and crotchety I can be about Tumblr, I don't really want to get involved in it directly. But I find it interesting from a meta point of view because it seems like there's extensive gardens of fanon and convention that may or may not exist in the canon. But that's just my outsider POV.

** See: the Avatar fandom. Any of it.

MARS!

Aug. 1st, 2012 03:44 pm
beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
So, in less than a week, the Curiosity Rover will land on Mars, at approximately 1:30 AM on August 6th Eastern US Time. Cornell is doing a 'watch NASA TV with the local Mars experts*' thing, but given the time (coverage extends from 11:30 PM on the 5th to 3 or 4 AM), I might stay home. Since, otherwise I'd probably end up sleeping on the couch in the grad student lounge. Which is not a bad place to sleep and sure beats my desk, but is less preferable than my bed. (Or, for that matter, my own couch.)

So, internet people, would there be interest in me hosting a Mars party over the Internet from 11:30 PM until I pass out at my desk? I have Skype and IRC, and could easily just hang out there and answer questions and make smartass comments about NASA TV (which is streaming over the web so you can watch NASA people try to figure out what to talk about, especially since who knows when the first pictures will come down**.)

* Probably Shoshe the grad student, since last time Dr. Squyres was on CNN instead.
** As soon as the rover lands, it'll send a 'I made it' signal to NASA, which we'll get 14 minutes later because the speed of light is finite and Mars is far away. Then we all cheer and toast Curiosity. But that's not a picture; it just means the rover did not make what we euphemistically call a 'hard landing'.

Pictures depend on when the rover can contact the satellites we have in Mars orbit and start dumping all the stuff it saved on the way down. I think the first picture it'll send is a thumbnail taken by the hazard cameras on the front of the rover, that handle the 'steer round the rocks' bit of rover driving automatically (but can also be used as low-res black and white pictures). Whether this comes on the first pass of the satellite or not depends on many things.

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beccastareyes: Image of Sam from LotR. Text: loyal (Default)
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