Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wearing plaid makes me feel beautiful.

People in the classroom across the hall are cheering. Note: they are not astronomy students*. That's probably the anarchy class.

Going off to math class, where the prof has decided to surprise us with a 4th exam on harder material that's take-home, instead of the extra credit he promised us. Also he doesn't curve and he's decreasing the worth of the two exams I've already taken that I did quite well on.

When I get home, I'm going to start my new radio homework.

*astronomy students just cry gently** to themselves late at night when their Q parameter doesn't work out and they can't make a program that creates elliptical orbits, or understand why being in a rotating reference frame doesn't change the frequency of an epicycle.

**Except there's no crying in Astronomy. People just die.

Monday, July 26, 2010


How To Focus, which is of great advice to me. Guess I'll try training.

While we're in the mood for goals, here are mine for today:

go quick grocery shopping
Pack up 1/2 living room
Pack up all of den
Sort bedroom into books and clothes
Pack bedroom books
Not more laundry tonight, but I'd say start packing the clean clothes into the suitcase.
boil eggs
boil corn
bake potatoes
eat peaches
do 2 or 3 quick dishes
watch Star Wars episode 6

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


This may be the scariest thing I've ever seen.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Fresh Fruit Season

I love fruit.

Strawberries, apples, pears, and peaches. Blackberries, raspberries, gooseberries, and currants. Cherries. Pineapple. Limes and lemons and oranges.

Except for blueberries.

Maybe it's the strangely dry texture, or the fact that they tend to be sour-er. Or maybe it's just the weird skin, or the hint of bitter.

But I'm just not a real blueberry fan.

This week I got a POUND of blueberries with the food CSA, and I think I may have finally figured out what to do with them.


I have yogurt, and a blender, and ice. And many many frozen and fresh blueberries. I can add some fruit juice (which was on sale this week, so I have lots!), and I bet even a blueberry smoothie will be pretty tasty!

This Week's Haul:
2 heads of delicious bibb lettuce
4 ears of corn
2 cucumbers (I traded one for another ear of corn)
1.2 lbs of green beans (but not your average green beans.. I don't know, these look like peas more than anything else)
2 lbs of tiny red potatoes (omnomnom!)
1 little pint of blackberries

(why couldn't I get more blackberries than I know what to do with, instead of blueberries? I have a blackberry upside down cake recipe that looks pretty good).

And of course eggs, and I bought 5 peaches as well. I do love fruit.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


I am waiting for the sun to come into the office so I can make sun tea.

Picked some mint leaves from my white mint plant this morning. It's certainly thriving! The chives and chervil might not make it, but the mint will, certainly.

Studying for finals. I hope this semester ends beautifully. Of COURSE I'm worried. But I only have the two exams, so after Saturday, all my attention can focus on that last exam. I am sure that will help.

To do:
arrange to pay my disconnect fee/get reimbursed
arrange payment for my internet bill
play with my program more and at least set it UP to get from s to u, f, and h.
study for the first exam
do the dishes

Peace. Come in, sunlight.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Meet Squashy

Meet Squashy the Quatchi! He comes to me courtesy of Resurrection Fern, and he's Canadian (eh?). Ms. Oomen does glorious artistry with thread and rock and plants and cloth. I happened across her blog not too long ago, and I stayed to gaze at the pretty pictures. (Hey, I'm in Astronomy... pretty pictures are part of the trade). Then during the Olympics, Squashy here was sent on a foreign exchange program to cultivate peace between our two lands.

He's landed happily here in the Astronomy Department, providing a little comfort and joy in our darkest hours. Or, when needed, he dons a mask and gives us motivation.
What are YOU looking at?

So thanks! The next time I get to go somewhere fun, Squashy will be with me, getting pins and being trained as an observer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I got some gorgeous new yarn from Yarnia, mostly with projects in mind.

First I got Lane Borgosesia Cashwool in Wine. This is a laceweight yarn that I really want to use for a lace pattern, like Wing O Moth or the Hex pattern put out in Knitty a few months ago. The red is so bright that it glows.

Next is some nice thick Crystal Palace Iceland brown wool; two balls, which will hopefully help me finish off my log cabin blanket. Though looking at the blanket now, I begin to see that even that might not be enough.

I mean, just look at the size of this thing!

I also picked up 600 yards of what's called Lagoon Space Dyed. It's an acrylic, and I hate acrylic--but this is seriously some of the softest stuff I've ever felt. I want to make it into a wrap so I can just snuggle with it whenever I feel like it. Haven't found the perfect pattern yet though! any recommendations? I only have the 600 yards to work with (but... maybe I'll get some more? .... hmmm...)

I couldn't resist snagging a couple skeins of Aslan Trend's Santa Fe sock yarn. It comes in absolutely gorgeous colors, and I find that it's delightfully springy and stretchy.

Finally I grabbed some fizzy stuff by Fizz so that I could get free shipping. It's not hideous. By the way, if you want cheap novelty yarns, Yarnia is having a major sale on them. How dorky is that? pretty dorky, I suspect.

Did some cooking with my friend K. this weekend. We made Brown Butter Brown Sugar Shorties, but ours turned out a bit different from the original site's--they kind of melted in the oven. However, they were still delicious! so we ate a lot of them.

When I was hanging out with L. a few weeks ago we went to Ikea, since I had never gone before. It was silly and fun and cheaper than I thought it would be. I picked up two nice plates and some jars for storing dried goods (currently filled with flour--I think I need more of them for the sugar and tea and and and and...<3 jars!). Anyway, my favorite part, cheap candles and nice draperies aside, was their little discount section at the end of the store. I picked up a couple of cute little tea cups with saucers for 50 cents! To quote the matrix, whoa! Well, they were really plain, so I dragged L. off to a Michael's and picked up some ceramic paint and now they look like this:

Craftiness aside, I've delved much further into research of late. I'm looking for more ways to stay on top of my field. It always seems so challenging, especially at this early stage--I feel like there is NO way I will ever know enough. Add in the fact that I spend all my free time immersed in homework and programming, and I really can't see how getting to true understanding is even feasible. Ugh. Well, just keep slogging on, right? That's what graduate school is for--learning that you'll never catch up.

If you have a reasonably clear horizon, at this time of year in the west you can spot a really bright Venus shortly after the sun sets. Now if you look three fingers to the right of it and one finger down, you'll notice a tiny little fleck of light. That's Mercury! Mercury is normally really really difficult to see, because it's so close to the sun that it's always hidden in the solar glow. You should take the time to see it now, because you probably won't be able to see it again for half a year or so.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Happy Ada Lovelace Day 2010!

Have you hugged a woman in science and technology today? For example, Jocelyn Bell Burnell?

Let me tell you a little story. When I was a 2nd year undergraduate student up in the cold midwest, I spent a lot of time putting together a little radio telescope. We built it from scratch based on designs and schematics from MIT, and since I didn't have the faintest clue how much of it worked, it took a lot of time. But after a couple years, we finally got this sucker deployed on the roof and started taking real sky data--looking at the sun and comparing it to the sky, just to simply see if we could differentiate. And there, right smack in the midst of my absolutely blank sky data, was a beautiful, beautiful blip. Not just any sort of blip--an enormous blip with little nasty resonances that raised my continuum by several thousand kelvin.

I was totally thrilled at first, positive I had picked up on some obscure point source at alt 30, az 180 (those were observer's coordinates--not even horizon coordinates, much less equatorial or something useful). That lasted for 30 seconds, of course, until my advisor pointed out that it was probably a hefty dose of Radio Frequency Interference or even just a nasty reflection since the Chemistry Building was RIGHT THERE. But for a brief time I thought I might get lucky and follow in the footsteps of Jocelyn Bell.

Well, she didn't get lucky, exactly--she put a lot of work into investigating every aspect of her data (on miles and miles of paper! no digital stuff) produced by the new telescope she'd mostly assembled and deployed herself. And as a result of her work she uncovered a fantastically consistent pulsating signal and thusly discovered pulsars. After such an illustrious career opportunity as a graduate student, she moved on to work in pretty much every wavelength you can work in, win a slew of awards, and be a pretty cool professor.

For me, Jocelyn Bell Burnell is extra inspiring because she had in all regards quite an ordinarily successful career, despite having gotten into things in the 50s and 60s, a notoriously difficult time for female scientists. In fact in terms of professors she's remarkably normal--proof for me that despite having a bumpy beginning, it's possible to go places and do all the exciting science things that are the crux of pursuing such a career.

Shout out to Ada Lovelace, to Jocelyn Bell Burnell, to all the other women in science and technology, both past and present, who have helped to shape my own place in all of this and who continue to carve a place in the future.

Future posts include awesome pics, as soon as I get my camera up and running.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Knit Knit Knit

It's been a busy couple of weeks (surprise :P), but I think I've finally caught up. Of course that's only because we've a few days of break here, but still. I am doing all the housework that I've been putting off, taking care of the car, and looking into a new apartment for next year.

I had a FANTASTIC couple of days up in NYC with The Twin, including a fantastic visit to The Chocolate Room, which is, yes you guessed it, a little cafe devoted entirely to fantastic chocolates.

Doesn't that just make you drool? I should have brought some home with me, but I was so tired I actually passed up my chance. D'oh!

I'm noticing an interesting pattern in my classwork and abilities. I'm becoming at least a little bit more focused, and a bit more of a powerful, individual worker. I tend to learn by interacting with others, but frequently I've been driving through homeworks completely independently. Of course this is currently accompanied by a decline in grades (AGH!), but that's primarily due to not giving myself enough time to get my work done. Still, it's nice to know that I'm beginning to pick up some of the skills I was supposed to have when I got here.

A few other things of interest:

Temporary Hearing Impairment Leads to Lazy Ear. I found this interesting article on Science News. This explains a lot for me--I had tons of ear infections as a kid and I often find that my listening is impaired in strange ways now-a-days. I wonder what I have to do to go about re-training it? A lazy eye is re-trained by using an eye-patch on the good eye. Maybe if I use one earplug at a time? That might be interesting.

This article on soldiers knitting from my old old old hometown newspaper. It's not very informative but the idea is still interesting. Let me know if you have any more.

Earthquakes affect earth's rotation. The earth's rotation changes on a 12 month cycle and even smaller timescales anyway so this isn't that big of a deal, but it is interesting.

Finally a possible explanation of dark matter? Hmm, I like this one a lot.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Succinct Summary 2

Lunch: Homemade meatballs on pumpernickel with neufchatel. Mmm. Also, frozen fruit for later.

Work: Steve's homework. Problems 2 and 3 out of 5 dented. The others glanced at.
Work II: Stats homework. Problems 1 and 2 out of 3 dented. The others glanced at.

I wish I had resources to talk to about these homework sets. I mean, before 11pm the night before they're due. Oh well, maybe I'll learn how to work on these things on my own

Work I am putting off: Li's Program. eeeseeesgghh... yuck.

Good News: Got my tax refunds today! wooHOO. Time to pay off some bills.

Other Good News: I signed up for my food co-op. It starts mid April. Fresh fruit and vegetables! I can't wait.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Succinct Summary

Lunch: Greek Salad with a small french baguette from Panera. I do like a good Greek salad, and the bread is a good compliment.

Work: Galactic Astronomy homework. This set always takes me forever, and I tend to put it off until last. So today I'm starting it, nice and early, and seeing how far I can get. Hopefully working on it will also help me prepare for the midterm

Work II: Doom-like Statistics homework and studying for the midterm. *sigh*

Knitting: Tiny Fishes for my kitties! Next week or the week after I get to visit them! glee!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Drowning in work, as usual. Not going to see the Twin this weekend as a result :( but Midterms are next week and if I am lucky, I will be in a good state after that.

Twin and I talked a bit about how my program seems front-loaded--right now, everything is quite difficult and time-essential; but once I'm done with classes, I set my own schedule and have flexibility and so it gets easier. I always work better when I can focus on one thing at a time, very thoroughly, for a few hours straight every day for a week. Which is difficult to due when homework is due M through Th, leaving me 3 or 4 days only to do all my learning. In contrast, her program is very back-loaded; it only gets harder and more intense as time passes. Which to me seems crazily ridiculous.

I am almost interested in finding out how spinning works--I think perhaps mostly because when I become a professor, I'd like to keep a spinning wheel in my office and use it when I'm on tele-cons and holding office hours.

It would be fun. But for now it's outside my time frame. I get knitting done in class and in colloquium, but I don't have time or space or money for a new hobby.

Monday, February 15, 2010

I can't, I can't, I can't stand...

I can't stand losing you more snow. It won't stop falling! It's snowing again today. My friend's place, in DC, is essentially falling in. Another friend has fled Baltimore--fled it, I tell you!

Meanwhile I'm hoping to sign up for the food co-op and get tons of fresh vegetables and produce and fruit and eggs, and I'm beginning to doubt that they'll be able to grow anything.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

I have a problem

How am I supposed to eat healthy when I can find recipes like these?:

Lemon Drop Cupcakes

Unworldly silky fudge brownies


Molasses Bars

lemon cake with lemon frosting

Cinnamon cupcakes with honey frosting

I need to get a muffin tin or a cupcake tin or something... gah!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I love my slow cooker

Cooking: Shredded Chicken Fajitas
Reading: The Demon and The City by Liz Williams

Today before running off to work I took the time to slap some stuff into the crockpot. And lo and behold, when I ducked back home 7 hours later, I had AMAZING and DELICIOUS shredded fajita chicken meat. This is probably the first thing I've cooked with chicken that I'd consider a success. My chicken tends to get quite dried out in the oven or on the stove top, even if I drown it in broth or oil, etc. But the slow cooker did the trick!

As a note, most crockpots or slow cookers instruct you to fill it no less than half full when cooking. Mine was barely 1/4 full, and as a result there was definitely a little browning going on around the edges. But still, delicious!

You will need:

1-4 chicken breasts, thawed
1 medium onion
1/4 of a green pepper (unless you actually like green pepper. then you'll probably want more)
1/4 of a red pepper (see above)
a couple of mushrooms (optional--I was out of these, but they would've been delicious)
(you can use pre-packaged jerk or taco seasoning, but I made my own: a couple of teaspoons of paprika, chili powder, and garlic powder, with a touch of cumin, salt, and crushed red pepper)
1 cube of chicken bouillion
about 1 or 2 cups of water

1) trim your chicken and slice it into finger-wide chunks. Don't wory if these are too big--it will be falling apart when it's done
2) chop vegetables into reasonable sizes
3) put everything in the crockpot and add enough water to just barely cover everything. For me, this was 1 cup. If you have a lot of vegetables, you might want to limit yourself to a cup or two of water--you're not making soup here.

If you want, instead of water and a bouillion cube, you can just use chicken broth instead

4) cook on low for 6-8 hours. If you don't have a lot, like me, this might be done in 6 or 6 and a half hours. if your slow cooker is full, it might take the whole 8.

By the time this was done, the chicken was literally falling apart. I didn't have to use a fork or anything to shred it. I slapped together some quick tacos with tortillas,cheese and a little sour cream.

Since I have so little free time, I like to read when I cook. It's a good way to fit in two requirements: you know, that sustenance thing? as well as my undying need to read. Today I worked on Liz Williams' The Demon and the City. This is the sequel to her Snake Agent book, which I absolutely loved. She has a rich, powerful world that lies somewhere between classic noir and urban fantasy. In her futuristic Chinese world, here's a very thin line between human and evil, which I always like (I like to sympathize with my villains). Her pacing is always very good-- you move through at a nice pace, and it's difficult to put them down, but you can always pick one up again. Williams has a lovely grasp on real characters as well as a unique perspective on fantasy and mystery. Best of all, her novels are always very tangible--I can practically taste the blood and the smog in the market places, the salt spray of the sea on the houseboat, the medicinal tang of the laboratories.

If I could incorporate one part of her writing into my own, I'd go for the uniqueness of it. I know my own stories have that edge of the familiar to them--you know, every story's been told before, right? But Williams' books are powerfully distinct, and even if there is a common storyline in there (oh, hey, a boy meets girl, or a evil attempting to overthrow good), her stories remain above the common ground. That's something I'd love to be able to pick up.

Monday, February 1, 2010

New Things

I played Settlers of Catan for the first time Friday!

It was utterly AMAZINGLY confusingly awesome. WAY better than monopoly.

I must acquire a set of Flux cards and maybe Munchkins and see if I can corner some friends into playing that.

Snow Defeats South

Hah. It snowed this weekend. Everyone panicked. Hilarity ensued. Friday night, everything is well, I have a whole weekend and tons of plans laid out ahead of me. But everything went downhill from there (including me, eventually, on my rear. For a few feet, anyway). It snowed primarily on Saturday, and since people here have many concepts of hill and no concept of plow, it is still difficult to get around on the narrow back roads. Since I live in a tiny town, this holds for most of the roads, including my parking lot. I also currently lack a shovel (gasp!), so I couldn't dig my car out. So out went the plans for meeting old friends, having fantastic sushi, and then playing games until midnight. Instead I stayed in, read books, studied, and baked two dozen peanut butter cookies.

The peanut butter cookies were DELICIOUS, which is why there are now only three of them left. Hey, don't judge me. I have a deep love for baked goods! I ate other things too--I made popcorn, and I had eggs and toast once or twice, and I even baked some fantastic crispy shrimp!

Chunky Peanut Butter Cookie Recipe:

1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 to 1 cup chunky peanut butter
a handful of peanuts, shelled, no salt (optional)
a handful of mini chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar + a tablespoon extra for rolling
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 dollop of vanilla (or a tsp, if you must measure).

Beat butter and peanut butter together with a mixer until uniform. Beat in brown and white sugar, baking soda, and baking powder, scraping the sides, until uniform. Beat in egg and vanilla. You might want to pre-mix the egg, though with a high speed beater this wasn't a problem for me. Add half a cup of flour and beat it in as well. If the mixture is not too thick, add the next half, and beat mightily until it is well mixed. I had to fold and hand-mix the last 1/4 cup of flour. If you're including the peanuts and/or chocolate chips, fold them in last by hand; don't use a mixer.

You can let this sit in the fridge until it's easy to handle, but for me it was fine to work with right away.

Roll the dough into balls of any appropriate size. (1-2 inches). Roll these balls in the extra granulated sugar (on a plate, or in a bowl), and place a couple of inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. To get the characteristic pb cookie pattern, press the balls flat with the tines of a fork.

Bake in an oven pre-heated to 375 for 7-9 minutes. My oven runs a bit hot, so I preheated to 350 and left them in for 10-12 minutes. Note that when they first come out of the oven, done or not, because of all that peanut butter and butter they feel very soft. I checked mine by carefully lifting them with a spatula to see if their bottoms were a slightly darker golden brown. I did burn a batch, but not too badly to eat. Pop them on a cooling rack for a few minutes and enjoy!

NOTE: These are SWEET cookies. Very sweet. I'm sure some people will say too sweet. If you want a less-sweet cookie, you might consider finding an unsweetened peanut butter in the organic foods section of your grocery store, or cutting back on the sugar (to 1/4 of a cup each), or not rolling them in the sugar.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just getting started

Aside from exams, this semester begins with a report of my activities for the last semester. I distinctly remember being incredibly busy, but now I barely have 2 lines to rub together.

Roaring winds all last night, with a lot of rain. I came home late, from the post-qual party, and sat up later, listening to the weather. I'm on the top floor, so the rain drummed its fingers above me restlessly and the wind pulled me with fingers of sound. mmm. Delicious.

My Berry Pie did not turn out too well. I used premade crusts (you just unroll them and put them in pan), and the bottom didn't cook all the way through. Add to that the raspberries and blueberries and cherries were all frozen, so there wasn't quite as much juice as I'd thought; and the fact that it really wasn't very sweet at all; and together you have NotThatGood Pie, unfortunately. Fortunately, I'd like to try again. This time with twice the sugar, and the fruits sitting in it overnight so they can make some juices. Oh, and note to self: if you aren't using a gelatin based fruit additive, you don't need a thickener.

The Log Cabin Blanket progresses.

To do:
Finish Progress Report
Read for Steve's class
Study statistics
Work on TelObs stuff with Rachael

*sigh* busy already. Stats will be hard this semester, since I've never taken it before. Here's hoping I'll survive.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


First-year exam is over. It speaks to how well the blasted thing went that I'm considering going in tomorrow to take the half that only 2nd-years are supposed to take. I don't think it could possibly count against me, and I want to see--what sort of strength I'll need. I clearly have a lot to learn in the next year, but I feel pretty strong about the stuff I did remember, and do. And I am pretty good at the conceptual work in a number of specific areas.

I am currently taking the evening to play around on the internet, bake brownies, read young adult novels, and work on my Log Cabin Blanket.

The Log Cabin Style blanket is very interesting. It's difficult to find step-by-step instructions online. Essentially it's supposed to be easy: knit a rectangle, bind off, pick up stitches on any side, knit another rectangle outwards, bind off, then pick up stitches across both rectangles, knit another rectangle outwards, and bind off; repeat ad-nauseum. I had the damndest time discovering how to pick up stitches, and where I should be picking them up if I were doing this method. Also a little improvisation was required. A couple hints to anyone looking to start log cabin style as a newbie (it's fairly easy, so consider it!):

1) You're starting in the center and you knit outwards. So when you pick up stitches, you have to pick up the whole length of the side. You're going to need big needles if this is a blanket or large project. Just warning!

2) Picking up stitches is a way to cast on attached to a piece of knitting. You can pick up stitches where-ever you like--just pull a loop of yarn through any given hole and onto your needle. has fantastic videos that show you how to do almost anything, including picking up stitches. The only trick for me, and for most people doing log cabin style, is that you have a loose end (of your new color)when you're starting to pick up stitches. Since I didn't know what to do with a loose end, I just tied mine on at a corner and worked from there. It's a little slapdash, but it works!

3) Be careful with your bind-offs for each of your rectangles. Specifically, look up a loose bind off like k2tog or k2togtbl (or the lace bind off), and use that. You might want to use the lace cast on for your initial cast on, too. Otherwise your product gets pinched at the edges.

4) Knowing how many stitches to pick up can be difficult. I think I picked up every OTHER row when I did my first picked up section (the brown in the picture), but since the brown is a *slightly* heavier super-bulky weight than my initial blue super-bulky weight, this makes the end stretch and flare out and be pinched all at once. It's tricky!

With luck later tonight I'll get a chance to try out a granola bar recipe. The trick is getting bars that stay together but aren't as hard as a rock. Wish me luck!

(P.S. I'm signed up for a couple of good astronomy classes and a horrid looking Bayesian Statistics course. I haven't done Statistics before, and this one apparently has a 2-course requisite. I might try and stick it out (honestly, nothing can be worse than 2 semesters of quantum mechanics), but I'm considering switching. My options are a bit limited--I could probably swing switching to either General Relativity (ew!) or a more introductory (for grad school) Statistics course. Boo! The trick is figuring out which of my fellow students are considering switching as well--being able to work with someone on homework is a large selling point.)

(P.P.S. I updated my ravelry page (I'm Cosmoknot on there) with a slew of books in my library/bookshelves and several stored in my queue, since there doesn't appear to be a way to put up a book that *isn't* known to ravelry. These are books I'm interested in, not ones that I have yet. so if anyone knows how to a) make a wishlist, b) get ravelry to read books that aren't in its database but are on, say, amazon, or c) figure out why the books that are on amazon aren't showing up in the database, let me know)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Glory Be

I helped run the doghouse for last Friday's Public Night at our local observatory, the one where I drag all the undergrads for their labs. We were SWARMED with children in the form of a boyscout troop (or is it troupe?), and tons of parents with little ones. I was completely new to this--the first, and only, Public Night I've been to before, it was so cloudy we didn't even bother to open the domes, and I spent the whole two hours listening to stories from the other astronomers. So suddenly I was confronted with hordes of people. I could (barely) operate the two doghouse telescopes, and I hadn't the slightest idea how to find something fun to look at in the sky.

The sky did not behave. Clouds all up in the crown and dome during our half hour of set up. We fended off childrens and parents for a bit as we tried to get something from the fringes of the sky in the west. While we were busy, the sky cleared in the center, so GV did the Pleiades in the 6" and the entertaining. I fumbled with the automated 10" and suddenly my instrumentationalist instinct kicked in and I got it working. Bam, two stars to calibrate, and the next thing I know it's slewing to H and Kai Perseus. But no matter where we looked, the clouds knew. They'd cover things up in a dozen minutes. I switched the 10" back and forth from the Pleiades to H and Kai Perseus and even the Orion Nebula (GORGEOUSLY clear for a few minutes--we could see DUST clouds. from the earth. with our eyes and that telescope. I can scarcely believe it!).

We alternatively pleased and placated the kids. My instrumentationalist instincts kicked in when GV was gone and I had to reset the 6" to the Pleiades and I found them with ease. The kids loved H and Kai Perseus (all those thousands of tiny stars), enjoyed the Greek myths GV told, and were thoroughly fascinated by the wind up mechanism for the 6"'s tracking.

Now I'm back to work, finding that I have, oh, 5 days to study for the biggest exam in my life this far (only beat by the same thing next year that runs for TWO days instead). I am terrified that I don't know enough. Last semester's courses are not instinctual for me, the way instrumentation and radio astronomy are. I needed to work, and I'm shorted a week of the time I planned to do that work in.

On the plus side, when those are done I can pay my bills, arrange my labs, and take a breather.