Excursions, and grading

The former is awesome. The latter, less so.

I’ve been to White Sands National Monument twice in the last week or so – yesterday with Aunt Pam and the previous Saturday with Mike. A beautiful place and well worth a visit if you’re ever in the area.

Basically the best beach ever, only lacking water.

On the other hand, grading takes forever, and ruins what would otherwise be a perfectly lovely evening.

In perks, however, there is now a Netflix iPhone app, which means I can watch Stargate SG-1 (my most recent discovery) anywhere I want. Having Pandora radio in my pocket was already blowing my mind; this is better. I await the day we all have roll-up-able 20″ screens interfacing with our biology (e.g. virtual headphones) that are more powerful than today’s supercomputers.

Until then, there’s plenty of grading to keep me busy. Not to mention awesome astronomy, and gypsum sand, and visitors. Superb!



As an astronomer, I do a lot of observing. Here are some things I’ve noted lately.

  • The day after rain, everything smells like chlorine. Locals claim it is creosote, but I could swear the world has turned into a poorly vented swimming pool.
  • Very few folks under 40 attend Episcopal churches. The juxtaposition of this fact and an abundance of 20- and 30-somethings in my day-to-day life is odd.
  • Violists thrive in the desert. There are so many of us that the local community orchestra (which is strictly mediocre thus far) has an army of violas that nearly outnumbers both violin sections.
  • I find myself planning my commute around NPR broadcasts because there are no other radio stations remotely worth listening to.
  • An insulated thermos will keep a beverage hot (or cold) for hours. I know! Astounding.
  • Grading: takes twice as long as planned, and there is always another assignment.
  • We live in the future. Here’s why.
  • Classical mechanics and quantum physics are sooooo coooool. Especially when applied to astronomy!
  • Showing curious passers-by views of Jupiter and the moon through a telescope, seeing their reactions, and answering their questions will never get old.

Relatedly, I have started adding to my mental list of future ideal living circumstances. There are the obvious things, such as being with Mike and having kitties, but then there are the subtle things. Abundant windows, places within walking distance, the feel of a small town (clean air, decent chance of running into a friend at the grocery store) with the resources of a city (active cathedral, semi-professional orchestra). Little to no traffic. Low humidity. Bodies of water. Curbside recycling. Being able to see the Milky Way. Pacific time zone. Nearby airport.

I meant to go to bed an hour ago, so let me leave it at that. Life is beautiful.