The Unacknowledged Costs of Academic Travel

The Unacknowledged Costs of Academic Travel

I travel a lot. I travel for conferences, for planning meetings, for NASA collaboration meetings, for filming, for launches… for a ton of things that are related to my work. I can’t really complain about the travel; I get to see the world while being exposed to new ideas and new opportunities, and to cultures and cuisines I’d never experience in the confines of St Louis. I can’t complain about the business travel, but I can wish that it came at lower personal cost to academics – especially those academics who must travel but lack a travel budget. Right now, I’m at 35,000 ft somewhere over Arizona. I’m on my way home from spending just over 24 hours in San Diego. For several hours, I enjoyed the productive boredom of working in the Phoenix...

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Why I fly American

Why I fly American

Today I’m flying from St Louis to San Diego on Southwest Air and I feel a bit like a traitor. For years, I’ve flown on American Airlines pretty exclusively. One of my only speaker requirements is that my travel gets booked on American. This isn’t because they have the best planes, the most delightful staff, or the best frequent flier program; it’s because they have saved my frequently flying butt more times than I can count. This includes getting me home from Moscow when I wasn’t sure home was going to happen. I started flying American pretty exclusively after moving to St Louis in 2006. There wasn’t any real reason for this beyond they fly international and St Louis (at the time) had a ton of flights because it was a slowly fading TWA/American hub. The first...

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The Care and Starvation of Ignorance

The Care and Starvation of Ignorance

To quote Randall Monroe: “Saying ‘what kind of an idiot doesn’t know about the Yellowstone supervolcano’ is so much more boring than telling someone about the Yellowstone supervolcano for the first time.” In astronomy education, we spend a lot of time saying “what kind of idiot doesn’t know about lunar phases.” I think it’s time to ask ourselves why we get upset that people (especially kids!) don’t understand things we haven’t yet taught them, and how we can make it ok for people to say “I don’t know” instead of BSing bad answers. I’m currently attending The International Symposium on Education in Astronomy and Astrobiology (#ise2a) in Utrecht, the Netherlands. Over the...

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Rerouting or How Google Maps Tried to Kill Me

Rerouting or How Google Maps Tried to Kill Me

Because I wanted to take a pretty photo, Google Maps tried to kill me. I’m currently in Utrecht, the Netherlands for a conference. My hotel is in the city center, and the conference is a few kilometers away at the University. The conference site recommended biking, so I rented a bike for the week. No. Big. Deal. Bikes here are just enough different from bikes at home that I’m not as comfortable zipping around and weaving between other cyclists as I might usually be, and I don’t start out as that much of a zipping weaver. This personal discomfort leads to a fair amount of trepidation about making left hand turns across roads in heavy bike traffic. While kind of zipping along this morning I totally missed a left due to dense bike traffic and I...

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Science March 2017

Science March 2017

Along with many other Americans, I peacefully and legally took to the streets on Saturday, April 22 to make a public call for the support of science. Below is my planned speech, to be given in Springfield, MO. I must start this by saying I am here as an individual. My words are my own. I represent no company, no government, and no sponsor. I am here speaking my mind, and my opinions. I am here to speak my truth. It’s Earth day. I have admit, this is a holiday that never stood out for me. My Freshman year of high school, my geometry teacher made us right papers for Earth day, and I remember resenting the assignment, and I don’t remember what I wrote on. I don’t think I really even noticed Earth Day again until 2009, when it was celebrated as part...

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