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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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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Dreaming of success in an age of diminished possibility

Dreaming of success in an age of diminished possibility

It’s taken me me longer to get to this essay than I had intended. While I might offer valid excuses related to work and travel, that wouldn’t be the whole truth. The fundamental reason for this delay is I want to offer you hope, and I don’t know how. My first essay led to several people wishing out loud that part 2 would offer implementable solutions, and I just don’t have many (any?) to articulate. All I have is some really ugly truths and a personal hope that by laying bare our reality maybe wiser minds than mine can find an answer. In part 1, I detailed the three front employment battle that post-Apollo astronomers (and those in many other fields) are facing as the baby boomer generation continues to not retire, as the production rate...

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Work Travel: The longest days

Work Travel: The longest days

One of the flaws in what many of us do is this: When we spend our days disseminating our work and training people to use our materials, we are doing one aspect of our job that is very important, but the other parts of our jobs still need to be done. The emails keep coming. The staff still need to meet with us (online). The paperwork still has to be done. The audio still has to get recorded. (image: Hourglass by borabora on Flickr) There is a group of us here in Turku, who are working to provide teacher professional development to a group of educators from all around Europe. From 9am to 6pm, we are working with the teachers, providing concepts and content (and coffee). We are staying in an adult travelers hostel, and our evening are being spent cooking a shared...

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Fighting Funding Cuts & Sequestration

Fighting Funding Cuts & Sequestration

Disclaimer: I am writing this post as a private individual. The views in this post are strictly my own, and no approval of an outside entity should be assumed. I have spent the past several weeks trying to figure out how to write this post. Sometimes emotions are so raw that they don’t readily shape themselves into words: They manifest themselves as a face that can’t smile, a head that throbs with a stress migraine, and with an exhaustion driven not by lack of sleep but rather deriving from the emotional exhaustion that just makes a person want to hide in a dark room locked away from the world. My head hurts. I am exhausted. My emotions are raw. I am writing now because there is a very real possibility that the proposed restructuring the US education...

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Cosmic Castaways – You’re Invited!

Cosmic Castaways – You’re Invited!

My job let’s me do some of the most awesome things. One of those things is narrating planetarium shows. My 2nd planetarium show is premiering Oct. 4 at the Ward Beecher Planetarium in Youngstown, OH on the YSU campus. We’re taking advantage of this event to also host a fundraising dinner with proceeds going to the creation of more shows just like this one. Get your tickets now! Every other night this show is shown, admission will be completely free! This show was produced using funds from the National Science Foundation, and Ward Beecher keeps it’s doors open thanks to an endowment and thanks to donations and grants like the one that produced this show. I love this idea: Raise money to pay the costs associated with producing content, and then...

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