Helsinki for a day

Helsinki for a day

For not the first in my life, I find myself passing thru Helsinki. To me, it keeps being a waypoint between places that gets slept in, wandered about in, and then left behind. The first time I was here was 24 years ago. I and 24 others were on our way back from several weeks in the USSR, where we’d been studying astronomy and playing all but unsupervised in a small village in the caucus mountains. On our return, we’d stopped for a couple days in Leningrad before taking the train to Helsinki, from which we flew home. We stayed here a night, and we spent that night walking through the lack of darkness, trying to make our way to a ferris wheel we saw off in the distance. I was 15, and along with a few other misplaced teens, I walked this city till what...

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I’ll Fly Away

I’ll Fly Away

For the past week, I’ve had the Alison Krauss & Gilian Welch song, “I’ll Fly Away,” stuck in my head. This fabulous song is one that I hope someone will remember to play when I die, but… beyond that… I’m wondering what my subconscious is trying to tell me about my upcoming trip to Europe. “I’ll fly away // To that home on Gods celestial shore // I’ll fly away” Today, I’m leaving behind Edwardsville and my home outside St Louis, and I’m embarking on a 35 day trip to Europe. From STL to ORD to HEL, I’m traveling to the European Week of Astronomy and Space Sciences conference in Turku Finland. From there, I’ll be continuing on to Lisbon, Portugal to work with colleagues,...

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Speaking Truth to Power: The once and future speech

Speaking Truth to Power: The once and future speech

On the wall of my office is a framed piece of paper that I often think of removing because it may just seem too ostentatious. I keep it there for me – not for anyone else no matter what they may think. It is a just a flattened out table name-card like you get at a con, but the name, on it is Senator John Glenn, and on the empty half of the piece of paper is this message: “To Pam – with best regards. You made a very powerful statement that more people in Congress need to hear and act on – Best Regards – John Glenn”. I keep that sign on the wall to remind of that day, June 19, 1996, when at the end of a long day in a Capitol Conference Room, I gave the following speech before “The Democratic Forum on Science and Technology...

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When life gives you s***, find the manure fork

When life gives you s***, find the manure fork

  TL;DR version – Will join me Friday in writing & calling our legislatures to argue for science and science education? There are days that are rotten, and weeks that need a reset button. Sometimes moments of too much wrongness extend across months or even years. From health issues to job problems, at some point in life we all face these issues. Right now it seems like shit is raining down on all of us who love science and learning. This afternoon I reached a point where the realities in my twitter stream drove me to walk away from my desk, and go to the barn to muck stalls. I needed to take the metaphor of the day and turn it into literal throwing of shit in a useful manner where I could see solid results. I didn’t find any answers at the...

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My best friend

My best friend

A few months ago on Twitter (or maybe it was only weeks?) I remember reading about Neil Gaiman losing his beloved dog. A few days ago, JC Hutchins spoke of the death of Lap Kitteh. I haven’t lost a pet in many years, but when my first horse died in 2003 the anguish was crippling, and I still have to blink back tears when I think of that horrible horrible night. This morning Kyle, who got up before me, came flying in to wake me, saying something was wrong with Leah. Leah is a pitt bull – catahoula hound dog mix. She is my best friend of 13 years. This dog saw me through my dissertation. She was beside my bed through a broken off engagement, 1 serious relationship’s beginning, middle  & ending, and a 2nd serious relationship complete with...

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Boston, terrorism, and racial profiling of motive

Boston, terrorism, and racial profiling of motive

I am a child of Massachusetts. My high school weekends were spent roaming MIT, taking classes with their Educational Studies Program. My summer days were punctuated with afternoons running around the Boston Museum of Science as my friends and I escaped the summer heat. We’d walk from MIT to the Museum, sometimes taking the long way, walking all the way to Newbury Street so we could check out the comics at Newbury Comics. Sometimes we’d duck through Copley Square, watching the rich ladies with their little dogs looking ever so pleased with themselves as they sashayed past the kids who practiced skate board tricks off of benches and railings. I have walked from the Harbor – from the North End and its Italian District, all the way across Boston and...

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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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