Exposing PseudoAstronomy

January 3, 2016

On Tap Today: Update

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Stuart Robbins @ 2:16 pm

This blog has fallen by the wayside, and I feel horrible about both that and my delays in getting out the podcasts for mid-December and January 1. I definitely owe those of you who follow my work an explanation, and I’m going to try to be at least a teensy bit better about the blog.

The Explanation

First off, work. Last year was major for me for two big reasons: New Horizons and funded grants. New Horizons extended me such that I was employed from mid-2014 to mid-2015, and I wrote 5 grant proposals in late 2014 as a last-gasp attempt to stay a planetary scientist. New Horizons gave me a lot of work post-June, and I received two of the five grants I wrote. The total time that I have allocated — as in, Money รท wage — is more than 100% time now.

I’m a salaried employee, meaning I cannot charge more than 100% time. Meaning that I can get extensions on my grants to spread the work over more years (4 instead of 3), and I’m working to hire someone so I can use the money faster and work less. But, I also actually want to do the work that I’m funded to do, and I need to show the NASA program officers that I’ve actually done work before I can get money for years 2 and 3 of the grants.

In addition to that, I have work on 4 other projects, besides New Horizons, that are lead by other researchers and they require (perhaps obviously) that I do the work for them in a timely manner, as well. This means that I’ve been averaging a lot of time worked, though of course still charging only 40 hours per week (the “full-time” rate in the United States).

Because of this, I’ve had very little time to work on this blog or my podcast.

I’ve also been traveling a lot for work. In 2015, it was 16 trips. In 2016, I already have 13 on the calendar, possibly up to 3 more. This is not conducive to regularly scheduled things like a podcast.

To give you an idea of my current work load over the next 5 weeks, I have about 300 hours of work to get done. Doable, but I also have 3 trips during that time period, two of them being ones where I cannot get ANY other work done. I also have a journal paper due on January 31 based on New Horizons work.


So here’s what my plans are right now. I’m still going to try to put out two podcast episodes that are dated in a calendar month. So you’ll still get a December 16 and January 1 and January 16, etc. episode. But they may be backdated. A lot. The Dec 16 and Jan 1 will be modern Flat Earth stuff, in two parts.

For the blog, I’ve found myself posting a lot to the Facebook page for the podcast, just little snippets of things I’ve been listening to or news stories. I’m going to try to move that to this blog, which automatically posts to Facebook.

And I’m going to try to do it more often by not having such long blog posts that really turn into essays. These posts might be 100 words or less. But, it should be more frequent. I also will try to do just one per day (max) such that if I have more than one, I’ll schedule it to post later such that you get more regular content.

It also won’t have these kinds of section headers anymore … short posts don’t merit them.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s the plan right now for 2016. It’s not ideal, but I enjoy being employed, and I’m not going to give up a grant at this point because they are quite difficult to get (funding rates for 2014 proposals, which were awarded in 2015, by NASA, averaged 15%). I’m hoping my new hire will help things significantly, but we’ll see.

Thank you for understanding, and I appreciate all of you who comment, interact in other ways, and have kept following my outreach efforts despite their irregularity.


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