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.


June 12, 2011

I Welcome My Argument from Authority and Location in My Ivory Tower

Hello all. I know I haven’t posted in awhile – I think twice in the last five months or so. As stated back in January, I was working on graduating. As the title for this very short post suggests, I did. I’m now in that ~5% of people in the world that has a Ph.D. Actually, a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. And we all know what those stand for (since this is a PG-rated blog, I won’t go into that, but you can look it up).

And so, I am now able to use the argument from authority, “I have a Ph.D. I’m right, you’re wrong.” And I can be content living in my Ivory Tower of academia, isolated in my own field without any consideration for others, thinking deep thoughts and adding to the elitist knowledge that the Illuminati and Bilderberg Group use to run the world behind the scenes.

Or — wait. Maybe not. I have two half-time postdocs, one continuing my previous work, one being project and science lead of the citizen science project Moon Zoo, and yet other than a small salary increase, nothing has changed. I still work most of the time from my apartment and I still drive the same budget car. I’m still studying craters, though I’ve expanded from Mars and am obviously also now looking at the Moon. I still have to tie my findings into the bigger picture since nothing in science exists in isolation, and I’m still just as fallible as I was before. Or maybe that’s just what I want you to think.

Anyway, now that I’m done with my degree and starting to figure out how to get my motivation back in gear, you can start to expect more regular blog posts. I’m still working on my 2012 Astronomy eBook/PDF doc, and — shhh! don’t tell anyone! — I’m tossing around the idea of a podcast based upon this blog (if the Dumbass can do it, so can I). As far as I can tell, other than Phil Plait’s defunct but still-available-on-iTunes podcast, no one actually has a “bad astronomy” podcast out there (if I’m wrong – which I can’t be because I have a Ph.D. now – please post a link to it in the comments). The format would be short and sweet, I’m thinking of bi-monthly and a 15-20 minute format.

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