Friday, July 11, 2008

In Which I Disucss What I Have Been Doing Instead Of Blogging

The astute reader has pointed out that I have not exactly been "updating" this blog lately, which is to say, I haven't posted anything in basically two months or more.

Thing is, I haven't really had much to say. I spent a week at the beach (oh, such a perfect beach it was) in June with my family and the significant other. There was sand and ocean and sky and rum and sleep and shrimp boil and sunshine everything was good. I've been reading a lot. In the last two months or so, I've re-read the entire Kushiel series (except for the middle part of Kushiel's Scion since that one isn't really all that good anyhow) in preparation for Kushiel's Mercy, which I got from the library and quickly devoured. This week I read Angelina Jolie's Notes From My Travels, which is essentially a publication of the journal she kept when beginning her work with refugees and the United Nations. (I'm particularly interested in Cambodia, and so her impressions of regions she traveled through some 4 years before me were particularly interesting, though the timing of her trip to Pakistan to see and meet Afghan refugees there in August 2001 is perhaps the trip with the most interesting timing.) I'm about halfway through Obama's Audacity of Hope; having read Al Gore's The Assault on Reason in February (which was actually the inspiration for this post, though I did at the time fully intend for a book review to be forthcoming...), I have decided to try to read more, you know, non-fiction. So far the Audacity of Hope is making me realize why so many people seem to be "in love" with Obama—he uses the word "damask" in the second paragraph of chapter 1 ... how can you not love that?! So far the book seems straightforward and honest, but then, I'm pissed off about his FISA vote and the lame-ass excuses he gave over it. I'll still be voting for him, of course—in the last eight years, McCain has gone from interesting to downright frightening—but it is good to stay informed and realistic. I also started reading Daily Kos—a totally unbiased source of information, I know, but what is? and I like the snark—which has managed to make my morning coffee-and-blogs time erm slightly longer. I also finally finished Freakonomics and The Know-It-All in May ... and I've become totally addictd to LibraryThing and its vast cataloguing and statistics-generating power. While visiting my parents, I also helped them scan in a few hundred of their books; why are such things so immensely interesting?!

Oh, yeah, and I guess I've kind of been working. The first few weeks after the beach were rough (there was a dearth of ocean, rum, and soft breezes in my office, and I'd gotten used to the 10 or more hours of sleep a night), but I had a paper accepted for publication around the end of June. I had gotten around a dozen emails about it after it first showed up on astro-ph—many of which were not just asking me to cite some obscure paper of theirs! So I think this is a case where the paper—and the interpretations—did substantially improve between revisions. So now I'm working on the "sequel" paper: paper #1 was on low-mass high-metallicity outliers from the mass–metallicity relation, so paper #2 is going to be on the high-mass low-metallicity outliers. I convinced myself today that the metallicities I'm measuring for this new sample aren't bogus, so now it's time to start compiling all of the data and building an explanation for why these galaxies are the way they are. The current plan is to present the main results at a conference in August so that some of the helpful back-and-forth that happened after the last paper showed up on astro-ph can perhaps happen before the paper is submitted this time.

I've been working on several other things as well, but getting into all of that would mean *gasp* explaining in part what my so-called "thesis" is about, and we wouldn't want to rush back into this relationship too quickly, now would we? Besides, I have a book to go read.