where did you come from, where did you go

It’s been a very long while since I posted anything — mostly because I’ve been either too anxious to bother, or too busy to be able. There hasn’t been much in between. Also, I find I do better when I have a specific theme — just writing about my day-to-day life, I find, isn’t really that interesting. And the writing that I used to do, processing my dirty laundry, I’ve since learned not to do online. I don’t recommend processing in front of everyone, in general — better to figure it out and then show everyone your process. Vulnerability has something to recommend it from time to time, but I feel it’s best applied sparingly.

Nevertheless, a few things have been happening lately that are, perhaps, worthy of note.

Last month (February 20) I got another paper accepted!  It took forever to converge, but I’m pretty proud of it. If you’re an astronomer specializing in supernovae, hopefully you’ve already read it.  Mark Phillips, an elder statesman of supernova science and apparently famous enough to have his own Wikipedia page, very kindly plugged my results in his invited talk at a workshop in Princeton I couldn’t attend (thanks Mark!).  I’m working with Mark and his team on a follow-up paper to this one, which will use five times as many supernovae and will hopefully be even more exciting.  More about all this later.

Last week (February 24) I got the comments back on my application for an ARC Future Fellowship, which would let me continue doing a project of my choosing for the next four years. It’s still soft money, but I’d be the PI. The comments were basically exactly what I expected: “great project, fits in with your host institution’s strategy and Australia’s national research priorities, should definitely be done, but we don’t think you can deliver because you have basically no first-author papers.” I could complain a lot about the lack of traction I’ve had in getting anything published throughout my career, due to sociology and the universe conspiring against me, but that would probably be viewed poorly. So I’m going to keep my rejoinder to something along the lines of “I’m working on that.” Which I am.

This weekend (March 1) I got a new visa — a 820 (Partner Temporary) Visa, to stay here in Australia as Emily’s resident snuggle-boy. It also allows me to work, to access Australia’s excellent single-payer health care system the same way Australians do, and to travel freely — though I still have to notify immigration when I’m going to be out of the country. The visa lasts nominally for two years, at which point they decide whether they want to give me the five-year 801 (Partner) permanent visa (which also lets me access unemployment benefits — but I’m not going to think too much about that). I hear that is basically a rubber stamp as long as Emily and I haven’t broken up — we’ve done the hard part. Long story, lots of paperwork, but it’s done now.

Finally, today (March 3), a crisp, sunny day in late summer, was the first day I got to ride my bike down Mt. Stromlo since my injury around this time last year — as luck would have it, riding my bike down Mt. Stromlo.  I went much more slowly this time.  I didn’t freak out — but I was pretty hypersensitive to the road surface, down to the location of every last bit of gravel.  It took me about two and a half hours round trip, as is typical for when I come back from a long hiatus.  I hope to shave that down to two hours flat by the end of March.  (I celebrated with an enormous bowl of chili mac; even with that, I burned twice as many calories as I consumed today.)

And, well, that’s about all I’ve got for now.  If you were hoping for more, you’re just gonna have to wait.

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About Richard

I'm an American scientist who is building a new life in Australia. This space will contain words about science and math, but also philosophy, policy, literature, my travels, occasional rants, all sorts of things I find strange and awesome. The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer at the time (currently University of Sydney), though personally, I think they should.
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