Sunday, February 19, 2017

A Little Life Update, 2017 Edition

It's coming up on a year now since I was let go at the EAO in March 2016 due to budget shortfalls, and some of you may have been wondering what I've been up to and where I'm going (I've been wondering that for quite a few months myself!). So, a quick recap: in January, I simultaneously applied for an operator job with the Yuan-Tseh Lee Array (YTLA) on Mauna Loa, and put in a Expression of Interest for the graduate program at the College of Astrophysics and Supercomputing at the University of Swinburne in Melbourne, to potentially start sometime in the summer or early fall (or, well, winter or early spring in Australia!).

Last week I had an interview for the job, and this week I got to go on a tour of the YTLA facility at ~12,000 feet on Mauna Loa. I brought my camera along so I've got some pictures to share (in a future post). This week I also got word that my Expression of Interest was shortlisted to be eligible for a scholarship, so I'm currently in the process of talking with potential supervisors at the University of Swinburne.

Now, you might be wondering how these various combinations of “get job: yes/no” and “get accepted to grad school: yes/no” work out, and if you've been paying attention you might also remember that I'm currently working part-time as secretary at Kaumana Drive Baptist Church since August. So, going through them one by one:
  • Job: X
    Grad School: X
    Should neither of these pan out, I will…I dunno. Probably cry, then set about applying to more grad schools and watching for other open jobs. Note that I'm likely to find out about the job this week, while grad school will take another month or two to be sure one way or another. I'm trying not to think too hard about this one.
  • Job:
    Grad School: X
    Should I get the job, but not end up accepted for grad school, well…hey! I've got a job sufficient to live off of again! I'll probably also see about applying to more grad schools, just pushed back a semester, as I've decided that's what I want to do now. What happens with my secretary job is up in the air at the moment; after talking with Pastor Mark he's perfectly happy for me to continue working for the church as long as I'm happy with it and can balance both, so I'd be playing it by ear for a while until I can see what things will be like.
  • Job: X
    Grad School:
    This is…tricky. I definitely want and intend to go to grad school, but I'm gonna be a little short on funds for an inter-continental move. I'll probably broaden the net a bit and look around for other jobs available between now and when I'd be leaving. Another one I'm trying not to think too hard about.
  • Job:
    Grad School:
    The theoretical best outcome, and at the same time probably the most stressful to deal with in the short term. To be clear, if I get both, grad school takes precedence, and I said as much in my interview. That means working with the YTLA for a few months, then quitting to go to grad school. This would be great because I'd get a nice bit of extra income, but it also means a job with hours often significantly outside the normal work-week, which will doubtless be at rather stressful when coördinating grad school applications (not to mention the physiological stress of working at altitude), especially in the context of planning my first out-of-country move on my own.
Which of these is most likely? Well…if pressed, I would probably say that it's one of the latter two, but I couldn't say which. I think the grad school application process is going well, and as long as I can find a supervisor willing to take me—and I've had several faculty writing to me already, and am pretty flexible myself—then I think it's very likely. The operator position I can't guess at; obviously I'm still in the running seeing as how I was invited for the tour, but I don't know how much the fact that I'm planning to only be there for a few months if grad school goes through is going to color things. I really couldn't say at this point. I'll probably find out in the next couple of days, though, so we'll see!

And that's basically it. I spent most of last year after being laid off basically coasting in a mixture of shock, self-pity, low self-esteem, and lack of motivation, but at this point, no matter what happens, there's going to be a sea change in my not-too-distant future. And while I never enjoy big changes, once they're inevitable I'm prepared to deal with them like I always do: with perseverance and determination. A hui hou!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A Friend’s Art

One of my best friends growing up, Joseph Bedford, has always had a gift for art that I have long envied, and has recently started selling some of his artwork as a way to help support himself and his family. He's looking for some more exposure, so I figured the least I could do was to plug him on my blog. I couldn't figure out a good way to preview his artwork from his Society 6 page directly, so I'm experimenting with using an HTML iframe to display it here. I've never tried using an iframe before, so I hope this works.


Society 6 makes it easy for artists to sell their artwork as any number of things, from framed pictures to phone cases to mugs to bath mats, and if you're interested you can check out Joe's page directly here. There's not a lot there yet but he only took up painting like this in December, and knowing him there will doubtless be a lot more to come. Whether you find something that tickles your fancy or not, I hope you at least enjoy his artwork. I got to see some of the originals when I was back home for Christmas, and they're quite impressive at full size! A hui hou!