The modern equivalent of “you don’t write, you don’t call” is that my Mom complains she has to Google-stalk me to find out what I’ve been up to. So Mom, here it is, the month of February 2015.

I worked on revisions to the paper that came out of Dimuthu Hemachandra’s MSc thesis, on PAHs in M31. Although Dimuthu is still around our department, he is working on another project so some of the recalculating, etc was left with me. The paper is almost ready to go back to the remaining co-authors and I think should be re-submitted by the end of March.

Also, I fretted over the condition of another paper. This is another MSc thesis project for which the paper was written and submitted, and the referee’s report pointed out what might be a major flaw in the early stages of the analysis. We withdrew the paper from the journal as we weren’t able to get the re-analysis done by their deaadline. This MSc student is not really reachable any more, so I have to do the lion’s share of the work. I feel like I could get the thing done if I had a couple of weeks to work on it non-stop. But that is is never going to happen, so I need to just buckle down and start working on it part time.

My current grad students and current/former postdoc also got varying degrees of help and/or attention from me in February. Sahar is getting close to finishing a paper, as are Neven and Sophia; Robin is getting a good start on his PhD research (but needs a webpage) and Masoud is finishing his MSc report. We are working on starting up a new everybody-in-the-group project as well, which I probably need to do a better job of organizing. I’m also working with an engineering undergrad, Alex, continuing Andrea’s MITACS project from last summer. I enjoy working with all of these folks but feel like I’m at the limit of the group size that I can effectively supervise. The dwindling funds in my NSERC grant will ensure that the group size gets smaller in the future, anyway.

I wrote the first draft of my NSERC CREATE proposal. Actually, this isn’t the full proposal, it’s the Letter of Intent for same, which has to first go through a University down-select, and then through one at NSERC. So I might not even get a chance to write the full proposal. This proposal is for a multi-disciplinary training program, so to make all the necessary connections I have had a lot of meetings with people about it (at least 7 in February plus several more scheduled for March). I’ve been checking out as a way of scheduling these. I’ve also been spending a lot of time on LinkedIn attempting to make relevant connections; too early yet to report on how this went. I sent the draft out to potential Co-Is mid-month with a plea for comments by the end of February, and got some very useful comments. The deadline for the LOI is the end of March, so I expect to be spending most of the next couple of weeks on it.

Together with one of my Software Carpentry colleagues, J. Ory, I submitted a workshop proposal to the Western Conference on Science Education. We proposed to demo Software Carpentry’s teaching techniques and explain to the conference attendees why they should host a workshop at their own institutions. To put my money where my mouth is, I also started organizing a Software Carpentry Workshop at Western in May; still lots of work to do there.

Astropy is a community Python library for astronomy. I am proud to say that I made my very first contribution, even if it is kind of a silly one — I added the furlong to the list of supported units in the units package. Now you can convert your favorite astronomical speeds to furlongs per fortnight, should you desire to. This was a good way for me to try and understand the contribution workflow, without messing up anything important.

Also speaking of Python and astronomy, there was organizing work to be done for the Python in Astronomy workshop in April. The Lorenz Center does a lot of the logistics for these workshops but the committee has to do things like select participants (and figure out what to do when participants drop out), work out the schedule and order of talks, and figure out where the conference diner should be. I did my own travel organization as well and now I have plane and train tickets and hotel reservations; hooray.

In non-work events, I knit a sweater in about 10 days, partly because it was cold and I wanted another sweater, and partly just to see if I could do it by working on one project to the exclusion of everything else. (There is probably a lesson there for the stalled paper mentioned above). I tried to get into a more regular exercise routine, to make sure I’d be ready for the Pi Day 5k virtual run which I signed up for. When I started to write this, I was feeling like February had been kind of a slow month. In some ways it was; I didn’t work too many evening or weekends. But writing it all down makes me feel like I accomplished a fair bit. Now if I can just write a few papers and land a million-dollar-plus grant..