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April 28th, 2011

Day in the Life

I have realized for some time that the posts I most enjoy reading from my friends are the ones with the simplest stories, day-to-day life... the kind of life I haven't lived for more than twenty years. I especially like stories of raising small kids, something I obviously will never experience first-hand. These read, to me, like marvelous fantasy tales. (Imagine, a universe where there are three-year-olds!)

With that in mind it suddenly dawned on me that maybe some of my friends here might be amused by the day to day of a Jesuit astronomer. So occasionally I'll post stuff like this...

At five am, the heat in my room turns on automatically. No way to adjust this; it's controlled downstairs by a mysterious computer under the control of the Minister who has listened most attentively to my comments about the heat, many times, without anything happening. So I get up, shut the heat off manually, and then check my email before going back to bed. It's only 11 pm in the east coast, 8 pm in Tucson and California, so I've been collecting mail all night. One note of interest is from the producer of the TV show I rather rudely blew off recently. He responded with a short, polite, and apologetic note. He sounds like a good guy. I pray that he may find honest work.

Seven thirty... in the kitchen for an espresso to get me going, I run into Gabriele and Robert. We discuss the new red wine we've gotten from the sacristan at the parish church in Castel Gandolfo. They approve. I rather liked the old wine we used to get, but I'm the only one in the community who liked it.

For breakfast, I open up a new "colombo", a traditional Easter cake in the shape of a dove. Every employee of the Vatican gets one of these for Easter, which means that fifteen were delivered to the Specola... including eight for the guys in American who'll never see them. I love these, now; by the end of May I will be sick of them, I am sure.

Waiting for me in my office is a large envelope from Germany with preprints and a book(all unsolicited) from a very... um... creative thinker. I weep to think of how much work he put into this effort. The fact that the book is in German adds to the feeling of unreality associated with this gift. 

On the docket for today: I am in the middle of the annual inventory of the meteorites. By annual, I mean that I intended to start this particular inventory in January. Of 2010. I have sent out emails to various folks to whom I have lent meteorites, asking if they can confirm they still have them. No one has yet replied.

The annual Vatican Observatory calendar for 2012 is being produced. I am asked for 400 words for the back cover. I feel the freedom that only comes from an assignment to write untethered folderol with the confidence that no one will ever actually read it.

I have two papers for which I am a co-author awaiting my comments. Both are already in second-draft state; my comments for one are nearly done (I was working through it until about 10 last night). They are really good work; I choose my co-authors well!

We have a book proposal back from my agent with suggestions for further work. I'd like to get at that today.

At six pm tonight (nine am California time) there's a telecom with the prize committee of an astronomical association that I belong to. We're trying to choose between two really deserving candidates for our "best young scientist" award. I sure am glad I am not competing against either of them for a job; wow...

Coffee at 10 am. Pranzo (our main meal) at 1:30, followed by a nap. Prayer in the community (the Landlord is in residence this week, so the gardens are off limits for casual walks.) Community Mass at 7:30 this evening, followed by cena (leftovers). I expect to get to bed around midnight.

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