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September 25th, 2012

...I flew from Chicago to Tucson; saw my doctor for antibiotics to cure the China crud that I had been suffering with all through Chicon and my Chicago area talks; had a meeting at the Planetary Science Institute about their future use of our telescope; flew to Portland, Oregon, for a dinner with the dean of liberal arts at Portland State University, and an open-house fundraiser for the Cascadia Meteorite Lab run by my friends Alex and Melinda. They took me to the Oregon coast on Sunday, which was just magical. Monday the 17th I gave a talk to the Rose City Astronomers, and the next morning flew to Los Angeles for a talk to a group of potential donors for our telescope.

Wednesday morning I spent at the Italian consulate in LA trying to get a long-stay visa. I discovered that most of the paperwork I needed to bring was not listed on their web site ("you should have written us and we would have sent you this useful two page description of what you should have brought. Oh, except that it has the wrong address for the consulate on it, and it leaves off one important item...")

I actually guessed ahead of time and had most of what was needed, except for a certificate from my local diocese (or, better, the papal nuncio) certifying that I really was a member of a religious order being sent to Rome. The letter from Rome, sealed by the Vatican Secretary of State, was not sufficient (though also necessary). No one in my order seems to know how to obtains such a letter. You would think this was the first time they had ever sent someone to Rome... even though there are dozens of men who have been sent to Rome under a similar visa... including the guy in my provincial's office in charge of such things, who has such a letter himself but doesn't remember how he got it.

That afternoon, I flew back to Tucson and celebrated my 60th birthday with my community. Much chocolate was consumed.

Friday I drove up to Phoenix to speak to the East Valley Astronomy Club. The meeting room was supposed to be in the local library, but the door was locked and no one's key worked, so we held our meeting outdoors. After dark; 90 degree weather; no projector. They said it was better that way. 

Saturday I went to see Moonrise Kingdom at the local $2 moviehouse where features go to die; good Wes Anderson, but not his best. That evening was my friend Stu's 66th birthday (he always shows me up). His daughter provided a homemade German Chocolate Cake to die for (which kept me up all night burping. It was worth it.) Sunday was a talk at a scientist/friend's local Protestant church, followed by a diner lunch with an old summer school student, Rob, who's now a grad student in planetary sciences at the U of Az. Rob's wife works at the Pima Air and Space Museum -- I see a free entry in my future.

Last night was movie night with Larry and Nancy: Attack of the Crab Monsters, a 1957 Roger Corman special. What you'd expect!

Meanwhile, I have written: a referee's report for a paper submitted to the journal Icarus; a referee's report for a paper submitted to Nature; a revision of my book proposal Would You Baptize and Extraterrestrial? that my agent has been flogging for a year; a 250 reflection for a religious publication, "Give Us This Day", on the readings of July 9, 2013; a revised Case Statement for the Observatory Foundation; a discussion of Latin nomenclature rules for planetary surface features. Remaining to be written: referee reports for papers submitted to Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta, and another for a Polish meteoritics journal; a review for Meteoritics of book about astrobiology and philosophy (which I haven't read yet); 5000 words on the Curiosity Rover for a Jesuit publication in Rome read by Cardinals and the like; a letter of recommendation; and a revision of an encyclopedia chapter on asteroids. 

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