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September 14th, 2014

Busy, busy, busy

I arrived in Tucson on August 20, nearly a month ago, and hit the ground running. Since then I have gotten a crash course on my new duties and then taken over as the President of the Vatican Observatory Foundation (I'll let you keep your first million, but I am after your second million...).

In a practical sense, this meant a lot of moving. I moved into a new office. (I still have lots of stuff back in the lab in Rome, as I will be going back there on occasion.) The first task was buying a new computer, always fun! I spent a day decorating the office, hanging the sorts of photos -- mostly images from our telescope -- to decorate it the way that might impress visiting donors, should any actually visit. Now I am just trying to remember where I put everything.

I moved into a new room in the community. It's much bigger and nicer than where I had been living; something else new to get used to. There was even a big TV in the room -- I have never had a TV, not even back in the days before I was a Jesuit, and it's a little odd. I don't care for anything that is on broadcast TV, but I did buy an Apple TV device and a subscription to Netflix. Mostly in the evenings I have been watching odd foreign films. I also went out to buy a cover for the duvet; and discovered that they are more expensive than the Apple TV!

Biggest expense of all... we traded in two cars that were registered to the Foundation, to buy one new car for me. First car I have "owned" (it's not mine, it's the Foundation's, but I am responsible for it) in about thirty years. Cars are different than they used to be; they're more like computers on wheels. Very odd. I bought a Detroit product; Chrysler fed me all during my childhood growing up in Detroit and put me through college, and I am just used to the way their products feel.

Meanwhile, I have a book coming out next month, so there's lots of prep work for speaking and tours associated with that (including getting a contract for the audio version signed by my coauthor in Rome, mailed here for me to sign, and then sent on to our agent in New York.) Many other small writing tasks. And, oh yeah, science. I am supposed to be a scientist.

The biggest event in fact is that while all this was going on, I finished a paper, passed it by my coauthors (who are in Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Russia, Japan, and Greece), and submitted it to Icarus. It is going to be very, very controversial; we are suggesting that the Dawn team have seriously misinterpreted their own results about Vesta. They aren't going to be happy. In fact, they aren't happy; they've already attacked our results in their public talks. Great fun! Maybe even some truth will emerge at the end of the day.

So, this week, I have fled Tucson to go to Washington DC. I'll speak about my Vesta results at an physics colloquium at Catholic University on Wednesday. Then on Friday it's something completely different... extraterrestrials at the Library of Congress.

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