Wednesday, February 02, 2011


So, we ended up with over 3 inches of snow, with possibly more on the way. This may be about the biggest snowstorm I've ever seen here -- yes, you folks in the Northeast may laugh with bitter derision now -- and for once, unthinkably, it probably won't all have melted by the end of the day. It's still cold, and it's going to get colder. They're calling for record low temperatures tonight.

Naturally, everything here is shut down. The organization I work for is on Emergency Status, meaning people don't have to come in, or get extra pay if they do. That doesn't necessarily always mean that I don't need to come in, as astronomy is very much a "the show must go on" kind of endeavor, and someone's got to point the telescopes. But with the weather this bad across this much of the country, it's difficult to do much observing, so even we are pretty much shut down. The boss gave me the option of coming in if I want to, but there's not going to be anything to do.

Unfortunately, though, I don't get the emergency shutdown time -- or not much of it -- because that only applies during normal working hours. Because that's all anyone works, right? Or people who don't don't count, or something. But any hours after 5:30 that I'm not there, I either have to make up somehow, or take out of my own vacation time. Which is massively, massively dickish of them, especially as I would have zero problem getting in right now, but walking home at midnight in record-breaking low temperatures sounds like a really stupid idea. I might be willing to try driving on the snow-covered road, maybe even coming home in the dark, except that they close off the direct route from my work to my house at night for "security reasons," and you have to circumnavigate the entire campus if you're driving. Which involves either going up a very steep hill, or threading your way through narrow, winding driveways between parking lots. The last time I tried that in icy conditions, I ran over a curb, bent the crap out of my rim, and had the tire literally fall off my car two days later. No thank you. Jerks. I'm just glad I still have plenty of vacation time.

And now, of course, I'm worried about whether I'm going to be able to get Mickey in for his operation in the morning. If it's still this bad, the vet might not even be open. Stupid snow.


  1. astronomy is very much a "the show must go on" kind of endeavor

    As Bill Murray says in Groundhog Day -- which I watched this morning -- "is it snowing in space?" :)

  2. It seldom snows in space. :)

  3. I wont say it was 85 here today. Am I glad I dont live in the NE anymore.

  4. Since you didn't walk to work, I suppose it's out of the question that you went out to the VLA and snapped a pretty picture of the dishes covered in snow.

    How are radio astronomy dishes impacted by snow cover, anyway? Has anyone in Socorro ever had the opportunity to observe this before?

  5. Yeah, I don't think anybody was going out to the VLA site yesterday.

    And snow cover can definitely be a problem. Snow can interfere with short wavelength radio waves, and if there's enough of it on the dish, it can weigh it down and strain the motors. This may not often be an issue at the VLA, but it's a regular concern with some of our dishes in other parts of the US.