Woohoo...Astrophysicist Scores!

I know, I know, I promised you that Eric and I would start doing joint posts months ago, and we haven't done a single one. Sorry folks. Besides the fact that it has been a crazy-busy period in our lives, there's another reason. We didn't fully grasp the reality of this blogging together project. You see, it hadn't fully registered on us that in order to do it, we would have to find time when both of us were a. wholly free of all children b. awake and c. not doing something else.

These circumstances aren't really all that common in our lives, I fear. The way we manage on comparatively little money is that we have no paid childcare. Babysitting is something we get once or twice a month. The herd o'boys does go to bed by 7:30 or 8 most nights, which is awesome, but there's usually a certain amount of frantic reduction of chaos that has to be done after they go to bed, and then by 9pm, well, if we are awake we encounter the all important question "hey, it is 9pm and we're still conscious...should we get naked or write a blog post." I hate to tell you, but the blog loses nearly every time.

The good news is that the Astrophysicist is planning on writing - he's just waiting until the end of the semester, when the "possible moments in which we could do this" start expanding somewhat. But the really good news is this - the astrophysicist still has a job. In fact, he's got one for not one, but two years. And can I just say "hallelujah!"

You see the Astrophysicist's job does not pay much (he's non-tenured faculty), but it does provide health care benefits that make our life possible, and since my job doesn't pay much either, it provides a moderate quantity of very useful green things that we exchange for stuff like chicken feed and beer. Most of our other activities mean that we live pretty comfortably on a fairly small income (we would qualify for food stamps in the New England states). But while we once did fairly well as a family of four on 17k a year, I have no particular longing to go back there.

But even more important than the money is that the Astrophysicist loves his job. I don't mean he likes it, I mean he adores it. I've never met any faculty member who thought that teaching a thousand plus students in a gen ed science class would be fun - but my husband loves doing it, and his students love him. You can tell this by the fact that he runs completely optional telescope sessions that are packed with undergrads who don't have to be there. He's also deeply excited about really developing the field of environmental physics so that it means something. And he loves that his job allows him to focus on teaching, which is his great love. And best of all he loves that where he works brings him into contact with a large body of first generation and low income college students, many of whom never liked or understood science until they took one of his classes. The size of the previously under-attended environmental physics class he took over has doubled since he adopted it.

The New York State economy and budget are not happy things. There have been ominous emails going around about not getting to happy or comfortable because budget cuts are coming. While the Astrophysicist's department and superiors want to keep him, we worried that a blanket cut in non-tenured faculty would be coming. But we got the news yesterday - he's in, and for two years. This is more job security than the vast majority of Americans get, and you cannot know how grateful I am. I know we are lucky, rather than deserving, and I wish that good fortunate could be spread more widely as well.

Had he lost his job, I would have had to make up most of the income lost - and I was seriously considering writing bodice rippers. The bad news is that the literary category of peak oil light porn will remain under-developed. The good news is that we can keep on keeping on, which is making us happy indeed.

And I promise, astrophys posts are coming! Just let him get through the term!


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CONGRATULATIONS!!! This is WONDERFUL news!! :) Hallelujah indeed! :)

By (: Sunshine :) (not verified) on 09 Apr 2010 #permalink

Congratulations from here as well! Such a stressful thing, the uncertainty and waiting for the news to come.

But come on Sharon, you could still write bodice-rippers.

Ditto to the above -- I do not see how adequate employment must delay peak oil light porn. Remember: if you wait too long, ALL bodice-rippers will be peak oil light porn except for the escapist historical fiction ones (oh right, the majority of the genre is already escapist historical fiction, so I guess the niche will wait BUT THAT DOESN'T MEAN WE SHOULD HAVE TO!) I expect to be able to download your first installment for the e-book reader on my iPhone before there is no electricity left to charge it. I'll even get you started:

Miriam tugged her homespun dress up higher on her ample bosom and gazed wistfully across the hardscrabble field that had once been industrially tilled, fertilized and monocropped but was now dry and dusty outside the few carefully composted acres of garden she had managed to slowly revive over the years.

By Mike in Madison (not verified) on 09 Apr 2010 #permalink

Congratulations! Clearly a load off your minds. It is, of course, possible to be both lucky and deserving, just as it's possible to be unlucky and deserving (as well as other permutations...).

By Alison S. (not verified) on 09 Apr 2010 #permalink

Hurray! That's fantastic news! Congratulations.

My crew have a question for the astrophysicist. "How can parts of the sun rotate in different directions (and/or at different speeds)?

I goggled at this, then immediately confessed that this is beyond the scope of my expertise. Help?

LOL Mike in Madison

That was so funny you now have a new calling! I'm still laughing.

Oh come on Sharon! I want bodice rippers!! Post EOTWAWKI, way more entertaining than scottish pirates.
Hmm... although, if you're not interested in writing them, maybe I'll try my hand at it. :-D

Unintended consequences of things mentioned in passing in a blog: Well, Mike started it!

If Dan hadn't died....well, a lot of things would be different. Shaking off her melancholy, she went to the mud ovens to take out the rolls and bread she routinely baked every day for the community. Just as she was putting in the last pans of meat,potatoes and vegetables to slow cook for the evening meal, she heard the horse and cart of the neighbor boy coming to pump water from the stream to her holding tank, bring her wood for the ovens and help set up the dining tables. Taking him a sweet roll fresh with butter, honey and nuts would be a good way to thank him for his work. Slipping down the bank, she started to call out and came to a dead stop. Naked shoulders and back with a light sheen of sweat, muscles rippling with each stroke of the pump riveted her gaze. Instantly she was...

Happy to hear of your good fortune.


By Sue in pacNW (not verified) on 09 Apr 2010 #permalink

Pre-peak: pool boys
Post-peak: pump boys

The future just got a whole lot brighter! [laugh]

I am very glad that one who loves his job is able to continue doing so. Er, make that two! Although I also vote you not let this keep you from writing "fiction".

Actually, this brings a slight aside: I know you've written before about possible future scenarios. Could you re-post some of them? And/or write (heck, solicit?) some other alternatives? I suspect I'm not the only one who'd like some wonderful mental pictures to work towards, and I'm always in awe of (and grateful for!) your ability to paint pictures with words.

Bodice rippers? Took all of about 10 seconds to figure out that one! LOL what a hoot. Sue in
pacNW. if I read the stuff I think you might have a calling.

YAY!!!!!!! That is VERY happy news:)!

Congrats on the good news! A job, and even a beloved job, and what could be finer (besides scantily clad farm men)?

By DerelictHat (not verified) on 09 Apr 2010 #permalink

Dyslexia can be so amusing...I got confused by this:

peak oil light porn

and reordered it in my mind to be "peak light sweet crude oil porn".

Now I am trying to figure out what that would be...quarterly reports from Exxon/Mobil?

By Edward Bryant (not verified) on 09 Apr 2010 #permalink

Best. Comment. Thread. Ever.

I love my readers!


Mike in Madison, you need to enter that sentence in the Bulwer-Lytton Contest for worst possible opening sentence to a hypothetical novel ... and that's a compliment. If you don't believe me read It Was A Dark and Stormy Night and its sequels as compiled by Scott Rice. These days it may be on the Internet somewhere, but I'm a pre-Internet sort of gal.

Sharon, I'm really glad to hear Eric's employed for the next two years for sure, and may it continue after that for as long as you both shall need it! And BTW, I support the peak oil bodice ripper concept. About 20 or so years ago I contemplated writing feminist bodice rippers. I ended up deciding against it - my writing style isn't up to it. But if you write a bodice ripper, I'll read it.

New genre. "As she felt her clothing ripped asunder, she realized how fortunate it was that they were going to a yard sale in a few days. Still, new clothing would cut into the beer budget. She made a fast mental note: 'We need to talk about this... Later'"

Now you have me thinking about writing bodice rippers.

Glad to hear about the job renewal.

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Mike and Sue win the internets! I simply must read more of this book. I'm hoping there's a chapter where Miriam must cheer up Pump Boy after the town elders ridicule his plans to build a biomass digester using ground ivy and Japanese knotweed...

I was hanging out laundry after reading that, giggling incessantly. As if my neighbors didn't have enough reasons to believe I am insane, they now observed me cackling while pinning up underpants and brassieres. Silver lining: the neighborhood kids stay out of my yard.

The long awaited post peak oil collaborative novel, written by readers of noted author Sharon Astyk's blog Casaubon's Book, will be in bookstores on the 15th of this month. A second volume is planned as the world goes to hell in a handbasket, with more timely tips about our changing lifestyles. Excerpts show chapters as varied as using bizarre behaviors to keep kids out of your yard, using torn clothing for quilts and detailed delightful uses for the community solar shower give readers a preview of the forthcoming book. Since the electrical grid is iffy at best, copies of the new book may have to be delivered by farm boys.

"well, if we are awake we encounter the all important question 'hey, it is 9pm and we're still conscious...should we get naked or write a blog post.' I hate to tell you, but the blog loses nearly every time." ... But I'm thinking perhaps that such a scenario could inspire a joint "peak oil light porn bodice ripper" blog post!

Seriously, though, congratulations to Eric. That's a BIG deal. Hooray!


Congratulations Eric & Sharon, that's wonderful news :)