Sprint to the Finish

Oops. Been a somewhat busy few days but haven’t been updating this. Let’s see … Monday was more autoflagging work interspersed with some more pie-in-the-sky OmegaPlot stuff. Got a fun little algorithm to quickly search for certain kinds of RFI going in the former, and revamped the data model to handle some ugly situations that sadly need to be handled in the latter.

Tuesday was the day before the AAS abstract deadline and I finally talked with Geoff again and we decided that I’d be going for sure. So a bit of scrambling to figure out what, exactly, I would make a poster about, and to write up its abstract. It will be about the broadband spectra stuff, and we have a fairly clear idea of what I’d like to accomplish. I have almost exactly one month to finish things. I think it’s possible accomplish what I want in that timespan, and I’m hopeful that there won’t even be a super time crunch involved if I stay focused and chip away at things when I’m home for the holidays.

Tuesday was also the last class for optical lab. Nothing too exciting happened in particular, but it was fun to hang out with the students one last time. A few reasonable complaints about some aspects of the course but overall a lot of the kids seemed to have had a really good time. I’m actually looking forward a lot to receiving my GSI evaluations for that class. I think I did a pretty good job, and while I fantasize about not getting any serious complaints, I’d like to think that I’ll take to heart any criticisms that I do get. I felt like I was much more in my element teaching this class than Astro 10, so I’m curious to see how the students felt. Again, honestly, I felt like I did a very, very good job, but I hope I’m big enough to not be disappointed if the students weren’t quite that enthusiastic.

Wednesday was preparing to obtain the data for my AAS poster. Planning out the observations, writing an observing script, making sure that everything was ready to go. I think, after my experience with the previous data, I have the observing plan down pretty well by now. And with luck, just taking new data will be helpful since the quality of the system is generally trending positively these days.

Today was the last lecture for Star Formation, some procrastination (not a good sign in light of my new AAS-related obligations…), the last pre-colloquium tea setup (not sorry for that to end), the last colloquium of the semester, a post-colloquium department meeting kind of broadly dealing with faculty-student relations, and finally a rehearsal for the holiday play tomorrow.

Star Formation was a very good class overall, I thought. I feel like it was well-taught and that I learned a lot. Certainly not worrying about the final at all, though the fact that it’s open- everything doesn’t hurt.

And finally right now I’m attempting to take my AAS observations. Unfortunately, a lot of things are going wrong tonight: got started late due to play rehearsal; five of the antennas are down with a mysterious drive problem; it’s rainy up there; there were a few bugs in my revised observing script; and I had problems getting the antennas to lock on to one of my sources. Phew! The data from this night are going to more or less be a bust. At least I was able to get in touch with the staff astronomer on site and it turns out that he had problems with the down antennas too and wasn’t able to fix them. I was going to need to take more data anyway, but it’s kind of annoying that this night was so problematic. I should be able to schedule another night of observations extremely soon though and with luck all of these issues will have gone away the next time around.

Now that I’m about to have data in hand, I need to sit down and work out the best way to flag it all. The automatic flagging stuff won’t be directly useful here — it would be more effort to get that working beautifully than to just do it all manually. But that work has given me a good set of tools to slice through the data I acquire, and I think that with a little bit of thinking I can work out a few key tools to help me quickly identify what needs to be flagged and to apply those flags. It won’t be entirely automatic, but it’ll be way faster than what I was doing before, and hopefully I can do it all on the Hat Creek computers so I can improve the data before averaging it and downloading it to Berkeley.

If that all is succesful, then I can actually sit down and figure out the best way to analyze the data …