Skip to main content

We're moving East: FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about my move to the East Coast:

Q: When are you moving?

A: July 3

Q: So soon!

A: That's not a question :) But yeah, we want to get settled in in Cambridge before the school year.

Q: Have you found a place to live?

A: Yup, we very quickly found an ideal house in Cambridgeport, near Central Square and about 2 miles from the CfA.

Q: Whoa, that was fast!

A: Yeah, we got extremely lucky. There's very little inventory in Cambridge, especially in our price range. Erin and I laid out the characteristics that we needed, and a separate list of wants in a Google Doc, so we knew what we were looking for. On our second day of searching during our visit to the Boston area this Spring, Erin found a place that met all but 1-2 of our needs/wants. She called me with the news, I rushed over to take a look, and we decided to make an offer. It was accepted and we closed last week.

Q: Where will the boys go to school?

A: Cambridge does not have neighborhood schools. Kinda like Berkeley, you list where you'd like your kids to go, and it's up to a lottery thereafter. This ensures a good mix of socio-economic backgrounds at each location and prevents the affluent from separating out good schools for their kids, leaving the rest for the less advantaged. This fits well with our sensibilities. The downside is that we're not guaranteed to have the boys attend the dual-language immersion school that is a block away from our new house. Such is life...

Q: What do the boys think about the move?

A: They're mostly excited, and they really enjoyed their visit to Cambridge last Spring. But you have to keep in mind that they've never done something this momentous and life-changing in their memory-recording lives. Owen moved from Hawaii when he was 4, but doesn't really remember much about it. It'll be interesting to see how they react when the reality starts setting in. For example, we sold the fish tank and fish, and saying goodbye to the fish was really emotional for them.

Q: Are you flying, driving?

A: We're going to drive along I-80. Our road trip is all planned out with many stops, and only one stretch of driving longer than 8 hours. We'll be staying with friends and family along the way. The road trip will last about a month. We're looking forward to seeing the country.

Q: A month-long road trip with two young kids? Are you crazy?

A: We've done it before when the kids were even younger. The boys travel like champs and we'll spend more time off of the road than on it.

Q: Are you teaching in the Fall?

A: Nope. My first teaching assignment at Harvard will be the Ay16, Intro to Astro course for prospective astro and physics majors. It's very similar to the Ay20 course I've taught at Caltech, but it has the distinct advantage of being a 16-week semester course, rather than a 10-week quarter. I'll get to cover much more material and do more involved labs. I also hope to teach AstroStats sometime down the line.

Q: Will your group go with you?

A: Actually, only a few people in the current ExoLab will be joining me. One student will come to Harvard with me in the Fall of 2014, and one postdoc will join me. I'll also remotely advise one other student. So I'll need to rebuild the ExoLab. Fortunately, recruitment won't be difficult.

Q: What about Project Minerva?

A: The test facility will remain at Caltech for a year while my team "teaches" the telescopes to operate robotically. After that, we will move the telescopes to a permanent site, TBD. We're looking at Mt. Hopkins in AZ (our default since it's owned by SAO), Mt. Wilson, McDonald Observatory in TX, and San Pedro Martir in Baja Mexico. We'll make our final site decision this Fall.

Q: What will Erin do in Cambridge?

A: Live the good life! But seriously, with both of the boys in school, she has many options available to her including the ability to go back to school, work part time, or both. While the details are TBD, what is certain is that she'll do extraordinarily well at whatever se takes on. That's how she rolls.

Q: Are you available to give a talk at my institution?

A: Sorry, but no. I have placed a one-year moratorium on extended travel in order to get my family and group settled in. A year from now I plan to hit the talk circuit again with a brand new set of presentations. Until then, please invite Phil Muirhead, Justin Crepp, Leslie Rogers, Tim Morton and Jon Swift to give talks. They are all outstanding speakers and they're doing all of the great work that makes me look good these days!


Popular posts from this blog

On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I started by downloading a stock photo of J.J. from, which I then loaded into OpenOffice Draw:

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

Finding Blissful Clarity by Tuning Out

It's been a minute since I've posted here. My last post was back in April, so it has actually been something like 193,000 minutes, but I like how the kids say "it's been a minute," so I'll stick with that.
As I've said before, I use this space to work out the truths in my life. Writing is a valuable way of taking the non-linear jumble of thoughts in my head and linearizing them by putting them down on the page. In short, writing helps me figure things out. However, logical thinking is not the only way of knowing the world. Another way is to recognize, listen to, and trust one's emotions. Yes, emotions are important for figuring things out.
Back in April, when I last posted here, my emotions were largely characterized by fear, sadness, anger, frustration, confusion and despair. I say largely, because this is what I was feeling on large scales; the world outside of my immediate influence. On smaller scales, where my wife, children and friends reside, I…

The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…