It was a very busy month last week
Some weeks just fly past you. Friday comes and you wonder, "What happened to Wednesday and Thursday?" This was another one of those weeks.
I arrived in Cambridge late Sunday night and slogged into headquarters Monday morning in what can only be described as a miserable, relentless, pouring rain. The precipitation pounding on the roof of HQ provided the backdrop to numerous meetings, brainstorming sessions, projects and activities.
Rebecca has been working about 30 hours a day getting the fall meeting plans done, all the announcements out and associated web pages produced. And in her spare time she is making all the arrangements and coordinating the Citizen Sky Workshop next week in San Francisco while keeping on top of the mountain of documentation and paperwork for the Citizen Sky NSF grant.
Ginny has literally blown up one of the office printers getting all the fall meeting notices and election ballots printed, stuffed, labeled and mailed. As if 2000 or so of those weren't enough, she has also been sending out the 1000 or so dues reminder notices this week.
Matt and Elizabeth teamed up to send out two special notices this week. The first about the current outburst of CI Cygni, and then the announcement Friday of two new eruptive variables in Cygnus.
Matt also added all the new APASS photometry to SeqPlot that Arne has been threatening to finish processing for a couple weeks now. This is about 4 million stars around the celestial equator and half the RA zones from declination +40 degrees to the pole. The sequence team has put this first release to good use by improving problematic sequences in the areas covered by the survey to date.
In addition to adding Arne's data release to Seqplot, Matt has been working on the databases and algorithms that will serve APASS directly to the public. He also spent a couple of hours at Harvard yesterday making arrangements for the Spring 2011 AAVSO-AAS meeting.
Mike Saladyga and Tom Williams have been working non-stop round the clock to finish the Centennial History of the AAVSO book. Tom has a desk set up in the archives, surrounded by all the pictures, papers and documents they have used to piece together the story of the first one hundred years of the AAVSO. I can't wait to get my autographed first edition copy next year.
Arne, Matt, Aaron and I had a good meeting on Monday to lay the groundwork for the First Survey of Professional and Amateur Collaborations in Astronomy. Similar in principle to the Decadal Survey, we hope to be able to find funding for this project to make it a reality.
Aaron and I began putting together an Observer Certification Program. This is a interesting and exciting new initiative you'll be hearing about in the next year. We spent some time brainstorming about the technical details and capabilities of holding Remote Meetings, and how this cold be used to bring more of the membership into our annual meetings and workshops, as well as provide the communications for the Pro/Am Survey and even the potential for saving the organization money and increasing productivity by having remote council meetings.
Aaron conducted one phone interview and two in-person interviews for the new web developer position. We have one more interview in a couple of weeks and then hope to begin making offers.
Aaron decided not to wait for the new web developer and launched the new AAVSO chat room on Tuesday. Many members signed in to Beta test and make comments about performance and features. Although a work in progress, this project is slightly ahead of schedule.
Even though he was busy trying to finish the APASS processing and getting ready to fly to San Francisco in preparation for the Citizen Sky Workshop, Arne made time for me so we could discuss APASS, the sequence team, Photometrica, corporate sponsors, in kind donations and a host of other topics on my punch list for this trip.
On Thursday afternoon, after lunch at the Prudential Center, Rebecca, Doc, Aaron and I had a three hour brainstorming session discussing among other things, plans and activities for the centennial year 2011. Not just the week of the meeting, but special events, website features, fundraising ideas and once in a lifetime opportunities throughout the year leading up to the big meeting in October.
Keeping the whole thing running is a continuous challenge. Fortunately, we have our own version of "Scotty" down in engineering to keep everything working, 'Doc' Kinne.
The week started with having to do a sync of the live web site with the test site. We were nervous about this because the last time we tried it we nearly lost the entire web site. Doc fretted and sweated until that was complete. Things went much better this time! Simultaneously, he was testing some bugs he'd fixed earlier with regard to our membership and renewal forms.
Tuesday came along with a release of a new version of Vstar. Then a problem with WebObs had come up where observers could submit observations, but couldn't see what they were submitting for review or editing purposes. Doc worked with Kate remotely to fix this.
Wednesday morning dawned with the realization that Rebecca's email was not working. This was critical since Rebecca needs email in order to function, especially to communicate with people regarding our meetings and grants. This problem had to be snuffed out quickly, and fortunately no email had been lost.
Arne's MS Office had to be looked at so he could assist Dr. Mike in editing sections of the upcoming AAVSO Centennial Book. Arne then tasked Doc to create a DVD of video from the first Citizen Sky Workshop that would be sent out to 80 or more planetariums and astronomical societies and clubs.
Thursday morning our remote work session at the Boston Public Library could have been a disaster since the library wifi wasn't working. We were able to save the morning by tethering our laptops to Doc's Android phone.
Then the color laser printer broke. All initial thoughts pointed to the fuser, but looking at the fuser with a volt-ohm meter indicated it wasn't the fuser but the DC printed circuit board. Doc figuring this out saved us $100 or so on a new fuser which wouldn't have fixed the problem.
Through all of this, Doc continued to field questions from the staff, members and visitors, as well as keep up with backups and system updates on our servers.
It's never boring at AAVSO HQ. Everyone on the staff has about five jobs they do eight days a week. Now that I'm back home and taking stock of all that we did, I have to say, phew! It was a very busy month last week.