Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Carnevalentime days...

It's been more than a month since I last blogged.  Valentine's day and Martedì Grasso have come and gone.  Being Valentineless and removed from Carnival festivities, these were just two ordinary days for me, while I am sure they were special to many people out there.  I only noticed that I missed "Fat Tuesday" today when I saw students with ashes in the middle of their foreheads. 
I have been busier than I expected, as I transitioned from the end of the Venice projects to the start of the two Santa Fe projects for this spring.  This is the second and last interim year before the onslaught of 24 students (!) when the first official Santa Fe Project Center term starts in the Spring of 2011...
I have to get better at switching hats.

The Doge toque stuck around too long as I reviewed the final submissions and graded the 7 projects that took place in Venice last fall.

Since my last blog entry, a lot has happened:
  • I traveled to Santa Fe for 10 days in January to arrange for the project topics and find accommodations for the 8 students who are going to be there in less than a month (March 13-May 2).  We will be working with the City of Santa Fe on the planning and re-design of Saint Michael's Drive and we will also help the City decide whether it wants to purchase the Municipal Power Infrastructure from the local utility company PNM.  The students will be staying at two very convenient and comfortable homes near the Santa Fe Complex.
  • While in Santa Fe I had to administer the last rites to my beloved black Subaru Forester, which was broken beyond reasonable repair after serving our family for almost 300,000 miles of hockey practices and games, school drop-offs and pick-ups, MIT classes, family outings, work commutes, chauffering Nick around well past his "driving permit age" and countless errands and journeys, including the mythical cross-country trek Nick and I took last year to drive it down and leave it in Santa Fe. RIP Black Forester! You have served us well.  The silver lining is that Nick and I will have to repeat the cross-country escapade again this year, as we plan to drive the Northern Route to Santa Fe March 4-13 and back again in May on route 66?
  • Steve Guerin and I had a series of intensive brainstorming sessions (the famous "Tesuque rounds") on non-wireless mobile cryogenic gradient landscapes, the fruits of which will only manifest themselves in 10 years or so...  Our paper abstract to the Forest Fires 2010 conference in Kos, Greece was accepted.  The full paper is due in a week. Among other things, we also managed to give a successful presentation to a number of City Officials, where we made the pitch for the creation of the Santa Fe Urban Platform.
  • Meanwhile, Chris Murray and I have surreptitiously migrated the Venice 2.0 web site and Gallery to Bluehost.  Our development server will remain in Venice, but our production server is being outsourced. I have begun to toy around with WordPress templates to try to design a personal web site at, which will become my central blogging platform.  This blog will be fed only news related to Venice once we have automated the RSS feeds, probably using Yahoo Pipes.  My personal life and my many other projects will all be featured in my new site and their respective blogs will be updated accordingly.
  • I got back from Santa Fe just in time to be there when Nick turned 19.  It didn't seem too different from his turning 18.  He is still trying to find a direction through work or school into independent adulthood, as he gets more and more into playing guitar and chillin' with his buddies.  Jackie, Nick and I celebrated his birthday together as a family, a bittersweet reminder of the bygone days.  Jackie, meanwhile, has decided to move back to the U.S. and take up abode in Northampton, one of the most charming and lively little towns in Massachusetts.  There, she will also make strides towards independence, as she gets trained to become a Bikram Yoga instructor and pursues personal growth and self-expression through other endeavors.  I hope we can maintain harmonious family relations and get together as a family on a regular basis as we all adjust to our new lives apart.
  • Once I returned, the Venice IQPs were mostly completed and graded, with only one team choosing to extend the project another term to put the finishing touches on it.  Overall, we had a good group of students, though no project stands out as truly outstanding.  Another dry year for the IQP Awards?  We have 28 more students already lined up for next year.  Seven new potential IQP winners... 
  • This month, I have been occupied with the preparation for the two SFe teams.  We meet twice a week and we're making good progress toward the project proposals.  You can read the team blogs here and here.
  • Just yesterday, my mardi gras celebration consisted in getting off a Letter of Intent for a major NOAA grant ($1.2M), based on CitizenPipe and PicturePost.  The three main institutions involved in the research will be WPI (City Lab), UNH - EOS -CSRC, and the Santa Fe Complex.  We will work with BudburstCoCoRHas, the Santa Fe Indian School and the Institute of American Indian Arts.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.  Full proposal due April 6th.
  • Luckily, through all this, I have returned to my WPI yoga routine and I have begun to cross-country ski on my frozen lake, to make up for the lack of adequate snow coverage for snowshoeing.  Nature is my gym... Exercise and nature are really a tonic that I cannot do without...
I am sure there's more to say that I forgot, but I have to get up early tomorrow to drive to NYC to meet a wealthy Turkish-Italian entrepreneur who is interested in our solar photovoltaic research in Santa Fe...

Let's see if I can keep up with blogging in the next couple of weeks...

Happy Carnevalentime days to all!
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