2002 Musings

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"Science is sexy!"
Debra L. Davis

10.12.2002 - Since I've met you...
It's been way too long since I've updated these pages. I'm happy to report that there's a good reason for that. I've been REALLY busy!

School has started (actually, the semester is already half over). I'm taking German (a language is required for a degree and, though Spanish would be more beneficial in Tucson, Germany is in my genes). I'm also taking a planetary sciences class about asteroids, comets, and meteors taught by Dr. David Kring. My third class, right up my alley, is Women in Science. I'm really enjoying my classes. Learning is such a wonderful experience.

And, thank my lucky stars, I'm also working...finally. Actually, I'm self-employed again. I'm a contract bookkeeper for a company that sells new and used golf cart motors. Here's the astronomy connection...the name of the company is Luna Industries and the owner also has an interest in astronomy.

I'm also working as the contract admin assistant (a.k.a. Admin Goddess) for an artist. In my younger days, I had aspirations of being an artist myself, so I'm really enjoying this opportunity. I brought a few S&T and Astronomy magazines to her last time I was at her studio. Who knows? Maybe there will be some astronomy influence in her future work.

I've also completed my training as a volunteer telescope operator at Flandrau Science Center on the UA campus. I'll be on the roster next month. So, if you're in town, stop by for a visit.

Yup! I've been busy. And, so has this Web site. It has had over 26,000 visitors, with over 7,400 in the last 60 days!

One of the things I enjoy most about my passion for astronomy is sharing it with others. It gives me immense pleasure when a new friend says, "Since I've met you, I look up at the night sky." I feel truly lucky that I am able to share such a wonderful gift, a gift that will touch them for the rest of their lives.

Clear skies!
Debra

7.25.2002 - One Orbit
I've completed one full orbit around the Sun since I moved to Tucson. To say that's a lot of mileage is putting it mildly. As in my own life, I'm sure most of you will agree that the last year has been filled with many challenges.

One of the things I love about astronomy is it shows us that the Universe is all about balance, from the smallest atoms to the largest galaxies. Within a nanosecond of a cataclysmic event, such as atoms or galaxies colliding, work begins in bringing back balance. After all, homeostasis is the natural state of all things.

So, even though there have been tough times in Tucson, and around our planet, I know that achieving balance is on the horizon. I thank my lucky stars that astronomy is a part of my life and that it teaches such valuable lessons. I'm looking forward to this next trip around the Sun.

Clear skies!
Debra

5.8.2002 - May Milestone
May Day has always been one of my favorite days. It's the German in me. It brings back memories of May poles with colorful ribbons; girls wearing Dirndls and flowers in their hair; boys in their Lederhosen; and festive dancing in small Alpine villages. It is always such a happy day.

This May Day was no exception, though without the girls and boys dancing around the pole. It was, however, a momentous day, a miraculous day, a May milestone day.

This May Day was the day the 10,000th visitor stopped by this Web site! Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would happen so soon.

This current site was loaded on the Web on January 2, 2002. I expected about 15 visitors per day based on the numbers from the previous site which was graciously hosted by Barry Malpas. Now, there are over 100 visitors per day, from all over the planet!

So, thank you, dear visitor, for stopping by. Thank you for validating for me that this project is needed and worthwhile. And, thank you so very much for your continued support. My heartfelt appreciation and gratitude is as vast as the Universe!

Clear skies!
Debra

4.28.2002 - Two T-Shirts
It was a really stellar week! It was a two t-shirt week.

Last Tuesday, April 23, I was the guest speaker on David and Wendee Levy's local radio show about astronomy, Lets Talk Stars. The show is sponsored by Starizona, the astronomy shop down the street from me. It was the first time I'd ever been on the radio as a guest. It was a lot of fun, it was scary, and it was exciting...all at the same time. 

Click here to listen

David and Wendee were wonderful and made me feel right at home. I was really surprised, and pleased, by how much he knew about women astronomers. It was a true honor and privilege to be their guest. And, I got my first t-shirt.

Last Thursday was "Take your daughter to work day" and I volunteered at the University of Arizona. They have a slightly different twist on this annual event. Their version is "Take your daughter to campus day". This is the 9th year they've done this and they offer presentations and exhibits throughout the campus. One volunteer commented, "I'm surprised by how many fathers are involved." It was a wonderful day, and I got my second t-shirt.

After volunteering at UA, I went to Starizona to pick up the April issue of S&T (I wanted to read Katy Garmany's article on Bio Dome up the road from me). There was a patron in the store visiting from Oregon and he asked me what I liked to observe. I told him I was more of a proponent for women in astronomy than an observer. He asked, "Have you seen that Web site, womanastronomer.com?"

Yup, it was a great week!

Clear skies!
Debra

4.20.2002 - New Beginnings
In the first issue of theWoman Astronomer, in the letter from the editor (go to Summer 1997 to read), I talked about beginnings and endings. Last week I made the painful decision to "officially" cease publication of the newsletter. This was an ending which, I hope, will create new beginnings.

In the meantime, it's time to have some fun. Hey, if you're not enjoying yourself, why do it? One of the things I really enjoy doing is this Web site. It allows me to express myself creatively, as well as learn more about the inspirational women in astronomy.

And it is these incredible women that this site is all about. In the next few weeks, I'll be updating this site and adding more to the "Women Astronomers" pages. Go to the Site Map to see who I'll be adding.

I'll also be posting some articles I've received that were not published in the newsletter. They were written by both professional and amateur women astronomers and, I hope, you will find them interesting.

I would also like to invite you to contribute and share your stories on this site. Write about whatever you like, as long as it would be appropriate to post here. It may be about your experiences as a woman astronomer, or what you have done to inspire women and girls in astronomy, or you may want to write about a woman astronomer that you think should be added to this site.

As I said last week, this site is not about me. It's about the women and girls that love science and astronomy (including me). I hope you will help to encourage and empower women interested in astronomy. Together, we will create a place that is ours, a place where women truly do hold up half of the sky.

Clear skies!
Debra

4.13.2002 - It's Not About Me...
I have given a lot of thought to the future of theWoman Astronomer lately and there is one undeniable truth. It is needed! I know this because of the number of visitors to this Web site (over 8,000 to date since the beginning of this year) and the many emails I've received from women and girls around the world who are so happy to have found theWoman Astronomer and are encouraged by it.

Last Saturday, I called a dear friend, a woman astronomer, with tears in my eyes, sobs in my throat, and despair in my heart. I told her I thought I should shut down theWoman Astronomer. The most important thing I heard  her say was, "It's not about you."

That's true. The cause and goals of theWoman Astronomer are not about me. What is about me is what I've personally put into it and the rewards and pitfalls of those efforts. I would like to share a few with you.

Rewards

bulletCountless emails like the one from a 15-year old girl who said, "I'm often the only girl in my science and technology classes. This Web site makes me feel like I'm not alone." This is my greatest reward and why I started theWoman Astronomer.
bulletThe opportunity to share my passion about astronomy and science with others and see that it is contagious.
bulletThe knowledge that I am doing something worthwhile to make this troubled world a better place for our sisters and daughters.

Pitfalls

bulletGuilt and shame for not fulfilling my end of the business transaction to the subscribers of theWoman Astronomer. I am referring to the sporadic frequency of issues published.
bulletEffects on, and consequences of, my physical and emotional  health.
bulletFinancial ruin.

I have tried to figure out where I went wrong, why the pitfalls seem to outweigh the rewards for me, and what it will take to get back on track.

The reasons behind my financial ruin are easy to identify. I've put all I have into this, and borrowed even more, without realizing a reasonable return on my investment or efforts. Any financial planner will advise you against this strategy.

I invested in this as a business and because I am so passionate about this cause. A  business must have sales to survive. Unfortunately, I am not a salesperson, nor have I been successful in securing funding through grants.

In looking back, things started going downhill in the summer of 1999. I was at the Mars Society meeting in Boulder, Colorado, when I noticed something wrong with my eye. A look in the mirror brought the greatest shock of my life. The right side of my face had fallen! The next day, the doctor confirmed my suspicions. I had Bell's palsy.

For the most part, I recovered physically. When I'm really tired, that side of my face is not as pert as the other. It's the emotional effects that have been harder to recover from. And they have been compounded by menopause, a very stressful experience for me.

I'm a single woman, with no one to rely on but myself. With the exception of a few close friends, I have little moral support. My mother still asks me, "Have you found a husband yet?" and does not support my efforts with theWoman Astronomer or in obtaining a long overdue education.

Trust me, it's nearly impossible to stay "up" and motivated when you feel all alone. I have, pretty much, been down in the dumps the last three years. I thought a change in latitude would help with my attitude. It has. It's given me the strength to take a close, hard look at the pit I've put myself in.

So, why have I told you all of this? Well, to share a part of myself that I've not shared with you before so you may get to know me better. It is also my hope that you will understand how difficult it is for one person to take on a task of this magnitude. And, it's time to make some decisions.

As I see it, these are my choices and their effects on the future of theWoman Astronomer.

bulletMy education - This is not a choice, this has already been decided. Thanks to the Van Nattan Scholarship Fund of the Denver Astronomical Society, to date my tuition and books have been paid for. My current course of study has been to further the cause of theWoman Astronomer through courses in astronomy and science, women's studies, and writing classes.
bullettheWoman Astronomer newsletter - The main source of revenue for publications is through advertising sales. As I've already mentioned, I'm not a salesperson. This fact does not bode well for the future of the newsletter as I do not have the financial resources to continue.
bullettheWoman Astronomer Web site - It was my hope that the Web site would solve some of the money issues, however, once again I was counting on advertising sales, and more recently, on StarStone Earring sales. I cannot, in good conscious, turn my back on all of those who visit this site and will do what I can to keep it going.
bulletGet a "real" job - This appears to be the most viable choice, at this point, and probably the smartest thing to do. Due to my current financial situation, it must be full time and will limit the time I am able to spend on theWoman Astronomer.
bulletA miracle - I'm not holding out much hope for this one.

So, it is with deep regret and great sorrow that I am officially ceasing publication of the newsletter. I will, however, continue with this Web site as long as there is the need and for as long as I am able. It is time to put theWoman Astronomer where she belongs, and that place is not about me.

Thank you for your time and your support. It has been a privilege and honor to be of service. Clear skies and I remain...

Humbly yours,
Debra

3.26.2002 - My Legacy
I became a non-traditional student at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona, this past January. The non-traditional part is that I am middle-aged (46) and go to school part-time because I like to eat and must support myself. It has been a challenge to get here, but the rewards are as vast as the Universe.

Originally, I wanted a degree in astronomy. However, due to my advancing age :-), that is no longer a realistic goal. I have changed to an "interdisciplinary" degree with studies in astronomy (of course), women's studies, and writing. I changed course because I've given myself until age 50 to get my bachelor's degree and don't want to be a student until I'm 60 to get the education required for a career in astronomy.

It is unlikely my name will ever appear in an astronomy text book. Instead, my contribution to astronomy will be, and is, theWoman Astronomer and promoting the science to women and girls around the world.

It is my hope that through this work, I may offer encouragement and support (something that was lacking for me) to those that aspire to be an astronomer. It is through them, (perhaps even you, dear reader), that my legacy to astronomy will survive.

Clear skies!
Debra

 

Updated 01.01.2008
theWoman Astronomer 2001-2008

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