It snowed in Charleston SC while I was there last weekend visiting the grandchildren - it was quite a phenomenon down there - I have never seen so many abandoned vehicles, even though within a day it was all melted and temperatures were back in the 50's! Driving home on Monday, 800 miles in less than 12 hours in a rented minivan full of people all
related to me in ways both vague and specific, but all less than half my age - was an education.
Doubtless many of you have seen various analyses of the President's budget for the science agencies for 2011 - it looks good for NSF, but of course it is way too early in the process for genuine optimism. Initial information is becoming available about NOAA's plans for the creation of a National Climate Service (equivalent to the National Weather Service) which apparently will be a new line office. This is going to involve a major and extensive redistribution of responsibilities within the various NOAA Divisions, and the precise future of OAR (that is so important to us) is not clear to me.
A group of Earth Institute leaders met with Pete Grannis (New York State's Commissioner of the Dept of Environmental Conservation) on Friday morning - a very good conversation. As when he visited Lamont a few months ago, it is clear that there continue to be many opportunities for constructive interaction - but like every other NYS agency the DEC is battling gruesome budget challenges.
Speaking of gruesome budget challenges, that is where much of our effort on the Admin side of the Observatory is focused right now - deadline for submission of the Observatory's overall budget for FY 2010-2011 downtown is March 19th - not a happy time. With the further reduction in endowment payout, this year is even tougher than last. Nevertheless we intend to retain the Open House event (Saturday October 2nd - mark your calendars), the goal being to finance it with new funds from donors and sponsors.
Have a great weekend,