Effective immediately, travelers are required to deduct $8.75 from the daily per diem for each viewing of free movies on inflight entertainment systems. Other free inflight entertainment (radio, video) must be deducted at a rate of $4.375 per hour used.
An equal amount should also be deducted for each movie viewed at any time during nrao-reimbursed domestic travel, if the DVD player on an NRAO-supplied laptop is used for viewing.
These rates increase to $14.25 and $7.125/hr for foreign travel since movies are much more expensive in Europe and Japan.
'There's no "R" in AUI so naturally we didn't have any reason to make such a connection,' said an AUI Board member, speaking on condition of protecting her anonymity. 'As a matter of fact,' she continued, 'we looked at the AUI logo and saw an optical diffraction pattern or maybe an optical-pointing thingy like you see on guns, and then we looked at the ALMA logo and saw telescopes gawking up at stars. So naturally we sought candidates for our presidency who would be able to explain to the general cocktail-party-going public what these logos really stand for. Public outreach is an important part of the AUI president's job since NRAO basically runs itself when we allow that to happen.'
She continued, 'Actually it was a little embarassing that the whole presidential search got off to such a slow start. We saw that both NRAO and AUI had an "A" and advertised for candidates with extensive experience in "associated astronomy." You wouldn't believe where some of those candidates got their advanced degrees. But its nice to know that the Pontifical University of Belize does offer the PhD in that field.'
The Program Advisory Committee, meeting in camera in Charlottesville today, heard an NRAO Management spokesman explain that the lack of information flowing to the staff was not the result of neglect, but rather a concerted attempt to make the staff feel like they are part of a large institution. "It can get to seeming tight in here because we all have so much in common, you know, what with us all being connected to astronomy, all of us having basically the same, uh, knowledge base and information resources," said the newly-appointed deputy assistant director for assistant-deputy- director-related assisted relations.
"Many staff people don't realize how big the NRAO really is, since so many of them have been here since it was so much smaller and they were never really involved in what happened to make it grow. Keeping staff at arm's length is just one way of helping them to feel this growth more personally," he explained.
He went on, "What's more, keeping the staff out of the loop actually allows them the freedom to believe that they are really in the loop, but in an environment where nothing is actually happening. This is comforting to many of them, and it frees them from worrying about the minute-by-minute, day-by-day, month-to-month and lightyear to lightyear concerns which occupy a highly trained management cadre. We're sure they appreciate being freed from quotidian concerns, having more time to do their own thing. It's like Matrix management, but from the movie."
NRAO management - CV scientific staff relations took a serious turn for the worse last month when a previously-unannounced 4-month shutdown of the library was de-unannounced. "Waco-style tactics, which previously included noise, low-frequency vibration, choking dust, blindingly bright light, blaring 70's rock music and unbearable heat from a suddenly-unconstrained central heating system have been raised to the next level," said an NRAO management spokesman who spoke on condition of perpetual anonymity and estrangement from the staff (see related story). "Some of these bastards have tenure, which limits our options somewhat," he continued. "We just have to hope that they succumb to the dust and darkness."
Building on nearly a human generation's worth of experience with the use of EMACS to maintain VLA OBSERVE files, (see related story) and nearly a decade of experience with the use of EMACS and HTML dictionaries to produce web content, NRAO management today declared that EMACS would in the future be the only officially-sanctioned tool for creating .ppt, .wpd, .pdf etc. files. "It started when we begin to hear complaints about how hard it was to use MSWord," said an anonymous NRAO computer division spokesman. "Nobody has complained about VLA OBSERVE in at least 10 years because of EMACS, and EMACS is free! Why buy site licenses for expensive tools like Office, Distiller or DreamWeaver when all that really matters is having the output content in a standard format?"
Effective immediately, all NRAO linux boxes have been reprogrammed to allow file access only to EMACS. Night classes in file construction will commence in the fall as soon as the NRAO E2E project finishes the task of reverse engineering the relevant file formats.
The newly-refurbished NRAO Edgemont Road building in Stone Hall has been renamed the "ALMA Helpdesk Enabling Regional National and International Access To Unified Radio Science and Support," according to an NRAO management spokesperson. The new name was chosen in a contest among local daytime support staff in San Pedro de Atacama after an impasse developed between the JAO and NRAO over use of the words "the" and "of" in the name. "The contest really motivated some of these people to enhance their knowledge of English," said an ALMA spokesman speaking on conditions of complete ignorance about and great distance from Charlotteville, to say nothing of anonymity.
Visitors to the newly-constructed building have noticed an eerie similarity between the interior of the new facility and areas of countless airports leading to out of the way restrooms. NRAO management said that it tended to discount the odd coincidence but that, in the meantime, NRAO staff could continue to use the urinals in odd-numbered offices, if they wished.
NRAO management today announced that it had granted important rights to NRAO spokemen and that, in the future, all contact between NRAO staff and NRAO management would be through official NRAO spokesmen, said an NRAO spokesman who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Don't call us, we'll call you," he said, continuing, "if we have anything to say, that is. In the meantime the staff is officially directed not to question our identity or veracity."
The continued insistence on anonymity has puzzled the staff, who have no way of finding out who these people are, or what they do, anyway.
Lyle Schwarz, new president of AUI, Inc. announced today that AUI would downsize itself to focus on the stewardship of NRAO after failing to find a partner willing to collaborate in seeking to regain control of Brookhaven National Laboratory. Noting that AUI had continually gotten grades of "good" to "excellent" in reviews of their management of the lab, he castigated DOE for prejudicing the forthcoming RFP to run BNL in such a way that AUI involvement was effectively precluded.
In response, Federico Pena, head of DOE said, "The top grade on DOE review committee reports since 1981 has been 'super- calli- fragilistic- expi- alidotious'. Getting grades of merely 'good' to 'excellent' and not being fired are the equivalent of social promotion in inner-city school systems, not a mark of distinction."
"In any case, AUI apparently failed to notice that they have been on a pass/fail grading system since arousing the ire of local Long Island soccer mothers and other environmental terrorists with their tritium leaks. Madre de Dios, didn't they notice that movie theatre owners were refilling their 'Exit' signs with drinking fountain water to keep them glowing brightly?"
For some years it has been understood that code for the program VLA OBSERVE is maintained by space aliens working under contract to the NRAO in the nearby town of Roswell, NM. All enhancements to the program and new observing modes of the VLA are first converted into an alien natural language description by Barry Clark, from which they are translated into FORTH-like alien code for testing and debugging. After this, the program is modified very slightly for use by human bodies and prepared for earthly computer architectures and computers using a cross-compiler purchased from a now-bankrupt code sweatshop in the FSU's Sokhoristan region.
It being notoriously difficult to tell the difference between ordinary astronomers and newly-arrived space aliens, new users at the VLA, if they are themselves suspected of being space aliens, are given the VLA OBSERVE program and told to prepare an observing file overnight without further assistance. Although the toll on real human users is high, it is invariably the case that all new users who successfully produce an observing file in this way are space aliens. Space aliens can also be identified the next day because they seldom fail to comment favorably on the ease-of-use, user-friendliness, and tremendously intuitive use of the computer hardware involved in running VLA OBSERVE.
Unfortunately, a mix-up occurred during the release of the most recent version of VLA OBSERVE to the human observing community. There are so few non-alien NRAO people and experienced users actually using the VLA OBSERVE program in their own work that no testing by humans was actually done. The newly-hired post-doc whose responsibility it is to manage VLA OBSERVE, coming to work on the morning of the release date and hearing the high opinion of a friend whom she had not previously identified as a space alien, took it upon herself to replace all known versions of the program with the new release. Lamentably, shoddy quality control in Roswell had failed to catch the fact that the new version was pure alien and had undergone no translation back into human terms, rendering it even more difficult to use than usual (for humans, of course).
The NRAO regrets this unfortunate sequence of events, and regrets the further
complications introduced by the fact that our coding subcontractors in
Roswell are unavailable to produce a new version of VLA OBSERVE, as they
are all working on solving the Y2000 problem for the Federal Government.
In the meantime, we have two suggestions for users of the VLA who need to
prepare new observing files. If you know an astronomer who is a space alien
(again, you can identify them by the fact that they use VLA OBSERVE fluently)
please ask them for assistance. However, if you can modify an existing file
for your current observing using emacs, that is always the preferred mode of
preparation of VLA OBSERVE files and we suggest you do so.
It has come to the attention of NRAO management that the Observatory has performed altogether too few upgrades of its capabilities, while those that have been undertaken have on occasion been less than satisfactory. Accordingly, we have formed a group to study how better to undertake such upgrades, and this effort will henceforth be known as the Upgrade Upgrade.
It has also come to the attention of NRAO management that the Observatory has no central office to coordinate the many projects which form the life- blood of its activities. Accordingly, to centralize such functionality, we have created the Project Project for the purpose of studying how better to undertake such projects. The Project Project will, as its first object of study, study itself until such time as it feels competent to scrutinize other NRAO activities.
Additionally, owing to the overlap between the Project Project and the Upgrade Upgrade Project, these efforts will have different directors but all staff below that level will be common to both. Employees working in either effort will be allowed to choose on a daily basis to which director they wish to report. They should simply inform, on the following day, the project director to whom they wished not to report, that they were not reporting to him or her on the previous day.
It has further come to the attention of the NRAO management that there are
still some personnel without titles, who therefore do not appear on the
NRAO organization chart. Anyone wishing to become an Assistant Director
or higher should please contact his or her immediate superior.
The Observatory is proud to announce that it has become the first such facility in the world to offer a frequent observer program. Each hour scheduled on any telescope will be matched by 1 airline mile on "NRAO Partners" participating airlines.
The new NRAO Gold Mastercard will return 1 airline mile for each dollar in NRAO bills paid to the Observatory using its card or 1 mile for each 20000 clean components generated by Aips++ data reduction software. Holders of the NRAO card will receive substantial discounts on software and telescope rentals in the future.
The Observatory also has announced the "Premier VIP Observer Club" with an
annual fee of $250. Members of the Observer Club will be afforded use of the
executive lounge at all NRAO telescopes and will receive preference in use of
room 202 in the Green Bank residence hall. Additional benefits include a
three-day grace period on all telescope proposal deadlines, a one week
private, advance viewing period of all telescope schedules, and guaranteed
7 business-day turnaround for all aips gripes.
Informed by the National Science Foundation that it could expect yet another year of level funding in 1997, the Observatory decided to open a new instrument in Green Bank anyway. "That's what we do," opined the Director, "run new, unique, large, state of the art instruments which allow our users access to the frontiers of science." "What are we supposed to do?" he continued somewhat truculently." "Take in this amount of money and NOT run telescopes?"
Asked how he proposed to run the instruments brought on line since 1980 (VLA, VLBA, 12m, and GBT) on such a meagre amount of money, he continued "It's not a meager amount of money, it's $30,000,000. We'll get by for the short term and hope to show that we not only need more money, but that we deserve it."