Completing and implementing a computational simulation of blood flow through thinning arteries was tough enough. Fixing the problems with the simulation has been extremely difficult without the normal tools I'm used to using. So it's been stuck for months. Luckily I was blessed by TotalView (a software package and company) that gave me a 15 day evaluation license to use their parallel debugging software (it's software that helps you find bugs in computer code that's for parallel computing on supercomputers). I have 10 more days (there have been problems with installation), but they said they could give me a few more days if I lost days due to the problems. Yay! I think the end may be in sight.
Otherwise, I hear the same question over and over. What will you do next year? What's next? Well, to start, I don't believe I will be an astronaut for sure. They never contacted me directly, but I did have a friend say he was not asked to interview. I don't know how he found out, but I definitely wasn't asked since I have not heard anything one way or the other, so I wasn't chosen. I'm not dejected. It was expected. I don't know of anyone who got in on the first time in this new era of non-military applications. I expect to keep applying a few times. We'll see what happens.
The only other thing that has come up is the chance to be a science advisor for the U.S. government in the executive branch in the area of defense.
I've explained this before, but to re-explain, the U.S. government seems to give a few appointments of science advisors for Congressmen (Senators and Representatives) staff to 30 different American science organizations (API, AGU, AAAS, etc.) in different areas of science (materials science, geology, physics, general science, optics, etc.). Each of those organizations can appoint 1 or 2 PhD scientists/engineers to be the science advisor on a Congressman's staff. In addition the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) also gets to appoint 15-30 science advisors to advise executive branch organizations in four areas – defense, diplomacy, energy/environment, and health/human services. With AAAS you can apply to up to 2 areas including congressional fellowships. I applied for a diplomacy and a defense fellowship (due to my experience). I was not selected as a semi-finalist for the diplomacy, but I was for the defense fellowship. Possible executive branch organizations include Department of Defense, FBI, Homeland Security, etc. So I am flying to D.C. to interview in 2 weeks and immediately flying back because my supervisor wouldn't like me to be gone for too long.
Funny that I'm interviewing in defense. One good friend of mine (Dave-an American volunteer in Cape Town) sees it as an opportunity for redemptive work in the government with which he is disillusioned. He didn't vote and never has.