What a week. Seven days ago we said good bye to Andy Adamson who has been in charge of UKIRT for the last twelve years. This is UKIRT's loss but Gemini's gain as he's now their Associate Director of Science Operations and everyone who knows Andy will agree that he will do a wonderful job there. Gemini couldn't have chosen a better person for the role.
Last Monday I officially took over Andy's previous role at UKIRT albeit under a different title, Interim Head of Operations. The title reflects the changing situation at UKIRT and its somewhat uncertain future although things are certainly looking up after the terrible news we received on December 16 2009. That's a day I will never forget as within a period of two hours I was told UKIRT would close and Pam had cancer.
It's been a week of trying to get my head around all of the stuff Andy did, the senior management role I now have to take on and then figuring out how to change everything because during the next few months UKIRT will almost certainly be undergoing the most significant operational change in its history.
This morning our director gave a talk which outlined the changes that were coming and the consequences they would have. It was in the same room he gave that infamous talk on 16th December and I hadn't been back in the room since then. It brought back bad memories and I started to tear-up, but he gave an excellent overview of what's about to happen. I can't give details but there is some pain. This is something we will have to deal with over the next few months but the outcome is UKIRT should stay operational until early 2012 and hopefully long after then.
So, after a difficult morning, Andy emails me from Gemini to say my annual review is completed (he still has stuff to finish off here!). I look at the review and find the most kind, moving and wonderful words I have seen in a long time (other than "I love you" from Pam of course!) in his review of the appraisal interview. So the tears try to start again...
The picture at the top is one I took of UKIRT a few months ago. I was astonished to find out that Andy wanted a framed version as a going away gift. Well, he got one plus a couple of others I hope he likes including one of Gemini, his new observatory (but I couldn't afford expensive frames, sorry!).
The times they are a-changing...