nanila: Pokemon Go 2km Egg Hatch (egg hatch)
( Oct. 13th, 2017 02:24 pm)
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I have been home very little this week and I have no brain left to summarise what happened so have an office selfie that I took on Monday afternoon, which feels like it was about a month ago.
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[personal profile] emelbe and I set our alarms for 02:30 and 02:35 respectively, just to be sure we got up in time to walk over to Caltech for the end of mission. We dressed and poured coffee into ourselves, made sure we had our badges, and got out the door in plenty of time to arrive before 04:00, the official start of the event and NASA TV coverage.

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Walking up to Beckman Auditorium (aka the wedding cake) from the south.

As it happened. )
Thursday was meant to be a quiet day, since we all knew we had to be up and at Caltech by 4 AM for the thing we’d all been preparing for: the actual end of mission.

In reality, there were some impromptu science meetings at Caltech, one of which I attended in the morning. I slipped out just before noon, because I had someone to meet.

I headed down from Beckman to South Mudd to see my former JPL postdoctoral supervisor, from back in those heady days when I was still a lab scientist, for lunch. I hadn’t seen him since 2006. I eventually remembered where his Caltech office was. I could’ve found the JPL one much more easily, but it would have required me to check in and get a badge, which seemed a lot of faff for lunch. Besides, there are nicer places to eat in Pasadena. Once in the correct corridor, I spotted his technician hovering outside the door, plus another UK person from the physical chemistry community whom I’d never met but knows the bloke pretty well. There were lots of smiles and hugs, and we decided to head down to a restaurant over on Lake Street.

We had a very pleasant hour of conversation, reminiscing and catching up. I had a shock on hearing that their children, whom I remembered as children or young teenagers, were now grown up and had careers of their own. Of course I knew that would have happened in the intervening decade-plus, but it’s not until you actually speak together about these things that they’re driven home to you. They were equally shocked on learning that Humuhumu has started school - and has a younger sibling! The bloke and I had been remiss in our communication, clearly. We talked of science, of course, and of politics and its effects on research direction, and of our worries about the future due to Brexit and the current US administration.

I am still kicking myself for forgetting to take a photo. You must instead picture me with a group of men: one starting to disappear into the frailty of old age, peering out earnestly from large-framed glasses, one solid and grey-haired and mostly silent with twinkling blue eyes, and one cheeky-grinned middle-aged bear of a chap with a shock of brown hair and a beard. All sitting together in a booth of a Japanese restaurant, eagerly shoveling the contents of bento boxes into our faces, occasionally bursting into roars of laughter while cheesy ‘90s music played in the background.

We parted with promises not to let another eleven years pass before we met again. I was left with the warm glow you get from (re)connecting with friendly, kind, intelligent people. It was a lovely way to buffer against the excitement and strain of what was to come on Friday morning.

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Chilling out in my JPL t-shirt before the end of mission.
On Wednesday morning, [personal profile] emelbe and I saddled up and drove over to the Jet Propulsion Lab for a tour. We put her trusty sat nav on, and I noticed that instead of a car, the little icon was an x-wing. She turned the audio on. “Driven well you have,” said Yoda. “In a quarter of a mile, turn left. It is your destiny.”

It was decided that it was fitting for Yoda to be allowed to direct us to JPL.

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JPL tour badge with Curiosity on the front. We got to keep these.

Tour, with side trips down memory lane )
I flew into Los Angeles on the Sunday before the last-while-Cassini-is-still-in-orbit-around-Saturn Project Science Group meeting began. I was feeling dodgy when I got up at 6 AM, but I napped in the taxi and took some ibuprofen, and hoped that the feeling would go away.

It did not.

I made sure my usual mobile pharmacy (ibuprofen, paracetamol, Rennie) was stocked in my rucksack before I boarded the plane, and was glad I'd done so about three hours into the flight when my fever started spiking. I alternated ibuprofen and paracetamol every two hours. The flight attendants kindly granted all of my requests for cold water/cans of ginger ale, which were frequent. It was one of the most miserable long-haul flights I've ever had.

I spent nearly all of Monday in bed apart from a brief foray out to get a hot Thai curry into my belly for lunch. This paid off on Tuesday, and I was able to spend half a day at Caltech to dial into the penultimate operations meeting. (There will be one more after the crash, but obviously we’ll no longer have an instrument status to report.) I was excited about this, because I had been saving up something for a very long time.

In fine fettle was the other option )

to be continued
  1. What is the most outrageous style you've ever rocked?
    Probably this one:

    (That's me in 2003, wearing a green vest, black trousers & boots, sunglasses and very long dreadlocks. I'm carrying the tiny metal box that functioned as my handbag in those days.)

  2. As a teen, were you an emo, goth, punk, grunger, or prep?
    As a young teen, I was trending toward goth, but I didn't go full rivethead until I was at university.

  3. Have you ever had a crazy hairstyle/colour?
    I have worn unnatural shades of hair colour: green, blue and purple. I don't really think of dreadlocks as "crazy".

  4. Do you think we ever really grow out of our teen selves?
    Um, yes, definitely. Thank GOODNESS.

  5. Is there any fashion style you wish you could wear but maybe don't have the confidence?
    I would definitely love to be a bit more goth/rivet still. It's not that I lack the confidence, it's that I don't have the time, the money or the energy to maintain the look. I spend what resources I do have on my kids' wardrobes, not my own. Also, it would be pretty incongruous at my work, which is small-c conservative.


Questions are from the [community profile] thefridayfive community.
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
( Feb. 24th, 2017 09:55 am)
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The exceptionally splendiferous [personal profile] thirdbird sent Humuhumu and me some "kitty hats", as Humuhumu is calling them. She was so proud of hers she wore it to nursery today. Thank you!
The lab xmas party begins
This is me and my officemate B* in our Santa hats, which we wore to the bitter end (around 9:30 PM). Our lab Christmas party begins in the office with Irish coffees, after which we traipse across Hyde Park to a seekrit squirrel location (aka a pub) for 1 PM, when we commence eating and drinking in earnest. Later, there are Bananagrams, arguments about politics, and maudlin reminiscences about Christmas parties of the past. (There are no photos of this.)

Anyway, between organising, participating in, and recovering from, this party, there hasn't much time for updating Dreamwidth. I'll endeavour to rectify this over the next few days. Happy Solstice, everyone!

* In case you're wondering why he looks like a giant, he is. He's about 6'5". I'm a foot shorter than him.
I felt the new haircut was worth documenting with the dSLR, as the chances of me straightening my hair in the three months until my next haircut are pretty much nil. :)

New Haircut Day

+1 )
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
( Nov. 2nd, 2016 04:55 pm)
Leiden Centraal to Noordwijk
A selfie I took on the bus from Leiden Centraal to Noordwijk. The bus takes about 45 minutes, so most people opt for a taxi when they’re visiting ESTEC. I like the bus, though. It’s a really pretty route through the city and out into the countryside. Plus, it only costs 4 euros.

While I’m on the subject of space agencies, here are a few links.

  • Want to holiday like an Elder God? Try these lethal exoplanet destinations! Galaxy of Horrors (h/t to [personal profile] redsixwing)

  • For a more soothing experience, you can watch a mildly animated page of the Deep Space Network stations uplinking and downlinking data from different spacecraft. I sometimes do this. I mean, I have a PDF with all the scheduled DSN passes for Cassini, but let’s face it, this is much prettier. Eyes on the DSN.

  • And finally, in Geeky Space Swag news, the Rosetta mission shop has been updated with new shirts and hoodies that include the cartoon spacecraft from the “Once Upon a Time” video series about the mission. Best of all, you can get your mitts on a cuddly/plushy toy of Rosetta and Philae, or donate one to be sent to a primary school.
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