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Mad Scientess Jane Expat

Serious Business | Flickr
Bounty Information | Wanted Dead or Alive: Mad Scientess Nanila
Deeds of Derring-Do | Full of Wild Inaccuracies and Exaggerations

Rugby-tastic Saturday: Worcester Warriors v CA Brive [20171016|15:20]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[with a hint of |skinny puppy - worlock]

We took the children to their first ever live rugby match on Saturday after attending Rugby Tots. Keiki is still enamoured of it after six weeks. Humuhumu has realised that she would quite like to do rugby as well and so she is now signed up for the class immediately after his. This brings her class total to three: swimming (Fridays), rugby (Saturday) and gymnastics (Sunday), thus cementing our status as Parental Taxi Service for the next thirteen years or so.

Anyway, the weather was unseasonably mild and sunny and we were sat in the stands next to a lovely group of Brive fans. They tempted the children to cheer for their side with flags. We accepted gracefully and offered them Haribo, which they took, so I'm counting that a win for Anglo-French relationships. Especially since Worcester won, which was definitely not a given considering (a) their early performance, including some dire kicking and (b) the fact that they're pretty much always near the bottom of the Premier league table.

The children loved it, although keeping them engaged did involve bribery with Lego and chips (not at the same time). Afterward they opened the pitch to the children to run around, and then the players came out. We got the Worcester players to sign one of the Brive flags which they did without rancour. It was a superb day out and we were all pleasantly worn out at the end of it.

IMG_20171014_213740_494
[L to R: G. Milasinovich (prop), me, Humuhumu, Keiki, P. Humphreys (wing)]

+3Collapse )

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Pasadena Touristic: The Huntington Library and Gardens (Part 2) [20171005|19:24]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |tired]
[with a hint of |skylar grey - wreak havoc]

This post continues the homage to the Huntington Library and Gardens with a sample of the library displays. These are a mere fraction of what the library itself actually archives, although one needs a vetted research proposal in order to gain full access to its contents.

We begin with, er, light bulbs. Because if you were absurdly wealthy, why wouldn’t you amass a collection of historic lightbulbs.

20170917_002154
“The Huntington’s collection of historical lamps consists of nearly 400 light bulbs, about half of which are on display here. The light bulbs range from the 1890s to the 1960s. They include examples of the variety of bases, filaments and globes in use before the development of current incandescent and fluorescent light bulbs.”

More light bulbs and then some actual, y'know, booksCollapse )

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Pasadena Touristic: The Huntington Library and Gardens (Part 1): Bonsai [20171002|15:49]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |tiiiiiiiny trees. so tiny!]

I have many photos to share of my one full tourist day in Pasadena, as I spent most of the day at the Huntington Library and Gardens in San Marino. It is quite expensive to get in, so you want to make the most of it. Fortunately there is enough to see both in the gardens and the library that it is well worth the money, assuming you’ve given yourself the entire day to explore it.

I begin with a post dedicated to the section of the Japanese garden that is devoted to bonsai.

IMG_20170921_232221_950
When I am retired, I shall build myself one of these, and the carefully placed bench to sit in contemplation of it at precisely the right distance.

More tiiiiiiny treesCollapse )

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Friday's Unscientific Poll: Wine in a can: Y/N? [20170929|09:15]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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20170916_232055
Maybe I just don't get out enough (or maybe this is a USian thing), but one of my friends pointed out these single-serving wines to me on our trip to Huntington Gardens when I was in California. I...did not must up the courage to try either the rose or the sauvignon blanc. Also, it was scorching that day and all anybody wanted was water until it started to cool off around 5 PM, and then we went hunting for beer (see: Brits in hot weather).

Poll #2073086 Wine in a can

So...wine in a can?

What fresh hell is this?
2(40.0%)
Sure, why not.
3(60.0%)
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And another thing in Space News: BBC Horizon: Goodbye Cassini - Hello Saturn [20170928|14:46]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[coordinates |office]
[the weather today is |15 seconds of fame]

20170918_215919
BBC Horizon ran a one-hour "Goodbye Cassini - Hello Saturn" programme after the end of mission. My Big Boss takes up most of the second half of it, describing how the magnetometer discovered the plume activity at Enceladus.

If you're wondering who the woman in the purple shirt and glasses that she hugs at the end of mission event during the very last minute of the programme, can confirm that was me (see screencap above). That was shot about a minute after the loss of signal. :/

You can catch the Horizon programme on iPlayer if you missed it here.

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Space news: Cassini and JUICE [20170928|10:46]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |stressed]

Hear ye, hear ye: on the evening of Tuesday 10 October, you can come to Imperial College London and meet some Cassini scientists and engineers. Well, OK, one engineer (that would be me). Imperial are hosting a Fringe event titled “A Space Odyssey” in celebration of the Cassini end of mission, and there are lots of things to see, including me reminiscing about Cassini operations whilst waving around tiny magnetometers, and do, including making your own thin film paper spacecraft. Read all about what's on offer here.

Book yourself a free ticket here.

If you come along, you can see this beauty without all the reflective glare:
20170927_153155
Image of the 1/25 scale Cassini model in its newly procured perspex box for display at the Fringe.

In other space news, ESA have conducted a helicopter test on the radar boom that will be on the JUICE spacecraft, to ensure that it will be able to penetrate Ganymede’s ice crust. You can read about, and watch a video of, the tests here. (Synopsis: Big Metal Box and Poles get waved over fields in Germany, serious-faced blokes on the ground don’t seem to find anything funny about this, pfft.)

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Cassini End of Mission events, Part 4 of ? [20170916|00:17]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |exhausted]
[with a hint of |no]

[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.Collapse )

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Cassini End of Mission events, Part 3 of ? [20170915|20:55]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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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.

20170914_214801
Chilling out in my JPL t-shirt before the end of mission.

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Cassini End of Mission events, Part 2 of ? [20170914|17:05]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |accomplished]

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.

20170913_171945
JPL tour badge with Curiosity on the front. We got to keep these.

Tour, with side trips down memory laneCollapse )

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Cassini End of Mission events, Part 1 of ? [20170913|03:31]
Mad Scientess Jane Expat
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[the weather today is |fighting sleep]

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 optionCollapse )

to be continued

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