Friday, April 28, 2006

Featuring a chest of drawers and a pineapple

On Saturday night I went to a leaving party, to be exact I went to Matthias and Sabine's leaving party. They are leaving lovely Columbus, Ohio, and returning to Germany. All of which means that my office is busier than ever, my arms have hurt all week and I have a pineapple. None of which I were expecting.

The office came as particularly surprising as I was expecting things to become quieter after Matthias, my former office-mate, went back to the mother country. However, I somewhat underestimated the enthusiasm for other members of the group to be in the office. Not that it is a bad thing necessarily, just a little surprising. My best guess is that when there were two of us working in here people assumed that one of us might be working hard and tried not to come by too often. Now that it is just poor, little old me I guess the assume I'm never working and come by at will.

The arms and the pineapple were the result of a raffle, some stupidity (mine, of course) and a hilarious hour and half's struggle in the rain. In the raffle, which was a raffling of the departing couples remaining possessions (all for charity, of course), I won a chest of drawers. Because by the time I left their house a fair bit of alcohol had been consumed, it seemed like a good idea for myself and Brit to attempt to carry the chest of drawers home. Now just to make it more of a challenge we loaded the drawers with a case of beer, a bottle of whiskey, a pair of prescription sunglasses, a bag of tortilla chips, an old IBM laptop and the aforementioned pineapple. A mile is actually a fairly long way to carry a chest of drawers in the rain. It takes a lot longer when every hundred yards you (meaning me) start laughing and almost drop the chest of drawers — on one occasion almost became actually and the IBM laptop met its maker, along with the back left foot of the drawers. Still eventually despite the wind and the rain and the laughter, we made it home. And now I have a chest of drawers, so it all turned out nice again.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Work, work, work and travel and a bit of house hunting and some other stuff

Regular readers (both of you) will probably have noticed the scarcity of posts in the recent couple of weeks. As you may be able to guess, this is largely due to the fact that for ANITA (the experiment I work on) it is getting perilously to the time when the brown smelly stuff gets up close and personal with rotary air mover. But I guess that's why the pay me the small, to medium sized, bucks.

At the moment the focus of our efforts is about to shift from Columbus (home, sweet home) and Hawaii (home to flesh eating diseases) to California. In particular to UC Irvine and the to Stanford (the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, SLAC, to be precise). Now being as we have to be out in California for an ill determined length of time, of order 6-8 weeks, myself and Kim decided it would be best to drive out there, in her car. That way we have access to a car when we are out in California and I get to see a bit more of the countryside (hopefully avoiding Kansas, this time — which reminds me I never got round to telling that story did I?). To be honest the drive to California is one of things I'm most looking forward to at the moment, as it will be a few days of relative peace and quiet.

One of things that I'm less looking forward to is the fact that the first thing I'm going to do when I arrive the Los Angeles, and in fact the reason we'll be arriving in LA and not Irvine, will be to jump on a plane and fly to London. Yep that's right I'm going to drive two thousand odd miles west on to fly five thousand odd miles east. I'm sure it will be fantastic. What's even better is that a mere 48 hours after I arrive in London, I'm going to be getting on a plane at Heathrow and flying back out to LA. I think I may have taken leave of my senses (or possibly that should be sense in the singular, as the others have probably already departed). Still I'll get a chance to pick up my birthday, and maybe Christmas, presents from Mumsie so I'm sure it's all worth it.

Too much of today was spent trying to figure out exactly where we, Kim and I, are going to stay when we are out in California. The base option is to spend five weeks in the Travelodge. Now it's not that I have anything against the Travelodge, it's just that I think spending five weeks there would destroy what little soul I have left. To try and find something better, maybe even something with a cooker, we've been looking at Craig's List and it's Google powered associate Housing Maps. The site is very nice showing you where all the housing adds are located, it's just a shame that most places want you to stay longer or be female or pay ridiculous amounts of money.

On the subject of ridiculous amounts of money, I've just noticed that Housing Maps, or should that be Craig's List, has a London. Amusingly the number breakdown on the price filter doesn't change, only the currency sign changes. What makes this more amusing is that in London all the rental prices are per week instead of per month. And by amusing I do mean terrifying. It's also somewhat amusing that on the London site instead of actual addresses places are listed as Mayfair or Kennington Station or, best of all, London.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The back in Ohio post

So, I'm back. And the Ohio bar owners association is rejoicing once more. Within a mere few hours of my arrival back in Columbus I was in a licensed premise and doing my bit for the oft beleagured alcohol industry. In fact I was in a bar filled with girls in costumes on roller skates, which I have to confess was not where I thought I would be as I sat looking out of the window of the plane a few hours earlier. The reason for the roller skating girls was, of course, beacuse it was the team debut of the Ohio Roller Girls. I am kind of tempted to attend the opening match on St. Georges day. But I think most of them could probably beat me up, so I'm a little hesitant.

The roller girls were just the starter though, the main course was a healthy helping of Tree of Snakes at St. James Tavern. And ever since Saturday night the chorus of Serious Knife Fight has been bouncing around my head. Well I should probably say every since Monday, as most of Sunday I was lying in bed with my brain bouncing around my head. And they said jetlag and excessive drinking don't mix, the fools.

I know I'm deep in long time no post land, but I'm afraid that's it for this post.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Why I need a wife and other musings from an island paradise

Well to be honest I don't really need wife, what I need is someone to save me from myself and I'm just not sure who would be willing to other than a wife. Now if I had bucket loads of cash, I could probably hire a personal assistant to do the job, but I don't have bucket loads of cash — although I do have a poster roll (you know one of those cardboard tubes that poster's come in) that is almost full of pennies, nickels and dimes — so I'm left with the wife theory. I say theory because I imagine what I think a wife does and what a wife actually does are probably very different, and I wasn't even thinking sexually.

I'm in Hawaii at the moment, and I realise I won't get any sympathy from you when I say it is not nearly as much fun as it sounds. And when I say that I'm not talking about the fact that they've just had 40-odd straight days of rain, or the fact that a pipe burst and several million tonnes (or maybe tons, what difference does it make when we're talking about millions of them) of raw sewage was dumped in the ocean near Waikiki beach. No, instead I'm talking about the fact that I'm here for work, case in point it is seven o'clock on Sunday evening and I'm in the lab — admittedly I'm in the lab typing this and not actually working at the moment, but I was ten minutes ago. I feel it is going to be something of a long week.

Although work isn't all bad, and I don't want to give the impression that it is. For instance, yesterday I got to see a truly great comedy moment. One of my colleagues plugged a cable between our battery box (can you guess what's inside) and one of our other boxes. When he did this great plumes of smoke were emitted from each connection. It was very impressive! It's not very often that you get to see great plumes of unintentional smoke in the physics lab. The truly funny thing about the story is if you had asked around the collaboration who would be the guy most likely to cause plumes from our experiment, most people would have picked the gentleman involved yesterday. The even funnier thing is though who would have been the popular choice, yesterday's smoke was not entirely his fault. It made me laugh anyway, it might lose something in translation.

Okay, so I appear to have got distracted away from my initial point, which is basically that I shouldn't really be left in charge of myself. I think this trip illustrates the point very well.

Exhibit A: my plane tickets. Now I spent a long time trying to decide which days to fly and which airlines and all that. In the end I flew out last Wednesday on American West (now US Airways), there was nothing particularly unpleasant (beyond the usual 10 hours on a plane amount of unpleasantness) about the flights themselves it was more the timing of them. You see, I picked the cheapest ticket I could find, a ticket which had me arriving at half past midnight. What I didn't realise when I booked the ticket was that arriving so late the car rental places would be shut and I'd have to spend the money I saved on a cheaper ticket on an expensive airport hotel room. Not very well thought through, although I did at least realise I would have a problem before I flew and wasn't taken by surprise upon landing.

Exhibit B: my hotels. Now I say hotels because last night I stayed in my third different hotel this trip. All the more impressive as I've only been here four nights. The first change was somewhat understandable as it was the change from the airport hotel to one nearer the UH campus. The second change was somewhat less understandable as it was to save $7 a night for the remaining 6 nights of my stay here. It is particularly un-understanable as it's not even my money and $42 dollars extra on trip that's costing over $1000 is probably not worth the struggle. Which brings me to...

Exhibit C: car parking. On Thursday night it rained. Now I don't just mean a-little-bit-of-moisture-was-falling-from-the-sky rain. No, I mean the-world-was-ending-and-God-was-punishing-until-the-last-second rain. In this weather I had to check in to hotel number two. A sensible man would have pulled up in front of the hotel, checked in and then paid to use the hotels parking, thus never having to venture out in the inclement weather, after all parking is only about $10 a night and at the end of the day it isn't his money. I chose a slight course of action. I drove around Waikiki looking for on-street parking. This didn't go to well, in part because I could barely see the street and in part because there just wasn't any parking. So I ventured a little further afield, got lost parked in a spot near a big building (on the grounds that I thought I might be back near Waikiki) and then wandered around in the rain for ten or fifteen minutes trying to work out where in the blazes I was. Eventually I did manage to find some on-street parking that was only seven or eight, rain soaked, blocks from my hotel.

Exhibit D: the morning after. On Friday morning I woke up at around 6:30 in the morning. Feeling a little bit tired, and a little bit hungover. It was then that I began to realise I had parked by a parking meter that would become active (I now have an image of a parking meter running up and down the side of the street, but maybe that's just in my head) at 7:00. Did I: a) say fuck it go back to sleep; b) get up and go check whether there was a meter and either move the car or put money in it; or c) lie in bed wondering what to do until ten past seven then get up have a hasty shower, before hurrying to move the car and go to work, only to discover that there wasn't a bloody parking meter (or maybe it was running up and down the street).

Exhibit E: last night's dinner. Last night it was getting late and I was a little hungry. I wasn't very hungry as I'd had both breakfast and lunch, so I just wanted something light. I decided to go and have some sushi. Apparently (in my head) the cute little I Love Sushi restaurant two blocks from my hotel wasn't up to scratch so I walked a few more blocks to a 'antique Japanese' restaurant I'd been to before. When I sat down at the bar area, there were only a couple of other customers in the restaurant. For some reason this put me off ordering sushi, I think my logic was they might have put it away or it might be going 'stale' or I have no fucking idea it was late and I was stupid. Anyhow, I ended up ordering something could neither pronounce or spell and was basically a big greasy Japanese omelet with pork and cabbage and cheese topped with mayonnaise. So not entirely the light sushi meal I was aiming for. At least they had beer.

Now my theory is if I was with someone, and I just mean if somebody was physically present with me, I wouldn't have quite so many of these strange ideas that result in me wandering around lost in the rain or eating mayonnaise covered omelets. Of course, I'm probably wrong on that count.