Friday, November 09, 2007


We went to France last weekend to go to the synchrotron in Grenoble. It really was an adventure including lost baggage, tiny planes, illness, illegal immigration...and so on.

Leaving from Dundee, which is a pretty small city, entails piling into a tiny propeller plane and sitting in the correct seat so as to keep the plane balanced. The runway was so small that the pilot had to reve the engine up to full speed then release the breaks to shoot us straight into the sky.

We landed in London city with barely 20min to spare between flights, but the men in our group decided that was plenty of time to sit down at a restaurant and enjoy a steak sandwich. We ended up running for our connection to Geneva, a run that resulted in our luggage being offloaded and my stomach deciding to rebel against the steak sandwich.

Once in Geneva I found a bathroom floor to settle on while the others tried to rent a car and figure out how to get our labmate who only had a visa for France, over to Grenoble. We had to leave on the French side of the aiport and drive an extra hour through the mountains to avoid Switzerland. I didn't care since I spent the ride curled up in a ball on the back seat.

Two of our group stayed in Geneva to hang out and wait for the luggage while the other three of us made it to Grenoble finally, tired and not a little stressed.

On the bright side, our experiments went really well. We had a full 48 hours on the beamline but only used 42 since we were able to collect duplicates and even triplicates of good data. So, after a brief rest, we found ourselves packed into a small European car, luggage, dewer, and five people. I, being the shortest was lucky enough to have the front seat where we'd also crammed in the dewer leaving me enough room for about half a leg.

The drive was beautiful, though and we headed up into the alps to hike for an afternoon before our flight. It doesn't get much better than sitting on the top of a mountain overlooking the alps with a packed lunch of French cheese and bread.

On our way back we were treated to a sky high view of London all lit up for the holiday they have here celebrating a guy who tried to blow up Parliament. Seems an odd holiday to me, but the fireworks were wonderful.

Finally arriving back in the lab, we were informed that all our data had to be processed that night. Luckily, I learned a lot on the trip and was able to get all three of my sets done in about an hour. Still, I didn't get home till around 1:30am and we were requested to be back in lab by 8:30am that morning. Needless to say, it's been a long week for me and I'm looking forward to having a weekend semi-off. I still have experiments to run, but only about an afternoon's worth.

Again, sorry I'm not here much, but I just don't have a lot of time. I'm thinking if I can keep up a strong pace for the next few months I'll be able to really get all my projects up and going and making progress.

Our boss is out of town for most of Dec and I'm not going home for Christmas so I'm hoping that extra time will let me get a little ahead!

Anyway, it's interesting here, I've got a few stories, and a lot of questions. I'll have to stop by here now and then with a few anecdotes!

Hugs to all,