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16 April 2010

Long Day = Long Post

It is finally the end of a very long week. Perhaps over the weekend we somehow completely forget how the previous week was. Because I would swear that this week was far more exhausting than any other. But surely last Friday I would have said the same thing? And perhaps I have said the same thing every Friday? All I know is that I am so glad it is Friday and I am so tired that I could stay in bed for a week. But I can't go to sleep yet because it seemed like a good idea not too long ago to eat too much chocolate and now my stomach is too full for sleep. I had a good excuse though: it is Friday.

So first of all it has been raining here in Vienna all week, and all last week to. At least that's how it seems. Perhaps not last week. But this week for sure. Except today. It finally stopped and sure it hasn't been that cold but it was definately warmer today. Of course the rain did not make that much difference to me because I have to work too much anyway.

Basically, after a lazy last weekend in which it rained and I mostly stayed at home reading, I had a very long week where I arrived at work early and left late and complained quite a lot. See it all started last weekend, when it rained all weekend and I was so exhausted after a week at work right on top of too much easter travel. I went shopping and brought a book because I realised that what I really wanted to do was hibernate in my room with a book, and in town I saw the most massive dog ever - it was bigger than a shetland pony I'm sure. Everybody was stopping to watch it go past. Anyway I brought the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, all 5 books in 1, it was a good price and I figured it would take me some time. Sadly I am 4/5ths of the way through. Come Monday it is time to go to work and I don't think I have explained recently what it is I do now.

So my days consist of two things at the moment - cutting sections and looking at sections under the microscope. Sounds the same as what I did before I know, but this time everything is about a thousand times smaller. First, imagine a millimeter. Seriously, think about a ruler, and those tiny lines that are millimeters. So a micrometer is one thousandth (1/1000) of that. And a nanometer is one thousandth of that again. So first I cut my preserved animal into tiny pieces, embed them in resin, and try to cut sections that are about 70 nanometers thick. So that is one ten-thousandth of a millimeter. It is not easy. Cutting stuff sounds pretty simple but I have been working every day for three weeks on a stupid machine and have not really got any satisfactory sections. Then the microscope. These things cost more than a car. They are big, and take a lot of getting used to.

But today I finally got some nice photos (mostly because the sections that I looked at were cut by somebody else - and I didn't bother mentioning that small fact to my supervisor either). I use glass knives to cut. I have to make them first, and each only makes about a dozen cuts at the most. So I might go through about 50 to 100 a week. Eventually I will get to use a diamond knife though. But you must be very careful with them. And my accident-proneness is only getting worse. I have been dropping everything, and when it is work stuff - like my samples and slides - my PhD colleague/tutor cringes. It's like I am causing her pain with my clumsiness. She thinks that I am taking things too lightly probably. I am not though. But if I were to freak out and get upset everytime something dropped or broke or cut me or burned me or just went and screwed itself up, I would surely go mad.

So the week started OK, I think, I don't actually really remember what Monday was like, it was too long ago. But it quickly got very bad. I would like to say that the middle of the week was bad but it was actually only Tuesday. I was just ahead of the times all week. The week has caught up now though - it feels like Friday and it is Friday. But most the week I thought it was the day after.

So Tuesday (which I was sure was Wednesday) I heard from my supervisor who I should not bother to speak my mind about over the internet. And so my next couple of days were rather shitty.

But it seems it was not just me because Wednesday I heard from my Irish PhD colleague who also had many endearing things to say about she-who-should-not-be-named.

Then Thursday began to be better, partly because it really felt like a Friday. You know when you are just so exhausted that things don't seem to matter much anymore? Well that is where I was, and work went well yesterday. Then after putting my keys in my pocket and going home (did I mention that it has rained all week?) I find that I must have dreamed putting my keys in my pocket because they were so not there anymore. Luckily just as I have given up searching through my bag somebody comes out of the apartment-block door and lets me in. And luckily again one of my housemates is home and lets me into the house, which means I can put down my groceries. But then what would you know - the day I finally leave my keys at work the cleaners come on the correct day of the week, and did their job correctly, and locked my bedroom door behind them.

So I was screwed. I could not retreat to my bed as I so wanted to. It was 7 pm and I went back to work. Luckily when you get to the station just on time for the train it only takes 15 minutes. And luckiest of all, not only does the building stay open till 8 but one of the students I share an office with was working late this particular night. So. There comes a point where things are just funny no matter what, and that was it.

Today was good. And I am still saying that despite the fact that I arrived before 9 as I always do lately, and did not leave till 8 pm. First - it is not raining! I spent a constructive morning doing all the things that one must do for cutting, without actually trying to cut any ultra-thin sections. It was better I didn't do any important work you see because I could feel that today was going to be one of those days when everything I touch breaks. Then after lunch I spent far too much time on the microscope - it is amazing how time can pass so easily sometimes when you are doing something that would seem to most to be so boring (not to mention incomprehensible). And finally, at 5 pm, I must sit and figure out what the hell my supervisor might want in terms of a progress-report. And that is what took me till 8 pm, and consisted of many pictures, and absolutely no sarcasm.

That last bit was really difficult. And that long long day is probably why I ate a block of chocolate. This is not as bad as it sounds though, the blocks are smaller on this side of the world, only a hundred grams. Sadly. Except that this particular block had and extra 25% for free. But Milka is really good. And wrapped in purple. I guess purple must be the colour of chocolate. I don't think they tried to trademark their shade though. Cadbury are just paranoid I guess. I don't know why we go on about it, chocolate here is just as good, if not better. The chocolate is not what they have even beat everyone else at - it's the caramello and peppermint that no chocolate here can match, and the black-forest too. And white chocolate on this side of the world is not as good either, but then nor is Cadbury's. Milky bar is best, but it is not here. And no moro bars either.

So enough about chocolate. Now I have written far too much and it is time to go to sleep. Just now I knocked my ipod off of its perch on top of my laptop and what would you know, it headed straight for my glass of water. Missed it though, luckily. Really, many people drop them in far worse than a glass of water - but to do it twice? That is surely too much even for me.

Only two weeks left in Vienna. What a terrible tragedy. That volcano erupted two weeks too early - it must have got its dates wrong. That's okay though, it can just erupt again in time to disrupt my flight indefinately.

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