Coming back from the observatory last weekend, there was a thick fog, and I accidently hit a deer. Before it happened, the deer was on the other side of the road, going parallel to the road, and I was sure I wouldn't hit the thing. But then the thing darted, and there was a loud thump, and I felt terrible. I discreetly told my graduate advisor, and because he is apparently a gossip about people hitting deer, lots of graduate students were teasing me the next day about the headless, bloodied deer that would be haunting me at the telescope.
When I looked at the front of my car, I couldn't find any sort of dent or blood. Fast forward to when I am coming out of the telescope building today, which is apparently the first time I've looked at my car in the light of day since last weekend, and I find the dent. It's fairly sizeable, but it's on the SIDE of my car. The side, not the front. Since I was on a straight stretch of road, that stupid deer must have run into ME. What the hell?
I'm at Cerro Tololo right now, messing up my sleep cycle by being awake during sunlight hours (ha! Cool, huh?). I haven't broken the telescope too badly yet, although I did break a computer, and got angry complaints from the 4-m scope people next door for turning on the glaring dome floodlights in the middle of the night while I refilled the liquid nitrogen dewer.
No llamas here, although there are plenty of cacti that look like llamas. And there are squirrel bunnies! And freaking huge black insects that keep buzzing around the keyboard as I type!
Wish you all could be here,
Just did a dawn drive back from the Observatory at Mt. Palomar. Still quite the awesome place. Threatening to never let me have astronomer's access to the observatory again struck me as one of the most convincing reasons I should continue on to get my Ph.D.
Actually went to "The Monastery" this time, where all the (assumed male) scientists who visit Palomar lodge. Comfy. Lots of free food, although the fact that the entire supply of sodas in the refrigerator were caffeine-free struck me as very wrong. Heard all about the torture rituals of putting new scientists in the primary observer chair of the dinner table.
Watched "Donnie Darko" for the first time two nights ago. Kept seeing large, skull-faced rabbits in the dark.
Hey, if any of you are remotely interested in astronomy and have access to a telescope, you should check out Mars right now. In the next month or so, it will be getting as close to the Earth as it will ever get in our lifetimes. Even with cryonic technology, JL. Anyways, some of my coworkers and I were checking out Mars on about a 4-inch telescope, and we could clearly see the polar ice caps and some darker valleys.
Had lots of fun with people, too. Performed fine conversationally. I think I was much too tipsy on sleep deprivation to be concerned about anything much. It reminded me of The Onion's "Other News" column a week or two ago about the FDA approving new medication for social anxiety: Bacardi. Totally. Totalllly.
Gods, though! The road to and from Palomar was a lot more curvy than I remembered. I'm gonna go to bed now in the attempt to pull my stomach back down from my ears.
I hope I never reach the point in life where I walk into a room full of 150 astronomers discussing galaxy clusters and experience anything short of sheer excitement.
Wish they had snacks, though. So long since food...
Anyone whose goal is "something higher" must expect some day to suffer vertigo. What is vertigo? Fear of falling? Then why do we feel it even when the observation tower comes equipped with a sturdy handrail? No, vertigo is something other than the fear of falling. It is the voice of the emptiness below us which tempts and lures us, it is the desire to fall, against which, terrified, we defend ourselves."
-Kundera, 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being'