“Move to Europe!”, they said. “It’ll be an adventure!”, they said. “Think of all the places you can travel to!” (I know you’re not supposed to end with a preposition, but whatever. It’s the end of the world and all that.) But now, the world has shut down, the city outside is silent (but for the screeching outside of these trash birds better known as “seagulls”), and I am stuck in a 320 sq. ft. box, rollin’ in that sweet, sweet postdoc money. Livin’ the dream. Alone with my plants. And my thoughts….. Pandemic date: Day 25. These are the sweatpants-clad voyages of a lone postdoc abroad in the Netherlands during the Apocalypse…..
My dearest reader, I write this to you from the comfort of my cheap Ikea chair with a modest view of sunshine through my one window. Please, for the sake of your own sanity, do everything in your power to suppress the deep feelings of jealousy that are currently arising within you as you look upon the lavishness of my lifestyle. You too can live like this one day. Just become a postdoc….
But first. An introduction. Hello. My name is Kelsey. At least, that’s what they called me in the Before Times…. I’m a postdoctoral researcher at Leiden University in a small town called, shockingly, Leiden, in the Netherlands. I’m an alumnus of the MagAO-X group, and I have been asked to entertain you beautiful people for a few minutes with what will hopefully be an interesting blog post with pretty pictures of the Netherlands, but will more likely be an accidental and disturbing look into the dissolving psyche of a caged extrovert. Shall we continue? Let’s go!
I have now been isolated at home for 25 days, and honestly, my plants and I have barely noticed a change in our daily routine. We have the same conversations as usual. Finn Ficus is so funny. He really cracks me up. What a jokester that one is. And Roger. Sweet, observant Roger. He keeps watch over the world outside from his perch on the windowsill. He alerts us if anyone comes within 1.5 meters of our fortress (that’s the distance required by Dutch law that we must maintain between people). We spend our days just laughing and laughing and laughing…… what a truly wonderful time to be alive! I discovered this week that Roger is ALSO a ficus! Who knew?! I’ve only been staring at him for a year….
Sometimes Roger and Finn let me go outside and stretch my legs a bit. And when I do, I take my fairly crappy camera phone with me and pretend to be a photographer. Don’t adjust your TV, the following pictures, as the one above, will be in black and white. Because….it’s deep, and artsy, and retro, ok? Stop judging me, Finn! I can see you looking at me over there…..
As far as places to be quarantined go, the Netherlands is a really beautiful place to be.** (** Note: This is assuming spring time conditions. Winters here include: insanely high winds, constant rain, random bursts of heavy hail, often a magical combination of two or more of these phenomena, and all experienced from the comfort of your very open and unprotected bike. Also, aggressive birds. But they’re out year-round.) So for your viewing pleasure, here’s a few pictures I have taken around Leiden over the past 3.5 weeks.
And so, dear reader, I end my blog post. It wasn’t much, but hopefully it was something to distract you from your own personal monotony. I hope you have enjoyed our random little walk through Leiden and some of my favorite spots. Unfortunately Finn and Roger are telling me that my screen time is up for the day, so I will leave you now (but I’m gonna sneak my laptop into my bedroom and watch some Netflix now. Come at me, Finn! I dare you!) So this is me signing off. Stay safe. Stay sane. And for the love of god, don’t hoard toilet paper.
With love, The one formerly known as Kelsey
Your song of the day: The Windmills of Your Mind by Noel Harrison
Today was an exciting day for the whole team: MagAO is mounted, poised, and ready to go!
The adsec is back, has been flattened, and is lookin’ good (after extensive reconstructive surgery).
The pyramid wavefront sensor has been updated (and is swankier than ever).
And finally, MagAO is bolted to the Clay telescope, and is ready to show us what its got!
But we didn’t do this alone. Our fuzzy friend Greg/Gary/Galileo Guanaco appears to be quite interested in the goings-on at the telescope. We caught him peeking at us in the control room this afternoon. According to Dr. Katie Morzinski, he has adopted us as his herd. Or he’s just a creeper. You can decide.
Greg/Gary/Galileo Guanaco didn’t prove to be TOO much help. He offered absolutely no assistance this evening, and we were forced to proceed without him. We soldiered on and brought MagAO up from the deep to be happily reunited with the telescope.
Once MagAO was back on the nasmyth, it took some expert maneuvering by some very talented people to get this 1800 lb beauty mounted back on the telescope.
And after some fancy footwork, MagAO was reunited with its beloved telescope.
There were some final inspections by Dr. Laird Close, PI….
And some tricksy things to be dealt with, like the ‘anaconda’ – the snake-like coil carrying all of MagAO’s communication cables, power, and plumbing that wraps around the instrument very much like its namesake….
But in the end, it was all worth it. In the immortal words of Dr. Jared Males: “We’re back, baby!”
As scientists and engineers, do we all have a hip and edgy sense of fashion? Well obviously.
But more than that, edges seemed to show up everywhere today.
Inside the observatory:
You see the outer edge of the pupil in this interferometric image of the adaptive secondary mirror? Yeah – well you couldn’t yesterday! This beautiful, fringe-filled, full image of the ASM is courtesy of the intrepid mirror-whispers Runa, Marco, and Fernando.
Outside the observatory:
This guanaco likes to live life on the edge. He’s been swinging by this week frequently to show off for the astro-paparazzi who, without fail, come bounding outside at even the faintest cry of “GUANACO!!!”
Watching the edge of the horizon for the green flash. Do you see it?? We didn’t either. Still a gorgeous sunset though.