Sorry for the lack of posts

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Suddenly I got busy enjoying my time here, forgot my WordPress password and totally forgot that I have a blog that could do with some attention!

At the moment I can’t think of anything super exciting to post for you all. So I think I will just stick to my quick post bullet point style as that saves me from having to think too hard.

  • Six weeks of work done, 2 to go and I am getting reasonably good at what I’m doing and breaking less stuff
  • Have had two wonderful weekends away
  • Had great weekends here with the friends I have made
  • Weather have been fabulous, sunshine all the way!
  • I have tickets back home, 7th of August.
  • I am quite excited about the football tonight and sunday (GO SPAIN!) and of course the formula 1 on sunday (I know the world is full of surprises, I didn’t think I would like it but I do)
  • I’m trying to make plans for my two weeks of holidays after I finish work but can’t quite figure out what order I want to do things in.
  • I don’t like trains anymore after last weekend when I spent 11 hours trying to get from Durham to Carmarthen (I got there in the end, but way later than planned and I started out way earlier than planned as well)
  • Norway is crazy expensive, or rather everything here is crazy cheap, either way I like spending money here because they go a long way.
  • Ice-cubes are made for chewing, hopefully I will be able to get the bar staff to see that I am not totally insane when asking for a pint of ice, oh and if they can’t give me that can I have a coke with PLENTY of ice please?
  • I am not eating properly, again, the kitchen is a dump and to be honest just thinking about the kitchen puts me of my food, so I survive on lunch and crisps, chocolate and Tesco sandwiches on the days I can be bothered to go shopping.
  • I don’t take enough pictures, I know I will regret it later, but I don’t see how I could take pictures of things as that is the last thing on my mind when stuff is happening.
  • I have forgotten all I want to say, and most of what have happened that I havent told you all about probably
  • Me and Nikolin went to Hadrian’s wall and due to us reading train tables wrong were in Newcastle at 11pm with no trains home, but there was a night bus so we got home safe
  • Most days I meet Marit (another Iaeste student) for lunch even if we havent planned it.
  • I am going to write postcards to family today, not sure what to put on them but I’ll get them all done today and then I can relax.

Silje

Sometimes a phonecall makes it all better

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I have been feeling down this weekend. Really down. Yesterday was not a great day. It had its highlights: The awesome England – USA match! I do feel so bad for the English, they were so close to scoring so many times. But other than the match and the socialization after I was having a rather awful day. So much for the white powder keeping me happy!

Today was better, but not great either. I seriously considered just not getting out of bed at all, but eventually I decided that no god would come from staying in bed.

Since I had already said I would come see the formula 1 I did. I had no expectations, apart from thinking it would be boring. It was brilliant! I loved it, I was so into it that it bothered me being disturbed by the others ordering pizza and talking about anything else! I have no clue about the rules, and didn’t have any preference for who I wanted to win, I just know it was great! I want to see it next time as well!

Yeah I know. I am the same person that before the weekend would say that I hate football and that I would never see the whole match no matter what. I have since friday seen two whole matches and the first half of one. Watching formula 1 has never ever entered my thoughts and I was totally absorbed by it today. I didn’t even notice when someone spoke to me!

This was not what the post was supposed to be about. But now that I am more cheerful I notice these things. I had a great time watching sports this weekend! With my new friends. Who probably think I am crazy. I still havent asked them for a hug, which is when they will really think I am totally nuts!

Anyway, what I wanted to write about was how a phone call can cheer you up so much you would not believe it! I called my extra mummy and talked to an hour and a half and now everything in the world seems ok again. I have been told of for not eating proper and been told that I need to look after myself better, and that I should get tickets to come home and be fed and looked after. I might actually do that, but not on a formula 1 weekend (that is how good I thought it was).

My extra mummy will also send me a package in the post. With cookies! All is right in the world when you get care packages! I am excited now.

I should also mention that my lovely boyfriend has sent me a parcel with things in which should cheer me up. New glasses that I must admit I am a bit sceptical about, but I desperately need them to see better at work, and they will be behind lab goggles anyway. A cheese slicer, which will make it easier to make nice sandwiches, and some other things I wanted that I can’t remember now.

I am feeling much better now. Thank you to everyone who I have talked to this weekend that has comforted me and given me virtual hugs (they help when I can’t get real hugs) it has made my weekend much better. Also thank you to my friends here, that didn’t know I was feeling down but let me be with them even if I was in a foul mood and was rude, obnoxious and totally laughing my ass of at England failing to score in the second half yesterday.

Homesick?

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I want to be with someone who has the same screwed up chemistry/science humor as me. Just to get it out of my system for a while.

I need someone who understands why I am laughing when the first thing that came to mind for removing red-wine stains was acetone. Someone who gets  that I have just been doing too much chemistry lately if I write EtOH instead of alcohol.

Someone who can tell me what an idiot I am for getting decaborane into the oil pump, and actually know what I am talking about. Someone who can listen to me have a moan about the rotavap needing constant greasing.

I need everyone to stop being so damn nice and politically correct and keep their meanings to themselves.

I never thought I would say that I miss the environment I study in, but I not only miss it I need it. People here are way to nice to each other, they need to learn that it is not as much fun as being a bit mean, in a friendly way.

Rant over now, but I would like for people to be  honest instead of just being polite and keeping their mouth shut.

White powder

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There is something immensely satisfying with a reaction that gives pure white crystals filling half of the round-bottomed flask. Crystals that can be filtered of and washed easily that you know will be pure even before you dry or analyze them because they are pure beautiful white.

Even more satisfying: There is 30-35 grams of it! I think, I have not weighed it, there is plenty of it so I am assuming, at least until monday, when I can dry it and weigh it that I have 35 grams. Fair enough I started out with 25 grams but when you are used to working on a <1 g scale 35 grams of powder just makes you smile. It is a smile that I just know will stick around over the weekend.

I am looking forward to the weekend but for the first time in many, many months I will also be looking forward to Monday when I get to dry, weigh and analyze my white powder and then use it in reactions.

Even in a 1 liter flask 35 grams of white powder looks like a lot.

Week two!

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Time passes quickly when you are having fun!

I did go shopping saturday last week, got myself a saucepan, a frying pan and tulips. I love tulips. To be fair I like most flowers that grow from bulbs, but tulips come in so many colours and are so fun! I have made dinner exactly once since my shopping expedition, but hopefully I will improve that over the next week.

Saturday there was a BBQ and I finally got to meet some people who live the same place I do! Very exciting! Had a great day, got sunburnt on my shoulders and way to drunk in the evening, but it was probably the best day I have had since I got here.

I have not been doing brilliantly at work. A trend of me breaking stuff seemed to develop over the week, either just slightly messing things up or just breaking things, which does make me feel quite bad.

What have gone wrong/should not have happened in the lab this week:

  • Cried so much that the solvent turned pink from being in a too girly environment, it was not strictly speaking broken, but it should not have been pink.
  • Decarborane got past the cold finger into the cold traps and so did metacarborane. This wasnt disastrous as the point of the cold traps is catching stuff that gets past the cold finger.
  • Decarborane got past the cold traps and into the oil of the oil pump. This was not so good. This was about the only thing I was told not to do. “Make sure nothing gets into the pump”. It felt like a disaster at the time, but we changed the oil. I don’t know if the filter and whatever else the pump needed doing got done because we then got sent to lunch for an hour and a half (this was the bit with too much crying, and it wasn’t only me crying, Wednesday was just one of those days. ) After lunch not much got done before I sent myself home because:
  • I got a cold. I am feeling better now, my nose is still a bit full of yucky stuff and my throat is sore and I have a feeling my cough is returning, but no painkillers since last night and I got a full nights sleep last night so I am doing quite well.
  • I broke glassware, I was using a funnel to put my white powder into it and it broke. Which I just thought was funny because nothing seems to have gone completely right this week.
  • Most of my NMR spectra have had too much acetone in them so they have been pretty much useless, I should stop cleaning NMR tubes it seems and just use the dirty looking ones.

What I learnt this week:

  • Setting up the vacuum line and taking it down again.
  • Taking out dry solvents
  • How to get all the solvents from the solvent store now, as well as where to take waste and where to pick up liquid nitrogen and dry ice.
  • Running proton and boron NMR and which experiments we want when we have CDCl3 and which ones we want when we have just some random solvent.
  • to live with the messy disgusting kitchen, I still do not use it enough but I am sure I will get there.
  • Where/how to do laundry here and I sure wish I was back in Tromsø where there is no queuing and carefully timing when to get back to pick up the clean clothes! And where I of course hardly ever have to do laundry, because I am terribly spoiled!

The best part of the work week will have to have its own post it was that good, the non-chemists will think I am crazy, but the chemists will know that I am not.

Other than work I feel most of this week has passed with me being ill even if that only was Wednesday, Thursday and today… Trying to think what I did Monday and I can’t really remember, Tuesday me and Nikolin got laundry detergent and I did laundry.

I will try to post a bit more next week and maybe I can get around to take some pictures, I keep bringing my camera but not actually getting around to take pictures.

One week!

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I have been in Durham for a week now. I like the place and I like work. The warm temperature and sunny weather admittedly makes is even better. I have not really gotten to know anyone outside of work which is probably mostly my own fault, it is not my thing to approach people and start talking to them. I am getting to know the two girls I work with more and more and they are really nice, and I am stating to believe them when they say they don’t mind me asking questions about how to do things in the lab. Hopefully I will soon be less lost and helpless and able to do more things myself and help doing things like pick up solvents and clean equipment.

Some time next week I will be confident enough to know what NMR spectra I need to run so I can do that without having to ask someone to come with me to see that I choose the right ones, and I will be able to set up the vacuum line and take it down without checking the order things are done in.

What have I learnt this week?

  • everything has its own form, and it has a specific colour and if it is gloves it has to go on a separate form because someone else is paying for it. Not only does it go on the form, it is also written in the book.
  • liquid nitrogen will always be fun, and I am no longer sceptical about handling it, it’s just kinda like water only cold, very cold, I probably should be a bit more careful actually.
  • sublimations are slow and tedious but you get nice crystals forming on the cold finger
  • That I cannot figure out how to insert pictures with captions in a blog post.
  • My address! Next up is what to do with a cheque to get money, if anyone knows please tell me!

Today I have to go and buy a frying pan and/or a saucepan so I can make some real food. I really want to go to Tesco Extra, but it looks to be quite a walk from looking at a map and I cannot figure out how else to get there,there is supposed to be a bus but I do not know where it runs from and I think it only runs on weekdays. Honestly I think I am just a bit lazy and making excuses. But some real dinner would be very nice, that and I want to bake something, but I have not dared to look in the oven in the kitchen as I am afraid something might be living in there, and judging by the rest of the kitchen, who knows!

Tuesday

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This is the post I wrote Tuesday morning but never got to post because the library had WordPress blocked.

I have gotten here safely and have settled in nicely. Still got some things to buy but nothing critical at the moment.

The flight and train journey went fine, no problems at all. A bit of a wait for my train, but I knew that when I booked, as I wanted to make sure I had plenty of time so I did not have to rush. I got my room and its nice, seems bigger than I expected and plenty big enough for me while I am here. Not sure it would be my choice if I was staying here for a long time, but it is nice enough.

The bathroom is tiny. When I first saw it I thought I would hate it and that the shower would be too tiny to actually use. It works surprisingly well, as long as anything you want to keep dry is removed from the bathroom before you start showering that is.

The kitchen is another story. It is big enough, but it is disgusting. The smell reminds me of a mixture of Chinese take away and a deep fat fryer that hasn’t been cleaned in a year.  This is probably not far from the truth when I think about it. I share it with 2-4 others. I have only met two and there are 3 other rooms, one empty. The two I have met are Chinese and they have a lot of Chinese looking food in the fridge, or rather what is visible of what they have in the fridge. The floor, the bit that isn’t carpeted is sticky, and I would rather not think about the carpeted bit. I am sorry if I offend someone, but who in their right mind puts a carpet in a kitchen and a communal kitchen at that!

I have learned my way to the city center and know my way around there enough not to get hopelessly lost as I was the first night. Today I am going to try to locate the tourist information and the library that surely must be there somewhere. I also need to find somewhere I can but a cheap frying pan and a pot so I can cook real food and not microwave soup for dinner every day.

My first day at work was yesterday. Introductions and a quick tour of the lab. I had to sign that I had read the health and safety information and now we have to wait until that is approved before I can start work so I got today of. I also got a brief explanation of what I will be working on, and it seems interesting enough. The other people in the lab seem nice enough as does the guy I’m working for.I think I will stop by today to see if I can get the campus-card sorted, as this is what I need to get internet access and I would really like to get that sorted today.

Our very kind neighbours at home let me borrow their old laptop, because the nearer the date of my departure the more I realized that it would be some very long weeks if I did not have Skype or MSN. So my plans to see how a summer without a computer would be were cut short. At least I have seen how some days without internet are. It’s not nice, I feel isolated and I would like to be able to have a look at a map and check out where things are.

That’s it really, no other exciting news, hopefully I will be able to find a computer, and enough time to post this today.

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