kind of normal

“Whoa, you are really comfortable with this kind of environment,” says my new boss as we rummage through a thicket of various cables on top of the cyclotron.

“You mean a huge mess in an accelerator hall? It’s kind of normal, right?” I reply with intentional nonchalance.

“Most fresh grad students are not used to this,” he clarifies. I guess spending several integrated days of your life digging through boxes of cables does have some perks, after all.


Despite what it may seem, I am still alive. And, yes, I’m in Berkeley having the summer of learning ROOT/C++ I  had always longed for/ escaped at CERN. I’m working for the time being in a group using the good ol’ (and I mean, actually old) Berkeley Cyclotron at LBNL. So far my job involves less coffee, less linguistic hilarity, more safety regulations, and significantly fewer copper gaskets than the previous one. Berkeley to me is new and still the same; I can sense the impending challenge but I feel so much at home. Just to walk down the street and recognize faces, to be able to call up a friend and spend time together, or to simply speak the same language as everyone around me is still somewhat surreal.

I haven’t kept up with my one-post-a-week pledge, largely due to the fact that I contracted (developed? acquired?) Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Seriously: It’s horrible. Fortunately, when my hands felt the worst I was in a position in which I could take two weeks off from typing and doing other repetitive tasks with my hands. Now, I’m back in action… but am constantly wary.

This will be my first summer in California since a while; I forgot how dry everything is. People (supposedly my future classmates) are already googling my name and “Berkeley physics 2013” and landing on this blog. Oh how the internet makes things so awkward sometimes. Hi, guys. Let the fun begin!


3 Responses to “kind of normal”

  1. sanlille Says:

    Welcome back!

  2. michael9murray Says:

    Just re-reading this post – brought to mind a conversation I had on a bus. I used to travel to work on the same bus as chemical plant workers. There had recently been built a huge glass-fronted complex. A woman I spoke to admiring this informed me she was a cleaner there. This new complex housed chemical labs – but they made it impossible for the glass to be cleaned with aerosols or any kind of mechanical means: it all had to be done by hand.

    It also reminded me of your time at CERN, with water on the floor and copper gaskets, and general mayhem behind the public image of spick-and-span.
    If only people knew what was behind the scenes!

  3. Josh Says:

    I’m sorry to hear about the RSI. I developed some sort of RSI in grad school; not carpel tunnel but something else. I was terrified to tell anyone because I was afraid they’d make me stop working. I got a Microsoft Ergonomic keyboard and (thank God) it got better on its own. But I know how terrifying it can be.

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