12 December 2009

Suits, chemicals, detectives

Combine these three phenomena and you might get a busy day. How did that all come together?

The day started with a beautiful sunrise, seen from the staircase to the lab!

I'll start with the chemicals. I not only have to look at forams, I'll also have to establish some characteristics of the samples I sieved them out of, such as organic carbon content and grain size distribution of the siliciclastic fraction. The former is piece of cake: you take a subsample, you dry it, weigh it, burn it, weigh it again, done.

Dry samples

Burnt samples

The grain size analysis requires much more work: you have to somehow end up with only the silt and clay fraction, and you can't use your burnt samples, because the burning makes the clay minerals clog together. So you dissolve all the organic stuff. Or pick it out by hand, if necessary. Lots of work. And when trying to dissolve stuff it helps putting the samples in a hot bath for several hours. And I wanted to put some samples into the furnace, and some others in a hot bath, before the suits would take over.

Some samples being prepared for grain size analysis, and the junk I have to pick out first

Geographers in suits, that's not normal! But there was a good reason for it: job interviews. Exciting: we'll get a few new people with permanent positions, and I wanted to see the presentations of those that had applied for the physical geography job(s). So after I had done what needed to be done in the lab I went to the room where these men (I hope I'm not breaking any laws of confidentiality if I here write all presenters were men) could flaunt their stuff. I am optimistic! And, of course, quite pleased with having seen several respected colleagues at their sharpest.

Sorry, no pics of geographers in suit!

When these men were taken away to be grilled by the panel I went back to the lab. And got quite carried away. Away with thee, grass roots! While I was waving around squirting bottles of H2O2 with my gloved hands Debbie, a lab technician, addressed me. To my surprise her message did not concern chemicals; she had an extra ticket for a show that night, and if I wanted to come! Well, yes!

The flyer for the play

So I happily dissolved on, until I was beckoned away by Roland who had something to celebrate, and a few minutes to do that. So I drank a few pints, ate some sandwiches, and off I went to the theatre. I there met Debbie in her leisurely attire: so much more elegant than what we in the lab are used of her! The play was a parody on the Hound of the Baskervilles. Really well done! A worthy debut in the Plymouth theatres. And a last pint of a hectic day in a nice pub (with charming cat that gave me the cold shoulder!) and in good company was a good close! If I have many more of these days I will at some point collapse, but it was good!

The pub we decided not to go to. The building is beautiful, but the people inside a bit too busy with convincing themelves they are too

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