Thursday, October 13, 2011

Honey badger doesn't give a shit.

Today (and tomorrow) was (is) something called the SFB meeting.  Basically, our group gets funding to collaborate with some folk from the University in Wien (Vienna).  So four times a year, we get together in one of the respective cities (Innsbruck this time) and people give talks (also known as structured naptime with coffee breaks).  Below is a picture of the best figure I saw all day:

The potential well is about a C-cup deep.  Oh wait, did I just say that aloud?

(What happens if one nipple tunnels to the other nipple?)
Yes, boobies.  I am a very mature person.
We also have what's called a "social event," where everyone basically goes and eats for free.  (The "free" part is key here.)  The place we went this time was up in the mountains.  Here's a map:

The captions "lab" and "home" and "eat" should be pretty self-explanatory.
For reference, it usually takes me about 20 minutes to get from blue to red by bicycle.  This involves traffic stops, trying really hard not to get killed by fucking nutjob European drivers and rain (lately, at least).  It's also usually early in the morning or late at night, and everyone who knows me knows how much I love doing things in the morning that don't involve sleeping, mountain biking or eating bacon.  (And shit, bacon is just as good at one pm than at 9:30 am.)
To get to this place, you have to go from red, then along the river (the blue thing...y'know), then along the thing called arzler str....to the black thing.  Now, this isn't exactly the most topographic of maps.  But I can tell you with utmost certainty that the town of Innsbruck is mostly flat.  However, the moment you leave the town, the elevation climbs absurdly.  The bike I'm borrowing has gears, but apparently nothing for the uphill (so why even have gears?  Hell.). So it was...a difficult climb, to say the least.  Satisfying, though.  Especially because the first thing they did when I locked up the bike was hand me a cup of spiced hot red wine.  Yeah, I know, I should really just keep bitching about how lonely I am.  Fuck off, you.
Okay, so I got a pretty bitchin' free meal.  (Note: Tyrolean food still does not sit well with me.  Sorry, roommate.)  My advisor came to the table and the following conversation ensued.

Advisor: Okay, you guys can have two drinks, then afterwards you have to pay for them yourselves.
(leaves)
Me: Holy shit, they're going to buy us drinks?
Everyone else: Only two?!

But the best part was yet to come.  I had to make use of the facilities, and came upon a sight so...WTF that I had to go back to capture it on iPod.

That is...exactly what it looks like.
Yes.  We have a shower, which was stationed in between two toilets, and in the shower is a tasteful arrangement of ears of corn.  It's a good thing I was in a bathroom, because I almost shit myself laughing.  It's shit like this, Austria...
Got a ride back to my flat, the smallest room in Innsbruck, and now I'm wide awake, even in the face of massive sleep deprivation.  Eh, fuck it.
For something awesome, click here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sleeping is overrated

I suppose I ought to write something.

This isn't getting easier.  In fact, it's getting harder.  Every day, I'm one step closer to just giving up and quitting and getting on the next plane to the States.  Yesterday, I convinced both of my parents that I was quitting.  Only after a lot of talking to a certain very good friend of mine was I willing to stay.  Even then, maybe for just a semester.  I'm not getting my Ph.D. out here, that's for damn sure.  At best, I leave with my Master's.  At worst, I leave with a semester of study at the University of Innsbruck under my belt.  Not bad, probably.  But in all honesty, I want to finish what I start.

Every day I wake up hating this.  I hate being alone, I hate being so far from everyone I care about, and I hate what I've gotten myself into.  The loneliness is crippling.  The feeling in my stomach is crippling.  It's like a constant knot of pain and anxiety.  It's no fun.

But here's some cool stuff.  This past week was "Woche der Physik," or Week of Physics.  I went around and took videos of some of the better experiments that we had to show the general public.  (The general public speaks German.  I do not.)  Two of them are below.  I'll load more later.

Here's a giant soap bubble window:

video

I wish I remembered the name of the guy in the video, but he's a nice guy.  We were playing with it after we set it up.  I later learned how to make awesome massive bubbles with it--someone took a picture of me doing it, so maybe if I find it I'll post it later. That was a lot of fun, and I met a lot of people when I set it up and such.
A demonstration of gravity--the coin-sucker:

video

The kids were hilarious on this one.  One of them is the hand you see at the end reaching down into the abyss.  I wonder how much money was put into that thing over the course of the week...certainly enough that I could use it...

I miss my old life and want it back, but that's just not possible right now.