Follow the reluctant adventures in the life of a Welsh astrophysicist sent around the world for some reason, wherein I photograph potatoes and destroy galaxies in the name of science. And don't forget about my website,

Saturday 12 November 2011

The Ambassador and the Apocalypse

The usual response to whenever I complain about living on a small, desolate island thousands of miles from home is to retort "Yes, but at least you're living on a tropical island paradise." To which my mental response has always been, "Oh REALLY. Is THAT what you think ?". Well, finally I've captured photographic proof that this simply isn't true ! Not unless your idea of "tropical island paradise" includes a sky which, every afternoon, appears to be about to vent the very wrath of heaven upon the world, probably accompanied by something suitably eighties.


In only slightly less dramatic news, my office has now acquired this rather fine reptilian resident. I suspect he's after the ants, from which there seems to be no escape. I'm currently waging a war against them at home anyway (the current score is several thousand to me, a few nasty bites to them). They've taken it upon themselves to form trails entirely at random in ranks hundreds strong. I tried blocking their trails with masking tape, I tried brutally slaughtering them with ant killer, hell I even tried flaming them with a gas lighter - nothing works.

Which makes it all the more worrying that now, not content to vainly try and steal my food, they also appear to be trying to steal my research, the bastards. It's not as if I even eat in my office or anything.  I can't block their trails with masking tape, because they don't have any. They just turned up one morning on my desk, randomly milling about. I certainly can't spray them all with ant killer, because that would soak all my papers. And I definitely can't burn them, because that would also burn down the office and would be silly.

Get away from my food you BITCH !

In yet more dramatic news, my earlier proclamations against Goldenye may have been a tad... premature. I mentioned that even if we wanted to, we couldn't afford the electric bills to flood the dish. In a bizarre twist, this has become supremely ironic. Owing to the apocalyptic storm shown above, the area underneath the dish is now a lake that's probably about 2 metres deep. Ordinarily we'd just turn on a pump and wave bye-bye to mosquito heaven, but the transfer from Cornell has thrown up an unexpected bureaucratic wrangle. Apparently, someone needs to stay by the pump overnight when this happens... but we can't pay them overtime anymore. Whoops.

Last but not least, this week saw the visit of His Excellency Sir Nigel Elton Sheinwald of Harrow, British Ambassador to the United States of America. No, seriously, that's his full title (although he probably leaves out the "of Harrow" bit). Apparently he was accompanied by his wife and a protocol officer. Unfortunately I didn't get to ask if she's fluent in over 6 million forms of communications because they turned up while I was at lunch, and went galavanting up to the platform without me. Nor did anyone take up my suggestion that we find a small boat and sail them around underneath the dish. I can't imagine why. Because the line "I once went sailing with the British Ambassador underneath the world's largest radio telescope" is one hell of a conversation starter.

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