Monday, June 16, 2008

Defined By Stuff

I was going to write something about what exactly I'm doing in California, but in the interest of keeping things at least slightly exciting I will instead focus on all the things I currently keep in my pockets. This is because explaining what most of the stuff is doing there requires me to explain a few things anyway-

~ key ring and card holder- This is the one I carry around at uni, actually, but important because it has my bike lock key and SETI entry card inside it. NASA Ames research center, where I live, is a mile or so away from the SETI Institute, meaning we all got bikes for the summer because it doesn't rain here in the summer. (Really- it just doesn't, and hasn't since springtime.) My current bike is a cruiser- I couldn't help myself- except unlike my Cleveland one this is probably from the original generation of when all bikes were like cruisers. So it goes.

As for the entry card, beyond getting into the building this is important because the SETI Institute shares the building with Symantec on the second floor, aka the people who gave you Norton antivirus software. This means you need a special SETI card obviously, but the building has an odd layout so you're forever going from the "common" areas to the shared and back (even on simple things like going to the kitchen or to my boss' office). Alas, this is also problematic for a few of my fellow students who are busily trying to figure out how to pull a prank on Symantec, as apparently they're not total fans of their software...

~ key ring for room key- NASA Ames used to be in part Moffet Federal Airfield, an active military base until 1994, so the student housing (for several programs) is in the old army barracks. Think a cross between a hotel and a dorm really.

I rather like the base, by the way. First of all it has Hangar One, possibly one of the most iconic things in the greater area, there's a branch of Carnegie-Mellon University here for robotics to make me feel like I'm back in Pittsburgh, and word on the street says Mythbusters has filmed a decent number of shows here. Oh, and when I had to do my laundry last week it involved going through an abandoned barracks area to a bunker that had an asbestos warning on the door, a journey which at night reminds one of the set of a scary movie. ("They were there to discover alien life... but then the aliens found them!!!) Defintely a place with character.

~ NASA ID badge- I got one of these the first day to get on and off the base, and it has proven annoying for several reasons. First, it is slightly larger than a wallet size, meaning you can't fit it into anything. Second, you need to show it every time you need to get in. Third and most annoying, it doesn't count as a valid form of ID in itself, so you need to show a government-issued ID (aka driver's license) every time you enter as well, thus rendering this badge completely worthless. As I've already established when I forgot the special ID, you're allowed onto the base with just your driver's license, thus proving this is just a layer of bureaucracy someone likes to keep around (probably the guy who takes the crappy pictures).

~ Wallet- Important for the money that one goes through quickly in California, BART card (aka light rail/subway in the San Francisco area), and for the driver's license which is the actual important piece of identification.

~ Cell phone- I often "forget" my cell phone in my room back at Case because I am not a total fan of them (to the point of not really having one at all in New Zealand on study abroad), but that's not exactly an option here. This is because there has been quite a bit of travel already on the job, and calling people, and stuff like that, so cell phones are sorta important...

Of course, I realize I haven't described what exactly I'm doing yet, but that deserves its own post so I'll explain later.

So all in all, too many things to keep track of. See, I realized soon enough that my problem here is this is one or two objects to many for the "in pockets" category for me because I'm forever forgetting one or two things and spending a few minutes before work every day looking for the missing item. This is usually the NASA ID in which case I don't shed too many tears, but this morning it was the bike key/ SETI card, and that was a hassle to poke around for... Am working on increasing the efficiency of combining items still, so my goal is to know where everything is without a search within a few weeks.

And that, ladies and gents, is my brief description of the day-to-day in California. As promised earlier, I will give a description of work itself a little later.


Linda said...

You know this is why they invented purses right? ;) And luckily as a memeber of the fairer sex you are allowed to carry one around without getting funny looks.