Following the events of last Thursday, the press conference, the party, I felt like I was starting to get the hang of things here at LHO. And I guess that theme continued over the weekend!
At the end of Friday’s workday, Darkhan and I ventured into the control room to see if a few people fancied food that evening. Nutsinee and Jenne were trying to lock the interferometer, and said that they’d join us after their shift, at 8. Darkhan and I went home and waited until about 8 before heading out to 2 Bits and a Bite.
This was my first experience of a bar in America. We went inside. One side of the room was occupied by pool, snooker and other billiard tables. So Darkhan and I grabbed a table. The place smelled like old beer and must. There were neon adverts all over the walls for different kinds of beer, and at least 2 TVs in any direction you looked. It seemed like my kind of place! Though the photos came out darker than I had thought.
After about half an hour, Nutsinee joined us. Nutsinee is an operator here. She keeps a LIGO facebook page in Thai, and on Thursday and Friday was asked to give interviews for the Thai media, as the only Thai speaking member of the collaboration. We talked about how that was for her, and about some interesting pre-prints we had seen which based themselves around The Event (The Event is the euphemism we had been using for the GW150914). We ordered food (we all ate “Fish and chips”) had a drink all together, and then by about 10.30, went our own way.
It was nice to get out of the apartment and start making friends. The next day, I had an appointment for a driving knowledge test. So I went to bed early.
On Saturday, I got up early, and took the morning in. At 11, I went to Darkhan’s. We both had things to do in Kennewick. But before that, we had to make a stop for coffee! We went to a place called Roasters. Apparently, they roast and grind their own coffee beans. The coffee was good, but it was way too hot to drink right away.
Darkhan dropped me at the driving school I take my test, and went off to FedEx to do his thing. The knowledge test is one way of avoiding having to pay for lessons behind the wheel. It’s a 25-question multiple choice test about the rules of the road. Much of it is common sense. And sure enough, I passed with 22/25. But it turns out that now I have to go the the local licensing agency to get my learners permit before I can drive in one of the cars, so that I can practice before a road test. I think it’s a little strange that the body who issues the license doesn’t deal with the testing for these licenses, but trusts private practises to provide the testing. But I guess that’s one of the side effects on having a free market on every section of society.
After the test, we have nothing else to do for the day, so we grab a bite t eat at a Chipotle in Kennewick. Darkhan says he eats there often, and it was nice enough food.
Once I get back to the apartment, I continue to waste my day playing Civilization V and eating way too much icecream. At about 7.30, Nutsinee texts me, asking if I wanted to come out to see Deadpool. “Hell yeah!” So I get ready, and when the time comes, I head over to Darkhan’s so we can head over together. Outside, the wind is beginning to pick up, but it’s still warm.
At the cinema, w arrive early and buy what might be the last 3 tickets for the movie at 10:40, though we can’t all sit together. It’s $12.50 each, which is about the same ass in the UK. Once Nutsinee arrives, and she buys her popcorn and I buy my nachos, we still have half an hour to wait. In this half hour, I realise that cinema-nachos are not a good idea. There’s a machine to dribble hot ‘cheese’ onto your nachos, and an open pot full of jalapeños – no thank you!
No spoilers, but the Deadpool film was pretty good. What you’d expect really. Not deep and meaningful, but not forgettable either. I don’t think the other two liked it as much as I did. But that’s ok. It’s about 1am before we get home, so straight off to bed with us!
Come Suday, I was due my skype date, so the whole morning was spent talking to Joe, and watching Jessica Jones. In the past week, Joe had booked tickets to come out to visit me here in Richland, and now with his visa waiver sorted, all that’s left is to wait.
The afternoon was spend cooking and cleaning. On Sunday evening, I’d be receiving a flatmate. Darkhan and I would go and pick up Hang together from the airport, so I wanted to be sure that the apartment was in good nick. Hang had been to LHO before, he was here for 3 months last summer, and so was familiar with the area. Coming from MIT, he already had the basics of life sorted, and so was ready to jump right into work.
Before heading out, I went to Darkhan’s, and had a little bit of a cookie. Before I say any more, let me start by saying that cannabis for recreational use is legal in Washington state. Whilst there are no dispensaries in the Tri-cities, every now and then, somebody might go out and get some. A few weeks ago, Darkhan was offered a cookie baked with cannabis, only had a nibble, and had been quite intoxicated for an evening. He offered me a corner of the same cookie. It really wasn’t a lot, but still was very potent. It kind of framed the rest of the evening. Even before getting to the airport, I was feeling the effects.Its not something I’m in a hurry to do again.
We picked up Hang at the airport, and took him back to WinCo to get some groceries, and then headed back home. The wind was still strong tonight, so every now and then, we would run into a tumbleweed or two trying to cross the road in front of the car. Back at the apartment, I showed him to one of the two free bedrooms. It turns out that he stayed in the exact same apartment last summer, and picked out the same room.
And with that, I went back into my room with some food an orange juice, and went to sleep, waiting for the effects of the cookie to end.