I believe it has been ages since I left off...but I shall endeavour to keep you all entertained...
Oh btw, I have NOT... I repeat... have NOT SEEN Comet Hyakutake yet. And I emphasise YET... cause I will. This bloody Cambridge fog and clouds. They are not letting up!!!! Cambridge may be one of the leading astronomical centres in the world, but there are great reasons why we astronomers and astronomers in training observe in Hawaii and La Palma. :)
I think I left off with Hawaii adventures last July... Well, not THAT much has happened since, just the trials and tribulations of my grad school experience. Remember, all this stuff is for my biographer someday *wink*. Let's see... July. Oh I took a vacation right after Hawaii and California. I went to Edinburgh. My friend Matthew told me it would be a cure for jet-lag. :) Well, I am not sure about that. It was bloody freezing in Edinburgh in July, but it was grand. A beautiful city and I got to see where Sean Connery grew up and went to school! Matthew, Luisa, Mukund and myself trained it up to stay with Matthew's friend Mel for five days. We saw Edinburgh castle (nice torture display, btw :) ), travelled to North Berwick where we rambled along the ruins of Tantallon Castle, right off a cliff, and toured the highlights of Edinburgh and surroundings. We had such dreadful weather though. Scotland's mountains are calling me back. We would have had nice views from the hills. Oh I stuck my toe in the Firth of Forth! Well, I managed to get isolated from the group cause the tide came in much quicker than expected while I was adventuring looking at all the neat rocks and barnacles and seaweed, so I wound up waddling through mighty cold and murky water. Matthew has some embarrassing photos, I'm sure!
My friend Luisa would leave 1 Malcolm Street to return to Italy. Before she left we, Erling (our Norwegian intrepid explorer and fellow 1 Malcolm Street-er), Luisa and I made a day trip to Grantchester. It was quite an enjoyable and relaxing experience. We had a going away party for Luisa that evening. This was August 9th.
The rest of the summer is quite a blur. I was teaching myself C. That in itself could make anyone's memory go blurry *wink.* But Cambridge is awfully beautiful in the summertime. Long bright days. Lunches under the apple trees. Lying out under the stars at night at the Observatories. We don't have any mosquitoes here so it was quite nice. We missed the ringless Saturn. Did get up at 5am for days, but the fog rolled in. Out of a Dickens/Hardy novel most certainly *wink*.
I believe I was working like mad in rush preparation for a winter school that was held in Tenerife, in the Canary Islands from Dec 4th through 15th. As always, the computer system went on the fritz within the last few days before I embarked leaving me to put together a poster which should have contained more simulation results...but it didn't turn out all that bad...
I had a grand time at the winter school. It was the combination of getting out of Cambridge and the thrill of presenting my work and also learning more about instrumentation that got me excited. I tried to soak in a great deal. The profs were great and the students were a mixture of grads and post-docs, all showing an interest in doing instrumentation, and even some ALREADY doing instrumentation. So I took advantage of the opportunity to get to know the profs and some of the students. It was a tedious two weeks with four hours of lecture each morning plus a two hour poster session (which really should have been organised much better) in the afternoon. We had two excursions planned: 1) one to visit a neighbouring island La Palma which houses several 4m and 2m telescopes and 2) a trip to the Teide National Park. Both were cancelled due to weather. :( We managed a short excursion to the observatories on Tenerife before the fog and icy roads intimidated the Spanish bus driver (and it frankly took very little to intimidate them!). I went running a few miles about every other day (what a grand experience) with some other students at 6am/7am under the stars before the sun came up. Beautiful black beaches. Some of the chaps bought a basketball and you all know where my heart lies, so I often was found joining them on the courts. So morning runs, morning lectures, a proper siesta in the afternoon, afternoon poster session and evening basketball games filled my two weeks. I sadly didn't get out too much to explore. We really had a tight schedule. But it is only a short hop from the UK and not too expensive. Maybe...
I left the balmy 70sF weather of the Canaries for below freezing weather in Jersey. New Jersey, that is. And yes, I haven't made it to Jersey here either. Will do! I hadn't been home in 12 months, my longest stretch so far. I feared that my folks wouldn't recognise me, but there was my dad and my bro waiting for me at Newark airport. It was nice to be home. I was on an incredible high from the conference. I had learned a lot, met a lot of cool people, and felt like a grad student for the first time (albeit some people even the organiser of the conference thought I was a post-doc! I credit such misconception to my highly professional way I went about our research at the IoA :) Or, I hope I presented such an image. To add, I received some needed feedback, most of which I still haven't implemented, but shall for it is stirring in my mind.)
Of course, I was well greeted by my dawgy Higgins, though I think she was a bit confused when there seemed to be a person living in a room which stood vacant for months. I think she got the picture! We then had to brace ourselves for the BLIZZARD of 1996, Well, it really wasn't that much. Well, we did get 28 inches with 5 feet snow drifts in places. I have some cool photos, one of me standing on the snow and being taller than my basketball hoop. I was enjoying it. It was a pain for the commuters. They even shut down the airports. Washington closed down, but that's nothing new! :) Sadly, my grandmum had fallen on the ice and broke her right shoulder. And my great aunt slipped as well. It was fun to watch and play around in but icy snows can be a problem. I really didn't do much those 4 weeks home. I was itching to get back to Cambridge due to my new-found inspiration from the winter school, but when it was time to come back, I didn't want to leave.
I arrived back in Cambridge January 16th. Started some proper instrumentation, because all my bits and pieces of my test dewar had arrived. I had some fixings to do (cabling, interface box, etc). My first cool down test was a disaster. But before that, I couldn't get the dewar down to a proper vacuum, My initiation into a future of dewars and their problems I figure. Well, not only were the O-rings all out of shape, the dewar containing them was so old that the companies no longer carried them! I had them custom made and it helped the vacuum a bit. A nasty scratch across one of the faces is most likely the culprit, but thankfully, even at a poor vacuum (1e-4mbars), it held liquid nitrogen well. I spent sometime figuring out a temperature control system and wired up some silicon diodes. They worked fine. But there remained a great deal to be done with the dewar because my sensors were registering 180K. The goal being 77K. My second cool-down test was more of an improvement because I added radiation shields. I'm down to 120K. There are a lot of changes I need to make, but I sort of have been detained... :(
But Kimberly plows on. Basketball practices and games. Formal Halls. Dinners and movies with friends. An awful amount of soldering. And lots of letter writing, especially to the new love in my life, who I had met at that Canary Island winter school mentioned above. Anyone wanting more personal details...well... *wink* Took a galaxy evolution class which was jammed pack full of stuff, but not exciting enough for me. I am slowly making my way through the notes. COHSI, my spectrograph, is to be used for looking at high redshift galaxies, and hopefully add some new slants to current theories of galaxy evolution...
Time flies quickly sometimes, but sometimes not enough! February 15th, a fateful night in the life of Kimberly Ennico. Quarterfinal match against Brighton, home in Cambridge. Kimberly a bit under the weather. The big varsity match that Saturday (game versus Oxford), the match of the year... So Kim asks the coach not to start her, for she is ill. I was. Well, we got into foul trouble, so coach puts me in. Okay, a bit winded, but otherwise, doing "good stuff" as the coach says. But I was put in as a forward. Now, I am a guard, but then again I am the third tallest person on the team. Anyway, confrontation under the basket, I heard my spine go "crunch," I stumble, the coach pulls me. Hurt my back. Didn't think it was that serious...
I could not sleep that night. By a miracle, I cycle to work Friday February 16 for our weekly instrumentation meeting at 10am, finding out I could not walk. I call the sports clinic but they just closed. The big match is tomorrow. I call the team captain. I manage to get home. The captain gets back to me, she gives me the number of the blue boat physio, comes highly recommended, she says. I call Heidi (the physio), she sees me at 5pm. I was leaving for Oxford at 630pm. I didn't want to miss getting my half blue. She helps relieve a great deal of pain and gets me walking. I'm off to Oxford. The coach hears about my back. He won't play me, only enough for me to get my half blue. Not the way I envisioned my Varsity Match I tell you.
Call it foolishness, I know. But it was important to play in the match of the season. I got two minutes on the court. Was feeling rough, but had iced up and limbered up when warm. Three assists and two jump balls. Was it that second jump ball? I jumped, lost balance, and fell. Twisted hard. Pulled off the court. I spent the rest of the game watching, and in a lot of pain. We won though! 67-52! We were only up by one point at half time. I am very glad for my team-mates. The second time Cambridge women won over Oxford in the past 20 years. In fact, we didn't have a cup! (The men won as well, a stunning game, tied 85-85, then in overtime, Cambridge win by 9 points) It was because Oxford had won all those years that it thought that the cup belonged to them! We wound up paying 50quid to take it home. But we got our cup!
I spent my first ever weekend in Oxford on the floor of one of the basketball player's parents house. Oxford looks very nice and I plan to return. I really hurt myself that second time. The varsity weekend is a blur. I watched netball (what a naft game). They got 5x as many spectators as we did, most likely due to the fact that the girls were wearing short skirts! When I arrived at the courts, I swear it was 1952. Girls with ribbons in their hair and miniskirts throwing around a volleyball without being able to be within 3 feet of another player (total non-contact game). It was fun to watch and giggle! And they get a full blue!
The next four weeks have been utter torture. I am up and about for now, but for two weeks I couldn't walk. I am so indebted to my friends who shopped for me, cooked me dinner, did errands for me, and visited me. A lot of people thought I was just working in the lab all the time. :) I am in my 5th week of recovery since the accident and I have not been able still to do my shopping or cycle. I have been seeing a physiotherapist two to three times a week and three doctors. All taking the conservative approach. I have not been a happy camper.
Each day I seem to feel better and I do a great deal more. By the end of the week, I am quite rough. I seem to have torn my back to shreds and one of my disks is irritating one nerve (S1 for you medics). So my right leg has gone numb and then pins and needles and then fine and then numb again. My lab experiments have been put on hold. I am getting back to getting at my simulations, but even long periods of sedentary work are a stress on the back. It's all wait and see, they say.
Of course, I am quite tired of it and hate being out of control. I had a friend from the US visit me for a week. He certainly didn't see me at my best. In fact, it turns out that simple walking around town and small excursions (Duxford Imperial War Museum - Tony and Toph, you guys would have loved it! I am going to return. We didn't even get through all the hangars before my back stiffened up too much. Nice Flying Fortresses *sigh* Sally B, to be more precise; and Linton, a nice picturesque town south of Cambridge) were too much for me at this time. I am out of danger they say, but the healing process will be slower if I tend to do more. And then I got roped into doing a poster on optical detectors for National Science Week. I overdid the prep for it, but I was mighty proud of my work even if no one else showed up on my shift and I wanted to go home because I was in pain, but I stuck out the 5 hours there.
It's my fault really. I should have said no. Well... I am just eager to get my life back to normal. I've been to a few dinners since then, two to have a mention: the senior and graduate women's dinner at Newnham College on Monday March 11th and the Commemoration of Benefactors dinner at Jesus College (I got invited as Chapel Secretary, now retired as of the 15th) on Friday March 15th. Both grand evenings. The latter reminding me how lucky I am to be in Cambridge where I can discuss all and everything over a very fine meal.
Backstep... I forgot the Queen. :) Well, HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH Prince Philip visited College to open up our new library (Quincentenary Library) on Friday March 8th. I smuggled Doug (my visitor) in and we all had a grand time! We lined her path (red carpet guys!). I didn't get introduced, but it was certainly a once in a lifetime experience. The last time a monarch had visited Jesus was 10 years ago when HM Queen Elizabeth visited her son Edward who had just come up to Jesus (become a freshmen that is). And the previous visit was 137 years or so ago when James I had stopped by Jesus on his way to the races at Newmarket! :) HM smiled at that. She didn't give a speech. She looked splendid in red. Prince Philip looked like Prince Charles a great deal! Of course. :) He was quite jovial. And the skies were blue that one day that whole week, just for the Queen. She was in town to open up the Judge Institute of Management Studies and a new Law faculty building before being whisked off by helicopter. For those Hopkinites, remember Clinton and his helicopter outside Bloomberg? I didn't get to see her leave but I was within a few feet of her as she toured the college grounds.
I was asked to do a reading for Lessons and Carols for Lent and that was a splendid evening (March 10). An ole Marshall stopped in town for a day (Gerry Williger) and we had a nice chat and evening with a fellow astronomer Jack Baldwin and his family. How did the marching band go, Gerry? (March 14) And then the marvellous feast in college (for scholars, so I was out of place being a postgraduate, but I finally got to meet the physics undergraduates) on the 15th. So I have been up and about... the doc tells me to slow down, so I have not been doing much this week except stay on my back. It seems to help, but I do want to get the momentum flowing and be back on track.
That's my life up to now... Not much to add. I am still not 100% well, mainly due to my insistence of getting up and about, but if people know me, you know how I am. I look forward to when I am no longer stiff and sore and I can feel my leg and don't need to rely on medication to make sure I have a decent night's sleep. I'll keep you posted.
Meanwhile, spring is coming to Cambridge. I'm going to see that comet, you betcha the very first clear night that swings this way. My sis is coming out to visit me the first week in May and Doug is returning for May week events (which are in June) so I'll have more to tell. While taking it easy, the supervisor is wanting me to start writing my thesis... that's my objective.
I do hope everyone had a nice Christmas and New Year's and Valentine's Day and St Patrick's Day and all days in between. :) Drop a line sometime....
March 21, 1996
P.S. Maybe my luck is changing ! I was awarded an Isaac Newton Scholarship! Only L5200 but that is a lot guys! Well, just more paperwork to do!!!!!
P.S.S. I'm finally smiling... but the back is stiff...