Back in May, I jotted down some notes on what was a pretty typical day in my life. For the fun of it, I decided to do it again today (Friday, February 18, 2011). It’s not quite as typical, but it still representative enough that it provides some insight into my suburban life.


0000 – That’s right. The record of this day starts at the very beginning. One of challenges of working at a 24-hour facility is that sometimes you get to work… 24 hours. Today happens to be the day. Actually, my work day started yesterday (Thursday) at 4:30 a.m., so I’ve been here 19½ hours already. Today, I’m studying ways of focusing X-rays to a size of one micrometer. In general, that size isn’t particularly small (I think that state-of-the-art is around 10 nanometers), but it is challenging for a protein crystallography beamline like mine.

0015 – One of the blessings of today’s work (there aren’t many) is that it includes a number of periods of waiting. I set up a data collection and wait. This time it’s about 20 minutes. I start a rough draft of this blog entry.

0034 – Ok. Maybe 25 minutes of waiting. Time for a game of solitaire. I’ve got Pandora radio playing, and Elton John is singing, “Can you feel the love tonight?” Nope.

0036 – That was an awful game. Time for another.

0040 – Game #2 was only marginally better. Time to go tend to the beamline.

0043 – Scans are scanning; data is collecting. I decide to go for a walk around the ring. It’s a little over 1 km to go the whole way around, and it’s nice to have this place to walk regardless of the weather. It’s also good for my leg to get the exercise.

0057 – Halfway around the ring, I enhance the exercise by climbing six flights of stairs in the administration building. Occasionally, there is a good view of the Sears Tower from the top floor. Tonight it’s just barely visible. It’s always pleasant at the top. There’s a relaxing lounge that almost no one uses. I often go there for a short break at lunch.

0112 – Back just in time to tend to the beamline. Another half hour of waiting. U2 is playing on Pandora. Bono in falsetto: “I feel numb.” Yep.

0136 – Dismayed to find that for the last 1½ hours, I’ve been scanning motor ‘X’ instead of motor ‘Y’. It’s all meaningless data. Resign myself to starting over.

0216 – U2 on Pandora again:

I was lost between the midnight and the dawning
In a place of no consequence or company…

What is it with these songs tonight?

0323 – I’ve moved on to my next set of measurements. I had hoped to be finished with everything and cleaning up by now, but that’s probably an hour or so away. Maybe I can be going home by 6 a.m.

0333 – I make myself a cup of hot water to counter the shivering brought on by sleep deprivation and weird blood sugar levels.

0347 – Time for one more lyric before running off to tend to my beamline again. From “The Scientist” by Coldplay:

I was just guessing at number and figures
Pulling the puzzles apart
Questions of science, science and progress
Do not speak as loud as my heart

0415 – I prodded the beamline one last time. In half an hour, I’ll be cleaning things up. We have visiting scientists who will arrive at 10 a.m. this morning to use our facility. I don’t have to be here for that, but I do need to get things into normal working order.

0440 – Hey – look at that. I’ve been here for a full 24 hours now. Data collection is finished. It’s time to clean up and go get some sleep.

0537 – Clean-up complete. I’ve sent a message to my colleagues to let them know the status of things, and I’m leaving for home. I’ve just worked a 25-hour day – the longest that I can recall ever going in one stretch.

0546 – Exiting Argonne as U2 comes on the radio singing, “It’s a beautiful day.” Blech.

0609 – Finally at home. There was a surprising amount of traffic outbound from Chicago for this time of day. The sky is starting to get light in the east; a full moon is setting in the west.

0628 – I’ve fed the cats, brushed teeth, changed into pajamas, and said “good morning” to Oldest Daughter and Ordinary Spouse. Now I’m off to bed.

1116 – Ugh. Awake.

1143 – Sitting  down to breakfast (or is it lunch)?

1320 – Being unmotivated to get going today, I’ve spent an hour and a half reading  email and surfing the web.

1420 – The hot shower was nice. Now I’m ready to face the day. Not that I have anything real pressing. Maybe I’ll work on a new “Five for Friday” blog entry.

1507 – The time slipped away! I do need to make a trip to get my new compression stocking. Last month, I mentioned how the first pair was too tight. Today I’m going to trade those in for another pair with a lower compression level.

1624 – I’m back from Hanger (the orthotics place). Wow – what a difference a new compression level makes. I can wear these stockings without discomfort.

I’ll quickly finish up the “Five for Friday” blog that got postponed when I dashed out the door.

1639 – Doing some general clean-up and rearranging in preparation for Youngest Daughter’s birthday party tomorrow.

1710 – Supper time. Ordinary Spouse is whipping out the eggs and pancakes tonight. I’m setting the table. Time to round up the girls who are outside getting fresh air.

1740 – Supper clean-up and more house-wide clean up. I’m starting to drag a bit right now. Last night is catching up with me.

1900 – I’m giving Youngest Daughter her bath. She likes long baths, so this is not a very labor-intensive job. I post a new poll on my blog.

1940 – YD takes a potty break. The toilet clogs. That is not a problem. The problem is that the automatic shutoff picked this very flush to malfunction. “Joys are flowing like a river” would be the appropriate hymn title to bring up here. Suddenly, this job is a bit more labor intensive.

2015 – The potty is under control and the bath is complete. OS and I are getting the girls ready for bed.

2045 – Prayers have been said; songs have been sung; sippy cups of cold water have been delivered. It’s time for some Friday night coffee.

2205 – I’ve spent the last hour doing a mixture of finances, web surfing, and getting caught up on this blog entry. I need to take a little time to prepare for a Worship Commission meeting that I have in the morning.

2233 – Time to get ready for bed. I’ll take some reading with me. Good night all!

(2400 – This blog entry gets published. I really hope that I’m asleep when it happens.)

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