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2007-11-27 - 6:51 p.m.

...adventures in building an analyzer with bear teeth, paper clips, and sticks....

I've come home 'early' prepared to climb into bed! The first day of installation lasted 12 hours, and has been kind of a little shop of horrors experience.

The engineer's flight was one hour late. The electricians have never been able to get the voltage output up to the values needed. The electrical equipment inspector just "forgot" the appointment and didn't show up. The equipment company delivered the wrong regulator for one of the gas tanks, and so I ran around trying to special order it at 5pm (more $$$ that goes on my grant). There were parts missing, so we generated a shopping list of equipment. While all this was going on, I was running in and out of an emergency 2-hour faculty meeting. I spent my day hauling myself back in forth between office and lab (no small feat - they are ten minutes walking distance apart).

Then, a snow storm hit the mountain. This meant that it took a full hour to get off the hill in the backed up traffic before I met K and we went shopping for such things as an oil-less air compressor (but, you didn't tell me I needed an air compressor...). So we got home at 8pm. I was tired.

Today the inspector showed up, as did the temporary replacement regulator. I had to haul ass all over the campus because the courier got lost trying to find my building. This is because, one full year after the building has been built, the campus has still not updated the campus map to include it. We got the regulator. But none of the brass attachments we had in the lab (or on campus) fit. And then the inspector showed up. And the machine failed the inspection. Because the fuses and wiring did not have "made in Canada" written on them.

So at 2:30 this afternoon we drove across Vancouver to an electrical shop and a valve store, in search of new wiring. The engineer will spend his evening in the lab rewiring the whole damned machine with wiring that says "Made in Canada" while getting the replacement valves to work on the temporary regulator (which we will be replacing tomorrow with the REAL regulator when the NEXT courier calls and I have to haul ass all over the campus to find him - you would think that couriers would be able to find places, like, maybe, it should be a requirement for the job.). Then tomorrow we will actually measure some standards, assuming there are no other complications.

This has all been very exciting. I don't know quite where to begin in my lack of comprehension about why installing a standard instrument seems like it is happening for the first time on this planet...

I am very tired. But I will get through it. The engineer (a 25 year-ish single male) started walking a little bit more slowly when I mentioned to him that I was having contractions yesterday evening while hunting down the oil-less air compressor. I think it finally dawned on him that I am 7+ months pregnant when I calmly mentioned this in passing. Of course, we are talking the braxton-hicks variety that aren't particularly pleasant, but they aren't particularly painful either. But believe me, I wasn't about to assuage his fears that there was a possibility of my going into labor in the Hom3 D3pot parking lot...;-). So I sat quietly in the car while he hunted down the wires. And noted that he worked especially hard to find the closest possible parking space at the valve shop.

He's quite a nice guy, actually - I'll bet I've made a blog entry for him, too - the adventure of his very first solo installation of this type of instrument - with a 7-month pregnant lady in a snow storm at a university that cannot muster up 208V, has no electrical/machine shop, and inspectors who "forget" what day it is.

So in any case, tomorrow the installation will have to be finished by 3pm. I will have to understand everything that has gone on and be able to remember and reproduce it. Not entirely likely, but most importantly I want to know how NOT to blow up the machine. We'll see.

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