Norway #3: Beam me up, Scottie

After the adventures in Svalbard, it was weird transitioning back to mainland life. For example, it was bizarre to just see supermarkets and things like Toy-R-US after being on a remote island in the Arctic circle... even after only a week. But we had work to do this week with YY and Amore's respective experiments at the EISCAT radar in Tromso, so no nostalgia, Lo!
"Lo, why do you always look evil when we put you at a control panel?"

Skiboten tourist, pfft
Before playtime (sorry, work time! I have to stick with the story that I'm working...), Mike took us on a radar tour to Skiboten, Norway and to KilpisjƤrvi in Finland (I can not help you with the pronunciation of that second name). Skiboten is the future site of EISCAT 3-D, so it was really cool to see the construction site and now that this is where the future of incoherent scatter radars is.

Mike also spent a lot of time living in huts in Skiboten while working on his artificial aurora campaign back in the day (which is a vague statement, but I'm assuming he didn't mean yesterday).

Driving across the border to Finland was a bizarre experience. First of all, we had our resident South African hyperveniliating in the back saying "GUYS MY PASSPORT ONLY SAYS ONE ENTRY". Before you giggle (you can in a few), Amore's concerns were extremely legitimate. Take a moment to appreciate your citizenship Europeans and Americans... I bet you don't get taken into a back room and grilled by a customs agent upon landing after 30+ hours of travel about your 'purpose' in Norway and if you 'actually' are a researcher. This was something I had totally taken for granted in my life - I have never had this happen to me - when I came back from Svalbard (about the same time Amore' was getting grilled), I flirted with my customs agent with such witty pick up lines like:

 "Norway? Ya, I love it here, you know, I'm not going to leave, tee hee"

"Svalbard was great. I'm really trying to get Norwegian citizenship - are you single?"

oh and the best one -> him: "Wow, this [your passport] is impressive you've travelled a ton"
me: "I know, right? But come on, I know you're not actually looking at my passport you're just using me for conversation" [Yes, I actually said that - I had a good vibe... gotta try for the Norwegian citizenship]
Finland makes you do crazy things
him: "Haha you're right. The international line is the slow one. How was Peru?"

Anyways, Finland point of interest #2 was that it dropped a solid 10 C once we crossed the border and the trees vanished. Immediately. It was like "hello, welcome to Siberia-lite". We saw some amazing ice sculptures though at the first gas station.  Note the random bird at the top of the ice neck noose thing.
My main radar <3 
From there, we retreated back to Tromso to begin our week of work.
For me, the work was observing the other hard working students and finishing up the manuscript I've been working on... and starting another one. It's good to be busy :)
UHF radar. Serious Microwave Power. 



























Seriously, we have assigned nutella jars. 
Throughout the week, Amore' and I have continued our platonic love affair as many of you have had the pleasure of watching on Facebook. It's pretty weird living with your boss, a post doc you've never met before, and your graduate student sister in a college dorm-esque environment. Like really, MTV's the Real World has nothing on our lives. Throw in some random French people who would just randomly giggle and burst out in song (?!?!) and this is great stuff.

By great stuff, I mean we're hanging on by a thread and we have a nutella crisis.  By nutella crisis, I mean we bought 7 jars of nutella and we're now down to two jars of f*#$&(#$ nutella. The nearest town is 40 km away and we do not have a vehicle. It's OK, after eating nothing but bread and nutella for 2 days straight, I went cold turkey ("I SWEAR THERE IS COCAINE IN THIS" [angrily shakes nutella jar]). I'm going strong for 2 days now, but I swear the nutella sings to me sometimes. Conjure up some mental image of Nazgul to Frodo or Twilight Vampries to Bella's blood and you have my current mental state with nutella. It's a little worse right now because now I'm thinking about nutella...
Amore's first snow angel. Not a bad landscape :) 
But we're all still alive! We've gone on a few hikes this week too and taken some high quality breaks to enjoy the beauty around us. I've also gotten to see the aurora twice, but either slept or skyped through the other two good aurora viewings (D'OH).
View from ski trails... WOW
Badass Scientists :D 
My last comment for this week is that I think Svalbard changed some chemistry in my brain... I know relish the cold. I get all excited now when I feel the initial winter chill sweep through me as I go outside and feel the bite against my face... picture a husky rolling in the snow or something. I've never like the cold, but now... I feel energized by it. Who would have ever thought... well, cheers to an interesting life full of surprises :D

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