So I didn't find the guy on the street selling sunglasses, but I decided to go to Georgetown and buy some. When I got off the Metro at Rosslyn, I saw a girl I went to college with. She graduated and lives in D.C. now. After talking to her for a while, I continued my trek across the bridge to Georgetown, and at about the midpoint, I passed a girl I went to high school with. She is going to American University, and she was taking her mother shopping in Georgetown. So it's a small world in the big city. As I walked along M street admiring the little shops and restaurants, trying to find someplace that would have bargain sunglasses, I acclimated myself to what I'm told is the posh D.C. scene. After finding some $10.00 shades with 100% UV protection and double-spring hinges (yeah, geeks are suckers for lots of functions even when buying sunglasses), I found my way back to the bridge and home to GWU.
At work, I've continued to do ellipsometry measurements on some samples, and using some really advanced software my supervisor wrote, I'm analyzing the data to determine the sample films optical properties (thickness and dielectric function). I continue to do IPE measurements, and once my supervisor, Dr. Nguyen, writes a program for the analysis of that data, I'll be working on the analysis of that. I'm also attending meetings and safety training sessions and doing everything else I can to get a feel for what a career in this field would be like.
A big part of a research physicist's life appears to be lunch. People gather in the cafeteria or outside under a big tree to discuss their research, philosophy, religion, politics, or anything in which a couple of them have interest. I join in on those discussions and groups when I stay on NIST's campus for lunch, but the best midday meals are when Dr. Nguyen invites me out to lunch with him. We have gone to a great Chinese restaurant a few times so far, and yesterday, he took me to a Vietnamese soup place. The food I've been having is amazing, but rather spicy. I think he likes taking me to these places because while I'm turning red and wiping my forehead, he's pouring more chili sauce on his soup and smiling with a calm, dry face. It's a great life, being an SPS Intern, and there's no better lab to be an intern in than at NIST.
Riding to and from work has become an art. We've shaved the time down to about 55-60 minutes by catching the right trains and picking the right stations. On the way home, Pat and I sometimes get off a few stations early to walk the rest of the way, because we live in such a beautiful city, and it seems foolish to spend so much of our time underground. Playing Frisbee in the hall, eating Swedish Fish, having potlucks, cutting each others hair, and playing with dry ice keep us pretty busy at night, and it's a testament to the quality of our jobs that many of us spend at least a little bit of time each night on our research projects. My cousin boards and trains horses in Waldorf, MD, and I spent last Sunday afternoon repairing a fence there and helping out at the barn. Even though my project is so cool, it was nice to get to do some good 'ol manual labor. This weekend, a bunch of us are planning on seeing the panda at the zoo, and having another of our now-weekly community dinners, and some of the other residents of our building are going to join us.