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Margaux Rhymes with Fargo

Mirthful Musings, Ridiculous Ramblings, and Comical Codswallop

Mount Whitney by the numbers

We made it to the top!

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Not gonna lie, the ice axe made me feel pretty badass the whole time, when it wasn’t busy saving my life.  Photo credit: Marco Lobato. He lugged his camera up 6100 ft. for this celebratory shot. What a hero. 
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Not this mountain, the higher one behind it, waaaaayyyy in the back. Turns out Mount Whitney is freakin’ tall. Photo credit: Marla McPherson. She also took the sweet shot of the moon at the top of this post.

 


Total number of hours on the mountain: 18.5

Round-trip mileage: 22

Feet of elevation gain: 6100

Highest elevation, in feet: 14,505

Number of (non life-threatening) self-arrests: 1

Depth of snow I accidentally stepped/fell into about a hundred times, in feet: 2.5

Percent of the hike for which crampons and an ice axe were needed: 60

Number of times we referenced this joke from The Oatmeal: 25 (give or take a few)

Temperature of mountain stream water in which I rinsed my feet after the hike: absolutely freakin freezing

Mickey-mouse-shaped coconut pancakes devoured the next morning: 4

Hours without a shower: 68

Aggregate hours of sleep Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights: 16.5

Number out of ten would do it again: 10


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Rest assured I was nowhere near this smiley on the way down. Photo credit: Marla McPherson
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Handstand at 14505 ft, because, why not? Although to be honest, this took every last bit of strength I had. Going back down was super rough.  Photo credit: Marco Lobato
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Fun fact: snow is super reflective and will burn to a crisp the delicate skin on underside of your chin that’s never ever seen the sun before. You’ve been warned.  Photo credit: Lorenz Haghenbeck

Slacker of the month

Or should I say SLAC-er?

Anyways, the gym here on SLAC’s campus is ARCAS, or the Arrillaga Recreation Center at SLAC, and I got interviewed as the member of the month for May 2017, so I figured I’d share it here. As a side note, acronyms-within-acronyms should not be a thing, ever.


ARCAS: What is your favorite exercise?

MARGAUX: While some people enjoy running for fun (which I’ll never understand but let’s move on before we fall deep into that rabbit hole), I need the motivation of chasing something. Or someone. Like a soccer ball. Or the guy that’s gonna score if I don’t get my butt back on defense fast enough. Having your whole team grumble at you is seriously motivating.

ARCAS: What other activities do you enjoy?

MARGAUX: When I’m not out on the SLAC soccer field shooting soccer balls over the net, or hitting the posts, or really just kicking the ball anywhere but in the goal, I enjoy missing serves on the sand volleyball court as well as lifting heavy things over and over in the weight room in an attempt to justify all the homemade chocolate zucchini bread that I bake and eat. 

ARCAS: How has being at SLAC helped you on your fitness journey?

MARGAUX: I was mostly kidding about the teammate-grumbling thing. The soccer group as well as the other people I’ve met at the SLAC gym are pretty awesome possums. They keep me accountable when I miss a few days, secretly switch out my weights for heavier ones during workouts , and never let me slow down or get complacent on the soccer field (because then I get run over or nutmegged and it’s all bad).


As yet another side note, yes, that adorable picture of Little Margaux is now hanging in the lobby at the SLAC gym. You’re welcome, everyone.

Wardrobe Fail

#ThatMomentWhen you don’t realize until you get to work that your pants are black and not navy blue as you originally thought and now your shoes don’t match, but it doesn’t matter because the engineers at work probably won’t notice anyways.

Remind me why I wake up before the sun?!

Who is this chick, anyways?

I am going to be part of a new ambassador program at work, which is a fancy way of saying that I’ll get paired with one or two newbies and help them understand the various non-work-related opportunities available on SLAC’s campus. I was asked to write a bio in order to give a prospective new hire some information about myself. So, here goes.


Born in 1994, Margaux is millennial who shamelessly orders shampoo and toothpaste (and sometimes groceries) from Amazon instead of driving all the way to the store. She started her career at SLAC in October 2015 as a mechanical engineer, fresh out of school and ready to do all the grunt work. At SLAC, she works on the LSST Camera, a 3.2 gigapixel camera being built for a telescope down in Chile. Margaux makes up a solid 20% of the Integration and Test engineering team, developing tools to assemble the delicate camera as well as verify that all high-level requirements have been met. Theoretically she’ll eventually get to go to Chile and help to actually install the camera. Fingers crossed.

Margaux holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the California Institute of Technology (Fleming Hovse). She purposefully chose the opposite side of the country for college and has told her parents that she’s never coming home to Delaware, unless Christmas cookies or Mom’s famous ratatouille are involved.

Before coming to SLAC, Margaux spent almost a year teaching robotics to elementary and middle school students through after-school programs and summer camps. If she’s being honest, she was mostly having fun with Legos and taking a break from the stresses of engineering while getting paid. Her continued passion for STEM education has led her to volunteer with outreach groups at SLAC that aim to encourage local youth to pursue STEM careers, including SLAC Kid’s Night and the Greene Scholar’s Program. She’s also currently pursuing a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at San Jose State part-time, in addition to full-time work at SLAC, which might or might not have been a good life decision.

When she’s not wearing a bunny suit and overseeing the assembly of camera hardware in the LSST Clean Room, Margaux can be found at the SLAC gym scoring goals on the soccer pitch, completely missing serves on the sand volleyball court, and lifting heavy things over and over in the weight room in an attempt to justify all the homemade chocolate zucchini bread that she bakes and eats. She takes frequent trips to Yosemite and Tahoe and hopes to one day convince the bigwigs at SLAC to relocate the whole lab to the mountains. A girl can dream.

 

Eleven Month Anniversary Present

In honor of my 11 month anniversary at SLAC, I finally got a mailbox. No mail yet, but I anticipate that the junkmail will start rolling in soon.

As long as the mailman can find me with all those extra vowels…

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Who puts Doritos in the fridge?!

Seriously?!

I will never understand my fellow engineers.

To be fair, there are also theoretical physicists in my building, so if I had to take a guess I’d say it was one of them. You’d think after going to school with so many budding scientists and engineers I’d be used to it, but there’s always something new. They never cease to amaze me.

Good for you {Pinnacles National Park}

Will and I found out that last week was National Park Week upon our arrival to Pinnacles National Park on Sunday morning, which was filled to the brim with screaming children and lines for the bathroom. Flup.

We had to park in an overflow lot and eventually accepted what we thought was a 1.2 mile hike to the start of our intended hiking loop, in order to avoid sharing a shuttle with said children. We later found out that the approach trail was closer to 2.7 miles. And by later, I mean about 45 minutes in, when we finally found the start of the loop next to a sign pointing back they way we had come that said “Visitor’s Center: 2.7 miles”. Will was not pleased.

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Ultimately, we hiked about 9 miles on the trail, although we did do some extra exploring to find some climbing spots, so I’d round up to fifty miles or so total. Somewhere in that ballpark. At the end of the hike, we end up taking the shuttle back to our car from Bear Gulch, so I guess technically it’s more of a scribble or a poorly drawn sigma than a loop, but you get the point.

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Spelunking on the cave trail

And now for story time. One of the sections called High Peaks is quite steep and narrow, and Will and I were quite excited when made it to the top. As we passed another couple up there, the woman turned towards me and said, “Good for you.” No exclamation point, no emphasis, just a statement of fact. Being a rational human being, I assumed she was talking to her partner and kept hiking.

Will, on the other hand, looked all confused, and as we were walking away from the couple he turned to me and said, “Was she talking to you?”  A few seconds later: “Hmm, that was a bit condescending.”

Now I was the confused one, because I couldn’t think of a good reason for a total stranger to congratulate me, let alone why that would be condescending. My first and best guess was that the woman was complimenting me on the attractiveness of my boyfriend. I’ll admit he’s quite dapper. But that’s a compliment, for Will at least. Maybe I appeared to be batting out of my league? The messy hair probably didn’t help.

Will, of course, went in a totally different direction. He thought that the woman might be complimenting us for making it up the steep climb, because maybe we looked like we barely made it up the mountain? Which is, indeed, condescending. But come on, we weren’t crawling the last few meters or anything.

We ultimately came to the conclusion that the woman couldn’t have been talking to me, but it makes for some fun speculating. Will and I had a good time coming up with other reasons she may have wanted to compliment me:

  • We have an awesome camelbak (thanks to my brother)
  • It’s a beautiful day out for hiking, good for us for coming out
  • Good for us for being chipper in the face of such a steep trail
  • My hiking leggings are pretty fly (in Will’s words: “Maybe she was complimenting you on your outfit?”)

And finally, good for you for making it to the end of the post. I very much appreciate it.

New Zealand by the numbers

Since my mother is currently working as a doctor in New Zealand, Will and I along with my brother jumped on the chance to visit her for a few weeks during the summer months.

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Days it took me to write this post: 41

Technically we got back on March 9th, so I’m only a little over a month behind…

Spiders killed during a single 3-hour kayak trip down the river: 12

I counted. I kid you not. You’d think that once you kill a few spiders on a kayak, you’re good to go for a while, because it’s in the water and all. Not true. And we all know how much I like spiders.

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Not the river we kayaked on, but still a pretty good one. The current was nuts.

 

Total spiders killed during my stay (approximate): A million gazillion

Clearly this is an overestimate; it’s probably more in the two zillion range.

Total hours of travel to get from my house in San Francisco to my mother’s house in the middle of nowhere: 18

This is more hours than I’m usually awake, but it’s better than that one time it took me 44 hours of straight travel to get to my hotel in India.

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Tiniest airport ever.

 

Total hours spent on a plane: 27

I’m counting the little helicopter hop we did in order to explore an active volcano.

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Hours from touchdown in Auckland until I got sunburnt: approximately 5

Which is impressive because we landed at 7am.

Times there were cows in the middle of the road: 1

I swear, you never actually see the cows moving, but you turn around and turn back and they magically appear somewhere else. It’s crazy business, kinda like those flying cows from France.

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Times we ate ice cream at Blueberry Corner: 5

Which is just about the cutest name for an ice cream shop.

Times we had some sort of zucchini for dinner: 9

Out of 13 dinners, that’s pretty impressive. Check out the size of these things, grown in my mother’s backyard.

 

Number of days I wore a bathing suit: all of them

We literally went to a beach/river/hot spring every single day. Did I mention how awesome New Zealand is yet?

Number of hobbit holes we saw in Hobbiton: 44, plus the Green Dragon pub

 

Minutes to bike around the whole town: 15

And that’s if you go the long way.

Minutes to the beach by bike: 7

More like ten if you’re moseying along like Will. Still pretty good though.

Hot springs experienced: 3

New Zealand is on the famed Ring of Fire in the Pacific and has a lot of geothermal activity, which saavy businessmen basically turn into giant pool-sized hot tubs. We did go in one natural spring, which fed right into a cold river such that you could choose your own temperature by moving closer to or further away from the hot spring. It was pretty cool.

I’m sure lots of other fun things happened, too, besides the spiders, obviously, but I’m terrible at taking photos of it all. Thanks to Will and my mother for taking most of these.

 

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