Margaux Rhymes with Fargo

Mirthful Musings, Ridiculous Ramblings, and Comical Codswallop



Chile isn’t chilly or cheesy

At least not in the winter. I mean, summer. I mean, January. You see how this gets confusing. And the jokes get pretty cheesy.

Anyways, I was in La Serena, Chile a few weeks ago to visit the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope construction site on Cerro Pachon, which is where we’ll ultimately install the giant camera we’re building at SLAC. Turns out it’s summer in the southern hemisphere. Also turns out the stars are different, and stargazing is pretty entertaining and illuminating (quite literally) when you’re on a dark mountaintop with a bunch of astronomers.

This is mostly going to be a dump of pictures with semi-relevant captions. Get excited.

First stop was the mountaintop next to Cerro Pachon, which is called Cerro Tololo and is the home to the Blanco Telescope as well as a bunch of other smaller robotic telescopes. This was right before sunset when us and the observers gathered outside to watch the sunset and hopefully catch a green flash.
Sadly, it was a little hazy for a green flash, but still beautiful.
View of the smaller telescopes on Cerro Tololo all starting to open up for the evening. It’s kinda weird seeing people start their work day after dinner. I’m not about that life.
View from the inside of the Blanco Telescope with the Dark Energy Cam installed.
Thermal camera view of the cooling coils in the floor of the Blanco Telscope. I don’t think LSST is quite that fancy, but that camera ipad app sure is.
I don’t know what a chopper bit is but I really want to. Also, this is a real instrument, just in case you have your doubts.
Get off your high horse!
The road up to Cerro Pachon was a little daunting, but we made it.
LSST is still missing a dome, but we’ll get there. Eventually. Maybe. Schedule is looking a little sketchy but it’s definitely going to happen at some point in the near future.
LSST in all its glory, plus some little people exploring around a weather station off to the right.

All in all it was a fun trip, minus the 24 hour travel time each way, and it was pretty exciting to see the project coming together. My favorite part? The LSST fire department mascot, obviously. Because where else would you see a cartoon telescope dome wielding a super awkward fire hose?!



Soccer is not a photogenic sport

I play pickup soccer (almost) every day at lunchtime at the SLAC gym, and a couple of weeks ago one of our regulars left SLAC, so we took a group picture and some action shots of the game. Usually we have a bigger crew, but it was an ungodly temperature outside that day.

Turns out I look pretty silly in action. On the bright side, my socks match my shirt and I’m proud of it. Anyways, I’m just gonna leave these here for your enjoyment.

I’m looking very intense while everyone is super chill. 
Just smilin’ and squattin’
Again all smiles, but only an inch off the ground, if that. I missed the ball, in case you can’t quite tell.
One more leg in there should do the trick.
I’m not quite sure why I spend so much time bent in half, looking at the ground. It’s apparently a recurring thing.
Pretty sure I’m not supposed to be folded over so far. Weird habits indeed.

More fridge shenanigans

I just discovered in our work fridge a jar of strawberry preserves that expired in 2011 and I felt the need to share this fact with the world. SIX YEARS AGO PEOPLE. It is now in the hazardous waste bin.

This is worse than the Doritos incident, which was just weird, not gross.

My building is shared by engineers and theoretical physicists, and I know who I’m lookin at…

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…



Who puts Doritos in the fridge?!


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.

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