I had another set of shifts at work last week… this time the afternoon block from 3 pm – 11 pm. Not as strange as the night shift, but still weird. It takes about 45 minutes and two trains to get back from work, but because of construction on the rail lines one night it was four trains and an hour, and Friday night it was three different trains and a bus connection in the rain. I’m looking forward to a little more normal schedule this week. The good part about the shifts was that I got more experience helping to “run the show” and at times it was fun.
There’s a lot of tedious stuff like waiting for different systems to warm up, keeping temperatures in their proper ranges, and waiting for different automated measurements to finish. But there’s also interesting little problems to solve here and there. At some point the machine was crashing over and over because one of the power supplies was going outside it’s normal current limits. There’s actually these screens full of little green lights and when something goes wrong one of them turns red and you check the name and try to figure out what the hell it is. We finally decided with some help from the expert-on-call (which means some poor guy got a call from us at his house) that it was getting messed up by lightning strikes near the electrical station which were sending noise down the line. Who knows if that was right, but after the storm passed it stopped happening so we moved on with business. You have to consider a lot of random stuff and be creative sometimes. That balances out the tedious screen-staring that is part of the job, too.
Yep, pretty much.