Monday, August 10, 2009

Last night in Nyota

Rena and I are both leaving Nyota early tomorrow (now this) morning.
We had our field assistants over for a good old American dinner of
fried chicken, mashed potatoes, bread with butter, tortillas, refried
beans, and guacamole with coconut rice for desert (hey, we did the
best we could with what we had to work with). It was a hit.

Everyone finally left around 10 pm, and that's when we really started
packing. I pulled out my big backpack for the first time in several
weeks to stuff some dirty clothes in the bottom. Lo and behold, what
did I see but a bit of a yellow write in the rain notebook sticking
out from under the lining! MY MISSING NOTEBOOK! I wasn't sure whether
to laugh or cry. We went back and re-collected nearly all of the data
in that notebook, much to my field assistants' dismay, not to mention
my own. It is a relief but frustrating at the same time that I found
it just hours before leaving.

Losing my notebook did have one positive outcome: I went back to all
of my sites and collected another piece of data in addition to re-
collecting the original data. I doubt I would've collected the new
data for all of the sites if I hadn't had to return for the other
data. The new data I collected led to the aforementioned insight into
the system that contradicts current literature. So, it wasn't all for

I'm sad to be leaving Nyota, and it hasn't really sunk in just how
soon I'm going to be home. Most of the things that were initially
uncomfortable here have become normal and routine: bucket baths every
day, riding on the back of a motorbike, being stared at wherever I go,
going to bed and waking up early, eating chapatis and hard boiled eggs
every day for lunch, always being ready for the possibility of losing
water or electricity, and combating poison tree rash by avoidance and
regular use of IvyBlock.

I'm starting to fall asleep as I type so I'd better just end this now.
Perhaps I'll write more thoughts later once I'm in the city.


gigirose said...

Hooray! You did it!
Congrats on what seems to be a productive field season.

Transient Theorist said...

Think of it this way, if you collected the data twice, you might be able to get an estimate of your measurement error/variability! That can be really useful sometimes...

Andi said...

just hit on your blog for the first time and read about your field notebook loss.

Someone gave me this tip that's saved me more than once - digital photos as a backup. Most modern cameras have sufficient pixels to make them pretty easy to read once they're printed out or blown up on a big computer screen.

It's super-easy - whenever you stop for a break, take photos of all your data and then download the photos onto your laptop when you get back in the evening. Takes <5 minutes all up and is so so worthwhile when you lose that notebook! and if you're really concerned you can also email the digital photos to someone.

Best field advice I ever received, although now my iphoto is filled with somewhat dull images...