Finding a field office

I woke up early and alone today, after spending the night in the camper in Jena, Germany. I drove off from home around dinner time yesterday, so that I would arrive before dark. I don’t mind driving in the dark, but it always messes up my sleep. Field work is coming up for the next couple of days, which is the reason for being here. I had a good night’s rest, but at about 5.00 it was the cold that killed my dreams. I quite literally shivered my way out of sleep. I’ve spent the night here every year around this time for the past couple of years. I never woke up cold like this before. Spring is slow this year. I could tell this morning. Our camper has stationary heating, but I have to leave the roof bed to turn it on in the driver’s cabin. It’s a small camper, but I assure you that this particular journey is always a long and tough one.

These next two days, team Tansy will be preparing our field experiment in Jena, which now enters it’s third summer season. We will do some labeling and plot cleaning work, and thought it would be nice to combine it with a small writing retreat. Writing in a new environment, with only one focus, can be very productive, so we thought we’d give it a try.

As always, I managed to also get myself in a tricky situation. I was invited to give an online talk on rather short notice. That’s usually not a problem for me. I give plenty of presentations, and although most are planned well, sometimes I decide to do more spontaneous stuff in teaching. I actually like the challenge of coming up with something in a minimal time frame. It helps me to focus on the important message first. Fluff and filler can come later. Or in this case, I even left most of that out. The result is a more to the point story. Or at least, that’s what I hope it conveys.

Now the tricky situation is of course not the talk or the content of the slides.

The tricky part is that I decided I could do this from Jena, without having a clear overview of the on-site logistics.

I brought my laptop and a cable. However, these are only useful if I can actually plug them in, although they should probably last a couple of hours without external power. I have my mobile hotspot, and potentially WiFi at the field station. It should all work in theory, but the German internet network is full of holes (‘Funklöcher’). It may or may not be very reliable. A last resort would be good old eduroam. It must be present somewhere here, right? Right? I even have my camper, which is actually a very convenient mobile work station. Of that I am sure, and the actual work spot is the least of my worries. It’s putting everything together that’s potentially troublesome. I’ll have some figuring out to do today.

Of course, I’ve been here before.

I’ll make it work again.

Published by Robin Heinen

Father of two | Husband | Entomologist and Ecologist | Postdoctoral Researcher @ TUM | Traveler | Coffee Addict

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