By Pavel Baykalov (Vienna Scientific, Austria)

The year 2020 had started with a lot of enthusiastic promises and opportunities: travel to Iceland for the first Future Arctic meeting, secondment in Estonia, presential courses at BOKU, meeting new people, attending conferences, keep going to the gym, etc. Instead, I got the following story.

Suddenly, the meeting in Iceland was cancelled and placed at an uncertain time in the future. The same with the secondment in Estonia. No gym, no meeting new people, no presential courses. Only the zoom meetings and unnatural online courses, where you don’t know your classmates, only the names or not even that.

I am not a very social and outgoing person myself, so I didn’t notice any major change in my daily life, at first. Then the productivity started to decrease, only then I noticed the pandemic. Wearing the mask and compulsively cleaning everything, I was becoming another hypochondriac and paranoic maniac, joining the crazy world. However, I must admit I never bought tons of toilet paper and I am still wondering about the meaning of this phenomenon.

The first semester of the year, the main focus was on working on code for the root segmentation model; processing and labelling the data for the model; playing with Arduino, resistors and LEDs from the electronic course from BOKU; and listening to Bjarni’s online presentations from the first Future Arctic course. Meanwhile, the first minirhiztron prototype was suffering supply delays, as with the equipment for the rhizoboxes experiment. The first prototype was finished in May and I started programming the internal modules, finally.

Actually, it wasn’t so bad till I suddenly had some documentation problems which forced me to go back to Spain and wait for the bureaucrats to finish their “work”, and then go back to Austria and wait for other bureaucrats to finish their “work” or whatever they are doing there. While suffering and hating the bureaucracy, I began to work on the interface app, at least for the design. The sun and beach helped me with that stressful situation and with my work.

When back to Austria, good news finally came: the pieces for the planned experiment finally arrived and a new version of the prototype was being built.

It seems to me that even struggling with productivity, the overall result of the year was quite productive. However, I still miss my porpuses of the year travelling to Iceland for the first Future Arctic meeting, secondment in Estonia, presential courses at BOKU, meeting new people, attending conferences. It is like 2020 never happened but in reality, it is. Let’s see what happens this year, trial number 2.