Thursday, April 19, 2012

Wrinkles in need of ironing

Temperatures have moderated some here at Pole, and we’ve been in the -70s°F range for some time. Though the sun is long gone, there still lingers quite a lot of light on the horizon. Hopefully new folks will remember how long it takes between this deep a twilight and having the local star in the sky, so when we get to the end of the season there won’t be too much premature anticipation of redeployment.

We’re still working through the growing pains of the seamless turnover from old to new employers. I am currently trying to resolve time card issues, paycheck issues, benefits enrollment issues; not to mention running a bunch of science instruments and leading the local fire brigade. I just had a computer go down for my aurora cameras, which will need considerable attention. We do this all with pretty limited internet connectivity to the outside world. In fact, I think we probably have less bandwidth to this station than the International Space Station has back to Earth.

Running those aurora cameras is always a challenge, since they are here in the main station building. This means we have to get everybody on board regarding using only the right types of lights in the allowable fashion while outside. We have to enforce good light seals on window coverings. We have to keep unauthorized people off the station’s roof. We have to fight with the fact that though there is only ~1-2% relative humidity in this building that it will still get into the optical domes over the cameras and frost them up if proper precautions are not taken. That is all on top of the usual hardware and software challenges with which science projects here are faced. So, though the images and science are cool, it can be a real test of one’s patience when other folks don’t play ball.

Another topic, since I’m writing a lot about challenges currently being faced here, is that though we have been sealed from the germ-ridden outside world for a couple months now, there have been several cases of people getting sick in recent weeks. Proper sanitation in the bathroom and in the galley around the food is really the only culprit. It is pretty disheartening when we could alleviate this source of contagion by normal, sane sanitary practices, but some folks can’t be bothered. Hopefully this can get nipped in the bud ASAP, before too many other folks (especially yours truly) succumb. Given that it is not even fully past twilight in the season, it is unfortunate that complacency is making such significant inroads into some people’s behavior.

On the brighter side of things, I am still enjoying hosting movies Thursday night (“The Matrix” this week), will be co-hosting a trivia contest Saturday evening, and am thoroughly enjoying many of the books that I brought down/was sent by friends and family/found on the shelves here. I have a good workout regimen six days per week, and I hope to play some of the music I’ve been working on at some point in the season.

“When you want to know how things really work, study them when they're coming apart.”
~William Gibson, Zero History


Teacher said...

Off into the "long dark?" (Finish the quote if you can.)

We are going to watch the remastered Godfather II on large screen tonight. I liked Speed Racer better than Matrix, but that's a personal thing.

EthanG said...

...of Moria

Rev Chong said...

Start the moniker Dr Will used the whole time we were there "wash your damn hands!"