Friday, June 29, 2012

Behind door #2...

Are these freezer doors for some refrigeration facility here at Pole?  Nope, they are just regular doors for entry and egress from the elevated station (inside the Beer Can).  Despite their insulation, they have to have heat trace around their borders to keep the scant amount of humidity from freezing them shut.  There are similar doors between the B1 berthing wing and the main corridor of the station.  The B1 wing is where the emergency power plant (EPP) is, and is the back-up lifeboat if the greater station infrastructure should fail.

“A desire to resist oppression is implanted in the nature of man.”

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Science Lab

That's my addition to the signage marking the science lab in the elevated station.  I've wanted to do it for a couple years now, and finally got around to it.  Science lab is very cute and frustrating in the total absence of canine companions in this part of the world.
"Now, Travis,' Mama said. 'You're not being fair. You had a dog when you were little, but Arliss has never had one. He's too little for you to play with, and he gets lonely."
~Old Yeller by Fred Gipson

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Incremental success

On Saturday, after another 6-hour troubleshooting session at the end of another week of troubleshooting, we finally restored basic operation to the instrument in question.  It can currently only take data from directly overhead (zenith), but it is running.  I imagine it will be some time before we finish investigating the cause of the interruption, as well as (with luck and some considerable effort) restore full pointing capabilities to the periscope mechanism that gathers the light for the interferometer.

While I was doing that and my other regular duties, the kids were having their long weekend with associated festivities.  The dinner event started at 3:30 PM, which was the earliest I can recall for this sort of fancy meal in the winter.  Furniture and A/V equipment were set up in the gymnasium to watch movies.  They did end up showing “The Shining” on Friday evening, so that ritual act was performed yet again.  By the time I went in to get some leftovers for dinner, the galley was being used for a dance party, but I didn’t see too many folks cutting a rug.  I was pretty tired, so did not join in the fray.

In the interest of visually imparting some of the little details of this place I intermittently call home, I’m going to start sharing photos of the little things that make fill in the gaps between the grand “Pole” topics.  Maybe it will be interesting, maybe not, but I’m going to do it nonetheless.  First up are the little metal disks on a sub-floor access hatch on the way into/out of the galley.  If you hit them with your heel just right, they ring like a little bell.  See, that’s trivial, but part of the experience.

"I think the real reason so many youngsters are clamoring for freedom of some vague sort, is because of unrest and dissatisfaction with present conditions; I don't believe this machine age gives full satisfaction in a spiritual way, if the term may be allowed.”
~Robert E. Howard

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Still plugging away

So, that periscope failure may not be the root cause of the issue with the interferometer.  We're still aggressively troubleshooting whatever it might be, and I'm racking up the frequent walker miles between the station and ARO.  Higher winds over the last few days have done a lot of rearranging of the "land"scape, and the upwind drift of the station by the Beer Can has dramatically changed, as it is wont to when stiff winds from the west blow for a while.

Mid-winter festivities are next weekend, but I'll not be attending the meal.  Strike #1: it starts at 4pm.  Strike #2: it's seafood.  Don't you worry, my heart will go on despite the rain check.  I haven't seen any mention of the annual mid-winter viewing of "The Shining", so may instigate that myself.

We're starting to hear about people coming back for next summer and/or winter, as well as some the will not be returning.  It's always interesting to see how hiring goes, but no word on my replacements thus far.  Not surprising, though...
"If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not the falling down but the staying down."
~Mary Pickford

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Periscope problems

Nope, I've sadly not managed to flee Pole for service aboard a submersible.  The periscope for one of the interferometers at ARO, which guides light in from various directions in the sky when it works, is on the blink.  The last day and a half I've been working with guidance from the project staff to get it back online, but it looks like it will probably require another good deal of tomorrow at the least.  It's always interesting what the big problems for the year end up being.  I think I've had fairly good luck so far this summer and winter, but there is plenty of time left for more surprises requiring my attention.

"Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid."
~John Wayne

Saturday, June 2, 2012

By moonlight and starlight

On an early morning excursion to ARO, I snapped a few pictures outside with my work camera.  I really don’t know yet how to get it to take better pictures in the dark, but with the copious amounts of moonlight out there, I thought I would give it a shot.

Outbound path to ARO past the axis of the planet:
 Back toward the station with a Scott tent in the foreground:

 I am still “enjoying” my ongoing bout of poor sleep.  It would be fabulous to just sleep the whole night through, but I’m sure I’ll get back to normal at some point.  The pressure altitude still is around the equivalent of 11,000 feet above sea level, so that may be a contributing factor.
“Desolation is a file, and the endurance of darkness is preparation for great light.”
~St. John of the Cross