Archive for August, 2007


It’s very strange spending so much time on such a small island with a small population.  Aside from the internet, it really feels like I’m living somewhere in the past, where easy communication and travel are luxuries, even to the people with status.  For instance, there is a major issue with the latest fuel shipment (for the whole island, not just for us).  All fuel has to be tested and certified, and somehow this batch got through without going through those tests. So the fuel is sitting here in the tanks, but they can’t give it to anybody.  This has several implications, most pressing for us is the shortening of current research flight (Brian is off flying right now) and the postponement of future flights.  But the bigger issue is that the monthly government supply ship was supposed to arrive today, but was diverted because they wouldn’t be able to refuel once they got here.   This has put the who island in a tizzy, and supplies are certain to begin running out pretty soon.  I think the first thing to go will probably be the beer! (XXXX, by the way)

We also have been having ongoing issues with fueling because the guys who drive the fuel truck may or may not show up on flight days, so out project leader has to go find them and roust them every once in a while. To make matters worse, one of the airport’s fire trucks needs a new fuel pump, and planes aren’t allowed to land without 2 working fire trucks.  Fortunately there is a large supply of diesel mechanics on the island right now, thanks to PASE. I guess they got the fire truck up and running, although there is some question whether or not the trucks actually contain any water.  I guess I should be impressed that there actually is a firetruck on this island at all!

Anyway, when I was driving back from the airport I stopped and took a bunch of pictures of Banana, which is the settlement right next to the airport. There’s a mixture of traditional huts and concrete, but it’s kind of hard to tell how well the people are living.  There’s definitely no running water or electricity, but most of the inhabitants must have generators, since a lot of the buildings are lit up at night.  This is a strange place.





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Flickr, part 2

Hey all- I updated my flickr account! Go check it out!

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Silent Library

Trust me, this one is best is I offer no explanation.

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I aspire to be a cool nerd now

Hey! Sorry I haven’t posted much lately, but work has picked up a bit. Using my advanced scientific observation skillz, I have determined a correlation between the increased workload and Dan’s departure/Brian’s arrival. Not that Dan was slacking off or anything, but Brian is definitely a tinkerer, and he has a long list of things to try to improve our data collection. I guess he doesn’t buy into the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” cliche. But I can’t complain because he did bring me a great care package from Nicole, with enough puzzle books in it to last me until the end of time! Thanks, Nicole!

Last week was the big changeover in personnel, and it has really shifted the whole atmosphere of the project, surprisingly. All of the big partiers have left (like the group who brought beers to the science meeting), so we’re a much more subdued group now. It also seems like the socialization is more in small groups as opposed to big events like it was before. (I feel like a sociologist, here!) It’s just like high school cliques! There are the nerds, the super-nerds, and the cool nerds. OK, maybe not like high school.

I promise to post more pictures soon. I have some good ones from the luau the other night. The dancing is really funny- it’s pretty much the laziest traditional dancing I’ve ever seen. It’s pretty much all arm movements, with a tiny bit of hip action every once in a while. The performers are the hotel staff, and they are entertainingly amateur, full of mistakes and confusion. Every week, it’s like they’ve never danced in front of an audience before! But in a way, that makes it even more fun.

OK, now I’m just rambling. I’ll post pictures soon!

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But, people like the tuna log!


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Research flight 6

Oy! Tuesday morning (Monday for you western hemisphere-types) we flew the first night mission, with takeoff at 2:00 AM. The night flights are essential because most of the processes we’re studying are driven by photochemistry, so the transition from night-to-day is important to record. It just means that we don’t get much sleep! My pre-flight sleep was also disturbed a bit by the presence of Alan (named after our esteemed mission scientist), a humongous spider that appeared in my room after dinner, and who was just too scary to try to kill. I decided that if I didn’t bother him, he wouldn’t bother me, although it was a bit difficult lying in bed in the dark wondering what Alan was up to at that very moment.  I posted a picture below. I actually thought about putting something in the frame for scale, but just could not bear to put my hand near the pincers. I would estimate Alan is about 5 inches in diameter.

Alan the spider. Click at your own risk. Especially you, Nicole.

Edited to add:  I have found Alan the spider online!  Apparently it is a male Huntsman or Banana Spider, which are harmless and like to roam about and eat cockroaches.  In that case, Alan the spider is welcome in my room anytime. As long as he keeps his distance.

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Does anybody know if roaches poop? Because I keep finding little turds by my sink, and I’m trying to figure out what may have left them. I’m pretty sure it’s not mice since there are enough feral cats around here to make rodents a non-issue, so I’ve narrowed the culprits down to either roaches or crabs. I haven’t seen a crab in my room yet, but there was one scratching at my door the other day. (“Let me een! I weel pinch you!”) I have, however, been visited by a few roaches, one of whose final view would have been the Harry Potter book hurtling toward him at great speed.

Roaches are everywhere! Dan left his NCAR mug in the lab overnight, and one managed to squeeze through the little sippy slit and was there when he opened it up the next day on the airplane. Apparently one also got itself into a beer can he left out in his room the other night, so he was awoken by this scrit scrit noise of distressed trapped drunken cockroach. These stories have made me vigilant!

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Tuna log, part 2

Not too much to add to the tuna log since we’ve mostly been having repeats from the list below. We did have this bizarro dish at lunch the other day, with the standard tuna pieces covered in some sort of white sausage and biscuits-type gravy. Weird, but not totally bad. Actually, the variety of preparations is doing a pretty good job of masking the fact that we’ve been eating tuna twice a day for the past two weeks (although I’ve not given up on tuna omelettes yet). Still, I think I’ll be forgoing most fish by the time I get back!

Edited to add:  A new one! Add Salisbury Tuna to the list!  Also, yuck.

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In honor of my hard down day, here are a couple of links for you to enjoy.

The Comics Curmudgeon is consistently hilarious, especially when he’s lambasting the horror that is Gil Thorp. Thanks to this website, the average age of Mary Worth readers has been reduced by at least 20 years!

Sticking with the comics theme, the guy who writes Sally Forth has a great blog, which is always funnier than the actual strip. My favorite posts include:

How not to start a cover letter” ex. “I believe I possess the essential job qualifications, experience and commitment that you not only seek but also demand for this significant position. I shit you not.” and “Mother always said Baby Jesus has a plan for every person in Christendom. I believe His plan for me was that I become your Assistant North Eastern Regional Manager of Sales Development, New Media.”

Also great are his suggestions for a new band name for Hilary (the daughter in the comic strip). ex. “Ron Weasley Harding”, “Dog Day Afternoon Delight”, and “Interpol”.

And another fun video. This is what the kids call a “mash-up.”

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It’s a hard day down

There are three types of days here: flight days, maintenance days, and hard down days (no access to the C-130 = forced day off). Right now we fly three days a week, with 2 maintenance days in between each flight and a down day thrown in there for good measure. It’s a much more difficult process to plan these weeks than I ever would have expected, because we have to somehow merge the needs of the scientists with the needs of the crew, which don’t seem to match very often. Most of the scientiss here would happily work 7 days a week with 4 or 5 flights, but are held back by the rules surrounding how long the crew can be on duty and how many days out of the week the airplane can fly. It’s basically the flight crew that allows us this non-insane schedule, and I am very grateful for them and their hard down days.

Tomorrow is our hard down day, so I’m trying to decide whether to go snorkeling or not, because the last time I burned myself to crispy crispness. I think it’s supposed to rain anyway, so I might be in here blogging all day! For the record, the snorkeling was very nice, but not nearly as impressive as the Great Barrier Reef. But the day was spectacular because it was just so secluded and peaceful.

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