Friday, April 27, 2007
can catch up there.
OK, this is day six on Devon. I used the phrase “couple of days” in my last post, which in the Texas vernacular means at minimum two and at most many days. In my last I said I was leaving for the island for the rest of the summer. Well, we made it, and things have been rolling. Since we got here Sunday morning it has been mostly non-stop, except for sleep and meals. Tonight will be night six. We have had challenges and triumphs, but it has gone well overall. Things are taking shape, albeit slowly. The Hab is a mostly warm 50-60F, and some of the plumbing works, but the high speed net connect is still not up. Paul and I fried my sat-finder on Sunday and any manual alignment is all but impossible according to the Netkaster tech we talked to, basically the same as hitting at keno in ‘Vegas. The tech actually used more colorful language to describe it. We have a better suited sat-finder and fine adjustment rods coming with the crew. We think that will be Tuesday of next week.
I used even more colorful language while configuring the MSAT backup link. It seems that while we have gone back in time to 1989, 2400 baud modems with raw AT commands in serial terminal windows, the rest of the world has not. We went through 3 ISP’s before we could get one that worked at that slow rate. Everyone claims they can do it when you ask the salesperson, yet when you try it fails, and the techs don’t even want to go there. I did get one good tech at the first place we tried. He refreshed me on the Hayes AT command set, but was quickly removed from the case and replaced by a tier 2 tech who would have nothing to do with it. Thanks for trying Wane, I do appreciate it. Paul and I did finally succeed with, of all ISP’s, Earthlink. They can do a 2400 baud link when their DNS doesn’t time out. Not much of a selling point unless you are on an Arctic desert island. We may have the newer 4800 baud MSAT later tonight. We’ll be stylin’ then, just like 1990!
Otherwise all has gone well; Paul and I made a couple of new friends in our “guides” James 2 and Steve. They told us they found a little bit of bear sign yesterday about 10km from the Hab. Just like “a couple of days” means more in Texas, apparently “bear sign” means more to the Inuit. They actually got pictures of the bear when they followed the tracks. As it turns out the bear was also looking for them too. Steve said was a young male, “only 8-9 feet” (yikes!), and it ran from them when they went after it. Steve said it was too small for him to want to shoot and waste the bear tag. They just chased it off. The pics belong to Steve so I won’t post them without his permission (even when we do get the high speed up), but I will have them to show off privately when I get home, just in case I don’t get to see any bears of my own. I’m not sure if that is a good or bad wish, maybe a little of both - good and bad, just like most of this week.
[Yup, this was posted by Emily. Their web still isn't fast enough to allow for anything but text.]
Sunday, April 22, 2007
Thursday, April 19, 2007
When we got to the station we were immediately challenged. All the doors were frozen shut. Around here, given time, the snow blows into any crack and all the door seals were solidly welded with ice. To deal with this, and save the recon mission, we set up a large portable heater that we had brought to warm the Hab. We set it to blow all 90,000 BTU's right on the door, which we fixed with a makeshift tent. An hour or so later the door was open and we were able to do our recon. It was colder in the Hab than it was outside. The steam in my breath actually froze in mid-air for the first few minutes I was inside, until the heaters finally took over. This is going to be a challenging environment for computer electronics.
In all the hab was in good shape. We did find all the problems reported by the last crew as we expected, but there weren't any big surprises. We did find a couple of bottles of frozen olive oil in the cupboard. I'll have to look up the freezing temp on that one, but at least the bottles didn't break. We will have our work cut out for us, especially now that the schedule has slipped by a week, but we still hope to get it mostly up to spec by the time the crew arrives.
Hab on Ice
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
We have been doing our best to make friends with the Polar Challenge 2007 organizers and survival instructors for the last few days and it is paying big dividends. They gave us some of their spare food and are letting us sit in on some of their Arctic training lectures too.
Those two dots on the bay (yes , that is a frozen Resolute Bay) are me and Mark
My first closeup of a Twin Otter
Paul and the fire brigade baggage unloading for the Polar Challenge contestants
The favorite kilt of the Arctic!
Delivering gear to Polar Shelf
Home Sweet Home in the Arctic, and Tuk Tuk Ozzie's back door dog
Our friend Mark, the survival bloke with Polar Challenge
Paul, ready for some snowmobile action
Me, after crossing the bay on one of the Polar Challenge snowmobiles
Sunday, April 15, 2007
In other news, Paul and I are coordinating our flight support and putting together a logistical plan to get to Devon and find out what we need to do to make the FMARS station run. We are trying to get to Devon on Tuesday with the first supply flight. What we hope to do is get in Tuesday AM, do some initial recon, and get back out to Res in the PM. This is iffy in the Arctic, but we are prepared to stay a couple of nights if we have to. Then once we get back to Ozzie's South Camp Inn in Res we will put in our materials order, make the final plans, get some sleep, and then fly back out to Devon late in the week for good.
I had hoped to get some time on a snowmobile today before we get to Devon. It might still happen, but it is looking like it will be tomorrow. The up-side is with the added down-time I was able to get my Google Earth cache loaded and play with the GPS tracks I got from the flights out. Here is my current location, one of those tracks, and a pic of me with my first 'stash-cicle - enjoy:
Saturday, April 14, 2007
Well it didn't... 'net is real slow tonight. I'll have to resize the pics first, but now it is bed time.
Ok, Sunday morning. Trying again now that the weather is a bit better... Internet in Resolute is very dependant on how much snow and blowing snow there is at the moment.
Well Paul and I made it out of
Thursday, April 12, 2007
As I write this I'm sitting in a hotel room in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Predictably (at least to a Texan like me...) it is snowing outside. This is my first trip to Canada and so far I like it. Here is a picture out the hotel window.
The good part is I'm in Canada, the bad part is my checked bags, including my survival gear and gun are still in Chicago. As anyone who has been watching the Weather Channel knows, yesterday there was some snow and ice in the northern mid-west yesterday. Flights out of Chicago into Ottawa were canceled. I found out about this while sitting at my gate in Denver waiting to catch a flight to Chicago to later catch a connect to Ottawa. Through some quick work on the part of Maria, my travel agent at Accent Travel in Austin, Paul Graham and I were able to get on another connecting flight to Washington - Dulles then on to Ottawa. My airline was virtually no help. They sent me to stand in a line that was 100meters long and would have caused me to miss both flights had I not called Maria. Unfortunately while I made the DC connection, my bags went on to Chicago to spend the night.
We got to Ottawa last night at 11pm local time. Then I got to do Canadian Customs. In all it wasn't too bad. They just grilled me for about 30 minutes in Immigration since I'm staying so long. In the end I had good documents to vouch for my reasons to be in Canada for 4 months, and they gave me this cool immigration document which is stapled to my passport. It is all official looking, has seals, the multi-color security paper, and a hologram. It says that I'm authorized to be in Canada until October 10th and says "MEMBER OF ARCTIC RESEARCH TEAM FOR FLASHLINE MARS ARCTIC RESEARCH STATION. JOINT VENTURE OF NASA/[and an agency in Canada that I can't mention because their PR people have not cleared it, but they have three initials and build arms for Space Shuttles and ISS's]" Maybe this will help me get my gun through customs when it gets here? Here is a pic of the cool part:
We'll see how it goes from here. The current plan is to spend today in Ottawa and wait on the bags. Then I have to go back to the airport to retrieve my baggage and go through screening. Hopefully at the end of which I'll get my gun and license and all my gear. We have rebooked flights north to Resolute tomorrow. This means we miss our own Yuri's Night party in Res, but such is life -"C'est la vie", as the Quebecers say.
Saturday, April 7, 2007
One last note and a genuflection to my almost non-existent (at least that I know of...) sponsors. I'm writing this on my Dell hardened ATG laptop using my PalmOne Treo 650 as a modem. I'm on the way back from Liberty, TX (where my fam lives) and saying bye to Mom, Bro, MeMom, and Preston. One of my friends at Dell hooked me up with this sweet machine at a very reduced price in exchange for some notes on how it performs in the Arctic for their engineers. The only reason I mention the Treo 650 is that I love it. However if anyone at Palm is reading this I could use some sponsor $$$. Just a thought.