Friday, June 22, 2007


Yesterday was the summer solstice, the first day of summer by the astronomical calendar. Matt, Ryan and I celebrated by digging out a stuck ATV (stuck in snow not mud, very unsummer) and finished off by digging the rest of the snow out (about 50meters worth, some 1-2meters deep) to make a path along the road to the creek to get fresh water. Later that afternoon Matt and I trekked by ATV and foot to Trinity Lake to retrieve the ATV we had cached there for use when snowmobiles were still in vogue on Devon but some of our science sites had melted. This trip home for the ATV involved almost as much lifting and pushing and dragging through snow as driving, but we got the ATV and trailer back to the Hab. For all this effort (and for me sore muscles, but Matt is a superman for those that haven't seen his photo) the island rewarded us with shattercones, which are very cool rocks that only form from meteorite impacts and nuclear explosions. I have a particularly nice one for my desk back at work. It will join the selenite from Utah and the stromatolite from Montana that Medicine Wolf gave me on C22 as the prides of my engineering sample collection. I hope to find some more stromatolite on Devon too, for both Richard and Elaine. Also the solstice rings in my two month anniversary on Devon.

At this point I would like to thank my Mom and Dad not only for the book on rocks and minerals, but for allowing us to have ATV's as a child and young adult. Growing up in sub-suburban and rural Texas really prepared me for this adventure and taught me a lot of what you can, can't, and shouldn't do on an ATV. In addition to the surly IT guy on this gig, I'm also the sometimes surly ATV mechanic and the kind and forgiving ATV trainer.

But I know why you are all really here. After one last note - Paul (again my genetic brother, not pauloutwest) just FYI, the crew will be throwing you a birthday party next week, happy 37! Send me some email bro and let me know how P's ball team did/is doing. It sucks that the 'Horns lost out in the NCAA regionals this year too!

Haughton River in melt looking north
(this is where the "Santa" photo was taken a couple of months back)

Looking South

Arctic gull on a dive bomb mission over James (he missed...)

The gull after it realizes that James packs 30-06 AAA

OK Paul, here is that bear sign
(very old and far away Mom)

The last snowmobile ride

12:12am (this is as dark as it gets folks)

The "road" to Trinity Creek

Arctic bluebonnets on brechia (another impactite)

(last two photos courtesy Matt Bamsey)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Or should that be Habkeeping? I'm not sure why, but typing that title I'm reminded of a line from Apollo 13. I don't want to subscribe any special significance to that, other than it is one of my favorite movies of all time...

This post was really about the thing I forgot to on Sunday which was wish my father a happy Father's Day. It wasn't so much that I forgot but just that I ran out of time. We did record a fathers day greeting from the crew for all our fathers. It is on-line at I guess I've done worse in the 37 I've been here for so far, so maybe this is not so bad. Oh, and Paul (my genetic brother), that is for you too. Photos later if I get a chance to actually copy them off my camera.

Monday, June 11, 2007


Sanjiv, if by any chance you are reading this I need to get a hold of you. Send me an email.

Traditionally when doctors go through residency they work 36hr shifts and put in 100 or more hours per week at the hospital. The idea is to train the mind to deal with stressful situations in extreme conditions. Sleep deprivation is used to accomplish this. It also benefits the hospital since when a position is salaried, long hours mean good business. In recent years the trend has been to reduce this to more reasonable hours, with 80hr work week limits and 10hrs off mandated between shifts that don't last more than 24hrs. Will this result in better doctors, well studies say yes and also that there will be less hospital accidents. This is a good thing for patients.

The question is how does this relate to life and work on Devon? Well we live where we work and have been doing something like 100hr weeks for the last two or three. I think everyone has now realized that this is not possible to do for the long term and hopefully we will fall into a more manageable schedule. Here we also have the blessing/curse of 24hr sunlight so there are not any real cues that it is time to sleep and this too has an effect. We even have one study, Project C.A.S.P.E.R. , run by Dr. Marc O'griofa of the University of Limerick (Marc is also one of our Flight Surgeons), that is looking at us for just this kind of information. CASPER flew for the first time on the ISS last year.

To give everyone a break we take every Sunday off and also today was designated a sleep-in day when we will start at noon. I hope this will be enough of a break for everyone. That combined with a new schedule that should allow for more time to do reports and take care of personal correspondence should get us back to peak output. Of course there is still a lot of work to do, we just need to manage our time and try to get back to a more normal schedule. None of us here want to be MD's and we all feel for them too. Sleep tight readers, but before you do take a look at these:

Another Columbia inukskuk

Nadav, our intrepid swimming photographer

Playa Patti on FMARS Fjord

James enjoys the bikini clad sunbathers at Playa Patti,
they are hidden by the fog rolling in across the fjord

Sunday, June 3, 2007


I know, I know, I don't get a chance to write enough. I really do try, but we are working here a lot. I've literally been trying to finish this post since Sunday (its now Tuesday night...). I'm almost ready to go back to my day job at ACC now just to be able to get some rest. But since I can't do that yet, I think it is time to geek out for a bit and talk about all the cool technology we have here and what exactly my role is in making this stuff work.

First, as I've mentioned a few times are the sensors. I had a good description of them in my last post. For the most part, they are all Hobo brand and take readings and download them via infrared and/or USB links. If anyone wants to know exactly what data we can collect let me know and I'll get the info to you. That is too geek even for a "geek" post, btu we will get there. Oh and I almost forgot the web cams, where Ryan and I have been having a little Canada vs. USA tech war over the Stanley Cup. I could totally nuke him, just like Anaheim is going to do to Ottawa tomorrow, but I like to cut him some slack, sometime.

To protect the data the sensors collect, that we generate via reports and sample processing, to store all the research data we brought with us, and all the photo and video documentation we generate in an easily accessible location, we have a Windows 2003 R2 server. I have already mentioned this too and apologized then to my geek friends for not using Linux in this role. Again if you want to know my reasons let me know and I'll geek-out with you for a while on my philosophy on operating system deployment and the reasons to use Win vs. Linux vs Netware. For now I'll save that for the advanced networking classes. I also mentioned that all this runs on my old Compaq Presario 2100 laptop.

To actually protect that data I had devised a plan to use ten 80gig SATA drives in a RAID 5 configuration. (How many of your eyes glazed over at that sentence, huh? I told you this was a geek post...) Unfortunately I ran out of time to test the setup as well as I would have liked in the lab back home. Largely this was due to the brand new nature of the hardware I had to find to make this work. It was all back ordered or in beta test. That meant that the deployment here was the first time I had it all set up in one place, and well, it is a little unstable. Like someone walks by, or jumps off the bike downstairs, or even breathes in its direction it drops drives out of the array for just long enough to start a rebuild. RAID rebuilds and inits on that old Compaq take a long time, like days; so now we just have individual SATA drives connected to the two port PCMCIA SATA RAID controller. Every time a drive starts to fill up I archive its contents to DVD then compress the data and put another on-line. Its a PITA but it works and with a near and off-line backup I feel safe that the data is not going away, even here in one of the worst environments on the planet.

Well that is a start on what we have deployed now. What we still have to play with are the self reparable sensor networks, the Georgia Tech APRS system, the radiation detector that Emily sent us, and a few surprises that I'll keep to myself for now. I will say that we have a full scientific database with audio, photo, and video components that should be on-line soon. Stay tuned geek readers. There will be a follow up to this post with more; but for now the pictures, geek stuff first, cool-kid stuff later:

Our DC power supply
not high tech, but something I've been tinkering with.

PH test on the biology samples, very high tech

My "office"
Server on the left, my machine in the middle, and Kim's donation to the web cams on the right

OK, cool stuff now.

Kathy, Simon, and James posing before EVA
(yes Mom, the rosy cheeks are windburn)