*Note: I wrote most of this during the 4th week in Deadhorse. It is pretty embarrassing, but I will publish it unedited. 600 straight hours of sunlight and working every day makes your brain think you are on the longest unending day ever, and it punishes you.
(2017 edit: This post is not embarrassing at all. Depression from difficult work settings is a real thing.)
Good news! With my return to Harvard, this will be the last bullshit post for a while. Climate science posts will shortly resume, after a brief break!
Deadhorse is Behind Us (better than the original section title "Deadhorse is in our Rear")
We have ended our month in Deadhorse, Prudhoe Bay, AK. I am now home. I am suffering from some pretty severe culture shock, cause I've been thrown back into my job in a Harvard undergrad dorm. So I am going from hanging out with 6 surly scientists with declining hygiene habits to 400 energetic Harvard undergrads putting their best forth for the new schoolyear.
The airplane was fixed hours after my last post. The instrument worked on all fronts. We are collaborating with the Navy on some research up here, and we will continue to collaborate with them back in lab in Cambridge.
Last night we were talking about various small airlines that used to kick ass. Apparently Midwest would serve you steak and beer on flights. We would always ask what happened to each airline after we heard how great it was. Apparently Midwest was bought by Northwest.
One of the group (left nameless cause HR things) mentioned that there had even once been a Hooters airline. When we asked him what became of the airline, he deadpanned, "It went tits up."
Yep, pretty much par for the course for our conversations up here.
Deployments are Weird Anywhere
Our airplane mechanic was deployed in Afghanistan for 3 months as an airplane mechanic, and also in several other places. By the middle of the 3rd week, everyone was making awful jokes. At the end of the 4th week, no one was talking to anyone else. We mostly just sat silently and did our work. "What happened?" we would say. "Did we just run out of awful jokes?" Naw, says our mechanic. "I've been on several field deployments and noticed a cycle. At first you are excited, cause you get to see a new place and the pace of everything is changed. Eventually you fall into a groove and start making jokes with everyone. Then everything is all the same, and you sort of drift into depression."
Yeah, that happened.
Days before this discussion, we had already banned all movies that didn't have happy endings. Depressing or down-beat songs were all vetoed. We only wanted to watch action movies and comedies. It's strange how off a weird place can make you after only 4 weeks.
As the only young unmarried person on this trip, I think I missed Boston more than everyone else. Boston is fucking awesome in the summer if you are single. Deadhorse is not.
I wrote this section after a week at home, so I am more sane again.
When I first got back, I was really awkward. Sometimes I would be listening to conversations, and want to join in, and have things to say, but I couldn't figure out when there was about to be a break in the conversation. And then I was so focused on trying to find that break that I forgot what I was going to contribute. Other times I just said awkward semi-related things. I kinda just sat around listening to conversations and trying to figure out how it worked while everyone wondered why I was creepily sitting in the corner listening to their conversation.
So pretty much I got to be an introvert for a day.
We managed to measure via an aircraft whether the ground is uptaking or emitting CO2 and methane. We have to crunch the numbers to see what is happening where. This is pretty significant. It will definitely add some serious weapons to the climate change observation arsenal.
We will be upgrading the laser system on the CO2 instrument, and the detector on both methane instruments. Claire and I have enough data to each get a PhD even if we don't get funded for field work next year.
On that note, there is a good chance we will get funded for field work next year. We will have two 4-week stints in the field each. Hopefully we are better prepared for it this time.
This week was advising week in Mather. We resident tutors directly advise sophomores. It is a long, stressful week. It's over with, and I finally feel like I can take a day off after about 3 months of no real rest. So I am gonna help a friend move. And then go kayaking. Sunday is more sophomore advising stuff, pretty much all day.
I am taking an advanced statistics course and Mandarin.
I will be getting back to real posts after this one.