Saturday, August 11, 2012

Day 13 (Aug 11 2012)

Because of the slow internet connection here, I was up until 1am last night uploading pictures onto the blog.  I can't keep that up, so I did not take any pictures today, which is a shame because the aggregate team spent the afternoon sticking a microelectrode into aggregates that were perfectly suspended in a continuous flow of water in order to measure the gradient in oxygen concentration from the outside of into the heart of the aggregate.

Beyond that, it was a day for the calcite team to endure another one of their 4-hour sampling sessions that mostly involve sitting in the boat getting progressively colder while the carbon dioxide sensor yawns and stretches and finally gets around to giving them a number (rinse and then repeat for the next 11 mesocosms).

We also finally had another science meeting, which was very good as, even though I have switched us to sampling every 3 days instead of every 2, the schedule keeps filling in fast and thick with experiments to do and sampling trips to make out to the mesocosm raft.

Hah!  Two of the agg team have just walked through, jittery and shaking, and have gone straight out for a cigarette.  Apparently, the normally imperturbable Morten allowed Briva to take the microsensor for a spin through one aggregate and the experience was extraordinarily stressful for both of them. Ah, the joy of hanging the next month of your research career (and indeed many more years of it) on a single extremely breakable piece of equipment.

In other news, it was decided that we needed to have a half-way day party.  We haven't sat down yet to calculate the half way point (but if we are on day 13 already, it must be coming up sometime in the next couple of days).  But we suddenly realized that Morten will be absent for much of next week, so we should have the party before he leaves.  As in on Saturday (tonight) or Sunday (tomorrow night). But if we have to sample at 6:30 am on Monday (without Jussi, who will still be in Trondheim waiting to pick up Marja and Julia at the airport before he returns to us after the weekend), Sunday night is not the cleverest night for a party.  So we need to have the party tonight.  Ack!  We realized this at 11 this morning, a mere 2 short hours before the shops close up shop until Monday morning (ah, weekends in the sticks).  So we sent Nathalie and Annick on an emergency mission for party calories (junk food, drinks).  Sadly, I am so exhausted, that even the lure of Pringles may not keep me up until party time.   Anyway,I half suspect the aggregate team will be poking at their aggregates well into the night and much the same will prove true for the calcite team filtering their samples and the zooplankton team picking their copepods and the filtration team supporting the experiment the zooplankton team is starting.

One thought now on the perils of multinational scientific research.  I had one momentarily shocking moment this morning with our most excellent chef (who was again wearing his Hard Rock Cafe Moscow t-shirt).  May I have a word with you, he asked me.  I need your help.
He's a very gentle fellow, so I nodded, yes, trying to be encouraging.
Emboldened, he said, I am having trouble, he said, with... my..., he added, then paused, brow furrowing as he fished for the next word.
My, um....
Then there was then this.... PAUSE.... while that word slowly meandered from my eardrum to my brain and my sleep-lacking brain tried desperately to deal with this, this, this.... terrible word.  I blinked at the cook.  Had he really just said that he wanted me to help him with his fantasies?  He just stood there looking mildly at me, awaiting my response.  And I just sort of stood there trying to figure out out the correct response.  Run away?  Or just assume that this was just a problem of translation and say, Oh, yes, please, do go on.  Please tell me what I can do to help your... fantasies! 
I took a deep breath and decided to give him the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe, just maybe, it was just a problem of translation.  Or the totally different approach to life taken by the Norwegian brain compared to mine. Maybe he had really wanted a nice neutral word like... like... um... help me out here... um.... maybe.... imagination?  Could he have meant imagination?
I took a deep breath and say, as incredibly unsexily as I could possible manage, "Um, yes, maybe.  What do you mean?"
And what did he say next?  He looked at me slowly and then said to me, very seriously, What is your favorite food?
I almost started laughing.  I have stumped our thoughtful and conscientious cook with my vegetarianism. Even the person who will die if she eats fish, shellfish, peas, or nuts doesn't pose much of a distrubance to him.  But a vegetarian!  All the wheat protein schnitzels and soy burgers and handmade spicy bean burgers and pasta marinara are starting to bore him.

Oh.  My.  Phew.  I am so glad that did not turn out to be some sort of unexpected and outrageous disaster.  I'm sure translation hiccups like that are exactly how wars get started.  At least sometimes.

OK, that was my little super fast blog entry for today.  I hope it wasn't too boring.  But have no fear.  The pictures will be back tomorrow.

<LATER>   Ooops.  I lied.  Here are two photos.

 Aug 11 2012a-  You have to use your... fantasy... a little bit, but this is a picture of the zooplankton team adding their very first copepod to a real live experimental bottle.  Can you see it?

Aug 11 2012b-  Juli expressing her feelings for copepods.

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