Wednesday, February 6, 2008

One More Week

Ice Crystal Halo over Dark Sector

I've had a good couple days after suffering through a 24-hour stomach bug which seemed to spread through the station population like a fire through an abandoned warehouse (people were apparently wandering the hallway doubled over with hands on stomachs...). Coming out of that, I was surprised to realize the trip is already drawing to a close: I leave in seven days and a few hours. It is time to think about getting back onto a day schedule (NZ days, anyways).

Time is very strange here -- it seems like I just arrived today, but this day has been measured in hundreds of hours... which is in fact the case (the sun won't set until March).

Temperatures had plummeted to record lows, -45 F or so (-65 wind chill), but have risen a bit since it got cloudy (the clouds act as a sort of insulation). Oddly, despite the cold, one can go out on the deck for several minutes without any gear whatsoever to take pictures like the halo above; anything longer than that and things start to go numb.

We are expecting a near total solar eclipse in about 30 hours, which I will try to stay awake for -- should be a treat after a month of blazing sunlight.

Work has been progressing well. There are still two more batches of strings to be added into the detector -- we are at 34 out of 40 strings and things seem to work ok (knock on wood). When not running tests of my own I'm helping other people with theirs, and working on learning about Web development frameworks in Python, which I hope to use for a new work project this year.

I am also planning out a short vacation in New Zealand, a two day hike along the Queen Charlotte track along the coast of Marlborough (which all you wine aficionados will recognize as wine country), followed by a trip to Wellington to visit Neil and Amelia and a stroll up and down Cuba street.

In short, not too much to report other than the relatively strange routine of living life in Spaceship Pole, punctuated by trips outside to wish people farewell when their C-130's arrive (half the IceCube crew left about 20 hours ago).

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