Day 80: In Which It Gets Darker and Rainer

9am, roughly

So it is full and true dark when I get up for school these days; the sun rises about 9:45am, but it doesn’t clear the mountains until about 1 or 2 in the afternoon, and then sets at 4:30pm. It gets a maximum of a handspan above the horizon, and the low angle sunlight makes me think it’s later than the full dark does, I don’t know why. It’s very pretty, though, walking to school with the light off the snow and the harbor. I like it more than I maybe should. I’m not currently feeling any seasonal depression effects, but sometimes my brain thinks that waking up in the dark like this means its dawn watch. Dawn watch means I have to awake and sensible for six really weird hours (and one too many squalls. always), eat a ton of breakfast and then fall asleep until afternoon class. Staying up all day is sometimes baffling, but if I can not nap at 2pm I’m usually golden.

Today, however, as it so often is, it was raining.

just the corner of the saddest yellow storm drain you’ve ever seen in a puddle that’s about 4 inches deep

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that storm drain in possession of good downpour is never in want of a puddle. Apparently. The number of puddles over storm drains is truly staggering to me. I feel like that’s not what they’re there for.

The snow line is creeping down the hills though. Watching winter roll down the slopes like this is very strange, as opposed to rolling down from the North.

We finished up oceanography today; everybody had to do a tiny project and a write up and 5 minute presentation about any aspect of physical oceanography. Most kids went with normal kitchen top experiments (put sand in two jars of water, one salt one fresh and shake. does salt effect settling time?), and couple went for combining some animal tracking data with current data (albatross, sharks, loggerhead sea turtles). I went completely out of left field because I wanted to do a research project about whether what ocean basin ancient peoples found themselves in shaped the navigation tools they developed to not die at sea.

It does in fact matter! The Polynesians, the Vikings, and the Romans all had basically disjoint ways of navigating their ocean basins, despite the fundamental goal being the same. Researching and writing the paper was a lot of fun, but I had to restrain myself from making fun of the Romans for a good chunk of it because the Mediterranean is by far the smallest and calmest ocean and they were just being weenies about not navigating in the winter. Also not using the phrase ‘it really sucks to die at sea’, because there are actually fairly few non-lethal failure methods in pre-modern boat stuff, so not dying was the primary hazard and concern.

There was throw-away sentence in a paper about the Vikings that made me really glad I’m not a Viking though; that there was no way to make their longships heave to (a way of setting the sails and the rudder so the boat is broadside to wind. It stabilizes the ship and makes riding out storms and swells suck so much less) so they just. kept sailing in storms. brrr. By far the funniest thing about the Vikings is that they couldn’t really use the stars to navigate because it doesn’t get dark long enough for the stars to be useful in the summer sailing season, so they mostly used the sun. But they had to figure out how to find the sun through clouds (because it’s always cloudy in Iceland, I can confirm) using crystals like calcite that polarize light. The Romans just used sounding weights and sand identification and avoided deep water like the plague (wimps).

One of the roommates bought a can of frosting by mistake several days ago, and I had a spare egg so I was like, I’ll just make a cake to put under this frosting, that’ll be a good use of a Tuesday afternoon. My roommates looked at me like I was a Witch when I pulled a (single layer, very simple vanilla) cake out of the oven without a box mix. Which cracks me up because. You both cook for yourselves on the regular. You haven’t starved to death even a little since we’ve been here. and you’re impressed by baking? Baking has rules, it makes way more sense than cooking. I’d live on muffins if only for the simplicity of throwing them together.

We get emails basically all the time asking for students with fairly specific backgrounds to do research, and I emailed back to one about a week ago, about going on a research cruise for about a week next fall. The professor responded back, oh I actually I don’t need you, but my colleague might, for this much longer and fancier cruise doing more geology and less biology, which was a hell of a whiplash for me (I didn’t think they’d actually want me!). But now I’m tentatively singed up to do a cruise for a month or so next fall on the RV Armstrong looking at glacier retreat signatures. (oh dear I’m going to have to put together a project. it’ll be fun! and so much work). Strange things can happen if you email people, who would have guessed.

One response to “Day 80: In Which It Gets Darker and Rainer”

  1. glad you are enjoying having your brain tickled (somewhat) in a new place. Thankyou for taking us along with you. Hooray for the RV Armstrong.


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