Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Greetings from Beaker!!!

Meep meep meep! In Beaker-ese that means Greetings from Barrow. The group’s time here is quickly winding down – I can’t believe we’ve been here since March! My time here with the Grannas group has been quite the experience. As official lab mascot it was my job to keep morale high, and I do believe I’ve excelled in that area. They also put me to work from day one … not that I’m complaining, but I do think there may have been some violations of Muppet labor laws. For some reason everyone assumes a Muppet needs no sleep! I had to babysit the GC during all the overnight analyses. I also had to oversee all lab activities and keep everyone in check and on schedule. Quite the job when you consider the yahoos I have to work with! Oh, wait, did I say that out loud? I meant to say that I had nothing but good experiences working with these science geniuses who always act like the ultimate professionals (as evidenced by the candid photos below I managed to take while they weren't paying attention) . :o)

Along with the more mundane lab work, the group has had numerous opportunities to get out in the field for sampling. Snowmachining and ATV-ing around Barrow was always fun, especially when Ali would come back with stories of upsetting her snowmachine multiple times in one trip.

They also had some great times participating in the spring whaling season and eating the fruits thereof … although no one offered me any muktuk and I am still feeling a bit offended by that slight. They did offer to bring me to their weekend bonfire, but I declined as I was afraid Ian might end up using me as kindling or firestarter. Polyester stuffing burns so easily you know!

Dining out was also a highlight of the stay. Who knew you could get such yummy Mexican food this far north of the border? The Thai restaurant was also a hit, more for the hilarious wait-staff than the food (although the food certainly was good). Osaka had great sushi and other tasty menu items as well. It was always fun to hear Glenn’s point of view on the food offerings – he’s experienced first hand a number of foreign cuisines and was always full of insight regarding food preparation and presentation.

The Barrow night life was quite an experience. (Although can you really call it night life when the sun doesn’t go down? Shouldn’t it be light life? ... just a thought). Anyway – the Friday night dances were a hoot … man, who ever said science geeks can’t dance? Once they got over the initial fear of being the only people on the dance floor, it really was quite fun to see them out there gyrating around. I never imagined Dr. G could bend that way (and to be honest, maybe she shouldn’t)! When the Barrow entertainment offerings weren’t sufficient, the group often organized their own entertainment. Countless movie nights filled the past few months. Several Rock Band get-togethers were also on the schedule. And let’s not even talk about charades and Pictionary games … yikes! Talk about the competitive spirit … they would make Bobby Knight proud!

I have to give final props to BASC (the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium). The logistics staff was just amazing – always meeting the group’s needs and going above and beyond to help them get their work done. Last minute requests were never a problem (whereas I would have probably looked at the Grannas group with that “you’ve got to be kidding!” look). The spirit of “nothing is impossible” was pervasive … and honestly, it ended up true. (Who knew a stand-in vacuum system could be found in a matter of an hour when the building’s vacuum pumps died).

So now, I find myself looking around the lab at the empty boxes and crates that are soon going to be filled with equipment and materials to be shipped back to Villanova. I’ll get crammed into one of these for the ride home … I’m trying to scope out a nice comfy spot that isn’t too cramped. I had one heck of a neck cramp from my trip up here in March – so I’m not looking for a repeat of that! I'm sure the group will continue blogging, but for now I must bid everyone farewell and get ready to be stuffed into my packing crate. So, until I get back to Villanova, I wish you all Meep Meep Meep Meeeeep! (Translation: health, happiness and a safe summer).

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