Saturday, August 7, 2010

Bonjour, Spiders!

Lattitude 42 degrees North
Longitude 067 degrees West

Eeeks! Spiders!

Actually, that’s spider. Singular. One giant mud-filled, trouble-making spider.

Okay, this contraption is officially a Multicorer, but everyone calls it a Spider because, well…it looks like a spider! You can see it’s got these eight plastic cylinders attached to its legs. When it goes into the ocean floor, it collects mud—excuse me--I mean important sediment. In fact, Dr. Lloyd Keigwin told me at dinner tonight that this sentiment is actually around 500 years old. You have to think about it like the rings in a tree--only these layers are vertical, rather than horizontal. The further down you go into the mud, the older things get. So this is no ordinary mud. It’s chock full of history and information and all sorts of little microscopic sea creatures.

Now, as I understand it, things generally go very smoothly with The Spider, but not today. In fact, the crew actually “over-penetrated” which means they got layers that were just too deep with no water on top—and that’s important because it shows the scientists exactly where the top layer is. That may not seem like such a big deal, but without a record of the present, there’s no way to really understand the past.

It’s the same thing in fashion.

If you don’t know your original Chanel--well, then how can you truly understand how Karl Lagerfeld is referencing her iconic little black dress and yet subverting it at the same time. Climate change is a lot like that. Not to imply that Karl Lagerfeld is ruining the planet, but you get my drift.

Oh, but speaking of fashion, I have to tell you that we truly have an amazingly fashionable gal here on board with us. I am speaking of the one and only Kathryn Rose. She makes hard hats and bright orange plastic overalls look like the next new thing. You can see her in this photo along with her colleagues Sarah Schulenberg from the University of New Hampshire and Gregory Toltin from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

Oh, so back to the trouble with The Spider—well, they had to get rid of all that mud and start again. This was one dirty job. Kathryn, along with Professor Ian Nicholas McCave from the University of Cambridge in the U.K. worked really hard to clean out all that muck.

While they were doing that, I had an opportunity to focus on Dr. McCave’s red jumpsuit. Isn't it fabulous? I want a red jumpsuit too! I mean, doesn’t everyone!?

Oh, but I digress. Back to the mud. Kathryn Rose is one amazing gal. She hosed out the cylinders and this was no easy task because they were quite caked and apparently smelled really bad. All that decaying plankton I guess. I have to confess, I kept my distance.

And then after much ado, the scientists and crew sent down another spider into the sea and slowly brought it up to the surface, dripping with sea water and voila! It worked.

Truthfully, I like mud, but not that much. So, I stuck to some secretarial work—sticking labels on plastic identification canisters. I got so wrapped up in my label work that I accidently kissed the top of this canister with my red lipstick. If you look real close you can see a little red smudge.

My mark on science!

Anything secretarial makes me very happy, because I find it kind of hypnotic. I like the fact that I don’t have to think too much about what I’m doing, and so my mind is free to wonder off into imaginative places, like oh, I wonder what it would be like if Vogue Magazine did a fashion shoot on the Knorr! Just think of the juxtaposition between mud and Betsy Johnson dresses would be like. I meant wouldn’t that be wild!?

Well, in the meantime, I’ll just have to satisfy my fashion whims with wearing this very fetching blue hard hat.

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