Monday, August 9, 2010

It's Raining Men!

The Man Basket

Yes, it seems I’ve made another mistake. In my last post I said that the “man basket” is the place where someone sits in a little booth high above the ship, directing all this huge machinery. Actually, that’s not the Man Basket at all. That’s called a “Winch Shack.” This afternoon at lunch, the lovely Sarah Schulenberg, a grad student from the University of New Hampshire set me straight. This is Sarah.

She’s currently on the PhD track for a degree in paleoclimatology, specializing in oxygen isotopes and trace elements in relation to the strength of the summer monsoon in the Indian Ocean. So obviously she knows what she’s talking about!

This is her second trip on the Knorr. Her advisor is Dr. Rose Came. Oh, and Dr. Rose Came’s advisor was the one and only Dr. Delia Oppo from Woods Hole Oceanographic and I happen to be a friend of Delia’s and in fact, I’ve had dinner over her house many times. She’s a great cook—and oh, dear—I think I’ve gotten off point!

But, it is a small world, no?

Oh, the point, yes the point.

So, not too long ago, Dr. Rose Came and Dr. Bill Curry (oh, and I know him too and his very elegant wife, Dr. Ruth Curry). They’ve been to our house for a dinner party not to long ago. Okay, now I’ll stop digressing.) Anyway, they contacted Sarah because they needed help on the Knorr. She loved it and so they asked if she’d like to come on board again and of course, she said yes. Sarah is totally into the work.

She told me how great it is “to see where the science starts.” And while she admits the work is exhausting, it’s also really fun. And she’s learning a lot because it’s all “hands-on.” Oh, and of course she also loves the people, the camaraderie, the team atmosphere and helping guest bloggers (that would be moi) get the facts straight! Actually, she didn’t say that, but I know she does care about getting things right.

That’s how the scientist’s mind works.

It’s really interesting for me, because I don’t think like that at all. As a writer (I often write fiction and short stories, along with nonfiction) I’m more interested in the emotional truth than the truth-truth. I love to think about how everything is a metaphor for something else. For example, all this mud is not just mud, but it’s kind of like the ocean’s bed. It’s where it dreams. Kind of Jungian, dontcha think? Oh, and if you carry the metaphor even further, if we muck up the bottom of the ocean's bed, then how can it sleep properly? I meant, we all know what happens when we don’t get enough sleep. We get cranky! Well, suppose the ocean gets cranky? I mean, we’ve been doing a heck of a job mucking up the ocean and now it’s becoming more and more acidic and well, isn’t that kind of like trying to sleep with acid reflux?

Okay, well maybe not. But you get the idea.

Anyway, I suppose that’s how I got the Man Basket mixed up with the Winch Shack!

So, to set the record straight. This is a winch. And if you look closely, you can see a little booth. That's the actual winch shack.

And this is how it works: The crane is used to deploy the multicore. Then the Bos’n stays on deck (that’s short for “boatswain”—kind of romantic sounding, isn’t it?) and directs an able bodied seaman (AB) to take the slack out of the wire. Next, the crane lifts the multicore over the side of the ship and is parked outboard of the vessel for the entire deployment. Recovery is exactly the opposite. Got that?

The Dog Dish

Okay, so to continue.

This is The Dog Dish. I think it’s kind of obvious why it’s called a dog dish. I mean, it looks like a giant dog dish!

The crew attaches the dog dish. It houses the acoustic equipment and the release system. That means it basically tells the piston core when we want it to drop to the floor of the ocean.

The Man Basket.

Now, this is what the Man Basket looks like. Very different. It’s not high above the ship, but it actually is hanging off the fantail of the ship.

Dr. Cynthia Pilskaln in the Man Basket:

Okay, I have to stop now, because I am a little out of my league here. Though, honestly, I’m trying to catch up!

So, instead of talking about The Man Basket, let’s talk about MEN! Oh my goodness--there are so many handsome men on the KNORR!!!

Men at Work

Yes, this topic is much more up my alley. I just have to send out this message to all my gal pals out there in New York City, L.A., San Francisco and Chicago--if you want really want to meet a fabulous guy, then you should come on board the Knorr! I mean, really. They’re all rugged, sea-faring, manly men! Handsome, tough, and tanned. Oh, but these guys aren’t all brawn and no brain. No, no, no. They are very brainy! You’ve got the most brilliant minds out here. And they’re not the like those writer/artsy type guys I’m used to meeting at AWP (Associated Writing Programs) or BEA (Book Expo America) or at The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts or the Ragdale Foundation where everyone is an artiste!

These guys not only know their science, but they read books! Lots and lots of books. Here's a small selection of books I found on board:

Okay, nobody on board is really reading this book. French Women Don't Sleep Alone. That's actually my book. As in, I'm the author.

Yes, it’s true. I’m part French (well, my grandmother was French) but no, I don’t sleep alone (except when I’m out to sea). I sleep with the one and only Dr. William G. Thompson of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Yes, I just happened to be married to one of those rugged/brainy scientist-types, so girls, I do know what I’m talking about!

Ooooh la la!

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