Monday, January 30, 2012

Everything ... in its right place

Making uniformly wide (= safe) dive holes through the sea ice in Antarctica has always been a major challenge. For example, at our research sites at Explorers Cove, the sea ice is usually 8-21 feet (roughly 3-7 meters) thick, and layered with wind-blown sediment from the Taylor Valley - factors that create a host of problems. Blasting holes with dynamite worked well in the past, but in this post-9/11 world it is a logistical nightmare to use explosives. The only reasonable option is to slowly melt a dive hole using a Hotsie. Unfortunately, the Hotsie is a gizmo that wasn't designed for this purpose: it's a glorified carpet steam cleaner!

Keeping a Hotsie functional for the 2-3 days needed to melt a hole requires vigilance (and a toolkit). Recently, we've resorted to belief in "order" in order to keep it working.

To wit:

Now that we align its components in orderly ways, with expression of great love and devotion to the Hotsie, we are cranking out perfect dive holes. (Well, almost 50% of the time.)

I'm thinking of starting a new religion ...

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Touching the Sublime - like, in 2012?


YOU are, like, THE most AWESOME lifeform in the known universe

Like, if I was standing on the edge of the galaxy, looking in?
there would be this most AWESOME sight:

YOU - with, like, this awesome glow of energy?
streaming from you,
lighting up all the stars
Not just the nearby ones
but, like, ALL of them?

And you'd be, like, dancing with joy?
as you swirl and twirl around
planting smiles on all the creatures you encounter?

It would be REALLY awesome

And because I'd be on the EDGE of the galaxy
soooo, like, ready to drop off into nothingness?

It would be the most awesomely sublime thing

Know what I mean???

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Seeing Red

One of the tents we use in Antarctica, called a "Polarhaven," is large enough to serve as a dive locker for about four aquanauts.

The Polarhaven at Cape Bernacchi

Because it is heated by a catalytic propane unit, it's also a comfy refuge for sleeping and eating in subzero temperatures. There's only one problem: the walls are red, so the interior is also red.

Laura Von Rosk cinching down the Polarhaven blanket to its wooden floor. The propane heater is seen behind her.

While setting up the Polarhaven at Cape Bernacchi, Laura and I had a brief opportunity to discuss "color" and "composition" (she is a master of both). I've never understood how to use color effectively, and my compositions always feel like run-of-the-mill, "rule of thirds," ho-hum. What could Laura teach me about this during our breaks from work?
A sketch of Astrammina triangularis using watercolor pencils. My drawings seem "cartoon-like" and not very realistic. I always follow the "rules," too. For example, light comes from the upper right, shadow to the lower left. The result just doesn't "feel" interesting to me :-(
Detail of an Astrammina triangularis "arm" that I sketched in normal daylight. I try to do a lot of "deep looking" when studying a subject, but that doesn't always translate into an appealing composition.

Drawing an agglutinated foram inside the tent was an interesting experience. Seeing everything in red light is not too alien, since I spent decades in a darkroom back when photography meant working under a safelight. I never tried to manipulate color in a monochrome setting, though, and wondered if that would be instructive?

Drawing of an agglutinated foram, with notes on objects in the tent, as I remember seeing things in the Polarhaven. (Actually, I placed a red mask over the drawing below, so this is really just a simulation.)

How the drawing looked when viewed outside the Polarhaven - surprisingly ... ugly?

Looking deeply, working hard, trying something new, failing ... but having fun. Art and science share a lot in common.