Friday, April 25, 2008



I've been back home for a week. Coincidentally, I've also been laying on the couch for a week. Tired is such a simple word for such an all-consuming feeling, isn't it?

I had a good time in Alaska. I also had a bad time. I laughed, I cried, I drove out of town in a frustrated funk (on what turned out to be a frickin' LOOP ROAD. I couldn't even run away correctly that day. I didn't know whether to laugh hysterically or drive off a cliff when I figured out what I'd done. L.O.S.E.R. Or just overly sensitive naive one. Whatever). I worked from 8 am until 1 am a time or two, I had dinner with old friends. I wondered why I dared call myself a scientist (nervy). I also wrote a little bit for the Discovery Channel blog...but not as much as I'd wanted. Seems a lot of what I really wanted to say wasn't exactly the right sort of thing for an "official" blog. You know?

I couldn't exactly write about having beers down the hotel hall in the room of the guy that was lead scientist for the DC-8 and laughing at him about how pissed he was that when they were diverted to Iqaluit they discovered that they not only had to share rooms (4+ to a room, and this means sharing rooms with weird and excentric scientists), but also laughing at him at how disgusted he was that there was no beer anywhere nearby (all the while I was smiling at how stereotypically atypical he is with his penchant for bare feet and ponytails. What a good guy. Raises alpacas. Very very smart. Lives life the way he wants.). We also talked a lot about the science, and I felt on-board. It was a nice evening.

I couldn't write about Wonderboy admitting to me at our dinner one night that he thought atmospheric scientists were simultaneously the biggest bunch of alcoholics and vegetarians of any branch of science he's ever seen. I couldn't write about the lively political debates we had at dinner, particularly when Wonderboy, my conservative hero, was there. (I so enjoy talking with him because we are so different but still respect each other. He makes me realize that conservative doesn't always mean dolt. I don't agree with him, but he's got intelligent reasons for his beliefs, which I respect.)

I wrote about the wonders of dog sledding, but didn't post about my trip to Chena Hot Springs or my hike in Denali. Here are some photos:

Here are me and Mian in the hot springs (I was in grad school with Mian YEARS ago, and she's up at NASA Goddard now). Good heavens it was amazing. There was snow all over the place and we were thus in our bathing suits. If there had been seats and drinks served there in the pool, I would have stayed all night. (Apparently, it's one of the primo places for Japanese tourists to go in the winter/spring time to view the aurora. They believe that babies conceived during the aurora have special gifts. So that's why the winter is their busy season.) No conceptions were going on while we were there. We pretty much had the pool to ourselves.

A picture of the hot spring water flowing toward the pool. Very eerie looking.


Two of the six moose we saw on our drive back. Good god, those things are monsterous. My memory of this involves Mian shouting to Gao to stop in the middle of the road, Gao shouting at Mian to GET BACK IN THE CAR, THEY ARE BIG DANGEROUS animals, me frantically rolling down my window and standing up to lean over the car roof to take pictures while Gao was shouting at me that cars were coming and to please get back in the car. OMG, can you say TOURISTS? But they were MOOSE!!!! Like in Northern Exposure!! So cool! Can you even see them?

Me being attacked by one of the vicious sled dogs at Denali National Park. I was so frightened. He was such a brute.

Another one of the vicious sled dogs. Can't you feel the intimidation?

A shot of some of the Alaska range from Denali.

Me and friend Carolyn (University of New Hampshire) hiked for about 1.5 miles in the snow. While it snowed on us. Nice conversation, peaceful setting, mountains, snow, life was/is good.

More later.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

impacts of climate change in the Arctic

If you want to check up on how the ARCTAS campaign is going (Arctic Research of the Composition of the Troposphere from Aircraft and Satellites), hop on over to the Discovery Channel website to find out... See if you can pick me out!!!!! (That's a joke, BTW. I'm the female.)

Sunday, April 06, 2008

blogging from the Arctic

...the subarctic, really.

For the next few weeks, while I am here in Fairbanks, Alaska for a scientific field study to look at the impact of climate change on the Arctic atmosphere, I will be blogging for the Discovery Channel Earth Live webpage. The producer has told me it will go live on Monday, April 7.

The link to the general page is here.

You click on the "From the Field" button to the left of the globe, and then click on one of the pink pins that appears on the globe. (Mine, of course, will be in Fairbanks). I probably won't keep up with this blog much in the meantime. Stop on by and see how things are going up here from time to time! My days so far have been limited to sitting hunched over my computer in a meeting room. Some of those on the aiplanes have gotten to see polar bears trotting across the Arctic Canadian Islands, walruses diving off of the ice and caribou running below during some of their boundary layer (near surface) legs. On Wednesday they'll be flying just by the north pole, and those of you who laughed about us blundering into Russian air space, I'll have you know that Russia has claimed the north pole, so we have to be very careful about where we fly. (Besides, my co-worker filed that particular flight plan instead of me so I can't be blamed).

I'll update when I get the exact link for my part of the Discovery Channel blog...

In the meantime, here's a photo of the DC8. You can see all the inlets for the instruments making the measurements poking out every which way.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Happy Birthday sweet boy...

And then to complete the series, I searched for a good recent picture of Q and realized they're all either of him scowling or like this...

...which I suppose is OK, because he's twelve now and I think that's how it's expected to be.

Twelve years ago this morning I was walking up and down our street with my mom, trying to jump-start those forces of labor. I needn't have bothered. It was, you see, my actual due date and my son is the ultimate epitome of a rule-follower. He took his first steps on his first birthday. One of my goals is to help him learn to question authority. Those lessons will come after he's done being a teenager, though.

When this perfect, beautiful brand new baby was just home from the hospital I broke down into tears because he, who was obviously perfect, had been given ME as a mom - who knew nothing about little boy babies. I would sit and rock him for hours and feel guilty for depriving the rest of the world the chance to meet him. I was a cliche. I still am.

Q I love you more than you can understand right now. Which is a good thing because you are embarking down a tumultuous several years. I'll keep hanging on and when you're out of the adolescent hormonal rebel against your parents teenager phase, we'll watch some Monty Python together and laugh. And I'll never stop being proud.