Sunday, December 14, 2008

Ok, Seattle is pretty awesome after all

Yesterday I went to the Science Fiction Museum at Seattle Center. My friends had a birthday party to bring their six-year-old to at the Children's Museum there. So while the six-year-old was having a good time at the party, her father and I tried to get what we could out of the sci-fi museum before it closed in a little over an hour. This is the guy that goes by Centauri on message boards and stuff, so you know he's gonna be into it. The museum is not large, but it does have some pretty cool exhibits. One of my favorite items was the original paper manuscript of Neal Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. He writes his novels out by hand on paper using an old-fashioned pen that he dips in ink. Crazy-awesome, but still crazy. And each of the three volumes of the Baroque Cycle are approximately 900 pages, so writing that all out by hand is quite the stack of paper. Neal Stephenson was mentioned in several sections, including his novel Diamond Age in a small section on Nanotechnology. My other favorite piece there was old school Centurion from the original Battlestar Galactica. The museum needed more Firefly stuff, though. As in it needed something, anything, from Firefly.

After visiting the museum and killing some time by climbing a climbing wall at the arcade we picked up the six-year-old and the six-year-old's mom and the six-year-old's sister and walked around amongst the lights and the snow. Yes, snow. The trees were all decorated with christmas lights and there was a carousel and the snow was coming down pretty well. It was magical.

Denver is still cooler than Seattle

About a year ago I went to a charity fund raiser for Child's Play called Funde Razor, but with rocknroll umlauts and stuff. I have a blog post about it and everything. It was awesome. Well, on wednesday I went to the Seattle version of basically the same thing, only here it's called Pinkapalooza. Maybe it was because when I went to the one in Denver I had with me such good comrades, but I have to say that Denver knows how to party better than Seattle does. The crowd in Denver was amazing. Lots of people all very enthusiastic about every band that went up. Huge line of people waiting to go on stage. The one here in Seattle was mellow by comparison. Not a big crowd. Mostly not interested. The people that got together to form bands were in general pretty awesome, though. Lots of them dressed up in themes or had various bits of rocknroll attire on. And you could tell they had been practicing "their song" for the show. But the energy of the place just wasn't the same. The highlight, for me, was when the boys from Harmonix got up on stage to jam joined by Wil Wheaton. That was awesome.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Current conditions:

Current conditions:
Originally uploaded by thewbert.
The weather up here in Icy Bay turned into winter. Rain, sleet, snow, and ice. It's not bad here, though, because we're surrounded by mountains, so we're protected from the 30 knot winds blowing offshore. We've been surveying at 3 knots as we nose our way through ice, sometimes making the whole ship shudder as we glance off a growler or bergy bit (official sizes of icebergs). The weather lifted briefly for a bit today so we all went outside to take pictures of the pretty mountains and blue glaciers.

Originally uploaded by thewbert.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The least crazy thing that happened to me on the 3rd was getting interviewed for NPR.

NOAA begins process of updating Kachemak Bay nautical charts | APRN

Shortly after a death-defying deployment of Launch 1018, repairing a snafu'd gangway, and in the midst of fixing a sliced mooring line, a reporter from the local NPR station in Homer showed up to interview me about NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER's role in the Kachemak bay project, also known as Hydropalooza. It's weird to hear one's own voice on the radio. You never sound how you think you sound. But overall I came off sounding ok, only stumbling over my own words a few times.

I'll write more when I get a chance. I promise.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Beach Party! (And Kayaking)

Nagai Island Kayaking, AK
Originally uploaded by thewbert.
Beach parties are fun. The other night, after many rumors were flying around, the command officially announced a beach party while we were anchored in Larsen Bay. Part of the bay had a nice sandy beach to play on, with dunes and ridges to climb on. The ship's kayaks found their way to the beach somehow, so one of the ensigns and I took them exploring up this inlet around the corner from the beach. It was a magical trip up a waterway I'm sure very few people have been. It started to get pretty shallow and we didn't know what the tide was gonna do, so we cut the trip a little shorter than we liked, having not discovered what was "just around the next bend." And we even made it back to the rest of the party for there to be one Coors Light left. Hey, at least it's colorado beer.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I don't get it.

If the earth is flat, how come it's still light outside in Kodiak, AK when you're bar-hopping at 1:00 am?

Happy solstice everyone! I celebrated the longest day of the year with some Kodiak Island Brewery brews, some rockband, and some karaoke. Well, sorta on the karaoke. I helped Bonnie belt out some Joyride by Roxette, the song Rhapsody calls the best new wave hit of 1991, with tongue planted firmly in cheek.

Kodiak is pretty amazing. There's several thousand foot mountains rising right out of the sea. Said mountains are covered with snow and moss, giving a stunning contrast between emerald green and pure white. My colorado eyes aren't used to seeing mountains that are so green. The island here has a Coast Guard air station, with several amenities such as a little movie theater, a bowling alley, a commissary, an exchange, and gym with a pool and rock wall. The town is pretty small and generally non-touristy, with a few local eateries and bars. Like other small Alaskan towns I've been to so far, the locus of shopping appears to be the local Wal-Mart.

I'd love to spend a little more time here. A weekend doesn't do it justice; not with all the opportunities for hiking, biking, exploring, and relaxing. Being summer, the days are crazy long and the temperatures are generally mild. Maybe I oughta get a summer home here...

Friday, June 20, 2008

My girlfriend and I are in almost the longest possible long-distance relationship (Earth relative)

According to this website it is 13,924 km between Anchorage and Dar es Salaam. The circumference of the earth is 40,000 km, to a first order approximation. This means that the farthest any human being could possibly be from another human being and still remain on the surface of this spheroid we call Earth is about 20,000 km. Since I am currently in Sitka, AK and she is in Tanzania, we rank a 7 out of a possible 10 on the scale of long-distance relationships. Let's make some comparisons, shall we? Let's say you live on the west coast in, say, San Diego and your honey lives on the East Coast in, say, New York City. That seems pretty far, right? Well that's a mere 3922 km, ranking only a 2 on the 10 point scale. I got you beat by 5! Take that!

Or how about if you live in Reykjavic, Iceland and your sweetie lives in Perth, Australia? That seems pretty far, too, right? (It also seems awesome!) Well, you're right! That is pretty far, and pretty awesome! That's a distance of 15,403 km, for a ranking of 7.7 on the 10 point scale, edging out my measly Alaska to Tanzania ranking of 7. So, for all you sleepless in Reykjavic and Perth couples out there; dude, I'm sorry.

This is all to say that my girlfriend is really far away, and that I miss her.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Saturday I went to Carkeek Park with my favorite five-year-old. I also just got a fancy new cell phone so was eager to see how well it can capture video. Well, it does it about as well as one would expect out of a cell phone, but this video is still pretty fun.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Overheard at the Radisson Hotel just accross the street from SeaTac airport

I was leaving the hotel earlier tonight and as I passed through the doors three men were meeting in front of the hotel. This is the snippet of conversation I heard as I walked out to my car:

Dude 1: What kind of strip club takes quarters!!?

Dude 2: No, dude. The bus takes exact change.

Dude 3: !

In other news, one may be inclined to notice that this is the first blog post I've written in a while. This is due to a number of factors. The first is that I've been traveling a bit, and often without consistent internet access. The second is that even when I have had consistent internet access said access was through a satellite connection at my work computer in a very public place on my ship. Bottom line is that it has been inconvenient at best to access the internet in a semi-private blogging fashion for some time now. This has all changed with today's acquisition of my new blogging implement; a Dell inspiron 1520 15.4 " Intel Centrino WinXP notebook computer. Huzzah!
Now, I've never owned a portable/laptop/notebook computer before. I've always been somewhat ambivalent about them. Specifically, why would I want to pay more, for less, simply so I can take my work with me? I don't. But now, due to the aforementioned situation re: internet and computer access, I decided that it made sense for me to own one. And now I do. Enough said about that.

So what's been going on since I posted last? I moved away from Boulder, for one. I am now Field Operations Officer on NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER, currently at beautiful Federal Center South in lovely Seattle, Washington. All my stuff got packed up by elite government agents and shipped off to Ketchikan, AK, where it eagerly awaits my arrival and subsequent finding of a new home, or home away from home, if you will, as my more permanent home will be NOAA Ship FAIRWEATHER itself, or herself, or whatever. So far my job has been to attend lots of classes, interspersed by make-work admin stuff, occasionally hiatused by actual FAIWEATHER-mission inspired work. The leaving-of-Boulder part was hard, emotionally difficult, and realized by a 2.5-day drive to Seattle, so I could hop on a plane to Ketchikan, so I could get inside-passage experience bringing FAIRWEATHER down to Seattle, so I could attend the Seattle Dining-in (which was a riot), and then hop on a plane to San Diego so that I could attend a 6-day sonar training course. Upon my 3rd arrival back in Seattle in the span if two weeks I attended some more training, then the Field Procedures Workshop, and some more training. This week, I'm taking a Bridge Resource Management class with other FAIRWEATHER officers and some fellow NOAA officers from NOAA Ship OKEANOS EXPLORER.

I write this from the aforementioned Radisson Hotel just across the street from SeaTac airport. Due to some of the repairs being done on the ship as part of our alongside repair package, it has been declared uninhabitable. I suppose you could still live on the ship if you wanted to, but you would not have any running water or working toilets. Just like camping! But minus the fun! I was just starting to get comfortable in my new FOO room when we were kicked out and sent to the hotel, but I must admit I wasn't too fond of the fact that it was a bazillion degrees in my stateroom. I really can't honestly say how hot it was in my room as the thermometer on the thermostat only went up to 95 degrees. I can say that the chocolate bar with crystallized ginger and a love poem inside (thanks, T!) was completely liquefied by the ambient temperature. Not just soft, like from being in your pocket, I'm talking completely liquefied. Also, the water from my brita filter tasted like melted plastic. I've never experienced that before. I think the heat was actually melting the plastic.

So this is comparatively the lap of luxury. I can adjust the temperature in my room! There's running water! The toilets work! I have a sleep number bed! And wireless internet! Hopefully by the time we re-inhabit the ship, they'll have that heat thing figured out. Until then, happy valentine's day, ya'll!

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