Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Sheltering Sky

I asked watchstanders to post a blog on a daily basis, but as you've seen, they seem to be exhausted and are not posting as frequently as I'd like to see... It may be understandable because this cruise turned out to be unusually long; it's 60 days total, and this is by far the longest cruise I've been on (my previous record was 44 days). One of our graduate students, Duayne, told me this morning that he couldn't look at computer screen any more because he was sort of burned out. I found it interesting because I never get tired of working with computer...

As I wrote in my previous post, this cruise was a great success overall, and this is mainly brought by the professionalism of the Langseth crew, the Lamont science tech group, and the WHOI OBS team. Will and I did all the planning, but the actual implementation of the plan was done so gracefully by them, and there was literally nothing left for us to do (watchstanders worked hard during their watch under the supervision of the tech group, but the PIs just had to look at monitors). The chief science officer, Robert Steinhaus, originally came from the industry of exploration geophysics, and we all benefited from the high industry standard he brought to the vessel. Though I never worked in the oil industry, I somehow felt I was having a virtual experience of being a client from ExxonMobil.

We also had a good fortune of having nice weather throughout the cruise. One of major concerns we had before the cruise is that this survey area can sometimes be hit by wayward typhoons, but we didn't have any during this cruise. Actually, we had more than just nice weather. We had spectacularly calm seas on several occasions. The picture shown was taken in the morning of August 26, and you don't normally expect this kind of sea in the middle of the Pacific. That was simply gorgeous. Just imagine yourself sailing in the vast ocean filled with these colors... Now approaching the end of the cruise, I've started to regret not spending more time outside the lab. I was busy working on computer, and because we had so many days at seas, I thought I could see these things as many times as I want. Scientific problems in front of me seemed more important and urgent, but maybe I should've enjoyed the life at seas more. This reminds me of the following quote from one of my favorite movies, "The Sheltering Sky":

"Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well, yet everything happens only a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more, perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless."

So, watchstanders, how many times did you see a spellbinding sunrise or sunset during this cruise? I hope you saw many.

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