Tysen Mulder's Blog

Monday, September 08, 2014
Tysen Mulder On the Thompson

September 8, 2014

Bizarre dive schedule today. The dive didn’t start until 5:30 am, (an hour and a half later than usual) so I got an extra hour or two to sleep. When ROPOS did make it into the water, the dive only lasted 30 minutes, long enough to set a junction box on the seafloor and come back up. As soon as the dive ended, there was a ten minute turnaround followed by a second 30 minute dive to put down another one. Compared to the typical two-hour or longer ordeals, this was highly unusual. While I was waiting for the robot to complete the dive (there wasn’t much to see on the camera), I noticed that some of the other students had written poems in a blank document on the computer used to control the camera. Although it was only a couple of haikus when I sat down, I spent most of my shift writing out a poem I called “Descent.” Maybe I’ll read it at poetry night on Wednesday.

I got some feedback on my video composition from Ed. He said my script was okay, but could use a little bit of reorganizing and rewriting. Nothing major, but I may have to redo a couple of small parts. As of this moment, I’ve got a complete script, half of a completed voice over, and about a minutes worth of completed video footage (with the rest just waiting to be pasted into the video editor). I’ve got all the pieces for a cool video, but I’ll need to spend some more time getting the whole thing together tonight! (And tomorrow)

Also, Taylor took a pretty good picture of me sometime today. Or yesterday, I don’t remember.

September 7, 2014

I made the first part of my video yesterday. Video editing takes longer than I thought it would, but it’s a lot of fun. If it didn’t cost hundreds of dollars for editing software, I think I would really enjoy making videos. Maybe someday, when my student loans are paid off, I’ll buy some fancy video editing software,  a camera, and a microphone and then never look at them again. That would be great. For now, I’ll be content making this video turn out looking good.

We saw some dolphins being cute and jumping along next to the ship as we moved along. It was pretty cool to watch, especially because they were only 10 or 15 feet from the side of the boat where I was standing to watch them.

This afternoon, all the students showed off rough drafts of the projects we’ve been working on (which is why I made part of my video already!) Everyone seemed to like what I’ve got so far, which is pretty exciting.


September 6, 2014

Whoops, it’s been 4 days since the last update on my adventures at sea. Unfortunately, you haven’t missed too much, as I’ve been feeling rather sick the last few days. Yesterday, I started to feel REALLY sick, but after some Dramamine, many packets of saltines, two cans of ginger ale and some standing on the deck, staring at the horizon, I started to feel better. A lot better! Better than I’ve felt all week. Today, I’ve taken another Dramamine tablet, and I’m feeling pretty good. Things are looking up. Anyway, here’s the rundown:

September 5, 2014

No dive this morning. We’re in transit, and the boat is rocking all over the place. Today was the day I was feeling REALLY seasick. I woke up at 3:30 am, and went to check on the dive schedule. I wasn’t feeling great at this point, but since there was no dive scheduled, I figured I would finish up my voice recording for my video (there were only a few small clips left to record). After I finished recording, I started feeling pretty sleepy, so I went back to bed for a little while. By the time I woke up, I was feeling awful. At first, I figured I would feel better after walking around for a bit and getting something to eat, but it didn’t take long to realize that was not the case this time. I was in bad shape. After grumbling for a little while, some of the crew reminded me of the simple cures for seasickness that I had forgotten: Eat crackers, drink ginger ale, and get some fresh air. I got started right away on the crackers and ginger ale. It helped some, but I was still feeling pretty beat up.

That afternoon, we had our first progress meeting for our projects. I played one of the clips I recorded, and everyone said that it sounded pretty good! I got a little bit of feedback on the content of my video, and some of the other students asked to see the script later. I think that this is turning out to be a pretty great project. Of course, I was too sick to really enjoy it at this point, so I wandered off to feel sorry for myself as soon as the meeting ended. After another round of crackers and a glass of water, I headed out to the deck to get some fresh air, and almost immediately I began to feel better. It was only a slight improvement at first, but before long I felt much more alert, and much less headache-y. I went from feeling about 10% up to about 75% over the next couple of hours, while I helped Rick and the other students with the MOSQUITO sample processing. By the end of dinner, I was feeling great. Before falling asleep, I watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian, and it was great.

September 4, 2014

Another slow dive this morning. I brought my laptop this time though, so I could work on other things while we waited. Similar to the day before, there was lots of sitting and waiting for the yellow box to do something that surprised us (it never did, which was what we were hoping for I suppose). On the plus side, I have now caught up on most of the Transformers comics I’ve been meaning to read.

Thursday afternoon, I started recording the voice over for my video! This was the part of the project I was least looking forward to, but once I got started it wasn’t so bad. Playing back the recordings after I made them was a little odd, because it turns out my voice is about half an octave (or more) higher than I think it is. Still, I think they turned out pretty good, and I’ll be working on syncing up my video clips with the voice over. I’m on the home stretch now, but there’s still plenty of work left to do.

September 3, 2014

Honestly, the last few days are just sort of a groggy blur, but I think that Wednesday morning was the first of several slow dives, with not much going on. It was hard to find ways to keep myself entertained, so I did my best to entertain myself by doing silly write-ups in the logging system we use to keep track of the pictures we take with the ROPOS cameras. We were observing part of the sensor system at the time, which meant we were sitting on the ocean floor, staring at a yellow box with nothing going on for hours at a time. It was important, but there wasn’t much to do other than take a picture every 5 or 10 minutes to track what had changed (which was nothing, most of the time).

I think I spent the rest of Wednesday working on my video and helping Rick process samples from the MOSQUITO flowmeters we dragged up from the seafloor last week (the same device that my video’s about!). As of this day, I’d collected a few video clips I wanted to use, and learned how to use Final Cut Pro from Ed. Not a ton of progress, but moving forward. My script was also done, and pending review from Rick.

September 2, 2014

Today’s early morning shift on the camera was pretty interesting. I got to watch the MOSQUITO I helped put together be deployed on the seafloor! It went pretty well too, it was cool to watch. Now I’ve got plenty of good footage to use for a video. Time to get started pulling that together soon, I think. For now, back to sleep…

September 1, 2014

Now, yesterday I DID sleep for most of the morning. As soon as my shift ended at 8:00am, I went back to bed for “an hour” and woke up again at 12:30, to start my day. I took the time to shower, and spent a few minutes reviewing my video script again, before meeting John Delaney in the library for a second round of discussions, this time focused on oceanography and its future. There are lots of cool technologies and opportunities becoming available, right now and in the next few years. This is a pretty remarkable time to be alive, and an even better one to be young. Life here on planet Earth seems to be changing, slowly now, but already the difference between life today and life 20 years ago is astounding. Yesterday, our talk with John lasted nearly 3 hours, and every minute of it was fantastic.

Unfortunately, Patrick the engineer left yesterday, as he had other projects to work on back on land. I was glad to learn from him while I had the chance though, he’s a friendly guy.

Saw some whales yesterday evening, that was pretty cool. Oh, and Ed, the video guy did an impromptu photo shoot with some of the students. I know that in at least one of them, my hair looks ridiculous on account of the wind. I’ll post it when I get the chance.

August 30, 2014

Yesterday, I wasn’t feeling great, but I managed to sleep it off last night. My shift on the ROPOS cam that morning was cancelled, since the robot wasn’t going to be in the water between the hours of 4:00 and 8:00am. You’d think I would use that extra time to sleep, but I ended up reading for quite a while instead. That probably wasn’t the best idea, but I was almost finished with Game of Thrones, and I couldn’t resist. As a result, I was a little groggy for the rest of the day, and didn’t really recover until dinner time. I managed to get a decent rough draft for a video script written out, but that was about all the productivity I could manage. In the afternoon, Ed, the video guy, gave an excellent telling of the story of Captain James Cook, the famous British explorer. He also showed us a presentation about some of the other video work he’s done for other research vessels. He’s seen some amazing stuff, from ancient ship wrecks to previously unexplored underwater biomes, and taken some incredible footage (via robot). Both of his presentations were great, I’m glad we got the chance to listen to him talk.

Today, I almost missed my shift on the ROPOS cam. My alarm was only set for Monday through Friday, so naturally, on Saturday morning I was still asleep when Kevin, who had the previous shift came to see why I hadn’t shown up at 4:00am like I was supposed to. Fortunately, it only took me 5 minutes to roll out of bed, pull on a clean shirt, and walk down to the control room. I have since revised my alarm settings, and I won’t be missing another shift while I’m out here. (Sorry, Kevin.)

August 28, 2014

Thanks to the bizarre logistics of living on a research ship, it’s been tough to keep track of how many days I’ve been out here. For the past two mornings my day has started at 4:00 am, operating the digital camera on the front of a massive underwater science machine. From 4:00 am to 8:00 am, I get to assist in cataloging everything the robot does to prepare the network of sensors and junction boxes currently being assembled on the ocean floor. This kind of project is incredibly unique, and represents a huge change in the way that ocean research is done. I’m pretty lucky to be involved, bizarre waking hours or not.

Quick recap of the days I forgot to submit blog posts for:

On Monday (August 25), I left Seattle at 7:30 am, and rode in a van with one of the scientists and two other students down to Newport, Oregon, where the Thompson had docked at the end of the previous leg of the cruise. After a few rounds of “Wait, Where Am I Now?: Ship That’s Bigger Than My House Edition,” I managed to settle into my bunk near the bow of the ship. Since the ship wasn’t leaving until Tuesday, the other students and part of the science party took the opportunity to enjoy a nice dinner at the Rogue Brewery near the docks. The beer was fantastic, and I’m hoping to stop there again on the way back home after the cruise.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Thompson left Newport around 2:00 pm, straight into a beautiful blanket of very cold fog. It was also windy. It was great out on the bow for about 20 minutes, but I went inside to huddle under a blanket for a while afterwards. That night, after learning a little more about the logistics of living on a research vessel, I slept like a rock until 3:30 the next morning, when I woke up and got to work. (It is important to note that I have reconfigured my alarm to remind me that “It’s business time” every morning, in the likely event that I forgot why my alarm was trying to wake me up at 3:30 in the morning.)

By Wednesday morning, I still had no idea what I was doing, but was having too much fun to care. This was my first shift on the ROPOS camera, and my first direct contribution to the cruise was to take a picture of anything and everything that looked interesting and happened to pass through the frame (ROPOS being the massive underwater science machine mentioned earlier). That morning, ROPOS was laying cable for one of the instruments set up on the seafloor, which didn’t make for very many photo opportunities, but plenty of time to absorb everything that was happening in the control room. I got some nice pictures of fish that swam by though. That was cool.

After finishing my shift on the ROPOS camera and eating a tasty breakfast, I volunteered to help Rick Berg, a graduate student on the cruise, assemble the RSN fluid flow sampler, called the “Mosquito.” I ended up spending most of the day carefully removing air bubbles from several hundred meters of tiny plastic tubing, and zip-tying the whole mess to a cleverly designed rack of sediment-puncturing needles that will be deployed on the seafloor later on the cruise. I’ll be making a video about the design and operation of the Mosquito fluid flow sampler over the next week, so keep an eye out for it if you want to know more.

Today, I decided to catch up on some sleep after my shift on the ROPOS cam, which was greatly needed. I haven’t had to deal much with too much seasickness, but I think that acclimating to the constant rolling of the deck over the last two days has worn me out. Thankfully, I have plenty of time to sleep if I really need it. Though I’ve been constantly learning new things ever since I set foot on the ship (and trying to keep up with it all), I’ve been feeling pretty relaxed, and fall asleep almost immediately whenever I lie down for a few minutes.

After I woke up and returned to wandering around the ship looking for odd jobs, I happened to meet the the RSN Mechanical Engineer, Patrick. He’s been incredibly busy every time I’ve seen him this week, but he seemed pleased to know that there’s an ME student on board (that’s me). He took a few minutes to introduce me to Keith, another engineer on board, and show me around one of the instruments that they’ve been working on. They’ve invited me and the other students to help them “rig” the instruments for deployment with ROPOS, and I’m excited to be working with them over the next few days.

In summary:

Minimal seasickness
Plenty of sleep
Lots of great food
TONS of science, at all hours of the day

I love it out here.