Gearing Up


John Jacobsen
Tuesday, January 6, 2009

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Earlier post Gouache, and a new system for conquering the world art

Later post Nails southpole

Chicago, IL (N41.798195, W87.585547)


Well, it’s that time of year again. I leave for the Pole in eight days, for a three week stay on the Ice.

After winding up a busy year of programming for IceCube, I went with Eden to Wisconsin for a vacation at Mom and Jim’s, which was mostly wonderful except for the stomach flu during the last few days, which has morphed into some sort of cold-like affliction.

Now there is no delaying preparation for the trip — fixing boots, tying up loose ends on the Northern Hemisphere side of work, getting my flu shot, buying various supplies, seeing friends one last time before leaving.

Between sojourning in New Zealand, military flights to Antarctica, and settling into a routine at high altitude, it’s an awfully strange yearly commute/migration to participate in, and even stranger to have it become routine. I’m thankful that we’ve had an especially wintry winter so far. It may make getting used to Antarctica again a bit easier.

Let’s set some objectives for the trip:

  • Fulfil my management/work tasks with grace, skill, and good humor
  • Engage with sitting practice daily, and carry some of that into postmeditation
  • Daily weights/aerobic/yoga practice
  • Do more drawing than I’ve managed to get done in the past. Drawing has become a pretty consistent regular practice for me again. Best case for this trip: actually complete some on-site sketches worth showing to y’all, or someone. But mostly I just want to keep a bit of momentum going.
  • Send postcards/gifts home to more people

Oh, and lest I forget:

  • Help get the newly-installed parts of the detector working

(commissioning of the Data Acquisition and IceCube Live systems)

I wish I’d had time to prepare for one more fun project: record some high-quality audio from various places in the station/environs. I’m not sure why this appeals to me, but it does. At any rate, I didn’t get the equipment together for this (any recommendations, in case I ever get the chance again?).

The Pole season, by all accounts, has gone quite well so far. As of today’s writing, twelve new strings have been installed, with a target goal of 19, still definitely in reach. If we got 19, we’d have a 59-string detector which would be already 50% larger than last year.

As we approach our end goal of 86 strings, the project is now changing in character quite a bit. Many of the engineering challenges, from drilling to software, have been solved, and there is enough data to start doing real science. This is where a lot of the action and dialogue are focusing now. It’s fun for me, since I came into this field as a scientist, but it’s also slightly bittersweet, because the work I really love to do is building tools to solve especially hard technical problems. The tool-building time is winding down a bit. There is still plenty to do, though, especially (for me) on the experiment control/monitoring/visualization project which I’ve spent the last year creating, known as IceCube Live.

Catch up with y’all again once I start actually vectoring out of here…. Happy New Year!

Earlier post Gouache, and a new system for conquering the world art

Later post Nails southpole

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