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Wakey Wakey Tuesday

Posted by James Dubois in CHOIRS, Personal, Travel.
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I know the big question (or one of them) is going to be about the cryonics process. These kinds of messages dominate the flood. All I can say is I don’t know… I was “asleep.” It’s a little creepy to think about what happened and some of the other settlers have formed support groups to talk about it. It was Dr. Faizabahd who suggested it to help assuage some of our fears and worries. I’m doing okay with the whole thing, but some people have had a difficult time. There are an inordinate number of atheists aboard the lifeboats, though that wasn’t a limiting factor in the selection process. The others I’ve spoken to were definitely shaken by the procedure. I know Parvin is Muslim… how does one bring up religion in this environment? Does she pray to Mecca? How does that work a half-billion miles away from the Earth?

I met this one guy I knew from the training camp in Évry named Michel from the ESA. Devout agnostic, he called himself. He’s on another ship right now but the last time we spoke he said that he had an “experience” while in cryonics. Not sure what that means.

Three months into it and my body still hasn’t adjusted. I’m taking calcium magnesium supplements as well as other medications. Doing lots of physical therapy and general exercises. It’s ridiculously hard to work out in space! Lifting weights is more or less a futile activity. It’s all about rubber bands up here. Big, thick rubber bands.

The one good thing is that we do have is plenty of room. Not as much as on Liberty, sure. But more than the old days of space travel. This is but one advantage of space construction. The frames of the lifeboats are super-strong but super-light. And because we don’t have to escape the gravity well, we can build larger living quarters without too many problems. Don’t get me wrong, this is no palace but it’s not bad. Good for us, because once we dock at CHOIRS we’re going to reconfig the lifeboats to act as dorms. As soon as we’re able to do so, we’ll move out into the final living areas. By that time, we might even have lawns. GREEN LAWNS. Can you believe it? Speaking of which, when not exercising or working I’ve been doodling robot lawnmower designs. I’ll upload those to the CHOIRSproject site when I get some inspiration. 🙂

Work continues at an accelerated pace on CHOIRS. I get feedback from the construction drones on a regular basis (dry, dry technical data that I won’t bore you with). Qiong is here with me and we talk a lot about having a community vegetable garden in addition to the aeroponics that will provide us with most of our food. You don’t want to know what we’re eating right now. Gray foil packets with the contents stamped on the outside. The coffee, to my eternal gratitude, is fantastic. Adelmo and his wife made sure of that.

Life is good, life is strange. I see the stars on the monitor and I think of home. We’re doing okay, everyone. Everything is going according to the plan. I guess if I can thank anyone for that simple mercy it’s all of you back on Earth charting the path ahead.

Burt and Kevin just challenged me to speed-Scrabble. I’m logging off for now.

– Hersh


See you soon. Friday

Posted by James Dubois in CHOIRS, Personal, Travel.

I won’t ever see my parents again.

I won’t ever see Luna shining in the sky.

I won’t see the sunrise or sunset.

I won’t watch the winds carrying clouds over Ohio.

Seven years.

I don’t know how to feel about all of this. So much emotion…hope, sadness, loss, and yeah…a little fear. What waits out there beyond the reach of our little blue world? Beyond the spinning wheels of Liberty? The red dust of Mars?

Nobody knows.

I’m afraid, but I’m not too afraid to go. I’m not too afraid to take that step across the threshold. It was my first trip to the candy store in Dayton, the last one in the neighborhood. They had those chocolates that the Amish people made. Licorice wheels and penny candy (that really cost 5 cents). My skinny little hand clutching a few dollars. Those tentative footsteps off the curb and across the street, Dad’s outstretched hand nowhere to be found. My first day out alone.

But I’m not alone. Hundreds go with me. Qiong, my friends and co-workers. Some of the brightest minds I’ve ever known. And we’re not alone, either. We go with the thoughts and prayers of billions. I heard the President’s speech. I heard all the speeches. Our last days were spent reading all the letters that came up through the feed. Lots of tears. Tears and cake.

Cake. God, I’m hungry. Haven’t eaten in eighteen hours. It’s almost time.

I’m off to be prepped. It’s scary. Exhilarating. Strange. Part of me doesn’t want to go. I’ve seen amazing things out here, down there. Done amazing things. But there’s something else that needs to be done before my time is up.

The signal remains strong. It’s out there. I’m going home.

– Hersh out.

Out of the frying pan, into the freezer Thursday

Posted by James Dubois in Travel.
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Hey, all.

InfraDesign has seen fit to ship me out to an oil platform in the North Sea. WILL I EVER BE WARM AGAIN?! Hah, still this is great for my research. I’m looking forward to the trip as it’ll be my first time in the arctic. You’d think that the north and south would be similar but aside from the temperature (cold!) they’re really different environments. I won’t bore you with the details.

HEP has gone gangbusters over the last two decades. When I started my work as an undergrad I couldn’t begin to imagine being hired by ID&E, much less running my own department. But with the new office’s construction now in its final phase and the expedition launching in just a few months, I feel like I’m standing on the edge of an immense frontier. I get so bogged down in my work (no pun intended, hah) that it’s easy to forget what this is all leading up to.

Anyway, the flight leaves at the end of the week so I need to clear my desk and pack my mittens. My contact up there is a guy named Jens Jensen, which I find hilarious. I’m making a stop in Reykjavik and then I’m going to do some sight-seeing around Scandinavia before heading out to sea. Keep warm!

– Hersh

hello world! Thursday

Posted by James Dubois in Travel.
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Isn’t that what I’m supposed to write?

It’s good to be communicating with the outside world again. We lost a metric butt-load of communications gear the last storm and have been slowly squirting electrons up at the satellite back to Wood’s Hole. Luckily our navigation equipment was unaffected. It was hairy for awhile. I thought we’d need to be rescued before the ice closed in around us.

It is cold! Even below the deck it’s really chilly. I’m bundled up in my parka with a few chemical heat backs stuffed in my pockets. But man, it’s going to be great to be north of the equator again.

Sorry for changing my blog! I had issues with the other service after eleven months of archives were wiped out. That and all the spammer comments. If I have time I’ll see if I have the old entries stored on this laptop. I should be home in a few weeks. I’m flying in from Santiago, Chile so if anyone wants any touristy items, shoot me a message!

Someone said they saw some whales so I’m going to venture outside!

Okay, Hersh out!

– Hersh