December 31, 2007

So long, 2007, it was nice knowin' ya...

Wow, hard to believe the year is almost over. As usual it's been too long since my last update. So much going on and blogging falls to the bottom of the pile. Probably for good reason.

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October 08, 2007

Back in Alaska

I finally finished in Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse, and got home in time for my birthday. It was a great birthday. I had a couple of nice meals out with Krista and Kendra, and Krista got me such thoughtful gifts. The next day, however I found out I was likely headed back up north. It took a few days to finalize, but I've now been in Dutch Harbor for nearly 4 days while the ship gets repaired and resupplied. Hopefully we'll be able to get our work done quickly and get back, since weather in the Bering and Chukchi seas this time of year is crappy at best. I've got some pics on facebook, and the ship has fairly good internet access so hopefully I'll be able to stay in touch with home by email and post updates from time to time.

Save some turkey, Krista, and we'll have another thanksgiving in a few weeks time.

September 21, 2007

Sept 21

I've been in Deadhorse/Prudhoe Bay for two weeks now. When I got here it was 15 and sunny. Now on the last day of summer it's snowing. Yes, snow. And I get to go back on the water one more time this afternoon. Pics on facebook shortly...

September 14, 2007


For those who hadn't noticed, I'm putting pictures on facebook these days. Look me up there for current pictures of the Alaska trip and other things...

September 12, 2007

Holding in Prudhoe

I'm back in northern Alaska, and there's good news and bad news. The bad news is that some bad weather delayed the crew transfer boat we need to get out to the vessel we're deploying from. The good news is that other permit and regulatory things that may have delayed us farther are looking to be all straightened out. The rest of our team arrives today, we stay one more day here in Prudhoe, and tomorrow we should be able to get started. That all means that I could still be back at home nearly on time, sometime around next weekend.

September 09, 2007

Prudhoe Bound

It's confirmed. I'm on my way back to Alaska. Less than 2 weeks this time, hopefully. 9:15 tomorrow I head via Newark and Minneapolis to Anchorage, overnight, then to Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse where I board the research vessel and head out for 2-3 days work at sea, then back on shore with 5 days to write a report.

For the first time, I'll be in the Artic at night. The weather is still reasonably nice, highs in the low teens, overnight lows down to low single digits. Different part of the North Slope this time, and I'll be flying in and out, instead of long transits by sea. Hopefully I'll post some night pictures in a week or two.

September 08, 2007

Another brief life update

I really have to streamline my process for adding entries to this site. I don't think I'm any more busy now than I've ever been, but lately it seems so hard to find time to log in, write, add links, upload pictures.

I've got tons of pictures that I want to add. If last year in Qatar wasn't enough, this year has had plenty of excitement. A month at sea above the arctic circle. Hiking the Long Range traverse in Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland. An excellent family vacation in St. John's.

I'm probably heading back to Alaska on Monday, which puts my time this weekend especially at a premium. Not to mention that I have to focus on finishing my thesis, since I'm already into overtime as far as university regulations about extensions are concerned.

Speaking of the thesis, I'm seriously into writing now. Making good progress, except today my laptop decided to start having mysterious hardware issues. Like not POSTing for 5 minutes and really freaking me out. I managed to get it to boot, and I immediately copied all of my data onto an external HD. Gotta learn to keep those backups current.

In other news, Krista started a vegetable garden in the backyard this year, and it's going really well. We had our first peas and zucchini today, with some grilled shark steaks. Yum. Krista's working late tonight so while I'm giving the laptop some TLC I'm at the office listening to The Final Countdown. Yeah, life is good.

July 06, 2007


I kept meaning to write an entry about how I have realized in the first 6 months of being back working in Halifax that I never want to have to drive a car to work again. I started riding the bus and found it extremely convenient, not to mention relaxing to be able to read, nap, chat with Krista, daydream, and generally not car about bumper to bumper traffic on the bridge across the harbor. Then last month HRM had bike week, and gave free passage on the ferry for cyclists. I took my bike to work a few times and realized that 1) it is really easy to ride to work (as long as you are careful in a few busy traffic spots) and 2) a cyclist can get downtown faster than a car in rush hour, by a wide margin. In fact, from home to work, there is only one small section where any car can catch up an pass me on my bike, and I've gotten so far ahead everywhere else that in the end I still get to work far faster than the cars passing my house at the same time I leave.

So, either I get to relax, or get some exercise, and either way I get to work cheaper, just as fast and with less frustration with traffic and parking. The point was driven home (pardon the pun) last month when I had to drive my car to work a few times. Each time I did I repeatedly told myself how glad I was that I didn't have to do it everyday. Of course, a big part in making this possible is where you choose to live. With increasing concern about global warming, energy efficient and environmental responsibility, I think that many of us need to think carefully about where we buy houses, how we commute, and how we grow cities, but that's a whole other rant.

Anyway, that was the entry I meant to write, but now Commuting has a different meaning. I'm sitting at the airport Best Western in Anchorage, AK, waiting to go to Seward to meet the MV Norseman II. I'm heading to sea for about a month to start a major research project on whales up in the Chuchki Sea. Yeah, scary and cool at the same time. I'll post some GPS coordinates later, but for now, get yerself to Google Earth and find out where those things are. Ain't it cool?

June 03, 2007

Spring cleaning and summer plans

Just in time for summer, we have finally finished our spring cleaning. A few weeks ago we tackled the wreck that was the basement, and ended up putting most of the junk into the garage. Yesterday we finally had a yard sale and cleaned up the garage. It's so nice to feel like the house is more in order.

Work is good. Starting to get real busy. For a while it looked like I was going to Sakhalin Island in eastern Russia for 3 weeks in the wilderness monitoring the noise of offshore oil&gas work, but due to bureaucratic stuff beyond our control it now seems I won't be able to make that trip. I'm a little disappointed since it seemed like an interesting trip and the timing was great. Instead, I'm likely to be going to Alaska in July to go to sea for a month or so, deploying submerged instruments in the high arctic. Also interesting, although it may mean some slight changes to vacation plans.

Krista, Kendra and I still hope to get to Newfoundland for a week or two in August. The dates are still flexible, because of the Alaska work trip.

May 16, 2007


I finally bit the bullet and installed WinXP on my old Win98 desktop that's serving as Kendra's MSN and Facebook computer. While I was at it I also dug out the old 233Mhz PentiumMMX machine in the basement to set it up as a samba server for the house. My idea is to put all of our music into one large library on the server so that we don't each have duplicate copies of songs on several user accounts on the desktop and laptop Windows boxes. It will take me a while to figure out the best way to do that, but step one was to put linux on the old machine to become the server.

Since Ubuntu just released a new version I thought it would be a good opportunity to try it out. I downloaded the alternate install CD since I won't bother trying to run anything graphical on that old machine. The alternate CD has the option for a command-line only installation, which I assume will be reasonably slim for a modern linux distribution.

I have to admit, the WinXP install wasn't as complicated as older win installs I've done, but I still had quite a few reboot cycles getting the OS up to the latest security patches, installing drivers for the webcam, onboard audio, TV tuner card, not to mention manually installing just the basic applications: MSN messenger, Open Office, Firefox, Gimp Thunderbird.

In contrast, the hardest thing about the linux install was choosing the computer's name. Thus, mater was born.

Once the system was up and running, I had to read up a little on the net to refamiliarize myself with the locations of the configuration files for a command-line only system, but most of the services I wanted were already installed. The couple of things that weren't installed by default in the minimal setup I chose were easily installed by "apt-get install smbclient". That's it. No thinking, no searching the net. It all just works.

To test the system I tried tunnelling SMB over SSH to mount a share on my WinXP64 system at work. The hardest thing about that was setting up PuTTY, Windows Firewall and a loopback network interface on the windows end. The linux side, again, just worked. I now have encrypted access my server at home as a normal windows share on my office PC, even though both ends are behind firewalls. Yay for samba and linux.