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Thoughts of the Lady in the Tower

2004-10-21 - 5:03 a.m.

First, a shout out to Rosine for helping with my question! Thanks! Got a bunch of answers on my livejournal, too, so I should collate them. Unfortunately, my truck is dead and I'm in the midst of buying a new one so I have had NO FREE TIME.

Finally, the Reason I Left Home for Two Weeks

Whidbey Island, Part 5 (the last part, yay!)

A typical test day for the previous projects I�ve worked on (all in air) would be to arrive at work, put on my range boots, and then drive 15 minutes down to the test range. I�d spend all day sweating in the hot sun, pack up, drive back to work, go home, then do it all over again.

In June I got heat exhaustion during one test series. We detonated a bunch of stuff on a field (100� x 100�) of WHITE tarps. In June. With temperatures in the high 90�s. Of course the frag tore the tarps, so we repaired them with duct tape. I spent most of each day standing, kneeling, and squatting in a huge reflective field. That test series in particular SUCKED.

Contrast that to what I did most of the week: hung out on a 27� Boston Whaler and troubleshot problems as they arose. Yeah, MUCH more pleasant. Plus the water was like glass all week; it was fabulous weather to be out.

Though, there was the day we tried to sink the boat.

We had three boats, a 7 and a 9 meter Zodiak (ribbed bottom, rubber inflated sides) and a 27 foot Boston Whaler with dolphin door (is that standard?). The dolphin door comes out so the floor of the boat is even with the water surface.

About halfway through the second day on the Whaler (which was only used during the last week), we begin to notice that we're sitting lower in the water than yesterday, so more water is coming in through the dolphin door (about a foot deep when they're getting divers in and out of the boat).

Mention it to the cox, and the front bilge pump is not working. Another few minutes, and the amount of water is increasing exponentially . . . the rear bilge pump can't keep up. We pull in a diver, and now the water is about 3 feet deep in the boat, and entering the front cabin (about 2 feet).

Throw in the dolphin door, and head to shore. The boat is so heavy that the engines are barely moving us and STRUGGLING. The guru insists that the civies wear life jackets, but we also have to stay in the cabin. Dude, I'd much rather be without a life vest OUTSIDE the cabin, hanging on the rails with the guys.

Besides, I'll never hear the end of it. I'm still getting teased about not knowing how to use a shovel (I wasn't fast enough, apparently; this was during testing in June).

We get to shore, and it takes a half hour to get the boat on the trailer (it's heavy; the momentum made it difficult to control).

No harm done, but a little bit of excitement for the day. We took the 7 meter zodiac back out. Without a cabin, there's no protected area to do data analysis (which I've been doing while the divers have been in the water; mostly to kill time). I rested on the inflated tube most of the afternoon. Never got fully asleep, but, hey, with the water so calm we got to sun. We got REALLY LUCKY with the weather.

Definately, the most frustrating thing about testing was on Monday. Our technology expert didn't arrive until Tuesday and the system wasn't functioning the way we expected it to. Here I am, having to troubleshoot a system that I have NO experience on to get my testing completed.

The upshot, though, is that I really impressed a senior coworker, and he told my supervisor when he got back that I was doing a fabulous job. :-)

I was scheduled to take the red eye back to the East coast Friday night, since Dun Carraig held a demo on Saturday. Luckily, the guys wanted to finish and fly home during the day on Friday, so I changed my flight to be earlier.

I left the hotel at 8 am and didn�t get home until 1 am. Ugh! What a yucky travel day!

Overall, a good trip. I enjoyed myself and got a lot of work done.