It’s 10:30 pm, I’m sitting alone in the lab, and I’m absolutely ecstatic. After four months of working on the models this summer, and 6 months last year, (that’s 10months folks, 10 months leading up to this moment) I have finally found a consistent way of creating my models! A consistent way that allows me to create the models in Photomodeler (the program that allows me to create the models from photos), find surface area in Photomodeler, and export these models into Rhino (the program that allows me to “repair” the holes in my model and find a value for volume), repair them, and find the volume measurements. YES! YES!
Technically though, this achievement only pertains to the last half of the seals from last season (when we had the “ideal” set up) and I still have to finish the models from the beginning of the season, which will be much more difficult. But, I am still excited! This is a victory! Definite victory! Since I have perfected (ok, “perfected” may be too generous of a term) this method, this means I theoretically can build my models for this season’s seals much more easily. If I have the method down, that means all I have to do is factor in the time it literally takes for me to create the models, and not some time period that is impossible to equate because there is no way to factor in how long it takes for you to figure out how to do something that hasn’t been done exactly like this before. Which is the very reason why my work can be so rewarding and yet also so frustrating, when I make a breakthrough it is the best feeling, but there a lot of hours spent lost in the unknown. I bought this adorable doll of an Emperor Penguin at the McMurdo store yesterday, it makes penguin noises when you squeeze its belly, and it’s ridiculously soft. Every time I look at it I smile and every time, and every time I press its belly and hear the little Emperor Penguin noises, I laugh out loud. Embarrassing fact of the day – I have literally been sitting with the doll on my lap all afternoon and night, in an attempt to keep my morale up and help motivate me. I think I’ve picked it up and pressed its belly and giggled to myself at least once every hour. My teammates must think I’m such a nut.
Markus said to me the other day that when a person is in a situation like I am, working on a project that hasn’t quite been done like this before, it requires more creativity, and thus time isn’t always the factor of getting it done, but rather persistence. So, that is the inspiration that has kept me going the last couple of days. Really if I think about it, Markus has helped keep me inspired throughout all of the 10 months. It is hard to keep morale up when deadlines pass you by time and time again. Hearing words of wisdom from Markus often comforts me in this scientific world of research that can still be very foreign to me at time. I am very lucky to have such a great boss, mentor, and teacher in my life. I am also very lucky to not only have received the amazing opportunity to come down to Antarctica two years in a row, but to essentially lead a section of a scientific project. It is an amazing thing that I have learned from every day, and continue to grow from with each experience, trial, error, and success.
It’s hard to step away from the office when I’m on a role like this, but I know I need to get on a better time schedule. Soon we will be busy with field work and I will need to be well rested once we start hitting the ice. Getting the “crud” in Antarctica is nearly inevitable, but in order to prevent myself from missing an entire week out on the ice (as I did last year), I am trying to be diligent in staying healthy in mind and body. Plus, I am more productive in the early morning hours, thus the reason I must bid you all adieu and head to bed.