(Dis)Orientation week

I got to my hotel in Yokohama after some 26 hours of air and ground travel only to discover that I’d arrived in Orlando, FL – or at least the Japanese version of same, what with the carnival rides and US-style shopping malls full of US retailers, and a hotel that would qualify as seriously high-end in any major US city, right down to the $36 breakfast buffet – I’m guessing IODP got an off-season deal of some kind. I’ve been of two minds about trying to sleep off the jetlag, as succeeding in doing so will sort of mean turning around and going back again, as I’m on the 00:00-12:00 shift once we head out to sea. I killed my day at the hotel getting abstracts submitted to two major geoscience professional meetings, which (just to keep it interesting!) had submission deadlines that overlapped the first week of the Leg 352 commitment.

The next day they bused the science team dockside to the JR, and orientations began: welcome from the IODP Staff Scientist, welcome from the Captain and his staff, safety video and briefing from the captain (on behalf of SIEM, once called TransOcean: the crew and the drilling team); a sequence of very detailed presentations on IODP policies and practices, followed by a once-over of the ship – all this while at the same time trying to shoehorn the too-much stuff I brought along into the tiny stateroom I share with a colleague. Probably I should have demurred when asked if I wanted to hop over to Chinatown for dinner – but it was so good!

Today we got into the big-picture science – why these sites, what do we know, what we may find – and how the actual work processes on the ship will function, along with more detailed tours of the core lab and its procedures and (for me) the Geochemistry lab that will be my workspace every evening until the end of September. It feels to me a little tiny bit like the 1980’s, back when I was in graduate school – a lab full of instruments, me responsible for the data and its interpretation, with the nice perk that this time there will be technicians to make sure it all works right and our time is not wasted.

All in all, so far a very disorienting orientation, in a drinking-from-a-firehose kind of way. They keep assuring us that it’ll all be pretty obvious once we finally get to work, and intellectually I get that – probably that will happen when we move onto our shifts ,and I can get back to a normal sleep cycle.

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