Wednesday, January 28, 2015

We are here (there)

From Philip 

Check on the above web site to see wherever Deej and Philip are on the MV Explorer, night and day - wave or yell hello to us, or add a comment below.

Just a brief note, on our way to Kobe from Yokohama, after our first sit-down waiter-served dinner, and while Invectus is showing in the Union (started at 9 pm - which I was phoned up from my cabin at 8:43 pm to unlock the Library cabinets, find, and deliver from the Library to the AV crew man).  Others wanted Bend it like Beckman. What would you have choosen for tonight's special showing?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Water everywhere, changing time

From Philip

Yesterday (Friday the 23rd January 2015) the seas were calmer, much less rocky rolly than the previous two days.  We are 'lost' in a sense - can't tell where we are, except by various instruments and clocks - its just barren ocean all around for miles and miles in all directions for hour after hour - help! We are craving the sight of land, of a bird, of another ship, plane, etc.
    Still it does have it's changing beauty - wind-swept white caps in a dark blue ocean, or flat and gently undulating light blue water.  The engine(s) churning up the water at the stern are many shades from white foam to light, light blue, trailing off to the dark blue far behind or on each side.
     Day before yesterday noon was taco day - a nice treat. Do Japanese and Chinese crave tacos? or like to stick to sushi or sweet and sour pork (that was on last night's menu), plus a delicious basil tomato soup.
    And last evening at 6 pm in the library we had our first Library Party of 50 home-made cookies - they didn't arrive at 6, so Jonathan had to run off and find where they were - while the 10 library students and I chatted about many things, life before Semester At Sea, life on board, our plans for the upcoming Japanese and Chinese ports, and congratulated each other on our good work.  A really fine team, providing great service and information. The Japan and China guide books are flying off the Rserve shelves for their two-hour's check-out.
     And another "turn the clock back an hour" last night, the second night in a row, so an hour extra sleep each of those nights.
     This blog configuration does not seem to be able to keep up with the changing times, even though I try my best to got to Settings often.
     So, in spite of all other indications, it is 6:55 am on Saturday the 24th January 2015.  Can't believe another of my birthdays coming up in exactly a month.  Where does the time go? - - - -

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Community and geography

From Philip

Community and Geography

We are growing together as a community - with our own unique experiences - classes, meals, viewing the ocean as it changes, seminars, ship-board life.  A mobile new 'country' with its own events, hierarchy, climate, rhythms of the day and night.  At the head is the Master Captain, whereas there are States - the academic Thomas State, where governor Mark Thomas has selected the faculty, who as mayors rule over counties like Gender Studies, Mythology, East Asian Studies, etc. as their student / citizens learn more and more of their 'district.' And besides classes, participate in counties like Seminars.
     The administrative Bob State, governed by Bob with his districts and mayors on Trips, on Cabins, on Activities. There are overlaps and interactions with, for eg. the Cabins district, there there are directors in charge of Clean up, Laundry, etc. Also for the Seminar county, they are ruled or controlled by faculty and the county of the ship's Audio-Visuals.
   Ahh, well, you get the point and the perceptions.
There is also the geography which we are exploring, traveling in, and living with - our cabins on the 2d, 3rd, and 4th deck with our beds, bathrooms, windows, etc.  Whereas, there are other cabins on 5th and 6th decks with their marvelous private balconies.  There certainly are some separations and hierarchy on the ship - between and among the Crew, the Faculty, the Students, where all people are allowed to go, and some places and activities where only one group is allowed privileges or go to. Dining areas aft on 5th the Main one and on 6th the smaller Garden one, where we go three times a day.  The 6th deck Bridge where we signed up for a tour at 4:30 pm two days ago - got to see all the instruments, maps, the joy stick for steering, alarms, great views. There are long narrow hallways with cabins outside and inside, where one has to squeeze by carefully.  And other wider hallways on the 5th and 6th decks, where we pass people slanting one way and then the other way, trying to maintain a careful balance. There are the several (3?) stairways going between decks, two with elevators to go from 2 to 7 deck.  We disembark usually on deck 2 off the gangway (often mistakenly called the gangplank), and embark after our port leave and stay, going through the ship's own security system. Deck 6 fore has the largest room - the Union, which sits some 250, and where seminars and other events are held - and from which presentations are piped into and onto the cabin TVs. Above the Union is the Glazer Lounge mainly for faculty and staff, a quiet study place during most of the day and night, except from 5-11 pm where one can buy drinks at the bar (Abu, from Mumbai, is there) and talk or even dance. 
      The Union cannot hold everyone - not even the 629 students, the 41 faculty, and 35 or so Staff.  Some Union events are piped into cabin TVs. There are deck areas for weight lifting, ping pong, a volleyball court (fully surrounded by netting), riding and running machines, a small swimming pool, and other deck areas - full sometimes with sunbathers, or sunset observers, or watching us dock or leave a port. Yesterday, because of high winds, the doors to outside decks were closed. The sunny day before, several people got sunburned.
      Many afternoon and evening activities start at the 5th deck Tymitz Square, which has the Pursar's bar on the Starboard side and the Activities and Trip bar on the Port side. 
      And 9 different classrooms around the 5th and 6ths decks, mainly with room for 20 or so students. And above Tymitz Sq on deck 6 are the IT office with about 12 computers on the starboard side, and our Library on the port side.  Which often, in the evenings is the hub of people trying to study, or checking out guide books, but others in conversation about where and how they are going to travel and what they will do at the next port coming up. 
    And a lot more stuff, but that's a little bit about our growing mobile community or moving country, and its activities, and the geography we travel in every day while on board.  Places we've started to get used to, our new home, now and for 4 months.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

rocky rolly

From Philip

Our new (skipped a day) morning, over night was rocky rolly - we are skirting the typhoon on its southwest corner, rough sailing. A container of 12 cans of coke crashed loudly to the floor and the cans spilled out over the floor of our cabin.  Breakfast was interesting - with juice glasses and coffee mugs sliding with deep rolls, so we had to catch them before they slipped off the edge.  Everyone walking down the hallways is slanted - one way and then the other.  What fun to practice our balance.  

(now I need to figure out how to change the time on the blog to the real present which is 8:54 am in the morning on the 21st Jan. 2015)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hilo and routines

From Philip (actually sent on Tuesday the 20th Jan. 2015 local day)
See some photos of our visit to Hilo, Hawaii and more 

Routines: during our first 10 days at sea we have set up some routines: alarm at 5:30 AM, up at 6, to Library from 4th deck to 6th deck at 6:30 am, work and Internet til Breakfast at 7:20 at Garden dining area, and back to open up the Library at 8 til 12:30 PM as two student workers come on at 9 and 11, and Jonathan and I lap over for 10 minutes from then til 12:40, and off to lunch – then afternoon work and nap til supper at 6:45 pm, Seminar at 8, and back to cabin at 9:15 for more work, relaxation and sleep.  Repeat.

The last few days of classes have been fairly nice - the captain steered the ship WSW, to avoid a big storm brewing NW of Hawaii, and we have had fairly smooth sailing - still rocking and some sea sicknesses, but mild and we have dealt with it.  Partly cloudy skies - with some views of flying fish, a couple distant freighters. Today Deej and I went with a group for our Bridge tour - about a half hour of explanation and visit to the Bridge, all the instruments, the view out from the 6th deck bridge, talk of the $4.7 million in fuel for this 4 month voyage, of helicopter evacuations by basket (2 in the last year), no one overboard, live views of the sides of the ship for activities there, alarms for fires, locks, etc. Quite something. 

This evening's Seminar on "Why we know so much, care so deeply, but do so little about climate change" was really, really very interesting - with Sal Genovese (ecological) and Howard Ernst (political science) giving some fantastic 15 minute presentations, and Jens Christiansen (economics) adding more.  What great information from amazing scholars. We didn't quite save the planet, but close to it. 

Preceding the seminar in the largest meeting place, the Union on the 6th fore space, was a Sunday evening Christan service, with lots of group singing, reminding me of the Jefferson, Iowa church services I've attended with Julie and family.

Following the Seminar was very loud music with some dancing by faculty and staff up at the 7th deck Glazer lounge, a party celebrating back to the future, since we will loose completely tomorrow, January 19th.  It's gone, gone, gone.  In fact, right now it is January 20th even though I started typing this on January the 18th.  Quite amazing.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Left Hawaii

From Philip

Sorry, but the Internet is very, very slow, so our plan to blog sort of bogged down.  Don't know how much we'll be able to do, but we will keep trying.

Photos of the Charlottesville to San Diego to getting on the ship and Ensenada are on a Picasa album
Have a look, make comments, etc.

It is 7:08 am Friday the 16th Jan 2015 - about 5 hours earlier than most of you on the East Coast and we will loose completely Jan 19th as we cross the International date line.  Hope no one has a birthday that day.

Here's some stuff from some Facebook posts which makes it easy to copy and paste quickly while I have limited Internet access time.

As Nadeem commented "This is the MV Explorer's ultimate voyage in this role; what a watershed experience! Hope the Captain will navigate a pacific passage." Indeed the last voyage for this ship under UVa's sponsorship.  We will be trying to remove another 2,000 books from the 7,000 volume print library to accommodate packing up everything and setting it up on another ship which has a smaller library, for the Fall15 and Sp16 voyages. 

At Hawaii we got a new Captain Roman Krstanovic and Chief Purser Angelito Untivero. 

Nadeem's comment was in response to our post on the 14th Jan "
Hilo - done. On to Honolulu for fuel, then sailing the rough Pacific ocean to Japan for 10 days voyage. Hilo's three highlights - it's Walmart (shampoo!), Farmer's market and Pineapple restaurant fish and chips, and then the black sand (and lava rocky) Richardson's beach."

The day before (13th Jan) the Facebook post was "anticipating docking at Hilo in 10 hours, but my laptop keeps sliding toward me and away from me with the big rocking and rolling on this Pacific ocean - at least no longer sea sick." and I responded to Phil W's query, what happens to the books in rough seas "@Phil W - we hear the ship crew straps the books in when it is really, really rough - but so far, even with some huge rolling, they have sat peacefully on the shelves - there's a 1" raised lip that seems to hold them." 

To Warner's comment on the Picasa Photo album of "Nice photos. Looks like you found wifi somwhere. What is your cabin number?" we wrote "
@Warner 4077. Jonathan's aft at 4115 (he's the assistant librarian on this voyage), but John Shepherd (UVa Anthropology professor on the voyage) is right next door at 4075, and he has the lucky cabin name of Magnolia, ours is something like Kyklimano."

To the same album post Julie's comment was "Thanks for the pictures! Looks as good as a cruise and I like your work space in the Library! TV looks a little small, and you won't be able to watch so many football games so loud. I guess you'll just have to read more!" 
and we responded "@Julie - no TV stations at all - US or foreign. Only thing on our little room TV is a Channel for ship speed, location, and map, and channels 2, 3, and 5 have different DVDs looping each day, which I am in charge of selecting but requests from professors for showing their course DVDs have the highest priority. Today, Friday the 16th, and it is 6:55 am here, Channel 2 has Mystery of Chaco Canyon, Channel 3 Little People, and Channel 5 Nixon's China Game."

Well, that's all we have time for this morning - off to breakfast with Deej at 7:25 am.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Hello from Deej

Greetings from Deej.
Finally some time on the internet. Here we are sailing the ocean blue, many shades of blue. I saw a ship yesterday, very exciting to know there are others out here in the vastness. I saw a Murphy petrel today and that was also very exciting. The kids I work with are very entertaining. We are having a good time, today we made origami frogs, tomorrow they will have contests with them. Our group of
kids are making frog armies out of them. They are having fun. I have finally almost gotten over the cold I have had since the 2nd day on the ship. We are all getting used to rocking and rolling all the time. The food is quite good. We are becoming the newest Explorer community. We all also seem to
be sleepy all the time. The ship is not as large as I thought it would be but it is nice. Quite chilly everywhere. I hope to be able to some day log in to the blog, oops losing power. bye.

Quick - very random note #2

Random Note #2

From Philip 

Sailing now - half way to Hawaii - but the Internet is so slow, it took me 35 minutes just to bring up this page. Photos are impossible. Facebook hasn't come up yet, after 47 minutes.

Well, here's some stuff from a couple days ago. 

QUICK update for the past few days – too much has happened. 

Arrived San Diego Sat night, then Sunday with shopping for groceries at Ralphs (Kroger associate), had to go to Best Buy on the Trolley to Mission Valley Mall to get dead battery charger, back for supper with Jean C. to Little Italy at a less known-restaurant than very popular, long line at Fillipi’s (Bosciloi chicken mushrooms). Monday morning the MV Explorer had arrived by 9 at the main dock, but my electric shaver died and we needed some drinks, so went up to Rite Aid, to get new Noreclo shaver, rum, and wine. In torturous multi-step stages, loaded our 6 bags (4 large, large ones) on the Hotel Shuttle and went to the dock, which let us off far, far from the entrance, pulled bags 2 at a time to the next stage of 6 so we could keep an eye on them (with no help from crew or others which had been promised), from 11:30 to 1 pm, gradually going through security, on to the dock, up the gangway, and into our cabins – yeah!

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday was orientations, meetings, and meetings, info in the faculty/staff only Glaser Lounge near the front of the ship (7 deck), Jean helping us to load and set up the library and the faculty and course digital Academic Folders with syllabi and readings, and Reserve books and DVDs.  Jean left on Tuesday when we arrived in Ensenada and before our second Life Boat drill after students had boarded and after Deej and I took a 2 hour morning walking into the port buying trinkets, postcards, and beer. To get stamps we first went, as instructed, 3 blocks and then right; the 2 more blocks, and then 4 more blocks, and waited in line and bought the stamps and mailed a post card to Deej’s mother.

Orientations: Wed and Thurs more orientations until Friday’s first day of classes (A1) and the first day for open the library and start to train our 10 students over the day, as we open at 8 and close at 2300 (11 pm, get used to the 24 hour time references! Folks). Thursday we gave 7 individual presentations or orientations to the 7 seas (Red, Black, etc), with Jonathan’s great 3-minute video of him and I and the library, plus our talking.  And I jumped in at the first talk at the end with teaching two Hind words (celo = go and bus = stop, enough), which Mark Thomas, the main academic dean liked enough to repeat on and on for the 7 sessions, at least with celo. Met lots of fantastic students.
Friday first day of classes, while I went up about 6:00 am to the Library on Deck 6, meeting a very friendly Nepali crew member, who seems to be around about that time each day.  Set up a good place for our flags, and found DVDs to put on the loop for showing on 3 TV channels in cabin rooms. Later got a little sea sick around 10-12 am.  Yuck.

Library: Helped train some of the 10 student library helpers as Jonathan had organized their schedules and a training list to go through for each one of the students.  My training of Dan and Schlyer went fine at 5 -7 pm, as we logged in checkouts from the night before, and Dan re-drew our fantastic White Board welcome for the Voyage and for Hawaii.

Seminar: The evening was topped off with a wonderful first 8 pm seminar where C. Fallscheer (astronomy) , C. Emmett (location, maps), and M Thomas (maps lie) gave short presentations in their fields in the Union. 

What an amazing last few days.