6 April, 1999
6 April 1999
Follow-up to the Summer 1998 Deering Archeological Excavation
Presentations at the Barrow High School classroom of Tim Buckley--Dinner with Jill Exe, Tim Buckley and Robert Suydam--Polar Bear Alarm System
Early this morning Dave Ramey of BASC (Barrow Arctic Science Consortium) drove us to the Barrow High School to meet with some of Tim Buckley's classes. Tim is a two-time TEA and has studied Arctic ice with researchers at the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (CRREL) in Hanover, New Hampshire. Aaron and I presented our summer 1998 archeology project to several classes talking to between 40 and 45 students.
For dinner we were invited to Jill Exe's house. Jill, as you might remember from an earlier journal entry (April 3), was the Barrow teacher who guided us out onto the ice on snowmobiles. Jill's other guests were Tim Buckley and Robert Suydam, a Wildlife Biologist with the Department of Wildlife Management. Jill prepared a wonderful meal and as seems to always be the case in Barrow, hours of delightful conversation followed.
After hanging around with scientists for virtually our entire time in Barrow this spring and Deering last summer, we were finally exposed to some people who are not directly involved with daily scientific life, Tim Buckley's high school students. We talked to class after class of interested students. This was good practice for our talk tomorrow, which Tim and I are a little nervous about. We will have to talk for an hour, and I wasn't sure if we had an hour's worth of material, but it became apparent with Tim Buckley's class that we have enough material to talk about for several hours, probably three hours if we really wanted to be specific. It is impressive to be able to take so much out of an experience, which truly reflects the effectiveness of the whole project.
Again, dinner with Jill was fantastic and the following conversation was certainly stimulating. We all enjoyed ourselves. Today we heard of our first polar bear presence. Apparently there
were four bears in town today. I have recently been hearing a lot of polar bear tales. Before Barrow I had pictured polar bears from those Coca-Cola commercials with the sledding polar bears. This image certainly does not betray the fact that they are perhaps the most vicious, bloodthirsty mammals alive. I asked other people living in Barrow how often they look for polar bears, and they replied that they are constantly checking over their shoulders while outside. This was a little disturbing, as I can't remember once checking for bears while outside. Supposedly polar bears are left-handed, so, as a few local posters proclaim, when confronted with an attacking bear, dodge his left and "defend yourself."
When returning to the ARF for the day, we found a polar bear alarm system set up for a practice run by the members of the whale census. It consisted of string which was pinched in a mousetrap. A tug on the string causes the mouse trap to close, completing an electric circuit and sounding an alarm. It was concocted by one of the members of the team, with the patent pending. This is because apparently more than once, the whale census guys set it up while camping on the ice and a strong wind in the middle of the night set it off. The result was a bunch of half awake, frightened men armed to the teeth came rushing out of their tents ready to blast anything remotely resembling a bear. Too bad for those guys in white.
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