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7 July, 2000

The Best Plans Don't Always Work

Sometimes when you have your day planned to the minute, the plans will inevitably fail. This is what happened today. I had my day perfectly planned, or so I thought. I was finishing my 24 hr snow sampling at 8:00 am. This afternoon, I would run the samples through the H2O2 analyzer. Later that afternoon, I would analyze the data, code my cloud observations and record them on my laptop, workout, eat dinner and then write my journal. Does not sound like much but from breakfast on, the plans went haywire.

Normally, I send my journal entry to my web page right after breakfast. This is also when I catch up on my email. As you know, communications from this remote area can be slow. Well, today, communication was non-existent. I sent several emails as well as my journal into cyber space. The telex machine affirms that email is complete by printing a message that the transmission is successful. Every one of my messages failed to transmit. Of course, the telex does not print the message immediately, there is about a 10-15 minute delay to see if your email was sent. Between running back and forth to do various errands relating to snow samples, I would check my transmission. Failure. It took a good portion of the morning to send my messages. As some of you know, you received 2 or 3 of the same emails from me today. It was not me, just our telex acting funny. The telex is a satellite driven communication device. Maybe we were having difficulties in transmission due to a solar flare disrupting the satellite but cyber space was active today losing and confusing my emails. I think that lost emails in cyber space is the same place that lost socks go. They all just float around somewhere in the cosmos.

If this was not frustrating enough, my snow sample analysis was the next problem of the day. After lunch, I prepared the standard concentration of H2O2 for comparison of the H2O2 concentration from my snow samples. From my 24 hr experiment, I planned to compare concentrations of H2O2 in older snow with concentrations of H2O2 in new snow (I collected these samples for a 36 hr period several days ago). This was my own experiment so it was separate from any other science research being conducted.

After preparing the standard, I went to the science trench to run the analysis. I began running it through the analyzer but the expected values were off by a long shot. I concluded that it must be the way I prepared the standard so I went back to the Green House (a 10 min walk from the science trench), prepared another standard and returned to the science trench. Again the standards were off. What is going on? It should only take me 1.5 hours to complete this entire analysis. Already, I was 45 minutes into the analysis and I had just run 1 standard. I went back to the Green House to tell Hans that something was wrong with the analyzer. He came back to the science trench and indeed, something was wrong with the machine. Troubleshooting again but this time I was unable to help solve the problem because I didn't know how the machine worked. Hans told me to forget about running the samples today. It was now 4:30 pm. I had wasted 3.5 hours trying to figure out this machine. I hate wasting time. I shouldn't touch anything electric today. I've jinxed the telex and the H2O2 analyzer. My whole day's plans were washed up. So what to do? When in doubt, work out and that's what I did. At least it made me feel good. Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to run my analysis. This is my experiment and I really would like to have the data before I leave Summit. Hopefully, Hans can fix the analyzer by tomorrow but according to others in the camp, the machine was washed up from the start. They were all surprised that I was able to do as much analysis as I did. They told me I had the golden touch. Today I don't feel that way.

Ciao, Cathi

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