Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 5, 3/30/09 -- Annie are you okay?

Monday -- the start of the workweek for the rest of the world, just another day in the life of a balloon campaign. The day started off with our normal monday morning electronics conference call -- attended via an iPhone on speakerphone in my motel room. It worked surprisingly well for us, though the other participants complained of an echo.

At the high bay, I took some measurements and pictures for Dan so he can plan on the mounting scheme for the artificial planet in the high bay. Then, Jeff and I installed the fridges on the cold plate of the cryostat, basically bringing to a close all of the work that can be done on the instrument until more parts arrive. Not having all the parts has been a mixed blessing. On the one hand, we're delayed because we don't have everything we need to put everything together as quickly as possible. On the other hand, because we know there's only so much we can get done, the pace of work has been quite reasonable -- we're not working until midnight every night like we did in New York. The focal plane, some optics stack parts, and the half-wave-plate will all show up later this week, along with more manpower.

Jerry showed up from Brown today, so we hope to get the star camera up and running soon. Jeff started work on putting his half-wave-plate support/drive assembly together, while I machined some spacers for the new elevation actuator mounting scheme. Walking back and forth between the hangar and high bay, I really got a sense for just how windy it was: I could do a passable impression of the sweet Michael Jackson "leaning" dance move from the Smooth Criminal video.

One of the FIREBall guys (thanks Ryan!) gave us a lead on a house just outside of town (in "Old Fort Sumner", about a mile past the Super8). Daniel and I checked it out in the afternoon, and it is a super nice place owned by a couple who are the nicest people to have ever existed on the entire planet. Not only is it fully-furnished, with nice living area and kitchen, it also has a grill! Milligan, Jeff, and I will be moving in to the house shortly. The owner gave me the keys and I haven't even given him a check yet!

For lunch, we went to the hamburger stand, where I ordered a patty melt (delish) and Jeff ordered the tacos which he claimed were pretty good but could have been improved by some green chile. At dinner, we found that Fred's is closed on Mondays as well as Sundays, so we ended up trying the last remaining untried restaurant in Fort Sumner, Sadie's. We had been warned that Sadie's was pretty awful, but it was passable. Fred's is a little better by most everyone's opinion. But, hey, any port in a storm, right?


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