Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Working comfortably in remote places

I've been reading 'Packing for Mars' and enjoying it greatly. The author describes the ups and downs of working in space. I've never worked in space, but I certainly can relate to some of the difficulties of working in remote, confined and difficult places. Add on top of that sleep deprivation, situations can become really dangerous and/or hilarious (for some reason sleep deprivation can leave me giggly).

When I first started doing field work in the army I made the mistake of thinking that if I only had a short time to sleep, I should just lay down with my boots on and attempt to sleep anywhere – like on a pile of rocks (looked comfortable in the dark) or the main thoroughfare for an army of ants. It didn't take me long to realize taking the time to blow up an air mattress, pull out a sleeping bag, and take my boots off would make me so much more comfortable.

I've spent months working out of tents, which can be comfortable especially if I've brought a cot. I've even packed a pillow when heading out to these places. A large tented camp can be just like a small town – hot food and showers are often available. If the ground isn't frozen, mud always makes an appearance (I've never lived in a tented camp in the desert but I suspect the issue then would be sand). Everything can end up covered in mud and without running water it is hard to clean up. I've had mud fill all the treads on my boots to the point where I just slip slide around.

Working on small boats exposes one to the weather, which is okay with the proper clothing and a warm place to spend the night (or day if working on the boat at night). Open boats aren't my favorite; on a nasty day it is nice to get inside if only for a few moments.

By far, my favorite field work space are full sized ships – I like knowing there is a comfortable place to sleep nearby especially if my shift is long. Hot showers (even if they are short), clean clothes and hot food prepared by someone else are other pluses. There are always people around on a ship which I find to be a comfort if we are out in the middle of the ocean or up in the arctic. The downside to working on a ship is my tendency towards sea sickness which can be dealt with.

Where ever I go, being comfortable appears to be a choice. It's never that much harder to make oneself more comfortable – start with taking the boots off.

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