Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Rhode Island

In the first few weeks of April, my previous employer sent a group of us up to Rhode Island to perform some field tests on some equipment we were developing. I won't go into the details because the status of the project is still "under development," and likely they'd appreciate me not divulging some of the finer details. But overall, it was a successful trip and there were a couple interesting stories to share.

My office
Inside the office
This is pretty much what working in Rhode Island for a software developer looks like. It's pretty much the same as working... anywhere? I actually did take this photo in the shack I was working in. The weather was ridiculously cold for April, and the shed we were in really only offered a shelter from the wind. My fingers got pretty cold typing on the keyboard for more than about 5 minutes. Fortunately, I was stuck in the shed with Duggan who was also cold, and he started thinking of ways to warm us with what we had available. Unfortunately, I have no pictures of what he came up with, but I think a description in this case will do it justice. We didn't have a space heater, but what is a space heater? 1 big resistor made up of tiny little wires that get hot, much like a toaster, right? We didn't have a space heater, but we did have power supplies and ethernet cable. Ethernet cable is made up of tiny little twisted pairs, right? Right! We needed the cable, so Duggan used some couplers to link the longer cables to some shorter ones we could cut up. After being hooked up to about 3 amps, those ethernet cable coils were getting pretty warm. Not hot enough to melt the jacket around the outside, but they did get a lot more flexible. With warmth on our side, it was a little easier to get work done.

This was the super fancy vessel that the systems guys rode on. We had the air guns and recording system on this beauty. Those big yellow things are compressed air canisters for firing the guns and behind it is the shack we all worked from (well, everyone but Charles. He had to hang out on the deck and keep watch over the compressors). There was really only room enough for 3 people. So until the cable guys came up for their testing, I was stuck on shore. So for one day, I basically got a free day. I spent that day in the warmth of the hotel room. I got up with the team, had breakfast, got a few bits of software written from my room, then looked for a place to get a run in. I found a nearby location called the "Cliff Walk" that sounded promising, so I headed out that way before the guys were done with their testing.

Rhode Island beach, Cliff Walk to the right
Obligatory selfie to prove I was there
The Cliff Walk was beautiful, but not really a "running" route. Most of it was filled with people walking, and there isn't a whole lot of room to maneuver. I ran the whole way, but I did have to slow down quite a few times. Sometimes for walkers, other times because the path was washed out with huge rocks blocking the way. Incidentally, when the rocks were blocking the path, I didn't really slow down all that much. I got pretty lucky that I didn't twist an ankle or anything. I only fell once and didn't cut anything up too bad.

Pretty sure a fall would kill me

What parts of the washed out road looked like

I think when I got back from my run this day, I had a package waiting at me from the front desk. Lizzie had sent a care package to me using Amazon Prime. We weren't expected to stay very long, so she needed to take advantage of 2 day shipping to make sure it got to me and not the next lucky guy named Doug Brown that stayed there.
Go ahead. Be jealous. My wife rules.
Duggan, the MEs on the Fortune Hunter,
and Randy waaaay out on a Zodiac raft
That was the only day I managed to get a run in before 10pm. Every other day we worked until sundown at 6-7pm, we spent about 2 hours downloading data and syncing clocks as soon as we got back in from working at sea. By that time, everyone was starving and we'd go grab something to eat at 9, I'd digest, go out for a run at 10, then wake up for 5am the next day. It was a terrible cycle to be in, but I made it work. Our stuff worked the way we expected it to, I had a great team to work with, and though the weather could have been a bit warmer those first few days, we had a great trip overall.

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