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What my dogs have taught me about delighting in the Lord.

I’ve noticed this phenomenon before, but this is the first that I’ve thought about it in this context. Here’s the situation:

Anyone who knows my dogs, knows how much I love them. They are both such a blessing to me. The younger (and bigger) one, Trillian, LOVES people, but she especially loves her “mom”. Every time she hears my voice, regardless if I am looking at her or in another room, she wags her tail in delight. She is always tuned in to hear me and she is always listening, even when I’m not speaking to her. It always makes me smile to see her happiness exemplified in her cropped little tail swinging as fast as doggily possible. I wonder if this isn’t a great metaphor for how we should delight in the Lord – our tails wagging exuberantly at the sound of the Father’s voice, our ears tuned to His frequency, our eyes set towards His face. Rejoicing even when he isn’t talking to you.

To take it one step further… my other dog, Gamma (who I also love dearly) has a few problems associated with old age. Her hearing is off and she is blind in one eye. She doesn’t wag her tail as often because these things hinder her ability to receive communication. It makes me wonder what problems I have in my life that hinder me from delighting in the Father’s communication to us.

I really ought to say that this metaphor shouldn’t be taken too far. Now I can’t help but think of the other things that my dogs have taught me that have application to my spiritual life (e.g. obedience).


“The fishermen know that the sea is dangerous and the storm terrible, but they have never found these dangers sufficient reason for remaining ashore” -Vincent Van Gogh

How did August fly by so fast? Looking back I can’t believe I’ve been out here a month already – everything seems a blur of seismic wiggles and multibeam pings. I’ve been really busy the last few days trying to proliferate images of the ocean. Oh buddy, do I have some cool looking images! I’m so excited to take this data back to Wyoming and show people! Yesterday was our last day of multichannel seismic acquisition (insert sad face) and we are headed towards Dutch today. It will take two and a half or more days to get back to Dutch Harbor, (yes – we are indeed that far away). There is supposedly a storm tailing us so we are making as much good time as possible. I really want to do a blog about all the sounds you hear on a ship and what the food tastes like etc… (the 5 senses blog mentioned in an earlier post) but I think with our proximity to the end of the cruise I should first write about what we did in the beginning.

I flew into Dutch Harbor on the 6th of August aboard a Saab 370. Tiny little plane, but definitely not the smallest I’ve been in (take the vomit-comet out of Laramie sometime – now that can be an adventure!). The plane ride offered some great views of Adak and Atu (Aleutian volcanoes pictured). I was already sick when I got on the plane in Anchorage and by the time I got on the Langseth the sick was in full force. I had some nasty combination of sore throat, flu, and cold. The last place you want to be sick is at sea. Thankfully, I don’t get seasick and my sea legs come along in no time otherwise I would have really been in a poor position. Being sick, I wasn’t able to make it through my first midnight to noon watch (I think I made it to 3 a.m.), but was back to adjusting my schedule the next night. Since being sick, we’ve had some yuck-weather for probably about five or six days total which means 5-meter seas and 40-50-knot winds. What that really means is very little sleep for those who are concerned about falling out of the bunk when the ship rolls around 45 degrees from center.

Back to the beginning. Once we transited to our survey sight seismic operations got underway. The first equipment to be deployed is the eight-kilometer long hydrophone array called a streamer. These sensors are like “ears” that listen for energy (aka signal) traveling from a source through the water and earth and then back through the water. There are 636 channels on the streamer and 12 hydrophones make each group or channel. The next to be deployed is the energy source called a tuned air-gun array. There are four strings holding 36 air-guns that release 6600 cubic inches of compressed air into the water every 50 meters. The bubble pulse from the guns sends waves that travel through the earth/water and come back loaded with information about what they “saw”. All this information is recorded and then we “the beakers” (otherwise known as scientists) process the data to produce images that are like cross-sections of the earth. We gathered hundreds of kilometers of multi-channel seismic data over ten days. One of my goals on this cruise is to better understand the oceanography of the Bering Sea via seismic data. In order to corroborate with the seismic images we are throwing the following overboard:  expendable bathy-thermographs (XBTs) that measure a temperature profile through the water column, expendable conductivity-temperature-depth sensors (XCTDs) that measure temperature, depth, and indirectly the salinity of the water column, and casting a CTD with a 12 bottle rosette to bring up water samples. Have I mentioned that the water at the bottom of the Bering is some of the oldest water on the planet due to the manner in which the ocean circulates? It is probably thousands of years old and I have tasted, sampled, and am taking home some of it! Pretty exciting and perhaps a topic for a future blog… All this data will take months/years to process and understand.

In all this mention of shooting and deploying equipment, I should also mention the protected-species observers (PSOs) who observe around the clock to make sure we are not harassing any marine life. Our PSOs are rockstars that brave nasty winds and cold weather on top of a tower for hours on end. They also get some cool photos (see below).

So, that pretty much sums up the data acquisition for the first half of the cruise. I’ve also included a few pictures from Dutch Harbor for your pleasure.

“One mustn’t look at the abyss, because there is at the bottom an inexpressible charm which attracts us. “ ~Gustave Flaubert

Today’s blog will hopefully give some insight to my daily “routine” on the Langseth as well as some tidbits about the vessel. To begin with, I must express that I thoroughly love being at sea. Exploration and discovery are words that entice me to spend weeks on end rolling around a giant hunk of steel.  There are so many wonderful aspects of sailing around on a quest to take a never before seen look at what lies beneath. It is ridiculously exciting to watch the data come in on the shipboard monitors and know that I am one of the first people to look at the Earth in such detail. I also find it just plain fun to be “trapped” in that giant steel drum with world-class experts in the geosciences. Learning from these people is like drinking from a fire hose and you can’t help but feel a combination of wiped out and refreshed when you walk off. I love being at sea.


So, what exactly do I do everyday on this “cruise”? First of all, it is nothing like being on a Carnival cruise. The term “cruise” for a research survey is quite the misnomer. We work 12+ hours a day for the entire week over many weeks (usually 1-2 months), and there are no days off. I’m not complaining (see the sentiments expressed above). My days on this cruise involve waking up at 11:15 p.m., grab some cereal in the mess, getting into the lab by midnight, spend four hours editing-multibeam, four hours as watchstander, four hours processing seismic data, (all the while deploying XBTs and XCTDs every couple hours) and then going to the gym and reading for a few hours before going to bed. Two meals are served while I am awake: breakfast at 7:30 and lunch at 11:30. That is the summary of what the day is supposed to look like – of course all this changes depending on what data we are collecting and when/what gear is coming in or going out. There is rarely a dull moment. On that note, here are a few pictures of our gear and the ship:


The R/V Marcus G. Langseth is the premier seismic vessel in the U.S. academic fleet. She is operated by Lomont-Doherty Earth Observatory (Columbia University) and was acquired in 2004 (put to service in 2008) replacing the previous R/V Ewing. The Langseth is 72 meters long (253 ft.), has some of the biggest air compressors at sea, and holds about 50 people. This ship tows an 8 km streamer for 2D multi-channel seismic (MCS) work and can tow four 8 km streamers for 3D surveys. We also have some sweet guns – air-guns that is. On this cruise we cast the first CTD (conductivity, temperature, depth) instrument off of the Langseth – thus adding to her list of capabilities. Let me know what else you’d like to know – I plan on loading a picture tour sometime in the future.

and then…there was us.

Hi all! We’re committing blog-icide! Isaac and I are working on putting up this blog as a joint effort to share things we love with our family, friends, and the world at large. You may expect posts from me (Jorden) about my favorite recipes (and maybe not so favorite), paper projects, hikes, travels, books, and other such exploits. You may expect posts from Isaac about his latest projects (building desks, laminar fountains, synchronized light displays, etc…), programming, and maybe even some book recommendations. Check back soon!