Hanis Zulaikhas’ Blog

August 5, 2017
I had a really long day yesterday and an unpleasant night sleep (dreamt of zombies) and I woke up with a gassy stomach (I think i had too many banana chips). So I got dressed and sat in the galley reading my book when Richard, one of the cooks, came and brought me a piece of chocolate chip cookies because he realized I missed breakfast. And for that, my morning was better than ever.

The other day, I had a really good conversation with Richard, one of the cooks. It turned out that Richard spent the first 3 years of his life in Malaysia when his parents were volunteering with the Peace Corps. We started talking about some herbs and spices that are widely used in SE Asia cuisine and he started showing me the herbs and spices he had in his kitchen and at the end he gave me a piece of dried Kaffir Lime Leaves. I have the whole tree in my backyard back home, and the scent really reminded me of home. This cruise might be my first and last meeting point with Richard but Richard is one of the people that I will remember for his sincerity and compassion.

Coming on this cruise, I thought precious experience only comes from learning the science, dealing with Science Pods and ROVs and setting up Osmosis Pumps. I learned now that precious experience also comes from the people around you especially the people you least expected.
Update about my project so far: I found out that its not quite possible to embed audio choices for viewers (since I'm planning to make an explanatory video with multiple language). So I'm still weighing the option between making multilingual subtitles or make a multiple versions of the video with different language audio. I'm struggling with writing up the script for the video because the amount of information is excruciating and how do I make sure that the script is not going to be a lullaby?!

Oh, and yesterday I learnt to set up Osmosis pumps and I'm so amazed that such a simple, low maintenance system could be so useful in collecting data. It never cease to amaze me how science could be so simple yet so complex.

August 3, 2017
It's been awhile since I blogged, but I have been writing down my thoughts alot. Since the last time I blogged, I have learned so much about underwater volcanoes, Jason, some of our underwater instruments and also different kinds of analysis of water samples. Not to mention, Julie taught me a new card game called Cribbage and it's awesome !! It really helps with your arithmetic.

One of the highlights of my time on the cruise is Jason's dive to International District. I sat in the control room for several hours without realizing how much time have passed and I almost missed dinner ! But I didn't and I'm glad because that night was baked salmon lemon rosemary, best dinner so far. I was in awe in that control room looking at how beautiful the underwater view was and it never fails to amaze me how the biological communities could thrive in such environment. I can't stop thinking about how much these animals have evolved to survive or how much life on earth have evolved from them?

Also, I'm starting to think that I need a reality check every now and then whenever I'm in the control room. Because being in the control room for several hours made me believe that I was actually 2 km deep in the ocean swimming through bioluminiscent animals and marine snow.
Oh, and update on my project. I've finally put my feet down on my project, and I'm confident with my decision (I hope!). I decided to make an explanatory video on what's there at Axial Seamount caldera (International District) and include the processes and mechanisms behind hydrothermal vent systems and underwater volcanic activity. And, I hope to make my video multilingual with the language option being English, Malay, Spanish and Mandarin. I hope this one goes well *fingers crossed*.

Another moment I really cherish is the whole evening I spent with a few others taking in the breeze and watching live theatre of the sun setting over the horizon. The beautiful 360 view we had was something unforgettable but the friendship that was weaved that evening was something worth more. We shared our about our cultures, beliefs, country, favorite dance and music from our countries and there was just something about the conversation, laughter, [inside joke with the backdrop of the sunset and sound of the crashing waves make it more memorable. And one of those memories that carry me through dark times.

July 29, 2017

Today, we set out on our 15 hour transit to the Axial Base after a day and half at a near shore site and I'm glad that the ocean is calm. I didn't get a good sleep because of sea sickness. The ocean was extra choppy last night. I woke up to the news that the Jason cable got kinked during the last dive with Jason at the Slope Base site. And I also woke up to find out that I missed a group of dolphins heading south from our boat under the shade of the sunrise.

Today, was also the day that I actually put some extra thought on my project. And for a moment I doubted myself thinking I'm doing something that is out of my skill set. For a moment I freaked out, so I went out to the deck, sat on the picnic table and just stared out at the ocean and then further over the horizon, and realized that there is no way I can run out of good science questions about the ocean. It is just not possible.

And, I was calmed and myself again. 

Funny how the ocean could soothe you but also make you sick, literally.

As for now, I still don't have a solid outline for my project because there's a lot of things around it that I don't know and I don't understand. But, science isn't supposed to be about what you know because if so why would they call it a scientific discovery?

I guess I will continue asking every question I have until I found the right one.

July 28, 2017

I was sitting on my desk in the main lab when I saw one of the engineers working on parts of a transducer. He said the transducer helps us communicate with an instrument we have 2000 m down. However, the one we have is more suitable on small boats so he was only going to need this small part of this transducer and connect it to the Revelle’s transducer as it could provide a clearer transmission between the instrument deep down and us. He was stuck on something and then opened a small notebook to refer to some stuff in it. Since I watch Grey’s Anatomy where occasionally in the Operation Room the surgeons are doing a transplant they would still refer to books for reference for the surgery. Same concept for us on the boat, only that we work on transplanting a part of a transducer into another transducer to make it work. And that made me think; we are also doctors, only for machines.

Seeing programmers, engineers, scientists all work together to make plans for Jason’s dives run smoothly makes me think about how much human brains could come together and commit to fight for the same purpose could make big discoveries and change the course of human knowledge.

July 27, 2017

This was the day of getting to know my peers. We shared bits of our background, and had unintentioned funny and sweet conversations. The little pieces of them that I got to pick up allowed me to connect with them effortlessly. We all had very different identities and all grew up in very different cultures, but maybe it was that same determination to learn new things in this field and make the change we believe we can that made it easy.

This was also the day where I learned to do science and at the same time feel sick and throw up. I was helping Julie on testing out dissolved oxygen, salinity and chlorophyll in our water samples that we got from Jason’s recent dive using the Niskin bottles. I was already feeling sick, but I thought it was nothing until when she was teaching me how to collect the sample in the chlorophyll bottle that I threw up in the utility sink in the lab. Science has its way to surprise us in unexpected ways.