The news reports coming from the world north of us continue to focus on the ways in which the coronavirus is changing day-to-day life for millions upon millions of people. Yet for us, on a ship in the Southern Ocean that has been at sea and effectively quarantined, day-to-day life is much the same as it has been for the past two months. Within the science team, half of us are still working the Night Shift from midnight to noon, and half are on duty from noon to midnight. We gather as a big group twice a day for changeover meetings. The captain and members of the crew maintain their schedules of four hours on followed by eight hours off in a repeating cycle. There are still four meals served every day, although the selection has shifted, particularly in the salad bar arena. While there is still some cantaloupe left, I firmly believe that to be a garbage fruit so I usually go for canned pineapples and pears. The remaining apples are a little beyond what I'd enjoy eating. The air is still cold and the water is still icy, and the New York Times crossword (any day's) is still not a match for our collective brainpower. A few new items have been added into the mix to keep us occupied.
There are now opportunities for:
Virtual reality plank walking
Ping pong in the helicopter hangar (where there is room because we don't have a helicopter with us)
We are all anxious to get home but hope our families and friends know that we are well-fed, well-entertained, and well-supported here. We are working our way back to you all.
I think one of the things that increases anxiety here is that we are only hearing the bad news. The comedian Demetri Martin has a bit in which he wonders why there aren't any happy mysteries. It is always, "who stole the money?" or "who scratched my car?" It is never, "hey, who made cookies?" or "oh man, who washed all the dishes?" Along the same lines, we aren't getting any good and boring stories. It would be great to see headlines like, "Area man buys two pounds of peaches, some spinach, and a package of razor blades at local supermarket," or "Brooklyn teacher takes dogs for walk around the neighborhood." Send us a headline for your day of ordinary happenings to remind us that there are still cookies being made and dishes being washed by someone other than me.