Joe Kalisch's Blog

Tuesday, July 28, 2015
Joe Kalisch VISIONS15

Not all colleges seem to have the same opportunities for doing the extraordinary things the UW are a part of...

Joe Kalisch VISIONS15

Grays Harbor College undergraduate, Joe Kalisch, onboard the R/V Thompson during the VISIONS'15 cruise. Credit: Mitch Elend, University of Washington; V15.

Blue View

Blue water in the Northeast Pacific. Credit: Joe Kalisch, Grays Harbor College; V15.

Thank You-

I am not sure if most people are aware of my situation and I would like to take this time to talk about it and how I got to be a part of this research trip. I am few years older than most of the students that are on this voyage. I attended college right out of high school, but by the end of my second year I still did not have a clue on what I wanted to be when I grew up. Not wanting to waste time I joined the workforce for seven years. I had a few different jobs, but nothing really seemed to fit. A year or two back I decided I would try college again. My second quarter back, I was working at a foundry and attended class during my lunch break. My class was chemistry, taught by Julie Nelson.

I remember the first time I really talked to Julie. She was handing out papers and walked by my desk and wondered why it smelled like burning electrical. I had to explain to her it was me and why, we both kind of laughed and then class started. At the end of the quarter she mentioned this amazing research she was a part of, and how she got to spend her summer out on a ship. Julie is the reason I am here now. A year later she again mentioned the ship, we started talking about it, and she told me I should apply to be a part of it. I did and was surprised when I received the e-mail from Deb congratulating me for being chosen. I would like to take this moment to again thank Julie. I believe it is because of instructors like her who care so passionately about what they do and the students they teach that allow us students to believe that our dreams are never out of reach. Thank you Julie.

Julie is not the only person that I would like to thank for this opportunity. I would like to also thank Deb Kelley and the rest of the UW for allowing students from neighboring colleges to have the chance to be a part of this ground breaking research. Not all colleges seem to have the same opportunities for doing the extraordinary things the UW are a part of. The fact that they can recognize this, and open their doors is the reason I believe it is true when people say “they are the big dog” for the colleges in the state of Washington. Everyone that I have met that works for their university has the same mind set as Julie. They are eager to teach you, and talk to you about whatever question you may have. I have learned so much in such a short time talking with them. Thank you everyone from UW for allowing me to be a part of this the experience that I have gained from this will last a lifetime.

July 27

They say the best things in life come to those that wait and in this case I believe it is true. After the last ROPOS dive I was able to collect my microbes for my research project. I believe I have all the sample to continue my work.

540 labels. A few students and I labelled 540 sample bottles earlier today. It was not hard work or complicated but a reminder that not all work in science is glamorous. That you have to pay your dues and put in the work. I enjoyed the job. The details in science are what really matters, and though putting a label on a bottle is not difficult it does remind you about all the little details that may sometimes be overlooked.

A friend of mine spent many years working on tall ships growing up. When I mentioned to him that I was thinking of being a part of this research vessel, he told me to do it, that I would never forget my experience at sea. My friend was right. I have grown accustomed to the rocking of the boat and the freshness in the air. The water out here is a blue I have never seen before nor could I describe to anyone that asks. I have tried to take pictures of it, but the pictures do not give it justice. I have created some memories and friendships that will last a lifetime on this boat, and have experienced opportunities I never thought possible. I just wanted to take a moment to thank him if he is reading this, for pushing and not letting this opportunity pass through my fingers.

Short report:

  • Collected microbes for my research project.
  • Experienced the tedious side of science.
  • Dinosaurs are eluding me, going to try and use a candy bar as bait.
  • Friend was right about life at sea.

July 25

Yesterday I spent almost seven hours in the ROPOS room. This was not on purpose it just kind of happened. It was a location they have never been before, and had to survey the area, collect samples, and explore. The room was completely packed you could not make it from one end to the other without accidentally bumping into someone. It occurred to me how fortunate I was to be a part of this small group of people to see this part of the ocean floor for the first time.  When the dive was over the crew allowed me to help remove the lemons (lemons are floats they attach to the cable that attaches ROPOS). I saw this as a “win, win situation” for both parties. I had the chance to give my eyes a break from the computer screens, and they received more help making the job shorter.

Cribbage. If you are not familiar with the game, it is a card game were you count points and peg them on a board. I learned to play at a very young age. I do not remember who taught me the game, just that I would spend hours playing it with my family and friends. Cribbage seems to be the game of the ship. Everyone plays, and when you have a little bit of free time it is not hard to round up a game. It has been a great ice breaker for meeting new people. Last night I played a few games with multiple members of the ship. The first few games were with Julie and Paul. After they went to bed, I played with the other late shift ROPOS logging students (we were not on a dive, but did not want to screw up our sleep schedules by going to bed early). Kearstin and I taught Alex how to play. After he beat us, we figured he had it figured out. We played a few more games and then just sat around and talked. We talked for a few hours about anything and everything before deciding to call it a night. Before last night the three of us had not had the opportunity to do this and I contribute our conversations to playing and learning the game. Like I said cribbage is a ice breaker.

Short report:
• First time seeing a shark that was not captured.
• Interesting conversations happen around 2 AM.
• 20 hour trip to next site creates some down time.
• Gaining some headway on my project.
• Thought I saw a dinosaur. Turned out to be a jelly.
• Helping with whatever I can to gain experience.
• Cribbage.

July 23

As the Thompson was pulling out of Newport, I was excited and nervous at the same time. I was excited to have the opportunity to be aboard, and experience something that only a few people will ever experience. I was nervous because I had never been to sea before and two thoughts were lingering in the back of my mind. Will I get seasick, and what will it be like not seeing land?

As we reached Slope Base, I had not gotten sick so I figure I am in the clear and have nothing to worry about. When I walked out on deck and saw nothing but sea, my mind set changed completely. Instead, of being nervous about not seeing land I really enjoyed it. I don’t know how to describe how it feels to look out and see nothing but water except that it is peaceful. Your worries seem to slip away and you get lost just staring as the waves pass by.

At Slope Base, the first thing to be done was to lower the HPIES-2015 instrument to the seafloor. I had an opportunity to play a small role on this deployment, but even though it was small it was exciting. As I watched HPIES-2015 disappear into the blue ocean, I knew the next time it would be seen is 2900 m below the ocean's surface.

My first shift for the ROPOS log was midnight until four. I showed up an hour or two early to try and see what was expected of me.  When you walk in to the ROPOS control room you are surrounded by screens showing different camera views. The picture quality makes you believe that you were actually sitting there working from inside ROPOS.  The men that run ROPOS are remarkable. The skill set they have is something I have never seen before and I was in awe in how easy they made it seem, the four hour shift flew by with logging every move or procedure.

Short report:
• Did not get seasick.
• Water, a lot of water more than I could ever imagine.
• Everyone is eager to help and teach.
• No dinosaurs yet.
• Rarely do you have a time where you cannot be helping someone with something.