Well, we *didn’t* get to Bely Island.
But we *did* have an Aethalometer on hand – which I certainly wasn’t going to allow to sit in a box until summer.
And we *are* at a Far North location, for which there is considerable value for any kind of data at all. Because, in fact, there are NO OTHER MEASUREMENTS OF BC ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE NORTHERN HALF OF ASIA. Imagine that: half of a continent; spanning eight or nine time-zones; with all of that pollution going into the now-melting Arctic; and no data at all.
Screwdrivers. (picture 1321). Olga freaks out … “What are you doing ?? Why are you opening the instrument ???”.
I put on my best Elliot Ness voice: ‘Just checking. Ma’am. It’s the law.’
Actually, making sure that all the cables and tubes are firmly seated, all screws tight, nothing loose.
The airstrip is way out on the edge of town, an absolutely perfect location with nothing but forest and snow for 180 degrees of direction (East).
The town of Salekhard, the river port, the industry: are all on one side only (West – picture 1329). When the wind comes from the clean side, we will get data representing the general background atmosphere in this part of the world. Olga obsesses over abstract points of science. Me, I stick the hose out the window. (picture 1326).
Plug it in.
Olga: “What about the initialization and calibration and setup parameters and ?”.
Elliot Ness: “It just works, Ma’am. It’s automatic.”
The Aethalometer will stay here, acquiring data on the background atmosphere in this part of the world, until I return in August and take it to Bely Island. Olga abruptly becomes ecstatic when she realizes the prospect of data. 1700 hours of real-time data. 100,000 minutes of real-time data. In the past, she had to collect and analyze samples one at a time in a lab.
Now; finally; I could proceed to my real personal objective: whose importance (to me) I naturally could not have revealed. I’ve set up innumerable Aethalometers and looked at innumerable data files – this one was no different: but my personal goal was to get closer to an edge of the world.
When I repeat this in August on Bely, It will be at a place that is more ‘extremis’ … but with green tundra rather than snow everywhere, it won’t *look* quite as ‘borealis’. Stay tuned and tell me what you think.
We return back to the Linoleum Hotel in an indigenous vehicle (picture 1342). Time to re-book return flights home, one last mystery meal. Shake hands, gravelly voice, they all know the Arnold Schwarzenegger tagline.
It’s gonna be REALLY WEIRD to land in LA. Even at the best of times, it’s weird. But now it will be a complete 180-degree inversion: 12 hours of jetlag (day into night); snow into sand; an infinity of spindly trees into an infinity of suburbs; parkas into shorts, borscht into tacos.
Wish me luck.
Anton Andreyevich Khansen