Artic Dave | Cypress Semiconductor
March 03, 2010
I came by a picture of me taken in the artic 16 years ago.
At the time I worked for the Applied Physics Lab (APL) at the University of Washington. It was the most fun job I have ever had. As far as I can figure out, APL is a WPA project for very very bright people. During WWII the government found that they occasionally had a really tough question that needed answering. (Where are the enemy subs? Why do our torpedoes miss their target? Etc….) The government realized they only occasionally needed this resource but it was vital to keep it around. So they would fund us to study problems they pretended to they wanted solved and we pretended to really want to study them. All in all, it kept the lab’s skill finely honed for when they were really needed.
It was great fun. Cruises in the Atlantic in calm water and the Pacific in rough water (sea state 6). A lot of work was done in the artic because the water below the ice has the lowest possible acoustical noise. (I used to have to test the receivers by suspending them in a trash can, them putting the trash can in a garage can packed in styrofoam peanuts, placing the garbage can on a foam rubber pad. I did the tests at night to reduce the noise conducted from trucks on the road.
I love the Artic. There is something invigorating about being in a place were you don’t make the same mistake once. I made the mistake of walking back from the airport to the hotel without a flare gun. It was a nice – 20 degree sunny day and only a mile away. While walking I was stalked by a rabid artic fox. The authorities later told me (after the autopsy) that the reason it didn’t attack me was that I looked huge in my artic gear and the fox still had enough of a brain to not risk attacking me. It wouldn’t have been the case a week later. Of course a week after that it would have been dead.
The down side was the pay. We pretended to be working and the state pretended to pay us. When my son got accepted to Carnage Mellon, I had to go back to industry and make real money. Whenever I am on a ferry, on a winter day, I fondly remember those days. I momentarily consider going back until the realization sets in that I would have to take a 60% pay cut.