Mail Call

Imagine sharing just ONE email address with 130 of your closest friends. That is pretty much the situation on the ship. For 130 scientists, students, and crew, there is 1 radio room, 1 email address to send or receive messages, and a couple guys responsible for making it work (I have already introduced you to Oleg and Vladimir in the radio room). At the beginning of the cruise, the students and instructors of the Summer School (about 25 people in total) devised a system to streamline our email process, so we didn’t drive the guys in radio room insane. Here’s how it works. Every day, a different person is assigned to be “the postman.” Everyone must type their emails offline, save the text file on a flashdrive, find out who the postman is for the day, and then give that person their flashdrive with the file on it – only one time per day. After collecting a handful (or more) of flashdrives, the postman heads up to the 8th floor – the top deck of the ship where you can also find the Bridge where the Captain and crew navigate the ship – and delivers the mail to the radio room to be sent out. Also every day, everyone’s emails are printed out, once a day, and the other half of the postman’s job for the day is to pick up the email, in paper form, and deliver the mail to everyone. Rule of thumb: tell your family and friends to put your name in the subject line of their emails, otherwise the email might “bounce back” to the radio room as undelivered. Is everyone appreciating your easy and personal email contact a little more now?

Getting mail is one of the highlights of the day!

Getting mail is one of the highlights of the day!

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16 Responses to Mail Call

  1. Tristen Perez says:

    Dear Lindsay,
    I have been following your arctic adventure and wanted to know do you ever experience anything dangerous or life threatening?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Tristen, the most dangerous thing really is what we are all here to study and what we all really want to see the most – namely sea ice and polar bears. Whenever anyone gets off the ship (as I was able to do once), the first job is to make sure the ice is safe and strong and thick enough to work on. But then you also have to watch out for polar bears, which can be hard to see when they blend into the background of the white ice and generally foggy sky. We have seen polar bears in the distance when some other scientists and technicians were out on the ice, but we have thankfully not had any situation turn life-threatening.

  2. Nicole Austin says:

    Does communication become chaotic when members on the ship want or need to talk with their loved one over the phone or the internet?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Nicole, there is actually a sign-up sheet for the 1 satellite phone that the students and instructors in the Summer School share – that’s 25 people in total. (There is another phone for the other crew and for the scientists.) So you might have to wait in line to use the phone. I have only been on the phone maybe 4 times in the last 5 weeks, only talking a few minutes each time. And for email, it is a little chaotic for the “postman” of the day to collect everybody’s flashdrives with the email they want to be sent that day, all from one computer. But we make it work, and everyone has worked together and been patient. :) And there is really no internet access onboard – if you wait a couple days I’m going to write a post about how I’m getting all this posted online all the way from the Arctic! It’s quite the process!

  3. Nicole Austin says:

    Now that it is near the end of your expedition do you think that there was anything that you would change about your trip?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Nicole, hmm, I have to think about that. It may sound silly, but something I would do differently if I ever had a chance to do something like this again would be to pack more “regular clothes.” I packed clothes for cold weather, but didn’t really think about all the time I’d be spending inside the warm ship! I would definitely bring more short-sleeve shirts!

  4. Marlene Bell says:

    Seeing that its mail day, how long does it take for the team to receive this mail? Is the only form of communication the team receives?

    • lindsay says:

      Dear Marlene, email like this is the only communication that we receive on the ship, yes. We can email out to others, and we do have a satellite phone onboard that we can use to call out if wanted/needed (I think there are only a couple on the ship for all 130 people), but it is very expensive, and the calls can sometimes lose connection very easily, so you only use that if you really want/need.

  5. Stephanie Kelly says:

    Hey Lindsay! This is actually extremely comical. I now truly appreciate the privacy and comfort of having a cell phone to communicate with my friends and family. I have a question though, does this “mail process” apply to your blogs and replies too because I can imagine how tedious it would be for the “postman” to have to upload all your replies accordingly to the comments on your blog, its intriguing. Also, why is it that not everyone can be online on the ship in their personal computers? I’m wondering if its a safety hazard for the research or for the people on board.

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Stephanie! I’m glad you appreciate your email and privacy of a cell phone and computer more now! It is a pretty amusing situation. And actually, funny you should ask, getting these blog posts out, not to mention all the comments, has been a rather hard process for me (and for the person helping me do it back in the US). But don’t get me wrong, I am so happy to be able to do it, and that I am getting so many comments from all of you, so it’s all 100% worth it! I was planning to write about that who process actually in the next couple days, so instead of giving away the secret now, be sure to check back and you’ll find out the answer!

  6. Bethanie Isaac says:

    After reading this article, I greatly do appreciate my access to email contact. The method you guys came up with is set-up pretty well and much more efficient. As for the postman, doesn’t it get a little hectic with everyone trying to give you the flash-drive? Can you guys think of another method that will possibly work as well?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Bethanie, it can be a little hectic for the postman of the day, but it has worked really well, and everyone just does their job of the day. But there are a lot of flashdrives being passed around, certainly!

  7. Dedric Hill says:

    How does it feel when you finally get mail from your family and friends after this long journey you have taken?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Dedric, it’s so exciting to get mail from family and friends, I think that “mail call” is something that everyone looks forward to!

  8. Ja'Kara Harden says:

    Since there are so many people on the ship, has any problems ever occurred when trying too send mail? For example, has anyone’s file on their flash drive ever been deleted or has there ever been a mix-up when trying to determine who is the assigned postman?

    • lindsay says:

      Hi Ja’Kara, the short answer is yes. With so many flashdrives being passed around, sometimes you have to go look for yours, and a couple people have had things accidentally deleted. But if was a great system and worked really well!

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