Wednesday, March 16, 2005

One Small Victory  

As I write this I've just reviewed a mountain of unfinished work from the MDRS: stacks of papers, unfinished reports, uncollated photos --- and even the essay I planned to write upon ARRIVING at the MDRS.

This, for me, was one of the Big Lessons from Mars: You Can't Do Everything. I should have learned this from my days as an undergraduate at Georgia Tech --- when the same lesson was called Sometimes You Have To Punt --- but you learn this in force on Mars, even analogue Mars. There are too many tasks and too few hours in the day and, more importantly, people who depend on you to get up the next morning and refuel the generator, cook the food, or join them on an EVA --- so you can't even cheat yourself by staying up late to finish Just One More Task. You have to set a time, get done what you can get done, and go to bed so you can get up in the morning and tackle the next day's tasks, which are coming fast and will not retreat.

There are other Big Lessons from Mars --- such as Everybody Has To Learn To Get Along, You Don't Need So Much Stuff, All Leftovers Go Good In Tomato Soup, Duct Tape Solves Everything, and Everything You Pour Down The Drain Will Reappear In the Greenhab (aka There's No Away To Throw Things To) --- but You Can't Do Everything is the big one. You have to gather your punch list, prioritize, and pick the most urgent tasks. And there's no time for anything else ...

... almost no time, that is. The truth is, there's a dozen short moments during the day in which you're neither too busy to do anything and not tired enough to do nothing, and in those moments you can sit around waiting for your EVA partner to find his gaiters or you can sweep the stairs, organize the battery drawer, or tackle any of a number of small tasks that need to get done but fall off the punch list. The little things. The fit and finish.

So I felt unaccountably proud when, after finishing my packing, I had a few minutes to myself --- and took that time to clean up the Habcom desk, which gave me the space to move the Medical books from a scrap of floor onto a real shelf, which in turn gave me a place to put our supplies of UHT soy, which in turn FINALLY opened up the space on the floor at the bottom of the stepladder. And so then, after over 10 days, I was finally able to dig out the missing bottom stair of the stepladder and screw that sucker into place.

*the sound of a line being crossed off*

And with that, I crossed a punch list item that had been hanging around since Crew 34 left. It's not much of an accomplishment, I admit, but it's still an accomplishment --- one small victory against the forces of entropy, even if only for a little while.

-the Centaur



This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?