Packing up in Delaware

Hello there!  We are the AESOP-Lite team.  This blog will document our scientific adventure from Delaware to Texas to Sweden and to wherever our balloon finally lands…  Our campaign started on Sunday, January 7th with the lengthy process of packing up all of the necessary equipment at the University of Delaware.  It would  be shipped to Texas via semi-truck on the morning of Tuesday, January 9th.  This plan lasted about as long as [insert hyperbolic simile about something short].  Thankfully we had our trusty mascot, Roger the Koala, to keep our spirits high throughout the experience.


A small sample of what we packed.  There ended up being 16 crates and pallets filled to the brim, plus our large payload.

The physical task of putting large, heavy objects in crates wasn’t the real issue, it was actually figuring out what should go in the crates and struggling through the game of Tetris that was determining what could fit where.  Poor Sarah, our graduate student from UC Santa Cruz, was in charge of keeping the list of which items were in which boxes and crates, but we kept on moving items around so often that by the time she recorded a box being moved to a new crate the box was already in an even newer crate.  I’m surprised she didn’t simply throw her pen at us and pack and close the crates so that we couldn’t move anything else.


Roger helping us drill shut the crates.

By the time Monday night rolled in so did a storm of freezing rain.  What didn’t help was that we were nowhere near done packing by the end of the work day.  Caught with the dilemma of working late into the night or cancelling the truck in the morning, our determined leader and principal investigator, Professor John Clem, informed us to put on another pot of coffee because we were going to be staying for awhile.  This, paired with the knowledge that we’d all have to come in early to finishing packing and load up the truck, had the teams morale sarcastically high.

Still we trudged on.  I volunteered to go pick up pizza since they refused to delivery in the icy weather.  Apparently one of the owners of the pizza shop had tried to deliver a pizza earlier in the night, got less than a block from the restaurant, and gave up because it was dangerous.  She made the right call, because I almost fell at least a dozen times on my walk.  It was worth it though, because Professor Clem treated us to two massive pizzas with more toppings than I can remember.  They were big enough that the 5 of us had them for dinner that night as well as lunch the next day and a still had a slice or two left.  It was a well deserved break in that long evening.

We didn’t leave the lab until 11 o’clock that night.  The next morning we all came in before 8 am ready to finish packing and load a truck.  To our dismay that didn’t happen.  The truck driver called an hour after he was supposed to show up and said it was too icy out for him to drive.  He informed us that he would come the next morning at 8 am.  He didn’t. He came at noon.  The next 6 hours involved us frustratingly bringing everything we needed for Texas up an elevator, through a door to the loading dock, and onto a truck.  Then strapping and/or nailing everything to a wall and/or floor.  There were a few close calls of items, most noticeably our extremely sensitive payload, barely squeezing through the door to the dock and quite a few items that were almost forgotten and had to be tossed into a miscellaneous box near the back of the trailer.  Besides those things, it was a fairly uneventful afternoon.



Once the truck was loaded and had its sights set on Texas, we all went home for a much needed rest and to get ready to fly to Texas ourselves.  Sarah (Graduate Student in Physics at UC Santa Cruz), Pierre-Simon (Post Doctoral Researcher at UD), Brian (Graduate Student in Computer Engineering at UD), and myself (Undergraduate Student in Physics at UD) had a 6 am flight on Friday, so our rest was to be short-lived.

-Matt Collins

Categories: Newark, Delaware

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