The Sand Patty and You: Accepting Aged Oil as a Friend
So I’ve been getting some gentle prods to post my reflections on the recent trip to the Gulf of Mexico. Sadly, that entry is still in the shop; the whole project quickly snowballed into a massive philosophical epiphany (to describe it in the most modest terms), but transcribing my thoughts—riddled with more holes than the plot of a summer thriller novel—without sounding tacky has proven…freaking impossible.
To summarize: I’m receiving help editing the entry until it’s fit to publish (by the end of the week, I promise). To tide you over until then, here are some less complex ruminations.
The most surprising part of the trip—aside from how many pictures of me slumbering ended up on the blog (yeah…little creepy)—was how little we were pestered by law enforcement. We were warned weeks in advance that the Bayou rangers were particularly opposed to us removing sand patties from the beach. Potentially, they could cite us for improper activity on the beachfront and confiscate our samples (hardly a glamorous or exciting prospect).
When I had my first—and only—encounter with Bayou law enforcement, their reaction was anticlimactic. They waved, and drove off in their golf cart. The rangers did not even bother to ask why we were wearing latex gloves, had tote bags full of glass sample jars, and were armed with tweezers. Meh.
I suppose our brief encounter with the rangers is as close as ordinary science comes to the movies. No one is ready to kill a bunch of interns (with everything to prove/nothing to lose), to silence the truth the sand patties whisper into the surf.
And yes—in keeping with my opinions on heavy emotions directed at wads of congealed, weathered, odorous oil mixed with sand and seawater—if you are ready to kill over sand patties, please find help. Any kind will do.
To be fair, my own opinion on tar balls has changed. When I look at one now, I remember this trip, the people I met, the fantastic food I ate, and the long car discussions of how Maroon 5 can consistently release best-sellers when every song sound identical (another thing you should never do: tell someone you didn’t want to stop seeing them because it’s hard to start with someone new…like loving tar balls it won’t end well). So every time I select a new patty, or start to extract it, or Helen forces me to smell a sand patty—an event that occurs with disturbing frequency—I’ll think back to some happy, extraordinary memories.
Promise I will post the real entry soon. That will be a bit more serious, and a bit more relevant to a blog dedicated to science. That will cover some real regrets I have, as well as some things I really learned on this trip. Until then, our underwhelming brush with the law will have to do!