Thursday, August 7, 2008

Q&A Tag Up… You’re It

Bronwen of Los Angeles, CA asks: Do you just stay in pajamas all the time??
Sarcasmo answers: Mostly sweats and T-shirts… and shorts when I'm hot, I'm usually steaming in here.
Pillownaut answers: I’m the opposite, I find it too cool. So I wear thick socks, and we all have dressers and closets here with changes of regular (loose) clothing.

Sound Man "G" of Springfield, MO asks: Is "testing" done on a continual basis, meaning will they be doing this for several years? Are there folks who can assist with haircuts, or you have to just let the hair grow out in the 90 day period? Get the nurses or attendants to have gurney races up and down the hall...
Sarcasmo Answers: This 10-year stint started in 2004. Campaign #1 was 60-days. Campaign #2 was 90, and they have one man left. We are the first subjects for Campaign #3, to specifically compare male and female changes/adaptations and recoveries. There have been women in others, but this is the first one that looks closely at X and Y for their differences. And yep, there is a salon on the first floor of the building. My previous roommate went down there to get shaved once, and they asked him, "Hey, why shave when we can give you a nice Mohawk??” So, I’ve never gone down there. And yeah, I wish we had motorized gurneys… engine, steering column. I need a cutting torch and a welder. I could do it.
Pillownaut answers: I hacked 6 inches off my hair in April, then about another 6 before I checked in, to avoid having to maintain long tresses while lying down. Incidentally, a few monitors have actually gotten into trouble for being a little too whimsical with the gurneys. Then there was “The Toe Tag Incident.” A past guest put one on her foot and covered herself with a sheet when she went to her “outdoor time,” making it look as though the monitors were pushing a corpse around. Another apparently rigged a string over the door with a cup of confetti, and would spring it on whomever came into her room; still another erected a toll booth in the hall. See what happens when you have time on your hands? All in good fun… however, due to past trouble-makers, handcuffs and poppers are now banned from the ward. Don't ask.

Bären Zehe of Atlanta, GA asks: Fellow IT person: What are the restrictions on your Internet use? Is there a bandwidth limit? Limits on tools you can use (no Remote Desktop to a server somewhere)? Obviously, port 80 is open for you, but are you restricted to webmail?
Pillownaut answers: Webmail only. We are temporary guests, with the same restrictions as employees – also keep in mind I am not an IT worker HERE… so, I have no admin privs, and we couldn’t (and wouldn’t) access any servers. It’s a bit odd, because I’m used to having more power in my computing environment, but on the MAJOR upside, I also don’t have to fix anything that goes wrong! :)
Sarcasmo answers: No porn, no gambling sites, no P2P. Wireless is a bit screwy sometimes but otherwise no complaints. No bandwidth limit, I watch streaming movies all the time on the net.

SB-Gal of Santa Barbara, CA asks: Very cool - glad you guys were able to take over the headlines for awhile :). Do you have to eat all of the food they give you as part of the experiment?
Pillownaut: Every bite. There are menu items one may not be accustomed to; it’s more vegetables than most folks eat, though I eat more fruit at home. I used to eat 5-6 small meals per day. Here there are 3 large ones, so I often feel I am “over-eating” … but maybe some things feel heavy only because I don’t regularly eat SO much bread, and I do not like milk or ice cream.
Sarcasmo answers: See, she shouldn’t have gotten in. Anyone who doesn’t like ICE CREAM shouldn't be allowed. Ice cream is good for the soul, makes you feel like a kid again!

Anonymous asks: I assume you were in exceptionally good health before the experiment started, because the astronauts who will be experiencing similar conditions aren't just picked off the street.
Sarcasmo answers: We're in pretty awesome shape, fairly, I paid off the right people.
Pillownaut: LOL, I wish it had been that easy! The screening process is indeed rigorous. We'll try to do a whole post on that sometime soon. No one has ever come right out and said “here is why you were chosen.” We also don’t know why anyone else was ruled out, as you only get a briefing on your own medical status, of course… but through conversations, we found certain things in common that probably aren’t coincidence. None of us have had broken bones, we all have low blood pressure, etc.

Mariez Kelemen of Salzberg, Austria asks: Is anyone come in who wishes later they didn’t come in? If you knew everything about it you learned now, would you still do this for them?
Sarcasmo answers: What's funny is people keep asking stuff like that, as if they really want us to say it sucks here, but the exact opposite is true most of the time. It’s some downtime I have needed for a long time… I’m a complete workaholic in the real world.
Pillownaut: We’ve heard of people who have been dismissed for health or behavioral reasons, but so far no cases of anyone quitting once they began. Everyone says they would still accept, even through rough patches. After “adaptation,” the body stops making such a fuss. It’s hard to believe that a week ago, just breathing or sneezing caused pain. Now I am not really even noticing the tilt. It felt steep and foreign at first, but now it seems flat and I feel just like I always felt when standing or sitting up.

I think this is going to be the best phase, because I'm doing that thing we ALL say or think we'll do when we have TIME. "When I have time I'll read such-and-such a book.” “When I have time I'll create a blog." "When I have time I'll buy this TV series on DVD and watch the whoooole thing." That's what I get to do now! In fact, it has occurred to me with no small amount of irony that when I go home in November, I may be pretty bummed out that I have to go grocery shopping, cook, wash dishes, do laundry again... since right now we all have rather a convenient sabbatical from housework!!


ezekiel said...

You don't like ice cream? You must be the first.

I'm really looking forward to your posts during rehabilitation. How will you react to verticalness? 90 days. Wow.

Certainly your body doesn't remain exactly at -6 degrees all the time. Do you regularly deviate a few degrees, say during weigh-in or the shower? What's the most you'd say that you have deviated?

Mars Hill, NC

Sound Man "G" said...

I am actually from the "other" Springfield, right down the street from the Simpsons here in Missouri. LOL I probably should have put the state in, knowing there are about 20 cities named Springfield in the U.S. What with everyone knowing IL as the most common one.

As far as the mischeviousness, sounds about like my kind of gameplan on things... LOL

PillowNaut said...

Edited to MO :) Sorry for the assumption, LOL... other Qs saved up for next Q&A!

Sound Man "G" said...

Have another question you can use at another time as well.. Was wondering what kinds of comforts of home you are allowed to bring with you. Can you bring a favorite blanket or pillow?

Was so glad to see y'all are allowed to wear normal clothing while doing this and don't have to wear those awful hospital gowns.

Christy said...

Does the program supply you with a laptop to use? Do they make you pay for your entertainment or do they provide you with a movie or internet pass? (i.e. internet, phone, movies??)

Also has anyone come to visit you yet?

Rick M. said...

I'm confused by the requirement that your head be tilted back 6 degrees. As you've pointed out, this makes the blood rush to your head. But in the weightlessness of space, it seems to me the blood would spread out evenly throughout the body. With no gravity, there's no reason I can see that it would rush to your head. Wouldn't it make more sense for your body to remain perfectly level, so that the blood is evenly distributed, not rushing to either the head or feet?

ImmigrantUS said...

To: Rick M.

Human organism adjusted to life with gravity, and has evolutionary developed physiological mechanisms (e.g. differential blood pressure regulation in upper and lower parts of the body) to compensate for gravity pull.
So, when human go into space - blood flow to head will increase, as opposing gravity pull is gone.
It'll take time for organism to adjust, as previously set mechanisms will still work the same for awhile (old habits die hard :-) causing headaches, etc.
This experiment is trying approximately emulate this weightlessness environment by tilting beds head down to simulate blood flow pattern in space, and strictly keeping volunteer humans in it consistently for the length of experiment.

Perfectly level body position will allow some increase of blood flow to head, but not nearly enough to simulate blood flow pattern seen in space, as humans well adjusted to it - we practice it every night (7-9 hours), and have evolutionary developed physiological mechanisms to compensate for it.
Hope it explains.

Note: In medicine term "Organism" - means a whole complex of a "body" and all physiological processes going on in it. But in society it is usually substituted in lay terms as "body". Althou term "body" - describes physical component of an organism (muscles, bones and all - studied by anatomy), without consideration of physiological processes.
This experiment specifically test physiological adaptation of human organism!

P.s. Sorry if this is too terminological.

Rick M. said...

Thanks for the explanation. The confusing part to me was understanding why blood flows to the head in the absence of gravity rather than just dispersing evenly throughout the body. I guess what you're saying is that on earth, the body has mechanisms that overcome the effect of gravity by forcing blood to move upward and that in space this effect is exaggerated. That makes sense.