Comments from suggestion box
The suggestion box was quite full, as it hadn’t been opened since the User Forum in August of last year. A wide variety of suggestions were received, some more serious than others. Those comments concerning food were passed on to the cooks. Others are detailed below. Responses by TFS management are in parentheses. There was quite a bit more discussion centered around these suggestions, perhaps because the box was opened first. Discussion is noted below the numbered suggestions, according to the topic.
1) Please post information about energy and water use in camp, for those who are interested. (Monthly utilities reports will be made available for posting.)
2) Kudos to Thom Walker for being an exceptional, approachable camp manager, who takes his job seriously and promotes fun and camaraderie. (Thom appreciates this comment.)
3) The internet is always frustrating, and it is a continual struggle to get on-line. Improvements are desperately needed. (Discussion on this topic is described below.)
4) The boardwalks up to the old snowfence are in very bad shape. Would it be possible to repair or replace them? They are hazardous.
5) Please schedule the arctic safety courses sponsored by CPS for the evenings, rather than the working hours, as many people cannot attend. (This comment will be passed on to CPS.)
6) Proactive emails from camp manager regarding reservations and GIS needs were very nice. It would be good to ask about lab space needs, as well.
7) Please run the emergency eyewash and showers so that the water that comes out is not rusty. (The EMTs do this on a regular basis; the comment may date from a time before the EMTs were on site this year.)
8) Thanks for providing chairs for the isotope-free lab.
9) Would it be possible to get floor lamps for the lab tents where work is done at night? Some of them are very dim.
10) Please provide new dispensers for hand sanitizer at the towers. Unscented hand sanitizer would be appreciated. (This will be taken care of).
11) A dimmer switch was requested for the sauna lights. (This is already on order)
12) Shift the TV in the community center so that it is along the long wall, as that would be less awkward.
13) Please move the area for making music away from the tent where people watch movies, so that both can be enjoyed at the same time.
14) Please provide blinds for the community center, so that the lighting can be adjusted.
15) It would be great to have a “Toolik film festival” (PG or PG-13) featuring 5-10 minute videos made by Toolik residents. Almost everyone has a camera!
16) It would be great to have 5 and 8 lb weights for the health club. The existing weights are too heavy for small people. (Brett will purchase these and send them up.)
17) It would be great to have some yoga mats for the health club. (Brett will purchase these.)
18) It would be great to have a screened in porch on one of the decks of the dining hall, to reduce the mosquitoes. Perhaps the screens could be removable for winter.
19) Please adjust the sauna schedule so that it is more gender equitable. Some men feel oppressed by having to sauna very early if they want a single-sex experience, or by having to wait until 10:00 for open hour, which makes it hard to go to bed on-time.
20) An immersion blender for making milkshakes would be awesome.
21) To reduce water use, consider providing body wipes in lieu of one shower per week.
22) Thermokarst mud would be great for wrestling.
23) A pool table and Karaoke machine would be nice.
24) Toolik is not a vacation spot.
25) Food comments included requests that pre-made sandwiches be available for field work, and for items such as Greek yogurt, ginger ale, breakfast burritos, butter in tubs, new popcorn, cinnamon Life cereal, jasmine tea, donuts, and club soda.
There was quite a bit of discussion about the internet, provoked by a comment in the suggestion box. Everyone is having trouble getting IP addresses, because Toolik is up against its maximum number of assigned addresses. Many people have two or three devices that require addresses. It was suggested that you turn off your wireless phone if you are not using it, as that will free up addresses. Mike Abels has discussed with OIT reducing the time that addresses are assigned, as that will also make more addresses available at any given time. It does not appear to be possible to increase the total number of IP addresses available to Toolik at the present time.
There was some discussion about the design for the new dormitory, which is available for comment in the dining hall. Architect Monique Lussier will be available to receive comments. Ashley Asmus commented that having single rooms available is very important. There is no timeline at present for when the dormitory will be constructed.
Boardwalks and safety
The comment in the suggestion box about the boardwalks generated quite a bit of discussion. Several people agreed that the boardwalks to the old Welker/Walker snowfences are hazardous, and are used by people working on plots located beyond the snowfences. Thom Walker wondered whether some additional lumber could be put out there. Gus Shaver commented that there is still a lot of lumber out there from the renovations at the MAT site, which could be used for repair. Some old sections of boardwalk are still in place. Peter Ray commented that the CPS renovations to the main boardwalk from the inlet bridge end in the middle of the swamp, which results in a very awkward transition that needs to be fixed. CPS has a plan to replace approximately 500 feet of boardwalk each year. There was general agreement that common-use boardwalk should be maintained, but less agreement on what constitutes common-use boardwalk.
There was discussion about automobile speed in camp, particularly in light of a comment by Brian Barnes that the road will be changed when the garage is built. Speed and dust raised by vehicles are both concerns in camp. Mike Kendrick suggested that seasonal speed bumps would be a good idea. It was suggested that, in addition to the current stop sign, a traffic mirror be provided so that it is easier for people driving to see who may be around the corner.
Construction on the Dalton Highway.
Construction on the Dalton Highway to straighten out the curves south of TFS will not be finished this year or next year. Toolik researchers will have to wait for a pilot car where the Toolik access road meets the Dalton Highway. It is planned that there will be no more than 30 minute wait for a pilot car, but sometimes it takes longer. Thom Walker advised people who are leaving for Fairbanks to prepare the night before and get out early, prior to the start of the day for the construction workers. Mike Kendrick commented that it would be very helpful if breakfast could be available early, starting at 7:15. Thom will talk to chef Laura Belval, but there are no guarantees. Ashley wondered whether scientists could arrange for a pilot car at a particular time with advance notice. The answer seems to be no. Toolik staff has met with construction personnel, and they are not willing to make that accommodation. Gary Guenther cautioned people to drive slowly, as the construction causes a lot of flat tires when people go too fast. Construction is planned to continue until October 1 of this year.
Elissa Schuett thanked TFS for acquiring the flow tracker, which is very useful. Ashley Asmus requested a common-use camera adapter that would fit to the eyepieces of the various Toolik microscopes, and a common-use digital camera. Ashley, Amanda Koltz, and Mike Kendrick will get together and provide specifications. Natalie Boelman’s group has requested a leaf tissue grinder for TFS.
Seth commented that he hasn’t seen anyone making measurements at the heath exclosures, and he wondered if they are still active. Gus commented that they are part of the LTER core experiments, and are not measured every year, but are ongoing. Dataloggers record meteorological data all the time. This led to some discussion of “tundra trash.” Flagging tape and plastic tops from stake flags are a source of trash that blows across the tundra, and that it would be nice to clean up. Someone commented that the met station at the “last chance” outhouse in the Sagwon bluffs was vandalized, though it is still in use. Signs for on-going research would be nice, though Sagwon is a long way from TFS.
Quality of life Issues
The comment in the suggestion box about sauna hours generated a lot of discussion. Thom and Jeb expressed that they would like to be able to start open hours earlier and go to bed earlier. There was some discussion about exchanging the times for men’s and women’s hours, for instance in alternate weeks. However, it was acknowledged that there is some danger in alternating the hours, because people can easily become confused. Ashley suggested that a sign with the current schedule be posted on the path down to the sauna. Brett commented that there should be a sign in the dining hall, and also by the trail. Jeb suggested standardizing the time by the day of the week, alternating men’s and women’s hours on different days during the week. Gus commented that we have been through this discussion many times before. He feels that the current schedule is about as optimal as it can be, and does not want to try revisions again. Chad commented that he would be willing to have a trial of alternate hours, and see what the reaction is from the community. There was also discussion about the need to start the sauna. There is a sign-up sheet in the dining hall by the scullery. Mike Kendrick thought that an announcement should be made, as people do not seem to be aware of it.
Persons who attended or provided comments afterwards: