Sunday, September 19, 2010

How to make your GPS stop smelling like armpit

First a little background. My very first "real" job was a summer seasonal job as a cartographic aide at Chaco Canyon. I do not have the energy or time to explain Chaco here, but if you really must know more go here or here. The short story is that this place is a sort of Mecca for archaeologists (and a lot of other sometimes slightly crazy new age people). I ended up working at Chaco for a total of three summers and I loved it there. It is a truly beautiful amazing place, full of wonderful people. I could talk forever about the archaeology (and I might in some later post) but here I am going talk about what I actually did in the canyon.

Although my Masters degree is in archaeology and I got an undergraduate degree in anthropology (which I working on at the time). I double majored in geography and in Chaco Canyon, the archaeological mecca, I worked for the natural resources division as a cartographer. So, in the shadows of these great sites, I made maps and collected GPS data (like this picture only I had a park service uniform on, which on me looked sexy).

Now this is a skill that has come in extremely useful as an archaeologist, so at work on Friday I decided to finally update the software on our GPS units. Just like the park service (and pretty much every other geographically inclined professional), we use Trimble units, which are really tough, pretty accurate little yellow GPS units.

I opened up the cases the units are stored in and I quickly remembered the last project we used the units at (a survey in 100 degree plus heat in Tennessee). I also remembered why archaeology is NOT a glamourous profession. The unit smelled like fermented armpit sweat. Worse than Derek's hockey bag, worse than the time I left a slice of pizza in the work truck for a week. I almost lost my breakfast. It was not subtle either, you did not have to get up close to smell it.

Being the charming person I am, I made everyone in the office smell the Trimble. Then we puzzled about how to make the smell go away. One coworker voted for not even trying because, "it will just get stinky again." I tried cleaning off the surface with disinfectant. But, clearly the mold had crept into the crevices. Then another suggested using those little anti-moisture packets that come with your shoes (or your sushi seaweed wraps, I am such a yuppie). Can you tell I work with all men from these comments?

In the end, we ended up putting the unit in a bag with some rice (due to a lack of those little moisture absorbing packets). It seemed to work. So there you go. That is how to make your very expensive little computer stop stinking. Oh, I love my job.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe you should have just put it into the washing machine, just like you tell me to do with my pads.

    By the way, the proper term for Chaco is "the Vortex".