2015B Day 30: Labor Rights

Labor rights in Chile come up quite a bit at the Observatory. At Magellan, we usually have three telescope operators between the two telescopes so that they can switch off and thereby not work too more than 11.25 hours continuously. This week, Jorge is stuck with us all night though because Mauricio is on vacation. Luckily it’s summer here, and the nights are short. We have been working about 10 hr this week, from the time we open the dome to the time we close it (well, when I say “we open” I really mean “Jorge opens”). Labor laws also make it hard (impossible?) to hire employees who work at night sometimes and during the day at other times, such as, for example, a person who could do AO operation during AO runs and other technical jobs at other times.

Chilean labor rights don’t extend to University of Arizona employees (i.e., Jared and Katie), alas for them. They get to be those night AO operators here (though perhaps they work at night back in AZ too). Again, it’s not so bad this time of year, and they seem pretty cheerful despite the “Day 30” title of this post. Last June was a different story. To quote Katie, “If you’re doing 80+ hr of real work, you will absolutely burn out in 6.5 weeks. See 2015A.”

Labor relations have been on my mind today because the Chilean airport workers are going on strike tomorrow and Friday, just in time for me to try to get home. Laird Close arrived today and said the airport was a zoo. Lan Chile has cancelled its flights from La Serena to Santiago (and vice versa) tomorrow. Luckily, I asked the helpful staff at Las Campanas to book me a bus ticket. So even though I now have to leave the mountain at 8 AM after finishing observing at 6 AM, I should get to Santiago in time for my flight to Estados Unidos. And I’m looking forward to sleeping in my Salon Cama seat (fully reclining, like business class) for a blissful 6 hr.

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Even more luckily, the air traffic controllers are not striking, so the international flight seems likely to go (though the fact that the American Airlines representative I talked to today claimed there were no disruptions at all just led me to think AA is clueless more than it led me to think the situation is fine).

Meanwhile, today’s been a good day. It was sunny, and this lizard and I both enjoyed that:

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I also saw two guanacos, thanks to Katie who alerted me to their presence down the hill north of Magellan. It turns out they make a really interesting sound calling to each other. Listen carefully to hear one calling to the other (and look carefully to see one running).

This guanaco is also running — running MagAO that is!

And of course, sunny means clear!

The Devil is still the NE winds, which briefly caused me to have to abandon one of my northern targets, but only briefly. Ah, LCO, here between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea.

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Wait, I hear a song coming on. Last night, Jared used “The Devil went down to Georgia,” which brings me back to Ella Fitzgerald, First Lady of Jazz, and one of my favorite artists to listen to while observing, relaxing, stretching after a workout, flying, and probably (we’ll find out tomorrow) taking a 6 hr bus ride.