do-not-trust-to-hope-it-has-forsaken-these-lands

The downside of not being able to draw a comic every day is that any series more than 3 or 4 comics feels like it really drags on, and that the time between them is a gaping abyss. I don’t remember feeling this with Super Woo, and that even had Nadir comics in between each installment. The time gap also triggers a terrible case of second-guessing. The jokes I wrote last week seem stupid, and I’ve considered scrapping all the writing I did over the holidays, which is crazy. I need to cut that out. As a result, to my insecure mind, today’s comic was more fun to draw than it is to read. But I’ll let your fresh eyes be the judge of that.

The articles written about the Mars-500 experiment portrayed the crew as living in a perpetual state of boredom. Either unable to sleep, or feeling too lethargic to get up in the morning, the crew was supposedly overtaken by a drowsy haze. They were, of course, well equipped with entertainment for 520-day journey. They watched movies and played video games (In the photos, you can even see a tantalizing RockBand setup). There were also plenty of opportunities for more more scholarly pursuits, which crew member Diego Urbina describes here (while also correcting the timing of the last comic):

We never felt bored—there was always something one could do during the free time. There were certainly some more interesting times that completely pumped you up, like the entry, the Mars landing, the 100-day celebration, and New Year. Everything in between was fairly monotonous, but one would use the personal time really well: Learning languages, reading, watching movies, series, talking. I did a tour of the Earth on a MS Flight Sim cessna—That’s one of the things I enjoyed. Certainly by day 50 we were still quite high on adrenaline from the entry, but that’s fine.

What was the most-talked about subject during the journey? Regular readers should be able to guess this one. That’s right: Food.

The food was the main topic of conversation. We were talking about it all the time, “What food do you like to eat in your country? How could we make this dried food better? How long until the greenhouse gives tomatoes?” and so on. We seemed obsessed with food! I have never talked about food like that, ever.

By the end of the mission some of the food started to finish because it was everyone’s favorite. For example, we loved Snickers, but by the end of the mission we ran out of it because everyone was eating those. Then everyone jumped to some other Mars*-brand chocolate bar, and finished it…soon all the good stuff was over! That was hard.

I’m actually not surprised at all that food was a common conversation topic—especially given the multinational composition of the crew. I’ve found food to be the ultimate unifier in the world. Everybody eats food, and everybody likes good food. If we ever meet other intelligent life in the universe, I guarantee it won’t be long before somebody asks, “So, what do you like to eat?”**  I’ll revisit the food topic another time as there are careful considerations to be made regarding nutrition in space.

In the meantime, I have at least one more of these in me before I decide whether to keep going or to get to some other topics. My inbox has been filling up with recent science news, so I know I’m eager to move on. Cheers!

*That is funny. Maybe they could work out some sort of endorsement deal.
**Barring any strange alien physiology that makes food unnecessary for them. We will probably wage war upon that culture.