Featured in the hit Gimlet Media podcast, ‘The Habitat,’ Dr. Tristan Bassingthwaighte, architectural designer, space researcher, and resident of NASA’s yearlong Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission, sits down with his father, ALPS Risk Manager Mark Bassingthwaighte, to discuss the stress factors associated with isolated, confined, and extreme environments and how to create support systems and wellness systems strong enough to survive a year in space.

Transcript:

 

MARK BASSINGTHWAIGHTE:

Good afternoon podcast world. This is Mark Bassingthwaighte. I’m the risk manager with ALPS. Welcome to the latest episode of ALPS in Brief, the podcast that comes to you from the historic Florence building in beautiful downtown Missoula, Montana. I’ve got a treat for you today and honestly it is very much an honor and a privilege to introduce our guest today, because there’s a family relationship here. This is our oldest son, Tristan Bassingthwaighte, and Tristan has an interesting story to share. We’re going to talk about and just have a little fun. At the end, trust me, there is a message here that that relates to the practice of law. But before we jump into our conversation and share why we’re interviewing Tristan, Tristan, could you just take a little time and share whatever you’d like to share about yourself for our listeners?

TRISTAN BASSINGTHWAIGHTE:

Yeah. I am originally from Montana as well. I’ve spent the last 10 years or so living in Hawaii and around the world, have three architectural degrees with a focus in space architecture and extreme environmental design, design t-shirts on the side just for fun, and as part of my research for the doctoral studies, got to live in a simulated Mars base for a year for NASA.

MARK:

Very cool and that’s what we’re going to talk about and when Tristan talks about his experiences, I have caught up with him and and Singapore where he was doing an internship, I caught up with him and Bangkok, which what were you doing?

TRISTAN:

A spring study abroad.

MARK:

A study abroad spring study abroad. That’s right. He’s been in Copenhagen, did a year in Shanghai. But we’re here to talk about this Mars simulation. Tristan, can you give us a little background. Who runs this simulation? What are we talking about in terms of the name of the project and a little background?

TRISTAN:

The simulation itself is called HI-SEAS. It’s for the a Hawaiian Space Exploration Analog and Simulation. It’s run by UH with a partnership of 10 to 15 other universities around the world. NASA actually gave the program about $17 million to do a series of simulations studying social and psychological aspects of long duration isolation, confinement, essentially trying to find a way to pick a crew for an actual Mars mission that will not self-destruct, remain happy, sort of soft topics, people research.

MARK:

Yes, yes. As a dad, I remember finally over the years and I can recall when you were even a wee young when running around the house, you would say things like, “Dad, I’m going to be an astronaut someday,” and “Dad, I’m going to go to Mars.” I guess technically with all of the things going on with SpaceX, who knows what’s going to happen here. But in your own way, you’ve already done it and it’s just an interesting path. Can you tell us a little bit more about how did she end up here? What got you into the program? How did this all play?

TRISTAN:

Honestly, it was a giant almost mistake. I was doing research while living in Shanghai for my masters on extreme environmental design and I came across the blog of a Jocelyn Dunn who was the science officer for HI-SEAS 3. While you can’t do any direct communication, because at the time she was in her situation, you can leave comments on blog posts and they can respond. I asked her a bunch of questions since it was related to my research. She got back with her actual mission email. I got a bunch of fun stuff, good data, and she suggested that I was interested enough, maybe I should give a the next mission a shot.

TRISTAN:

I said, “What mission?” I had no idea that was going to be a another one. It turned out that it was out of my home university back in Hawaii, so I just kind of applied on a lark. Did all the sociology tests online, did the Skype interviews, talked to the psychologists, and got it all narrowed down. Then was quite surprised when they invited me to the wilderness survival in Wyoming. Went out there, we did a week in the bush, and they picked the final six and I made the cut. I found out later a lot of the people who were also selected for crew specifically told them they wouldn’t go without me. I went from not knowing that HI-SEAS existed to be locked in the dome at about three and a half months.

MARK:

That’s crazy. Yeah. For those of you listening, this turned out to be, and I think still holds true to this day, the longest simulated mission run. Am I correct?

TRISTAN:

It’s the longest NASA Mars simulation mission run. They’ve got one or two longer out of Russia in China, but they were extended isolation experiments, not so much mission simulations.

MARK:

Yes. This project again, listeners, we went 366 days.

TRISTAN:

Yeah, we got it on a leap year.

MARK:

Yeah. Really. I want to underscore one point. You shared a comment here about the delay talking to the person that initially got you interested in this. As a parent, when Tristan was on Mars, quote unquote, there is a delay. You cannot have real-time Skype or real-time email or anything. You can send an email and it takes 40 minutes because that would be the amount of time a signal would normally take to go to Mars.

TRISTAN:

Yeah, round trip.

MARK:

Everything about simulation, they really did everything they could to to make it feel very, very real. It’s just an interesting process. What was your role?

TRISTAN:

I came in as the crew architect, essentially, so more of a research role than anything because the Hab was designed, but while in there I was conducting research on how people were reacting to the environment, how we might be able to change it for another series of experiments. I also managed all of the EVAs, paperwork, and was one of the de facto head chefs.

MARK:

Oh, yes. Which I gotta say can as a Dad, growing up Tristan wasn’t known in the house or within the family as a, as a culinary wizard. He has a younger sister who actually went to the Culinary Institute of America in New York and is an extremely talented person in the kitchen. But it’s been nice that Tristan has since really developed some skills, so I’m proud of that as well.

TRISTAN:

Unfortunately, mostly with dehydrated foods.

MARK:

Well that’s true. Actually, you should share a little bit about that. What was it like in terms of can you give us just a quick overview of what day to day life is like in this dome? I mean, in the amount of space? Can you take a shower? Do you have personal space? Can you just give us a sense briefly of the environment?

TRISTAN:

Yeah. The downstairs, the entire area might be 1000 to 1100 square feet, so a very small home with another maybe 400 square feet up top. Each crew member essentially got their very own closet to sleep in. It’s about the size of the bed and that’s it. You can have a shower, but you get two minutes of shower water per person per week, make it quick.

MARK:

Yeah. Can you explain why there’s only two minutes worth of water?

TRISTAN:

Yeah, you were just not allowed to use it. essentially There’s only so much water on the planet you would be able to use. It would have to go through $1 million water recycling machine. It’s just part of the keeping supplies as efficient as possible.

MARK:

Yeah. That’s playing out out. Was their recycling going on? Yes.

TRISTAN:

Oh, yeah.

MARK:

Certainly there were water deliveries, but it is very much limited. There were some interesting stories where systems didn’t necessarily always work. So food?

TRISTAN:

Yeah, food. We have a shipping container full of high quality survival rations. The stuff you’d see online where it’s like an old coffee can with say chunk salmon, but it’s like $85 for that can because once you put hot water in, it’s pretty freaking good. Like, the whole time I was in school, Grad school, everything, like call it that nine year period, in the dome with the dehydrated survival food was the best I ate. By a long shot. I made double layer chocolate cakes, mole sauce, enchiladas. I invented the pizza cupcake.

MARK:

Yeah. Pizza cupcake. Oh, man. Okay. Now you’re talking. Of my kind of grub. It’d be fun. How did the sort of day to day tasks as opposed to the research? I guess I’m still trying to get a sense of what it was like to be in the dome socially, because that’s really what this whole experiment was about. Was there a lot of camaraderie, a lot of stress, a lot of just, and what did you guys do as a group? Because there’s just the six of you for 366 days. No real time. You have no connect. You have no Internet access in terms of being able to browse and say is Earth’s still with us?

TRISTAN:

No phones.

MARK:

Yeah, no phones. How did that play?

TRISTAN:

You do a lot of stuff together because you have to. We had maybe 15 official experiments and then maybe 10 of our own that we’re just doing for our own personal research. A lot of those were extra vehicular activities where you would be doing well-coordinated group, trying to do stuff in caves or out with cones, just traffic cones we had taken out, and navigating the lava inside. Inside, there’s a team building exercise where your trying to maximize your personal score and the team’s score, and it’s sort of testing how an individual will favor themselves versus the group with various scenarios. It’s all pretty subtle.

TRISTAN:

Outside of that, there’s definitely, I wouldn’t call it a schism so much, but there’s always the person, say, at work where you get along with them the best. They get your humor, whatever else, and they’ll be your go to lunch person for example. There was definitely that in the dome as well.

MARK:

Just on a smaller scale?

TRISTAN:

Yeah, on a smaller scale. Yeah, exactly. You know, you’re talking about the social aspects of life there. The first thing you have to do is remove all of the social interactions you might have a family because they’re not there anymore. You don’t have the ability to be an uncle, or a brother, or an aunt, or anything of that sort. You don’t have lovers or dating relationships. It’s just you have your coworkers, so your society has become massively simplified and now you’re trying to fill the social gaps that have been created with the people that you’re with.

MARK:

Yeah. I want to come back to that, but we’re sitting here talking and I want to explore the EVAs a little bit as well. But you know, my apologies listeners, I do think I’ve made an assumption. We haven’t let people know where you are. Where is the dome and let’s just describe that a little bit, because that plays into the importance of what happened, and where all this is, and why this study took place where it did. Can you fill us in? Where is this?

TRISTAN:

Yeah, it’s a geodesic dome, so just a half sphere, like a half a buckyball, covered in tarp and it is up on a quarry that’s about 80 to 100 foot elevation from sea level, halfway up Mount Loa on the big island of Hawaii. Just barren old lava flows as far as you can see. Some of them are the really smooth a lava flow that looks like frozen syrup and you can run around and on it, others look like peanut brittle from hell. Incredibly difficult to get across. I went through like four pairs of hiking boots.

MARK:

Yeah. I recall I had to help buy a pair. Because they do these resupply missions and so if we learned that that one of the astronauts and most of us are taking care of our own family members, if you will, although you can send things for anybody if you really wanted to. But it takes some time, so we would buy a pair of boots, and it gets sent, and then when the resupply mission approaches Mars and drop some stuff off, so that’s how they got through some of this.

MARK:

I can assure you, I was out with my wife when they returned to Earth. We were at the Hab when they came back and got to explore this area. When Tristan shares that this is some rugged remote crazy places, I’m telling you, it is. We’ve talked about caves. These are lava tubes they are exploring.

MARK:

I assume why, I don’t assume because I know, but again to share with our listeners here. You talk about being restricted to the dome and then we had these EVAs. This is not put on a tee shirt and a pair of shoes and go explore. Can you describe this a little bit?

TRISTAN:

Yeah. If you want to get outside and it’s not for a normal mission thing, because I mean we’ve got all of our regular EVAs. Let’s say I just want to go for a walk, essentially. I would need to create a sort of EVA plan, so like a map and a list of activities where I’d like to go, what I’m doing, and a time for it. I have to submit that to mission support and they will approve or deny it. They usually approve it.

MARK:

There really is, again, there is their mission support. These are people on the ground. There’s these delays. It’s just like dealing with mission control if you’re on the moon, except much further out.

TRISTAN:

Much farther.

MARK:

So there are all these time delays.

TRISTAN:

Yeah. If I’d like to go outside, I won’t even get the basic yes or no for maybe 25, 30 minutes if they’re watching their email in that moment. It will normally take several hours.

MARK:

So it’s approved.

TRISTAN:

Yeah. Yeah. Let’s say it’s approved. Then the next day, because it’s definitely not going to happen the same day, I need to get at least four people together, including myself, so that I’ve got a buddy to go out with me, I need a Hab comm person to man the radio and monitor where we’re at, and then a scribe who will work with Hab comm to write down what we’re doing, when we did it, important bits of the conversation to send all this data back since, since it’s part of the experiments and if you are actually on Mars, you would of course need to do this as well. Then you need to put on a simulated space suit or the Hazmat suits, wrap your shoes and duct tape and other protection, because it is a very rough.

MARK:

It is like glass.

TRISTAN:

You need to set yourself up with a camel bag, a headset that goes around your neck or your ears and hooks into your walkie talkie, and get your fans all set up to keep you cool. That takes about an hour to 90 minutes. Then you’ve got to go into our little airlock, which is between the habitat and our storage container, which is where all our old supplies are and just count down from five minutes, wait for the pressure to simulate getting pumped out.

MARK:

Right. Decompression. Right. Right.

TRISTAN:

Then you can go inside. Then you of course have to follow your mission plan, and take pictures, and do all the rest, so it’s still work. If you want to go for a walk, it will take you 24 hours and a lot of camaraderie.

MARK:

Yeah. What I’m hearing, if you even just have, you know some times, I think just day to day regular work, every once in a while something stressful happens, or again you just need five minutes, or you need to see to go out and calm down, or relax, or just take a break and things. This is a day’s work.

TRISTAN:

Yeah.

MARK:

Okay? How did that impact you and your colleague?

TRISTAN:

You have got to do other things. Like say exercise, we probably did an average of two to five hours a day just to resist cabin fever more than anything. Get out the stresses. You can shout into a pillow. You can talk calmly with a person driving you crazy, because if you get into an actual argument going to be awkward for quite awhile. It’s hard to repair a relationship when you can’t escape each other and calm down. While you could, say, go to your room, you can still hear everybody in the habitat or you could go hang out in the shipping container, but then you’re just standing next to a bunch of crates of food in the dark. There’s not really like, “I’m going to go to the cafe and relax for a bit.” You can put it on the VR headset and look at a beach, but you’ve got to set up the computer. It’s not easy.

MARK:

Let me share a story. I can share. Now, Tristan is certainly someone who’s in great shape. Prior to his time in the dome, I never knew him to be much of a runner. I mean, he certainly would work out and do things, but this guy was not what I would call a hardcore runner in any way, shape, or form. You ran a complete marathon in the stone on a treadmill. This was not the world’s most sophisticated, high tech, brand new kind of piece of equipment.

TRISTAN:

Soviet Russia, for sure.

MARK:

I just share that because, again, I think it’s important to understand what we’re really talking about here. I mean, to work out on this crazy treadmill with, am I remembering correctly, just one window, which is a small little window to look outside?

TRISTAN:

Yeah. The size of a medium pizza give or take.

MARK:

Yeah. Okay. The size of medium pizza. You can run on the treadmill and look out that window. I just think, to me, that struck a chord with me in the sense of, wow just to try to make things work, this is how far you go, and you run a marathon. You know, there was a lot of joy, and pride, and probably working to this. I mean, I think it became something of a goal for everybody to have these kinds of accomplishments. Before I get to some final questions, I want to give you a moment or two. Are there any just sort of interesting stories, anything you’d like to share? Something kind of fun or unique about the whole experience?

TRISTAN:

Yeah, I think some of the most interesting parts of it, I mean, were of course like what you found you could get through or how you might react to stress. I have very little doubt that given the right crew I could definitely do it for real. I mean, you’re going to suffer a lot but I mean it can be worth it. Marathons are never comfortable but they’re always worth it at the end. But I was quite astounded by the geography out there that you don’t see typically.

TRISTAN:

If you’re just standing at the dome and you were looking around, it looks like a bunch of lava flows and rocks. It’s barren country.

MARK:

It is very barren. That’s right.

TRISTAN:

In my time there I discovered completely on my own, or with Carmel or Cyprian, just out looking.

MARK:

Fellow astronauts.

TRISTAN:

Perhaps 50 lava tubes, some of them with caves inside bigger than a house. Skylights with beams coming down, two stories, and a little patch of plants growing out. Weird undulating, just smooth caverns moving through the countryside. One of them, we hiked underground for maybe a kilometer and then popped out the other side. We got to map these things and just see the most ridiculous geography you can imagine under there with stalactites of frozen lava, and crystals, and all these things. Surreal.

MARK:

Yeah. That actually in some ways, would it be correct to say that these experiences of really exploring in so many ways, it really is just a foreign landscape, you know? Very few people live in this kind of landscape. There’s obviously people in Hawaii that are quite familiar with it. Would that become something of a sanctuary just to go out, and see, and explore some terrain that’s just very, very new and very, very different.

TRISTAN:

Oh, yeah. I mean, we actually ended up doing a great deal of lava tube exploration mapping sort of additionally that we weren’t required to do right, but we just enjoyed being underground so much. Once you get in there, you’re out of the sun, your suit cools down. The geography’s amazing. Cyprian and I actually repelled down a skylight and found a little cave and crawl to the back, and there was a sort of a hole in there about the size of a lounge chair or whatever. With our flashlights and everything else, we could not find the bottom sides or top. It was a black hole and do an endless abyss. We both said, “Let’s not come back here.”

MARK:

Yeah. Oops. Wrong footing. Yeah.

TRISTAN:

Definitely. It’d be cool to go back with like real climbing gear and a team and see what’s up because-

MARK:

Or maybe fly some little-

TRISTAN:

Yeah. Put a drone down there.

MARK:

A drone down, yeah.

TRISTAN:

But I feel like if I had fallen into that I’d still be falling. Yeah, I don’t know what it was.

MARK:

Wow. That’s very cool. I’d be curious, would you do it again?

TRISTAN:

I would absolutely do an experiment of that nature again. At the time of my life it was perfect for finishing dissertation.

MARK:

It just worked, right.

TRISTAN:

Yeah. Right now, working freelance, paying off student loans, it wouldn’t be a quite so in keeping with my direction, but if I got hired as a space architect for is SpaceX for example and they needed the crew to do a six month to practice this stuff, yeah, of course.

MARK:

I see where you’re going, but let me take that even further. Okay. You’ve had this simulated experience and let’s SpaceX or one of these other companies really does get it together. The equipment’s there and they’re going to send a crew up. I don’t know if it’s 10, it’s 20, I don’t know what these early crews will look like. I think you would agree with me that these early flights, the first manned flights, even if they have stuff already on Mars in terms of robotics and a little fuel or water already there waiting and that kind of thing. I think it’s pretty much a given that this would be a one way trip. Would you disagree with that?

TRISTAN:

Yeah. It’s actually probably safer to do it and than it would be to a sale to America way back in like the 1600s.

MARK:

Oh, that’s an interesting. Okay.

TRISTAN:

Yeah. Like, you’re going to go and the ship design will either have it so that when you land there’s already a robotic craft that has been waiting for you or you will stay a full year and make some more fuel and then come back, so it’ll either be like a three year round trip or like a five year round trip. But as long as you don’t have a crazy equipment malfunction or a solar flare that kills everything on the way out.

MARK:

Yeah. See, that’s the radiation piece of this and the low G environment for extended period of time, I still think there’s a lot of medical things we don’t know.

TRISTAN:

Oh, there definitely is. Yeah.

MARK:

That’s getting on a tangent here for a moment. But I guess what I’d say, so you’ve had this simulated experience and Elon calls up and says, “Hey. I saw the podcast.” There’s a podcast it, it’s called The Habitat if you want some fun. Six episodes. I encourage you to take a look. That’s a lot of fun too.

MARK:

It’s just, “Tristan, we’ve heard about you we, we’d like to get an architect up there and just have some experience to help with future design. We want to see what it’s like to experience the transportation space as well as a livable space out there, so you’re the guy.” Would you go?

TRISTAN:

Yeah, yeah. I would not hesitate at all. That’d be the life’s dream, essentially.

MARK:

I take that at face fat cause to be honest, if they offered and said your dad has a slot too, if he wants to go. It’s like, “Honey, I’m going. Would you like to come?”

TRISTAN:

Yeah.

MARK:

Because you and I are just those kinds of folks. I’ve a great unknown and the call to go and see and experience that. I get that. Thinking about that, however, in light of the simulation you did go through, are there learnings or takeaways that you have? I know NASA and these university had been processing data and and I don’t think as of yet there’s been any formal reports released. There’s just so much data here to process. Where do you come out with this experience in terms of will the crew using the inline space like example, make it in terms of the social dynamics? What are the challenges? What do you take away from the experience?

TRISTAN:

You are going to have a two major obstacles to get over and the main one is the fact that you’re in this small space with people, so it’s going to be who are you taking with you? If you’re going to actually go on the real mission, you would go through a great deal more selection than I went through. More tests. You would probably do three months completely isolated on a mountain with your crew to try and find out where friction might exist, and there would be shakeups and changes for probably five years leading up to the mission. The crew who and end up sending is probably going to be rock solid.

MARK:

The best of the best that just, yeah. Yeah.

TRISTAN:

They can read each other’s minds and they all admire and respect each other. They know when to shut up. They know when to speak right. It’ll be a flawless crew. After that, you have to realize that if you put any person in a barren and white room for long enough, they’ll go insane and start talking to themselves. You need environmental stimulation, you need social stimulation. If you can build a small craft to get there or a large base once you’re there using robotics or whatever else that’s able to, as much as possible, simulate the social and environmental complexity of your life on Earth, you will be happier. That’s it. If you can just not sell your soul for mission success, and remember who you are, and what makes you able to last. This isn’t a marathon. This is running around the world over a year. If you don’t stop and take care of yourself, you’re going to break.

MARK:

Yeah. That’s kind of where I want to go here in a little bit and wrap all this up. I’ve had the great pleasure and opportunity to speak with some of the people that designed the mission and some of the researchers. Tristan hasn’t shared this yet, but I can share what became a very important, I think, not only for Tristan, but truly for the entire crew, one of Tristan’s contributions was just to bring a sense of humor. Any comments on how humor played into … Would you agree that that that was an important component to kind of keep yourself and everybody?

TRISTAN:

Yeah, absolutely. Ultimately at the end of the day, stuff’s going to happen with people who are being in transient, or an environment that wants to kill you, or a shift that’s not working quite as well, or all of the pancake batter runs out and now we’ve got to eat healthier stuff for two months until the resupply comes. You can’t control any of those things, but you can control how you react to them.

MARK:

Exactly.

TRISTAN:

If you have to choose between levity or getting really down about it, one of those is going to lead to a better income. If you watched The Martian, Mark Watney’s stuck up there for a long time so he starts making light of himself, and talking to potatoes, and asking goofy questions. That will save you, you know?

MARK:

Yeah. What I liked about it, because we had some conversation via email and there’s some other ways that we were communicating that we can’t get into right now, but in turns to just that there were different technologies being tested throughout this simulation. But one of the things that I started to see just as somebody monitoring and watching a little bit, you guys quickly had to get to the point of where we can’t control this and life’s too fricking short, and so instead of getting upset, you had to try to find other outlets to include. You know, if it takes a day to get outside to walk you do that, or you has some fun, practical jokes a little bit that are harmless, and those kinds of things.

MARK:

Let me, as we start to wrap this up and I want to sort of tie it back to some earlier comments you made, would it be fair to say to that an important takeaway would be really beginning to understand the importance of support systems? I recall hearing from all of you in different ways that it was surprising who stayed the course throughout the entire 365 days of trying to remain in contact and who said they would at the beginning and then just drop the Earth, or off the map, or radar, whatever you want to talk about here. Could you share just a comment or two on the value of support systems?

TRISTAN:

Yeah. I mean, there’s sort of a especially an American cultural thing where, for men especially, we’re on an island and Russ supposed to like need or desire anything for anybody. Those are typically the types that end up in the woods by themselves in a cavity.

MARK:

It’s the classic right stuff. When you think about the early astronauts, you know?

TRISTAN:

Yeah. Yeah. That’s the thing. If you think of not Neal, called Buzz Aldrin. Like he’s got a hell of an attitude, he absolutely knows his stuff, extremely cock shore and independent type of person.

MARK:

He’s Frank Borman too, same kind of guy.

TRISTAN:

Yeah. Same kind of guy. When it comes to we need to put you in this tin can full of dynamite and throw you to the moon, can you handle this, those are the types that are going to be able to do it right. Admire the hell out them. That’s amazing.

MARK:

Yeah, it is. Absolutely.

TRISTAN:

You do not want to go on a nine month camping trip with that guy because he’s going to make the best fire, and he’s gonna cook all the best food, and his bow line is going to be better than everybody’s, and eventually that sort of confidence, whether it’s a deserved or not, becomes incredibly abrasive. When you start getting into a mission length for anything from living at sea to going to Mars, you need people who are emotionally empathetic, who can listen as much as they can take care of you. Maybe they are hot shit, can do whatever, but they don’t need to toot their own horn. They’re self confident about it and don’t need praise. They will see problems before they’re developing and take care of it when it’s just a gentle issue versus requiring a massive fix.

MARK:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well in kind of closing from my own perspective, I’d like to share. I was earthbound dad. My wife and I, we took the time to resupply and we took some time to interact with the astronauts in a simulated environment that was being studied and tested. There were all kinds of things we did. It became very apparent to me that support systems, both internal to the environment that the simulated astronauts, simulated Martian astronauts were experiencing became very, very important, but so did support systems on the ground. Then there was this other component, which we’ve kind of been talking about just a little bit from the importance of even if it takes 24 hours to get approval, but you need your time to go out and experienced something, to get away, to have a break. You talk about learning to cook, and eating some healthy food, and investing in exercise.

MARK:

My takeaway is just, I walked away from that saying, “Boy, here we are taking people and putting them in an extreme environment, in an extreme stressful situation, and seeing what happens.” Thankfully we can do it here on the ground because if this thing goes ballistic in space and somebody just decides I’ve had enough and opens the door in space, everybody’s dead. On a Martian volcano, or I’m sorry on a Hawaiian volcano, that’s not the true outcome.

MARK:

I think as I look at practices, legal practices, and the life that’s so many attorneys lead, I just think there are a lot of takeaways from that experience that are relevant to all of us. I encourage you, if you’re listening and find yourself in a stressful situation at work to look to your support systems, to try to emphasize, if we already aren’t, behaviors that lead to wellness and behaviors that work for you. I’m not trying to suggest you go out and learn to run, and get a treadmill, and do a marathon treadmill. We can ride bike, go fishing, you can learn to cook, whatever floats your boat.

MARK:

But I do think my observation from everything these six folks went through was just to say wellness and support systems are far more important than I ever really honestly realized. That has impacted me ever since. I’m very, very proud of all the folks that went through this and was able to be there when they returned to Earth. It’s something I will never forget and I just lived it vicariously through my son, you know?

MARK:

Tristan, before we close out, is there any final comments you’d like to share? Anything else? I do really appreciate your taking a little time here with that.

TRISTAN:

Yeah. No. I mean, I worked in a firm for nearly two years before going freelance with design and architecture and know what it’s like to be in a very stressful environment where your boss doesn’t super appreciates you, and you’re working 75, 80 hours a week, but being paid for 40 and everybody kind of does it because, you know, we’re professionals and it’s a pretty unsupportive, toxic culture. I would say that a quote I enjoyed, and it applies, call it the riches of your self-life or your intrinsic value, that sort of thing, is try not to be the richest guy in the graveyard. You don’t need to be the most successful guy at work. You don’t need to be the CEO. You don’t need to have everybody like you. If you just get by, take care of yourself, take care of the people that matter to you, and have a good life, you won already. You don’t need to be in a Mr. Work guy and everybody’s go-to person, especially when they’re not taking care of you either.

MARK:

Right. Right. The way I’ve said that over the years, it really isn’t. Whoever has the most toys doesn’t win. At the end, it’s not about toys. It’s about the experience. Well Tristan, I really, really appreciate your willingness to take the time and sit down and have a chat with dad, but to also allow all these other folks that are listening to be part of our conversation, so thank you very much.

MARK:

To all of you listening out there, I hope you enjoyed today’s podcast and found something of interest or value to it. Please, as always, if any you have any topics of interest or other folks that you’d like to see if we can interview at some point, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My email address is mbass@ALPSnet.com. Thanks folks. It’s been a pleasure. Bye bye.

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