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I just returned from my second shower here at MDRS. That’s right, we have showers! The Hab’s shower was not functional when we arrived. However, our brilliant engineer Darrel was able to track down the problem and rig a fix, which he firmed up today with a propane torch and some solder. (At this point, he has fixed or improved so many things that we’d be happy to excuse him from all other duties for the rest of the mission!) Starting on January 25th, the second day of our mission, we were able to shower two people per day. I ended up going in the last set, and boy, that shower on the 27th was so, so welcome!

Yet it’s not quite like a shower at home. Because all of our used water goes into the graywater system, for filtering and re-use in toilet flushing, we cannot use regular detergents and soaps. Instead, we have Oasis, a “biocompatible cleaning product”. We use it to wash our hands, wash our dishes, wash our bodies, and wash our hair. It seems to do the trick, but I can’t say that I feel *quite* as clean as I do at home after a shower. I especially notice its effect on my hair; while clean after washing with Oasis, my hair does not feel quite… right. I’m not sure whether it’s the lack of a conditioner following the Oasis application, or some important difference between Oasis and regular shampoo (I seem to recall that shampoo uses milder surfactants than soap does), but my hair comes out as a vast rat’s-nest that I have to carefully comb through—not typical at all for me!

But hey, at least I’m clean!

It comes as no surprise that there is dirt everywhere. We are, after all, smack in the middle of a massive expanse of dirt. The Hab is nowhere near air-tight, and even if it were, so much dirt and mud is tracked in that we’d be plagued with it regardless. All week, the layer of dirt even in our upstairs living quarters has been growing, with grit scratching ever more loudly beneath our sandals and slippers. Dirt has accumulated on our work desks, on our shoes, in our clothes, and probably in our sleeping bags and everywhere else. I think I’ve actually observed that my mood is affected by the dirt. I feel more irritable and stressed when there’s dirt everywhere, especially on me. And I grew up in the desert!

By today, we’d had it, and declared a day of cleaning. Carla and I vacuumed, swept, and mopped the floor, which emerged eventually as its original blue hue! Luis tackled the rather horrifically grungy range top, and it is now covered in aluminum foil as protection against future cooking explorations. Mike swept the main airlock, EVA prep room, and lab area downstairs. Our Hab is wonderfully clean, *and* so am I!

At least for a few hours. Tomorrow we’re planning another exercise session!

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