Friday, February 08, 2008

CTL license? We don't need no stinkin' CTL license!

Big Truck!

That isn't me, but that is one of the trucks that I drove a few weeks ago. We don't have many of the rules in Antarctica that we do in the USA about work, so with as little as one hour of training you too could be driving truck. You don't need a CTL license, but it definite helps if you have the trucker hat. We didn't need to have any prior truck driving, large vehicle experience, or well, anything. Maybe, they wanted you to be able to drive stick, but there were even a couple automatics trucks so I guess you could get around that too.

My co-pilot, Jami, on a slow day.

They needed volunteers to drive truck because we don't do it enough to actually hire someone, but still need it done. We spent three days moving 150 mill vans filled with waste and retro materials two miles down to the ice pier. We drove to one spot, had a forklift load us up, drove to the scales where you only had a foot on each side of the truck, got weighed, drove to the ice pier, and finally had another forklift unload us. Repeat.

Driving truck!

If you look at the console, you can tell the truck is pretty old. Some people suggested some were from the 50s, but they don't get driven much or far so they are still usable. They were so loud that you needed earplugs to not damage your hearing. Sometimes you need to be rough with them. I don't think I used first gear unless I was going down hill and had to. Second to third was a miserable display of force. I had no seatbelt and my co-pilot barely had a seat!! Come play!

Bad driving by me, no seatbelt by her!!

Monday, February 04, 2008

McMurdo Alternative Art Gallery

Invitation to the MAAG.

The same weekend of the rugby match, the McMurdo Alternative Art Gallery (MAAG) was hosted. The theme was Bureaucracy or Bliss. My invitation to the event came on a Maag: The Gathering card which was a spoof of Magic: The Gathering cards. I thought my brother and Jay would appreciate that. Anyway, some people are wildly talented. The number of amazing things that people can do here makes me feel untalented sometimes.

The entrance to the MAAG was a hallway that was overflowing with paperwork. These people have just exited the hall in the back of the picture.

These lips could be controlled by two big poles from behind the exhibit causing it to eat or speak if you also used the microphone back there.

An overreaction to every company's overreacting.

Sock puppets who just couldn't take it anymore.

I think my favorite exhibit were one page stories written by people down here about their travels that included bliss or bureaucracy. Some were simply treats like meeting a stranger and having a great journey with them. Others were nightmare border crossing. One that sticks out because the story was something Lindsey Paige could have written was a lady who was on a tropical island that had giant hairy spiders whose bodies were bigger than an adult's fist. The hotel owners thought nothing of it because they were safe. The renter disagreed.

Step 1, fill out the form.

Step 2, receive punishment

Neat stuff. So simple, but so neat.

I think my other favorite exhibit was supposed to be a look at what Mother Nature thinks of what we are doing here. It was done by William, a guy from the metal shop. He took some of the lava rock that we walk on daily and heated it up until it melted. Then he took those droplets, let them dry, and put them into an exhibit called Tears of Erebus.

The human puppet.

One of the best pieces to be unveiled at the MAAG was a snow chopper (half motorcycle - half snow machine/mobile) created by the guy riding it and Bob, two MEC mechanics. They only used their own time and discarded parts. Amazing. This test ride out to the rugby match was its first drive in the snow because while it was being made they wanted to keep a secret. Based on how distracted the Kiwis were by this machine, they should have brought it out during the rugby match. We might have won.

Snow chopper and some distracted Kiwis.

Sunday, February 03, 2008



Thinking about the Superbowl shenanigans earlier today (sorry, the Patriots didn't get it done, Jen), made me think of a game earlier this year. A game of great magnitude: the annual Kiwi-American Rugby match. Each year we, the Americans, put together a team and practice for a couple months. By game time, we still don't know all the rules. The Kiwis are rumored to usually put together their team the night before the match. To date, the Kiwis have not been beaten or even scored on.


This year was unfortunately no different. However, it was as close of a game as we have had in years with the final score being 12-0 which should be two tries and a kick to our none. The Kiwis only scored in the first quarter. After that, the American team knuckled down and played three quarters of great defense. They didn't give up another point and came inches from scoring their own try. If it wasn't a Kiwi referee, we might have gotten that one too. After the match, I heard about two loose front teeth and a broke rib.

A fly by from the pilot of a C-130 Hercules.

This year, the game was delayed by a week. During that week, a division of the Kiwi military called the New Zealand Defense Force came to town. They were living at the American base, McMurdo, but played for the Kiwi side. They were big and just may have made the difference as to who won the game. No word yet if the game was delayed on purpose to let them get down here. Inquiring minds want to know.

Emily Wampler tries to throw the laughing Kiwi ball carrier to the ground. I think she did it.

I'm not sure if they have been certified yet, but for years the organizer of the American squad, Keith Depew, has been trying to get certified by the Guinness Book of World Records for the Southernmost Rugby game in the world. (Can anyone explain to me why a beer company has a World Records book?) Guinness has a few hoops to jump though, but I think they have finally met their standards. Now, they just need the official certification. Certified or not, I'm pretty confident there aren't any other games South of here.

More ouch.

Without a doubt, most Americans don't understand this game. We just didn't grow up with it. We all came out to watch and cheer, but that doesn't mean we understood. A ton of the people went home thinking that the Americans had scored a try only to learn later that it was overruled. I imagine it is the same experience when people watch American football. I've watched rugby a few times and this was one of the first times I finally understood it and that was only because I was having the Kiwi sideline explain what was going on. Hopefully, some of it will stick this time.

A Kiwi ball carrier runs for this life . . . or maybe to score.