Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Calling me in Antarctica

Sunset last night.

There seems to be a little confusion about time zones and calling me in Antarctica. To call, you must choose one of these three numbers.

1.800.688.8606 x42604 (has voice mail, only available outside the 303/720 area codes)
1.303.790.8606 x42604 (has voice mail)

These three phone numbers ring two different phones in my office. I am scheduled to work from 7:30am-5pm, but I'm not always here. I eat lunch. I work out. I meet. When I actually work on a computer, I go to where it is so it can be difficult to reach me during a busy week. I feel the best time to reach me is Mon-Sat 8am-10am (paperwork time) followed by 2pm-4pm (downtime if there aren't any work orders).

I'm on New Zealand time which is currently 17 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. To me, that means I'm 7 hours behind, but a day head.

Mon-Sat 8am-10am my time translates to:
Sun-Fri 3pm-5pm Pennsylvania/Massachusetts
Sun-Fri 2pm-4pm Wisconsin!
Sun-Fri 1pm-3pm Colorado
Sun-Fri 12pm-2pm California/Oregon

Mon-Sat 2pm-4pm my time translates to:
Sun-Fri 9pm-11pm Pennsylvania/Massachusetts
Sun-Fri 7pm-9pm Colorado
Sun-Fri 6pm-8pm Colorado
Sun-Fri 6pm-8pm California/Oregon

IMPORTANT: On April 6th, New Zealand will leave Day Light Savings time, so then I'll be 16 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time. Subtract an hour from all the above times after that happens.

A swing in the BFC being used after the travelogue.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

For all of you who need a reminder . . .

Is it really lemon rock candy?

I realize that most of the people who read this are heading towards spring, but it never hurts to have a reminder of common safety items (especially for Nancy who felt that yellow rock candy or gobstoppers might be where it is at). Here at Raytheon Polar Services, they constantly remind us that 'Safety is No Accident.' There might still be a snow storm or two left where you are at. If you are in Colorado, you might even be getting a few more good days of powder skiing. I think my last day last year was around Earth Day on a Tuesday at A-Basin. Going riding is always better than going working. I miss it (and by it, I mean calling off work to go riding).

Last night while we played Risk, we enjoyed another spectacular sunset. The sun disappeared behind the horizon at 7:30pm, but was kicking colors up until at least 10pm. Simply amazing. That is never going to get old. South Pole's sun set for the final time a few days ago and, as I understand it, they'll be seeing sunset colors nonstop for at least the next month. It's good to be in Antarctica, if you can just ignore the cold (Latest weather 14F, wind chill 0F).

7:30pm sunset.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Condition 2 again

The makings of a Condition 2.

Last night was second of two wonderful weather nights. The weather has been some of the worst that I have experienced in Antarctic yet and I was giddy about it. Of course, that might have had to do with being near or inside buildings. If I was in the field, I probably wouldn't have been happy. I know that no helicopters left yesterday because of the terrible weather. It looks like it is clearing up today and I already heard a couple helicopters roaring to life.

Snowstorm! (picture compliments of Rachel J.)

I guess I've been outside in a couple condition two storms before, but this one seemed the worst. Maybe it was. Maybe I just lingered long enough to appreciate its ferocity. So many times we talk about the dangers of Antarctic weather coming up quickly, but this is one of the first times I felt it. My normal recreational habits keep me safe from the general cold, but I'm not sure they'd keep me safe in this. It is a good eye opener of where I live.

A lull in the storm. Taken from the 155 facing 209.

Brian, Katie, and I play in the storm. Taken from the exact same spot as the picture above (video compliments of Rachel J.).

I don't feel like these pictures or videos usually do our storms justice. I hope that adding a clear day versus a storm picture will help show the differences. If nothing else, just listen to the wind whip by in the video when we aren't talking. I'm not sure I could have made it home if I didn't know exactly where we were going or had reinforcing landmarks on the way. We just disappear into the blowing snow so quickly. I imagine being in the field during this particular storm wouldn't have been quite as hard as the exercise we did at Happy Camper where we put a white bucket over our head, but it certainly would have been challenging.

Brian cleans up after his snow battle. Don't wear moccasins.

This photo was taken from 209, my new dorm, facing 155, my old dorm.

When I got back to my room, I thought I'd be done with the storm. However, that wasn't quite the case. I'm in a corner room so I think I get a little more wind than others. It woke me up a few times during the night and was probably to be expected. What I didn't expect was a half inch of snow to be on my window sill wall when I got back. I knew my single pane window wasn't great, but I had no idea that the wind could force so much snow through.

My window sill.

The next morning things seemed just as bad. I checked the weather and it was confirmed - still nasty out. I took a quick look at the weather channel and found the following two slides.

Our weather man's clever report.

Evidence of our working conditions?

To the more jaded on station, the second slide is more important. Many people have suggested that management keeps the base at Condition 2 or 3 in the morning so that we have to go to work. They'll only switch the base to Condition 1 after we should be at work or when the conditions are truly terrible. I thought the conditions were truly terrible, but apparently they can be worse because we were only in Condition 3 or 2 all morning or management did really want us to get to work.

Either way, things momentarily started to clear up at noon. This is a picture of Hut Point taken from near the power plant. I thought things were going to completely clear up by night because of those blue skies, but apparently that was only the eye of the storm. With nightfall came the horrendous winds again. Today though, things are actually clearing up.

Hut Point during a lull in the storm.