Friday, April 25, 2008

A little taste of home, a little taste of wine.

Jude as Napoleon (Bonaparte or Dynamite?).

Most people down here work on the town schedule which is 7:30am-5:30pm, Monday-Saturday. We get a one hour lunch, 2 fifteen minute breaks, and a thirty minute stretch break with every department making their own small deviations. From the summer, my shop allows me to roll all my breaks into one big lunch time break which I needed to get my runs in for the marathon. With such a long work week, our one day off per week is precious. Sometimes, we have open mic nights, live music, parties, but last weekend we had a rare event, a wine tasting in our library.

Liz and Wade discussing the finer points of the wine she is serving?

Talie and James.

We had five wines of which I know nothing about, servers, ambiance, people, actual glassware, and yummy snacks as well. As with all events over the winter, they have to be organized by individuals from the community because we no longer have a recreational staff. Lisa organized this event by volunteering her own time and money for the wine. She also recruited a few fabulous volunteers to serve, set-up, break down, and play music.

B-Nelson and Jen played music most of the night.

Liz serving wine.

I believe $8 got you a glass of each of the five wines as well as many munchies as you could consume. You were given a glass and a paper for the servers to mark that you had already sampled their wine. Chocolate covered raised, chocolate covered nuts, breads, cheeses, olives, regular chocolates, and who knows what else were at your palette's disposal.

Our station manager, Don, also worked as a server.

Bodie serving up his wine with a smile.

One of the nicest things about this event was that every one cleaned up for a chance. More often than not, we see everyone dressed up in overalls, carhart's, and some other dirty type of clothes. The only way you'll see someone out of those clothes is if they are at the gym or done for the day.

Genevieve serving up wine to Will

A little carnage

This past weekend, I don't know of any major events that went on. I heard there were a couple small events, but nothing that the entire station was invited to. That was just fine with me. I had an exhausting week and needed to lay low. I played cribbage with friends and then got to bed early which let me get up early and hit reload my Internet web browser every ten minutes to see updates on En Sabah Nur, the University of Pittsburgh men's ultimate team. They were at the regional tournament this weekend. If they placed top two, they'd advance to nationals again!

They were the favored team to win this weekend. Unfortunately, they lost in the semifinals, but worked their way up through the backdoor bracket to get the 2nd spot anyway. They'll be heading out to Boulder, CO on May 20th to compete with sixteen other teams for the national title ( ). I'm really bummed I won't be out there for it and seeing them play this year was one of the big reasons I considered not wintering over.

B-Nelson playing every song he knows.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

One last sunrise and one last sunset

Our last sunrise.

Through a complete fluke, I got the chance to head out to Pegasus to catch the final sunrise and sunset. Someone had pulled one of my computers out of the smurf shack that they need for another month. They were going to put it back by themselves in the morning, but I assured them that I didn't mind the extra trip. I would just have to take it after lunch when the last sun happened to be rising and falling instead of the morning. Yeah for luck!

The sun peaking lighting up the sky behind Ross , Tent, and Inaccessible Islands.


As far as our naked eye could tell, the highest the sun got was when it was behind Inaccessible and Tent Islands around 1pm. After that, it just seemed to move across the horizon for a little while before slipping away at 1:12pm.


Goodbye, sun. It's been fun!

When I saw the sun go down, I think this was the first time where I mentally gulped. It was really sinking in that it is going to be dark, really dark. We'll have ambient light that carries really well across the ice for the next couple weeks, but by the end of May it should be dark. In early August, we should return to that ambient light and then we should get a sunrise on August 19th at 12:09pm. When I type that, it seems really far away. May, June, July, August. Four months. 120 days. It might be time to get out the penguin timer, but recalibrate to be a sunrise timer. You never know what you have until you lose it, right? Whoever thought I'd lose the sun!

Light to the Northwest.

That night, the light was still sitting on the horizon. I'm not sure if I've been here too long or just never noticed this back home, but it looks very well lit to the North. It looks like they have plenty of light. It makes me think of a scene from a movie where the dark/light side of the moon is rotating and there is a clear transition. I'm struggling to put words to it and I'm not sure the picture will do it justice.

Me! (photo by K. Klassy)

I just talked to skua #2 and it completely made my day!

2nd to last sunset - April 22

These pictures are from K. Barlow. His department took a field trip out to Pegasus because nothing was visible from town. The best part of nature's light show was obscured by Mt. Erebus in town. Unfortunately, I couldn't find a work excuse to make it out there. It looked spectacular.

The Boys at Pegasus (photo by K. Barlow)

One last look . . . (photo by K. Barlow)

Sunset. (photo by K. Barlow)

Last full sunset - April 21

BIV (blue, indigo, violet) over the Ross Ice Shelf.

A few days ago on April 21, I saw the last full sun dip below the horizon. We had a couple sunsets after this, but the sun never came fully above the horizon on those days. They were still beautiful, but different. I'll have pictures of those up soon. For many people, this was their last sunset because the final two sunsets weren't visible from town.

The last full sun dipping behind the horizon.

I'm going to miss my sunny friend.

I live off sunshine. Every day over the winter in Colorado, I would cut out at lunch to run or bike so I could get my fill. Driving to work in the dark and coming back in the dark without playing in the sunshine just doesn't cut it. I'm really curious how this winter will effect me. A lot of people have full spectrum bulbs to get some fake sunlight, but I don't know if it will be the same. Just in case, I'm doing my morning reading in a light room that they have set up to give everyone the full spectrum light they need.

Pegasus Field and Mt. Erebus move into another night.

Going, going, gone . . .

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Some numbers

A few people have been asking for numbers on a few things, so here you go.

Winter population 125
Men 91 (wild speculation says 79 of these men are single)
Women 34 (wild speculation says 21 of these women are single) These numbers support one of my favorite Antarctic phrases that describes a woman's chance of getting a man: "The odds are good, but the goods are odd." I'm sure that phrase is probably used in engineering environments everywhere, but I first heard it when I came here.

Current temperature: -9F
Temperature with the windchill: -44F at Pegasus, brr!
South Pole: -90F.

Sunrise today: 11:52pm
Sunset today: 2:11pm
Today was the last day we saw the full sun. For the next few days, it rides the horizon and then it is gone. We'll have sunlight on the horizon for another few weeks though.

Days until we leave: Unknown, should be between 120-150.

Number of work orders in my queue: 19.


Fresh fruits and vegetables!!

Whenever a plane comes in, it brings fresh vegetables. This is the highlight of flights for many of the people on base. For the first few days after the flight, you can see people leaving the galley with plates and bowls stocked high with fruits and vegetables. I don't know if I don't eat that many, but I hadn't really started missing freshies, as we like to call them, yet. I'm sure if we didn't get a resupply, I would have been missing them by August though.

Heated freshies on Scott base hill.

When the plane lands, it is immediately unloaded. The freshies are put in a millvan for the fifteen mile journey to base. The freshies won't last that long in this cold so a heating engine is hooked up to the millvan via a hose. In the picture above, you can see the hose coming out of the top of the millvan. In front of that engine, is the mail pallet! Thanks for sour patch kids, Reese's pieces, and odor ammunition Jay!

OH NO, stuck freshies!!

The road up from Scott Base is really steep. The challengers could not make it up the hill with the freshies. They kept slipping. Eventually, they brought fines (loose dirt) to spread out where the vehicles were slipping. Once they got that done, the challengers made it up the hill. Lucky for us, the freshies were heated.

Louie would like you to know that he isn't responsible for getting the freshies stuck. He has no idea why they are stuck.

When the freshies finally arrived, about ten volunteers helped off load them. They brought them in on huge pallets. We tore them down as fast as possible and filled up the freshie box. At first look, it seemed like we only had bananas.

Unloading the pallet.

Shane, a cook, checks out the his latest ingredients.

For whatever reason, New Zealand sends almost all of our freshies in banana boxes. They have apparently done this for years and no one that I talked to knows why. It is just the way it is. We label everything on its way into storage so that anyone looking to make a frosty boy banana split doesn't get confused and end up with pumpkin. Ick. Pumpkin flavored ice cream? Maybe. Pumpkin in my ice cream, I'll have to pass even if it is fake ice cream.

Just another side of the freshie box.

I was told that they should be able to make the freshies last until August. That should make this winter a pretty easy one. Normally, they run out with a couple months to go. We even got a bunch of oiled eggs that should last most of the winter. I'm pretty excited about that. I've never been a fan of the preserved Bag O'Eggs.

Caesar is not so fresh in the freshie box after working too many long days (10?) in a row.

By the way, this past flight was our last until August/September. There was some confusion about the last flight of summer/mainbody being the last flight until winter ends. My miscommunication. The last flight of summer/mainbody is normally the last flight until August, however, this year they had an extended season for the first time where they had one last flight which just left. I'm still not reeling from the effects of being stuck here whether I like it or not. I'll take that as a good sign.

I do know that I really miss Colorado right now. A little bit is the activities and fabulous weather that I'm missing, but most of it is the people that I do those activities with. I've been hearing from some a little less, but it has more to do with it being so long since I saw their smiles with a twinkle in the their eye.

The last of the freshies.