Friday, December 04, 2009

My Home for the Season addendum

Our window.

I was asked if I had a window after my last room post. I do. Meg and I were just standing in front of it. It sits over her bed. To answer the other question I've been asked, no, Meg and I are not dating. We met our first season and are great friends. Unfortunately, she is leaving in two weeks to head back home to her boy, her pooch (maybe not in that order), and to attend nursing school in Idaho.

The view.

When I took this picture, the window was a little steamed over. Here are some much better pictures taken from my window earlier in the season.

I'll also be putting a bounty out on the new Ben & Jerry's flavor. I suspect it will come out and be gone by the time I return and it looks like I need to eat some. Maple Ice Cream? Yes, please. Blonde Brownies? Yes, please. Maple Caramel Whirl? Yes, please. Maple Blondie? YES, PLEASE! For the reward, it is hard to say. It should guarantee a visit to your home by Sabah and I. After that, we'll negotiate.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Seal, it's what's for dinner!

The BBC has a new nature series coming out called Life where they look at the what some exceptional plants and animals have to do to survive. They recently shared a short clip of worms and sea stars eating a dead seal on YouTube to advertise.

Click here: Seal, it's what's for dinner!

This is a part of Antarctica that I'll never see because it happens below the sea ice. While I've been below the sea ice for about a second, all I saw was a few fish. These guys went diving last year near Little Razor Back Island about 10 miles north of here, which we pass on our way to Cape Evans. It can be difficult to believe just how much life is going on below the ice when we so rarely see anything above the ice.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

My Home for the Season

My accommodations for the summer, Hotel California

On a bright desert island, icy wind in my hair
Cold smell of nothingness, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw fata morgana
My cheeks grew frosty and my sight grew dim
I stopped for my parka

My original ideal for this post was to edit the lyrics of Hotel California to fit what I needed to stay, but I'm tossing that idea out. I think I tossed it out when I had to settle on parka to rhyme with the fata morganas that we see in the distance. I'm just not creative enough and certainly not motivated enough to find the rhyming words.

My side of the room.

The communal side of the room.

Meg's side of the room and us in our Halloween costumes.

My living situation is great this summer. My first year on the ice, I was in a 4-pack without a window in a loud dorm. This time, I was able to pick my roommate, pick a bay side window, and make sure I was in a quieter dorm. Seniority can be good. Meg and I chose Hotel California because it is a little quieter, more community oriented, and closer to skiing. Meg taught me how to skate ski (fancy cross country skiing) our first season on the ice. She is from Idaho and she is brilliant. She is going home in two weeks for nursing school. After that, I might be playing roommate roulette.

Upstairs lounge.

Upstairs lounge balcony.

Hotel California is one of two dorms on base that don't have TVs and cable in the room. We only have cable in the lounge. We also have Internet in our lounge which most dorms don't. Most just have the TV cable, microwave, games, books, puzzles, movies, and other fun stuff that people have left behind. I think not having TV in the rooms makes more people hang out in the lounge, which gives a more community feeling to the dorm. I like it. Our dorm also has the only balcony that I know of. It is brilliant to sit on when it's warm out. I can't wait until we are above freezing and I can run a phone line out there to call back home and work on my tan. It is going to be such a treat!

That's home. Not much to it. Each day, I wake up there at 6am, sometimes make a smoothie with our blender, boil some water for tea, and eat granola for breakfast. Then, I head to work by 7am usually, run and eat lunch at 11, work until 5:30pm, eat dinner, hang out friends, and get back to the room to pass out by 10pm. Six days a week that is my day. On Sundays, I usually go for a longer run and enjoy a terrific brunch with friends, followed up by mellow goodness and catching up on chores like cleaning the room or paying bills back home. That's my routine which also doesn't have much to it. It is simple, I like it, and am sticking to it except on nights like last night where I end up chatting in the sauna hours past my bed time.

The Royal Society Range across the McMurdo Sound yesterday (12-2-2009).

Monday, November 30, 2009

Man Camp

The Ice Runway

Near the end of each Austral winter in Antarctica, just after the first few sunrises in late August, we have a short season called Winfly or winter fly-in. The population grows from 100-200 to 400-600. At mainbody in early October (when I came), the population jumps to around 1,000. For the rest of the summer, it will fluctuate between 975 and 1,075.

The population at McMurdo with male and female percentages to let you know your odds.

Those fluctuations can be heavily weather dependent because we are the launching point for everyone heading to the South Pole, US deep field camps, and, sometimes, foreign bases. This year, we had terrible weather in October so very few flights went out. South Pole flights were behind 1-2 weeks. Some West Antarctic Ice Shelf (WAIS) people were delayed over a month. When fifty Australians flew in on their way to Casey and were delayed, our population maxed out at 1,107. They had to delay people in Christchurch because we just didn't have enough bed space.

The bunk room, commonly known as Man Camp.

I'm probably wrong, but I feel like the people in my dorm are the first ones to know, outside of housing, when the station maxes out. Our quiet, 44ish person dorm suddenly has 70 people in it, most of them male. Our lounge is overflowing and the men's bathroom is a mad house. The reason is that we have the bunk room, commonly called 'Man Camp.' The bunk room has fourteen bunk beds so that it can sleep 28 overall. Since it is meant as transitory housing, they don't have any dressers and are forced to live out of their bags. No, thank you. Not unless I am camping. Things have mellowed out now and will hopefully stay that way until vessel offload in late January.