Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life is Easy

Hours a firefighter will spend over the course of a year in Antarctica on:

Fueling the truck, fixing the truck, registering the truck, insuring the truck: 0
Running errands- grocery, bank,... 0
Opening mail, writing checks for bills: 0
Repairing his house/apt - 0
Cooking his meals: 0 - as much as he wants

Monday, March 29, 2010

Early Winter Medevac

This was in late Feb/early March. An entire plane for 2 pts... they had a great view on the way out! The timing was great. An Antarctic gale moved in while the plane was on the ground. You can see Black Island disappearing in the pics (ominous sign), then the wind whipped up, and the plane took off into the teeth of it. Ambo died at one point. The ride back was interesting- our Ford Renegade ARFF vehicles are grossly overloaded. They can almost make it from Pegasus to McMurdo without overheating and spilling glycol everywhere, but not quite.

Windy Hut Ridge Hike

last night, for the first time this year, I didn't have to cover my window to keep out the light while I slept

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"The current near-hysterical preoccupation with safety is at best a waste of resources and a crimp on the human spirit, and at worst an invitation to tatalitarianism." - Michael Crichton, State of Fear

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Saw my first stars in months last night!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Con 2 in town... hoping for Con 1 later today

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

McMurdo got a taste of the tsunami Sunday...

At 0200 or so, the station manager called up components of the Emergency Operations Committee to formulate an action plan.

Sunday all foot and vehicle traffic was banned from low-lying areas near town and from the Sea Ice. There were unofficial reports of some sea level rise and increase in wave activity. Unfortunately, in spite of McMurdo's scientific mission and raison d'etre, official tsunami measurement attempts were prohibited due to perceived unsafeness. Monday the sea ice roads were evaluated for soundness and re-opened.

Rumor has it the Kiwis took sealevel measurements. Someday, when Americans hide trembling within their homes, the Kiwis will inherit the earth.
Building 155: Main community center....

Mess Hall

Outside views of 155 and its new 'welcome to Walmart' paint job

Serving area: fairly new with lots of stainless steel
Usually two or three entree options/meal with soup, handbaked breads, sometimes salad, lots of cold salad, fruit, and dessert options.
Best fare I've had, but that's really not saying much- most people arent very impressed!
They do put on a very tasty, varied and visually appealing spread for Sunday brunch and holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Midwinter

155, HWY 2

Handwashing stations outside mess hall
Cold/flu viruses circulate readily through McMurdo, at least until everyone leaves on the last flight out (March 5). I've lived in the tropics, the desert, the arctic, and cold temperate climates, but I've never been sick as often as I have here. During approximately half of my six-month summer season I suffered from sore throat and very swollen tonsils, congestion, muscle aches, and weariness. For I while I had trouble swallowing food and went and got tested for mono, strep throat, and swine flu, but it turns out it was just a common cold/flu virus. I'm almost never sick at home, but apparently this experience is very common here. Most people feel like they've aged 10 years while theyre here. Medical specialists contribute this to a combination of deep dehydration (Antarctica is the driest place on earth but the thirst drive is reduced here) and cold (my body temperature has dropped 2 degrees, a common phenomenon), as well as other poorly-understood factors. Healing is also difficult here. If someone were to break their arm in April, it could be reduced and splinted, but by August there would probably be zero new bone growth. Environmental effects on health are poorly understood. During summer at least, the diet is varied and healthy; I eat much better here than at home. Soaking up summer sun is not hard.
Since R&R in New Zealand in January I've been feeling normal. I've taken a lot more care about hydration and started a creatine regimen, which has miraculously resolved all muscle aches (these were pretty severe after the slightest exercise). Once 24 hr darkness falls in April, McMurdo residents will be faced with new challenges- extreme cold, vit D deficiency, and darkness-related T3 syndrome.


Building 155 computer kiosk- always empty now that winter has arrived!