Saturday, May 15, 2010

Quiet day at the AFD. Lt is on kday, so we've knocked everything out quickly and are enjoying some down time. Three of the crew are online and the fourth is reading an American history book. I've asked the old-timers what everyone used to do down here in the winter in the days before internet. Apparently they all basked in warm incandescent light and played a lot of board and card games. That sounds a lot better than sitting through endless days of long silences broken only by the tapping of four sets of fingers on keyboards. That said, there is some liveliness and conversation today. Saturdays are usually good days. It seems like things have picked up some too over the last month; our recent hands-on drills might have helped.

The drills have made this sort of an odd month. We were busy with a lot of other things and didn't drill much, and call volume is low, so the crew has actually worked together very little until now. We've done a few full medical scenarios, including a cardiac patient, hazmat exposure, and traumatic injury. A lot of equipment shortcomings and unforeseen challenges came up. I'd like to get a reeves stretcher here, since nearly every building is accessible only by sets of slippery snowy metal stairs. Due to permafrost, everything is built on pilings set onto horizontal wooden beams. I'm surprised some of them stand up to the wind. Every winter some structure is done in by winds that get up to 200mph. Last year there were 3 days straight of Con 1 storms that brought all unessential work to a stop. The roof blew off one of the VIP housing trailers on the east side of town. A few years ago the entire roof blew off a million gallon storage tank during a storm. An old hand told me the other day that in 1984 or 1985 ( I forget which), 300 brand new mattresses blew away from "the ballpark" outdoor storage area. Scientists are still finding them out on the ice today.

I'm still waiting for some good storms this year. Unfortunately the historic worst portion of the year, fall, is pretty much over. During the time between last sunset at Pole and last sunset on the coast, there's a huge temperature gradient between here and there. All that dense, cold air flows down the slope from the central plateau of the highest continent and creates some of the world's worst winds by the time it reaches the coast. Now that the sun is gone, there's less daily heating and cooling and we're entering the intensely cold, calm part of the year. Yesterday the temperatures plummeted from the balmy 10F days we'd been enjoying to -20F. At winfly the winds will pick up again, and the bitter cold will treat us to some beautiful nacreous clouds.

Last night was quite entertaining. The upper floor of 155 was awash with the annual ungodly loud White Trash party. Couches filled the hall and beer cans and spilt cheetos coated the floor. Cleavage and butt crack abounded. There was a lot of flannel and one incongruous fellow in black leather and pink spandex. It was the 2nd most drunk night I've had here so far.

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