Friday, October 30, 2009

Happy Halloween!

It's already Halloween day here, and there's a big party that everyone is excited about. Halloween isn't really my thing, so I'm not all that worked up about it. I am going to peek in for a bit, though. People have been hard at work on their costumes, so it should be interesting. I am excited about the possible trip to Cape Evans and the ice caves tomorrow, but there is a good chance that it will get cancelled due to vehicle problems. I'm crossing my fingers...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Who wudda thunk it?

Ok, I still can't wrap my brain around this. This is in my dorm, and it gets used. An ice-maker in Antarctica? Really?

From Antarctica

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Not crafty enough

I eat a bunch of meals with John, one of the utilities technicians. Anyways, he went to Delta training last night because he volunteered to lead some of the Cape Evans trips. I need to find my own way into some sort of vehicle training.

Oh, I had a service call to Helo Ops today. I was really excited to go to the helicopter hangar, but it was a bit of a letdown. It was cool, but all of the helicopters were out on runs when I showed up. Also, the hangar only keeps them warm and provides a place for repairs. I guess they are all in tip-top shape, so I wouldn't have seen anything anyways.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Yesterday, I walked around Observation Hill. I punked out and couldn't make it all the way up, and everyone else had to come back down. On the way down, we saw a seal out in the distance, so we made our way over to get some pictures. I only took a few:
From Antarctica

From Antarctica

From Antarctica

The rule of thumb is that, if the animal reacts to you, then you are too close. I don't have a fancy telephoto lens, so this is the best I could do.


There's a bridge in town called the troll bridge. Everyone referred to it as such, and I didn't know why. After a few days of passing over it, the weather was finally good enough to make me glimpse the reason. Here he is:
From Antarctica
From Antarctica
From Antarctica

For the boys!

I decided to walk around the station to take pictures of all of the vehicles for my nephews. This is what daily traffic looks like at Mac Town. I think my buddy, Carl, will get a kick out of this, too. I think he drove some of these around town.

This is Fleet Ops, where all of the big vehicles are kept:
From Antarctica

My office is upstairs in the food warehouse, so I get to squeeze my way around this bad boy every time I get into or out of my office. All vehicles are given a name, but I'm not sure who does the naming. Our friend here is Heckle, and I saw Jeckle running around the other day:
From Antarctica

I don't really need to worry about getting run over by these, but you see them flying around all the time:
From Antarctica

People on station call these pickles:
From Antarctica

This is a delta. It was parked between a bunch of other large vehicles, so I couldn't get a profile view of it. It carries about 20 people at a time:
From Antarctica

Of course, I had to take a picture of Ivan. You'll probably find pictures of him all over the Internet, but here he is again:
From Antarctica

I see these ATV's towing snowmobiles and skidoo's around town all the time. There is a light vehicle garage in town that services those, so these ATV's are used to get them to and from the icy places:
From Antarctica

This is not technically a vehicle, but these are hitched up and used to get cargo around:
From Antarctica

Your standard dump trucks and bull dozers. These don't really run through the middle of town, though:
From Antarctica

I don't know what is in this tank, so I'm not sure if this is a fuel tank or if it is for something else. Based on the color, I would guess it is fuel:
From Antarctica

A pisten-bully from the front and back:
From Antarctica
From Antarctica

Most trucks just have tires, but a few have tracks installed:
From Antarctica

Thursday, October 22, 2009


The demo crews were going to dig a hole with dynamite today, but that has been delayed. If I can get some pictures or video of that tomorrow, I'll post it.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Condition 1

Whoa! The areas around McMurdo have hit condition 1 because visibility dropped below 100 feet. Condition 1 is defined as weather that meets any of the following criterion or combination of criteria:

  • wind speeds greater than 55 knots

  • wind chills colder than -100 degrees Fahrenheit

  • visibility less than 100 feet

I actually had to put on my goggles for the first time today so that stuff wouldn't get in my eyes.


Last Saturday night, I stayed up to watch one of the last sunsets of the season. I think the last one is about to happen soon. Here's a sample, but I have another in my album:

From Antarctica

Christchurch pictures

I have finally worked myself into a semi-slow point, so I've gotten a chance (and some bandwidth) to upload the photos I've taken so far. All of my photos can be found on my public picasa album:

Here is my room in the Hotel So in Christchurch. It was pretty nice, but it was very Japanese/European in size:

From Antarctica

Here is a sample photo of the Christchurch Botanical Gardens. I really like the place.

From Antarctica

I sat on this bench for about two hours:

From Antarctica

The World Peace Bell is pretty cool, but I really liked the inscribed cobblestones around it:

From Antarctica

Monday, October 19, 2009


Oh, the last post came about because the weather dipped to -29 degrees Fahrenheit with windchill, and I haven't even had to put everything on.

Paid off

I am pretty happy with the cold weather clothing that I have. The USAP issue gear is pretty warm, and the stuff I bought is working out pretty well. I'm particularly satisfied with the hiking boots that I bought:
They have been pretty warm, and the ankle-support has been very good.

I'm finally feeling like I know my way around, and the work week is helping me get into the swing of things. I have permanent nappy hair all the time, though. I might consider cutting my hair even shorter than it is.

Friday, October 16, 2009


We had a light snow this morning, which was nice. I had my first try at the Frosty Boy yesterday, and it was ridiculously good. The Frosty Boy is the soft-serve ice cream machine, which I'm not normally a fan of. I don't know why it made my day.

Apparently, people get really, really angry when the Frosty Boy is out of order. I think I saw a Frosty Boy T-shirt on station, so I'm hoping that I can find one in the station's store.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Settled in

My third full day of work, and I am doing fine. McMurdo is something else and and then not so unfamiliar at the same time. My body is still getting used to the sleep schedule and extreme weather, but I feel pretty good. I think all of my worries about the weather were foundless. My warm clothing is more than a match for the weather thus far. I expect things may get worse near the end of my stay, but this is definitely doable. Work is pretty much as I expected it. Living accomodations, meh... about what I expected. I can't say I am a fan of communal showering.

What was unexpected was the landscape. I can only describe it as awesome. It is difficult to wrap my brain around the magnitude and almost otherworldly nature of the environment here. I can't really explain it in this post, so I'll need to create a series of posts. Things are busy at work, so that may be some time. For now, I'm safe, here, and I'm feeling pretty good about my decision.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The weather outside is frightful

Argh! Weather caused important cargo to be delayed, so I got bumped off the flight tomorrow. It's not all bad, as it is effectively being paid to vacation in Christchurch. All the same, I'm ready to be there and start working.

Not well-travelled

After more than 20 hours in the air and about 10 waiting in airports, I'm finally in Christchurch now. Qantas airlines has some of the best in-flight food that I've had. I should go to the clothing distribution center in the morning, and I hope to be at Mcmurdo the day after. I showed up at my hotel today, and I couldn't figure out how to turn my room lights on. I felt like an idiot having to ask the front desk how to do that. It seems that my key card was necessary to unlock the switches...

Friday, October 9, 2009

Heading out

Three hours of safety training, and then I'll be on a plane for many hours. I think my hotel in Christchurch will have Internet, so I may have another post before Mcmurdo.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Dumb luck

Argh! One of my Microcenter brand SD memory cards failed on me last night. It was the one with all of my movies and eBooks. I only got about half of that stuff re-downloaded or converted before I left this morning. I guess I'll need to find some other way to entertain myself when I run out.

I'm in Dallas right now waiting on my connecting flight to Denver. When I got to IAH, they allowed me to jump on an earlier flight. With no cell phone, I realize that I need to wear a watch again. I haven't owned one of those in a long time!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Today was my last day at Rice. Twelve years are a substantial amount of history, but I've been fortunate in that they have been twelve of my happier if not happiest years. I've had a lot of fulfilling relationships there and will always have fond memories of working at Rice. I think I had more hugs than any person has a right to today, and it has definitely been hard for me emotionally these last weeks. I'm glad that my career at Rice has ended on a good note, and I look forward to starting with Raytheon the day after tomorrow. I don't think I'll be able to sleep tonight, but I guess I can sleep on the planes tomorrow.

Saturday, October 3, 2009