Hello! Today is my day off! Woohoo. First thing, after sleeping in and getting lunch was to e-mail and say hello.
One thing with settling into the Antarctica lifestyle is that every day is something differant. I think I already told you about the evening of He-Man videos. The store here, which is like a gift/conveniance store, also has videos to “rent” which are all free. I looked over the selection and it looks like I am set for the winter. Hey Casey, you’d do just fine, they have the entire season of Monty Python. The videos available are really odd.
On Thursday I went off exploring. Thursday is Scott Base night. Scott base is the New Zealand station that is about 2 miles from McMurdo. Every Thursday is American Night and we are all invited over to the bar. I’ve told myself no drinking till the sun is down completely. The sun is beginning to set but not until midnight and I’m not sure if it actually gets dark. At Scott Base I was introduced to our fire crew, they were busy playing a Swedish card game for quarters. They let me play even though I didn’t bring and money. I thought McMurdo had a small winter crew. I was counting some winter crews at Scott Base, there were several recent years where they had 9. I think the most was about 15. Can you imagine that? I did check, there was always at least one girl.
I’ve been trying to find the little things that assure me that I am really in Antarctica. You see the USAP emblam all over and lots of pictures of penguins, that’s about it. The one distinction I saw yesterday was the gallon pump of 30 spf sun screen at the community sinks. There’s just really nothing here to really say,”Hey! You’re in Antarctica!” Any nature is miles away, we are sitting on top of a dirt heap, the only interesting thing about that is that the gravel is actually those little lava rocks like the ones you put in your garden. We were standing on a 4 ft high dock yesterday and the DAs were telling me that the snow gets that high and is constantly blowing into the dock area. That’s what I’m talking about. Now that I know that the snow will be MAJOR I am trying to get as many “before” pictures as I can.
Since I have all the time in the world this morning I can go on for hours about my work area and my routine. So far I have had a really great work schedule. Of the winter DAs I am the only one that has been scheduled the same shift for 2 straight weeks. I’m on pms. That means that I get up around 7:00 or 8:00, first thing I do is roll up our window shade and let in sunlight. I was able to check out a pilates video and I have been finding an empty lounge to do that in. The workout I tried yesterday was great, I am all stiff from it.
I have enough time after that to shower, which is down the hall. The building I am in, by the way, is so confusing. I have been trying to figure out how to describe it to you and the best I can do is to say that it’s the shape of a football goal laid down. Not exactly the correct proportions. Imagine a football goal laying down, then change that to 3 long buildings in that same layout with hallways connecting them in the middle. Whatever it is it’s terrible confusing trying to walk around.
The building with the galley is terribly confusing as well. I wandered around the upstairs and I still have no idea where I was. Troy laughed at me the other day when I realized that I was ending each day at the kitchen exit where I would gather my coat and then I would walk back through the entire building in a big horseshoe to come out the hallway exit which is actually about 20 ft along the exterior wall from the kitchen exit. Both exits are across from my building.
Everything is numbers and acronyms. I’m in 203A, Galley is 155, I just found Hut 10 last night, a lot of the DAs are in MMI. There’s the FMEC which is something about field, maintenance. . .I think it’s a maintenance and mechanic shop. BFC I don’t have a clue but they are the out door mountaineer people/enviormentalists that help the scientists out in the field. I just like the acronym because someone also said that it stands for “building full of chicks” which I guess is also accurate.
Am I back to talking about routine? Maybe later, I feel like it’s getting boring. I wanted to tell you about our amazing dishwasher. Yeah! Does it seem like I’m stretching? Well, I am totally impressed. In the summer they serve 1000 people at each meal. Imagine the machine it takes to keep up with that. Well, the Dishwasher, aka Bertha, is about 10 ft long and is actually a conveyer belt of plastic teeth which allow you to set up plates, lay out bowls or you can place the ordinary dish racks on them and they will pull those through. There’s stop and start switches on both ends and a safety bar at the end of the belt. We’ve got 2 hand held sprayers that are now operated by foot pedal (too much carpel tunnel before) and there can be 2 people spraying off dishes and 2 others unloading when it’s full capacity.
This is the new year of improvements. The DA job is the most injury inducing task. Some people are still in therapy or out of work from injuries from earlier this summer. It’s mostly carpel tunnel and stress related things. Now they closley regulate how much work you actually do which is awesome. The day is constantly changing and breaks are all the time. My schedule is from 11:00 to 8:30 but there is at least 1 and a half hours of breaks. You wash, pots in the back of the kitchen, dishes up front where people have scraped and stacked them. There’s restocking products, cleaning service areas, cleaning dining areas, some breaks in between and then do it again for final clean-up.
I still can’t get over the food. You actually get a healthy selection. Right now there has been salad every meal. That won’t be for too much longer. We unloaded our one and only “freshy” order yesterday. That was cool in itself. There were 4 pallets of fruits and vegetables that were still wrapped with the cargo netting that was used in transporting it on the plane. We also unloaded 2 entire pallets of eggs. I got a bunch of various stickers for my scrapbook, “do not freeze”, “eggs, handle with care,”etc. It took us an hour and a half to unload all that but that’s 6 months of produce for 200 people. I don’t see it going very far.
This morning I had barley, brown rice, they also offer a chick pea salad, a vegetarian entree. I’m still surprised to see the choices of condiments, chinese mustard, Heinz 57, A1, Tobasco, Horse Radish, everything. Angie told us that we could basically take whatever we wanted from the kitchen- within reason, then she pointed out the Fig Newton bars. I didn’t know we had Fig Newtons!
In the winter they will provide a cooler of leftovers and a 24 hr deli line. The bread and desserts are baked from scratch daily, most of the salad dressings are hand made. We’ve had awesome variety with those, tomato and basil, avacodo and lemon, raspberry vinegarette, cillantro, pesto, I can’t even remember them all.
Another 100 people are flying out today, in fact they are all heading out now. I think some of the other DAs are supposed to arrive today. That will be cool. Did I tell you that I am volanteering this winter? There are all sorts of places to volanteer and there are even part time jobs. One thing I thought I was volanteering for turned out to be a job. That’s pin setting. Antarctica has the very last operating manual pinsetting bowilng alley and I get to learn to run it. The rumor is that the Smithsonian or some museum had offered to trade McMurdo for an automatic bowling alley just so they could get ahold of this one. The major bonus is that you get a pair of knee high striped socks. It turns out that they are for safety because they use black lights and the socks will show up so people know where you are. I didn’t realize that we would be in the path of bowling balls. Another bonus I found out, besides getting paid you also get tips! Cool. The trick will be trying to get off work in order to go set pins. The library job sounds like fun as well, I THINK you get your own key to the library. That makes it totally worth it.
Last night Niels Gap Skittles invited me to a going away party for the summer people. I met a bunch of them, met some winter overs and at the end of the night they gave me all the alchohol. “You’re going to need this.” Oh, and I had some Bailey’s and hot chocalate myself. So much for that “not until it’s dark.” Hey, I’ve been in Antarctica a week now. They played Spaceballs while everyone visited. I met Sandwhich who, guess what, is an STA travel agent. Awesome! My own travel agent. I have her card. She’s going to find me my ticket to South America. It sounds like the travel deal is nothing like it used to be. You get your flight back home and that is it. You can add some layovers for cheap. Australia and Hawaii. I MIGHT stop in Australia. I almost have to since I’m here but I don’t know if I will have time to make it worthwhile. Anyways, I talked to one couple and they are doing exactly what I plan to do. They paid $620 for a round trip ticket from LA to Peru. I could handle that. We’ll see if I can beat it. We’ll see.
Monday is toasts and champaign for last flight. Yikes, then I’ll be trapped. We all keep warning each other about our diminishing chances of escape. I’ll talk to you all later. Guess what I finally subscribed to a blog sight. http://www.blogger.com/ it won’t make any differance to you guys, one cool feature is that I can simply e-mail a blog entry. So I just added the address to my list. Now these entries will be immediately available on the internet. All right, I’m gone for real. Time to call home.