July at the South Pole

Thursday, 1 July 2004
I woke up early for the science meeting, and went outside to get to the galley. I was a bit windy with temps around -89°F (-67.2°). When I got there, people were still milling around. I pulled out the matè and shared it with Justus. After the meeting, we hung around for a bit, then I went downstairs to see how the greenhouse was progressing (half the plant racks are full now).

I went back to the dome via the outside and the snow stairs. Right outside the beercan, I ran into Jeff on his way back from SPASE. We caught up on things, but I had to get inside - he was fully dressed in his ECW gear, I was in my fleece and sneakers. I ducked back inside to get out of the 14 knot winds, and went down the dome via the tunnels.

I worked at my desk on logbooks for most of the morning. Sarah came back from an IT conference call with Denver and reported some of the Dilbertisms used by management. Right out of the comic strip. When lunch rolled around, I took the beercan to the galley and got in line. It was Asian Day, Sweet and Sour Pork, Orange Chicken, Shrimp and Scallops in Chili Sauce, and Eggrolls. I went back to the table by the door and joined the usual crowd plus Jeff (who was already there when I arrived). Folks cleared out as soon as they were done. I changed tables to work on the crossword puzzle with Nick. We finished in under 15 minutes. Oddly enough, there were two TV references to shows in Ohio ("WKRP" and "Family Ties").

Down in the dome, I got a few things done, then took a break in the late afternoon and napped until the Trauma Team meeting at 17:00. Troy extolled the virtues of army cots when backboards weren't called for, and he scheduled our next meeting for the last monday of the month. From the gym, most of us went up to dinner, Turkey, Cheese Ravioli, Mashed Potatoes, and Vinegared Asparagus. I sat at round table with Angela, Randi and Xuan, then stuck around with Randi and Angela for a game of cribbage. Tom joined is right as we started, and the cut of the cards pitted Angela and me against Tom and Randi. Angela and I won by a few points. On the last hand, she pegged us to the last position, and the 6 points in my hand was plenty to go out on. After the game, I went down to my desk to get some more work done before the movie.

I arrived at the Library before the movie, but the place was packed. I stood in the corner for the show, then went back down to my desk to catch the last gasps of GOES-3. One interesting bit of e-mail was a mention of Icecube on Nukees

Friday, 2 July 2004
Most of the day went by quickly and uneventfully. Mid-afternoon, I ran up to the galley for the all hands meeting. The big news there was a possible medevac from McMurdo. Pete didn't have any details, but Kris is friends with the guy and told us a few things (with permission) about the situation. The flags went to Byron (U.K.) and Dana (U.S.) Byron gave his flag to Dehlia at the end of the meeting, to thank her for the extra effort she has gone to by cooking for the station on days off.

Most of us hung around the galley waiting for dinner. I waited with Nick, and listened to the explanation when Dave asked him about how sextants work. Dinner was Pork Schnitzel, Lamb Chops and Shepherd's Pie. Henry joined our table, and we talked about flying, GPS navigation, and other things along those lines (Henry is also a pilot).

It was feeling a bit cold in the tunnels without a parka. Perhaps the fact that it's gotten down to -97°F (-71.7°C) has something to do with that. I tried to get some work done at my desk, but I was too tired to focus. I wandered over to the library and hung out with the "Sopranos" crowd and stayed until their last episode.

Dave and Angela wanted to go over to ARO for slushies. By virtue of where it's at, most walks to ARO are straight into the wind, and it was around 11 knots tonight. My glasses frosted up when we were half-way there. I had to stumble around the last little bit, including trying to make my way up the stairs. We arrived late enough that the early crowd was suiting up and heading out. There were four or five of us for a while. Eventually, I went back with Byron and Dave. Even with the wind at my back, it was a cold walk. Dave split off to go to the new station, Byron and I went to the bar. I didn't stay long. I stopped off at Met on my way home. Turns out, the reason it felt so cold is that it was so cold, we hit a low of -99.6°F (-73.1°C). With a bit of wind, that's really painful. Kris was even warming up the sauna for a potential 300 Club run. The wind started to move a bit south of grid 90, so it might start to get even colder. I went to bed hoping for an all call that we hit -100°F (-73.3°C).

Saturday, 3 July 2004
I went up to my room with the weather at -99°F (-73.2°C) at 6 knots. I was still in my FDX boots and had forgotten my sneakers under my desk, so I went back down to get them. It was precisely -100.0°F (-73.3°C), and Kris said it had touched on -102°F (-74.4°C), but the wind picked up one knot, and it got warmer. The trend was in the wrong way; it warmed up to -99.2°F (-72.9°C) while I was talking to Kris. I went back up to my room, worked on ZDungeon for a while, watched the temps climb higher, then gave up and went to sleep.

I missed the weekly call to Madison, and went straight up to the galley for OV's Breakfast Burritos. It wasn't crowded yet. Chad was taking orders; I asked for one with everything, light on the chorizo. The crowds started coming in while I ate. Allan left to check on the grill, and Jeff sat down in his place. He had made it to our weekly call. The news there was that next year's AMANDA winter-overs are starting to arrive. He met Christian on the call, and Steffan and Rudy are starting later this month.

Down in Science, I got a little bit of work in, then Sarah stopped by for our "Extreme Ironing" shoot. We put on some ECW and headed over to the new station to pick up the props. It was a cold walk to the beercan, around -94°F (-70°C), with at least 9 knots of wind. About mid-way between the buildings, I thought I heard the fire alarm. As we approached the beercan, both Sarah and I were sure we were hearing it. She ran back to Comms, I went into the station to hear where the alarm was coming from. The stand-down came over the all call before I could tell where the fire was, but I suspect it was probably related smoke rolling inside from the barbeque on the back deck.

I got into the new station and walked through the large group just inside the doors to the wooden stairs. They were taking turns minding the barbeque grill, just outside the doors. As I was heading for the stairs, someone brought in a plate of beef ribs, fresh off the fire. They were excellent, but apparently an endangered species - I was told that there are only about 20lbs (9kg) left on station. I was finishing my rib when Sarah came through, back from Comms. She grabbed the ironing board and an iron, and we went out the snow-level beercan door to the Pole for our photo shoot.

I was in a parka, jeans and sneakers. My legs and feet were cold by the time we walked to the geographic pole. Fortunately, there was plenty of moonlight to see by. We did a couple with the sign at the pole behind her, and one with the pole at my back, and the new station barely visible in the background. My glasses were totally frosted over, and the little finger on my shutter hand was stinging from the cold. I went back up the beercan to where the barbequers were hanging out, and tried to take a couple of pictures of them outside on the back deck with the grill as the backdrop, but there was so much smoke that it reflected most of the light from my flash, and the pictures didn't turn out well. I tried an 8 second exposure, but that didn't come out well, either.

I thawed out again up in the galley. Randi and Angela were settiing out napkins. I joined them, and we finished in no time. I tried going over to the A3 computer room, but there wasn't an empty seat in the place. I got online by going back to the galley and co-opting the music machine. Eventually, Sean came by and kicked me off of it, so he could start up some music. Fortunately, the computer room wasn't full anymore. I worked on e-mail, etc., until I heard the all call for dinner around 18:15.

Most folks were seated already when I arrived at the galley. I found an empty seat with a lot of the people I normally ate with (Henry, Nick, Eyvind, Larry, Bride, and Jason). I grabbed some Pork Ribs, a Chicken Breast, and some Spinach Souffle (and skipped the Potato Salad made from frozen potatoes). Nick offered me a Sierra Nevada, which went great with the food. I finished eating, then stopped by the dessert table. I skipped the "Potato Candy" (it was filled with Peanut Butter), and went for a spot of fudge instead. A while later, when the few remaining folks started to get a bit rowdy and throwing stuff (corks, balls of foil from the halibut, etc.), I took off rather than get pulled into an all-out food fight.

Down in Upper Berthing, I threw in a load of laundry and read until it was time to swap it out. Waiting on things, I didn't go out until it was almost 23:00. I walked in the back door of the bar, and had to run a gauntlet of guys trying to talk me into the latest stupid human trick, and when I finally squeezed past them all, I broke out into the old upper galley to join folks for "Acoustic Night".

Most of the band was there, Dana, Richard, Kris, Kevin, and Justus. Nick the UT came by with a rare and long since seen can of Guiness. He opened it and poured it into a few glasses and shared his rare malty bounty while most of us made a stab at some music. Dana and I were on bongos, Kris was on Sax, and Rich swapped between guitar and keyboards for a while. After midnight, folks started trickling away. Don came by on a break from his shift in Met, and since the music was mostly over, we bounced in and out of the bar, until we all more or less settled on being in the bar. I went home a bit later, then read until I fell asleep.

Sunday, 4 July 2004  Independence Day
I woke up late, just in time to hear the all call for the movie in the galley. I got up there when things were already underway. I made some noodles, then went over to the counter where Jeff was setting out pizzas. I had a few slices, then left in the middle of the show to go down to the dome.

Being a Sunday, it was a quiet night. I worked on my projects, did a little writing, and went to bed.

Monday, 5 July 2004
I woke up well after breakfast was over, and read in my room a bit before going up to the galley for lunch. It was Fried Chicken (which I skipped), Tuna Noodle Casserole, and Veggies. I sat with my usual lunch crowd at the table nearest the entrance. As frequently happens, I was later than they were, so they finished before I did and left; I moved over to the beaker table and worked on the Sunday crossword puzzle with Nick. We made a bunch of progress, but didn't even come close to finishing. I left.

I grabbed my parka and walked down to the dome via outside. It was -72.9°F (-xx.x°C) and 15 knots; not exactly a pleasant walk. Down at my desk, I worked on my logbooks until the phone rang; Erin was calling me from home. We talked until the sats hit a dropout and killed the call. We finished our conversation via IM, then the sats set for good. I finished my work for the afternoon, then went back up to the galley for dinner. The weather was a bit better, 9 knots with temps of -x.xx°F (-62°C), so I went up via outside. They'd recently ploughed the dome entrance, and the moon was shining through the ice fog, straight down the slot.

Up in the galley, dinner was Lasagna, Garlic Bread, and Veggies. I ate with some of the other beakers (Nick, Allan, and Glen), then went back down to the dome to finish up a few things. When I was ready for a break, I went over to the Library to see what was playing. Jeff was just finishing a showing of "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut." I watched it to the end, and stuck around a bit longer for a couple of Jeff's eps of "Love Hina" (an anime about an apartment manager). From there, I went to visit the bar crowd, then home to crash early after doing my weekly greenhouse rounds.

Tuesday, 6 July 2004
I stayed up late reading "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", and wasn't yet tired at breakfast, so I went up and had a nibble, eating at the beaker table with Nick. I found a copy of The New York Times digest, and polished off the Monday crossword in about 15 minutes, then went down to my room to crash.

After lunch, I went down to my desk, and Jeff was there. We worked on our weekly reports for a few hours, then went off to dinner. I sat in the back of the galley, at one of the round tables with Troy, Dana, and Kevin. The latest newspaper was out, and Kevin pointed out that the three of us at the table who were in the band, were the ones in the band photo in the paper that couldn't be seen (behind music stands and the musicians in the front rank). It was nice to see the band get some press, but it was disappointing not to be visible. The other fellows finished and got up; I wasn't done, and kept eating. Nick joined me, then Eyvind joined us. I stuck around for dessert, and lingered at the table until around 19:30. When I was finally done, I headed down to my desk.

I'd just finished my e-mail and was selecting a bottle of ginger beer when Henry came through with the DVD. We were the first ones to the Library, and were soon joined by Nick and Sarah. We put on the extended version of "Buckaroo Bonzai", with a 1954-ish home-movie intro, then saw how it rolled into the desert scene for the credits, and into what was the original theatrical release. Nick and I hung around past the end of the movie to talk for a bit. When we left, Henry was still perusing the paperbacks next door in the pool room. I found a couple of my favorites and gave them to him. From there, he went home to the new station, I went back down to my desk, and got on the computer until I was falling alseep in my chair.

Wednesday, 7 July 2004
I spent the morning in the back of Science, and tore through my new e-mail as soon as the satellite rose, making me a bit late to the galley for burger day. I had the usual burger, and a Corn Dog rather than Fries, then went back down to the dome for the afternoon.

Jeff came by mid-afternoon to work on reports with me. We cranked one out, then it was time for house mouse. I was delayed by a minor crisis from home that played out over Instant Messenger (a computer problem, essentially), and by the time I got things dealt with, I'd missed all the action, and it was time for dinner, left-over Halibut from the BBQ, and Mashed Potatoes (I skipped the Ham and the Cornish Game Hens). I ate with the other beakers, then went back down to the dome to get a little more done before knocking off for the day.

Later, up at the bar, I watched the Wednesday Night Poker crowd play a few hands, then when they wrapped it up, I hung around talking to Sean for hours, until we both called it a night. I stopped by my desk for one last check on things, then headed up to bed.

Thursday, 8 July 2004
The harsh klaxon outside my door forced me out of bed for our monthly fire drill - the scenario was a fire under the dome, next door in the administrative offices above Comms. I threw on clothes, and ran to bio-med for the jump bag, then back to Comms. Fire Team 2 was already delivering the victims to my office in the back of Science. Someone sent me out again to fetch a backboard, then I helped package and transport Pete up to Medical. He's a tall guy; it was tough getting him down the tunnels to the elevator. We loaded him in with the other victims, but he filled the last square inch of space. I ran up the stairs and helped get the doors open at the top. We hauled him down the corridor to Medical, ended the drill, unwrapped hum, then had our debrief in the galley. After we all went over the basics of what worked and what didn't work, the Trauma Team met briefly in Medical for our own debrief and analysis.

With the drill concluded, it was time for lunch, Asian Day, with a nice selection: Orange Chicken, Beef and Shitakes, Veggies in Black Bean Sauce, and Eggrolls. I loaded up a plate, then went back to the front of the room and sat at the first table. Henry and I left lunch a bit early. He had to get back to work to fiddle the routing protocols to the outside world. There was a minor burp with the Internet traffic, but things finally settled down. Jeff came by the back of Science to work on reports with me. We spent the entire afternoon on them, then went to dinner.

Steak tonight, with Fried Potato Wedges. I ate at the full table, with Henry, Nick, Bride, Jason, and Glen. We shared some wine around, and I did manage to get finished in time for band practice. I was even down to the dome early enough to catch a few minutes of the satellite before heading up to Skylab.

I was the third or fourth bandmember to arrive. Once Sarah and Rich showed up, we started right in. "Wild Thing" went OK. Justus wanted to change the key of "Mr. Jones" up a third, but the bass part is already up against the knot. We didn't have a quick solution for how to work it out, so Justus tried singing an octave low. I put some polish on the bass lick for "I Will Survive", but we couldn't do much else because the Yamaha synth is dead. When we broke up, I took the station bass (the Ibanez) down to Science with me after practice to see if I could get it working. Dana brought the Yamaha down for me to fix as well. I was going to work instruments straight away, but I took a break in the bar before getting started.

Sean was there, spining music for Moe, Jarrod, Adam and Angela. Nobody was playing cards tonight, so Sean and I cleared off the poker table and I set up the plotter paper to draw the outline for the MAME cabinet tabletop. I made a few mistakes, found some in time, had to erase others, but got down the outer dimensions, two player pockets, and one curved corner right. With that accomplished, I left the bar to go back to Science while festivities were still in full swing.

Friday, 9 July 2004
Back down in Science, I put on a video, and cracked open the Yamaha. There was a broken foil trace on the small circuit board by the power jack. Once the case was off, the repair took three minutes. The Ibanez wasn't as easy a fix. I checked various components with a volt meter, but nothing was obviously defective. I gave up and crashed in the wee hours.

After lunch, Jeff and I worked on reports all afternoon, right up to dinnertime. We got caught up, and went to dinner. The main item was nothing exciting, Chicken in Gravy, but we did get a rare treat for dessert - Orange Sherbet (pre-packaged, not from the soft-serve machine). I sat at one of the round tables in the middle of the room with the Doc and Angela, watching them play cribbage. The Doc had exactly enough points to go out, just as Angela rounded the corner, leaving her with two kings and two fives unscored in her hand, with a five turned up (a total of 22 for those of you counting at home, a lot of points not to get the opportunity to peg). They invited me to join the next round, but I declined; I had to get back down to the dome soon for radio darts.

I got back to Science in time to check on a few things and IM Erin for a few minutes. While I was there, I noticed that the sound from our Terabyte disk box had changed. One of the external fans had died, and the remaining fans were pumping out an awful lot of heat. I figured it was something of an emergency, so I pulled the power supply (it was a redundant unit, so the machine kept right on going), and tried to replace the fan. Lacking a replacement (it's an odd size), I cleaned and lubed the existing fan and put it back into service. Kris came by just as I was finishing up to let me know that they were holding a place in the rotation for me at darts.

Jason had been subbing for me for part of the first game. I went to the line for my first throw of the night with our team needing a double-4 to go out, and I threw it on the first go! Unfortunately, one of the Scott Base teams was before us in the rotation, and they went out as well, beating us. On our second game, Don threw the winning double-3 for his team. For the third game, we were barely on the board when one of the Scott Base teams closed. With a one-for-three night, we were done.

I grabbed some stuff at my desk and headed up to the bar. Sean and OV were already there. Rhys and Frank came in; OV left. When Jason came up from darts, he and Frank got into a conversation. I didn't catch what it was about because I joined in for Sean and Rhys on our own conversation about various things. When the evening wound down, I went back down to my desk.

Watching the weather, it was getting colder as the night wore on. One low point was -98°F (-72.2°C) with the winds hovering around 7 knots. Kris started the sauna for the 300 Club, but the winds shifted direction and picked up a couple of knots. The temp rose to -96.6° (-71.4°C) and hung there for a while. I went to bed just after midnight, hoping for an all call that the temps had come back down far enough to make a run.

Saturday, 10 July 2004
I went to bed last night hoping to be woken up by an all call from Met that we were go for a shot at the 300 Club. At midnight, the weather seemed to be cooperating, but wasn't a sure thing by any means. At 05:15 this morning, the call came: -101°F (-73.9°C). I sprung out of bed, threw on my sneakers and ran downstairs to grab my headlamp and neck gaiter from my parka pocket. Back upstairs, Dana was shuffling around getting ready as I put my contacts in (I didn't want to frost up on my way back). Moments after Dana and I started roasting in the sauna (currently sitting at an ample +210°F (+98°C), Jason and Bride came in, followed a little while later by Barry, one of the plumbers here who has wintered before.

We sat in the sauna for as long as we could stand. Jason nipped out for something, so when we started sweating and we decided we'd had enough, Dana, Bride, and I bolted from the sauna, grabbed flashlights, and went out the door. Going down the stairs from Upper Berthing, and down the tunnel to the dome entrance, I hardly felt the cold. It was a bit windy going through the outer door itself, but the snow is so high on the sides of the ramp that the only problem there was the loose snow that's accumulated since they ploughed it out a couple of days ago. If they hadn't just done that, we'd have been taking the snow stairs instead.

Dana was in the lead, then Bride, then me. Kris was at the top of the ramp with a red flashlight so we would know where to run back to. I followed Dana's light until I was close enough to the Pole to see my own headlamp reflect off the sign next to the Pole. Bride and I arrived at the Pole marker at the same time, tapped it, and started back. I was in the lead, lighting up the snow and following our footprints. I wasn't in the mood for much sightseeing, but as I passed the beercan, I could see a sliver of the moon, yellow and close to the horizon, barely clearing the stacks from the powerplant.

About half-way back to the ramp, I started to really feel the cold on my arms and on the backs of my calves. I had forgotten to ball my fists on the way out, but my hands were warm enough on the way back once I remembered. As I passed Kris, he asked how I was doing. I shouted "Cold" on my way down the ramp. I was about to step through the door into the dome entrance, but paused to let Barry out. Bride wasn't right behind me anymore, so I went as slow as I dared down the tunnel until I could see her headlamp coming through the door behind me. I left the door to Upper Berthing open for her, and went right into the sauna.

Jason had left while we were gone, and was still out there. He returned seconds after Barry made it back himself. We sat in the sauna at +220°F (104.4°C) and tried not to breathe the scorching air too deeply. After we thawed out, we finished our recovery outside the sauna, comparing our experiences. I've wanted to do this for years, and it was worth it. I took a shower, then went up to the galley in plenty of time for breakfast, drained, but happy.

I went up to breakfast via the outside route. It was getting windier, meaning that it was probably started to warm up again. There was a faint, but clearly visible aurora over a third of the sky, a fan over ARO, and streaks over the power plant. Down in the sauna earlier, Dana had mentioned that he had gotten the last of the shell eggs the other day (his first winter, they ran out on the first of May; last year, they didn't run out at all). I wasn't surprised, then, when Don didn't have any shell eggs, not that I ever ask for them anyway. Don did have all the omelette fixings out, so I had one with everything, plus Fried Potatoes, Corned Beef Hash, and some Matè. The room was packed for Lisae's weekly safety lecture for FEMC. I gotta say that watching a slide show on eye injuries is not recommended while eating breakfast. It could only have been worse if I were eating eggs, sunny side up.

The lecture finished, and the FEMC crew went back to work. I took a stab at the Thursday crossword puzzle, but only got about 10% done by myself. I ran downstairs for our weekly call, stopping off at the new greenhouse to see how it looks. It seems that they are doing some kind of CO2 leak test; all the doors are taped up. Down in the dome, I called Jeff to remind him of our call, then went over to Comms. It took us a couple of tries to find Darryn (he wasn't in his office), but we eventually hit on the right number and caught up on the latest. Next year's winter-overs are beginning to show up in Madison; Christian has already started, Rudy starts in a couple of weeks, and Steffen should be starting as soon as he can. Back at my desk, I re-indexed our logbooks, then took a break over in Met. It's down to -100.1°F (-74.4°C) again, with a steady 10 knots. While I watched, the temp bumped back up above the magic line. On my way back to work, I stopped off at the NOC and discussed impending network changes with Henry and potential impacts on our project. The sat rose right after that, bringing with it the morning flood of stored up e-mail. After wading through that, and IMing with Erin for a bit, lunch was nearly over.

I was later than I thought I would be. Lunch was over by about 15 minutes, and I had to raid the leftover bins on the counter as they were being filled. I found the fixings for a cold Pastrami Sandwich and a Cabbage Roll, and worked on the Thursday crossword puzzle until I finished. From the galley, I stopped off at the greenhouse for some light and greenery, then walked down to the dome for the rest of the afternoon. The RPSC folks knocked off early today for a "safety standdown", which was being heralded by a tub of beer up in the galley. I went up for a round with Pete, Sean, and a mob of others, and hung out, waiting for dinner to start. The BBQ Chicken pizza looked best. I ate, then hung around some more, waiting for Bingo to start.

I played two cards and lost rather consistently all night. Henry was on fire; he got the coveted Sala-Sala certificate (the premiere Japanese restaurant in Christchurch), and the cash prize on the last round. I was down to a couple of squares more than once, but that's miles away at Bingo. Down at the bar afterwards, it was much emptier than I expected, mostly just the high-stakes Poker players still hitting things hard. Byron, Mike, and Sean were doing well; everyone else was down. I worked behind the bar for a bit, danced a couple of tunes with Angela, and swapped carpentry injury stories with Adam. Keros took over the bar for me, and I went down to my desk to catch up on my daily writing before calling it a night.

Sunday, 11 July 2004
I got up before lunchtime and went down to my desk for a bit, working on personal projects (like ZDungeon), munching on a rehydrated bowl of Pad Thai. A bit later in the afternoon, I went up to the bar for the semi-weekly barbeque. The Shrimp and Salad Kebabs were ready, followed by Dehlia's Foccacia with Grilled Mediterranean Veggies on the side. The Tuna Steaks came off the grill, and the assembled crowd tucked in.

After dinner, Band practice started up in Skylab. We kicked off with "I Will Survive", which went well; then we moved on to our new numbers, "White Wedding", "Sexbomb", and "Mr. Jones", with enough time left for "Seven Nation Army", one of our old ones. I split right at the stroke of 21:00, and caught the last 20 minutes of the satellites from my desk before going up to the bar for the start of the second movie. When the movie ended, I went down to my desk to try to get some stuff done, but kept nodding off. At one point, though, I woke up enough to fix logfile rollover problems on one of the servers, and to extract stats of transfer times to the satellite as part of debugging why it seems to take so long to get our files onto the uplink server. With something accomplished, finally, I went up to my room to crash.

Monday, 12 July 2004
As morning wore on, I kept working on weekly report generator until breakfast time. I went up the snow ramp out of the dome to see a nice aurora overhead, a bright streak from horizon to horizon. Breakfast was mostly finished. All the construction workers were off at work, but the late crowd was still there (beakers, the Met guys, etc.) I grabbed some Pancakes, some Potatoes, and some breakfast meat, and joined the Doc and Kris. While I was in line getting food, Nan came by with a huge bag of lettuce from the new greenhouse, and left it with Don. I was surprised to see that much of a harvest considering how recently the place went online. Back at the table, consideration was the topic of the morning, especially slamming doors (Kris lives next to one of the exit doors in the new station) and leaving the galley a mess on weekends. When the guys finished, I plucked a bit of Smoked Salmon from the line as Don was putting things away. Glen was the only person left; I sat with him for a bit, reading the Sunday Times Fax, then headed back down to the dome.

The aurorae were still going on for my walk back, a nice treat. A bit into the morning, Sarah stopped by my desk and offered me some coffee. We talked about Bingo the other night, and how Henry was the big three-time winner. Perhaps Sarah said something to Henry when he got in, but Henry really surprised me by stopping by and giving me his gift certificate to Sala-Sala. He said he wanted to thank me for my ongoing contributions to Polar Morale. I was stunned. It was very generous of him, and I thanked him profusely. I was going to go to Sala-Sala anyway, when I got off the Ice, but now I have an extra incentive to go.

Getting back to things, I pulled Sarah's extreme ironing shot from my camera and sent it to her, then turned my attentions to analyzing tranfer rates of our daily data through the SPTR satellite link. I finished the program to extract the raw data from our logs, then ran it through a spreadsheet, and sent a graph to Henry of the pattern of slowdowns. I went to lunch late.

I was late enough that some of the food was gone, specifically the Potatoes. At least there was plenty of Meatloaf and Cheese Lasagna left. I sat with Pete, Dana, and a few others. We finished, and I went back to work by way of the new greenhouse. The recent harvest doesn't seem to have had much effect on the plants - the trays are populated, and the plants all look full and lush. A good sign for salads to come.

I fiddled around with the weekly report generator, fixing a couple of minor annoyances, then crashed out for the afternoon. I woke up briefly around 18:00, and asked Anj across the hall what dinner was. She said "Chinese?", and I went back to sleep. I finally woke up for real as the last few minutes of the satellite were draining away. I went down to my desk with a noodle bowl, then over to the old galley for some hot water. Being a bit bored, I took my noodles over to the Dome Library where Jeff was showing anime to an audience of two (Nick and Eyvind). The first bits were shows I didn't recognize (a "run down apartment" with a student tenant chasing the new, young apartment manager), and "Bubblegum Crisis", which I had heard of. I ate my noodles with a beer Jeff offered me, then fetched some shredded squid snacks and non-wasabi peas to share around. I watched a few anime bits, then went back to my desk to work on stuff through the night.

Tuesday, 13 July 2004
I worked through the wee hours on webpages that display our log files. After fixing some of the search items, I went to breakfast early. It was -95.8°F (-71°C) at 9 knots, and very dark out, revealing a faint aurora over the dome. I remembered to take my maple syrup with me, so I made a fresh waffle. The galley wasn't crowded; I sat alone.

After breakfast, back down in the dome, I pulled my laundry and hung up my fleece jacket. Glen brought his tiny PC by with some sort of XP problem. Sarah made a fresh pot of coffee and shared it around. The morning dragged on as I updated our log files. I missed most of the lunch hour, running up to the galley as Don was putting the food away. Grabbing a plate of Fish and Meatballs, I joined Cargo, the only folks in the galley.

I walked back to work via the outside. There was a nice glow on the horizon behind MAPO, with several auroral streaks overhead. I walked down the snow ramp towards the dome, and stood outside as long as I could stand it in just my fleece jacket. Jeff came by a bit after lunch, and we worked on the weekly reports together. I was tired, and crashed before dinner.

I woke up in time to run the sci-fi movie - "Six-String Samurai", sort of a cross between "Mad Max" and "A Boy and his Dog", with lots of 1950s Rock 'n Roll references thrown in. Really cheesy stuff. After the movie, I stopped by the bar to see who was around. Sean was playing Country, Kevin was tending bar, and Jim and Anj were playing cribbage. I didn't stay long; neither did Kevin or Sean. We all went in separate directions, I went back to my desk and worked on things for a few hours, breaking around midnight to make some noodles for midrats.

Wednesday, 14 July 2004
After restarting a dead server process (again) from my room, I went down to my desk, checked mail, then went to lunch. It was too windy to walk outside without a parka, so I took the tunnel to the beercan. It was Burger Day; I grabbed the usual Burger, plus a couple of Fish Nuggets, and a Corn Dog. Up at the first table, most of the folks were just finishing up. They left the table to me, Henry, Nick, and Jeff. When they were done, I changed tables, made a rootbeer float, and caught up on yesterday's New York Times. Stopping off at the new greenhouse, things were looking pretty good. I went back down to the dome, worked on a few things at my desk, then went back to the new station for house mouse. It was -74.2° (-59°C), but the winds were still up around 20 to 24 knots. I took the beercan again. This was our week for the galley. Allan vacuumed, I moved chairs, Nick mopped, and Jeff wiped down tables. We finished about 45 minutes before dinner, leaving me some time to catch up on e-mail down the hall in the A3 computer room.

Dinner was Turkey and Dumplings or Shepherd's Pie. The Wine Society was meeting because there had been a rumor of Roast Beef. We started the evening with Allan, Henry, Nick, Glen, and me, and picked up Jason and Justus as things wore on. After a full night of fun and conversation, I hit the sack.

Thursday, 15 July 2004
The grating sound of the alarm got me up in time for the weekly science meeting. I dashed up to the galley, made a cup of matè, and joined the group. Most folks had good news to report about their projects. Dana's SETI stuff is still giving him grief. Out at AST/RO, SPIFI is cooling down, and they have a few minor things to resolve, but overall, it's going well for them. After the meeting, I started lining up resources for some OM debugging. The first stop was at the garage to arrange for transport. Richard said he'd have a skidoo ready for us whenever we were ready to go. Down in the dome, I dug around in Comms and came up with an OTDR. By the time I collected everything for the trip, it was 45 min to lunch, so I told Jeff I wanted to grab a bite, then head out.

I'm glad I stuck around the station - it was Indian Day. Don had whipped up Curried Lamb over Rice, Samosas, and for the Indian-averse crowd, Gyros. I ate by myself, finished, and got back downstairs. I grabbed Jeff, and we headed out from the garage with our test gear.

Jeff drove. It was hard for him to hear my directions, and he'd never driven out to MAPO in the dark. We took a couple of wrong turns, but eventually made it across the skiway and got things inside before they froze. Our test fibre measured 997m (3270 ft), just about spot on. We shut down the detector, tested some known good fibers and some suspect fibers, and decided that the suspect fibers had to be bad to get the readings we were seeing. We then packed everything up and drove back to the station. About one quarter of the way back, I was completely frosted up, so Jeff and I switched, and he drove the rest of the way. We put the skidoo away, returned the OTDR, and called it a day.

I was so wiped, I almost fell asleep in my chair and missed dinner. I ran up for Salsbury Steaks, Cornish Game Hens, and Scalloped Potatoes. I sat with Angela and Tom, and discussed some of the proposed Pole marker designs. Stopping by the new greenhouse on the way down, I ran into Justus tending his baby spinach plants. Down at my desk, I got online until GOES-3 went into eclipse (it gets in the shadow of the earth a few days a year, and they turn off the transmitter to save the batteries in case it runs into trouble). With nothing holding me back, I went up to Skylab for band practice.

Practice went very well. We played through most of our new numbers. Angie the carpenter was there, reporting for the newspaper. I stuck around for a while after we were done, chatting with Kevin and Dana, then headed down to my desk with a broken patch cable to fix.

Friday, 16 July 2004
I didn't even try to get up to the new station for lunch. I just made a bowl of Tom Yum soup down in the dome, and worked from there. The day seemed like it would never end. When dinner finally rolled around, it was a nice treat - Roast Beef and Teriyaki Salmon. Being a Friday Night, I went down to Comms for Radio Darts. Our teams took two out of three games, and I even managed to make the opening throw for my team once. Other than that, my shining moment was a triple 19 and a 15 and 17 - nice Cricket numbers. After darts, some folks retired to the bar. Sarah, Mike, and Sean were just putting in "Any Which Way You Can" which was funny to me because I'd just been writing about the night we watched "Any Which Way But Loose". After the movie, I went back to my desk for a bit, took care of a few things, then hit the hay.

Saturday, 17 July 2004
I got up earlier than usual, and decided to go to breakfast rather than sleep in right up to our weekly phone call. I grabbed my matè and put on my hat and headlamp and headed outside. It was a nice -72.8°F (-58.2°C) at 6 knots. I paused to stare at a nice auroral streak overhead, then made my way back inside at the beercan. The Galley was packed. I'd stumbled across the weekly 07:00 FEMC safety meeting. I went for a couple of fresh pancakes off the griddle, some Corned Beef Hash, Potatoes, and some kind of leftover grilled beef strips, and grabbed a seat in the middle of the room. Lisae got up and introduced the presentation - "Klaus", a German safety video about a really bad forklift driver who manages to knock things over, run through walls, impale people, and isn't even deterred by losing his head to some low-hanging obstacle. It was filled with gratuitous amounts of blood, etc., but it did make the point about all the things you should not do while driving a forklift. The movie ended, and all the FEMC folks cleared out to go back to work. Dana and Kris came over and sat with me, Lisae moved over to our table, and the Doc joined us. We talked a lot about the present water situation (pH issues with the water supply and the consequent leaching of copper from the station's plumbing). We all finished about the same time and headed out to get on with our respective days.

I stopped off to stare at the plants at the new greenhouse, then walked back to the dome by the outside path. The aurora had mostly subsided to a soft glow, not enough to warrant standing around in the cold for. Over in Comms, Jeff and I made our weekly Iridium call back to Madison. Besides deciding to shift our call day starting next week, Darryn introduced some off the new folks to us, Rick, Paul, and Christian. Rick and Paul are full-timers in Madison; Christian is one of next year's winter-overs.

The rest of the morning was rather non-descript. Lunch was Mexican Day. I was pleasantly surprised to find there were still taco shells with five minutes left in the lunch hour. The Chile Rellanos were a bit large; took part of one, and made a bowl of Nachos. I sat at the beaker table, but there were few beakers around. The daily New York Times digest hadn't shown up yet; the only thing to read was Dan's daily page of web comics. Henry came through with the news that it had just hit -100.0°F (-73.3°C)! As I walked back to the dome, I was passed by some folks with towels in hand, headed for the Upper Berthing sauna.

Down under the dome, about 15 people were getting ready to pack into the sauna. They were having problems getting the temp up to +200°F (+93.3°C). I brought up Angela's temp probe from her desk so they could monitor the sauna without opening the door and letting the heat out. Eventually, they got things where they needed to be, and Dana headed out to the Pole in his ECW. The large crew burst out of the sauna and headed to the Pole. They were gone longer than I'd have expected before they started trickling back. Among some of the fun they had was Adam falling flat onto his face in the -100°F (-73.3°C) snow.

With all the excitement over, I went down to my desk for the afternoon, then back up to the new station for the all hands meeting. The big news was the toilet that kept running to the tune of of 700 gallons (2650 liters) of wasted water. Pete also brought us up to date on the Pole Marker design competion, and Dennis showed off T-shirt designs for stuff we could order now and have waiting for us in Christchurch. Kathy picked the flag winners, OV and Tracy. Hanging around for a bit after the meeting, Jason showed me where the pictures and comments from us were on the velonews site. I told Pete and Angie about it (they are big Tour de France fans), then went down to the dome.

On the way down the beercan there was an all call that it was still -100°F (-73.3°C) and that folks could still do a 300 Club run. At my desk I made a quickie sign for the webmasters at velonews to prove I was where I said I was, then went upstairs to the sauna for a photo at +200°F (+93.3°C). Don got my picture, and as I was cooling off, Pete and Dave were just getting back from their 300 Club runs. With Keros and Don going earlier today, we've had 18 people make the run.

I worked at my desk under the dome all the way through dinner. By the time I trundled up to the galley, all that was left was a little cold pizza. I nuked a couple of slices and watched Angela, Randi, Doc, and Tom play cribbage. Doc and Angela beat Randi and Tom pretty squarely on one game, then Randi and Tom squeaked by on the next game. I was too tired to hang out much more, so I went down to my desk. I couldn't raise Erin on IM; she was probably in the tape room doing her nightly rotations. Fighting to stay awake, I slid next door to Crackle's birthday party in the Wine Bar. It was packed. Probably 35 people in there. The "Cake" was a sculpture of Rice Crispie Squares that Bride had whipped up. When the birthday party started to disperse, Kevin and Jarrod hauled the tub of beer over to the bar. Even Dana came over for a rare appearance. Glen set up his techno DJ rig in the old upper galley, and I listened while I threw some darts. It was a good night for darts - lots of bulls and 19s, with more than half of the darts landing where I was aiming (better than a typical Friday night, that's for sure). I hung out until most of the people had gone home, then went in to help Keros clean up before calling it a night myself.

Sunday, 18 July 2004
I was so behind on sleep that I just slept the day away. I would wake up, roll over, then go right back to it, hour after hour. I finally woke up about the time someone made the all call that dinner was ready. Up on the line, I grabbed some Smoked Turkey and Smoked Beef, and sat with Nick, Jake, Allan, and Dan. I didn't have long to linger over dinner, and went right down to Skylab for band practice.

Kris overslept, and Justus didn't show at all. We ran through a couple of our old numbers and many of our new ones. Sarah bailed around 20:30, then we played "I Got Loaded" one more time and called it quits. I ran down to the dome to jump on the waning minutes of GOES-3. I was just in time to see that I made velonews a second time with news of today's temps and the 300 Club, then the sat dropped.

Monday, 19 July 2004
I got up early and made my way up to breakfast via the outside route to look for aurorae. There was a faint streak through thin clouds, but nothing spectacular. It was windy (21 knots at -77.5F° (-60.8C°)), so, rare as it is, I wore my parka to the new station. On my way up to the galley, I stopped by the growth chamber. Randi, Nan, and Carlton were all there at twenty-to-six, which I thought was odd. I found out later there'd been a sizable leak overnight. Up at breakfast, it was the usual sort of fare - French Toast, Potatoes, Sausage... Richard is back on mornings and it shows. He's not a bad cook, but he doesn't push the envelope much. I sat alone and read the Sunday New York Times Digest, and had started the crossword puzzle when Scott, Richard, and Eyvind joined me. The big topic was the 300 Club, since Lisae and Scott had just joined yesterday morning. I finished my third cup of Matè and swung by the growth chamber. Xuan was there and all the inspection covers were off. We chatted a bit about the history of the USAP services contracts (Holmes & Narver and ITT Antarctic Services. before my time, and ASA and Raytheon more recently), then I took the beercan and tunnels back to the dome to work on the logbooks all morning.

Lunch was Barbeque - Ribs and Smoked Turkey Sandwiches. I sat alone and worked on the Sunday crossword puzzle and Pete joined me to help. Tom casually mentioned on his way by that I seemed to have grabbed Tracy's coat when I went back down the dome earlier. I was a bit surprised to learn that, but as I almost never wear my parka up to the new station, I suppose it's not that strange to have picked the wrong one out of the coat room. I found Tracy in B1 and got it all straightened out, then went down to the Back of Science to wait for Jeff. When he arrived, I showed him how to keep the logbook updated, then as I was moving things around, I accidentally filled up the user disk, leaving me a big mess to clean up before dinner.

Dinner was Turkey with Cornbread, Mashed Potatoes, Greens, and a Fresh Salad. I sat near Dehlia and Sean and watched them play Scrabble. After dinner I was on the computer when the GOES-3 Eclipse hit. With no net connection, I napped for a bit, then got up to do my weekly Greenhouse duty. I was just starting when Glen came up about leak in his ceiling. We checked for any obvious leaks, then I took my readings, logged them, then went over to the Library over Comms. Jeff was just putting away his laptop, and Nick talked to me about how to directly measure the azimuth and elevation of the moon to compare it to a model they were using. Over at the bar, it was dead empty, so I went back to my desk, and worked on ZDungeon until I went up to my room to crash.

Tuesday, 20 July 2004
I got up early and sent out an all-Pole e-mail about Sushi Night, this coming Sunday, then got into my Carhartts and went up to breakfast via the beercan. Strangely at that hour, the gallley was deserted, except for Dana. Richard made me an Omelette, which went great with Biscuits and Gravy and Potatoes and Bacon. Sean joined me, and I suggested we go out to MAPO to fiddle with the fiber patch panel. On my way down to secure a ride, I stopped by the growth chamber where everything looked good except one variety of lettuce (it was a bit spotty). At the Heavy Shop, I let Byron know we'd need a snow machine, then went back to the Dome so I could get the rest of my gear on.

FDX Boots, contact lenses and everthing else later, I swung by Comms to grab Sean. He grabbed his gear and we passed Jules and Allan on an Iridium conference call on our way out the door. The skidoo was ready for us when we got to the Heavy Shop. I opened the inner and outer doors, and drove us on out. It was difficult to tell which way to go once we left the garage arch. I estimated where MAPO was and intersected the flag line part of the way to the skiway. Paralleling the flag line, our direction was certain. I looked around a bit on the drive to see faint aurorae all around. There was a big drift in front of the door to MAPO, but we still managed to get the skidoo inside quickly and kill the engine before the exhaust could build up and set off the fire alarm. Upstairs, Sean and I re-shot the suspect fiber, it still looked bad, and we tested our procedure on a known-good channel before a final test on the suspect fiber. Everything showed that we had a problem and it was probably a problem somewhere in the building, not buried deep in the ice. We packed up the test gear, and I went outside to clear the drift from in front of the door. Even with preparations, we had problems getting the skidoo out the door before the area started getting smoggy. Allan came by right about then and was none too pleased with us. He helped us get the skidoo out the door, then stood with the doors open (to clear the exhausts) as we drove off. We were just turning the skidoo around to leave when I could see Allan's headlamp up on the roof - he was probably clearing snow off the inside of the DASI ground shield. We rode past AST/RO, and stayed near the flag line. The aurorae were bright on the way back, but I couldn't really watch them; I had to keep a hand over my nose to protect it from the wind after nipping it last week. After we passed the crossing beacon signs, Sean took us around the back of the station and down the ramp to the garage arch. I opened the doors and Sean pulled the skidoo right into its parking spot indoors. He went back to Comms, I went out the Dome entrance to watch the aurorae. As I stepped through the door, I could see the sky lit up above the lip of the bowl around the double doors. There was a broad swath low over the western horizon and a bright swath over ARO. I watched until my cheeks hurt, then got back inside and took care of a few things at my desk until lunchtime.

The aurorae were still amazing on my walk to the new station. It was only about 6 knots, and -91.3F° (-68.5C°). There were wide green swaths over the Dark Sector. green curtains over the Dome, and green sprays over ARO. I tripped on sastrugi many times - I kept my headlamp off trying to let my eyes adjust to the dim light. Eventually I had to get inside and climb the stairs up to the Galley. Today was Mexican Day - Black Bean Burritos with Green Chili Sauce, Rice, and Beans. The place was mostly empty, with a few folks in the dark corners of the room doing the crossword puzzle. There weren't enough papers to go around, leaving me without a puzzle of my own. I left right after eating and took the outside route to the Dome, hoping for more aurorae. They weren't as active this time, so I used my headlamp for the second part of the trip. I spent the rest of the afternoon in the Dome, at my desk, then went up to my room right before dinner to grab a nap that lasted until dinner was over.

As I left my room, I could see a sign on the sauna for another session of the 300 Club. I kept right on going and went across the dome to the Library, which was starting to fill up. I popped the movie in when we had a full house (for once, there were lots of the Bar Crowd in attendance), then went back to my desk afterwards. Kris came by at one point to let me know we were down to -100.3F° (-73.5C°).

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