July at the South Pole

Saturday, 1 July 2006
I hung out in the B1 game room with Stephanie, George, John O, and Patrick over many games of nine-ball, long enough that I got hungry. I went back to my desk and returned with an armload of various spicy noodle packets to share. We all made some noodles and tried various ones. They were a big hit. After several rotations around the table, we all wound down and headed to our respective rooms to crash

I heard the all call for Clayton's Breakfast Burritos at 09:30 (something he does every two-day weekend), but then I rolled over for a little more sleep. And didn't wake up until they were over. I hustled down to the Galley just in time to see Clayton cleaning the grill. Maybe next month. I spent most of the day in my room, responding to e-mail and what not, then went off to dinner around 18:00. The galley was packed for Allan's barbeque. The main dishes were (homemade) "Bangers and Mash" and grilled Lamb Chops. I grabbed a plate and sat down with some of the other science types. Bob the Science Tech was eating some Fried Chicken from the left-over fridge (Duck Sausage and Lamb not being high on his list), but the rest of us were enjoying Allan's work. After dinner, I went back to my room and got ready for Dainella's birthday party down in the old Gym.

I don't know the exact temperature, but the walk down the beercan was a bit nippy in just a fleece jacket. I could hear the party from the power plant arch. I walked in, and the place was packed. They'd moved the poker table away from the corner to leave room for a dance floor, but other than that, nearly every seat was full. I think we had almost half the station show up. I bounced around talking to a few different folks, then ended up in a long conversation with Lane, the greenhouse guy, about my farm and about closed-loop Tilapia/Herb aquaculture. We had to put a pin in the discussion when Dainella came over and started dragging various folks onto the dance floor. We stayed up there through various numbers including "99 Luftballons", and The Bloodhouse Gang's "Bad Touch". It wasn't as lively as the old dance parties in the old bar under the Dome, but it was as many people as I've seen dancing all winter. The music shifted and people cleared the floor. Some of the guys grabbed helium balloons and sang "Happy Birthday" with squeaky voices, then we all pretty much went back into the various groups we were in before the dancing started.

Before too long, folks began trickling out in dribs and drabs. By midnight, there were probably a dozen or less remaining.

Sunday, 2 July 2006
The festivities lasted well past midnight. Eventually, folks started trickling away. Dainella went back up to the station, leaving just a few of us left. Finally, even Clayton and BFK went home. I hung out for a bit longer, throwing darts and listening to the last few 80s songs on the playlist. On my way back to my room, I stopped off at my desk in B2 where Victoria was working on this and that. I wandered through the galley where Dennis and Lane were arranging a recently-cut canteloupe from the growth chamber. It had a soft spot on it and had just been culled. Victoria arrived, and after a couple of photographs, we devoured it. I've had melons that were much sweeter, but after months without fresh fruit, it was great to have. Lane and I stayed around the galley, continuing our earlier discussion about aquaculture until I started fading around breakfast time. He went back down to the growth chamber; I went home and crashed.

I slept in, skipping the "2@2" fire lecture and movie. I don't even know what they were showing this week. I was on my computer in my room when I heard a strange and nearly unintelligeable all call in Fat Bob's voice mumbling something about "pizza". I went down to the galley as Rhys was setting out four pans of pre-fab Lasagna, marked "noodle pizza" (Bob said it was too much work to spell "Lasagna"). I filled a plate and sat down with it. Plenty of other people were there, but being a Sunday and the second part of a two-day weekend, nobody was very energetic or talkative. After eating, I went over to B2 to check on things, then down to the growth chamber to show Lane Google Maps. He'd been cutting back the old growth at the back of the middle aisle; virtually everything in the rear 50% was gone. The mature cucumber plants at the front of the room and the mature tomato plants were still in the middle of the room (loaded with fruit that will probably be ready in a week), but the back was bare. Lane and Dan and I took turns showing off where we lived on Google Maps, then I went back upstairs and left them to finish the lettuce harvest. Down in the galley, I hung out with Jeff, Stephanie, Johan, and Suzy over tea and cookies. We talked about the weather station on Mount Washington (where Jeff used to work), Stephanie's next assignment after here (XO on a NOAA boat that services weather buoys along the equator, and a variety of other stuff). I had meant to get back to my room before GOES set, but I didn't make it. I wrote for a while, then went back down to the galley for a late-night snack. Allan was washing dishes, a few other people were milling around with food in mind. I found a frozen burrito and nuked it. Victoria was going to have cereal, but the steel cow (milk dispenser) was out. I was just finishing my food and offered to make more milk. Before I could sort out all the ingredients and containers, John N. came by and took over. I went back out to the galley and sat down with Lane and Victoria as they finished eating.

Monday, 3 July 2006
Most of the late-night snack crowd split. I hung around, reading the last pages of the copy of Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" that Tonya had left behind for us. Erik sat down, we chatted for a bit, then I went back to my room to write and crash.

I did a bit of writing, but kinda skipped the sleep part. I organized my directories of notes, then got a bit hungry and headed down to the galley before breakfast-time. Michael was still prepping the food and setting things out. There was another cantaloupe on the line; I nibbled on a sliver that was much sweeter than the previous one and read the Sunday Times Fax. When Michael opened the line, I grabbed an Egg and Cheese Muffin and took it back to my room. Eventually, sleep caught up with me and I fell over.

After a wierd dream about my neighbor doing massive earthworks along his wall facing the alley, I woke up and headed down to the galley for some food. Lunch was Corned Beef and Potatoes. I ate and headed down to my desk to meet with Victoria to go out and fiddle with the detector, but she wasn't in. I kept busy until she showed up; she'd been up late watching moonrise. We donned our ECW gear and headed out. There was quiet a bit of ground haze, so the moon wasn't visible, but the aurorae over MAPO were a nice treat on the walk. We got to the building and got right to work - the problem was that the board swap was the easy part. One of the nearby cards didn't want to reset. Many power-cycles later, things were back to normal, and we were able to restart the software.

With things up and running again, Victoria went on to the TCH to collect the weekly power readings, and I went back to the station to send out some after-action e-mails. Dinner came soon thereafter; it was a choice of Grilled Mahi-Mahi or Beef Stew. I sat at Science table with some of the science techs and IT guys, then went back to my desk to write. Things were a little noisy over in Met; apparently Neal's "Men of the South Pole" calendar photo had attracted some attention from readers Stateside, and one woman sent him an animated version of his own picture via the Bud Lite site. He returned the favor by posing for a silly picture, much to the amusement of all concerned. Things quieted down again and folks dispersed. I ran into a few of them later, after the sat set, playing darts down the hall. Stephanie, Neal, and Patrick had just finished a game of Cricket. I was just in time for some 301. Stephanie won both games, and at least on the second round, I was close to going out when Stephanie hit the double one (my performance on the first game was terrible). We all went back to the galley for a snack, then I headed back to my room to crash.

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