Having opened my birthday goodies at last, I went up to lunch, stopping off at my desk to pick up Tree's Nomad mp3 player. As I went past Met, I noticed that the wind it was colder, and that the wind shifted. Apparently, overnight, the wind hadn't just shifted 60°, it came through grid south on a 300° swing, putting our power plant emissions right through the Clean Air Sector (the winds are rarely from grid south here).
I stopped off at the store and picked up a few things. All the KitKats are gone, not surprising since I'd been watching the supply dwindle. There were a few boxes of UHT milk left; I bought a couple for later in the season when the store is out. Up at lunch, it was Italian Day, Lasagna, Cheese Sticks, and Garlic Bread. I sat at the Beaker table, surrounded by crossword puzzle fiends all working on the Monday puzzle in silence (it's the easiest day, and it's considered appropriate to not collaborate on Mondays and most Tuesdays). Nick did ask me where Warren G. Harding was born; I initially told him 'Canton, OH' (where my Mother grew up), but later I changed my answer to 'Niles' (a few miles to the East). After eating and putting the puzzle to bed, I went down to the store, picked up the things I'd bought earlier, dropped them off in the brewing room, then went down to the dome to spend the afternoon.
Shortly after I arrived, Nick came back offering "espresso-based beverages". I cleaned out my mug over in the old galley, then came back to Nick's office and waited for coffee. Angela was working at her desk next door on a side-project - the pH and conductivity sender for the new greenhouse. It seems that we were sent the wrong type during the season (not internally strapped to be compatible with the Argus data system that monitors everything), and the replacements didn't arrive before Station Close. With her background as an Electrical Engineer, she had been asked if she could make something work out of the parts on hand. I had looked at the problem once, but I'm more of a technician than an engineer, so I was curious to hear what she thought.
The sat came up, and I went to my desk to see what new e-mail it had brought. As I read through dozens of new messages, Dana came by, announcing red aurorae (green is the common color). Everybody in the Science building turned out to see them. I swilled down the dregs of my lattè, threw on my ECW gear, grabbed my camera and tripod, and head outside. With all the equipment I was just getting down the tunnel when everyone else was coming back inside. I clambored out the dome entrance and, with my headlight on, went up the snow stairs.
It was clear out, good visibility with quite a lot of moonlight. It washed out the aurorae, but made a good backlight for the new station. I took a couple of pictures of the beercan with a lunar nimbus, then went inside when my glasses frosted over. While I let the camera thaw, I spotted a couple of friends from back home on AIM. I chatted with Bill for a while, but Tom didn't seem to be at his keyboard. I ran up to dinner right before it ended, and grabbed some Spinach Souffle, Green Beans, and Shepherd's Pie (and passing on the Cornish Game Hens). I ate at the Beaker table, and was joined by Jules and Nick. Jules and I lingered a while after dinner, talking about old cars vs. new ones, shopping malls, urban development, and the like.
Down in the dome, I stopped off at my desk long enough to pick up "the Prisoner" DVDs, and went next door to the library. Nobody was there yet, so I made the announcement, set up the projector, and started once Don, Nick, and Henry arrived. Henry and Don split after first episode, but then Don came back for the third (he probably left to do a weather ob). After the show, I went back to my desk and was surprised to see that Erin was still at work and online. She couldn't talk; something was broken on her end which is why she was still there at all. With nobody to talk to, I just went to bed.
I was confused when I walked in the galley; it was Burgers, on a Wednesday. I made a burger and joined the crowd at the first table. Henry, Dehlia, and I finished about the same time; they left, I moved over to the beaker table to work on the Tuesday crossword puzzle. I was nearly done when Pete joined me. Jason showed up as well. With all three of us, and a clue or two from Nick, we finished.
I took the tunnel back to the dome. It was still -90°F (-80°C) out, but the wind has picked up to 16-18 knots, pulling the windchill down to -140°F (-95.6°C). I worked in the back of Science until it was time for house mouse. I came back to the new station via the outside (with the wind at my back) only to find that they were already done. I went back to the dome and worked until dinner.
I got to the galley late in the dinner hour; there were no Ribs left, so I had to settle for some kind of Turkey/Broccoli Casserole and a Stuffed Shell. When I was done, I moved across the galley to join Angela's practice Texas Hold'em game (50 Froot Loops per player) with Randi, Tom, the Doc, and eventually, Glen. Tom was out first, followed by me, then Angela, leaving the Doc, Randi and Glen. Angela and I walked down to the dome together. She went home to crash; I went back to my desk and got on AIM for a while before taking a break over at the bar to watch the usual Wednesday night crowd playing poker. I stayed for a few hands, then called it a night.
Back at my desk, I was gathering my photo gear for a picture of the station in the moonlight when Dana called to let me know about the aurorae. I finished putting on my ECW gear, and headed out the door and up the ramp. At the top of the ramp, I set up the tripod and shot a few aurorae that were to grid South. I still wanted a few pictures of the new station itself, so I relocated a few dozen paces in the vague direction of ARO and set up the tripod again. Unfortunately, as I adjusted the tilt on the camera, I snapped off my remote cable, stiff in the cold. I went back inside at that point, all frosted up, and dismantled the remote fob to get a pinout. The problem is that the connector on the camera end is some proprietary Olympus thing and I don't know if I'll be able to fabricate a replacement.
I went up to lunch via the outside. It was still nice and clear. I stopped off at the store on my way up to the galley, and spent the gift certificate Tree gave me for fixing her mp3 player. Upstairs, it was Mexican Day. I made myself a couple of tacos and had a bowl of soup, and took them over to the first table with Henry, the Doc, Nick, and Eyvind. Nick and I worked on the Wednesday crossword puzzle after everyone else had left. I grabbed a cookie for dessert and talked with Glen, Jason, and Pete at the Beaker table before taking the beercan back to the dome (I didn't want to walk back facing the 13-16 knots winds).
Down at my desk, I gathered things for walk out to MAPO later. I watched a video, then went to my room to collect the last of my ECW gear and to call Jeff. It was a nice walk with lots of light and the wind at my back. Rob had recently smoothed the path, and the winds haven't been high enough since then to raise any significant drifts, let alone any sastrugi. I arrived at MAPO before Jeff, and started shutting things down. He came in and started checking detector channels; I swapped out the defective ADC module. When Jeff was done with his stuff, we fired up the detector and everything looked good. He went back to the station first, I left around 17:00 after I was happy everything was working well.
The walk back was about 25 minutes with the wind square in my face. My goggles frosted over by the time I crossed the skiway, so I walked the rest of the way with them off, trying to use my hood to keep the wind out of my face. I put my gear in the downstairs coatroom and went up to the galley for dinner early.
Dinner was somewhat plain tonight, Ham, Cheesy Potatoes, Broccoli. I ate at the Beaker table with Jules, the Doc, Allan, and Henry for a Wine Society night. I had some Chardonnay, then, before I could get too ensconced, I ran down to the dome for band practice. We played some of our old numbers, and some of our new ones. Right after I'd put away my bass, Rich launched into "Runaround". He's not sure, but he might be able to squeeze it out before our next performance (the bass line is really easy, so I'm not worried).
I made it back to my desk before the sats set, and jumped on IM for a bit before heading up to the bar to see what was going on. In addition to the poker game, Mike and Sean were playing games on the Playstation. "Manhunt" was the only one I recognized. I watched them duck in the shadows and evade more than anything else. Once the novelty wore off, I went back to my desk, cut a piece of perfboard for a home-built INS8073 single-board computer, then went to bed.
By the time Nick and I had put the puzzle to bed, Jules had returned with a large group of electricians for their outdoor group photo. At 3 knots, it was a good day for a picture at the Pole. Most of us were in jeans and sneakers as we walked from the beercan to Pole. After a few shots of the crowd, Jules and I stayed behind to take a couple of pictures of here at the Australian flag near the Pole (Rodney's Flag). After that, my face was hurting and my glasses were too frosted up for me to see where I was going. Jules carried my tripod, lest I trip, and we made for the beercan. I went straight back to the dome and to Science, where Angela and Tom were puzzling over a box of old electronics, possibly ancient Met hardware. Nobody could tell what it was for or how long it had been there, but it was definitely in the way. I glanced at a few devices, gave them my opinion, then went back to my desk for the afternoon.
Later, I left for the all hands meeting, but a wee bit too late. At 16:05, most of the people were coming down the beercan towards me; I'd already missed it. There were apparently few announcements beyond awarding this month's flag (Jason won the American flag). I hung out in the galley for a bit and waited for dinner. It was Asian night again, though the dishes labelled "Kung Pao Port" and "Teriyaki Chicken" bore little resemblence to their namesakes (but the Grilled Veggies were nice). I ate in the back of the room with Kevin and Sarah, finished my meal, then went down the hall to the computer room in A3 to wait for the evening to start.
A little later, Brad opened the bar at the back of the galley with White Russians (we are running out of a variety of things to mix with). I sipped on one and had a cookie on the side, then went down to the dome to check on the detector. Everything looked good, but when Don went by on his way to Radio Darts, I told him I'd be missing this week to watch "The Sopranos" over in the Library. I grabbed a spot on the couch in the back and watched the three episodes they'd picked for the night, then looked around to find the source of the merriment and noise somewhere in the rest of the building. There were people playing pool next door, but that wasn't it. I tracked things down to the wine bar where Randi and Angela were playing cribbage. I sat with them and chatted as they played, then they invited me to play a third hand on a new game. For the first three-way game, I finished way behind, but at least not skunked. I returned the favor, with the help of a 24 point hand, by skunking Randi and almost skunking Angela, then skunking Angela and almost skunking Randi. They both played well, but the cards were on my side (lots of double three-card runs helped). After three full games, it was time to call it a night. I checked the detector on my way back through Science (looks like the new ADC module is peforming great), then went to bed.
After our call, I stopped off briefly at my desk to check for news of LES-9, then headed up to the galley for one of OV's Breakfast Burritos. Henry came in for one too, but he had no specifics on our new satellite regime. Around 10:30, having lounged around the galley long enough, I went down to the dome library for a movie (for which I dug out my cinnamon-glazed popcorn), then went down to my desk for a while. The only thing I had to do to prepare for tonight was to locate some MIDI tracks of a few Simon and Garfunkel tunes, so once I'd done that, I got cleaned up and headed to the galley.
The "Galley Appreciation Dinner" was in full swing on the far end of the galley. They'd pulled the curtain to heighten the effect that they were in an intimate setting, and had a volunteer-cooked meal to show their appreciation for the folks who work in the galley. The rest of us sat on the big side of the galley and had some of Dehlia's excellent Tequila Lime Chicken with a Chile Rellano Casserole, Corn Break, Rice, and Beans. Henry brought me a network cable so I could put the MIDI files on Susie's laptop (for later), and a bunch of us sat on the pedestrian end of the galley, chatting and waiting for the dinner portion of the GAD to be over and the public festivities to start.
Once the dinner portion of the evening was over, people were less uptight about those of us who weren't invited coming over to "their" side of the galley. The entertainment for the evening was something of a variety show. With about sixty people (out of seventy five on station) in attendance, Aaron split the acts with bad Haiku, Sarah sang while Angie played piano, Kevin played "Space Oddity", Henry read really bad poetry (until Sarah pulled the plug), then Clayton and I went up to sing Simon and Garfunkel as "Simpson and Garfinkel".
We had a few technical difficulties with "Mrs. Robinson", but nothing that couldn't be fixed by a little hand-waving and re-starting from the top. People seemed to really like our performance. Bret took the mike next and tried to play some Pink Floyd, but he kept getting flustered and stopping. When he played, he was pretty good, but he just kept stopping. The highlight of the evening was the puppet show. I missed a bunch of it, but what they had done was to take photographs of the galley staff and some other people around station, and perform a satire of some of the high and low points of the winter so far. They had people rolling in the aisles with their performance. I gotta say that some of the material wasn't kind to some people, but it was pretty close to the mark, and really funny.
After the show was over, I checked the weather before heading down to the dome (warmer, but windier than earlier... -76°F (-60°C) at 16 knots). It wasn't the worst weather all year, by far, but it wasn't something I wanted to walk into the teeth of without a parka; I took the tunnels. The bar was more crowded than I expected, especially considering how many people had just been up in the galley. I hung out for a bit, listened to some of the usual winter-over conversation, then went down to Science to check things at my desk on my way to bed.
A couple of friends of mine were on IM. Matt was finishing his last day at his old position where we used to work together, and Erin was being kept awake by a loud party at the shelter house at her apartment complex. I chatted with them for a bit, until Kris walked by on his way to band practice. We played old and new tunes, and it all went well until Rich wanted to drop "Shout" a couple of keys. The chorus was easy to tranpose; the problem was the walkup during the slow part - the root of the section was too low for a standard-tuned bass. We decided to work that part out later, and moved on to "Runaround".
After practice, I took a movie over to the bar for a break. Jason and I were watching it when Met Don came by to let us know that it was approaching -100°F (-73.3°C) and that he had already fired up the sauna. The DVD player started acting up near the end of the movie, so Jason applied the usual treatment to it - he thumped it. The problem was that the disc was no longer in the DVD player. I thought the machine swallowed it, so I took it back to my desk to extract my disc. As I was taking things apart, Jason called down to my office to tell me that he found the movie on the floor under the table (he must have had the drawer open when he thumped it; I thought it was closed). I returned the DVD player to the bar, hooked it back up, then went home to crash.
Once I got to MAPO, it was immediately apparent that one of the most important machines was down. I rebooted it, and while I was at it, I tried to reset one of the newer detector modules that stopped responding a while back, but was unable to get it to wake up. I restarted the detector and everything looked fine after that. I was too tired to walk back just then, so I crashed in the comfy chair.
Around 07:00, Kris woke me with an all call that we'd hit -100.3°F (-73.5°C) and that now was a good time to join the 300 Club. I put my ECW back on and headed back to the station, on a walk that was bit colder even before the wind in my face. I did my best to keep my head down and my face covered. I was in such a hurry to get back that I my feet were sliding around in my socks, boot liners, and the felt inserts in my FDX boots, and it felt like I was going to get blisters on the balls of both my feet.
Near the station, I passed Allan on his way out to MAPO. My goggles were all frosted up and I couldn't see the snow stairs. I had to feel my way down each individual stair (not easy in FDX boots). From the dome entrance, I went straight to Met to see where the temeratures were. Don and Kris were both watching the readouts closely, as was Dana; it had warmed up to -99.9°F (-73.2°C) since my walk back. While I was enroute, three people did their runs, but the low temps came and went in a matter of minutes. I went up to my room to get out of my ECW and to get ready to get into the sauna.
Back down at Met, we waited around, talking about the weather, watching the temps not go back down. By 09:00, people started dispersing. I waited around for a but longer, but when it was clear that it wasn't going to happen, I went to bed.
After some odd dreams of being back home in the States for an overnight visit, I woke up after lunch, and tried to decide whether to stay up or go back to sleep. I decided to stay up and get back to work. I puttered around at my desk for the rest of the afternoon and couldn't wait to get up to dinner. I went up as soon as I could and grabbed some Ham and Rice Casserole and Mashed Potatoes (skipping over the Chicken Fried Steak), and finished it off with a nice slice of Coffee Ice Cream Pie. About the time I was done, the newspaper meeting started up. We all gave a short pitch session for what we wanted to submit, and we broke up 'til next time.
The big thing this evening was Angela's birthday party in the wine bar. By the time I got there, the place was packed. A seat opened up on the couch, and I nabbed it. Someone made up a nice cheese and cracker tray with real olives and some nice cheeses, but I gotta say that previously-frozen baby carrots take on a really nasty texture. Jeff dropped by briefly before his weekly anime night and tried to drag some people next door, but only the usual crowd went. I stuck with the party to the end when it was down to me, Rich, Lisae, and Slay. When the party finally died, I checked around the dome to see if anything else was going on, then went to bed.
I slept through lunch and puttered around in my room before taking a ramen packet down to my desk. Before I could get it started, I noticed that something was wrong with my computer. A few minutes of slething revealed that one of our server processes died silently; restarting it put everything back to normal. I made my noodles, caught up with my e-mail, and helped Jeff with a Perl project of his.
I went up to dinner pretty much right on 17:30. They set out Deep Fried Pork Chops or Chicken and Dumplings, and Potato Skins, with Cream Puffs for dessert. I ate, then went down to the dome to my desk and scrapped a few parts from dead drives before heading over to the Library for Sci-fi Night.
When I got there, a few guys were watching old "Simpsons" tapes. We watched one to the end, then I put in "Amazon Women on the Moon". None of us had watched it in years. It's funny, but short; we were out of there before 22:00. A few of us stayed behind to chat afterwards, but everyone else split when Jeff started talking about work. Henry and I pored over the books next door; I took a couple of Larry Niven titles back to my office. I worked a little bit on my homemade remote camera trigger, then went to bed.
The choices tonight were Pasta and Sauce, Pigs in Blankets, and Steamed Veggies. I ate at the beaker table and was back down in the dome by 18:15. Erin couldn't talk, too much to do for school. I worked for a bit on my INS8073 board, then stopped through the movie room on my way to the bar for Sarah's birthday. I hung out for a bit, talking to Sarah, etc. Jason, Kevin and I were the last ones there. When the evening was over, I stopped off at my desk to check things before going to bed.
I got to my desk and checked everything, and it looked like five minutes before I sat down, the detector went nuts. A little bit of digging revealed that Jeff had turned SPASE on, an attached experiment that had been off for a couple of weeks to run a calibration experiment on the new IceTop tanks. Switching things back over must have made something go goofy and need a restart. Once that was fixed, I went after another issue, too many data files in one directory for one of the programs to chew on at one time. Jules wants to learn more about Unix, so as I fixed the problem, I showed her what was going on and why it was a problem.
Up at lunch, it was Indian Day, Curried Shrimp, Samosas, Indian Fried Rice, plus Gyros for the non-Indian crowd. The shrimp was good but could have used more curry. I ate and left without lingering. On my way down to the dome, I stopped off at the new greenhouse. I talked to Randi about the control systems, and with Tree about cucumbers for sushi night. While I was there, Henry came by with a new network cable for the IP phone for the greenhouse.
Down in the dome, I slogged through e-mail and reports all afternoon, then went up to dinner.
Rather than go up to the galley for lunch, I went up to my room for a nap. I woke up early afternoon and went back down to my desk. I finished my replacement remote camera trigger and took it and my camera and my tripod down to the tunnel to the dome entrance for the group picture. I had intended to use my remote trigger, but we staged the shot too far down the tunnel for even my extra-long cable to reach. Most of the station arranged themselves across the width of the tunnel, while Dana and Glen and I set up our cameras to get the entire group. All of us set our timers and ran down the tunnel to get in the shot. We took a total of three pictures each; for me, the second one was best.
The tunnel was about -74°F (-58.9°C), and after all the time it took to set things up and take the shots, my hands were stinging by the time I got back inside. I took over the corner PC in the computer lab, dumped my camera, and sent a copy home to Erin. We tried to chat, but for the second night in a row, the satellites have been awful. I was getting timeouts trying to get on the web. I gave up and went to dinner.
Saturday night is Pizza Night. I grabbed a slice of BBQ and a slice of Stuffed Crust Pepperoni and sat with the card players for a round of Froot-Loop Texas Hold'em. I was first out, followed by Randi, then Angela. The Doc kept winning and winning. I moved over to sit at the galley bar and talked with Nick and Richard and Angie. They left, then I went down to the dome a little bit later.
After checking things at my desk for a while, I took a break over at the bar. It was busy even for a Saturday night; there were probably 25 people there. Even Nick made a rare appearance. We sat and talked American politics (all cordially) for a while, then I left. I wasn't really in a bar mood. I made it back to my desk before the satellite set, but it was another bad night to get on the 'net. I wrote, I played a computer game, and I went to bed.
I found a Steak and some Crabcake bits in the leftover fridge, but couldn't find any Shrimp to put in with the noodles. The steak was like shoe leather, so I went for noodles and the crabcakes. After eating, I started setting up to keg the cider when Carlton started his lecture on the history and design of the new station. He went on for 90 minutes with slides from the power plant upgrades, the construction of the beercan, and the first pods of the new station.
After the lecture, I took the rest of the siphon gear back down to brewing room. I tasted the cider, and it was pretty good. On one of my trips through the galley, I saw Cheri cooking pies and Kris cooking gumbo for dinner for the station. I finished kegging the cider and tried to filter the sediment out of the dregs (unsuccessfully). I went down to the bar to wait for dinner, but Clayton and Jason were the only ones there. I waited out the time until dinner, then went back up to the galley to eat.
It was much more crowded than when I left. Most of the station was there, waiting for the sides to come out, and waiting for plates to come out of the dish room. When it all came out, we dug in, telling stories while we ate. After eating, I stopped off at my desk briefly before heading up to Skylab for band practice.
In the middle of going through "Seven Nation Army", Dana put the beater through the bass drum head. Fortunately, since we didn't have a spare drum head, Dana found a patch. We were stopped in our tracks until Dana could slap the patch on. We finished our last number and broke up around 21:00. I went down to the back of Science and got on the computer.
I went to dinner early and ended up in line next to Angela. I joined her table with Tom and Randi and Dehlia. It was Italian Night, Lasagna, Fresh Grilled Garlic Bread, Broccoli, with French Onion Soup on the side. When Dehlia left, Angela, Tom, Randi and I set up for 4-way cribbage. I drew Randi as a partner against Tom and Angela. They won the first and last games; Randi and I won the middle game. On that last hand, Tom and Angela put down 48 points on the first round alone.
Three full games of cribbage is a good evening of cards. When we were done, I went down to the dome, talked to Don on my way past Met, then went back to my desk to check on things and to write.
Lunch was Roast Beef Au Jus and Potato Wedges. I sat down at my normal lunch table, but as usual, the early crowd there cleared out, leaving just me and Henry, Nick joined us, then Jeff sat down, too. On our way out, Henry and I stopped off at the store. I picked up the last box of UHT milk, some soda, and the "Animal House" DVD.
Angela was leaving about the same time I was. We were going to go down the beercan to the dome together, but when I mentioned the new greenhouse, she wanted check it out. It's humid in the greenhouse now; water is flowing through the systems, and the Argus control systems are on. There's nothing planted yet, but it's really coming together fast.
Down in the dome, one of our machines went nuts when I sat down at the keyboard and cleared the screensaver. Something funny happened with Gnome creating dozens of processes, but at least I was able to get control of the machine without rebooting. A bit later, Pete came by to talk about the composition of the mid-winter photo (names, banner text, etc.) We came to a design with my picture inset in the corner of Dana's picture of an aurora over the dome, and the names of all the winter-overs at the bottom. I finished the afternoon talking to Erin; then she went to the store and I went to dinner.
I arrived at the galley as dinner was ending, but it was worth going - Lamb and Scalloped Potatoes. Nick asked me about RedHat issues with one of his computers, and Justus had questions about opto-isolators. Randi and Tom came up to me with more opto-isolator questions, and I followed them down to the greenhouse and picked up some Argus modules so I could take them down to my desk and extract the opto-isolator chips.
As I was working on the Argus boards, Henry came by with tonight's movie, "Mars Attacks". I went over with him to the Library and had to straighten out the video switcher (every once in a while, people fiddle with the projector cables). By the time we got things going, Nick, Glen, and Don had showed up. We watched the movie and all departed in different directions. I went down to my desk and finished the opto-isolator extraction for Justus without losing a single pin. I took a break from soldering by playing XCOM for a while, but needed to get out, so I dropped by the bar late.
The place was practically deserted. Jim and Anj were playing cribbage; Jason was spinning tunes. I hung out briefly, then went back down to my desk and tried to get back into XCOM, but was too tired. I was in bed by midnight.
I went down to my desk for a while, then went up to the new station for house mouse. Unfortunately for me, my group was finishing up and there was nothing left to do. I talked to Henry for a minute, then went over to the galley to grab an afternoon snack. Rather than make another round-trip to the dome, I went down the hall to the A3 computer lab to finish reading my e-mail. I got a message that there was a problem with the TDRSS system we use to move AMANDA files; it was nothing I could fix, so I went to dinner.
Dinner was a choice of Pork Loin, Mahi-Mahi, or Penne Pasta w/Veggies, with Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans on the side. I got the last half-slice of Mahi-Mahi, and took it over to the beaker table. Nick had some more RedHat questions for me; I gave him some things to check, then went down to my desk after dinner before going up to Skylab for an off-night band practice.
Kevin wasn't there, so we ran through whatever numbers we could without him. Rich started to go over new stuff, but I was tired, and unplugged the bass and called it a night (we have regular practice tomorrow night anyway). It looks like we'll be putting "La Bamba" and "Blister in the Sun" at the top of our set list.
After practice, I went back to my desk and worked a while, then took a break around 22:30. The only thing going on at that time of the night is in the bar, and I dropped by. I hung out for a bit talking travel and what not with Mike and Sean. We also touched on some of the more difficult people on station, both now, and this past summer. Eventually, I went back to my desk for a bit, and noticed that Jeff was fiddling with the TWR machine. I kept an eye on things for a bit, then went to bed.
They set out a bunch of Cold Cuts, Potato Chips, etc., for Deli Day. I took my Tuna Sandwich back to the table by the door and sat with the usual crowd. Henry was brave and tried the Potato Salad (it's made with frozen potatoes that have a rather odd, spongy texture). Nick joined us after a bit, then Jeff. I ate, then I moved over to the crossword puzzle table with Dehlia, Nick, Jason, and Cargo Nick. The theme today was James Joyce's "Ulysses" in honor of the 100th anniversary of a date from the book.
We finished the puzzle, then I went down to the dome by way of the new greenhouse. Randi was testing and calibrating the pH and conductivity probes, trying to get things ready for the big unveiling on Saturday. Down at my desk, I worked on a few things over the afternoon. Pete came by to ask me how the mid-winter picture was going. I gave him a progress report, then went up to dinner shortly thereafter.
Dinner was an unimpressive collection of Chicken Fried Steak, Fried Potatoes, and Mac and Cheese. I ate, then went down to Skylab for band practice. We ran through a couple of our old numbers, and ran through all of our new numbers twice. At the end of practice, we kicked around a few band names for our next gig. We settled on "CRS and the Croutons" (a reference to us being toasty). We took off after that, our last practice before the gig.
I was tired, but worked at my desk for a bit until the satellite set. At four minutes per day earlier, the pass has worked around to ending just after 23:00. I took a break to see who was at the bar. Jim and Keros were playing backgammon. I watched them play a couple of games, then Keros invited me to take Jim's seat. I played several games with Keros, losing every one at first, then finally winning by one or two throws of the dice. We switched to cards, Gin at first, then "Knock". I did fine at Gin, but I'd never played Knock before. Keros won the first two hands outright, and won again on the third game when I knocked but he had a better hand. Finally, on the last game, I knocked and beat him by two points. It was late; we called it a night at that point.
I want back to my desk and checked on the detector. Jeff had sent me an e-mail that the TWR was up again. He moved a cable over to the correct position (a recommendation from the TWR folks in Germany) and it came back up. I went to bed after finishing my e-mail, tired, but not as tired as I would have expected for as little sleep I've gotten out of the past two days.
Dinner was Carved Roast Beef, Roasted Potatoes, and Spinach Souffle. I took mine over to the beaker table. After eating, I moved over to the cribbage table to watch Jules and Randi play Tom and Angela. From the galley, I went down to the dome library to watch "The Sopranos" with the Friday night crowd. It's very popular; the only open seats were on the couch in the back. I watched with the group, then stopped by the bar to see who was around. The place was empty except for Mike and Sarah hanging out in the TV room. I went down to my desk and worked on things into the wee hours.
The galley was almost empty; just Dana, Justus, Andrea, and me. I ate, then stopped by the greenhouse and looked around a bit. The grand opening should be pretty nice tonight. I went on down to the dome and grabbed my notebook on my way over to Comms to make our weekly call. Darryn told us to enjoy mid-winter. I asked about Stefen; he should be starting back in Madison in about a month. The other guys (Rudy and Christian) should be starting soon, too.
We finished our call, and I went back over to Science and worked on the mid-winter picture (it's hard to find a way to make all 75 winter-over names fit at the bottom of the picture). Nick came by looking for a 100' ethernet cable for an AST/RO computer, and we ended up talking with Sarah and Henry until lunch.
I was expecting Burger Day up in the galley, but it was Mexican Day. All the taco shells were gone, but I made up something from shell fragments. I went back to work on the crossword puzzle with Nick, Cargo Nick, and Dehlia. The cargo folks had to get back to work, but Nick and I stayed to finish. With the puzzle put to bed, I went down to the dome and worked on the mid-winter picture until the all hands meeting. I finished and ran up to the galley.
I caught up with Pete in the tunnel and gave him the printout on my way up to the meeting. It was a short one. The big news was our water usage creeping up. Pete said his piece, then handed out the flags. Eyvind won the Japanese flag, Slay won the British flag. Down at the greenhouse grand opening, there were about twenty people there. We milled about, admiring the place. I wish I'd brought my sunglasses. The lights were really, really bright. We posed for a picture in the back of the main chamber, packed between the running water systems, then we split.
Down at the bar, the poker tournament was in full swing. Jason got knocked out right after I arrived. Rob was out early, too. I moved around, trying to set up for a good amblent-light picture. The play continued until it was down to Keros, Kevin, Aaron, and Sean. Keros took out Sean and Aaron one hand after the other, but Kevin was victorious over Keros in the finals.
Things came out a bit late, but they were really good. We ajourned to the hall for appetizer tables covered with Smoked Salmon, Tapanade and Fresh Bread, Bacon-wrapped Scallops, Egg Rolls, Spinach Dip, and a well-stocked Cheese plate. We mingled in the hall for a while, then returned for dinner. Things were taking longer than expected. Pete made the announcement that we were at least 30 minutes away from dinner, so we sat around chatting until it was time.
Finally dinner was served. Our table was the second to get into line. We queued up for Prime Rib, Crab Legs, Lobster, Chicken, Green Beans, Corn, Rice, or Salad. Mid-winter dinner is always a festive occasion. We ate, we sat around talking, then after 18:30, it was clear that the band needed to get up and play. We started getting organized.
We played our first set, then milled around and went back for our second set. Everything was going great (except for Larry screwing with Dana's video camera). We finished our second set, then went through a short encore. Angie and Dan were going nuts on the dance floor. We hung out a bit after the performance, then I went down to the bar to see what was going on with the crowd that didn't come to the performance. Kris and Dana showed up. I talked with them for a bit, then went home early. I just wasn't in the mood to hang out in the bar. I went to bed.
Justus and I loaded the cart with the last of the music gear. It took two loads to keep a stable configuration on the cart with all the music stands sliding around. Richard came up as we finished the load, then we took the cart down the beercan elevator. At the bottom, we met up with Kris and Sarah. We put the gear on sleds and dragged them down to the Skylab tunnel. Both sleds fit in one elevator load; we got it to the top and took a few minutes to unload into the lounge. Everyone else split and left it to me to get things back into place and hooked up.
I went down to my desk for a minute then out through the heavy shop arch to the bonfire. There were about 25 of us there, standing around, watching the fire crackle. I should have worn boots; I had to keep sticking my feet closer to the fire to keep them warm. Angie pulled out a bag of marshmallows one of her relatives sent her at the end of summer. Someone taped a fork to a stick and started toasting. While it was my turn, Pete came back with some more roasting sticks. I ate my marsmallow and stayed as long as I could, but eventually, I had to get inside to warm my feet up. I walked back in with Nick. The hole down from snow level down to the heavy shop door is several feet deep now.
Nick went back to the dome; I went up to the galley. I stopped off at my storage space for my noodle bowl, chopsticks, and a packet of crab ramen. Up in the galley, Sean and Jodi were making an anniversary dinner for Peter and Andrea. I started my water boiling, then found the Eggrolls and Scallops from last night. I went out to sit with Jules and Nick; Jules was having Vegemite on her toast, Nick was having Marmite. I asked to try some of Nick's Marmite (he's still on his first jar (of two)) to compare it to vegemite. I put one spread on one half of piece of toast, the other on the other half. I could really taste the difference. I made up my noodles and threw in a left-over lobster tail. I ate, cleaned up, then got on the computer behind the bar in the galley to check my e-mail. Things were going great until Sean stole the power strip to set up for the movie.
Byron came by for dinner. He mentioned his barbeque next week, with Carribean Pork Chops. We had a beer together, then he went back to his table to eat his omelette. I found a spare plug, and hooked the computer back up. Dana showed a short before the main feature, "Paranoia", a winter-over movie from a couple of years back. It was a quick bit with lots of running around the dome and around the snow. When it was over, Troy put in "The Shining", the traditional mid-winter movie. I watched it and finished my e-mail from the back of the room.
After the movie, I went back to my desk and opened my mid-winter package from Erin - a card, rice candy, shredded squid snack, wasabi crackers, seaweed crackers, and a couple of computer games. One nice treat was a tin of tangerine Altoids. She IMed me to tell me she was going to crash when she got off work; she'd been in a work class until 12:30 all week. I signed off, then worked on sending out mid-winter greetings to friends and associates until the wee hours then went to bed.
I was going to go back to my desk after the movie, but the satellite set during things. I rend over to the bar to find folks watching "Daylights". It ended, then everybody left. I went back to my desk and worked on things into the wee hours.
On my way up, I dropped off "Animal House" and a couple of "the Prisoner" DVDs. Up in the second floor bathrooms, Jeff and Allan were already there, at work. I came in behind them, mopped the floors, cleaned the shower, then took the trash bags out to the tri-walls behind the station (in the pitch dark).
Back up in the galley, I grabbed a glass of bug juice and got pulled into a 3-way cribbage game with Dehlia and Angela. We took a break to get in line for dinner, and put the cards aside to eat. They were serving London Broil, Shrimp Skewers and Tater Tots. When we went back to playing, Pete and the Doc stood by, kibbitzing. Angela won hands down, so to speak. Dehlia left to go get some sleep, and Angela and I played a 2-way game. I pulled ahead with a 22 point hand, and Angela closed the lead with a 20 point hand. In the end, I won by only a few points.
After dinner, down at my desk, I checked e-mail and printed more tape labels, then chatted with home for a bit and sent off some recent pictures and more mid-winter greetings. I took a break over at the bar, but it was completely deserted, so I went back to my desk and worked on stuff through the night.
The galley was mostly deserted. Jeff was there, but he didn't look up when I passed him. I grabbed a plate of the usual breakfast stubstances, plus the less common Biscuits and Creamed Chipped Beef, and went back with Jules. We talked about the trend of food packaging from general store era crocks and barrels up to modern single-servings in plastic wrappers, and waited for the meeting to start.
The big topic of the day was Cryo. Since AMANDA doesn't use any cryogenic liquids (most of the experiments in the Dark Sector do), there wasn't much of interest to Jeff and me. Jeff went from the galley to bed; I gathered my things and headed downstairs. I got as far as the beercan when I remembered that I'd forgotten my matè. I went back to the galley for it, then went down to the dome via the outside. It was as pleasant as the walk earlier. A quick check at Met showed that the winds had picked up to 9-11 knots, and I was walking right into it.
I puttered around the back of Science for a while, helping scope out Jules' laptop, among other things. I was going to head up for bed, but decided to wait around to watch the detector roll over (its most delicate time of day). The detector itself rolled over fine; TWR did not. I checked a few of the obvious things, and, since I'd been up for way too many hours, sent a detailed e-mail of what I'd tried what I'd found to Jeff, then went up to the galley for a late lunch.
I'm really glad I made the effort to get something to eat; it was all Thai food. There was still about five minutes left, but Don had already started pulling the food from the line. I came around the back of the counter and loaded up with Coconut Chicken, Thai-Curried Port, a Beef and Shitake dish, with Veggies and Coconut Rice (the Shrimp and Lobster dish, made from Sunday's left-overs, was long gone). I took my small sampler plate with a bit of everything over to the beaker table and joined Jason, Nick, and Cargo Nick, all working on today's crossword puzzle. They were mostly done, but Jason had to leave early. I took his spot in the circle and tried to contribute. Between the remaining three of us, we banged out the rest of the puzzle, then I went down to my desk. I tried to get back to debugging, but I'd been up too long and kept nodding off. I finally gave up and went to bed, crashing out until after dinner.
First thing when I woke up was checking my e-mail. Jeff sent a reply that wasn't exactly a helpful one, so I got up, shaved (second time this winter), put in my contacts, and got dressed for a trip out to MAPO.
I couldn't miss the Cargo party, so I stopped by on my way out. I had planned on going straight over to MAPO from there, but I forgot my neck gaiter (essential equipment on a 20-min walk at these temps). I kept my stop short, mingled a bit, then headed back to the dome with part of the party crowd. I hung with them for a short while, then grabbed my missing ECW gear and headed out to the Dark Sector.
I went out the dome entrance, up the snow stairs, and followed the footprints to the pole. From there, I located Rodney's Flag, then turned left and tracked on a star. It wasn't a bad walk, -75°F (-59.4 °C) at 7 knots. I saw the occasional flag on my walk, but never did find the flag line. After a while, I could see MAPO as a dark spot on the horizon (blocking the stars behind it). Every once in a while I fired up my head lamp to see where I was. My lamp lit up the side of AST/RO as I was leaving the skiway. I set a brisk pace and got inside and got to work.
Because the detector is quiesced one minute out of every fifteen (the 'VLF Veto' period, there to ignore noise from another Dark Sector experiment), I took advantage of that to tweak things when the detector wasn't detecting. I sent some observations by e-mail to Jeff and the TWR guys in Germany, and saw a message from Jeff about this afternoon. I replied to that, and was surprised to get a call from him right then. We put our heads together about what each of us had tried, both recently and in the past, and after a bit of elaborate fiddling with both the crates and the software (during the next TVLF Veto period), things started working again. I stuck around a few minutes to watch things work and to watch for error messages. When I was happy things were looking good, I suited up and headed back.
It's always easier to find the station than to find MAPO. I didn't use headlamp once I'd found the start of the flagged route. There was so much starlight that my hands and feet stood out in the dim light. It was starting to cloud over, obscuring all but the brightest stars, but the Milky Way shone through the thin, high clouds with a soft glow. By the time I reached the skiway, I could see the blot of the new station on the horizon, punctuated by the light from the round window in the beercan door. I walked along the path, going from flag to flag, only stumbling once. As I passed the beercan, I switched on my headlamp to look for the top of the snow stairs. It was the worst part of the walk, goggles up, face to the wind, looking for two particular flags. I found them and got out of the wind and into the dome.
On my way through Science, I poked my head in at Met to see what I'd just walked through. The temps and the wind both were up a bit, -71.5 ° (-57.5°C) at 11 knots (the extra wind makes all the difference). I stopped at my desk to put a few lines in my journal, then, even though I'd only been up for a few hours, it had been a full night, and all I really wanted to do was go upstairs, pull my contacts out and go back to sleep.
I checked the detector from my desk. Everything is still going great. I went over the NOC, asked Henry a few questions, then spent the rest of the afternoon until dinner organizing things at my desk. Dinner was Beef Pot Pie, Meatballs, Scalloped Potatoes, and Asparagus. I sat at beaker table with Glen, and Nick joined us. Glen split to get to the store before it closed; I went down to my desk and chatted with Erin for a bit. Later, I went next door to the library to catch this week's eps of "The Sopranos", then stopped in at the bar.
There was a small crowd sitting around talking. We swapped jokes, talked about White Castles, summer people, and Christchurch. When the crowd started trickling away, I left at the same time Jason and Bride did, and went back to my desk. I desoldered useful parts from scrap boards while I watched videos on my computer, then went to bed early.
There was a line at the galley, common in the summer, rare in my experience in the winter. It wasn't even Burger Day; it was Italian Day. They set out a choice of Chicken Parmesan, Pasta, BBQ Beef, Orzo Casserole, and Broccoli and Cheese over Shells. I ate, then went straight down to the dome to start pulling down an ancient copy of RedHat 5.1 for Nick and Jules (one of their control computers needs some attention, and they have no install media). I set up the download, then went up to my room to take a nap.
I woke up around dinner time, and, honestly, wasn't all that thrilled about rushing up the beercan for pizza. I took my time, and stopped off at Met to talk to Kris. He was watching the copy of "What Do You Do For Science?" (our 1995 winter-over video that I'd loaned him). I watched a few scenes with him, adding my commentary here and there about the people and events behind some of the gags. Finally, I went up for pizza late, grabbed a slice of Pepperoni, and a slice of Ham and Olive, and threw it in the microwave to warm it back up.
I sat with Nick, who had come in just behind me. We talked about Cryo, and the impact of a lack of it on most of the science projects in the Dark Sector, publishing papers, and general things about life in acadaemia. We talked, and the carpenters started filtering in to hang out in the galley. From the galley, I stopped off at the bar and found the crowd there on the small side. I sat down and talked with Kevin and Larry about commuting to work (in Denver, Columbus, the New York area, etc.), life in the Denver area, and general station morale (which, to all accounts from the construction folks, could be a lot better). People started drifting out; I left early, stopped off at my desk briefly, then called it a night.
Jules was giving her Sunday afternoon science talk; I listened to it as I prepped my bowl and ate it. When Jules was done, I went into the galley to do some dishes (there's no DA on Sundays), and Cheri was making Beans and Rice for the barbeque in the dome. I finished putting the dishes through the sanitizer, then went down to my desk to get some work done before dinner.
Around dinner time, I went up to the bar for the barbeque. The Pork Chops were ready, and the Beans and Rice came down later (it's hard to cook beans at 11,000'). Someone popped "Happy Gilmore" into the VCR, and we all jockeyed for seats with a clear view of the TV. The movie ended, and Sarah, Kris, and I all went up to Skylab for band practice. We played a list of proposed songs and with some ideas about what we wanted to add to our repertoir, finished practice early. I ran back down to my desk to catch the last moments of the satellite, then Angela came by and invited me to a round of Cribbage. She won two games out of three, with our second two games finishing with both of us in striking distance of a win. I ended the evening by fiddling with 'klh10', a 36-bit computer emulator (think "PDP-10") before hitting the sack.
I worked at desk for a while, talked to Henry for a bit, then went up to Lunch via the outside. It was still nice out. The moon was behind the station, leaving the snow stairs in shadow. Up in the galley, I didn't feel like Orange-glazed Game Hens or Turkey Loaf; I went for the last bits of Beef Stew, and sat down at the table by the door. Jeff joined us, then the people who were there before me started to get up and leave. We talked for a while over lunch, then I went down to the dome
The afternoon dragged on in Science. I heard a strange noise coming out of the public computer lab. Sticking my head around the corner, it was Sean and Henry throwing a fuzzy ball and catching it wtih velcro catcher's mitts. I went back to working on logs, and fixing up an rsync script to push them to Madison before going up for dinner.
It was Mexican night. I sat with the Wine Society but didn't join in. When Justus started his photo class, I moved over and followed along (I've done B&W developing before, but it's been a while. After the class, I went back down to the dome and caught the last part of GOES-3. With the sat down, I went next door to the Library and sat in on part of Jeff's Anime Night. Next stop was to the bar for a while. Sean and Byron were talking about recent events around station. Mike and I talked about what computer games we each had down here. We all listened to 1970s music for a while, then I stopped off at the greenhouse to do my weekly stats, then caught up on my journal then went to bed.
After dinner, I went down to the Library to start the weekly Science Fiction movie. Henry brought a short to show first - the pilot for the live-action series, "The Tick". We watched it, then the main feature, "Galaxy Quest". Henry had to pop in and out of the Library between mail-server upgrade tasks. He did make it back for the end of the feature and the obligatory deleted scenes. I suggested we retire to the bar.
We all had stops to make first. Nick was first to arrive, then Henry (more problems with e-mail upgrade, but the problems were all on the other end). Bret was sitting behind the bar, bartending. He started to get a bit rude to people; after enough of it, OV and Jim took him home. The mood lightened, and Henry, Nick, Mike, and I talked at length about random topics (current Cryo issues, 1980s British Pop, Math & Physics classes at University, the winter-over psych exam, etc.) When Henry left, the rest of us kept going for a bit. When we finally called it a night, I stopped off at my desk for a bit, then went up to crash.
I was updating the logbooks when Dana came by and reported the best aurorae he'd ever seen. I tried to get my camera set up with my homemade remote trigger, but it wasn't working as well as it might; it acts like there's a short somewhere. I threw on my parka and went out to look, even if I couldn't take pictures. There was a nice overhead streak, with a good bloom over ARO. It's a shame there's a nearly-full moon out there. If it were dark, this aurora would really be something.
I went back to my desk and worked until it was time for housemouse. I went outside, but there was only moonlight, no aurorae. It had warmed up a bit, -80.5°F (-62.5°C), and gotten a bit windier (up to 11 knots). I dashed across the snow in my fleece, and ran up the beercan to the first floor of A1. Allan was sweeping, Nick and Glen were mopping. Jeff and I did the doors and window sills. We finished quickly, and stood around in the halls chatting a bit, then I moved upstairs to the galley for a rehydration break. I couldn't find any uncompleted crossword puzzles, so I went down the hall to the computer room and checked on things while I waited for dinner.
Today's menu was Seafood Alfredo, Chile Rellano Souffle, Roast Beef, Peas, Carrots. I ate quickly, then hurried back down to Science to catch the last moments of TDRSS. I chatted with Erin for a bit, then TDRSS dropped and we swapped over to GOES-3. Something was up with GOES tonight. Henry came by trying to trace the problem. After a while, I gave up and went to band practice.
Band practice was more of the same, some old numbers, some new numbers. We ran through things, then went home. I stopped at the bar briefly, but wasn't feeling well, so I went to bed early.
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