May at the South Pole

Saturday, 1 May 2004
Knowing that I had to get up for our weekly AMANDA call, I slept fitfully, but I did get up on time. I went down to Comms and waited for Jeff; he arrived a few minutes later. We called Madison, but Darryn wasn't in. Mike told us that an e-mail cancelling this week's call was on the way, but it must still be in the queue, waiting for the next satellite pass. From Comms, Jeff and I went over to the back of Science, and discussed some changes to the detector we'd noticed on a "bird's eye view" webpage that we monitor for long-term trends. After he left, I went back to work diagnosing the tape drive and waiting for LES-9 to rise.

Once the sat rose and there was e-mail from the North to check, I went looking for any advice on the tape drive. There was none. I decided to kill the program that writes to tape, and try a variety of operations with a scratch tape. I started a few commands in the background and went to the galley at the beginning of the lunch hour rather than my usual appearance right before it ends. Saturday is Burger Day. I made a Mushroom and Swiss Burger and sat at the table by the entrance. The usual crowd was there, Kirk and Jodi, Lisae, Scott, Dehlia, Henry, etc. As usual, I was one of the last ones up from the table. I decided to treat myself to a root beer float before going back to work.

I worked on the tape drive for a bit, then kicked off some commands that were going to take a while to complete. I went upstairs intending to take a quick nap, but I slept through the science meeting, and on through the rest of the afternoon. I woke up in the middle of dinner, and headed on up to the galley for some pizza. Justus had cooked up something new, Deep-Dish Veggie. I grabbed a slice and sat with Kevin, Sarah, Bride, and Jason. When they were finished, both Sarah and Kevin left to get ready for our off-day band practice. I followed soon after, stopping off at the store on my way down to the dome. I was disappointed to find that all the ginger pop was gone. You never know when something like that is going to run out, but you can count on the fact that with eight months between planes, it's going to run out sometime. I just wish I'd picked up a couple more 4-packs the last time I was in the store.

On my way up to Skylab, I stopped off at my desk to restart the tape program (all the afternoon's tests looked great). Up at practice, we went over a bunch of our old numbers first, starting with "Pasty White Girl" (written in McMurdo, I belive). We finished up with "Double Shot" and "Never There", then I went back to Science to check on the process I'd started earlier. Everything checked out and was running fine. I have to conclude that when the drive chokes on a tape, it's not going to write to that tape after a drive cleaning cycle. With things finally working, I headed up to the bar for a little celebration.

Sunday, 2 May 2004
Things were lively for a while, but when they wound down, as happens from time to time, I was the last one out. I cleaned up the stray bottles and cans and went down to the back of Science and played a round of "Dungeon Keeper" before heading off to bed.

I had wanted to get up in time for the Sunday Morning Movie, but I just rolled over and kept sleeping. I heard Dana over the all call that there were good aurorae out, but again, I rolled over and kept sleeping. I got up for real near the end of the LES-9 pass, and stayed up to check e-mail. There being no formal meal today, I grabbed a noodle bowl and headed over to the bar for hot water and the microwave. The usual crowd was playing cards; there wasn't even any music on. I went up to galley, instead.

Chad was just finishing his travel lecture on the trails around New Zealand. I fixed my noodles and read the first issue of the monthly local paper. When I was finished, I cleaned up and went into the kitchen to make some Cider. Chad came in to help after he was done with Q&A from his talk.

Cider is easier to make than Beer - no hops to worry about, no concerns about malt balance - just a can of apple concentrate, a kilo of sugar and a lot of water. We carried the mix down to our brewing room, and pitched it there. Fed and finished with my afternoon's tasks, I went back to Science to change tapes and make my daily checks.

I tried a phone call with Erin, but right in the middle of it, around 18:00, it started getting choppy. I can't stand trying to get on the 'net when it's this bad, so I went next door to the bar for another one of Byron's barbeques. The place was packed, over a quarter of the station was hanging out, waiting for the food. I had to stand when I first arrived, talking with Sarah and Kevin, but a seat opened up and I nabbed it. As we waited for the chicken to come off the grill, Sarah dished up the Macaroni Salad and Fruit Salad that Cherie had made. Byron served Sarah up the first breast so she could leave for band practice; I got the next one. It was incredible; much more tender than the stuff that sits around in pans on the steam lines upstairs. Not overcooked in the slightest. I savored it as long as I could, then ran up to Skylab to join the others.

As we've been doing lately, we ran through our old numbers, then did as many of our new ones as we could manage in the time remaining. Around 20:15, we were done, and I went back to my desk to get on the 'net. Unfortunately, when TDRSS set, GOES-3 didn't come up.

Monday, 3 May 2004
When I couldn't get on GOES-3, I took a break at the bar. In contrast with earlier, the place was deserted; only Anj, Byron and Bret. I sat there for a few tunes, then went back down to the back of Science on the off chance that GOES-3 had cleared up. It was a little better, but there were still plenty of timeouts and lost connections. As I was winding down, Kris came by from Met to ask me about battery packs. I followed him back to Met to see what he was really after. When they move Met up to the new station, they want a way to use the existing equipment as a backup in case the new stuff fails. I looked at the wind speed indicator and suggested that if they could string a wire from the wind bird through the Fuel Arch, it might be easier than trying to build an enclosure at the base of the wind bird.

After poking around the Met cabinets, it was almost time for breakfast. I made a few new entries in the winter-over logbook, then headed up the beercan for some food. Today is Don's first day on the breakfast shift. He and Richard swapped early and late starting the beginning of the month. Don puts out a nice breakfast. In addition to the usual breakfast meat and eggs, he made some Baked Apples and some Chipped Beef (which was pretty good). I sat with Angela and the Doc, and Henry joined us when he came in. We were all finished when Jeff came in to talk to me about a few things.

Back down in Science, things were perking along smoothly, so I took a moment to post flyers at the Library for this week's Science Fiction Movie... another Mystery Science Theatre 3000 from Henry's collection, "Space Mutiny". From the reviews, it looks hideous. LES-9 rose, but was so erratic that I gave up trying to maintain an IM session to home, and went up to my room to finally crash.

I woke up before dinner and checked the satellites - no better than last night, so I went up to the galley. Richard set out a nice tray of Roast Beef with Yorkshire Pudding and Horseradish sauce. I finished and moved over to the table with the Newspaper meeting. Peter called for suggestions, and made a few of his own. He wants me to photograph the igloo that some of the guys are making behind the station. After the meeting, I went back to Science to see if the sat situation had improved. It really hadn't. I took a walk around the dome to see what movies were showing.

Jeff was showing shorts in the Library, between his regular anime selections. Over in the bar, they were watching "Office Space", but it was well past half-way. I stayed for a scene or two (through the fax demolition), then went back to Science to check the sat - not much better, so I took a real break and joined Nick and Jeff in the Library for some anime. I stayed for a few episodes, then did my weekly turn at the greenhouse on my way to trying the sats one more time. I don't know what's up this week, but our connection to the outside world is not as clean as it has been. It's really hard to keep in touch with people at home when things are so erratic.

Tuesday, 4 May 2004
I got up in time for breakfast, and decided that since the weather was nice, I'd take the outside route. I stopped by the back of Science for my parka and a headlamp (for the stairs), and headed out. When I opened the dome entrance door I was almost blinded by the moon. The stairs were in shadow, so I used my headlamp anyway. At the top of the stairs, things were really well lit, but I could still see a faint aurora over MAPO. Mostly looking at the sky, I made my way over to the beercan and up to the galley.

Breakfast was the usual items, plus a smoked salmon. I ate with Angela and Scott again, then went down to the brewing room to check on the cider. The initial fermentation had blown a lot of foam through the fermentation lock, and the nose might have a hint of vinegar, but it all looks more or less OK. I washed out the lock, replaced it, and went on down to the dome via the outside. The morning detector checks revealed nothing unusual, so I relaxed in the hammock a bit before heading up for lunch. It wasn't as bright out as it was earlier; some cirrus clouds are obscuring the moon a little.

I skipped the Chicken Fried Steak and went for a Tuna Melt instead. I stopped off at the store before it closed to get something to take to the Cinco de Mayo party tomorrow. Dana happened to be going out the beercan at the same time I was, so I walked with him for a ways (he spent two hours today up on the SETI telescope tower, fiddling with cables). I tried to get some things done at my desk in the afternoon, but couldn't stay focused. I took a nap, intending to get up for dinner, but didn't make it. I barely got up for practice.

We worked on "Never There" and "Double Shot", then I had to split to start my movie. I made an all call that we were getting started, then popped in a "Duck Dodgers" short. Henry came by with the main feature, MST3K's version of a really cheesy 1980s piece, "Space Mutiny". Among its other issues, they stole the outside shots of the Battlestar Galactica instead of coming up with their own space ship (plus the story was awful and the acting was crummy), but that's why those guys pick the ones they pick: lots to harp on.

I went back to my desk for a bit after the movie, and squeezed a few minutes on AIM with Erin before she left work. A bit later, I took a short break over at the bar, and talked about tomorrow's lunar eclipse with Jim and Anj, then went back to work.

Wednesday, 5 May 2004
I worked on a few things through the night, but went to bed earlier than usual so I could get some sleep before the Lunar Eclipse. The watcher web page shows that it's -86.8°F (-66.0°C) at 12 knots. Taking pictures outside would be nicer in less wind.

I woke up towards the end of breakfast and left my camera behind (on purpose). I just went up to eat. I did take the outside route to scout the conditions. The moon is down to a quarter crescent. After eating with Scott, Angela, and Henry, I threw on my parka and went back outside and down to the dome. Grabbing all of my camera gear, I took a few exploratory shots with my digital camera, then went right back inside to see how they looked. They weren't what I was hoping for, so I went back outside with my 35mm camera and my 300mm lens for something sharper. The problem is that the wind is stirring up ice crystals, and while it is technically clear out, the seeing is bad. I took as many 35mm shots as I dared, risking breaking the film from winding it in the cold. I remounted my digital camera on the tripod, then took a few more shots at four and eight seconds. Another trip down to the computer lab to examine these shots, then back outside to look at the moon without a camera. This time, the crescent moon was starting to peek back out, heralding the end of the best part of the eclipse.

As I fought with LES-9 (another bad satellite day), lunchtime crept up on me. I was debating whether to take a nap or go eat, then Angela told me that we were having Turkey a la King. That was enough to tip me in the direction of a nap. I woke up at dinnertime and rushed up to the galley for Fried Seafood and Chinese dinner. I skipped the Sweet and Sour, and went for the Hosin Beef, and a few Fried Clams and Scallops.

Back down in the back of Science, I chatted with Erin on AIM for a bit, then grabbed my ration of Corona and headed up for the combination Cinco de Mayo and Rob's Birthday party. The crowd was smaller than I expected for such a festive night. There wasn't much dancing going on, partially because a couple of different people killed the music fiddling with the computer. Don came by late, and he told a few sea stories (he's was a cook on a submarine for years). Finally, people started to drift away, and well before midnight, it was down to OV and me. I left the festivities, and went straight to bed.

Thursday, 6 May 2004
I woke up early, and grabbed my parka and camera on my way to breakfast. On the way, I took a nice nice shot of the nearly full moon on the new station. The galley was almost empty at 07:15. Angela joined me, and we sat and talked until after 08:00. Down in the back of Science, Sarah and I were talking about Christchurch, and it turns out that she and I were there at almost the same time in 1995 (I was there for R&R in October, and she was there a few days after I was back in McMurdo).

I worked through the morning, and lunch seemed to come early. Henry and I walked up to lunch together. They were serving BBQ Beef and Potato Wedges. After the usual first-table crowd left, I switched to another table for dessert, and ended up talking to Tom and Randi about the monitoring hardware for the growth chamber. After lunch, Randi and I went downstairs to see what they had and to see if I could help make it work while we waited for the correct hardware to show up next Summer. We poked around a bit, then I went upstairs to tell Tom what I thought about what they had to work with.

I spent most of the rest of the afternoon at my desk, then went upstairs for a bit of a nap that lasted through dinner. I checked the detector on my way to Skylab for band practice. We had a good session. I figured out a sweet bass lick for "Love Shack", and I hung around after the main practice to work on "Space Oddity" with Kevin. After practice, I checked on things in Science, then went over to the bar, which was practically empty; just Kevin, Anj and Jim, in the middle of a "Cake-fest". I sat through a few songs, some of which we were playing in the band, and some of which I'd never heard before. After a bit, I left them to their music, stopped off at my desk for one last check on the systems, then up to bed.

Friday, 7 May 2004
I woke up near the end of breakfast, threw on my clothes, and ran up the beercan. I made it to the galley just as Don was putting things away. The galley was deserted; I ate my Frittata with a Biscuit, and read old copies of the New York Times. The rest of my morning was all paperwork, catching up on logbooks and such.

I went up to lunch early, taking the outside route, -81°F (-62.8°C) at 18 knots. I was surprised to find a line in the galley. I grabbed a burger and sat at the first table again. Most of the folks who eat there are part of the group that watches seasons of TV shows in the Library on Friday nights. They were talking about taking a break for a week, and going out to ARO for slushies this Friday. After they all left, I switched over to the beaker table for dessert, and after a little while, Jeff joined us.

Down in Science, Jeff and I spent the first part of the afternoon working on our weekly report. There were a few issues with the detector performance to address, so it took a little longer than usual. We finished up in plenty of time to get up to the galley for the all hands meetings. Mostly, Pete talked about water conservation, but there was one important thing that happened last week: the door to Altie Meadows (out at Summer Camp) was left open, and if Kevin hadn't happened by, the building would have gotten cold enough to trigger the fire detector, and we would have had false alarm and a big hassle. After Pete finished, Lisae gave away the weekly safety prize (a gift certificate at the store), and Pete gave away more flags from the ceremonial Pole.

At the end of the meeting, folks were congregating at the bar-end of the galley. Brad, Angie, and Pete were telling Palmer stories. When the dinner bell rang, I queued up for a Lobster Tail and a Steak. Really good stuff tonight. We ate, then went back to swapping Ice stories, until people started trickling away. As long as the evening had felt, I couldn't believe that it wasn't even 21:00 yet. Finally, the crowd was down to me and Nick. We talked religion/philosophy for a bit, then I headed down to the bar under the dome to see what was happening there. I danced a bit, then went home to crash.

Saturday, 8 May 2004
I woke up at 07:30 and did a bit of laundry before going down to Comms for our weekly call. Jeff and I tried several times, but the phone was busy in Madison every time. Eventually, we gave up, and I went up to the galley for breakfast burritos. OV does a great job with them. After eating with Scott, Angela, and Dehlia, I went down to the dome library to watch a movie, then went up to Skylab, to move equipment.

When I got there, Rich and Sarah were just loading up sleds by the elevator. Sarah took the full one as Rich and I finished loading the other one. We towed them across the dome, down the tunnel, and to the bottom of the beercan. UT Nick gave us a hand in the last tunnel segment, and at the elevator. Rich and I took the equipment up and into the new station. Things were a bit chaotic in the galley. We were trying to finish our sound check before the Cribbage Tournament started so we wouldn't disturb them, but it took us longer than we thought. They pulled the curtain down by the drink dispenser, and didn't seem put out by our playing. Back on our end of the room, we kept having feedback problems, and never did find a combination of speaker positions and mixer settings that let me hear what I was playing. As we ran through our numbers, I made lots of mistakes because I couldn't hear myself.

We finished our rehersal, then I went down to my room to get a quick nap in, then get ready for our performance. I woke up to an all call that dinner was served. I struggled awake, then made my way up to the galley. Allan and his boys hade prepared a Mexican-style barbeque: Grilled Beef, Chicken, Pork and Seafood, with Tortillas, Salsa, Cheese, etc., on the side, for Fajitas and Burritos. After we all ate, the band gathered at the front of the galley and started in.

All of our stuff was well received, but there were two numbers in particular that garnered the biggest reaction from the audience. Kevin's rendition of "Space Oddity" (with Sarah and me on backup vocals) had folks hooting and hollering, and "Love Shack" pulled most of the crowd out of their chairs and onto the dance floor. We finished with "La Bamba".

Following the performance, we mingled a bit with the audience, accepted appreciations and congratulations from all sides, then started to break down our gear. When we had things put away enough to haul them down to Skylab tomorrow, we moved to the other end of the galley hang out with folks. I talked a bit with Henry, Angela, and Tracy, then eventually wandered down to the bar where most of the rest of the folks had already gone.

Sunday, 9 May 2004
Sean came in to the bar, late. He and Eyvind and I got involved in a deep conversation about personalities and interactions with the winter-overs that lasted until sometime early in the morning. I went over to Science to check on things, but was too tired to stay focused. I finally gave up and went to bed around 10:30. I slept through moving the equipment down from the galley, and didn't really wake up until about 19:30.

Someone had set out leftovers from yesterday. I nuked up some meat and rice and cheese, and made myself a burrito. I found out from Don that he and his partner came in second in the cribbage tournament. Angela and Tom came in first. After I ate, I took the outside route to the Dome. It was a bit windy, but otherwise not too bad, -68.8°F (-56°C) at 13 knots. The biggest problem is that coming back that way, the wind is directly in my face most days.

There was a mountain of e-mail waiting for me. I swapped tapes and started tackling it. After a while, I needed a break from the screen. I stopped by the Library, but it was empty. Over at the bar, they were watching skate punk videos. I had a ginger pop and hung out with the folks sitting at the bar itself. A bit later, Sean came in and popped in some comedy tracks. I didn't recognize either comedian, but one was from Texas, and the other was from Atlanta. I listened for a while, then went back to my desk until GOES set, then I went off to bed.

Monday, 10 May 2004
I woke up earlier than usual and decided to just stay up. I went down to my desk and worked on my monthly report while waiting for breakfast to start. When it was finally time, I hiked up the beercan to get some food. At 06:50, the place was packed. Five minutes later, it was deserted. After I finished eating, I went down to the brewing room to check on the cider. It was all looking good. I went back to work via the back of the new station, not the beercan. It was a bit windy and I was glad for my parka. As I turned the corner towards the dome, I was surprised to see the loader going. It looks like they are cutting a trench down to the dome entrance (unlike previous years, they are not keeping the ramp open; they are letting it snow in).

After a morning at my desk in the back of Science, I broke for lunch. Chinese food today. I sat at the first table, and as usual, they all finished first and cleared out. The Doc came back with his dessert, and we spent the rest of his lunch hour talking about UNIX/Linux/BSD. After he left, I made a milkshake for dessert and sat with Troy and Pete. On my way back to work, I stopped off at the growth chamber to survey the progress; they were starting to put cover panels over the maintenance hatches. As I was about to leave, Sean from FEMC asked me if I wanted a quick tour of the construction spaces. I hadn't seen any of it since our trauma team walkthrough, so of course I said yes. We did a quick walk-round the B pod. They are starting to frame in the B1 berthing, along with several other areas. It all still looks rough, but it's taking shape, apparently very much ahead of schedule

I took the beercan back to the Dome, then crashed out for a little bit, waiting for Jeff. He never showed, so I went to dinner. Jeff eventually came by the galley on his way down to the library for his anime night. I was still tired, so I skipped cartoons in favor of more sleep. I woke up late, did my weekly greenhouse duties, then checked on things in the back of Science.

Tuesday, 11 May 2004
I worked on things at my desk until around 02:30. Taking a break, I did laundry and watched the end of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High". I grabbed a few ZZs after I moved my laundry over to the dryer, and collected it on my way up to breakfast. There were a a few aurorae on the way, but they were washed out by the moonlight.

I grabbed some leftover Steak from the BBQ, and added some Eggs and Potatoes on the side. I had my box of Matè with me, and made a nice, large mug of it. Sean joined me, then after he finished and left, Henry joined me for a while. I worked through a couple more cups of Matè, then went back down to the dome via the outside and worked on distilling detector statistics until lunch.

Lunch was Italian, and as usual, the pasta had an unpleasant texture (it's hard to make good pasta at 11,000'). The Meatballs were excellent, with some superb fresh Bread, and a well stocked Antipasto tray (with Goat Cheese and Kalamata Olives). I started off lunch at the first table, then when they all abandoned me (as usually happens), I moved over to the beaker table. When I was done, I bussed my dishes, then stopped off at the store. We are running out of most of the good stuff. I picked up a couple of things, then went down to the Dome for the afternoon.

Jeff came by Science this afternoon, and we worked on the weekly report together. After cranking one out, he headed back up to the new station, I went up to my room for a nap and slept through dinner. When I woke up, at first, I wasn't sure if it was 08:00 or 20:00. As I slowly returned to the world, I figured out I was late for my own movie. I dashed over to the library. Dave, Henry, Nick and FEMC Sean just sitting around, talking. We eventually put in the movie, then while poking around the old VHS tapes, I ran across a tape of "The Simpsons" labelled "Bart Calls The South Pole" I'd seen a few moments of it a few years ago, in passing, when they still had TVs in the galley in McMurdo. Henry and Nick had never seen it. The relevant part is that to find out which way the toilet flushes in the Southern Hemisphere, Bart calls a variety of places including Argentina, Australia, and the South Pole.

After the episode was over, I wandered over to the bar. It was nearly empty, just Jim and Keros. Jake came in shortly thereafter. We talked about AMANDA winter-overs past and present, flying, sailing, and some of the stories that have worked their way onto Big Dead Place. I told him about some of the escapades we'd captured in our 1995 Winter-Over video. Before it was too late, I went back down to my desk to check on the condition of our connection to the outside world. The sats weren't cooperating much tonight, so I just went to bed.

Wednesday, 12 May 2004
I woke up during breakfast, grabbed my ECW gear and my Matè, and went up to the galley via the dome entrance. The moon was at about one quarter, washing out what aurorae were there. The galley was not particularly crowded, but not dead empty like some mornings. I skipped the waffle station and had Don make me an omelette. I sat at one of the round tables by myself. Justus and Allan asked me about the Matè (Justus used to have a boss that drank it every morning). Glen asked for a glass of it; I gave him the box and a spare bombilla. After I finished eating, I changed to one of the more crowded tables to finish my Matè. Pete took a sniff of the leaves and didn't exactly like it. We ended up talking about working in cube farms in corporate America (and how much this place shouldn't ever be like that).

I walked down to the Dome via the outside route. The aurorae had picked up a bit. If the moon wasn't out, the display would have been spectacular. As I worked through the morning in the back of Science, Eyvind brought his camera by, and we talked a bit about photography. At lunch time, I decided on a whim to take my digital camera and tripod with me on the walk. Most of the sky was lit up with aurorae. I took a few shots at the dome entrance, down in the hole, then set up at the top of the snow stairs and took a few shots of the swirl over the new station. It was like the beercan was blowing a green smoke ring. I stayed out as long as I could, but my camera card was filling up, and my hands were starting to hurt.

Up in the galley, the choice was Fish or Meatloaf. I went with the Fish, with Asparagus on the side, and sat down at the first table. Folks there were almost done, so when they left, I moved to the middle of the room and showed off the pictures I'd just taken. Dana was also out taking pictures, and he had some good ones too (no tripod, just hand-held). I made a mango milkshake with the Raro in the drink dispenser, and moved over to sit with Angela, Xuan, and Randi, and showed them my aurorae pictures. On my way back to work, I stopped off at the store to return some movies, and went around the corner to check on the cider. The aurorae on the walk back to the dome weren't as spectacular as they were an hour earlier, but they were still nice.

There were a lot of pictures to touch up. I did a few, then tried to go across the dome to clean the aerobics gym (the old galley), but nobody else was there. I went back to my desk, and after a bit, Jeff came by to tell me that he and Allan had just taken care of it. I went up to my room for a brief nap before dinner, but didn't wake up until late. I missed dinner, I missed the Texas Hold'em game in the galley, I missed Pictionary at the Wine Bar. I pretty much missed most of the evening's activities. Around 23:00, I went down to my desk, checked the detector, and caught up on e-mail.

Thursday, 13 May 2004
Around 02:00, the fire alarm went off. I grabbed my parka and ran down to Bio-Med. Not five steps from the door, Pete ran past me to Comms, on his way to see where the alarm was. I went inside and fired up the radio and waited to see where the problem was. The alarm was coming from somewhere in the new station (they can't tell exactly where from the panel in Comms). I didn't have to wait long to hear the "disregard". On my way back to my room, I stopped off at Comms to see what had happened. Sarah was on her way out, but she was out of the loop. Pete was on the radio, still trying to figure out what happened. Looks like it might have been dust in an air handler blowing out and triggering a fire sensor. After that much adventure, I was too wired to go to sleep, and too wired to sit at my desk and work; I stopped off at the bar to see if anyone was still up. Mike was watching the last moments of "Seven Days in Tibet". I nuked a sandwich and popped in the Betamax copy of "M*A*S*H" and watched about an hour of it before going back over to Science.

I'd wound down enough that I decided to crash for a little bit before breakfast and before the Science meeting at 08:00. I did wake up in plenty of time for the meeting. It was me, Justus, Allan, Nick, Jeff, and Jason. Most of the time was spent talkin about cryogens (a topic which has nothing to do with AMANDA). When the meeting ended, Jeff went back to his room to get his ECW gear, and I hung around in the galley and had a cup of coffee with Nick.

Jeff must have gone out to MAPO from his room. When I decided he wasn't coming back to the galley, I set off on my own. The walk to the dark sector wasn't bad. It was a little bit windy, but not all that cold (-62.3°F (-52.4°C), 13 to 15 knots). The ground vis was poor compared to just a few degrees above the horizon. I saw a bright line in the snow near the Pole and thought it might have been loader headlights. As I got closer, I realized it was a worklight behind an uncovered window in a construction area in B pod casting a long shadow. From there, I turned in the direction I thought MAPO was in and expected to eventually hit one of the two flag lines. I never did. The first artifact I found was one of the runway markers on the far side of the skiway. Turning in place from there, I could see the red back porch lights at the back of the new station. If I could see them at all, I was way too far to the left. I angled right, walked a bit, and hit the next runway marker. I was getting so frosted up that I couldn't see anything past the end of my headlamp beam. With my goggles off, I could see the shadow of MAPO on the horizon, so I really couldn't get lost. I finally had to take a bearing off the moon, and use that to guide me. I knew that if I could see the moon out of the corner of my eye, I was off course. Between that, and lifting my goggles every 20 steps, I reached my destination 35 minutes after I set out (about 20 min longer than it should have taken).

When I went upstairs, Jeff was already there, waiting for me. We went to work on the detector. We checked the amplifiers and the questionable channels, and planned our attack. After going over the old notes for two of the modules we wanted to fiddle with, I discovered that it was already known that the fibers were defective (probably broken at installation time), so part of what we were going to do wasn't going to work. We got ready to test one of the other OMs, then broke for lunch.

Allan fixed himself some "Stinky Cheese and Sardines" on Crackers, I made a noodle bowl, and Jeff didn't do much of anything. Allan put on a tape of "Northern Exposure", which we watched while waiting for the daily rollover of the detector. Once the new "day" started, we paused things, then stuck some instruments into ports on the amplifier and tried to narrow down where the fault might be. Unfortunately, moving around some of the high-voltage cables was giving us fault indications on some of the other (unrelated) channels. Once we got things stable there, we tried replacing the amplifier on the originally affected channel, then, eventually, migrating its cables to a different amplifier entirely. Done at last, we brought the detector back up and watched it for a while.

As we were keeping an eye on things, Nick brought by his Fluke Power-line monitor, and I showed him how to dump it and build a spreadsheet. Justus came by with some Linux questions. I helped him down in the VIPER room, then suited up to walk back to the Dome. Jeff came out as I was looking up at the aurorae. I almost decided to pull out my camera for a few shots, but decided just to walk back (I didn't have a tripod with me, among other things). With that unblocked window in the new station, it was trivial to keep on course walking back. The hard part was all the up and down action over the sastrugi.

When we reached the beercan, I went up rather than down, to relax for a bit over a cup of tea. As I sat in the galley, I overheard Rich talking about dinner - Roast Lamb! I popped down to my desk for a bit to check on things (no problems, happily), then back up to the galley for dinner. Henry broke out some red wine, which went perfectly with the Lamb. Sarah took off to watch some home movies of our last band performance; I stuck around for a while, until Henry, Nick, and I decided to see what was up in the bar.

The place was moderately full. Many of the people were over in the TV room, watching "Captain Ron". The next movie was some horrible 80s thing (don't even remember the title), and by the time it was over, the place had cleared out. I went down to my desk to check if the 'net was up (the last satellite had already set), so I just went to bed.

Friday, 14 May 2004
I woke up as breakfast was ending, and dashed up the beercan. The food had been pulled from the line, but wasn't yet in the fridge. I made a plate and ate in an empty galley. On my way out, I stopped off at the greenhouse; things are looking good there, but there's still a bunch of work left to do. The cider was perking happily along, too. Down in the dome, I worked at my desk until going up for lunch. I was earlier than is my custom; there was a long line when I arrived at 11:40, probably about a ten minute wait. All of the BBQ sandwiches were gone; I settled for Meatloaf, and went back to the table by the door. Predictable enough, they were all done long before I was, except for Dehlia, who was in that long line behind me. We ate and talked about "The Sopranos" (we have most of the DVDs here on station; it's a common thing to view in groups in the Library).

On my way out, I stopped off again at the greenhouse. Angela was talking to Randi about, I think, the pH sender units. I asked Tree about cucumbers to make kappamaki for Sushi Night (whenever we decided to have it). She promised to keep me informed about any upcoming harvests, and went back to her room to give me a bag of Japanese ingredients for her contribution. There was lots of Wasabi, a bag of Bonito Flakes (for broth), powdered Sushi-su (vinegared sugar to season the rice), and a tin of Saba (mackerel). Added to what I already have, we should be able to put on a really great meal.

Down in the Dome, I tried to work through the afternoon, but was too distracted and tired. I almost made it through afternoon, occasionally nodding off in my chair. I crashed out right before dinner, and even though I tried to get up, I didn't really wake up until after 21:00. I checked the detector, etc., at my desk, then went up to bar to socialize. There was a small crowd - Byron, Jim, OV. We hung out for a while; I talked to Byron about culture and how travel affects ones perspective. Finally, folks split, then I went off to bed for some real sleep.

Saturday, 15 May 2004
I woke up and went right to breakfast, getting there while there was still food on the line. After eating and talking to Dana and Henry for a bit, I went back down to the Dome and called Jeff in his room to remind him of our call this morning. Over in Comms, Jeff showed up, we made our call (no big news either way), then I went back to my desk and worked until lunch.

Henry and I walked to the galley together, and found a line for Burgers. I didn't see any Hamburgers (only Turkey Burgers), so I made a Grilled Chicken Sandwich and sat at the first table with the usual crowd. Jeff came over and joined us. I worked on the Wednesday crossword puzzle. Dehlia started helping when I got up for some dessert. Between the two of us, we knocked the rest of it out.

After lunch, down in Science, I tried to unstick one of the data handling processes, but took a break for a nap when I wasn't making any headway. I slept right through dinner and woke up around 21:00 to noise in the hall from people coming in to Upper Berthing to use the Sauna. After shaking loose the cobwebs from my head, I went up to the new station for Pictionary, but they were already done. There was a small crowd hanging out in the galley; I stuck around for a bit, nuking up some leftover Pizza from dinner. I went down to the bar to see who was still up, but it was deserted. I borrowed the tape of "Captain Ron" (so I could watch the first half), and fell asleep in my room watching it.

Sunday, 16 May 2004
I woke up hungry, and took a packet of noodles over to the old galley for hot water. Byron and Sean were upstairs, getting ready for the evening's barbeque. I sat at the bar, eating my noodles and listening to tunes. When the store opened, I made a quick dash up the beercan and back to get some supplies for the festivities. On my way back down, I stopped off at my desk to check on the detector, and paused to fix a data handling problem. As I fixed it, the sat came up, and I stayed a bit longer at my desk chatting with Matthew (former coworker) and Erin.

I finally pulled myself away from my desk and went back to the bar to eat. When I got back, folks were watching "Shrek". We paused the movie when the food came in - Smoked Pork Loin, Garlic Bread, Cabbage Salad and Macaroni Salad. An excellent selection for a day off. We ate, then watched the end of the movie. There was just enough time to check things at my desk before heading up to Skylab for band practice.

We pulled out our instruments and got down to business. Two of our new songs are "Shout" and "Low Rider" (none of my suggestions made the cut). It also looks like we'll be adding another Cake song (can't remember the title). Around 20:00, some of us started getting to tired to play well; we broke up, and went back to my desk. I quickly found I was too tired to work, either, and went up to my room to crash somewhat early.

Monday, 17 May 2004
Down early, then up early, in plenty of time for breakfast. There were still lots of the FEMC crew there when I arrived. The selection was the usual, Eggs, Hash, Potatoes, Bagels, etc. I sat with Chad, Don, and Kris, and we were joined by the Doc. Dan was at the other end of the table until he noticed the bombilla I brought up to drink my Matè through. We talked a bit about different kinds of Matè, then he finished and left, leaving me the last one in the galley. I bussed my dishes, then went back down to the Dome.

Nick was working in Science today. He came by the Back of Science and offered me a Latte. We sipped coffee and watched a few video shorts on the computer until it was time for lunch. I went up and back straightaway, planning on working on weekly reports with Jeff. After a while, I got an e-mail that Jeff wouldn't be coming down from the new station after all. Other fun news today is that the northern end of our Marisat link is doing modem maintenance, cutting our coverage tonight.

Tuesday, 18 May 2004
After some strange dreams, I woke up after breakfast was over. I took a Pad Thai noodle packet with me from my room, then went up the beercan to the galley where Jules was just finishing up. I prepared my noodles as Troy made a fresh batch of coffee. Jules sat with me as I ate, and the two of us took a stab at the Sunday crossword puzzle. After I finished my tea, I cleaned up and headed downstairs. I stuck my head out of the door at snow level, and it was pitch black outside. I could hear the marker flags flapping in the wind, but it's so overcast that there is no light to see by. I didn't have my headlamp with me, so I took the tunnels back to the dome.

Down at my desk, I changed tapes and waited for LES-9 to rise. Once we were online, slow as it was, I dug into my e-mail. There were shift reports to respond to, keeping me occupied until lunch. I walked up with Henry, for the choice of Chicken a-la King or Beef Stew over choice of Biscuits, Rice, or Noodles. Henry and I parked at the table closest to the door, with Jodi, Kirk and the Doc. As people finished, they departed, one by one, leaving just me and the Doc. When he was finished, I switched to the beaker table for dessert, and joined Nick and Jules working on the Sunday crossword puzzle. I finished my cookie (but not the puzzle), and went back down to the Dome.

I needed to walk out to MAPO, so I stopped off at the upper berthing bathroom to put in my contact lenses, but it was so warm -32°F (-35.6°C) that I didn't grab all of my ECW gear, notably my FDX boots. It was a nice walk out, even in sneakers. There were no stars - too cloudy, but there was enough diffuse light that I didn't use my headlamp for about 80% of the trip.

Out at MAPO, Jeff and I debugged a couple of suspect channels, and finding nothing odd, swapped back what we moved around the other day. We walked back together, again without headlamps. Jeff turned right at the beercan, I kept on straight to the dome, stopping off at the front of Science to talk with Lisae and Angela for a bit. I spent the rest of the time until dinner working at my desk.

In one of the more surreal experiences here, Tony, the summer power plant operator, called my VoIP phone from Iraq (looking for someone else in the building). We talked for a couple of minutes, and I took his message up to the galley to deliver it. Dinner was a really good Steak, with Scalloped Potatoes, and Roasted Carrots and Potatoes. I sat with Allan, Sarah, Bride, and Jason, and we shared some Shiraz around to go with the meat. After eating, I lingered a bit, then ran down to the dome to start the show, "Babylon 5: The Gathering" (the pilot movie). It drew a small crowd, Eyvind, Jeff, and Nick, not like the old days in McMurdo when I used to show video tapes of the show and we'd pack the coffee house on a Sunday afternoon. If we'd had more than the first three seasons here on DVD, it might have been worth showing the entire series front-to-back, but Season 4 came out right before station close, and Season 5 was only available recently.

After tidying up the Library with Nick, I thought about stopping over at the bar, but was so tired that I just went straight home to bed.

Wednesday, 19 May 2004
I woke up after breakfast was over, and checked on the detector from my room as I did laundry. Freshly attired in clean clothes, I went straight to lunch for Mexican Day. I made myself a Burrito, a couple of Tacos, and scooped up a Chile Rellano. Sitting over at the first table, Nick joined us before everyone at the table scattered. I jumped tables for dessert, then headed down to Science for the afternoon. Nick and Jules were working there today, too. I tidied up my area, then when it was time for house mouse, I showed Jules where Skylab was (she'd never been), then we went back down to Science and started vacuuming there. Glen came by in time to dump the recycling bins, and Nick made espresso for us when we finished. After a long coffee break, it was time to go up for dinner.

Dinner was a treat tonight: Lamb and Shitake Kebobs (it still astounds me how many Americans turn their noses up at lamb - it's a staple to the rest of the English-speaking world). After dinner, I went down to my desk for a bit to catch up on things. Eyvind dropped by, and I gave him a tutorial on what RS-485 and RS-422, etc., were (serial interface standards), then I quit for the day and went over to the bar to see who was there.

Besides the poker game, the place was empty. The cooler was empty, and there was nobody to talk to, so I went over to the Library and caught the last few moments of "Blue Velvet". Wednesday Night Movie folks never hang around afterwards, so I went back down to my desk, but couldn't stay focused. I hit the sack.

Thursday, 20 May 2004
I brought "The Difference Engine" home with me, intending to read myself to sleep. Nice plan, but I couldn't put the book down (I've read it before). I finished sometime after 05:30, then tried to get a couple hours of sleep before the science meeting.

I woke up right before 08:00, and ran straight up to the galley. For once, the meeting was packed - we filled three tables. There wasn't much to go over this time; I did mention a new mailing list for South Pole Science IT issues. After the meeting, I made some noodles and sat with Nick, Angela, Jules, and Glen.

Down at my desk, I called Jeff in his room and we worked out what we were going to do later today at MAPO. That plus swapping tapes was as exciting as the morning got. I went up to lunch about half-way through it and got just about the last scrap of BBQ Beef (the Tuna Steaks were gone long before I showed up). As I ate, there was a bit of commotion at the other end of the table - it's Nan's birthday, and they brought out Chicken Wings and a Cake for her. She shared it around; it was pretty good. After people started dispersing, I moved over to the tables in the back where there were three teams working on yesterday's crossword puzzle - Me and Nick, Bride and Jason and Sarah, and Cargo Nick and Dehlia. Nick and I stuck it out and finished after all the others had gone back to work.

From the galley, I went back to the dome to pick up my ECW gear (parka, carhartts, FDX boots, gaiter, goggles, headlamp, etc.) The ramp out of the dome entrance is drifting in and becoming impassible. Once I got to the top of the ramp, I had to turn around a couple of times to figure out which way to head. It's really dark now, and there are no outbound landmarks close to the station. I took my best guess for a heading and found the geographic Pole. From there, I tried to find the start to the flag line, but was turned too far to the right. After walking for a bit, I started to see the dim shadow of ARO on the horizon. From there, I turned sharply left and walked for about five minutes until I intersected the rope line at the pedestrian path. Finally on the path, finding MAPO wasn't hard, but I had to keep stopping every few minutes to clean the frost off my glasses.

I ran into Allan just outside the door, then got myself inside where Jeff was already waiting. I sat down at the detector console just as it was rolling over for the day. We halted the new run, turned down the high voltage, swapped the necessary cables, turned the high voltage back on, and fired things up. We waited around to make sure that things were happy. Marisat was up, giving us a chance to surf while we waited. Jeff left first; I left after a quick visit to the U-barrel.

On the walk back, I passed AST/RO but couldn't find the flag line. I picked a bright star out of the ones in the direction of the new station and followed it (Sirius, more than likely). Eventually I passed some nearly buried flags from a previous season and knew I had to be close to the path. My first real landmark was the "crossing beacon" sign. I realized that I had to be too far to the right. Walking to the left, I found the crossing beacon itself, and the flagged path. Between the flags and my guide star, I stayed on course across the skiway and most of the way to the new station, but the flags ran out before I could see the building. Before getting too far off course, I located the light from the round window in the door to the beercan and followed that. Finally I could see the station itself, and walked under the connector between the A pods and B pods, and around to the wooden staircase, and on up.

There were still 30 minutes until dinner. I went to the computer lab to check e-mail and pass the time. Kevin came by with some bass tabs for some of our new numbers, then it was time for dinner - Roast Pork Loin and Mashed Potatoes. Dessert was a Chocolate/Strawberry Mousse Pie that I added some Fruit Salad to. On my way out, I stopped to watch the cribbage crowd play a couple of games.

Back down at my desk I did a bit of work between dinner and band practice. From all the walking around today, I was pretty tired, but I went up to Skylab and gave it my best shot. We went through our new stuff, like "Seven Nation Army" and "Losing My Religion". I was getting really frustrated at one point because I couldn't hear myself play. Sarah helped by switching me to a different amp. Once I could hear what I was doing, things went much better. We played for 90 minutes straight before breaking up. I went down to my desk to try to get some more done, but I kept nodding off between commands. Finally I gave up and went to bed early.

Friday, 21 May 2004
I woke up around 08:30, and went right down to the back of Science. Having missed breakfast, I made a bowl of Tom Yum noodles. The morning passed with nothing more exciting than catching up on e-mail. Lunch was a choice of Brats and Red Cabbage, Grilled Tuna Melt, or Chicken Scampi over Linguini (I passed on the noodles because they never come out right at this altitude). I ate at the first table, then moved to the back of the room to work on the crossword puzzle with Nick and Sarah. They were well along when I sat down; I was only able to help out here and there (but I did come up with "onomatopoeia".)

Down in the dome, I just missed the end of the LES-9 pass. I kept busy cleaning up disks and such. Dinner was Seafood Neuburg and Roast Beef. Rich made an Apple Pie with almost the last of the real apples on station. After a nice slice, a la mode, I went down to Comms for Radio Darts. Our teams were me, Larry, Kris, Don, Jason, and Kevin. Sarah came by after the first game had started. We lost three in a row, despite some nice throws; and Kris won the last game for us with a double 10.

Several of us went over to the bar to celebrate our lone victory. When we there, everyone was in the TV area watching "The Final Countdown". When that ended, Sean put in "Stunt Woman", but it was so bad that he pulled it out fifteen minutes into it. I left not too much later, and went to bed.

Sunday, 23 May 2004
With no pressing engagements, I slept in this morning. I eventually got up and headed up to the galley for lattès, taking a packet of Thai Rice Porridge and a packet of noodles with me for lunch. I started the water boiling for my porridge and ordered a lattè from Troy. While I waited, I rummaged through the leftover fridge and came up with some Seafood Neuburg from last night. I ate that while I wait for my porridge to boil. It's a 4-person packet, so I offered some to Henry when he came in, but he politely declined. I took my lattè across the room to the galley bar and sipped it as I worked on the crossword puzzle with Jules. After about ten clues, we set it aside.

I changed tables to talk with Kev (nicknamed "The Guv" for his British origins) about the igloo he and some of the construction folks were building. Peter had asked me to get some pictures for our winter paper. Jules came back in to tell us that there were some good aurorae out; I went out on the back deck to see how they were. There was a nice display over the berms, but when I checked out the beercan door on my way down to the dome, they weren't strong in that direction.

After spending a bit of time on Marisat, I suited up in my ECW gear to go out for some pictures; at -60.0° (-51.1°C) and nearly calm, it was a good day to be outside. I went out the garage arch on a grid southerly track, but realized that the igloo was further out than I had originally thought. I stopped off at the BIF and called back to Met for better directions. Kris told me to walk through Summer Camp, and keep going past the Russian Antanov. I walked out that way and found the plane, but never found the igloo. I was hoping that Kevin and his crew would be there, and I'd be able to find them by their light and noise, but I heard nothing but the wind and saw nothing past my headlamp. There was a moderate aurora going on to grid West (over the skiway from where I was). I tried to get a picture of it over the wings of the Antanov, but I didn't have my tripod with me and it was hard to get a long enough exposure while balancing the camera on my knee.

Navigating back was much easier than on the way out - I just turned around and tracked on the red lights on the back porch of the new station. Just as I was approaching the wooden staircase, the aurorae started getting much brighter. I was too cold and too tired to stay out and try to take more pictures. I went straight to the galley to find something to eat. I found the deli tray in the walk-in and made a Salami Sandwich.

Gathering my ECW and my camera, I went back to the dome via the outside, hoping that the aurorae were still going. They were, but not as bright as when was coming inside. I took the snow stairs to the dome because the ramp that I used just two days ago was entirely filled in. Down at my desk, I struggled to pass packets over TDRSS, then gave up and went to Skylab for band practice.

We worked on "Seven Nation Army" and "Short Skirt" most heavily. After practice, I tried again to get anything passed over TDRSS, and it was so bad, I ended up calling Eyvind to see what was wrong. I worked through the night on various computer-related projects while watching old episodes of "That 70s Show". Eventually, I gave up and went to bed.

Monday, 24 May 2004
I woke up after breakfast, and checked things from my room. Later, up at lunch, I went the "soup-n-sandwich" route out of a lineup of Red Beans and Rice, Tuna Steaks, Baked Turkey Sandwiches, Clam Chowder, Swedish Meatballs, and Potato Skins. I went right to the back of the room to work on the Sunday crossword puzzle with Sarah and Jules. Sarah left; Nick joined us; Jason joined us; even Sean sat down to help. We got about 90% of it, then I had to put it down and get back to the dome.

On my way down the beercan I stuck my head out the door. There were faint aurorae at the horizon, but nothing strong enough to warrant dragging out all my gear. A bit later, Dana and Don both came through the back of Science and said the aurorae were good. Finally, I threw on my parka and grabbed my camera. I got as far as the top of the snow stairs, and my camera kept shutting off (low batteries don't do well in the cold). I went back inside with not much to show for it.

Late in the afternoon, Kevin came by to look through the pictures I'd taken at Fire School. We picked out a dozen or so for him to send home. I also found a couple nice ones of Nick and Jules I wanted to give to them. To fill the scant remaining time before dinner, I worked on my journal, catching up to 29-Feb.

As I was walking out for dinner, I passed Angela working at her desk. Since she'd just come back from dinner, I asked her what they were serving. It was Asian food, with some sort of Ice Cream Sandwich for dessert (I'd seen Rich making those when I was upstairs earlier). I reached the galley just as Rich was pulling the food from the line. I nabbed some Teriyaki Beef, Steamed Rice and an Eggroll (the salad was already gone).

I sat at the only semi-full table (the others were all completely empty), and the newspaper meeting began around my while I ate. We went around the table with status updates; most of us aren't ready yet. Several people made mention that management in Denver reads the paper (as if we didn't expect that), and that there were certain topics that were best avoided. After the meeting, before leaving the galley, Jules, Nick, and I finished the Sunday crossword puzzle.

Back down in the dome, I was struggling with the network until Henry did some tweak that made things much better. I worked at my desk until I couldn't stand to sit anymore, then I took a break over at the bar. The crowd there was hypnotically locked into watching "V", that cheesy 80s sci-fi mini-series. I got sucked in, too, and stayed to watch it. Most people left when the show was over. I stuck around talking with Jake for a while, before heading back to my desk via the greenhouse to do my weekly check and fill.

Tuesday, 25 May 2004
I woke up after breakfast, checked things from my room, then headed down to my desk to get some things done before lunch. Around noon, I went up the beercan and to the store. I noticed that KitKats were running out, so I bought a few to last me the winter, then went up for lunch. I grabbed a slice of Beef Lasagna and sat with Nick. We discussed the OpEd page of today's New York Times, then I moved over to the puzzle table to work on the crossword puzzle with Cargo Nick and Jason. I wanted to be of more help, but I only managed to contribute one clue.

After lunch, down in Science, Henry and Nick and I went over various e-mail mechanisms and how those might be changing in the future. The rest of the afternoon was rather boring. I kept an eye on things, then went up for dinner (Turkey, Stuffing, and Mashed Potatoes).

I ate, I came back down to the dome, and I watched an episode of "The Simpsons" before taking "the Prisoner" over to the Library for tonight's show. There was a small crowd tonight, Sarah, Larry, Nick, and Glen. We watched an episode, then just as it ended, the fire alarm went off in Bio-Med. Pete got to Comms right ahead of me and called the disregard pretty quickly. I went back upstairs to resume the show even though we lost Sarah and Larry in the commotion. When we were all done, I stopped off at my desk for a final check on things for the night, then hit the sack.

Wednesday, 26 May 2004
I was up after breakfast, so I took a noodle bowl down with me to my desk. I ate, and did my usual checks on the detector. Mid-morning, I stopped by Henry's desk to ask if there was anything unusual about last night's satellite pass. Lunch was unremarkable. I worked on reports through most of the afternoon before going up for dinner.

Dinner was a bit odd tonight - something Rich called "Steak Caesar", apparently steak served in Caesar Salad dressing. I can't say that it was my favorite thing they've served down here, but it was edible. I went right from dinner down to the back of Science. There was an e-mail waiting for me from Tree, asking me to look at her Nomad mp3 player to see if I could fix it after she dropped it. I wrote back to tell her to bring it by. I tried to stay awake and get some more work done, but I was too tired. I crashed early.

Thursday, 27 May 2004
I woke up early and took my Matè to breakfast with me. I sat with Angela and the Doc and waited for the Science Meeting. Allan had some news for me that the Liquid Nitrogen plant might have shutdown last night. He was going to go out and check it, then let me know if I had to shut the detector down so he could safely power the plant back up. I hung around after the meeting drinking more Matè, waiting for an update. After about half-an-hour, Allan called the galley to let me know that everything out at MAPO was fine.

From the galley, I went over to the B pod to see if Kevin still had my reading lamp I loaned the band for our last performance. He went looking for it, but it seems to have been moved or nabbed by some opportunist. I headed for the dome, and ran into Tree on my way to the beercan. I asked her for her Nomad, but she told me she'd already left it on my desk with a note. I found it when I got back from the new station, and cracked it open. Like Brad's Nomad, dropping it on the headphone plug dislodged the headphone jack from the main board, taking two caps with it. Unlike Brad's, she didn't just break the solder joints, she tore the foil pads right off the fiberglass board, a much more difficult repair. I set it aside and went up to lunch.

Today was Deli Day in the galley. I made a sandwich and sat at the table closest to the door with the usual crowd there. I hung around long enough to work on the crossword puzzle with Nick and Jules. Pete came by to work on it, too. After finishing, I tried to take some pictures on my way down to the dome, but my camera was dead. I charged the batteries and spend the afternoon working on reports.

Up at dinner, I sat with the Wine Society, but wasn't able to stay long; Kris all called me from Skylab because I was late for band practice. I ran down the beercan, across the dome, and up the stairs in Skylab, and jumped right in. We went over most of our old numbers, plus worked on a couple new ones ("Seven Nation Army" and "Short Skirt"). After practice, I went back to galley, where the Wine Society was still gathered. We worked through the selections at hand and broke up. Rather than go straight home, I stopped off at the bar and hung out with Anj, Moe, Jarrod, and Adam. We danced a little, then I left things in full swing to go home to bed.

Friday, 28 May 2004
Jeff called me at 09:00 to get together to work on reports. I stopped off at the old galley for hot water to rehydrate some soup. Jeff and I worked on reports all morning, then we broke for lunch. The selections today were Monte Cristo sandwiches, Corn Chowder, and Fried Chicken (I stuck with the soup and sandwich). The first table was mostly empty when I got there; it was just Nick and Lisae and me until Angela joined us. After eating, I switched tables to work on the crossword puzzle with Jason, Dehlia, and Cargo Nick. Nick and Dehlia went back to work. Jules and Bride joined Jason and me, and between all of us we finished it up.

Down in the dome, Jeff came back over to the back of Science, and we finished up our reports. Our obligation discharged, Jeff went home, I kept at things. Jules came by the back of Science to work, and was still there when Angela came by to see if Jules and I were going to dinner. Jules stayed behind to work on e-mail; Angela and I walked up the beercan to the galley for a choice of Catfish or Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Veggies.

We sat with Xuan and Randi. Xuan had this cool plastic bowl that she got from Rich for making noodles in. I checked, and it was the only one on station. The regular bowls are wide-brimmed shallow bowls that are good for Western soups, but not for Asian noodles. On my way out, I collared Larry the insulator, Jodi, and Met Don to get their pictures for our winter-over paper.

Friday night is Radio Darts. We lost the first two games to one of the Scott Base teams, but Kevin threw a double-3 to win the third. We were done with our third game by 21:00, so a few of us went over to the bar for a bit. I had to be up for a call in the morning, so I didn't make a late night of it.

Saturday, 29 May 2004
Jeff called me before 08:30 to see if we should still call Madison (since we weren't sure anyone would be at work the day before a long weekend). We decided to call anyway. We asked where we we could find a replacement analog-to-digital card (one of the ones in use seems to be excessively noisy), and besides a couple of helpful suggestions, we found out that the winter crew for next year wasn't yet finalized (Steffen plus two new guys). We finished our call, and I went back to my desk in Science to work on a few things. Before I knew it, it was lunchtime. At -95.8°F (-71.0°C) ambient, it's getting a bit uncomfortable to walk up the beercan in just a fleece and no parka.

It was Burgers and Corndogs up in the galley for lunch. I brought a Root Beer up with me (a rare substance this winter) and made a Root Beer Float that I enjoyed while I worked on the crossword puzzle with Jason, Sarah and Nick. Sarah left early, but the rest of us finished the puzzle.

On my way back from lunch, I stopped off at the new greenhouse. Randi is working on the relay panel that controls the servos that automate much of the controls (the greenhouse in the dome is 100% manual). I'm not a licensed electrician, but I can tell good work when I see it, and Randi is clearly a professional.

A cold walk down the beercan and through the tunnels later, and I was back in the dome. The afternoon dragged as I checked on things, but eventually, it was time for dinner. I went up for a couple of slices of BBQ-Chicken-Jalapeno pizza, and stopped by the bar at the back of the galley where Brad was pouring Jungle Juice (it needed a little less Jungle and a lot more Juice!) I hung around for a bit, then went down to the bar for a little more excitement. I danced a bit, talked a bit, and helped clean the place up when the evening was over.

Sunday, 30 May 2004
Despite being Sunday, and despite being my birthday, I woke up early. I chilled out in my room for a while, reading e-mail, etc., until I started to get hungry. I went over to the bar to use the microwave, but since it was utterly deserted, I took my noodles up to the galley and ate there.

While I was eating, Angie gave a lecture about a forest fire she fought in Montana last year (I didn't realize it at the time, but she had to get a dispensation to leave the fire to come to the Ropes Course in Leadville last September). She talked about the evolution of fires in general and this fire in particular, the abatement techniques they used to preserve the buildings (it was mostly on National Forest land, so there were several structures they wanted to save). After the lecture, I popped down to my desk to watch the detector roll over for the day, and when it was happy, I went back up to the galley looking for the practice poker game (Texas Hold'em with Froot Loops for chips), but nobody was there. I went back down to the dome.

After working at my desk for a bit, I went over to the bar because Byron was cooking today - Ribs. I showed up around 17:15 and things were still in progress. We watched "Kingpin" and snacked on Cheese and Crackers. The ribs did finally make it, and they were excellent, as was the Pasta Salad, and the Spinach Dip and Queso Dip in Bread Bowls. The Sunday barbeque crowd was a bit smaller than normal, but all the regulars were there. I cleaned my plate and watched the end of the movie before stopping off at my desk on the way up to band practice.

We went over all of new numbers and a couple of the old ones before Sarah split. I lasted two more songs, then took off myself around 21:00. I tried to get a bit more done at my desk, but I was too tired. I went upstairs and fell asleep watching "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut".

Monday, 31 May 2004  -  Memorial Day
I woke up after breakfast and puttered around my room for a while, and watched the end of "South Park" before heading downstairs. According to the Watcher, it warmed up to -45.0°F (-42.8°C)! I did my morning detector checks, then helped Nick out by repairing a cold solder joint on his espresso machine. I had it apart, repaired, and put back together by lunchtime.

Lunch was Fried Fish Nuggets, Chicken Fried Steak, and Mashed Potatoes. I sat at the first table, but, as usual, they were there early, and left first. When it was down to just Henry and me, Nick joined us. When Henry left and Nick and I were done eating, we both moved over to the puzzle table to work on the Sunday crossword puzzle. We left with only a few clues blank (not bad for one sitting - the Sunday puzzle normally takes a few sessions).

I went down to the dome via the outside path. There was a bit of scattered moonlight; I could see the dome and some of the marker flags near it. It wasn't too cold, either (and I was in my fleece and jeans). As I approached the dome, I could see a red headlamp coming in from ARO. I waited by the dome entrance to see who it was - Moe on her rounds. Back at my desk, I waited for the satellites to rise, and Nick came around offering "esspresso-based beverages". Henry and I each took a double shot. Henry had his straight; I had mine with milk (the UHT boxed milk is old enough that it's starting to get a bit chunky). Jules came by with the superglue (a rare substance for two reasons - one, people use it to patch up the cracks at the ends of their fingers; and two, it doesn't keep well in the tube here once it's opened). I started dabbing bits of it on the foil pads for Tree's Nomad mp3 player and tried to patch it back up.

I took a break to go up to dinner late, then came right back down to try and finish the repairs. Once I had the pads for the capacitors replaced, I had to run new traces. I took a cut-up floppy cable, extracted a wire from inside the ribbon insulation, then peeled a single strand from the bundle. Tacking it down as I went, I managed to re-route all the affected signals from the torn-up pads, then replace the components on top of all the re-work. Finally, around 23:00, I was able to repair the torn ears on the headphone jack and solder the LCD screen back down (all of this damage was under the corner of the display, necessitating its removal). By the time I had it all put back together and working, I was ready for bed.

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