Here's all the news that's fit to print from a USAP computer. Life in Antarctica, with (some) pictures. And it was fun fun, fun until her Daddy took the T-bird away

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gone, Baby, Gone

Well, I left Antarctica almost a week ago- on the 20th, to be exact. Got into Christchurch at Midnight, after sitting on the runway while the mechanics made sure that the right engine wouldn't fall off in flight. And wqe get here and it's HOT and muggy and therre are lots of bigs. I almost crawled right back on the C-17 for a return to good weather.
I've spent the last six days enjoying the scenery and the whole light-dark-light thing. And the stars are nice to see again too. The mior sun-burn is a bit of a hassle, but it just itches. I have one more week of lounging about before I return to the States on March 6th.
I'm looking forward to being home, or at least in a place where I understand the traffic, the advertisements and the way things work. There are some things here in NZ that are just odd. I'm sure the many Kiwis who go to the US have the same feelings, but hey-this is my blog!
I have applied for a job with Cook's Illustrated magazine-if they like the article I emailed them on the 22nd I will be going East for a few days to work in the Test Kitchen. If I'm really in luck, soon I'll be moving to the Boston area. Otherwise it's a stretch on unemployment while I try to :
a)get back to the South Pole, maybe
b) get a job in Chicago somewhere, along with housing, etc,
c) decide to move to Alaska.
The whole life-thing is in flux at the moment. (did you know that that was an old name for really nasty discharges?)
So this particular blog has about lived out its natural span-when I do (really, I will!) post those last few pics I will still let you all know.

Monday, February 05, 2007

RePack! For the end is near!

Well, I have been amazingly lax about posting anything at all to this poor, neglected blog this month. Partly, that's because nothing much has been happening. Sadly, much of what I wanted to post pictures of became un-noteworthy in the execution. Because the string was a week late in arriving on the Ice, the kite festival had a total of 3 kites in the air-one of them brought over from the NZ base. The other kite-makers have gone flying, but only one at a time. The shot of one lonely kite in the huge blue sky was just too depressing to post.
The weather is starting to get colder out-I'm back in Big Red the parka, instead of a fleece jacket. The Sound has lots of open water this year-a few years ago the huge ice chunk named B-15 parked itself at the opening of the sound and caused the annual ice to stay put a freeze up instead of flowing away North in pieces. It broke up late last season, and so far the ice-edge has been getting steadily closer. The first official sunset will take place on Feb 19th, and sunrise will appear about 36 minutes later.
And while there has been wildlife around- whales cavorting in the Sound, for example-I tend to see the spouts from so far away that a pic looks silly. The Coast Guard Icebreaker Polar Sea offered cruises to about half of the population-there was a lottery, and I was not chosen. I let Paul go off to Snow Survival School, also called Happy Campers-I was offered the chance of going on 2 hours of sleep, and Paul hadn't gotten to go on any fun trips at all-he had a blast, but I stayed home. (It was his night off anyway-so he had had plenty of rest)
And now the end of the season is looming. Some folks have already headed home. Most of the scientists are long gone, or are leaving today. (Leaving on a C-17, don't know if I'll be back again....)
The big arrival this week is SUPPLIES. The tanker that delivers our fuel was here for three days, and now our container ship is here. The next ten days are called "vessel offload" or vessel for short-and the next year's worth of food, toilet paper, beer, chips, welding stuff, paper, staples, lumber, paint, parts, and so on, is here, somewhere in a big orange metal box called a milvan. They get lifted off the ship with a crane, and driven around town on anything big enough to carry one-big forklifts, flatbeds, converted Deltas, etc. Any day now I expect to see gangs of folks hauling them along on rollers, like the Egyptians building the pyramids.
My flight out is now scheduled to be on the 20th of February. I will be hanging around in NZ for about 2 weeks, and hope to back in Illinois (home Sweet Chicago!) on the 6th of March. In early April I will be off to Barcelona for a week or so, with a detour to the Valhrona chocolate factory on the way.
After that, who knows? I'll probably apply to return, but can't say if I'll come back down. I may get a better offer in the meantime.
Boxes have been mailed home so I don't have to lug crap all over New Zealand that I just won't use-like my knife kit. The pool cue- thanks again Josh!-I am taking with. It just might help me chat up cute guys!

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

More stuff

And there was quite a hiatus between the former and the following:
On the 8th the sky was clear, the wind was good and the kites were grounded for one simple reason-the string had not yet arrived from NZ. *sigh* So now we're going to try for next Tuesday night-because I suspect that the package came in on today's cargo flight.
Several of the galley staff have taken to hanging around the dining room between 12:30 and 1:30-2ish in the AM., and it's been very refreshing to sit around discussing literature, space flight, helicopters, tall ships and stupid math jokes. Most kitchen crews are quite anti-intellctual-that is if they speak English enough to discuss anything with me.
Even though I've been unable to hang out with actual "scientists" this season I've still met some very bright people. Of course, all of the cute male ones are under 30. *sigh* Mind you, my next door neighbor is a cute young(er) thing-and he's great fun hang around with-nudge nudge, wink wink. My being assigned a roommate put a certain crimp in our plans, but he had to hit the Pole to fix their generators-which had suffered a Rube Goldbergian series of errors leading to smoke, sparks and steaming glycol spraying into the #3 generator. This is not good for the equipment. Parts have been ordered, and when the repairs are all finished, and he's back from another stint South I'll be solo again, as the current roommate is leaving on the 23rd of January. Yee Haa! I do wish I could manage to get some time at the Pole but it doesn't look likely this season.
It is now a bit late to be mailing things here. So thanks for all of the great books and other pressies, but keep them for the time being or mail them to me at home. I'm planning on two weeks in NZ playing tourist before hitting the States-if anyone has any fun ideas let me know. Also if you know of cheap places to stay in Barcelona that might have kitchens.
I promise I will get some more pictures posted soon-I've even got some of people, which I noticed I was lacking.
The end of the season appears every closer, drat! Some folks are quite anxious to be off the Ice, but I'd just as soon stay- except of course that I wouldn't want to make my kitties foster children forever. And I do miss the friends and family, too.
The icebreakers have both arrived on Station, and there is open water visible from Town. This has led to large flocks of penguins hanging around Hut Point-one of my favorite pics posted here on the intranet is of about a dozen penguins and the same number of people with cameras clicking away. For the most part the penguins ignore the people, which can lead to amusing encounters. Soon the seals will appears as large, furry boulders scattered about. It's only when they move that you can get startled by their size.
Now I have to decide how much I want to come back, and for how long.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Deck the halls

with Boston Charlie, Walla Walla Washington and Kalamazoo! Nora's freezing on the trolley, holly golly cauliflower, ally ga-roo!
And if you recognize that you're familiar with a muskrat named POGO, who starred in a comic strip for lo these many years. It was much fun, but is out of print now. Well worth looking up if you have the chance, though.
There is some news- I will NOT be staying for the winter. It's a long, sad story- if you want the details email me and I'll spill all, but not here. That means that I'll be off of the Ice come the end of February, and with any luck will get to do some traveling in April and May before getting back to the daily grind. Where I'll be living is somewhat up in the air-the house I used to live in may have been rented, and I may not want to stay in Evanston/Chicago anyway. But I will be happy to see the kitties!
I have been helping people to build kites for our up-coming festival. Folks are being very creative, adding all kinds of fluttery and flappy stuff, and decorating up a storm. Now I just hope that the wind will remain as constant as it has, so flight can occur. The festival is on Jan. 8th-you can expect pictures.
The MidRats galley crew have taken up bowling. We go on Thursday mornings after work, and so far I'm consistently a mediocre-to-bad bowler. If I'm not the worst bowler in the room it's because Shane has decided to come along-once he managed to get a total of 23 points in 10 frames. I, at least, tend to break 70. Some of the kitchen staff are quite good, making strike after spare and so on. I'm happy when I manage to get the ball down the center of the lane. This is not helped by the ancient and warped nature of the lanes themselves. Bowling here will not improve your game anywhere else.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


I know, it's been too long since the last update. Sorry!
It felt like the week after T-day was about a year long. And this week has also taken its' own sweet time. But I did get a chance to take some more pictures around town:
And I've been kind of busy-I organized a Festival of Kites, to be held on Jan. 8th, so on Tuesday evenings I've been holding kite-building workshops for anyone who wants to fly. It's been loads of fun. And I'm working as librarian for 3 hours on Tuesday mornings as well. And the MidRats galley crew has taken up bowling on Thursday or Friday mornings- last time I cleared 88. The lanes here were installed in 1962 and haven been sanded since....
And my brother Josh sent me a pool cue of my very own for my birthday. THANKS JOSH!!! Playing with a cue that is straight and has its tip is a big change around here. It's helped immensely. So my time on the internet has been severely compromised, hence the lack of posts here.
Weather-wise the outlook is grim. It's been over 35F for the last two weeks-warmer than it's been in Chicago! That's just NOT FAIR. I come 10,000 miles to get some good weather and it warms up. GRRRRR. Some of the local roads have had to be closed-when you're driving on ice you don't want to hear the description "soupy" about surface conditions. BUT- if the sea-ice breaks out of the Sound then we'll have Penguins and lots of fat Seals hanging around, which would be nice.
The next regular sunset has been scheduled-in late January,around the 22nd, I believe, we'll have 3 hours of sunset. It will make a pleasant change. Around that time the cargo vessel with all of next years' supplies will be arriving-vessel offload is always a hectic time, but there's lots of new foodstuffs to play with.
I'm off to exercise the perogative of those with a night off, and take a nap.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Well, it's about that time of the week again, so here I am. I now have a new job-on Tuesdays I get to the librarian from-10:30 in the mornings. It's a lot of fun- not many folks stop by and I can use the computer without anybody breathing down my neck as they wait for a chance. I expect to get some writing done in this time slot-Great American Novel, her I come! (just kidding)
It was some hectic week with all of Thanks giving to get through.
we made:
1,200 rolls
40 Pecan Pies
48 Pumpkin cheesecakes
24 flourless chocolate cakes
60 Apple pies
60 pumpkin pies
4 full sheets of marjolaine-which is three layers of walnut meringue filled with maple buttercream and orange buttercream and all enrobed in ganache.
There were also 60 loaves of walnut cranberry bread.
The rest of the usual suspects were there too- turkey, stuffing, mashed 'taters, Green bean casserole, etc, etc. I was too busy or too tired to even remember to get pictures. I'll try to snag some from Paul-the other midrats baker.
Otherwise, no big news.
It was my birthday last Tuesday (the 21st) and I got a stunning 2# of chocolates from Piron, which I just had to share. There were too many to eat all by myself. And lots of boxes with books in them arrived. Some I have donated to the library, some I'm reading first. Thanks! for all of the goodies. I some package mail waiting for me right now in the mail room-I wonder what it is?!
Here's hoping everyone had a happy healthy holiday-which includes at least three slices of dessert.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's a wild, wild life

So I've seen my first Skua of the season. The bird was flying around the other day, and when it disappeared I thought it had gone to roost on the roof of the galley, waiting for a sandwich to be carried out for its lunch. But no! It had just hunkered down in the parking lot known as derelict junction, and was resting comfortably on the ground about 2 feet from one of the vans. They're pretty big birds-wingspan is over 24"- and the top of the food chain around here. People are just convenient carriers of goodies as far as the skuas are concerned.
I've got an extra day off-it's my Thanksgiving holiday. Needless to say (so why am I saying it then? Very good question...) on Thanksgiving itself the galley staff is busy. Very, very busy.
So we get our holidays when we can manage them. I spent my extra time in the ceramics room, working on a project that I'll post more about when it's closer to being done. And it isn't a pot or an ashtray, either!
Yesterday was an informal galley gathering in Hut 10, which used to be the Admiral's hose when this was real Navy base. Now we use it for parties and housing visiting brass. In contrast to previous galley parties this one was quite subdued-for much of the day just Rob, one of the AM cooks and myself were hanging out, watching movies, playing loud music and playing Set. Set is a very nifty card game- look at the web site for an idea. And there was almost no food. Most galley parties are overflowing with enough food to feed a village, but this one had only some nice fruit kuchen from Rob and some pizza that came by around 9PM. During the course of the evening other folks drifted in and out-at one point we had five guests! It was great, just like having a living room again. After the Midrats shift was done the whole crew came by and we watched Pirates of the Caribbean. (Shane, one of our cooks, has a radio show. He is serializing the exploits of Pirate Captain Drew ((our sous-chef)) and the rest of us. It's rather...odd. Drew just had his legs gnawed off by hamsters, and Emily goes around preaching democracy to preschoolers whilst I myself am some knod of secret ninja.) Much fun was had by all.
We have a greenhouse here that provides hydroponically grown vegetables. The gardener-person can also grow other stuff- Brent gave me a present. See the link to find out what it was.