The weather has been beautiful here over the past few days. When I first arrived, the temperature was in the low 20’s, sunny and windy. There’s been very little cloud cover, and no new snow. It’s what is considered Condition 3 weather. Condition 2 and 1 probably have specific descriptions but generally each is progressively worse. If there’s a Condition 1, you are not to leave the building you are in until it has improved to a Condition 2. The condition level is broadcasted on the McMurdo TV station (still screens of the current weather, flight schedule, other announcements) and in the main Galley. It’s only been Condition 3 since I arrived. Lately it’s been above freezing and the snow is beginning to melt. Of course that mean it’s “mud season” as we say in Maine. It still can be pretty windy so coats are still a necessity though, although I see some of the hardier souls without one. The roads are not paved, so it’s beginning to get messy. I see tractors smoothing out snow in the roads. Someone told me today they take the snow from the big piles and spread it so that it will melt gradually and lessen the road damage. That sounds odd to me, but what do I know. But there are small rivers between buildings which freeze at night and remelt during the day. This is slowing down my morning commute to work but I will endure.
Let me describe my commute so you fully understand my inconvenience. I live in Building 155. The first floor is where all of us “newbies” are crammed in to 5-6 person rooms. The second floor has 4 person rooms. There are many other buildings of dorms but the biggest is 155. Also on the first floor of my building is the Galley. This is where everyone on station eats. It can be a bit of a madhouse at times. It’s very similar to the dining halls I remember from college. The nice thing is that I don’t need to leave the building to eat except lunch when I’m at work. Bldg 155 is really the central hub of activity. It also houses the Recreation Department, a computer area, Human Resources, the hairdresser, craft room, Housing Dept, Finance Dept, the radio station. Here is the link to the webcam of McMurdo Station. http://www.usap.gov/videoclipsandmaps/mcmwebcam.cfm Building 155 is the big blue building somewhat in the middle. Right next door (up and to the left on the webcam) is the medical building where I work. See the red roof? Yes, my commute isn’t very far. To give you perspective, I’m standing in the shadow of 155 taking the photo above. I would guess it’s about 200 yards from my bed in my dorm room to my desk in my office. It seems hardly worth putting a coat on, but it’s still pretty cold and windy, so I do. And considering I’m visiting other buildings to do my talks, I need it. So the photos are of my little office which is the most modern looking room in the whole clinic. There’s a lot of avocado green or drab yellow metal cabinetry, circa 1950, in the rest of the areas. My room is the envy of the other clinicians here. If it just had a window, it’d be perfect. But I shouldn’t complain.
Work is good. I’ve been seeing about 5 patients/day this week. I’m thinking it will increase, but from the looks of the prior schedule not by much. I keep busy with all the other stuff I do. For example, today I went to the Fuel Department and taught the “fuelies” about back safety and took them through some stretches. All week long, I’ve been working my through the medical clinic and am doing ergonomic evals for each of the staff. There are some bad work stations here, but we’re modifying the best we can. I was wandering through some other buildings looking for a more suitable desk for one of our doc’s. She is using a lovely green behemoth of a desk that existed before the dawn of personal computers, so it’s a pretty lousy place to type. While I was on this quest, I spotted a dental hygenist chair in one of the dorm room lounges. Why it was there? Who knows. But the dentist and I went back and took it. Other time consuming activities… I clean up my own treatment space after each patient and do my own laundry that I use there. The others in the clinic are less busy and will check my laundry and do some if needed. There’s some data entry for end of season stats which takes some time. Earlier in the week, I went to a training in case I go in to the “Dry Valley”. It involves some serious “no impact” approaches, like peeing in a bottle (yes even the women) and packing everything back out. I don’t think I’d like to go to the Dry Valley.
I work 7:30a – 5:30p. I generally eat right after, then have a few hours before I go to bed around 9:30 or 10:00. There are tons of activities going on so sometimes it’s tough to decide what to go to. Last night I went to a science lecture on seals. There are about 2 science lectures per week for about an hour each. The scientists will talk about what they’re doing there. No data is allowed and the talks are generally dumbed down a bit so that it’s understandable for us non-scientists. Last night I went to a talk on dogsledding in Antarctica. I had played Scrabble a few nights ago with the fellow who gave the talk. He’s an British mountaineer in his late 60’s and was a crackup during our game. I’m a little sore from the beating I received….”JIFF” on a triple word score gave him 75 points. Ouch. If only I got points for an assist as I was the one that set him up for that play. If it only worked that way. But I’m diverting from my thoughts here. This fellow, Shaun is here leading a team of researchers to where they need to go, keeping them from falling in a crevasse, etc. I met the PI (primary investigator) for that team on the flight here. She’s a geologist from Ohio State, studying how the ground is responding to less ice mass on top of it (or at least that was my interpretation of what she said). Drifting from my thoughts again here…the talk last night…Shaun talked about time exploring Antarctica in 1967-69 with a team of Brits. This was a time when dogs were allowed but women were not. Very interesting guy and a fun lecture. He had some great photos. Today I go tour the LDB (long duration balloon) during work. Remember, this is our safety talk for some reason. I let you know more about it next time.
So for those of you wanting to send me mail, here is my address:
[Participant’s Name], RPSC
PSC 469 Box 700
APO AP 96599-1035
For those not familiar, US Postal rates apply because of the APO address. Mail can be slow depending on a few things. Flat mail including padded envelopes come the fastest — 2 weeks from what I’m hearing. Boxes take longer. They’ve been backed up by 6-8 weeks but I hear they’re catching up. If you want ideas on things I need or would like, send me a message (preferrably email) and I’ll send you a few ideas. I’d be happy to send postcards too, if anyone would like an official stamped one from here.
I’ve added some photos to previous entries so take a second look when you get a chance. Adding photos is a bit of a pain and may need to find a better way.
Thanks to all for following along on my adventure.