The Eclipse went off today. I have to say, I was kind of let down. First of all, I had to work and would go outside in pieces. Then, out at the runway, the skies were clear in the morning and in the afternoon but, during the eclipse the skies were obscured by clouds. To top it all off, the batteries in my camera went dead so I couldn’t even attempt to salvage the day. I managed to pillage a picture and a satellite image from the McMurdo common drive which I have put up here for your enjoyment. I am not sure who to credit for these. The I: drive is usually considered public domain. Here is an article on the eclipse from Sky and Telescope Magazine. There are some better pictures of totality and of Vinson Massif, Antarctica’s tallest mountain.
There were more penguins interfereing with air traffic today. I saw the firemen out coercing them off the runway on our way back into town after lunch. In a world with out trees or kittens (or very many fires), the firemen herd penguins off the runway. What a wierd place.
Archive for November, 2003
Busy week. I told myself I was going to do more than one post this week but it never happened. There were schedule changes at work and I ended up working more than my regular 60hrs this week.
and I both received packages! We told my parents that if they wanted to send us anything for Christmas they had better do so soon. It arrived in 10 days. Luci?s package arrived sooner than it would have taken to send it to Italy. We also received some smoked salmon from our friend Lee in Alaska in about the same amount of time. I think these were an anomaly though. The APO has probably gotten rid of their back load of package mail in Christchurch. This is bound to get backed up again over the holidays. There is a period of a couple of weeks where there are no 141 (big planes) flights to McMurdo so we make due with the food we have and wait until later to get our mail. Thanks to both. It is always exciting to see your name on the list of package mail recipients.
We finally saw penguins! I first heard about them last Friday. On the drive back into town from the Runway we heard the Firemen on the radio saying ?someone needs top get out in the runway and get those penguins out of the way; the plane is only 20 miles out?. On the way back out for dinner we saw them. There were about ten of them all in a line. They were walking and sliding on their bellies. Over the next few days they were the talk of the base. One day they came really close to town so anyone could see them. There have also been numerous big fat seals almost in town. The Ice edge is getting closer everyday. On Sunday, at long last, I went out to Castle Rock
where you can actually see the Ice Edge in the distance. It is a long straight and flat walk to a rocky hill that is probably better done on cross-country skis. I was kind of in a hurry because I only have the morning off and had to be back by 4.
Next week promises to be eventful. On Monday there is a solar eclipse in Antarctica. The path of totality will be on the other side of the continent from us but we will see about 80% totality. I brought along a #14 welding glass so I can watch it with my eyes. Here is a link to a map of the entire eclipse.
On Wednesday and Thursday luci and I have Hut 10. Hut 10 is a normal house that used to be quarters of the commander of the Navy?s operation Deep Freeze. After Deep Freeze left it was turned over to recreation. A person can sign up for hut 10 once a season. People often throw lavish parties or departments will have appreciation parties for their workers. Luci and I signed up for the day before and the day of the actual thanksgiving. Here, Thanksgiving and Christmas are celebrated on the weekend following the actual day of the holiday. As most kitchen people work extra hours on the McMurdo fabricated thanksgiving, they are given a free day off to take when they want to. Luci and I both took it on Wednesday so both days we have hut 10 we are off and it is Thanksgiving. It has been many years since I was in a country where they celebrate thanksgiving or wasn?t working on it when I was in the US. One year we were in Mozambique with malaria and Luci got attacked by a turkey, to add insult to injury. I have spent more than a few in Italy where it is a day like any other (like the 4th of July). A couple of times I celebrated thanksgiving with the Peace Corps in Zambia which was a little strange to say the least. It is hard to consider it an actual thanksgiving when it is 90F and there are winged termites dive bombing your plate.
I am not sure which category to put this thanksgiving under. When people want to say ?in the US? they always say ?here? as if McMurdo was just like any other US town. And it feels in every way like it except we are able to change holidays to coincide with the work week. We also get to work at least 60hrs a week without having to worry about getting paid overtime. We still have to pay both federal and State taxes though, which really makes us feel right at home. In Antarctica there are no laws other than the Antarctic treaty and whichever American laws the NSF feels like enforcing. We are living in the Republic of the NSF. I guess I?ll just consider Thursday another Thanksgiving abroad and Saturday another farce of Antarctic law.
Another week gone. This one really flew by. I have been fighting an affliction that is affectionately known as the ?crud?. It is a mild upper respiratory virus ... [Continue reading this entry]