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Thankgiving on Planet Zulu

Saturday, November 26th, 2005

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Since Antarctica contains all lines of longitude, it also has segments of the continent in every time zone. Geographically speaking, here at Siple Dome we are on Hawaiian time because we are roughly on the same longitudinal line. But using the many varied time zones spread across the continent would have its obvious drawbacks, especially when trying to make flight schedules. To make thing infinitely easier we only use two different time zones here at Siple Dome. McMurdo, South Pole and all the field camps supported by them use New Zealand time (aka McMurdo Stupid Time) for everyday functions such as meal times and waking and sleeping, etc. Weather, Fixed Wing operations, the USAF, and the National Guard do all their planning and forecasting in GMT (Zulu). To make things even simpler, people occasionally quote times in Mountain Time (Denver time) since that is where the USAP headquarters is. It is all arbitrary considering that in the summer it is always daytime here anyway. We could just as easily be on Nuku’alofa time and it wouldn’t make much difference, especially at the South Pole.

Because of the capricious nature of the clock time and the confusion that it can sometimes create, we have found that holidays that fall mid-week (Thanksgiving being one of them) can be moved around with little or no confusion. Here at Siple Dome, we could very well have made pumpkin pie on no less that three Thanksgivings. The last Thursday of November on Local NZ time actually starts at 6am on Wednesday morning in Plymouth, MA where the first Thanksgiving was held. But because the Kiwis don’t celebrate Thanksgiving, it doesn’t make much sense to celebrate it on the Kiwi clock. By dinnertime on the last Thursday of November in Plymouth, MA it is already mid-morning coffee break at McMurdo on Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. So we figure that we might as well postpone Thanksgiving until Saturday and make a long week-end out of it (we have 6 day work weeks here).

Tired and confused yet?…You should try getting a good night sleep in a tent in full sunlight. The lead picture was taken just after midnight McMurdo Stupid Time.


Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

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Here is an overlay of the US over the Antarctic Continent. I find that a lot of people grossly underestimate the size of Antarctica. I also drew in a couple of places that I often refer to.

I have been beating my head on our laptops all weekend and I have cobbled together a functional, though slow, system for sending recieving and surfing. Hopefully I haven’t brought down the entire 77 satellite Iridium system. So a warning to all of you under a non-polar satellite orbit…keep your eyes to the skies.

Rezerking the Bogies

Sunday, November 20th, 2005
The big camp at WAIS Divide went in this week. At the moment they are using a portable 10-99 HF radio for communications so, most of the time, we can barely hear them but they sound like their doing ... [Continue reading this entry]

Internet at Siple Dome

Sunday, November 13th, 2005
Another week has gone by here at Siple Dome. This week has been a weather reporting farce. We finished grooming the runway this week but have only gotten one little Twin Otter in and they can land on ... [Continue reading this entry]

Put-In at Siple Dome

Sunday, November 6th, 2005
IMG_3395 (Custom).JPG Put-in at Siple Dome has officially ended after two weeks of digging snow, making a runway, and general opening tasks. Yesterday, our GA from McMurdo, Louis, left on a Twin Otter ... [Continue reading this entry]