Sunday, August 17, 2008

Counting it down

I usually make it a rule to not count days around here but imagine this: since Feb 14, you have worked 151 days, had only 33 days off on weekends lasting exactly 1 day (occasionally 2 days), had no extra days off for federal holidays, had no vacation days or paid time off. The 1 day weekends that you have had, you've had to spend at your workplace - you don't get to take a road trip, no visits to the beach or mountains, no movies at the mall or walks in the park. You've eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same restaurant for months on end, although the food is quite good and the cooks can do amazing things with only frozen food.

It's been 26 weeks since station closing and right about now, people are getting sick of being here. We're all a bit "toasty"...irritable, cranky, sleep-deprived, fatigued, increasingly anti-social. It's Angry August at the South Pole. No one has completely gone off the deep end and there are no front-runners for passengers on the "plane of shame", or someone sent out on the very first flight, usually for hushed up reasons like they've gone bonkers and can't hack it here anymore.

But still there are plenty of people who do want to get out of here as soon as possible. After much uncertainty in station opening planning, we're being told now that the latest plan is to have the Basler, a smaller twin engine plane seating 18 people, start flying missions here on Oct 23 to bring in the new crew. Then the first LC-130 is due to arrive Nov 5 and that's when we can start flying out of here. That's later than previous seasons when we're had 130s here in late Oct but better than the recently talked about plan of delaying them until Nov 12. People were very grumpy over the idea of being stuck here until mid-November.

So that's about 81 days, weather permitting, that we have left to go here for our winter experience. We're in astronomical twilight right now where the sun is less than 18 degrees below our horizon. We can now see a very faint but unmistakable pink glow on the horizon, although it's still dark as night out. In three days, we'll enter nautical twilight and the sun will be only 12 degrees below the horizon. This morning we saw a partial luner eclipse and we'll still seeing vivid aurora displays but those will gradually dimish as the night sky gives way to the light.

And another number...I've now run 913 miles on the treadmill and elliptical machine since February as part of the Run to McMurdo event that I hold each winter. It's just a fun way to track your workouts and now that I've made it to McMurdo, I'm now somewhere over the Ross Sea heading to Christchurch, New Zealand.

Michael was just accepted into the Culinary Institute of America last week. He's going to be in the Advanced Career Experience course, a special program for experienced chefs that accepts only 18 students per year. We'll be moving to Hyde Park, NY in January and are looking forward to life on the East Coast and being so close to New York City. I'll start looking for PA jobs in the Hudson River Valley area soon. Boy, it's been a while since I've had to look for a job.

We still have a ways to go this winter and if people can just hold it together for a few more months, we'll soon be reliving the memories in Christchurch from the outdoor patio at Dux de Lux over pitchers of Blue Duck Amber.


At 2:03 PM, Blogger Brody said...

only an hour train ride down to the city.....great part of the are going to enjoy it.

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

" we'll soon be reliving the memories in Christchurch from the outdoor patio at Dux de Lux over pitchers of Blue Duck Amber. "

On the way

At 9:11 AM, Blogger genomeboy said...

Any chance you'd live closer to Union County NJ area? My wife's internal medical practice could seriously use a PA, and as a fellow Emory Alum ('88C) you'd have an in with the boss's husband...

Anyway, I've really enjoyed your tales from the end of the globe, as well as your travels around it...

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Neal said...

I know it doesn't help much, but most of the flights were delayed in October anyway, so it shouldn't be that big of a deal to wait until Nov. for the first flight.


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