Monday, December 26, 2005
posted 12/26/2005 09:50:00 PM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time

Back to work

After that last post on Saturday, I ended up getting a little motivated to go up to the fuels barn and make a picture frame. It was definitely refreshing to just plug in some of my music, chat with Doc a bit, then grab an old weathered piece of dunnage and turn it into something new. By the time I had built a ripping fence for our circular saw, a jig to clamp the frame in place (since we have like 3 real clamps and they're huge,) and the parts of the frame itself, it was getting kind of late and I got a bit sloppy. So, in the end I'm not super happy with what I ended up with, but as we say it's a harsh continent.

Christmas day was a real bummer - with the exception of the excellent dinner. A synergy of lots of work, not so much sleep, feeling a little sick, missing friends/family/darkness, a friend from KY passing away, and some other junk that doesn't belong here was to blame. But, there's nothing I can do about any of that stuff, so there's no point in writing more about it. Dinner was excellent, we had green stuff that didn't come from a can... And real ice cream!

Monday so far has been a bit better than Sunday was. Started working about 5:45am when I met up with David at the heliport so I could show him how to open it up. Glad to be handing that task over to someone else, I really don't like getting up that early and tend to get sucked into working as late as everyone else instead of getting off an hour earlier. Opening up went pretty smoothly with the exception of one handfull of ice cold fuel without a glove on (first time for everything I guess,) but it was merely ice cold and therefore my hand is intact.

Had a relatively leisurely breakfast after opening the heliport, and noticed that my name was on the mail list! Got to work and sat through an hour long safety meeting on MSDS sheets and how they could prevent accidents, or at least minimize their impact. Wouldn't have been that bad if the guy was halfway competent and could say "I don't know" instead of stumbling his way around making up a definition for vapor pressure that was rather incorrect. Reminded me a lot of high school, fortunately I managed not to call his bluff on that one. Just couldn't resist one question that succinctly turned the safety guy's main anecdote (about how MSDS sheets could save the day) on it's head shortly after that, but fortunately our instructor was among those in the room who didn't seem to catch it. Guess I'd take this safety guy a little more seriously if he wasn't into skydiving.

After the safety meeting, I was assigned the task of working on pumping snowmelt out of the containments at our bulk tank farm along with David. Had a good time with that one, and managed to get a few other little work tasks done while waiting for the pump to do it's thing. Also had a little time to think about Life, the universe, and everything, and realized that there's more than just the (bonus) money that's keeping me from leaving McMurdo early. I really do like working here. Guess it's easy to overdo things and get burned out. The things that have been bugging me really aren't things that would go away for long if I were to leave (except for the constant sunlight,) which was a pretty refreshing thought despite how dark it sounds. Got to feeling a lot better by the time my lunch break rolled around. Then, I had a chance to swing by the mail room to pick up that package with some neat Christmas treats!

After lunch, a few of us went out to the Willy hose to cut out a section that had 'blistered' and replace it with a short jumper of new hose. The hose we use is constructed with a few different layers, so if there's ever a fault in one of the inner ones, it tends to not make it through the outer ones without first stretching them and making a bulge that looks like a blister. Fortunately, that doesn't happen too often. In fact, it happens infrequently enough that nobody who was available to fix it had ever done this before. We did manage to get through the process without incident though, and had a good time doing it. Of course, we didn't quite manage to pull it off flawlessly - we forgot to bring a crucial part and had to run back to McMurdo to grab it. It's nice to have problems like blisters in hose that you can find, then go out and do something about.

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