Wednesday, December 21, 2005
posted 12/21/2005 08:56:00 PM UTC+12, McMurdo Local Time

Today after I opened up the heliport, we got started with the rolling up of the Ice Runway hose. The warm weather has made things get a bit slushy out on the sea ice, occasionally your footstep will punch a hole through a crusty layer and you'll go in to your ankles in briny slush. Fun stuff! Discovered that our trailer is actually parked right across a crack in the ice, which really isn't as weird as it sounds, but it's something I find interesting. Cracks, as we call them, aren't usually gaping holes from the surface to the water below. They are typically formed pretty slowly and are essentially trenches in the surface of the ice with a frozen solid bottom. They're not dangerous as long as the ice on either side is thick enough to support whatever you're doing (it is) or they're not too wide (it's not - on the order of 5" maybe.) Should have some of the kind of cracks with open water in them soon - the Russian icebreaker might be in as soon as the end of this week or the beginning of the next one!

Work wise, things didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped, but they weren't really that bad either. It turned out that one of the reels was damaged apparently in the drive down to the ice, so we weren't able to use it and will have to do a little logistical juggling to get it switched out. The main problem is that the loaders that are in town right now don't have the super wide tires for driving on the ice, so we'll have to get the whole trailer pulled back to solid ground to do the swap. The sled thing that David and I built worked exactly as designed, so that was cool. I've never tried reeling in hose the old way (tying buckets and hose to a sled as best as possible,) but the people who saw the sled and have done it the old way said that it's a huge improvement. Volunteered to work part of Saturday (which I would otherwise have off work for Christmas) and drive Scharen out to the runways to keep their generator buildings fueled. Hopefully I'll not have to open the heliport so I can sleep in a bit and head out for a nice drive.

Somehow managed to drop the duty pager somewhere out on the ice, which is apparently a very bad thing as it sounds like there aren't any spare pagers on station. Will have to wait until tomorrow to see what the ramifications of that one are. Might end up spending all day tomorrow roaming around with a metal detector while someone else is sitting at a phone paging over and over ;) Wish someone would have told me beforehand how rare those things are down here, I hadn't really thought about it and assumed that it was just another old $15 thing that we had a bazillion of (judging by some of the people who carry them and probably don't need to.)

Heard through the grapevine that the second LDB payload is pretty much trashed, so a lot of scientists who were involved in that project will be heading home soon. Big bummer for them.

Spent my evening after work chilling out and doing number puzzles (highly unusual behavior, but it was captivating for some reason, thanks mom!) then watching a NOVA documentary on a first ascent of Vinson Massif. Neat stuff, too bad it's so far away from here. Really looking forward to getting to New Zealand when my contract here is up to go backpacking and maybe climb some mountains too. I'd really like to see some stars as well, next sunset here isn't until 1:38am. February 20th 2006.

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