Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Way too much detail concerning stuff you probably don't care about

Today is the third day I've been here and I'm still switching my schedule. On the first day I stayed up until around 3AM, yesterday I was up until 5:30 or 6AM, and I'm hoping to make it to 8AM today, which is *almost* where I need to be.

If you're curious, here are the satellite schedules

I'm staying in the summer camp (AKA the Jamesway), which is a group of quantas huts about a quarter mile from the main station. Each hut contains around 8 separate 6x8 foot living areas, cordoned off from the main hall by a canvas curtain. Each living area contains a bed and a cabinet for storing stuff, and not much more. The huts at summer camp share a single bathroom which is about 60 paces from my hut (I'm sure I'll know the EXACT number by the time I leave).

I'm taking Diamox to helps avoid altitude sickness -- the effective altitude here at the Pole is something like 15000 feet.

The Pole is one of the driest places on Earth (even though it's sitting on the largest collection of fresh water -- solid, but fresh) so we need to drink a LOT of water to counterbalance the moisture which is constantly being sucked out of our bodies by the dry air.

One of the side effects of Diamox is an increased need to urinate.

All the above means that I wake up every 3-4 hours with an intense need to pee, so I get up and throw on a pair of jeans, my boots and Big Red (the nice, warm parka I'm wearing in the picture below) and walk the 60 paces to the bathroom, then come back and take all that gear off (being careful not to make too much noise because other people are sleeping) and try to go back to sleep.

I'll take my last Diamox pill at around 4AM, so I'm hoping this means only one more night of multiple trips to the bathroom!

Monday, January 29, 2007

At the Pole

At the Pole
Originally uploaded by dglo.
I made it! Here I am fresh off the plane from McMurdo to the South Pole. The flight was great, the scenery was fantastic, and I even got to go up on the flight desk for a little while!

We're going to work 'satellite hours'. The South Pole can only connect to the Internet through 3 geo-synchronous satellites which have accidentally strayed so far out of their paths that they can been seen from the South Pole for a few hours each day. Today, the first one was visible at 9:45PM and the last one disappears at 9:11AM.

I'm trying to stay up until 2AM this morning and will go to be a couple hours later each day until I'm up for the entire time the satellites are visible. It's already 1AM here, so I've got a pretty good chance to make it!

It helps that there's a midnight meal for us third shifters...

Friday, January 26, 2007

On the ice!

We made it to McMurdo! I'm officially on Antarctica, though not yet at the South Pole. We took off at around noon (New Zealand time) and landed at around 5PM. We then transferred to a "bus" which took about 15 minutes to drive from the air field to McMurdo base. We then got our "Intro to McMurdo" briefing and made it to the dining room by 7PM, just half an hour before the dining room closed. The food here is even halfway decent -- which is especially nice since it's free!

The bad news is that we don't fly to the Pole until Monday.

More later!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Another day, another delay

We were supposed to meet our shuttle at 7:30AM this morning, but they pushed it back to 9:30AM, which isn't a good sign. It's likely that we'll be delayed another day...

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Not today!

The weather at McMurdo is not good, so we aren't flying today. That means another 5AM wake-up call tomorrow!


I was supposed to report at the main office at 6AM this morning to check in for the flight to McMurdo, so at 5:30AM I was out at the curb with the other guys, waiting for the shuttle. The shuttle driver came by and told us that the flight had been delayed 2 hours due to weather (not unusual). So now I'm sitting in the B&B lounge waiting for 7:30...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Why I don't travel much

On Saturday morning, a few hours before I was supposed to leave on this trip, I woke up in bed with my lovely wife and she mentioned that the room was kind of spinning. We laid there for a few minutes chatting and then she got out of bed to brush her teeth and fell over. She continued having vertigo and we called our HMO advice line, who told her to drink lots of fluids and check back if the vertigo didn't go away.

In the mean time, I was literally flying to the other side of the earth, so I checked in when I landed in Dallas and by the time I called from Los Angeles, she said she felt a little better. It seems to have been simply an inner ear infection or something like that. Elaine was even able to go in to work on Monday which was a good thing because...

Apparently Hannah was hit by a car on her way to school Monday morning. She was walking in a cross walk and a young woman was texting on her phone and the car drifted into the crosswalk, tapping Hannah on the knee and knocking her over. The woman got out and checked on Hannah, but Hannah was late for school so she said she was fine and ran off. When Han woke up this morning, her knee hurt and she told Elaine all of this, so Elaine took her into the HMO where the doctor declared her perfectly fine.

It's nice to get all this out of the way ... after all, what else could possibly go wrong!


Originally uploaded by dglo.
Sheep on the hillside


Originally uploaded by dglo.
Some farm-raised venison we spotted from the road while on our bike ride

Room at the Devon

Room at the Devon
Originally uploaded by dglo.
Here's my room at the Devon B&B in Christchurch

Monday, January 22, 2007


Well, I've made it to New Zealand. I got to Christchurch yesterday morning at around 10:30 and was in my B&B by noon. I only got 5-6 hours of sleep on the flight over, but I wanted to stay awake until a reasonable hour, so after I went out to lunch with the other two IceCube people, I wandered around town for a few hours. We all went out to dinner together and then went looking for a good place to try and spot Comet McNaught. We wandered around for a while and ended up in a large, open park, but couldn't see the comet so we all went back to our rooms. One of the other guys went back to the park a couple of hours later and the comet was easily visible ... it had been hidden by the sunset when we were trying to see it.

Today we didn't have anything schedule, so the three of us rented mountain bikes and went on a bike ride up the nearby mountains to the summit, along the summit ridge to a historic site and then back along the coast to Christchurch. It was a lovely 6 hour bike ride. Unfortunately, after 6 hours we were still at the historic site and had another 2.5 hours of riding to do. It was easy compared to the first 2.5 hour ride up to the mountains, but our legs and butts were sore after the first 6 hours.

As you might have guessed, we survived -- though I'm not looking forward to the stiff muscles I'll wake up with tomorrow morning!

Tomorrow I'll get my cold weather gear and repack everything...

Friday, January 19, 2007

To get in the spirit, here's a somewhat appropriate video, even though there are no penguins at the South Pole.

As the first bit of the video says, the movie "March of the Penguins" is known as "March of the Emperors" in France.

Bound for the Pole

I'll be posting pictures and journal entries here about my trip to the South Pole. Stay tuned!