Sunday, January 17, 2010

Earning my pay

I'm working two jobs at the South Pole. My first job is to support the software which controls the drill that makes the holes for the strings of sensors. Once drilling ends (in a day or two), I go back to doing the job for which I'm normally paid, working on the data acquisition software (which pulls the data out of the sensors, throws out as much garbage as possible, then packages up the remainder for uploading via satellite to computers in Madison)

Since I'm on the night shift, I went to sleep a bit after noon yesterday, then woke up at around 4:30PM. I was still in my room at 5PM when someone from drill camp called my room to tell me that when they tried to start up the drill software to drill the final hole of the season, it didn't work! I quickly dressed, grabbed an IceCube snowmobile and drove out to the drill camp. (Fortunately, I had gotten certified to drive a snowmobile about 6 hours earlier.)

It took about 3 hours, but we eventually fixed the problems with the drill software and by 9PM I was back in the station eating a couple of bowls of cereal. I went back out with the night shift drill crew at 10:30PM (which is the usual time I start work), then came back for midrats (the midnight meal for the night shift) and stayed at the station to finish working.

In a way, it was fortunate that I was able to work the rest of the day at the station, because I needed to do laundry. There are washers and driers on the first floor of the station, along with detergent, all available for free -- though we're only allowed one load per week. These machines can be busy during the day, but they're usually wide open at 3AM.

One bonus of doing laundry is that I hang my jeans in my room rather than running them through the drier. As I've written before, there's almost no humidity here (because the moisture freezes out of the air), so the drying jeans act like a humidifier!


Elaine Glowacki said...

maybe it's because we've been iChatting, but this story makes me feel like I'm right there with you! Thanks for the riveting detail.

I'm so excited for you that you got to use your new snowmobile "certification." !Es muy macho!

Edgington said...

You're a real asset to those you work with Dave. Thanks for the updates, we enjoy them. Mariah/Byron