Friday, November 9, 2007

Shovels in the morning, perspective in the evening

Two of our beakers (a.k.a. science project staff) got here on one of the late flights two nights ago, and yesterday morning we got to start helping them out with the project they are here to work on. The little shack their radar is installed in is way out on the far edge of town from the station. Nobody had been out there for quite a while, and when we arrived in our Pisten Bully tracked vehicle, the downwind snowdrift was almost as tall as the door. We set to with shovels and made an entrance of sorts in not too much time. The two newly-arrived guys wanted to jump right in and work hard, and we did our best to make them take it easy so as not to accelerate any altitude-related illnesses they might be unfortunate to develop.

My ECW and personal gear I'd brought down as far as McMurdo finally caught up to me three weeks after flying to the Pole. It feels like I've way too much stuff now, and I shudder to think what it will be like once my boxes I mailed to myself from home arrive. It was nice to be able to opt for my lighter Carhartt work jacket, so I wasn't quite so bulky and overheated on my hikes to and from ARO.

I spent a good portion of the afternoon either developing radio training procedures for our fire brigade (Team 2) or getting trained on the intricacies of using the radios. Hopefully this will be time well spent to get all our teammates more accustomed with how to communicate in the event of an emergency.

In the evening I finished "The Kite Runner", and it's amazing how quickly something can put other events into perspective. In this case, reading about atrocities perpetrated by the Taliban in Afghanistan compared to the relatively benign (if expensive) boondoggle all those DVs got a couple nights ago. Perspective is sometimes hard to find here on the Ice, in both physical and philosophical realms. In the former, there aren't many landmarks to lend perspective of scale to what you are seeing, so something that looks fairly close could be miles away, or vice versa. In the latter, less tangible case, when one does the same things over and over with little external stimulus, it is easy for trivialities to grow into massive irritating beasts that threaten to take on far too much importance in your limited world view while working down here. I'm sure this isn't a phenomenon solely found on the Ice, but rather one native to any living conditions where one's touchstones with the rest of the world number few and far between.

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