Monday, December 31, 2007

Fun New Monday's Eve Party

For whatever reason New Year's Day wasn't actually given as a holiday down here this year, so we had to settle for having a big bash on Sunday night to serve in its stead. The gymnasium was all decorated up nicely, with the main decoration being a giant parachute under which most large social functions at Pole are held. All the windows were necessarily blacked out to give it that sufficiently dim atmosphere necessary for a dance. Nobody wants to be seen gyrating in the full light of day, or maybe that's just me. I stuck around to the very end at around 3:30 AM, and was back up at work by 8:00 AM.

Cleaning up that following morning reminded me of all the mornings after the Halloween parties my family used to throw when I was a kid. Gathering the empty bottles and cans, and finding them stashed in all manner of places besides in the trash bins took a while. I also washed up all the glasses and cups that had been taken from the galley so there would be some available for people to use during brunch in the galley.

I got to spend most of the afternoon then doing a multi-hour calibration of an instrument of mine out in the Atmospheric Research Observatory. After dinner I spent a while in the band room playing (well, attempting to play) guitar with Tim, who wowed everybody with his mean licks during the (Near) New Year's Eve Party. I'm going to try and practice the instrument again, which I've done on and off again since high school. I'm pretty rusty right now, but I've still ten months here to keep at it. My first homework assignment is "Horse with No Name" by America, which should be pretty simple as it pretty much has only three chords throughout the entire song.

In the desert, no one remembers your name...

Friday, December 28, 2007

AGAP deep field progress

Between going through a lot of our scientific cargo we have to install at AGAP, and a late night meeting with one of the mountaineers supporting the camp, we got a relatively large amount of information and confidence yesterday about this Low-Power Magnetometer installation that will be happening in the relatively near future.

The meeting served mostly to let us know what to expect when we get to the camp. There is not a whole lot of infrastructure there yet. The main buildings are reinforced tents and yurts, and we'll be sleeping in our own mountain tents. The altitude can be really nasty there, and we'll have to take it easy the first few days to avoid getting pulmonary and/or cerebral edema. It's considerably colder there, and is currently in the -30s Fahrenheit. This is essentially the highest region of the Antarctic Plateau, and while there are peaks that are higher this is as gnarly as the Flat White can get.

It's going to be a challenge, but I think we're up to it. Last year I often felt like I was having the real Antarctic experience hidden from me by the relatively luxurious conditions at McMurdo. I wanted to get out and have a real field camp experience, and that's definitely what this is going to be.

It's definitely going on my resume.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Progress on the arch renovation into the logistics facility continues apace. The construction crews have shifted the old arch sections up onto the footer walls, and there is no direct path between the elevated station and the Dome any longer.

Here is also a picture from the galley during the Christmas dinner we had Monday night. It's amazing how just making a normally (during the summer) brightly lit room dark by covering the windows can so totally change the ambiance. That, and filling it with people nicely dressed up, instead of a bunch of folks in work clothes.

Last night I was down in the gym doing a practice drill that we're going to run the fire brigade through sometime soon, and I overheard one of the bands in the practice room doing a cover of a Radiohead song. I have to say I was very impressed, and am really looking forward to their set during the big New Year's party this Sunday night.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Chilly lungs

Well, despite not having trained for it at all, I was fairly satisfied with my 22:08 time to finish the Race Around the World's roughly two miles. There were plenty of costumes to be had. I wore an old fleece ski had that sort of looks like dreadlocks to spice up my attire. Outside the track for the runners and walkers was another track for people riding on vehicles to lend encouragement to the pedestrians. It was a lot of fun, and the only bad thing was breathing so much cold air. I did the first lap with my neck gaiter pulled up, but it froze over so that my airway was restricted enough to be uncomfortable with the exertion. Everybody got a t-shirt, and they have a really cool, almost Soviet propaganda-like, design on the back.

After finishing my day's work and helping out in in the dish room after dinner, I worked out with my regular lifting partner doing a shoulders/triceps workout that left me unable to even do a push-up while on my knees by the end. We improvised a new means of doing dips using two stationary bikes side by side, so I'm pretty stoked about trying to work back up to anywhere near my high school record 69 dips. It's a long-term project, for sure.

From there it was off to pub trivia in the galley, which was a lot of fun as always. Most of us sat around chatting for quite a while after that concluded, and it was a great way to finish off a really enjoyable holiday.

Monday, December 24, 2007

rugs not cut...shredded

Well, on Christmas Eve I put in my day's work 6am-6pm, and then had to rush to get cleaned up for our fancy dinner. I managed to get myself seated with a bunch of people I didn't know, so it wasn't as much fun as it could have been. Beef Wellington and lobster tails were the main entrees for the evening. After dessert, I opted for the sweet potato pie, the dining room was gradually cleared out and converted to a dance floor.

It took a little while, but eventually the place was really jumping. I stood on the sidelines watching and wishing I were a bit more comfortable joining the fray. It's like a switch that goes off inside me at events like this, and has been ever since my first middle school dance in the Presby Church way back in the day. To say that I get really reticent to hit the dance floor is an understatement on the order of declaring that there are a few people in China or that Bill Gates has a decent income. Anyway, a bunch of girls solved that problem for me when I was just trying to walk out to go change into some more comfortable shoes. I was dragged onto the dance floor, surrounded by some of the aforementioned lovely ladies of SP, and-to put it mildly-initiated into the arcana of the socially extroverted. I am dubious whether my flailing constituted decent dancing as such, but it was fun none the less. I really have no idea how to dance with a partner, and would like to learn how to swing dance or even do some of the country steps. It would make it a lot easier for me to get out there if I didn't feel like I was going to look like a fool. I stuck around to the very end of the gathering, and helped reconstruct the dance floor after the last song.

This morning it's back to work. I'll probably take time out to participate in the Race Around the World, but won't be a contender for finishing anywhere near the front of the pack.

Merry Christmas to you all.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

A very white Christmas

Well, there are no worries about that little aesthetic attribute of the holiday environs when you have two miles of the white stuff on the ground...

I attended a fun little wine and cheese party last night here in the science lab. It was generally set up by the Meteorology Dept. folks, but some of us Science Support guys chipped in to help buy the wine. I had to abstain from all but the cheese as I was on-call for the fire brigade, as always.

Most of the station has the next two days off for the holidays, but I'm still here doing the same old, same old for science. I guess I'm just getting more adapted to that fact, and have worked plenty of holidays in my time. We will be getting some visitors this evening from one of the traverses that will be rolling into Pole after a long drive on the Flat White. It should be interesting to see how they meld with the rest of the crowd down here.

I've almost finished reading William Gibson's "Spook Country", and am very much looking forward to taking a gander at my parents' Christmas gift of the graphic novel "The Gunslinger Born", which is based upon the books in "The Dark Tower" series written by a favorite author of mine: Stephen King. Speaking of whom, I want to find his contact information and send him a "thank you" postcard for all the enjoyment his works have brought me.

A "thank you" to all of you as well that have taken the time to read all that I've had to say on this blog thus far. I hope it hasn't proved to be too much of a waste of time. I've enjoyed doing this far more than I ever imagined, and will do my best to keep the posts interesting and regularly updated as much as the crunch time of summer permits.

Please travel safely if you're headed anywhere for the holidays.

Friday, December 21, 2007

MCI complete, whew!

Well, the MCI drill happened yesterday morning. It simulated a bulldozer running into the Summer Camp head unit and causing a fire and chlorine gas release. Team 2 did a good job with all 8 patient extractions, and while we could have done things better (when isn't that the case, regardless of any team's experience) it went off quite well. We managed not to get any of our responders hurt or killed, which I guess has been a problem in MCI drills in the past. I was very glad to have spent so many hours working extra on the fire brigade, and it was a marked difference in comfort and confidence in my position as lead even compared to just our previous drills in the last couple weeks. I think I understand what skills and topics our training will need to cover in the coming weeks, and hopefully we can address them and become an even more solid and competent team than we are already. It's amazing how quickly people are picking up on a lot of this, despite having a good number of us having such little firefighting experience before coming down here. I'll see if I can get any body's permission to use any pictures from the drill, since I was a little too busy and encumbered to be taking any of my own.

Today is thankfully much less hectic, and I'm all geared up to go eat chicken fried steak for lunch. La vita e bella!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fast Times at SP

We've had a lot going on down here as of late.

Last weekend I got to drive one of these Pisten Bully vehicles to take overnight campers out to their campsite.

A couple nights ago we had a C-17 airdrop cargo into SP. It's much too heavy to land on our runway, but they can still open up the old cargo doors and let fly from 1,500 feet:

Yesterday I finally got to head out on snowmobiles with three other folks to do our snow accumulation monitoring run along a 20-kilometer line of stakes away from the station. It was overcast the whole time, so the light was very flat and there was little definition visible to the terrain even right in front of you. This made for a really rough ride, because you never could really see what the terrain was doing. We made it about half-way back along the line, measuring the snow stakes, but the visibility really shut down to less than 500 meters, which was the spacing of the stakes, so when we radioed back in to the station they ordered us to stop measuring and return directly home. It was a bit hairy at times, trying to pick out the stakes from the soft-white glow that became our surreal world for those 10 kilometers, but we eventually could discern a shadow on the horizon that eventually resolved itself into the South Pole Station. All in all, it wasn't a whole lot of fun, but it definitely was a reminder of how many ways this environment can make you dead or dying very quickly.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New link

I just added a link to my old mission, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (a.k.a. SOHO). I worked there for three years, and it just tied in with my work here recently. I have been noticing increased auroral activity on some of our monitors just as reports start to come out-citing SOHO observations-that the new build-up to the solar maximum maybe is in its initial stages. The auroras are driven by solar activity, so it's cool seeing that link from both sides at two radically different jobs. They have loads of awesome images and movies on the web page, and it's definitely worth taking a gander.



Sometimes with an average of 85-90 hours on your time card per week, things can get a little jam-packed, hence the dearth of posts on this digital sounding board for my state of affairs. Sorry about that!

We finished hacking the last components of the Low-Power Magnetomoeter out of the ice beyond ARO two days past, and are now waiting to to receive an installation manual from the project so we will know how to put it all back together again. As far as I know the first week of January is still the tentative time when we will be heading out to the lofty climes of the Gamburtsev Province to do the installation.

We have some more emergency responder excitement coming up fairly soon. Sometime in the next week or so we will hold our Mass Casualty Incident (MCI) drill. Last year they had a real MCI in the power plant at SP on the day the drill was set to occur, and there were people who were unsure whether it was for real or not. There will be a lot more for the Fire Brigade to take care of during this drill, but I'm sure our firefighters are up to the challenge.

I also found out a couple nights ago that not only did McMurdo Station get to have a screening of the documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon", but the director of the movie also came along to the station! Hopefully, since they're obviously thinking about the parallels between the space and Antarctic programs, Pole won't get left out in the cold (pardon the pun, it was just too easy). I just hope that McMurdo doesn't end up getting the new Indiana Jones movie next year instead of us at Pole, because that might cause some irreparable psychological trauma inside my already over-taxed noggin.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

It's on, baby!

The deployment to AGAP is now virtually assured, and will likely be during the first week of January for 3-5 days. Exciting stuff!

Yesterday evening I drove a Pisten Bully full of campers out a few miles from the station to their campsite. It's amazing that the PB I was driving had to have a glycol leak. Either it's just that those vehicles aren't very reliable, or I'm somehow being cursed every time I drive one.

I took a sauna here for the first time, but it didn't seem hot enough. I didn't bother to look for the thermostat. It was still enough to leave me steaming when I stepped outside. We finally went off water rationing, and I got my first shower in a week. It is amazing how much better even just a 2-minute shower can make you feel.

It was bingo night in the galley, and that was as rowdy as usual. I stayed up talking with friends far later than I should have, given the early hour the LPM work was set to begin Sunday morning.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gettin' the heck outta Pole!

Don't worry, it's in a good, no, a GREAT way! Due to some organizational and logistical difficulties (to put things diplomatically), my compatriot the Cryo Tech (on the left) and I will be heading off for the higher, colder Antarctic Gamburtsev Province (AGAP) to install an autonomous magnetometer experiment that is currently located here at Pole. We just spent a couple hours digging down to access the electronics boxes and the sensor itself. The project personnel will arrive here today, and we'll begin to uninstall and package the equipment for transport to AGAP. Then the two of us will be trained on how to install and calibrate the instrument. We're going to be flying 100s of kilometers (I'm not sure exactly how far it is to the camp) and about 4,000 feet higher to the AGAP camp where we will install the Low-Power Magnetometer (LPM). I'm not sure if we'll fly on a Twin Otter, LC-130, or Basler. Anyhow, it's definitely a pretty rare experience, and we're both pretty pumped about getting to go. I guess we might be out there a tentative 5 days, weather permitting of course.

The only downside is that we might miss the New Year's celebration here. But, I wouldn't be getting any kisses at midnight, so I might as well be somewhere digging big holes in the ice, lugging lots of gear, assembling electronics, and breathing even less oxygen than here.

Sounds like my kind of party!

Photo credit: The one and only Mr. Baker

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Lovely weather, NOT!

Even though the temperatures here are now in the minus-teens, there is a 25-knot wind that nobody appreciates. I was supposed to take three other people out on a trip 20 km from the station to measure snow accumulation along a line of stakes today, but the visibility is just too poor for us to be able to navigate between the stakes. Oh well, it will get rescheduled for some hopefully nicer day.

My weight lifting partner and I did a leg workout last night that left me unsteady and hobbling down stairs, but this morning I'm a lot better. We finished the workout off with some lunges and wall-sits in the gym that were real killers. It's amazing how quickly you can find yourself very out of breath and panting when doing exercises that you always took for granted as being more anaerobic down at reasonable altitudes.

So, sorry, no cool pictures from out in the Flat White today.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Let's get physical (& frigid)

It seems like the last few days have been some of the more physical ones so far on the Ice. I've been lifting weights again, and have been pretty sore from that. We also had a large group of folks working on the AGAP project arrive and set up shop out in the cryogenics facility (because that's the only place with enough warm space to accommodate them). They have brought down a whole bunch of equipment that will be assembled into 10 autonomous seismic stations that will be deployed in the deep field in East Antarctica to study the very high altitude Gamburtsev Province that is characterized by a range of mountains that are totally covered by the ice sheet. The medical staff AGAP brought along is being extremely tentative about letting the project members do much physical exercise before they start heading off to altitudes of ~13,000 feet, so the science support staff got to do most of the heavy lifting for them yesterday.

I stayed and helped the "Cryo Boy" (my job sadly doesn't have a nickname) do a fill of liquid helium into a smaller dewar-an insulated vessel-to transport out to the Dark Sector for the BICEP telescope. Filled, the dewar weighed about 435 lbs. While filling it our ventilation wasn't quite right in the cryo facility and we set off one of the low-oxygen alarms in the cryo facility. We had to shut down and ventilate, and let the right people know we were OK so they didn't activate the emergency response teams to come to our rescue. In the afternoon we transported the dewar to MAPO on a snow mobile sled, and I then started in on the daily checks for my Cusp Tech position.

In the evening I watched "Cool Hand Luke", which is a great flick. Everybody was joking around afterwards about how we should harass our supervisors with the lingo that the prisoners had to use to the guards, and how if you did anything wrong you got a "night in the box".

Publishing this post, boss!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

tours, talks, & trivia

In addition to my regular daily work, I got most of the fire brigade to tour the main power plant and elevated station facilities yesterday. We only have one more tour to go and we will have pretty much gotten everybody to the major locations on station where we might have to perform an emergency response. Tim, who works in the power plant and is also on the fire brigade, did a really great job thoroughly explaining what was in each room and what hazards there are. I think the 4,000-Volt conduit areas really got every body's attention. It sure did mine.

In the evening I attended a two-part science lecture that covered outreach to kids about science with a polar spin and also ultraviolet radiation monitoring here at SP. Afterwards we had what seemed like the most sedate gathering for pub trivia yet. I think everybody was just pretty tired by that time of day. This is starting to get far enough into the season that fatigue can start to build up, and people start to slow down.

This weekend I finally got two postcards sent off in the mail. One is to George Lucas, and the other is to Steven Spielberg. I wrote to thank them for their great movies that have been so much fun for most of my life, and also to see if it would be possible for us at South Pole to maybe get a copy of the new "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" sent down before the station closes for the winter. It'd be a fun social event to have a "Hollywood premiere" down here early in the winter. I'm sure the odds are against it happening, but I had to try. "Raiders of the Lost Ark" was released on my third birthday, and I've been a fan of Dr. Henry "we named the dog Indiana" Jones, Jr. as long as I can remember.

I'm also attempting to get us a copy of the Apollo space program documentary "In the Shadow of the Moon", which would be appropriate given this is the fiftieth anniversary of the International Geophysical Year in 1957. That year not only saw the first manned satellite launched into orbit (Sputnik), but the first permanent research base at the South Pole was constructed then as well as part of the IGY. We are currently supporting the activities of the International Polar Year, and the new station's dedication ceremony will be held here next month, so there is an overlap of current events and history that is really interesting. I feel very lucky to be here at this point in history.

Cross your fingers for us!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Weekend shenanigans

Well, the big fun last night was a viewing of the documentary filmed here (I believe by National Geographic) about the new station's construction during the last season or two. It was fun seeing familiar faces and taking part in all the cat-calling, cheering, and (a few times) booing the screen. Everybody got a kick out of how the program tried to dramatize routine things like vehicles not starting right away due to the cold. It was neat to see the station how it was not too long ago, and to see folks a little bit younger.

I also went and hit the weights for the first time last night, and taking my shower it felt great to be so sore again that I could barely raise my arms to shampoo my hair. Stuff like that always reminds me of high school, and how much time I used to spend lifting to keep in shape for football and track.

The first of two chances to go out and camp happened this weekend. There were going to be three weekends of it, but weather last week was bad and they couldn't go out. It was probably a pretty cold night for folks, as we had ~14 knots of wind and the windchill was down in the -50sF. I may try to go next weekend, but don't know exactly how my science tech stuff and firefighting responsibilities will be covered.

Today, Sunday, we're having another facilities tour of the main power plant and elevated station for the fire brigade. They're both really critical facilities, so I hope everybody shows up to learn about what obstacles face us should we have any major responses in either building.

Friday, December 7, 2007


Yesterday we had the first of our non-government activity (NGA) visitors show up at Pole for their 3-hour tour. They came through the science lab, and we talked to them some about what science is going on here. I think the biggest hit with my stuff was showing them the Very Low Frequency receiver and turning on the speaker so they could hear all the pops and hisses as we monitor what are essentially all the static discharges (i.e. lightning, mostly) on the planet from this one location.

I found myself glad that I came down here the way I did: as an employee that gets to stay for 13 months and thoroughly get to experience the place for what it is. It seems like such a short visit after such a long trip would have left me wanting more. It would have been like me arriving at Easter Island after spending all that time sailing there this past year, and then just hopping on a plane as soon as I got ashore. Sure, you'd get to see the few moai right by the port, but there's so much more the place has to offer.

Ditto for Pole.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Weeks like water

It's starting to get kind of scary how fast the weeks are flowing into the past. I haven't had too much "Groundhog Day" Syndrome yet, since things are still pretty new. It's amazing how quickly the season jumps up to the end-of-year holidays on the Ice, and then January and February are gone in a snap too. Summer is fleeting, but winter will definitely endure.

I held a little volunteer firefighting practice session last night, and had a couple guys show up. We donned bunker gear as fast we could, both setting up for immediate use of SCBA to enter a scene and also with our SCBA mask and regulator tucked inside our coats to protect them should we have to travel very far outside in the cold. We just use standard firefighting gear down here, and it's not really designed to operate in temperatures down to and exceeding -100F. There is not much of a market for that capability, so we make due with what we have. Next, we did some patient carries and drags for both firefighters and non-firefighters. When you have a downed firefighter you can use their SCBA backpack and straps as good handholds to pick them up or drag them. Extracting unconscious patients that aren't wearing this type of gear can be tricky since they get all floppy and hard to hold onto, but with a little insight and a few tricks it can be done without too much frustration. It also helps to be in decent physical shape, especially here where our physiological altitude is regularly over 10,000 feet above sea level.

Work on the arches for the new logistics facility continues to remake the face of South Pole. The entrance to the Dome is now gone, which in a way is a little sad. I haven't heard whether progress on the project is meeting scheduled goals, but it has drastically changed in the nearly two months since I arrived.

One of the guys who works out at ARO for NOAA has had a little art project he's been working on over the last couple weeks. It was fun to see it gradually emerge from the leeward drift of ARO. It's too bad that nobody else was out at ARO to stand by the carving to give it scale, but believe me it's big.

When I was down here last year they had carvings from blocks of snow that had been cut and placed out near the ceremonial pole marker. It's amazing what snow this dense and dry can be shaped into, and how walking on it usually sounds exactly like you're walking on Styrofoam.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Donnie Darko

So, yesterday was fairly unremarkable. I did my work. I ate a few meals. The London Broil for dinner was excellent. But, then I watched a little movie titled "Donnie Darko" with a couple friends, and totally had my mind blown. I don't know if it's because I haven't been watching many movie or TV DVDs and am getting overly sensitized to external media stimuli, but this flick absolutely blew my socks off. The whole film did a great job of building tension, and it all culminated in a really haunting ending sequence. The musical score did a terrific job of dovetailing with the images and dialogue to heighten the feelings that the film makers intended you to feel. I had heard for a long time that this was a really good movie, but was not at all prepared for my viewing experience last night!

One interesting thing I did do yesterday was get the training session to serve as a tour guide for NGA (Non-Government Activity) groups that show up at Pole. This could be anybody from people that have skied here from the coast to folks that have paid upwards of $30k for a 3-hour fly-in visit to 90 south. That's right, I can brag that I've given tours that cost $10,000 per hour! There are all sorts of rules and guidelines that must be observed when people outside the U.S. Antarctic Program show up here, but it still should be interesting to meet some of these folks that have either gone through great physical and/or financial exertions to get here. It's a nice feeling to know that I get paid to be here, and that my stay is "significantly longer".

Later this week the fire brigade will likely be getting tours of the main and emergency power plants, so I'll probably get some pictures posted from those facilities.

Monday, December 3, 2007

fire drills & warming planets

Well, after many delays and much preemption, I finally got to run through my communications drill with Team 2 last night. It went pretty well, but like always we had issues keeping our radio channel open. Some people's radios didn't work correctly, so it seems to be a perpetual struggle against our infrastructure is something we have to accept. I guess I was expecting more enthusiasm after the drill completed, but suppose people might have just been still processing all the information that had been thrown at them pretty quickly.

After the drill was over there was a presentation put on by a visiting scientist from McMurdo. He was one of the folks trained by Al Gore's organization to give the "An Inconvenient Truth" presentation about global climate change that won Gore the Nobel Prize. It was all interesting, but not too much of it was new to me: a card-carrying member of the Sierra Club.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Fun Sunday

Well, despite having to work for the 49th consecutive day, I had a really great time on Sunday. I finally bought a couple postcards to send to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. Yeah, those two guys, because they're making a new Indiana Jones movie, and I want to see it sooner than when I get off the Ice. Hopefully dropping the A-bomb (i.e. mentioning Antarctica) will get some attention.

In the afternoon a group of uninhibited folks gathered out at the Pole, marked out their spots in the snow, and took turns donning a Jedi robe and wielding a light saber. The individual pictures are all going to be stitched together into a group shot in Photo Shop, so that should be a lot of fun to finally get to see. I think the woman, Mary, who orchestrated the whole thing is going to submit it to Star Wars Insider magazine to beat the previous "southernmost" claim for a Star Wars costume picture at another non-U.S. base. It'll be interesting to see if it gets published. I have naturally requested my light saber to be green. Anything else would be uncivilized.

The highlight of the evening was hosting the trivia contest last night. We had three teams, and it was a raucous good time. The categories I had for the main part of the competition were: Rock & Roll History, World War II, Geography, and (a video category) Star Wars Weapons. I also put together a fifth category on Rocket Science, since last week when I'd volunteered people made a semi-joking big stink about me not making the questions too hard in all the categories. The questions turned out to be just about the right mix of fairly easy to real stumpers. I'd definitely host again, but figure I better let other folks take a turn.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Back in the dish room

I got to do a stint yesterday in the dish room here at Pole. The food services folks got a day off, since they'd worked (extra) hard on the Thanksgiving holiday. I kept myself away from the food preparation end of things and just focused on my old digs in the dish room. I could have taken care of the workload solo, I've done it before, but we had more than enough people to make it really a breeze. Thanks to Carla Appel for the picture of me being reunited with my erstwhile stomping grounds.

I had a really low-key evening hanging out with several friends that were playing the "Axis and Allies" board game, or about as low-key as you can make world domination. I didn't get done with work in time to actually play, but it was fun to just watch, and there was plenty of colorful conversation. We discussed some of our ideas for making a pared down version of "The Empire Strikes Back" as an entry into the South Pole International Film Festival (SPIFF), and have some pretty funny ideas, at least funny for people that are both Star Wars fans and have lived/worked at Pole.

I'm working today, of course, but hope to still have a few chances for fun. I'll fill you in on them later.