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.

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