Friday, February 29, 2008

Concerning life

There isn't any here, save a paltry 60 humans. Period. I watched a couple things last night that drove that point in quite effectively, albeit in rather indirect ways.

The first was the movie "Cry of the Penguins" from the late 1960s. It starred John Hurt (of chest-bursting Alien fame) as a dissipated, callow, rich youth that is sent to Cape Royds in Antarctica to study Adelie penguins. He has to leave behind most of the trappings of his frivolous lifestyle and learns how to care for something other than what directly benefits him, namely: the penguins and the girl he left back in London. Said girl was played by the smashingly cute Hayley Mills, of whom I recognized the name but had no idea she was such a bombshell. Anyhow, pretty girls aside, the coast looks like it's teeming with life when contrasted with my present environs on the Antarctic Plateau.

The second thing I watched was one episode from the "Shark Week" DVD set from some past season. It centered on the ancient, fossil sharks that are present in an extremely wide variety of shapes and sizes. The show kept going to different places where people were finding shark fossils (mostly teeth, since the skeleton is cartilaginous), and they all looked lush and totally alien compared to the South Pole. In particular I enjoyed the scenery of a place called Bear Gulch (or something like that), which reminded me a lot of my beloved Flint Hills with its exposed limestone, rolling hills, green grass, and creeks running through the draws. The similarity goes further, because the Flint Hills-and much of Kansas for that matter-were under a sea at one time, and even in our pastures we can find plenty of fossils of sea life that was abundant at some time long ago. Here at Pole we don't have soil. We have no fossil record beyond the gases trapped in the ice that is nearly 2 miles thick beneath our feet. Now that winter has set in it's probably pretty much cleared any birds that might have strayed inland out for warmer climes in the north.

This leads me back to the starting point of this-perhaps annoyingly contemplative-post in that in all this vast, white space that 60 specimens of homo sapiens are probably the only living things to be found until you hit the coast, all those 100s of miles away. I find it enervating, and actually quite comforting, to have managed to get myself so utterly and thoroughly out of the mainstream of life, with living conditions that are so vastly different and sundered from the norm.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cryo emergency (drill)

So, pretty much the high point of yesterday was our monthly drill, which entailed responding to a low oxygen alarm at the cryogenics facility. We ended up just having one person to extract, which was a very good thing. It's really difficult bringing together the different groups of people to make this volunteer fire brigade here. Some folks were here this summer on the team and know the lay of the land. Others were here over the summer and trained with us at the fire academy back in Colorado, but hadn't been on the fire brigade over the summer and need a lot of refresher training and catching up. Other folks have been on the South Pole fire brigade one or more times before, and they have lots of preconceptions about how things should work based on how they did in the past. All these different backgrounds, expectations, and disconnects between our team members (myself included) added up to not the greatest response in the drill.

It's pretty frustrating going from a rock solid team just a few weeks ago back to what feels like square one. That means I get to facilitate all sorts of retraining and team building in order to get us up to snuff. It means a lot of work, and a lot of trying to accommodate people and cajole them into spending time they probably aren't that interested in giving up to an unpaid position on station. But, I know that we essentially had to do the same during the summer. Despite being tired and hoping to have had all that behind me, I can help do it again.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Chain gang

Yesterday a good portion of the station population turned out to help move beverages into the station from the DNF facility. We worked in a chain gang/bucket brigade sort of set-up with the individual packages being handed person-to-person up the stairs at two different entrances to the elevated station. Despite having and electric hoist and elevator, they just don't compete with the speed with which this manual method can load stuff (everything from mail to booze) into the station. Plus, people keep working after -60F when the elevator stops being reliable. I'm not sure if the hoist works in temperatures colder than that.

Our small group of guys did the 300 workout last night. We split it in half to ease into it, but I felt pretty good after the first half and did it again. I got in my reps on everything except pull-ups, but did manage to get in 10 the first time. I figure as I drop weight and build muscle that will come along. Somebody asked if there was a diet you're supposed to follow while doing this program, and one guy said that you're only supposed to eat enough to recover from workout. I guess I'm going to cut down and go for that lean and hungry look from now on.

We're supposed to have our monthly drill for emergency response, and with only today and tomorrow left in February that narrows it down a bit. Hopefully my firefighters will remember at least their basic training, and it would be nice if we don't have any major equipment malfunctions in the cold. As I write it is -57.3F with 14.8 kt winds making for a wind chill of -95.7F outside. That's plenty chilly to really mess up some of our SCBA gear should we let it be exposed to that depth of cold for too long.

So, weeks back I mentioned that they'd been doing all sorts of construction (including in very close proximity to my instruments in the science lab) to install a wind deflector between the two modules of the station. Well, this is what the view out of the (generally) upwind side of the tunnel between A and B pod looks like now that that deflector is in place.

Very picturesque. I'm sure Winslow Homer would have been all over painting that landscape. It used to be a nice view, but now...oh well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm f-f-f-freezin', Eddie!

By Odin's beard and Ymir's wounds was it cold today! Our temperature was -54F, but with the 18-knot winds it dropped the wind chill down to -92F. I did a double calibration of an instrument out on the roof of ARO all afternoon, and boy did my hands get cold quickly. I was wearing glove liners, but when touching metal with even thick gloves on it will suck the heat out of you a whole lot faster. It was really pretty watching all the snow stream across the plateau from the high vantage point of the roof. Seeing that reminded me of sand blowing across dunes and really reinforced my recent convictions that I need to visit some nice, big desert like the Sahara on my way home come next November.

I got lucky in a recent trip to Skua, our local second-hand goods and thrift shop, which is the repository of all things unwanted, lost, or unclaimed. I scored a Ralph Lauren dress shirt and a nifty plaid sport coat, so should be able to augment my meager "dress" wardrobe quite nicely with both. I think somebody was working on cleaning up Skua yesterday, but this is how it looked when I was rootin' around:

Monday, February 25, 2008

10,478 feet

That's our current pressure/physiological altitude right now. It's not the greatest feeling to start working out again after any lapse of significant duration. Five of us did our first attempt at the "300 workout", which is loosely based on some of the exercise regimen that the actors that were in the movie "300" did in order to get in shape for their roles as Spartans-the baddest dudes on or off the mean streets of the Peloponnese. We're doing 10 different exercises, and each exercise requires you to do 30 repetitions (reps to those in the biz). I think the exercises would be much more doable if there were more air floating around up here at Pole. My arms, legs, and core were fine, but boy did my trachea catch fire really quickly with how hard I was breathing! This workout is supposed to last 12 weeks, so hopefully we can all stick with it for the duration and be in some seriously improved shape come June or so.

The sun is now low enough in the sky that if any bit of cloud passes before it the landscape-icescape would be more apt-takes on the pall of early twilight. The sky in general has been very beautiful the last few days, and with an almost full moon in the sky it is hard not to just stand and stare.

I got my geek on this morning and calculated roughly that the time dilation between us at the Pole (essentially zero circular speed) with respect to someone on the Equator (moving at around 1,700 km/hr around the planetary axis) is 1.00000000000123885 approximately. This is a mild relativistic effect, to say the least, but over the course of 13 months we at the Pole will have "aged" 0.0004 seconds more than somebody at the Equator, since we're moving that much more slowly than they are. This is the same phenomenon that let Charlton Hesston come back from his long-duration deep space mission (traveling very quickly) and not have aged, while on the Earth (moving much more slowly) vast swaths of time had passed and apes ruled the planet.

Let's hope no simian Armageddon occurs before I get off the Ice.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

old digs, new digs

We had some volunteers do a "burger bar" last night, doing to-order burgers and fries in the absence of cooks working on the 2-day weekend. Every weekend we at least fend for ourselves, as even the cooks get a day off on Sunday. At McMurdo when they have burger bar at Gallagher's Pub you actually get to pay for your food, which never made sense to me-there's free food in the galley for 4 meals a day, why pay? Anyhow, these good Samaritans didn't have any duplicitous pecuniary intentions; that's how at least some of us roll at Pole.

OK, I'm living in this big station. I have my own room, and definitely got to upgrade from this summer to this winter. I went from the room on the left to the room on the right:

As you can see, I've got a bit more space in the winter room (it's about 2 feet wider, which actually makes a huge difference), my own window (with a nice view out overlooking "Destination Zulu" and on beyond to where the flight line buildings used to be and out to the horizon now that they're gone), and enough shelf space to accomodate my own little library:

Books definitely make a place seem like "home", or at least much more personalized, in my opinion. Roughly the right half of the shelf of books are all World War II history books that one of my uncles was generous enough to donate to the cause of keeping me entertained throughout the winter. I have read loads on WWII throughout the years since pulling "Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" (by William Shirer) off a shelf in my parents barn back in high school. The one history class I took as an undergrad was on WWII history, and I've kept reading about it ever since.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Opening old wounds

Well, the ladies had their own little girls-only get-together tonight, so we guys busted out an idea I'd had for a movie double feature: The Sword & Sandal Soiree. This pretty much just involved watching Gladiator and 300 on the big screen in the gym, as well as walking out afterwards with a new impetus to exercise an excessive amount this winter. I've got a couple workouts based upon those the actors in 300 used to get in shape for their roles, and may try to start in on one of those in the next couple days. I haven't heard how the ladies enjoyed their party yet.

This blogging thing got away from me this week with all the activities that have been going on in addition to just working. It seems like there's always some new thing that has to be taken care of. A definite positive thing is the fact that I've got almost all my firefighters ready to go with the minimum check-outs to officially let them respond with SCBA gear to any emergency we might have on station. The number of hoops we have to jump through to get people ready to go for our particular emergency response team is ridiculous compared to the other teams. I'm not saying it's Byzantine, but it's difficult to facilitate without spending far more hours on it than I really should devote to an unpaid position. Oh well, it's been a good leadership learning experience. Tomorrow I'll actually be working 1.5 hours in the station store, for which I will actually be compensated monetarily (unlike the fire chief work), so that's pretty cool.

This weekend is the monthly 2-day weekend for most of the folks on station. They normally just get Sunday off, but once per month there is an extra day off from work. It doesn't really apply to folks like the guys in the power plant, the meteorological office, or science support. I'd venture the science grantees will also be working through the weekend.

Anyhow, for a couple hours I'm off to bed, with visions of phalanxes dancing in my head.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

fall cleaning

Well, cleaning up Summer Camp was quite a chore this morning, but I guess we're way ahead of schedule for getting that all taken care of. I cleaned three Jamesways by myself, and worked with a partner to clean the fourth (J-7, the one I lived in last year-weird to see my room again) and to spend over 90 minutes mucking out the midden heap that is otherwise known as the Summer Camp Lounge. I guess it's some of the most expensive filth in the world, given that it has to be flown all the way down here to the bottom of the world. Anyway, that's pretty much wrapped up for the season.

I also filled in my big excavation out at ARO today with help from the cryogenics tech. It sure filled in easier than it came out.

Tonight I got in another two-fisted guitar duo: the real thing and some "Guitar Heroes 2" with the guys. I managed to increase my skill level up to medium, which was a lot of fun to try and keep up with. "Cult of Personality" by Living Colour and "Reptilia" by (I think) "The Strokes" were the toughest ones I played this evening. Later on I joined some of the Utility Techs and other folks that had worked on the Summer Camp clean-up today in the other lounge for a nice, chilled-out chat session. Drinks were provided by the UTs in appreciation for the help we'd given them. I guess it took the UTs working alone like a week last winter to get Summer Camp all winterized. Tomorrow a lot of folks will be working on rolling up the fuel line from the flight deck to the fuel arch, which I won't be able to help with since I'll be in Comms most of the day.

Speaking of which, I believe it's time to end today with a spot of sleep.

Kali nikta!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Dig Dug

I likely mentioned a few weeks back that I did a bit of shovel work to get some science equipment out of the field for decommissioning. Well, I finally got a few pictures of this rather large hole I cut and dug by hand to get it out.

I just took pics of the hole by myself to begin with, but ran into the conundrum here in the Flat White of not having anything to put it in scale. A few days later I got a co-worker to snap a couple pics of me in the hole when we were out at ARO doing our daily checks. I had a lot of fun digging this out; the ramp reminds me of the entrance to an Egyptian tomb or someother subterranean (what do you call under the ice?) structure. It's too bad I now have to find time to fill it all in to mitigate drifting.

Last night was all guitars, or reasonable facsimilies thereof, for me. I had a really good solo practice session with a real guitar in the band room. I've made the step to playing with a strap while standing up so I can get used to that for the performaces we'll have. I played for about 90 minutes, and then moved on to one of the lounges where some guys were playing the game "Guitar Hero 2", which was a lot of fun. It really is nothing much like playing a guitar, though. It all came to a crashing end when somebody tripped over a cable and knocked the Playstation 2 to the floor. Rock stars...

Today we're breaking down Summer Camp, which naturally-given its name-isn't used during the winter. There are several other winter station closing activities like taking down skiway marker flags, setting up flag lines to outlying buildings, and breaking down the fuel line from the flight deck to the fuel arch that are in the works right now and are being tasked to people on a volunteer basis in addition to their normal jobs. I've got another stint in Comms scheduled for tomorrow, so hopefully there'll actually be a flight or flights for me to work.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ch, ch, changes

So, compared to summer, winter at the South Pole has thus far had a few striking difference. You hardly ever see anybody around the halls of the station. You never have to stand in line for food in the galley. It's much quieter outside without so much machinery rolling around. It's much quieter inside and also less noisy on the radio, as there aren't constant announcements for flight updates. It's darker inside a lot more, since the motion-sensitive lights have a chance to turn off regularly, so you find yourself walking into the bathroom or down a stretch of hall with the lights coming flickering on around you.

In general, all these add up to a much less hectic pace of life (thus far), which is a welcome change after the frenetic summer rush.

Friday, February 15, 2008

First full day of winter

Well, this place certainly has cleared out. You can step out into the hall and usually not see anybody else for at least a little while, day or night. With so many fewer people rattling around the station it definitely takes a lot higher percentage of our population to get tasks like moving food/beverages into the elevated station like we did yesterday. I guess we're still in flux with people acclimatizing as well, because I was the only person that showed up for my house mouse duties yesterday, and had to clean the bathroom by myself.

In the evening I watched the A&E mini-series "Shackleton", which was very enjoyable. I'd seen it while in grad school, and it was one of the many things that ramped up my enthusiasm for coming down to the Ice in the first place. It's amazing how similar Shackleton and Kenneth Brannaugh looked in that. It was cool to see it for the first time since having been to the Ice, and remembering how much determination to get myself down here it sparked in my heart during that rather trying time in my life.

After finishing that, I finally got around to watching the preview for "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull". It's hard to believe, even having seen it, that there's a new IJ movie just around the bend. Unfortunately, my postcards to George Lucas and Steven Spielberg have yet to elicit any reply, and now that the station's closed there chance of a special DVD showing up to include the Pole in the excitement when the flick opens on May 22.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

It's heeeere.....

Well, it's a done deal. Winter has begun and I and 59 other souls are staying at the South Pole until November. We had the last three flights for the season, and won't be seeing anybody else in the world for all those months. It isn't that it was underwhelming, but there was never a sense of fear or jubilation that I felt as the last plane left. Granted, I was dealing with covering the responsibilities of running the remaining aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) truck with two of my fire brigade members, but still being on the static end of a station close just felt right. It's this extended, isolated experience that I really want to have-given my career aspirations-and it was nice to finally find myself beginning the process of wintering at the SP.

This evening we kept up the annual tradition of watching both versions of "The Thing" on the big projection screen in the gymnasium. I have to say you can't really appreciate the anxiousness and paranoia of the John Carpenter version quite as poignantly unless you find yourself in Antarctica in the first week of winter, just like the guys at U.S. Antarctic Research Program Station #31. It's kind of like not really appreciating "Tron" unless you've been actually digitized into a video game and made to compete for your life, or like not really seeing the characters' points of view in "Deliverance" unless you've had your dental work complimented on by hillbillies at gunpoint. I enjoyed both movies, and am glad that I got a good film education from my dad early on in life, so I don't write off old flicks as being irrelevant or lame just because they hale from a different era. I actually really liked the sets in both movies, and it is fun to see/hear things like characters trying to raise McMurdo Station on the radio. I'll be doing just that thing tomorrow morning...from the South winter...not yet in the dark.

Cheers to a great experience!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Late breaking news!

Well, due to alleged concerns about the weather in McMurdo deteriorating, they're closing Pole a day early. This means that tomorrow I get to spend the whole morning doing the flight following Comms Operator role, and then I'll grab a bite of lunch (hopefully), put on my bunker gear, and roll out to the flight line to work the ARFF (Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting) truck for the final flight out for the season. Then, while most everybody else is whooping it up, I'll get to start my day as a Science Tech. If there's one thing I haven't had to worry about, and don't anticipate becoming a problem, it's being bored.

I had a 3AM wake-up to go out and do a computer installation for a project out in ARO this morning, which was thankfully successful. It was amazing how quiet the station was without any vehicles driving around making a racket. The only real sound was that of the 17-knot wind that was bitingly cold.

Winter begins tomorrow. What strange twists of fate have let this come to pass in my life? It definitely feels like a whole new experience is just around the bend.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

End of an era

Well, the final pub trivia was held last night. My team Vae Victis managed to pull off another overall points victory to end the season. Though I was dubious about the whole pub trivia thing to begin with, it ended up becoming a staple of Sunday night entertainment. I guess we'll probably try to keep up a bi-weekly or monthly version during the winter, but this was definitely fun while it lasted.

So, with the onset of the final week of the summer we'll be seeing a mass exodus of folks over the next five days. We're losing 30-some folks today, and will be down (by my count) to about 55 people by the time that last flight leaves on Friday. It will be interesting to see if we have any "runners" that decide they don't want to stay at the last minute, too.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

vertical relief...bizarre

Well, I just got done watching a couple snow sports flicks in the gym on the big screen with a passel of folks. Warren Miller's "Playground" and Teton Gravity Research's "Lost and Found" both provided a whirlwind of images of terrain that is not the least bit like Pole, except it was warmer and still covered in snow. They did visit Dubai in one flick, and showed a couple guys pulling off all these tricks in their indoor ski slope. I think my favorite part was a couple guys using small parafoils to just rocket down the Alps, leaping off into space when the slopes got vertical. It's starting to get to the point for me that seeing images of the rest of the world is getting to be discernibly strange. I can't wait to feel what another 9.5 months will do to exacerbate that sensation.

I got in a good 5 hours in the Communications center here again. It involves making announcements over our PA or "all call" (as it's referred to here), and every time I work in there the next few days I get all sorts of comments about how people liked my voice, how I'm the "voice of the South Pole", and how "gee, it's the first time I've actually been able to hear and understand you". It would be interesting to hear myself and hear if what I hear in my head when I talk is so much radically different from what people hear when I get amplified and broadcast all over the station. The flight following activities I'm feeling pretty good on. In a lot of ways it is like the time I spent working flight ops at SOHO, but sometimes there can be a whole lot more conversations simultaneously that you have to try and understand.

I've got my iPod now and have been practicing with it as accompaniment to my guitar playing. I had to start with a great inaugural song; every great journey began with a single step, so opted for "The Throne Room" from the original Star Wars. It's a splendid fanfare and only seemed appropriate.

Station population is down to 180-something, and will drop to about 150 on Monday. It's getting quieter around here, and the shadows are getting longer. This transition period seems like we're on the edge of a coin that is in the process of flipping from one situation to another vastly different one. It's definitely exciting to be staying this year, and I'm looking forward to my feelings when I see that last flight leave for oh-so-many months.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

A hint of darkness

Well, we had our partial solar eclipse here in Antarctica yesterday. Here at Pole we got about 83% of the sun obscured, and it got a slight bit less bright outside for about 30 minutes. It was by no means night, but wasn't as hellishly bright as it has been these last months. It was fun to see how everybody was going about looking at the eclipse directly and indirectly. I took all my direct photos using a DVD-R as a filter, which was pretty nifty.

The indirect photos I took using a pin hole in a cardboard box were a lot of fun.

The temperatures dropped from around -48F to -54F during the eclipse, and are now hovering around -51F. The planes have to stop flying at -58F (-50C) since their hydraulic systems tend to start freezing up around that temperature. We've got one week left until the tentative close of Pole for the winter until October, or whenever the weather permits. We've got 202 people on-station right now, and that should drop to just over 180 with today's outbound passenger flights.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008


Well, after over 2 months of troubleshooting I finally got one of my projects properly configured with a new primary data acquisition computer. It's like I upgraded from a Corolla to a Corvette. This new computer burns archival data DVDs in about 7 minutes, when the old computer would take almost 30 minutes. As Borat would say, "Very nice!"

We've had another good bunch of winterovers arrive here on station, and it's interesting the feelings somewhat of unease around them, when I know we'll mostly all be thick as thieves by the end of the winter. I've almost got all my fire brigade people here, and am trying to do my best to balance between wearing my science tech hat that has loads of work to do and the fire chief hat which has plenty of the same. If there was any doubt about my capability to multi-task before this 13-month contract, I think it will be suitably obliterated by the end of the winter (if not already). The irons I have in the fire are plentiful and diverse, to say the least.

I've taken to wandering around practicing the guitar wherever I can find a reasonably quiet spot where I won't bother folks. It seems like our band room has had people in it every time I try to go play. I was walking laps around the gymnasium a couple nights ago strumming away until people showed up to play volleyball. The kind soul that bought and brought me an iPod arrived yesterday, so I'll be able to listen to that and play along (which helps a lot) wherever I can find to practice from now on.

There was a Super Bowl party here last night. I guess it took that long for a copy to make its way down here to Pole. I didn't watch any of the game, and still don't know who actually won, let alone played in, the game. I stopped in the galley just long enough to grab a few snacks to take to my room and finish off reading yet another excellent WWII history book sent down by one of my kind uncles.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Falling behind

Well, due to an explosion of work-related activities, my last week has been pretty much as hard a one as I've had on the Ice this season. That just means there hasn't been loads of interesting adventures, just plenty of work. There has been a lot of cargo that I've had to receive and start to deal with in the last few days. It seems like there are a ridiculous number of new computers to install into my various projects, few of which are properly configured when they arrive here. I've also got outbound cargo that must get off the Ice with varying degrees of rapidity. For decommissioning one project I ended up digging a 6-foot deep, 20-something foot long ramp down to a big crate that I had to push up and out onto the surface of the ice sheet. With all the cargo comes all the paperwork to make sure it is handled correctly, sent to the right places, and shipped via the appropriate vessel or aircraft. Plus, it it's flying on commercial freight you have to get permission from the NSF representative here at the station to do so. Even in Antarctica there are plenty of hoops to jump through.

Last Thursday we had our last emergency response drill for the season. I was very happy with how our team did extracting the one patient from a building with a simulated fire inside. The temperatures are a lot colder now, and our gear was definitely showing signs of being affected by it. None of our firefighting gear is specifically designed to withstand this level of cold, let alone the cold we'll face this winter, so things tend not to work all that well when you have to respond outside. It was only -35F when we had this drill, and we'll be seeing potentially -100F and beyond in the depths of winter, so things will only get worse on that front. A big problem some folks had was getting their air regulator on and off of the fitting on the SCBA mask. It's disconcerting when you start to remove your regulator and your air supply is-necessarily-cut off, and then when it sticks because of the cold you have a definite suffocating feeling unless you can get your mask off with the regulator attached. That's not exactly the best feeling in the world. We've had a few people that spent last winter now return that were on the fire brigade, so I'm trying to find time around all my science work to facilitate the turnover between the outgoing summerovers and the incoming winterovers. My timecard may be a pretty nasty one this week. I might hit a full 100% overtime, which is a bit depressing.

Saturday night we had a Mardi Gras parade, which was a lot of fun. It didn't last too long, since the temperatures were around -45F with a wind chill of -70F. Our siding crew did venture outside in Tyvek diapers and fall protection harnesses and did a few laps in the parade up in the bed of a pick-up truck. Rumor has it one guy got frost bite on his nipples, but I wouldn't necessarily trust the grapevine on that one.

Another picture from Castle Rock:

Sunday, February 3, 2008

A bit distracted

Sorry, but I've been extremely busy this last few days. I'm still alive and kicking, though. Both the science work and fire brigade have loads to do right now, and I've had little time to spend taking care of any non-business-related correspondence. I'll do my best to find some time when the satellite is up to get this blog back up to speed, but in the meantime duty calls.