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:

No comments: