Sunday, March 9, 2008

mad skills

Well, if there's one thing in life that I can apparently do well, it's the dishes. My humble introduction to the U.S. Antarctic Program had me washing dishes, scrubbing pots and pans, making powdered beverages, scrubbing floor drains, wiping tables, etc. This was just-now-two summers ago, mostly in McMurdo Station. I applied for 29 other jobs, but apparently a freshly Master's-degreed aerospace engineer wasn't someone most departments were interested in hiring. Eventually the Food Services department in McMurdo came through while I was up in Montana working at Glacier National Park as a bellman in on of the lovely lodges there in that gorgeous place. One of my most highly recurring images that comes to mind of the beauty of the rest of the world while I'm on the Ice is that vista that unfolded before my bleary eyes after sleeping out on the beach at Lake McDonald, and waking up to a beautiful sunrise over the glacier carved valley on up to the Continental Divide. It was quite breathtaking, to say the least.

But, I digress. Yesterday was the first of my several days in the capacity back as a temporary dining attendant (DA, a.k.a. dishwasher) this winter. We don't have enough people on station to justify dedicated, full-time DAs through the winter, so pretty much the entire station population takes turns on a daily basis. I think it is actually something that should happen during the summer. It definitely gives people a vastly more vivid appreciation of what those hard-working folks in the blue shirts go through 6 days a week during the summer. Anyhow, with 5 months of DA-dom under my belt and only 60 people on station, it was a pretty easy task for me. Yes, you have to hustle, but I pretty much was on cruise control most of the day. In the afternoon I had to step out briefly to take care of some of my science checks (that sure wasn't the case last year), and after I got off work at 8 o'clock in the evening I had to run out to ARO to finish up the last of the checks for the day. Given that I'd started work at 5:45 that morning to take care of some other science and fire-related tasks, it made for a very long day.

It was remarkably darker, despite little cloud cover, yesterday evening on my walk out to ARO, and it continues to seem significantly less bright outside today. The sunlight is taking on a much more golden tint, and there is far less of that blinding white glare that was omnipresent all summer. The shadows are stretching and the temperatures are back down as cold as we've seen yet. This is in part because the sky has been extremely clear-a wonderful deepening blue as nightfall approaches.

Today has been very quiet and sedate. This evening I reserved one of the TV lounges to present the first two parts of the HBO series "From the Earth to the Moon". For me it is pretty cool getting to watch something like that down here on one of my biggest gambits to become an astronaut, save for persevering through two aerospace degrees at the University of Kansas. This environment is such a good analog to the rigors and challenges of space flight, and I hope that it will grab some hiring managers' attention when they see that I've done science and been the fire chief at the South Pole for over a year. July 1 of this year is the next deadline for astronaut candidate applications. Mine was completed and submitted some time ago, and I surely would be thrilled to get any sort of positive feedback while still in this wonderful place that, by the way, has less telecommunications connection with the rest of the planet than the International Space Station or the Space Shuttle. There is a Shuttle launch scheduled for Tuesday, and it will be interesting to follow, as I remember working on some of the requirements for this new Japanese lab "Kibo" while I was interning with Boeing back during my last summer as an undergrad.

I wonder how you say "from the dish sink to the stars" in Latin? I'm sure it would sound a tad more erudite.


Becky said...

Not sure how to conjegate it anymore, but the vocabulary is
Per patella labo ad astra. Alas, my latin books are all in storage.

EthanG said...

Hey, sounds good to me.