Friday, November 6, 2009

What is going on here?

OK, so I happened to find this ghost-written Tom Clancy book called "Cold War" here at Pole, which I'd been interested in reading about for a few years. I probably read my first Tom Clancy book, "The Hunt for Red October" back in 7th grade. I started reading this novel a couple days ago, and it was interesting hearing somebody relate in this format about Antarctica, McMurdo, the Dry Valleys, etc. Well, I was doing laundry fairly late last night, and encountered a plot point that (for me) was as bizarrely familiar as the bits about Antarctica. So, the hired-gun author decided to include a major solar flare event as part of the plot line. Well, it just so happens that I was sitting there in the galley at the South Pole reading a Tom Clancy book that included the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) and people working at Goddard Space Flight Center. I got to read brief descriptions of instruments onboard SOHO, which I used to actually work in conjunction with during my time on that mission's flight ops team (FOT). Anyhow, who would have thought that some unremarkable techno-thriller novel would encapsulate so many of the major events in the last 8 years-plus of my life. If, in the book, somebody turns up a Jayhawk and liking to sail tall ships then I'm going to really flip out...

I do have to say, though, that the summertime temperatures in McMurdo are much closer to +50F than -50F. You also have more than just a few moments wearing polypropylene glove liners at -20F before your hands start to freeze. I've been able to work for about 5 minutes at a time in glove liners at sub-negative 90F. I guess this is the difference between knowing the ground truth from personal experience versus using secondary sources. I'll see how the rest of this literary masterpiece goes.

"Just the facts, ma'am."
~Sgt. Joe Friday, Dragnet