Thursday, May 27, 2010

Ol' Wind's A-Blowin'

We've got a bit of a storm here again. Walking around yesterday was interesting with all the blowing snow. It wasn't very bad, really, since you could at least see the next flag in the line you were following. The windward drift of the station is growing very rapidly, which stinks because it had been at a nice, gentle slope for the last week or so and was pretty easy to walk up with all the moonlight. Oh well, life, like snowdrifts, is little but change.

The weeks keep flying by, and it's going to be mid-winter (mid-summer for you boreal folks) before too long. That's OK with me! Work continues to present a plethora of activities to keep me busy. It would be nice if fewer of those activities involved dealing with balky or recalcitrant technology.

Last weekend's showing of Kill Bill included a short film of the chop-socky genre. I took part, though since I had to work I was one of the first killed. I had the best hair, though.

Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.
~André Dubus

Thursday, May 20, 2010

...and the sky glowed green.

I saw what were the best auroras thus far this winter during my daily walk back from the Atmospheric Research Observatory yesterday. The auroras took up a pretty big swath of sky right overhead when I came back outside. Earlier, on my walk out to ARO, you could see them just as toxic green clouds lurking off to the grid northwest. NOAA Nick was outside photographing them, so I'm sure he'll post some shots on his blog eventually.

I got to assist filming what will eventually become a floating sword for a chop-socky short film to be filmed and shown in the next couple of days as we watch the two volumes of KILL BILL on the big screen in the gym. My buddy and I set up a simple blue screen, and he'll do the special effects to have this floating sword levitate above the upraised palms of the master in the film. I dangled our katana prop from a bamboo pole tied on with fishing line in front of the blue screen while filming was taken place. We've used the blue screen a couple times before, including a pretty funny/cool homage to Ray Harryhausen's CLASH OF THE TITANS several weeks ago. Tomorrow morning we have to film all the live action bits. Anyhow, it should be fun (as always) to see the finished product.
"Then suddenly the borealis, the snow-clad hills and the blazing heavens reeled drunkenly to Conan's sight; thousands of fire-balls burst with showers of sparks, and the sky itself became a titanic wheel which rained stars as it spun. Under his feet the snowy hills heaved up like a wave, and the Cimmerian crumpled into the snows to lie motionless."
~Robert E. Howard (The Frost Giant's Daughter)

Sunday, May 16, 2010

I'm here! Come on!! Do it now!!!

OK, so at a certain point in the winter here I stop paying so much attention to what is actually going on in a given movie and pay attention to the scenery, provided it's some lush, non-polar setting. Case in point last night: Predator. So, of course I still wish I could have that ridiculous mini-gun, but I spent a lot of the movie just admiring the jungle landscape the characters were creeping/running/shooting through. Cheers to an action/sci-fi movie with two future governors (including the Governator). This really makes me want to see the upcoming movie The Expendables. Sometimes you just have to indulge in a little gratuitous fictional violence, and boy did they know how to do that in 1980s Hollywood.

With the moon down outside it has been really dark. The stars and Milky Way have been really clear and vibrant during my walks around station, which is nice. I really missed them when the sun started to come up again last time.

I've rediscovered the lunchtime nap, which has had to augment some abbreviated nights as I've woken with really congested sinuses from the aridity of this climate. Sleep definitely is a golden commodity that you sure miss when it is in short supply.
"Given enough time, any man may master the physical. With enough knowledge, any man may become wise. It is the true warrior who can master both....and surpass the result."
~Tien T'ai

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Endurance

Well, we've swung from having the coldest April on record to being on track to have the warmest May on the books. Winds have been elevated for quite some time now, and the temperatures have been pretty decent. As I write it is -51°F outside with 13 knots of wind. The winds continue to make the paths to outbuildings quite rough, and I know several folks (myself included) that do a lot of walking outside that are starting to feel that wear and tear on their lower extremities.

May seems to be absolutely flying by, as does the winter in general. Keeping busy has a huge role in keeping those days ticking past in good order. I definitely feel on top of my projects right now (knock on wood), and have been using available time to already start catching up on document updates and the creation of a lab diary/troubleshooting guide for activities and anomalies I've overcome with projects since resuming this position back in October. Speaking of October, this Sunday will mark my 200th consecutive day of work since arriving at Pole. That I've still got perhaps another 180 or so days to go really puts things in perspective about the duration of this contract and how one must promote their own mental and physical health to be able to walk away relatively unscathed after such a long haul. Having just read an article about the Mars 500 guys getting ready to do that long-duration simulation, I wish I could be given the opportunity to show The Powers That Be That Decide Who Gets to Go to Space what I've learned here in Antarctica.

Anyhow, as I hear of friends and family starting to take off on vacations and the like with the onset of nice weather in the northern hemisphere, I hope they do not forget to occasionally send a picture or two down this direction. Having just started watching Long Way Down again, I'm really feeling the pull of the Road. I guess I'll appreciate that freedom all the more by the time I complete my duties here and redeploy to New Zealand.
“If I was wealthy I'd never do anything but poke around in ruined cities all over the world - and probably get snake-bit.”
~Robert E Howard, letter to H. P. Lovecraft, 1931

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Still blowing outside

A storm system has the wind speeds up fairly high here at Pole. The drifts and sastrugi have been flowing into different forms, and at least the walk to ARO has been made more difficult as a result. We had a pretty good path trodden along that particular flag line, but when winds like this pick up paths like that change a lot. You get new blobs of soft snow that coagulate across the path. There are also areas that get all loose snow scoured out by the wind, which can make the path rougher. There are also the new, really rough, patches where footsteps have compacted snow and become the initiation point for new sastrugi. Walking around in the dark on this stuff, because lights just make things worse, can be a little challenging at times. Big blows like this also make the upwind drift of the station grow, sometimes alarmingly fast, which changes how you have to climb up and descend that nascent obstacle.

“Yes, a Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice.”