Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Not to forget the details

Here are my mittens I've been using all year.  The left one blew out the palm while doing field work back at the end of summer.  The tape does a decent job, but it does get pretty stiff and slick in the cold.

I've got others I could use, but for some reason I just like seeing how worn out gear can get with a full year's work put on it.  That reminds me that this past Monday was my 300th consecutive day of work.  Having weekends* is going to feel strange after all these contracts at Pole.  Somehow, I think I'll manage to adapt...

*That would be weekends once I'm-way down the road-done flying in space, braving polar climes, excavating lost civilizations, or whatever else I might get myself into on this crazy journey that is life.

Life as usual at 90°S

We’ve still got a big moon, as well as some (currently cloud-shrouded) twilight lighting things up outside.  The pressure altitude has been below the 11,000-foot equivalent, which has been nice the last several days.  I think I’ve had some very nice sleeps as a result.  Work continues apace, with all of my only-active-in-winter projects transitioning to calibration or dormant modes by the end of next week.  I continue to work on doing the usual documentation, as well as the annual updates or creation of new documentation to wrap up the year’s efforts in science support and firefighting.

For fun, I continue to exercise in the early morning 6 days per week.  Mondays and Thursdays I lift weights.  Tuesdays and Fridays I do circuit workout.  Wednesdays and Saturdays I do some cardio.  I have begun my annual spin through Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings”, which is always very enjoyable.  I find I really spend a lot of mental time imagining the landscapes he describes so well, which isn’t a surprise given how limited the terrain palette of my last year has been (again).  “From the Earth to the Moon” has been on the viewing docket for evenings the last few days, which definitely has been interesting given the events of recent weeks.

Speaking of which, my medical exam report has been sent north for forwarding to Houston, so we’ll see what the United States Postal Service and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration get back to me with in the coming weeks or months.  I still feel confident about that whole situation, and look forward to whatever may come.  It certainly has been an interesting experience thus far.
“Man, I've been doing this for... listen, man. I've been in this game a long time. I'm not in it for a record, I'll tell you that. I'm not in it for a ring. That's when people get hurt. If we don't win the last game of the Series, they'll dismiss us.”
~Billy Beane, “Moneyball”

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Still here, still cranking away

Yeah, so it has been a busy couple of weeks.  The big push to the end has certainly arrived, with all the usual extra tasking in addition to what I’ve been doing all along (with some extra-extra stuff along with that, thanks to it being the contract turnover year-yea!).  With clear skies, the twilight ratchets a bit brighter each day.  There is now some very definite red starting to band in with the more blue/white tones on the horizon, but it still has a long way to go before the molten explosion of near-sunrise.  Most folks on station had the usual monthly distraction from the usual grind with our emergency response drill yesterday.  I think my fire brigade did quite well today, even with a trainee team leader at the helm.

There is not really any update to be made about the astronaut candidate situation, which (naturally) looms large in my mind these days.  We’re still doing “i” and “t” dotting to make sure my situation here at Pole is explained as clearly as possible.  I’m probably a little nervous about it, but not very much.  I think being sequestered here will not end up being a detraction or impediment in the least bit; in fact quite the opposite.  Confidence is the word these days!  Only time will tell, as it does in so many aspects of life.

McMurdo Station finally received its first of 6 scheduled flights for winfly (winter fly in) last night after days of delays due to some atrocious weather conditions.  I happened to be working our back-up comms here during the first attempt that had to boomerang back to Christchurch after making it essentially all the way to McMurdo.  This is totally normal for this time of year, and anybody that gets their little heart set on a concrete date for going from point A to point B will normally end up disappointed.  Even German and Swiss railways couldn’t maintain their timetables here in the often uncooperative vastness of Antarctica.

Here are a lot of details on the rack of electronics for a bunch of projects I support in the elevated station’s science lab.  I figure I can catch up on the deficit as a result of my reduced (blog) posting rate as of late with this one.

“The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. Without it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.”
~Dwight D. Eisenhower

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tunnel end lights coming up brilliantly

You have my apologies for not posting in so long a time.  Since I last wrote, the glow from the sun has been waxing, and there is definitely a discernible amount of illumination it provides whilst working outside. 

I also got an interesting, if murky (no tripod and holding breath while standing in the wind wearing bulky clothes), shot of some auroras over ARO.

There has been plenty of work to do, and I have had some extracurricular distractions (more on that below).  We still have no details about our redeployment flights, but it seems to be becoming pretty clear we probably will not be dealt with by the travel department until probably sometime in October, or until the main body folks for summer are all booked.  So, that definitely puts a damper on making plans for any sort of vacation/travel after finishing here.

Now I will address that previously-mentioned extracurricular distraction.  A week ago on Tuesday I got word from home that NASA had requested I get a physical exam done as a prerequisite for consideration to be selected for an interview.  It is specifically stated that doing the physical is not a guarantee for inclusion in the interview process, but I feel pretty confident about my chances of selection.  As I understand it, this interview is quite the week of interviews and medical/psychological tests and a general massive influx of information whilst meeting lots of people at Johnson Space Center that work there or (like me) hope to work there.  So, today I got my physical done by our doctor here at South Pole, and we will be forwarding the report/paperwork on ASAP.  Come what may, I will already have made it deeper into the process than my previous application, and having this to look forward to certainly has changed the timbre of my thoughts for the pending termination of employment once this contract is finished.  I will naturally keep you up to speed on what WILL be one of those (like the title of my blog) vivifying adventures I’ve been working on for…oh…23 years or so, now.
"To know a thing well, know its limits. Only when pushed beyond its tolerances will true nature be seen."
~The Amtal Rule, "Chapter House: Dune" by Frank Herbert