Sunday, July 31, 2011

Fourth of July Party

The first weekend in July, we had our annual July 4 party. The Vehicle Maintenance Facility (VMF) cleared out the large space where they work on vehicles and set up tables and booths for the carnival celebration. There was chili and funnel cakes, games, a dunking booth, a cheetos dive, a photo booth, and lots of people dressed up in costume.

Troy and Amanda made vegetarian chili for the party and it was really good.  Mmmmm...

Gemma made funnel cakes, one of my favorite deserts.  Mmmmm...

The store ladies Keri and Cara set up a triwall full of cheetos for people to dive into. One of the firefighters knocked the box over when he dove, so everyone here is picking up cheetos.

Stephanie is having way too much fun cleaning up cheetos.

Bill, one of the station managers, dressed as Izzy, the lady who was med-evacked the week before. Even though Izzy and her husband John were missed, Izzy was able to get the medical attention she needed and recovered quickly.

Chelsea dressed in her most patriotic colors.

Edwina and her Siamese twin. Edwina is a communist activist and not very patriotic, but she wanted to participate in the party, so she created a super-patriotic Siamese twin as a reason to go. :)

Chelsea and me having a good time.

George, one of the station managers, volunteered for the dunking tank, and he got dunked a few times.

Joey mans the beer pong table. Anyone who could toss a ping-pong ball into one of the cups won a free beer.

Brian and me hanging out. Brian's having more fun than he seems to be. :)

Kelli sports her "six pack" abs. I'm not sure where she found this shirt, but it's fantastic. And she was handing out free beer as well.
Travis showed up as a pregnant redneck and it was kinda scary how well he played the part. ;) 

Justin as Winnie the Pooh. Justin is in charge of making sure the kitchen runs smoothly. (And generally it does.) ;)
A photo booth was set up in one corner of the party, so my friend Brooks and I went in an made a few fun photos.

Half-and-half green screen

Half-and-half, donut style

Look at my squashed head!!

OMG! Surprised by Jamie!

Kyle joined us for a couple of pics.

In the shadow of the rainbow...

I look like some sort of purple bearded tree creature... or something?

Free floating hands!

After the party, Brian, Larry, Kenny, and I hung out at Gallagher's, McMurdo's bar. Since no one else was there, it became Antarctica's only gay bar for the evening. :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Midwinter Party

On Saturday, June 18, we celebrated Midwinter Day with a big dinner and dance in the dining hall. (The actual winter solstice took place four days later on June 22.) First there were appetizers and beverages, then we all ate a delicious meal, and finally ended with some dancing. Because this December will be the centennial anniversary of the first humans reaching the South Pole, our theme was historical. One hundred years ago this winter, there were two teams of explorers who had arrived at opposite ends of the Ross Ice Shelf, waiting for the sun to come up before heading south to the Pole. Roald Amundsen's team arrived on December 14, 1911 and everyone made it back to their ship alive; Robert Scott's team arrived a few weeks later on January 17, 1912 and he and his four companions all died on the return journey. Here's a map showing the routes taken be each team. Below are some pictures from the festivities.

Sean, Shondra, and Brett serve beverages while people enjoy appetizers.

Mmmm... chicken skewers, spiced nuts, and crackers with pesto cream cheese.

Chelsea and Larry

Me and Larry enjoying a drink. We both wore the kilts that Cassey made for us right before we came to Antarctica. Thanks Cassey! :)

An ice sculpture of the Terra Nova, the ship that took Robert Scott and his men to Antarctica for his South Pole expedition.

Details of the Terra Nova's history

Stephanie and Larry - Stephanie made her dress out of old firefighter gear.

Fresh greens from the greenhouse!! (Thanks Emily!)

An ice sculpture of a penguin decorated the serving line.

More fresh veggies from the greenhouse! Tomatoes, sprouts, cucumbers! Brooks could hardly contain himself. In the background, DJ dressed up as Robert Scott for the party.

The head of the pig that was roasted for dinner.

Zachary and Chelsea after enjoying a wonderful meal.

A full spread of deserts, including truffles, cheescake, and caramels!

The chefs also made homemade chocolate and caramel ice cream and raspberry sorbet.

The centerpiece of each table was a candle made of ice.

Larry and Cara dancing after dinner

Posted on the wall outside the galley are all the midwinter greetings sent from the stations throughout Antarctica. Midwinter is a holiday celebrated by all research stations on the continent.

President Obama also sent a letter to the three American research stations in Antarctica wishing us a happy midwinter.

In one corner of the galley, a backdrop that looked like Scott's hut near McMurdo Station was set up for photos. Since the theme of the party was historical commemoration, the photos were taken in black and white.

My friends Kyle, Zachary, Larry, Chelsea, and Kenny

Several of the people who work in the Supply Department got together for a photo...

...until Nathan surprised all of us by lifting up his kilt... 

...leaving us all in fits of laughter. Fortunately, he was wearing something underneath.

Gareth and I take stock of the food in the hut. Gareth is the other food monkey and the person I work with most on station. (There will be an upcoming blog about our weekly food pulls.)

All in all, the midwinter party was a fantastic event. Four days later, the solstice came and since then the sky has been slowly brightening ever since.

In other news, Christchurch is still getting hit with earthquakes, even though it has yet to recover from all the previous ones. And an Emperor penguin wandered a bit too far north and was found on a beach in New Zealand, 2500 miles away from Antarctica. Fortunately he is recovering well and will be released back into the sea in the near future. And the NSF is having troubles procuring an icebreaker for next year's supply and fuel vessels. If these supplies are not able to be delivered, the scientific research planned for this upcoming summer will likely be postponed to the following year. I'll post more details as they become known. In the meantime, keep your fingers crossed that an icebreaker will be found.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Condition One!!

After spending eleven months in Antarctica, I finally got to experience my first Condition One! Yesterday a storm blew in from the east and by evening, it had turned into a blizzard with practically no visibility and super gusty winds. I didn't sleep very well because the winds outside were so loud, as if a train were driving by all night right next to the building. This morning when I went to breakfast, I couldn't see Building 155 (the main building that houses some living quarters and the dining room) from my dorm, and it's only a couple hundred feet away if that far. There is a ropeline that connects the two dorms (208 and 209) with 155. To go from one building to the next, we have to travel in at least groups of two along the ropeline, call the firehouse before we leave, and check in with the firehouse when we get to the building we're going to. Here are the definitions of conditions one, two, and three followed by a few photos and video from this weekend.

Condition THREE is observed when ALL of the following are true:
  • Wind speed is less than or equal to 48 knots
  • Visibility is greater than 1/4 mile
  • Windchill temperature is greater than -75°F.

Condition TWO is observed when ANY ONE of the following is true:
  • Wind speed is greater than 48 knots but less than or equal to 55 knots
  • Visibility is greater than 100 feet but less than or equal to 1/4 mile
  • Windchill temperature is greater than -100°F but less than or equal to -75°F.

Condition ONE is observed when ANY ONE of the following is true:
  • Wind speed is greater than 55 knots
  • Visibility is less than or equal to 100 feet
  • Windchill temperature is less than or equal to -100°F.

The weather page from the McMurdo intranet announcing Condition One on station.

Brooks, Craig, and me hang out during the storm since the bar and coffee house were closed because of the weather.

This picture was taken this morning from the vestibule of my dorm as I left to go to brunch.  If it's this bad from inside, you can imagine what it's like outside. :)