Antarctica Dispatch

Journal of my Antarctic experience working to support the United States Antarctic Program.

Condition 1


Well it finally arrived, 'Condition 1'. This is a weather condition when at least one of the following conditions is occurring or imminent:
  1. Sustained wind speed greater than 55 knots
  2. Wind chill temperature colder than -100°F (-73°C)
  3. Visibility less than 100 feet
When this occurs everyone must stay in the building they're in and await the weather to subside. In this case we heard it was being called so people rushed back to their dorm rooms to wait it out. I grabbed my camera and shot the following footage going from Dorm 208 to dorm 155. My friend and college buddy Wade who's an electrician had to head out because one of the power lines went down. The winds were so strong, it blew off a 15 x10 foot metal siding from one of the dorms. It was found underneath a dorm two buildings away.

One of the things that goes on is a 'Condition 1' Pool. I think it got up to a few thousand $s. Part of the $$ raised goes to charity.

Wine Tasting


So even though we have a limited selection of wines and nothing truly exceptional to placate the palate. We still can try to uphold a formal methodology of wine evaluation, or it can be just another excuse to dress up, socialize, and imbibe.

My old college buddy Wade & I

Live Earth


Upon coming down to Antarctica I see more an more environmental awareness going on. Here I am on the continent where the 'ozone hole' was discovered and which appears to be the center of attention for Global Warming. Now Al Gore has launched Live Earth, trying to have 'live' rock concerts on every continent.

When we all heard about this endeavor, we shook our heads, thinking, "are they crazy"? Once again even the powers that be fail to realize that it's winter down here. It's extremely difficult not to mention ridiculously expensive to fly personnel and equipment down here. A band 'Nunatek' at the BAS Rothera station was chosen. I don't know the reasoning behind that. McMurdo is the largest base on the continent, and the best one to provide a live satellite video uplink. 'Nunatek' was filmed months before this actual event. In addition it was all fake. None of the instruments were plugged into amps nor were they actually playing since it was done outside where it's way too cold.

Still I guess it served it's purpose to bring environmental awareness.

Blue Moon Run


I think I've participated in more organized running events in Antarctica, than back home. First it was the 'Race Around the World' then 'Scott's Hut Race'. This time it's the middle of winter, in a cold, dark, desolate place. Out of the 119 souls down here, I think about half actually ran the event. They're mostly the ones in the gym working out. It was good to get outside for exercise instead of doing the treadmill. I'm not in the shape I once was, but I finished.

Happy Birthday ATM!


Although the McMurdo Store has a credit card reader, it's still mostly a 'cash' business down here. People need $$ to rent gear (instruments, skis, etc.), pay a bar tab, bowling, etc. There are a couple of ways to get cash - bring enough down with you, use a RCD (Remote Cash Disburshment) from your paycheck, or use the ATM. Yes, an ATM. Who knew that 40 years ago John Shepherd-Barron invented this device.

Here are the two McMurdo ATM machines, brought to us by Wells Fargo.

Believe it or not, I located it online. However the zip code and directions weren't correct.

I remember when these started coming out. Now they're all over the place. I think my parents continue to write checks out to 'Cash' instead of using these machines. Although ATMs make it easier for people to recieve currency, I remember from my Macroeconomics class how ATM use increases the velocity of the M1 money supply.

Tie Dye


I can't remember if I ever made Tie-Dye shirts in grammar school, but it's a tradition at McMurdo to make tie-dye shirts. So we watched a video and went to work. Here's what a few of us came up with.

"The Dark Side of Oz"


Saturday night, almost the middle of the year. Back home it's sunny and warm. I haven't been on a beach in quite a while, and I'm looking forward to a 'Jimmy Buffett' experience - carribbean/pacific island sand beneath my feet, sun on my face, with a cold drink at hand. Well a couple of people here helped bring a bit of that with a Carribean Party Theme replete with Mai Tais, Pina Colatas, and marinated meat on K-bobs. Women wore tropical dresses adding to the theme.
Next we headed back to Building 155 for margaritas since we were in our tropical gear. Some black lights were rigged up, giving everyone funky look. People were complementing me on my 'white' teeth though.

Finally we moved the party to the viewing lounge setup in the back galley seating area to watch Pink Floyd's 'Dark Side of the Rainbow' (aka 'Dark Side of Oz). I had no idea how many Pink Floyd fans we had nor had I ever seen the Wizard of Oz from beginning to end.