Saturday, July 4, 2009

midwinter and beyond (kind of like..."To Infinity and Beyond"

Well, let's see. Can I catch up those three sad reader who are obviously desperate for entertainment? I don't know. I t may be hard to beat Tyvex suits but I will try. Midwinter Dinner (the midseason large celebration down here) went off exceedingly well. Lots of fun for everyone with some very nice touches: the theme was historic antarctic Midwinter dinner, and the menu format and font was copied from Scott's own (but we ate a tad better), there was live acoustic music, great mixing with the kiwis from the other side of the hill, and lots of photos. The next week was the midwinter run, so I will be posting photos of that as well. Bet you can't find me in the pack. It is like "Where's Waldo - the Antarctic version of the home game!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Time warp

Well, How remiss have Hedgie and I been - we have neither of us posted for almost two months!
The monthly box from the girls back home revealed a wonderful birthday surprise : a JJimmy Buffett concern in a box complete with grass skirts, cocnut bra, Live by the Bay CD, and liquid refreshments. You are the greatest! Hedgie mumbled something about wanting a cheeseburger in this little islend paradise, snagged 2 margarita for he and is little Russian bride, and they are even now sleeping it off under the table.

Tel's wedding has come and gone, and I am gearing up on all fronts; between midwinter dinner prep and rolling over a thrid of the base through first aid and CPR training in a three week span, and still keeping up with my normal case load, I am definately learning new ways to be even more efficient.
One interesting break away was working at the waste watwer treatment plant for four days helping to clean out the tanks. You haven't lived till you have shoveled caked poo out of a pit in Antarctica in a tyvex suit. Photos will be forthcoming!
Mid winter Dinner is this weekend, and I will have some stuff to post as well after that (complete with photos!).

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

more snow day photos!

what snow day is compleet without a snow angel by Hedgie handler?

second dig out

Well, we had our second big cat 2 snowstorm, and I guess you have just never lived until you have crawled up a door and through a vent hole in order to shovel out and chip out the ice from a boiler room so the mechanic can get in to fix the heat. I am telling everyone the bruise on my cheek is because I took Mike (our Boiler mechanic who is about 6'2" and 230lb) the best 2 out of 3 rounds.

another classis photo of me

Here is another classic photo of me dressed for the weather in 2 coats, 2 pairs of gloves, 2 pairs of pants and two paiors of sock - adds to the casual Antarctic "fluffy" look - no slimming silohettes down here ladies!

First snow day dig out (including hut 10 - where a window got broken and the plumber Wally just chillin'

Catching up

Alright. All you sick twisted little puppies who are desperate for entertainment and want to know "has Hedgie fallen off the face of the planet Earth, and where the heck is his handler?", well here is the scoop.
We have had 2 record snowfalls in the past week and a half, and this is supposed to be a god weather time of the year. We have pushed into Category/condition 1 weather 3 times, and I had to cancel my trip to kiwi land for this week due to another weather front moving in even as we speak.
My bid for getting a satellite clinic set up at the New Zealand Scott Base went through and this was to be the 3rd week for me hauling my cookies (and ultrasound) over to the other side of the hill to give PT care to all those cute kiwi lads. The first 2 installations of the clinic (I am a chain franchise now, mom, you'd be so proud - I came down here for a simple job and I am slowly taking over the continent!) went swimmingly well. Regarding the snow storms, I am dumping pictures so you know what it is like when we get a little weather down here. So far I have been out and about safely in the weather following the NSF guidelines lending a hand on to anyone who needs it. Kind of a reality check when a wind gusts hard enough to push out 6'2" boiler mechanic back a few feet as he rounded a corner right ahead of me. So far everyone is playing safely and all is well. Enough cahtting - take a peek at the pictures. Love and miss you all,
Hedgie Handler

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Town Tour (see the full blog series)

Here are four different shots of my hometown. The following blog entries will show you most the other buildings individually. Have fun on your virtual MacTown walkabout! I will add more as we get auroras in a few more weeks.

Here is the General Hospital where I have my clinic - there is a photo of the dental office and one of our trauma bays where I double as an EMT in emergencies.

Here is another Science biuilding - the Science Support Center - home of the outdoor Happy Camper leaders

Here are photos of all the classes our ewaste has to be sorted into and the Waste Barn - the only place in town you can see men in Carhartt bibs dumpster diving for pink tutus. Recently there was a large skua/usable castoffs sorting party. I happened to glace up just as our 6'4" electrical foreman in his bibs (and a pink tutu he had just rumaged from another bin) did a great "duck on a pond" impersonation, leaving just his legs dangling on the outside of the bin while he went nose first for some great piece of rummage.

Here is a shot inside the greenhouse wheer I spend my Tuesday late afternoons soaking in rays and balancing hydroponics tanks and nurturing my little herb plots

Here is our lovely firehouse

Here is JSOC - Joint Stations Operation Command

Here is our neighbor - Scott base

Here are the dorms and Ivan the Terrabus - I am in the dorm that is directly behind the one closest to the water.

Here is the Science Crary lab where most of the scientific research is done on station during the summer season.

Here is our Chapel in the Snows - our church where services are held each Sunday

These are two pics of the Chalet - the summer home of the National Science Foundation and Raytheon Management. In the winter, they move offices into FEMC to save fuel.

Here is central supply - this is a picture that was staged of what not to do - note thr trip hazzard!

Here is 175 - FEMC (Facilities & Equipment Maintenance and Control)

This is a view of building 155 - the weather balloon launching area and storage from the higher road

town tour

This is building 140 - central supply, post office and luggage depot

town tour - big gym

Here is our Big Gym - a converted quanset hut that functions as our basketball court, our volleyball court, our fitness group class studio, and our climbing gym

Photos of my Tuesday afternoons - here's the green house!

Scott Hut Pictures

get my best side, Mr. Demille

allright, here is a pic of me....just for those of you who are sure I was off on some fabulous tropical island retreat and not really here. Yes, I am on an island...with an active volcano...working...and no evacuation plan....great, I figure once Mount Erebus finally stops just off-gassing and eruupts I will finally be warm again. All kidding aside, this is how you dress for a 10 mile 4 hour hike in the foothills of the area. It was a great day hike, and if I had know Gordon (one of the fire crew I was hiking with) was going to snap this, all know I still wouldn't have a pic for you!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

shuffleboard, Scott Hut, Fauna Morgana, Singing Ice and the death of an Adelie

Stayed up last night until WAY past my bedtime (12:15am) to learn a new game: Shuffleboard. Good game and lots of fun with the people down here. It is like the shuffleboard you see on cruise ships that all the old folks play, but here it is a smaller version on a table top at hip height. I can't believe the combined word of "shuffleboard" and "fun" are coming out of my mouth.
Took a tour of Scott Hut today with 7 others. The hut was a testament to sheer determination to live as long as possible in the harsh Antarctic conditions. Scott and his men embarked on a journey to travel from the edge of Ross Island inland on the Terra Nova route to get to the pole. Alas their journey ended in privation and death when they were relegated to the edge of the ice and did not get rescued in time.
The hut, however was actually the least interesting to me. The day had started out gray and overcast with inversion clouds but had become a glorious basking in the sun and lack of wind. It was possible to hear the ice sing from the point above Scott Hut as the ice plates rubbed and pressed against one another, squeeking, groaning and whistling in a manner like whale song that ebbed and rose in musical cadence. A Weddell seal came out of the ice at the bottom of the drop off (about 25’feet away), and wandered about on the ice. The air was so still you could hear him breath and scrunch along the ice surface – like tissue paper crumpling. There was a fauna morgana (an ice mirage) – a hazy vision hovering just above the ice across the Ross Sea at the foot of Mt Discovery and Mt Morning – three pyramids and a sun, very clearly defined and having that same surreal quality as a heat mirage in the desert. At the end of this grand trip, I stopped to check on the little Adelie that is moulting by our water intake near the water treatment plant. I got within 6’ before the penguin even noted me, and it seems the wrong time of year for a moult as she/he is likely to get trapped by the ice. Penguins are also like most other social animals – when they are not well or nearing death, they will segment themselves away from others, and I think this is what is happening to our little water plant Adelie, which is sad to see, but also part of the bigger cycle of life.
All right,
I must have missed something.....I opened the March box, followed the instructions, and when the kiwi got up off the floor nursing a black eye, he wandered off, having exposed nothing more than a new bruise that bore the shape of some Mardi Gras beads. I am sure somewhere Lynnette is laughing. All I can assume is if the saying "The odds are good but the goods are odd" is true, then I either put a little too much oomph into my bead chucking, or I myself am the odd good. Maybe I can dig a pit directly along one of the game trails (I am thinking the path to the Frosty Boy machine - something that spits out ribbons of an ice cream substitute made from no milk product known to man) and cover it with leaves.....But where the hell am I going to get leaves down here? Curses! Foiled again! Would someone please make sure Lynnette has a clear airway, since I am sure she is choking on whatever she was eating or drinking. Thanks.

March Goodies

Box of Goodies opened up. Hedgie and I couldn't wait for later in the month and it was the two day weekend. The Pajama Possee strikes again. The lovely ladies from Fort Collins sent down a wonderful mix of goodies. Strawberry wafers (like there is not enough food down here with minimal redeeming value), Creamsicle lotion, Heavenly Silk Lotion, a glow in the dark puffer latex ball that when you shake it it flashes bright colors, chapstick, two Mardi Gras masks and some Mardi Gras beads (with the instructions that I should throw them at a kiwi and see if he exposes himself to me). Always great to be getting item s from the girls back home for what they mean to the heart (alright, and the tummy!)
I was going to get a full tour of McMurdo uploaded, but don't have the ability to compress pics on my laptop - I would have to go into work this weekend, again, and I am loathe to do so since I already gave up part of my Saturday for putting together powerpoint presentations I need for training next week already.
I have decided that I will open the boxes on the two day weekends we get once per month to make them even more special. I can't wait for April! Will it be an April fools? Will there be leftover 9News Health Fair items? Inquiring minds will have to tune in to find out.....

Saturday, February 28, 2009

final flight out

2/22/09 Sun
Attended the first coffee before brunch – held in dorm 209 room 112 with some great people. Ken managed to catch some Adelie penguins (2 - a mother and chick) on the ice by the power plant and he got several great photos. He is posting them to his website so I need to go out there to the WWW and pull some down for Hedgie viewers. Great happenings today as well – it’s final flight day. We had champagne at the Chalet on the deck in -40 weather with a nice stiff headwind to watch the last flight taxi and take off, complete with a fly-over of the Chalet. Culminated the day in a great lazy nap-and-read – the kind when you lay down to cat nap for ½ hr, read for an hr and start the cycle all over again with the hope you wake up in time for dinner. Life doesn't get better than this!

Hedgie scores!

Gave myself a treat and opened the Feb Box from the Pajama Possee. Chock full of great gifts (a set of dominoes, a small box of sweetheart candy – the kind you had in grade school that predicts with each little sugar morsel that you or someone near you is HOT STUFF, a mini bonsai kit which should be a challenge since the sun is already setting slightly and we will hit full dark in the next month or so, some treats for Hedgie, and a Russian Mail Order bride for him as well). Hedgie and his little Babushka disappeared quickly into the empty room that shares my bathroom and I haven’t seen him since. Given the noises they are making in there, I am afraid to open the door for fear it will be a déjà vu of the “trouble with Tribbles” episode on Start Trek where a billion furry things fall out of the hatch and damn near bury William Shatner. It is sad when the Hedgie scores but the handler is left with dominoes and watching a tree grow

Friday, February 20, 2009

2/19/09 Thurs
Got an email that I have a box in the mailroom for pickup yesterday. Everyone gets that sense of Christmas when they get an email from the mailroom announcing boxes to be picked up. I went and snagged it, thinking it was the watch I asked Jack to get me in Cheech since mine is circling the drain. I was a tad surprised when the mailroom clerk handed me a 40 lb box the size of a microwave. Jack said he would be tucking in a "little something extra", but I didn't think it would be a moose! I snagged it an moved it out of the mailroom into the cubicles so maybe I could pick it up later and get it down to the dorms (no way I was carrying that the 3/4mi in 40 knot headwinds and -20degrees). In a bout of pure genius (quit laughing...every dog has his day), I thought I could bum a ride from Mike (one of the guys I came down with) back to the building and get it with a truck since I was going to help him move after hours today anyway. I have been feeling a bit blue, but the stressful day was well worth it when I realized the box return address said “Pajama Posse”. Tel, Oonah, Amanda, Lynnette, Dalia, Cindy, and Annie sent 1lb beef jerky, some awesome shampoo and conditioner, nail polish, Glenna McReynolds books (Tara Janzen Crazy series and her new Loose series), Cocoa roasted almonds, Eckhart Tolle books, 7 greeting cards and boxes marked for opening each month, and all the love you can pack into a cardboard box. I am blessed with great friends and am humbled by this gesture from the other side and hemisphere of the world.

Said good bye to Lori Haugen (rad tech) and Barbie Binnelli (PA) over tea and a bitch session in the galley, then went to bed. There are an amazing group of strong women down here who remarkably still struggle with the same issues plaguing women everywhere – am I good enough, does he love me enough, where will I be next year? These universal questions seem pervasive. Maybe part of me hoped they would be to give us immediate common ground, and part of me hoped they would not be so there would be clear tidy role models for living life well. Perhaps that is the challenge and the struggle – to live life well without a blueprint or a roadmap. Time will tell.

To the Pajama Possee:
YOU GUYS ROCK (and you are all my rocks of stability as well!)

How to build and staff a greenhouse on a budget

More radiology training – feel like I have a fairly good handle on this now thanks to all the hard work of the rad tech Lori Haugen who is here right now but is leaving end of this week. This is our passing of the torch week – all the old crew will be gone by next Mon.
Attended winter survival school this afternoon – the abc’s of how to light your hair on fire with a MSR whisper-light stove and run around like a madman with a rain fly from the tent as your Superman cape. All joking aside, they do a good job of training you in 3 classroom hours how to survive in minus 20 and below. There ia a more involved version that most the guys I came here with attended - Happy Camper. I may yet get to that next spring.
Also, I am officially the Basil queen of the green house now (unless I plant some rosemary as well. And Tuesday is my day to deal with all greenhouse systems as well as take care of my little corner of the Reynold’s wrap palace. The green house was started in 1979 by one of the construction guys who was allotted an overwhelming budget of $75 and license to beg/borrow/scrounge whatever he also needed. He got 2 wanagons (a cheap version of a milvan) from the navy and joined them one against the other. This is what forms our cucumber and lettuce rooms to this day. The herb room was originally a sunroom area that he scrounged the windows for when they were replacing dorm windows. He found out quickly however that the windows lost a tremendous amount of heat, boarded them over. This is the green house’s 20th anniversary. Not bad for a bungy cord, used PVC pipe, navy scrounged wanagon grow shed with no running water or drains in it. That’s right – why put a hydroponic green house somewhere near running water and a drain when the greenhouse volunteers and workers can lug the water up hill (did I forget to mention it is one of the highest buildings in town and is actually tucked behind the open storage area?) and then have to drain water into 55 gal drums that then need to be lugged down the hill. All that aside, it is one of the corner havens for all MacTowners and they string hammocks up between suspended lines of lettuce just to hang out somewhere green, cool, warm and with smells.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hi all,
Since someone asked for illumjination on how you could mispronounce FNG, I will shine my weak wattage bulb on this critical issue and spread a little light. Apparently, the first thing that must happen in order to mispronounce FNG, you must be jet lagged. The second crucial element is having a deer in the headlights look. Thirdly, you must overthink all issues. Count number four, you must be so short on sleep that you would even think to pronounce the letter G like gi (say it with me the outfit in karate you wear to perform kata, not like the pronounciation of G like the alphabet song). That's right, in correct native dialect it should be pronounced G as in "Gee, I'm the new guy here, nice to meet you". While the natives will make allowances for brain damage due to natural causes (jet lag, time zones, lack of sleep, too many chocolate cookies), they don't cut you much slack for just being STUPID. For those who need help pronouncing STUPID, simply whack yourself several times on the forehead with a brick. Seven or eight times should be good if you do this with some enthusiasm. Go ahead, feel free to put some oomph into it. Now open your mouth. Trust me...the first sounds that come out will classify you as stupid even if what comes out bears no resemblance to the Queen's english. Just your Language translation tip for the day.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

For all tose Hedgie-ites who are anxioussly awaiting a new episode, I apologize - the time for writing has been slim. Hedgie's little brain is taxed by good stuff - learning hydroponics to keep part of the herb section (basil and cilantro - eat your heart out Cindy and Scott) of the greenhouse going overwinter, practicing X ray techniques (we have shot our first three patients and done well on extremity and CXR series), and organizing the walking blood bank for Mass Casualty Incident. In all the spare time, we are also adding in diagnostic ultrasound training. Cool beans! Fill up the hard drive of your memory each day with new stuff, sleep on it, ruminate on it, hang it on the back of the door and rub against it like a bear until it seeps into your pores, digest it during your sleep and come back hungry for more the next day. The learning curve is challanging and steep, but there are a great group of preceptors that I want to learn as much as possible from before they all return top the real world. This weekend, time and brain cells allowing, I hope to take all of you on a little "walking tour of my hometown".
2/13/09 Fri
Today was our second snow storm. We are still in condition three (best weather condition rating), and you can barely see Observation hill from the windows in the clinic (about 400 yards). The wind is howling this morning, combing the driven snow on the ground like wind over the top of ripe wheat in a field, rhythmic and erratic. It is a brisk 20 below here with the wind chill. Watching the snow move on the ground is bewitching – you get the sense you are on the ocean without having left dry land. The volcanic soils add to the fun. It is hard to believe women in New York pay for Dermabrasion treatments, when a simple windstorm here will peel years off the top layers of exposed skin.
2/12/09 Thurs
Not the best start to the day. I introduced myself to some new people in the galley at breakfast as an FNG and further proved it to them (as if they had a doubt), by mispronouncing FNG. I must say humility goes well with a side of granola. Apparently it is a day for growth and opportunity everywhere. I learned a new game after dinner in the lounge: musical chairs. Not the old fashioned kind. Here are the rules:
1. Be in the packed lounge in the evening when there is someone slightly inebriated after work hours and join them for watching a movie
2. Wait for their fluid intake to get the better of them
3. When they answer the call of nature, no sooner has the lounge door closed behind them than someone whispers “Musical chairs,” and everyone grabs their drink/book/knitting/soduku/snack and shuffles their seating position.
4. When the slightly blurry eyes imbiber returns, act as if nothing happened and wait the three minutes (or more, depending on their blood alcohol levels) for them to realize they no longer have a seat.
5. If said returning person has little to no sense of humor, it is best to make sure one of the firefighters is involved in the game to help forestall another game from occurring – Lounge Wars where furniture becomes projectiles and pillows are irrepairably damaged.
Remember what your mother told you about it all being fun and games until someone loses an eye. And also remembering the old "no blood, no foul" rule helps as well.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

This is a look but don't touch kind of thing. Snow mobiles are for duty use only here at MacTown. I am trying to figure out how to justify dragging a body on a sked behind me about town in the name of medical treatment. Any one got ideas?

Here is the cargo vessel shot from Scott Hut Ridge. The metal buildings you see in the distance behind the ship is MacTown - Welcome to my home!

Here is the American Tern, the cargo vessel in dock right now. There really is no dock, just the steep cut channel so the ship can tie right up three feet from shore. This makes it a whole lot safer for offload than if operators had to drive repetively over the ice carrying heavy ship loads.

Here is that same sked unloading the smaller Herc plane that came up from the pole.

We got a snow recently, and this is one of the tri-tracks used on the airfield when other vehicles slip a bit.

In the background, you can see Odge, the icebreaker vessel that makes its way in and out of our shipping channel during ship offload that happens once per year (they are just finishing up right now)

This is the wing of a Herc (smaller cargo plane) headed south to the pole

Photo day: I thought you all might like to see some of the vehicles that are about town and at Pegasus (our ice airfield)

These are transport vehicles on the airfield. The ones on the right are smaller crew carriers, and the one on the left is the pripmary crew transport, affectionately known as Ivan the Terrabus.