Thursday, December 25, 2008

South Pole is Just Awesome...

Need to get this dang thing caught up so i can talk about all the cool stuff I do here ;} And since I'm up again and staying up all night I can get mostly caught up. I was up all night Christmas eve getting decorations made and ready to decorate a Piston Bully for "The Race Around the World" I'll talk about it when i get the photos and such up, awesome time, man awesome time. So yes i was up all night last night and since my girl*** right haven't gotten to that part yet in the bloggin', a friend of mine had to work over night Christmas i decided to stay up with her.

Moving on from the previous post...

I was absolutely miserable for the first 12ish hours or so I was here. When we all arrived we had an informal little meeting thing, so i was feeling like crap sitting in a tiny room full of other folks that were also feeling like crap. Generally speaking your first day or two here is set aside for acclimation. Henry (my boss) told me to just go find my room and rest. So i did.

I found J12 right away as it is basically the first Jamesway you come across when walking towards "summer camp". Summer camp is just the name for the collection of jamesways that are only used in the summer, hence the name. They are quite clever up here aren't they ;}.

I'm not going to lie, though i was feeling terrible, getting to my jamesway made me feel a whole lot better. It was just so cool lookin'. Here I was sitting at the bottom of the world and I'm about to enter my "room" made of canvas and plywood...AWESOME!!

But wait, then i entered the jamesway and found it to be completely dark, suck. I couldn't find my way around there for the first five or so minutes, then a stroke of brilliance! I took off my sunglasses...don't want to hear it shush. It was still very dark, there was only one red light in the jamesway so it was still quite difficult finding my way around. This is a bit of an exaggeration as my room number 2 is actually right beside the door you come in at. I did however have MAJOR problems getting into my room. The rooms in the jamesway have either wooden doors or canvas "curtains" that slide over, or my door...All the other rooms were opened up, my room was dark and closed. I was beginning to think i was in the wrong jamesway, so i walked outside (with my sunglasses off) opened the first door to the outside closed it behind me then opened the other door and BAM nearly fell on my butt i lurched back so fast. Holy crap it is SOOO bright down here! i have never before felt such pain in my eyes from the bright lights as i did when i stepped out of the dark jamesway into the South Pole sun. I quickly fumbled for my sunglasses and regained my composure. Turns out i was in the right jamesway so hmmm. I go back in and see if i can hear anyone in the room, nope. So i find the endge of the room and try and peek in, i was able to move a bit of canvas enough to peek in. There was blankets and such on the bed like the other empty rooms but there was also a bunch of other things in there: personal items. I could see mardi gras beads, a christmas tree and what looked like a penguin; so i thought well damn someone's in my room! Or they just left all their stuff, i decided to just go in and check it out. Well this turned out to be quite difficult. I couldn't get in. It didn't just slide open like the other ones. So i tried pulling from the side i peaked in at, all that did was rip a portion of my canvas "door" off the wall... hmm i found no seams, what the heck. I eventually just picked the canvas up from the bottom and sorta crawled under and into my room. from inside it was clear how the "door" worked. It was just two pieces of canvas one small and one very large that spanned the distance of the room. you sorta just slip in between the two. (as it turns out this sucks quite a bit when trying to move things in and out of the room quietly, especially while wearing big red). Now that i knew how to get in and out of my room it was time to go find my luggage.

They stored it a litte shack thinger very close to my jamesway so that was a bonus. I lugged everything over to my room and found one bag missing. Nothing major just the bag that had all of my actual clothing... went back to the room and couldn't find it there, i met up with Genevieve in the room and she said i should call over to the station and ask Beth Watson ( she sorta runs stuff, not sure what her actual title is). I called her and she said well the bag could have been brought over to the station on accident and that I should walk over and take a look...friggin lame.

I did also bump into another girl with a bunch of very large luggage, all of which was about 3 times her size, so I offered to help her take the stuff to her jamesway. I lugged that stuff over for her, not too big of a deal they have "banana" sleds that i loaded up her stuff with and just drug it over. Then I was off to the station. It's a 1/4 mile walk back and forth from the station and my room. Here is what it looks like from the area i leave everyday to start my trek:

I was exhausted from the elevation and lack of sleep/food/water, from moving that girls stuff (who interestingly enough returns later in the my story at the pole...) and now i had to walk back to the station to grab the largest of my 3 bags and potentially have to lug it back to my room, suck, major suck. Guess what the bag was there, lame. I drug it back unpacked and passed out on top of my bedding. Here is what it looked like the first few weeks:

Pip had no problem making himself right at home. He has a wonderful view of the station and the dome.

The next few days I got to check out my workplace

Met my coworkers and met the winterovers we were replacing and ended up going on a tour of the science stations. Being IT we get to go to pretty much every place here at the pole, and as such we got to go on this little tour of places most people will never see because we needed to show the new networking guy where everything was. I had no reason to be there, non of us computer helpery folks did, but since we are also IT we got to go along, sweet!

I've never seen so much fiber in one place...

wires, wires everywhere:

The winterover folks, Nate Bahls (Dr. Bahls as he was called) and Mike Rouss-otherletterstoo-o were awesome, they seemed like a fun bunch of people that i would have loved to work with. And the other two guys i would be working with everyday were pretty cool as well, Ben and Tripp. Tripp's his real name too, pretty cool. The whole time we were getting shown around the station we kept seeing signs with ping pong balls about no ball washing showing ping pong balls in the water fountains, and also ping pong balls themselves, little odd. We asked nate about it and he said they just ended up with a ton of ping pong balls and were getting bored and started putting them all over the station that and attacking each other with them. And as he was saying this a couple of balls came flying over our wall and hit him in the face.

The office we work in is just a sectioned off piece of the lab, we have walls and a door, but there is no ceiling it is all open, everything you say and do can be heard by everyone in the office, and as sch one of the other winterover dudes heard us talking about it and decided to show us what the balls were for :}. This started a mini war where Nate threw the ball back there more balls came over then Nate grabbed some a box of some sort and chucked it over the wall. All while we were laughing and then gasping at the large heavy box he just chucked...Man i thought to myself, wintering has to be AWESOME, I must winter here!

Aside from that there wasn't much excitement while we received our "turnover" and learned all the stuff we needed to know for the transition of folks. It was fun, Nate was awesome a really good guy. Then he left and it was now all up to us. I was pretty intimidated at first knowing that there really wasn't anywhere for folks to go if i/we couldn't fix it. You can't just send someone off to another IT group. You are responsible for everything. So far the job has not been demanding at all, it's ben fairly constant with the normal slow days, but it's been really fun up to this point. I'm learning a lot, doing things i never had a chance to do before with IT jobs in the past. Basically we are given the keys to the city and told here ya go, enjoy. I have full admin to most everything here it's awesome, AD work, exchange management, admin access to all the servers, it's just amazing the freedom i have here to work. I no longer have to call some retarded middle man and ask for permission to do something trivial, or worse setup a case to have someone else do something trivial...*cough* ITS *cough*

I am definitely glad i made the decision to come out here. Aside from work being awesome the "social life is great too. Us IT folks are quite spoiled. We have a comms shop as it is called where the comms tech works and where the NOC is. We have what is called the "comms theatre" setup in there. We have a HD projector, a PS3, a Wii, a computer with 4ish TB of movies and TV shows, and music, and INSANE sound system, with two giant subwoofers with independent 800w amplifiers that shake the room if put at half volume. It is amazing to play games and watch movies down there, oh yes we also have a couch and ottoman that slide under one of the work benches, i need to get a pic of the setup now that I'm thinking about it. There's a quiet reading room, a nice little library collection, a bunch of board games, The green house has a nice little seating area where you can "bask" in the light ( wonderful to have during winter i suppose)

Then there's a nice little weight room, hmm needs pics of this stuff too, and nice gym. I play volleyball every thursday, we play wiffleball on fridays? I think it is, and we also do dodgeball (i've since stopped playing dodgeball)Volleyball is awesome it is my favorite activity down here i look forward to it every week. It's also one of the worst things down here for me because i can't stay away from it.

Le Volleyball


I hurt my shoulder playing dodgeball one night, then two nights later i was playing volleyball and hurt my elbow while compensating for the hurt shoulder. Then 3 nights later i played volleyball again and was to the point that i could no longer rotate my arm, not a big deal right who needs to do that. So i stayed away for 5ish days when i could rotate my arm without pain. Played again and was doing fine until i started spiking the ball and serving hard again which caused the shoulder to freak out again. And i of course would not stop spiking the ball or serving it hard until i had to quit the game cause i couldn't rotate my arm again... Stupid i know, but for those of you who know me it's quite normal fo me to continually do stupid things that cause me pain. Such as my weird craving of incredibly hot food when my stomach is upset... So though my arms still hurts i continue playing, i do try and warm up a bit before i go crazy with the spikin' and such but i still leave with a numb throbbing shoulder every thursday. It's also played on sundays but i tend to sleep through it, or i've been hungover. But that shouldn't be a problem as i've vowed not to drink to that level anymore after the Big Lebowski night (more on that later ;} ) We've setup the gym as a movie theatre to play The Big Lebowski, we are going to set it up again this coming saturday to watch The Dark Knight and Wall-E both on Blue-Ray (very excited about that). We have pub trivia every wednesday, I cohosted last week. So ya, it's pretty much just awesome out here. I've also learned to drive the LMC's and the Piston Bullies for when i need to go out to the far away stations and do stuff such as our RF building. They are awesome.

Piston Bully, aint she purdy?

Tripp and I heading out to RF, I'm in the passengers seat:

Our RF building:

South Pole Death Star nearly complete...

It still amazes me that i am getting paid to be down here :}

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Stayed up again all night. Sort of realized there's not much left here to catch up on prior to my getting to the Pole. Oh and pictures are not working like they are supposed to again, and I am too tired to fiddle with the stuff. A good portion of my photos are up on flickr so feel free to peruse there for images i may add the images later, who knows, anway. After Christchurch I made it into McMurdo. Interesting little tidbit about my stay there, i only stayed maybe 22 hours at McMurdo while others were waiting weeks there to go to the pole. I lucked out. I also lucked out in that i was supposed to be at "man camp" but i managed to get out of that as well. Man camp is what everyone calls one of the living areas that is basically a barracks, there are 24ish beds in each room, very little room anywhere. By the time i got all of my crap lugged over to man camp there were no more open beds, or so it seemed. Every bed either had someone in it or had clothes around it or had peoples bags on them, I went ahead and assumed that they were all taken and went and spoke with housing and got moved inside the main building 155? maybe. Not sure of the number, it's where everyone goes to eat. This was far nicer, there were only 4 other folks in that room. The folks in that room were pretty cool too. I left to do some exploring with my camera and try and find the bars i heard about. I found the coffee shop wine bar thing where i had a delicious mocha with bailys, oh so good. I decided to head back to the room and unpack not too long after that i was pretty tired.

By the time I got everything unpacked and settled in, one of my new roommates told me I was supposed to be at bag drag. I had no idea what he was talking about. I some how got put on the list of folks flying out the next day so I had to hustle my butt off and get all my bags ready and hauled up to the cargoish area. By then i was pretty damn tired, all I wanted to do was get to my room and go to sleep. When i eventually got back to sleep I was awoken by the sound of someone vomiting. One of the roommates was a bit too excited about also leavin in the morning and as such drank way too much wine. He threw up large amounts of purple stuff all over himself and then bed. Wonderful... After he got himself cleaned up and his sheets changed, i finally started back to sleep after the other roommates and i contemplated contacting someone as we were worried about the guy. We ultimately decided to let him sleep as he would of probably been denied his plane ride. I was then awoken again by the sound of him vomiting...he did this 3 or so times, i got no sleep, it sucked a lot.

The night eventually ended and I was off to the plane that would send me to Le Pole.

I still really wasn't all that excited, McMurdo really didn't seem like Antartica. It felt like an old mining town in the rockies. Yes it was pretty white all around, but it just didn't seem isolated in anyway, I just wasn't impressed. But then, oh then i finally landed at the Pole...While sitting in the plane it was only mildly cold and i thought to myself, pshh this isn't so bad, I've been far colder than this. Then I walked outside...

I had never been so cold in my life. It was super windy naturally and the planes engines were not helping in that matter either. It was a very long cold walk from the plne to the station, I hurried as fast as I could go. The 22ish hours i spent in McMurdo with almost all of them inside did not prepare me for the cold I felt then. I was still basically used to the 75ish degree weather of Christchurch. So I went from beautiful wonderful climate to a freezing blistering cold -45 degrees F, with roaring winds with windchill of -75 degrees F. That is freaking cold!!!

Sort of funny side not to this, prior to arriving to the Pole I really wanted to live in the Jamesways, I really felt like it would be the best way to experience the pole since I would be inside for most of my job. After I made it in from the cold I was hoping and wishing that I would get a room in the station and would never have to go outside again. I could not stand the thought of walking everyday back and forth to my room. Man was I disappointed when I got my room number, J12-2. I could not find it on the station map anywhere, then the little wheels started spinning again in the ol head and I realized I was to be outside... Not only did I have this terrible realization I was also experience some elevation sickness. I was getting really hot and dizzy and felt like vomiting all while having trouble breathing. It was a great first day :}

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Photo Update

If you haven't checked my flickr account lately, my panoramas have been uploaded.

You can find them here:

I will be getting this thing updated in a couple of days to bring everything current to the South Pole, keep an eye out.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Catching Up Yet Again

EDIT: I hate SP internet and/or blogger... I am having a huge problem getting the site to allow me to get photos into the blog. As a hopefully temporary workaround I had to go and edit an old post with photos, copy the html coding for images and figure out how to get it to work in the blog; which actually requires me to go to flickr and get the page location that links to the flickr image as well as right clicking on the image and copying the actual location of the image, with these I can then edit the old post html image format and input it here. So just realize that any photos on here have been a pain in the toosh to get here.

First let me say, though i do not have the time (due to my internet time restrictions) to edit and label all my photos, almost all of my photos are now up on my flickr page. Thanks Ian!! So feel free to go and peruse my photos, I will slowly be including some into the blog as entries and such. Though it will still take a bit as I still am trying to catch up.
Here is the link to the photos:

So decided to stay up all night again to get some stuff done on the interweb. Comes up at 2:40AM right now. The good thing is it’s getting closer and closer to a time that I can just stay up do my thing then actually go back and get some sleep. Like I said before I don’t mind staying up for a couple of days, in fact it’s quite normal. Everyone is so shocked here that I do it, not sure why. Anywho back on to the trip:

Continued from previous blog entry:

After I finished settling into the hotel room I went out on a mission. I started out from the hotel to find a weird sculpture thingy with a tire on the middle of it. Interesting I suppose. There were a lot of little shops all over the place, very touristy location.

Once I made it to the cathedral square I had accomplished my mission. I found coffee. Not just coffee, but Starbucks. I was quite happy when I found it. It had been 12 or so hours since, I last had coffee. There was a very very cute little kiwi barista. Needless to say I went back there a few times during my two days there :}.

The cathedral in cathedral square was kind of spiffy too. I didn’t go into the cathedral, just shot some pics from outside. I figured I could check all this stuff out fully when I get back from the pole.

Now to the weird part of the little trek out to the square…Sitting in front of the square was a huge purple sperm looking thing running over what seemed to be small children or just people in general. The thing had windows in it and looked sort of sub-ish. I never read what the sign said sitting in front of it while I was there. I did however look at the sign in one of the pics, and it not only just looked like a giant purple sperm; it actually was a giant purple sperm running over people. Why there was a giant purple sperm in front of a cathedral is beyond me, you would never see something like that in the uptight US, not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I think probably the latter.

The other really cool thing right behind the giant purple monster was a giant outdoor chess set. Where folks come up and just randomly start playing against one another. It was pretty cool. I wanted to run up to the board and steal one of the knights and ride off with it…

I then moved on from there and started walking around and found a cool bridge thingy, took a photo of it naturally.

And then moved on along the little creek rivery thing. I crossed over at another little bridge thing on my way to the Botanical Gardens, pulled pip out and grabbed another shot.

The botanical gardens were cool I guess, nothing too special really. I did take a bunch of photos, sat at the rivery creek thing watched some ducks and canoers go by.

Once satisfied with the gardens I moved back towards the city looking for a little hat shop Ian told me about. And like he said it was completely hidden. I only found it because I started walking into and around an area that looked cool and decided to snoop around. As I was walking out of the area I saw the little wool shop, shweet. Spent some time in there trying on a few hand knit wool caps, found one that was gonna work and left. Very wonderfully nice folks in there. I then went looking for food, specifically the Dux de Lux. I walked all over the damn city looking for the stupid restaurant. I kept seeing signs and such but never a main entrance anywhere, I finally just walked into some back bar thingy where I saw a worker with a dux shirt taking trash out that eventually led to the Dux. Which again was confusing because the Dux de Lux isn’t just one little restaurant it’s split up into pieces. I was told by many people that I had to go to the Dux de Lux if I get the chance while in Christchurch. Apparently all they serve is seafood and vegetarian food. Lame. I don’t eat seafood, so I found a nice little veggie sandwich that looked good and grabbed some of their salads. Potato and coleslaw I think, can’t remember. I also grabbed a ginger beer. And pip had the Pale Ale.

Now let me just say I was not impressed with the Dux in any form. I really don’t know what all the hubbub was about. The food was indeed good, not spectacular. The beer was good, not spectacular. In fact the ginger beer was only good for the first few swallows then it was far too flowery and well tasted like you were drinking perfume. The ginger beer my buddy Ian made was better imho. I did have at least one of every beer they made there; the dark stout was good, but again not spectacular. It was a cool place to hang out with folks and throw back a beer or 10 *cough*.

All in all I would have to say my trip into New Zealand, Auckland and Christchurch specifically was very very disappointing. I suppose I’ve been spoiled living in Boulder the past 5 years. The scenery, that I saw, wasn’t anything to really talk about. The city was just a HUGE tourist trap, Pearl Street on every street. I was really let down. I have been waiting for most of my life to get to New Zealand and so far I have been let down. Boulder had everything that Christchurch had, the food in Boulder is better, the beer in Boulder is FAR better. In fact I got sick after eating at some local little coffee shop, having some sort of frittata that they semi half warmed up for me and gave me catchup to go on top, and to top it off the coffee I had was disgusting, and they put a “marshmallow” in it. They are quite fond of marshmallows down there for some reason. Now I only think it was a marshmallow, either that or it was some weird compact napkin thing that I threw in my coffee and tried to drink…from the taste of it, it could have gone either way. Now I do prefer the locals of Christchurch over Boulderites for sure.

I know that I only saw a small portion of New Zealand, a very very small portion, and it was in fact a very touristy spot. I’m very hopeful that my trip back through will be better and all that I have dreamed of. I plan to avoid all the large major cities and see the country. Then I’m sure my story will be changing, and I will be writing about how I will never be coming back to the states ;}.