Tuesday, July 29, 2008


There is an old plane crash out by the Pegasus runway, and some folks went out there last weekend. The plane, named Pegasus, is actually the namesake of the runway. It's out on the permanent ice, a few miles out of Mac Town. I found this picture on the common drive-- it was taken by Kiwi mechanic Ken Barlow. There are two PistenBullies idling in the foreground, and a few people standing on the old planewreck in the background. This picture was shot in the afternoon-- we're starting to see some light! Three weeks to the first sunrise.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A month till sunrise!

On August 19th, the sun will break above the horizon, for the first time since the 24th of April. If you go out to hut point in the afternoon, you can see a little bluish sky in the west. The sun is closest to the horizon when it's in the north, but the mass of Mt Erebus blocks us from ever seeing the midday glow. This photo was taken with a telephoto, so it greatly exagerates the tiny bit of glow we really see on the horizon. It's still pretty much pitch black all the time.

My coworker, Antz Powell (http://www.frozensouth.com/) had to go out to Black Island (where our satellite communications station is located, about twenty miles south of McMurdo) to do some emergency repairs. As soon as they got there, a big storm hit, and they were stormbound for a couple of days. At one point, the winds hit 123MPH! Yowzer! We were hit by the other side of that storm, and I think our biggest gust was around 60MPH. This has been a mild winter from what I hear-- we haven't even had a severe weather condition one yet (http://youtube.com/watch?v=qz2SeEzxMuE).

I've been sleeping really well for over two weeks now. Here's hoping that the insomnia is a thing of the past-- it was no fun! And the sun gets closer every day.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Frame

Well, we had a nice camping trip out at the Kiwi A-Frame. It was really not nice camping weather outside, but that never stopped us before! It was probably around -25F with a winds of around 20kts, with a maximum of -40F with a wind chill of -70F. We drove a Kiwi Hagglunds out to the Kiwi A-frame, and spent the night. It was all cozy warm inside, but a bit inhospitable outside. I got a chance to play my mandolin a tiny bit, but I'm still not ready for prime time. A great time was had by all. We somehow scrounged four "sparkler" fireworks, and we used them to spell out the word "COLD". Quite impressed with how it turned out. L.

Friday, July 4, 2008


As of last post, I was in the middle of a rollercoaster drama with insomnia. I tried everything I could think of (warm milk, exercise, reading, light therapy, food, no food...) to get a good night's sleep, but the vast majority of nights I would sleep for the first four hours, then tossing turning hell. I did Ambien every night for a week, but couldn't stand the side effects. The days after taking it I felt more and more "out of it", until I was starting to see things that weren't there. There aren't supposed to be any cats in McMurdo. Eek.

I've been thinking and reading up on it, and just on a lark decided to try taking multivitamins. With no freshies for months, the diet here is not exactly what I would call healthy, but I never thought to take supplements. I started taking a multivitamin every day, and coincidentally the sleep problem completely disappeared. So far I've had nine good night's sleep in a row, which is heaven. I can't say for sure that the vitamins did it, but it sure looks that way. I'm continuing to do the light therapy, and exercising every day. I'm also using earplugs, which seems to help a lot. It's not that my room is loud, but the white noise emanating from the heater ducts might have been contributing to my waking up in the middle of the night.

Last weekend we got together for a group photo of the town. You can't see me very well-- I'm in a black parka and fur hat near the right edge below the two doors.

Going camping tonight. Heading out with some friends to the Kiwi A-frame on the ice shelf to get away from town a little bit. It's not the greatest weather, though not unusually cold for this time of year. It's -24F with about a 20mph wind. It's been calm for the last few days, but the wind just kicked up. It's crazy, but it feels really warm out when it's -25F and calm. I'll probably melt when I get back to the real world.