The Last Laugh

John Jacobsen
Friday, January 26, 2007

Home Other Posts

Earlier post Nope southpole

Later post Bad Dirt southpole

Hurtling over the sea with sixty other men and women, all of us stuffed into our various unders and fleeces, plus Carhartts, wind pants, military field trousers; red parkas, Swedish Polar research dark blues, paler blue kiwi overalls, ears plugged with foam plugs, noise canceling headphones, or just not giving a damn about the auditory shredding provided by the four jet motors hung from the wings a few meters outside the fuselage, I sit facing sideways once again in the ritual commute South to the White Continent. The C-17 brighter, cleaner and more comfortable than a C-130 or -141. Weather in McMurdo foggy (reprieve from early departure, thank you very much, but loud, drunken kiwi youth carousing outside the hotel at 0545h ruling out more sleep), then clear, then foggy with no wind, then apparently clear enough to inject us all into the airspace between Christchurch and Antarctica. In three hours we will have either landed (my preference) or started our boomerang back north (my prediction). I haven’t ever boomeranged before - quite lucky, actually: the record is seven boomerangs in a row for one sorry lot. If the weather deities have mercy on us we will have dinner and bag-drag (weigh-in for tomorrow’s flight) in Mac Town this evening.

Of all the faces on the plane, there are a few I recognize from previous trips, whether from McMurdo or Pole I can’t say. There are lots of jokers like myself who do this over and over again. Their reasons vary. I’m not sure of my own reasons; I guess there are many, but I suppose the foremost is simply that it is my job.

Best case scenario is to arrive at South Pole tomorrow, one day behind our scheduled date. Though last night’s Thai food is still disagreeing with me enough that I’m not real excited about arriving at altitude, there is much to do now and any more days lost mean, well, that much more pressure when we arrive at Pole to fulfill our goals, which are many, and ambitious. The data acquisition system (pDAQ) is our responsibility, and while the building blocks are largely the same as last year, much of the glue that holds it all together is completely different (better, perhaps, but newer, and therefore probably rich in unexplored bugs). In addition to our group effort to finish, test, and fix pDAQ, I have to fix some low-level communications software, which alone will take hours or days (or possibly more). And we may have a deployment to do as well, plus the usual acclimatisation to the altitude, dryness, the spinning around upside-down on the Earth’s very axis (when we finally arrive, I imagine that by turning slightly I will be able to point to each of you up there reading this, just by pointing at a slightly different arc of longitude passing through 90 South).

Last night after sketching along the river for awhile, and our adventure with the Thai food (which was very good at the time, before the late night’s rain and the witching hour of stomach churn arrived), we wandered through the immense botanical garden and admired the trees, all of which were beautiful, enormous, and rather different from anything I’ve ever seen east of the Rockies, or anywhere in North America for that matter). As dusk approached, far away shouts and yells drifted through the garden, which we zeroed in on to find one acts of the Christchurch Buskers’ Festival in progress. (Busker == theatrical comedian, I guess.) The performance was based on “The Great Books” i.e., literature, mostly western, and was hilarious, despite a meagre attendance of a few families scattered throughout the grass.

Now we are back once again in our own comedy of errors, courtesy of NYANG (New York Air National Guard) and the weather on the Ross Ice Shelf. Staring at sixty sleepy passengers, the loadmasters dressed in camouflage, several tons of cargo pallets, wondering who will get the last laugh. If the fog does, Sandy still has room at the Devon for us. Meanwhile, the clock is ticking until the station closes for winter.

Postscript: today’s score is NYANG 1, weather 0: the weather took a bye this time - we landed in McMurdo after all. However, we’re not flying to Pole until Monday. Looks like a weekend of penguins (with luck) and dirt (in any case) for me until then. The outdoor hiking safety lecture is tomorrow, and I have never been able to take that before; we may be able to do the famed castle rock walk afterwards.

There is liquid water running down the sides of McMurdo streets… how strange.

Earlier post Nope southpole

Later post Bad Dirt southpole

Posts (153)

Select from below, or choose only posts for:clojure southpole misc python art code


Home


Reflections on a Year of Daily Memory Drawings art

Repainting art

Marathon southpole

Daily Memory Drawings art

Questions to Ask art

Macro-writing Macros code clojure

Time Limits art

Lazy Physics code clojure

Fun with Instaparse code clojure

Nucleotide Repetition Lengths code clojure

Updating the Genome Decoder code clojure

Getting Our Hands Dirty (with the Human Genome) code clojure

Validating the Genome Decoder code clojure

A Two Bit Decoder code clojure

Exploratory Genomics with Clojure code clojure

Rosalind Problems in Clojure code clojure

Introduction to Context Managers in Python code python

Processes vs. Threads for Integration Testing code python

Resources for Learning Clojure code clojure

Continuous Testing in Python, Clojure and Blub code clojure python

Programming Languages code

Milvans and Container Malls southpole

Oxygen southpole

Ghost southpole

Turkey, Stuffing, Eclipse southpole

Wind Storm and Moon Dust southpole

Shower Instructions southpole

Fresh Air and Bananas southpole

Traveller and the Human Chain southpole

Reveille southpole

Drifts southpole

Bon Voyage southpole

A Nicer Guy? southpole

The Quiet Earth southpole

Ten southpole

Plein Air art

ISO50 southpole art

In Defense of Hobbies misc code art

Closure southpole

Takeoff southpole

Mummification southpole

Eleventh Hour southpole

Diamond southpole

Baby, It’s Cold Outside southpole

Fruition southpole

Friendly Radiation southpole

A Place That Wants You Dead southpole

Deep Fried Macaroni and Cheese Balls southpole

Retrograde southpole

Three southpole

Transitions southpole

The Future southpole

Sunday southpole

Radio Waves southpole

Settling In southpole

Revolution Number Nine southpole

Red Eye to McMurdo southpole

That’s the Way southpole

Faults in Ice and Rock southpole

Bardo southpole

Chasing the Sun southpole

Downhole southpole

Coming Out of Hibernation southpole

Managing the Most Remote Data Center in the World code southpole

Photoshop on a Dime art

Man on Wire misc

Posing Rigs art

Metric art

Cuba southpole

Wickets southpole

Safe southpole

Broken Glasses southpole

End of the Second Act southpole

Pigs and Fish southpole

Last Arrivals southpole

Lily White southpole

In a Dry and Waterless Place southpole

Immortality southpole

Routine southpole

Tourists southpole

Passing Notes southpole

Translation southpole

RNZAF southpole

The Usual Delays southpole

CHC southpole

Wyeth on Another Planet art

Detox southpole

Packing southpole

Nails southpole

Gearing Up southpole

Gouache, and a new system for conquering the world art

Fall 2008 HPAC Studies art

YABP (Yet Another Blog Platform) southpole

A Bath southpole

Green Marathon southpole

Sprung southpole

Outta Here southpole

Lame Duck DAQer southpole

Eclipse Town southpole

One More Week southpole

IceCube Laboratory Video Tour; Midrats Finale southpole

SPIFF, Party, Shift Change southpole

Good things come in threes, or 18s southpole

Sleepless in the Station southpole

Post Deploy southpole

Midrats southpole

IceCube and The Beatles southpole

Video: Flight to South Pole southpole

The Pure Land southpole

Almost There southpole

There are no mice in the Hotel California Bunkroom southpole

Short Timer southpole

Sleepy in MacTown southpole

Superposition of Luggage States southpole

Sir Ed southpole

Shortcut to Toast southpole

Pynchon, Redux southpole

Flights: Round 1 southpole

Packing for the Pole southpole

Goals for Trip southpole

Balaklavas southpole

Tree and Man (Test Post) southpole

Schedule southpole

How to mail stuff to John at the South Pole southpole

Summer and Winter southpole

Homeward Bound southpole

Redeployment southpole

Short-timer southpole

The Cleanest Air in the World southpole

One more day (?) southpole

One more week (?) southpole

Closing Softly southpole

More Photos southpole

Super Bowl Wednesday southpole

Night Owls southpole

First Week southpole

More Ice Pix southpole

Settling In southpole

NPX southpole

Pole Bound southpole

Bad Dirt southpole

Nope southpole

First Delay southpole

Batteries and Sheep southpole

All for McNaught southpole

The Big (Really really big…) Picture southpole

t=0 southpole

Giacometti southpole

Descent southpole

Video Tour southpole

How to subscribe to blog updates southpole

What The Blog is For southpole

Home