Conrad and Margarita, Live and in the Flesh

May 26, 2010 at 4:53 pm (In Our Down Time)

Temps: -23 C / -9 F
WC: same
Pole: -56 C / -69 F

Believe it or not, there is even more to do on any given evening on The Island than at home. Each weeknight, we poor souls must choose between athletics, movies, music, games, and any number of ridiculous non-HR-approved manners of entertaining ourselves. One such event is our soon-to-be-monthly Open Mic night. Everyone knows how painful an Open Mic night can be. You’ve all had that tearful look in your eye, realizing you came to the right bar on the wrong night, and wondering how quickly you can bolt outta there without insulting Sparkly Tuba Lady Sings the Classics.

Open Mic Night, MacTown Style, however, is not to be missed. Some of the hightlights…

Russell…chef by day. Soul man, all of the time.

Nothing hotter than a lady drummer, and Wendy’s been coming here for 15+ years. Kevin, Zak, Justin and Jim backing her up.

Terrorist Fist bump for the Birthday Boy. That’s Moose and Will Coe, who has never heard the band Wilco.

Brad and Corrine explore where Inappropriate Line gets crossed.

Keri. Always beautiful and delightful, and this was her first guitar recital. She also rocks it with the all-girl Antarctic band, Sophia and the Bitch Pops.

Wally and Mike do Buffett…

…while Nathan makes us all sound good.

A little Mark Scowden, aka Poobacca, who runs the Waste Water Treatment Plant, aka Cleans Up Our Shit.

Margarita: Just a small town girl.

Conrad: Just a city boy.

And a sampling of Conrad and Margarita, Live at the Hotel Casanova. He loved her the first time he saw her at that strip club last Tuesday. She…is wasted.

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All the Other Continents Are Racist

May 23, 2010 at 10:20 pm (Stuff, Uncategorized)

Temps: -11 C / + 12 F **
WC: -20 C / – 4 F
Winds: 13 kts / 15 mph
Pole: -58 C / -72 F
**3 days ago, we were at -75 F wind chill w/ 40mph winds. We’re not sure what’s going on, but we all like it.

From my lovely friend, Nathan Murphy.

The other continents are obviously liars. Racist liars. And I, for one, do not appreciate it.

And, this one, from my friend Eric Anderson, in light of my prior confession:

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I’m Pretty Sure This Isn’t Good

May 19, 2010 at 9:58 pm (It Looks Like This)

Temp: -32 C / -26 F
WC: -45 C / -49 F
Winds: 10 kts
Pole: -58 C / -72 F

Nobody’s ever accused me of knowing a whole lot about…anything. But, this just doesn’t look…right.

Everybody, get back, before it explodes or tries to eat you. Especially you, Tiny Box Baby. Everyone knows you are feeble and pathetic.

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Easy Dreaming

May 18, 2010 at 3:32 pm (What I See)

Temps: -30 C / -22 F
WC: -43 C / -45 F
Winds: 11 kts
Pole: -62 C / -80 F

I’ve always been blessed/cursed with pretty specific and real-feeling dreams. I’ll wake up laughing or sobbing, terrified of some creature that’s been chasing me, or raging against some poor family member who hasn’t really done anything wrong and can’t help it that my subconscious has been offended by them. Here, everyone has them. Something about the all-day or all-night thing causes folks to either toss and turn all night, wake up at 3 am and never get back to sleep, or dream in crazy-style. A couple recent ones:

1: I was back in Chicago with my friends, enjoying their company. I believe we were coming back home from eating at Garcia’s (since that’s what we are usually doing), and there was a full moon. I tried to explain to them how the moon looks in the southern hemisphere and how everything is reversed. Then, I burst into tears because I wasn’t here anymore. I couldn’t understand how I’d gotten home so quickly and had forgotten to say goodbye to everyone here, to the mountains, to the upside-down moon, to Ivan and the Deltas. When I woke up, still in tears, it took me about ten seconds to figure out where I was, but it was a real nice feeling to realize that I was glad to still be here.

#2: Someone in my life (she seemed to be a good friend in my dream, but I didn’t recognize her from my real world) had had a baby, but it was real small and had to live in a box. The box was padded at the bottom, kind of like a jewelry box, but about six inches long and maybe an inch and a half wide, and it was uncovered. The baby was strapped down on the padding with a little red ribbon so it was comfortable and wouldn’t fall out. So, I really wanted to take the baby out, but the mom seemed uncomfortable with this idea. Basically, I told her to chillax and started untying. I don’t know. I really wanted to hold Tiny Box Baby in my hand. However, in trying to untie the thing, it flipped over and suffocated on the padding. In, like, one second flat. So, then I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to tell Possibly Friend Mom that I’ve just killed Tiny Box Baby. While also thinking that having a Tiny Box Baby that can suffocate at any given moment is a ridiculous thing to carry around. And also thinking this is why I can’t be trusted around anything of the living variety.

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80,000 Pound Cat in a Crack

May 16, 2010 at 9:12 pm (It Looks Like This)

Temp: -32 C / -26 F
WC: -38 C / -36 F
Winds: 3 kts
Pole: -66 C / -87 F

Last week, we had a closer call to an emergency than anyone would have liked. An 80k pound dozer went through the ice, right at the transition (where the rock ends and ice shelf begins). Naturally, there are a lot of different stories about how this might have happened, but The People are mostly interested in keeping the evidence from leaking out. Which, of course, means that it will spread much more quickly. Tell a bunch of Ice People to stay away, and they’ll bring their cameras. I, being the good rule-follower that I am, manned the fort and stayed put. That way, I stayed warm and could use my “people skills” to see any evidence I wanted to. This first photo was circulating on blogs and the Facebook within a few minutes, and my friend Mark took the rest of these babies.

The Cat went through at about 9:30 am, and it took several attempts to extract the thing. By the time evening rolled around, it had been sinking lower and lower until there was a distinct possibility it would just live there forever. Or, at least until September when more equipment and manpower could help to dig it out. Finally, at about 7:30 pm, with the Firehouse and S&R teams looking on, the Fleet Ops boys got their new toy out of its unnatural 45-degree position and pulled it to safety. Not a thing on it was broken except a headlamp.

Most importantly, all involved are safe and we didn’t have to order up any emergency planes to come and evacuate anybody. In a not-completely-related incident, we did, however, get handed down from The People (all of whom are thousands of miles away and, more than likely, have never stepped foot on The Island) a new Plan of Action. There will be no backing up in any vehicle on station unless there is another worker bee to guide the driver. My former Shuttle Driver head throws itself back with riotous laughter. I can’t imagine going more than ten minutes in these giant machines without having to use that scary reverse gear. I also know that, within just the last few years, two different worker bee guides got run over. One accident ended with a broken pelvis, the other with a couple of broken legs. Both resulted in hasty medevacs and new rules put in place. None, however, was quite as ridiculous as this one, and the general belief is that this particular rule will go away due this upcoming conversation:

Dude #1: Where’s the truck?
Dude #2: It’s up at the top of the hill. I had to walk down.
Dude #1: WTF?
Dude #2: Well, it was just me. And, I couldn’t go forward or I’d drive off a cliff. And, I’m not allowed to use the “uh-oh” gear. So…

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Underdog Wins

May 12, 2010 at 3:42 pm (In the News)

Temp: -29 C / -20 F
WC: -48 / -54 F
Winds: gusting to 27 kts / 31 mph
Pole: -59 C / -74 F
Our unseasonably warm weather might be leaving us…

Not totally Antarctic-related, but this is for the adorable factor in your day…

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This is Just Cool

May 11, 2010 at 9:40 pm (It Looks Like This)

Temps: -23 C / -9 F
WC: -29 C / -20 F
Winds: 12-20 kts / 14-23 mph
Pole: -50 C / -58 F

Sadly, I know very little about this video, other than that,
#1: it is awesome and #2: it was posted on the public drive. Therefore, I, the Robin Hood of the Antarctic, stole it to distribute to you, the Poor Peasant of the Real World.

I give you: Dance of the Sea Ice…You are welcome, Peasant.

Also, if you play a nice Enya or Avril Lavigne song while watching it, you’ll really lose your mind.

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All My Rowdy Friends

May 10, 2010 at 11:34 pm (The People)

Temps: -21 C / -6 F
WC: -31 C / -24 F
Winds: 9 kts / 10 mph
Pole: -49 C / -56 F

When I came here in October, one of my questions was “Who in their right mind would want to live here in the winter?” It’s kind of a trick question, because nobody in their right mind would come, much less stay here. They only hire the real freaky people. And some of them have become real good friends of mine.

An introduction to the rest of the weirdos…

All of us…or, at least, the ones that came for the mandatory group photo. There should be 198, but I haven’t counted, to be sure. My guess is 192. Who’s going to take this challenge? I’m looking at you, Erin…

My department, FEMC, building a better-looking MacTown, one day and face at a time.

The Heavy Shop, fixing all those vehicles we break when we steal them to go aurora hunting at 3 a.m.

The BFC girls, fixing all the gear and equipment the scientists broke over the summer out at the field camps. The BFC only hires hot girls who throw really great parties. It’s just a rule they have.

The local Fire Department, ready to keep you awake at night and take away your candles and incense, at a moment’s notice. They also have an uncanny knack for getting a person real, real drunk.

The Galley staff, performing miracles with canned vegetables and All-the-Pork-You-Can-Eat.

The Heat Trace laborers, my favorites. They spend the entire day outside in the dark and cold, helping the rest of us to keep warm and mostly undead.

The Carpenters and Paint Shop. Safety Third.

**All photos, as far as I know, by Ken Klassy: another Winterover Weirdo and Mac guru who doesn’t yet know that he will be getting a visit from me shortly re: my computer eating my DVD. Born into Brothels is, apparently, quite delicious.

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How to Leave at Winfly

May 7, 2010 at 9:47 pm (Preparation)

Temp: -10 C / +14 F
WC: -19C / -2 F
Winds: 13 kts / 15 mph
Pole: -52 C / -62 F
Unseasonably warm this winter, so far, so you don’t have to feel sorry for me…yet.

The Donut of Misery tells me I have now completed 57% of my time on Ice. Not that anyone is counting. The annual (or, so I’m told) rumor mill about redeployment, Winfly and Mainbody dates has already been active, and we’re being told that The People are considering moving Winfly (the end-of-winter, first-in flights) up from the end of August to about August 13th, and bringing in six to nine flights, up from the usual three. No word on whether these extra planes will bring us mail or freshies, or anything we actually need and want. Mainbody (the summertime folks) would then be in full swing by early — rather than late — September.

This news, untrue though it may be, brings two very visceral reactions to the people of MacTown:

#1: “Great. All those orange-skinned, white-toothed, skinny bitches will be coming in, spreading their germs and eating our fresh food.”

or

#2: “Thank Christ. Maybe I can get out of here early.”

For most of us on station, our contracts have us here until mid-October, time enough for the Summer folks to fly in and get trained to take over from us slightly opaque zombies that will greet them upon arrival. There are a few folks that already have their Summer contracts and, due to The Rules, will have to leave at Winfly in order to have at least 60 days off Ice before returning. This, I’m told, helps to avoid a deadly claw hammer attack.

Isolation, after all, does strange things to people. Due to a lack of social and physical outlets, day-to-day life with one’s fellow castaways can be like tiptoeing through a sociopathic minefield: You never know who might snap, and for what reasons. In a well-publicized case in October 1996, a cook at Antarctica’s McMurdo station inexplicably turned on several of his coworkers, attacking one man with the claw end of a hammer. FBI agents had to fly in from New Zealand to arrest him.

Happily, I was told early on what I needed to do if, at the end of Winter, I was ready to get the eff out of dodge and couldn’t wait until October…

Every year, one lonely doctor commits to spending his or her Winter here with the rest of us weirdos. This year, we have two. And, for good reason. The story goes that last year’s doc came in right at the end of summer, and people were already thinking this would be a bad season for getting sick. He was doling out meds, regardless of whether they were needed, and, when his medicine-doling privileges were taken away, one of his patients had to go through some fairly intense withdrawals as the doc had helped him to form quite a habit.

However, this was the thing that got him on the top of the First Flight Out list:

That’s right, folks…all you have to do to make sure you get an early release on the ole contract is whip up some nonsensical plans to build a spaceship and steal a bunch of supplies from Crary Lab. Voila! You’re out, and they replace you with two people so that, just in case one of them catches your crazy, there’s a handy backup.

Since spaceship has already been taken, when it’s time for me to go, I’m going to plant a vegetable garden. Maybe do some naked, lunar dancing, complete with coyote-style howling…that should do the trick.

If not, there’s always the claw hammer.

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Sumi Masen, Antarctica

May 4, 2010 at 9:53 pm (What I Do)

Temp: -18 C / 0 F
WC: -26 C / -15 F
Winds: 7 kts / 8mph
Pole: -53 C / -63 F

Where I come from, people do not eat raw fish. Which is understandable, given that Oklahoma’s nearest water source is approximately one million miles away. There is now a popular “sushi” restaurant that all the kids go to, but I don’t trust it. Happily, when I got to Chicago, I was introduced to the delicious mouth-gasm that is sushi, and now I eat it at least weekly to stay sane and, hopefully, mercury-poisoning free.

Here in Ice Town, we don’t get raw fish either, though we’re surrounded by perfect oceanic species, just ripe for eating. When we find ourselves scratching our eyeballs out for want of a Sloppy Maki Roll, we simply have to make do. Happily, I have become quite adept at the fine Antarctic tradition of hoarding. No, not whoring. Hoarding. My friend Tree, a summertime firefighter, left me with all kinds of sushi-rolling knowledge and supplies, supplemented by a delightful Japanese shop I found in Cheech. So, a couple of weeks ago, some friends and I got together at Hut 10 to make use of my stash of cream cheese, smoked salmon, tuna, shrimp, lobster tail (seriously!), canned veggies, ginger, and wasabi. I borrowed a terrifyingly sharp knife from the fine folks at the Galley, and we got busy steaming rice, rolling, and cutting.

Brooks, Megan, Cedar and Keri above. Me, Brad and Cedar below.

The best part? The two beautiful, perfect avocadoes I’d had in my refridgerator since the days of New Zealand R&R. Didn’t know an avocado could last so long? It doesn’t, in the real world. But, Antarctica is a little bit like Jesus and the fish. If you will it to happen, and promise to share, the spoils last longer here before they…um…spoil.

Basically, we went apeshit and, between the 7 of us, we had 23 rolls. Plus some edamame I’d pilfered and frozen. By roll 19, we were getting creative and making Surf ‘n’ Turf and Philly Cheesesteak rolls, just for the fact.

Corrine ate up all my cheese (not a euphemism).

The spread. Absolutely not surrounded by candles. Because that would be illegal.

Brad, Corrine, Brooks, Me, Megan, Cedar and Keri, getting our chopstick on.

Dessert brought over from the Galley, which tasted better than it looked and was dubbed “African-American Balls,” because, here in Antarctica, we are well-fed and politically correct.

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