30 November, 1996

Nov. 30

McMurdo Min temp - 6.9 C Max temp - 1.8 C Prevailing wind 8 knots I stayed up past midnight last night trying to organize my ECW gear and determine what I have extra and what I am missing. I am missing one sock and had an extra bear paw mitten. I also am missing a water bottle. I had also washed out three pair of my gloves late last night. They smelled fishy and I didn't want to wear them around McMurdo while they smelled. Since we ate scallops, lobster, etc. in the tent I probably got fishy smells on them then. I decide to skip breakfast and meet our group about 8:30 at the lab. Jennifer is analyzing our digital pictures from the field. Our data really looks good. We have good variations of photos and they seem to have good definitions. I guess it was worth it to work so hard.

I pick up a FAX message from my school. I have been nominated "Teacher of the Year for Gaither High. That is exciting. Jennifer and I also have invitations from NSF to attend a reception Dec. 5 at the NSF Chalet. Distinguished Visitors (DV's) will be at McMurdo that week, so we had already planned to show them what we were doing when they did their tour of Crary lab. I guess teachers and a student have high visibility and NSF wants to see what results we have. I have already met some of the most fascinating people in NSF (National Science Foundation) and ASA (Antarctica Support Association) so it will be a treat to meet more.

Another Teacher Experiencing Antarctica will arrive soon at McMurdo from the Pole (Lynn Wygoda). She will be in the same office as Jennifer and I, so I hope to see her also and compare experiences. I have seen Dominic Tedeshi, a third teacher many times. He has been here since early October and is really enjoying his research project.

Today I am a lab tech. I melt snow/ice cores, measure the volume of the water resulting, and suction filter, carefully rinsing the beaker so we transfer all the tiny glass microspheres. These were dispersed over the ice during the past year at Ferrell. Some of the same type spheres were found in samples 1.8 km from a similar device near the South Poleat a site called AGO2. The force of the wind is incredible..

I called home to reassure my family that I was OK after the 7 days in the field. I am glad they didn't know about the 3 day blizzard when it was happening. They would really have worried.

After 5 hours of lab work we take a break and go to Thanksgiving dinner. Thanksgiving is a big deal here and is celebrated on a Saturday so workers can have Sat and Sun off. Since the entire population of McMurdo eats nearly at the nearly same time, we were to sign up for certain time slots. This meal was a VERY elaborate production. People had volunteered to cook, peel vegetables, bake, clean, wash dishes, set up tables, decorate, etc., so it was a community project.

This meal has elaborate appetizers: tiny sandwiches, quiche tartlets, at least 8 types of little crackers with cheese piped from pastry bags and decorated, sliced salmon with capers, etc. chicken drummets, skewers of assorted fruits, piles of cooked shrimp, etc. The food was elaborately displayed and served on shiny trays. Tables had table cloths and candles. This was a definite change from the every day fare and quite a treat. The entrees were turkey, roast beef or fish (a large Atlantic cod which had been caught two weeks ago and kept in a huge tank). These were accompanied with 2 kinds of dressing, candied jams, mashed potatoes, 4 different vegetables, 2 kinds of gravy, vegetarian casserole, Waldorf salad, green salad, 3 kinds of rolls, etc. Someone had baked several cornucopias of bread dough and these were arranged with a display of fresh fruits and vegetables. There seemed to be tons of desserts--- at least 15-20 kinds. The meal was incredible. Many people were dressed up. Some women had their hair down for the first time since I saw them three weeks ago. Some women wore dresses and some men suit coats. Some of us, who had just come from the lab, still wore our jeans and blended in.

Afterwards, Jennifer and I walked to Hut Point and saw Scott's hut. There is a mummified seal on the front porch. The building is perfectly preserved because it is so dry and so cold here. I think the hut was built in 1901, but will check out that date. I know it cannot be any later than 1912 because Scott died on the way back from the South Pole in 1912. Jennifer and I also climbed up a gentle hill nearby to see a magnificent view of the Ross Sea ice. There is also a wooden cross, Vince's Cross, in memory of a man who drowned here in 1901. From this vantage point we observe a large Weddell seal lounging on the ice. Seals get on the ice when they find a hole or a crevasse to climb out of. So usually it is dangerous to walk in areas where there are seals. You might fall in.

After a 10 minute walk back to the lab we return to working on ice cores we collected only several days ago.

I work until 11PM again. We never seem to get enough done. Each ice core is cut in thirds and we note its length and diameter of each cylinder. This will be used to calculate the volume of the ice sample and make comparisons to the volume of water it produces. Once again we melt the snow and filter then. Later these filter papers must be examined under a microscope to find the tiny spheres. This part is the most tedious.

The sunlight here plays tricks on you. Its midnight now and we're still working. It seems like morning with sunlight streaming in the lab window. Mt. Discovery and other mountains in the distance are so dramatic. It's hard to believe that it is way past my bedtime.

With that note, I think I will try to quit for now. I am really trying to catch up on the journal entries that didn't get put on the Web page, but it will be hard if I get up early and work until 11 PM each night.

More tomorrow.


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