15 January, 1999
15 January 1999
Min. -21.5 C
Max. -26.7 C
F = 1.8C+32
Windchill -32 F
LIFE AT THE STATION
Everyone tries to get as much done in the precious time allocated to him/her at the Pole as possible. This can be easier said than done if a researcher's much needed supplies are out of reach because of poor weather conditions at the station from which the materials are being flown. If working outside, the weather dictates the efficiency of work in a day. Work in science, the galley, the medical facility, construction, communications and in station management needs to be carried out around the clock generally within three shifts.
The effects of altitude at the Pole are intensified by the thin air of the polar environment. The South Pole's altitude of 9,300 feet can feel more like life at 10-11,000 feet on some days. Many people feel as if a pall of sluggishness and inefficiency hangs over them, even if they are not parcticularly feeling ill. Others have great difficulty with headaches and nausea, some to the point of having to leave the station. Even folks who have done well in the past here, may experience great discomfort during another visit.
Despite dealing with altitude and being able to communicate with the outside world through a relatively small window of time when the satellites are up, the community at Pole is usually an easy-going group, having learned to make a great deal happen under conditions where folks can be very stressed physically and emotionally. The excellent variety and preparation of the food served here helps
to elevate the frazzled, especially during the winter. The greenhouse promises a great harvest this season.
The computer room is loaded with folks between shifts, ususually around mealtimes, catching up on the latest from home, or messaging station co-workers with updates and requests relative to projects.
On the more off-peak hours, the computers are used for multiplayer gameplaying of a rather competitive nature.
The lower galley is the gathering spot for Sunday night science or other lectures and presentations. The members of French and Dutch expeditions have shared their adventures with us there. Worship
services are held on Tuesday nights in the upper galley, Protestant and Catholic clergy alternating services by week. The upper galley also houses the 'Last Pub.'
The library, above communications, can be a quiet spot, but more lately has been used by the sharps honing their cue skills for
the upcoming pool tourney. Right next door is one of the areas
in which videos may be viewed. This area is usually more quiet than that set aside for reading. There are even a few spots that one may find to enjoy some quiet time alone.
I enjoy the walks between the Martin A. Pomerantz Obsevatory (MAPO) and the Dome. If you scan the horizon with nothing along it
but white and blue, you can just perceive the curvature of the earth. The ethereal, metallic chirping sounds of acoustic radar signals bouncing off turbulence in the boundary layer of the atmosphere
create an otherworldly feeling about the place along the way.
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