24 November, 2001
The warm weather that began yesterday is still with us at the South Pole. This warmth really lifted the spirits of everyone stationed here, and made the anticipation of the Thanksgiving dinner that much greater. However, before sitting down for a relaxing dinner with new friends, it was necessary to finish our work. We are, after all, on a strict timeline.
Walking out the the SPASE Shack, I noticed something I did not expect to see at the South Pole. Hovering the same angle above the horizon as the sun, but about 90 degrees to the right, was a first quarter moon. It was strange to see the moon chasing the sun on the Antarctic Plateau.
Today we began constucting a heating unit. This unit will be placed inside a large plastic tank that will be filled with water. Air bubbles, like those found in the ice cubes that come out of your freezer, would distort the data that we collect. So, we must take steps to insure the water freezes without any air bubbles in it.
When the water inside our tank begins to freeze, it will begin from the tank's sides and continue inward. Air bubbles in water follow the same path, which is why the ice cubes in your freezer have a cloudy haze in their center. Our heating unit has holes in it, which allow the air bubbles to escape the tank. This will allow the water to freeze perfectly clear, void of any air bubbles.
The heater will be kept one degree warmer than the freezing point of water, which is 32 degrees F. As the water freezes inward from the circumference of the tank, the air bubbles will escape giving us perfectly clear ice...just what is needed to detect the light emitted from muons created during cosmic shower events.
With our work for the day completed, we quickly walked back to our repective dorms to clean up. Since today was a special day, I decided to take a shower. At the South Pole, due to limited water resources, only two showers a week are allowed. Each shower is limited to two minutes. The first minute is used to get wet. Then, the water is shut off so you can wash your body and shampoo your hair. The water is then turned back on for another minute so you can rinse off. Although it is short, it feels wonderful.
The Thanksgiving dinner is a big event at the pole. Everyone puts on their nicest and cleanest clothes. When you talk to people under normal circumstances, they are bundled up in their ECW gear. As peopled trickled into the upper galley for pre-dinner snacks, it was shocking to see what they looked like in civilian clothes.
Due to the high population at the pole during the summer season, there had to be three sittings for Thanksgiving dinner. We were informed that the dinners get progressively rowdier as the night goes on. With that in mind, I decided to take the middle path, and signed up for the second sitting.
Walking down stairs was startling. The galley, which is normally a little messy, was transformed into a beautiful array of white clothed covered tables with candles illuminating the room. Cameras were flashing to record the event as everyone merrily drank wine and devoured turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. Unfortunately, the event was over too soon, for the galley had to be cleared and prepared for the next sitting.
After the dinner, we climbed up to the Sky Lounge to sit around and chat. The Sky Lounge is a music room situated three stories above the Antarctic Plateau, right next to the dome. The views from the lounge are outstanding...plus it is a place where it is no longer necessary to whisper. In other places in and around the dome, it is necessary to whisper becuase people are sleeping...or at least trying to sleep. We spent the night getting to know one another better. A perfect end to a wonderful day at the bottom of the world.
Saturated Oxygen: 90
Pulse rate: 105
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