28 November, 1999
Appleton Schools: Please see special note to all AASD schools at end of journal text.
The Christmas decorations went up in Dorm 210 yesterday. There was no Christmas parade, but Thanksgiving is the start of the holiday season here too. The residents of the dorm put up flashing colored lights, crepe paper and a Santa Claus poster. McMurdo Station celebrated Thanksgiving with a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings for everyone. Thanksgiving is such a uniquely American holiday and McMurdo has so many people from all over the world, I was put in the position several times of explaining what Thanksgiving was all about. One day at lunch, I sat with a number of members of the Italian contingent of the Cape Roberts Project and they asked why we celebrate this holiday in the United States. They seemed genuinely interested. So I went about trying to explain about Pilgrims, Native Americans, turkeys, etc. It was a real test of my knowledge of American history. I concluded by telling them the most important part of Thanksgiving is being with your family and being thankful for all of the good things one has in their life. I know I miss my family this Thanksgiving and I also know I have much to be thankful for.
The way Thanksgiving is celebrated here Thursday was a regular workday. The meal was served on Saturday and most of the support personnel had Saturday and Sunday off. A two day weekend is unusual here. Most of the time the Antarctic Support Associates (ASA) employees only have one day off a week. There were other festivities over the weekend including a party Friday night at the Mechanical Equipment Center (MEC) for the whole town, a swing dance on Saturday and a "Turkey Trot" on Sunday. This was a 3 mile running event ran out on the sea ice runway and back. But the most anticipated event was the turkey dinner.
Preparing a Thanksgiving meal for over 900 people is quite a chore. Virtually all of the residents of Mactown attend and the people staying at Scott Base are also invited. Because of the extra work, the galley asked for volunteers to help prepare the meal on Saturday morning. I thought it would be interesting, so I went to give them a hand. I showed up at 5:00AM and was given the task by the head chef of carving and slicing the roast beef. I was shown about 15 very large round roasts. I had to trim the fat off, cut some of them off the bone and slice them on an electric slicer. As I did this, I could see the other work in the galley kitchen. Preparations for the Thanksgiving meal were in full swing. Huge vats of stuffing was being mixed along with green beans, rolls, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ham and lot's of other stuff. I was getting hungry. There were stacks of pumpkin and apple pies and of course, many whole turkeys. I worked in the kitchen for about two hours. Working in the galley is tough work for the people who prepare the food every day. There are no windows so you really could be doing the job anywhere. It is easy to forget you are in Antarctica until the end of your work day and you walk outside. Lot's of people are needed to run the food service here. Several have been doing it for many seasons. Others are pretty young doing the work in the galley as their way of getting to Antarctica. I enjoyed my time working with them.
The meal itself was served in three shifts. The Cape Roberts Project "family" signed up for the same time slot and went over to the galley together. The meal was excellent. We had all of the traditional foods like turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, ham, sweet potatoes, roast beef (sliced by yours truly) and I topped it all off with a piece pumpkin pie. It was a wonderful time and a real nice weekend.
The Cape Roberts Project is really winding down now. Much of the sample preparation is being completed and the scientists are very busy preparing their initial reports. The first drafts are due today and there is a lot of last minute writing. It is good to see that it isn't only elementary and high school students who get things done at the last minute. It even happens to university professors and scientists at the highest levels. I guess people are people. Tomorrow, I am going to tell you some fish stories that you just won't believe, until you see the pictures.
Special note to all Appleton Area School District (AASD) Schools: I have detected that I may not have gotten all e-mail sent to me from AASD accounts (the ones that end in @aasd.k12.wi.us). I have not determined where the problem is, but I do know that some e-mail has not gotten to me. I have sent responses to all AASD e-mails. If you sent one and didn't get a response, that means I did not get it. If you sent me an e-mail and didn't get a reply, please try again. First try the McMurdo address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Send a copy of the message to my other address at "email@example.com" just to make sure. If you don't get a reply within a day, then send the message to my AASD address at "firstname.lastname@example.org". I apologize if you were unsuccessful in contacting me. I would really like to hear for all schools who are following along with the journals before I leave the ice at the end of this week. Thanks.
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