11 November, 1998
Wednesday, November 11th, 1998
Hi! Reported to Crary Lab at 10:00 AM again today. I had to make a phone call to California, to a gentleman who is arranging for a radio interview between my classroom at Husmann School, and me in Antarctica. This will be airing on the "Osgood Files" which is on CBS. It should take place in the next couple of weeks, if we can get the CU-SeeMe videoconferencing stuff set up here and in Crystal Lake. I sure hope it works, because it would be cool to talk with my class and have them see me here at Crary Lab. I'll let you all know when this is going to be!
By the time we had our daily meeting (which ran long today) it was time for lunch. While I was sitting with Giuliana, she introduced me to Marco and Giorgio, who are in the Italian Air Force. They were going to the ice runway after lunch to get something from their Hercules plane that's been broken. I was invited to ride out there on the shuttle with them and see the inside of the plane. Actually five Italians ended up going out to the runway…they had to move some cargo on the plane in order to get the book they needed. This book had part numbers that needed to be communicated with their people in Christchurch.
Marco took me up in the cockpit and I got photos of me sitting in the pilot's seat and of the controls. My favorite was one labeled "panic button"…a joke of course. I'll try to send that photo with today's journal. I moved into the cargo area of the plane and saw the two propellers that were broken…being sent back to Christchurch when this plane leaves McMurdo. The Herc had the red webbing and canvas seats, like the C-141 Starlifter we flew down here on. I kept thinking of the REAL seats that the Galaxy has!
Once the guys got the book they needed and replaced the cargo in its original position, we closed up the plane again and headed for one of the buildings nearby to get warm and wait for the shuttle back to town. The shuttles run so regularly here…every half hour…so you never have to wait long. The two main places that we can catch shuttles to are the ice runway and Scott Base. The ones to Scott Base are more limited, but the ice runway shuttle operates 24 hours a day. Flights can come and go here at any time. I've been told that when we leave, it could be a night flight back to Christchurch.
The funniest part of this little side adventure was trying to communicate with Marco. His English was not the greatest (although he tried very hard, and the first thing he said to me was "talk slowly" ). We had some pretty funny exchanges of conversation. At one point I asked him when the Hercules plane was flying back to New Zealand. He started to tell me that the plane was built in 1972 and it was old. I don't think he understood me, do you? Anyway, that's part of the fun when meeting people from other countries. After all, he at least knew some English…I don't know any Italian. When I sit at meal time with Giuliana, Fabio, Leo, and the rest of the Italians, I often feel "out of the loop."
When I arrived back in McMurdo, I walked up hill to the U.S. Post Office here in town. I had a little talk with Christine, who is in charge there. She gave me some interesting facts about mail in McMurdo. She told me that when it does come in (which is not a regular event), they receive 3,000 - 11,000 pounds of packages at one time. That's equal to about 110-340 packages, depending on the size. As far as flat mail (letters, manila envelopes, etc…which DOESN'T come at the same time as packages), when this arrives on an airplane, there's usually an average of 230 pounds of mail. That's equal to about 12,000 letters and small envelopes. WOW! These women also process all outgoing South Pole mail…which is LOTS of extra work.
Christine was telling me that as long as someone is in a remote camp for more than 2 weeks, mail could be delivered to them. When someone leaves Antarctica, their mail is forwarded for 60 days, providing they filled out a card to have their mail forwarded (before leaving McMurdo). There are only 2 people who work in this post office...and one person in the mail room that passes out mail to the community and pulls mail for the camps. Another person goes around McMurdo collecting/delivering the inter-town mail.
The post office can manifest mail on outgoing flights, but it may not go because of weight limitations. There may be only three outgoing flights a week, and sometimes other cargo takes priority. I've received two packages here so far…and each only took two weeks getting here from Illinois. I think that's pretty good, considering where I'm living right now! Christine also told me that at the end of the season, all remaining parcels-regardless of what rate they were mailed-go on the ship that leaves McMurdo. This is the re-supply vessel which ends up back in the States in late March. You could be waiting for a package for a LONG time if you miss it in McMurdo.
Later this afternoon I worked with Fabio on drilling…we make a good team doing this job. There were only 4 boxes of core to drill today, the last of the larger core. Starting tomorrow, the core will be smaller in diameter. Drilling went quickly today-the core was fairly solid. We did have to use the small plastic boxes for a few samples.
I worked out in the gym with Giuliana and Marco before dinner. It feels good to get some exercise on the days when we aren't able to take a hike or walk around town that much. Tonight was volleyball league night…so I went to watch some friends play at the gym. They really do have lots of activities going on here. One place had Bingo tonight, there was volleyball, rock climbing at the gym (on a man-made wall), floor hockey, basketball leagues…this town continues to amaze me…for its size it has a lot to offer.
Talk with you tomorrow.
Smiles and miles away…(got that from the Rooney family in Crystal Lake and really liked it!)
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