Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Green Sanctuary

McMurdo Shuttles

Dispatch, October 28, 2011

It's very COLD here every day (duh, what did you expect?)  The wind is especially bitter and biting. The wind chills make it feel like's it's 40 below.  I dress in 3 or 4 layers and my face, hands and feet are always cold. As an example: a pair of sock liners, lightweight wool socks and then heavyweight wool socks and boots. Long underwear tops and bottoms, poly shirt, wool shirt and insulated bid overalls.  When i go outside I add glove liners, gloves, neck gaiter, baklaca, wool cap, big red parka and sometimes goggles.  If the wind isn't blowing too bad it's not too bad.

I work in Shuttles as an operator, Shuttles is part of MCC which is part of ATO.  We use a lot of abbreviations and are on military time here at McMurdo.  Since this is an old Navy base a lot of military slang is still in use, for example the dining hall is called the galley.  The Shuttles office is in building 140, where Cargo and the post office are located.  I get to see Dave, Kelly , Kathy and Amy most every day, so that's cool.  I live upstairs in building 155 (Big Blue) and that is where the galley, store, library, computer room, laundry, barber and craft room are located.  It's very convienent and I work just across the street.

There are 26 Shuttle drivers and we all get along fine.  Well honestly, there are one or two that are a bit challenging.  I work 12 hour days and the days are split up between 4 or 5 different job tasks, so you never have to do any one thing all day.  It adds variety and prevents burnout and I think its great!  As an example, today I did 4 hours of town taxi, 3 hours of dispatch, a happy camper pick up and 3 hours of Airfield shuttle runs.

Pressure ridges near Scott base.

The blue Highway, the snow ice road to the airfield.

McMurdo dorm made famous by the Eagles (only kidding).

The front of building 140, the ATO, MCC and Shuttles.

The McMurdo Post Office.  Kathy, an old friend from Alaska, is the Postmaster.

The FNG's, Adrian, Elisha and Melanie in the Shuttles office.

Thanksgiving & the Night Shift

Whew, what a week!  I transitioned to the night shift and survived Thanksgiving too.

Our Shuttles table at Thanksgiving.

Another view of our Thanksgiving table.

Wendy, Dave & Kelly at the next table.

Last Wednesday was my last 6 am to 6 pm day shift. Thursday was my regular day off so I tried to sleep late and stay up late.  I started the 6 pm to 6 am night shift on Sunday evening, so I had an extra day off and the Holiday weekend to transition.  I made it all the way to midnight on Thursday, not great but good enough. Slept late Friday morning and made it to 3 am Friday night, same for Saturday.  I sort of figured that if I made to 3am on Saturday, by Sunday night I could manage to stay awake and be productive until 6am.  It worked, but I have been tired and not myself recently. It’s hard to trick your body.  And while it is daylight 24/7, I’m not sure if that helps or hurts.  I love the work we do during the night shift.  There is still some driving, but there is also a lot of paperwork, computer work, analysis and allocation of resources which I really enjoy.  It’s a big puzzle with lots of variables.

Thanksgiving was Saturday here in McMurdo with our seating for the big dinner at 5pm.  It was very nice, though the C-17 with freshies didn’t make it last week, so no fresh fruit, eggs or vegetables last weekend. The Shuttles Dept had a table with 26 people at it, it reminded me of a Dillon Mock thanksgiving!  They always have a great crowd too.  The food was good and plenty of it, all the traditional dishes and great desserts too.  Went for several walks Saturday evening to try and work off some of the dinner.

It’s now Wednesday and I am off tonight. The library and coffee house are open late, so I will likely hang out there after dinner ad after my hike.  I don’t want to get off my daytime sleeping schedule so I will have to find things to do to stay awake.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Building 155

East side of building 155 in mid October (snow).

West side of Building 155 in late November (mud).

Building 155 is the social hub of McMurdo. It was recently painted a bright blue and is located in the center of town.  My work building, 140, is just across the road.
The first floor contains the HR, Housing and Finance offices, the ATM, barbershop, the general store, the craft room, gear room, Recreation room and offices, laundry rooms, dining room and kitchen, library, weight room and computer lab.  The computer lab is where I am right now.  The T shaped hallways that dissect the building are called Highway 1 and Highway 2. This building is the social center of the base, and besides the bars, where many people hang out.
There are 4 coat rooms at the entrance to the dining hall for all the “Big Reds”. These are the huge parka’s we were issued in ChCh, NZ and are part of our ECW gear.  The building is metal, like a warehouse. Since McM started out as a US Navy base, many of the names and customs come from the military.  The dining hall is the galley, we get free haircuts and sometimes the bathrooms are referred to as heads and the floor, the deck, etc.
The upper floor contains the dorm rooms, one of which I share with 3 others.  The bathrooms are down the hall.  Also upstairs is the TV lounge, pool table and game room.
The Craft Room.

One of 4 coat closets for "Big Reds" our winter parkas.
The computer kiosk with internet access.

At the entrance to the Dining Room, a daily schedule is posted.

 A snow pile against Big Blue.

The recreation info board on Hwy 1 in building 155.
There are always things to do.

The door behind the Palm tree is to my room.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Apple Butter in August

will be AUGUST 11, 2012 in Monroe
Make plans to be in Monroe, Washington for an awesome weekend!
Here are some photos from the last apple butter party on August 6, 2011

Ken stirring the 40 gallon copper kettle.

Jan adjusting the kettle's home made stirring contraption.

Alan stirring with Merrie and Randy adding ingredients with Roma Jo and Kelly looking on.

The backyard, deck and parking pad transformed to an apple butter
party on a beautiful August summer day in Washington!

Clinton and Kyle stocking up on beverages.

Emily showing perfect form for stirring the apple butter.

Late afternoon, Mary stirring and the gang around the kettle fire.

After a long day on the fire, we're finally canning the apple butter.
A lot of hands make quick work of the final process.
Got wide mouth pint canning jars? Bring them along!

Dave and Kendall working together to get the
tasty apple butter to the canning table.

A few photos from past Apple Butter parties...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Around Mactown

Here are some random images from around McMurdo that I thought you might enjoy.

My laptop at the McMurdo Coffee house, a place I often hang out.

Two cranes against the summer sky.

The glitter recycling box.

The Dreams recycling box.

Awesome artwork on a crate.

Direction to Mooe Pass, Alaska.

It's summer here!

"For Sale by Owner"

Christmas Decorations.

The Grinch.

The McMurdo bridge troll.  He's a scrap metal sculpture.

Ivan the Terra Bus.  Apparently he has a popular U Tube following.

The library is Open ... and Cold.

We recycle everything down here, including romance novels.

The lid on a wood recycling bin.

The notice on the inside of the lid.

My dorm room with my Christmas lights up.

Fuel drums ready for a flight to a field station.

The frozen Polar Bear.

Snow covered Delta.

The Ice Road.

A blade plowing a snowdrift over the road to Scott base.