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July 3, 2005 at 10:59 am #2582
K, K, K…
Wow, that doesn’t sound good, does it? Okay…
Kelli, Kelli, Kelli…
First off, my name really is Atlas. It’s on my driver’s license, passport, paycheck, and birth certificate. Same birthday as Charles Atlas, the bodybuilder from the last century.
I’m wholly American – born in Arkansas, and living in Missouri. I’ve lived in about a dozen other states, too.
I was kidding about being licensed to practice medicine in Honduras. Didn’t think you’d call me on it. 😉
In the winter there is a one doctor here. In the summer there are 2-3. I think I mentioned the staffing in an earlier post. The doc that had the breast cancer, Jeri Nielsen, was a winterover down at Pole a few years ago. I was at the ice runway, here in McMurdo, when she flew in from Pole, and transferred to a flight north. Didn’t see her, though.
The people that work for RPSC are either American, or Kiwi. We’re here for differing reasons – typically, we get into the USAP because of the adventure, and the chance to visit the most forbidding, and most remote, continent on the planet. We come back because we fall in love with the place, the job, the community, or any combination. We’re normal people, with slightly abnormal lives.
Every season the company breaksdown where everybody comes from. Most of the RPSC employees come from Colorado, Alaska, Montana, Wyomng, and various other mountain states. McMurdo is basically a cross-section of the US. People from every state have worked here at one time or another.
As far as research, everything gets funneled through the NSF. They’re the ones that approve all the research at the American stations, and on our two research vessels. Lots of colleges have there hands in something down here. At times, there will be people here from other countries, but for the greatest part, everyone is American.
As far as to WHAT they study, that runs the gamut: biology, glaciology, astronomy, meteorology, geology, and a bunch of other -ologys. We have a huge, modern lab to accomodate all the scientists, and researchers.
Science is the main reason we’re here.
You can visit http://www.nsf.gov to read more about their polar programs.
Whew, you made me type alot this time around. What else ya got for me?
aJuly 3, 2005 at 11:32 am #2583
I’m impressed. You must be a good typist. Most men are not (no offense). Are you a man? I guess so since ATLAS is your REAL NAME. Dude, that is so COOL. I have never known an ATLAS before! 🙂 Incidentally, I attended and graduated from high school in Jefferson City, class of 1986. Geez, that sounds so cheesy. Where are you from in Missouri?
When you “winter down” you must not receive any mail? Do you receive mail at other times of the year? How long does it take to arrive from the USA?
I do appreciate your answering my questions. This is kind of fun, but I don’t know that I should keep this thread going on and on, is that okay? Aren’t tons of people reading it? Maybe it doesn’t matter.
Do you have your food prepared for you all 3 meals a day?
K.July 3, 2005 at 12:22 pm #2584
No planes fly-in for the six months of winter…therefore, no mail. 🙁 During the summer, the mail comes in frequently, but a letter can still take two weeks to get here, and a package anywhere from a month, to three. It’s all dependent on how much space the planes have on the way down from Christchurch. There’s usually always a big push to get all the Christmas packages to us BEFORE the actual holiday, but no promises are implied, or inferred.
Our Galley does an ample job of keeping us fed. Of course, it’s fairly easy to cook for 241 people, compared to the thousand, or so, in the summer. Three meals a day in the winter (except for Sundays, when we have Brunch), and four meals a day in the summer (operations are 24 hours a day, so there’s a meal for ‘night’ workers at Midnight, called Midrats).
This morning, for Brunch, I had a Belgian waffle I made myself, a bowl of strawberries, a bowl of blueberries, and two scrambled eggs. Tonight, I believe we’re having baked ham.
We also have Burger Bar, which is located inside Gallagher’s. Sometimes you just want to order your food, pay for it, and eat it somewhere different.
There’s also a baker that does her best to keep us fat, with homeade desserts, and breads. She’s evil…pure evil… 🙂
Don’t worry about the length of the thread – people asking about the ice all have the same questions, and this is a great forum in which to address them. And yes, literally millions of people read Mike’s website daily.
Oh, and the correct term is ‘winterover’. If you say ‘winter down’ you’ll immediately be branded a FNG. 🙂
Speaking of food, it’s already after 5p. I’d better get over to 155. It’s been a while since Brunch.
aJuly 3, 2005 at 9:29 pm #2585brendanstamp05Member
Thanks mate. “For the greatest part, all are American.” Forgot about me already eh? I thinght this Irishman was the greatest part of the damned place as well as the Brit you’re stuck with there now.
How are things down there these days? Dnai and MaryAnne have kept us informed with their 2 week updates, seems a good year.
Kel, we have people from everywhere down there, as long as we have a green card we can go. Last year there was meself and another Irishman, an English firefighter,an Italian and German as well, there were others who were not there for the whole season though but we get a bit of a mix. We had some Italians staying for a day en-route to Terra Nova base as well as Russians who were there to take a plane home from the Pole so it was fun to hang around with some new folks but the old friends are the real attraction.
They are right though, everything there is considered normal and anything you do off the Ice feels like a temp job as you await to return south again.
A, are you talking down about our beautiful Holly and her wonderous baking skills? Where would Weightwatchers be without the efforts of Holly to keep them in business? Nice to see thats the only food complaint so far.
Have fun there guys and keep the Aurora pics coming.
Lucky.July 4, 2005 at 1:14 am #2586Marshak2Member
Kelli, yes Atlas is a man, a REAL man!! And Lucky is a great craic (and a real MAN too)….(lucky, going back this summer? can’t member -we gotta sing more Shane MacGowan songs togedder.)
Kelli just get your arse down there. I was a fingie last season & had never wanted anything so badly as I did getting to the Ice, and my life will never be the same. It is majical, intense, heartbreaking, joyful, labor-campy. Atlas, you are so funny: as a 5th generation Texan I wore Big Red everyday! (hey, all my crap was in those enormo pockets). We Texans were seriously outnumbered down there – but I’m from Austin, the “other” Texas. Got a call from a dreamy winterover (who shall remain nameless!) last nite & realize I only have 3 months to go before going back “home.” Everyone asks me if the “isolation” down there was hard to take. I have never felt less isolated than I did at McMurdo…I felt like I’d found my tribe…life off Ice doesnt seem really real -I’m just riding around on my scooter in 105 degree weather, biding time til I get back to what feels like my “family”. Enough sentimentality from me for today….ok, a little more: oh the waffles! oh stinky gerbil gym! oh my beloved coffee haus that I “cleaned” every day! My supposed deploy date is Oct 1, will you still be there A?
p.s. Kelli, a GREAT first season job is Janitor-it rocks, and is a great workout.
MarshaJuly 4, 2005 at 1:32 am #2587
Hmmm. Who would have ever thunk it…a whole unique “tribe” down there. How interesting is this. And to top it all off, you make it sound enjoyable. I had pictured some fierce type of ice boot camp. Not WAFFLES. I think I’ll apply just for the food. You must have a HUGE storage area to feed over 200 people for a few months, eh?
Well, since you’ve sold the package so nicely, what are some of the negative aspects? Weird tasting water? Cold all the time? Snow monsters? Evil penguins? Do you have to share the bathroom (while your occupying it)? Do you have to shower among other ice people? Geez, aren’t you ever lonely?
K.July 4, 2005 at 3:37 am #2588SciencetechKeymaster
“One by one, the penguins have stolen my sanity…”
Yeah, those penguins are downright dangerous! Oh, other negatives? Hmmm.
Problems get magnified here, especially when things are going wrong back home. When a family member gets sick, or the dog dies, or the renters in your house are arrested again, it can make you realize how far away you really are. And all this talk about the Ice changing your life — it’s not just talk. It very likely *will* mess you up, for good or bad. If it gets in your blood, you’ll likely become discontented with “normal” jobs and want to come back again and again for the rest of your life. Can you live with that?
glennJuly 4, 2005 at 4:56 am #2589willKeymaster
Lost your email address – wanna drop me a note again? Glad to hear all
is well & you're planning to go back for another season. Wish I were
joining you all next summer… 🙁
EricaJuly 4, 2005 at 8:44 am #2590
Lucky, Lucky, Lucky…
Yep, forgot about all you ‘foreigners’. 🙂 And yes, we do have one Brit, and at least 4-5 kiwis around this winter. My bad. Could be that I just don’t think of you all as being any different than the rest of us… 🙂
It has been a great (and mild) winter. No medevacs, no fights, no problems. Pretty banal. Surprising with our large population this season, but everyone seems to be playing well with one another.
Yes, Holly is a fantastic, and lovely person, but she’s not the baker this winter. That title falls to Michelle. She is the evil-incarnate temptress whose only desire is to keep us fattened up for slaughter…
Marsha, Marsha, Marsha (said in Jan Brady’s piercing voice)…
No, I won’t be here when you arrive. I’m leaving at Winfly. BUT…I’ll be back on October 10th, for the summer! Won’t be doing next winter. So sorry. Don’t know about the winter after… Hmmm…
Thank you for the ‘real man’ comment, too. I do my best. Trying…not…to…eat…quiche…
Kelli, Kelli, Kelli…
We have three food warehouses – dry, canned/bottled/liquid, and frozen. The frozen is by far the largest of the three. The stock comes in by ship, in February, and lasts us (more/less) for an entire year. For being free, it’s quite decent, and you may have as much of it as you want. No rationing…
And I knew the questions about housing would come eventually. It’s fairly complicated to explain to someone whose never been down here before, but here goes –
Envision three different types of accomodations: 1) 3-4 people to a room, with a communal bath/shower; 2) 2 people to a room, with a communal bath/shower; and 3) 2 people to a room, with a semi-private bath/shower shared by two rooms.
Number 1 describes the berthing in Bldg. 155, which is where a number of offices, and the Galley is located. Before you balk at 3-4 people sleeping in the same room, I’ll realate my experience of being assigned to a 6-pack in 155 my first year down. Very high population that year, and we were all packed-in like sardines. No tears for you, here. Sorry…
Number 2 describes the Lower Case dorms. Definitely a step-up from 155. The communal baths will have individual toliet, and shower stalls. No prison-like scenes here.
Number 3 is the Upper Case dorms. Two rooms, four people, share a common toliet/shower. There is also a sink/vanity in each room for even more convenience.
Some people like to live in particular buildings, like Hotel Cal, or MMI, or the 210/211 dorms. I tend to be partial to the Upper Case dorms. And in the long-range plans for McMurdo, there’s talk of going to individual rooms, like Pole has. The rooms would be smaller, but infinitely more private. Should happen in about 20 years, or so… 🙂
Oh, and all the dorms are co-ed (but with individual men’s/women’s bathrooms). You’ll be assigned a roommate of the same gender, unless you specifically request someone. Marsha, Marsha, Marsha was in housing, and she could enlighten you on the nuances of that department. 😉
Funny tasting water? Nope. We only get the freshest sea water! Of course, it goes through reverse-osmosis first.
Cold all the time? Nope. In the summer, once the temps are in the positive digits, I hang-up Big Red for the season, and wear my Lands’ End Squall Jacket (and thin gloves). Even this winter, anything above -20 is quite tolerable, especially with no wind. Once you’re acclimated, you’ll see.
Snow monsters? Only the ones some people create in their own minds.
Evil penguins? Not on your life. Never met an Adelie I didn’t like. 🙂
So many questions, K3. Come on down, and experience it for yourself. You’ve already made a number of friends here.
Also, read the official NSF Participant Guide. That should give you an idea of what life down here is like: http://www.polar.org/hq/Pguide04_04/index.htm
aJuly 4, 2005 at 9:00 am #2591thepooles98Keymaster
I wrote an answer but it disappeared. Must be in one of the other threads. I’ll echo Atlas that you’ve already made friends here. We have a core group of people who know each other through this website and even if we don’t run in the same circles,(remember there are a thousand people in the summer) we are all instant and long term friends.
Interesting enough the people who answer questions on this board also tend to be pretty active members of the community. Atlas, is not only our resident massage therapist, but is also our computer saviour. Big V and Marsha elighten almost everyone who comes in contact with them. Same for Zondra and Glenn, but add in station musicians on top. And of course there’s Lucky, of whom we are all lucky to be an aquantance. These are all people who make it their business to make everyones lives a little better. If you get a job, I think you would be a welcome addition to the group.
I feel that I can speak for the group that we are all cheering that you find a position.
Good LuckJuly 4, 2005 at 10:17 am #2592
Hey, Mike —
Could you keep your replies a little shorter? They’re cutting into the space I need for mine.
Oh, and weren’t those Palmer bananas great at Brunch today? How do they grow them to be so darned tasty?
🙂July 4, 2005 at 3:18 pm #2593skua77Keymaster
Hmmm, we seem to be all out of those Palmer bananas, but seriously we’re getting tired of all the fresh lettuce 🙂
Seriously, the new Pole greenhouse is doing quite well, with 10-20 lbs per week it seems that there is always some on the serving line (or if not, in the leftover fridge). Yes, we at Pole eat quite well too…
As for the rooms, most everyone gets a private room unless you have a reason to share one…even the summer camp is set up that way (but of course the summer camp bathroom facilities are in another building—brrr).
Those of us with windows in our rooms don’t get to enjoy them during the winter–they have to stay covered with cardboard so the light doesn’t disturb the telescopes and other instruments.July 5, 2005 at 3:20 am #2594
Man, talk about making someone feel welcome. Thank you. Atlas, have you considered recruiting for the ARMY? I’m sure they could use your skills in giving definitive yet balanced answers to neurotic question-askers such as myself. If nothing else, you could weed out the weak and tender-hearted for them. 🙂 Not only do I feel like I have a good little grasp on what life there is like, at least without experiencing it, but it’s amazing how typing a few words into Google and clicking on a link can bring one into a whole different realm of people and experiences. It’s surreal!
Is this how women meet prisoners? Nah, I’m just joking. Kind of.
Seriously, though, I was looking at the pictures. That tube thing that you crawl into to see the ocean life, uh…that’s not a requirement, is it? Not some weird hazing-initiation-type deal, right? Just wondering. It was making me hyperventilate just looking at it!
K.July 5, 2005 at 5:19 am #2595brendanstamp05Member
Marsha, Atlas and Mike, thank you all my fans, its easy for me to forget how wonderful I am and I thank you for remembering such for me.
Great to see you folks are as sane as ever down there. Scary thoughts. Marsha, I am supposed to be down at Winfly, see how it goes, shall be bringing your autographed cap with me again.
Atlas, I guess we have no nationalities on the Ice as nobody owns it, but so we ever have bleedin accents though, you people have to learn to understand what I am lurring, seriously. What has Packman been up to anyhow? Please say hi to Holly and I forgot Michelle was baking, someone said that earlier too. I also never ate and Adelie I didn’t like and when did people get the idea its cold down there?
Erica, sad that you shall not join us again but I hope you are happy and settled. Catch you around the circuit though.
Kelly. Get into Hotel Cal, greatest place apart from all the others. Hotel cal is our prison block if you need to meet convicts. You shall love it there as the people are the best and even though a lot of bad things happen in life, we have divorces and breakups, deaths and illness and such happen to us or those we know while we are down there, the support base is phenonemal as many have either gone through or had friends go through some pretty bad times and know how to help. Bad things seem less so there also, trust me. I shall keep it short ro Atlas can have some lime , oops, meant limelight.
Just heard from Tom the housing guy, Cal is closed until mainbody for upgrades, I want my knocked about old furniture, oh well at least they are going to try to put me in MMI until its ready.
Happy 4th all, belated to you guys down there.July 5, 2005 at 7:48 am #2596
Kelli, Kelli, Kelli…
Beware the rants of an Irishman. Stay away…far away, from Hotel Cal, especially if you want to get any semblence of sleep. Besides, it’s on ‘the other side of town’, if you know what I mean. 😉
And yes, this is how women meet prisoners…and visa versa. Welcome to the Ice Pen…
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