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June 7, 2003 at 2:39 pm #1680willKeymaster
Some one who knows of the Firehouse Sauna!!![/font:lbhm81vm]
Thanks to whomever installed it…[/font:lbhm81vm]
We use it allot..[/font:lbhm81vm]
Antarctic Fire Dept [/font:lbhm81vm]
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2003 5:33 PM
Subject: Re: Working in Antarctica
[font=Arial, size=4:lbhm81vm]New Message on Antarctic memories[/font:lbhm81vm] ANTARCTICMEMORIES@groups.msn.com?subject=Re%3A%20Working%20in%20Antarctica [font=Verdana,Arial,Helvetica,Sans Serif:lbhm81vm]Recommend[/font:lbhm81vm] Message 29 in Discussion [font=Arial, Helvetica, Sans Serif:lbhm81vm]From: [/font:lbhm81vm][font=Arial, Helvetica, Sans Serif:lbhm81vm]mike+lorie[/font:lbhm81vm] I always enjoy it when I get to talk to the OAE’s. Things obviously have changed a lot since you were here. They pretty much dismantled all the operations on OB Hill. The water plant building is still there but it is only used for storage now. The living quarters are gone. I did a search looking for photo’s of the ob hill station. The bottom long link gets you to south pole dot com. The view from OB hill looking down shows 3 buildings in the early 80’s. Today the left hand building and the right hand building closest to OB hill are still there. The far building on the right was torn down a few years ago. I’m not sure which building was used for what when you were here. [/font:lbhm81vm]
All the water is now made in the new water plant. They got rid of the flash evaporators around 1997 and replaced them with Reverse Osmosis units that can filter the salt out of sea water. I’ve been meaning to get some photo’s of the water plant on the web page for a couple of years now. Maybe this is the motivation I need. [/font:lbhm81vm]
I don’t know of any winterover planks with names. I think the admin building is still in use. Is it the building next to the VMF (heavy shop)?. [/font:lbhm81vm]
Each of the new upper case dorms have a sauna. I don’t think there is one in the firehouse.Each winter the UT’s find a spot to set up a hot tub just for the winter. This year they have it in a fish hut next to the firehouse with the hot tub inside. Last year it was in the hospital, but it left a white stain on the floor and it was decided not to allow it there again. In previous years it has also been down at the power plant, but for safety purposes isn’t allowed there anymore.[/font:lbhm81vm]
The webcam is pretty much useless at this time of year. As you can see for yourself it is dark 24 hours a day here now. I think it’s blurry because nothing lights up enough for the camera to focus on. Once the sun comes up you will be able to look around fine. In fact if you navigate to the left you get great views of Ob hill. You can even zoom in on the cross on the top of the hill. [/font:lbhm81vm]
below is the link to the photo’s I found. [/font:lbhm81vm]
Mike in McMurdo[/font:lbhm81vm]
I use to be stationed there (1986-1987) while I was in the Navy. I worked at the OB Hill Water Plant, the (then new) downtown Water Plant, & for a while in the Galley building’s boiler room.[/font:lbhm81vm]
Is the now old admin building still there, if so I also wonder if the the Winter Over Planks are still displayed on the wall? They had the names of those who wintered over.[/font:lbhm81vm]
I wish while I was there I had taken more detailed photos of where I worked and lived.[/font:lbhm81vm]
I have my cruise books for the summer support phase (1986-87) and the winter over phase (1987).[/font:lbhm81vm]
Are they still using the OB Hill Plant? Is the Hot Tub still in use at the OB Hill Living quarters? Is the Sauna still in use at the Fire House? [/font:lbhm81vm]
By the way the last time I looked at your webcam the view of the town was blury, but the bottom of the container edge was almost in focus.[/font:lbhm81vm]
June 8, 2003 at 12:32 am #1681d-welchMember
When I was there in 86-87 one of the functions of the sauna at the firehouse concerned with the 200 Club. The way I understand it participants would start by getting in the sauna with the temp high enough that when they would run outside ( there was a 200 degree temp. change ) down to the bust of Adm. Byrd stand there and get their picture taken and then run back to the sauna ( the only clothing they would have on was their bunny boots. ) I missed out on doing that ( darn it )!
Donald WelchJune 8, 2003 at 4:08 am #1682
Chris. So there is a Sauna in the firehouse. You learn something new every year. Chris was a fireman and is the resident expert on the subject. I also never heard of the 200 club and the run to the bust. It’s located on the back deck of the Chalet and while not far would be a formidable run. I don’t know the temps of a sauna. I would guess 130 or 140. That would mean outside ambients of 50 to 60 below. Brr that would be a long run without clothes on. Chris I know you aren’t a winterover but have you ever heard of this club?
Zondra- Congratulations on getting hired. All I can tell you about the PQ process is to get everything done as fast as possible. I believe Raytheon will pay for the initial exams (you pay up front and then they reinburse). If you fail the exam and you need extra work to make you pass you will probably have to pay yourself. I’m not positive but I believe that is the case.
If you are in good health then you will more than likely pass the medical. Things that could flag you are high cholestral or high blood pressure. Often time you can be put on medication and pass with no problem.
As you can see with prairie dog, they are pretty strict with the dental. Mostly they flag things that are a concern and make you get them corrected. Twice I needed a deep cleaning and once I had to have a tooth removed. If you get the work done you will more than likely pass as long as there is enough time to process everything. If you wait until august to get the work done then you may find yourself in the position of not being PQ’d before it is time for you to deploy.
The process can go fast and take a month or so as prairied dog is experiencing or it may be several months from start to finish. Keep your recruiter informed and we’ll cross our fingers for you.
Are you being hired for McMurdo? If so what position and when will you arrive.
mikeJune 8, 2003 at 4:53 am #1683
I’m going to McMurdo as a General Assistant. I’m scheduled to leave here on Oct. 7th. By the way, does the estimated deployment date vary much? Might I end up leaving a week earlier or later? Just want to start making plans to for another trip that would end right before I leave….. Well anyway, if you (or anyone else) has any advice for a first timer, let me know! Any inside tips to the music scene there would be great… instrument availability, etc…
ZondraJune 8, 2003 at 12:45 pm #1684d-welchMember
The bust of Adm. Byrd was, I think at that time, about a block away from the Fire House.[/font:ofii06pk]
June 8, 2003 at 1:14 pm #1685
Zondra, A GA huh. If you are one of Sally’s GA’s (the GA pool) then you have potentially one of the best jobs in Antarctica. Unfortunately it’s one of the lowest paying jobs, but you got to take the good with the bad. The bad side is you’ll have the most menial jobs around. The ones nobody else wants. The good side is you will possibly have opportunities to fly all over Antarctica doing the menial jobs. Not all GA’s get out and it doesn’t happen every year, but your chances of having a rewarding experience are high. You’ll probably also be working with a great bunch of young college age people. The most highly educated people here are GA’s.
They also have work center GA’s. They aren’t as glamorous but you will learn a ton about the trade you are in. This winter we have a GA who has been assigned to the electricians. He’s learned tons about wiring. Enough to be thinking of going to a trade school.
Time to go to the galley for dinner I’ll answer more later.
mikeJune 9, 2003 at 12:47 pm #1686
I have another few minutes before going to the galley for dinner. I thought I’d add to my other message. What I really need to do is get Lorie to write a note. I’m assuming Zondra is a girls name. Correct me if I’m wrong. Lorie mentioned to bring sarongs and nice clothing. You will be given enough work clothing to keep you warm. Mostly carhart coveralls and jackets. They are pretty rugged and once the temps get above zero (which will happen pretty fast after you get here) they will be plenty warm enough. Mail everything early but expect that some or all of it may not get here until december. Most will arrive by November but there is always the odd package that gets delayed. Small priority mail envelopes get here the fastest. You can’t put much in them but we always send down a few changes of clothing to be on the safe side. You will find that since 911 traveling with a lot of bags is a hassel. The more you have the more gets searched. This year we came with one backpack, a laptop, and a carry on each. That was too much to travel with. I’d like to get down to the laptop and a carry on with one change of clothing. Maybe next time.
There are lots of social events in the summer. Bring a halloween costume. It’s a must. For Christmas and Thanksgiving there are big holiday meals in the galley. You will enjoy having some really nice clothes to wear. Some even send down tux’s.
If you are lucky, plan to have a couple of days in Christchurch NZ to play around. It’s one of the more beautiful cities in the world to hang out in. The airplanes can only fly south if the weather is good and it’s not uncommon to be backed up a few days before coming down. You’ll be asked for where you want to stay if you need suggestions let me know what kind of atmosphere you like in a place. I like the YMCA. It’s nice and inexpensive. There are a number of others that are really nice too. Enough rambling let me know if you have any more questions.
same to you too prairie dog.
You mentioned the music scene. There seem to be more musicians here than anywhere I’ve ever seen in one place. There are lot’s of instruments in gear issue but if there are a lot of people vying for them you will be better off sending down your own.June 10, 2003 at 3:12 pm #1687
Thanks for all the good info. I’m quite excited for the GA possition – It sounds like it’s just what I’m looking for. I [phone] interviewed and will be working with Barb Propst. She seems real nice and we got along well on the phone.
Someone else recomended staying at the YMCA, so I filled that out as my first choice of places to stay. I’m glad there are all you nice people out there to help get us first timers set on the right track. I’m still thinking of what to pack. I plan on spending the summer building an elaborate, yet lightweight Halloween costume – that’s my favorite holiday wherever I’m at. I hear that you get to pack 70 lbs, but about 30 of that is taken up by the ECW gear….. so, should I plan on about 40lbs of stuff? How much stuff can I leave in New Zealand? I plan to do some backpacking there on my way back, and I won’t need all my gear with me on the Ice…. Any other advice on what to pack would be nice.
I have my Dental apt tomorow, and my Dr. apt the day after that. I hope all goes well, and I PQ nice and smoothly. Cross your fingers that I don’t have to get my wisdom teeth out, or any other painful- PQ-delayer…..
Thanks again for the advice – all advice is welcome…
ZJune 12, 2003 at 1:42 am #1688
Zondra, Packing can be a real puzzle. All of us OAE’s (Old Antarctic Explorers) have the ECW gear (extreme cold weather) process down flat. Most of us don’t take everything offered. A lot also depends on whether you are staying on for the winter.
I would suggest that you find an old timer when you get to the CDC (clothing distribution center) and get some advice on what to get. There are a number of items that they don’t offer up front but are available on request. Lorie and I always get a couple of pair of cargo pants and a belt each. If possible you will probably like the lightweight red jacket. Most of us normally wouldn’t take all the parka’s offered. The big red ones are pretty hot for the middle of summer but look nice if you get any photo’s taken. The only question is which GA job you’ll have. They issue Carhart heavy parkas that don’t rip as easy as the red ones. They are very durable and will keep you warm during the summer months, but you’ll always look like you are at work.
So you’ll be working with Barb. Around here from year to year everyone switches jobs so I don’t know what area you’ll be working in. Have you had some kind of wilderness experience or training along the way? Are you in the general GA pool or a specific center. Maybe the BFC? BFC would be great.
time for work. got to go
mikeJune 12, 2003 at 12:44 pm #1689
Zondra, I did some checking. It looks like Barb has the regular GA pool which means you should be in for an interesting season. Go to the gym and get your arms in shape you’ll be doing a lot of snow shoveling and the job entails a lot of hard work. I think I said before that I don’t think I’ve ever met a GA that didn’t love the job in spite of the low pay and menial tasks. Chances are you are going to see things I’ll never have the opportunity to see.
What a great opportunity for you. I think that is probably the most applied for job here and you made the cut.
As for packing send down as much as you can by mail . Most of it should get to you by the end of october or beginning of November. Although in stormy years when flights get delayed it’s not uncommon to still have mail coming in at christmas. You can leave as much stuff as you want at Christchurch. Don’t carry anything to the ice that you won’t be using. New Zealand is just about the prettiest country you could imagine and you will want to spend a lot of time there when you leave. Hey you get a free air ticket home so why not enjoy it. But leave your gear there.
Coming here will be a lot like living in a college dorm. You’ll have a roommate or two and you’ll have to decide how to decorate. Read the program manual about prohibited items and send down anything else that would make life fun. If you do nothing else get a digital camera. If you get a helecopter trip somewhere you’ll want to send the photo’s home.
I’ll see if I can’t find other people to write about their take on how to pack.
mikeJune 12, 2003 at 9:11 pm #1690
I didn’t realize that GA was the most applied for job. I’m glad I made the cut…. I spent all winter working on my resume and cover letters and application – and took the time off work to go to the job fair… I’m really glad it paid off. Now I just need to pass my physical. I’m mostly worried about the dental…. My dentist said he’d hold onto my paperwork until he was done with all the work, and then send it in. Is that the right thing to do? He’s going to fill 5 cavities and take my wisdom teeth out – It’s gonna take until the end of July. Should I just have him send in the papers and have Raytheon say that I need those things done, and still do them as scheduled – or should I do what the dentist wants, and send it all in at the end? All that paperwork is so confusing. The people at the clinic all groaned when I walked in – they hate doing polar physicals – but I think it went well…. it’s just that darn dental!!
I deffinetly will bring a digital camera, if not two. I’m a camera addict… I’ve worked as a professional photographer for 11 years now, and have a degree in photography (specializing in digital). My concern is that I want to bring my own computer for processing. I take about 20 pictures on a normal day – who’s to know what I’ll be taking once I’m down there. I don’t want to have to figure out storage and manipulation on the computers there. And my laptop also serves as music box (CD player – but I don’t need to bring CDs), alarm clock, and everything else. Though, I’m mostly bringing it as a dark room for my photography. Do laptops make it down there easily? I was reading somewhere that it might be tough to get it past customs, and I might have to pay a tax and stuff. And I’m a bit worried about the cargo ride from Christchurch to McM…. Should I be concerned? People say not to take the ole computer, but I’ve got to take my traveling dark room! What to bring, oh what to bring. I’m sure I’ll get it figured out. I think I’ll just use the instruments they have there, at least for this first year.
Thanks for the “getting my snow shoveling muscles in shape” advice… I never really thought about doing that AHEAD of time… I’d probably be happier if I did. Any other advice is very welcome.
Can’t wait to go to McMurdo!
ZondraJune 13, 2003 at 5:16 am #1691
We were talking about your situation at work this morning and the consensus is waiting until the end of July is pushing it. Try getting in touch with you recruter and let them know the situation. I’m thinking there are a couple of things I would do. I’d be on standby at my dentist everyday to get the cavities filled ASAP. Same with the wisdom teeth. There are always people who drop out of their apts and most dentist will slot you in if someone cancels. I didn’t have time for an eye exam for new glasses last year and the eye doctor said there were no openings for weeks. I asked if I could just sit in his office a couple of days and take the first persons slot who didn’t show up. I brought a book and planned on reading and relaxing while I waited They got me in the first day. I only read a couple of chapters. I don’t think anything has ever been more than two weeks for me.
I’m tempted to say mail in the dental and let them tell you what needs to be done, but let your recruiter help you make the decision.
more on the laptops later
mikeJuly 21, 2003 at 5:03 am #1692noblehoboMember
as a fellow newbie (prep cook at the pole for summer 03-04) i just wanted to toss out a thanks for all of the info on this page. that, and to add my curiousity as to the process with laptops. i’m still trying to decide if it would be worth bringing my powerbook down with me. also, any pole-specific advice would be most appreciated. in the meantime, good tidings to all, be you on the ice or on your way.July 21, 2003 at 5:16 am #1693
I can’t give you any Pole specific advice. I’ve never been there. It used to be in the summer if there was space available on a flight they would allow boondoggles that would put a Mcmurdo on a turnaround flight. You would fly down, get out, see the pole while the plane was being refueled and then fly back to Mcmurdo the same day.
Since they started building the new South Pole Station all the flights are full of cargo and there is no longer room for any of us.
I bring down a laptop, but winterovers have the advantage that they can put in for a dial up connection from their rooms. In the summer all the dial ups are reserved for science personnel. I don’t know about the pole but I would imagine it’s the same.
On the other hand, I take lots of digital photos and am just getting into digital moviemaking and use my laptop alot offline. If it were me I would bring mine down summer or winter. It is a lot of extra hassle trying to pack it in your carryon luggage. Also every airport now makes you open up your case and remove the computer for inspection. Still I would bring mine down.
mikeJuly 22, 2003 at 11:28 am #1694
When you pack your laptop into carry-on (on the cargo flight into Antarctica), is it possible that your carry-on luggage can freeze? I’ve heard that you get seperated from even your carry-on luggage, and to carry items in your pockets. I worry about my computer freezing. Are computers allowed to freeze? Do they still work afterwords? I deffinetly want to bring my computer – as a digital dark room.
Thanks for all the help!
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