Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Thing at the South Pole!

After station close, there is a tradition that we participate in down here at the South Pole. Everyone gathers together and watches the movie "The Thing".  I have heard about this tradition for years, so I was very excited to actually be able to participate this time around! In fact, there are three movies called "The Thing", and we watched all of them.  It took around six hours, but it was a ton of fun.  The original version was made in the 50s, and that one actually takes place at the North Pole.  We started with that one and then went on to the 2011 version which is actually a prequel to the 1982 version by John Carpenter, which we finished with.  The last two actually take place in Antarctica which is why they have become traditional movies to watch.  The one thing I get a huge kick out of is the fact that it is pretty much taken as a given, at least in the new two movies, that Antarctic stations have dynamite and flame throwers... I have been looking around, but I haven't been able to find either, and I don't know what we will do if we get invaded by aliens!

Since we closed the station last week, we have started to settle into our winter routines. Our station responsibilities have shifted a little bit over the past week. During the summer, everyone has to take turns cleaning their shared bathrooms once a week, and the rest of the station is mostly taken care of by the stewards.  Since we have a large population drop during the winter, there is only one steward, so we split all the cleaning responsibilities into different groups around the station.  Each week groups shift change responsibilities and we have a different area of the station to clean. We started this new schedule this week, and it hasn't been too bad.  I have a great group, including my IceCube colleague Martin and the RAs Doug and Adam. We also take turns now washing dishes, but given the number of people on station, that should only happen once every month and a half or so.  I did my first turn in the dishpit this last weekend.  It turns out it was a lot more work than I was expecting!  I think I am going to try to volunteer some to help out more so it is not so bad for others. It is actually pretty common for people to volunteer in the dishpit, and I think I now see why.  If you have more than one person there, it makes things much easier!

Other than that, things are going well. I got a little behind on some of my winter projects last week due to station close and a few other things we had to do with the detector, but I have been doing well this week. I started some language studies this week: French and a bit of Spanish review on Duolingo.  If anyone is interested in learning or refreshing a foreign language, you should friend me on Duolingo so we have that extra level of competition.  It will help us keep each other motivated, I think. My username there is Hanavi.

One area that I am making some good progress in is reading. I have been reading a ton, mostly physics papers and books, but I have an extensive reading list that I am hoping to put a dent in this winter, and I have started on one of the bigger books on the list: War and Peace. I don't read as much as I would like.  When I talk to people, I generally find that they have either read way more or way less than I have.  I tend to be somewhere in the middle. I also tend to read slowly at times, but that usually isn't an issue as I can be a very patient individual, but War and Peace is a long book.  It may take me a while to get through.  I have read some long books before, so as long as I don't get bored, this one shouldn't be a problem... We'll see if it keeps my attention!

I have also started settling into a violin practice routine. I even picked up the trumpet and guitar for a few minutes yesterday.  Unfortunately, after about 15 minutes, my lips were so tired and sore, I had to put the trumpet down.  Similarly, I don't have calluses on my fingers any more so the guitar playing didn't last as long as I would like, either. I figure if I can do 15-20 min a day for the next couple weeks, I will be in a better place for both, and before too long I will be able to play for an extended period of time again.

On a bit of a personal note, my sleep schedule has been a little weird.  I am a bit of a night person, but that really shouldn't make a difference here, except that I have started to move into a night schedule. I think I would just prefer a longer day, so my schedule keeps moving later and later!  Until recently, I have tried to stick with a fairly normal schedule due to meal times, but that has started to slip some.  Given the nature of my responsibilities here, I do have some flexibility in my schedule, but I am not quite sure, how far I want to let my schedule flex.  Besides meal times, I would like to be awake for the internet which is only up a few hours a day, and I don't want to miss out on some of the social activities. I suppose we'll see how it all works out, so far it hasn't been too bad.

So far, winter is going well.  The sun is still up for a few more weeks, but the temperatures have started to drop.  We have seen temps going down to below -50F with windchills below -80F. As long as I can stay productive, I think this will be a great winter!
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