What's going on at The Life Nomadic?


What's Next?

If you've also been keeping up with The Life Nomadic, you'll know that my post-ice travel plans have changed drastically as a result of the market crash. I no longer have the means to pursue an endless winter; skiing my way from north to south. Instead, I have decided to travel primarily in South America after a brief return to the U.S.

I'm excited to have built a new website which will be dedicated to extended travel on a fixed budget. The new site is called Vagabumming - South America Budget Travel - bookmark it, get the RSS feed - just check it out and follow along there for what's going on - and if you need a slick website built - drop me a line!


Population Explosion!

The first planeload of passengers for the 08/09 summer research season arrived yesterday...increasing our population by 14 people....16 people arrive today. It's a bit weird...seeing new faces for the first time in over eight months seems like a strange concept after you get settled into a routine here where nothing ever changes.

The arriving folks did bring fruit! I don't think an orange ever tasted so good. They also brought flu vaccine. I've never been a fan of the flu shot but I went ahead and got one yesterday. I'd really rather not spend my time in Hawaii sick.


The Winterover experience

Now that the winter season at The South Pole is nearing its end, I figured some self-reflection was in order. In conversations amongst Antarctic workers much is always said about wintering on this continent. Some describe the experience as magical, others simply tolerate the long, dark night as an alternative to what their life might be like elsewhere. There are usually stories of shenanigans, debauchery and occasionally even a bit of the ultra-violence. This winter has so far been one of the quiet ones. There was a fire at McMurdo, a couple of small incidents in our own power plant at Pole, a few injuries and an almost medevac but when the season ends the stories will most likely be pretty tame in comparison to other, more eventful winters.

Antarctic lore dictates that one is forever changed by enduring the perpetual night. For my part I have pretty much dismissed the widely held and often talked about belief that conversation is reduced to monosyllabic words with a grunt here and there. I have only experienced very isolated instances of being "spaced out". I would say that perhaps I have gained an ability to truly let things that don't matter slide. This comes with great effort and is definitely a conscious decision, but the fact is, is that not much really truly matters on anything other than a very small scale. Being locked in for nine months with a group of people really drives that point home. It certainly isn't advantageous to "rock the boat" and it's definitely not worth it to nitpick at somebody else's work habits or personality traits. Things that might normally upset me about how a co-worker or fellow community member conducts his or her business are easily dismissed here. I really like that about me and am curious if I can maintain the ability to let such things slide.


It LOOKS like the sun...

This picture, taken on...I believe the 21st of September shows what looks like the sun, but I'm told it's not...at this point the sun is still just below the horizon, and what we're looking at in this photo is refracted light. Bah!...It's the sun, reflected or not it hurt my eyes to look at and warmed my heart. Today, I can see the real sun, not just its reflected likeness. Kind of a big deal after six months of not seeing it.


Winterover Picture

you can click to embiggen

Everybody say cheese! stop breathing

On Tuesday we all braved the cold and ventured just over 1/2 mile from the elevated station to have the winterover picture taken in front of this pile of waste affectionately referred to as spool-henge. Almost everyone was able to make it out.

Weather update:

We still haven't seen that magical -100(F) mark yet, despite the favorable forecast for it a week or so ago. Statistically speaking, the chances of that happening are now diminishing quite rapidly and in fact just a few days ago we set a daily record high when the temperature rose to ~ -28(F). When temps get that warm here, it usually means high winds - not good for taking a group photo so we had to wait for the winds to abate and when they did, the temps dropped back down into the negative 80s for the winterover picture. On a positive note, as you can see in the picture, the sky is getting much brighter now with brilliant colors.


The Big Chill

I've mentioned the '300 club' on here before...but in case you missed it, it basically boils down to going through 300 degrees of temperature change in a very short timespan. Tradition holds that the ambient outside air temperature must be -100(F) - I don't know what that is in cubic meters but I'm sure my Canadian readers can figure it out eh. So far this season we haven't reached that magic temperature point at all. Last year the temp got to -100 but only momentarily - not long enough for anyone to actually take part in warming up the sauna to 200 degrees and then run outside to the pole marker - naked. One of the folks from the MET department (short for meteorological I assume) made up this chart to give us an idea of the likelihood of the temp actually reaching the requisite negative century mark: (click to embiggen)

It's fairly obvious that there is still a decent chance of hitting -100 for the next couple of weeks and the current forecast looks somewhat favorable for going into negative triple digit temperature range on Saturday.

I have mixed feelings on the whole deal. It'd be neat, and if given the chance, I'd like to take part in this truly once in a lifetime experience but at the same time, running around naked and sweaty from a sauna in -100 doesn't hold a great deal of appeal...stay tuned.


Quote of the Season!

Saturday night the residents of the South Pole Station were treated to yet another live music show - featuring some local bands :). While most people were totally distracted, Todd burst onto the scene and declared "You've gotta see this!"...dressed in a T-shirt and jeans, I and many other folks followed Todd out to the nearby observation deck to see this:

It is indeed sunlight....WOW...I've always been a fan of sunrise, though I've never gone outdoors in a T-shirt in minus cold as hell at 9:00 PM to look at one. I've also never been quite so excited to see one - epic! It'll take another month before the sun is fully above the horizon at which point I'll promptly curse its everpresence - but right now it's really exciting - a sign of hope! oh...I almost forgot....the quote that went along with this observance. Owing to the frigid temps and lack of cold weather gear - Todd said "Now that was worth losing a nipple over!" and, indeed it was.

In other atmospheric news I woke the other day with a pounding headache and couldn't figure out what might be causing it - I hadn't been drinking and I was very well hydrated so what could it possibly be? Here's a screen cap that I got from our "weather channel" - the barometric pressure has dropped so far that the physiological altitude is a full 2000+ feet higher than the physical altitude - that would explain the headache.