Well, we’ve had a bunch of six month markers happening recently. April 8th marked six months since I left the states, April 23rd was six months since I arrived at the Pole, April 25th marked six months till the next plane, and May 14th will be six months till I should be done training my replacements and I can get out of here!
It really seems like its a long time till I can get out of here, but its nice to know that I’m past the half way point. Its hard to know the exact date when I’ll be out of here, since I’ve got to train three people to replace me. Usually there are two computer people during the winter, and three during the summer, but my winter partner had to leave for family reasons right before station closing with not enough time to find a replacement for him. He had a very good reason, but it means that I’m taking care of all computer related problems by myself this winter. There’s a chance that he’ll be coming back next summer, which would be fantastic. He can help me train the other two people, and that means I can leave sooner.
People have asked me if I’m still glad I did this, and if I’d do it again. Well, yes, I’m glad I’m doing this. A year is a lot longer in reality than what it seems at first, but if you divide it up into smaller sections, it doesn’t seem quite so bad. I’d come back to the Antarctic for another summer season easily, but I’d never do another winter. This is just way too long to be out of touch with the real world for me to repeat the experience.
The thing I miss most about the real world is the variety of recreational experiences. While I haven’t gotten bored yet, the range of activities are somewhat limited. We spend a lot of time watching movies down here. I’ve been able to catch up on a lot of movies that I’ve never seen. I’d never seen a lot of classics like Casablanca and Key Largo, and I had no idea of what I’d missed. We also finally got to see Lord of the Rings the other day. It took forever but we were able to have someone send down a digital copy from the US. The quality leaves a lot to be desired, but its better than having to wait till we’re out of here to see it. We’re just hoping that we can find a copy of the new Star Wars movie when it comes out on the 16th of May.
Another big activity that I’ve been participating in is the beer making. We ran out of beer last week, and we’re also out of Coke, and most other soft drinks. All that’s left is some diet drinks, and those won’t last past May. Luckily, the brewing is going great! We’re having a blast, and we’ve got production up pretty high. I think we’re averaging about 5 gallons per week, but we may have to ramp that up once all the beer that people have stashed runs out. We’ve started playing with all grain brewing which is a lot more time intensive to make, but its a lot of fun to do. Besides brewing, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen on Sundays cooking dinner for the station. Tim Pollard, the station doc and I seem to have fallen into a nice routine where we team up and make a lot of regional cuisine that people don’t normally get served here. I’m learning a lot from him, and I should get out of here with my cooking skills really refined.
Other popular activities are shooting pool, hanging out in the bar, reading, and working out. Our gym isn’t too bad at all. We’ve got a few pieces of cardio equipment, plus a bunch of weights. I’m starting to use it a lot more now, and it’s really nice. I may just come out of here in better shape than I’ve ever been in.
Friday nights are for radio darts where we play 301 with a couple of other stations on the continent. It’s a great way to remind yourself that there is a real world out there, besides just the 51 of us in our little bubble.
Of course, going outside is always a treat. Now that its dark, we’re finally seeing auroras and the stars are amazing. The sky is clear about 30 percent of the time, so I like to take advantage of those opportunities to get outside and do some stargazing. One of the scientists is giving weekly lectures on Sunday about southern sky astronomy, so we’re all starting to learn the different constellations. Its weird not to see familiar constellations like the big dipper, but there are some that are unique to this hemisphere, such as the Southern Cross. The moon is also upside down, as compared to how you see it in the northern hemisphere.