Sunday, 2 December 2007

I woke up on Saturday... find myself in a crazy new place. Halley Summer 2007 has officially kicked off!

Who are all these people? The planes have been busy bringing in plant technicians, vehicle dudes, sparkys, chippys...and now, when I walk down the hallway, I don't recognize half of the people. I can only imagine what the poor winterers feel. For 9 months, there are 15 of them wandering the hallways. Now, there are 50 people running around. And soon, there will be 100!

And, lucky me, I was on gash duty for Friday and part of Saturday. I've never been a busboy at a restaurant (although at my first job, I did serve food at a mini-putt), but cleaning up after 50 people and a high-octane chef seems to be a hell of a lot of work. That was definitely my last gash duty, though; amongst the arrivals are the Saints - the BAS name for the domestic assistants which now do all the cleaning, laundry, etc. Their name comes not only from their worthiness for reverence, but also because they come from the island of St. Helena, just off the coast of....nothing. A good place to send a French emporer in his exile.

But back to Halley. One of the new people, who came alone last week from Rothera, is my new field assistant, Rich B, as we retire Toddy to stud. Actually, Rich is the new wintering field assistant, so he'll be staying around here for the next 18 months. And, as my project is the only one where you can get out to see all corners of the Brunt Ice shelf which we call home, it makes sense from him to join me in mapping it. Here's an odd-angled picture of him in a hole:

And here I am, digging said hole (pardon the helmethead):

This hole now contains a radar reflector, also shown in both pictures. One of the ways we're going to try to track the movement of the ice shelf is to observe it from satellites. Problem is, there's not much to track. Visible features change from season to season. So, if we bury a large metal corner - shown in both of the pictures above - these locations should light up on a radar picture. We'll find out in a few months!

One of the other changes for the summer is that the alcohol rationing has gone into effect. No more hard liquor, and wine/beer limited to two per night. This is fine by me - didn't break those rules most nights anyway (except the occasional gin and tonic). But it did leave the problem of hard liquor disposal - so we disposed of it last night in a cocktail party. The drinks were locally named ("Windy Fart", "Sex at Precious Bay", "Unhinged Zone", and (my favourite) "Onion Overflow") and the bar was predictably packed. I bailed out early, as I'm still trying to work on GMT time. But the rest of the crew managed to finish the job.

And now, here I write, as I'm surrounded by a) hungover people, b) sleeping people, c) the veteran drinkers, and d) the ascetic. I class myself somewhere between c) and d), I suppose, for the moment.

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