Sunday, 24 February 2008

Last weekend! And other people's pics.

It's logistical chaos around here; some people are rabidly busy, others with nothing to do. A few people are taking today off; most had the greater part of the week off, due to bad weather, and are working today.

And yes, the weather was rough, and I was lucky enough to get morning melt tank duty all week. It gusted up to 50 knots around here, and at the Shackleton it got up to 75 knots. They had to cast off and wait it out in open water. The base shook quite a bit; our daily journeys to the Simpson, from the main building, were hellish outbound and a great joy inbound. It was funny; you would be trying to walk normally, but the wind is pushing you hard, encouraging you to "Run! Run faster! FASTER!" And next thing you know, you're sprinting. And you can't really stop, except by falling. And, during all this, you are focussed on the rope that links the two buildings across the 150m distance. If you lose sight of it, you're in trouble.

An odd thing happened at 23:57 local time, for me. I was in bed, getting shaken about by the wind, and decided I would turn on some music I recently acquired from the Halley library. I came across one of those songs that I had heard all my life, but never really registered the name of the song or the artist. The iPod informed me that it was "Eye in the Sky", by the Alan Parsons Project.

Hmm. I had heard of the Alan Parsons Project - I believe it was a joke from the second Austin Powers movie. Anyway, I then immediately grabbed a book from the middle of a stack of early sci-fi novels I had taken from the library, to read that evening.

The book was "Eye in the Sky", by Philip K. Dick.

I was disoriented for a second. I'd never heard of the expression "Eye in the Sky" before - or if I had, it certainly made no impression upon me. I had then been hit with it twice, independently, within 10 seconds. Was it a sign? A cryptic message for me? What could it mean? APP's Eye in the Sky is a reference to casino security cameras; PKD's Eye in the Sky is literally a big eye in the sky, belonging to a divine being. Am I being watched? Should I care?

No. Just a cool coincidence, I imagine. And maybe not that cool, even; we are talking about circa-1980 prog-rock and sci-fi. More of a retro-geeky coincidence.

Anyway, the final countdown is on. Wednesday morning at 5:00 AM local, I lift off for the Russian Novo station, and thence to Cape Town. My sites are all up and running, and reporting in beautifully on schedule. My bags are packed. My project is an unqualified success. I've still got a bit of clutter around here, but it's all manageable. Still, I get the feeling I'm forgetting something, but I have a few days to find out what.

Anyway, yes, I believe I promised some pictures. Here is the entire 2007-8 Halley crew:

I'm in the middle, directly below the Union Jack, immediately up and to the right from Simon, one of the guys in front with the green jacket (not that you can even see individual people). And here's Rich taking that picture:

Here's better proof that I was actually in the Antarctic. Bear in mind that an orange insulated boiler suit, as I'm wearing, adds the appearance of at least 30 pounds to your picture.

Here's one in the last week, kitted up to handle the winds. Or I will be, once I zip up and put my gloves on. Remember: 30 pounds.

And here is one of the sun setting.

Finally. It has ceased its unswerving vigil upon us from above. It's almost like it's been...

The eye in the sky; Looking at you, it can read your mind.
It is the maker of rules; dealing with fools, it can cheat you blind

And it doesn't need to see any more to know that it can read your mind.

It can read your mind.



Don said...

the eye in the sky...did that not allude to Telstar or one of the early may have been from "Hair" or that era...who knows
Hope you have a good trip back, and maybe you'll be able to sleep longer at night...remember the Lion (Red Bull) Sleeps Tonight

Ryan said...

I went straight to Wikipedia for all my eye-in-the-sky answers:

Although I did find a reference "Eagle Eye in the Sky" regarding Telstar.

And thanks! Yes, I'm looking forward to sleeping in, in about three days....

Nicole said...

...somebody seems to have adopted a very feminine concern with body image (right now I am imagining a group of rough and tumble scientists in their gear, asking one another *how does this make my ass look?*). Heehee.

Have a safe trip home. Look forward to a real Skype conversation.

Tricia said...

I've enjoyed the trip to Antarctica and look forward to pictures of Africa. Please continue your blog for those of use who can no longer drop in at the plodge for a port. Enjoy the stars!

Ryan said...

Yep, the blog is going at least until I arrive at the White Hart in Fyfield (near Oxford; not sure why I picked it as my end point, but it has good cider).

And yeah, we don't talk about how we look in boiler suits. Hard to be high-maintenance when we're all stinky and sweaty.