Antarctic Diary: December 9, 2002
What have I done with my life?
Everybody asks me how's she's doing, "Has she really lost her mind?"I said, "I couldn't tell you, I've lost mine."You Pay For What You Get-Dave Matthews Band-
My wife dyed her hair. She told me by IM so I can only imagine.
The flight north was cancelled because the Herc never made it south. The Kiwis were flying. Weather delay, they said.
It was football weather up north and the All Blacks were playing a test match.
They're young, the Kiwi crews. Fuzzy dice hanging from the console in the plane. Postcards taped to the windows. I have the picture somewhere, I'll show you. Right here.
The roads are mud in McMurdo. They cut channels to make places for the melting snow to run. When the melt is over, they'll regrade the roads flat.
Then the ice fog rolls in. It gets colder. Things freeze.
The soil is volcanic ash.
The cook in the galley was once a chef at Lutece. Rumor has it he's had enough Antarctic adventure and wants to go home. That's why the potato leek soup was a little "off" yesterday.
Habituation is a terrible thing. Things that seem amazing from a distance become less so up close.
We have an astronaut here. She was on the space shuttle three times. She's picking up meteors. She wants to live in the space station. Thinks Antarctic meteors will get her there. Maybe Mars.
She has her hair done in tight braided rows. Little beads. Her name is Cady. She's as tall as my middle daughter. Kind of small. All those pilots are small.
We have a guy here who climbed Mount Everest without oxygen. He's a medic at a field camp up on the plateau.
We have a guy who's been digging tunnels under the ice at the south pole for years.
There's a guy who's close to winning a Nobel Prize in physics for discovering something fundamental. Some particle or another. He's building a huge detector near the south pole to detect neutrinos.
When he detects them he'll get the Nobel Prize for sure. So they think.
He blushes when you ask him about the prize. Demurs.
His name is John.
He's from the University of Wisconsin.
They invented Vitamin D Milk there. They have the patent.
The guy drilling the ice tunnels for the detector was my roommate last year. These holes will be four kilometers deep. They invented an ice drill to dig it.
When I was his roommate, I noticed he had a postcard from Hawaii on the wall. When I asked him who it was from, he said he couldn't remember. He just carried it around. It was his only decoration.
He's going to be the first man to drill a 4-kilometer hole in ice. After he does that, he's going to drill 79 more.
I had lunch with a woman who installed a detector 100-feet under water, beneath 30 feet of lake ice. Her name is "Maria". She's a professor at University of Tennessee.
Yesterday a guy named Rob rappelled down a 200-foot crevasse to see if they could fill it up with snow and drive Caterpillar D9 bulldozers over it.
I gave him one of my beers. His nickname is "Crash", because he crashed his biplane doing tricks near power lines a week before he came to the ice. Then he lived. So he got to come.
They're building a road from McMurdo to the south pole. My roommate is helping.
It's going to take three years. They don't care. They have time.
Barry is practicing helicopter autorotation emergency landings today. He had an extra dish of ice cream for added strength.
At dinner last night someone said, "Gee, you sure have an interesting life."
My wife dyed her hair.
Everybody asks me how she's doing, "Is she really all she said?"I said, "I couldn't tell you. I'm ok,"I'm ok. Okay?