November, 2000

That's me standing next to one my antennas (VLF) about 3/4 mile from the dome

The population for the summer is way up to 225 people. It is high these past few years due mainly to the construction of the new station. Many of the people are construction workers; pipe fitters, heavy machinery operators, insulators, carpenters, etc. Even the winterover population is extremely high at probably 42-44 and possibly in to the 50's this year. Only about 9 or 10 of us are are working on science in the winterover group. The winterover science person I replaced overlapped me by about 10 days to help me get started and transition to the new job. The science work goes on 7 days a week so I get no days off and start work about 12:00 noon and finish my last project about 1:30 AM, that is if nothing breaks down. Diagnosis of equipment failure and repair is part of the job and can create even longer hours.

The Dark Sector is an area about one kilometer from the dome ( the main station and dome as seen from the dark sector) .  It is called the dark sector because this is where the astronomy takes place. One of the radio telescopes that measures the cosmic ray background radiation is called DASI. (DASI Photo) .

I am on the trauma team with the station Doctor to do lab work, blood analysis, x-rays and other medical diagnostics for the station. A trauma team has been assembled in case of a medical emergency. The Medical Clinic has large refrigerator doors to walk in as all buildings at the pole (medical) . In addition to this team, most of the winter over population goes to a one week fire fighting school in Denver to learn how to fight one of the worst enemies in the polar regions- FIRE. There is no liquid water at the pole, except for what is produced by melting ice, resulting in severe limitations for fire fighting. Therefore, several fire teams are formed to fight fires, if necessary.

I am now getting into a daily routine for the Summer while the station is at its maximum population. Most of the Principal Investigators for my projects will visit the pole for several days to upgrade equipment and perform other annual tasks. We will also get some "distinguished visitors" during the summer that will tour the station. I may be required to give tours of my facilities during some visits. Politicians, Astronauts and many other notable people have visited the station over the years.

The last of the 1999-2000 winterover crew left on the 9th, including the person I am replacing (waiting to leave) . They left on a LC-130, but after 10 tries to take off they had to offload some cargo and try again. The snow was too soft creating drag on the skis (C-130 about to leave) .

Construction on the new station is proceeding rapidly. Construction workers are currently working on the stairway from the under-ice garages, power plant, shops, etc. to the new elevated station and the first columns and beams of the station itself  (new station) . The old station, consisting of the famous dome is being buried in snow since it was built in 1975 (dome entrance) . It can be quite a hike up out of the dome, particularly with the high altitude (looking out of the dome) . A restored vintage R4D-5, which is a Navy version of the DC-3 visited the station during November (R4D-5) .

Thanksgiving is celebrated on Saturday and volunteers helped the kitchen crew prepare for the big meal by peeling potatoes, chopping celery, making pies, etc.  Some turkeys were even smoked inside the dome (smoking turkeys) .  I chose the last sitting so that we would not have to be rushed to finish our meal (candlelight dinner) . We had white tablecloths, many people wore ties and fancy clothes and there was plenty of wine served by volunteers.  The kitchen crew and volunteers did a good job (kitchen) .