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3 December, 1999

Friday December 03, 1999

Got up at 0330 hours wanted to get to the lab to get my work done before we tried Cu-You See me. Had lots of email including some data gathering for a young boy from Mississippi who is trying to get snow/and or water samples from all seven continents. He went to NSF for help and someone there sent him to me. I can not give him samples, but I will collect samples and determine their pH.

By 0730 hours I had just about finished up with all my work, then it was time to work with Geoff Wang, one of the "techies", to get me visually hooked up with two fourth grade rooms back in the town of Holliston, Massachusetts where I teach. The first try was successful in hooking up with Wisconsin where Steve Stevenoski, a former TEA, a beloved friend, a teacher and now a converted computer geek was manning the reflector site. We had no audio, but the visual was superb. Then another former TEA John Nevins, from somewhere else in Wisconsin, joined on line; still no Holliston. I chatted with Steve's and John's classes as Steve worked on reaching Holliston. Final Massachusetts was on the monitor. WOW!

There were two teachers that I have worked with for almost four years , Alison Broa and Sue Volk, starring back at me on the monitor. Behind them stood, and now waving frantically, were I guess nearly 50 4th grade students. Once we got over the newness, the questions started to come: How cold is it? How do you sleep if it is light all the time? What animals did you see? What kind of science do they do there? Can you bring home penguin? The one one communications from 11,000,00 miles away was mind boggling to me, and I am sure to the kids as well.

I had taken a skull of a Southern Ocean elephant seal with me to show the kids on the TV. They were very impressed. One of the techies was emulating the seal devouring my headas I typed responses to the kid's questions. No matter where you go there is always at least one clown..

The setting up on both ends was difficult, but it was definitely worth it. I am sure the kids learned more in the forty minutes we had, I had to do this show when I had support people here and school was still in session, then they would have in a week in classes. Motivation is the key to learning, and if you had seen these kids as I did, again from 11,000 miles away (pretty good eyes for an old fogy like me) then you'd know they were motivated and I can guarantee they learned.

Following the Cu-See-Me conference I was exhausted; a combination I am sure of nerves and lack of sleep. So I returned to the dorm to do laundry and rest. No luck with the laundry. There are 15 guys in my dorm who finished constructing two 2,000,00 gallon fuel storage tanks on Tuesday and have been waiting since Wednesday to go home. Flights are being delayed and/or canceled, so as of this moment they may not get off the ice until Sunday at the earliest. They are not happy campers and they bored so they seem to spend the day washing clothes and drinking lots of beer. Whatever floats your boat, or in this case you kidneys.

I returned to Crary for a 1400 hour meeting with Barb. It went OK then I went and talked with Kathy about my job in the dry valleys. I was told that I will be sampling two creeks, one at Lake Hoare (Andersen Creek) and the other at Lake Fryxell in the Fryxell Basin (Aekin Creek) both in the Taylor Valley. Boy I can't wait! Kathy told me I had to have any gear, other then bag drag stuff, ready by 1400 hours. Not a problem..

I left the lab excited and walked to the sea ice edge where it joins McMurdo Station and took a snow sample for the boy from Mississippi. I thought it would be cool if I got one from the sea ice too, so I grabbed a shuttle to the ice runway, a distance of three miles out in McMurdo Sound, took a sample and then stopped to see my friends at Kiwi Cargo.

Upon returning from the ice runway we had our last class. It went well and Kathy Welch delivered the last presentation. By the time we said our good byes it was almost 2200 hours. So I went up stairs in the Crary to type. Not long after I got there P.J. Carpenter came in. P.J. is an amazing young man from NH, who has wintered at South Pole twice, has manned the telescope at MIT's Haystack Observatory in Westford, MA for 10 years, has worked as a physicist and now is the winter over Unex machine administrator here at McMurdo Station.

PJ showed me how to use a zip drive and we chatted until 0015 hours then wen to midrats. I returned home about 1300 hours to find a note on my door saying my roommate had locked himself out of our room. He left me instructions where to leave the key which I followed. I feel asleep and never even knew he came home.

Good night,

Penguin Pete the Polar Man

Mr. PJ Carpenter computer specialist and man of many hats. Thanks PJ for all the help. Photo by Peter M. Amati, Jr.

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