7 December, 1996

Dec. 7


Up at 6AM. Three of us were planning to get a shuttle to the airport and try to see the penguin that is occasionally seen near the runway, but since we were up until 1:30 again we decided to sleep in until 7AM. This requires great haste to dress, etc. and get to the galley before they pull the food from the breakfast line at 7:30 on the DOT. We made it.

I am disappointed at not having seen penguins, but I guess it isn't going to happen. Because the ice warmed up too soon, day trips to Cape Evans where Scott's real hut is or to Cape Royds where huge numbers of penguins are have been canceled. This is because crevasses appear. It is better to be safe than sorry.

The weather has changed dramatically since yesterday. Yesterday it was sunny and balmy with hardly a breath of air. Today is still sunny, but the wind howls across McMurdo and it really feels cold. I usually don't mind the walk from dorm to lab or galley, but this morning I can really feel the wind chill factor.

I go to the post office to mail a package home and see if I have any mail. Jackpot! I have two postcards, a letter and two cards waiting for me. They were post marked from Nov. 17 until Nov. 22. It didn't take too long. The books I read said that mail used to be so important here that their moods swung up with mail and down when the mail didn't arrive. The feeling isn't so intense now because many people have access to e-mail and can also phone home. A scientist I spoke with had first come to McMurdo five years ago. There was no e-mail and you had to get a radio operator to get your long distance phone calls transmitted to the states. How much our communications has changed since then.

We go to lab and run samples again. I am looking at filter papers I used to filter the melted snow cores. I view them under a stereo microscope and record the number and color of microglass bead I find. It is very tedious work, but we all have taken turns doing it. Each sample is viewed by two different persons. Dr. Braaten had also sampled the snow on the side walls of a trench in front of his apparatus using small square plastic rectangles called cuvettes. We melt the snow in these also and view them under the microscopes with hopes of finding beads. All the data is carefully recorded and will be used to compare with a computer model Dr. Braaten is developing. I visited MacWeather and requested the maximum, minimum temperature data for McMurdo since I arrived here. Boy did I ever overestimate the temperature. It only got above freezing one day and then only by 0.7 degree. When we were camping out on the Ross ice shelf, McMurdo got 13 inches of snow in three days. We were also in that blizzard and I wonder how much snow we encountered. We had no way to measure snow. I will try to get them posted on my journal page soon.

Yesterday I tried to e-mail some written material that I had done using Microsoft "Word." In all the swapping of filed back and forth, lo and behold, the bundled messages from the Glacier page appeared. If you have been following my saga and were disappointed that I didn't answer your e-mail messages, please forgive me. I only just saw them today.

We hope to get out of McMurdo Monday morning. That means we do a "bag drag" tomorrow at 3PM. We have all our luggage, etc. packed and wear our ECW gear and get everything weighed. Then our "hold" bags will be kept by the flight crews. We can keep "hand carry" luggage until the next morning. I am going to check both orange bags and just carry on my back pack because it is less hassle. It was a pain carrying a large orange duffel bag and camera bag while wearing ECW clothes when we came from Christchurch to McMurdo. I think it will be better this time.

I took a short break to write my journal at 11PM and will soon have to return, so this journal will also be short.

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