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6 January, 2003

Machine Shop

Again our team flew off in two different directions. The chemistry part of the Stream Team went to Lake Bonney and we three (Jen, Erin and me) from "algal ops" went back to F6. When the helicopter landed the pilot asked who was there and we said, "No one," but then we saw two people standing in the kitchen. It turned out to be Mary Ann DeMello, another TEA! She and one of her team mates, Amber Hawkins, had come to use our power and LAN line to put Mary Ann's journals online. Check hers out, too - same address as mine, then click on her name. I was so excited to see her. We had been talking almost everyday before coming to Antarctica and then have not had any contact since she got to McMurdo. We had a great day visiting and writing our journals together! Erin made cookies as we worked on filtering our samples.

Our plans to do pebble counts at two transects got derailed when the hut started having power problems. We function off of a large solar panel which has lost its ability to track the sun, so we have to manually move it. Today it was cloudy so we were being very diligent about following the sun's counter clockwise course around the sky, but we kept losing power to the hut anyway. We decided to start the generator to give the storage batteries a boost and to produce enough power to run the computers and filters we were using. But! the generator wouldn't start.

Now for everyone that knows me, you are aware that I know next to nothing about machines and how they run. It was scary to be in charge of figuring out why the generator wouldn't start, but it was also a challenge I wanted to overcome. For over an hour, John and I had messed around trying to start the generator two days ago. It would not start then, and we finally gave up. I went back into the hut. Pete went out with John and the darned machine started right up. I can't tell you how that defeated my "machine confidence!"

So, today, with all girls here, I decided we were going to win the battle of the machines one way or another. I tried everything John and I had done together. It wouldn't start. I finally called the machine shop at McMurdo and asked them for some help. Kirk was very helpful. He spent many phone calls and about two hours helping me learn that machine from the outside in. I took out the spark plug and tested it. I checked the air filter and made sure the choke was working. Of course I had checked the gas and oil levels, too. I tested the low oil electric warning connection, all to no avail. Kirk finally said that he thought we needed a new generator and would send one out to us tonight. I don't feel a great sense of accomplishment - yet. I plan to be the one to pull the cord on the new generator, though, and then I can happily wave good-bye to the old one!

1. Erin and me on the 212 helo.

2. Mary Ann and Amber working together to upload

MA's TEA journals.

3. Me pulling the generator's cord. That machine was

really aggravating me.

4. How many people does it take to start a

generator? In this case it took more than Jen, me and Erin!

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