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10 December, 2002

10 December, 2002

Today was Monday here. But what's funny is, I've been doing journals every day, not skipping any days, and somehow, I got a day ahead, even for me. This journal is for the 10th, but it's only the early morning of the 10th, so I'm really writing about what happened yesterday the 9th. And what's worse is, the South Pole Station runs on New Zealand time (because that's the supply line), so we're a day AHEAD, three hours behind Pacific Standard Time (I live in Seattle). So if you¸re wondering how I could be writing about things that happened on days that haven't even happened yet, well, so am I. I blame it all on the International Date Line. When I am king, I will have that date line removed.

Here's another problem. If you're talking about kiting, you refer to the wind: "Oh, the wind was blowing out of the north today." But if you're at the South Pole, the wind ALWAYS blows from the north. Get it ? So they use a "grid" system here for direction, where 0 degrees is the prime meridian, the one that goes through Greenwich, England. But which way is that? I don't know. But the wind seems to always blow from the same direction, mostly generated by cold air falling from the upper atmosphere, spilling over the Antarctic plateau towards the ocean in every direction. It's like when you pour the pancake batter out.

I came to Antarctica hoping to see sundogs and ice halos, and everyone who's been here awhile has great pictures of these beautiful atmospheric phenomena. They're sort of Antarctica's version of rainbows, but made with ice crystals, not water droplets. Ice crystals have more variety, so there's a whole zoo of these ice halos. But I read that they tend to occur only when air is moving upslope, which hasn't happened at all yet. In fact, it's been the same weather, day after day. Very light downslope wind, hardly a cloud in the sky, and NO HALOS ! Today's forecast : sunny & cold. Tonight's forecast : sunny & cold.

Bai & I did more troubleshooting on the PMTs, but are mostly in the position of reporting out tests findings to Albrecht, who designed them. Bai thinks he has the problem narrowed down to a few diodes in the base of the PMT. But mainly, we're waiting to hear from Albrecht. Next probable step : remove PMT from ice. That should be fun.

Tried kite flying and photographing over the astronomical installations out at SPASE & the so-called "Dark Sector," but not enough wind even high off the ground to keep the kites up.

The hit of the day was breaking out Ben Ruhe's boomerangs and throwing them around the world. Several folks got involved, and the boomerangs have now each been around the world 40 or 50 times.

And I got my quicktime streaming server to work, so I am ready to do live streaming video into my physics classes and my son Eleuterio's 3rd grade class sometime this week.

Midpoint in the South Pole experience checklist

Haircut: check.

Lack of sleep:check

No recent shower: check

Thirsty all the time : check

Broken camera: check

Used to the cold: check

Ready for real coffee: check

Absence makes the heart grow fonder: check

Your hero, preparing to throw a boomerang completely around the world.

A quick snap of the wrist...

Some kite flying picture from yesterday : that's me in the pole ball, holding the string reel.

It occurred to me to tie the kite string to the pole, and let the kite carry the pole away, but I was afraid the earth might suddenly stop spinning, and everyone would fly off into space. So I didn't.

The last good picture my Olympus camera took. This is a tunnel leading out from the dome. Most of that ice is just the frozen breath of the thousands of passersby.

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