31 December, 1996


11:55 AM --- We are waiting at the U.S. Antarctica Program airport 
terminal for a delayed departure for Antarctica.  I got up at 5:30 this 
morning, too excited to sleep anymore.  Too many dreams of Antarctica and 
friends I left behind...

I went down to the guest house lobby and read Frank Norris' Octopus while 
waiting for the 7 AM breakfast.  The shuttle picked us up at 7:30 and 
brought us here.  We then suited up in extreme cold weather gear, good 
enough to withstand temperatures of 40 below, and proceeded to the 
waiting room where the temperature was summertime tropical.  Of course 
we removed some of our clothing, but we could do nothing about our very 
warm bunny boots.  Bunny boots are perfect if you are dangling your feet 
in a deep fr eeze, but not during a humid New Zealand summer day.

Now I am sitting comfortably in the waiting room in my long john 
underwear.  Two and one half hours ago we were told that we would have a 
four hour delay.  The plane has a mechanical problem that must be 
repaired.  To pass the time Mike, Jon, and I went to the Antarctica 
Visitors Center and the nearby international airport.  Zac has a bad 
cold and stayed here to sleep it off.

Since our arrival three days ago we have had a chance to get to know each 
other reasonably well.  One important thing we all have in common is a 
sense of humor.  And of course we all have a keen interest in science. 

Some popular images of scientists give the impression that scientists are 
cold and aloof, lacking in any appreciation for the arts.  I've never 
found that stereotype to be remotely true.  Most of the scientist I have 
known have a variety of outside interests and a curiosity about a number 
of topics.

This is borne out within our own group.  For example, Mike Zieg, a die 
hard southern, Rush Limbaugh, Republican entertains himself by reading 
Dostoevsky and politically bating everyone around him.  In turn, Jon 
Philipp,with a more liberal leaning and a keen interest in history, 
takes the bate and then sets about bating his own own traps which Mike 
immediately leaps into.  On the other hand, Zac Stadel usually stays 
clear of our more absurd political debates but is always prepared with a 
quick comeback when things get personal.  It was Zac who introduced me 
to some very interesting Magritte-like photography

3:58 PM   ON BOARD THE C-130, BOUND FOR ANTARCTICA.  Just as I was 
writing the last sentence we were told to board the plane (an hour 
earlier than expected).  Everyone had to rush to put away equipment and 
put their clothes back on.  We were then lined up and a very beautiful and 
playful lab retriever came through to sniff our bags for drugs.  To no 
ones surprise the dog found nothing.

Before boarding the plane we were told not to walk into any of the four 
propellers that drive the C-130.  Although few of us welcome unsolicited 
advice, the group generally agreed that this was better than most advice.

The C-130 is not a passenger plane, it is a cargo plane.  As I sit here 
(almost half way to Antarctica) I can see that the plane was designed to 
carry a maximum amount of cargo in a minimum amount of space.  Human 
cargo (such as myself and my companions) is stuffed into the areas not 
occupied by non-human cargo.  On a normal flight each person is wedge 
into a narrow webbed seat that forces everyone into contact with one 
another.  This results in physical intimacies which are generally 
discouraged upon first meetings between two people.

Fortunately, our flight has only 13 humans instead of the more common 
shipments of 40.  This allows us a great deal of space to stretch out.  
Mike and I are seated while Zac and Jon are sleeping across several seats 
(poor Zac is still fighting a ferocious cold).  Others are strewn about 
the plane, laying on or against cargo.  The crewmen who work in the 
cargo hold climb up the cargo netting and lay down on top of the main 
cargo (the humans are not the main cargo).  And watch out if you leave 
your seat.  Since no position is comfortable each of us is eying the 
seats of the others, wondering if they are as comfortable a they look.  
It is best not to look comfortable, if you should appear that way 
someone will snatch your seat as soon as you rise to stretch.
  That is why I had to start typing this journal while standing over a 
cargo box---one of the cargo (a human) mistook my look of stupidity for 
one of carefree comfort.  He immediately took my spot when I leaned 
forward to get ! the lap top.  However, he soon 

The plane vibrates horribly and makes so much noise that no conversation 
is possible.  Which is good, otherwise we would be complaining to each 
other about the noise and the vibrations.  The heat is another problem, 
it is either the heat associated with a parched tongue or the cold 
associated with a tongue stuck to metal.  This alternating condition 
allows us to frequently test our three layered Antarctic weather 
clothing system.

Despite the inconveniences, this flight is not at all bad.  Most of us 
are thrilled to go to Antarctica and would gladly accept worse 
accommodations to get there.  The transport is also far superior to the 
means used by early explorers to the Continent. 

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