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25 December, 2002

Christmas in McMurdo

One of the highlights of Christmas Day is the production of Dickens' classic A Christmas Carol. The version here is modified for life in McMurdo and includes a penguin as the "Ghost of Christmas Past."

During the morning we finally have some bright sunlight so I set up the solar panels I brought along to hopefully charge batteries when we are in the field. This was tried in Yarmouth but never worked quite right. It seemed that combination of overcast days and the sun being too low in the sky was just not enough to get a good test. I didn't want to pack the panels in the luggage in case they would be broken and they're too awkward to carry aboard the plane. So I shipped them to myself in McMurdo before Thanksgiving in order to be sure the panels would be here. Surprisingly they only took about ten days to get here. This is probably not normal.

Today though, the sunlight appeared intense enough and in fact was bright enough to charge the camera batteries and operate the laptop. This should help when trying to write journals from the field. There is no email or internet in the region of the Dry Valleys where we'll be. What I'd like to try to do is to be able to save journal arcticles to a floppy disk and have the periodic resupply helo bring them back to McMurdo. Karen Joyce, the lead computer technician, has volunteered to help send them along to the web site. I'm still doing a little more testing to be sure that will work. The little science experiment outside of the dorm drew a small crowd and it was fun to discuss the details of what I was trying to do.

1. A penguin serves as the Ghost of Christmas Past in the McMurdo version of "A Christmas Carol."

2. Solar panels will hopefully charge batteries for the laptop and digital cameras in the Dry Valleys

3. This is the first day where the sunlight has been intense enough to get a good test of the solar panels - note the colored beads, which react to the UV light. I will carry this on the jacket in the field and will be giving a set of these to each of my advisees when I return in February.

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