15 October 2004

Bob talks training!

Another day of training. The good part is some of the trainings are now videos. We started with the waste video. Recycling here in Antarctica is 100%. Everything brought down here is taken back. The only thing we burn is fuel. We are pretty proud of this and most of the participants in the program down here take the extra effort to sort our trash into one of the over 20 waste categories. Every year on the way home I find myself walking around New Zealand with a plastic bottle in my hand for hours looking for a plastic recycle bin. This is how effective the conditioning is.
Next on the morning agenda is the Sea Ice refresher course. It teaches us how to safely drive our vehicles over cracks in the ice.  First you need to spot the cracks and that is always the hardest part.  Seals lying around on the ice are often the best indicator. Ridges of broken ice blocks called pressure ridges are also dead give-aways. Itís the incipient new cracks that have a coating of fresh snow blown over them that pose the greatest threat. When you find a crack you need to determine if itís safe to cross it. Drilling holes in the ice that has reformed and measuring the thickness is the technique. If the crack is less then 1/3 the width of the track of our snow vehicle then we can drive straight across. Some refresher on cold injuries and the morning trainings were over.
After a morning filled with cold thoughts lunch tasted extra good. One of the top 10 questions about this place is ďwhat do you eat down there?Ē I usually can't resist joking about how penguin, if prepared by a knowledgeable chef, is delicious. Nothing so exciting was waiting in the Galley for us. But the steak today was top quality. Foods that freeze well are frequent on the menu. Corn or other frozen veggies are often the best we get. 
With Antarctica being the driest place on the planet, no meal would be complete without drinks. I donít think I am alone when I say that the real juice dispensers are one of the many things that make this place so easy to come back to year after year. The desserts are out of this world. Chocolate cherry cake is one recipe I hope gets a book mark. 
After Lunch Stacy and I spent several minutes trying to find our big red parkas in a wall full of identical coats. It will just take us a few more weeks before we develop this skill down to a fine art.
With our parkas swaddling us we crossed the road from the Galley to the big new Science Support Center where you guessed it! We were scheduled for more training. The push course is a half day version of the 2 day Happy Camper school.  On the 2 day course you go out on to the ice shelf and dig a hole in the snow, sleep in it, and practice rescuing each other in white-outs. It's a lot of fun but once you've done it once the next year you come back you get a refresher course. A little first aid talk about cold injuries and then we moved on to  how to light the stoves and set up the tents that are in the survival bags. Every vehicle has a survival bag and it's a good idea if you know how to use them. The most dangerous part of the week -  lighting a camp stove inside the building. These persnickety little stoves are well worth refamiliarizing ourselves with.
The day ended as most do with us tying up loose ends in the lab. The heat in our lab is woefully inadequate.  We often tap away on our computers as I am now, bundled up against the slight chill. On this evening Stacy has found one of her favorite hats. The evening ends our heads still swilling with training hangover and the trudge back up the hill to the dorms just a little before midnight.

Lets see the next day!