Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rugby Game 2009- Mt. Terror v. Scott Base

The annual Rugby Match here is a big event- more than 200 people go out to see the game. This is the first year I've been to the Rugby Game here on Ice and it was held on Jan. 11th. I had a really good time- Brandon from my crew was on the team and it was a blast to be cheering him on along with the rest of our team- Mt. Terror. I took these pics with my new camera lens (thanks Mom!!) and they turned out pretty awesome. I had a great time, even though we lost- which is pretty much expected against the Kiwis who play this all the time at home. This first picture is of the Kiwi team doing the Haka- a traditional Moari dance that was used by tribes to try and scare them off at the beginning of a battle.

This is called a scrum- when there is a penalty typically this is the option taken dependent on where you are at on the field (the other option is to kick the ball). The forward line from each team gets in to the scrum and the ball is dropped in the middle and it's basically a foot wrestle to get possession of the ball and work it out from the inside of the circle to the outside of the circle to your teammates waiting for the ball.

Scott Base Cheerleaders cheering Happy Birthday to the Referee during half time

This is called a line out, the purpose is to toss the ball in and see which team grabs it in the air to determine possession. The team should throw it straight down the middle and each team lifts up a few of their players to try to catch the ball.

Tackling each other to try and get possession.

The Kiwis were trying to kick in the ball through the posts for points here. This is usually the result of a penalty.

More running around trying to get the ball.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Polar Plunge

The Polar Plunge is a psychotic tradition here in which a bunch of us off our rockers go and jump in to an ice hole that's been dug out in to the ocean at the edge of Scott Base (the New Zealand station over the hill from McMurdo). I've been here 5 seasons and this is my first time doing this! A bunch of us girl's went over during the girl's only time frame- the Kiwis at Scott Base were nice enough to ensure that they had female helpers and guards to ensure no men came to try and sneak a peak. So it was a great women bonding experience- and while I wasn't totally psyched about jumping in to the cold water- I'm glad I did it and can mark this off the list of things to do in life. I figure if I'm here I should take the opportunities!!

Here I am getting ready to jump in to the water. I was planning to do this in my underwear, but everyone else I went with did it in their birthday suits. So I did crack under the peer pressure (and it was all women- so the environment was pretty supportive- I was jumping with women of all ages which was a hoot!) But for your sake (and mine) I have left these images off of here. :) But for the record, I did actually do this in the buff, as it should be done if you're going to go ahead and do it. :)
I'm currently under the water thinking- huh- this isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Note- this might be because my body is undergoing a mild state of SHOCK!

This is me emerging from the water realizing- yes- now I am cold. And my body has started to realize what the heck is going on- get to the ladder, get to the ladder- get me outta this water!!!

I'm cold!!! Thank goodness that this ladder is wooden so I don't have a full body-"A Christmas Story"-stuck-to-a-metal-ladder problem. I think I almost asked this woman holding the blanket to marry me I was so grateful she was standing ready for me!

I'm so happy to be in the blanket, but now the nerves in my skin have started to register the cold and yes- its slightly painful- probably the worst pins-and-needles feeling you can imagine over my whole body!!

Oh yeah- still cold and trying to get to the warm-up hut. The lovely helper had to get the harness unhooked off of me while I'm cold. She was fast and efficient and I was so glad to have them all there to help support this event. I'm glad I did it- though I'm not sure this is something on my list of things to do again anytime soon!!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Jami's Back!!!!!

So I have to confess that I spent the first 9 days of this new year lying. But in my defense it was all for a good cause!! At the end of December it was decided that our department was going to bring in 2 more drivers, and since we ran out of other alternates, we ended up getting Jami- who worked here last year to PQ and come in last minute. She had been listed as an alternate but hadn't finished getting her paperwork in, so there was a last minute rush to get her cleared. My whole crew was excited that she might be able to get down, but Jami and I decided we would try to keep it a secret from everyone- so we lied. We told all the return crew that she didn't get cleared in time and that a different alternate was coming. I had to get in touch with so many people here that I think practically half the station knew- but I did manage to keep it a secret from my crew!! I even got in touch with housing to make sure that they didn't tell her roommate Taryn (who works for me as well and is friends with Jami) and had to talk to her roommates to tell them to keep it a secret too! A few people almost slipped and told the crew, but I just kept making things up and telling them that the information was a mistake and that Jami wasn't coming and that someone else was. So Jami arrived 1/9/09 and it was such a great surprise!! The week before I had watched the Sex in the City movie with Taryn and we laughed when all the women scream each time they see one another and said "no one really screams like that." But sure enough, when Jami showed up I was so excited to see her that I came running out of the van towards her and she had to brace herself for my hug- and low-and-behold, I actually made all the girly scream noises that I didn't think anyone ever made! Then we got on the radio and called Audrey and told her someone had a message for her- and Jami got on the radio- Audrey was so excited she was screaming over the radio (she threatened to kill me for keeping the secret and apparently almost drove off the road in her moment of surprise :) and then several others of the drivers got on the radio to say hi and welcome back as well. We called in Taryn since it was her day off, and drove by the dorm while she was walking up the hill towards work to pick her up, and Jami opened the van door to ask if she needed a ride- and sure enough- Taryn screamed too!!! It was a really great surprise and I'm so glad we were able to pull it off- it was a boost to everyone here!! Welcome back Jami!!!!! I'm glad I don't have to lie anymore- it was too much pressure!!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Inauguration Day At Last!!

Finally! A year and a president I can be excited about! Now while I can definitely see that there are going to be some tough times ahead, I feel that this is a really special and significant time that we are living in right now- we are seeing the change in the world that will reconnect us to our humanity and begin to separate us from the selfishness and misguided priorities that have consumed our nation and many across the world. It's unfortunate that historically great nations often reach a point where they have become too large, too quick, and without staying true to the ethical and responsible and caring nature; the nature that at the core of our humanity is necessary to live in harmony with one another and with our planet, and thus they fail and they fall apart.
In my travels away from the USA over the past 5 years, I was becoming more and more disheartened with the progress of my nation and also with the progress of people in general. How did we reach a point where purchasing the 30 room house for a family of four was the sensible thing to do when one could have bought something with a smaller footprint, and then donated the rest to charity and solved so many other problems? Now, I'm not saying I'm a saint in the least- I prefer my creature comforts, and I'm certainly living a comfortable existence. But at the core of it all, we should care about eachother- we should be trying to live greener lives- we should be aware that a decision that we make here and now could affect someone that we may never meet. Many of you have heard about the butterfly effect, but how often do you consider it in your decisions?
We are in a place that we have the opportunity to shift our thinking and our practices, to honestly make a change, and while that has always been a possibility, we somehow lost our motivation, and the downward spiral that followed became harder and harder to find our way out of. But now a shift in thinking has happened, a shift in our energy, a shift in our motivations. I came across an astrology book at a friends house this summer, and while I always take astrology with a grain of salt (because I don't want to turn a prediction in to reality through preconceived notions), I found the predictions for 2008 to be really interesting. It said that 2008 presents a year of change, that their would be a shift both politically and in human nature to begin to work towards approaching everything in a wholistic approach. Countries would unite in our struggles and work together to resolve conflicts and crises. Humanity would again care about one another and work towards the goals of the common good. Now this is a very broad prediction, but still at the core of it is hope. And are we not now with a President, whether it was for political intentions or not, who is sounding the bell of hope and change? Regardless of whether you consider it a political campaign message or his true approach, the message is resounding through the nation and through the world, and people are motivated. The next four years will be a defining time period in the history of our nation and in the history of the world. We are finally with a leader that can motivate and inspire- and truly great leaders must be able to do this or they will fail. People have to be excited to take on a difficult task and to see it through to the end, they have to know that their sweat and tears and frustrations will not be in vain, and more importantly, that their work will make a difference, a noticeable and lasting difference.
We have set the stage for change, for improvement, for resolutions to problems left long unsolved. And I hope that we can keep that in mind, that we can focus on that and hold to the message.

"On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom."

-Excerpt from President Barack Obama's inauguration speech.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The 13th Annual Women's Soiree

Every season I've been here, I've been involved in the Women's Soiree. This is an event put on by the community that showcases the talents of the women in McMurdo. It's only women performers allowed, though the volunteers are both men and women to help put the performance on. In the past three years I've stepped up in to a lead board member role in helping to organize this event and though I'm a crazy person running around for about 4 weeks before this event, it's all worth it in the end. This year was no exception to that- and it's amazing how each year we out-do the past years!

This is the 13th year that this event has occurred, and the theme this year was A Night With Old Hollywood. There are several committees involved in this event- decorations (all the backdrop, and pre-event decorations), publicity (advertising for the event via signs, posters, TV scrolls, announcements), prize collection (we give away prizes in a raffle drawing at the event), donation collections (we collect donations for a charity in Christchurch New Zealand each year), pre-event social (there is wine and food provided in the lobby before the event for attendees to go to), set-up crews (they turn the galley in to the theatre- all the set-up and take-down of the stage and chairs and tables and lights), sound and light techs (they deal with all the sound and lights), videographers (this video clip wouldn't happen without their efforts- they actually recorded the entire event and made a DVD which we sell and then donate the proceeds from), stage crew (they deal with all the needs of the performers), the performers (which are always amazing!!), and all the miscellaneous things that have to get taken care of someone always steps up to fill the role as well.

The event is held in support of a charity in New Zealand, and this year we selected Women's Refuge. We choose a different charity every year, and they are always so excited to be the recipients of the proceeds from this event.
“Liberating Women, Children, families and whanau from family
violence through the provision of quality services and social commentary.”

So last year, the Shuttles girls and I did the dance from Napoleon Dynamite which was hilarious, and we had to come up with something to top that this year. We've been told that we have succeeded! The song and dance performance you see in this clip is "Don't Tell Mama" from Cabaret. We all choreographed it and sang- and we had a great time!! The audience was great too- I don't think I'd have the nerve to get up and do this anywhere else. :) Thanks to everyone who made this night happen!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Scott's Historic Hut at Cape Evans

Add placed in newspaper to solicit persons for Shackleton's first Antarctic Expedition.
Scott's Hut at Cape Evans. I helped organize multiple trips and train all the guides to be able to get out to Cape Evans to see the historic hut out there where Shackleton and his men first stayed, followed by Scott and his men. The trip out takes about 2 hours in a delta across the sea ice. This trip happened back in October, so I'm a little late on pictures. These trips have ended because the sea ice is too thin to drive out on now, and the ship is here breaking up the ice right now.
Mount Erebus in the background with the hut in the foreground. Mount Erebus is the highest point on Ross Island and is an active volcano. There is often a small plume coming from the top.
Inside the hut- this is the dinner table. This is somewhat eerie as it seems like Scott's men could have just been sitting at this table yesterday. The cold weather and dry conditions preserve artifacts here very well. The Antarctic Heritage Trust has been spending a lot of time working to preserve and clean items in the hut, as well as around it.
There is a lot of food that was left- it's odd to see Heinz ketchup containers and cocoa stacked up in the hut.

That is an emperor penguin on the table that they were dissecting and a newspaper next to it. The penguin has been preserved in the same condition since they left it there.
A view of some of the bunk beds, and the table.
The kitchen area from what I can observe- all the food items are stacked on shelves here along with dishes and bottles. Some of the bottles still have frozen liquids in them, but I'm not sure what they are. There are stables on the outside of the building, and their is also a stack of seal skins in the stables entrance that can definitely start to get smelly when the weather starts to warm.
This snow is on the side of the hut, the wind had blown through causing the waves in the snow and the overhang, it's interesting and beautiful to see the formations the snow and ice become because of the wind.
My sad attempt at a snow angel- the snow was pretty frozen solid, so I barely made an impact. That's Taryn laughing at me and taking pictures in the photo as well.

An excellent site to check out if you want to learn more about the hut and historic items about Antarctica:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Icestock 2009- Ringing in the New Year

Every year there is an event for New Year's called Icestock- which is the Ice version of Woodstock. There are several bands here that practice together and anyone can form or join a band, which provides the community with an amazing amount of live music entertainment at various events throughout the year. Typically Icestock is held on New Year's day, but this year was a little different and instead was held the evening of New Year's Eve. It was an excellent way to ring in the New Year dancing to the awesome cover band Porn Spill.

This is Porn Spill playing. The name comes from an "interesting" story- every year there are milvans shipped off the continent back to the states that contain all the garbage from here. In one container a few years ago there was a lot of pornographic material and when it was being unloaded off the ship, it apparently came open and spilled all over the place, needless to say there was quite the rush to clean it up and get the container closed back up. Hence the name "Porn Spill." They do covers of several different artists- including Isacc Hayes and Brittney Spears.

This is Father Time and Baby New Year ringing in the New Year and leading the countdown for us.

Porn Spill playing- they are a favorite band here.

Me, Josh, Lisa, Danielle, Amy sitting up on the flatbed of the truck watching some of the bands play.

The Wasties (people who work in the waste barn sorting all the trash to get recycled and shipped back to the states) come up with something creative each season to wear/do at Icestock. They made these costumes that you could put on with a backpack type frame. That's a Skua, some weird alien, a butterfly behind the alien, and then a bluebird.

Sitting with some friends still- not sure who the person to the left is, I'm sitting on Josha, then Emily, and Megan.

My friend Josh and I in my new warm fuzzy hat from Kelly (thanks Kelly!)
A shot from above of the venue for Icestock.

Ben- one of the Wasties- hula hooping. They bring out big hula hoops- which I did for a little while- it's like riding a bike- I don't think I've done that since elementary school. That's me up in the upper left corner in the green coat.

A shot looking out from the stage in to the crowd.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Christmas Eve

A Very Merry Christmas Eve at the Town Party.

Yes, Santa even makes a trip to the Southern Hemisphere so we can all get our pictures with him.

Me,Taryn, Jackie.

Ildiko the hairdresser here this season did my hair for the evening- I could never get it to curl like that!

I went home from the party at a decent hour, but on my way I ran in to Brandon who works for me with a group of people and when I went to hug him, I got picked up and carried off to the party again by this crazy kook. It was a fun evening and I'm glad I went back out again! Hope you all had a good Christmas Eve- and don't worry since I'm living in the future one day ahead of you, I know that Santa made it to visit you all in time!!

A Shuttles Holiday Gathering

Every year I've been the supervisor in Shuttles, we have a big holiday party and I cook dinner (along with help from several people) for the crew and we have a gift exchange. This year was no different and we had such a great evening together.

This is Joe monitoring the Ice Cream Maker- someone left this to me this season and we've used it a few times. Keep up the good work Joe!

Shuttle Bill on the hunt for which gift he wants to open. Poor guy had his gifts stolen from him several times during the exchange game.

Shuttle Bob opening his gift, I think he's giving an oratory speech on how great this chocolate bar is that he's received.

I think this is what Bill finally ended up with- a bag handmade by Taryn. I'm pretty sure his wife Carole will be enjoying that soon enough. :)
Having us all crowded around together makes me realize how fortunate I am to have so many wonderful people in my life. I have a great family of friends both here and at home! And I'm extra lucky because I get to have both here- that's Auntie Nancy in the red jacket in this pic- she stopped by to say Hi to all.
Jojo is opening her gift right now, which was from Kelly, and there's like 20 things in this bag- she took forever to open them all.

Jojo opened up this strawberry lotion and obviously thought it smelled good enough to eat! Probably indicative of how long we had gone without freshies at this point....

This is the gift I ended up with. I love my new water bottle and use it all the time. Audrey actually won this first, but I stole it from her.

Kathy and her woolly mammoth puppet she got. She was also the temporary bow holder.

Kathy hiding her woolly mammoth puppet so no one tries to steal it from her.
Shuttle Joe doing a little dance on his way to pick out which gift he wanted. This was hilarious to watch, I'm still trying to get the video loaded to my blog, but it's not cooperating right now...
Anyways, a great evening, and a perfect way to start my New Year! I truly hold every one of you close to my heart and am so fortunate to have each of you in my life! Thank you!
"There's more, much more, to Christmas,
Than candlelight and cheer;
It's the spirit of sweet friendship
That brightens all year.
It's thoughtfulness and kindness,
It's hope reborn again,
For peace, for understanding,
And for goodwill to men!"