It's Over! I know, I SUCKED at blogging this season, forgive me please all you totally awesome people!
I also have a website now! www.artificialpulse.com Check it out! Not much now, but give it time...
So Where in the world is Shaun!?
For the last few days I've been living in Christchurch New Zealand, drinking and causing general mayhem with the rest of the winter overs.
Day one in Christchurch.
HOLY CRAP! TREES!!! BUSHES!!! GRASS!! PUPPIES!!!!
That pretty much sums it up.
Day 2 - Chilled with the Bomb-ass Emma Wells, I love running into buddies in random places!!
Day 3 - Day trip to Akkora, Basically the coolest place ever, 2nd to foco. NZ rocks.
Day 4? 5? Kinda blended together - I left for the Airport at 3:00AM after an AMAZING dinner. Oh. the food. It was good.
Day 5! so, I stayed up all night in NZ so I didn't have to get up early and possibly miss my flight. I watched half of a REALLY bad movie on the plane about some guy who was destined to be a assassin. How many times are they going to make absolute crap like this? There must be a crazy huge demographic of cubicle-dwelling losers hoping that they are really superheros. Rant. :-D
Day 5.. continued. I take a bus to Melbourne's Southern Cross Train Station, wander around with a wicked heavy pack until I get a tram (light rail for the Colorado Folks) ticket for the week. Once I have my ticket and I know where I'm going I hit the First Hairdresser. Wooo! I'm fast now! check out facebook for the photo!
The Apartment! SOOOOOOOOO Great... It everything I hoped it would be, Big, generally awesome, etc. Dropped my crap and hoped the tram back into the city center. (5 or 6 blocks)
Money to burn....
The Crown Casino. Woo, yea for 18 as the gambling age! I hit the casino and headed straight for the craps table. Working my way up to the high-roller's room... :-D
First day I threw down 20 and walked away with 90! I was stoked.
So I headed back to my hotel, planning on crashing early because I had been up for 30 some'od hours at the point, but before I did I passed a Internet Cafe. I remember that I have an MSN. I check and a bunch of my Oz buddies are online, but who else? Kerry from Foco, now living in Melb, 5 min later I'm on my way to Melb Uni. multiple pitchers, pints, cigars, and a 16 KM EPIC trek to the beach, It was TIME TO CRASH.
So I didn't have plans until 7:00 when I was supposta meet up with some old Parkdale buddies from when I was an exchange student here. I wandered around doing the tourist thing for a while, then at 5:30 I headed over to the crown, our meeting place and... once again headed back to the craps table. I threw down 90 and lost. Can't always win! So then I started thinking that I better now show up with what I had on. (old shorts and a T-Shirt that said '100% Rugby' Misleading to say the least. So I went shopping! I did it. I went to the designer store and had someone leading me around. try this, try that, how that? Awesome. So $350 I had a pair of jeans and 2 shirts... I KNOW! but hey, you only live once.... I also got some REALLY nice cologne! (yikes, another 90, but hey! I'm on vacation people!)
So it's 6:45 at this point so I grab a drink form the bar and head over to the lounge lookin' SHARP and smelling, if I do say so myself, pretty damn good. :-P
7:30 rolls around, I a pretty patient guy, but what the heck?
The crown casino is also a VERY nice hotel, big surprise, so I wander over to the Concierge and say I just got a urgent call, I need to contact my business Immediately. Hey hurries me over to the Business Center and logs in with one of the hotels accounts and says don't worry about anything, just take care of what you need to. So I log on to facebook and check my message, sure enough they're running late, so I printed out their numbers and strolled out. :-D Fun Fun!
So when I met up with my buddies Tal, Vi, Rose, and Babbs....
We wander over to the craps table! I threw down 50 and walked away with 202 in 15 min. they look on their face was Priceless. :-D
So at 12:00 they said they had to go to catch the last train. BS said I! So at 3something I bribed a cab driver to pack the 5 of us into a cab and drive over to my apartment. :-D It's an adventure. They all bailed at 6ish and I slept in till 1, vacations rule. Then I wandered down to the Internet Cafe while my clothes are in the laundry. That's what's up!
I miss you all tons!! I hope to see you all VERY VERY VERY soon!!
Much Much Love, Shaun
p.s. Not spell checked, edited, or even read while writing. Sorry for the chaos.
I'm on a quest to update this thing on a regular basis from now on so we'll see how well that goes...
-- WHAT A WEEKEND!! --
Throughout the winter we have about 1 two day weekend every month, sometimes it's a 5 week stretch between those so it gets a little rough, but I'm pretty sure we're back to every 4 week for the rest of the winter. To celebrate Memorial Day we ended up working Monday through Saturday last week and getting this Sunday/Monday off. Wow did we celebrate! There was a Toga party on Saturday night, about 15 people showed up rockin' the togas, (that's serious! 1/4 of the population!!) and on Sunday was the Heavy Shop BBQ which was a Blast! Complete with Horseshoes and everything, a true Memorial Day celebration! ... yes horseshoes, it's amazing what's down here, someone mailed someone a bowling ball this summer... in a 5 gallon bucket.
This is a photo of Heidi the Physician's Assistant for the winter, here blog is FREAKIN' AMAZING! however awkward photos of me keep showing up on her page so I thought I'd do the same to her... snap. http://homelessheidi.blogspot.com/
Needless to say few were roaming the hallways on Monday, most everyone choosing to recover from both the weekend, and from the 24/28 days we had worked from the previous two day weekend. Monday night however, Mike our Network Engineer cooked up some phenomenal steak au poivre which drew a few people out of isolation.
-- Pole Marker --
The Geographic South Pole Marker every year is designed by one or a group of the Winter Overs and it's kept a closely guarded secret until Jan 1 of the following year when it is unveiled with great ceremony! All the proposed designs were amazing and look forward to Jan 1, 2009, because it's gunna be SWEET.
That's the happenings on the bottom of the world! Warm Wishes From a Cold Place!
Weather for South Pole Station The date is 05-27-2008 at 8:25 PM
Temperature -64.0 C -83.2 F Windchill -84.5 C -120.0 F Wind 9.2 kts Grid 38 Barometer 666.7 mb (11134 ft)
This is the climbing gym. It's basically awesome. That's Lance trying to figure something out. And a bottle of Jim Beam because when you're a mile off station, helps it keep warm.
Monday is house-mouse day! WOOO! That means at 4:00 we all join our assigned house mouse teams and clean a selected portion of the station, this week my team (team awesome) cleaned the bathrooms of A1 birthing, not epically entertaining but we always seem to make a good time of it.
Holy goodness we've been watching a LOT of movies down here and they seem to be getting weirder and weirder. We stated with the classics, but now it's people freaking out "WHAT?! You haven't seen "____" ?!?! Let's go watch it right now!!"
Anything from "A Fish Called Wanda" to the movie I make people watch "Spun". It's still remarkable how many people haven't seen "Casablanca" so that one is on every now and again.
However we're all relating a bit too much to "Groundhog Day" However we're all relating a bit too much to "Groundhog Day?"
I'll try and get some REALLY cool pictures together and make this entertaining again.
Alright! So it's been a while since I 'blogged!' So I offer a quick 'SORRY!!' to my limited, and chances are now... far from entertained reader base.
Where in the world is Shaun?! And many of you have been asking, weren't you supposta' be home by now!? Actually, yes I was! However, I'm still at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station... for the winter. Oh. Snap.
Alright with that said, here's how I got here, and here's what here is, then a proper blog.
To set the stage, the sun was still high in the air, and station dedication was about to happen. On amazingly the same day both Andy and I got this CRAZY idea into our heads that we wanted to stay at the South Pole a bit longer than originally planned. The amazing part about that was that we started to talk to different people about the possibility, before even talking to each other about it. Andy and I then start working towards possible winter over contracts.
Rewind to the beginning of the season. I wander into this electronics shop to get my radio fixed and start talking to the Comms Tech Larry about what all his job entitles. More and more throughout the season I talk to Larry about what his job is and whether or not in my off hours I can come down and kick around in his shop and maybe help him out. All the while we traded electronics stories. I meet most of the summer IT-Comms crew, hang out with the totally crazy summer satellite tech, always bugging them about what all they do. Worked out in my favor.
The day before I'm to sign my contract for winter-over carpenter helper, the winter-over comms tech from the previous year becomes unable to make it this year, so the position is open. The Fire Tech, Joe from the summer who I was close with started quizzing me off hand about my IT and electronics experience. Not knowing why exactly, I tell my story; the robotics team, IT for Premier, the NSF lab at CSU, some of my projects. Later I'm approached by Larry and told that they're looking at me for the winter-over Comms Tech position. I'm freaking out. I get the job description from one of the AMAZING IT girls from the summer Kate and she totally convinces me to apply for the job. Before I officially submit my Resume I'm asked to come down to the comms shop and interview with the South Pole IT manager, Henry, the Comms Tech Larry, and Joe the Fire Tech. Quite the nerve racking interview! They quiz me and go over my Resume for about an hour and tell me I should apply right away. Woo! And basically they are all awesome.
This interview ended an hour or so before I had to go sign my winter-over contract for Carpenter Helper, so I go into the FEMC office to say that I'm looking at another position, and if I could hold off signing my Carpenter Helper contract. Unfortunately my contract had a signing deadline of that day, so go big or go home. I turn down the Carpenter Helper contract, so now it's either the Comms Tech or Bust.
So then what!?!? For those of you who made it though that... (for those of you losing it, scroll down for pictures)
After a few more interviews I'm rushed off to McMurdo for a final interview with a head communication operations guy in McMurdo. SUPER SCARY! Passed his inspection and then rushed to sing the contract and get PQ'd (physically qualified) for the winter. That's an adventure inside itself! The Psych eval was just ridiculous, don't think I'm aloud to say why, then a dental and a gallbladder screening. Passed, then a few days in Mactown for R&R, then back to South Pole for turnover training.
After a few weeks of turnover the last plane takes off. That's how I got here.
Here's what here is.
Winter at the South Pole. Some quick numbers.
The last plane took off on February 14th offloading the last of the freshes (fresh fruit, veggies, cream) which are LONG gone at this point, and mail. On that last flight was also my winter care package from home containing... 7.5 lbs of espresso beans, a bottle of starbucks mocha flavoring, a bottle of Irish cream flavoring, and a bottle of caramel flavoring. WOO! I love you mum!! And my coworker got his guitar hero controller and guitar hero 3! Next flight comes in late October, early November. 9 months. Nothing until then.
Sorry, back to numbers.
Weather: As the six-month 'day' wears on and the sun gets lower, temperatures drop as well, with temperatures around sunset (late March) and sunrise (late September) being about −45 °C (−49 °F). In winter, the temperature remains steady at around −65 °C (−85 °F). Dropping down to lows of -100. WOO! And! A few days ago I had to walk out to RF and it was -135 with windchill. It get cold!!
People: 60 - 48 guys, 12 girls.
A 5 day sunset. Watching the sun twirling around the sky coming lower and lower towards the horizon. When it reached halfway we all got together for a fancy and ridiculously tasty dinner. Then... it left! It just went down and never came back! And WOW does it get dark! You can't see you hand in front of your face! Because of the science projects going on that study auroras, white light outside is completely forbidden and all exterior red lights are turned on only when absolutely necessary. Then how to we get around!? There's a beacon on top of the RF building about a mile away, which I follow when I need to walk out there to fix things, or just to check on equipment, or if I'm bored.
Fun stuff... you'll be walking and suddenly everything is lit up, you look up and there are auroras dancing around the sky. Pictures below! Or when the moon is up it's almost as bright as day, and even when you're only under star light it's amazing how much your eyes will adjust. Overcast... you're pretty much out of luck. It's dark. Your red headlamp basically lights up as far as the next flag, if that far...
I'm here, it's crazy, I'm the rec coordinator (crazy story), I'm super crazy busy, here's a picture of me currently, expect blogs and stories, and other crazy stuff soon!
Much love from the bottom of the world!
-Shaun Meehan Senior Communications Technician Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station Winter-Over 2008
Thrown together on: KDE 3.5.9 Text First Compiled on OpenOffice 2.4 Photos edited in Gimp Uploaded with Firefox 3 Beta 5
So it’s been quite some time since my last post, so a fair bit to cover! So let’s take a trip back.
The two weeks before Christmas I ended up working 7 day weeks, kinda nuts, but it all worked out in the end. A care package and a card arrived on the “Santa flight” basically a C-130 loaded with mail. Helena and Maile, I love you forever!! My Christmas dinner was quite fantastic. We had Beef Wellington and some amazing sides, all at a candle lit table surrounded by buddies. Not to mention my boss was my wine steward, and I ended up with “Drinking Coaches” who were two very cool people who had a bit too much to drink and expected me to do the same. There are 3 seatings for Christmas and Thanksgiving. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. :D The joy of 3rd seating is that you can stay as long after the meal as you would like, and the sign up is restricted to night shift. After a few hours though the natives start to get restless and 1st and 2nd seating want the galley for the DANCE PARTY!!! So all the tables are moved away and an iPod is hooked up to the stereo system. The problem with the stereo is that it overheats quickly, and then the party either dies out or is moved to summer camp. I was just not going to let that happen! I enlisted a few buddies and we hauled 2 massive speakers, a stage amp, 2 light trees set to flash to the music, and I played DJ for the night. It was a total blast, and I did my best to keep everyone dancing from 9 till 2. The next day two drunks got in a fight, that was it, both got booted from the ice, and the stories in the newspapers around the world were hilarious. “Unconfirmed reports say it was over a woman.” Ha.
The next week.
Most of the crews have a boss, on shift, who will see some days are going rough, or maybe everyone has been working overtime for the last few weeks and give an ‘easy day.’ Our boss, totally amazing, and we explain our situation and requested an ‘easy day.’ We got an easy half day, which was enough for us to… PIMP THE HOOPTIE!!! We stenciled “THE HOOPTIE” on the hood, the sides, and the back, as well as made it faster, and washed it. Pretty much pimped.
Happy New Year!!
Over the days leading up to New Years I received requests to DJ the New Years party. I eagerly accepted! I was the DJ between bands and also for the “kickin” after band party. I spent a few days in the electronics shop before fixing this crazy moon-flower smart light that moved in beat with the music. A good time was had by all. Amazing pictures soon to follow. The Gym was decorated with a giant parachute from a long ago air drop and it created quite the effect. There were also 3 enormous weather balloons. It was a very entertaining evening, with bands covering everything from U2 to Gin and Juice. The next day was the Race around the world! We made it around in about 90seconds. Beat that. And then!! And then!! We played 18 holes of Frisbee golf!!! Yea, I know!! The South Pole has a Frisbee Golf Course!! 18 holes too!! Fun times at the bottom of the world.
Ok, A legit blog.
The dynamic duo is no more!!! Well, until today. For the last 2 weeks or so Andy and I have been working on different projects. It was kind of freaky at first, but I think it was healthy. For 9 hours a day for the last 2 months I’ve been a shovel length away from him. A break was good for the both of us. The only problem was that my boss expected the same type of productivity, and I was not about to disappoint. The last 2 weeks I’ve been running around the job site, shoveling like a mad man, and yesterday, I moved 3 tons of steel. By hand. 100 pounds at a time. Not to mention shoveling that morning and afterwards. I’m feelin’ buff. Today I showed up with a headache, and needless to say feeling less than fantastic. “Aww, I broke my GA” my boss said disappointedly. Needless to say, I was pretty much exhausted from yesterday. It’s all alright though because last night was BINGO! A dollar a card to play and the prizes are pretty fantastic. I ended up winning a $70 back and neck massage in NZ and also $20 in our back-alley bingo game after. A dangerous game I’ll teach you when I get back… I’m also really excited because a friend of mine is in from Mcmurdo for the week! Very cool to catch up with her, and also to hear stories of all the people I deployed with. A messenger! From the outside world! About as outside as we get around here…
This Saturday is the official dedication of the new station. A bunch of big-wigs from Washington are coming down… if the weather clears… including the director of the NSF! Very excited. Should be a good show with really good food!
December 14th here at the pole and a lot has been going on over the last few days! At midrats, a half-hour into my birthday, the kitchen staff had made me a cake and we had a little party. It was a lot of fun! And!! I got the coolest present ever. A personalized shovel!
Ice Cube Andy and I are now working with Ice Cube on deployment, where the Digital Optical Module (DOM – pictured below) are placed 1450 to 2450 meters into the ice. It’s exciting, fast work with a great team, usually once every 3-4 days, for about a day. While deploying, if something went wrong or if something needed to be done outside, the line was “Sounds like a job for a GA” When we would ask why, they would simply respond because it’s cold and dangerous. It’s been a really good time, however we feel out of our element because we are working indoors… kind of. Deployment happens in a makeshift drill station made out of a few heated shipping containers.
The Band! So every year a few bands spring up out of the random assortment of people here, and this year Andy and I joined up with two drillers from Ice Cube night shift, Melanie and T-Bone. I’m on bass, Andy’s on guitar, T-Bone on the drums, and Melanie on the mandolin. So we’ve played once all together and a few times with 3 of us, and somehow the word got around, and now we’re one of the bands playing at the new years party. It’s gunna be bad.
Postage! My package arrived from Tegan, Maile, Anneke, Ashley, and Scottie P! It was filled with everything someone at the South Pole would want. A card that sang ‘Still Crusin’ by the Beach Boys, a trashy romance novel called “Baby, It’s cold outside.” (Honestly, I couldn’t make that up.) and stockings full of goodies and Christmas cheer for Andy and me. You guys are the best!!!!! And thanks Momma T for the birthday card and the chocolate!!!
Sundog Now this is just cool. So a sundog is an atmospheric optical phenomenon primarily associated with the reflection or refraction of sunlight by small ice crystals making up cirrus or cirrostratus clouds. Here's some pictures! Enjoy!
That’s the news from the bottom of the world! I hope it’s snowing wherever you are!!
I’m opening this post with a photo of my jobsite, an amazing, untouched, beautiful expanse of snow. Now, to further emphasize the surrealism of this place, I headed inside for lunch after a morning of shoveling snow, pulled my frozen nalgene out of my jacket, walked into the galley, and found lobster and New York strip steak waiting for me. Surf N’ Turf if you will. Overall a fun day at the world’s end.
This next photo is a picture of Antarctic transportation! The one with the red light in the middle of the three snowmobiles is ours. We’ve lovingly named it “The Hooptie” Keep an eye out for photos, we’re planning on “pimping it out” to use the parlance of our times.
I’m very very very very very excited because a few buddies put together a care package for me and shipped it over thanksgiving break!! Mail is really something to look forward to down here, that and the bi-monthly arrival of freshies!! (fresh fruit and greens)
That's the news from the bottom of the world! Thanks for reading!