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!
Senior Communications Technician
Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
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